Devils shine, gunners flop

LONDON - Manchester United maintained the pressure on English Premier League leaders Chelsea and Liverpool on Saturday as Arsenal avoided another embarrassing defeat.

LONDON - Manchester United maintained the pressure on English Premier League leaders Chelsea and Liverpool on Saturday as Arsenal avoided another embarrassing defeat.

United defender Wes Brown scored a disputed header in the first half at Blackburn Rovers and striker Wayne Rooney scored after the break for a 2-0 win that keeps the champions breathing down the leaders' necks.

Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas rescued Arsenal from the spectre of a second straight league defeat with an injury-time header in a 1-1 draw at Sunderland just minutes after the hosts took the lead and seemed set for a shock victory.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough won 1-0 at Wigan and West Bromwich beat visitors Fulham by the same scoreline. Brown's 31st-minute goal at Ewood Park came from a Rooney cross from the left, though Nemanja Vidic may have fouled Rovers goalkeeper Jason Brown.

Cristiano Ronaldo set up Rooney's goal in the 64th minute, the England striker finishing with a first time shot.

The result leaves United three points behind the leaders and Alex Ferguson's Champions League winners will have a game in hand following this weekend's round of matches.

At the Stadium of Light, Grant Leadbitter scored an 86th-minute goal for Sunderland, two minutes after replacing veteran Dwight Yorke. The 22-year-old midfielder crashed a shot which hit the Gunners' crossbar before bouncing down over the line.

At JJB Stadium, former Gunners striker Jeremie Aliadiere scored a last-ditch goal of his own, his 89th-minute effort the only goal of the game as visitors Middlesbrough beat Wigan.

The goal ended Middlesbrough's run of four straight defeats and was their first non-defeat on the road this season. Aliadiere got on the end of a Stuart Downing header and beat goalkeeper Ross Turnbull with a left-footed finish.

Meanwhile, Roman Bednar's 61st-minute goal at the Hawthorns was enough for West Brom to see off visitors Fulham.

It was the Czech international striker's third goal of the season, but the first from open play - the other two having come from the penalty spot. - Sapa-AFP

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