- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

LONDON (AP) - Substitute Yossi Benayoun scored during injury time Saturday, leading Liverpool to a 1-0 victory at Fulham and tightening the pressure on defending champion Manchester United in the title race.

Liverpool moved two points ahead in the Premier League, but United has two games in hand and hosts Aston Villa on Sunday. Liverpool routed United and Villa before the two-week international break.

Liverpool hit the goal frame four times in the first half, then scored in the second minute of stoppage time. Fulham defender Brede Hangeland challenged Steven Gerrard for the ball at the top of the penalty area, and the ball fell to an open Benayoun.

“It’s a massive three points _ we knew a defeat or a draw was no good for us,” Gerrard said. “We had to let United know they are in for a title fight until the end.”

Chelsea is also still in that fight, puling within a point of United with a 2-0 victory at Newcastle as former Magpies captain Alan Shearer began his eight-match term as manager.

Second-half goals from Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda allowed Chelsea to dampen the homecoming of Shearer, Newcastle’s all-time leading scorer. Newcastle stayed third from last place, two points behind Sunderland, which lost 2-0 at West Ham.

Stoke’s bid to avoid relegation was helped by winning 2-0 at West Bromwich Albion. Middlesbrough was routed 4-1 at Bolton. West Brom and Middlesbrough occupy the bottom two places.

Blackburn moved four points clear of the relegation zone, stunning 10-man Tottenham with two late goals for a 2-1 win. Hull and Portsmouth drew 0-0.

In the chase for Champions League places, Arsenal strengthened its grip on fourth with Emmanuel Adebayor’s two goals providing a 2-0 victory over Manchester City. Cesc Fabregas, returning after three months out with a knee injury, set up both goals. Adebayor was playing in his first game for the Gunners after a two-month layoff.

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PARIS (AP) _ Karim Benzema scored twice to lead Lyon to a 3-1 victory over Le Mans and help the defending champion keep its title rivals at bay in the French league.

Lyon leads the league with 59 points from 30 games, followed by Bordeaux with 56 and Marseille with 55. Marseille can cut Lyon’s lead to a point with a victory over Saint-Etienne on Sunday.

Jean-Alain Boumsong scored off a corner kick from Juninho in the 16th minute to put Lyon ahead, before Benzema doubled the lead in the 44th with a diagonal shot inside the post.

The Lyon forward scored his 14th goal this season in the 57th, heading a ball into an empty net after goalkeeper Yohann Pele saved a shot from Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom. Anthony Le Tallec scored a consolation goal for Le Mans in the 77th.

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FRANKFURT (AP) _ Wolfsburg seized the Bundesliga lead after Edin Dzeko and Grafite each scored twice within 13 minutes to give the team a 5-1 win over Bayern Munich. Wolfsburg leapfrogged Hertha Berlin, which lost 3-1 to Borussia Dortmund.

Luca Toni had tied it for Bayern in the 45th minute to make it 1-1 at halftime, but Wolfsburg remained undefeated at home this season thanks to goals by Dzeko in the 64th and 66th minute. Grafite added two more insurance goals in 74th and 77th _ the second after dancing through five defenders and scoring with a backheel.

Wolfsburg has 51 points from 26 rounds and leads on goal difference ahead of Hamburg, which defeated Hoffenheim 1-0 behind Jonathan Pitroipa’s 28th-minute goal, despite finishing with 10 men.

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GLAGOW, Scotland (AP) _ Celtic kept the pressure on Glasgow rival Rangers by routing Hamilton 4-0 to go four points ahead in the Scottish Premier League.

Georgios Samaras scored twice as the champions coasted to victory. Aiden McGeady and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink also scored.

Rangers are at Falkirk on Sunday and in disarray after Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor were suspended following a drinking episode while playing internationally for Scotland. Ferguson was stripped of the Rangers captaincy and the two were given lifetime international bans by the Scottish Football Association.

Also Saturday, substitute David Goodwillie scored a late goal to give Dundee United a 2-2 draw against Hibernian.

Striker Calum Elliot scored twice as Hearts came from behind to consolidate its position in third place with a 3-1 victory over Kilmarnock. Inverness rallied to beat St. Mirren 2-1 and Aberdeen drew 1-1 at Motherwell.

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