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Rooney hat trick inspires Man United comeback

Sporting Gijon surprise Real Madrid 1-0


LONDON (AP) ― Wayne Rooney’s hat trick kept Manchester United on track to win the English Premier League with a 4-2 comeback victory over West Ham on Saturday, while the title hopes of Arsenal and defending champion Chelsea were hurt by draws.

Second-place Arsenal drew 0-0 with visiting Blackburn and Chelsea, in third, needed a 33rd-minute header by Didier Drogba to escape with a 1-1 draw against a Stoke team in the middle of the standings.

Rooney’s first hat trick in 14 months wiped out a 2-0 halftime deficit, boosting Man United’s chances for a record 19th English championship.

“We played like champions,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “It was a real championship performance as far as I’m concerned.”

Liverpool, which shares the record of 18 titles with United, lost 2-1 against a West Bromwich Albion team led by its former manager, Roy Hodgson. Tottenham’s prospects of a second straight top-four finish dimmed with a 0-0 draw at Wigan.

Chelsea has eight games left and is 11 points behind United, which has played one more game. Second-place Arsenal is seven points off the lead and has a game in hand.

Chelsea has eight games left and is 11 points behind United, which has played one more game. Second-place Arsenal can keep United’s lead at five points with victory over Blackburn in Saturday’s late match.

Two penalty kicks by Mark Noble put relegation-threatened West Ham ahead 2-0 by the 25th minute at Upton Park.

Rooney curled in a 65th-minute free kick for just his eighth league goal of the season. Eight minutes later, he struck his 100th goal in the top tier of English soccer, creating room on the edge of the penalty area and shooting past goalkeeper Robert Green.

The England striker then scored a 79th-minute penalty kick following Matthew Upson’s inadvertent hand ball. Javier Hernandez scored from Ryan Giggs’ cross with six minutes left.
Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung challenges for the ball against West Ham United. (AFP-Yonhap News)
Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung challenges for the ball against West Ham United. (AFP-Yonhap News)

“We don’t give up, no matter what the score,” Rooney said. “We were brilliant all over the park, but even when we haven’t been playing well we have been grinding out results.”

Also, Aston Villa drew 2-2 at Everton; Newcastle beat Wolverhampton 4-1; and Birmingham defeated Bolton 2-1.

Spain

Sporting Gijon upset Real Madrid 1-0 to hand coach Jose Mourinho his first home loss in league play in nine years, and Barcelona opened an eight-point lead in La Liga with a 1-0 victory at third-place Villarreal.

Miguel de las Cuevas scored in the 79th minute at Santiago Bernabeu stadium, breaking free on the edge of the penalty area and netting a right-footed shot off a post.

The absence of the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Marcelo and the suspended Xabi Alonso showed as Madrid struggled to create chances. Real Madrid and Barcelona each have eight league games left.

At El Madrigal, Gerard Pique scored in the 66th minute as Barcelona extended its club-record league unbeaten streak to 28 games. Daniel Alves’ corner kick was flicked on by Sergio Busquets, and Pique controlled the ball with his chest before scoring.

Italy

AC Milan put itself in prime position to win the Italian league for the first time since 2004, beating Inter Milan 3-0 to increase its lead to five points.

Alexandre Pato scored 42 seconds in, then made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute, eight minutes after Inter’s Cristian Chivu was ejected for tripping Pato just outside the penalty area on a breakaway. Antonio Cassano converted a penalty kick in the 89th after he was knocked over by Javier Zanetti.

Cassano was ejected in injury time for fouling Ivan Cordoba. Cassano had earlier gotten a yellow card for taking off his jersey during his goal celebration.

AC Milan swept both league games in the Derby della Madonnina for the first time since 2003-04. It had not beaten Inter by three goals in the league since a 6-0 victory in 2001.

France

Moussa Sow scored his league-leading 20th goal of the season as French leader Lille coasted to a 3-1 home win over Caen, extending its lead to seven points after Rennes tied Auxerre 0-0.

Aurelien Chedjou scored in the 30th minute, Eden Hazard doubled the lead in the 61st and Sow scored in the 73rd.

Second-place Marseille, even on points with third-place Rennes, can cut Lille’s gap if it wins at struggling Lens on Sunday.

Germany

Borussia Dortmund rallied to beat Hannover 4-1 at home and stay seven points ahead in the Bundesliga.

Hannover slipped to fourth after Arjen Robben’s goal was enough for Bayern Munich to reclaim third place with a 1-0 win at home over Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Mohammed Abdellaoue opened the scoring for Hannover in the 57th minute, and Mario Goetze tied it two minutes later.

Lucas Barrios’ header gave Florian Fromlowitz no chance in the 64th minute, and he made the game safe in the 73rd. Kevin Grosskreutz rounded off the scoring in the 83rd.

Scotland

Rangers lost at home to Dundee United for the first time in a decade, a 3-2 defeat that cost the defending champions first place in the Scottish Premier League.

Rangers are in second place with 65 points, two fewer than Glasgow rival Celtic. Both clubs have played 28 matches
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