RECAP: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
Marcus Hahnemann saw his first Premier League action for Wolves in a losing effort while Tim Howard and Everton were left high and dry in their loss to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 - 1 Birmingham City
Marcus Hahnemann was surely pleased to be handed the starting jersey, and play the full ninety minutes for his first league action of the season, but cannot have been happy with the result as Wolves fell to Birmingham.
The game was barely under way when the keeper was picking the ball out of the net after a third-minute goal from Lee Bowyer, who scored his fifth of the season. Christian Benitez found James McFadden on the right wing, and the ball was then crossed in to the edge of the area for the midfielder, who saw the American off his line, and chipped the ball over him in to the top left of the goal.
Birmingham were easily the dominant team in the first half, and brought fine saves from Hahnemann with shots from Bowyer, Cameron Jerome and Seb Larsson.
The hosts pushed forward in the second half, but never looked like scoring, with the exception of a rasping shot from Matt Jarvis which was well saved by Joe Hart in the Blues' goal.
Wolves remain ranked 19th in the standings, and have a must-win game next week when they host fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers.
Everton 0 - 2 Liverpool
Tim Howard went the distance as Everton played well enough to earn something from the game, but failed to beat their near neighbors from across Stanley Park.
The first Liverpool goal in the 12th minute owed a lot to good fortune as Javier Mascherano received a pass 25 yards out, slightly to the left of the field, and hit a speculative shot which looked to be going wide to the near side of the goal. Joseph Yobo was defending on the edge of the area, and could do nothing as the ball deflected off his leg, and flew into the bottom-right of the goal, past a helpless Howard.
Everton pushed forward, and had several chances, but failed to capitalize. One particular double save from a Tim Cahill header and Marouane Fellaini follow-up shot summed up the Toffees' afternoon.
They also had the ball in the net on two occasions, both times from Brazilian forward Jo, each of which was ruled out for offside.
The killer blow came against the run of play in the 80th minute, and was scored by Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt, who had started the move with a pass to the left which was then won by Steven Gerrard. The England midfielder laid the ball back to Albert Riera, who fired in a fierce left-foot shot which Howard could only parry into the path of Kuyt, who tapped into the bottom-right of the net from six yards.
Everton are now ranked 16th in the Premier League, and will travel to AEK Athens in the Europa League on Thursday before returning to host third ranked Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Manchester City 1 - 1 Hull City
Jozy Altidore played the first 75 minutes as the Tigers extended their unbeaten run to four games with an unlikely draw at the City of Manchester Stadium.
The hosts took the lead in the 46th minute of the first half, and came from England international winger Sean Wright-Phillips.
He received the ball midway through the visitors half, and skipped past the efforts of a visiting defender before hitting a shot from 22 yards that keeper Matt Duke appeared to have covered until it deflected off the head of defender Anthony Gardner into the bottom-right corner of the goal.
The hosts had continually pushed forward, and the Humbersiders were relying totally on the tactics of holding, and then trying to hit on the break.
This almost worked in the 47th minute of the game when Altidore ran into the area, and laid a simple pass to Richard Garcia who lifted the ball over keeper Shay Given, only to see a certain goal cleared off the line by England defender Joleon Lescott.
The equalizer came from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute of the goal when Altidore's replacement Jan Vennegor of Hesselink went down very easily under a challenge from Kolo Toure. Midfielder Jimmy Bullard took the penalty, and scored into the top left corner of the goal despite a valiant effort from Given who had guessed the correct direction of the shot.
Hull fell to fifteenth in the rankings, and will travel to sixth ranked Aston Villa on Saturday.
Aston Villa 1 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur
Brad Friedel went the distance as Brad Guzan watched his compatriot from the bench in this battle of two teams hoping to break into the four places available for the UEFA Champions League.
Villa went ahead in the tenth minute of the game when Gabriel Agbonlahor was quickest to react as Carlos Cuellar headed on a right-wing James Milner corner, bundling the ball into the bottom-left of the goal from three yards.. The ball flew across the face of the goal, and the forward got between defenders Michael Dawson and Wilson Palacios, who seemed to collide as they attempted to clear the header.
Spurs poured forward looking to draw level, and Friedel was called upon to make several crucial saves, three of note coming from Tom Huddlestone Niko Krancar and Jermaine Jenas.
When the deserved equalizer came in the 77th minute it was an unstoppable half-volley from Dawson. Benoit Assou-Ekotto crossed from the left and the ball was headed out by Richard Dunne to Dawson on the edge of the area who controlled the ball with his chest before hitting the ball powerfully into the top-left corner.
Villa fall to sixth in the standings, and next travel to Portsmouth on Tuesday for a Carling Cup clash before returning to Villa Park on Saturday to host Hull City.
West Ham United 5 - 3 Burnley
Jonathan Spector played the whole 90 minutes in a goal-fest at rainy Upton Park. The home team went into a massive lead before relaxing and allowing the visitors to score late goals.
The Hammers took the lead in the 18th minute when Jack Collison scored from twelve yards into the bottom-right corner. A free kick was taken quickly from the left, and the youngster beat a poor offside trap before stroking the ball past keeper Brian Jensen.
The lead was doubled in the 33rd minute as Junior Stanislas found the net from a rebound off the goalie. Stanislas received a reverse pass from Gillermo Francos, and struck a shot which Jensen saved, but could only palm back to the winger who beat him at the near post, although the ball went right across the goal before going in off the far post.
Spector had a hand in the third goal which came from the penalty spot in the 43rd minute, having been fouled by Robbie Blake as he ran in to the right of the penalty area. England forward Carlton Cole stepped up, and placed his shot into the center of the goal as the goalie dived to his right.
Franco scored the fourth goal with a header from five yards in the 51st minute of the game following a free kick on the right. Zavon Hines was fouled by Stephen Jordan, and Stanislas whipped a corner to the far post, from where the Italian headed the ball into the bottom-right of the goal.
The hosts scored their fifth goal from the penalty spot in the 64th minute, scored by forward Luis Jiminez. The Chilean, on loan from Inter Milan, was fouled by Jensen as he ran into the right of the penalty area, and stepped up to score into the center of the goal as the goalie dived to the left.
Burnley started their own run of goals with a goal from Steven Fletcher in the 68th minute. Left-winger Chris Eagles crossed from the left, and found the forward at the far post to tap into an empty net.
The same pairing were involved in the second Burnley goal which came in the 74th minute. Eagles again cut in to the area from the left, but beat his man before laying off a beautiful cross which Fletcher beat goalie Robert Green to, slipping the ball under him into the center of the goal.
Eagles scored the last goal in the 95th minute shortly after Burnley were reduced to ten men. Tyrone Mears ran down the right before crossing to the winger who scored from fifteen yards.
West Ham are seventeenth in the standings, and will host second ranked Manchester United on Saturday.
Fulham 1 - 1 Bolton Wanderers
Clint Dempsey was a 90-minute man, and Eddie Johnson was an unused substitute as Fulham totally dominated Bolton, but had to come from behind to salvage a draw.
The Trotters took the lead totally against the run of play in the 35th minute with a goal from Ivan Klasnic. He took a header from Gary Cahill, turned Brede Hangeland and scored from six yards.
The Cottagers set siege to the Wanderers goal, but had to wait until the 75th minute for an equalizer from Damien Duff. Erik Nevland set the Irishman free down the right, and he cut inside before shooting from the edge of the area.
Fulham are ranked tenth and will host CSKA Sofia in the Europa Cup on Thursday. They will return to Premier League action on Sunday with a home game against eighth-place Sunderland.
Sheffield Wednesday 0 - 4 West Bromwich Albion
Frank Simek went the distance as Wednesday were taken apart by the free-scoring Albion, who have scored thirty-nine goals in their eighteen Championship games this season, fifteen coming in their last four.
The Baggies opened the scoring in the 23rd minute with a volleyed goal from Simon Cox. Graham Dorrans took a left wing corner, and Cox beat his marker at the far post before rifling in from three yards.
The second goal came in the 30th minute, and again was scored by Cox, who controlled a left wing cross before scoring from six yards. Visiting goalie Scott Carson sent a long clearance to the left, which was controlled by Jerome Thomas, and slid down the line for Chris Brunt, who crossed for the forward to score his fifth goal in four games.
Albion's third goal in the 38th minute would have graced any game, and was clinical in its execution, Dorrans appeared trapped in the left-back position, but escaped and hit a fifty yard pass to Thomas, who played a one-two with Cox before scoring into the bottom-right corner from 12 yards.
The impressive Brunt scored the fourth goal in the 85th minute from 18 yards. He brought down a cross from Chris Woods before dispatching it into the bottom-left corner.
Sheffield are nineteenth in the Coca-Cola Championship standings and will host twenty-first ranked Reading on Saturday.
Injured Jay DeMerit missed the 3-0 Watford defeat at Crystal Palace.
Zak Whitbread was out injured as Millwall had a surprising 1-1 draw at Staines Town in the FA Cup.
Seb Harris played the last 12 minutes as Northampton suffered a home 2-3 FA Cup defeat against Southampton.
Eric Licaj was refused permission by Aston Villa to play in the Lincoln City 3-1 FA Cup success at Northwich Victoria.
Jemal Johnson was an unused substitute as Milton Keynes Dons came from 3-1 down to beat Exeter City 4-3 in the FA Cup.