Arsenal wins to boost Champions League hopes

  • Associated Press
  • April 20, 2013 - 4:38 PM

LONDON - Arsenal moved into third place in the English Premier League, winning 1-0 at Fulham behind Per Mertesacker's goal on a 43rd-minute header, and Sunderland, Stoke and Norwich came away with victories Saturday that boosted their hopes to avoid relegation.

Arsenal had a man advantage at Craven Cottage after Steve Sidwell received a red card in the 12th minute, but the Gunners' Olivier Giroud was sent off the 90th. Arsenal (18-7-9) moved into third place, two points ahead of Chelsea (18-7-7) and five in front of Tottenham (17-8-7), both vying for a top-four finish and a berth in next season's Champions League.

Spurs host Manchester City on Sunday, when Chelsea is at Liverpool.

Sunderland (9-15-10) climbed six points above the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory at home over sixth-place Everton (14-6-14) on Stephane Sessegnon's goal in first-half stoppage time.

Stoke (8-13-13) trails Sunderland on goal difference after winning 2-0 at 19th-place Queens Park Rangers (4-18-12) on Peter Crouch's goal in the 42nd minute and Jonathan Walters' penalty kick in the 77th.

Norwich won 2-0 at last-place Reading (5-20-9), and Newcastle tied 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion, making it likely the last relegation spot will be between Aston Villa and Wigan. Aston Villa (8-15-10) has 34 points going into Monday's game at first-place Manchester United and Wigan (8-18-7) has 31 following Saturday's 2-0 loss at West Ham.

Cardiff, which secured promotion to the Premier League earlier in the week, clinched the title in the second-tier League Championship by tying 1-1 at Burnley.


BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cesc Fabregas scored in the 84th minute, and Barcelona defeated Levante 1-0 to maintain a 13-point lead in the Spanish league with six games left.

Four-time FIFA player of the year missed his third straight league game for Barcelona (27-2-3) because of a right hamstring injury but is expected to return for the first leg of the Champions League semifinals at Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Defending champion Real Madrid (22-5-5) beat Real Betis 3-1 as Mesut Oezil scored in the 45th and 90th minutes around Karim Benzema's goal in the 57th. Madrid defender Marcelo and midfielder Luka Modric both were substituted after appearing to injure legs.

Real Madrid opens the Champions League semifinals Wednesday at Borussia Dortmund.


FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Bayern Munich warmed up for its Champions League semifinal by routing Hannover 6-1 for its 13th straight Bundesliga victory.

Mario Gomez and Claudio Pizarro scored a pair each and Pizarro also set up two others against a defense that included American right back Steve Cherundolo, who equaled the Hannover appearance record with his 298th game.


PARIS (AP) — Saint-Etienne's 32-year title drought ended with a 1-0 victory over Rennes in the French League Cup final.

Brandao capitalized on a defensive mistake by goalkeeper Benoit Costil to score on a volley from close range in the 18th minute.

Saint-Etienne's previous trophy was for the 1981 French league title.

In the league, second-place Marseille (18-7-8) scored within six points of Paris Saint-Germain (20-5-7) with a 1-0 home win over Brest. Benoit Cheyrou scored in first-half injury time.

PSG hosts Nice on Sunday.

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