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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Newcastle Holds Lead With Draw

LONDON -- Les Ferdinand scored twice in Newcastle's 3-3 thriller with Wimbledon as the Magpies stretched their lead atop the English soccer standings to five points over Manchester United.


Sunday's result at Selhurst Park was the seventh tied game in nine Premier League matches over the weekend but Newcastle had the chances to go seven points clear.


Ferdinand fired Kevin Keegan's team ahead after eight minutes only for goals from Dean Holdsworth and Efan Ekoku to turn the game Wimbledon's way.


Ferdinand struck again with his 20th goal of the season and then set up Newcastle's third with a center that was turned into his own net by Wimbledon defender Kenny Cunningham, under pressure from Keith Gillespie.


After five first half goals, there was only one in the second, Holdsworth scoring his second of the game after Mick Harford had headed on Alan Kimble's center.


Newcastle now has 39 points from 16 games and Manchester United, which was held 1-1 by Chelsea Saturday, has 34. Third place Arsenal has 29.


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Manchester City manager Alan Ball could have expected to be out of work before Christmas.


But thanks to a patient and realistic chairman and the sparkling form of a little Georgian midfield dynamo something like Ball himself was as a player, City has reversed one of the worst starts to a season in its history.


"We have had some real dark days and there has been a lot of hard work but you have to remember that there were a lot of changes at our club at the start of this season, including the arrival of a young Georgian who couldn't speak a word of English," Ball said after a 1-0 win at Leeds on Saturday lifted City out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.


Georgian international Georgi Kinkladze, signed from Dynamo Tbilisi in the off-season, has been at the hub in a run of five matches without defeat in which City has taken 13 points. Saturday was the team's first away league win this season.


City had a disastrous start, picking up only two points in its first 11 matches.


"Everyone has stood by me," Ball said. "There has not been one word of dissent from the board, my chairman or the fans. They have all been magnificent."


Most magnificent of all has been Kinkladze, signed for ?2.0 million ($3.1 million) in July and scorer when City beat Aston Villa 1-0 at home last weekend.


"Georgi has immense talent for a 22-year-old," Ball said.


"I can't wait for next week and the tussle between him and Juninho. They won't be able to squeeze a piece of cigarette paper between them," he added, looking forward to City's away game against Middlesbrough and their Brazilian playmaker next Saturday.


(AP, Reuters)


(For other results, see Scorecard.)