Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Scholes screamer sends United into the Finals

It was a night to remember for the Red Devils fans as Manchester United beat Barcelona 1-0 courtesy a scorcher from Scholesy and entered the Champions League finals for the third time in history. And this feat fittingly comes in the 50th anniversary of Munich Disaster and it will be more poetic if United go on and convert their third final also into a European Cup win. The crowd was roaring throughout the match and their joy lasted even after the match and even few fans invading the pitch to show their joy. United now await a Premier League opposition in an "All English" finals.

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1-0 Scholes

First Half
Second Half

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Real edge closer to the title

Real Madrid edged closer to title with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilboa at the Bernebeu. Saviola, Robben and Higuain scored for the Whites and Casillas saved a penalty. Real are now 10 points clear of second placed Villareal and lead Barcelona by 14 points.

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1-0 Saviola

2-0 Robben

3-0 Higuain

Penalty Save - Casillas

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

United pay the penalty

Manchester United lost to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to hot up the title race which seems to go till the last day. United started without Ronaldo, Scholes and Evra while Chelsea did not have Lampard. Vidic suffered a blow and had to be subbed. Chelsea were better throughout the first half and Ballack headed them into the lead just at the stroke of halftime. In the second half Chelsea took the gas off the pedal and Rooney fired United back into the game latching on to a mistake from Cavarhlo and shot past Cech. Ronaldo came on for Rooney. Chelsea were pressing for a goal and the got a controversial penalty which Ballack dispatched. United also tried after that with Cole and Shevchenko clearing from the goal line to deny United.

Chelsea now are on level with United and the race is surely to go till the very end.

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1-0 Ballack

1-1 Rooney

2-1 Ballack(pen)

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

United earn a draw at Nou Camp

Manchester United took on Barcelona at the Nou Camp and were hoping for a display that would put them in drivers seat to qualify for the finals. But it was not the typical attacking style from United but they sat back and defended with purpose and warded off the attacking threats of Barca to earn a 0-0 draw. Things could have been better had Ronaldo converted the penalty he got in the 3rd minute.

United had Brown at central defence due to Vidic's injury while Rooney was partnering Tevez upfront. Barca had Messi back in their side and were looking to put up a good show that could erase their La Liga failure this season. And they received a setback when United were given a penalty in the 3rd min. Ronaldo earned it and he hit that one wide much to the delight of Catalan fans. After that it was all Barca with their passing being precise and they had plenty of possession. United were starved for the ball but when they got it, they gave it away far too easily something you don't associated with United. Messi, Deco, Eto'o were queuing up in front of goal but their threat was only upto the 18 yard box and keeper was not called into action. United looked to play on the counter and Ronaldo was playing as the most further player up the field. He was denied another penalty when he was fouled by Marquez in the box. That would have been given as a foul had it been anywhere on the pitch other than the penalty box. Barca were pressing hard and the defenders held fort for United.

Second half also had the similar pattern of play and early on into the second half Eto'o capitalising on some poor defending by Brown stormed into the box and was chased by Ferdinand who tripped him but Eto'o was true to himself and dint go to ground as he thought he had a chance and he pulled the ball for Iniesta but then the defenders had closed down the danger. It was a critical moment as had Eto'o gone down it was surely going to be a penalty. And Barca pressed and had some shots on target while Carrick hit the side netting from close range. Messi was replaced by the young Bojan at the hour mark.

Barca were unable to create any clear cut chances and the United defenders closed down the spaces very well. Barca had nearly 67% possession throughout the match. Evra was very good throughout and there was a shout for penalty for his foul on Iniesta but it wasn't given. Time was running out and Henry came on for Barca while Nani and Giggs came on for Rooney and Tevez. Henry had a couple of shots on goal that worked Van Der Sar but the deadlock was not broken and the match ended in a stalemate.

It would have been a totally different game had Ronaldo scored the penalty but nevertheless it was a result that made Sir Alex happy and Manutd would be confident going into the second leg at Old Trafford knowing that a win would take them to Moscow.

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Ronaldo - Missed penalty

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Full highlights

First Half

Second Half

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Advantage Chelsea as Liverpool mess it up

Liverpool let it go from their grasp and now face an uphill task at Stamford bridge. The Reds must score away to stand any chance of progressing to the finals. It was looking like another successful day in the office for Rafa in Champions League till the last few seconds.

The Blues took on the Reds at Anfield and had Lampard back in their lineup. Ferreira started in the right back position while Drogba was leading the attack which had Malouda and Cole on the wings. Liverpool started with a more settled team and Carragher partnered Skrtel in the central defence. Chelsea started off brightly in the opening few minutes and had more intensity in their play. Liverpool took time to settle and were under pressure from Chelsea. Liverpool then found their rhythm and started to move the ball better, Cole had an half chance while Kuyt could not control Alonso's ball to the box which was cleared. There were not many openings on either ends.

Gerrard was involved in a slick play with Torres and put the Spanish star through on goal but Cech saved the shot well. It was the first real chance of the game. Kuyt was lively and showed more desire and his hard work was rewarded when he dispossessed Lampard and he got into the box and shot past Cech to give Liverpool the lead just at the stroke of half time. It was a mistake from Lampard that cost Chelsea the goal and they needed to come out attacking in the second half.

In the second half Chelsea were more urgent but Liverpool were controlling the game with the lead on their side and Ferreira was having a horrible time against Babel whose runs were creating all sorts of problems for the Chelsea defence. Chelsea had a reprieve when Ballack appeared to have handled the ball in the box. And on 60minutes Aurelio was injured and replaced by Risse. Chelsea were pressing for the elusive away goal while Liverpool looked for the second that would give them a huge advantage going into the second leg. Lampard had a chance but Carragher's timely intervention denied him. Kalou and Anelka came on for Chelsea while Benayoun replaced Babel. Time was running out for Chelsea and in the injury time Cech again stopped a shot from Torres. And in the final minute Kalou crossed the ball into the box and Risse who was under pressure from Anelka headed the ball into his own net trying to clear it, the whole of Anfield went quiet but for the travelling fans.

Chelsea take a huge advantage going into the second leg. And Liverpool will feel unlucky as they played a good match. Rafa has a task on his hands considering the matches between these teams don't produce lots of goals. Advantage Chelsea.......

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1-0 Kuyt

1-1 Risse(Own Goal)

Torres one on one

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Second half Highlights

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Title favourites

Manchester United and Real Madrid took a step closer towards retaining their titles. Tevez scored a crucial late equaliser at Ewood park to keep the champions 3 points adrift of Chelsea prior to their clash at Stamford Bridge this weekend. Real Madrid continued their march beating Europe chasing Racing Santander. Captain Raul scored his 17th league goal of the season while Higuain sealed the win in stoppage time. Realmadrid now lead second placed Villarreal by 10 points and Barcelona are in third spot 11 points behind The Whites. Real have one hand on the trophy and could win the title the coming week.

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1-0 Santa Cruz

1-1 Tevez



0-1 Raul

0-2 Higuain

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Manchester United march towards the title as the Gunners challenge ends

Manchester United took a giant leap towards retaining their title with a 2-1 win over bitter rivals Arsenal at the Theatre of Dreams. Manchester United knew it was a match that they couldn't afford to slip up while it was a must win game for Arsenal and even a draw would damage their lone title chance of the season. United brought back Ronaldo, Rooney and Scholes to the starting line up while Park was given a place in the 11 for his good show over the last few matches. Rio partnered Pique in the central defence with Brown and Evra as fullbacks. Arsenal had Song in the central defence and Gilberto on for injured Flamini. And Lehman replaced the Almunia.

Arsenal started the match strongly and put United on the back foot. Adebayor had some very good chances to give them the lead but the strikers poor run of late continued as he kept missing the chances he got. United's passing was left a lot to be desired with none of them able to pass the ball that well they had been doing all season. Arsenal were winning the second balls and threatened but Van Der Sar was there to deny them. Rooney had a one on one with Lehman but his shot was saved by Lehman. Hleb was running the show for the gunners with his pace troubling both Pique and Ferdinand. Ronaldo was involved a lot in the first half which clearly belonged to Arsenal.

In the second half Arsenal started as they did in the first half and they got the deserved lead when Van Persie crossed the ball from the left and Adebayor was there to head it in. Ferdinand was there but he left it to keeper who in turn thought the ball would be cleared. There was a doubt over the goal as it appeared the ball had brushed Adebayor's hand on it way. It would have interesting to see Sir Alex's reaction had United not won. And Arsenal pushed on and nearly got their second when Ferdinand's attempt to clear the ball nearly went in but Van Der Sar came to the rescue. And United hit back immediately when the got a penalty for a handball by Gallas. Ronaldo dispatched the penalty which was taken twice to bring United back into the game.

Tevez and Anderson came on for Scholes and Park and United were looking for their second and Arsenal were under pressure after losing their lead. Evra made forays into the box and Rooney had his shot saved. And on 72 minutes United won a free kick in a dangerous area for a foul on Evra. And it was lined up by Hargreaves and Ronaldo. As everyone was Ronaldo to take it Hargreaves stepped up and curled an Inch Perfect free kick into the back of the net. The keeper could only stand and watch as the kick was unstoppable.

The crowd was roaring and so were the players and United looked more organised after the second goal with their passing back to its best and Anderson was doing a fine job in covering the whole pitch. Evra had the measure of Walcott and he was not allowed any space. Bendtner came on and had a few good chances but it was Van Der Sar again who held fort. And in the final minutes United brought in Giggs for Hargreaves. United kept the ball very well in the last few minutes to deny any attacks by Arsenal and closed out the match.

Overall it was a good football match and United were much better in the second half while Arsenal would rue the chances missed in to first. The Red Devils are in a commanding position with a six point lead over Chelsea who play later today. And with only 4 games to go Manchester United look the favourites to retain their crown.

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0-1 Adebayor

1-1 Ronaldo(pen)

2-1 Hargreaves


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Real move closer to the title as Villareal slip up

Realmadrid inched closer towards retaining the La Liga title with a 1-0 win over Murcia at the Bernebeu. Realmadrid were relaxed after seeing Barca fall further off the pace drawing 2-2 against Recreativo. So all the needed was a win to put real daylight between them and the chasing pack. Realmadrid rested Cannavaro with Pepe coming back to the starting line up and Robinho replaced Higuain while Torres came in for the suspended Sergio Ramos.

Murcia coach Clemente had earlier said that he would be parking a bus in front of the goal and just try to prevent Real from scoring. And Realmadrid started the match with lots of possession but there was no zip in their play. They lacked ideas and could not create any concrete chances. And Real suffered a setback when Torres was sent off for a tackle from behind. The decision to send the player was a dubious one as there was not enough in it to deserve a straight red card.Schuster did not change the strategy even when they were playing with 10 men. Though they were a player more Murcia still were not willing to go forward and Real kept looking for the elusive goal. Murcia had a great chance from a counter attack where they were 3 players against 2 Real defenders but Sneijder ran back 60 yards to make a great tackle and clear the danger. First half ended with the crowd clearly not happy with the referee who was showering cards.

The second half also had similar pattern of play with Murcia sitting back and defending while Real pressed forward and there were some chances for Robinho but he missed them. And after 58 minutes Murcia made a change while Real were taking a throw and Robben made a throw into the box and the ball was not properly cleared and Sneijder latched on to it and curled into the top corner to give Real the lead. The player who was substituted was the one marking Sneijder and before his replacement could get hold of him Sneijder smashed the ball into the net. Real then brought on Salgado for Robinho to stabilize their back four and Real then held on to their lead to secure a vital win. And their night was made sweeter as Villareal lost 1-0 to Almeria.

Realmadrid now have a commanding 9 point lead over Barcelona and with only six games remaining in the league they look the odds on favourites to win the Title.

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1-0 Sneijder

Redcard Torres

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Advantage Real as Barca draw

Barcelona took on Recreativo knowing that only a win would help them keep their title hopes alive and close the gap on leaders Realmadrid to 4 points. Barca were on a high as they had qualified for the Champions League semifinals. Recreativo is by no means an easy place to go as the home team has the habit of playing well against the top teams.

Barcelona welcomed back the influential Messi and they were hoping for a turn around in their La Liga fortunes. They got off to a dream start as Barca, from defending got the ball rolling forward and Eto'o headed them into lead after just 62 seconds on the clock. But the home side was level in a controversial fashion, Ruben headed the ball in which was collected by Valdes and the assistant referee adjudged that it had crossed the line. But the ball did not cross the line completely so it had to go down as a poor decision.

Eto'o then scored a scorcher in the second half to give the lead back to Barca while Messi came on as a substitute and looked lively. The hosts were fighting and they got their equaliser through Ruben who headed in his second goal of the game to earn a point. Barca once again failed to put any pressure on Realmadrid. They also would rue the fact that they couldn't win as they are chased by Villareal and may find themselves trailing the Yellow Submarines at the end of Sunday.

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0-1 Eto'o

1-1 Ruben

1-2 Eto'o

2-2 Ruben

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Super Sunday

Manchester United take on Arsenal at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday knowing that a victory over their bitter rivals would put them a step closer to retaining the Premier League crown. Arsenal on the other hand have only the league title to fight for after crashing out of the Champions League earlier this week. The Red Devils were safely through to the semifinals of the Champions League after seeing off Roma at OT.

Coming into this match few injury concerns hamper both the sides, Arsenal sufferring more on the injury front. They already have Equardo out for at least an year, Rosicky has been ruled out for the season, Flamini and Sagna have joined the latest injury Bandwagon for the gunners who have seen their title hopes shaken up due to these injuries. Manchester United have their first choice central defensive pair struggling. Vidic is out of the game but Ferdinand is expected to start after completing the full game against Roma. And the good news for the Champions is that their captain Gary Neville is back after a 13 month lay off. Silvestre is also back and thus it increases the options in defence for Sir Alex. And it should be noted that "It was the defence that suffered the most due to injuries at the very same stage of the last season and United didn't have that many options then". And Sir Alex will be happy with the fact that he has lots of options now.

And the problem with the Gunners is that they were playing attractive football and were getting results in the earlier stages of this season, but once the players were injured those who came to replace them were not as good as them and they failed to get results which has been the reason for their slide. Their starting eleven is strong but their squad is not strong enough to cope with the lost players and couldn't get results with the alternative teams put out. Their striker Equardo's injury hit them badly. It was playing on every Arsenal players minds for quite sometime and they dropped points, losing the pole position.

Manchester United have a strong squad and they got results irrespective of the team put out. Its true that the team was rotated but none complained as results were coming unlike Rafa who got the stick for rotating players. That was because the players were not able to rise up to the challenge. United kept Ronaldo and Scholes under the wraps in the match against Roma and Rooney played only in the last 15min, so everyone is fresh for Sunday. It promises to be an cracker...........

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Barcelona - Manchester United Classic awaits us in Semifinals

Manchester United went into the second leg match against Roma with the Sunday's match against Arsenal on the back of their mind so Ronaldo, Rooney and Scholes were kept on the bench. Park, Tevez and Hargreaves took their places. United knew Roma had to do something to go through and the Italians were playing three upfront which opened up space in the wings for the Reds to go forward. Ferdinand started at CB with Pique partnering him. Silvestre was making his first appearance since injuring his ankle in the match against Everton earlier in the season.

Roma tried to get off the blocks as soon as possible and they had the first shot and after few minutes United were all over Roma, Hargreaves was simply uncatchable. He made all sorts of runs and none of the Rome defenders were able to pick him and he had two clear shots on goal, Doni had to be there to keep his team in the tie and Brown had a header going just above. So United had three genuine chances in the first 18minutes. Hargreaves was simply in sublime form after being given the license to go forward his crosses from the right were Pin perfect but what lacked was the finishing touch on it. Park, Tevez and Hargreaves were working really well with Carrick operating as holding player and Anderson in front of him. And just when one thought United would control the game, Brown gave away a penalty. Mancini was brought down inside the box, the replays showed the ball had been won clearly but Mancini's delayed dive earned him the spot kick. De Rossi stepped in and blasted it over, much to the relief of OT. Justice had been done as it was never a penalty. Roma started to dominate after that till the end of first half. United had a scare as Ferdinand was struggling with injury.

In the second half Rio started the match, much to the relief of Manutd fans. He needed three stitches to get him going and he never showed any sign of discomfort in the second half. Roma hit the field up and running in the second half and had some good chances. Juan had a header saved by Van Der Sar and Sliverstre came in blocked a shot by Taddei. United were threatening with Hargreaves again but the goal that could seal the tie never came. Cassetti was injured and had to be substituted with Tonetto. And just when all thought it could be one of those days for United were the ball just wouldn't go in, Hargreaves once again drove forward and crossed a ball that asked to be headed in. Tevez did just that bending low to head it across Doni to seal a place in Semifinals for the Reds.

And with 15minutes left to play O'shea and Rooney came on for Carrick and Giggs. And a thunderous reception awaited the club captain Gary Neville who was making his 99th appearance in Champions League. He had missed 63 Manutd matches in the 13 months he was injured. Every touch of his was cheered by the crowd, who clearly have missed him. United won 1-0 set up a dream clash with Barcelona, who beat Schalke 2-0 on aggregate. Neville and Scholes are set to make their 100th Champions League game at the Nou Camp. Its fitting for Scholes that he would be making his century at the very place he had missed the final 9 years ago due to suspension. A classic awaits us in the semifinals.

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1-0 - Tevez

Missed Penalty - De Rossi


First Half

Second Half

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Its Chelsea Liverpool again

The outcome of games played on Tuesday saw Chelsea pitted against Liverpool once again in the semifinals of the Champions League. Chelsea had a task on their hands as they took on Fenerbahce at Stamford Bridge as they had lost 2-1 in the first leg at Turkey, but they were never going to to let that happen again and they had also the home crowd behind them and they took an early lead through Ballack and Lampard made sure they go into the semis by getting the second but not before the Turks had given them some scare in front of goal.

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1-0 Ballack

2-0 Lampard

And the match of the day was at Anfield, third and final match of the trilogy between Arsenal and Liverpool. Both the earlier matches had ended in draws and Liverpool knew they could advance with a scoreless draw while Arsenal knew they had to score to stand any chance of advancing. Arsenal started off brilliantly and went ahead through Abu Diaby in the 13 minute but Hypia equalised for the Reds from a corner.

And in the second half it was the irrepressible Torres again for Liverpool who scored in the 69th minute and then it was those two frantic minutes, Walcott sprinted past the Liverpool players and burst into the box and set up Adebayor's equaliser and just when the dance movements of the Togo star had ended Liverpool had a controversial penalty for a foul by Toure on Babel. Gerrard slammed it in to give the lead back to Liverpool. And Babel put the finishing touches on the game by scoring the fourth.

Rafa would relish another Champions League match against Premier League opposition as he had already seen off one team. And it would be the second time the teams will be meeting in the Semifinals in as many years and who would bet against the Spaniard from taking his team to Moscow!!!!!!!!!!

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0-1 Diaby

1-1 Hypia

2-1 Torres

2-2 Adebayor

3-2 Gerrard(pen)

4-2 Babel

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Boro hold United

Manchester United took on Middlesbrough a the Riverside knowing that Chelsea had already crept up the points table with a win at Eastlands and were just 2 points behind them. United don't have a particularly impressive record against Boro but their record at Riverside was good comparing to Old Trafford. United who had one eye on the champions league match against Roma on Wednesday started with a strong team. The notable change was O'shea coming into defence in place of injured Vidic.

Manchester United started the game well with the attacking front working well while Boro also wanted to attack. And it was United who took the lead first, Carrick neatly controlling the ball delivered from a corner and sliding it to Ronaldo who hit the back of the net for his 37th goal of the season. And after that United were firing on all cylinders but Boro kept attacking and Van Der Sar had to make some good saves. While on the other end Rooney was flagged offside when he was clear on goal, a wrong call by the assistant referee.And Ronaldo had a clear penalty shout which was turned down. The ball was blocked by the Boro player and it was a clear penalty which wasn't given. And the home teams persistence was rewarded when the United defence failed to deal with a aerial ball and it fell to the Middlesbrough record signing Afonso Alves who finished it superbly with his left foot for his first ever goal for the club. United were shaken by this and the home team started to pile up the pressure and the goalie was called into action often and the half time came at the right moment for United.

In the second half the match was even more thrilling with both going for goals. Boro to be fair, had the measure of United in the early parts of the second half and Van Der Sar had to be there to avert the danger. Giggs had a poor game and was not involved in any concrete moves. Ronaldo did quite well in getting past the defenders but his shooting lacked composure. And on 56 minutes Boro took the lead. Boateng skied the ball and Brown's clearance hit an opponent and it fell to Alves, who curled the ball for his brace. Boro were all over the Champions and Tevez was replaced by Park.With the snow falling heavily, the visitors were searching for the equaliser and Alves had a chance to get his hat rick but Ferdinand's timely interception denied him. And United suffered another blow when Ferdinand was injured and he was replaced by Pique and Hargreaves came in for O'Shea. Alves had a chance when Van Der Sar slipped when trying to clear a back pass but the veteran managed to kick the ball away even when he was lying on the ground, that could have been a gift to the Brazilian. Alves was subbed to a thunderous applause from the record crowd, he deserved his goals as they all showed his quality.

And United got their equaliser on 74th min when Park did brilliantly on the right wing and crossed it to Rooney, who scored. It set up for a thrilling final 15 minutes. Rooney's header was well saved by Schwarzer. The pattern of the play was frantic and exciting to watch and it ended 2-2. On another day it can be considered as points dropped by Manutd but considering the way Boro played and injuries in defence and the fact that they had to come from behind Sir Alex would be happy with the result and in fact he was happy with the point. All credit to Boro who played impressive football and contributed to an exciting football match.

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0-1 Ronaldo

1-1 Alves

2-1 Alves

2-2 Rooney

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Chelsea close the gap Arsenal slip up

Arsenal's challenge for the Premiership seems to be fading after they drew 1-1 against Liverpool at the Emirates in Saturday. It was the second match of their trilogy and a match that Wenger couldn't afford to either lose or draw. While Liverpool had a 5 point cushion over fourth spot challengers Everton so Rafa had the luxury of resting some key players for the Champions League return leg at Anfield. Arsenal on the other hand couldn't rest any of them and they already had several players injured with Van Persie joining the list recently.

Arsenal who missed some early chances found themselves through a Crouch goal before half time. But they came back and scored through Bendtner, who had missed some simple ones in the 54th minute. Torres came on for the final 10 minutes while Arsenal searched for the elusive 2nd goal. Liverpool once again held firm to earn a point. Arsenal may trail Manchester United by 8 points by the end of the Sunday.

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Chelsea on the other hand kept up the fight to United with a 2-0 win over Manchester City at the Eastlands. Chelsea who need to overturn a 2-1 setback against Fenerbahce would have breathed easy after they saw Arsenal slipping up. But they needed to win against a City team that had done very well at home but had been falling apart recently. But it no imagination it was an easy game.
Chelsea kept Ballack and Joe Cole on the bench. Chelsea took the lead from a Richard Dunne own goal, similar the own goal Chelsea got against Fenerbahce but this time it was on the right side. And City who also had some chances kept trying and Chelsea got their second through Kalou after 54min and that gave some breathing space for Chelsea who went on to win. Now only they appear to challenge United in the title race.
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Realmadrid get a point at Mallorca

It was by no means an easy match for the defending champs. And Mallorca too was a team they were facing for the fourth time this season. Though Real won at Bernabeu in the league they lost both the ties against Mallorca in the Copa Del Rey. And Mallorca were challenging for a European spot.

Realmadrid started with the same eleven that played against Sevilla, there was no Pepe & Robinho. Real started off well with Robben fluffing a chance to hit the target. Then the match settled down with both teams trying to attack and Casillas made good save after the ball was deflected by Ramos. Real were trying to master the midfield but they were well handled by Mallorca and Ramos was booked by the referee for a Push, something that we don't see often.

And as the first half came to end Robben cut from the right past the defenders and tried to cross it and the ball flicked the goalie and it came to Sneijder who smashed it home to give Realmadrid the lead. And it stayed the same way till the break.

In the second half the loyalties were resumed and Real were a more confident team as they had a goal advantage and they played some solid football. Marcelo was particularly weak in defence but Heinze covered him up well. Mallorca on the other hand kept looking for the equaliser and their job was made easier with the sending off of Sergio Ramos who was booked for the second time for a tackle on Varela. Still 25 min were left on the clock and Schuster brought in Diarra for Higuain but before Madrid could recompose themselves Mallorca equalised through Valero in the 73rd min.

Mallorca looked for the winner but Real held on to take a point away from ONO Estadi. The whites would be satisfied but the result would have been better had it not been for the red card. But considering the opposition and the they have performed miserably during few of their last visits Realmadrid will take this result as they try to retain their Crown.

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0-1 Sneijder

1-1 Valero

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Liverpool earn a draw at the Emirates

It was the first of the 3 clashes between Liverpool and Arsenal in the coming week. And the venue was The Emirates Stadium, London. All the pre-match talk was about Arsenal saying Liverpool fear us and Liverpool hitting back saying they don't fear anyone and Gerrard Torres combination can destroy any defence in the world. Arsenal were not the opponent Rafa would have preferred in the quarters cos he has just won once against Arsenal in their home and both the teams knew each other very well.

After all the lengthy talking from both sides it time for action on the pitch. Benitez played the same team that had started in the Mersyside derby but Mascherano was back in place of Lucas. Arsenal brought back Adebayor into the eleven and the striker had not scored since his goal at the San Siro against Milan. Arsenal started the match well and were quite dominant and they showed shades of the vintage football they played at the start of this season. Van Persie had a chance to open the score from Flamini's ball but he clipped it over the bar. The gunners started to dominate and it looked they may score any time. It happened just that. Arsenal took a sharp and a short corner, Van Persie crossed the ball beautifully into the box and Adebayor rose to head the opener for Arsenal after 23min. Liverpool were caught napping and they left the tallest man on the pitch unmarked, something Rafa wouldn't be happy about.

And just when one thought Arsenal would take control of the match by moving the ball, Flamini's poor clearance fell to Gerrard and he smartly went passed the defence and crossed the ball into the 6 yard box and Dirk Kuyt was there to tap that in. Liverpool had equalised and the Gunners lead had lasted only for 3 minutes. It was again poor defending that resulted in the goal. Arsenal then lost their focus and they were not that menacing in their attack and Liverpool were comfortable.

Walcott can on for Van Persie at half time and Arsenal had lots of the ball and were threatening. Walcott whizzed a shot which nearly went in. Liverpool were not ambitious in the second half and were happy to defend and looked to attack on the break when chances came. And Liverpool had a scare when Eboue's shot was blocked by Skrtel no penalty was given but the Real moment of controversy was when Kuyt pulled back Hleb at the left side, in what looked like a certain penalty but it was turned down by the referee. Everyone at the Emirates was convinced that was a foul but not the man who mattered most.

Bendtner came in and he managed to stop a shot by Fabregas going into the net, though was flagged for offside it would have been interesting had that ball gone in without Bendtner's intervention. Arsenal tried hard till the end but couldn't find another goal that could have given them advantage going into the second leg but Liverpool held on for a draw, a result Benitez would gladly take.

With both these teams slated to meet again this weekend at the same avenue fireworks can be expected but one might just get the feeling both the team might be tired of playing each other when they meet again on Tuesday at Anfield for the second leg. Notwithstanding all the talk being about both the teams know each other well and match lacking Champions League atmosphere Benitez got a good result can holds the advantage going into Anfield. Has Rafa done it again in the Champions League?????????

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1-0 Adebayor

1-1 Kuyt

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Fernerbahce give Chelsea "the blues"

Chelsea were shattered while Fenerbahce were ecstatic after final whistle at Şükrü Saracoğlu. The blues had thrown the match that was firmly in their hands. But they can console themselves with the fact that they have an away goal going into the return leg at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea started the game quite well considering the hostile crowd that was egging their team on. The Turks usually don't start matches very well and they being out classed in the midfield with Ballack and Lampard running the show for Chelsea. And their break through came just past the ten minute mark. Malouda had the ball on the left and he tried to cross for Drogba to score but that task was completed by Deivid, who trying to stop the low cross diverted the ball into his own net to score his first goal of the night. Chelsea had the goal to assert their dominance in the match. And immediately after Essien clipped the bar, so close to a second.
In the beginning of the second half things were no different with Chelsea comfortable on the ball. And after Kazim Richards, the ex-Sheffield United player came on after things started to look better and he put the home side level just past the hour mark when he smashed a left footed shot into the net by a through ball from Marco Aurelio.
The crowd went wild and Chelsea started to look for their second and had a couple of decent chances with Drogba and Ballack. And as the match entered the final ten minutes it was time for the till then Villain Deivid to become a hero. He got the ball from 35 yards and smashed an absolute cracker jack into Cudicini's net. It was his second goal of the night. And it was time for Anleka to make a return to his former club and he was welcomed with jeers. Chelsea couldn't find another goal and it was a great win for the Turks.Chelsea must be cursing themselves for letting the match from their hands.
The tie now moves onto Stamford Bridge where the Blues are unbeaten in 79 games. Fenerbahce have a tough task on their hands but their fighting spirits have been to the fore in their away games and an intriguing tie awaits us.
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0-1 Deivid
2-1 Deivid

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Manchester United Master Class

Everyone in the Manchester United camp were smiling after the final whistle was blown at the Stadio Olimpico.The English Champions had just orchestrated a fine tactical performance. The result could have been a lot better had it not for Vidic's injury.
Manchester United went to take on Roma for the 6th time in a year(something that doesn't happen often considering the opponent being a European team) in the first leg of the Champions league. It was at the same stage United met Roma for the first time in history at the same avenue. The match was marred by crowd trouble and many United fans stabbed.This time around everything went on well much to the delight of the Rome authorities but where it went wrong was on the pitch for the Serie A aspirants.
Roma started on well against a United side that had Ji Sung Park as a surprise inclusion in place of Gigss with both Tevez and Hargreaves on bench. United were solid at the back and were more organised with Carrick and Scholes running the show in middle of the park. United passed well after they had seen off the early part of game. Rooney predominantly was on the left while Ronaldo played further upfront. Just when Manutd were settling well on the ball and looked confident, Vidic landed awkwardly on his knees twisting it. He was subbed with O'Shea and right after that Rooney held the ball well, made a good turn and passed the ball to Scholes who entered the box and his cross by met by the Flying Ronaldo and United got the lead.
In the second half Roma were more adventurous with Vucinic being the main threat and Van Der Sar was forced into a brilliant save from Vucinic. Roma were threatening a lot and Manutd did not have the ball and gave them away. Guily was introduced and he got into the groove immediately making brilliant runs but the United defence stood firm with captain Rio Ferdinand doing well in the absence of Vidic.
Roma earned a lot of corners but could not use them properly. United got their first corner only after the hour mark. Just when Roma looked more dangerous Brown crossed the ball from right and Park did brilliantly to head the ball back into the danger area. Doni trying to catch the ball spectacularly failed to hold it and it fell to Rooney who just tapped in for his 6th goal in 7 games against Serie A opposition.
United had got themselves into a fine position and Roma were unsettled with gaps opening up Carrick made a foray into the box and his shot going very close to the post. Ronaldo hit the post and Roma were not in the game. Though they tried to attack, it was not a threat for the defence. And United closed out the game comfortably with Tevez coming in for Rooney in the last ten minutes. It can easily be said as one of Manchester United's finest European displays.........
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2-0 Rooney

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