English Premiership

Newcastle power into top four

2012-04-21 18:11
Yohan Cabaye (AFP)

London - Newcastle United moved into the top four of the Premier League on Saturday as Chelsea lost ground in the race for a Champions League qualifying berth.

Two goals from Yohan Cabaye and one from Papiss Cisse gave Newcastle a 3-0 win over Stoke City at St James' Park, a result that saw the Magpies move four points clear of sixth-placed Chelsea with four games remaining.

Tottenham Hotspur could reclaim fourth spot later on Saturday, however, if they beat relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in the late kick-off.

Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Arsenal earlier on Saturday means the west London club are now four points adrift of the Champions League qualifying places with four games left to play.

Nevertheless, Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo was satisfied with the result, which came after a gruelling week that included victory over Spurs in the FA Cup before a hard-fought win in their Champions League semi-final first leg with Barcelona.

With one eye on next week's return leg in Barcelona, Di Matteo made eight changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Arsenal, who struggled to break down a resolute Chelsea rearguard.

"It was a brilliant team performance. You come to the Emirates and it's difficult to play against Arsenal," said Di Matteo.

"This was our third game in less than six days. The way they've responded to this -- personally, I think it's crazy -- but we showed there's great quality in this team and our spirit is high.

"This keeps our momentum going and our confidence high. We believe we're getting better and better and can achieve any results that we want."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was philosophical after a result that saw his team remain in third place, just three points clear of Newcastle, whose win over Stoke was their sixth in a row.

"We still had the chances to win the game; they had zero. I cannot remember them having one clear-cut chance," Wenger said.

"I expected the game to be open because they had to win and we had to win. But it wasn't so it shows you how unpredictable football is."

With title rivals Manchester United and Manchester City having games on Sunday, attention elsewhere on Saturday focused on the battle to beat the drop.

Wigan Athletic's hopes of pulling clear of the relegation zone suffered a setback as they lost 2-1 at Fulham, Philippe Senderos scoring an 89th-minute winner to sink the Latics at Craven Cottage.

Senderos' winner came after Wigan had taken the lead through Emmerson Boyce on 57 minutes before Pavel Pogrebnyak got Fulham back on level terms.

Blackburn Rovers ended a run of five consecutive defeats to score a 2-0 win over Norwich City at Ewood Park.

The win left Rovers third from bottom but level on points with QPR, one place ahead of them in 17th.

Mauro Formica and Junior Hoilett scored the goals for Rovers as Steve Kean's side gave themselves a Premier League lifeline.

Bolton Wanderers, meanwhile, remain in the bottom three after being held 1-1 by Swansea at the Reebok Stadium.

Scott Sinclair put Swansea ahead after only six minutes, curling his shot into the far corner after cutting in from the left flank, before Chris Eagles levelled in the 14th minute.

In the other match on Saturday, Aston Villa and Sunderland played out a 0-0 draw at Villa Park.

Read more on:    newcastle  |  epl  |  soccer

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