Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Prem Lge/FA Cup Semis Weekend Review

A shortened Premier League weekend programme due to the FA Cup semi finals gave some of the chasing pack the chance to close the gap at the top while those at  the bottom hoped to boost survival hopes.

The weekend opened with Bournemouth denting Middlesbrough's survival hopes with a 4-0 rout at the Vitality Stadium. The Cherries raced out of the blocks with an opener inside two minutes from Joshua King before Benik Afobe doubled the lead with 16 minutes gone.

'Boro's afternoon suffered another blow with the dismissal of Gaston Ramirez just four minutes later. The hosts completed a comfortable win with two goals after the hour mark as Marc Pugh (65) and Charlie Daniels (70) struck.

Hull City remain on the fringes of the drop zone despite a 2-0 win over Watford. The hosts suffered a blow inside the first half hour with the dismissal of Oumar Niasse but defied the numerical disadvantage to secure the win with two goals in nine minutes after the hour mark as Lazar Markovic broke the duck on 62 minutes ahead of Sam Clucas' 71st minute effort.

Swansea City sit two points from safety after securing a 2-0 win at home to Stoke City.

The Swans went ahead inside ten minutes as Fernando Llorente struck before Tom Carroll wrapped up the points with 20 minutes to go.

West Ham United edged closer to securing safety after they claimed a point in a 0-0 draw with Everton whose hopes of a top four finish suffered a blow.

Sunday's action began with Manchester United boosting their top four hopes with a 2-0 win away to Burnley.

The Clarets went behind to a 21st minute opener from Anthony Martial before the visitors wrapped up the win before half time with a strike from Wayne Rooney.

Liverpool missed the chance to close the gap on the top two as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

The Reds opened the scoring with a traditionally spectacular effort from Philippe Coutinho on24 minutes before they were hit by the curse of the ex-player as Christian Benteke marked his first return to Anfield with a leveller on 42 minutes before securing the win on 74 minutes with his second goal.

The FA Cup Semi finals saw a battle between four of the current top six in the Premier League.

Saturday afternoon saw a battle of the top two as league leaders Chelsea faced off against fierce city rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The Blues raced out of the block with an opener from Willian inside five minutes before being pegged back around ten minutes later by a leveller from Harry Kane. 

Willian restored the lead from the penalty spot just before half time but again Spurs came back with Dele Alli equalising on 52 minutes. Chelsea led for a third time as Eden Hazard struck on 76 minutes but this time Spurs had no reply as they fell to a 4-2 loss with a superb strike from Nemanja Matic completing the passage to the final for the Blues.

The second semi final saw a South v North battle as Arsenal faced Manchester City with both managers under pressure to secure silverware to boost mixed seasons. A goalless first hour between the sides was soon broken as Sergio Aguero put City ahead on 63 minutes. The Gunners levelled through Nacho Monreal just nine minutes later for 1-1 which is how the score remained until the end of normal time leading to extra time.

Arsenal secured the win and set up an all-London final with a strike four minutes before the end of the first half of extra time as Alexis Sanchez struck for 2-1.