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Monday, 10th December 2018

EUROGOAL: Narrow Wins and Stalemates

Posted on 07. May, 2013 by , and in General

Premier League:

ChEurogoal - Week 8 - EPLelsea’s European approach, North East disaster, Merseyside derby, and finally the escapologists are back in business.

Rafa Benitez’s job as an interim manager wasn’t welcomed at the Bridge at first when the Spaniard arrived, however, towards the end of the season the hatred towards him may have already lessened. With a place in the Europa League final against Benfica, and a Champions League spot approaching, Chelsea‘s season might not end in misery. The Blues had to travel to Old Trafford to face the newly crowned champions Manchester United. The football display wasn’t up to the level of the match, but a Mata strike which was deflected off Phil Jones gifted Chelsea 3rd place with 68 points. Juan Mata’s performance this season might be in the shadows due to the likes of Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez, but his participation in 32% of Chelsea’s goals just proves how vital he is to this Chelsea side. David Moyes was in search of his first away derby triumph with Everton as the Toffees faced their other half in Liverpool. The Kop end displayed a huge “Thanks” choreography to thank Everton for their Hillsborough tribute. Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin’s defensive performance was top notch throughout the game, as a result the Merseyside derby ended in a goalies draw for the first time since February 2007, despite Everton being deprived from a clear goal.

Tottenham Hotspurs‘ dream of Champions League football is still in the making with the Lilly Whites trailing their capital neighbors Chelsea with only 3 points. AVB’s men were in desperate need of the three points when they entertained Southampton at the Lane. Gareth Bale had to rescue Spurs again with his 20th goal of the season to seal a one-nil victory, after an average display from this Spurs side who will face direct Champions League rivals Chelsea on Wednesday. Already relegated QPR welcomed Arsenal at Loftus Road where the Hoops have only won 2 games this season. Theo Walcott’s 13th of the season gave the Gunners an early lead which they managed to keep on to. With only two games to go for Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal, in addition to the Chelsea-Spurs game, a Chelsea win will mathematically place them in the Champions League due to their superior goal difference over Spurs, and will also benefit the Gunners. On the other hand, a Spurs win would be ideal for them as they’ll equal Chelsea on points with Arsenal trailing 1 point behind, while the draw as expected benefits the third party Arsenal.

The Manchester City Swansea encounter was a dull one as both teams have nothing to play for; a goalless draw was predictable at the Liberty. Wigan‘s reputation as the escapologists grows season by season in the Premier League, 9 points in the last 4 games of 2011/12 and 8 points in 2010/11, it’s May and the Latics’ time might have arrived to avoid the third ticket down among Reading and QPR. Roberto Martinez’s side had to go to the Midlands to face West Brom who are in a safe mid-table position. Shane Long’s opener and McAuley’s second weren’t enough for the Baggies as Wigan came back through Kone, McArthur and McManaman to bag the three points after a sublime performance and 2 assists from Shaun Maloney. Newcastle had to face their former employer Sam Allardyce when they traveled south to face West Ham at Upton Park, with Rob Elliot’s terrific show between the 3 posts elevating the Magpies to 38 points which couldn’t be enough in the survival battle.

Aston Villa’s 6-1 victory against Sunderland last week had some consequences on both the table and the form of both teams. Paul Lambert’s Villa had to face his former club Norwich who are back in the relegation battle after gaining only 6 points from their last 8 matches. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Westwood’s combination for Villa’s two goal made the Villans hit the 40 points marker, whilst the Canaries were held at 38. On the other hand, Sunderland entertained Stoke at the Stadium of Light with Stephane Sessegnon out for the Black Cats due to suspension. An early Jonathan Walters goal shocked the home fans, and to make things worse Craig Gardner’s red card depressed Sunderland to 10 men. An O’Shea goal was the life line for Paolo Di Canio as it assured a point to make the tally 38. Reading, already relegated, displayed an eyeful game when they faced Fulham at Craven Cottage which ended in a 4-2 win for the Royals.

Midweek football might be prove to be pretty decisive, because in addition to the Spurs-Chelsea game, Wigan who are on 35 points will host Swansea at the DW. A win for Wigan will decrement the gap between the 18th place and Fulham in 12th place to only two points with two weeks to go and no games in hand.

Player to watch:

Newcastle might sit on the electric chair if Wigan manage to win tonight, next week they head to London again to face the already relegated QPR. Hatem Ben Arfa‘s slowly getting back in form after a hamstring injury which kept him out for a couple of months, the Frenchman’s presence will be vital in the next two games to avoid a replay of the 2008/09 season.

Serie A:

Juventus wrapped up their 29th Scudetto when they hosted Palermo thanks to a penalty scored by Vidal, who is the first Juventus Eurogoal - Week 8 - Serie Aplayer to score 10 goals this season.The fans celebrated what they considered their 31st title; not convinced of the 2 titles that were stripped from the Turin side. Palermo were hoping of upsetting the home side and postpone the crowned champions but weren’t able to do so. The only black dot in the game was Pogba’s dismissal with 7 minutes on the clock. Antonio Conte has now grabbed his 2nd consecutive Scudetto in his 2nd season with the Bianconeri, after a deserved season having the best defense with only 20 goals conceded and the 2nd best attack after Roma. Palermo, on the other hand, fall back again into relegation zone. It was a typical end of season match when Chievo hosted Cagliari. Both teams shared a point in a goalless match. Chievo are safe and will remain in Serie A next season, while Cagliari just need 3 more points to mathematically be safe from relegation.

It was a very dramatic match at the Artemio Franchi when Roma visited Fiorentina. Both teams have an ambition to participate in Champions League next season. Despite Fiorentina’s control of the game and having many wasted chances, hitting the post twice , it was Roma’s Pablo Osvaldo who netted the game’s only goal in the dying minutes to grab all 3 points for the visitors. Fiorentina will regret wasting 3 points that could have temporary put them in 3rd place at the expense of AC Milan. Catania’s Gonzalo Bergessio scored a hat-trick to push 10 man Siena a step closer into the relegation zone. Siena are 5 points away from safety with 3 games to go, and to make matters worse for Giuseppe Iachini’s men, those three games are against top four sides Fiorentina, Napoli and AC Milan.  Catania remain in the top half of the table after their 1st win in 6 matches.

Udinese keep their hopes up for a European spot next season, remaining just one point behind 5th place Roma, after a win against Sampdoria. Although Sampdoria’s Martins cancelled Di Natale’s opener, Udinese scored again twice through Muriel and Di Natale who now has 20 goals. Di Natale has now scored the most braces (18) across the last five Serie A seasons. Sampdoria remain in 15th place with 3 games to go. AC Milan put one foot in the Champions League after a late goal from Mario Balotelli saw the hosts secure all 3 points against Torino. Milan’s captain Christian Abbiati denied the visitors many times to keep the Rossoneri in the game. AC Milan have won six of their seven league games in which Mario Balotelli scored, drawing the other. Torino remain in 16th place, 4 points away from the relegation zone, while Milan are 4 points clear of Fiorentina.

Lazio snatched their 1st win in 4 matches when they dominated the match and beat a helpless Bologna 6-0. Hernanes scored his 6th goal from outside the box, the most in Serie A this season along with Napoli’s Gokhan Inler. But it was Miroslav Klose who grabbed all the attention, scoring 5 goals, a hat-trick within 18 minutes in the 1st half and a double in the 2nd half. The last player to score 5 goals in a single Serie A game goes back to 1986, Roma’s Roberto Pruzzo. Lazio keep small hope for a European spot while Bologna fall to 13th place and will continue in Serie A next season. Genoa moved 3 points clear of the relegation zone after they beat Pescara 4-1 at the Luigi Ferraris. Marco Borriello who has scored at least one goal against each of the 20 sides currently in Serie A, scored 2 goals and set up another to obtain an important win. Giuseppe Sculli, the former Genoa player scored a consolation goal for the visitors, who are the first team to be officially relegated to Serie B with 3 fixtures left.

Inter Milan’s misery continue for another week after they lost 3-1 at the Sao Paolo whey they visited Napoli. Cavani was the star of the evening when he scored a hat-trick to almost secure 2nd place for his side. Inter fall to 8th place with a very little hope of a European spot next season. Cavani extends his lead as Calcio’s top scorer with 26 goals. It was another mid table team match when Parma hosted Atalanta, with the hosts coming out victorious 2-0 in the end.

Player To Watch:

(Edison Cavani – Napoli): The 26 year old Uruguayan striker has now scored 26 goals for Napoli in Serie A, playing a vital role in securing 2nd place for his side and a direct Champions League spot.

La Liga:

Real Madrid further postponed the title celebrations of their rival Barcelona when they won their encounter against Valladolid with a Eurogoal - Week 8 - Ligafinal score of 4-3, a win that is furthest away from being a routine success. Valladolid scored the opening goal in the 8th minute through Gonzalez, before an own goal and a header from Cristiano Ronaldo made it 2-1 for the Los Blancos. Guerra scored the equalizer for the visitors 5 minutes later, before Kaka and Ronaldo scored 2 more goals in the 2nd half, with a late goal from Sastre doing nothing to prevent Madrid from snitching the win. Valencia was on for another massive home victory this week, but this time it was against the relegation suffering team Osasuna. 4 goals, 2 in each half, were enough to push Valencia 3 points clear of Malaga, with the credit going to Soldado and Ricardo Costa who scored in the 1st half, and Banega and Jonas who scored in the 2nd.

Another relegation threatened team, Celta Vigo, hosted Athletic Bilbao this week with high hopes to get out of the relegation zone. Though Celta’s motive was much higher than Bilbao, Artiz Aduriz succeeded in scoring the opening goal for the visitors. Aspas played the savior role for the hosts when he scored the equalizer just 4 minutes from time, a goal that wasn’t enough for Celta to keep them safe in the Liga. Mallorca remained at the bottom of the Liga when they couldn’t manage more than a 1-1 draw against Levante. The hosts started the match with a brilliant way when Tomer Hemed scored in the 7th minute. Mallorca showed a greater ambition, while Levante didn’t manage to have more than 2 shots on goal throughout the match. Unfortunately, it was those 2 shots that were enough to score the equalizer for the visitors through Acquafresca, completely against the run of the play.

Real Zaragoza was able to make their first 2 consecutive wins this season when they managed a 3-0 rump over Rayo Vallecano. A brace from Apono, one of them from the penalty spot, and a goal from Rodri was more than enough to maintain Zaragoza’s recent good form, and keep them 1 point away from the relegation zone. Deportivo hosted Atletico Madrid at the Riazor, with high hopes for both teams, Atleti to ensure their presence in the Champions League next season, and Depor to ensure their presence in the Liga. Both teams could only manage a goalless draw, leaving them with a point each, one that fulfilled Atleti’s hopes but didn’t do so for the hosts.

Two Andalusia -Catalonia games were held this week, the first being Barcelona hosting Real Betis, with Barcelona looking forward for the title celebrations to compensate their fans for the Champions League humiliation against Bayern Munich. Once more, Tito Vilanova preferred to keep Messi on the bench, but wasn’t able to do that for the whole of the match since Betis was ahead in the game twice. Dorlan Pabon shocked the Camp Nou after opening the score for the visitors in the 2nd minute, however Alexis Sanchez scored the equalizer only 5 minutes later, before Ruben Perez made Betis ahead once more just before the 1st half’s whistle. Messi started the 2nd half, and only 10 minutes later David Villa managed to score the equalizer, and it was Messi’s turn for a brace in only 10 minutes, ensuring that Barcelona with Messi is not the same as Barcelona without hum. The other game was held between Sevilla and Espanyol at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where the Andalusian side came out of the match with the 3 points through a great 3-0 victory. An own goal, and two others from Andujar Coke and Alvaro Negredo, were enough to make Sevilla only 3 points behind their city rival, making it a fierce competition between them on the last European place in the Liga for the remaining 4 matches.

Real Sociedad failed to guarantee 4th place when they lost to their hosts, Getafe. Though Carlos Vela opened the score, Getafe came back with 2 goals through Pedro Leon and Abdelaziz Barrada. Sociedad stayed only 2 points ahead of Valencia in the 4th place while Getafe keep themselves 2 points away from the last European place. Granada managed to have their second consecutive win when they hosted Malaga, giving their hopes to remain in the Liga for another season a much needed boost, thanks to Odion Ighalo who scored the only goal.

Player to watch:

Real Zaragoza’s player Apono scored a brace this week helping his team have their second consecutive win for the 1st time this season; two wins that will surely make Zaragoza’s hopes to stay at the Liga for the next season much more higher. Apono’s latest performance makes him a must watch in the upcoming La Liga matches for this week.

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