Friday 30 March 2012

Reds open gap

Manchester United laboured to a 1-0 home win over Fulham on Monday evening to open a 3 point gap at the top over Manchester City who had been held to a 1-1 draw at Stoke City while Arsenal took advantage of Tottenham’s goalless draw at Chelsea to create a similar gap over their neighbours with a 3-0 victory at home to Aston Villa. Djibril Cisse was sent off for Queens Park Rangers who lost 3-1 at Sunderland while Grant Holt scored twice for Norwich before being sent off as the home side defeated Wolves 2-1 and in an emotional match in Bolton, as the thoughts of all was with the recovering Muamba, David Wheater netted twice to give the hosts a 2-1 win over Blackburn. Liverpool suffered a shock 2-1 loss at home to troubled Wigan while Everton struck twice at Swansea and 2 goals from Papiss Cisse helped Newcastle to a 3-1 victory at West Brom.
In Spain Cristiano Ronaldo became the fastest to 100 league goals as he netted twice in Real Madrid’s 5-1 home triumph over Real Sociedad while Barcelona kept up the pressure with 2 goals at Real Mallorca.
In the FA Cup Tottenham won their rescheduled match at White Hart Lane 3-1 against Bolton to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea while Everton will face Liverpool after winning their replay 2-0 at Sunderland.  
Real Madrid all but booked their passage to the next round of the Champions League with Karim Benzema bagging a brace in their 3-0 win at Apoel Nicisia while Chelsea enjoyed a 1-0 win at Benfica. There were no goals between Milan and Barcelona while Bayern Munich scored twice at Marseille.       
There were 2-1 home wins in the Europa League first-leg matches for Atletico de Madrid over Hannover, AZ Alkmaar against Valencia and Sporting Lisbon against Metalist while Athletic de Bilbao celebrated a 4-2 win at Schalke.        

Friday 23 March 2012

At the heart of the matter

English football was dominated by the news that Bolton player Fabrice Muamba suffered heart failure in the 41st minute at Tottenham and had to be taken to intensive care as the FA Cup match was postponed while in other cup matches Sunderland drew 1-1 at Everton and Stoke lost 2-1 at Liverpool. Fernando Torres found the net twice for Chelsea as the home side enjoyed a 5-2 win over Leicester City. In league matches Manchester Unite had a feast at Wolves as they struck 5 with Hernandez scoring 2 for the leaders while Manchester City came from a goal down to earn a 2-1 home win over Chelsea and Tottenham salvaged a 1-1 draw with a last-gasp goal at home to Stoke but were overtaken by Arsenal who won 1-0 at Everton. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored twice as Swansea brushed Fulham aside 3-0 at the Cottage and Norwich were beaten 1-0 at Newcastle while WBA drew 1-1 at Wigan. Queens Park Rangers came from 2 down to beat Liverpool 3-2 with 2 late goals at Loftus Road and Blackburn sent Sunderland home 2-0 losers. In Spain Barcelona picked up 6 points with a 2-0 win at Savilla and a 5-3 home victory over Granada thanks to a Messi hat-trick while Real Madrid dropped points to a last minute goal in a 1-1 draw at home to Malaga and suffered another late blow when they conceded a late 1-1 equalizer after being reduced to 9 men at Villareal in midweek. An eye-catching result in the English Championship was 7-3 demolition of Leeds United by Nottingham Forest with Garath McCleary scoring 4 times for the visitors.

Friday 16 March 2012

United top and out

Manchester United took advantage of a 1-0 City defeat at Swansea to go top with a double from Wayne Rooney against West Brom at Old Trafford while a last-gasp goal at the Emirates gave Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Newcastle and took them within a point of Tottenham who lost 1-0 at Everton. Queens Park Rangers lost 2-1 at Bolton and Liverpool fell to a single goal at Sunderland while ten-man Stoke lost 1-0 at Chelsea. David Hoilett scored both goals for Blackburn at Wolves and a last-minute goal at Aston Villa settled the match in favour of the hosts against Fulham while Wigan drew 1-1 at Norwich. On Tuesday evening Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick for Liverpool as Everton were taken apart 3-0 at Anfield.
In Spain the top 2 both won away from home with Ronaldo scoring twice in Real Madrid’s 3-2 win at Real Betis and Messi scoring both goals from Barcelona at Racing Santander.
Bayern Munich hammered Hoffenheim 7-1 with a Gomez hat-trick in the German league and went on to batter Basel 7-0 with Gomez bagging another 4 in the Champions League where Real Madrid cruised 4-1 past their visitors from CSKA Moscow. A 2-1 home win was not enough for Inter as Marseille progressed on the away-goals rule while Chelsea overturned their 3-1 defeat at Napoli to take the match to extra time and win 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. The Europa League saw the exit of both Manchester sides with United going down 2-1 away to a dominant Athletic Bilbao and City going out on away goals at home to Sporting Lisbon despite heroically coming back from 2 down to score 3 times after the break.     

Friday 9 March 2012

Change at the Bridge

Two goals from Ashley Young helped Manchester United to a 3-1 victory at Tottenham while Arsenal came from an own-goal down to win 2-1 at Liverpool with Robin van Persie completing his brace in stoppage time, and Chelsea fell further adrift with a 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich that resulted in the dismissal of manager Andres Villa Boas. Manchester City remain at the top after their two goals at home to Bolton while Sigurdsson scored both goals to give 10 man Swansea 3 points at Wigan and Norwich fell to a single goal at Stoke. Pavel Pogrebnyak netted a hat-trick as Wolves were torn apart 5-0 at Fulham while at Newcastle the hosts earned a 1-1 draw with a last-minute goal in a tempestuous match against 10 man Sunderland who had another player red-carded after the final whistle, and there were also 1-1 draws for Everton at QPR and Aston Villa at Blackburn Rovers.
Ten-man Barcelona defeated Sporting Gijon 3-1 at home but Spanish league leaders Real Madrid won their home match 5-0 against Espanyol and in Germany Bayern Munich suffered a 2-0 loss at Bayer Leverkusen while Leaders Stuttgart won 4-0 at Hamburg. In Italy Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick in Milan’s 4-0 win at Palermo.
Chelsea travelled to Birmingham with new manager Robero di Mateo to win their FA Cup replay 2-0 while Stevenage took the lead at Tottenham but lost 3-1 with Defoe netting twice for the hosts.
In the Champions League Arsenal opened up Milan 3 times in an explosive first-half but failed to add to their tally after the break and went out 4-3 on aggregate and 2 goals for Benfica put the hosts through against Zenit while Lionel Messi scored a record 5 goals as Barcelona battered Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 at the Camp Nou and Apoel went through on penalties after winning 1-0 against Olympiakos in Nicosia.
Both Manchester sides lost their first-leg matches in the Europa League with City going down to a single goal at Sporting Lisbon and United losing 3-2 to Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford.  

Friday 2 March 2012

Demolition derby

While Liverpool were winning the Carling Cup on penalties after a 2-2 extra-time match against Cardiff at Wembley, Arsenal came from 2 down to brush their high-flying neighbours Tottenham aside 5-2 at the Emirates with Walcott claiming a double and there were 3-0 home wins for Chelsea and Manchester City against Bolton and Blackburn respectively. West Bromwich Albion were once again in goal-scoring mood as they put Sunderland to the sword 4-0 with Peter Odemwingie netting twice in front of his home crowd, while at Newcastle Wolves overcame 2 early goals to draw 2-2 with Terry Connor in charge for the first time. A last-gasp goal gave Manchester United a 2-1 win at Norwich while Swansea lost 2-0 at Stoke and QPR fell to a single goal at home to Fulham. There were no goals between Wigan and Aston Villa.
In Spain Real Madrid picked up another 3 points with a goal at Rayo Vallecano while Barcelona returned from Atletico de Madrid with a 2-1 win and in Italy Juventus drew 1-1 away to Milan. In Germany Ribery scored both goals for Bayern Munich at home to Schalke while league leaders Dortmund defeated their visitors from Hannover 3-1 with 2 from Robert Lewandowski.