Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Chelsea Extend Gap As Reds Suffer Wembley Defeat

A dual post this week features eight games as the Premier League sees six games due to the two FA Cup semi-finals featuring three top flight clubs.

The league programme began with four 3pm kick-offs on Saturday with the first featuring West Brom's 2-0 away win at Crystal Palace which saw former Eagles manager Tony Pulis get one over his former club. James Morrison gave the Baggies a perfect start with the opening goal inside two minutes before Craig Gardner sealed the win in the 53rd minute.

Everton piled the pressure on relegation threatened Burnley with a 1-0 win at home to the Clarets who fell behind in the 29th minute to a strike from Kevin Mirallas before suffering a blow on half-time with the dismissal of Ashley Barnes as they suffered a loss that keeps them in the bottom three.

Leicester continued their recent revival with a third in in succession as they boosted their survival hopes with a 2-0 win at home to Swansea which saw Leonardo Ulloa end his barren run in front of goal with the opener on 15 minutes before Andy King made it two in two games with an 89th minute strike to confirm the win.

Southampton's hopes of a top four finish were dealt a blow as they suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Stoke who look set to record back-to-back finishes in the top half but the Potters had to come from behind after Morgan Schneiderlin's 22nd minute opener. Mame Diouf levelled or the hosts before Charlie Adam sealed the win six minutes from the end.

The evening kick-off saw a huge clash between table toppers Chelsea and potential title challengers Manchester United but the latter's title hopes suffered a blow as they fell to a 1-0 defeat away to the Blues who moved clear at the top. 

Eden Hazard struck the winning goal in the 38th minute to move the Blues ten points clear of the chasing pack.

Super Sunday began with top four challengers Manchester City hosting West Ham with the Sky Blues securing a 2-0 win to open up a gap on the chasing pack. James Collins' unfortunate own goal opened the scoring in the 18th minute before Sergio Aguero wrapped up the points in the 36th minute.

Newcastle's mixed run of form continued as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to top four hopefuls Tottenham whose European aspirations have been boosted as a result, Nacer Chadli put the visitors ahead on the half hour mark only to see his effort cancelled out by Jack Colback's 46th minute leveller.  Christian Eriksen restored the visitors' lead on 53 minutes before Harry Kane sealed the win in the 90th minute.

Away from the league programme, the FA Cup semi finals took place at Wembley across the weekend with the first game seeing Championship side Reading take on holders Arsenal with the Gunners coming out on top but only after extra time. Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal ahead on 39 minutes before Garath McCleary levelled for the Royals on 54 minutes, the sides remained level which led to extra time. However, a howler from Reading 'keeper Adam Federici saw him spill Sanchez's shot into the net on 106 minutes which sealed a place in the final for the Gunners.

Sunday's semi-final saw an all top-flight meeting as Aston Villa took on Liverpool with the Reds hopeful of reaching the final and giving Steven Gerrard the perfect send-off to his Liverpool career. Liverpool's hopes of such a tribute were boosted on the half hour mark by a superb opening goal from the in-form Philippe Coutinho but the lead lasted just six minutes as fellow in-form Christian Benteke levelled. Aston Villa seemed the better of the two sides and secured a dream passage to the final with a 54th minute winner from Fabian Delph.