With only ten teams in action due to the FA Cup quarter-finals also this weekend, Chelsea smashed four past Spurs to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points.
CHELSEA 4-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
A great second-half performance lead Chelsea to a 4-0 victory over Tottenham to take the Blues seven points clear at the top of the league.
Spurs held their own until a Jan Vertonghen error let Samuel Eto’o in to fire the Blues ahead. Chelsea lacked ideas in the first half but when Vertonghen slipped and inadvertently played in Eto’o as he tried to recover. The Cameroon striker, 33 on Monday, poked fun at his manager’s recent taunts about his age with his celebrations by the corner flag.
Soon after the goal, Spurs defender Younes Kaboul was sent off for fouling Eto’o soon afterwards, and Eden Hazard slotted home the resulting penalty. Replays showed that the Cameroon striker had made a meal of the foul and fooled young referee Michael Oliver into the decision.
Substitute Demba Ba scored a double after replacing Eto’o as he made it 3-0 late on following a slip by Sandro, then completed the scoring when he latched on to Kyle Walker’s disastrous back-header.
The defeat leaves Tim Sherwood’s side four points adrift of the top four, but they have played more games than the three teams above them and Spurs hopes of a Champions League football next term now appear highly unlikely.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0-3 MANCHESTER UNITED
Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones were on the scoresheet in a fine performance which saw David Moyes’ Manchester United ease past West Bromwich Albion 3-0 at the Hawthorns on Saturday lunchtime.
West Brom head coach Pepe Mel, notorious for receiving his pink slip off many Spanish clubs, is now without a win in seven games in charge and the lame second-half performance from the Baggies is unlikely to silence speculation about the Spaniard’s future. Although, Albion did show some signs of promise in the first half but the belief drained from Mel’s men once they fell behind in addition Claudio Yacob, Steven Reid and captain Chris Brunt all were substituted due to injury.
There was some encouragement early in the game for the Baggies, when powerful forward Victor Anichebe sped past Chris Smalling and burst into the box, only for the defender to get back and make the crucial challenge. A Marouane Fellaini header was turned goalwards inadvertently by Brunt, and the ball forced Youssouf Mulumbu into a vital goal-line clearance. However, the deadlock was broken in the 34th minute thanks to some poor defending from the hosts.
Liam Ridgewell was beaten two easily by United right-back Rafael, forcing Brunt to foul the full-back on the edge of the box. The Baggies then handed Jones a free header as he nodded Robin van Persie’s free-kick past goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Into the second-half there was then major controversy as Van Persie somehow escaped being dismissed by referee Jonathan Moss. Moments after receiving a yellow card for a tackle from behind, the Dutchman committed a late challenge on Reid that looked likely to earn him a second yellow but Moss let him off with a warning. The Hawthorns faithful were not happy, and rightly so.
The visitors doubled their lead on 65 minutes after Rafael produced a fine cross from the right and the unmarked Rooney headed home at the far post. The goal killed the atmosphere and deflated West Brom, who struggled to make an impression on the United rearguard, with Anichebe blasting well over from the edge of the box in the final 10 minutes.
The Red Devils made it three with just seven minutes remaining as the Baggies were unlocked by a Rooney through-ball and Welbeck produced a fine, curling finish to beat Foster to clinch all three points and move United into sixth.
CARDIFF CITY 3-1 FULHAM
Felix Magath’s Fulham relegation worries worsened as they were defeated 3-1 by fellow strugglers Cardiff City. The Cottagers now sit three points adrift of 19th-placed Sunderland, who have two games in hand, at the bottom of the table after a poor display against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. New coach Magath will be left wondering how he can turn his team’s form around as they remain without a victory since New Year’s Day.
It was a scrappy opening however, first-half stoppage time the Bluebirds got themselves in front as captain Steven Caulker prodded home a Craig Noone cross from close range.
On 59 minutes on-loan Tottenham midfielder Lewis Holtby, flicked in the equlaiser to hand the west Londoners a lifeline. Unfortunately for Magath’ side it was not enough as Caulker’s grabbed a seconf with a header from a corner put Solskjaer’s men back in front before Sascha Riether nudged the ball into his own net to cement the points for the Welshmen.
CRYSTAL PALACE 0-1 SOUTHAMPTON
Jay Rodriguez scored his 11th goal of the season as Southampton clinched a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Before today’s game, Palace had only lost two of their last six league games, but an error from Jason Puncheon allowed the Saints to grab the win.
The winger’s poor header by the halfway line fell to Rodriguez, who nearly overran the ball, but his determination saw him win it in again in a challenge with Argentine goalkeeper Julian Speroni. While off balance, the England international was able to tap home into an empty net from 20 yards.
As much as Tony Pulis’ team attempted, they just couldn’t break down the Saints’ solid defence and failed to grab a point.
NORWICH CITY 1-1 STOKE CITY
In a relegation scrap, Norwich City and Stoke played out a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road in a drab affair.
Bradley Johnson, opened the scoring for Norwich as he nodded home a Robert Snodgrass free-kick on 56 minutes. However, Mark Hughes’ side were back on level terms after 73 minutes as Jonathan Walters converted a penalty when Sebastian Bassong was adjudged to bring down John Guidetti in the box.
Spoiling his sides chances of vital away win, Walters was dismissed with 12 minutes remaining studs-up tackle on Alexander Tettey saw him receive a red card.
Table courtesy of Fifa.com
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