- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

LONDON (AP) - Alan Shearer’s reign as Newcastle manager began with a 2-0 loss to Chelsea on Saturday, illustrating the challenge the Magpies’ former captain faces in trying to keep the club in the Premier League.

Second-half goals from Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda allowed title-chasing Chelsea to dampen the euphoria surrounding the return of Newcastle’s all-time leading goal scorer.

“We worked very, very hard and contained them in the first half, but the second half came back to bite us,” said Shearer, the fourth man to take charge of Newcastle this season.

While Chelsea moved to within a point of idle leader Manchester United, Newcastle stayed third from the bottom, two points behind Sunderland, which lost 2-0 at West Ham.

Stoke’s survival prospects were helped by winning for the first time away from home this season 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 to come from behind and produce 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 double providing a 2-0 victory over Manchester City. The forward was playing in his first game for the Gunners after a two-month injury layoff.

In Saturday’s late match, Liverpool was at Fulham looking to regain the top spot from Manchester United until at least Sunday, when the defending champion hosts Aston Villa.

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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 equalized for Bayern in the 45th minute to make it 1-1 at halftime, but Wolfsburg remained undefeated at home this season thanks to two quick 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.

Also Saturday, Stuttgart won 2-1 at Bochum to pass Hoffenheim into fifth place _ the final UEFA Cup spot _ while Eintracht Frankfurt beat Energie Cottbus 2-1 to pull further away from the relegation zone.

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

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

Rangers is at Falkirk on Sunday in disarray after Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor were suspended following the aftermath of a drinking incident while they were on international duty with 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 equalizer to earn 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. Bruno Aguiar added the third.

Inverness rallied to beat St. Mirren 2-1 and Aberdeen drew 1-1 at Motherwell.

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