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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arsenal blows title tilt with Wigan meltdown

LONDON (AP) Arsenal conceded three goals in the last 10 minutes Sunday to fall 3-2 at Wigan and all but end its hopes of winning the Premier League title.

News photo
Party crashers: Wigan's Hugo Rodallega, left, challenges for the ball with Arsenal's Mikael Silvestre during their match on Sunday at DW Stadium. AP PHOTO

The Gunners were winning 2-0 and on course to rebound from Wednesday's 2-1 defeat at Tottenham until Wigan midfielder Ben Watson scored in the 80th minute.

Titus Bramble then equalized in the 89th following a fumble by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and the Arsenal defense gave Charles N'Zogbia space in injury time to run across the edge of the box and hit a curling shot in at the far post.

"I believe we were not focused, not disciplined and were caught," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "In football you have to stay focused for 90 minutes otherwise you run the risk of being punished.

"That is especially the case against a team with nothing to lose, fighting not to go down. You knew they would not give up, and in the end we were punished for that."

Wigan's first league win over Arsenal lifted it seven points clear of the relegation zone and left the Gunners six points behind leader Chelsea with three games to play.

Defending champion Manchester United is a point behind Chelsea after beating local rival Manchester City 1-0 on Saturday.

Arsenal needs to win its last three games by big margins and hope Chelsea and United each win no more than one of their remaining matches.

Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Chelsea had reignited Arsenal's faint title chances and the Gunners looked set to capitalize after Theo Walcott and Mikael Silvestre gave them a 2-0 lead by the 48th minute.

Aston Villa beat relegated last-place club Portsmouth 2-1 in Sunday's other Premier League match.

Midfielder Michael Brown put Portsmouth ahead in the 10th minute, but John Carew equalized six minutes later and 19-year-old striker Nathan Delfouneso hit the winner eight minutes before the end with his first Premier League goal.

Rangers close in

GLASGOW , Scotland (AP) Kenny Miller scored his 20th goal of the season to help Rangers beat 10-man Hearts 2-0 and edge closer to a second straight Scottish Premier League title.

Kyle Lafferty scored a 54th-minute opener at Ibrox before Miller doubled the lead with six minutes left after midfielder Eggert Jonsson was ejected for pushing Steven Naismith.

Rangers can clinch the title with a victory at Hibernian next weekend or if second-place Celtic loses to Dundee United earlier the same day.

Twente on brink

AMSTERDAM (AP) FC Twente beat Feyenoord 2-0, but still needs a victory at NAC Breda in the final round of the Dutch league to clinch the title.

Blaise Nkufo and Miroslav Stoch scored to give Steve McClaren's team all three points, but Ajax's 4-0 win against Heracles Almelo forced Twente to suspend its title celebrations.

Twente leads the standings with 83 points, one more than Ajax.



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