Viduka helps Newcastle to important win

Mark Viduka has once again shown his value to Newcastle United since his return from injury, helping the club out of the relegation zone following a 3-1 win over his former team Middlesbrough.

Mark Viduka has once again shown his value to Newcastle United since his return from injury, helping the club out of the relegation zone following a 3-1 win over his former team Middlesbrough.

Viduka didn-t score in this highly crucial match, but he went awfully close with a shot in the 6th minute and assisted with Obafemi Martin-s goal after 71 minutes that gave Newcastle the lead.

The win lifted Newcastle out of the relegation zone for the first time in months, albeit only on goal difference from Hull City, with Middlesbrough now looking down the barrel of relegation to the Championship, three points behind with two games to play. The win was also bad news for Hull and Richard Garcia, their early season promise a distant memory as their free-fall down the ladder continues.

Having fallen behind to a 3rd minute own goal, Viduka almost had Newcastle level three minutes later, when he hit a magnificent volley that had Australian keeper Brad Jones rooted to the spot. But Viduka-s first goal since returning from injury was denied by the top of the post.

Newcastle levelled it in the 9th minute through Stephen Taylor and Viduka almost had Newcastle in front just after half time when his cheeky back heel went just wide of the post. Jones also denied Newcastle with a finger-tip save in the 27th minute; Viduka's cross headed goalwards by Michael Owen until Jones intervention.

However a flicked on header by Viduka set substitute Martins free and he made no mistake with his effort and Peter Lovenkrands sealed the win in the dying minutes.

It sets up a tense finale to the season, with five teams still in the battle for the drop, although Newcastle looks to have the best run-in with a home game against Fulham and then away to Aston Villa. Hull are away to Bolton, but then possibly face a must-win game against likely Champions Manchester United; Boro are at home to Aston Villa and then away to West Ham, while West Bromwich Albion must beat Liverpool at home this weekend to have any chance of survival. Sunderland are also in the mix and two losses in their final two games against Portsmouth away and Chelsea at home could see them overtaken by any of the other teams.

Garcia played 60 minutes of Hull-s disappointing 2-1 loss to Stoke City at home, which was their last realistic chance of a win they desperately needed to avoid the drop. Garcia went close early in the match, which was saved.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Lucas Neill played a full game, as West Ham lost 3-0 at home against Liverpool; Tim Cahill went closest to a winning goal with a superb shot that scrapped the post in Everton-s 0-0 draw with Tottenham; Vince Grella played a full game in Blackburn-s Rovers 2-0 win over Portsmouth and Mark Schwarzer wasn-t able to keep a clean sheet, but Fulham still proved victorious with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa.

The Championship play-offs saw David Carney-s Sheffield United win the second leg of its play-off semi final against Preston North End to progress to the final. Carney, who was on loan to Norwich City during the second half of the season, was not in the squad that finished 2-1 ahead on aggregate. Sheffield United will meet the winner of the other semi final, with Burnley leading Reading 1-0 after the first leg. Federici remained on the bench for Reading in the first leg.

In Scotland, the old firm derby clash between Rangers and Celtic saw Rangers come out on top 1-0 and overtake their arch rivals at the top of the table with just two games remaining. Scott McDonald played a full game for Celtic and couldn-t repeat his good form of late, although he had claims for penalty when he bundled over as he was about to shoot at goal in the first half.

In other major news, Michael Petkovic-s dream of a Super Liga title with little-known Sivasspor looking to be falling apart, after they were beaten for the second successive game and this time they lost the lead at the top of the table. Petkovic played a full game in goals, but conceded twice against lowly Istanbul BB, eventually losing 2-1. They now trail Besiktas by two points with three games to play. Meanwhile Harry Kewell came on with a minute to play, as Galatasaray won 1-0 over Ankaragucu, while Bruce Djite played a full game and James Troisi came on late as Genclerbirligi won 3-1 over Hacettepe.

In Germany, Karlsruhe-s hopes of staying up were dealt a blow with a 4-0 thumping by Borussia Dortmund, although there was another full 90 minutes for Josh Kennedy. Dario Vidosic made it two goals in as many weeks for Nurnberg, although they had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw with SpVgg Greuther Furth, which still keeps them in third place with three games to play and the chance to go straight back up to the Bundesliga.

News wasn-t so good for Scott Chipperfield in Switzerland, with Chippers missing from FC Basel-s 3-1 loss to FC Aarau and now sees them slip four points behind FC Zurich in the race for the Swiss title. Mark Rudan played a full game for FC Vaduz, but they lost 4-2 to Neuchatel Xamax and will be relegated.

Mark Bresciano made a welcome return to the Palermo side after missing several weeks with a back injury, coming off the bench after just 10 minutes against Siena. But their recent good form was halted as they went down 1-0, hurting their Europa Cup hopes. They sit two points adrift of AS Roma, who hold down 7th position with Palermo in 8th. Carl Valeri played a full game for Grosseto, but they went down 2-0 to Rimini, which has severely dented their promotion chances. Zeljko Kalac got a rare start for AC Milan this season in a 1-1 draw with Juventus played in front of over 70,000 fans in Milan.

And finally, Jason Culina ended his decade-long European career; playing 85 minutes in PSV Eindhoven-s 3-1 win over Willem II Tilburg, which secured their spot in next season-s Europa Cup competition. Culina is returning to Australia to lead Gold Coast United in their inaugural season of the Hyundai A-League.