Liverpool hits new low with defeat to Blackpool

Liverpool fans protested the club's American owners and their slumping team as the 18-time champions' terrible start reached a new low with an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Blackpool on Sunday.

The pressure increased on manager Roy Hodgson with another humiliating defeat at Anfield that left Liverpool in the relegation zone ahead of the two-week break for international matches.

Reds supporters staged a pre-match protest march against owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr., who put the club up for sale in April and face a deadline this month to repay a debt which has grown from 237 million pounds ($371 million) to about 280 million pounds ($438 million).

Blackpool took a 2-0 lead on Charlie Adam's 29th-minute penalty kick following a foul by Glen Johnson on Luke Varney, and Varney's short-range goal past Pepe Reina in first-half stoppage time. Sotirios Kyrgiakos' 53rd-minute header wasn't enough as Liverpool's winless extended to five matches. The home team was booed off by fans at the final whistle.

The defeat came on the heels of a 0-0 draw at Utrecht in the Europa League on Thursday. Liverpool was knocked out of the League Cup in the third round by fourth-tier Northampton two weeks ago.

"At the moment things look bleak and really bad and it is difficult for me to put a bright face upon it," said Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson, who lost star striker Fernando Torres to a groin injury in the 10th minute. "There are 31 games left, but when you are in the relegation zone you are in a relegation battle."

Liverpool already is 12 points behind league-leading Chelsea. The reigning champions opened a four-point lead by beating visiting Arsenal 2-0 on goals by Didier Drogba and Alex.

Drogba proved to be Arsenal's nemesis once again, glancing in from close range in the 39th minute for his 13th goal in his last 11 matches against the Gunners. Alex' added a bending free kick in the 85th.

"There will be one game when I won't score (against Arsenal)," Drogba quipped.

Chelsea leads the league with 18 points after six wins from seven matches and its nearest rival is Manchester City, which beat Newcastle 2-1 in Sunday's other game. Third-place Manchester United drew 0-0 with Sunderland on Saturday.

"Today you saw not a fantastic performance but a different performance, we really ground out a win," Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins said. "That's what it's about, the three points is what we fight for and we got it."

England winger Adam Johnson came off the bench to score the winner for City in a match marred by a suspected broken leg break for Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa.


MADRID (AP) — FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi made his first start since an ankle injury and scored his eighth goal in eight games in all competitions this season, but Mallorca rallied for a 1-1 tie at Barcelona.

Messi, injured by tackle by Atletico Madrid's Tomas Ujfalusi on Sept. 19, scored his third league goal of the season in the 21st minute off a deft backpass from Pedro Rodriguez. Emilio N'Sue tied it with a header in the 42nd.

Michael Laudrup, appointed Mallorca's coach in July, was welcomed by the crowds at the Camp Nou despite having left Barcelona as a player to join rival Real Madrid in 1994.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals to raise his season total to four, Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Oezil and Angel Di Maria had one apiece and Real Madrid got an own goal in a 6-1 rout of visiting Deportivo La Coruna.

Sevilla beat Atletico Madrid 3-1 to gave Gregorio Manzano a successful home debut as coach after taking over from Antonio Alvarez. Alvaro Negredo, Diego Perotti and Frederic Kanoute scored Sevilla.

Villarreal won 2-0 at home against Racing Santander on goals by Nilmar and Giuseppe Rossi. Nilmar leads La Liga with five goals and has two in the Europa League; Rossi, who is from New Jersey, has four league goals plus one in the Europa League.

Valencia leads with 16 points, followed by Villarreal with 15, Real Madrid with 14 and Barcelona with 13.


ROME (AP) — Five-time defending champion Inter Milan was held to a 0-0 draw at home by Juventus, with Diego Milito again failing to score. Recovering from a leg injury, Milito began the night on the bench but came on midway through the first half when Jonathan Biabiany left with a muscle problem.

Serie A leader Lazio won 1-0 against visiting Brescia, which finished a man short, as Stefano Mauri scored in the 45th minute. Napoli extended visiting AS Roma's struggles with a 2-0 victory, getting a goal from Marek Hamsik in the 72nd minute and an own goal from Juan in the 83rd.

Lazio leads with 13 points, two more than Inter, Napoli and AC Milan.


FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Borussia Dortmund extended its winning streak to six games in the Bundesliga with a 2-0 victory at home against Bayern Munich, sending the reigning champions into the international team break in turmoil.

Dortmund tightened its grip on second place with 18 points from seven matches, three points behind surprise leader Mainz.

Lucas Barrios opened the scoring in the 52nd minute and Nuri Sahin doubled the advantage on the hour mark. Bayern has won just once in the last six Bundesliga matches and is 12th with eight points, 13 behind Mainz.

In other results, Bayer Leverkusen drew 2-2 at home to Werder Bremen to move into fourth place and Stuttgart stayed last after a 2-1 defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.


UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — PSV Eindhoven moved top of the Dutch league after beating VVV-Venlo 3-0 on two goals by Jonathan Reis and another by defender Wilfred Bouma. PSV is on 18 points, one ahead of Ajax, which lost 2-1 to FC Utrecht.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel's two first-half penalty kicks sealed the win for Utrecht and handed Ajax its first defeat of the season.


PARIS (AP) — Rennes moves into first in the French league, defeating visiting Toulouse 3-1 on goals by Romain Danze, Kader Mangane and Jires Ekoko.

Moussa Sow scored twice as Lille beat Montpellier 3-1 to move to fourth and stay unbeaten in the French league. Gervinho scored Lille's other goal, and Olivier Giroud scored for Montpellier.

Rennes leads with 18 points, followed by Carlos Bocanegra's Saint-Etienne with 17, and Lille, Toulouse and Brest with 14 each. Sochaux, which has yet to dress American forward Charlie Davies this season, has 13.