Spurs Slip Up in Race for Champions League Spot, Newcastle Wins
Norwich won 2-1 at Tottenham to loosen the London team’s grip on fourth place in soccer’s Premier League as Newcastle defeated Bolton 2-0 for its fifth straight victory.
Clint Dempsey’s late header gave Fulham a 1-1 draw last night against Chelsea, which remains winless against other teams from London this season. In other games yesterday, Everton scored four second-half goals to beat Sunderland 4-0 and Aston Villa tied 1-1 with Stoke.
Tottenham fell to a fourth defeat in its past nine league games as Elliott Bennett struck Norwich’s winner in the 66th minute at White Hart Lane. Spurs, who have fallen behind Arsenal in the 20-team standings, have 59 points from 33 of 38 matches and lead fifth-place Newcastle on goal difference. Manchester United heads the standings by eight points from Manchester City.
“We were disappointing,” Spurs manager Harry Redknapp told his club’s website. “They were always dangerous, always a threat and I never sat there and felt comfortable.”
Spurs, who are 20 points behind Manchester United, have picked up nine points from nine games since Fabio Capello resigned as England manager Feb. 8 and U.K. bookmakers installed Redknapp as the favorite to replace him.
The top three clubs at the end of the season enter the group stage of the Champions League, with the fourth-place team having to play a qualifying round. Chelsea is two points further back in sixth after missing the chance to pull even on points with Spurs and Newcastle.
Magpies Win Again
Hatem Ben Arfa’s solo goal and Papiss Cisse’s close-range finish in the last 17 minutes secured the win against Bolton that leaves Newcastle in contention to reach Europe’s elite club competition for the first time since 2003. Bolton stays one point above the three-team relegation zone.
Chelsea missed its chance to take fourth place as Fulham’s Dempsey scored with an 82nd-minute header to tie the west London derby at Craven Cottage. Frank Lampard had put the Blues ahead with a 45th-minute penalty kick that made him the first midfielder to score 150 Premier League goals.
Dempsey’s 16th goal of the season put the U.S. national team forward joint-fourth on the Premier League’s scoring list, which is headed by Robin van Persie of Arsenal with 26.
Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, whose team faces Tottenham in an F.A. Cup semifinal on April 15, said fourth place will probably be decided in the 38th round of matches.
“It’s going to go down to the last game,” Di Matteo told Chelsea’s website. “It’s a very competitive league. We have an experienced team and very good players and we will raise our game for the next challenge.”
Everton, which faces Liverpool in the other F.A. Cup semifinal on April 14, got second-half goals from Magaye Gueye, Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe to beat Sunderland and move four points ahead of its city rival in seventh place.
Everton has finished above Liverpool only once in the Premier League, in 2004-05. Liverpool visits Blackburn today.
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