Reds share lead with Blues

[ENGLAND] Liverpool not only achieved a famous comeback win at Manchester City thanks to an injury time goal from Dirk Kuyt, it was also coaxed into playing the kind of attacking soccer that might finally win it back some of the admirers the club has been steadily losing since the 1980s.

City went 2-0 up before halftime on goals from Stephen Ireland and Javier Garrido. In the second half, Fernando Torres scored twice as City was reduced to 10 men when Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta took out Xabi Alonso with a studs-up tackle. In the final 10 minutes, the game swung from end to end until Kuyt pounced on a deflected shot in the 92nd minute from four yards out. "Maybe we should have had something to show for our efforts," mused a wistful City manager Mark Hughes. "It was fantastic," enthused his Liverpool counterpart Rafa Benitez, just back from the party with three points in his goody bag.

Chelsea continued unbeaten after topping outside title candidates Aston Villa 2-0 on goals from Joe Cole and Nic Anelka past Brad Friedel. "They played exceptionally well and we didn't," said Villa manager Martin O'Neill in a succinct summary.

Hull City continued its remarkable rise up the table to third, winning 1-0 at last-placed Tottenham on an early goal from Geovanni, his third of the season. Stranger still, Hull has a negative goal difference. "The attitude of the players is very positive," insisted Tottenham manager Juande Ramos, "but when you don't score goals it is not easy to win." A point that few would dispute.

Newcastle United actually picked up a point, albeit at equally forlorn Everton as the two teams generously shared four goals and kept themselves firmly in the bottom half of the table. American goalkeeper Tim Howard conceded goals from Steven Taylor and Damien Duff as Newcastle came back from two goals down. Interim manager Joe Kinnear pointed out that he still has "a big job to do." Like Sir Alex Ferguson, he also said he's not talking to the press any more. Perhaps his swear-box is too full.

Manchester United is easing its way up the standings, and it should only be a matter of weeks before we see the perennial Big Four clubs inevitably occupying the top four spots. Blackburn did create chances against United at Ewood Park, and manager Paul Ince delivered the inevitable "they are a better team, but we feel hard done by" speech in complaining that when Wes Brown scored the game's opener with his head, Nemanja Vidic impeded Blackburn keeper Jason Brown. A neat first-time Wayne Rooney finish off a Cristiano Ronaldo cross made it 2-0.

Arsenal struggled to break down a Sunderland side whose game plan seemed to keep all 11 players behind the ball for the entire 90 minutes. In the wind and the rain, it was about as pretty to watch as a herd of buffalo performing Swan Lake on ice. Worse still, it almost worked, Sunderland chancing forward in the 86th minute to go one ahead through a long range effort from Grant Leadbitter, who looked as surprised as the rest of us felt. But in the final minute Cesc Fabregas headed in a corner to equalize as Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon chose an inopportune moment to hug one of his defenders instead of going for the ball.

WEEKEND HIGHLIGHT: Javier Garrido's curling left-footed free kick that put Manchester City 2-0 up over Liverpool.


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