26 February 2006

Carling Cup Final - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Manchester United (1) 4 (Rooney 33, 61, Saha 55, Ronaldo 59)
Wigan (0) 0

Man United made history as they recorded the largest winning margin in a
League Cup Final since it went to one game in 1967 as they walloped
Wigan 4-0 in Cardiff. United started the game with Louis Saha prefered
up front instead of leading scorer Ruud Van Nistelrooy and it seemed to
make little difference in the first half as they had the better of
things. Both clusb had early chances as Henri Camara headed wide for
Wigan whilst Wayne Rooney smashed his header against the bar, however
Wigan's situation wasn't helped by an injury to keeper Mike Pollitt who
pulled his hamstring doing nothing more than pick up the ball. He lasted
until the fourteenth minute before being subbed close to tears and being
replaced by John Filan. Rooney continued to cause problems as he set up
Cristiano Ronaldo to miskick in front of goal, however he then showed
his quality to put United ahead. Saha nodded on a long ball which saw
Wigan pair Arjan De Zeeuw and Pascal Chimbonda get in each other's way,
allowing Rooney to break clear and slot easily past Filan. Minutes later
he could have doubled the lead but his half hit volley was easily saved.
Wigan began the second half well but were hit by a stunning blitz of
three goals in six minutes as United put the game out of sight. A
sweeping move culminating in a cross from Gary Neville doubled the lead
as Saha's first effort was superbly kept out at close range by Filan,
however the rebound struck Saha on the knee and bobbled over the line.
The third was down to an awful clearance by Stephane Henchoz that fell
to Saha. He found Ronaldo on the right and the Portuguese star made no
mistake with a firm shot. Two minutes later and the rout was complete as
Wigan failed to clear a free kick from Ryan Giggs and after Rio
Ferdinand nodded the ball goalwards, Rooney swept in his second. He
almost became the first player to score a hat trick in the final but
chipped wide with only Filan to beat. Wigan tried in vain for a
consolation but it wasn't to be as Gary Teale was off target three times
and Jimmy Bullard struck a late effort wide.

Attendance : 66,866
Assists : Neville, n/a, Saha, Ferdinand

West Brom 0
Middlesbrough 2 (Hasselbaink 17, Wallwork 44 og)

Middlesbrough eased themselves away from the relegation zone with a
victory over West Brom, who remain just three points clear of safety.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink did the damage, firstly with a clinical finish
from the edge of the area having been sent clear by Yakubu and then with
a free kick from similar range that took a massive deflection. The
Baggies were reduced to ten men early in the second half when Nigel
Quashie and George Boateng battled for the ball and as the Boro man fell
to the floor, Quashie kicked him in the base of the back to earn an
automatic red card.

Attendance : 24,061
Red Card : Quashie 54 (West Brom)
Assists : Yakubu, n/a

Bolton 2 (Helguson 45 og, Nolan 68)
Fulham 1 (Helguson 22)

Heidar Helguson scored at both ends as Fulham's dismal away form
continued with defeat at Bolton. It began well for the Londoners as
Helguson thumped in a header from a Simon Elliott's free kick, however
on the stroke of half time, Stelios Giannakpolous crossed for Bruno
N'Gotty to power a header goalwards and although keeper Tony Warner did
well to keep it out, the ball was inadvertently nodded back toward his
own goal by Carlos Bocenegra. Helguson then blasted it into his own net
as he desperately tried to keep the ball from bouncing in. If the
equaliser was lucky, the winner was brilliant as Kevin Davies played in
Kevin Nolan down the left. He then cut inside and used his strength to
beat two defenders before firing in from a tight angle to move his side
into sixth position.

Attendance : 23,104
Assists : Elliott (fk), n/a, n/a 

Liverpool 1 (Kewell 40)
Manchester City 0

Liverpool go level on points with second placed Man United after a
narrow win against ten man Man City at Anfield. Liverpool had by far the
better of the first half but only took the lead just before half time
when Steven Gerrard collected the ball in midfield and sent Harry Kewell
away down the left channel. He appeared to take one touch too many as he
entered the penalty area but still shot across David James and inside
the far post. City's cause shouldn't have been helped when Joey Barton
was shown a second yellow card for a studs first tackle into the shin of
Sami Hyypia early in the second half, however it seemed to spur City on
and the had three chances within the next ten minutes as Jose Reina
saved at close range from Bradley Wright-Phillips and then brilliantly
from a curling effort by Trevor Sinclair. Georgios Samaras had the best
chance though as he sliced wide whilst clean through. Peter Crouch could
have had a hat trick for Liverpool at the other end, his closest effort
being a thunderous shot that hit the bar.

Attendance : 23,104
Red Card : Barton 52 (Manchester City)
Assist : Gerrard

25 February 2006

Chelsea 2 (Lampard 65, Robben 78)
Portsmouth 0

Chelsea edged closer to retaining their title after two second half
goals gave them victory against struggling Portsmouth. The took over an
hour to break through but eventually the goal came as Didier Drogba's
square pass was dummied by Eidur Gudjohnsen and fired in from the edge
of the area by Frank Lampard. The win was clinched when Gudjohnsen's lob
forward found Arjen Robben to fire in.

Attendance : 42,254
Assists : Drogba, Gudjohnsen

Charlton 0
Aston Villa 0

Not one for the video collection as Charlton and Villa battled out a
drab goalless draw at The Valley.

Attendance : 26,594
Assist : n/a

Blackburn 1 (Gamst Pedersen 18)
Arsenal 0

Blackburn moved above Arsenal into fifth place after beating the Gunners
at Ewood Park. The winning goal came after a superb run down the right
by Craig Bellamy and having got to the dead ball line, his cut back was
crashed into the net at the near post by Morten Gamst Pedersen, however
he injured himself scoring the goal and was substituted shortly
afterwards. Arsenal threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Rovers in the
second half but couldn't break through and slumped to their tenth defeat
of the season. Arsenal's dismal away form means that they are in serious
danger of not qualifying for Europe next season and their best hope
could well be to do a Liverpool and win the Champions League.

Attendance : 22,504
Assist : Bellamy

Birmingham 1 (Heksey 39)
Sunderland 0

Birmingham moved to within three points of relegation safety after a
narrow win against bottom club Sunderland who remain on a one-way trip
back to the Championship. The only goal came from a Jermaine Pennant
free kick floated to the far post and headed in powerfully by Emile

Attendance : 29,257
Assist : Pennant (fk)

Newcastle 2 (Solano 64, 76)
Everton 0

Three wins in four now for Newcastle since Graeme Souness was sacked as
Everton became the latest club to go home from St James pointless. Both
goals came in the second half from Nol Solano, the first a close range
tap in after an excellent run and cross from Charles N'Zogbia. The
second was a beauty and was the culmination of a superb passing movement
as Lee Bowyer found Solano on the edge of the area and his shot with the
outside of his foot curled inside the far post.

Attendance : 51,916
Assists : N'Zogbia, Bowyer

19 February 2006

Tottenham (1) 2 (Mido 23, Defoe 68)
Wigan (1) 2 (Johansson 10, 67)

Spurs twice came from behind to earn a point against Wigan as two of the 
Premiership's European hopefuls earned a point each in this weekend's 
only league fixture. The visitors took a surprise lead when a long ball 
forward was nodded on by Paul Scharner for Andreas Johansson to run onto 
and score via the keeper and the post. He may have been offside as the 
ball was helped on, however he had the benefit of the doubt from the 
officials and toof full advantage. Spurs should have equalised minutes 
later when Jermain Defoe was gifted a chance, however his drilled effort 
was saved by the feet of keper Mike Pollitt but they did level matters 
when returning striker Ahmed Mido got a touch onto Paul Stalteri's 
deflected cross and it flew in at the far post. He almost again shortly 
afterwards, however his firm header went inches wide with Pollitt rooted 
to the spot. After the interval, Spurs struggled to get started and 
after Henri Camara was off target twice for Wigan, he was the middle man 
in a neat one two with Johansson, allowing the Swedish star to drill in 
from eight yards. Straight from the kick off, Spurs levelled again as a 
long ball forward was nodded on by Mido and Defoe was on hand to clip 
the ball past the keeper. Both clubs went for broke late on with Wigan 
coming the closest when Camara's header was superbly saved by keeper 
Paul Robinson. 

Attendance : 35,676
Assists : Scharner, Stalteri, Camara, Mido 

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