Aston Villa lose ground in race for Champions League place

Society Materials 3 February 2008 22:50 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- Aston Villa lost ground in the race for a Champions League place as they were beaten 2-1 at Fulham on Sunday.

Newcastle United scored their first goal under Kevin Keegan, but they had to settle for a point as they drew 1-1 with north-east rivals Middlesbrough .

Villa, who began the day three points behind fourth-placed Everton, looked on course for victory when Aaron Hughes scored an own goal on 69 minutes.

Simon Davies levelled for Fulham four minutes later and Jimmy Bullard curled in a superb free-kick four minutes from the end to improve Fulham's chances of avoiding relegation.

Fulham are now three points away from safety, while Villa remain sixth.

At St James's Park, Michael Owen put Newcastle ahead with a header from Emre's free-kick on the hour mark.

But Robert Huth scored a late equalizer to earn Middlesbrough a share of the points.

"We never dominated but looked the most likely to create chances," Newcastle manager Keegan said.

"In the last 10-15 minutes it turned into a real derby match and I think we deserved the three points.

"I think Middlesbrough were fortunate with their goal, Huth was offside, but when you're in a bad run you do not get those kind of decisions."