| Blackburn Rovers’ Andy Cole battles with Chelsea’s William Gallas (left) during their Premier League match at Ewood Park Wednesday. Chelsea won 3-2. (AFP)
London: Bolton Wanderers shocked Manchester United at Old Trafford again while Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool both wasted the chance to go top of the table in a dramatic night of English Premier League action on Wednesday.
Kevin Nolan, who was on target in Bolton’s 2-1 win at United last season, grabbed the 76th-minute winner as Wanderers won 1-0 to inflict a first league defeat of the campaign on Alex Ferguson’s side.
Tottenham squandered a two-goal halftime lead against Fulham as they lost 3-2 at Loftus Road, with Sylvain Legwinski scoring a last-minute winner for Jean Tigana’s men.
Liverpool looked set to join leaders Arsenal on 11 points as they roared into a 2-0 lead against Birmingham at Anfield, but Clinton Morrison had other ideas, scoring twice, including a stoppage time equaliser, to force a 2-2 draw.
Champions Arsenal, 2-1 winners over Manchester City on Tuesday, are top on 11 points after five games, one point clear of Tottenham.
Leeds United are third after a fine 2-0 win at Newcastle United, level on nine points with Liverpool and Chelsea, who won 3-2 at Blackburn Rovers.
On the anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the United States a minute’s silence was held before each game.
At Old Trafford, David Beckham returned after missing England’s weekend friendly through injury but United sorely missed injured pair Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.
It was Beckham’s mistake that allowed Nolan to drive in Bolton’s winner, although United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez should really have kept his shot out. “It’s like last year but even better. Two years on the trot is unheard of for a club like ours,” Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce told Sky Sports television.
Afterwards, David Beckham apologised to the Manchester United’s fans and told his teammates to buck their ideas up.
Beckham admitted to the blunder, which led to Wanderers’ winner and gave a warning that there must be an immediate improvement if Alex Ferguson’s side are to avoid another trophyless season.
“It was a mistake from me that lost us the game,” Beckham said after his failed attempt to control the ball allowed Kevin Nolan to lash home the winner.
“When we push forward so much, we leave ourselves exposed sometimes. But Bolton wouldn’t have scored if it wasn’t for my mistake.”
Looking back over the team performance, the England captain said: “We’re not playing to our best, but we have to get to our best and quickly.
“We’re in seventh or eighth in the League and we’re not happy about that. I’m sure the fans aren’t happy about that either. It’s up to us to get ourselves out of it.
“You can only afford to lose four or five games in a season, and this is our first loss. We can’t afford to go through the league losing and drawing games. We’ve got to win.
“We’ve had chances tonight and we couldn’t put them away. We were erratic.
“I had a couple of good chances but if you don’t take them you get punished and we did. It’s disappointing but we’ve got to bounce back quickly. We have to apologise to the fans because they pay money to watch us and silly mistakes are costing us games.”
United slip to seventh in the table on eight points, two more than Bolton, but Ferguson was not too downcast. It shows what this league is about,” he said.
Spurs, with new signing Robbie Keane on the bench, cruised into a two-goal lead over Fulham through Dean Richards and Teddy Sheringham.
But Fulham were a different side after the break. Japan midfielder Junichi Inamoto sparked the fightback after 68 minutes, a disputed Steed Malbranque penalty made it 2-2 and in the dying seconds Legwinski’s third goal of the season completed a fine comeback.
Spurs manager Glenn Hoddle said injuries to other players had prevented him bringing on Keane for his debut.
“That’s no excuse. We were left wanting in the second half,” said Hoddle.
Promoted Birmingham’s feat at Liverpool was no less remarkable. Liverpool also threw away a 2-0 lead in their last game at Anfield against Newcastle.
Gerard Houllier’s side were leading when England midfielders Danny Murphy and Steven Gerrard made it 2-0 on Wednesday but Morrison stunned them, grabbing his first on the hour and the equaliser four minutes into stoppage time.
At St James’ Park, Mark Viduka swept Leeds in front after only five minutes against Newcastle.
Bobby Robson’s team fought back and only some fine saves by Leeds’ young England goalkeeper Paul Robinson kept them out before Smith, who scored his first England goal against Portugal on Saturday, rammed in the clincher three minutes from time.
Newcastle, who finished fourth last season, slumped to second bottom on four points as a result. Chelsea trailed 1-0 and 2-1 at Blackburn but Gianfranco Zola snatched a late double to secure a valuable 3-2 win that put Claudio Ranieri’s side in the thick of the title race.
Ecuadorean Ulises de la Cruz and 18-year-old debutant Stefan Moore gave Aston Villa a much-needed 2-0 home victory over Charlton Athletic.
A Marian Pahars penalty handed Southampton their first win, a 1-0 home success over Everton, despite firebrand manager Gordon Strachan being sent from the dug-out.
Bottom club West Ham’s dismal start continued as Jason Roberts celebrated his new two-year deal with West Bromwich Albion by scoring the promoted side's winner in a 1-0 victory at Upton Park.