Chelsea slip up as Man Utd go top

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Premier League review

A look back at all of this weekend’s Premier League action.

Portsmouth 0 – 1 Everton

Portsmouth approached the game looking to end their woeful streak without a win. An impressive display on their seventh outing of the season still saw them end up on the wrong side of a 1-0 defeat to visiting Everton.

Tim Howard had an inspired day. And on the two occasions when Howard was beaten, the crossbar and left-back Leighton Baines came to the rescue. Dindane had a chance early on to open the scoring but shot straight at Howard.

The sucker punch came in the 42nd minute. John Hetinga’s long ball evaded Kaboul, finding the in-form Louis Saha. The French striker emphatically half-volleyed the ball past the hapless David James to give the away side the lead.

In the second half Pompey launched an onslaught on Howard’s goal. Jamie O’Hara’s dangerous free kick was met by Ben Haim but the centre-back’s header was shouldered to safety by the Everton keeper.

With twenty minutes left to play, Tommy Smith kept a corner for the home side alive. His header found Mokoena, but the striker’s header smacked the crossbar and was headed clear by Felliani. Baines prevented the home side from conjuring up a late leveller when he headed Boateng’s shot off the line to secure a narrow win for Everton.

Liverpool 6 – 1 Hull City

There would be no repeat of last year’s inspiring Hull City performance at Anfield. A Fernando Torres hat-trick put end to any hope for a revival when Giovanni had levelled matters early on.

The Spanish sensation opened the scoring after just 12 minutes. A delightful pullback from Albert Reira found Torres. El Nino showed a sharp change of direction and fired past Myhill. The Tigers equalised moments later when Martin Skrtel’s weak header sat up perfectly for Giovanni to volley home. It would prove to be false hope for the visitors.

Benayoun’s deft pass set Torres free.  The number nine danced past three defenders and Myhill in the six yard box and promptly tapped in the simplest of finishes to make it 2-1. Shortly after half time he had his third.

Israeli international Benayoun turned provider once more. His through-ball unleashed Torres who bounded into acres of space. He cut back on his left foot and stroked a curling shot into the left hand corner to complete his hat-trick.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard added a fourth after his outrageous curling ball crept over the head of Myhill and into the top corner of the net. Dutch striker Ryan Babel added two goals late on: the first an easy tap in and the second from a fortuitous deflection of a Reira shot.

Stoke City 0 – 2 Manchester United

Manchester United overcame a resolute Stoke City side at the Britannia Stadium thanks to another marvellous display from Welsh veteran Ryan Giggs. The three points ensured the defending champions leap-frogged Chelsea into pole position.

Antonio Valencia squandered the best opportunity of a tight first half.  The right winger nicked the ball off Ryan Shawcross and found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Ultimately he fired wide of the left post.

The introduction of Giggs after 55 minutes propelled the away side to victory. Fletcher’s disguised ball found Giggs and the midfielder slid the ball across the box, enabling Dimitar Berbatov to side-foot the ball into the vacant Stoke net.

John O’Shea ensured all three points would be heading back to Old Trafford when he glanced a header past Thomas Sorensen. Again, the provider was Giggs whose expertly-taken free-kick created confusion amongst the normally organised City defence.

Birmingham City 1 – 2 Bolton Wanderers

David Sullivan’s farewell party at St Andrews was crashed by South Korean substitute Chung Yong Lee as the home side slipped to a 2-1 defeat.

Bolton took the lead within ten minutes of the kick-off. A long throw in was flicked on by Kevin Davies with the onrushing Tamir Cohen applying the final touch to put the visitors into an early lead.

Birmingham pushed for an equaliser but were left largely frustrated by the Bolton rearguard. That was until the 84th minute. Kevin Phillips was allowed to make a darting run on the edge of the area and subsequently blasted a low drive past the diving Jaaskelainen.

The lead lasted all of two minutes as Bolton edged ahead thanks to Lee’s strike. A thunderous free kick from Matt Taylor, rebounded off the post into the path of Lee. The South Korean’s intelligent flick afforded him time and space to place the ball into the empty net to secure a vital victory for Gary Megson.

Blackburn Rovers 2 – 1 Aston Villa

The boo-boys from Villa’s opening day loss to Wigan Athletic had been emphatically silenced after five successive league victories, with the highlight coming at Anfield with a 3-1 win.

Gabriel Agbonlahor who has been banging in the goals during the winning streak opened the scoring at Ewood Park. Milner’s header fell into the path of the accelerating striker whose mishit shot trickled past Paul Robinson to give the away side an early lead.

Twenty minutes later, Chris Samba equalised for Rovers. An awkward high ball was deflected into the path of Samba by Richard Dunne. Rovers’ giant centre-back produced a striker’s finish guiding the ball past Brad Friedel.

The two sides traded blows throughout the duration of the match as it seemed to be heading for a stalemate. That was before Mark Clattenburg awarded a bizarre penalty against Villa in the 89th minute.

Di Santo’s high foot resulted in Dunne raising his hands for protection. Unfortunately for the Irishman, the ball bounced off his hands and the spot kick was awarded. David Dunn made no mistake against his team-mate rifling the kick past Friedel to make it 2-1.

Fulham 0 – 1 Arsenal

Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera crafted the first clear opening of the match. The Hungarian’s cross, was met by the rising Andy Johnson. His header forced Mannone into a full-stretch save.

Fulham threatened again shortly before half time. Johnson delicately flicked the ball on to Gera. The midfielder strode past the Arsenal defence but his low drive was palmed wide by Mannone.

On 52 minutes the away side took an unlikely lead. Their first penetrating move of the game was enough to slice open the Fulham defence.

An Alex Song interception found Bendtner. The Dane switched the ball to Fabregas with the Spaniard promptly angling a pass to Robin van Persie. A divine first touch with his right foot saw the Dutchman escape the attentions of Hangeland, stroking home a superb finish.

On 67 minutes Zamora had the best opportunity to level the scores. He found himself one on one with Mannone. The striker’s feeble attempt was blocked by a last ditch tackle by William Gallas.

Fulham’s number 25 came even closer ten minutes later. Konchesky’s whipped free-kick was met by Zamora, who headed downward. Mannone was on hand once again to deny the frustrated striker.

Tottenham Hotspur 5 – 0 Burnley

Burnley’s home record may prove to be their lifeline this season as they were on the receiving end of another thrashing, this time against Tottenham away from home.

Bikey afforded Keane with the chance to put Spurs ahead after his reckless lunge felled Jermaine Defore. Keane made no mistake, rolling the ball into the right of the goal.

Jermaine Jenas added a second on 33 minutes. His deflected shot wrong-footed Jensen as it flew into the net. Burnley had a legitimate strike from Fletcher ruled out just before half time. The second half would see the home side put the match beyond any doubt.

An electric run from Aaron Lennon saw the right midfielder stride into the box, sliding the ball into the path of Keane who lashed the ball into the roof of the net. Three minutes later he had his third. A long floated ball was controlled by Keane and his left footed shot crept past Jensen.

And the Irish international wasn’t quite finished. The Irishman found himself one-on-one with Jensen once more. He poked the ball between the legs of the Burnley keeper to round off a fine personal display and a 5-0 victory for the home side.

Wigan Athletic 3 – 1 Chelsea

In the pre-match build up much had been made of Wigan’s failure to beat a so called “top four” team in 34 attempts. Chelsea meanwhile were looking to extend a unbeaten record which had crept to 23 games.

The Chelsea defence looked out of sorts throughout 90 minutes of turmoil at the JJB. Titus Bramble was afforded the freedom of the box when he rose to head home N’Zogbia’s cross unmarked. Up front, Wigan’s Jason Scotland was proving a nuisance.

Drogba equalised early into the second half. Malouda’s cross was guided home by Drogba, through the legs of the despairing Chris Kirkland.

The scores remained level for less than ten minutes. Cech felled Rodallega resulting in a sending off for the keeper. Rodellega drove the ball down the middle from the spot to put the home side into a 2-1 lead.

Ashley Cole was forced off before the end and with Chelsea down to nine men, Wigan added a third. Figueroa slid the ball across the face of the goal with Paul Scharner on hand to apply the final touch.

Sunderland 5 – 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Mick McCarthy returned to the Stadium of Light where he had enjoyed a three-year spell. He never won a top-flight game while at Sunderland and that record continued against his old club.

Darren Bent opened the scoring for the home side after being fouled by Castillo in the box. Sunderland added a second from the spot with Bent controversially handing the duty to strike partner Kenweyne Jones. Jones fired down the middle to put Sunderland into a 2-0 lead.

Wolves were afforded a lifeline when Gordon’s save cannoned in the net from Mensah. Five minutes later the away side equalised. Gordon handled a back pass which resulted in an indirect free kick from just six yards out.

The first shot rebounded off the wall of Black Cat defenders but only fell to Doyle whose shot crept into the goal.

Turner’s clearance was chested by Bent into the path of Jones. The striker low drive crept past Henessey to put the home side back in the lead.

Turner added a fourth after a free header from an Andy Reid corner and Bent added his second goal before the end with his deflected shot sealing a 5-2 victory.

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