London, Feb 6 (DPA) Manchester United lost their unbeaten record Saturday as they suffered a stunning 1-2 defeat against bottom side Wolverhampton Wanderers on what was a record-breaking day in the English Premier League.
A record total of 41 goals were scored in the eight matches played, but it was the two scored by Wolves that proved to be the most important as they upended the leaders at Molineuex.
The result left United still four points clear of Arsenal, who squandered a 4-0 lead at half-time to draw 4-4 at Newcastle, while Carlos Tevez’s hat-trick lifted Manchester City to within a point of the Gunners in third after a 3-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
“We are disappointed,” United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.
“It has been a long run for us. The players have done us all proud but in the second half we did not really get going.
“They are a handful at the set pieces as it proved today. It was an opportunity for us to continue our great run but today was a great disappointment.”
Everything looked to be going as expected when Nani put United ahead after just three minutes, but Wolves equalised seven minutes later when defender George Elokobi headed his first goal in the top flight.
Five minutes before half-time, Kevin Doyle put Wolves in front when he just got the final touch to a Nenad Milijas free kick.
United threw everything at Wolves as they looked to rescue at least a point but the home side hung on to clinch a vital three points in their fight for survival and inflict a first league defeat on Ferguson’s side this season.
And to add injury to insult, United captain Rio Ferdinand is now set to be out of action after suffering a problem during the match.
“He has done his calf and that is him out for a couple of weeks I believe,” Ferguson said.
Wolves remain bottom but are now level on points with West Ham United and Birmingham City, who play each other Sunday.
The result at Molineux will have been of massive relief to Arsenal because they must have left St James’s Park thinking their title hopes were slipping away after they led 4-0 at half-time only to concede four goals in a frantic second half.
Arsenal looked home and dry at half-time after Theo Walcott, Johan Djourou and Robin van Persie, twice, took advantage of woeful Newcastle defending.
But Abou Diaby was sent off for pushing Joey Barton to the ground three minutes into the second half and the game changed, thanks in part to two very soft-looking penalties.
Barton scored both from the spot – sandwiched by a goal for Leon Best – and as Newcastle charged forward in search of an equaliser, the Arsenal defence buckled and Cheik Tiote hammered in a brilliant volley to leave Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger livid on the sidelines.
“It was a good game with a lot of incidents and turning points,” Wenger said. “The sending off was detrimental to us and some of the decisions went against us today.
“At 4-1 we panicked a bit. But we were a little bit unlucky too. You have to take it on the chin and look at the positives. I did not see the sending off very well. But Barton should have been sent off too. We dropped two points, for sure.”
Carlos Tevez scored a first-half hat-trick to give Manchester City a 3-0 win over West Brom, while Louis Saha scored four of Everton’s five as they beat Blackpool 5-3.
Niko Kranjcar scored the late winner as Tottenham beat Bolton 2-1, while Stoke came from behind twice to beat Sunderland 3-2 thanks to two late Robert Huth goals.
James McCarthy scored twice as Wigan edged out Blackburn Rovers 4- 2, while Aston Villa drew 2-2 with Fulham in the day’s other game.
Chelsea and Liverpool meet in Sunday’s other game, a match given added spice by Fernando Torres’s move from Merseyside to London on transfer deadline day.