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Rabu, 26 Januari 2011

Man U rallies at Blackpool; Arsenal into cup final

LONDON (AP) - Manchester United fought back at Blackpool to win 3-2 Tuesday and stay unbeaten in the Premier League, while Arsenal eliminated Ipswich to reach the League Cup final.
United trailed 2-0 at halftime in its first top flight meeting with Blackpool for 40 years after Craig Cathcart and DJ Campbell scored from corners.
The leaders' fightback began after Wayne Rooney was substituted. Dimitar Berbatov pulled one back in the 72nd minute and he netted again after Javier Hernandez's equalizer.
"They just never give in," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "In the first half we were battered. We couldn't handle Charlie Adam. We were terrible ... we changed at halftime, Ryan Giggs made a tremendous difference. We started to penetrate and I think we were deserved winners in the end." United has a five-point lead over Arsenal, but the second-place team was focused Tuesday on reaching its first domestic final since 2005.
The Gunners took until the 61st minute to wipe out Ipswich's 1-0 first-leg advantage in their League Cup semifinal. But after Nicklas Bendtner scored, Laurent Koscielny quickly netted again and Cesc Fabregas secured a 3-1 aggregate win.
Arsenal's Bacary Sagna was taken to hospital with concussion sustained in a clash of heads with Wojciech Szczesny, his goalkeeper.
Arsenal will face West Ham or Birmingham in the Feb. 27 final. West Ham leads 2-1 going into Wednesday's second leg.
"It is going to be a very difficult final but we will do our best because I think the fans deserve a trophy again," Fabregas said. "The goal was to get to the final but it was difficult ... the key was patience and we did it really well."
Man United looked set for its first league loss since April when Cathcart, a former Old Trafford defender, headed in Charlie Adam's corner after 15 minutes.
The home threat was unrelenting with United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar having to pull off a save to block a header from his own defender, Nemanja Vidic.
Blackpool went further in front in the 43rd when another corner from Adam was met by Campbell at the far post.
Blackpool felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty at the start of the second half when Luke Varney was sent tumbling by Rafael da Silva.
Berbatov began United's comeback when he tapped home from Darren Fletcher's cross. Within two minutes, a chip from substitute Ryan Giggs sent Hernandez streaking through and the Mexico striker made it 2-2.
Even after United was rocked by a serious injury that saw Rafael stretchered off with apparent concussion, Paul Scholes sprayed the ball through to Berbatov and the Bulgaria striker scored his fifth goal in four days.
"He's having a great season - he has great talent," Ferguson said. "The third goal, the composure, I was screaming for him to square it to Chicharito (Hernandez) but, no, he has the confidence and ability to do what he did."
Arsenal, which hasn't won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, fielded a strong side at the Emirates Stadium, with just two changes from the team that beat Wigan in the Premier League at the weekend.
Ipswich signaled its intent from the kickoff, with Grant Leadbitter lofting the ball from the half way line and it just went over Wojciech Szczesny's cross bar. But the pressure all came from Arsenal. A shot from Fabregas from tight angle was saved at the near post by Marton Fulop and Robin van Persie headed against the crossbar.
The equalizer came when Bendtner latched onto Jack Wilshere's ball, cut inside past Carlos Edwards and curled into the net. Arsenal went in front when Koscielny rose to meet Andrey Arshavin's corner and headed past Fulop, who had come out to punch the ball.
The victory was sealed by captain Fabregas playing a one-two with Arshavin during a 40-meter (yard) sprint and shooting through Fulop's legs.
Also Tuesday, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young maintained Aston Villa resurgence with second-half goals that clinched a 2-1 victory over Wigan.
Villa, which beat Manchester City on Saturday, is six points clear of the relegation zone. James McCarthy pulled one back for Wigan, which is in the bottom three after winning just once in nine games.

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