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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Last-ditch effort nets point for West Ham

LONDON (AP) Ilan scored a late equalizer as relegation-threatened West Ham ended its six-game losing run with a 2-2 draw at Everton on Sunday while Liverpool was held 1-1 by Birmingham to lose ground in the race for fourth place and the final Champions League spot.

News photo
Heads above water: West Ham's Mido heads the ball away from Everton's Leon Osman during their match on Sunday at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England. AP PHOTO

West Ham looked to be heading for another defeat when Ayegbeni Yakubu nodded Everton 2-1 ahead in the 85th minute, but Brazilian striker Ilan headed the equalizer home as West Ham moved a point clear of the relegation zone.

"All the team decided to fight until the end and today was a clear demonstration that we kept our performance because we never gave up," said West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola. "After 2-1 it could have been a massive blow but I was very pleased with my team for what they did today.

"It is important after a long spell of defeats to have this point. I think it will give a lot of confidence to the players. I feel they found extra spirit today."

The draw puts West Ham on 28 points from 33 games. Hull has one point fewer in 18th but has a game in hand. If West Ham had won at Everton, last-place Portsmouth, which has only 14 points, would have been relegated but it survives another week.

Steven Gerrard fired Liverpool ahead in the 47th minute when a shot from Glen Johnson came to the England midfielder on the left of the area and he drove the ball into the far corner.

The lead lasted only nine minutes before Liam Ridgewell was left unmarked to collect a cross from James McFadden and score from close range.

Liverpool is now four points behind fourth-place Manchester City having played a game more.

"We didn't have any margin for error beforehand and now we have less margin in terms of coming fourth," said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, whose sixth-place team is in danger of finishing in its lowest position since 1999, when it was seventh.

"But it depends on the other teams and how they do as well. We have to believe we can win all our remaining games and have confidence the other sides will lose. We just have to keep going because there are still a lot of points to play for."

Fulham beat Wigan 2-1 in Sunday's other match.

Jason Scotland gave fifth-bottom Wigan a 34th-minute lead at Craven Cottage but Stefano Okaka equalized in the 47th and Brede Hangeland headed home a corner in the 58th for the winner.

Ronaldo leads Real

MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored as Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 2-0 to ensure it stayed tied with Barcelona at the top of the Spanish League on Sunday ahead of their match next weekend.

Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute, firing his 18th goal of the season past Fabio Coltorti after being tripped as he broke into the area.

Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez sent Higuain clear on Coltorti in the 76th to score his 24th of the season.

Madrid and Barcelona both have 77 points but Madrid is ahead on goal difference heading into Saturday's game between Spain's two biggest clubs at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

"I don't think there's a favorite," Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini said after Madrid won for the 12th straight game. "The two teams are playing well, picking up a lot of victories, and in those types of games whoever makes the least mistakes wins. I'm sure we can win."

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