Football Ticket Packages news

February 22, 2010

Younger brother Phil claims the Neville family honours!

I couldn’t have been the only person who thought, when Cahill and Fellaini were ruled out of Everton’s team for the home game against Manchester United because of injuries, that the Toffees’ chances of beating the champions were more or less over.

How wrong we were! We were still chuckling at the refusal of the Neville brothers to even acknowledge each other’s existence before the game when Berbatov gave elder brother Gary’s team an early lead. David Moyes’ recently rejuvenated players soon showed just why their current form has been so impressive. Bilyaletdinov’s stunning equaliser was no less than Everton deserved but just an appetiser for the two second half goals. Young substitutes Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell (reportedly a transfer target for United, ironically enough) both scored in the last quarter of an hour to inflict United’s sixth league defeat of the season.

The big question, therefore, was whether or not Chelsea could capitalise on the slip-up of their title rivals and, although the 2 – 0 scoreline looks comfortable enough, the match at Wolves was anything but routine. With both Doyle and Guedioura causing all kinds of problems, Petr Cech was as instrumental in the victory as two goal Didier Drogba. The big front man’s strikes, incidentally, encapsulate much of Chelsea’s play – the first half goal the result of a fine passing move and the second half effort coming from a ‘Route One’ kick straight from the goalkeeper!

Arsenal, who, on paper, have the easiest finish to the season of the top three teams, had a more comfortable 2 – 0 success at home to Sunderland although they had to wait until the last minutes for Fabregas’ penalty to supplement Bendtner’s first half opener. Especially pleasing for Gunners’ fans (and Fabio Capello) will have been that Theo Walcott at last showed something of his old form.

Sunday’s matches featured the teams in the battle for the fourth Champions’ League place, with Spurs finishing the weekend in pole position. Their 3 – 0 win at Wigan gave them an aggregate score of 12 – 1 for the season. Although Defoe’s opener was clearly offside, there was little likelihood of Wigan getting anything from the game, even before substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko scored two late goals.

Aston Villa were the other winners from the top seven, beating Burnley by 5 goals to 2, despite falling behind early on to a well-worked Steve Fletcher goal. Young, Heskey, Agbonlahor and two from Downing sealed the victory which will put Villa in good spirits before their carling Cup Final against Manchester United next weekend.

The goalless game at Eastlands between Manchester City and Liverpool was almost devoid of any entertainment value whatsoever with both teams giving the appearance of settling for a point each very early in the game. At least Liverpool could point to the return of Fernando Torres to the substitutes’ bench as something to be optimistic about.

In the other matches, Fulham’s home victory over Birmingham – for whom Baird scored an unfortunate own goal – featured two quality goals from Damien Duff and Bobby Zamora; the latter scoring his second scorcher in just four days. West Ham’s excellent home form continued with a 3 – 0 success against Hull (Behrami, Cole and Faubert) and Blackburn coasted to the same score against Bolton (Kalinic, Roberts and Givet). Poor Portsmouth, though, lost to a last gasp goal from Stoke’s Salif Diao after they had started the game so promisingly. Piquionne, who was unlucky to have had an earlier effort ruled out for offside, put Pompey in the lead but even though the away side had Andy Wilkinson sent off after Huth‘s equaliser, Stoke still came out winners.

At the end of the weekend, therefore, Chelsea remain on top of the table with 61 points from 27 games, followed by Manchester United 57 (27 games), Arsenal 55 (27), Spurs 46 (27), Manchester City 46 (26), Liverpool 45 (27) and Aston Villa 45 (26). At the bottom, it’s Portsmouth with 16 points, then Burnley and Bolton on 23 – all having played 26 matches.

Of the three La Liga games played on Saturday evening, two had the most predictable of results – Barcelona and Deportivo overcoming Racing and Xerez respectively – but the third, between Mallorca and Sevilla really upset the bookmakers’ odds.

Barcelona showed few signs of nerves following their defeat against Atlético last weekend, and goals from Iniesta – surprisingly, his first in the league this season, Henry, Márquez and youngster Thiago enabled the leaders to coast home. Deportivo were two goals ahead in no time against the bottom club but relaxed sufficiently for Bermejo to reduce the deficit and then Xerez to come close to snatching a rare away point.

Mallorca, with the impeccable home record, were comprehensively beaten 3 – 1 by Sevilla. Both sides finished with ten men but Jesús Navas, Dragutinovic and Perotti helped the Andalucian side clinch the points and open the gap to four points between the clubs in fourth and fifth places.

Sunday’s main game, of course, was at the Bernabeu between Real Madrid and a vastly understrength Villarreal – and what a fine game it turned out to be. Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning free kick opened the scoring and Kaká added a penalty before Marcos Senna reminded everyone of his undoubted ability by scoring a fabulous set piece of his own. In the second half, Higuaín scored a sublime goal after a first time cross from Ronaldo found him on the edge of the penalty area. Just when it looked as if Real would romp away, Pires and Nilmar combined expertly for the Brazilian to reduce the gap to a single goal again. Almost immediately, though, another Ronaldo-inspired move cut through the Villarreal defence for Higuaín to score again, shortly followed by Kaká’s second of the game. This just left time for Xavi Alonso to score his first Real Madrid goal, from the penalty spot, to complete a 6 – 2 victory in a compelling match.

Málaga continued their recent improvement by beating Espanyol 2 – 1 and Athletic comfortably turned over Tenerife 4 – 1. Sporting were 3 – 1 victors in Zaragoza, but Atlético were as poor this week as they were brilliant last week and lost to an 86th minute Piatti goal in Almería. The only stalemate was the one all draw between Osasuna and Valladolid and this week’s Monday fixture is between Valencia and Getafe.

The table, then shows Barcelona with 58 points from their 23 games, followed by Real Madrid (56), Valencia (43), Sevilla (42), Deportivo (38) and Mallorca (37). The bottom three places are still occupied by Xerez (11 points), and Tenerife and Valladolid (20).

Posted by admin @ 11:09 am
Category: Premier League,Spanish League


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