Manchester United was held to a 0-0 draw by Newcastle on Tuesday night, slowing the Premier League leader's title charge.

Manchester United (20-10-3) has a seven-point lead over second-place Arsenal (18-5-9) heading into the Gunners' game at fifth-place Tottenham (14-6-11) on Wednesday night. Manchester United, which has five games left, is seeking a record 19th English league title.

United was denied a penalty kick in stoppage time when Javier Hernandez was given a yellow card for diving after being challenged by defender Danny Simpson.

"I didn't feel like I touched him," Simpson said. "I feel like he went down too soft."

United manager Alex Ferguson criticized referee Lee Probert.

"It was a clear penalty. It's an insult because he's booked him," Ferguson said. "I thought the referee had a good game tonight, but he's let himself down by booking the player. If it's not a penalty, fine. But to book him is an insult. There is definitely contact, no doubt about that."

Ferguson claimed not to see Newcastle's earlier penalty claim, in which Peter Lovenkrands felt he was tripped by United midfielder Anderson.

"The more obvious penalty was Peter Lovenkrands — it's an absolute cert," Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said. "It was a story of two penalties: one that definitely was for us, and one that wasn't for them."

In the first half at Newcastle, goalkeeper Tim Krul denied Hernandez and Wayne Rooney, who returned after a two-match suspension given for swearing into a TV camera during a goal celebration against West Ham.

Newcastle (10-13-10) is ninth with 40 points, usually enough to be safe from relegation.


ROME (AP) — Inter Milan stayed on course for the only title it can still likely win this season by beating Roma 1-0 in the first leg of the Italian Cup semifinals.

Dejan Stankovic scored in the 45th minute at the mostly empty Stadio Olimpico, finding the target with a spectacular shot from beyond the area that went in just under the crossbar.

Inter won a treble last season but was eliminated from the Champions League by Schalke last week and trails AC Milan by eight points with five games remaining in Serie A.

AC Milan hosts Palermo in the other semifinal on Wednesday.


NICE, France (AP) — Lille reached the French Cup final for the first time in 56 years with a 2-0 victory over Nice on goals by Eden Hazard and Gervinho.

The French league leaders ended Nice's eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions by scoring in each half.

Hazard struck on the stroke of halftime with a deflected shot that surprised goalkeeper Lionel Letizi, and Ivory Coast forward Gervinho made the most of a superb defense-splitting pass to dribble past the keeper and shoot into an empty net in the 46th.

Lille will play defending champion Paris Saint-Germain or second-division side Angers in the final.


GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Steven Whittaker scored two penalties and missed another spot kick on Tuesday as Scottish leader Glasgow Rangers beat eight-man Dundee United 4-0.

Mihael Kovacevic was the first United player to be dismissed, fouling Steven Naismith that led to Whittaker's goal in the 22nd minute.

Sean Dillon was ejected for tripping Nikica Jelavic, who scored himself in the 72nd. Morgaro Gomis was sent off in the 78th for a challenge on El Hadji Diouf inside the box, but Whittaker sent the spot kick over the crossbar. Kyle Lafferty scored in the 83rd.

Rangers (25-5-2) have a four-point lead over Celtic (24-3-4)