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Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

Penalty saves Leeds

LONDON (AP) Former Premier League club Leeds kept its F.A. Cup run alive by stunning Tottenham in the sixth minute of stoppage time as Jermaine Beckford's penalty clinched a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Spurs had been heading into the fifth round following goals by Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko, but Beckford's second came after the striker was fouled by Michael Dawson in the penalty area.

Having ousted English champion Manchester United earlier this month, Leeds will now host Spurs in a replay.

Reading, which beat Liverpool in the third round, claimed its second successive Premier League scalp by eliminating Burnley with a 1-0 win.

Wolves and Wigan only avoided defeats to lower league opposition by scoring late equalizers. Wigan drew 2-2 at fourth-tier Notts County and Wolves was held by the same scoreline by Crystal Palace.

But Chelsea maintained its trouble-free F.A. Cup defense with a 2-0 victory over second-tier Preston, while five other top-flight sides progressed.

Portsmouth put aside protests against the club's owners by defeating Sunderland 2-1, League Cup finalist Aston Villa edged Brighton 3-2, Everton's hopes of a second successive F.A. Cup final were ended by Birmingham's 2-1 win, Bolton beat Sheffield United 2-0 and Fulham won 3-1 at Accrington.

In the day's only Premier League match, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney's four goals clinched a 4-0 win over Hull that sent the champions to the top of the table. Chelsea trails United by two points, but it has two games in hand, while remaining on course for another F.A. Cup triumph.

At Preston, Nicolas Anelka made the breakthrough in the 36th minute against the League Championship club with his 11th goal of the season.

Anelka brushed past Youl Mawene and fired in a shot that had too much power for goalkeeper Andy Lonergan.

Daniel Sturridge sealed the win two minutes after halftime after John Terry's header rebounded to him. It was the English striker's third goal since arriving from Manchester City in the offseason.

"We found it hard in the first half, but that's what the F.A. Cup is all about," said Terry, whose side beat Watford 5-0 in the previous round. "We tried hard to break them down in the first half and finally got a goal, then managed better in the second half."

Having masterminded a victory over Liverpool in the third round, Reading caretaker-manager Brian McDermott can now look forward to the last 16 after Gylfi Sigurdsson's goal clinched the League Championship side's win over Burnley.

Leeds could yet join them in the next round.

Leeds goalkeeper Casper Ankergren denied Jermain Defoe from the penalty spot early in the match and made a string of other saves before finally being beaten by Peter Crouch just before halftime.

But Beckford leveled for the former Premier League power in the 52nd when Jermaine Jenas failed to clear Robert Snodgrass' corner.

Substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko made the best of his rare appearance by restoring Tottenham's lead in the 75th, only for Beckford to grab the late equalizer.

A late goal from Ben Watson denied League Two Notts County a win over Wigan, while Wolves' Ronald Zubar also struck late on to ruin Crystal Palace's chances of an upset at Molineux.

Fulham was being held 1-1 by 10-man Accrington at halftime. But Fulham, which is 70 places ahead of the home side in the English standings, advanced once Damien Duff and Zoltan Gera scored after the break.

Aston Villa survived a scare to beat League One side Brighton. Tommy Elphick's goal gave Brighton the lead before goals from Nathan Delfouneso, Ashley Young and Fabian Delph handed Martin O'Neill's side a 3-1 lead. Nicky Forster pulled one back for Brighton but Villa held on for the win.

Van Nistelrooy moves

HAMBURG , Germany (AP) Striker Ruud van Nistelrooy joined Hamburg on Saturday, ending a 3 1/2-year spell with Real Madrid after struggling to find playing time with the Spanish club this season.

Hamburg said Van Nistelrooy signed a contract through the 2010-11 season, but did not disclose financial details.

"(Hamburg) is a great club with a strong team and big ambitions — and I have big ambitions too," Van Nistelrooy said, adding that he hopes the move can help him earn a spot on the Netherlands' World Cup squad.

The Bundesliga club said the 33-year-old Dutchman will arrive in Hamburg on Monday.

Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia said he was convinced the former Manchester United striker would score "important goals" for the club, which lost 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund shortly before the announcement. It is currently fifth in the league, five points behind leader Bayern Munich.

Van Nistelrooy was one of Europe's top goalscorers for much of the last decade, but has just one goal from four appearances so far this season. In total, he scored 60 from 89 appearances for Madrid.

He was widely expected to leave Real in the January transfer window and had been linked to several English clubs.

Van Nistelrooy scored 33 goals in 64 games for the Netherlands, but announced his retirement from internationals after the 2008 European Championship. However, he made it clear that he hopes increased playing time in Germany will pave the way for a comeback.

"Of course, then I hope that the national team coach gets in touch with me and I can go to the World Cup," he said.

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