Liverpool and Villa win to gain ground on Spurs

London: Liverpool beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0 at Anfield on Saturday to stretch their unbeaten league run to six matches and close the gap on Tottenham Hotspur in the race for a top four finish in the Premier League.

Aston Villa also closed the gap following their 2-0 win at Fulham while Spurs, who were leading 1-0 until the second minute of stoppage time at Birmingham, conceded a late goal to draw 1-1 and dropped two vital points.

The spotlight was on the race for the final Champions League qualifying place as none of the leading three clubs -- Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal -- were involved in the early action.

League leaders Chelsea were playing at Burnley in the day’s late match (1730 GMT) while third-placed Arsenal meet second-placed Manchester United at the Emirates on Sunday.

Spurs have 42 points from 24 games, Liverpool have 41, Villa 40 from 23 and City 38 from 21.

Liverpool beat Bolton with goals from Dirk Kuyt and an own goal from Kevin Davies, while Spurs took the lead after 69 minutes at St Andrews with Jermaine Defoe scoring his 17th of the season, but just when the victory seemed assured, Liam Ridgewell equalised in stoppage time.

It is the second time in a week that Spurs have allowed victory to slip from their grasp in the dying seconds after Leeds United scored with a last minute penalty to force a 2-2 draw in their FA Cup fourth round match last Saturday.

Fulham Slide

Aston Villa, who are also chasing fourth spot, ended a run of four league matches without a goal with a 2-0 win at Fulham, who have now lost their last five league matches.

Two goals from Gabriel Agbonlahor in four minutes just before halftime allowed Villa to climb above Manchester City into sixth place, although City do not play bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth until Sunday and have three games in hand on Liverpool and Spurs and two in hand on Villa.

There were only 11 goals scored in the six matches with Hull City and Wolverhampton Wanderers locked in a 2-2 draw in a relegation scrap. The result left Hull in the bottom three.

Improving Everton won 1-0 at Wigan Athletic with Tim Cahill scoring the winner six minutes from time to stretch their unbeaten league run to nine while West Ham United drew 0-0 with Blackburn Rovers at Upton Park in a disappointing first match in charge for their new co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan.

Bureau Report