26 December 2003

Arsenal (2) 3 (Craddock (og) 13, Henry 20, 89)
Wolves (0) 0

Arsenal stay in second whilst Wolves remained rooted to the foot after a
comfortable home win at Highbury. The game was a personal disaster for
Wolves' Jody Craddock who firstly helped Thierry Henry's corner into his own
net under pressure from Patrick Vieira and was then caught in possession by
the same man who cut the ball back for Henry to double the lead. No further
goals were added until the final minute when Edu sent Henry through to twist
and turn in the area before firing across goal and into the far corner.

Birmingham (0) 2 (Kenna 81, Forsell 87)
Man City (1) 1 (Fowler 14)

Birmingham produced a dramatic late revival to beat Man City, who are now
ten games without a win. The visitors took the lead when Robbie Fowler dived
in to convert Shaun Wright-Phillips` cross and until the final ten minutes,
a victory looked on, however Jeff Kenna levelled matters with a simple
header after Robbie Savage had struck the post with a free kick and six
minutes later, another Savage free kick was cleared by Richard Dunne only
for the ball to thud against Mikael Forsell and into the net.

Blackburn (1) 2 (Babbel 3, 90)
Middlesbrough (1) 2 (Juninho 31, 51)

Blackburn rescued a point against Middlesbrough having lead from the early
stages. Markus Babbel gave the hosts the lead, heading in a Brett Emerton
corner, however by half time Boro were level when Juninho clipped home a
Michael Ricketts cross. Early in the second half, the Brazilian netted
again, this time with a solo effort as he cut in from the right and curled a
beauty into the bottom corner, however in stoppage time, Blackburn equalised
thanks to a repeat display as Babbel again headed in an Emerton corner.

Charlton (2) 4 (Hriedarsson 1, Holland 35, Johansson 48, Euell 58)
Chelsea (1) 2 (Terry 10, Gudjohnson 73)

Chelsea lost ground on the top two after a crushing defeat at Charlton.
Things began badly for the title hopefuls when Herman Hriedarsson headed
home a corner after just 42 seconds, however within nine minutes, John Terry
equalised with a glancing header from Adrian Mutu's free kick. That was as
good as it got for Chelsea though as Matt Holland restored Charlton's lead
with a header from Jonaton Johansson's cross and early in the second half,
Johansson grabbed the third from close range after good work from Paolo di
Canio. A fourth followed soon afterwards as Wayne Bridge's sliced clearance
fell for Jason Euell who slotted in from close range. Eidur Gudjohnsen
pulled one back after Mutu's shot was well saved, but it was never going to
be enough.

Fulham (1) 2 (Saha 19, (pen) 63)
Southampton (0) 0

Fulham regained fourth place as two goals from Louis Saha saw off
Southampton and added a few quid to his value on the transfer market. The
first came after good work from Steed Malbranque, Saha's shot going across
goal and inside the far post. He then doubled the lead when Luis Boa Morte
was fouled in the area by Chris Marsden and although Saha's penalty was
straight down the middle, it still found the back of the net.

Leeds (0) 0
Aston Villa (0) 0

No goals in a drab encounter at Elland Road, although both clubs did have
efforts disallowed. Villa thought they'd taken a half time lead when Juan
Pablo Angel netted, however it was ruled out for handball and then Michael
Duberry volleyed it for Leeds only for the offside flag to deny them.

Leicester (0) 1 (Dickov 67)
Newcastle (0) 1 (Ambrose 90)

Leicester were denied a vital win thanks to a last ditch goal by sub Darren
Ambrose for Newcastle. The hosts went ahead when Paul Dickov drilled home
from the edge of the area after Newcastle failed to clear, however the
points were shared late on when Jermaine Jenas' shot was saved and Ambrose
nodded in the rebound.

Liverpool (1) 3 (Hyypia 30, Sinama-Pongolle 47, Scimer 54)
Bolton (0) 1 (Pedersen 85)

Liverpool restored some pride with three headed goals to see off Bolton. The
first came from a Danny Murphy corner, Sam Hyypia rising well to head in off
the bar and then early in the second half, John Arne Riise's cross was
converted by Florent Sinama-Pongolle. Vladimir Smicer headed the third from
Murphy's free kick and although Henrik Pedersen scored late on for Bolton
after he'd inadvertently blocked Ricardo Gardner's shot, it was too little,
too late.

Man United (2) 3 (Butt 9, Kleberson 44, Bellion 68)
Everton (1) 2 (Neville (G) (og) 13, Ferguson 90)

Man United stay top after a weaker starting line up just held off Everton.
United began well and took the lead when Nicky Butt volleyed in from the
edge of the area after Kleberson's cross was only half cleared, however four
minutes later, Thomas Gravesen's free kick was headed into his own net by
Gary Neville to level matters up. Kleberson restored the lead before half
time with a firm header from Neville's cross and then Ronaldo set up David
Bellion to fire home from close range in the second half. In the final
minute, Duncan Ferguson sent a diving header into the net from Gary
Naysmith's cross, however United held out for the win.

Portsmouth (0) 2 (Berger 52, 68)
Spurs (0) 0

Two Patrick Berger free kicks sent Portsmouth out of the bottom three and
left Spurs peering perliously into it at fourth from bottom. The first was
from all of 35 yards and fizzed into the bottom corner past a static defence
and two man wall. The second was from the edge of the area and was powered
into the roof of the net.

Gary Dowden
Chief Editor SoccerAge UK

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