14 March 2004

Man City (2) 4 (Fowler 3, Macken 32, Sinclair 73, Wright-Phillips 90)
Man United (1) 1 (Scholes 35)

Man City eased their relegation concerns with a thumping 4-1 victory over
local rivals Man United, putting a significant dent into their dwindling
title hopes as they now trail leaders Arsenal by twelve points. The game got
off to a pulsating start with City taking the lead inside three minutes as
United were caught out in the air at the back as they failed to deal with
Richard Dunne's long throw, Antione Sibierski headed on and after one touch
to control, Robbie Fowler prodded in from close range. The lead was doubled
when a free kick wasn't fully cleared and after Claudio Reyna's shot was
blocked, John Macken swivelled in the area and found the bottom corner.
Within three minutes the visitors were back in it as Ryna Giggs was tackled
in the area, the ball fell to Paul Scholes who drilled in from the edge of
the box. The game remained on a knife edge though until a fatal mistake
sealed gave City the vital edge. Half time sub Paul Bosvelt played a hopeful
ball forward which was miscontrolled by Mikael Silvestre, allowing another
sub, Trevor Sinclair, to sneak in behind and clip the ball over Tim Howard
and into the net. It effectively ended the game as a contest as United
continued to struggle to create chances, although Diego Forlan did send a
stinging volley wide. In stoppage time, Shaun Wright-Phillips put the icing
on the cake as he was sent clear down the right and as he sauntered toward
the penalty area, he crashed a shot goalwards from a tricky angle and sent
the home fans into sheer delight as it thudded against the bar and in.

Southampton (0) 2 (Beattie 51, Phillips 85)
Liverpool (0) 0
MISSED PEN : Owen (Liverpool) 73 - Keeper saved

Michael Owen had a penalty saved as new Southampton boss Paul Sturrock saw
his side complete a league double over Liverpool with a 2-0 victory. After a
poor first half, Saints took the lead six minutes after the restart, as a
mistake in midfield by Igor Biscan sent James Beattie away. He exchanged
passes with Kevin Phillips and as he bore down on goal, clipped the ball
over Dudek and into the net. Harry Kewell then won a controversial penalty
for the Liverpool as the Australian took on Jason Dodd who appeared to pull
his shirt slightly, albeit outside the area, however as Kewell went down
inside, the referee awarded a penalty. Justice was seen to be done though as
Owen's kick was kept out buy Antti Niemi. It capped a dreadful afternoon for
Owen who earlier hit the post from three yards after Steven Gerrard's shot
was saved. Saints rubbed salt into the wounds as Phillips turned his man 30
yards from goal and his shot took a wicked deflection off of John Arne Riise
to spin over the keeper and in.

Wolves (0) 0
Aston Villa (3) 4 (Hitzlsperger 7, Mellberg 18, Angel 24, 59)
MISSED PEN : Ganea (Wolves) 45 (Keeper saved)

Wolves survival hopes took a first half battering at home to Aston Villa,
who remain on target for a place in Europe. Villa were three up within 24
minutes as first Thomas Hitzlsperger drilled in a trademark bullet shot
which took a slight deflection before finding the net and then eleven
minutes later he became the provider which a fine cross for Olaf Mellberg to
head home. It got worse for Wolves as Lee Naylor's weak back header was
intercepted by Juan Pablo Angel who slotted it the third. There was hope for
the hosts on half time when Ganea was fouled by Mellberg in the area,
however his penalty was well saved by Thomas Sorensen. The rout was
completed in the second half when Angel netted his second, latching onto a
long ball from Nol Solano to prod home the fourth.

Spurs (0) 1 (O'Brien (og) 86
Newcastle (0) 0

Spurs left it late to put a dent in Newcastle's Champions League hopes
whilst keeping alive their own European aspirations. The winner had an
element of luck about it as Andy O'Brien turned Stephane Dalmat's cross into
his own net.

13 March 2004

Bolton (0) 0
Chelsea (0) 2 (Terry 71, Duff 74)

Chelsea consolidated second place with a 2-0 victory over Bolton at the
Reebok, although they left it late to secure the points. The breakthrough
arrived for the visitors through an unlikely source as Damien Duff crossed
from the right and as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink headed on, John Terry was at
the far post to volley home a crisp shot. Within three minutes, the lead was
doubled as sub Joe Cole played in Hasselbaink on the right and his cutback
was swept in by Duff via the hands of Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Birmingham (0) 0
Leicester (0) 1 (Ferdinand 53)

Leicester won for the first time since November and lifted themselves out of
the bottom three with victory at Birmingham. The only goal came early in the
second half as Steffan Freund's cross was cut back by Muzzy Izzet, enabling
Les Ferdinand to tap in from close range.

Blackburn (0) 0
Arsenal (0) 2 (Henry 57, Pires 87)

Arsenal took another step nearer the Championship with a win at Blackburn,
who themselves are still not out of the relegation dog fight. The Gunners
took almost an hour to break through a resolute Rovers defence and it was no
surprise to see Thierry Henry as the scorer as he curled in a brilliant
25-yard free kick. The win was confirmed late on when keeper Brad Friedel
pushed Gilberto's shot onto the post only for Robert Pires to net from the
rebound. The win puts Arsenal just one game away from equalling the record
set by Leeds in 1973-74 and Liverpool in 1987-88 where they remained
unbeaten in 29 games from the start of the season. Avoiding defeat against
Bolton next weekend would earn Arsenal another place in the record books.

Charlton (1) 1 (Holland 25)
Middlesbrough (0) 0

Charlton continued their push for Europe with a narrow win over
Middlesbrough who are already in the UEFA Cup due to their recent Carling
Cup success. The only goal was worthy of winning any game as Paolo di Canio
found Matt Holland who chipped a superb effort into the far corner from the
edge of the area.

Everton (0) 1 (Rooney 78)
Portsmouth (0) 0

Everton eased their relegation concerns put increased those of Portsnmouth,
whose away record remains dire. The sole goal came late on as Thomasz
Radzinski found Wayne Rooney who made space for a shot and drilled home from
15 yards.

Fulham (0) 2 (Davis 71, Boa Morte 83)
Leeds (0) 0

Leeds stay rooted at the bottom after defeat at Fulham who still harbour
hopes of a European place. Sean Davis broke through with twenty minutes left
after a good one-two with Steed Malbranque, he bobbled an effort past Paul
Robinson. The lead was doubled when Luis Boa Morte made no mistake with a
far post header from Zat Knight's cross.

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