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Premier League: United and Liverpool beaten

Manchester United blew the chance to go level with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League as they were crushed 3-0 away at Fulham on Saturday afternoon.

• Jon Carter on Mark Hughes
• Jolly on Tottenham's chances
• Palmer on Arsenal's grit
• Premier League Gallery

United lost at Craven Cottage last season and the ground proved unlucky again as a poor pass from makeshift right-back Darren Fletcher saw Danny Murphy steal the ball from Paul Scholes and fire a 30-yard effort into the net in the 22nd minute.

Fulham doubled their lead a minute after half-time as Bobby Zamora smashed home a header from Clint Dempsey to continue his good form in front of goal. United brought on Dimitar Berbatov to partner Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney and began to mount a charge, but more great work from Zamora saw Damien Duff volley home the third to put the game to bed.

In the day's early game, Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez suffered another disastrous defeat as his side fell 2-0 to bottom side Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Liverpool went down to a stunning strike from Nadir Belhadj from a tight angle, before Javier Mascherano was dismissed for a challenge on Tal Ben Haim and limped off down the tunnel. Frederic Piquionne netted late on to seal the win as the Reds missed a chance to record back-to-back league wins for the first time since September.

It means Avram Grant maintains his unbeaten record against Benitez after recording two wins and two draws during his time at Chelsea in the 2008 season, while the defeat raises further questions over the Spaniard's tenure at Anfield.

New City manager Roberto Mancini watched on at Eastlands as Manchester City played host to a 4-3 cracker against Sunderland. Mark Hughes's last game in charge at Eastlands saw City storm into a two-goal lead, only to be pegged back.

Roque Santa Cruz tapped in from close range inside five minutes before Craig Bellamy was bundled over by Nyron Nosworthy in the box and Carlos Tevez netted from the spot. Then Sunderland hit back, first through an unmarked John Mensah, who rose on the edge of the six-yard area and steered his header into the far corner; and then Jordan Henderson, who took advantage of some shaky defending to draw the sides level.

Then Bellamy got himself on the scoresheet as he coolly converted from a Shaun-Wright Phillips cross to put City back in front in a pulsating first-half. After the break, Sunderland got themselves back in the game through Kenwyne Jones, who capitalised on some more dire defending, but Santa Cruz put City ahead for the final time after Gareth Barry was left free on the left to square for the Paraguayan. Although there was still time for Michael Turner to get his marching orders for an elbow on Barry.

Arsenal moved back into third place at the top of the Premier League thanks to a fine 3-0 win over relegation-haunted Hull at the Emirates Stadium. Just before the interval, players from both sides were embroiled in an ugly confrontation - sparked by Samir Nasri's off-the-ball clash with Richard Garcia. The home side then punished Hull when Denilson scored their opener from a free-kick in stoppage-time.

Manuel Almunia saved Geovanni's second half penalty to preserve Arsenal's lead and the home side added further goals from Eduardo and Abou Diaby to clinch victory.

Blackburn Rovers played host to top-four chasing Tottenham and lost 2-0 at Ewood Park, going behind on the stroke of half-time as Peter Crouch headed in Niko Kranjcar's cross off the underside of the crossbar.

Benni McCarthy failed to score - hitting the post instead - from about three yards out in Rovers' best attempt to get level, before Crouch netted a second after being put through one-on-one with Paul Robinson.

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis was an angry man (although thankfully fully clothed) as Mamady Sidibe had a goal ruled out in the 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa. Pulis raged at referee Lee Probert after the official chalked off the goal due to a push, but the Potters had Thomas Sorensen to thank for keeping them in the game in the first-half - twice making good saves from Stiliyan Petrov and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Villa eventually took the lead through John Carew's close range header, after good work from Ashley Young on the right and kept up their claims for a Champions League place.


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