Liverpool snatch late victory in Merseyside derby
Liverpool scored in stoppage time to beat Everton 2-1 in a dramatic Merseyside derby yesterday at Goodison Park as the hosts ended the match with nine men.
Sami Hyypia's own goal after 38 minutes gave Everton the lead in the 206th meeting between the city rivals but fortune favoured Liverpool after the break as two Dirk Kuyt penalties got their title challenge back on track.
The top seven in England all won with Arsenal maintaining their two-point lead over Manchester United thanks to a 2-0 home defeat of Bolton, who slipped to the bottom.
Kolo Toure from long range and a Tomas Rosicky tap-in broke Bolton's resistance after the break as Arsenal made it 11 wins in a row in all competitions.
United conceded their first goal in more than 10 hours as they fell behind at Aston Villa but stormed back with three goals in nine minutes before the break as Villa imploded.
Wayne Rooney was twice on target in the 4-1 victory with Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs also chipping in. Villa had Nigel Reo-Coker and goalkeeper Scott Carson sent off after the break while Rooney had a penalty saved.
Didier Drogba's future at Chelsea has been under a cloud but he scored the opener for the seventh-placed Blues as they continued their improvement with a 2-0 cruise at Middlesbrough.
Manchester City remain third after a 1-0 home defeat of Birmingham City courtesy of another goal from Brazilian Elano.
Portsmouth, in fifth spot, beat Wigan 2-0 away while sixth-placed Blackburn Rovers beat Reading 4-2.
Derby County are off the bottom with a 0-0 draw against a Fulham side who played half the match with 10 men after Paul Konchesky was sent off for elbowing.
Fourth-placed Liverpool looked set for more misery at their neighbours after last season's 3-0 hammering when Hyypia crashed an attempted clearance past his keeper Pepe Reina.
They levelled after 54 minutes when Everton defender Tony Hibbert tangled with Steven Gerrard in the box to concede a penalty and receive a red card from referee Mark Clattenburg.
Kuyt scored from the spot to make it 1-1 and the Dutchman kept his nerve to convert another penalty in stoppage time after Phil Neville had been sent off for a flying save with his hand to deny Brazilian substitute Lucas.
Everton should have had a penalty of their own late on when Jamie Carragher appeared to wrestle Joleon Lescott down in the area.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, under pressure after some poor performances in the league and Europe, withdrew Gerrard in the second half to boos from the away end.
"These games you need to play with the brain and we were playing with the heart," Benitez said when asked why he had taken off the influential Gerrard. "We needed to keep the ball and to pass the ball."
His Everton counterpart David Moyes was convinced his side should have had at least one penalty.
"Decisions are difficult for referees but that one wasn't difficult, it was a simple decision," he said.
Next Premier League fixtures
Today: West Ham vs Sunderland
Tomorrow: Newcastle vs Tottenham
Saturday: Premier League 4 p.m. Birmingham vs Wigan; Chelsea vs Manchester City; Manchester United vs Middlesbrough; Reading vs Newcastle; Sunderland vs Fulham. 6.15 p.m. Portsmouth vs West Ham.
Sunday: Premier League 2.30 p.m. Bolton vs Aston Villa; 3 p.m. Derby vs Eveton. 4 p.m. Tottenham vs Blackburn; 5 p.m. Liverpool vs Arsenal.
7 goals - Mwaruwari (Portsmouth).
6 goals - Adebayor (Arsenal).
5 goals - Van Persie (Arsenal), Anelka (Bolton)