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Sunderland dents Chelsea’s title hopes
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LONDON (AP) - In another twist to this unpredictable English Premier League season, last-place Sunderland damaged Chelsea’s title hopes with a 2-1 upset at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
After surprise losses to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace in recent weeks, Chelsea again stuttered against weaker opposition, as Jose Mourinho’s 77-match unbeaten home run as Chelsea boss came to an end in a major boost for league leader Liverpool.
Chelsea could not hold onto its lead after Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring, as Connor Wickham leveled from the rebound six minutes later following Marcos Alonso’s long-range effort. Fabio Borini then scored from the spot after Cesar Azpilicueta brought down United States forward Jozy Altidore in the box with eight minutes remaining.
Elsewhere, Crystal Palace claimed a fifth consecutive win with a 1-0 defeat of West Ham to secure its place in the topflight next season and Swansea secured a vital 2-1 win at Newcastle that piled more pressure on Magpies manager Alan Pardew.
Peter Whittingham’s second-half penalty gave Cardiff a precious point in a 1-1 draw against Stoke, and Aston Villa could record only a goalless home draw with Southampton.
Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone made 14 saves as Chelsea blew the opportunity to dislodge Liverpool from top spot. The Reds will have the chance to extend their lead to five points at Norwich on Sunday.
Bayern Munich ground out a hard-fought 2-0 victory over last-place Eintracht Braunschweig to end the champions’ three-game winless streak in the Bundesliga.
Claudio Pizarro broke the deadlock in the 75th minute, when Mario Goetze sent the Peruvian through, and Mario Mandzukic secured the win with four minutes remaining as the home side pushed for an equalizer.
Bayern failed to impress for long periods, however, and will hope for improvement for Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg at Real Madrid.
“It was important to win before the game against Real Madrid. It gives us confidence,” Pizarro said.
Second-place Borussia Dortmund secured Champions League football next season by defeating visiting Mainz 4-2, and Freiburg took a giant step in its fight against relegation by beating Borussia Moenchengladbach by the same score.
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