17 April 2007

BLACKBURN 3 (Samba 7, Roberts 10, McCarthy 32)
WATFORD 1 (Rinaldi 21)

Blackburn moved into mid table respectability after a first half goal burst saw off bottom club Watford. Rovers were two ahead early on when Christopher Samba headed home a David Bentley corner and then Jason Roberts bundled the ball past the keeper with Bentley again the provider. Watford did have some brief hope when Hamuer Bouazza did well to cross for Douglas Rinaldi to head in at the far post, however the win was secured by Benni McCarthy with a fine header from Bentley's cross. Realistically, Watford have been down for a while however they've been peering into the relegation black hole hoping to be dragged out. If they fail to beat Man City at the weekend, then they are officially down.

Attendance : 16,035
Assists : Bentley, Bentley, Bouazza, Bentley

LIVERPOOL 2 (Gerrard 58, Gerrard 65 Pen)

Liverpool won back third place thanks to two goals in a seven minute spell by Steven Gerrard that saw off Middlesbrough. His first was typical Gerrard as he collected the ball and then walloped in from the edge of the area. He doubled the lead with a penalty after Peter Crouch was adjudged to have been fouled by Andrew Davies.

Attendance : 41,458
Assists : Zenden, Crouch (won pen)

WEST HAM 1 (Tevez 35)
CHELSEA 4 (Wright-Phillips 31, Wright-Phillips 36, Kalou 52, Drogba 62)

Chelsea move back to within three points of Man United after blitzing West Ham at Upton Park, pushing the Hammers closer to relegation in the process. After a fast paced half an hour, the game exploded into life with three goals in less than five minutes. Chelsea nabbed the first when Salomon Kalou found Shaun Wright-Phillips 25 yards out and after holding off one challenge, he beat another with a brilliant piece of skill and then fired a left foot shot across the keeper and into the bottom corner. The Hammers were level as George McCartney and Carlos Tevez played a one-two on the left and the latter then cut inside and hammered a shot past keeper Petr Cech and again found the bottom corner although the keeper should have done better. Parity lasted 75 seconds as Wayne Bridge broke down the left and crossed for Wright-Phillips to crash a stunning side-footed volley inside the near post. The lead was increased early in the secon half as Frank Lampard's free kick was prodded goalwards by Didier Drogba and although keeper Robert Green somehow kept it out, Kalou was on hand to scramble the ball over the line and Drogba didn't have to wait long for his goal as, ten minutes later, Lampard's chip sent him through and after beating a defender, he slid in the fourth.

Attendance : 34,966
Assists : Kalou, McCartney, Bridge, n/a, Lampard

16 April 2007

MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (Carrick 4, Rooney 50)

Man United go six points clear of Chelsea, who face West Ham on Wednesday, after a comfortable home win against relegation threatened Sheffield United. The hosts were ahead early when Alan Smith and Cristiano Ronaldo set up Michael Carrick in the area who clipped the ball over Paddy Kenny. The second began in the same vein with an early goal although this time power replaced subelty as Ryan Giggs chipped the ball forward for Wayne Rooney to drill the ball across goal and into the back of the net giving the keeper no chance. Sheffield United had actually begun the half well and after the goal both Luton Shelton and Danny Webber came very close to pulling a goal back for the visitors. Ronaldo and Giggs were both denied by Kenny before livewire Shelton burst clear at the other end and seemed to be brought down by Gabriel Heinze. Replays showed that Heinze got nowhere near the ball and that a penalty should have been awarded. Late on, Michael Tonge cracked the crossbar with superb effort and it was to the visitors credit that they gave Man United far more problems than Roma a week ago.

Attendance : 75,540
Assists : Ronaldo, Giggs

ARSENAL 3 (Rosicky 12, Fabregas 73, Baptista 80)
MANCHESTER CITY 1 (Beasley 41)

Arsenal moved into third place for 24 hours at least after seeing off Man City at the Emirates. They went ahead early when Tomas Rosicky shot home from Emmanuel Eboue's cross howver City were level at half time when a poor kick from Lens Lehmann handed them possession and Michael Johnson set up DaMarcus Beasley to score. Arsenal deserved wrapped it up in the second half with two more goals, starting with Cesc Fabregas who netted his second in as many games with a superb volley from the edge of the area after City failed to clear the ball and a few minutes later, sub Julio Baptiste added a third after good work from Alexander Hleb.

Attendance : 59,913
Assists : Eboue, Johnson, n/a, Hleb

15 April 2007

EVERTON 2 (Lescott 81, McFadden 92)
CHARLTON 1 (Bent 89)

James McFadden scored a superb stoppage time winner to move Everton into fifth place and denied Charlton a vital point in their battle against the drop. All the action happened late on as Everton went ahead with nine minutes to go. Andy Johnson almost grabbed the goal only to be denied by keeper Scott Carson however it fell nicely for Joleon Lescott to volley in from close range. Charlton appeared to have earned a point when Darren Bent made space in the area and shot into the far corner, however with time almost up, James McFadden collected the ball 25 yards out, flicked it over a defender and walloped a shot low into the net from the edge of the area.

Attendance : 34,028
Assists : n/a, Holland, n/a

WIGAN 3 (Heskey 2, Baines 30, Kilbane 60)
TOTTENHAM 3 (Berbatov 4, Keane 35 Pen, 68)

Spurs came from behind on three occasions to earn a point at Wigan in a six goal thriller that saw both clubs move up a place in the table.

A remarkable game began in remarkable fashion with two goals inside the opening three and a half minutes. Wigan were ahead after just 54 seconds as Spurs failed to clear a corner and after Emile Heskey's initial header was blocked by his own player, he reacted sharply to nod in the loose ball. Spurs were quickly level when Robbie Keane played the ball in for Dimitar Berbatov who beat two players inside the area before prodding in with the outside of his boot. Wigan led again on the half hour when Spurs again failed to clear properly although there looked little danger as the ball fell to Leighton Baines on the left corner of the area, however he struck a sensational first time volley which sailed over Paul Robinson and into the far top corner. Again the lead was short lived as Jermaine Jenas burst through and after a push from Baines put him off balance, he was clipped by keeper John Filan who was booked for his part. Robbie Keane showed his customary coolness to slot in the penalty. Wigan should have regained the lead again on half time, however Kevin Kilbane header over a gaping net after Robinson had saved well from Paul Scharner's header.

The second half was just as good as Wigan began well with Denny Landzaat forcing a save from Robinson and Scharner clipping the bar with a shot. On the hour, Kilbane made up for his first half miss with a thumping header from Ryan Taylor's corner. This time the lead lasted seven minutes! Robinson launched a kick forward which was misjudged by Matt Jackson who allowed Keane a free run on goal, however the Irishman lobbed the keeper from 30 yards and the ball bounced into the net with Filan well beaten. Former Wigan defender Pascal Chimbonda, jeered by the home fans throughout, almost put Spurs ahead for the first time but was denied by Filan from a tight angle and at the other end Scharner's looping effort from fully 40 yards saw Robinson just keep it out as he collided with the post!

Attendance : 34,028
Assists : Camara, n/a, n/a, Jenas (won pen), Taylor, Robinson (gk)

FA Cup Semi-Final
BLACKBURN 1 (Roberts 64)
CHELSEA 2 (Lampard 16, Ballack 109)

Michael Ballack scored an extra time winner as Chelsea struggled to beat Blackburn in the FA Cup Semi Final and set up the so called dream final against Man United at the new Wembley on May 19th.

Chelsea had by far the better of an average first half and went ahead when a long kick from Petr Cech was headed on by Didier Drogba for Joe Cole. His first time ball found Frank Lampard who skipped past his man before firing in across the keeper and inside the far post. On half time Blackburn came close to an equaliser as a David Dunn shot forced Cech into a decent save and from the corner, Christopher Samba beat Cech to the ball but headed just over.

Early in the second half, Chelsea should have doubled the lead when Drogba broke the offside trap to set up Andrij Shevchenko who had a gaping net to hit from 12 yards but struck an air shot as the ball bobbled off of his standing foot to safety. It sparked Rovers into life suddenly as Jason Roberts turned brilliantly on the edge of the area and fired a near post shot which Cech parried away and the keeper, aided by the post, then kept out a header from Morten Gamst Pedersen. It was Rovers' best spell and it ultimately paid off as they levelled matters midway through the second half. Pedersen drilled in a free kick from the right and Roberts got a slight touch at the near post to divert it past Cech and into the net. Blackburn looked the most likely to grab a winner the more the half went on and Pedersen should have done just that when he sent a free header wide. Late on, John Terry was grateful to Cech for tipping his own header over the bar just minutes before the final whistle.

Extra time saw the pace slow down understandably as tiredness set in and chances were at a premium, however when one arrived, Chelsea took it. It arrived four minutes into the second period as sub Shaun Wright-Phillips squirmed the ball across from the goal line and although Salomon Kalou was blocked, the ball fell nicely for Ballack to drill into the bottom corner. Michael Essien almost added a third when his rocket shot almost broke the Old Trafford crossbar but 3-1 would have been harsh on Rovers.

Attendance : 50,559

14 April 2007

ARSENAL 2 (Rosicky 31, Fabregas 46)
BOLTON 1 (Anelka 11)

Arsenal came from behind to see off Bolton and move clear of their opponents in fourth place. Former Gunner Nik Anelka put the visitors ahead when he volleyed in from close range after keeper Jens Lehmann had tipped Kevin Nolan's header into the air, however Arsenal equalised on the half hour when Emmanuel Adebayor crossed and Tomas Rosicky took advantage of hesitation from Nicky Hunt to scramble the ball past the keeper. Less than a minute into the second half and a through ball from Gilberto Silva sent Cesc Fabregas clear and although he took his time, he fired a fine shot into the net. Bolton were reduced to ten men late on when Ivan Campo was shown a second yellow card for a late tackle on Rosicky. I read yesterday that this is the 15th game this season in which Arsenal have gone behind yet come back to get something from the game!

Attendance : 60,101
Red Card : Campo 82 (Bolton)
Assists : n/a, n/a, Gilberto Silva


Man City edge into the safety of mid-table and Liverpool remain third after neither side found the net at the City of Manchester Stadium. Whilst Liverpool had the greater number of chances, including another halfway line effort from Xavi Alonso which sailed just over, City came closest when DaMarcus Beasley hammered a shot against the bar.

Attendance : 45,883
Assist : n/a

MIDDLESBROUGH 1 (Rochemback 13)
ASTON VILLA 3 (Gardner 45, Moore 70, Petrov 77)

Aston Villa's mini-revival continues after they came from behind to win at Middlesbrough. The hosts went ahead courtesy of one of the clangers of the season as keeper Thomas Sorensen was right behind Fabio Rochemback's 25 yard free kick but allowed the ball to squirm out of his hands and bounce over the line. His considerable blushes were spared by his team mates though as Gabriel Agbonlahor set up Craig Gardner to slot in his first ever goal for Villa on the stroke of half time and then two second half goals won it for Villa. Luke Moore netted after coming on as sub as he controlled a header from Olof Mellberg before turning and scoring inside the near post and then Stilian Petrov wrapped it up with a low shot from the edge of the area after being found by Gareth Barry.

Attendance : 26,959
Assists : Downing (won fk), Agbonlahor, Laursen, Barry

PORTSMOUTH 2 (Benjani 7, Taylor 59)
NEWCASTLE 1 (Emre 69 Pen)

Portsmouth still have a good chance of European football next season after a win over Newcastle who will end another mediocre campaign in mid table. Newcastle began well but Pompey took the early chance when it came as Benjani twisted and wriggled in the area to shoot low into the net after being played in by Matt Taylor. Supplier turned scorer in the second half with Taylor hammering in yet another superb shot from 25 yards which arrowed into the bottom corner after he latched onto a weak defensive header. Newcastle pulled one back when Emre drilled in a penalty after James Milner was tripped by Dejan Stefanovic but it's yet another forgettable season for them.

Attendance : 20,165
Assists : Taylor, n/a, Milner (won pen)

READING 1 (Hunt 15)

Much like Portsmouth, Reading still harbour hopes of an unlikely European place, aided by a win over Fulham who sacked manager Chris Coleman this week and are now just three points above the drop zone with all four clubs below them playing between Sunday and Wednesday. The only goal was scored by Stephen Hunt from close range after good work from Kevin Doyle.

Attendance : 24,082
Assist : Doyle

SHEFFIELD UNITED 3 (Tonge 39, Jagielka 68, Stead 78)

Two of the bottom three met at Bramall Lane with hosts Sheffield United coming out on top and lifting themselves out of the drop zone at least until Sunday. The deadlock was broken just before half time when Michael Tonge unleashed a superb 25 yard free kick which flew into the net. Keith Gillespie's deep corner was then met by the head of Phil Jagielka to double the lead and a brilliant solo run and curling shot from Jonathon Stead clinched three crucial points. West Ham are five points from safety and host Chelsea next.

Attendance : 31,593
Assists : Nade (won fk), Gillespie, Gery

FA Cup Semi-Final
WATFORD 1 (Bouazza 26)
MANCHESTER UNITED 4 (Rooney 7, Ronaldo 28, Rooney 66, Richardson 82)

The double-treble dream remains alive and kicking for Man United after they swept Watford aside to reach the final of the FA Cup. They began as though they were still playing Roma with an early strike as Michael Carrick's pass was dummied by both Ryan Giggs and Alan Smith to find Wayne Rooney on the left. He cut inside and hammering a superb shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the area. Watford didn't let United have it all their own way and levelled matters seconds after a long stoppage for treatment to United keeper Edwin Van Der Sar who took a kick on the nose. His defence dealt with a long throw however it was hooked back in by Tommy Smith and acrobatically volleyed in by Hameur Bouazza via a slight deflection and the underside of the bar. Parity lasted less than two minutes as Rooney broke down the right and having seen his effort from a tight angle half blocked by keeper Richard Lee, it fell for Cristiano Ronaldo to poke the ball in from two yards.

United took a while to get going in the second half but eventually added a third when Rooney's breakaway was halted however the ball fell to Smith whose drilled cross was turned in at the far post by Rooney. Shortly afterwards, Van Der Sar collected another knock but remained on the pitch as Rooney should have completed his hat trick but shot weakly at Lee having been set up by Smith again. Giggs then turned on some Ronaldo-style step overs before shooting at the keeper as United looked to increase their lead. They succeeded with eight minutes to go when Smith sent sub Kieron Richardson through and his clipped finish found the corner. Rooney had another chance for a hat trick late on but blazed wide whilst racing clear but it mattered little in the end.

Attendance : 37,425

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