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Monday, April 26, 2010

Giggs keeps United afloat in title chase

LONDON (AP) Manchester United ended Tottenham's winning run Saturday with a 3-1 victory that kept the pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

Spurs beat Arsenal and Chelsea in their last two games but Ryan Giggs scored two second-half penalties and Nani struck another goal to take the defending champions to 79 points with two games remaining.

Chelsea had 77 points ahead of its game against Stoke on Sunday.

"The main thing is we are top of the table with two games left," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Who is to say what is going to happen? We have done our job."

Tottenham can still qualify for the Champions League for the first time if it wins its remaining three matches, after third-place Arsenal held Manchester City to a 0-0 draw.

Arsenal restored Robin van Persie to its starting lineup for the first time in five months but the Netherlands striker was unable to breach a tough City rearguard.

With three former Arsenal favorites playing for City, the match was noticeable more for fierce challenges and six yellow cards than chances.

The draw left Arsenal on 72 points and formally ended its chances of winning the title. City has 63 points, one fewer than Tottenham, which plays at City on May 5.

Giggs opened the scoring for United in the 58th with a shot low to the left following a foul on Patrice Evra by Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

Tottenham captain Ledley King equalized in the 70th with a header from a corner, but Nani restored United's lead with a smart flick over goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

Giggs then made it 3-1 with four minutes left, shooting into the right corner after Wilson Palacios barged into Nani from behind.

But Tottenham's hopes of finishing the season in fourth place above City, which has spent about £200 million ($307 million) on players over the past two years in an effort to break into the elite, were boosted when City goalkeeper Shay Given was carried off the field late on with a shoulder injury.

City's replacement 'keeper, Gunnar Nielsen, has never started a Premier League match.

At the other end of the standings, Hull had United States striker Jozy Altidore sent off and slipped closer to relegation with a 1-0 loss to Sunderland.

The result left Hull in 18th place with 28 points. The Tigers' only chance of avoiding relegation is to win both its remaining games by big margins and hope West Ham loses its last two matches.

"It's not worked out the way we wanted to," Hull chairman Adam Pearson said. "We've been in the bottom three all season. We just didn't have that bit of quality.

"I can't say it's been a huge surprise."

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