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Liverpool narrows gap on leader Man United

— PHOTO: AP

SPLENDID EFFORT: Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt dives to score against Newcastle at Anfield on Sunday.

LONDON: Liverpool moved back to within three points of Premier League leader Manchester United after beating relegation-threatened Newcastle United 3-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

Two goals in the first half from Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt sent second-placed Liverpool, which has played one game more than United, on the way to victory against a Newcastle side that had Joey Barton sent-off 13 minutes from time for a wild challenge on Xabi Alonso.

Brazilian midfielder Lucas added a third goal, his first in the Premier League, three minutes from time.

Defeat left Newcastle three points adrift of safety with just three games remaining in which to secure its Premier League status, starting with the north-east derby against fellow drop candidate Middlesbrough a week on Monday.

Good day for Everton

Everton is on the verge of wrapping up a place in Europe — albeit in the revamped UEFA Cup which next season will be known as the Europa Cup — after claiming a 2-0 victory at Sunderland that left the host dangerously close to the relegation zone.

David Moyes’s side already has an FA Cup final clash against Chelsea to look forward to later this month and is almost certain to have European football on its agenda again next season following this convincing victory.

South African midfielder Steven Pienaar opened the scoring early in the second half and record-signing Marouane Fellaini’s late strike ensured Everton leapfrogged Aston Villa.

Although Villa can regain the fifth place with a win over relegation-threatened Hull on Monday, Moyes’ men are now just one point away from wrapping up a spot in the Europa Cup. Ricky Sbragia’s Sunderland faces a nervous end to the season after a defeat which leaves it just four points clear of the bottom three with three games to play.

The results: Liverpool 3 (Benayoun 22, Kuyt 28, Lucas 87) bt Newcastle 0; Sunderland 0 lost to Everton 2 (Steven Pienaar 48, Marouane Fellaini 71). —Agencies

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