TheSoccerPitch.com http://www.thesoccerpitch.com A Football Blog Wed, 13 May 2009 13:04:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Manchester United get Closer to Title after beating Manchester City http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/05/13/manchester-united-get-closer-to-title-after-beating-manchester-city/ Wed, 13 May 2009 13:04:49 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=217 Manchester United got back to the top of the table and one more step closer to title after beating Manchester City 2 – 0 in the Manchester Derby. Cristiano Ronaldo and Tevez were on score sheet for United as City failed to show any serious threat. Before the match, there was a lot of talk about Carlos Tevez telling a paper that he will be leaving United in the summer because no effort was being made to sign him. It was a bit surprising to see him in the starting line up but he produced a man of the match performance to show why Manchester United should sign him.

Manchester City had a good recent form and many expected this to be a tough game for United. But that was not the case as Manchester United settled early and the visitors were often threatened by the there quick tempo and passing. They soon opened the scoring as Ireland committed a foul on Berbatov. Ronaldo stepped in to take the free kick and his deflected shot found its way to the net with Shay Given managing to get his hand to it. Tevez nearly doubled the lead when he cut in from the left and his curving shot hit the crossbar with Shay Given beaten. But it was Tevez who scored the second goal for United with a fabulous strike and making his importance clear. The shot also hit the bar but this time, the ball ended inside the net.

United brought on Scholes and Rooney for Park Ji Sung and Ronaldo with Ronaldo reacting angrily to being substituted. United could have added more to there tally with Tevez unluckily hitting the bar once again with the header. City had a few good chances with Robinho missing there best chance as he shot wide from 8 yards.

Now Manchester United  need 4 points from there remaining three games which are against Wigan, Arsenal and Hull. And it looks unlikely that they will lose the title now.

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Manchester United Reach Champions League Final in Style http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/05/06/manchester-united-reach-champions-league-final-in-style/ Wed, 06 May 2009 06:11:23 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=215 Manchester United reached the final of the champions league second time in a row after beating Arsenal 3 – 1 at the emirates. United had a slender 1 – 0 lead from the first leg and Arsene Wenger was almost certain that Arsenal will play magnificently and reach the Champions League final. His words may have been soon forgotten as two quick first half goals from Manchester United ended there hopes quickly and they were outplayed for the most of the game.

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Unites started with Berbatov and Tevez both on the bench with Ji Sung Park being preferred over them while the United midfield consisted of Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Ronaldo. Wenger’s words may have elated the Gunners fans as they were roaring in the stadium as Arsenal dominated for the first few minutes. But things changed after 7 minutes when Kieran Gibbs slipped while failing to clear a Ronaldo cross from the left and Ji Sung Park was there to finish into the far corner. Two minutes later, the home crowd was stunned as Ronaldo fired in the free kick from 41 yards after being fouled by Van Persie. Things were almost over for Arsenal as they needed 4 goals to win and they failed to create any good opportunities for the rest of the half. They may have been 3 – 0 down had Almunia not saved a Rooney curling shot which was on target.  Ronaldo went close on two occasions with Almunia making a save.

The second half started with Arsenal trying to threaten but they failed to create any clear cut opportunity. In the other end, United always looked threatening in the attack. The third goal soon came after a superb counter attack by Manchester United. From Arsenal’s corner, Ji Sung Park passed to Ronaldo who back heels it back to him. He then releases Wayne Rooney on the left who passes for Ronaldo to apply the finish. Soon after United made the substitutions bringing on Giggs for Anderson and Rafael and Berbatov for Evra and Rooney who were a yellow card away from missing the final. The only drawback for United from the game will be the red card for Darren Fletcher who brought down Fabregas after his run in the box. He was shown a straight red card and Van Persie scored a consolation from the penalty spot. The red card may have been a bit harsh as replays suggested that he got a touch on the ball.

It will be interesting to see who Manchester United will face in the final. I would love to see Barcelona but i have a feeling it might be Chelsea again. I do hope the referee reviews his decision about the red card. Fletcher has been superb this whole season and it will be an absolute heart break to miss the Champions League final.

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Middlesbrough 0 – 2 Manchester United http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/05/02/middlesbrough-0-2-manchester-united/ Sat, 02 May 2009 14:23:03 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=211 Manchester United have almost a hand on the Premiership title after they beat Middlesbrough convincingly and are now now six points ahead of Liverpool with 4 games left for both the teams. This puts the pressure on Liverpool who play there match on Sunday against Newcastle. A defeat or a draw for Liverpool will almost end there chances or who knows, we might some new twists late on.

Giggs Scores

Although Man Utd had a mid week match against Arsenal on Tuesday, they fielded an strong side with Ronaldo, Anderson, Van Der Sar and Tevez being rested. But still the squad had player like Rooney, Berbatov, Macheda, Scholes, Giggs, Park to win the match. Middlesbrough who are into the relegation zone started the match brightly but they failed to find any clear cut opportunities and were mostly restricted to shots from outside the box which rarely threatened Ben Foster. Boro’s best chance fell to Aliadiere but his low shot was saved by legs of Ben Foster. Manchester United was also not at there best and the striker pairing of Berbatov and Macheda was not too effective. But it was Ryan Giggs who opened the scoring and brought the title closer to Manchester United. Giggs scored from a low placed effort after being setup by Rooney and Vidic. Such beautiful was the effort that the goalkeeper didn’t even move. Paul Scholes had some decent chances but he shot wide on both the occasions.

Manchester United improved in to second half and it looked they might score soon. The goal soon came when a sublime Rooney pass found Park who shot in a low drive. This was probably the best move of the match. United had some more chances to increase there lead but it was not coming. Middlesbrough on the other hand were mainly restricted to long range efforts. Even the introduction of Afonso Alves couldn’t change anything as Boro were left hanging in the relegation zone.

Manchester United once again showed that they can still get the result they want in spite of not being in there best form. The game was not the best but three points secured is all that’s important.

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Manchester United Edge Arsenal in Champions League Semifinal First Leg http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/04/29/manchester-united-edge-arsenal-in-champions-league-semifinal-first-leg/ Wed, 29 Apr 2009 21:08:43 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=207 The game was not a typical Manchester United – Arsenal game that we have come to expect from the both teams. It was a rather quiet game with Manchester United edging out the win thanks to a goal from the unsung hero John O Shea. Before the game, Sir Alex has said that he will take a 1 – 0, but after this performance, he would be rather disappointed that they couldn’t score more goal. Arsenal will be a bit pleased as they rarely threatened but the defended properly and some good goal keeping from Almunia made sure that the score was 1 – 0 and not worse.

O Shea scoring

Sir Alex preferred Berbatov over Tevez this time, probably to show Tevez that he can also start important games and make him stay at Old Trafford. United nearly found the goal in opening minute when a looping header from Rooney was well saved by Almunia. Then Tevez was guilty of missing a sitter but thankfully O Shea scored from the resulting corner. In the midfield, the young duo Fletcher and Anderson did well and showed fantastic energy. Another good chance fell to Ronaldo but he shot straight at the keeper. Arsenal finally got a bit settled late on in the first half but they hardly threatened and were mostly on the backfoot.

Arsenal started with only Adebayor as a lone forward and he hardly looked convincing as he was not getting any service from the midfield. Arsenal did but up some good passes but they lacked in the final third of the pitch. Late in the second half, Manchester United brought on Giggs for Anderson and Berbatov for Tevez. The argentine was shaking his head as he was substituted but he got a standing ovation from the crowd who were shouting his name and asking Ferguson to sign him. This might be a much talked about thing whether Tevez will stay or not. Giggs came on for his 800th appearance but he was unable to make much of an impact.

Ronaldo showed his skill when he unleashed a dipping shot from 30 yards. Almunia was helpless but the ball crashed against the crossbar and went out. United did carry forward there attack but they couldn’t find the break through. Credit must be given to O Shea who celebrates his 28th birthday tomorrow. He has been such a loyal player to Manchester United. He has not been a regular but he has always played his part when he gets his chance due to any injury problems. His versatility is excellent, he can play as right back, left back, central defender or even in midfield. He may have scored only the 15th goal of his career but such an important goal this is. The game is not decided right now but Arsenal know that they have to score 2 goals past Manchester United to win and that is not easy. And if Man Utd manage to get an away goal, things will be much difficult.

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Barcelona and Chelsea Play a stalemate http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/04/29/barcelona-and-chelsea-play-a-stalemate/ Wed, 29 Apr 2009 09:18:53 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=203 After watching two amazing games during the previous Tuesday Night’s which finished at 4 – 4, i was also having some high expectation from this game. It was a bit of a shock to see this game finish without any goals. With the quality of players Barcelona have, i was expecting them to at least score a goal. Even Lionel Messi didn’t look like a similar player he is.

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But credit must be given to Chelsea defence and especially Peter Cech. Barcelona had some good possession throughout the match but they found it hard to break the Chelsea defence. They had a couple of decent chances but Cech was alert every time. Dani Alves was a constant threat from the right. Barcelona might feel they could have got a goal had Bojan not missed a very easy chance. For Chelsea it was a draw well deserved though Drogba may have opened the score sheet if he had capitalized on the mistake. It is too early to say who will win. It is all the pay for in Stamford Bridge. But the confidence is with Chelsea now after there good defensive performance and they are always a solid unit at home. And they also were the first team this season to prevent Barcelona from scoring at home.

I feel the second leg will be very crucial. It will be all about who scores the first goal.

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Ryan Giggs Get PFA Player of the Year Award http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/04/27/ryan-giggs-get-pfa-player-of-the-year-award/ Mon, 27 Apr 2009 10:26:59 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=199 Giggs

Ryan Giggs has won the Professional Footballer’s Association Player of the Year Award. It may seem surprising but this is the first time he has won the award in his illustrious career. Most of the contenders for the award were his United team mates including Cristiano Roanldo, Nemanja Vidic, Van Der Sar, Rio Ferdinand and Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard.

Despite winning the Premiership Title 10 times, League Cup 3 times, FA cup four times, Champions League two times in his 18 year old career, the PFA award has always eluded the welsh man. Even though he has not started most of the match this season, he has played a key part in United’s important matches against Chelsea, Inter Milan etc. He has been mostly used in the central midfield role by when he lines up against Arsenal for his 800th match. It is an award in itself to play for a top team for more than 18 years. In spite of being 35 years, he has excelled in the midfield role which he is playing these days.

You have to be a special player if you can play for Manchester United for so long. Hats Off to him.

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Rampant Manchester United Defeat Tottenham after Amazing Comeback http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/04/25/rampant-manchester-united-defeat-tottenham-after-amazing-comeback/ Sat, 25 Apr 2009 19:53:25 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=195 Man Utd Celebrate

A resurgent second half performance from Manchester United saw them come back from two goals down and beat Tottenham Spurs 5 – 2 to stay on top of the table and continue there pursuit of the Premiership Title. In the earlier kick off, Liverpool kept the pressure on Manchester United after beating Hull City. It looked like the Premiership Race will be thrown wide open as Tottenham took an early 2 – 0 lead in the first half. But United had shown this season that they can not be counted out so soon. And they went on a rampage in the second half and destroyed Tottenham 5 – 3.

United started with a strong Line up with Ferdinand and Berbatov back into the squad. Manchester United started brightly as they pushed forward for an early goal. Tottenham first real chance came for Darren Bent after he was picked out at the far post but his header was saved by Van Der Sar. United had a couple of decent chances with Rooney and Ronaldo going close but it was Tottenham who took the lead. Vidic and Ferdinand failed to clear a Corluka cross from the left and it fell to Bent who smashed home the opener. And things got worse for United after two minutes as an Aaron Lennon cross from the left found Luka Modric who chested the ball before firing in Tottenham’s second.

Old Trafford looked nearly stunned and minutes later Ronaldo nearly scored a goal as he forced a great fingertip save from Gomes. Soon after he had the ball in the net but there was a handball by Berbatov in the build up. The first half ended with Tottenham toying with Manchester United and Palacios going close with a shot.

At the half time, many fans must be thinking about 29th September 2001. The day when Manchester United beat Tottenham 5 – 3 at White Hart Lane after going down 3 – 0. And who said History does not repeat itself, Who expected such a second half from Manchester United. United sent on Tevez for Nani at the start of the second half. Rooney soon had a good chance after being gifted possession by Keane but his effort was deflected for a corner by Keane. Soon after Tevez was set up by Ronaldo but his shot was well saved by Spurs keeper. And then the comeback started.

Ronaldo Penalty

Manchester United got a penalty after Carrick went down after a challenge from Gomes. Many may believe it to be a controversial decision but looking at the replays, it looked the right decision. Ronaldo stepped up confidently and converted the penalty and after that, it was just one way game for United. There were a lot of yellow cards given as the game got serious but things got interesting with 25 minutes left. A good passing move by United saw Berbatov passing to Tevez who passed on to Rooney who cut in from the left and shot past the keeper in the near post to draw United level. And a minute later, United took the lead as Rooney crossed from the left and Ronaldo headed in. And two minutes later it was a cross from Ronaldo from the right with Rooney scoring after controlling the ball and shooting. Woodgate tried to clear the ball of the line but the goal was awarded. With United leading 4 – 2, Darren Bent went close for Tottenham with a curling shot. And a few minutes later, it was Berbatov’s turn to score. His header was not saved properly by Gomes who failed to keep hold of the ball and Berbatov bundled the ball from the rebound. Rooney and Ronaldo were ripping apart Tottenham as they went close looking for there hat trick. But in the end , the game finished at 5 – 3 with Manchester United going back to the top of league.

After that superb comeback against Aston Villa, this was another great comeback and this sends a big message to Liverpool and the rest of the teams that they cannot under estimate United now.

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Manchester United Go Back on top of EPL after beating Portsmouth http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/04/22/manchester-united-go-back-on-top-of-epl-after-beating-portsmouth/ Wed, 22 Apr 2009 21:01:10 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=189 _45691923_rooney_getty466

An early goal from Rooney and a late goal from Carrick was enough for United to get a victory over Portsmouth and send them to the top of the table. United had a host of chances after the Rooney goal but they were let down in there finishing. A late goal from Carrick secured the three points for United. Now they are three points above Liverpool with a game in hand.

United made nine changes to the team that lost to Everton in the FA Cup Semi-final with Ronaldo, Rooney, Scholes, Giggs back in the starting line up with Scholes starting his 600th United game. Portsmouth had the better of the opening minutes as they started dominating possession. But that didn’t last long as United took the lead when a long pass from Anderson found Giggs who got into the box and passed the ball to Rooney for a simple tap in. United soon found there rhythm and they soon started creating chances with Rooney and Giggs playing an important role. Anderson had a good chance afterwards but he shot inches wide. United nearly scored again when a Giggs corner was headed by O Shea but it was cleared off the line.

United had another great chance when some poor defending by Portsmouth gifted the ball to Wayne Rooney who set up Ryan Giggs who shot straight at James. Then another easy chance fell to Giggs who missed again. Ronaldo ran down the right flank and crossed the ball to Giggs who just had to touch the ball but he tried to lift it over the keeper and the ball went wide. At the close of first half, United had another decent chance after some good build-up play by Ronaldo and Rooney set up Fletcher at the edge of the box but he shot wide.

United quickly resumed there business at the start of second half as Giggs played a beautiful first time pass to Ronaldo who crossed poorly despite having a lot of space on the right. A good chance again fell for Giggs as Rooney set him up again but James quickly collected the ball. Portsmouth also had some good chances of there own. A great run down the right allowed Glen Johnson to trick his way past Rooney and send in a low cross but Van Der Sar was alert and got it away. There were a quick chance for both teams Crouch headed straight at Van Der Sar and on the other end, Rooney shot straight at James. There was a bit of un easiness among the supporters as United failed to find another goal that would kill the game off so United brought on Carrick for Anderson. And that substitution proved quite decisive as Carrick scored and killed the game of. A beautiful Scholes pass through two Pompey defenders found Carrick who finished well past James. United had a couple of half chances but they held on for an important win.

The win sends United back on top of the league and three points above Liverpool with a game in hand. Even though the manner of victory may not please Sir Alex much, the important thing was that the points was secured.

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Liverpool 4 – 4 Arsenal : Premiership Classic http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/04/22/liverpool-4-4-arsenal-premiership-classic/ Wed, 22 Apr 2009 13:05:44 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=185 If you have any doubts why Premier League is the  best league in the world, then all those doubts would have been gone if you have checked out this match. The match had all the ingredients of a classic and till the final whistle, you couldn’t tell which team will win the match.

Liverpool knew they needed to win the match to put pressure on Manchester United as the title race gets nearer to the end. They were without Steven Gerrard but they still started strongly against an Arsenal side who had some young players. Arsenal were missing Adebayor and Van Persie and had the young Lukas Fabianski in the goal. It soon became evident that they were in for a busy evening as Liverpool started attacking from the beginning with Torres terrorizing the defence with his skill. Liverpool tested Fabianski on various occasions but they young keeper looked fired up for the occasion. They way they were playing, it looked a matter of time before Liverpool will score but it was Arsenal who took the breakthrough on 36th minute. Mascherano gave the ball away to  Nasri who beautifully passed to Fabregas who set up Arshavin to score the opener.

Arshavin

Liverpool didn’t deserver to be a goal down and they soon got the things rolling after the break. A beautiful cross from Kuyt allowed Torres to head in the equalizer in the 48th minute. Things got better for Liverpool after seven minutes as they took the lead after some poor defending by Arsenal again. Gibbs cleared the ball straight to Kuyt who crossed for Benayoun who connected with the header. Fabianski got his hand on the ball but it had already crosses the line. Liverpool looked in control and they were testing Fabianski on every occasion they got. Arsenal got there second goal in the 67th minute after a beautiful play by Arshavin, who won the ball from Arbeloa and rifled in the shot from 20 yards.

Things got bad from Liverpool again after three minutes as a Nasri cross was cleared by Aurelio straight into Arshavin and he made no mistake from 10 yards to get his hat trick.  But that lead lasted only 2 minutes as Liverpool got level thanks to brilliant Torres. A cross found Torres in the box who turned, feigned a shot and then shot past helpless Fabianski. The end time was soon approaching and Liverpool threw people forward in order to get the winning goal. Torres nearly got a hat trick but his powerful header was cleared off the line by Gibbs. There was more twist as a Fabianski clearance from a Liverpool corner found Walcott who ran down the right and passed the ball to Arshavin who scored his fourth goal of the night and Anfield was stunned as the goal was in 90th minute. But there was more drama as Liverpool pushed forward and some poor clearance by Arsenal let the ball fall to Benayoun in the crowded penalty area and  he scored the Liverpool equalizer in the stoppage times.

It was the second time in a row that Liverpool were involved in the 4-4 draw after the Champions League game at Chelsea. Liverpool are now level on points with Manchester United who now have two games in hand. Most of the goals in the game were because of defensive errors but Liverpool dominated the game for many parts and will be disappointed that they didn’t get all the three points. All eyes will be on United now as they play Portsmouth next.

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Stunning Goal Against Porto http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/04/16/cristiano-ronaldos-stunning-goal-against-porto/ http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/2009/04/16/cristiano-ronaldos-stunning-goal-against-porto/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:51:20 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpitch.com/?p=181 The goal was enough to see Manchester United through to the next stage of the competition. Here is the goal

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