United back on top of Premier League after Spurs draw

Updated: Jan 17, 2011, 09:17 AM IST

London: Ten-man Manchester United returned to the top of the Premier League here Sunday after holding Tottenham to a 0-0 draw in a match that failed to live up to expectations.

United`s hard-earned point saw them reclaim top spot from Manchester City on goal difference, although Sir Alex Ferguson`s unbeaten side have two games in hand over their bitter local rivals.

An open encounter at White Hart Lane never quite caught fire, and United were forced onto the defensive in the final stages after fullback Rafael Da Silva was sent off for his second yellow card.

The result leaves Spurs in fifth place on 37 points, eight points off the lead and one point behind Chelsea, who occupy the fourth Champions League spot.

"It was a tough game," United manager Ferguson said afterwards.

"Tottenham are in a great bit of form but they really didn`t make many chances against us and we can take credit for that."

"We were a bit careless with the use of the ball. But overall it`s a decent point for us you so we can`t complain. Our defenders were particularly good."

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp admitted that defence had prevailed.

"Both teams defended well, especially the two central defenders on their side and (Michael) Dawson and (William) Gallas on ours. They were fantastic, did their jobs and made it difficult," he said.

"Chances were few and far between. I thought we edged the game without creating too many clear-cut chances."

It was the fourth score draw of a packed Premier League fixture list on Sunday, which had earlier seen Liverpool draw 2-2 with Merseyside rivals Everton in an emotional Anfield homecoming for Kenny Dalglish.

Dalglish appeared to be heading for his third consecutive defeat since taking over from Roy Hodgson after two second-half goals in seven minutes from Sylvain Distin and Jermaine Beckford gave Everton a 2-1 lead.

But Liverpool -- who had taken a first-half lead through Raul Meireles -- fought back to secure a draw courtesy of a Dirk Kuyt penalty on 68 minutes after Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard upended Maxi Rodriguez.

The atmosphere inside Anfield had been electric before kick-off as the Kop roared out "You`ll Never Walk Alone" to mark Dalglish`s return to the home dugout for the first time in 20 years.

Dalglish later praised the character of his players for coming back after trailing early in the second half.

"After five minutes of the second half we were 2-1 down but the players attitude and desire to get back in the game was really something," Dalglish said.

"It was fantastic. We could have been more than one up but we were really pleased with the way we played and that`s great credit to the players who have had to adjust to the new ways of playing and training."

Earlier Sunday, an injury-time goal from Sunderland`s Ghanaian international Asamoah Gyan denied Newcastle home-and-away victories over their northeast rivals as Birmingham and Aston Villa drew at St Andrews.

Newcastle, seeking to bounce back from their shock FA Cup exit to lowly Stevenage last week, looked to be heading for a 1-0 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light after a Kevin Nolan goal put them ahead.

But with the game deep into injury time World Cup star Gyan scrambled in a fortunate equaliser to make it 1-1.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was dismayed by his side`s failure to close out the win.

"Sunderland are having a great season and you have got to remember that," Pardew said. "We are really disappointed because we know our performance and some of our play deserved a win."

At St Andrews, Aston Villa fought back from 1-0 down to secure a vital point in their derby clash with Birmingham.

Birmingham, who handed a debut to new signing David Bentley, took the lead on 49 minutes when Roger Johnson volleyed in from 12 yards past Brad Friedel.

The Blues looked to be in control of the game and heading for victory until Villa equalised against the run of play, when a cross by Marc Albrighton was touched on by Gabriel Agbonlahor before being swept home by James Collins.

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish was disappointed with his side`s defending for the equaliser.

"It was unbelievable we could get ourselves in a mess like that and then give away the goal," he said. "I think it hit one of our defenders and deflected in. Everything that could have gone wrong in that goal did."

The draw saw Villa scrape out of the bottom three on goals scored ahead of Wigan. Birmingham meanwhile are one place ahead of Villa in 16th place.

Bureau Report