28 August 2006

Middlesbrough (0) 0
Portsmouth (1) 4 (Kanu 7, 57, Benjani 49, Todorov 90)

Portsmouth move into second place after a thumping away at the Riverside as Middlesbrough were put to the proverbial sword. Portsmouth began well and went ahead after the hosts failed to deal with an inswinging corner and after Benjani got a touch at the far post, it fell nicely for Nwankwo Kanu who swivelled and shot home from close range. They'd almost scored seconds earlier only for keeper Mark Schwarzer to just keep out a curling free kick from Dejan Stefanovic. Pompey began the second half as they began the first, with a goal and again it was from a corner. This time it was played short to David Thompson whose deep cross was nodded firmly into the ground and inside the post by Benjani. Boro battled back with David James saving in quick succession from Stuart Downing's free kick and Chris Riggot's header, however astonishly as they surged forward, they were caught quite brilliantly on the break as a clearance bounced toward Kanu in midfield and having hooked the ball over his marker, he ran from just inside his own half, cut across the chasing George Boateng and lifted the ball over Schwarzer to bobble it in from the edge of the area. With twenty minutes to go, Boro made a triple substitution and one of them, Malcolm Christie blazed over from the edge of the area ten minutes later, an incident which largely summed up their night as did another incident in stoppage time as deflected effort from Sean Davis fell neatly for Svetoslav Todorov who was just onside and he looped the fourth goal over the keeper. As well as their lofty league position, it's worth mentioning that Pompey remain the only club yet to concede a goal this season!

Attendance : 24,834
Assists : Benjani, Thompson, ?, n/a

27 August 2006

Aston Villa (2) 2 (Moore 3, Angel 38)
Newcastle (0) 0

Aston Villa move into second after a comfortable win over Newcastle. New Villa boss Martin O'Neill has yet to see his side lose and there was little chance of it happening against Newcastle after the first half by which time the hosts were two up. Luke Moore opened the scoring inside three minutes as he fired in after Newcastle failed to clear a free kick. The win was secured when Juan Pablo Angel gathered a deft pass from Gabriel Agbonlahor to round the keeper and slot calmly home from a tight angle. The second half was notable for an injury to Newcastle debutant Obafemi Martins who joined for 10m three days ago and was carried off after an hour. Although the early signs looked bad, the injury seems to be nothing more than a dead leg.

Attendance : 35,141
Assists : n/a, Agbonlahor

Blackburn (0) 0
Chelsea (0) 2 (Lampard (pen) 49, Drogba 81)

Chelsea returned to winning ways after two second half goals gave them victory against Blackburn at Ewood Park. Blackburn had the better of a first half devoid of clear cut chances and they came closest when Morten Gamst Pedersen's free kick took a fierce deflection and looped just over the bar. Chelsea were not at their all-conquering best that we've been used to in recent seasons and only Andriy Shevchenko had any serious efforts on goal, one of which was well off target and the other comfortably saved by Brad Friedel. The second half was better as a spectacle, aided by an early penalty after debutant Andre Ooijer had his arms wrapped around the waist of John Terry as a free kick was clipped in. It's the sort of thing you see defenders do week in, week out and get away with so maybe officials are doing what is right and calling it as a foul. Frank Lampard drilled in the spot kick, although Friedel was close to keeping it out. Benni McCarthy almost equalised when he controlled a cross on his chest and blasted an effort goalwards only for Petr Cech to produce a fine reaction save. Ricardo Carvalho then got away with pulling the shirt of Blackburn's Jason Roberts in the area, largely due to the referee's line of sight being obstructed and late on, Chelsea clinched the win when Michael Essien found Didier Drogba who held off Ooijer, again with hands around the waist of his opponent, and fired the second high into the net.

Attendance : 19,398
Assists : Terry (won pen), Essien

26 August 2006 Charlton (0) 2 (Bent (pen) 65, 85)
Bolton (0) 0

RED CARDS : Hreidarsson (Charlton) 28, Davies (Bolton) 72
MISSED PEN : Diouf (Bolton) 57 - Saved

Fun and games at the Valley as Charlton and Bolton gave us two goals, two penalties and two red cards! It all began well before Hermann Hreidarsson was sent off for elbowing Kevin Davies as he jumped for a high ball, indeed twice before Davies had caught a Charlton player in similar fashion and been let off. In the second half, Amdy Faye tripped El Hadji Diouf as he burst through and was lucky only to get a yellow card, however Diouf's low penalty was well saved by Scott Carson. Minutes later at the other end, Tal Ben Haim pulled the shirt of Darren Bent in the area and another penalty was awared. Bent showed Diouf how to do it and sent the keeper the wrong way to put Charlton ahead. It was all downhill then for Bolton as Davies finally threw one elbow too many as he caught Faye in the face and was shown the second red of the game and with time running out, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink nodded on a long ball for Bent to slot in despite being off balance.

Attendance : 23,638
Assists : Bent (won pen), Hasselbaink

Liverpool (2) 2 (Agger 42, Crouch 45)
West Ham (1) 1 (Zamora 12)

Liverpool repeated their Cup Final feat by coming from behind to beat West Ham at Anfield. The visitors took a surprise early lead thanks to the Prem's leading scorer Bobby Zamora who found the near post of the net from the right edge of the area after being found by Nigel Reo-Coker, although it's debatable whether it was meant as a cross or shot but either way, it embarrassed keeper Jose Reina totally. It looked as though they'd hold on until half time, however a Cup Final style recovery turned the game on it's head, firstly when Xabi Alonso's pass found Daniel Agger and after a surging run toward the area, he found a superb finish from long range as the Hammers defence backed off. Minutes later, Luis Garcia found a neat through ball to Peter Crouch who rounded the keeper and finished from close range. Midway through the second half, the lead looked to have been doubled when a touch from Dirk Kuyt sent Craig Bellamy clear and although his clipped finish was excellent, the offside flag was up. Replays suggested that the decision was correct but only just! With ten minutes to go, Lee Bowyer should have equalised for the Hammers but mis-hit a shot wide from six yards and with it went the visitors hopes of a point.

Attendance : 43,965
Assist : Reo-Coker, Xabi Alonso, n/a

Fulham (1) 1 (Bullard 40)
Sheffield United (0) 0

New signing Jimmy Bullard scored for the second game in a row to clinch Fulham's first win of the season against Sheffield United. The goal came just before half time as he curled a 25-yard free kick into the top corner, leaving United keeper Paddy Kelly standing and admiring.

Attendance : 18,362
Assist : McBride (won fk)

Tottenham (0) 0
Everton (0) 2 (Davenport (og) 54, Johnson 66)

SENT OFF : Kilbane (Everton) 33

Everton go second after a superb win at Spurs, earned despite being down to ten men for an hour. Kevin Kilbane was the man dismissed for a second booking, a late tackle from behind on Lee Young-Pyo in full flow. In the second half Everton took control when Mikael Arteta's free kick was helped on by Joleon Lescott and turned past his own keeper by Callum Davenport under pressure from Joseph Yobo. The lead was doubled when Phil Neville's cross was brilliantly turned in by Andy Johnson with a stunning first time effort.

Attendance : 35,540
Assists : n/a, Neville

Watford (1) 1 (Francis 34)
Manchester United (1) 2 (Silvestre 12, Giggs 52)

Man United remain 100% after narrowly seeing off Watford at Vicarage Road. United dominated the first half and went ahead when Louis Saha found Mikael Silvestre on the overlap and his firm cross-shot arrowed into the bottom corner. Watford grabbed an equalised when Ashley Young beat Silvestre on the right and crossed for Damien Francis to tap in at the far post, however United clinched all three points when Matthew Spring scuffed a back pass, allowing Ryan Giggs to nip in, round the keeper and fire in the winner.

Attendance : 19,453
Assists : Saha, Young, n/a

Wigan (1) 1 (Heskey 38)
Reading (0) 0

Last season's surprise package took on this season's potential surprise package and it was Wigan who just overcame Reading at the JJB. The only goal came from Lee McCulloch's neat flick on the edge of the area which sent Emile Heskey clear to volley in. Useless piece of trivia info now : Since the Football League was formed in 1888, Reading are the only club beginning with the letter R to play in the top flight! I said it was useless!

Attendance : 14,636
Assists : McCulloch

Manchester City (1) 1 (Barton (pen) 41)
Arsenal (0) 0

Arsenal are without a league win from the first week of the season after missing a number of good chances as Man City beat them 1-0 at the City of Manchester Stadium. City went ahead before half time when Justin Hoyte clattered into Trevor Sinclair in the area and conceded a penalty, converted by Joey Barton whose shot bulleting in off the bar, leaving Arsenal doubly annoyed as they felt that Cesc Fabregas was fouled just moments earlier in the opposing area. Prior to that, Arsenal had stacks of chances with Thierry Henry denied twice by keeper Nicky Weaver whilst clean through and Robin Van Persie hammering a shot against the inside of the near post just minutes before the penalty. At the other end, Barton had earlier shot inches wide whilst Bernardo Corradi had a header well saved by Jens Lehman. In stoppage time, Kolo Toure's header hit the bar as another chance went begging for th Gunners. The high pace continued after the break as did the Arsenal misses as Van Persie shot just wide of the far post whilst through and it was the cue for Theo Walcott to make his appearance from the bench to replace Tomas Rosicky. It sparked a heavy spell of pressure for Arsenal, culminating in blocked shots, last ditch tackles and just about everything but an equaliser.

Attendance : 40,699
Assist : Sinclair (won pen)

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