Saturday, April 26, 2008

EPL Roundup

A highly entertaining afternoon in the English Premier League saw major developments at both ends of the table. The game of the day was at Stamford Bridge, where a pair of goal from Michael Ballack gave Chelsea a 2-1 win over Manchester United, drawing the Blues level at the top of the table. Ballack's first half strike was wiped out 12 minutes into the second when Wayne Rooney capitalized on a brutal gaffe by Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvallho to tie the game. But a questionable hand ball against Michael Carrick allowed Ballack to score again from the spot in the 86th minute, and Ashley Cole and Andriy Shevchenko cleared balls off the line in the final moments to preserve the vital win.

Manchester's lead over Chelsea in the tie-breaking goal differential is untouchable, so the Red Devils still control their fate, but they certainly would have liked to have settled the issue today. Manchester United finish up home to West Ham and away to Wigan, while Chelsea are away to Newcastle and home to Bolton.

Just as compelling was Fulham's stunning comeback victory at Manchester City, a win that keeps the Cottagers in position to avoid relegation. Fulham erased a 2-0 deficit in the final 20 minutes, with Diomansy Kamara netting the game winner, his second of the day, in the 90th minute. Two weeks after posting their first road victory since September 2006, Fulham have won consecutive road matches for the first time in five years.

The three teams ahead of Fulham- Bolton, Reading and Birmingham- all drew. That leaves Bolton and Reading, safe for now, one point ahead of Birmingham and three points ahead of Fulham. Birmingham missed a golden opportunity to move out of the drop zone, squandering a 2-0 second-half lead at home against Liverpool. Birmingham travel to Fulham next week in a game with major relegation implications.

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