Football Football

Bolton honour Muamba with Blackburn win


LONDON, England, March 24 – Bolton paid an emotional tribute to stricken star Fabrice Muamba on Saturday with a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over fellow Premier League strugglers Blackburn.

A packed house at the Reebok Stadium saw Wanderers fan form a giant mosaic reading “Muamba 6” along one side of the ground, one week after the midfielder collapsed from a heart attack during an FA Cup clash at Tottenham.

There was warm applause after a video montage of the worldwide tributes to the footballer, who remains in intensive care in the London Chest Hospital despite making a miraculous recovery.

On the pitch Bolton’s players gave Muamba the best possible get-well present with three points that lifted Owen Coyle’s side out of the relegation zone.

Two first-half headers from David Wheater settled the game in Bolton’s favour with Steven Nzonzi getting on the scoresheet for Blackburn.

Elsewhere Saturday, Arsenal tightened their grip on third place with a comfortable 3-0 win over Aston Villa — the Gunners’ seventh victory in a row.

First-half goals from Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott and a stunning long-range free-kick from Mikel Arteta were enough for Arsene Wenger’s side, who moved three points clear of Tottenham in fourth place.

Tottenham were held to a 0-0 draw by Chelsea in the early kick-off, a result which leaves the fifth-placed Blues struggling to close the gap on Spurs in the race for a Champions League qualifying place.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp praised his side’s performance but warned they still faced a fight to finish in the top four.

“It was a big point for us. It keeps them five points behind us,” Redknapp told Sky Sports television.

“It was a tough away game. We have a decent enough run-in but you have to be at it in every game.”

But Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo admitted his team now faced an uphill struggle to secure a top four place.

“We knew we were behind (in the league) and had to catch up. It is not going to be easy but we will try to the end,” Di Matteo said.

Liverpool’s slim hopes of a top four finish were effectively extinguished after Kenny Dalglish’s men suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against Wigan at Anfield.

Wigan stunned Liverpool when Shaun Maloney put the Latics ahead from the penalty spot on 31 minutes after Martin Skrtel’s challenge on Victor Moses.

Liverpool drew level through Luis Suarez immediately after half-time but Gary Caldwell’s 63rd minute winner clinched victory for Wigan and left Dalglish’s side 13 points adrift of fourth place.

Queens Park Rangers — who had stunned Liverpool 3-2 in midweek — were brought down to earth after an emphatic 3-1 loss at Sunderland.

Sunderland’s goals came from Nicklas Bendtner, James McMclean and Stephane Sessegnon as QPR saw Djibril Cisse sent off for the second time in his short career with the Londoners following a wild challenge on Fraizer Campbell.

Taye Taiwo scored a late consolation for QPR.

Meanwhile Wolves remain rooted to the foot of the table after a 2-1 defeat to Norwich at Carrow Road.

Wolves snatched a 25th-minute lead through Matt Jarvis but Norwich drew level inside a minute through a Grant Holt strike before the Canaries striker made it 2-1 with a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Norwich endured a nervous finish when goalscorer Holt was sent off in the second half but Paul Lambert’s side dug in for the win.

Everton ended a run of two consecutive defeats with a 2-0 win at form team Swansea courtesy of goals from Leighton Baines and Nikica Jelavic.

In the late game on Saturday, Manchester City will bid to reclaim top spot in the title race with victory at Stoke, with Manchester United not playing Fulham until Monday.