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Thursday, April 30, 1998 Published at 05:05 GMT 06:05 UK



Sport: Football

Arsenal near title

Arsenal 1 Derby County 0

Arsenal are four points clear at the top of the Premiership and need just another three to take the title after French star Emmanuel Petit clinched a vital home victory.

Petit score a stunning goal in the 35th minute to put paid to Derby County's hopes of pulling off a surprise win at Highbury.


[ image: Bergkamp: penalty saved]
Bergkamp: penalty saved
But the Gunners were left with a fresh injury worry with three games remaining after Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp limped off with a hamstring injury after missing a penalty.

After losing Bergkamp, Arsene Wenger's team fought hard to take and maintain the lead.

Five minutes after Bergkamp left the field, Petit struck a thunderous 20-yard drive to set Highbury alight.

The goal and subsequent victory means that Arsenal have set a Premiership record of nine consecutive wins.

But in the closing minutes of the game, Derby threatened to scupper that record when they shot just wide of the post.

Then substitute Deon Burton nearly caught David Seaman off guard when he picked up a poor clearance and tried to convert it.

Coventry 0 Wimbledon 0

Wimbledon appear to have secured their place in the Premiership next season after taking a vital point at Coventry.


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is optimistic about Dennis Bergkamp's injury (23")
Only a maximum six points from Bolton's last two games and a combination of other results will send Wimbledon to the Nationwide League.

But the Dons may set other records after they reached seven hours of play without hitting the back of the net.

While they failed to score, the result left them with a sixth clean sheet in seven games.

Gordon Strachan's Coventry rarely looked likely to score but are set to avoid a re-run of previous years when they have teetered dangerously on the edge of relegation.

Wimbledon's best chance came in the seventh minute, when the Coventry back line could only half-clear a corner to Michael Hughes.

His pass over the top sprung City's offside trap and gave leading scorer Jason Euell the simplest of opportunities.

But Swedish keeper Magnus Hedman spread himself superbly to block the striker's shot.

Coventry's best chance came when Dion Dublin shot a spectacular overhead kick just over the bar.

Chelsea 0 Blackburn 1


[ image: Tore Andre Flo crosses the ball over Stephane Henchoz]
Tore Andre Flo crosses the ball over Stephane Henchoz
Blackburn striker Kevin Gallacher gave his team renewed hopes of playing in Europe next season after he reversed the Lancashire side's recent run of bad form.

Blackburn arrived at the match having taken just four points out of a possible 24.

Gallacher's goal shortly after half time came after he made the most of a defensive error by Frank Leboeuf.

Chelsea were below their free-flowing best and missed late chances to equalise.

A late charge by Chelsea, featuring moves from Mark Hughes, left Blackburn defending deep and trying to soak up the pressure.

Hughes hit the outside of the post and Leboeuf had a penalty appeal turned down.

Leicester 0 Newcastle 0

Newcastle's England striker Alan Shearer became the focus for a heated row when he clashed with Leicester's Neil Lennon.

Shearer appeared to react angrily after a challenge from the Northern Ireland international and kicked out in his opponent's direction.


BBC Radio Five Live's Dave Woods reports from Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium (45")
Lennon fell to the turf and needed treatment. Referee Martin Bodenham took no action and Leicester's manager Martin O'Neill was left visible angry.

The game produced only two worthy shots in 90 minutes.

Newcastle's Shay Given kept out an Emile Heskey header, while at the other end the Foxes' Kasey Keller stopped a dipping volley from Robert Lee.

Newcastle's one point leaves them four points off Bolton who are lying third from bottom. It should be enough to secure Newcastle's survival.

But the draw will damage Leicester's fast-fading hopes of finishing the season high enough to clinch a place in the Uefa cup.

Middlesbrough 1 Wolvehampton Wanderers 1


[ image: Robbie Mustoe breaks free of Wolves' Simon Osborn]
Robbie Mustoe breaks free of Wolves' Simon Osborn
Middlesbrough have taken a step closer to bouncing back into the Premiership after snatching a point in a tough battle against Wolves.

Hamilton Ricard's lone goal in the 12th minute was all that Bryan Robson's team could muster, leaving them just one point ahead of Sunderland and Charlton.

Wolves striker Don Goodman wasted two great opportunities in the opening 10 minutes.

But Mark Atkins eventually took advantage of Boro's disarray and put the visitors ahead shortly after.

It took Ricard just 90 seconds to level the tie and lead a period of Middlesbrough domination.

Paul Gascoigne and Paul Merson came close to scoring as the home team put on more pressure. But the Middlesbrough fans, hoping for the vital three points to take them up, will have to wait.
 





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