Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Five star United draw level

Demitar Berbatov netted a hat-trick as ten-man Wigan were hit for 5 at Manchester United who were one of only 3 teams to win in the Boxing Day fixtures leaving the 2 Manchester clubs equal on points at the top of Premier League table. City were held to a goalless draw at West Brom and Fulham deprived Chelsea of a win with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge while Wolves inflicted the same fate on Arsenal at the Emirates. Liverpool could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn and there were also 1-1 draws at Sunderland who entertained Everton and Swansea who took on QPR while Stoke and Aston Villa fired blanks at the Britannia Stadium. Gareth Bale struck twice for Tottenham to decide the match at Norwich and a double gave Newcastle all 3 points at Bolton.  

Friday, 23 December 2011

Manchester on top at Christmas

Two more wins for the Manchester sides in a busy week of Premier League football gave them a healthy lead at Christmas. City passed the Arsenal test with a 1-0 home win before putting 3 past visiting Stoke with Aguero netting twice while United enjoyed their time in London with 2 goals at QPR and 5 at Fulham without reply. Chelsea dropped points to a late equaliser at Wigan and picked up another 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Thursday where Sunderland had lost 1-0 at the weekend while Wigan went on to hold Liverpool to a goalless draw at the DW. Aston Villa were defeated twice at home, losing 2-0 to Liverpool and 2-1 to Arsenal with the decider coming 3 minutes from time while Blackburn remain at the bottom of the pile with 2-1 home losses to West Bromwich Albion and their fellow strugglers Bolton who had earlier lost 2-0 at Fulham. Norwich drew 1-1 at Everton and 2-2 at Wolves who had lost 2-1 at home to Stoke while Everton went on to beat Swansea by a single goal at Goodison Park. Swansea managed a 0-0 draw at Newcastle where 4 days later West Brom grabbed a late winner despite another 2 goals from Demba Ba while Sunderland left it even later as their winning goal in the 3-2 win at Queens Park Rangers came in the last minute of the match after their hosts had fought back from 2 down.
In Spain a Ronaldo hat-trick help Real Madrid to a 6-2 triumph at Savilla with both teams reduces to 10 men while Barcelona returned from Japan with the Club World Cup after sailing to a 4-0 win over Brazil’s Santos with the magical Messi netting twice for the European champions.      

Friday, 16 December 2011

City beaten

As Manchester United bounced back from their European disappointment, to defeat Wolves 4-1 with 2 goals each from Rooney and Nani at Old Trafford, Manchester City suffered their first loss of the season, losing 2-1 at Chelsea with Lampard grabbing a late winner from the spot against their ten-man visitors to close the gap at the top. Arsenal celebrated their 125th birthday at the Emirates with a van Persie master-goal the difference between them and Everton while Tottenham were unlucky to lose 2-1 at Stoke and there were 2-1 away wins for Wigan at West Brom and Aston Villa at Bolton. Sunderland won 2-1 against Blackburn with 2 late goals in Martin O’Neill’s first match in charge at the Stadium of Light while QPR lost 1-0 at Liverpool and Fulham went down 2-0 at Swansea. Demba Ba netted a double for ten-man Newcastle who lost 4-2 at Norwich from whom Grant Holt scored twice.
In Spain Barcelona recovered from an early Real Madrid goal to win 3-1 and overtake their hosts at the top of the table on goal difference.
The group stage of the Europa League was completed with Fulham who had taken a 2 goal lead at the Cottage crashing out to a last gasp equalizer against Odense allowing Wislaw to qualify after their 2-1 win against group winners Twente in Krakow. One goal was enough to give Birmingham a home win over Maribor but not enough to see them through as Braga drew 1-1 in Brugge and Tottenham sailed to a 4-0 win at Shamrock Rovers but suffered a similar fate as ten-man Robin Kazan drew 1-1 at Paok leaving Stoke the only English side to qualify for the knock-out stage despite losing 3-1 at Besiktas after being reduced to 10 men for 32 minutes. Red Bull Salzburg came from 2 down to win 3-2 at Slovan Bratislava and qualify ahead of PSG despite their 4-2 victory over group winners Athletico Bilbao in Paris.
In the World Club Cup Barcelona and Santos reached the final.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Champions out

Two late goals gave Chelsea a flattering 3-0 win at Newcastle and Tottenham enjoyed the same result at home to 10 man Bolton Wanderers after the early dismissal of Gary Cahill while Arsenal put 4 past hosts Wigan without reply and Norwich had their wings clipped 5-1 at Manchester City. Swansea suffered a yak attack at Blackburn as Yakubu scored all 4 goals to send the Welsh side back 4-2 losers while another 1-0 win, this time at Aston Villa, gave Manchester United another 3 points and Stoke picked up the same result away to Everton. West Bromwich Albion drew 1-1 at Queens Park Rangers while Wolves came from a goal down to win with 2 Steven Fletcher goals at home to Sunderland and on Monday evening Fulham took advantage Jay Spearing’s red card to beat Liverpool 1-0 at the Cottage.
In Spain Real Madrid won 3-0 at Sporting Gijon while Levante were hammered 5-0 at Barcelona and in Germany Ribery and Robben scored 2 apiece as Bayern defeated Werder Bremen 4-1 in Munich.
In the Champions League 2 goals from Drogba helped Chelsea to a life-saving 3-0 triumph over Valencia at the Bridge while Arsenal, who had already qualified, fell 3-1 at Olympiakos whose celebrations were cut short as Marseille scored 2 late goals to come from behind and win 3-2 in Dortmund condemning the Greek side to the Europa League place. Ajax had a miserable night in Amsterdam as they lost 3-0 to Real Madrid and were overtaken on goal difference by Lyon who came from behind to run riot in Zagreb thrashing ten-man Dinamo 7-1 with 4 goals from Gomis. Both Manchester clubs crashed out of the Champions League with United losing 2-1 in Basel and City being pipped by Napoli who won 2-0 at Villareal, despite winning 2-0 at home to Bayern Munich.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Slow progress at the top

In a week that football lost 42 year-old Gary Speed, the Manchester teams both drew 1-1, with United dropping points at home to Newcastle who held on for the last 11 minutes with 10 men, and City returning from Liverpool with a point in a match that saw Balotelli sent off while Adebayor scored twice as Tottenham came from behind to triumph 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion and move into 2nd place. Thomas Vermaelen scored at both ends as Arsenal drew 1-1 at home to Fulham while Chelsea picked up an easy 3-0 win at home to Wolves and Wigan won 2-1 with a last-minute winner at Sunderland who later sacked manager Steve Bruce. Stoke beat their visitors from Blackburn 3-1 while Everton won 2-0 at Bolton and Queens Park Rangers lost 2-1 at Norwich City. There were no goals between Swansea and Aston Villa.
In Spain Real Madrid are top of the table after beating 9 man Atletico Madrid 4-1 at the Bernabeu with Ronaldo scoring twice from the spot as Barcelona lost 1-0 at Getafe. The Catalan giants beat Rayo Vallecano 4-0 in midweek.
Crystal Palace dumped Manchester United out of the Carling Cup 2-1 at Old Trafford after extra time to reach the semi-finals where they will meet Cardiff City who defeated Blackburn 2-0 in the Welsh capital. Andy Carroll missed a penalty for Liverpool who still ran out 2-0 winners at Chelsea while Arsenal were also knocked out of the Carling Cup losing 1-0 at home to Manchester City.
In the Europa League Birmingham lost 1-0 at Braga, and Fulham who had Andy Johnson sent off in the last minute, lost by a single goal away to Twente. Spurs surrendered 2-1 to 10 man Paok at White Hart Lane, but a 1-1 draw against Dinamo Kiev at the Britannia secured Stoke passage into the next round.