United knocks Tottenham out of league title race

Manchester United all but turned the Premier League into a two-team race Sunday by winning 3-1 at Tottenham and ending the host team's title hopes. Chelsea, in fifth place and in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League, fired manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Clint Dempsey, fresh off his goal that gave the U.S. a 1-0 exhibition victory over against Italy, scored twice to lead Fulham to a 5-0 rout of relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers. With his fourth multigoal game of the season, Dempsey increased his total to 18 goals in all competitions. With 12 league goals, he matched his high for Fulham, set last year. Dempsey was eclipsed Sunday by teammate Pavel Pogrebnyak, who scored a hat trick.

United was led by Ashley Young, who set up Wayne Rooney's opener at the end of the first half before scoring twice himself after the break.

The victory put the defending champions two points behind leader Manchester City and 11 points ahead of third-place Tottenham.

"It's an entirely unbelievable result," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "I would say that's our hardest away game of the season. ... And, in fairness, the first half we were never at the races. Maybe we got our tactics wrong."

Tottenham's second home loss of the season left it just four points ahead of fourth-place Arsenal. But with Chelsea three points further back in fifth, Villas-Boas was dismissed by owner Roman Abramovich after eight months in charge.

"The results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season," Chelsea said in a statement.

Assistant coach Roberto Di Matteo is taking charge of the Blues until the end of the season as Abramovich searches for his eighth permanent manager in nine years.

Di Matteo, a former Chelsea player and West Bromwich Albion manager, will have to keep an eye on Newcastle, which is only two points behind Chelsea after drawing 1-1 at Sunderland.


MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Catania in Serie A, ending its five-game losing run.

Alejandro Gomez and Mariano Izco gave Catania a solid halftime lead as Inter was roundly booed. The game changed in less than 10 second-half minutes — Inter's Diego Forlan scored his team's first goal in six games before Diego Milito tied the score.

Inter is still winless in its past nine games, but the result could save coach Claudio Ranieri jon. He is trying to avoid becoming the club's second managerial casualty of the season.

Inter is a point behind sixth-place Roma, which lost 2-1 to city rival Lazio with both sides reduced to 10 men.


BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid brushed aside Espanyol 5-0 to march on toward its first Spanish league title in four seasons with its 10th consecutive victory.

Madrid enjoyed a commanding victory that restored its 10-point lead over defending champion Barcelona. This was Madrid's 12th win in 13 league games at Santiago Bernabeu stadium this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo took advantage of a defensive error by Espanyol to open the scoring with his league-leading 30th goal.

Sami Khedira added a goal before halftime, Gonzalo Higuain then scored twice and Kaka also struck.


PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain halted a run of three straight draws by beating Ajaccio 4-1 to move one point ahead of Montpellier at the top of the French league.

Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez gave PSG a 2-0 lead, but Yoann Poulard replied just before halftime to ensure a tense finish.

PSG was in danger of a tying goal from the Corsican side until Guillaume Hoarau struck four minutes from the end with his third goal in three games.

Brazilian winger Nene scored in injury time for his 13th league goal of the season.


BERLIN (AP) — Nuremberg stunned Borussia Moenchengladbach with a late goal to win 1-0 and deny the visitors the chance to move second in the Bundesliga.

Albert Bunjaku scored the winner with three minutes left — and three minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Lukas Podolski salvaged a 1-1 draw for Cologne at Hoffenheim when he scored his 16th goal of the season in the 81st minute to break his side's three-game losing streak.


ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Jose Holebas and Colin Kazim-Richards scored in each half to help defending champion Olympiakos beat host OFI 2-0 and overtake Panathinaikos at the top of the Greek league.

Panathinaikos, playing before empty seats in Athens' Olympic Stadium, lost 2-0 to PAOK in its first home defeat this season.

Lino opened the scoring for PAOK in the 52nd minute with a penalty kick and assisted Dimitris Salpingidis with the second goal in the 83rd.

Olympiakos is now a point ahead of Panathinaikos and thirteen ahead of third-place PAOK.


AMSTERDAM (AP) — FC Twente showed off its title potential by beating PSV Eindhoven 6-2 despite playing most of the second half with 10 men after defender Douglas was sent off.

The result in Eindhoven meant AZ Alkmaar stayed at the top of the Dutch league after its 3-1 win against Heracles Almelo on Saturday night. But Twente is now second, one point behind with a game in hand.