Fourth-place battle heats up
Roman Pavlyuchenko scored two late goals as Tottenham captured fourth place in the Premier League with a 3-0 victory at Wigan yesterday, while Manchester City and Liverpool laboured to a 0-0 draw.
Aston Villa scored four goals in 13 minutes to come from behind to beat Burnley 5-2 and stay in contention for the lucrative fourth spot, which means a shot at next season's Champions League.
After yesterday's games, only a point separates fourth-place Tottenham and seventh-place Villa. Manchester City and Villa both have a game in hand on their rivals.
Jermain Defoe turned home a cross by Gareth Bale in the 27th minute on a muddy pitch at Wigan's DW stadium for the opener, though television replays showed him to be in an offside position.
Pavlyuchenko added the second in the 85th from a pass by Luka Modric and scored the third in injury time.
"It was a great performance from us today. I was really pleased with the attitude we showed," said Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, whose team beat Wigan 9-1 at home in November.
The victory gives Redknapp's team 46 points from 27 games and they are ahead of Manchester City on goal difference. Liverpool and Villa have 45.
In a tedious match with few scoring chances, Manchester City had a penalty claim turned down near the end when Emmanuel Adebayor went down under a challenge by Daniel Agger. Liverpool also had a late penalty appeal which Yossi Benayoun denied.
"I don't think the result is good for anyone," said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez. "We both wanted to win."
Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing scored his first two league goals for the club in a three-minute spell.
After Steven Fletcher gave Burnley a shock lead at Villa Park, the home side hit back before half-time through Ashley Young. Downing then scored twice, before Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor also hit the target to take the score from 1-1 to 5-1 from the 56th to the 68th minutes.
"In a game where expectations were high for us to win it, to come from behind was very pleasing," said Villa manager Martin O'Neill. "There was relief with the equaliser, when Downing scored a great second goal, and then we had a spell where we were electric.
"In that spell, the movement was terrific and we also had the ability to finish moves off - which has not been our strongest point."
Martin Paterson added a second goal for Burnley, which slipped closer to relegation trouble.
Blackburn beat next-to-last neighbour Bolton 3-0 after goals from Nikola Kalinic, Jason Roberts and Gael Givet.
Bobby Zamora scored a last-minute winner as Fulham came from behind to beat Birmingham 2-1.
Birmingham were given an early boost when Fulham defender Chris Baird headed a cross from Lee Bowyer into his own net in the third minute. But Damien Duff equalised in the 59th minute before Zamora fired home the winner from a free kick.
In Saturday's games, Chelsea beat Wolves 2-0 to move four points ahead of Manchester United, which tumbled 3-1 at Everton. Third-place Arsenal beat Sunderland 2-0 to stay six points behind Chelsea, but move to only two behind Manchester United.