Man City held to draw at Birmingham
Manchester City's title hopes suffered a huge dent on Wednesday as Birmingham City claimed a 2-2 draw at St Andrew's to leave Roberto Mancini's men eight points behind leaders United with a game extra played.
City named Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and David Silva in a three-pronged attack at Birmingham, and it took them all of four minutes to find a breakthrough. The goal came with a huge dose of fortune as Tevez fired goalwards from an ambitious angle, forcing a deflection off Martin Jiranek that found its way past Ben Foster.
Birmingham's response was excellent, and within 20 minutes they found an equaliser through the frustrating figure of Nikola Zigic. Blessed with incredible height the former Valencia striker often fails to use his considerable advantage, but he showed what a problem he can be for defenders by stabbing home David Bentley's low cross for the leveller.
Man City then suffered a serious injury blow as Micah Richards was stretchered off in a neck brace, forcing a seven-minute stoppage in play, but they kept their focus better than Birmingham to re-establish their lead immediately after the resumption, Aleksandar Kolarov sending a curling free-kick past Foster.
They could not hold on for all three points though as Patrick Vieira committed an unnecessary foul inside the area, allowing Craig Gardner to earn a draw for Birmingham from the spot.
Tottenham Hotspur are showing no signs of relenting in their pursuit of Chelsea in the Champions League qualifying places after they won 1-0 at Blackburn Rovers. Jonathan Woodgate made a return to the matchday squad hoping to make his first appearance since November 2009, and Spurs coped admirably without the key duo of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric as they moved to within three points of fourth place.
Unsurprisingly Rafael Van der Vaart proved the creator for the away side, aiming a delightful diagonal ball towards Peter Crouch, who beat Chris Samba in the air to head past Paul Robinson. Liverpool began life after Fernando Torres with a 2-0 victory over Stoke City, thanks to a debut goal from Luis Suarez. Kenny Dalglish left his new signing on the bench after the Uruguayan's January move from Ajax, and the gamble paid off as the Reds moved within two points of the top six.
Without Suarez or Andy Carroll in their starting line-up, Liverpool struggled for clear-cut chances in the opening 45 minutes, although it needed a world-class save by Asmir Begovic to deny Fabio Aurelio from seven yards after Martin Kelly's cross.
The opening goal eventually came from Raul Meireles, a man reborn under Dalglish, who slammed home from close range after Steven Gerrard's free-kick had caused havoc in the Stoke defence. Suarez then emerged from the bench to round Begovic for the second, although he may face a fight to be credited with the goal after Andy Wilkinson made a hash of what should have been a simple goal-line clearance.
Blackpool fought tooth and nail to fend off Liverpool's approaches for Charlie Adam in order to cement their place in next year's Premier League, and they look set for a long relegation battle after West Ham United triumphed 3-1 at Bloomfield Road. Victory sees the Hammers move off the bottom and level with Birmingham in 17th, where they are now just four points behind Wednesday's hosts.
In a typically open game involving the Tangerines, it was the Hammers who made the breakthrough as Victor Obinna continued his excellent form, twisting and turning before finding the net with a shot Richard Kingson arguably should have saved. Kingson then had more questions to answer as he parried the ball straight to Robbie Keane for a debut goal following his January switch from Tottenham.
The highly sought-after Adam handed Blackpool a lifeline on the stroke of half-time, sending a poor corner directly into the West Ham net due to a botched attempt at a clearance by Obinna. However, Obinna made immediate amends, latching onto Scott Parker's pass to score his second of the evening. Newcastle United would have looked on enviously as Liverpool unveiled Carroll prior to kick-off at Anfield, and without their towering talisman Alan Pardew's men lost 1-0 against Fulham at Craven Cottage. Shola Ameobi started alongside Leon Best for the Magpies but he lasted only 13 minutes after suffering a fractured cheekbone that will sideline him for six weeks. Shorn of attacking talent, Newcastle failed to find the net as Damien Duff grabbed a 67th-minute winner.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are now the occupants of bottom spot in the Premier League after they lost 1-0 at Bolton Wanderers. Mick McCarthy's side have lost more games than any other team this season, and they conceded an injury-time goal to Daniel Sturridge after a horror moment for Ronald Zubar at the Reebok Stadium.