Thursday, 12 April 2012

Carroll nicks late winner for Liverpool

Sports - Football - Premier League - Blackburn 2:3 Liverpool

Liverpool kept Blackburn in the relegation zone thanks to Andy Carroll's injury-time winner after a dramatic encounter which saw the visitors letting a two-goal lead slip away after seeing their replacement goalkeeper Alexander Doni sent off, one penalty saved by sub-keeper Brad Jones and another spot-kick conceded and put past the Australian keeper.

Andy Carroll Liverpool

This fixture was Roy Hodgson's last match last season after the Reds lost 3-1 to the Rovers. Steve Kean's men could not have come into the match more confident having secured more points, scored more goals and won more league matches than the Reds in 2012.

Blackburn's home record looked encouraging with ten points accumulated from their last six matches played, while Liverpool arrived at Ewood Park off the back of four away defeats in a row, having lost six in the last eight Premier League games, and without main keeper Pepe Reina after he saw red against Newcastle for headbutting James Perch.

Last but definitely not least, Kenny Dalglish's men have the Merseyside FA Cup semi-final showdown next on the card. The only encouragement Liverpool could take before the match was that they have won more games away from home this season than they have at Anfield.

Maxi Rodriguez LiverpoolSo the visitors took command of the game early on when 12 minutes into the game when Craig Bellamy picked up Martin Skrtel's extraordinarily placed clearance. The Welshamn then produced a fine cross himself from the right which was netted by Maxi Rodriguez in the box, just outside the goal line. It was a great counter attack after Blackburn's free kick was eventually cleared from the Liverpool box.

Hardly 90 seconds laters and another great counter attack saw Jonjo Shelvey's shot saved by Paul Robinson, the rebound shot by Carroll blocked by Scott Dann, before Maxi was on the right spot at the right time again to net that rebound which made it two goals in three minutes for the Argentine.

The Reds could not have wished for a better start, but the twist soon followed.

Doni was distraught when halfway through the first half, he saw a straight red card after brining down David Hoilett which will see the Brasilian goalkeeper miss the FA Cup semi-final against local rivals Everton. He went for the ball but caught the Blackburn forward a fraction late, so the referee had no other choice. Cruel but that is the rule.

Brad JonesAyegbeni Yakubu took a soft penalty kick, a poor take and easy stop for the third-choice-sub-keeper Jones. But the Nigerian striker soon made up for that miss. Ten minutes later, no one picked him up in the box when he headed in David Dunn's free-kick to get one back to make it 2-1, Jones helpess.

The game continued at high pace, end-to-end stuff, the fans and players only able to gasp a couple of breaths at half time.

On the hour mark, Jones looked all over the place and took too much time with the ball when Yakubu approached him and was pushed down, winning a second penalty for the home sides.

The Reds could utter a sigh of relief when the goalkeeper was only cautioned with a yellow, the referee believing the ball was out of Yakubu's reach, so it was not a goalscoring opportunity.

Blackburn v Liverpool Yakubu second goal celebThe striker netted this spot-kick though to make it all level at 2-2 and heat up the last 30 minutes - as if the game was not feisty enough already!
Both sides fought on, missed opportunities to grab a winner and it looked like the game was going to end in a stalemate - before injury time.

Liverpool saw their corner cleared, Sebastian Coates followed with a long hoof forward which found Daniel Agger, whose header found Carroll in the box, who made no mistake this time and headed the ball into the back of the net to give the visitors an injury-time lead and winner.

The celebrations showed how much this meant to the under-fire striker, his team mates and fans, especially before their FA Cup clash against the blue side of Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday!

Blackburn: Robinson; Orr (booked 29), Grant Hanley (booked 90), Dann, Martin Olsson; Formica (booked 65) (Rochina 73), Nzonzi, Dunn (Lowe 75), Marcus Olsson; Hoilett (booked 62), Yakubu (scored 35:53 & 60:53).
Subs not used: Kean, Givet, Goodwillie, Petrovic, Pedersen.

Liverpool: Doni (sent off 25); Flanagan (booked 12) (Jones 26) (booked 61), Coates, Skrtel, Johnson (Agger 53); Maxi (scored 12:38 & 15:10) (booked 46) (Jose Enrique 78), Henderson (booked 86), Spearing, Bellamy (booked 71); Shelvey, Carroll (scored 90:41).
Subs not used: Aurelio, Suarez, Kuyt, Carragher.

1st & 2nd half stats:
Attempts: 5-4 & 7-5
On target: 3-3 & 4-2
Offsides: 0-2 & 2-1
Corners: 0-0 & 4-4
Free kicks: 7-5 & 6-8
Possession: 53%-47% (35), 52%-48% (BBC HT), 53%-47% (Sky HT), 51.2%-48.8% (Sky 2nd half), 52%-48% (BBC FT), 52.1%-47.9% (Sky FT), 50%-50% (Sky FT)

Sky Stats:
Passing Success: 76.5%-77.1%
Tackles/Success: 14/78.6%-15/60%
Territorial Advantage: 56.3%-43.7%
Action Areas: Blackburn 27%-45%-28% Liverpool

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
Man of the match: Ayegbeni Yakubu

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Week 31: Premier League Tops and Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week

Fernando TorresTop games: Villa Park saw a game full of emotions, drama and controversy. It was a great comeback by Aston Villa with two goals in three minutes! But visitors Chelsea never gave up. (Top player) Fernando Torres put the icing on the cake to make it 4:2 and, after his cup scoring spree, finally get his first Premier League goal since 24th September 2011, 18/now 19 games ago. Interim boss Robert Di Matteo seems to be making the difference.
Tottenham recorded a fine win too at White Hart Lane, good entertainment, top quality, by both sides! The scoreline (3:1) is a bit harsh on the Swans, Spurs and Harry Redknapp will be happy though!

Sebastian LarssonTop teams: Sunderland were on top for most of the game against Manchester City, but did not quite get the result they deserved at the Etihad Stadium.
Wigan got a crucial home win against Stoke. The Latics missed so many chances you may have thought it was just not meant to be. But they just never gave up. Brilliant mentality, top football by both sides.
Same goes for Blackburn, just with the wrong result. Brilliant saves by David De Gea were crucial. Then two goals in last ten minutes won it for United and saw Blackburn's hard work undone. Typical late winners for United, now five points clear at the top.

Papiss CisseTop players: Papiss Cisse is on the scoreboard again, no one can stop him this season and he got a double against Liverpool. Team mates Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa starred with the striker and are pushing Newcastle closer and closer to the European spot(s).
Tottenham's Gareth Bale danced through the Swans this weekend! Bale covers so much ground, with so much power! the Welsh midfielder has more than helped Emmanuel Adebayor to his double and his side to their first league win in six consolidating their hold on the fourth Champions League spot and going level on points with their city-rivals Arsenal in third.

Rafael van der VaartTop goals: So many beauties to write about this week: Mario Balotelli completed City's comeback with a fine run and smashing one home from far after scoring from the spot. James Collins' header in off long throw for Aston Villa was sweet.
Wolves opener by Michael Kightly was calm, cool, composed and quality as you like. Matthew Jarvis then produced a strong shot to make it 2-1, and top a strong, encouraging performance by his side. Adel Taarabt created a beautiful curl to make it 1-0 to QPR against the Gunners.
Damien Duff's finish to make it 2-0 to Fulham was cool as you like!
And the cross cross by Tottenham's Luka Modric was a killer ball, ment for Adebayor who had gone clear, but was deflected to Rafael van der Vaart who made no mistake and smashed it in, smashing, top quality 1:0.
Manchester United's Antonio Valencia served an even more mouthwatering smasher, brilliant when crosses don't work just score yourself! Then super sub Ashley Young right footed one in on turn, two fine goals.

Top news: Chelsea are the last British side remaining in the Champions League which sees the quarter-final second legs played out this week with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich being the favourites to battle it out and progress to the semis.

Nicklas BendtnerFlop teams/defences: Manchester City looked woeful for most of the match! Wolves' dire run continues. So too West Brom. Although they showed fighting attitude... Amongst each other as well!  After dire and absent performances, the last thing these sides needed is to start a brawl amongst themselves!
Arsenal's and Liverpool's defences were absent, then confused, in bits. The Reds are not the Liverpool I used to know, diving, whining, shouting, headbutting!!! Form table 2012: Top 4: United, City, Newcastle, Sunderland! Bottom 4: QPR, Aston Villa, Liverpool, Wolves!!! Liverpool with just 8 points out of 12 games!!!

Andy Carroll and Tim KrulFlop players: Balotelli's name is rhetorical under this category with his attitude and tantrums. The Italian temper bomb has to learn the game is about his team, not just him!
Andy Carroll had to score! But chose to go down instead, no contact, nowhere near goalkeeper Tim Krul, shame on him! The former Newcastle striker was booked, and rightly so, ashamed he should be!

So should the referee at Blackburn! Howard Webb overlooked a Steven Nzonzi shirt-pull fowl, Blackburn handball in the box and disallowed a goal wrongly too! Absolute shambles!
And last but definitely not least, Pepe Reina's head butt was very uncharacteristically, just stupid! The reaction of James Perch was OTT though, not good allround, but no excuse for Reina, a man of his experience should know so much better, it was so unlike him! After 183 consecutive games for his club, the Spaniard will miss his side's FA Cup semi final clash against local rivals Everton!

Wayne Hennessey and Roger Johnson Flop goals: Wolves were denied by Adam Bogdan's top goalkeeping , top defending, the crossbar., crap refereeing.. The Bolton penalty was harsh, there was minimal contact only, drama queen Mark Davies made the most of Roger Johnson's challenge! As mentioned above, the disallowed Blackburn goal was nowhere near offside! It was a cruel, cruel result for Blackburn, who drop back into the relegation zone.

Flop news: Aston Villa's captain Stelian Petrov has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia. This year has just been shocking so far! :-( Like Bolton's Martin Petrov revealed under his shirt when he scored: Stay strong Stan! YNWA!

Martin Petrov and Ivan Klasnic

My predictions - Actual results
Aston Villa 2:0 Chelsea - 2:4
Everton 1:0 West Brom - 2:0
Fulham 0:0 Norwich - 2:1
Man City 4:0 Sunderland - 3:3
QPR 1:2 Arsenal - 2:1
Wigan 1:1 Stoke - 2:0
Wolves 1:2 Bolton - 2:3
Newcastle 3:1 Liverpool - 2:0
Tottenham 2:1 Swansea - 3:1
Blackburn 1:1 Man United - 0:2