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Torres scores twice as Liverpool beats Chelsea 2-0

LIVERPOOL beat 10-man Chelsea 2-0 yesterday to cut Manchester United's Premier League lead to two points and Newcastle hit back to draw 1-1 with Sunderland.

Fernando Torres scored with an 89th minute glancing header and tapped in the second after a blunder by Ashley Cole after Chelsea had Frank Lampard sent off in the 60th minute at Anfield.

The victory enabled Liverpool to leapfrog Chelsea into second place behind Manchester United, which beat Everton 1-0 on Saturday and has a game in hand on both its rivals.

United now has 53 points from 23 games, Liverpool has 51 from 24 and Chelsea 48 from 24.

"It's true they were playing with 10 men but I think we were better through the whole game," said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, who came under fire when the team slipped from first to third in the standings.

"It's always important to win, to score goals and to play well. We were in a fantastic position before and much better now. We have to keep going and have confidence in ourselves."

Lampard was sent off for a sliding, feet-first challenge on Xabi Alonso in a game littered with fouls. Referee Mike Riley also showed seven yellow cards, four to Liverpool, including captain Steven Gerrard for diving to try and get a free kick on the edge of the Chelsea area.

Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said referee Riley was wrong to send Lampard off and hoped that the decision would be overturned.

"I want the referee to look at this on television and maybe change this card for Lampard," Scolari said. "When I look at it I see it as a foul by the other player. Maybe when he looks on TV he will change the red card, and we will have Lampard for the next game."

But Scolari accepted Liverpool was the better team on the day.

"Liverpool were better than us all game," the Brazilian said. "We need to look again, to try again, we have many games but we are behind two clubs. It is more difficult than before but we have to fight to the end."

The game appeared to be headed for a draw which would have delighted United manager Alex Ferguson when Torres guided home a leftwing cross from Fabio Aurelio with a top-quality glancing header.

Two minutes later, Cole lost the ball to Yossi Benayoun inside the Chelsea area and the ball broke to the unmarked Torres who tapped it home.

Shola Ameobi scored an equalizing penalty to earn Newcastle a 1-1 draw with neighbor Sunderland in their northeast derby and edge a point further away from relegation trouble.

Djibril Cisse gave Sunderland a 32nd-minute lead at St. James' Park and Newcastle appeared headed for another defeat until it was fortunate to get a penalty in the 69th minute.

Steed Malbranque was harshly judged to have brought down Steven Taylor as the Newcastle midfielder dribbled into the area but referee Howard Webb blew for a foul. Ameobi drove the spot kick into the roof of the net for his 50th goal in a Magpies shirt.

The draw moved Newcastle up two places to 15th, but the failure to win at home leaves it only one point above the relegation zone. Sunderland stayed 13th.


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