Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Reds Boost European Hopes

Ahead of a crucial trip to Wembley for the FA Cup semi final against Aston Villa, Liverpool faced Newcastle on Monday night in the final game of the Premier League gameweek which saw a number of surprise results.

Saturday's early game saw Swansea host Everton with Toffees manager Roberto Martinez facing his former side but alike opposition manager Garry Monk, had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw. Aaron Lennon put the Blues in front on 41 minutes but his effort was cancelled out by Jonjo Shelvey's penalty on 69 minutes which sealed a point for the Swans.

Southampton kept up their hopes of Europa League qualification with a 2-0 win over Hull who as a result sit on the fringes of the bottom three. James Ward-Prowse put the Saints in front with a 56th minute penalty before Graziano Pellé ended his barren run in front of goal with and 81st minute strike to confirm the three points.

Crystal Palace's hopes of a top ten finish gathered pace superbly as they swept aside a struggling Sunderland side 4-1, a rout which came s a surprise after the sides ended the first half level at 0-0.

 Palace burst into action with all four goals coming in the space of 14 minutes starting with Glenn Murray's opener on 48 minutes before Bolasie fired in an 11 minute hat-trick with goals on 51,53 and 62 minutes to put Palace in control.

Sunderland's only positive of the game came in the form of a late consolation strike from Connor Wickham in an otherwise poor performance.

Aston Villa prepared for the upcoming trip to Wembley with a 1-0 win away to Tottenham whose top four hopes were dealt a huge dent as a result.  Christian Benteke has been in stunning form under the stewardship of Tim Sherwood and the Belgian continued such form with the only goal of the game on 35 minutes and despite having Carlos Sanchez sent off late on, Villa held on for the victory.

Leicester's hopes of survival were given a huge boost as the Foxes secured a last-gasp 3-2 win away to West Brom who missed the chance to surely secure safety from the drop. Darren Fletcher opened the scoring fr the Baggies with his first goal since joining the club on eight minutes before David Nugent drew the visitors level on 20 minutes.

Craig Gardner restored the hosts lead six minutes later and with time ticking down in the second half, the strike looked to be the winner but Leicester had other ideas with Robert Huth levelling on 80 minutes before Jamie Vardy sealed the win in the final minute.

West Ham and Stoke remain level on points in ninth and tenth after the sides drew 1-1 in a game that the Hammers looked to have won after Aaron Creswell's opener on seven minutes seemed to be the only goal of the game. However, Stoke had other ideas and salvaged a point late on with Marko Arnautovic denied the Hammers in the 90th minute.

The evening kick-off saw Burnley's survival hopes dealt a blow as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against top four challengers Arsenal with the crucial strike coming after only 12 minutes through Aaron Ramsey.

Super Sunday began with a London derby between struggling QPR and table toppers Chelsea with the visitors leaving it late to deny the hosts a vital point with Cesc Fabregas scoring on 88 minutes to extend the Blues lead at the top of the table.

The second part of Super Sunday saw the fierce Manchester Derby between United and City which saw a six goal thriller between the top four challengers with United securing a 4-2 win to boost their hopes of a top two finish leaving their rivals just inside the top four. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring on eight minutes before his effort was cancelled out by Ashley Young on 14 minutes.

Marouane Fellani put United ahead on 27 minutes before second half strikes from Juan Mata and Chris Smalling on 67 and 73 minutes sealed the win at 4-1, Aguero sealed his brace late on to make it 4-2 but it was a poor day for City overall.

The final game of the weekend saw Liverpool host Newcastle on Monday night with the Reds securing a 2-0 win to keep their top four hopes alive while the Magpies still are not safe from the clutches of the bottom three. Raheem Sterling put the hosts in front inside nine minutes before a rare strike from Joe Allen sealed the points on 70 minutes. Newcastle's bad evening at Anfield got worse as Moussa Sissoko was sent off for a second booking with 83 minutes on the clock as Liverpool sealed all three points.