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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kedah: Super League Champion EPL : Man Utd Or Chelsea

ALOR STAR: While the rest of the country is grappling with the Super League match-fixing problem, it was all nice and dandy at the Darulaman Stadium last night as Kedah let their hair down to celebrate their league success.

The 25,000-strong home crowd lent their vocal support as the Canaries downed Pahang 1-0 in their final home match of the season, courtesy of a 10-minute Marlon James goal.

But the fans reserved their loudest cheers for after the match, when Kedah received the Super League trophy from Sultan Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.

Mohd Azraai Khor’s team, who had already created history by bagging an unprecedented treble last year, are also the first side to successfully defend the Super League trophy. They secured the title with four matches to spare earlier this month.

Stand-in skipper Bernard Huggins, deputising for the injured A. Victor, led his team-mates to receive the Super League trophy and winners’ medals.

The Kedah players then went on a victory lap to parade the trophy around the stadium.

In the match, which served as a prelude to the two-legged FA Cup semi-final between the two sides in June, the champions took the match seriously by parading their best eleven.

There was only 40 seconds on the clock when the league’s top scorer James got a free header from a Nelson Martin corner but failed to get on target.

The St Vincent and Grenadines striker was not to be denied his 23rd league goal in the 10th minute. Off a quick counter attack that began from the Kedah goalmouth, James met a Khyril Muhymeen floater with a deft flick to beat Mohd Syamsuri Mustafa in the Pahang goal.

At the other end, Hairuddin Omar could have snatched a late equaliser for Pahang.

But just after rounding Kedah goalkeeper Mohd Helmi Eliza, the former national striker lost his balance and shot wildly.

LONDON: Chelsea beat Manchester United 2-1 in a dramatic match at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to pull level at the top of the Premier League and keep alive their hopes of snatching the title from United's grasp.

Michael Ballack was Chelsea's scoring hero, deciding the game with an 86th-minute penalty after heading the home side ahead at the end of the first half.

The Chelsea players celebrated that goal by unfolding a number eight shirt with “Pat Lampard RIP” on the back following the death of midfielder Frank Lampard's mother on Thursday. He was given compassionate leave by the club and missed the game.

Wayne Rooney equalised for the visitors when his 56th-minute shot went in off the post after a careless backpass from Ricardo Carvalho.

With two matches to play both teams have 81 points, although United remain top because of a better goal difference.

Despite the defeat United will still win the title if they match the same number of points that Chelsea collect from their last two games at Newcastle United and at home against Bolton Wanderers.

United's last two league games are at home to West Ham United and away at Wigan Athletic.

Ballack's late winner came after Michael Carrick was judged to have handled a cross from Michael Essien just minutes after Wes Brown appeared to have also handled in the area.

Chelsea's appeals for that infringement were waved away by referee Alan Wiley, but he pointed to the spot after Carrick handled and Ballack kept his nerve to send goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar the wrong way.