English Premier League Roundup, Apr. 2
Wayne Rooney's hat trick kept Manchester United on track to win the Premier League with a 4-2 comeback win over West Ham, while title contenders Arsenal and Chelsea both dropped points.
Liverpool, which shares the record of 18 titles with United, lost 2-1 against a West Bromwich Albion side led by its former manager, Roy Hodgson, while Tottenham's hopes of a second straight top-four finish were hit by a 0-0 draw at Wigan.
Chelsea has eight games left and is 11 points behind United, which has played one more game. Second-place Arsenal is seven points off the lead and also has a game in hand.
United has trailed 2-0 away from home three times this season and salvaged seven points from those matches.
"We played like champions," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "It was a real championship performance as far as I'm concerned."
Two penalty kicks by Mark Noble put relegation-threatened West Ham 2-0 ahead by the 25th minute at Upton Park, but Mexico striker Javier Hernandez replaced Patrice Evra for the second half and fellow forward Dimitar Berbatov went on for Park Ji-sung to help United get back in the game.
Rooney curled in a 65th-minute free kick for just his eighth league goal of the season and struck his 100th in the English top flight eight minutes later, creating room on the edge of the area with one touch and shooting past goalkeeper Robert Green with his next.
The England striker then scored a 79th-minute penalty following Matthew Upson's inadvertent handball and Hernandez scored from Ryan Giggs' cross with six minutes left.
"We don't give up, no matter what the score," Rooney said. "We were brilliant all over the park, but even when we haven't been playing well we have been grinding out results."
United had looked on course for a repeat of November's 4-0 League Cup defeat to West Ham after penalties awarded for a handball by Evra and a trip by Nemanja Vidic on Carlton Cole at the very edge of the area.
Arsenal dominated Blackburn and constantly threatened a breakthrough but Blackburn's defense managed to thwart almost all the Gunners' advances to secure a vital point in the fight against relegation.
Jack Wilshere passed up an opportunity when he chose to pass back to Andrei Arshavin rather than shoot, with Laurent Koscielny heading the resulting corner kick at goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
With 32 minutes to go, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger sent on captain Cesc Fabregas for Arshavin in an effort to force a winning goal and Steven N'Zonzi was shown a straight red card in the 76th for jumping in two-footed on Koscielny.
But Robinson saved Van Persie's low shot at the edge of the area, Michel Salgado blocked Nicklas Bendtner's header on the line, and Van Persie headed over in injury time.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said this week his side was still in contention for the title but his team fell behind to Stoke in the eighth minute through Jon Walters' breakaway goal.
Drogba headed an equalizer in the 33rd but Stoke could easily have won, hitting the woodwork twice in the second half and forcing several good saves from Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Ancelotti kept Fernando Torres on the bench until the 61st but the Spain striker endured an eighth game without a goal since his 50-million-pound ($80.6 million) transfer from Liverpool in January.
West Brom had never scored a goal in its nine previous Premier League matches against Liverpool but, with Hodgson in charge, won on Saturday through two second-half penalties by Chris Brunt.
Liverpool led through Martin Skrtel's 50th-minute header, but Brunt equalized in the 62nd after defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos brought down Peter Odemwingie and goalkeeper Pepe Reina then tripped Odemwingie, giving Brunt the chance to hit an 88th-minute winner.
"I get no extra pleasure from beating Liverpool," Hodgson said. "I made a lot of friends when I was at Liverpool. The players, I have a lot of time and respect for, and the coaching staff, many of them worked with me and worked very loyally.
"The great pleasure I take is beating Liverpool because it is not something West Brom do very often."
Also, Darren Bent scored twice for Aston Villa but his side stayed deep in relegation trouble after Leighton Baines' 83rd-minute penalty earned Everton a 2-2 draw. Newcastle beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-1 and Birmingham beat Bolton 2-1.
Norwich kept a firm hold of second place in the second-tier League Championship with a 6-0 win over Scunthorpe, while Cardiff beat Derby 4-1 to move ahead of Swansea into third place on goal difference.
Queens Park Rangers get the chance to extend its six-point lead when it hosts Sheffield United on Monday.