LIVERPOOL TAKE FIGHT TO UNITED

BUOYANT: Rafael Benitez. 14/03/2009. Pic. Jon Super. © AP
BUOYANT: Rafael Benitez. 14/03/2009. Pic. Jon Super. © AP

LONDON - Rafael Benitez claimed Liverpool's last-gasp winner at Fulham was proof of the "winning mentality" his squad has developed in their pursuit of Manchester United.

LONDON - Rafael Benitez claimed Liverpool's last-gasp winner at Fulham was proof of the "winning mentality" his squad has developed in their pursuit of Manchester United.

Yossi Benayoun's 92nd-minute winner sent the Reds to the top of the Premier League for the first time in almost three months and Benitez's uncharacteristic celebratory leap into the air spoke volumes about the significance of the Israel captain's strike.

United, looking for a third straight title, will still have one game in hand after hosting visit of Aston Villa to Old Trafford on Sunday. (At the time of going to press this game had not started).

The Reds left it late, but deserved their win.

Chelsea remain three points behind Liverpool, beating Alan Shearer's Newcastle 2-0.

It was Shearer's debut in the Magpies' dugout.

Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda scored for Chelsea in the second half.

Shearer said: "They gave me fantastic effort and we're going to need every ounce of effort they've got until the end of the season." Emmanuel Adebayor celebrated his return to the Arsenal line-up with a double to sink Manchester City 2-0 at the Emirates.

It was also a comeback match for Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas, who set up both goals. Arsenal face Villarreal in a midweek Champions League encounter.

South Africa striker Benni McCarthy also put Blackburn Rovers in good stead to survive relegation scoring in a 2-1 win over 10-man Tottenham Hotspur, who'd gone ahead after a first half penalty by Robbie Keane. Dutch defender Andre Ooijer secured the points for Spurs.

While Middlesbrough's chances of survival suffered a blow going down 4-1 to Bolton wanderers now Gareth Southgate's who are second from bottom are five points from safety.

Gary O'Neil equalised Kevin Davies's early strike to give Boro hope but Gary Cahill restored Bolton's lead just before the break while Matt Taylor and Ricardo Gardner added two in the second half.

Finishing the game with 10 men, Portsmouth's David James pulled off superb saves to earn a goalless draw at Hull City. Glen Johnson was sent off but Pompey still held out.

Stoke City earned their first away win 2-0 at West Bromwich Albion through Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie.

But it was a bleak day for Sunderland, who slipped into the last survival spot, only three points above local rivals Newcastle United, after a 2-0 defeat at West Ham. Both goals came from homegrown youngsters, Junior Stanislas and James Tomkins.

Sapa-AFP

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