Day: March 19, 2017

Tottenham 2 Southampton 1: Spurs march on without injured Kane

19 Mar 2017
Despite a nervy second half, Tottenham won without Harry Kane on Sunday as a spirited Southampton side came up short on the road.

Tottenham continued their fine Premier League home run without injured star Harry Kane as they saw off Southampton 2-1 in a tight contest at White Hart Lane.

Kane had hobbled out of Spurs’ FA Cup win over Millwall a week earlier, but, in his absence, Mauricio Pochettino’s side edged to a 10th straight league victory on home turf with goals from Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli.

While Southampton were the last visiting team to win a top-flight game at the Lane – in the closing weeks of last season – they lost their own in-form forward, Manolo Gabbiadini, to injury after half an hour of this clash, having earlier fallen behind to Eriksen’s fine strike.

Alli then tucked away a penalty to secure a comfortable half-time lead for Tottenham, but James Ward-Prowse celebrated the week of his first senior England call-up with a 52nd-minute strike to give the visitors hope.

A previously confident Spurs side faced a nervy second half and failed to reassert their dominance as Southampton sought a second goal, but the equaliser did not arrive as Claude Puel’s men failed to turn their momentum into genuine chances.

Another three points consolidated second place in the table for Tottenham, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, with top-four rivals Manchester City and Liverpool facing off later in the day.

Eriksen’s fine pass created an early opportunity for Son Heung-min to open the scoring, but the forward was denied impressively by Fraser Forster after running clear of the visiting defence.

And, after 14 minutes, Eriksen showed his class again to fire Spurs in front.

Picking the ball up 25 yards from goal, the Denmark international pushed the ball onto his left foot and sent a firm strike arrowing beyond Forster into the bottom-left corner.

Chances continued to come Tottenham’s way, with Alli scuffing straight at Forster, who was then required to make an instinctive, clawing stop to keep out Toby Alderweireld’s header.

Southampton enjoyed some openings of their own, though, as Oriol Romeu and Gabbiadini both fizzed shots wide of the left-hand post, while Dusan Tadic was spared by an erroneous flag from the linesman as he lashed over the top after Ryan Bertrand had kept the ball in at the byline.

But, within seconds of Gabbiadini’s withdrawal, the visitors were hit by a further blow as Alli was tripped in the area by Steven Davis and coolly converted the penalty himself.
Hugo Lloris saved well from Cedric Soares’ drive in first-half stoppage timr, with Ben Davies then fortunate to avoid censure for an apparent foul on Tadic, but Southampton halved the deficit within seven minutes of the restart.

Bertrand’s left-wing cross was missed by Alderweireld in the middle, but arrived at the back post for Ward-Prowse to control and lash a low finish into the net.

Son sliced wide as Tottenham went back on the offensive, while Lloris gathered Shane Long’s rising strike at the other end.

The visitors kept the pressure on, but they could not forge an opening in the remainder of a scrappy half and Spurs instead came closest to another goal as Forster saved from substitute Vincent Janssen in the final minute.

Key Opta Facts:

– Tottenham’s 10-game winning streak at White Hart Lane is their longest run since October 1987 (14 in a row).
– The only previous top-flight season than Spurs have remained unbeaten at home was 1964-65 (21 games, 0 defeats).
– Since he made his Premier League debut in September 2013, Christian Eriksen has scored more goals from outside the box than any other player in the competition (13).
– Dele Alli has scored in three successive league appearances at White Hart Lane for the first time in his career.
– James Ward-Prowse has scored three goals in 21 Premier League appearances this season; the same tally as he had scored in 107 Premier League appearances before 2016-17.

Middlesbrough 1 Manchester United 3: Valencia adds late gloss after Valdes error

19 Mar 2017
Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard helped Manchester United to a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough that lifted them above Arsenal into fifth place.

Manchester United claimed their 600th Premier League victory with a 3-1 win against managerless Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday.

Marouane Fellaini’s first league goal of the season, a thundering strike from Jesse Lingard and an injury-time Antonio Valencia finish secured maximum points for Jose Mourinho’s side and lifted into fifth place in the table, piling the misery on Boro at the end of a week in which Aitor Karanka lost his job.

Mourinho – whose men are now unbeaten in 18 top-flight matches – had claimed that a draw would be a good result for his side, given their exhaustive exploits in the FA Cup and Europa League this week, and Boro certainly started in the ascendancy against a United side shorn of a number of first-team regulars.

But Fellaini’s 30th-minute header gave the visitors a stranglehold that they never looked likely to relinquish and Lingard’s emphatic strike in the second half left the home side on course for a 14th defeat in 28 league games this season.

Rudy Gestede got a goal back in the closing stages – Boro’s first in 509 minutes of league action – but Valencia pounced on a horror moment for ex-United goalkeeper Victor Valdes to ensure United move to within three points of the Champions League places, having played a game fewer than fourth-placed Liverpool, who face Manchester City later on Sunday.

The pressure is growing on second-bottom Boro, however, with five points now separating them from safety, though they do have a game in hand on Hull City and Swansea City above them.

Valdes’ outing started well as he made a fine low stop to deny Marcus Rashford six minutes into the contest after the young striker raced in behind the defence onto Lingard’s pass.

Boro – guided by stand-in boss Steve Agnew – enjoyed by far the better of the opening exchanges, though, and David de Gea produced a smart save to his left to prevent Gaston Ramirez’s fierce strike from breaking the deadlock.

Valdes proved the home side’s saviour again in the 22nd minute, sticking out a leg to deny Rashford from point-blank range after a superb United move before reacting well to keep out Valencia’s rebound.

United were beginning to cause real problems for the home defence and Fellaini took full advantage when the next chance came his way. Ashley Young curled a deep cross towards the far post from the right and the Belgium international escaped Fabio before nodding the ball high into Valdes’ net.

Boro began the second half in much the same fashion as they did the first, enjoying close to 57 per cent of the possession, but without finding a way to cause any trouble for De Gea, with United’s defence staying resolute.

Mourinho’s side continued to look a threat on the break, with Rashford and Valencia twice causing panic in the Boro box with runs down the right, and it was from another counter-attack that Lingard doubled the lead just past the hour mark.

Collecting Juan Mata’s pass, Lingard raced unchallenged through the middle of the home side’s half before blasting a shot from 20 yards that swerved beyond the static Valdes and into the top-right corner.

Agnew threw on Gestede to give Alvaro Negredo some support and the striker gave his side a lifeline when he capitalised on Chris Smalling’s error to slot past De Gea from close range.

Boro laid siege to United’s goal late on, but Valencia made the points safe in the dying seconds when Valdes slipped as he prepared to clear a backpass, allowing the United full-back the simple task of finishing into an empty net – much to the delight of Mourinho as the Portuguese made his way down the tunnel.

Manchester City 1 Liverpool 1: Aguero cancels out Milner penalty in thrilling draw

19 Mar 2017
Manchester City recovered from their Champions League exit by coming from behind to draw 1-1 against Liverpool on Sunday.

Sergio Aguero’s equaliser claimed a vital point for Manchester City, who remain above Liverpool in third in the Premier League after the sides drew 1-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

City were looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s surprise Champions League exit at Monaco and they had to come from behind to extend their unbeaten league run to seven games.

James Milner opened the scoring from the spot shortly after half-time, picking out Willy Caballero’s bottom-right corner to score his seventh penalty of the season on his Etihad return.

John Stones should have converted a free header as a substandard City tried to improve a dire head-to-head record against Liverpool that had seen them lose five of the previous six meetings between the sides.

Aguero equalised for City with a close-range finish from Kevin De Bruyne’s right-wing cross and the Belgian hit the post as Pep Guardiola’s side cranked up the pressure in search of a winner.

But it was Adam Lallana who should have scored the decisive goal, the England international somehow mishitting his shot from eight yards after sublime Liverpool build-up play as both teams lost ground on Tottenham in the race for the second – with Manchester United now just four points behind Jurgen Klopp’s fourth-placed side.
Simon Mignolet blocked Leroy Sane’s cross-shot with his left boot after 19 minutes, David Silva slicing the rebound over the crossbar to spurn City’s first real chance of the game.

Penalty appeals were rejected at both ends, with Aguero challenged by Joel Matip as the Argentine tried to connect with Fernandinho’s low cross, before Sadio Mane collided with Nicolas Otamendi as he shaped to shoot.

Matip headed Milner’s deep free-kick wide after 37 minutes and the game finally exploded into life before the interval.

Milner had to make a brilliant challenge to stop Raheem Sterling from tapping home Silva’s cross, with Fernandinho unable to convert at the back post, before Caballero palmed Roberto Firmino’s curled shot over his crossbar.

Caballero elected to punch the resulting corner but he could only pick out Lallana, whose powerful volley was beaten away by the goalkeeper.

Chances continued to flow in the second half, with Mane’s goal-bound effort deflected over by a Stones block, but Liverpool were awarded a penalty when Clichy clumsily bundled over Firmino.

Former City player Milner tucked away the spot-kick, sending Caballero the wrong way to put the visitors in front, extending City’s run without a clean sheet against Liverpool to 13 games.

Stones had a big chance to rapidly respond for City but he headed De Bruyne’s corner wide. Caballero then did well to save from Firmino after a superb Philippe Coutinho reverse pass sent his fellow Brazilian into the box.

But after 68 minutes City levelled the scores when Aguero tucked away De Bruyne’s cross to continue his record of scoring in all five of his home league games against Liverpool.
Aguero’s one-two with Sane freed the striker for a chance to complete the turnaround but he could not find a finish after losing his balance, De Bruyne slamming the loose ball against the woodwork, then Lallana’s opportunity to claim the points arrived.

Emre Can and Firmino combined beautifully to set Lallana up for a golden chance but the midfielder failed to convert and despite a breathless finale – with Aguero unable to turn in Silva’s centre and blazing over De Bruyne’s chipped cross – the points were shared.

Key Opta stats:

– Manchester City have gone seven consecutive games without defeat in the Premier League (W4 D3 L0); their longest streak in the competition under Pep Guardiola.
– Liverpool have now won more points in 10 games against the top six this season (20) than they have in 10 games against the bottom six (19).
– James Milner now holds the record for the most Premier League games scored in without losing (47 Games: W37 D10 L0).
– Only Gylfi Sigurdsson (11) has made more assists than Kevin De Bruyne (10) in the Premier League this season. The Belgian has assisted Aguero more times than any other player this term (3).