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Monday, April 19, 2010

Scholes heads United to victory

MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United veteran Paul Scholes headed in a stoppage-time goal Saturday to clinch a 1-0 victory over Manchester City and revive the team's hopes of winning an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title.

With three matches to go, Man United is only a point behind Chelsea after the leaders lost 2-1 at Tottenham.

"It's a big result for us," Scholes said. "Obviously, Chelsea are still in a strong position, but we've done all we can here today to keep the pressure on them."

The 35-year-old Scholes, who signed a season-long contract extension during the week, settled a drab 142nd Manchester derby with 12 seconds to go when he nodded in Patrice Evra's cross.

"We deserved to win the match, no question, but I couldn't see a goal coming," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "I decided to put Scholes a bit further forward and it paid off. He was (the) man of the match today. He was wonderful, he's such a skillful player."

While Chelsea's loss helped Ferguson's side, it further loosened City's grip on the fourth Champions League place. Fifth-place Tottenham is only a point behind Roberto Mancini's team and plays at United on Saturday.

"This doesn't change the situation for fourth place — the crucial match will be against Tottenham here (on May 5)," Mancini said. "We are very disappointed to lose and I'm very angry but always positive. We had some chances and we didn't deserve to lose but that's football."

As Ferguson had said amid the pre-match hype, this turned out to be a disappointing game. It lacked the explosiveness of January's League Cup semifinal encounters and, given their respective league positions, more urgency was expected from the fierce rivals.

United's victory put pressure on Chelsea, which was four points ahead at the start of the day.

Tottenham went ahead from the penalty spot in the 15th minute when Terry was ruled to have handled and Defoe fired home the spot kick. It was 2-0 just before halftime when Bale fired past goalkeeper Petr Cech and his near post.

Terry was sent off for a second yellow card midway through the second half, which means he misses Chelsea's next game against Stoke.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said his team fell below its recent form but still had the lead at the top of the standings.

"The important thing is to maintain the lead at the top of the league," he said. "It is only one point and only three games (to play) but the title is still in our hands. We don't have to be afraid, we have to stay calm and look for the next game against Stoke."

Promoted last season through the playoffs, next-to-last Burnley looks likely to return to the League Championship after a 2-1 loss at Sunderland.

First-half strikes by strikers Fraizer Campbell and Darren Bent, who scored his 23rd league goal of the season, put Sunderland in control at the Stadium of Light.

Burnley, which replied through Steven Thompson in the 82nd minute, is still four points from safety with three games to play. West Ham, which is 17th, visits Liverpool on Monday.

Hull also remains deep in trouble in 18th place despite a 0-0 draw at Birmingham. Iain Dowie's team has one more point than Burnley but has four games left.

Tim Cahill scored a last-minute winner in Everton's 3-2 victory at Blackburn.

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