1 March 2009

Carling Cup Final from Wembley


Man United win the first leg of a potential quadruple after beating Spurs on penalties in the Carling Cup Final after a goalless 120 minutes.

United began by far the better and inside the opening 25 minutes, Darren Gibson struck a shot just wide and Nani cut inside and forced Huerelho Gomes into a save. Even Rio Ferdinand almost got into the act with a 25 yard volley which shaved the crossbar. Spurs finally had an effort on goal just before the half hour when Darren Bent's deflected shot almost deceived United keeper Ben Foster but he saved at the second attempt. Aaron Lennon was causing United problems on the right but couldn't find the killer cross to break the deadlock and stop the first goalless first half in a league cup final for ten years.

After the break both clubs exchanged off target free kicks with Cristiano Ronaldo a few feet wide and Roman Pavluychenko almost shooting out of the stadium! Enter Andersen for Danny Welbeck as United made the first change of the final and they came close shortly afterwards as Spurs failed to clear a corner and as Jonny Evans' shot was going wide, Carlos Tevez could only back heel it slightly closer. Ronaldo was then clipped in the area by Ledley King only to be booked for diving - a classic example of a reputation going before a player although minutes before the camera caught him quickly waving an imaginary card after being fouled by Luka Modric. Also booked was United's John O'Shea and maybe a bit lucky to stay on after catching Modric late as both stretched for the ball. The best chance came with twenty minutes to go when Lennon found space in the area and his stinging dive was well pushed away by Foster as Spurs looked equally as likely to find the net as United. Andersen then tested Gomes from long range before the game entered stoppage time when Ronaldo came within inches of a winner with the last kick as he cut inside and smashed a shot against the post and Nani failed to convert the rebound.

Extra time began with the entrance of Ryan Giggs from the subs bench as the pace, understandably, slowed considerably although Nani did have a weak effort easily saved and Tevez glanced a header wide. The second period saw Spurs subs Jamie O'Hara and David Bentley both off target as was Tevez for United. Modric the embarked on a superb solo run and after his shot was blocked, Bent's low drive was saved by the legs of Foster. Having made all three changes, Spurs weren't helped by an injury to Michael Dawson who limped through the latter stages of the game as United also snatched a goal when Patrice Evra of all people fizzed a shot inches over with the keeper wrong footed. Dawson's injury led to three minutes of stoppage time in extra time and ultimately into the nerve shreading lottery of penalties.

Penalty Shoot-Out Details

1-0 - Giggs in off the inside of the post
1-0 - O'Hara firm shot well saved by Foster
2-0 - Tevez finds the bottom corner
2-1 - Corluka nets with ease
3-1 - Ronaldo sends Gomes wrong way
3-1 - Bentley poor shot wide
4-1 - Anderson wins the final in the bottom corner, sending Gomes the wrong way

Manchester United win 4-2 on penalties.

1 March 2009

HULL 1 (Ashbee 79)
BLACKBURN 2 (Warnock 34, Andrews 37)

Blackburn move out of the relegation zone with a narrow at Hull, whose early season form has deserted them. An error from home keeper Matt Duke help gift Rovers the opener as he spilled the ball by the goalline allowing Roque Santa Cruz to set up Steven Warnock to fire home. A fine run from Warnock minutes later resulted in him crossing low for Keith Andrews to double the lead from close range. After the break both sides were down to ten men as Dean Marney was sent off for kicking out at Morten Gamst Pedersen as the pair challenged for the ball and then Pedersen followed shortly afterwards when his late lunge on Kamil Zayatte earned his second yellow. Hull did pull one back late on when Bernard Mendy found Ian Ashbee whose bouncing volley netted him his first ever top flight goal but they couldn't find another.

Attendance : 24,612
Red Card : Marney 64 (Hull), Pedersen 70 (Blackburn)
Assists : Santa Cruz, Warnock, Mendy

WEST HAM 1 (Collison 71)

West Ham move up to seventh - although this is amazingly only ten points from the relegation zone - after a narrow win against Man City whose away form continues to frustrate. The only goal came in the second half when Jack Collison's looping effort found the net after Savio's effort had been saved by keeper Shay Given.

Attendance : 34,562
Assist : n/a

BOLTON 1 (Gardner 47)

Bolton move into mid table, seven points above the drop zone, after a narrow win against Newcastle. Although the first half was goalless, both clubs could have scored as Johan Elmander had an effort cleared off the line for Bolton whilst Obafemi Martins sent a free header wide from a good position. Enter half time sub Ricardo Gardner and within 70 seconds he's opened the scoring as Matt Taylor crossed for him to sweep the ball inside the far post. Newcastle created little until the final quarter of an hour when Shola Ameobi forced a fingertip save from Jussi Jaaskelainen and Bolton defender J.Lloyd Samuel made a superb point blank save from Fabricio Coloccini's effort for which the visitors wanted, but didn't get, a penalty. Newcastle finished strongly but couldn't find a late equaliser.

Attendance : 20,763
Assist : M Taylor

ASTON VILLA 2 (Petrov 45, Carew 79)
STOKE 2 (Shawcross 88, Whelan 91)

Aston Villa remain fourth but will wonder how they didn't beat Stoke after the visitors scored twice in the closing stages at Villa Park. Things were going swimmingly for the Champions League probables after Stiliyan Petrov fired in from the edge of the area after being found by James Milner. With eleven minutes to go, a ball toward the penalty area by Petrov found John Carew whose first time effort sailed over the keeper for a remarkable goal. Stoke looked down and out but pulled one back when James Beattie crossed for Ryan Shawcroft to head home and in the first minute of stoppage time, Villa failed to properly clear their area from Salif Diao's hopefully punt and Glenn Whelan drilled in a superb equaliser from 20 yards.

Attendance : 39,641
Assists : Milner, Petrov, Beattie, Sidibie

28 February 2009


Four goalless league draws in a row for Arsenal as they failed to break down Fulham at the Emirates. Gunners striker Robin Van Persie had the best chances but was denied by a brilliant reaction save from Mark Schwarzer in the first half and then later hit the post. Arsenal are sixth and at this rate may not even qualify for Europe next season.

Attendance : 60,102
Assists : n/a

CHELSEA 2 (Terry 25, Lampard 91)
WIGAN 1 (Kapo 82)

Chelsea left it late to see off Wigan thanks to a disputed stoppage time winner. The hosts went ahead when a corner from Frank Lampard was cleared to the edge of the area where John Terry dispatched a superb acrobatic volley into the roof of the net. With eight minutes to go Wigan deservedly levelled when a cross from Maynor Figueroa was expertly finished at the near post by Oliver Kapo however as time edged away, a flick on by Michael Ballack was headed in by Lampard although Wigan felt that he'd pushed former team mate Mario Melchiot as he jumped for the ball.

Attendance : 40,714
Assists : n/a, Figueroa, n/a

EVERTON 2 (Cahill 36, Saha 70)

West Brom remain rooted to the bottom after a goal in each half saw Everton keep up their Champions League challenge. The hosts went ahead when a Leighton Baines free kick was nodded in by an unmarked Tim Cahill as keeper Scott Carson came off his line. It wasn't all one way traffic as Luke Moore's glancing header was brilliant cleared off the line by Phil Jagielka before sub Louis Saha finally killed off the Baggies as he collected a pass from Dan Gosling, turned and fired in a beauty from the edge of the box. Moore came close again late on with a cracker from long range which thumped against the bar which summed up the visitors luck all game.

Attendance : 33,898
Assists : Baines (fk), Pienaar

MIDDLESBROUGH 2 (Alonso 32 og, Tuncay 63)

Liverpool's quest to hand the title to Man United continued as Middlesbrough lifted themselves out of the relegation zone with a goal in each half. The opener had an slice of luck about it as Stuart Downing's corner seemed to miss everyone and found the corner courtesy of Zaxi Alonso's leg. It was Boro's first league goal since early January and their second followed after the break as Jeremie Aliadiere cut the ball back for Tuncay to find the bottom corner.

Attendance : 33,724
Assists : n/a, Aliadiere

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