By JOHN BOSCHINI
Manchester United just will not go away as they overcame a 3-0 deficit to draw away to Chelsea and keep pressure on Manchester City.
It was shaping up to be a long afternoon at Stamford Bridge as a 1-0 halftime lead for Chelsea from Jonathan Evans' own goal was quickly extended. Fernando Torres found Juan Mata in the box in the 46th minute and the Spaniard blasted home Chelsea's second and David Luiz's header made it 3-0 just three minutes later.
However, United didn't go quietly and were soon back into the game. Howard Webb awarded two penalties which left Chelsea furious but Wayne Rooney expertly converted both spot kicks and the margin was just one goal. It was largely one-way traffic from then on aside from a chance Torres should have slotted home. The equalizer, seemingly inevitable at that point, came with less than 10 minutes to go when Javier Hernandez headed past Petr Cech. David De Gea came up with one of the saves of the season in the dying minutes by robbing Mata on a curling free kick.
Inter Milan's renaissance came to an embrassing end this weekend as they were thrashed 4-0 by AS Roma. Fabio Borini's brace was bookended by goals from Juan and Bojan Krkic as Roma registered over two-thirds of time of possession. Inter Milan are nine points behind the leaders and five points off the Champions League. The return of Wesley Sneijder has not helped revitalize Inter as they've failed to win the last four games with him in the lineup.
Here is a look back at the rest of the action in Europe from over the weekend.
Arsenal still face a difficult climb into the top four but a 7-1 obliteration of 10-men Blackburn on Saturday will be a welcome morale boost. Robin van Persie netted a hat trick while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit a brace. Mikel Arteta and returning hero Thierry Henry got the other goals. Manchester City moved two points clear of United at the top with a 3-0 win over Fulham.
Arsenal 7, Blackburn Rovers 1
Norwich 2, Bolton Wanderers 0
Queens Park Rangers 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
Stoke City 0, Sunderland 1
West Bromwich Albion 1, Swansea City 2
Wigan 1, Everton 1
Manchester City 3, Fulham 0
Newcastle United 2, Aston Villa 1
Chelsea 3, Manchester Untied 3
Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 3 p.m.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid squeaked out one-goal victories as the gap between the two teams remained static at seven points. Valencia, Levante, Espanyol, Athletic Bilbao and Athletico Madrid all drew as the races for third and fourth place didn't change. Villareal are on their way to safety after a win over Sevilla.
Athletic Bilbao 3, Espanyol 3
Levante 1, Racing Santander 1
Mallorca 1, Real Betis 0
Getafe 0, Real Madrid 1
Barcelona 2, Real Sociedad 1
Sporting Gijon 1, Osasuna 1
Sevilla FC 1, Villareal 2
Real Zaragoza 1, Rayo Vallecano 2
Atletico Madrid 0, Valencia 0
Borussia Dortmund took advantage of lackluster draws from Bayern Munich and Schalke to move into sole possession of first place. Sebastian Kehl and Lucas Barrios slotted home the goals for visiting Dortmund. Borussia Monchengladbach failed to move into second place thanks to a scoreless draw with Wolfsburg.
Nurnberg 0, Borussia Dortmund 2
Bayer Leverkusen 2, VfB Stuttgart 2
Hertha Berlin 0, Hannover 1
Schalke 1, Mainz 1
TSG Hoffenheim 2, FC Ausburg 2
VfL Wolfsburg 0, Borussia Monchengladbach 0
Hamburg 1, Bayern Munich 1
SC Freiburg 2, Werder Bremen 2
Kaiserslautern 0, FC Cologne 1
Juventus are still the only unbeaten team in a top European league but the multitude of draws is making it difficult for the leaders to pull away. A scoreless draw with Siena marked Juve's ninth draw of the season. AC Milan failed to capitalize and remain one point back after a draw with Napoli.
Genoa 3, Lazio 2
AC Milan 0, Napoli 0
AS Roma 4, Inter Milan 0
Chievo Verona 1, Parma 2
Fiorentina 3, Udinese 2
Juventus 0, Siena 0
Lecce 0, Bologna 0
Novara 0, Cagliari 0
Palermo 2, Atalanta 1
Paris St. Germain and Montpellier continued their stroll through the rest of Ligue 1 with comfortable wins over the weekend. PSG is on a seven-game unbeaten run while Montpellier is on a three-game winning streak. Marseille conceded a two goal lead to draw with Lyon.
AC Ajaccio 1, Nice 1
AS Nancy Lorraine 0, Stade Rennes 0
Dijon FCO 1, Valenciennes 2
Montpellier 1, Brest 0
Paris St. Germain 3, Evian Thonon Gaillard 1
Bordeaux 2, Toulouse 0
Caen vs. AJ Auxerre, postponed
Sochaux vs. Lille, postponed
Marseille 2, Lyon 2
A bout of postponements temporarily skewed the title race in the Eredivisie. PSV Eindhoven only managed a draw against SC Heracles Almelo, leaving the door open for FC Twente only three points behind with a game in hand. Ajax lost, 2-0, to relegation-threatened FC Utrecht and tumbled to sixth place.
Heerenveen 4, Roda JC Kerkrade 3
ADO Den Haag vs. AZ Alkmaar, postponed
Excelsior 3, VVV Venlo 1
Vitesse Arnhem 1, NAC Breda 0
Ajax 0, FC Utrecht 2
De Graafschap vs. FC Twente, postponed
NEC Nijmegen 0, Feyenoord Rotterdam 2
SC Heracles Almelo 1, PSV Eindhoven 1
FC Groningen 0, RKC Waalwijk 3
What do you think of this weekend's games? Was Chelsea vs. Manchester United one of the games of the season? Surprised by Roma's victory? Think Juventus string some wins together?
Share your thoughts below.
Leave the internets!
It is entirely possible that’s what happened but you have to have great eyes at regular speed to discern between a moderate trip and hooking the leg……let’s be real, if you put yourself in a position to be fallen over, I think you can’t pout too much when they blow the whistle…..stay on your feet, etc. Yes, it’s not the two-footer (complete with helicoptering victim) that earned the guy the red in one of the other EPL matches, but as much as I generally like Ivanovic for being good at his prime directive, I’m amazed he couldn’t pop out of the slide and save himself…..
Welbeck dragged his legs over the defender’s boot, no penalty.
I’ve never liked refs who are timid about PKs. This includes refs who don’t want to call them in close games or who seem more confident to do so in blowouts or when the PK will tie the score. If you don’t call fouls in the box enough you, in the words of Rush, have still made a choice. Defenders get out the axes and start chopping. Maybe it’s that my one college red was for yelling at a ref who let me get taken out twice by the keeper one on one in a road game, but it’s about making the appropriate call, not worrying what people will think. The notion that there are only so many PK calls one should make in a game, or that they must be of a certain nature, misses the point.
They were both legit calls. On the first the defender falls all over the back of the dude’s legs. Not purposeful but fouls don’t have to be. On the second, Ivanovic doesn’t quite pull out of the challenge — though he seems to want to — and the dude trips over him. Though the second was marginal — sometimes refs don’t reward players who could have avoided the contact — well, this is why one has to be delicate in the box.
The best thing about this game to me happened during the Super Bowl party I attended last night.
A sports-crazy acquaintance of mine who has nearly zero knowledge about soccer asked me during one of the 1st quarter commercials if I watched any soccer. “Too much, probably,” was my response. He then asked if I’d seen the game that Fox had aired that morning (Man U – Chelsea). I had been doing car maintenance all morning, so I hadn’t. I asked if it had been a good game and he said he had really enjoyed it and was surprised that it had held his attention. He went on to say he was interested in checking out the Dynamo (our local team) this season, though some of that might be new stadium hype.
Long story short, it’s nice to know FOX’s strategy of showing big EPL matches the morning of big NFL games is actually reaching new potential audience members and soccer fans.
Entertainingly, none of the players you mention are English.
I blame AV-B 20x more than Romeu or any of the actual players because back in the Special One’s era, he could milk 1-0 Chelsea leads for a whole game — even against ManU/Rooney-level squads. Like I was hinting, I felt like AV-B went defensive and backed off and Chelsea paid for it. Because otherwise Chelsea came out of the locker room like gangbusters at home and they should win…..
I think AV-B is a mirage. No playing experience (Mourinho actually played), just two decent level jobs (BVI doesn’t count), one lucky year with a Porto team that keeps rolling atop Portugal without him. Of course Steve Fisher manages to stay employed too.
The Romeu comment is more pointed at AV-B than Romeu himself. I figured he had to know the kid’s physical limits from watching practice — you’d think — and it was just generally they could have used a couple more Essiens or Ivanovics who actually get stuck in…..just got very passive and positional…..Giggs gets 5 yards to cross in to Chicharito.
The first was arguably a penalty, the second was not even close. Welbeck took a bad touch and then basically took a dive to make up for it.
Also, that was the 4th consecutive penalty for United over two games. EPL record.
OK I didn’t watch the match, so I apologize if I’m asking ignorant questions, but any match that has two penalty kicks awarded is pretty remarkable, let alone for two the same team, let alone 10 minutes apart. In fact several refs I talk to candidly admit that they actually are reluctant in giving a second penalty kick after awarding one (granted none of them ref pro at any level, let alone EPL).
So my question is: how blatant was that second call? Was there a straight red involved in any of the penalties? Was Chelsea mugging their opponents? Did Man U really “earn” those goals?
I’m not assuming that the fix was in, but I can certainly understand why folks are suspicious are at the very least reluctant to call it anything akin to “skill”. Plus it’s Man U, a club which seems to be infamous for having the dice roll their way in iffy situations.
Perhaps this is the real legacy of SAF? Cultivating a style of play that uses the ref to it’s advantage?
Does look that way, doesn’t it.
Two highly entertaining PL games on Sunday with some fantastic finishes. Cisse hits an absolute stonker, Mata takes it in the air and hits a perfect drive past De Gea, and Chicharito scores on a textbook header off the cross from Giggs. Great Sunday for English soccer.
I agree, Romeu was terrible, but what could he do? He’s incredibly slow, so that’s the boss’ fault. Rooney could have held his hand and Romeu still wouldn’t find him.
United are very good late in games and at drawing penalties,fair or not. Those skills will win the EPL title.
“David Luiz’s header made it 3-0 just three minutes later.”
What header? have you seen any header you prank? LOL!
AV-B has yet to impress me. Got up 3-0 and then seemed to back off the gas. My theory is if you’re winning attacking keep doing that. Never bunker until like 5-10 mins left max. You might want to mark Rooney perhaps. And for a team trying to run out the clock, you might have wanted more bite in the defense. More Ivanovic, less Romeu (who sucked, my two cents).
Based on that cross maybe Torres is more useful out wide, but then AV-B has to roll with someone else up top.
Rooney’s new hair cut should be a straight red.
Howard Webb (thinking): Please go in, Please go in, Please go in…
Howard Webb watches approvingly.