Manchester United look like champions: Ferguson

Manchester United look like champions: Ferguson

( AFP ) - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insisted his side had the look of English Premier League champions, despite giving Chelsea every chance of snatching the title.

Blackburn Rovers handed the west London club a shock lifeline by holding the league leaders to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

The champions were heading for defeat but Argentina striker Carlos Tevez rescued a precious point for the visitors at Ewood Park with just two minutes to go.

The result leaves United three points clear of the Blues ahead of their crunch clash at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge next Saturday.

Elsewhere, Liverpool prepared for Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg with Chelsea by winning 2-0 at Fulham, while Arsenal restored some pride, beating visitors Reading by the same scoreline.

"We'd have rather had three points and I think we probably deserved three points. But the thing is we have rescued a point again late on and that's a positive thing," Ferguson told reporters.

"Our second-half performance was phenomenal. Our tenacity was fantastic and we played like champions. I think we could have had three penalties and at the moment we are just getting those breaks against us.

"But we can't go on about it because we should have won the game anyway. (Rovers goalkeeper) Brad Friedel has had a fantastic game but we dominated the second half."

It seemed Blackburn's Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz had scored the winner with his 21st-minute effort, before Tevez equalised in a frenzied last 10 minutes.

Chelsea won 1-0 at Everton on Thursday to keep the pressure on United.

In the relegation battle, Bolton Wanderers hauled themselves out of the drop zone Saturday with a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough and Wigan drew 1-1 with Tottenham. West Ham beat visitors Derby 2-1.

In Sunday's fixtures, Birmingham travel to city rivals Aston Villa, Newcastle host Sunderland in the north-east derby, while FA Cup finalists Portsmouth visit Manchester City in their quest for a UEFA Cup spot.

Liverpool, with one eye on Tuesday's European tie with visitors Chelsea, rested eight players at relegation-threatened Fulham but nonetheless claimed a 2-0 win.

Winger Jermaine Pennant scored in the 17th minute at Craven Cottage and England striker Peter Crouch completed the victory in the 70th.

Fourth-placed Liverpool need two more points to be certain of earning a Champions League qualifying place via the league, while Fulham are five points from safety with three games remaining.

"I picked a team I believed could win the match," Reds boss Rafael Benitez said. "We've shown again we have quality."

Bolton gave their chances of avoiding the drop a big boost with a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough thanks to Gavin McCann's 61st-minute goal at the Riverside Stadium.

Bolton are one point and two places above the drop zone.

"We are not by any stretch playing champagne football but I defy anyone to in the bottom three at this stage of the season," Bolton boss Gary Megson said.

"Psychologically I am sure it is a big thing for us but what we must recognise is we haven't done anything apart from give us a much better opportunity than we had two weeks ago."

Third-placed Arsenal beat Reading 2-0 at Emirates Stadium, Emmanuel Adebayor scoring 30 minutes in before Gilberto's second eight minutes later.

"I think we did pretty well all season but at the end it was disappointing," Gunners midfielder Francesc Fabregas told Sky Sports television. "We needed a performance like this to try to finish as best we can.

"We don't want to always say 'next year, next year'. I think it is a mistake. We want to do it now."

Reading dropped to one point and one place above the relegation zone.

Wigan Athletic played out a 1-1 draw with visitors Tottenham Hotspur at the JJB Stadium.

Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov scored in the sixth minute for League Cup holders Spurs but Emile Heskey equalised six minutes later.

"If we beat Reading (next weekend) then we're safe, and we can't ask for anything better than that with three games to play," Wigan boss Steve Bruce said.

West Ham beat rock-bottom visitors Derby County 2-1 at Upton Park.

The hosts' Bobby Zamora had not scored since April 21 last year but he headed in a 20th minute opener. Defender Tyrone Mears equalised in the 65th minute but Carlton Cole scored 12 minutes later.

"The season has been one of frustration for everyone. It has been a catalogue of disasters," said West Ham boss Alan Curbishley.

Derby manager Paul Jewell said: "This season has been horrendous and there is no getting away from it. The only consistent thing about us is our inconsistency."

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