Football: Manchester United clinch Premiership title

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Manchester United clinched the Barclays Premiership title Sunday after second place Chelsea drew at Emirates Stadium with Arsenal. United put the pressure on Chelsea Saturday with a 1-0 win over hometown rivals Manchester City, leaving Chelsea requiring a win to keep the title race going.

Saturdays game saw United's top goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, as the only name on the scoresheet when he slotted home the ball from the penalty spot after being dragged down in the area by Michael Ball. Ball had earlier stomped on Ronaldo with his cleat, but the action was missed by the referee, and Ball was allowed to continue with the match. Ball was then involved in the game again as he earned a penalty when he was brought down by Wes Brown. Darius Vassell stepped up to the spot, but his hard drive at the center of the net was saved by the trailing leg of Edwin Van Der Sar.

With the pressure now on Chelsea to win at Arsenal, the blues traveled to the Emirates in hopes of keeping their title hopes alive. As the game neared half-time, Khalid Boulahrouz brought down Júlio Baptista in the box, and a penalty was awarded to Arsenal, while Boulahrouz was red-carded. Gilberto Silva converted easily on the spot kick, and Arsenal went into half time with the lead. For much of the second half, Arsenal controlled the game, but on 70 minutes, a flashing header by Michael Essien tied the match for Chelsea. The blues pushed for the second goal, but it never came, and the draw meant Chelsea could no long catch United, who are seven points ahead in the table.

The title is United's sixteenth English championship and their ninth Premiership crown in fifteen years, but their first in four years, after league domination by both Arsenal and Chelsea left United adrift in the race.

United travel to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in what Chelsea were hoping to make a title decider, but with United already in control, the fans at the Bridge will instead clap United onto the field in a Guard of Honor.