Steven Gerrard's 67th-minute goal lifted Liverpool to a 1-0 victory over Manchester City at Anfield on Saturday. The victory gave the Reds 21 points and pushed them among a pack of teams chasing leader Manchester United and No 2 Chelsea. The Liverpool captain's long drive stretched the Reds' unbeaten home league record to 23 games. Man City has won only one of its last 19 away league games.
Manchester United has 34 points and Chelsea has 31. The two meet Sunday at Old Trafford in the biggest league game so far this season.
It was Gerrard's first league goal this season. He scored 23 last season in all competitions.
"It was certainly important for him to score his first in the Premiership this season," Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. "It will give him more confidence and he is a player of such quality we know he can do things like that."
Both clubs are coming off 1-0 losses in the Champions League Chelsea against Werder Bremen and United vs Celtic. Man United announced Saturday that 21-year-old striker Wayne Rooney had signed a two-year contract extension to tie him to the club through the 2011-12 season.
There were no details about any salary increase. "It is something I have always wanted," Rooney said in a statement. "There is so much I want to achieve with this club starting, hopefully, with the Premiership this season. In other results Saturday in the Premier League, it was: Charlton 1, Everton 1; Aston Villa 1, Middlesbrough 1; Fulham 0, Reading 1; West Ham 1, Sheffield United 0.
In a game later Saturday, Arsenal played at Bolton and could move into third place with a victory.
In other games Sunday, it's: Newcastle vs. Portsmouth; Tottenham vs. Wigan.
Struggling Charlton picked up a valuable point, drawing 1-1 at home against Everton. With a bit of luck, the south London club might have had three points for new manager Les Reed. Hermann Hreidarsson's own-goal in the 52nd gave Everton a 1-0 lead. Andy Reid equalized in the 68th on a drive from 18 meters (yards).
Charlton improved to nine points but remained in last place. Everton moved up to 21.
Aston Villa improved to 23 points with a 1-1 home draw against Middlesbrough with 16. Malcolm Christie gave Boro a 1-0 lead in the 43rd and Gareth Barry equalized on a penalty in first-half injury time.
Reading kept pushing up the standings, winning 1-0 at Fulham on Kevin Doyle's 17th-minute penalty. Reading has 22 points. Fulham played with only 10 men after Ian Pearce was sent off in the 16th on a red card.
West Ham defeated Sheffield United 1-0, a victory in the first game under the ownership of Icelandic businessman Eggert Magnusson. Hayden Mullins scored for the Hammers in the 36th. In the League Championship, the two top clubs both played scoreless draws. Cardiff drew 0-0 at Sheffield Wednesday and Preston played to a 0-0 standoff at home against Crystal Palace. Birmingham City moved level on points with Cardiff and Preston, improving to 37 with a 2-1 victory at Burnley.
In other results on Saturday: Barnsley 1, Ipswich 0; Colchester 3, Southend 0; Derby 1, Leicester 0; Norwich 1, Hull 1; Plymouth 1, Leeds 2; Queens Park Rangers 0, Coventry 1; Southampton 2, Luton 1; Stoke 1, West Bromwich Albion 0.