Liverpool beats Sunderland to keep hope alive
LONDON (AP) -- Liverpool beat Sunderland 2-0 to keep alive its faint hopes of catching Manchester United at the top of the English Premier League on Tuesday.
While the second-half goals by David Ngog and Yossi Benayoun weren't enough to regain second place from Chelsea, which won 1-0 at Portsmouth, Liverpool closed to within four points of the leader with its first league win in three matches.
Liverpool has 58 points from 28 games and trails Chelsea only by goal difference. Defending champion United, which won the League Cup on Sunday for its second title of the season, has played two games fewer than the trailing pair and plays the first of those matches at Newcastle on Wednesday.
Liverpool had led the league for much of the season until a run of eight draws and a loss from 14 matches allowed in-form United to overtake and establish a firm advantage.
The Reds looked set to continue their poor showing on Tuesday until Ngog put his team ahead in the 52nd minute. Benayoun, who scored in the 1-0 Champions League win that preceded Saturday's poor 2-0 loss at Middlesbrough, burst down the left and crossed into the area, where Steven Gerrard headed back to Ngog for the striker's first club goal.
Benayoun then scored from close range in the 65th after Sunderland goalkeeper Marton Fulop dropped the ball at his feet.
"I'm happy with the goal, but the most important thing is the points," Benayoun said. "After we lost against Middlesbrough, it was important to come back to winning ways.
"We were very disappointed. We expected to beat Middlesbrough -- but we did a job tonight."
Chelsea, meanwhile, continued its perfect record under temporary coach Guus Hiddink with a fourth straight win for the Dutchman.
Didier Drogba, who spent much of the season injured or out of favor until Hiddink's arrival last month, swept in a 79th-minute cross into the area by on-loan winger Ricardo Quaresma for just his fifth goal of the season.
Arsenal won 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion in Tuesday's other game to put more pressure on fourth-place Aston Villa ahead of its meeting with Manchester City in one of Wednesday's seven matches.
Nicklas Bendtner, criticized for his part in Arsenal's fourth straight 0-0 result against Fulham on Saturday, scored twice in the first half. Kolo Toure got the other goal in the 38th.
The Gunners moved up to 49 points, three fewer than Villa and the fourth qualifying spot for next season's Champions League.
In the second-tier League Championship, longtime leader Wolverhampton Wanderers ended its five-match winless run with a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace. Wolves have 67 points, five more than second-place Birmingham, which hosts Bristol City on Wednesday.