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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Man United's title charge slowed by Newcastle


NEWCASTLE, England — Manchester United's Premier League title charge was slowed by Newcastle on Tuesday, the leaders being held to a 0-0 draw to end a run of three consecutive wins.

News photo
Unexpected roadblock: Manchester United's Patrice Evra, left, vies for the ball with Newcastle's Chiek Tiote during their match at St. James' Park on Tuesday. The match ended 1-1. AP

The point took United seven points clear of Arsenal before the second-place London club played at Tottenham on Wednesday.

United was denied a penalty kick in stoppage when Javier Hernandez was instead booked for diving after being challenged by Newcastle defender Danny Simpson.

"I didn't feel like I touched him," Simpson said. "I feel like he went down too soft."

But United manager Alex Ferguson hit out at referee Lee Probert.

"It was a clear penalty. It's an insult because he's booked him," Ferguson said. "I thought the referee had a good game tonight, but he's let himself down by booking the player.

"If it's not a penalty, fine. But to book him is an insult. There is definitely contact, no doubt about that."

Ferguson claimed not to see Newcastle's earlier penalty claim, in which Peter Lovenkrands felt he was tripped by United midfielder Anderson.

"The more obvious penalty was Peter Lovenkrands — it's an absolute cert," Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said. "It was a story of two penalties: one that definitely was for us, and one that wasn't for them."

United has five matches left in pursuit of a record 19th English league title, but the draw has raised spirits at Arsenal before the north London derby.

"BIG BIG BIG thank you to Newcastle United!" Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny wrote on his Twitter account. "Great spirit by the team and well done (Newcastle goalkeeper) Tim Krul for motm (man-of-the-match) performance!"

In the first half at Newcastle, Krul denied Hernandez and Wayne Rooney, who returned after a two-match suspension for swearing into a TV camera during a goal celebration against West Ham.

The draw took Newcastle up to ninth place, reaching the 40-point mark that is usually enough to be safe from relegation in the team's first season back in the Premier League.

"I think we owe it to ourselves and to the rest of the league that we put in a full performance (at Blackpool) on Saturday," Pardew said.

Cerezo beaten away

JEONJU, South Korea (KYODO) Cerezo Osaka's hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the Asian Champions League on their tournament debut took a hit Wednesday after a 1-0 defeat away to South Korea's Jeonbuk Motors.

Lee Dong Gook smashed in the winner at Jeonju World Cup Stadium as Jeonbuk knocked Cerezo off top spot in Group G and avenged a 1-0 defeat at Nagai Stadium just over two weeks ago.

Jeonbuk improved to nine points from four games, while Cerezo (six) dropped into third place, one point behind China's Shandong Luneng who hammered visiting Arema Indonesia 5-0 earlier in the day.

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