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Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

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Try again: Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul saves a shot from United's Javier Hernandez during their match at Old Trafford on Saturday. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. AP

Fergie left fuming as United held at home


LONDON — Manchester United is in the unusual situation of hoping that Liverpool wins its weekend game after dropping two valuable points in the Premier League title chase.

A contentious penalty decision allowed Demba Ba to equalize and earn Newcastle a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Saturday, leaving the defending champions hoping for a huge favor from its traditional rival when it hosts leader Manchester City on Sunday.

Ba's ninth league goal of the season came after an assistant referee said Rio Ferdinand fouled Hatem Ben Arfa with what looked to be a legal challenge. The result left United four points behind City and allowed third-place Tottenham to close to within two points with a 3-1 win at West Bromwich Albion.

Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice in Tottenham's club-record fifth straight Premier League win, while Chelsea scored three times in the first half for a 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers and just a second victory in five league games.

Arsenal slipped two points behind Chelsea after defender Thomas Vermaelen scored a goal at either end in a 1-1 draw against Fulham.

Also Saturday, Wigan beat Sunderland 2-1 and was replaced at the bottom of the standings by Blackburn, which lost 3-1 at Stoke.

Ferdinand got the ball as he slid in on Ben Arfa inside the area but the linesman advised the referee that the challenge had been a foul, and Ba scored the resulting penalty after 61 minutes.

"Everyone else including the referee was astounded," Ferguson said. "That was one of the worst decisions I have ever seen. It was an absolutely shocking decision and it costs you.

"Two years ago when the linesman gave an offside goal for Chelsea it cost us the league."

Japan beats Syria

Borussia Monchengladbach forward Yuki Otsu headed in a late winner as Japan took a significant step towards qualifying for next year's London Olympics with a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten Syria on Sunday.

Urawa Reds defender Mizuki Hamada headed Japan into a first-half lead, but a well-taken strike from Omar Al Suma looked to have given the Syrians a share of the spoils in a match marred by violent clashes in the stands at National Stadium.

But Otsu, who scored in Tuesday's 2-0 away to Bahrain, got on the end of Yusuke Higa's cross to seal victory four minutes from time, putting Japan top of Group C at the halfway stage of the final-round Asian qualifying competition.

Japan improved to nine points from three games, three ahead of Syria, which had led the group on goal difference after its victory over Malaysia followed Japan's win in Bahrain.

Ventforet cling on


KOFU — Ventforet Kofu overpowered visiting Albirex Niigata 3-0 on Sunday but were left needing a minor miracle next week to avoid relegation to the second division after just one season back in the top flight.

Kofu remains three points behind Urawa Reds ahead of the final round of matches on Saturday but its vastly inferior goal difference means relegation appears to be all but a formality.

Urawa, 2-1 winners at Avispa Fukuoka on Saturday, faces a tough assignment in its final game at home to leaders Kashiwa Reysol, but has a goal difference of minus-5. Kofu is minus-19.

"Urawa's win yesterday has put us in a very difficult situation with this goal difference but I told the players to just try and win both remaining games and try to make up the difference," said Kofu manager Satoru Sakuma.

"We defended well. The three goals are probably not enough but the players gave it everything they had. We haven't really been able to win at home this season and the fans have suffered."

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