14 December 2004

Liverpool (0) 1 (Gerrard 70)
Portsmouth (0) 1 (Lua-Lua 90)

Portsmouth scored a stoppage time equaliser to deny Liverpool a victory
at Anfield after Steven Gerrard had again provided his party-piece. The
midfielder struck to break the deadlock with twenty minutes to go as he
walloped in a rolled free kick from Dietmar Hamann from twenty yards
which crashed in off the post, however with a minute of injury time
left, a cross-shot from Matthew Taylor was palmed out by Jerzy Dudek
straight onto the head of Lomana Lua-Lua who stunned the home crowd by
nodding in from close range.

Assists : Hamann (fk), n/a

13 December 2004

Fulham (0) 1 (Bouba Diop 87)
Man United (1) 1 (Smith 33)

Fulham came from behind to earn a vital point against Man United who
themselves move to within four points of Arsenal, although tney'll feel
disappointed not to have held on for victory. United dominated the first
half and took the lead when Cristiano Ronaldo crossed for Alan Smith and
although his first effort was blocked, he regained possession with a
fine tackle, beta a defender and toe-poked the ball in from a tight
angle. It was no more than they deserved as both Roy Keane and Wayne
Rooney had blasted shots against the post prior to Smith's goal. Fulham
began the second half well and it was Andy Cole's turn to smash an
effort against the post within seven minutes of the restart, however
they had to wait another half an hour before finding the net, but it was
worth the wait as Mark Pembridge set up Papa Bouba Diop who unleashed a
sensational 25-yard drive which tore into the corner of the net.

Assists : n/a, Pembridge

12 December 2004

Aston Villa (0) 1 (Barry 90)
Birmingham (2) 2 (Morrison 9, Dunn 18)

Two early goals were just enough to give Bimringham a superb victory
away at local rivals Aston Villa in the second city derby. The visitors
took the lead courtesy of a howler from Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen.
The Dane looked well set as a long clearance from opposite number Maik
Taylor was helped on by Emile Heskey and collected by Clinton Morrison,
whose shot took a slight deflection on it's way to Sorensen who then
somehow allowed the ball to bobble over his hands and bounce into the
back of the net. Not quite as bad as Peter Enckleman's error two years
ago, but not far off! Within nine minutes, the lead was doubled as
Damien Johnson got away on the right and crossed for David Dunn to sweep
the ball in. Villa were all over the place at the back and could have
been further behind as Dunn broke clear and shot wide, whilst Heskey
thumped a shot across goal and against the far post. Villa were better
in the second half and had Carlton Cole's shot hit the net rather than
being straight at Taylor within twenty seconds of the restart, then
things may have been different. As it was, the home side dominated
possession but rarely looked capable of breaking Birmingham down and
only in stoppage time when Gareth Barry collected a long ball, lobbed it
over Olivier Tebily and fired it past Taylor, did they look dangerous.
By then it was too little, too late.

Assists : n/a, Johnson, ?

Arsenal (2) 2 (Henry 2, 29)
Chelsea (1) 2 (Terry 17, Gudjohnsen 46)

Chelsea maintain their five point lead over Arsenal and move four clear
of second placed Everton after twice coming from behind to earn a draw
at Highbury. The Gunners were ahead after just 72 seconds when Jose
Antonio Reyes nodded the ball into the area when Thierry Henry took one
touch to control and another to fire into the net. Chelsea levelled it
up when a corner from Arjan Robben was headed powerfully in by John
Terry, however just before the half hour, Henry took a quick free kick
from 25-yard which floated into the corner as Chelsea keeper Petr Cech
was still lining up his wall and despite strong protests, the goal
stood. Chelsea equalised again within a minute of the second half
starting as a Frank Lampard free kick was headed across goal by William
Gallas for Eidur Gudjohnsen to loop a header inside the far post. Both
clubs could have won it but by far the best chance fell to Henry who
shot over from ten yards with the keeper stranded.

Assists : Reyes, Robben (ck), n/a, Gallas

11 December 2004

Everton (0) 1 (Carsley 68)
Liverpool (0) 0

Everton win the 200th Merseyside derby to move them into second place
above Arsenal for at least 24 hours. The first half was typical derby
fare with few chances in a game played at a fast and furious pace. Tim
Cahill blew a golden opportunity for the hosts when he somehow sent a
free header wide from five yards, however at the other end, Neil Mellor
was even nearer the goal, but his header was saved at point blank range
by Nigel Martyn. The breakthrough came miday through the second half as
Leon Osman played the ball back to Lee Carsley whose effort from 25
yards curled around his marker, deceived keeper Chris Kirkland and hitt
the back of the net. Liverpool applied some intense late pressure, but
couldn't find a dramatic finale as they did on Wednesday.

Assist : n/a

Crystal Palace (0) 0
Blackburn (0) 0
RED CARD: Thompson (Blackburn) 88

No goals between two of the division's strugglers at Selhurst Park and
no love lost either between Crystal Palace and Blackburn. Blackburn had
the better of a scrappy game and home keeper Gabor Kiraly made three
decent saves in the first half to keep the scores level. After the
break, Palace hit the post through Andy Johnson, however the headlines
were eventually written by sub David Thompson who was very lucky to
escape a red card when he kicked Wayne Andrews after the pair tussled
for the ball. Not to be outdone, he then had an off the ball altercation
with Fitz Hall which at worst was handbags at ten paces, however both
were shown yellow cards, resulting in a sending off for Thompson,
Blackburn's fifth dismissal of the season.

Man City (0) 0
Spurs (0) 1 (Kanoute 57)

Spurs' recent good form continued with another narrow away win in the
North-West, this time at Man City. The home side were poor and Spurs
took full advantage with a stunning winning goal as Michael Brown's long
ball sent Freddie Kanoute away and his fierce shot from the edge of the
area tore inside the near post and into the roof of the net.

Assist : Brown

Newcastle (1) 1 (Bowyer 3)
Portsmouth (1) 1 (Stone 30)

Honours even at St James Park in a game dominated by Newcastle for long
spells but again they were unable to turn possession into goals. They
did score the quickest goal of the day though as a good run by Steven
Taylor saw him find Lee Bowyer whose superb volley from the edge of the
area gave the keeper no chance. Portsmouth earned an unlikely point on
the half hour when Dejan Stefanovic had a header cleared off the line
and as the ball was played to Steve Stone, his effort took a wicked
deflection and found the back of the net.

Assists : Taylor, o/g

Norwich (1) 3 (Svensson 20, 84, Huckerby (pen) 69) Bolton (2) 2 (Okocha (pen) 19, Hierro 23) Norwich record only their second league win of the season as Groundhog Day Syndrome hit Bolton who turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 defeat for the second game in a row. It began well for the visitors when Jay-Jay Okocha sent the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot after a handball by Gary Doherty gifted them a spot kick, however within a minute, man of the match David Bentley crossed for Mathias Svensson to head home at the far post. Three minutes further on and Bolton regained the lead when a corner from Stelios Giannakopolous was headed in powerfully by Fernando Hierro, his first goal in English football. Norwich battled back after the break and after Bentley was tripped in the area by Gary Speed, up stepped Darren Huckerby with a carbon copy of Okocha's earlier penalty and speaking of exact replica's, Norwich won the match when Svensson was again on hand to head home at the far post from a Bentley cross to lift the Canaries out of the relegation zone. Assists : n/a, Bentley, Giannakopolous (ck), Bentley (won pen), Bentley Southampton (1) 2 (Phillips 45, Crouch 64) Middlesbrough (0) 2 (Higginbotham (og) 89, Downing 90) Heartbreak for Southampton and new boss Harry Redknapp as they somehow blew a two goal lead thanks to a brace in the final two minutes from Middlesbrough. It all looked rosy when Kevin Phillips headed home a Graeme Le Saux cross on the stroke of half time and after the break, it looked even better when Peter Crouch doubled the lead with a near post header from Le Saux's corner. Boro were gifted a lifeline with a minute left when Danny Higginbotham found the back of his own net with a near post glancing header from Stuart Downing's corner and it was Downing who snatched a point with a superb long range shot into the bottom corner having been found by Michael Reiziger. Assists : Le Saux, Le Saux (ck), o/g, Reiziger West Brom (0) 0 Charlton (1) 1 (Holland 30) West Brom remain bottom after a narrow home defeat against Charlton, who are beginning to climb the table again after an indifferent start to the season. The only goal came on the half hour when Danny Murphy's free kick was cleared to the edge of the area to Matt Holland who controlled the ball well and shot home. Assist : n/a Gary Dowden - Joint Admin Topica Premier-L list
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