News24

Chelsea into 2nd place

2009-01-29 06:47

London - Salomon Kalou's goals sent Chelsea up to second place in the English Premier League in a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough as Liverpool was held to 1-1 at Wigan on Wednesday.

Kalou scored in the 58th and 81st minutes at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea revived from a poor first half.

Liverpool squandered the lead at Wigan after Yossi Benayoun scored just before halftime, Ahmed Mido marked his debut for Wigan with an 83rd-minute penalty.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez surprisingly took off Spanish striker Fernando Torres and captain Steven Gerrard. He sent on Robbie Keane for the team's best player, Gerrard, even though he had dropped the Irish striker for Sunday's FA Cup game against Everton.

"Torres was tired. The same for Gerrard," said Benitez, whose team hosts Chelsea on Sunday. "We have to think about the performance in the first half, the team was playing well and with a lot of confidence with the ball. If against Chelsea we can do the same, I am sure we can keep the rhythm."

The draw dropped Liverpool to third, level on points with Chelsea but behind on goal difference. Both are two points behind Manchester United which opened up a lead by winning 5-0 at last-place West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.

A day after being arrested over allegations of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman, Robinho helped Manchester City beat Newcastle 2-1 to lift the team to ninth in the standings. It was also the Brazilian's first game since he walked out of training last week without permission, a move for which he will be fined by the club. Robinho set up the first goal for Shaun Wright-Phillips and Craig Bellamy marked his first appearance with the second goal.

"I think today was more about focusing on the football," City manager Mark Hughes said after a hectic week. "We're delighted with the three points and we have a game in hand. We're unbeaten in four games and won three of them and we're not in bad shape at the moment."

While Hughes was elated, there was more grim news for Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear with news that both Michael Owen and Joey Barton had cracked bones which would rule them out for several weeks. Owen, whose career has been plagued by long-term injuries, limped off the field early in the game with a cracked bone in his ankle and Barton's injury was to his foot.

"It is one thing after another at the moment," Kinnear said. "The doctor had said six to eight weeks with Michael and 10 for Joey."

Robin van Persie's last-minute 1-1 equaliser for Arsenal at Everton came after Tim Cahill gave the home side the lead.

Despite the point, Arsene Wenger's fifth-place Gunners slipped even further behind the leaders and now have eight points to make up on Manchester United which has a game in hand.

"With one minute to go and you're 1-0 down then you're relieved (to get the draw)," Wenger said. "We had a difficult game tonight and played with a lot of intensity, focus, desire and our character allowed us to get a point. It was more down to fighting than creative passing."

Blackburn hit back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Bolton, one of manager Sam Allardyce's former clubs, and West Ham beat Hull 2-0, the Tigers losing for the sixth Premier League game in a row.

Bolton's Matthew Taylor and Kevin Davies stunned Allardyce by putting Bolton 2-0 up inside 35 minutes at Ewood Park. But Steve Warnock replied in the 66th and, after goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen saved Benni McCarthy's penalty, the South African striker netted the equaliser in the 87th.

Hull goalkeeper Matt Duke marked his Premier League debut by saving Mark Noble's 21st-minute penalty after Tigers defender Sam Ricketts was harshly judged to have brought down West Ham striker Carlton Cole.

But David Di Michele gave the Hammers a 33rd-minute lead and, after Jack Collison and Di Michele both hit the Hull post, Cole stabbed the ball home from eight meters in the 51st.

AP