zondag 28 oktober 2012

Premier League Report

Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United
Van Persie, Chicharito & card-happy Clattenburg end Blues' unbeaten run
Roberto Di Matteo's team's lead is reduced to a point as they suffer their first league defeat of the season in controversial circumstances

Javier Hernandez - Chelsea-Manchester United

On an afternoon strewn with goals, red cards, drama and controversy, Manchester United climbed to within one point of the league summit with a 3-2 victory over nine-man Chelsea.

Roberto Di Matteo's team recovered from 2-0 down to make it 2-2 early in the second half but had Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres sent off before substitute Javier Hernandez scored a 75th minute winner from what appeared to be an offside position.

A David Luiz own goal and Robin van Persie's ninth goal of the season had put United in command after 12 minutes but Chelsea responded in style, with Juan Mata's free-kick and Ramires' header either side of the break.

Just as the visitors gained control, Ivanovic and Torres were sent off within five minutes of one another midway through the second period, ensuring the hosts played the last 22 minutes with only nine men.

United took full advantage, but it needed a controversial goal from Hernandez to give Sir Alex Ferguson's team their first win at Stamford Bridge in a decade.

With John Terry serving the second match of a four-game domestic suspension, Chelsea picked the same starting XI that won so handsomely at Tottenham in their previous Premier League engagement. United brought in Tom Cleverley to partner Michael Carrick in central midfield and Ashley Young got the nod on the left flank in his first league start in two months.

Before the action began, all eyes were on the pre-match handshake. Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole drew a line under all that has happened over the past year by ignoring their lingering grievances to shake one another's hand.

It was Cole's defending, rather than his manners, that soon came under the microscope. Both of United's goals inside the opening 12 minutes were forged on his flank as the visitors focused on the lack of protection the left-back was getting in front of him.

After four minutes, Rooney received the ball out wide and his expert cut-back was whacked right footed against the post by van Persie but the rebound struck the helpless Luiz and bounced past Petr Cech for an own goal.

Eight minutes later, Van Persie was unerring with the accuracy of his second right-footer. Antonio Valencia spotted him unmarked in the box and, with complete concentration on the task, the former Arsenal man slotted in his sixth goal at Stamford Bridge.

The statistics suggested Chelsea had a mountain to climb. Before today, United had been two or more goals up in 346 Premier League games and never lost, winning 336 and drawing 10.

With Rooney playing more as a third central midfielder than a second striker, the home side initially found it hard to break down what was a 4-5-1 formation.

But Chelsea raised their game leading up to the break, forcing three athletic saves from David de Gea before Mata made Rooney pay for hauling down Eden Hazard outside the box with a beautiful curling free-kick after 44 minutes.

The hosts had the bit between their teeth at the start of the second half as they reminded the visitors whose house it was.

After 53 minutes, United failed to clear following more excellent play from Mata and Ramires rose above Cleverley to emphatically head in Oscar's byline cross for the equaliser.

It all unravelled for Chelsea after that point. Ivanovic deservedly received a red card for a professional foul on Young after 63 minutes, cynically clipping the winger as he raced through on goal.

Inexplicably, Fernando Torres followed the right-back down the tunnel five minutes later. The Spaniard received a second yellow for simulation, even though replays clearly showed there was contact from Jonny Evans.

Down to nine men, Chelsea struggled to contain United but the officials ensured Di Matteo's post-match press conference would be an all-ticket affair by failing to spot that Hernandez was offside when he tapped in the winner.

Everton 2-2 Liverpool
Suarez and Naismith make their mark in pulsating Merseyside derby
The Uruguayan put the visitors in the driving seat but Brendan Rodgers' side threw away a two-goal cushion as David Moyes' men responded well to claim a point at Goodison Park

EPL: Luis Suarez -  Martin Skrtel, Everton v Liverpool

City rivals Everton and Liverpool shared the points in a pulsating Merseyside derby at Goodison Park which ended in a 2-2 draw after Brendan Rodgers' side blew a priceless two-goal advantage.

Two early Liverpool goals - with Luis Suarez at the heart of them - left David Moyes' team shell-shocked, but the Toffees responded superbly with Leon Osman and Steven Naismith cancelling out a Leighton Baines own goal and Suarez's header.

The Reds were left bemoaning a controversial decision by the officials in injury time, however, when Suarez appeared to be incorrectly flagged for offside after beating Tim Howard from close range.

Marouane Fellaini returned for the hosts after recovering from a knee injury, while Kevin Mirallas took the place of the suspended Steven Pienaar on the left wing.

Brad Jones continued in goal for the visitors despite Pepe Reina being fit enough to take a place on the bench, and Jose Enrique started as the injured Glen Johnson missed out.

After a slow start the game sprang into life after 13 minutes when the visitors took a fortuitous early lead.

Raheem Sterling appeared to be pushed over by Baines as he shaped to finish an Enrique cross, but referee Andre Marriner waved play on and Suarez's fierce strike across goal hit the England left-back and ricocheted into the net.

The Uruguayan forward ran the risk of inflaming tensions further with a mock dive celebration in front of Moyes, who had criticised the striker for simulation before the match.

Suarez added a second quickly afterwards, nodding in a fine Steven Gerrard free kick to send the travelling fans into ecstasy after just 20 minutes with the home defence nowhere to be found.

The two-goal cushion was short-lived though - Fellaini went close with a deflected shot and the subsequent corner saw Osman fire the hosts back into contention. Jones could only punch the ball to the edge of the area, and the midfielder struck from 20 yards courtesy of a deflection off Joe Allen.

Suarez almost added another with a rasping 25-yard volley, but Everton drew level after 35 minutes. After winning a contentious throw-in, Kevin Mirallas' cross hit Fellaini, but the tall Belgian reacted well to hook in a low ball which Naismith tapped in unmarked from two yards out.

Mirallas' fine display continued as the winger almost put the hosts ahead after 42 minutes, spinning away beautifully from Wisdom but injuring himself as the shot was deflected wide. He was replaced by Magaye Gueye at the interval.

Sterling had a golden opportunity three minutes after the break following a delightful pass from Enrique, but the youngster got his attempted chip all wrong, leaving an unmarked Suarez waiting in fury on the penalty spot.

Gerrard could have won it for the visitors with eight minutes remaining but his drive from the edge of the area was well blocked by Jagielka. Suarez thought he had gone one better in the 93rd minute, but stabbed finish from another Gerrard free-kick was ruled out by the assistant referee.

Sebastian Coates climbed on the back of Jagielka to win the initial header but it was unclear whether the official had stopped play for a foul or for offside, with Suarez in line with the last defender.

Manchester City 1-0 Swansea City
Tevez stunner marred by injury sickener for Richards
Michael Laudrup's side gave a good account of themselves at the Etihad Stadium, but the hosts scraped through to claim all three points despite a rather unconvining performance

EPL - Manchester City v Swansea City, Carlos Tevez

Manchester City have moved into second in the Premier League after a less-than-convincing 1-0 win over Swansea at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening, leapfrogging Manchester United in the process.

The first half was a rather drab affair until a late flurry from Swansea, with Michu going close on a couple of occasions, but the scores remained level at the break.

A much more potent start to the second half saw City make the breakthrough with 60 minutes on the clock as Carlos Tevez found the net from distance.

Roberto Mancini made three changes from the side which beat West Brom last weekend with Joleon Lescott and Mario Balotelli being replaced by Matija Nastasic and Sergio Aguero, while Aleksandar Kolarov came in for the suspended James Milner. Meanwhile, Michael Laudrup opted to name an unchanged Swansea side from the team who beat Wigan last time out.

The first quarter of the match was somewhat of a non-event, but a deep free kick delivered by Jonathan De Guzman around the 15-minute mark had Joe Hart all at sea but, luckily for the England international the ball went harmlessly out of play.

A Carlos Tevez shot five minutes before the interval sparked some life into the match, and Laudrup’s side immediately sprang a marvellous counter-attack that ended with Vincent Kompany booting the ball clear ahead of the lurking Michu after good work down the right from Pablo Hernandez.

A matter of seconds later, Leon Britton threaded an inch-perfect through ball between several defenders for Michu and, after getting clear of the City backline, the Spaniard looked destined to score but Hart rushed out and blocked the shot.

City began the second half with purpose as Aguero spun away from De Guzman and curled an effort towards the far top corner, but it whistled just wide as the match started to liven up.

A couple of minutes later, half-time substitute Mario Balotelli almost got on the end of Samir Nasri’s cross, but Ashley Williams put it behind, while the Italian was soon involved again as it appeared he was brought down in the area by Williams only for the referee to wave play on.

However, the reward for City’s good start to the second half came on the hour mark as Gael Clichy burst in towards the centre before laying the ball off to Tevez, who fired into the bottom corner from 30 yards.

Despite being behind, Swansea were not giving up and could have won a penalty with 20 minutes to go as a Michu header appeared to hit Kompany on the arm, while a long-range De Guzman strike narrowly missed the top corner four minutes later.

Twelve minutes of stoppage time were given due to rather nasty looking injuries to Vorm and Micah Richards – the latter being stretchered from the field clutching his knee - but Swansea were unable to conjure up an equaliser.


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