Red Round Up: United Champions

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The Manchester Derby kicked off the penultimate weekend of the 2006/2007 season in what was to be an encounter in which only a penalty could push either side to victory. The real talking point of the game was Michael Ball, who tried everything to literally make ‘PFA Player of the Year’ Cristiano Ronaldo cry. From tugging to stamping, from pushing to pulling he couldn’t stop cocky Ronaldo cooly putting away a penalty awarded by brave Rob Styles.

Styles then awarded a second penalty this time in favour of the blue half on Manchester but Darius Vassell could only fire the ball down the middle, and at Edwin van der Sar’s leg. That miss could just have saved Rob Styles’ life, as no doubt would have Sir Alex complained that that wasn’t a penalty, but a dive.

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In a dismal game, Liverpool lost out to a Fulham side stuggling to stay up. It was a slow going match, with Craig Bellamy coming close on a couple of occasions for the Reds. The highlight of the match for the Reds was Momo Sissoko who gave Rafa a reason to play him in Athens. As usual he bossed the midfield, trying his best to push the troops for the three points and almost completed a Steven Gerrard-like performance with a 30-yard strike which just narrowly missed. But Fulham exploited Liverpool’s inability to score when American substitute Clint Dempsey scored his first goal for the Cottagers. Fulham now have a huge chance of staying up if results go there way next week.

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West Ham gave themselves a huge hope of stating in the Premiershp after a blisstering display against Bolton. Bolton, under new-managership with former Liverpool player and coach Sammy Lee, could only watch as illegal player Carlos Tevez netted twice to give the Hammers a two goal cushion early on. Tevez was again in the action, this time setting up young Hammer Mark Noble whos clean strike passed Jaaskelainen to put West Ham 3-0 up in thirt-five minutes. Life-long Red fan Kevin Nolan and former striker El Hadji Diouf helped pull back the deficit to 3-1 as ancient midfielder Gary Speed, who also scored against Pool earlier in the season, netted. Bolton are now struggling to keep a UEFA Cup spot while the Londoner’s now have realistic hopes of staying up.

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Aston Villa celebrated their new era with a 3-0 win over relegation threatened Sheffield United. Villa, sporting a new crest, came into their last home game of the season firing on all cylinders as wonerkid David Agbonlahor opened the scoring after just twenty-five minutes. New signing Ashley Young then doubled thw scoring on ’42. Former Liverpool favourite Patrik Berger connected well to give Villa their third and one win away from a half finish.

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Fellow Merseysiders Everton thrashed southeners Pompey 3-0. Pompey, who beat us 2-1 last week, managed to hold onto a clean sheet in the first half, former goalkeeper and record breaker David James keeping out a couple of Everton chances. Champions League medalist Djimi Traore also pitched in at the back for Pompey. But the Bluenoses came out firing in the second, Arteta scoring from the spot and Joseph Yobo headered in for the second. Gary Naysmith, who was at the hands of a career-threathening challenge from Stevie G a couple of years back, topped off with a third.

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Wigan and Emile Heskey were unable to prevent Boro beating them 1-0. Mark Viduku scored the only goal of the game in the thirtieth minute, firing past Mike Pollit who was goals for former ‘keeper Chris Kirkland.

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Relegated Watford raised chins with a respectable 2-0 win over Reading. It was a quiet first half with few chances created but the Hornets raised the entertainment level in the second half, Danny Shittu opening the scoring and Marlon King doubling layer on.

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Blackburn edged out Newcastle at St James’ Park. Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen was amongst the starting eleven for Toon. But that wasn’t enough for the Magpies as former Red Stephen Warnock pitched in with Benni McCarthy’s goal. Former Wigan striker Jason Roberts then doubled Blackburn’s lead in the 75th as he shot past Shay Given. Stephane Henchoz was amongst the substitutes for Blackburn on the day.

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A 1-1 draw between Chelsea and Arsenal has caused Man Utd to win their 16th league title. It was sruffy match, both teams hitting hard but Boulharouz hit the hardest when he was sent off for conceding a penalty, which Gilberto Silva scored. It was an exciting second half, Fabregas and Ababayor both coming close until a Shaun Wright Phillips cross found Michael Essien who’s feint header passed helpless Lehmann. However Salomon Kalou came close to keeping Chelski in the title race before Joe Cole’s top finish was disallowed for offside. But it was to be Man United‘s day as Chelsea couldn’t conjour a second, and no matter what happens midweek between the sides, the Premiership title is Manure’s.

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Sunday also saw the end of the Championship season as Sunderland thrashed Luton to clinch the title following Birmingham’s 1-0 defeat to Preston. The Mackems and Brummies will be joined by one of; Derby, West Brom, Wolves and Southampton, who took the four play off places.

Kevin Coleman

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