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Monday, Jan. 23, 2012

Dempsey hits treble as Fulham claims win


LONDON — Clint Dempsey scored his second hat trick in as many weeks as the American forward steered Fulham to an astonishing 5-2 comeback victory over Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday.

News photo
Hats off to you: Fulham's Clint Dempsey (front) fights for the ball with Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa during their match on Saturday in London. Dempsey scored a hat trick in Fulham's 5-2 victory. AP

Newcastle dominated the opening 45 minutes and a superb drive from around 25 meters from Danny Guthrie put the visitors deservedly 1-0 ahead at halftime.

But Danny Murphy leveled from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute and Dempsey struck twice — his first being his 50th goal for Fulham — to leave the home side firmly in control.

Bobby Zamora converted another spot-kick in the 68th minute before Hatem Ben Arfa pulled a goal back for Newcastle.

Dempsey completed the second hat trick of his five-year career in English soccer — just two weeks after scoring the first against Charlton in the F.A. Cup on Jan. 7 — in the 89th minute.

His latest feat took Dempsey to a career-best 15 goals this season, two more than his previous best last season, and a total of 52 since the 28-year-old forward joined Fulham from New England Revolution in January, 2007.

"We never found our rhythm in the first half but we began to get into their penalty area in the second half," Dempsey said after taking his Premier League tally to nine goals. "Danny Murphy scored the first goal and then we kept going and going. Luckily the ball kept going in. We never took our foot off the gas and we took our chances."

Fulham manager Martin Jol was delighted with the American's performance and was keen for it continue as the team moved eight points away from the relegation zone.

"Clint Dempsey is our top scorer," Jol said. "He is doing what he does best. Clint scores goals and if he can score 12 goals this year and some other players do we will be fine."

Needing a win to boost its faint chances of reeling in the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham, fourth-place Chelsea was frustrated by poor finishing at Carrow Road, with misfiring Spain striker Fernando Torres being the biggest culprit in a 0-0 draw with Norwich.

Qualifying for the Champions League may be Chelsea's main target now, so news of Liverpool's 3-1 defeat at Bolton and Newcastle's loss at Fulham will have been welcome.

Liverpool was surprisingly overrun by a Bolton team that had been languishing in the bottom three, surrendering an opportunity to move within three points of Chelsea.

League leader Manchester City was set to host third-place Tottenham and Manchester United, which is second, visits Arsenal on Sunday in an important day for the title chasers.

At the other end of the standings, bottom team Wigan's plight worsened by losing 3-1 at Queens Park Rangers — its 13th defeat in 22 games.

Ireland striker Robbie Keane grabbed a second-half double — his second in the 84th minute proving to be the winner — as Aston Villa rallied to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2.

Keane was making his starting debut after moving to Villa on a short-term loan deal from Los Angeles Galaxy.

Sunderland beat Swansea 2-0, Blackburn grabbed a 1-1 draw at Everton and West Bromwich Albion claimed a first win in 2012 by beating Stoke 2-1.

Chelsea is now provisionally 10 points behind City and five adrift of Tottenham, but the margin should be shorter following a dominant second-half performance at Carrow Road that had Norwich hanging on.

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