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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Liverpool Beats Villa, Tightens Gap


LIVERPOOL, England -- Liverpool scored three times in the first eight minutes before cruising to a 3-0 victory over fourth place Aston Villa to strengthen its English Premier League title chances.

Steve McManaman netted after 78 seconds in Sunday's game and then Robbie Fowler took his tally for the season to 29 with two more as third place Liverpool wrapped up three more points and then eased off.

Roy Evans' team now is six points behind leader Newcastle which hosts second place Manchester United on Monday. Villa is 12 points behind the leader and seemingly out of contention.

McManaman's goal was a first time volley from a slick touch on by veteran midfielder John Barnes.

Villa's Australian goalkeeper Mark Bosnich was just recovering from that when Fowler neatly turned past Villa defender Steve Staunton four minutes later and ran on to drive a swerving left-footed shot past him from 25 meters.

Four more minutes and the team with the Premier League's best defense record was beaten again. Fowler took a pass down the left and, with no support, decided to go for goal again. His angled shot bounced in front of Bosnich, then over his shoulder and into the net.

Scottish champion Glasgow Rangers regained its three-point lead over arch-rival Celtic in the race for the Scottish title with a 2-0 away victory over Hibernian on a tense Sunday afternoon.

A Graham Mitchell own goal and a 70th-minute Brian Laudrup penalty clinched the points to give Walter Smith a satisfying result on his 200th league match in charge of Rangers.

But Paul Gascoigne collected his 12th yellow card of the season -- for celebrating the penalty award -- and Rangers keeper Andy Goram was attacked by a fan who ran onto the field.

Goram got a bloody nose, but he will be delighted that with eight games left, the Rangers lead Celtic by three points and have a superior goal difference.

Smith gave his ?1.5 million ($2.29 million) signing from Aalborg, Dane Erik Bo Andersen, a starting debut, although he had a quiet game.

But his other Dane, Laudrup, was a constant threat to Hibs, setting up an early chance for Stuart McCall, and it was from him that the opening goal stemmed after 31 minutes.

A fine move involving substitute Charlie Miller, Gascoigne and Laudrup saw the England player blocked inside the box. The referee awarded a penalty that led to a row between Gascoigne and Leighton and Gascoigne ending up booked yet again.

Then came the 76th-minute incident as a fan from the Hibs end reached Goram before finally being hauled away.

On Saturday, Celtic had joined the Rangers at the top after beating the Hearts 4-0 and extending its unbeaten run in domestic games to 25 matches.


In European play, after two seasons of spectacular triumphs, the seemingly invincible Ajax of Amsterdam no longer tops the standings in the Netherlands.

Ajax suffered an upset 2-1 loss at Vitesse Sunday and surrendered first place by one point to PSV Eindhoven, which beat Roda JC 3-0.

George Weah turned from goalscorer to goalmaker, setting up three for AC Milan in a 4-0 victory over Vicenza. ()

(For other results, see Scorecard.)