Liverpool stay atop Premier League


London : Liverpool rediscovered home comforts as they beat Bolton Wanderers 3-0 on Boxing Day to maintain their place at the top of the English Premier League football tournament, while Chelsea and Manchester United kept pace with the leaders.

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Robbie Keane scored twice and Albert Riera the third as Liverpool won at home for the first time in seven weeks, keeping them one point ahead of Chelsea, who stayed on their heels with a 2-0 win over bottom side West Bromwich Albion Thursday.

Champions Manchester United moved above Aston Villa into third, seven points behind Liverpool with two games in hand, thanks to a 1-0 victory at Stoke City. Villa came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home with Arsenal in the day’s late game.

Riera opened the scoring at Anfield with a smart finish from Steven Gerrard’s corner in the 26th minute.

Keane then lashed in a second in the 53rd minute and finished off a superb move five points later to seal a convincing victory.

“Robbie’s been working tirelessly and he’s kept on going,” Liverpool assistant manager Sammy Lee said. “We know the quality of the lad, that’s why we brought him here.

“If you speak to him he may give you a better answer, but for me, he’s never been lacking in confidence.

“We’ve had no doubts in Robbie’s ability. His work-rate and commitment and what he adds to this club is immense. We’ve had no doubts about him. We know what he’s capable of.”

Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard scored the goals at Stamford Bridge to maintain Chelsea’s title hopes. Drogba fired Chelsea ahead inside three minutes and Lampard sealed the points with the second in first-half injury time.

“The early goal is important in any game, it settles the nerves, and we played some very good football today,” Chelsea assistant coach Ray Wilkins said.

“Our movement up front was very good with Anelka, Drogba and Joe Cole. We were always going to create chances.”

Champions United won their first match since their Club World Cup triumph but they had to wait until the 83rd minute to find the winner against Stoke.

The home side finished the game with ten men after Andy Wilkinson received his second yellow card for bringing down Cristiano Ronaldo with 18 minutes to go.

Carlos Tevez then scored the winner seven minutes from the end to snatch all three points.

“Sometimes you have to be patient in games like this,” United manager Alex Ferguson said.

“It was worth it to get three points. I’m very pleased with that.”

Manchester City moved out of the relegation zone with a stunning 5-1 victory over Hull City at Eastlands.

Robinho scored two of the goals to lift City, who had lost three of their past four league games, up to 15th place.

Villa fought back from two goals down at Villa Park to draw 2-2 with Arsenal and move level on points with Manchester United in third place.

Villa hit the woodwork three times in the first half and then found themselves 2-0 down thanks to goals by Denilson and Abou Diaby.

But Gareth Barry pulled one back from the penalty spot in the 65th minute and Zat Knight fired in the equalizer in the last minute of injury time.

The point means Arsenal are now three points behind Villa and United in fifth.

Craig Bellamy scored twice as West Ham United won 4-1 at Portsmouth, lifting them out of the relegation zone and pouring more pressure on Portsmouth manager Tony Adams.

Tim Cahill scored six minutes into the second half to give Everton a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough, while Wigan Athletic beat Newcastle United 2-1 and Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers drew 0-0.

Tottenham Hotspur drew 0-0 with Fulham at White Hart Lane in the day’s other game.