Saturday, April 25, 2015

It Happened in England: Saturday in the Premier League

Tough struggles for both avoiding relegation and winning a spot in the Champions League took center stage in England this fine Saturday. Here are the match reports.

Southampton 2-2 Tottenham
This was a pretty good match featuring two sides looking to sneak into the Champions League. Spurs gave up two bad goals that resulted from awful defensive zone turnovers. First it was Graziano Pelle taking advantage of a comedy of Spurs errors to put Southampton up in the 29th. Then, after a controversial equalizer that may have gone of Erik Lamela's arm, Pelle took advantage of another poor clearance to put the Saints up 2-1 in the 65th. Nacer Chadli got Spurs back on the level again five minutes later with a well placed finish in the lower corner. Things started to get pretty physical in the final 20 minutes. There were only four cards issued, but the ref was letting plenty of physical play go. The shared points mean neither side really get any closer to Europe.

Crystal Palace 0-2 Hull City
Hull takes a big step towards avoiding relegation with a nice win on the road against scrappy Crystal Palace. Dame N'Doye scored twice in the second half to deliver the three points to the Tigers. The loss still means Palace stays mired in mid table mediocrity, which is actually quite an accomplishment for them.

West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool really screwed the pooch in this one. They came into a very winnable road game with a chance to put some pressure on Manchester City for the final spot in the top four and really looked lazy out there. They certainly didn't look like a team chasing the Champions League, that's for sure. Credit to West Brom for frustrating Liverpool to the point of a goalless draw, though.

Stoke City 1-1 Sunderland
The point does Sunderland no good as wins from Hull and Leicester mean they fall into the bottom three. Conner Wickham scored for Sunderland within the first 60 seconds, Charlie Adam scored the equalizer in impressive fashion, a nice upper 90 blast. Stoke had all the possession, and all the shots, but failed to find more than one and are stuck with the lone point.

Newcastle 2-3 Swansea
Plenty of goals to speak of as a Newcastle comeback fell a bit short at home. They did get the jump on the Swans when  Siem De Jong scored in the 20th minute. Swansea would then begin an onslaught that saw Newcastle down 3-1 with around 20 minutes to play. Nelson Oliveira scored in first half stoppage time, Gylfi Sigurdsson scored four minutes into the second half, and Jack Cork bagged the eventual winner in the 71st. Ayoze Perez pulled one back in the final five minutes., but there was nothing more to speak of for Newcastle. Newcastle still hasn't won since February (and everyone thought it was Alan Pardew's fault...) and is crashing towards relegation. 

QPR 0-0 West Ham
QPR had the best chance to win this 0-0 affair. Charlie Austin had a penalty saved in the 23rd minute after James Collins handled the ball in the box. They may look back on this one and weep as they stay in relegation land. Three points wouldn't have gotten them out of the whole, but would have made the battle a little easier.

Burnley 0-1 Leicester City
If Burnely are relegated, they will circle this game as one of the main reasons why. Between the missed penalty, Mike Duff's own goal minutes later, and the number of wonderful saves from Kasper Schmeichel, Burnley had plenty of chances to come pout of this with all three points. Instead, they drop to last place in the League while Leicester climbs about the drop zone, one point above Sunderland.

Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa
What a game. Brad Guzan got Villa off to a bad start when he delivered a clearance right to the Premier League's leading goal scorer, Sergio Aguero, who put it into the empty net like it was nothing. Aleksandar Kolarov had a rare goal off a free kick in the 66th minute off a free kick to add to the lead. Tom Cleverly, another rare goal scorer, gave Villa hope a couple minutes later with a shot from outside the box after a free kick. Carlos Sanchez blasted home the equalizer off a corner with all of five minutes remaining. This would have made a fantastic finish on its own, but the match wasn't done. Fernadinho got his boot on the end of a corner and blasted it past Guzan to give City the 3-2 win in the 89th minute.

City further solidify their top four position, they are temporarily in second, while Aston Villa are only two points above relegation.

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