LONDON – Kieran Richardson scored twice Sunday as Sunderland beat Portsmouth 2-0 to improve its chances of avoiding relegation from the Premier League.
Richardson scored in the 33rd and 43rd minutes at the Stadium of Light and also hit the crossbar from 25 metres in the second half against a team which had won seven of its previous eight league and cup games on the road.
Jason Roberts scored a 90th-minute goal as Blackburn rallied for a 2-1 win at Bolton.
Portsmouth’s loss came the day after manager Harry Redknapp turned down a chance to move to Newcastle. The Magpies parted with Sam Allardyce on Wednesday and targeted the veteran Pompey manager as a replacement, but Redknapp said he preferred to stay with the south coast club, which slipped to ninth in the standings.
“It was a great opportunity for me to go and manage one of the great football clubs,” Redknapp said of the Newcastle offer. “I understand all that.
“Some people will say I made the right move and some people will say I should have taken it. If I didn’t like (Portsmouth), if I didn’t like the owner or if I didn’t like the players I’d have been up there like a shot, but there was no need for me to change.”
The three points didn’t lift Sunderland, now with 20 points, out of the relegation zone. Fulham is 19th with 15 points and Derby last with seven.
Richardson’s first goal came after a determined run by Kenwyne Jones down the left. The tall striker chased the ball with Sol Campbell, who stopped running expecting the referee to award a free kick against the Sunderland forward. Jones pulled the ball into the middle where Richardson slid it inside the far post.
The second came two minutes before halftime when the England midfielder burst past Hermann Hreidarsson in a diagonal run into the area and scored with a right-footed shot.
Seconds after Benjani Mwaruwari squandered a close range chance for Portsmouth, Richardson hit the bar with a long-range shot.
“We brought Kieran to the club for what you saw today,” said Sunderland manager Roy Keane, who used to play alongside Richardson at Manchester United. “He’s one of the fastest players at the team and when you have a midfielder with pace who can get you a goal it’s a massive plus. Kieran gives us something special.”
Kevin Nolan put Bolton ahead at the Reebok Stadium. After Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel had punched away a cross, Kevin O’Brien lobbed the ball over a crowded area to the unmarked Nolan, who was facing away from goal when he sent a first-time angled volley inside the far post.
Christopher Samba headed in Blackburn’s 53rd-minute goal to tie it after Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen failed to reach a corner and Roberts scored the winning goal when he collected a flick on by Roque Santa Cruz and scored with a deflected shot.
The victory lifted Blackburn above Portsmouth into eight place while Bolton, which sold striker Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea on Friday, remains in relegation trouble in 15th, level on points with Sunderland, Wigan and Birmingham.
Manchester United moved into first place on goal difference by outplaying Newcastle 6-0 on Saturday, hours after the Magpies heard that Redknapp would not be taking over as manager.
Arsenal slipped to second after surprisingly being held to a 1-1 draw at home by 16th-place Birmingham, and Chelsea made up ground on the Gunners with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham.
United and Arsenal have 51 points and Chelsea has 47. Liverpool slipped further off the pace after a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough and is now 12 points behind the leaders with a game in hand.
Also on Saturday, it was: Aston Villa 3, Reading 1; Derby 0, Wigan 1; Everton 1, Manchester City 0; and West Ham 2, Fulham 1.