Friday, 27 August 2010

Six shooters

Theo Walcott fired in a hat-trick as Arsenal battered 10-man Blackpool 6-0 at the Emirates and Chelsea returned from Wigan with a similar victory while West Ham fell 3-1 at home to Bolton. Gareth Bale scored a fluke goal and a stupendous volley to give Tottenham a 2-1 win at Stoke and Craig Gardner scored a double for Birmingham who beat Blackburn 2-1 at home. Manchester United dropped 2 points in their 2-2 draw at Fulham on Sunday while Andy Carroll knocked in a hat-trick as Newcastle demolished Aston Villa 6-0 at St. James’ Park and became the 3rd Premier League side to enjoy a 6 goal win over the weekend. Manchester City cruised 3-0 past Liverpool on Monday with Tevez finding the net twice.
Barcelona won the Spanish Super Cup at the Camp Nou thanks to a Messi hat-trick with a 4-0 triumph over Sevilla who had won the first leg 3-1 a week earlier. A few days later Sevilla suffered an exit from the Champions League going down 4-3 at home to Braga with Dos Santos netting a hat-trick for the visitors. Peter Crouch banged in a hat-trick as Tottenham spanked the Young Boys of Switzerland 4-0 at White Hart Lane for a place in the group stage, and in the Europa League Liverpool made it to the next round after a 2-1 win at Trabzonspor where they will be joined by Manchester City who added 2 goals to their 1-0 away win against Timisoara, but Aston Villa fell 3-2 at home to Rapid Vienna.
Atletico Madrid won the European Super Cup by defeating Inter 2-0 in Monaco with Jose Antonio Reyes firing past Julio Cesar at his near post in the 62nd minute and Sergio Aguero being allowed a tap-in 7 minutes from time. Diego Milito had his last minute penalty saved by David de Gea to deny the Italian side a consolation goal.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Premier start

Reina last minute own-goal gives Arsenal Anfield point

The English Premier league began in London with a goalless draw between Tottenham and Manchester City thanks to a first-class performance by Joe Hart in the City goal, but defending champions Chelsea had no problem finding the net as they struck 6 without reply against West Bromwich Albion with Didier Drogba bagging a hat-trick at the Bridge. Earlier in the day newcomers Blackpool had temporarily gone top with an emphatic 4-0 win at Wigan with Marlon Harewood grabbing a brace for the Tangerines. Aston Villa got on with life without Martin O’Neill with a 3-0 home win against West Ham while Everton lost 1-0 at Blackburn. On Sunday Joe Cole received a straight red for Liverpool who took the lead against Arsenal but were pegged back in stoppage time after the visitors had Laurent Koscienlny sent off on his debut, and on Monday Manchester United eased past Newcastle 3-0 at Old Trafford.
In the UEFA Champions League Young Boys hit Tottenham with 3 goals in the first half-hour in Switzerland, but the Londoners replied with 2 goals to give themselves hope for the return leg at White Hart Lane. In the Europa League a young Aston Villa side drew 1-1 at Rapid Vienna and Manchester City won 1-0 at Timisoara in Romania while Liverpool only managed one goal at home to Turkish side Trabzonspor whose keeper Onur Kivrak saved a Joe Cole penalty.     

Monday, 9 August 2010

United win Community Shield

                    Valencia knocks the ball past Hilario

Manchester United 3 Chelsea 1 (Wembley 8 August 2010)
Manchester United began the 2010-11 season by adding the Community Shield to their silverware. Edwin van der Sar dived to claw away a header from Ivanovic in the 17th minute, but it was United who broke the deadlock when Rooney received a long ball from Scholes and squared it to Valencia to stroke home 4 minutes before the break. Valencia turned provider in the 76th minute when he delivered a cross to Hernandez who kicked the ball in off his own face. Essien fed Daniel Sturridge with a delightful ball in the 82nd minute but van der Sar got down to keep the ball out, and a minute later the Dutchman made another save from Sturridge but Salomon Kalou netted the rebound to give Chelsea hope. Berbatov put the match beyond doubt when he lifted the ball over Hilario to make it 3-1 in stoppage time.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Ready for action

With 2 weeks left to the start of the Premier League, Arsenal retained the Emirates Cup on Sunday after recording the only win of the tournament. A day earlier the Gunners had conceded a disappointing goal to come away with a 1-1 draw against Milan who gained the same result against Lyon before Arsenal took on Celtic for the decider. The Londoners took a 3 goal lead but Celtic, who had fought back from 2 down to draw with Lyon on Saturday, hit back with 2 late goals to give their hosts a run for their money.
In the EUFA Europa League Liverpool moved into round 2 after an easy 2-0 home win against Rabotnicki from Macedonia. Among other big names through were Juventus who sent Shamrock Rovers back to Ireland with a Del Piero goal against their name. Both victorious teams had won their away matches 2-0 in the first leg.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

If only

Spain reign the world but it could have been different if only the referee had awarded the Netherlands a corner or free-kick moments before the Spanish goal, though the Dutch could have been reduced to 9 men and virtually out of the game by half time. A single goal or the lack of it due to a refereeing decision or missed chance changed the fate of many teams in the World Cup.
In the last minute of the very first match of the tournament Mphela hit the outside of the Mexican post for South Africa who finished below Mexico and were eliminated on goal difference but could have progressed from group A to the next round had the ball gone in off the post and turned their first draw into a win.
In group B Nigeria finished bottom but could have made it to the next stage instead of South Korea had Yakubu not missed an open goal in their 2-2 draw against the Koreans.
England were several times a goal away from winning group C. Even without the winning goal against the USA or Algeria, or the 2nd elusive goal in their victory over Slovenia, England would have won their group ahead of the Slovenians had the Americans not scored deep into stoppage time against Algeria. Winning their group would have given them arguably an easier path to the final.
Ghana scored a penalty in their win over Serbia and draw against Australia, but failure to convert either spot kick could have seen their opponents through in their place. Having scored both penalties the Ghanaians were poised to win group D when a wondershot by Özil put Germany in poll position changing the shape of things to come.
Group E may have been the most straightforward group but 4 of the 6 matches were decided by one goal.
Italy lost their title and finished bottom of group F but could have made it to the next round instead of Slovakia had late effort against the Slovaks not been disallowed. On the other hand had the Italians failed to convert their equalising penalty against New Zealand, the Kiwis could have made history by moving into the last 16.
Two goalless draws for Portugal against the Ivory Coast and Brazil could have gone either way changing the outcome of group G. In particular the first match in which a victory for the Ivoirians could have seen them through instead of Portugal whereas a win for the Portuguese could have seen them top the group earning them a meeting with Chile instead of Spain whom the Brazilians would have faced in the next round.
The position of the top teams in group H was decided by goal difference, keeping Spain and Brazil apart in the next round. Switzerland were 15 minutes away from holding Chile which could have seem them through instead of the South Americans.
In the round of 16 only Brazil eased through without incident. Germany may have hammered England 4-1, but the English were cruelly denied an equaliser by an obvious refereeing error after fighting back from 2 down and were consequently taken apart in the 2nd half. Mexico also felt aggrieved when they saw the officials award Argentina an offside goal to break the deadlock. Ghana disposed of the USA in extra time and Paraguay needed a penalty shootout to eliminate Japan while in the 3 remaining matches there was only one goal between the winning and losing sides with Uruguay, the Netherlands and Spain getting the better of South Korea, Slovakia and Portugal respectively.
In the quarter-finals Germany may have been clear winners over Argentina, but in a game of missed and retaken penalties a single goal put Spain through against Paraguay and a Brazilian dismissal allowed the Dutch to get the better of their illustrious rivals while Ghana missed a penalty with the last kick of extra time allowing Uruguay through after a shootout.
Both semi-final losers needed only one goal to take their match to extra time and possibly the lottery of a penalty shootout, as was the case in the third-place match play-off and final. With so many teams fantasizing over what may have been, it is only Spain who will wish to relive their golden dream turning to reality.