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Monday, March 15, 2010

Chelsea, Arsenal keep pace at top

LONDON (AP) Chelsea beat West Ham 4-1 on Saturday to retake the provisional lead in the Premier League, while Arsenal drew level on points after a stoppage time winner by Nicklas Bendtner earned a 2-1 victory at 10-man Hull.

Didier Drogba scored twice for Chelsea and Alex and Florent Malouda also hit the target at Stamford Bridge against lowly West Ham.

"We had a lot of chances and played well and we maintained a good control of the game also when we were level," said Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti. "We had a good performance."

"It will be a long race to win this title. They are strong teams, Manchester United and Arsenal, so we have to maintain our confidence, our play. We want to play our best every game."

Arsenal appeared headed for a draw at Hull after Jimmy Bullard converted a penalty for the home side following a foul by Sol Campbell on Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. The spot-kick canceled out Andrey Arshavin's early strike for Arsenal.

Hull had George Boateng dismissed in first-half stoppage time for his second yellow card and spent almost the entire second half on defense.

But Bendtner netted the winner after Hull goalkeeper Boaz Myhill had failed to hold a shot from Denilson and the results mean Arsenal and Chelsea are level on 64 points.

Manchester United, which led going into Saturday's games, had 63 points before facing Fulham on Sunday.

In Saturday's other games, Tottenham beat Blackburn 3-1, Birmingham and Everton drew 2-2, Stoke and Aston Villa finished 0-0, Wolves won 2-1 at Burnley and Bolton outplayed Wigan 4-0.

Roman Pavlyuchenko scored twice in Tottenham's victory over Blackburn as Harry Redknapp's team held on to fourth place.

After Blackburn had lost its former Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson with a leg injury, Jermain Defoe turned the ball home from a corner in first half stoppage time and Pavlyuchenko added two more goals in the second half, his first a shot that went under replacement 'keeper Jason Brown.

The victory guarantees Tottenham stays fourth on the day which would mean a shot at next season's Champions League if it stays there until the end of the campaign.

"People have always got doubts about everything, all I've said is we have got a chance," said Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. "It's not impossible, we have had a great year."

Kyoto holds Kashima

KYOTO (Kyodo) Brazilian striker Diego ended Kashima Antlers' perfect start to the season with a late equalizer as Kyoto Sanga held the champions to a 1-1 draw in the J. League on Sunday.

Kashima looked to be on course for a fifth victory in five games in all competitions so far this season courtesy of a fabulous 63rd-minute free kick from Takuya Nozawa.

But Kyoto, beaten by 2-0 by Vissel Kobe in its league opener last week, caught the visitors on the break and snatched its first point of the campaign when Diego volleyed home a pass from Hiroki Nakayama a minute from time at Nishikyogoku Stadium.

"When you look at our performance and the way the game panned out you have to say this is a bad result for us," said Kashima manager Oswaldo Oliveira.

"We had plenty of opportunities before we scored and couldn't finish them. Even after we scored we had chances on the counter but conceded at the end and instead of winning today we have dropped two points."

Elsewhere, Urawa Reds edged FC Tokyo 1-0 to pick up their first win of the season, Robson Ponte settling matters with a 19th-minute penalty, while the Osaka derby ended all square at 1-1 after Cerezo striker Adriano canceled out Tomokazu Myojin's 65th-minute opener for Gamba at Nagai Stadium.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima rebounded from their midweek defeat to Pohang Steelers with a 2-1 win at Kobe.

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