Cleat Geeks


The Premier League’s bottom two sides going into today’s matches both picked up valuable victories as the battle to avoid relegation hots up.

Leicester City defeated local rivals Aston Villa 1-0 at the King Power stadium thanks to a goal in first-half injury time from full-back Paul Konchesky. The former England international hammered home from the edge of the penalty area after Villa failed to clear Leo Ulloa’s cross. The goal would have been especially sweet for Konchesky as he was red carded in the reverse fixture at Villa Park in December, although it was later rescinded by the FA’s disciplinary panel. There were two red cards in this game, as referee Michael Oliver dismissed City’s Matty James after a rash tackle on Jores Okore, which sparked a mass brawl in the centre of the pitch late on. Villa defender Ciaran Clark took exception to the challenge and also saw red for squaring up to the midfielder. Goal-shy Villa have now scored just 11 goals in 21 league matches, and sections of their support turned on manager Paul Lambert. After the game Lambert said; “In football you either sink or swim, and I am certainly not going to roll over.” Despite the victory, the Foxes remain bottom of the table.

That’s because 19th placed Burnley defeated QPR 2-1 at Turf Moor. Clarets manager Sean Dyche said; “We’re having to earn the right in everything that we do and today we earned the right to three points.” For QPR, the defeat was their tenth successive away loss, a new Premier League record. Scottish midfielder Scott Arfield gave the home side the lead after running past Mauricio Isla and Richard Dunne before placing his shot beyond goalkeeper Rob Green. Just after half an hour, the Hoops were back on terms thanks to a penalty from Charlie Austin. The 25 year-old striker was brought down in the box by Dean Marney and made no mistake from the spot to claim his 13th goal of the season. The Londoners were level for only four minutes, as Danny Ings easily bypassed the Rangers defence before stylishly beating Green. The win for Burnley is enough to move them out of the relegation zone, above QPR, who replace the Clarets in 19th place.

Alan Pardew enjoyed success in his first Premier League game as Crystal Palace manager, but the Eagles had to come from behind at Selhurst Park against in-form Tottenham. Christian Eriksen and Glenn Murray both missed golden chances for either side in an otherwise quiet first half. Harry Kane put the visitors ahead four minutes into the second half though, with a cool right footed finish low into the bottom left hand corner that gave ‘keeper Julian Speroni no chance. The game changed on the awarding of a penalty to Palace, though, as Benjamin Stambouli’s sliding tackle upended Joe Ledley, and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. Dwight Gayle blasted the ball into the corner, giving Hugo Lloris no chance in the Spurs goal. The home side began to grow in confidence and Tottenham eventually succumbed to pressure when Jason Puncheon reacted first to a deflected Wilfried Zaha cross and drilled home into the bottom right corner. That goal came just moments after Palace felt they should have had another penalty after Kyle Walker appeared to intentionally handle the ball in the box.

Meanwhile Chelsea, who lost their last game 5-3 against Spurs, bounced back with a relatively comfortable 2-0 home win over Pardew’s old club Newcastle. Oscar scored the Blues’ first goal after quick thinking from his Brazilian team mate Willian, who’s quick corner allowed Branislav Ivanovic the space to cross for the 23 year-old to score his fifth goal of the season. That goal came at the end of a first-half in which Newcastle had more than held their own; they might even have been in front had Moussa Sissoko’s shot not hit the crossbar. Just before the hour Chelsea made sure of the three points after superb interplay between Eden Hazard, Oscar and Diego Costa, before the striker drilled the ball low past Tim Krul to double the lead.

Manchester City fall two points behind Chelsea at the top of the table after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Everton. It took City until the 75th minute to make the breakthrough when Fernandinho headed home after David Silva’s initial shot had been blocked. The hosts drew level just three minutes later when Steven Naismith headed in Leighton Baines’ free-kick. City boss Manuel Pellegrini said after the game; “We are not deciding the title in this moment; I think it’s important we try to improve the way we are playing.”

Lazar Markovic’s first Premier League goal was enough to give Liverpool a 1-0 win at Sunderland. The Serbian international latched onto former Sunderland loanee Fabio Borini’s neat flick through before slotting the ball past Costel Pantilimon. The Black Cats were lacklustre throughout and were reduced to ten men early in the second half when Liam Bridcutt picked up a second yellow card for impeding Emre Can. Pool are now just four points behind the top four.

Tony Pulis was victorious in his first Premier League match in charge of West Brom thanks to Saido Berahino’s thunderous strike against Hull City. The result plunges City into the relegation zone, while the Baggies climb to 14th.

The days’ other game finished all square between Swansea and West Ham at the Liberty stadium. Andy Carroll put the Hammers ahead with a ferocious finish after he used his head and chest to control the ball in the Swans’ penalty area. Bafetimbi Gomis’ header struck the post before rebounding onto the unfortunate Mark Noble who couldn’t prevent the ball from crossing the line to earn the home side a share of the spoils.

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