20 March 2005

Liverpool 2 (Gerrard 27, Luis Garcia 32)
Everton 0

Liverpool move to within four points of Everton after a dramatic
Merseyside derby at Anfield. Liverpool looked the better side in the
first half, although it took a while to get going, however two goals in
a five minute spell gave the hosts a healthy lead. The first came from a
free kick on the edge of the area as Dietmar Hamann tapped the ball to
Steven Gerrard and he side footed an effort into the bottom corner.
Everton had barely recovered when a stinging long range effort from
Fernando Morientes had keeper Nigel Martyn split between catching it and
tipping it over, ultimately he did neither as he helped it onto the bar
for Luis Garcia to nip in and head home. Remarkable, Liverpool were also
forced into making all three substitution before half time as Stephen
Warnock (ankle), Hamann (knee) and Morientes (thigh) were all injured
and just before the interval, Garcia was effectively a passenger as he
also collected a knock. The second half headlines were made by Milan
Baros who was twice through on goal only to waste both chances, firstly
when he was tackled by Tony Hibbert as he shaped to shoot and later by
the foot of Martyn as he went to slot home. Not content with that, he
then got himself a straight red card for a high, studs first, challenge
into the knee of Alan Stubbs, leaving Liverpool playing with ten men for
the final stages. Everton took advantage and pulled one back when Duncan
Ferguson's knock down was drilled inside the near post by Tim Cahill,
however despite a frantic finale, Liverpool held on.

Attendance : 44,224
Red Card : Baros 77 (Liverpool)
Assists : Haman (fk), n/a, Ferguson 

Middlesbrough 1 (Hasselbaink 41
Southampton 3 (Jakobsson 14, Crouch 60, 67)

Southampton move out of the bottom three after an excellent win at
Middlesbrough who appeared to be nursing a post-European hangover.
Saints began well and went ahead when Henri Camara's low cross was
tapped in at the far post by Andreas Jakobsson, however just before half
time Boro were level when Bolo Zenden's long range effort was parried by
Antti Niemi and after Joseph Desire Job poked the loose ball past the
keeper, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink tapped it into an empty net. On the
hour, Saints regained the lead when a deep cross from Olivier Bernard
was met by Peter Cruch whose towering header went across goal and into
the far corner and seven minutes later, he did it again, this time with
a side footed volley from Graeme Le Saux's cross.

Attendance : 30,082
Assists : Camara, Job, Bernard, Le Saux

Birmingham 2 (Heskey 52, Gray 89)
Aston Villa 0

Birmingham remain unbeaten in the Premiership against local rivals Aston
Villa after two second half goals gave them victory against David
O'Leary's side. A drab first half almost sprung to life on half time
when Nol Solano's free kick was touched onto the inside of the post by
home keeper Maik Taylor, however after the interval there was only one
team in it, although Villa did themselves no favours. Seven minutes into
the second half, Emile Heskey was put through by Walter Pandiani and
after holding off his marker, his near post shot should have been dealt
with by Thomas Sorensen, however not for the first time in these derby
games, the Danish keeper made a hash of things and allow the ball to
squirm under him body and into the net. The points were secured late on
when a clearance thudded against Martin Laursen, sending sub Julian Gray
clear on goal and he slotted the ball calmly into the corner.

Attendance : 29,297
Assists : n/a, n/a

19 March 2005

Blackburn (0) 0
Arsenal (1) 1 (Van Persie 43)

Arsenal maintain their dwindling title challenge with a narrow 1-0 win
at Blackburn. They took the leads thanks to a lovely piece of skill by
Robin Van Persie, who was only playing due to an injury sustained by Freddie
Ljungberg in the warm up prir to the game. Ashley Cole played the ball into
the young Dutchman who turned his man superbly on the edge of the area,
rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into the empty net. Jose Reyes was
denied twice in the second half by Brad Friedel and then set up Van Persie
whose curling effort struck the bar and they were almost made to pay when
Brett Emerton burst through only to drive his effort wide and in stoppage
time, Steven Reid shot wide from the edge of the area.

Attendance : 22,992
Assist : Cole 

Charlton (1) 1 (Johansson 24)
West Brom (1) 4 (Horsfield 9, Earnshaw 73, 84, (pen) 90)
SENT OFF : El Karkouri (Charlton) 29

A remarkable hat trick from sub Robert Earnshaw gave West Brom their
first away win of the season as well as genuine hope of getting out of
the drop zone. European hopefuls Charlton were on the wrong end of the
hiding which began as early as the ninth minute when Zoltan Gera's
hooked cross was nodded in by an unmarked Geoff Horsfield. The hosts
were level when a long ball from Jerome Thomas sent Jonaton Johansson
clear and as keeper Russell Hoult came out, he only blasted his
clearance against the striker who then went on to slot the ball into the
empty net. Five minutes later, Charlton were reduced to ten men when
Gera and Talal El Karkouri challenged for the ball only for the latter
to go in two footed and high, resulting in an instant red card and stud
marks on the top of the thighs for Gera. It wasn't until the final
stages when the visitors took total command and only then after the
arrival of Earnshaw from the bench as he regained the lead for his club
when he nodded in after Horsfield had helped Paul Robinson's cross back
into the area. With six minutes left, the Welshman scored again when he
was sent clear by Gera's pass and provided a clinical finish and in
stoppage time, Richard Chaplow was hacked down in the area by a
frustrated Bryan Hughes, resulting in Earnshaw slotting in his third
from the penalty spot.

Attendance : 27,104
Assists : Gera, n/a, Horsfield, Gera, Chaplow (won pen)

Chelsea (1) 4 (Lampard 29, Cole 54, Kezman 78, 90)
Crystal Palace (1) 1 (Riihilahti 42)

Chelsea edged closer to the title with a comfortable win against
struggling Crystal Palace, although it was only in the final half an
hour or so that they really took control. This wasn't the usual fluent
Chelsea and it needed a superb long range effort from Frank Lampard to
break the deadlock, his shot finding the corner after good work from Joe
Cole, however just before half time, Lampard's miskick at the near post
from Wayne Routledge's corner allowed Aki Riihilahti to sneak in and
equalise. Joe Cole put his side back in front with a crisp effort from
the edge of the area after Eidur Gudjohnson had set him up and then
Mateja Kezman made it three with a shot from the left edge of the area
which went straight through the legs of keeper Gabor Kiraly and dribbled
slowly over the line. Arjen Robben, returning from injury with a subs
appearance had set up Kezman's freak goal, but he had no hand in the
fourth as Lampard and Tiago had shots blocked before Kezman was on hand
to score from close range.

Attendance : 41,667
Assists : Cole, n/a, Gudjohnson, Robben, n/a

Man United (1) 1 (Ronaldo 21)
Fulham (0) 0

Man United stay second, albeit a massive eleven points adrift of
Chelsea, with a narrow win against Fulham, who are gradully being
dragged into the relegation dogfight. The only goal was a beauty and
came from Cristiano Ronaldo who collected a pass from Roy Keane and
smashed a superb shot into the far corner.

Attendance : 67,959
Assists : Keane

Portsmouth (1) 1 (Stone 45)
Newcastle (1) 1 (Dyer 43)

Honours even at Fratton Park as two goals in three minutes before half
time shared the points. Newcastle went ahead when Lee Bowyer's cross was
headed back towards his own goal by Linvoy Primas, allowing Kieron Dyer
to sneak in and nod the ball home, however with two minutes, former
Newcastle star Lomana Lua-Lua twisted and turned in the area and his
cross was touched in by Steve Stone, although he may have been
marginally offside.

Attendance : 20,165
Assists : n/a, Lua Lua

Spurs (1) 2 (Defoe 16, Keane 84)
Man City (1) 1 (Reyna 44)

Spurs keep their European dreams alive with a late win against Man City,
led by Stuart Pearce for the first time. A strange goal put the home
side ahead as City lost possession in their final third, allowing Steven
Reid to cross. Jermain Defoe got a touch at the near post, however it
ony diverted the ball away from goal to the edge of the area where Simon
Davies was loitering with intent. The Welshman's shot was wildly off
target, only for Defoe to react quickly and get his head to the ball and
nod it in. City were level just before half time when both Joey Barton
and Robbie Fowler were involved before Claudio Reyna drilled in the
equaliser off the near post. Six minutes from time, Spurs clinched
victory as a cross from Davies was converted from close range by Robbie

Attendance : 35,681
Assists : Davis, Fowler, n/a

Bolton (1) 1 (Giannakopolous 42)
Norwich (0) 0

Bolton's quest for a European place continued with a narrow, yet
comfortable win over bottom club Norwich at the Reebok. The only goal
came just before half time when a corner from Stelios Giannakopolous was
only partially cleared by the visiting defence and ultimately found it's
way back to the Greek international. He cut inside to the edge of the
area and struck a superb shot which found the opposite top corner.
Norwich had plenty of possession after the break but did little with it
and it was Fernando Hierro who came as close to scoring as anyone which
a crisp volley well saved by Norwich keeper Robert Green.

Attendance : 25,081
Assist : n/a

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