zaterdag 20 oktober 2012

Premier League Report

Manchester United 4-2 Stoke City
Rooney recovers from own goal to fire hosts to victory
The Red Devils bounce back after going behind early as the England international strikes for the first time this season while Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck also find the net

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney scored a double and an own goal as Manchester United bounced back after going behind early to register a 4-2 victory over Stoke City at Old Trafford. 

The visitors took the lead when the England international nodded the ball into his own net from a Charlie Adam free-kick. United rallied and Rooney was on hand to get them back into the game with a thumping header. 

Just before the break Robin van Persie gave his side the lead with sublime close range effort and 50 seconds after the restart Danny Welbeck notched another for the Red Devils with a superb diving header. 

Michael Kightly got the Potters back into the game with a great individual effort only for Rooney to give United their two goal lead back with a smart finish at the back-post to seal the win for the Red Devils. 

Sir Alex Ferguson made two changes to the side that beat Newcastle with Antonio Valencia and Paul Scholes coming in for Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley. Tony Pulis made just one change from his Potters team that drew with Liverpool with Dean Whitehead replacing Glenn Whelan. 

The Red Devils dominated possession early on but it was the Potters who took the lead through an own goal from Rooney who could only helplessly nod Adam’s free-kick past David De Gea when trying to mark Shawcross. 

Every time Stoke pushed forward they threatened and De Gea had to make two good saves to stop the visitors doubling their lead, first from Adam, and then from Walters after Kightly and Peter Crouch had combined to set the striker one-on-one with the Spaniard. 

The Potters were made to rue these missed opportunities as United equalised through Rooneyas he rose highest in the penalty area to head Van Persie’s cross into the right net this time for his first league goal of the season. 

United upped the ante before the break as Scholes and Welbeck went close before they took the lead through Van Persie as he turned Valencia’s pinpoint cross past Begovic at the near post with a lovely finish taking the ball first time with his left-foot. 

Immediately after half-time the Red Devils made it three as Welbeck headed sublimely past Begovic with a diving effort, as he latched onto Rooney’s cross getting in between two defenders to nod into the bottom corner. 

The Potters had shown earlier they were not going to be pushovers and they regained that attitude as they equalised through Kightly with a great individual effort as he ran through the United defence and shot past De Gea with the aid of the post. 

Stoke’s hopes of getting back into the game further were dented when Rooney struck again from close range as he reacted first to a scramble in the penalty area from a Van Persie corner and side-footed into the net at the back-post. 

The Potters tried desperately to fight their way back into the game again while United had chances of their own to extend their lead but neither could find a way through again as Sir Alex’s side sealed the three points. 

West Brom 1-2 Manchester City
Super-sub Dzeko saves champions with dramatic double
Roberto Mancini's team rescued victory from the jaws of defeat after Shane Long had given the home side a 67th minute lead and James Milner had been sent off in the first half

EPL - West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City, Edin Dzeko

On paper, this trip to fortress Hawthorns always looked a major test of Manchester City's title credentials.

So it proved, as Edin Dzeko came off the bench and rescued victory from the jaws of defeat for Roberto Mancini's 10-man team in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Shane Long's poacher's goal had given West Brom a 67th minute lead and looked like propelling the home side to their fifth consecutive home Premier League win of the season following James Milner's early sending-off.

But Dzeko had other ideas. A minute after coming on the pitch, he headed an 80th minute equaliser from Carlos Tevez's free-kick following an error from Ben Foster.

Then, in added time he sent City's travelling fans wild with his second goal and fifth league strike of the season, calmly slotting home with his right foot.

Either side of Dzeko's last-minute winner, another substitute, Romelu Lukaku, had come close to scoring, but he was denied - first by Joe Hart and then by an Aleksandar Kolarov goal-line clearance.

Before kick-off this clash had 'upset' written all over it. West Brom have adapted smoothly following the change-over from Roy Hodgson to Steve Clarke, accumulating 14 points from their first seven matches.

Moreover, the Hawthorns has been quite a fortress for Clarke's team. Their opening four home league matches have yielded four victories - against Liverpool, Everton, Reading and QPR – and nine goals.

Mancini selected a team with a strong English core. Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and Milner all started despite the 20-hour delay to England's match against Poland in midweek and they were complemented by Gareth Barry and Micah Richards.

Sadly for City, Milner only lasted 23 minutes. A mistake by Vincent Kompany allowed Long a clear run on Hart's goal, which meant that the midfielder had to time his tackle perfectly. He did not.

Long was hacked to the ground and replays showed that Mark Clattenburg was correct to show Milner a straight red card for a professional foul.

Briefly, City lost their composure as feisty challenges rained in from the home side, backed by their vocal home support.

Mancini needed his 10 men to stand firm but Balotelli was having one of those days when he felt the whole world was against him. After being booked in the 19th minute for lashing out following a challenge, he began to tread a disciplinary tight-rope as the opening half finished, even if he was harshly penalised for a foul.

When the whistle blew and with the crowd increasingly getting on his back, Balotelli marched up to Clattenburg and his assistants to have his say, before being sensibly escorted away by Hart.

Few among the 24,891 spectators expected the temperamental Italian to come back out after the break, but Mancini re-shaped his team into a 4-3-1-1 formation, moved Tevez back and gave Balotelli the spearhead role in which he is far more comfortable.

It paid immediate dividends. City began to gain a foothold in the match, creating opportunities and quietening the home fans for the first time.

Tevez's long-range shot was heading for the top corner before it was athletically pawed away by Foster while Toure headed over the bar after Balotelli's mis-hit volley.

Against the run of play, West Brom took the lead after 67 minutes. Substitute Peter Odemwingie made an immediate impact, putting Long through on goal with a slide-rule pass and the No.9 tapped in his third league goal of the season and fifth in all. Replays showed he was narrowly on-side as City’s defenders moved forward.

Mancini hauled off Barry and sent on Dzeko to rescue a point. The Bosnian managed to do even better.

Liverpool 1-0 Reading
Sterling strike gives Rodgers first home league win
The Merseyside outfit toiled in front of goal against a Royals side reluctant to leave their half but were let off by the 17-year-old's well-taken first-half goal

Raheem Sterling

Liverpool posted just their third Premier League victory at Anfield in 2012 as they earned a 1-0 win over Reading on Saturday afternoon.

Raheem Sterling struck the solitary goal, finishing well into the corner after a chipped through ball from Luis Suarez - who was at his wasteful best as the Reds failed to carve out a bigger lead.

The hosts made just one change following their disappointing 0-0 draw with Stoke last time out, as goalkeeper Pepe Reina – injured on international duty with Spain – dropped out for Brad Jones. Royals boss Brian McDermott, meanwhile, swapped Jay Tabb and Noel Hunt for Mikele Leigertwood and Danny Guthhrie respectively, after his side threw away a 2-0 lead to draw with Swansea in their last outing. 

Keen to atone for their limp showing against the Potters, Liverpool began the game brightly, with Nuri Sahin flagged narrowly offside after latching onto a lofted ball in the box with just minutes on the clock. 

Reading were dealt an early blow as Jem Karacan was forced to leave the field following a cruching 50-50 challenge with Steven Gerrard, with Gareth McCleary sent on as his replacement. And things almost immediately got worse for the visitors, as Sahin shot inches over from a Sterling pull back in the box.

The young winger was unwisely being given the freedom of Anfield by the Royals and had not always used it effectively, but more than made up for that with 29 minutes on the clock. An intelligent first-time pass from Suarez let Sterling free and, after taking one touch, he fired beyond Alex McCarthy to put the Reds in front.

The hosts continued to dominate the ball in the Reading half from that point, leading to a bizarre moment 40 minutes in which brought perhaps the loudest cheer from the Anfield crowd all season. Suarez jinked in front of the back four to draw a foul, prompting the referee to award a free-kick which was welcomed rapturously by all four corners of the ground in recognition of the perceived injustices the Uruguayan has been dealt this term.

In truth, the crowd had little else to cheer for the remainder for the first period, as matters came to a close with Liverpool one ahead.

It took just five minutes of the second half for Liverpool to go close again, as Suarez saw his shot across McCarthy well saved, but the Royals almost got themselves on terms after breaking with speed after that effort. McCleary beat the hosts’ offside trap with ease but Jones was more than equal to his tentative attempt at the near post.

That miss prompted Liverpool into attacking with more abandon and Suarez should have done better than striking Sterling’s cross over, following a delightful through ball from Sahin to start the attack.

Brendan Rodgers’ side went close twice in quick succession moments later with a McCarthy save from Gerrard’s shot and Shelvey’s poor touch denying them a two-goal cushion. And the typically profligate Suarez also contrived to keep the scores level with two horrendous misses in a matter of seconds at the Kop end.

But the hosts were let off for those misses, as the Royals failed to conjure an attack of real note with time running out.

Tottenham 2-4 Chelsea
Marvellous Mata inspires Chelsea comeback
The Blues win a thrilling a London derby with the Spaniard grabbing a double and Gary Cahill and Daniel Sturridge also on target as Villas-Boas loses to his former team

EPL; Tottenham Hotspur's Vs Chelsea, Clint Dempsey; Juan Mata

There was no revenge for Andre Villas-Boas as Chelsea continued their unbeaten start to the season at White Hart Lane with a performance full of the attacking verve their former coach was hired to implement.

This was the best of football, a pulsating, ever-changing derby encounter decided by two goals in as many second-half minutes by the quite brilliant Juan Mata, who shone brightest of all in Chelsea’s sparkling midfield and set-up Daniel Sturridge in injury time for the Blues’ fourth goal. 

Chelsea had initially taken the lead through Gary Cahill’s brilliant volley in the 18th minute before Spurs rallied in the second half to turn the game on its head through goals from William Gallas and Jermain Defoe.

Chelsea, though, deserved a victory that keeps up their best start to a season since 2006 and leaves them top of the league with 22 points from their first eight matches, while Spurs remain outside the top four.

Against the club that sacked him earlier this year, Villas-Boas restored goalkeeper Brad Friedel to the starting line-up ahead of Hugo Lloris, while Mousa Dembele missed out through a hip injury and Gareth Bale dropped out late after his partner went into labour.

Chelsea captain John Terry served the first game of a four-match ban for using racist language, but the Blues barely noticed his absence in the first half as they controlled the early stages and took advantage of Spurs’ missing men.

The first 45 minutes was defined by two volleys. The first, in the fourth minute, was badly mishit by Spurs captain Gallas from a Gylfi Sigurdsson corner and trickled wide from seven yards.

The second, in the 18th minute, broke the deadlock. After a poor header from Gallas as he tried to clear a corner, the ball fell for Cahill to smash the ball into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area. Thunderous.

Chelsea really should have doubled their advantage in the 39th minute when Ramires found Mata, but his shot was saved by Friedel before he smashed the rebound over the crossbar. 

Villas-Boas decided not to make any personnel changes at the break but Spurs came out for the second half with a completely new attitude.
Within a minute of the restart, they were level as they took advantage as the Chelsea defence simply fell asleep. Tom Huddlestone’s free-kick appeared to be drifting off the pitch but Jan Vertonghen superbly kept the ball alive, allowing Gallas to head home his first Spurs goal virtually from the goal-line.

Five minutes later, Tottenham took the lead as Defoe scored the 200th goal of his career with a true poacher’s finish. Aaron Lennon appeared to be attempting to shoot from the right but Defoe reacted more quickly than anyone to expertly turn the ball in. 

White Hart Lane was rocking but this was a topsy-turvy, helter-skelter game and it once again turned on its head in the space of a crazy two minutes, as Mata scored twice with more than a helping hand from Gallas. 

On 65 minutes, the Spaniard picked up Gallas’ woeful clearance and drilled a perfect, clean finish into the bottom corner with his left foot.

Mata has been in wonderful form so far this season and it was little surprise that he was the man to score Chelsea’s third goal of the afternoon. First he evaded Gallas’ attention, and as the Frenchman watched Eden Hazard’s wonderful pass slide past him, Mata raced through and converted one-on-one past Friedel.

Torres latched on to another Mata pass but shot wide before the victory was sealed in added time, Sturridge turning in to an empty net after more brilliant work from the diminutive Spaniard.

Norwich City 1-0 Arsenal
Holt winner leaves blunt Gunners 10 points off title pace
The Canaries register their first Premier League win of the season as Arsene Wenger's side fail to create clear-cut chances despite dominating possession at Carrow Road

EPL - Norwich City v Arsenal, Grant Holt

Norwich picked up their first Premier League win of the season after a determined and hard-fought performance against Arsenal at Carrow Road, edging the match 1-0.

The Gunners had more possession throughout, but the hosts opened the scoring through Grant Holt in the first half after Vito Mannone spilled a long-range shot.

The Canaries were forced to hold on for periods of the match, but a solid defensive performance saw them hard to break down, with the visiting side creating few clear-cut chances.

Norwich made two changes from the side that was swept aside by Chelsea two weeks ago with Leon Barnett being replaced by summer signing Michael Turner, while Anthony Pilkington came in for Jonny Howson, who dropped to the bench.

Arsenal came into the match in good form and made just the one change to the side that beat West Ham away last time out, with Andre Santos starting at left-back in place of the injured Kieran Gibbs.

Jack Wilshere was named among the Gunners' substitutes, despite Arsene Wenger's claims that the midfielder, who has missed 14 months due to injury, was still weeks away from a return.

The hosts came out of the trap in a determined manner, with Pilkington going close early on, but the Gunners soon took control of possession, making the match look like a training session at times, yet they could not create clear opportunities.

Norwich’s steely rearguard action was providing an excellent launch pad, and they were soon in the lead, with the help of Arsenal goalkeeper Mannone.

Bradley Johnson cut the ball back to Alexander Tettey about 25 yards out, and the Norwegian tried his luck, only for his effort to be spilled by Mannone but Holt was rushing in and buried the rebound.

The goal saw Norwich showing significantly more on the ball, and although Arsenal generally continued to edge the possession, it was the hosts who went close next, but Turner, who was booed before kick-off, headed a great chance wide after Wes Hoolahan’s corner and the Canaries went into the break in the lead.

After the break the match followed a similar pattern to what had been established before the break, with Norwich doing most of the running about, while the Gunners stroked the ball around with little end product.

Olivier Giroud was presented with an opportunity to get a shot in when John Ruddy punched Carl Jenkinson’s cross straight to him, but his effort bobbled harmlessly wide as Arsenal pressed hard for an equaliser.

With 20 minutes to go, Thomas Vermaelen presented Norwich with an excellent chance to secure the win after slipping on the half-way line, but Holt’s attempted chip went straight into the hands of Mannone.

Arsenal piled the pressure on in the final ten minutes, but they still could not break down the Norwich defence that held strong, with Leon Barnett' last-ditch block on Gervinho securing the win.


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