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Benayoun propels Reds to top

YOSSI Benayoun struck in injury time to give Liverpool a hugely important 1-0 win at Fulham that took it top of the Premier League on Saturday.

Liverpool hit the woodwork four times but looked to be set for a second goalless draw this season against the Londoners until Benayoun came off the bench to lash in the winner.

The win takes Liverpool to 67 points, two ahead of Manchester United, which has two games in hand.

Chelsea is third on 64 after goals by Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda early in the second half beat Newcastle United 2-0 to spoil the St James' Park comeback of temporary manager Alan Shearer and leave his club in real relegation danger.

Arsenal's long-term absentees Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor combined to create two goals for the Togo striker in their 2-0 home win over Manchester City that consolidated its fourth place on 58 points.

Fulham, which had beaten Arsenal and Manchester United at Craven Cottage this season, was outclassed on Saturday but somehow stayed in the game.

Liverpool had put 13 goals past Real Madrid, United and Villa in its last three games but Fulham rode its luck.

Andrea Dossena glanced a header against the bar, Xabi Alonso rattled it from the edge of the box, Fernando Torres hit a post and, when Dossena sent another header against the bar, Liverpool must have begun to wonder if it would be its day.

Fulham tightened up in the second half and, after surviving a few more scares, seemed set for a point before Liverpool struck in stoppage time for the eighth time this season.

"It's a massive three points, we knew a draw was no good to us. We had to win to put some pressure on United," Gerrard told Setanta Sports. "There were times when you think it's not going to be our day but Yossi pops up with important goals and that goal could be big for us."

Chelsea was delighted to have negotiated what looked an awkward hurdle as the return of Shearer seemed certain to galvanise a side that had won only once in 12 league games. Newcastle held its own in the first half but a defensive blunder by Argentina center back Fabricio Coloccini let in Nicolas Anelka and after the Frenchman's shot came back off the bar, Lampard was on hand to nod the ball in after 56 minutes.

The second goal was even more basic as Anelka flicked on a goalkick and Lampard set up Malouda to shoot home.

Newcastle is now three points from safety following good results for most of the teams immediately above it.

Blackburn Rovers beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1; Stoke City claimed its first away win of the season with a 2-0 triumph at West Bromwich Albion; Bolton Wanderers thrashed Middlesbrough 4-1 while Hull City and Portsmouth drew 0-0.


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