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Friday, Nov. 12, 2010

Manchester rivals tie

Much-anticipated clash falls flat; Chelsea benefits

LONDON (AP) Manchester United drew 0-0 at Manchester City on Wednesday to let Chelsea stretch its lead at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over visiting Fulham.

The Manchester rivals created few chances in a high-paced encounter at City of Manchester Stadium and United's fifth draw from six away games this season left it four points behind the defending champion.

Michael Essien scored and was sent off for Chelsea as the Blues stretched their unbeaten streak against their west London neighbors to 10 matches.

Marouane Chamakh scored both goals as Arsenal stayed in third place with a 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers, while City stayed fourth.

Newcastle stayed in fifth place despite a 2-1 home defeat to Blackburn, followed by six teams tied on 16 points.

Chelsea leads with 28 after recovering from Sunday's surprise 2-0 loss at Liverpool, albeit without dominating its less heralded opponent.

Didier Drogba had already had a free kick saved by Mark Schwarzer when Essien, back on the team after missing two matches because of a toe injury, headed Salomon Kalou's 30th-minute cross down and into the net for his fourth goal of the season. But Essien now faces an absence through suspension after he was shown a red card in the final minute for a two-footed lunge on Fulham forward Clint Dempsey.

Chelsea could have won by more. Florent Malouda drew a save from Schwarzer five minutes before halftime and Kalou shot just wide of the far post seconds later.

Manchester City struggled to break down a defense marshaled by man-of-the-match Nemanja Vidic, while United had little cutting edge with Wayne Rooney injured and Javier Hernandez only a 78th-minute substitute.

"City are very difficult to beat on their own ground," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "I think there was too much tension for it to be the kind of match people thought it would be."

Carlos Tevez came closest to putting City ahead against his former club with a curling free kick that Edwin van der Sar dived full stretch to push past his left post, while Dimitar Berbatov's acrobatic second-half volley at goalkeeper Joe Hart was United's best chance.

United lost fullbacks Rafael da Silva and Patrice Evra to injury but retained its defensive shape with Wes Brown and John O'Shea on as substitutes.

"It's a decent result but we don't count draws away from home as the target before the game," Ferguson said. "Our target is to win the game and I think we had enough possession to do that.

"We were good on the ball but we needed to create openings to win the match and we only really made two which was difficult."

Arsenal recovered quickly from Sunday's 1-0 home defeat against Newcastle, going ahead after just 39 seconds when Chamakh headed in a cross from Alex Song. Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann kept the deficit to a single goal until Chamakh finished from a pass by Cesc Fabregas in the final seconds of injury time.

Morten Gamst Pedersen and Jason Roberts scored to give Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce victory on his return to former club Newcastle, which is now just one point ahead of Bolton, Tottenham, Sunderland, Liverpool, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.

Bolton drew 1-1 at Everton, Liverpool drew 1-1 at Wigan, Villa beat Blackpool 3-2 and West Brom drew 2-2 at last-place West Ham. Tottenham and Sunderland drew 1-1 Tuesday.

Darren Beckford equalized in the last minute for Everton after Ivan Klasnic had put Bolton ahead.

Fernando Torres scored his third goal in two games to put Liverpool ahead in the seventh minute, but Hugo Rodallega equalized seven minutes into the second period to halt Liverpool's four-match winning streak.

James Collins scored with a minute left to earn victory for Villa, which also got goals through Stewart Downing and Nathan Delfouneso.



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