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Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010

Gunners keep pace with win at Bolton

LONDON (AP) Cesc Fabregas made a scoring return from injury as Arsenal stayed on the heels of Chelsea and Manchester United at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory at Bolton on Sunday.

News photo
Locked and loaded: Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas (left) controls the ball in front of Bolton's Tamir Cohen during their match on Sunday at the Reebok Stadium. The Gunners won 2-0. AP PHOTO

The Gunners captain, who had missed three matches with a hamstring problem, netted his 10th league goal of the season in the 28th minute, while Fran Merida sealed the victory with a late strike.

"It's always a difficult place to go, we know what we'll get at Bolton, but we coped with it well and we're proud of that," the 22-year-old Fabregas said. "When I was younger the chances were not going in, but now they are and I hope it continues until the end of the season. I feel stronger and that helps."

Arsenal is third in the table after playing 21 games, but can go top by beating Bolton by the same scoreline when they meet again on Wednesday, at the Emirates stadium. Chelsea, which has also played 21 games, leads Manchester United by one point and is three ahead of Arsenal.

Bolton remains in the relegation zone, but West Ham climbed out of the bottom three on Sunday with a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa and Blackburn moved up to 12th by beating Fulham 2-0.

At the Reebok Stadium, Arsenal had to soak up sustained early pressure as Bolton impressed in Owen Coyle's first match in charge.

But when Gretar Steinsson slipped on the edge of the penalty area, handing possession to Fabregas, the Spain international quickly exchanged passes with Eduardo da Silva before slotting a low shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen's outstretched right hand.

Fabregas was quiet after the break but he still set up the second goal in the 78th. His surging run into the penalty area allowed Eduardo to cross to the far post where Merida side-footed home.

At Ewood Park, Blackburn won for the first time since November to move five points above the drop zone.

"It is a big, big win — it is well-deserved and one that will take the pressure off us," Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce said. "The performance was nice but it was all about the result today and we're pleased to get the victory."

Ronaldinho on fire

Milan Italy AP A hat-trick from Ronaldinho guided AC Milan to a 4-0 home win over 10-man Siena on Sunday, moving Leonardo's side to within six points of Serie A league leader Inter Milan.

Ronaldinho converted a 12th minute penalty following a red card for Siena goalkeeper Gianluca Curci and Marco Borriello hit his seventh goal of the season before the Brazilian struck two more goals after the break to seal Milan's win.

"Ronaldinho scored a great goal, one of rare beauty," Leonardo said, referring to his fellow Brazilian's curling shot past Siena's substitute keeper Gianluca Pegolo from the edge of the area.

"But that's what he's like, a player who does fantastic things. It all comes down to him. If he is in the mood and determined, then he does things no one else in the world can."

Inter is top with 46 points following its 2-2 draw with Bari on Saturday. Milan is second on 40, but has a game in hand and meets Inter in the Milan derby next week.

"Now for the derby," Leonardo said. "It is an important game, but not decisive. Of course, the fact that the two teams are six points apart in the league gives it an extra edge."

AS Roma is third with 35 points after a 3-0 win at home to Genoa, Napoli moved up to fourth on 34 after 0-0 draw with Palermo, while Juventus lost 1-0 at mid-table Chievo Verona and slipped to fifth, one point further back.

Canales scores again

MADRID (AP) Valencia and Mallorca both produced convincing wins on Sunday to stay in contention for the Champions League, while Racing Santander's teenage forward Sergio Canales scored another dazzling goal to give his team a 1-1 draw against Valladolid.

In Valencia, David Villa scored a brace and Ever Banega and David Silva also scored as Valencia overwhelmed 10-man Villarreal 4-1 to stay third.

Canales' impressive debut season continued as the teenage forward scored a 60th-minute equalizer as Racing Santander drew 1-1 with Valladolid to stay unbeaten for five matches and move to 20 points.

Canales controlled Pedro Munitis' curving pass into the area before lobbing goalkeeper Justo Villar with his weaker right foot.

"We won and that's what was important," said Canales, who was watched by about a dozen international scouts at El Sardinero stadium.

Cameroon rallies

LUBANGO , Angola (AP) Cameroon rallied from an early deficit Sunday to beat Zambia 3-2 and revive its chances of reaching the quarterfinals at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Jacob Mulenga opened the scoring with his second straight goal for Zambia in the eighth minute after a defensive error but Geremi Njitap leveled the score with an angled shot in the 68th and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o added another from close range four minutes later. Zambia captain Christopher Katongo tied the score again in the 82nd, converting a penalty after Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni had fouled Mulenga in the area.

Substitute Mohamadou Idrissou netted the winner with a looping header four minutes from time.



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