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Thursday, 22 March 2012

Malaga rally to 4-2 win over Rayo Vallecano

Barcelona: Malaga came from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano 4-2 through Jose Rondon's double to stay in the hunt for a top-four finish in the Spanish league on Thursday.

Diego Costa stroked in a spot kick to give Rayo the lead five minutes in after Malaga defender Jesus Gamez fouled Emiliano Armenteros in the area.

But Malaga dominated the rest of the way at La Rosaleda Stadium.

Rondon headed home Eliseu Pereira's cross to equalize in the 35th. The Venezuela striker then netted again in the 58th when he took Eliseu's pass, held off his marker, and shot under the goalkeeper for his ninth goal of the season.

Substitute Enzo Maresca put the result beyond doubt for the hosts with a header in the 70th.
Roberto Trashorras scored Rayo's second with a penalty in the 84th after goalkeeper Willy Caballero brought Diego Costa down in the box, but two minutes later Malaga substitute Sergio "Duda" Barbosa hit from long range.

Malaga's fourth win in a five-game unbeaten streak lifted it even on points with fourth-place Levante, the team currently holding Spain's last Champions League spot.

"More than good results, we are looking to perfect our playing style," Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "If the team continues in this dynamic we can aspire to the highest possible positions. We have never lacked ambition."

Earlier, Sevilla revived hope of a late-season surge by beating Racing Santander 3-0 thanks to Manu del Moral's brace, while Walter Pandiani's stoppage-time goal earned Espanyol a 1-1 draw at Real Betis.

Spain winger Jesus Navas volleyed in Sevilla's 34th-minute opener. Manu extended the lead by firing under the goalkeeper in the 52nd and capped the win in added time.

Racing played the last 10 minutes a man down after Papakouly Diop was sent off with a direct red card for a hard tackle.

"This was a great game for Sevilla," said Sevilla coach Michel Gonzalez. "But you also have to consider the low morale of the team we were facing. That played in our favour."

Sevilla's first win in four games left them four points from sixth place and Spain's Europa League positions with 10 games to go.

Racing is four points from safety after their 10th straight match without a victory.

In Seville, Betis looked set to make good on Ruben Castro's 10th goal of the season until Pandiani rifled a shot from outside the area just under the bar to split the points.

"I felt that the game was unfairly slipping away from us, but (Pandiani) scored because we never gave up," said Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino.

On Wednesday, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, assistant Rui Faria, and two players were all sent off during its 1-1 draw at Villarreal. The league leader's second straight draw reduced their advantage to six points over Barcelona.

Lionel Messi became Barcelona's all-time leading scorer with 234 goals by hitting a hat trick in Tuesday's 5-3 win over Granada.

Also in round 28, it was: Osasuna 0, Getafe 0; Real Sociedad 1, Levante 3; Valencia 1, Zaragoza 2; Atletico Madrid 2, Athletic Bilbao 1; and Sporting Gijon 2, Mallorca 3.

EPL | Arsenal beat Everton 1-0 to move into 3rd place

Liverpool: Thomas Vermaelen scored the only goal of the game as Arsenal beat Everton 1-0 at Goodison Park to move above rivals Tottenham into third place in the Premier League.

Arsenal made just one change to their team that beat Newcastle 2-1 last time out as Aaron Ramsey replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting line-up. The Gunners kept their three-pronged attack with Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott playing just behind Van Persie.

The Gunners started the game at a rapid pace and got into their passing game immediately, which lead to an early chance for Theo Walcott who was put through down the middle. He twisted and turned and his shot was blocked only as far as Ramsey who saw his effort deflected over.

From the resulting corner, Vermaelen jumped to head Van Persie’s pinpoint cross past a stranded Tim Howard to give Arsene Wenger’s side a deserved lead in the eighth minute after a great start.

Arsenal had the home-side well and truly on the backfoot and could have gone further ahead when Mikel Arteta slipped a ball through to Van Persie who saw his effort blocked, the ball then fell to Ramsey who saw his shot well-saved by Howard.

The Toffees were restricted to counter-attacks in the first-half as they struggled to get any control over the game but they went close through Nikica Jelavic as he was put through Marouane Fellaini but he failed to get his effort on target.

Moyes’ side took confidence from that attacking surge and should have been level if not for a poor decision from the linesman, who wrongly disallowed Drenthe’s strike when it appeared he was well onside, following a wonderful pass from Fellaini to set up the Dutchman.

In the second half, Arsenal were struggling to find the tempo they had before the interval and Everton were taking advantage, pressing the Gunners midfielders whenever they had the ball. The pressure carved out a chance for Fellaini but he could only head his chance straight at Szczesny.

The Gunners regained their composure and should have doubled their lead through Van Persie who was found unmarked in the area. The Dutchman composed himself and struck the ball well, but saw his shot smack the post and bounce away.

After Van Persie’s near miss Arsenal began to regain control of the game and used their accurate passing game to keep the ball away from Everton which was working to great effect and helped run down the clock as well.

As the Toffees tried to press Wenger’s side in possession it opened up the field and space in behind which was nearly exploited in a good move between Walcott and Ramsey.

The England international broke free down the right, then drifted the infield and found the Welshman who let fly with a powerful shot which was saved by Howard as he got down well to his right to make the stop.

Moyes’ side kept plugging away at Arsenal however and came close to getting an equaliser when Drenthe shot from the edge of the area after the Gunners had failed to clear their lines from a corner, but his shot went just over the bar.

Both teams pushed for a goal, as the home side pressed to get back into the game while the visitors looked to kill the match. Van Persie and Ramsey had chances but couldn’t convert them, while Fellaini and Jelavic couldn’t find their way past a stubborn Arsenal defence.

Wenger’s side held on for all three points despite a late onslaught and sealed their sixth win in a row in the Premier League to move above rivals Tottenham into third place while Everton remain in 10th place.

EPL | City set record with 2-1 win over Chelsea

London: Manchester City narrowed the gap on leader Manchester United to a single point on Wednesday, scoring twice in the last 13 minutes to beat Chelsea 2-1 and win a Premier League-record 20th straight home game.

Chelsea led through Gary Cahill's 60th-minute deflected shot but Sergio Aguero leveled the scores in the 78th with a penalty and Samir Nasri scored the winner seven minutes later following an exchange of passes with Carlos Tevez, who returned to action after six months away.

"When they scored, I think we didn't deserve to go behind," City manager Roberto Mancini said. "But we wanted, we desired to win this game.

"It's more than three points, this game."

Chelsea had won four straight under new coach Roberto Di Matteo but their opening goal came completely against the run of play. Ramires forced a corner on the right wing, City failed to clear the cross and Cahill pounced on the loose ball to hit a shot that bobbled off Yaya Toure to leave City goalkeeper Joe Hart stranded.

The goal prompted Mancini to introduce Tevez, who was on strike for some of the past six months following a dispute that began in September when he refused to warm up as a substitute in a Champions League match, as a 66th-minute substitute.

Tevez was met by a mix of cheers and jeers but Aguero soon equalized with his penalty after Pablo Zabaleta's shot ricocheted off Michael Essien's arm.

Tevez had a crucial part in the winning goal as his deft pass on the turn allowed Nasri to break into the box and lift a shot over goalkeeper Petr Cech.

"I am really happy for him," Nasri said. "He has showed great spirit and today showed he can be really important until the end of the season.

"It's good that it was him who gave the assist."

City has 69 points to United's 70 with nine games remaining and Chelsea in fifth place with 49 points.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

EPL | Blackburn beat Sunderland 2-0

Blackburn, England: Blackburn eased their relegation worries with a 2-0 home win over Sunderland in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Blackburn moved six points clear of the drop zone with nine games remaining after second-half goals by Junior Hoilett and Ayegbeni Yakubu.

After a dull first half, Hoilett broke the deadlock in the 58th minute when he volleyed in after Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet's weak punch from a long throw-in.

Yakubu wrapped up a deserved win for the hosts when he headed home in the 86th from Bradley Orr's cross.

Players from both teams wore 'Pray for Muamba' T-shirts during the warm-up before the game in support of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who is recovering in intensive care following a cardiac arrest during a match on Saturday.

Terry ruled out of Chelsea's trip to Man City

London: Chelsea defender John Terry has been ruled out of their vital upcoming Premier League clash against Manchester City after failing to overcome a knock picked up against Napoli.

The 31-year-old was substituted during the latter stages of the Blues' thrilling extra-time win over the Italian side in the Champions League after injuring his knee and will miss the match at the Etihad Stadium, although Roberto Di Matteo is hopeful that his captain will be fit to face Spurs.

"We almost have a fully fit squad for the City game, only [Oriol] Romeu and Terry are out,” the interim coach told reporters.

"It's still a bit too early for Terry. He did very well to come back in such a short time and we were lucky. He should be fine for the weekend [against Spurs]."

With Vincent Kompany also out for the hosts, Chelsea's game against Manchester City on Wednesday is 21/10 with William Hill to feature over 3.5 goals.

Former West Brom boss Di Matteo has won all four of his matches since taking over from Andre Villas-Boas and he believes that it is important that the players build on this by continuing to work hard.

He added: "We need to prevent Man City from expressing themselves, they have quality players all over, from defence to attack.

"A confident team can be the difference between now and end of season, every player needs to put the effort in."

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