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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

United Win, Magpie Loss Put Pressure on Newcastle

LONDON -- Manchester United is back in the Premier League title chase.


The Reds closed the gap at the top to six points by beating Everton 2-0 Wednesday, while Newcastle stumbled to a 2-0 defeat against West Ham.


Newcastle looked ready to run away with the title, but Wednesday's surprising loss -- only the fourth of the season and first of 1996 for the Magpies -- gave Manchester United new life. Newcastle now has a six-point lead a game in hand.


The two clubs will collide in a crucial showdown March 3 at Newcastle's St. James Park. First, Newcastle faces Manchester City on Saturday, while Manchester United plays at last-placed Bolton on Sunday.


"It was an important win for United and, perhaps, for the first time Newcastle have now come under a little bit of pressure,'' Everton manager Joe Royle said.


Two other clubs have longshot title hopes, Liverpool and Aston Villa. Liverpool is third with 49 points, 11 points adrift. Villa is fourth, a further four points back.


Liverpool plays Saturday at sixth-place Blackburn, while Villa is away at Wimbledon.


"They've gone a lot further than a lot of people thought possible,'' manager Brian Little said of his players. "That's good, but I don't want it to end yet.''


Villa's opponent in the Wembley final will be decided Sunday when Leeds plays Birmingham in the second leg of their semifinal.


(For schedule, see Scorecard.)


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In Italy's Serie A, AC Milan has two things Juventus of Turin had one year ago: star striker Roberto Baggio and a considerable lead in the Italian League.


Aiming for its fourth league title in five years, Milan plays at defending champ Juventus, 11 points behind in fourth place, in Sunday's 23rd round. "I'm ready. I'm happy to return to play at Turin,'' Baggio said this week. "Finally, I'll be able to play against Juve. For Juve, this will be the game of the year.''