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Pattaya Daily News

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21 December 2009 :: 20:12:12 pm 1194

Utd & Reds Lose, Blues Fail to Capitalise

In the final English Premier League fixtures before Christmas, Manchester United lost away in London whilst Avram Grant’s reformation at Portsmouth continued with a good win at home against underachieving Liverpool. There is still one more fixture to come tonight between Wigan and Bolton which will decide who enters the half way point in the bottom three, a notoriously bad omen given the results of previous years.
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Portsmouth v Liverpool (2-0)

Liverpool had Javier Mascherano sent off as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat to a revitalised Portsmouth outfit at Fratton Park. Rafael Benitez’s side suffered their seventh league defeat of the season as goals in each half came from Nadir Belhadj and Frederic Piquionne.

Avram Grant continued his bright start as Portsmouth boss but a dismal season worsens for Benitez, who saw Mascherano given his marching orders for a rash challenge just before half-time, to make matters worse, Alberto Aquilani had hoped to make a belated first start following his £20 million move from Roma, but was ruled out altogether by an ongoing calf strain.

Aston Villa v Stoke City (1-0)

Super-sub John Carew’s second half header was enough for Aston Villa to earn a 1-0 win over Stoke and record their fourth straight victory. Martin O’Neill’s in-form side improved their Champions League prospects with a hard-fought win over a determined Stoke team, that have every reason to feel hard-done-by after they had a goal disallowed in the first half.

Carew’s header just after the hour mark relieved the frustration inside Villa Park, evidenced by the Norwegian striker knocking the corner flag straight into the crowd in celebration – narrowly missing a steward and several fans in the process.

Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham (0-2)

Peter Crouch hit a brace as Tottenham Hotspur earned a 2-0 win at Blackburn Rovers which saw them leapfrog bitter rivals Arsenal into the top four. The England striker netted a goal either side of the interval. The win further highlighted the issues Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has up front.

While Crouch was clinical, burying his three chances with one disallowed for offside, Rovers forward Benni McCarthy was unable to take two good opportunities and Franco Di Santo never looked like going close.

Fulham v Manchester United (3-0)

Fulham thrashed a woeful Manchester United side 3-0 at Craven Cottage to inflict the champions’ fifth Premier League defeat of the season. Sir Alex Ferguson may point out that he was missing four fifths of his first choice back five – Edwin van der Sar, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and John O’Shea. However, only the Scotsman will know why he decided to fix the injury crisis by sending his side out in an unknown 3-5-2 formation with his one senior defender Patrice Evra, playing wide on the left side of midfield.

Goals from Danny Murphy, the excellent Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff gave Roy Hodgson’s men victory against a United side that found themselves completely outplayed, both individually and collectively. United lost further ground to Chelsea, as a result of the Londoners draw away to West Ham whilst Fulham consolidate their position in the top half of the table.

Manchester City v Sunderland (4-3)

Manchester City won a remarkable Premier League clash 4-3 against Sunderland at Eastlands in what turned out to be Mark Hughes’ final game in charge. The weekend English papers claimed former Wales boss Hughes was set for the chop regardless of the result, with former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini report to have been inside the ground ahead of his appointment after the match.

City enjoyed a dream start in the heavy snow, going 2-0 up inside 12 minutes thanks to Roque Santa Cruz’s first Premier League goal for the club and a Carlos Tevez penalty. The Black Cats equalised with goals from John Mensah and Jordan Henderson halfway through the first period. Craig Bellamy restored City’s lead with a clinical strike to cap an exciting first half. After the interval Sunderland managed to equalise for a second time through substitute Kenwyne Jones only to see Roque Santa Cruz bag a second with 21 minutes remaining, giving City a vital three points.

Arsenal v Hull City (3-0)

Arsenal beat Hull City 3-0 in a bad-tempered encounter at the Emirates Stadium to reclaim their place in third position in the league after temporarily being ousted by bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Arsene Wenger’s side made light of Captain Cesc Fabregas’s injury-enforced absence, as goals from Denilson, Eduardo da Silva and Abou Diaby – and a Manuel Almunia penalty save – saw them to victory. Last time Hull visited the Emirates Stadium, for an FA Cup tie in the spring, the match ended amid an unseemly on-pitch bust-up. The protagonist in that match had been captain Fabregas, however; he was nowhere to be seen when the bad blood resurfaced on this occasion.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Burnley (2-0)

Mick McCarthy’s decision to rest his first team against Manchester United appeared to be vindicated as a full-strength Wolves beat Burnley 2-0 at Molineux to rise out of the Premier League drop zone. The Wolves boss was heavily criticised mid-week for resting key first team member against Manchester United so that they were fresh for this weekends match against Burnley after having run their sock off in the 1-0 win against Tottenham last weekend.

Goals in each half by Nenad Milijas and Kevin Doyle were enough for the hosts, who were on balance the better side but rode their luck in the second half when the Clarets had two penalty’s denied and were unfortunate not to score from open play.

Everton v Birmingham City (1-1)

Birmingham City held on for a 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park to move seventh in the Premier League ahead of Liverpool. Not only did the result end Birmingham’s excellent run of results, it also extended Everton’s sequence to just one victory in 11 league matches.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s sixth-minute goal was all the hosts had to show for their early dominance and they were caught cold when Sebastian Larsson equalised with Birmingham’s first shot of the match midway through the same half. Everton continued to control the game after the interval but never really threatened to add a second.

West Ham United v Chelsea (1-1)

West Ham drew 1-1 with league leaders Chelsea at Upton Park to avoid spending Christmas at the foot of the Premier League. The Hammers needed to avoid defeat or they would have slipped behind basement boys Portsmouth and they did not fail to impress.

Chelsea had the better of a scrappy first half but were unable to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Both goals came from the spot, with Alessandro Diamanti putting the hosts ahead at the end of the first half and Frank Lampard equalising just after the hour mark with three attempted shots. Ancelotti’s side sit four points clear of second-placed Manchester United, although Arsenal could cut the lead to three if they win their game in hand.

Reporter : Harry Roberts   Photo : Internet   Category : Sports News

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