United win overshadowed by Suarez-Evra spat
LONDON – Luis Suarez's refusal to shake hands with Patrice Evra overshadowed Manchester United's 2-1 win over rival Liverpool that lifted the defending champions to first place in the Premier League on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney scored twice for the second straight match to guide United to victory at Old Trafford. But all the focus was on the pre-match handshake that never happened, inflaming tensions between England's two most successful clubs.
Starting his first match since serving an eight-game ban for racially abusing Evra during a league match at Anfield on Oct. 15, Suarez withdrew his hand as the France defender put forward his in the traditional ritual before kickoff.
"He is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club," United manager Alex Ferguson. "He shouldn't be able to play for Liverpool again."
Police and stewards reportedly had to intervene as players from both teams clashed outside the locker rooms at halftime after Evra chased Suarez down the tunnel.
Evra then appeared to attempt to provoke Suarez with exuberant post-match celebrations on the field in front of the Uruguay striker, also forcing police officers to intervene.
Amid the mayhem, United managed to take an overnight lead in the standings, tightening the pressure on Manchester City ahead of its trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.
Third-place Tottenham stayed five points behind United by thrashing Newcastle 5-0 at home, while the fight for fourth place intensified following Chelsea's 2-0 loss at Everton and Arsenal's 2-1 victory at Sunderland.
Thierry Henry scored a stoppage-time winner in his final league game on loan for Arsenal, which climbed above Chelsea on goals scored. The two teams, who are four points ahead of seventh-place Liverpool, have the same goal difference.
"I know it was the last game in the Premier League and I wanted to say thanks," Henry said. "I felt just like a kid who scores his first goal for the team he loves."
Steven Pienaar and Denis Stracqualursi scored Everton's goals as Chelsea extended its winless run to four matches and threatened the club's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey played a part in Fulham's second goal in its 2-1 win against Stoke. Dempsey's long shot hit the bar, struck Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and rebounded into the net.
MADRID (AP) — Goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez's great saves allowed Racing Santander to escape with a 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league.
Rodriguez kept a ball by Radamel Falcao from crossing the line early in the game. He then dragged his foot long enough to save Adrian Lopez's 39th-minute shot.
Lopez put Diego through in the 56th but the Brazilian midfielder's shot skipped off the near post, then Falcao sent the rebound from Diego's shot off the post.
Rodriguez kept consecutive headers out in the 75th and a long shot from substitute Pizzi on the final play to preserve a point for Santander, which is trying to avoid relegation.
In coach Diego Simeone's six games, Atletico is unbeaten and has yet to concede a goal.
BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund edged Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 to extend its unbeaten run to 15 games, and Bayern Munich beat Kaiserslautern 2-0 to keep the pressure on the Bundesliga leader.
Shinji Kagawa scored in the 45th minute in Dortmund for the defending champions, who remain two points ahead of second-place Bayern.
Mario Gomez opened the scoring in Munich with his league-leading 18th goal of the season in the sixth minute, with Thomas Mueller making it 2-0 in the 30th.
Borussia Moenchengladbach stunned Schalke with three first-half goals to win the late game 3-0 and take over from the visitors in third, one point behind Bayern.
Stuttgart beat Hertha Berlin 5-0; Werder Bremen drew 1-1 with Hoffenheim; and Mainz and Hannover also played to a 1-1 draw.
PARIS (AP) — American striker Charlie Davies made his return for Sochaux after an absence of more than two years in the 1-0 loss at Rennes in the French league.
Davies came on in the 78th minute as a replacement for Abdoul Camara, and shot off target with two minutes left.
He had not played for Sochaux since Oct. 3, 2009, at home against Le Mans. Ten days later, he was a passenger in a car accident in which another passenger died. Davies was left with two broken bones in his right leg, a broken and dislocated left elbow, a broken nose, forehead and eye socket, a ruptured bladder and bleeding on the brain.
Davies was loaned to D.C. United of MLS last year, scoring 11 goals in 26 games.
Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud's league-leading 16th goal helped Montpellier beat Ajaccio 3-0 to take the league lead. Montpellier is even on points with Paris Saint-Germain, which visits Nice on Sunday, but leads on goal difference.
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Celtic maintained its four-point lead in the Scottish Premier League thanks to a 1-0 win over Inverness. This was Celtic's 17th straight win in domestic competition.
Given the lead by Joe Ledley's 16th-minute goal, Celtic was reduced to 10 men when defender Daniel Majstorovic was shown a straight red card for a foul on Jonny Hayes in the 60th. Inverness also finished the game a man short after Steve Williams' ejection in the 77th minute.
Second-place Rangers remained close to their Glasgow rival, winning 4-1 at last-place Dunfermline on goals by David Healy, Lee McCulloch, Sone Aluko and Salim Kerkar.