Liverpool routs Villa 5-0 with Gerrard hat trick

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LONDON – Steven Gerrard scored a hat trick Sunday, sending Liverpool past Aston Villa 5-0 and within a point of first-place Manchester United in the Premier League.

Having routed United 4-1 last weekend, Liverpool took advantage of the champions losing 2-0 at Fulham on Saturday. United has 65 points after 29 games; Liverpool has 64 after 30 games. Chelsea, which lost 1-0 at Tottenham on Saturday, has 61.

This was Liverpool's biggest win of the season and came days after manager Rafa Benitez signed a five-year contract. It will also revive hopes that the Spaniard can end the club's 19-year wait for its 19th English title.

Dirk Kuyt took just eight minutes to score against a Villa team that is chasing one of the four Champions League spots. Villa's miserable afternoon at Anfield was compounded when U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel was sent off for bringing down Fernando Torres as he surged forward to meet Xabi Alonso's ball.

Micah Richards scored his first goal in 2 1/2 years to lead Manchester City over struggling Sunderland 1-0. The England defender head Elano's free kick past Sunderland goalkeeper Marton Fulop in the 56th minute. Robinho, who hasn't scored for City in 2009, missed a penalty kick in the 22nd minute.

Sunderland was reduced to 10 men when George McCartney was sent off in the 15th minute. Sunderland remains three points above the relegation zone — one behind Hull, which lost at Wigan 1-0 on Ben Watson's goal in the 84th minute.


ROME (AP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored two goals to help Inter Milan restore its seven-point lead at the top of Serie A with a 3-0 win over last-place Reggina.

Esteban Cambiasso put Inter ahead in the sixth minute at the San Siro, and Ibrahimovic converted a penalty kick to double the lead in the 10th before sealing the match with a delicate chip shot in the 58th.

Inter leads the league with 69 points with nine games remaining, followed by Juventus with 62.

Juventus routed AS Roma 4-1 Saturday with two goals from Vincenzo Iaquinta and others by Olof Mellberg and Pavel Nedved — briefly cutting Inter's lead to four points.

Genoa beat 10-man Udinese with goals from Giuseppe Sculli and Diego Milito. Udinese forward Alexis Alejandro Sanchez was given a straight red card for arguing in the 73rd minute.


MADRID (AP) — Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored two goals and Marcelo added another to give second-place Real Madrid a 3-0 win over Almeria in the Spanish league, the defending champion's 12th win in 13 matches.

Also Sunday, it was: Valencia 1, Racing Santander 0; Deportivo La Coruna 1, Real Betis 1; Getafe 2, Recreativo Huelva 1; Osasuna 1, Espanyol 0; and Numancia 2, Sporting Gijon 1.

Third-place Sevilla beat Valladolid 4-1 Saturday, while Villarreal downed Athletic Bilbao 2-0.


LYON, France (AP) — Lyon beat Sochaux 2-0 to retain the top spot in the French league and end a four-game losing streak in all competitions.

The defending champions were under pressure after Marseille downed Nantes 2-0 Saturday to take the provisional lead.

But Brazilian midfielder Honorato Ederson put Lyon on the right track, chesting down a cross from Cesar Delgado to volley home a goal in the 13th minute.

Ederson was replaced in the 66th by Anthony Mounier, who converted a rebound in the 70th after goalkeeper Teddy Richert parried the substitute's header off a cross from Juninho.

Lyon tops the standings with 56 points, one more than Marseille.

Lorient defeated Saint-Etienne 3-1 to climb to 11th place with 35 points. Saint-Etienne remained in the relegation zone with 29 points.


FRANKFURT (AP) — Jose Paolo Guerrero scored two goals in five minutes to lead Hamburg over Schalke 2-1 and bring the team within one point of Bundesliga leader Hertha Berlin.

Guerrero scored in the 71st and 75th minutes. Jefferson Farfan pulled a goal back for Schalke in the 80th.

Hamburg has 48 points from 25 games, one point behind Hertha Berlin and trailing both Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg on goal difference. Schalke, which still has 37 points, is seven points from the final UEFA Cup spot.


GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Lee Naylor scored a late equalizer to help Celtic salvage a 2-2 draw at Dundee United, maintaining the Glasgow team's three-point lead over Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

Scott McDonald scored his 16th goal of the season in the 24th minute, but Dundee striker Francisco Sandaza scored twice at the start of the second half before Naylor volleyed in the tying goal from the edge of the box in the 81st minute.

Rangers drew 2-2 Saturday against Hearts.


AMSTERDAM (AP) — AZ Alkmaar lost ground in its bid to win the club's second Dutch league title after drawing 0-0 with Feyenoord.

With six more rounds remaining, AZ leads the standings with 70 points, nine more than FC Twente, which beat 10-man FC Groningen 2-1. Ajax is third with 58 points after a 3-0 win over NAC Breda.

AZ stretched its unbeaten run to 26 matches with a dominant performance but failed to make the breakthrough. The game's best chance fell to AZ's Stijn Schaars, whose point-blank shot was saved by Feyenoord goalkeeper Henk Timmer in the 58th minute.

Roda JC eased relegation worries with a 2-0 win over ADO The Hague on goals by Andres Oper and Sekou Cisse scored the goals.


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