Cristiano Ronaldo's hot streak continued on Saturday with two more
goals in Manchester United's 3-2 victory over Reading at Old
Trafford which put them six points clear in the Premier League.
The tricky Portuguese flyer has now scored 12 league goals this
season, six of them coming in the last three games, and he is just
one behind Chelsea's Didier Drogba whose 13th league goal of the
season came in a costly 2-2 home draw with Fulham.
Arsenal slipped out of the top four, losing 1-0 in the mud at
Sheffield United where the hosts played the last 30 minutes with
midfielder Phil Jagielka in goal.
United have 53 points from 21 games, Chelsea have 47 and Bolton
Wanderers (39) are now third after a 3-2 home victory over
Portsmouth. Liverpool are two points further adrift in fourth after
winning 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur.
On a day of torrential rain which resulted in one match being
abandoned, the storm clouds are gathering over Stamford Bridge
where Chelsea's grip on the title is slipping.
"Six points is not a drama, what is a drama is that we cannot
defend," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told BBC Radio.
"In the past Chelsea win one zero, now every team feels that
they can score against us."
The only good news for Mourinho on a day when it emerged that
playmaker Joe Cole could miss the rest of the season with a broken
foot, was John Terry warming up on the pitch just two days after
having keyhole back surgery.
Drogba looked to have won it for Chelsea when he headed in Frank
Lampard's cross but Carlos Bocanegra equalized late on to give
Fulham a draw and take Chelsea's total of goals conceded in their
last four league games to eight.
Fulham had taken the lead through Moritz Volz before Lampard's
fierce shot was deflected in by Liam Rosenior.
Reading, who drew 2-2 with Chelsea on Tuesday, had not played at
Old Trafford for 50 years but pushed the leaders all the way. Ole
Gunnar Solskjaer gave United the lead but Ibrahima Sonko headed
Reading level before halftime.
The second half belonged to Ronaldo who restored United's lead
after Solskjaer hit the post before volleying his second. Leroy
Lita pulled a goal back late on.
"It's been a very good day for us but we had to work very hard,"
United boss Alex Ferguson, who will be 65 on Sunday, told Sky
Sports. "It was our worst defending of the season, I don't
"The rain was never ending and Reading made us play all the way
to the end. In the second half it made a difference with Ryan Giggs
Arsenal trailed to Christian Nade's well-taken goal four minutes
before halftime and Sheffield United hung on for a first league win
over the Gunners since 1973 despite keeper Paddy Kenny going off
injured and having to be replaced by Jagielka.
Nicolas Anelka's fifth goal in five games proved decisive for
Bolton as they dislodged Arsenal from a Champions League spot,
while Luis Garcia's strike was enough for Liverpool to end
Tottenham's 12-match winning streak at home.
Everton's Victor Anichebe scored twice in a 3-0 victory over
Newcastle United. Phil Neville was also on target with his first
league goal for four years.
Bottom club Watford's home match against Wigan Athletic was
abandoned early in the second half because of a waterlogged pitch
with the score at 1-1.
Charlton Athletic boosted their survival hopes with a 2-1 home
victory over Aston Villa, Bryan Hughes scoring in the last minute
to seal a first win for new boss Alan Pardew.
West Ham United, the club who sacked Pardew earlier this month,
were beaten 1-0 at home by Manchester City to remain just two
points above Charlton in the bottom three.
Watford are on 11 points from 19 games, Charlton have 16 from 21
with West Ham are on 18. Middlesbrough, beaten 2-1 at Blackburn
Rovers, have 21.
(China Daily via Reuters December 31, 2006)