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.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Chelsea's Gap Cut While Reds Edge Baggies

As the Premier League run-in is set to begin this very weekend, the FA Cup semi finals clash means a reduced programme but last weekend saw a full schedule which threw up a surprise at the top.

The weekend opened with the Saturday lunchtime kick-off at White Hart Lane as Tottenham Hotspur hosted Bournemouth.

Spurs raced into a 2-0 lead with goals from Moussa Dembele and Son Heung-Min inside the first 20 minutes. Bournemouth looked out of the contest less than four minutes after half-time as Harry Kane struck for 3-0 before Vincent Janssen completed the 4-0 rout late on.

Crystal Palace remain clear of the drop zone after coming from behind to secure a point against Leicester City.

The Foxes struck early through Robert Huth before Jamie Vardy doubled the lead on 53 minutes. An instant reply saw Yohan Cabaye make it 2-1 before a superb leveller from Christian Benteke sealed a 2-2 draw.

Everton kept up their European hopes with a 3-1 win over Burnley at Goodison Park.The Toffees went ahead four minutes after half time as Phil Jagielka extended his scoring run but his effort was quickly levelled by a Sam Vokes penalty.

An own goal from Ben Mee saw the hosts regain the lead before Romelu Lukaku wrapped up the points three minutes later.

Stoke City kept up the pressure on relegation threatened Hull City with a 3-1 win. Marko Arnautovic put the Potters ahead inside six minutes but Hull hit back through Harry Maguire on 51 minutes. The hosts secured the win with two goals after the hour as Peter Crouch struke ahead of Xherdan Shaqiri's effort.

Sunderland remain bottom of the table but cut the gap to safety as they salvaged a 2-2 draw against West Ham United. The Hammers raced into the lead as André Ayew scored inside five minutes but the hosts were to level on 26 minutes through Wahbi Khazri.

James Collins restored the lead for the visitors just after half-time but Sunderland were to suffer defeat as Fabio Borini equalised late on with the Hammers ending with ten men after Sam Byram's dismissal.

Swansea City remain in the drop zone after losing 1-0 away to Watford with the Hornets sealing the points three minutes before half time through Etienne Capoue's effort.

Manchester City strengthened their top four hopes with a comfortable 3-0 win at Southampton. The sides remained level after a close run first half but the deadlock was to be broken by a surprise strike as Vincent Kompany put City ahead.

Two goals in three minutes sealed the points as Leroy Sané and Sergio Aguero struck on 77 and 80 minutes.

Liverpool also moved close to cementing a top four spot as they claimed a 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. The crucial strike came in added time in the first half as Roberto Firmino sealed the win.

Chelsea's gap at the top was cut as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Manchester United who themselves kept up their top four hopes.

An early opener from Marcus Rashford saw United lead inside seven minutes before Ander Herrera confirmed the win with a strike four minutes after half time.

The final game of the gameweek saw Middlesbrough host Arsenal on Monday night.

The Gunners opened the scoring three minutes before half time through Alexis Sanchez before Alvaro Negredo drew Boro level five minutes after the interval. The win was sealed for the visitors on 71 minutes by Mesut Ozil's effort for 2-1.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Champions League Quarter Finals Review

Eight would become four as the Champions League reached the quarter final stage with Spain boasting three sides, Germany two and France and Italy with a single representative.

The opening tie of the round saw Juventus hosting Barcelona at Juventus Stadium. The hosts started superbly as Paulo Dybala put them ahead inside seven minutes before he doubled the advantage with 22 minutes on the clock.

A comfortable first leg victory was completed ten minutes after half time as Giorgio Chiellini struck for 3-0.

The tie between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco was played on Wednesday night after being postponed the previous night due to an explosion involving the Dortmund team bus.

The visitors struck first with a Kylian Mbappe scoring in the 19th minutes before the lead was doubled by a Sven Bender own goal.

Dortmund hit back with an Ousmane Dembele effort on 57 minutes though Monaco regained a two goal advantage with Mbappe's second goal with 11 minutes left. The hosts had the last say though as Shinji Kagawa made it 3-2 on 84 minutes to give Dortmund hope for the second leg.

Atletico Madrid hosted Leicester City at Vicente Calderon with the Foxes looking to continue their European fairytale. However, the visitors suffered a narrow 1-0 loss after a controversial penalty from Antoine Griezmann on 28 minutes gave the hosts a first leg advantage.

The final tie of the round saw Bayern Munich host Real Madrid at Allianz Arena. Bayern opened the scoring through Auturo Vidal with 5 minutes gone but were pegged back just after half time by a leveller from Cristiano Ronaldo. 

A blow for the hosts saw Javi Martinez sent off on the hour mark before Ronaldo struck for a second time on 77 minutes to secure a 2-1 win.

Leicester City looked to overturn the narrow deficit from the first leg as they hosted Atletico Madrid at King Power Stadium. Their hopes were dented inside 26 minutes as Saul Niguez gave the visitors the lead and made it 2-0 overall.

Leicester remained in the tie as Jamie Vardy levelled on the night at 1-1 and 2-1 overall but the visitors held on to end the Foxes dream run in the competition.

A six goal thriller saw Real Madrid and Bayern Munich battle at the Bernabeu. A close first half saw the sides remain level at 0-0 and 2-1 overall before Bayern levelled on agg with a Robert Lewandowski penalty.

Cristiano Ronaldo made it 1-1 on the night and restored Real's aggregate lead on 76 minutes before an instant reply saw Sergio Ramos hit into his own net for 2-2 (3-3 agg). The visitors were dealt a blow six minutes from the end with the dismissal of Arturo Vidal but Bayern held on to force extra time. Real took control in extra time as Ronaldo completed his hat-trick either side of the midway point for 4-2 (5-3 agg) with the latter seeing him become the first player to score 100 times in the competition. The hosts rounded off the win with a goal from Marcos Asensio to finish with a 6-3 aggregate.

After heroics against PSG in the previous round, Barcelona hosted Juventus at Nou Camp looking to overturn a three-goal deficit.

However, the Catalans were unable to break through the defence of the Italians as 'The Old Lady' became only the third team to prevent Barca from scoring in both legs of a tie as the sides drew 0-0

Borussia Dortmund had a single goal deficit to overcome as they visited AS Monaco at Stade Louis II.  However, they fell behind after just three minutes as Kylian Mbappe continued his scoring streak and were in big trouble when Radamel Falaco doubled the lead on 17 minutes.

Dortmund boosted their hopes just after half-time with a Marco Reus effort for 2-1 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate. The strike was to be only a consolation though as Valéré Germain confirmed a 3-1 win nine minutes from the end to complete a 6-3 aggregate success. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Premier League Pre Easter Catch Up

The month of April began with the Merseyside derby as Liverpool hosted neighbours Everton at Anfield. The Reds took an early lead as Sadio Mané slotted the opener on eight minutes. Everton hit back as debutant Matthew Pennington levelled on 29 minutes but the equality was short-lived as Philippe Coutinho restored the hosts' lead three minutes later. A second half strike from substitiute Divock Origi wrapped up a 3-1 win for Reds.

Tottenham Hotspur continued their title challenge with a 2-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor. Eric Dier and Son Heung-Min sealed the points with strikes on 66 and 72 minutes.

Crystal Palace caused an upset as they stunned fellow Londoners and league leaders Chelsea with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge. A rapid opener from Cesc Fabregas five minutes saw Palace swiftly level through Wifried Zaha before Christian Benteke completed the comeback in the 11th minute.

Hull City boosted their battle against the drop with a 2-1 win over West Ham United. The Hammers took the lead with an Andy Carroll strike after 18 minutes before Andrew Robertson levelled on 53 minutes. The points went to the hosts as Andrea Ranocchia struck the winner on 85 minutes.

Leicester City's revival continued with a 2-0 win at home to Stoke City. The Foxes secured the points with Wilfrid Ndidi opening the scoring on 25 minutes before Jamie Vardy struck the second goal two minutes after half-time.

Manchester United missed the chance to close on the top four as they shared the points in a 0-0 with West Bromwich Albion.

Sunderland's hopes of avoiding relegation suffered a blow as they lost 1-0 away to Watford. The Hornets secured the points with a strike just before the hour mark from Miguel Britos.

The South Coast derby at St Mary's saw Southampton and Bournemouth share the points in a 0-0 draw.

Sunday's action began with Swansea City and Middlesbrough face off in a relegation six-pointer. The sides though had to share the points in a 0-0 stalemate.

A battle at the other end of the table saw Arsenal and Manchester City share the points in a 2-2 draw. An early opener for City saw Leroy Sane strike inside six minutes but the Gunners drew level with half-time approaching as Theo Walcott made it 1-1. City would go into the interval in front though after Sergio Aguero resotred the lead on 42 minutes. The Gunners hit back for a second time on 53 minutes as Shkodran Mustafi ensured the visitors were denied a win.

A full midweek programme opened on Tuesday night as Burnley secured a 1-0 win over Stoke City at Turf Moor. The Clarets claimed the three points thanks to George Boyd's 59th minute effort.

Leicester City piled further pressure on Sunderland at the bottom with a 2-0 win. Second half strikes from Islam Slimani (69) and Jamie Vardy (78) were enough to leave the visitors rooted to the bottom.

Watford moved into the top half after claiming a 2-0 win over high-flying West Bromwich Albion. The Hornets went ahead with a strike from M'Baye Niang on 13 minutes before Troy Deeney doubled the lead just after half-time. The Baggies hopes of a comeback were boosted by the dismissal of Miguel Britos on 65 minutes but they were unable to utilise the man advantage.

Manchester United made it two home draws in the space of a week as they salvaged a point in a 1-1 draw with Everton. The Toffees opened the scoring on 22 minutes with a clever strike from Phil Jagielka but there were to suffer a double blow late on as Ashley Williams was dismissed with Zlatan Ibrahimovic slotting in the resulting penalty.

Arsenal continued their top for hunt with a comfortable 3-0 win in a London derby against West Ham United. The sides played out a close run first half and the Hammers continued to keep their hosts out as the hour approached but Arsenal had other ideas as Mesut Ozil opened the scoring. The Gunners were 2-0 up ten minutes later as Theo Walcott struck and the gloss on the win came seven minutes from the end via an effort from Olivier Giroud.

A six goal thriller at the KCOM Stadium saw Hull City oust fellow strugglers Middlesbrough 4-2. A rapid opener from Alvaro Negredo gave Boro the lead but Lazar Markovic equalised for the hosts within eight minutes. A six minute double from Oumar Niasse and Abel Hernandez saw the hosts lead 3-1 but the visitors were to cut the gap just before the interval as Marten De Roon struck for 3-2. The win was sealed for the hosts with 70 minutes on the clock with a strike from Harry Maguire.

Crystal Palace remain on the fringes of the drop zone after a 3-1 defeat away a Southampton. The Saints fell behind to a 31st minute opener from Christian Benteke but went into the interval level after Nathan Redmond's late equaliser. The turnaround was completed in the last ten minutes as a two-minute double saw Maya Yoshida and James Ward-Prowse.

Swansea City remain in the drop zone after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. The Swans took the lead early on through Wayne Routledge's 11th minute strike and they looked on course for a welcome three points as the game entered the final minutes. Spurs staged the ultimate turnaround as Dele Alli levelled on 88 minutes before an added time double from Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen sealed the win.

Chelsea moved closer to the title as they dented Manchester City's title hopes with a 2-1 win. Eden Hazard put the Blues ahead inside 11 minutes only for Sergio Aguero levelled for the visitors on 26 minutes. The points were sealed before half-time for the hosts as Hazard struck his second goal in the 35th minute,

The final game of the programme saw Liverpool and Bournemouth share the points after a 2-2 draw at Anfield. A lapse in the Reds defence allowed Benik Afobe to fire the Cherries ahead inside eight minutes. Philippe Coutinho drew the hosts level just before half time before Divock Origi gave the hosts a 2-1 lead on the hour mark. The Cherries were not to face a long miserable return journey though as Joshua King struck three minutes from the end to salvage a point and dent the Reds title hopes.

Tottenham Hotspur cut the gap to leaders Chelsea with a comfortable 4-0 derby win over Watford. After a tight first half hour, Spurs took full control with three goals before half-time as Dele Alli and Eric Dier struck ahead of an effort from Son Heung-Min. Son wrapped up the rout with his second and Spurs' fourth goal in the 54th minute.

Manchester City boosted their top four hopes and dented Hull City's survival hopes with a 3-1 win. The hosts went ahead on 31 minutes after an Ahmed Elmohamady own goal. City doubled the lead just after the interval with a strike from Sergio Aguero and the points looked to be safe just after the hour as Fabian Delph made it 3-0. Hull would have the last say though as Andrea Ranocchia scored his second goal for the Tigers.

Middlesbrough remained in the drop zone after sharing the points in a 1-1 draw with Burnley.

Liverpool sit third in the table after coming from behind to secure a 2-1 win at Stoke City. The Potters went ahead just before half-time via a strike from Reds nemesis Jon Walters. A double change at the interval saw the Reds' Brazilian duo come on and they turned the game around with a goal apiece in a two minute period as Philippe Coutinho struck on 70 minutes to level at 1-1 before Roberto Firmino (72) sealed the win.

A mid table battle at The Hawthorns saw Southampton claim a narrow 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. The crucial strike came in the 25th minute as Jordy Clasie's effort saw the Saints cut the gap to their opponents to four points.

West Ham United moved clear of the drop zone after a 1-0 win over struggling Swansea City. The Hammers secured the points just before half-time with a strike from Cheikou Kouyate.

Chelsea continued their passage to the title with a 3-1 win away at Bournemouth. The Blues went ahead after an own goal from Adam Smith on 17 minutes before Eden Hazard doubled the lead three minutes later. Joshua King cut the gap for the Cherries just before half-time but it was only a consolation as Marcos Alonso wrapped up the win on 69 minutes.

Sunderland's woeful run continued as Manchester United got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory at the Stadium of Light. Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the visitors ahead on the half hour mark before the hosts suffered blows either side of half-time with Seb Larsson dismissed in the 43rd minute before Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled United's lead within two minutes of the restart. The visitors wrapped up a comfortable win late on with a third goal via Marcus Rashford. 

Everton continued their push for a European spot with a 4-2 win over Leicester City. The Toffees made the perfect start with Tom Davies striking the opener in the first minute but the lead lasted just three minutes as Islam Slimani levelled for the Foxes. Marc Albrighton put the visitors ahead in the tenth minute but the hosts hit back through Romelu Lukaku (22) before Phil Jagielka made it two goals in a week for a 3-2 half-time lead. The points were sealed just before the hour mark as Lukaku struck his second.

Arsenal's top four hopes were dented by a 3-0 loss to London rivals Crystal Palace. The Eagles went ahead via Andros Townsend's 17th minute opener before a five minute double after the hour wrapped up the points. Yohan Cabaye made it 2-0 before Luka Milivojevic slotted in a penalty. 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Champions League Last 16 Results

The backlog of catch-ups, continues with the last 16 of the Champions League.