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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Draw hurts United; Pompey reaches F.A. Cup final

LONDON (AP) Manchester United was held 0-0 by Blackburn to squander a chance to temporarily regain the Premier League leadership on Sunday while Portsmouth reached the F.A. Cup final by beating Tottenham 2-0 a day after it was relegated from the English top flight.

It turned out to be a good day for Chelsea, which stayed ahead of United in the league title race and then found out it would face Portsmouth — in financial administration and down at the foot of the Premier League standings — rather than fifth-place Tottenham in the May 15 cup final.

In one of the biggest shocks of the season, extra-time goals by Frederic Piquionne and Kevin-Prince Boateng gave cash-strapped Portsmouth victory in a dramatic semifinal at Wembley.

While Portsmouth fans know their team will be playing in the League Championship next season, they also know they will be returning to Wembley where their team won the F.A. Cup two seasons ago, coincidentally under current Spurs coach Harry Redknapp.

A victory would have put United a point ahead of Chelsea in the title race but Antonio Valencia and Dimitar Berbatov both missed chances at Ewood Park.

Chelsea, which now leads the league by one point, has the chance to go four clear of United by beating Bolton at home on Tuesday.

"It's a blow, there's no question about that, and it makes it really difficult to win the league now," said United manager Alex Ferguson, whose team is trying to become the first to win the league title four times in a row.

"That's a fantastic result for (Chelsea). They will be really delighted at that and they have a home game against Bolton on Tuesday. They will be expected to win that of course. We needed to win today. We are a point behind Chelsea and they have a game in hand and that would take it to four points and it's a big gap."

Manchester City strengthened its hold on fourth place with a 5-1 victory over Birmingham.

Carlos Tevez stroked home a 38th-minute penalty and added a second when he touched in a header from Nedum Onuoha. Emmanuel Adebayor made it three before he and Onuoha scored further goals to move City on to 62 points from 33 games. Tottenham has 58 from 32.

Without injured striker Fernando Torres, Liverpool was held 0-0 at home by Fulham to lose more ground on City in the race for fourth.

Wolves edged closer to safety with a 0-0 draw at home to mid-table Stoke and is now six points above the relegation zone with four games to play.

S-Pulse blast Sendai

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) Shimizu S-Pulse preserved their unbeaten start to the season in the J. League with a 5-1 demolition of promoted Vegalta Sendai on Sunday.

Norwegian striker Frode Johnsen put S-Pulse on the way when he broke the deadlock with a long-range effort on 26 minutes before Takuya Honda doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime at Outsourcing Stadium.

Two goals in the space of three minutes from Jungo Fujimoto and Yasuhiro Hiraoka put S-Pulse out of sight before former Urawa Reds striker Yuichiro Nagai added a fifth on 79 minutes. Takayuki Nakahara grabbed a consolation a minute from time for the visitors.

The result put S-Pulse back on top of the table with 14 points from six games, one ahead of Urawa Reds and Kawasaki Frontale.

In Sunday's other game, Montedio Yamagata won 2-0 at Vissel Kobe.

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