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Chelsea End City's Unbeaten Run
Defeat for City allows United to close the gap at the top
Posted Dec 13, 2011 by Chris White
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Manchester City suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season at Stamford Bridge, going down to a late Frank Lampard penalty, which means that because of a victory for their rivals United on Saturday, the gap at the top is down to just two points.
The 2-1 win for Chelsea has moved them up to third in the table, coming back from 1-0 down after just two minutes. Mario Balotelli gave City the lead, finishing off a fine move involving Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian breezed past John Terry before finding Balotelli, and the controversial striker rounded Petr Cech to make it 1-0. City could have doubled their lead soon after, but Aguero fired wide, and David Silva was refused a penalty when he fell under a challenge from Jose Bosingwa.
Chelsea grew into the game as the first half went on, but were never really threatening. That was until Daniel Sturridge broke down the right flank and squared for Raul Meireles to equalise. This gave the home side confidence, and the game went from end to end, up until Gael Clichy was sent off for Manchester City on the hour for a second yellow card. Chelsea sent on Frank Lampard with fifteen minutes remaining, sensing victory, and when Joleon Lescott was penalised for handball, Lampard stepped up and blasted his penalty into the net to end City’s 15-match unbeaten start to the season.
Neighbours Manchester United had already closed the gap at the top to two points, courtesy of a 4-1 win at home to Wolves on Saturday, and that gap will remain until next weekend after City’s defeat. Going into the game on the back of their humiliating Champions League exit, United needed a response, and Nani set them on their way. The Portuguese winger cut in from the left and fired low into the bottom corner, and Wayne Rooney created an almost exact replica ten minutes later, making it 2-0. Steven Fletcher scored with Wolves’ first real attempt at goal just after the break, but this spurred United on, and Nani finished off some brilliant work by Antonio Valencia down the right, and when Rooney volleyed home his second from Valencia’s cross on 62 minutes, the game was well and truly over.
Tottenham have been in stunning form lately, but they were never given the chance to settle at the Britannia Stadium, as Stoke threw a spanner in the works. Former Spurs winger Matthew Etherington put Stoke ahead after ten minutes, and then made it 2-0 just before the break to put his former club on the ropes. Spurs were given a route back into the match when Luka Modric was brought down inside the area, and Emmanuel Adebayor converted to make it 2-1. They should have had another penalty when Ryan Shawcross handled on the goal line, but referee Chris Foy missed it, and then sent off Younes Kaboul for a second yellow as the Tottenham side grew increasingly frustrated with the officials and the lack of luck in the match, and Stoke held on for a the win.
A stunning volley from Robin van Persie was the difference at the Emirates, as Arsenal beat Everton 1-0. With the Gunners misfiring in front of goal for the majority of the match, it was van Persie’s only real effort at goal that proved to be the game winner, firing low across Everton ‘keeper Tim Howard into the bottom corner for his 33rd league goal of 2011.
Liverpool won for the first time in five attempts at Anfield, as a Luis Suarez header beat QPR 1-0. With the home side missing a host of chances in the first half, the deadlock was broken just over a minute into the second half when Suarez rose unchallenged to meet a Charlie Adam cross, giving the superb Radek Cerny no chance in the Rangers goal.
Grant Holt scored twice as Norwich beat the injury-depleted and ten-man Newcastle 4-2 at Carrow Road. Wes Hoolahan’s deflected effort gave the Canaries the lead, before Demba Ba, who else, equalised for Newcastle. Grant Holt headed Norwich back into the lead early in the second half, and Steve Morison volleyed in a third to extend the advantage. Dan Gosling saw red for a dangerous lunge on Russell Martin, but despite being down to 10-men Newcastle pulled one back, when Ba raced through and slotted home. Despite the fight back, Norwich scored the next, and final goal of the game, when Holt headed in at the second attempt.
A free kick from Sebastian Larsson in the final minute of normal time gave Martin O’Neill a victory in his first game in charge of Sunderland. Larsson’s strike completed a late comeback for the home side against Blackburn who led courtesy of a Simon Vukcevic goal. A stunning drive from David Vaughan from fully 25-yards levelled the game in the 84th minute, but Larsson’s free kick sparked celebrations on the home bench.
Wigan also came from behind, and moved off the bottom of the table courtesy of a 2-1 win at West Brom. The Baggies took the lead in the game when Steven Reid hit a truly magnificent free kick into the top corner, but a cool finish from Victor Moses brought Wigan level. The two goalscorers were involved in the second goal for Wigan, with Reid bringing down Moses inside the box, and Jordi Gomez converted the subsequent penalty.
Replacing Wigan at the bottom of the table are Bolton, who suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Aston Villa. Marc Albrighton tapped in a Gabby Agbonlahor cross in the 33rd minute to give Villa the lead at the Reebok, and Stiliyan Petrov saw his 30-yard effort deflect into the bottom corner to make it two. When Zat Knight’s harmless shot was dribbling wide, it about summed up Bolton’s day, but before the ball had the crowd had the chance to groan, it had been diverted into the net by Ivan Klasnic to reduce the deficit, but Bolton couldn’t find an equaliser and slump to the foot of the Premiership table.
Goals from Scott Sinclair and Danny Graham backed up a phenomenal performance from goalkeeper Michel Vorm, as Swansea beat Fulham 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium. Sinclair’s strike from the edge of the area was looking like being saved, but Clint Dempsey stuck out a leg and diverted the ball into his own net to give the Swans the lead. Fulham had the chance to equalise when Ashley Richards brought down Kerim Frei inside the box with four minutes left of normal time, but Dempsey saw his strike saved by Vorm. With Fulham still pushing for the equaliser, Graham flicked in at the near post to double Swansea’s lead and secure all three points.
This weekend’s results:
Arsenal 1 – 0 Everton
Bolton 1 – 2 Aston Villa
Chelsea 2 – 1 Manchester City
Liverpool 1 – 0 QPR
Manchester United 4 – 1 Wolves
Norwich 4 – 2 Newcastle
Stoke 2 – 1 Tottenham
Sunderland 2 – 1 Blackburn
Swansea 2 – 0 Fulham
West Brom 1 – 2 Wigan
What was your goal of the weekend? Balotelli? Van Persie? Reid? Are Bolton now doomed? Is the title race back on? Give us your thoughts here, on Twitter @ImagineSoccer or on Facebook by clicking here.