Further despair for Chelsea after Newcastle loss

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Associated Press

Posted on February 3, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 3 at 12:04 PM

LONDON (AP) — Chelsea's week went from bad to worse on Saturday in a loss to Newcastle and Manchester United took a 10-point lead in the title race by beating Fulham.

Moussa Sissoko, one of four Newcastle signings from France in the January transfer window, scored twice in his home debut to give Newcastle a 3-2 victory over Chelsea.

As Newcastle moved further out of the relegation zone, Chelsea missed a chance to close the gap on second-place Manchester City, which trails its crosstown rival by 10 points and leads Chelsea by six ahead of Sunday's match against Liverpool.

And the pressure is being cranked up on Rafa Benitez, whose Chelsea side also drew against relegation-threatened Reading on Wednesday after being held by third-tier club Brentford in the FA Cup on Sunday.

"What I know, what I can see is the team doing well, working hard and when we have this advantage, we have to manage in a better way," Benitez said.

Floodlight failure halted United's match at Fulham for 10 minutes before half time, and after the break Wayne Rooney provided the spark with a crisp finish to clinch a 1-0 win.

Arsenal won by the same score to go a point behind Tottenham and Everton, who are fourth and fifth.

Everton's pursuit of the fourth Champions League spot was held up by a 3-3 draw against Aston Villa, which missed a chance to climb out of the relegation zone.

Wigan also remains in the danger spots with Villa, although ahead of goal difference, after being held to a 2-2 draw by Southampton.

It was also a frustrating day for last-place Queens Park Rangers, which drew 0-0 with Norwich.

Reading, however, moved two points clear of the bottom three by beating Sunderland 2-1, while West Ham climbed to 10th with a 1-0 victory over Swansea.

Chelsea's faint hopes of catching United are even slimmer now after collecting just eight points from a possible 18 since the start of 2012.

Chelsea fell behind just before half time at St. James' Park when Jonas Gutierrez buried a header past Petr Cech after connecting with a cross from Davide Santon

There was a further blow before the break for Chelsea when striker Demba Ba, who left Newcastle last month, was forced off with blood pouring from his nose after being caught by Fabio Coloccini.

Chelsea, though, fought its way back into contention in the 55th minute when Frank Lampard scored his 10th goal of the season with a swerving long-range strike. Despite now netting double figures for Chelsea for the 10th straight season, the European champions are not intending to renew the 34-year-old midfielder's contract which expires at the end of the season.

Chelsea went in front in the 61st when Ba's replacement, Fernando Torres, set up fellow Spaniard Juan Mata to curl the ball past fellow Tim Krul.

But Sissoko made his mark just seven minutes later, with his first goal since joining from Toulouse coming after Cech parried an effort from former Bordeaux forward Yoan Gouffran.

And Sissoko was on target again in the 90th after exchanging passes with Santon.

At Craven Cottage, the only goal came in the 79th when Rooney latched onto Jonny Evans' long ball and went through the Fulham defense before curling the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

"They made it difficult for us — we had to go on and believe we would get the goal," said Rooney, who has now scored 10 league goals this season.

"We are in a good position (in the league) ... but we won't get carried away."

Arsenal is now close to rejoining United in the top four after Lukas Podolski's free kick in the 78th deflected off Stoke's Geoff Cameron.

"The target to be in the top four and to focus on the two cups we are still in is very important now as we have strengthened our belief and our confidence," Wenger said.

Arsenal would have climbed above Everton into fifth had it not been for Marouane Fellaini's late equalizer for the Merseyside team against Villa.

Despite Victor Anichebe canceling out Christian Benteke's opener for Villa at Goodison Park, the visitors went 3-1 up after Gabriel Agbonlahor headed home before the break and Benteke netted again in the second half.

But Fellaini pulled one back in the 69th and headed in the leveler in stoppage time. It left Villa with just three points from the past eight games.

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BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich maintained its march toward a 23rd Bundesliga title with a 3-0 win at Mainz on Saturday.

Mario Mandzukic scored twice, and Thomas Mueller scored to justify Jupp Heynckes' decision to leave Dutch star Arjen Robben and Germany striker Mario Gomez on the bench.

Bayern moved 14 points clear of Bayer Leverkusen after its 16th win of the season. Leverkusen hosts third-placed Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.

Last place Greuther Fuerth stunned Schalke when Nikola Djurdjic scored two minutes into injury time for a 2-1 come-from-behind victory that ended the promoted side's 17-game run without a win.

Schalke is 22 points behind Bayern's 51, leaving Keller under increasing pressure as the club's midseason slump continues.

Eintracht Frankfurt won 2-0 at Hamburger SV to consolidate fourth place for the promoted side.

Hoffenheim beat visiting Freiburg 2-1 for its first win under coach Marco Kurz.

Wolfsburg drew 1-1 with Augsburg and Stuttgart lost 3-1 at Fortuna Duesseldorf — the visitors' third defeat in a row.

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PARIS (AP) — Substitute Axel Ngando scored a last-minute equalizer with his first touch in professional football to earn Rennes a 2-2 draw at Lorient in a thrilling Brittany derby on Saturday.

Jeremie Aliadiere blasted a superb solo goal into the top corner with 10 minutes left as Lorient looked set to provisionally move above Rennes into fourth place. However, the 19-year-old Ngando finished calmly just seconds after coming on as Rennes Midfielder Yann Jouffre put Lorient ahead in the 31st before forward Mevlut Erding equalized early in the second half to make up for two big misses.

Bordeaux and Nice could move above Rennes by winning their matches later Saturday.

PSG thrashed Toulouse 4-0 on Friday to move three points clear of Lyon, which travels to Corsican side Ajaccio on Sunday, and six points ahead of bitter rival Marseille, which hosts last-place Nancy.

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Osasuna edged out visiting Celta Vigo 1-0 thanks to Emiliano Armenteros' second-half winner to provisionally escape the Spanish league's relegation zone on Saturday.

Getafe, meanwhile, overcame the early dismissal of goalkeeper Miguel Moya to come from behind and beat last-place Deportivo La Coruna 3-1 for its first victory in eight matches.

Real Madrid visits Granada later, while Espanyol hosts Levante.

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Emanuel Perrone scored a penalty in stoppage time to enable second-place Asteras snatch a 2-2 draw over Panathinaikos in the Greek league on Saturday.

Ibrahim Sissoko's double — either side of Rayo's goal for Asteras — had put Panathinaikos in front.

And Panathinaikos seemed headed for victory until, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, defender Jean-Alain Boumsong tried to make a clearance inside his area with a diving header and the ball bounced off his hand. Perrone converted the penalty.

Asteras remained in second place, 13 points behind Olympiakos, which hosts Atromitos on Sunday.

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Rangers was dumped out of the Scottish Cup by Dundee United on Saturday, losing 3-0 in the fifth round as the Glasgow side had two players sent off.

Johnny Russell scored after just 16 seconds, and again in 79th minute following Jon Daly's header in Jackie McNamara's first match in charge of United.

Rangers' day got even worse when Kal Naismith was sent off in the 86th for a challenge on Willo Flood, and Ian Black was dismissed two minutes later after picking up a second caution for a foul on John Rankin.

It was a rare match for Rangers against Scottish Premier League opposition this season after being forced to start again in the fourth tier after the club's financial implosion.

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