Cleat Geeks

WINS FOR ARSENAL, LIVERPOOL, QPR AND HULL ON NIGHT OF FIRSTS

It was a night of firsts in the Premier League on Tuesday night as QPR picked up their first points away from Loftus Road, Mario Balotelli scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool, Dame N’Doye scored his first Hull City goal on his debut and Andrej Kramaric scored his first ever goal for Leicester City.Nigel-Pearson

Croatian striker Kramaric’s 61st minute strike wasn’t enough to earn the Foxes a point, though, as they went down 2-1 away at Arsenal. The result keeps Nigel Pearson’s side bottom of the table, although to many it was a surprise to see the 51 year-old take charge of City on Tuesday night. On Sunday evening it had been widely reported that he had been sacked by the club following the 1-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday. During that game, Pearson had an altercation with Palace’s James McArthur, where he appeared to wrap his hands around the neck of the Scottish international. This fuelled speculation the Leicester manager had been dismissed, but the club released a statement a few hours later stating that he was still in charge at the King Power Stadium.

Taking up his usual position in the stands, Pearson was seen laughing and joking with members of the Thai board – who many believe had sacked him before having a change of heart – at the start of the game. Leicester made a promising opening to the match;

Riyad Mahrez

Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez.

Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez had two chances to put the visitors ahead early on. But it was the Gunners who struck first through centre-back Laurent Koscielny, who struck home from six yards out from a corner from the right. Four minutes before half-time Theo Walcott doubled the advantage after Mesut Ozil’s effort from outside the area was only parried by 42 year-old goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to the 25 year-old who made no mistake from nine yards out.

Kramaric’s response just past the hour mark gave Leicester hope, and, in truth, they did deserve to get something from the game. The $9 million January signing and Mahrez both missed excellent chances later on and the home side were relieved to hear the final whistle. At the end of the game Pearson sought to end speculation about whether or not he had been sacked and then reinstated on Sunday night by saying; “”They don’t want to get rid of me. I’m here. I had lunch with the owners today. My relationship remains very good, professionally and personally.”

Mario Balotelli’s first Premier League goal proved to be the winner as Liverpool beat Tottenham 3-2 in a pulsating game at Anfield.

Mario Ba;oteli.

Mario Ba;oteli.

Daniel Sturridge set up Lazar Markovic for the opening goal after 15 minutes. The Serbian midfielder hit a low shot past Hugo Loris into the bottom right corner to give the hosts the lead. Harry Kane just can’t stop scoring at the moment and bagged his 23rd goal of the season having done brilliantly to beat Mamadou Sakho before slotting the ball through Simon Mignolet’s legs. The home side retook the lead early in the second half after Sturridge went down under the challenge of Danny Rose in the area and referee Phil Dowd gave a penalty. Replays showed there didn’t appear to be much contact, if any. Steven Gerrard beat Loris from 12 yards to notch his tenth goal of the season, but the lead only lasted eight minutes. Moussa Dembele struck his first goal of the season after Christian Eriksen’s free-kick was saved by Mignolet and Kane knocked the ball back into the box for the Belgian midfielder tap home from close range.

The Reds won it seven minutes from the end when the enigmatic Balotelli got on the end of an Adam Lallana cross and tapped home from all of four yards out. In true Balotelli style, the Italian didn’t celebrate, or even smile at scoring his first league goal since November 2012 – maybe he’d forgotten how to after such a goal drought. The win moves Liverpool to within one point of Spurs in the table as both sides chase a Champions League place this season.

Caretaker boss Chris Ramsey oversaw QPR’s first away victory of the season as the Hoops defeated Sunderland 2-0 at the Stadium of Light. Speculation continues as to who will succeed Harry Redknapp as manager at Loftus Road, with red hot favourite for the post Tim Sherwood apparently not the man chosen by chairman Tony Fernandes. The club’s 50 year-old owner tweeted: “Think I have got my dream manager. Not what anyone thinks. Press all wrong.” Ramsey, who has publicly stated he would like the job full-time, did his cause the power of good by picking up the club’s first points away from Loftus Road.

The Londoners took the lead on 17 minutes when Dutch international Leroy Fer headed home Matty Phillips’ superb cross from wide right for his fourth league goal of the season. The hosts were lacklustre in the first half and fell 2-0 down on the stroke of half-time thanks to Bobby Zamora’s wonder strike.

Bobby Zamora.

Bobby Zamora.

Phillips was again the provider, though his cross was behind the 34 year-old, Zamora struck a superb half volley from just inside the Sunderland penalty area and rifled the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal. The only sour note on the night for Rangers was a knee injury to opening goal scorer Fer. The win is enough to take QPR out of the relegation zone, above Aston Villa on goal difference.

That is because Paul Lambert’s side went down 2-0 away at Hull City, leading to some sections of the travelling support to renew calls for the Scot to be sacked. However, it was a debut to remember for the Tigers new signing Dame N’Doye, who assisted the first goal and scored the second. The opening goal came from a long goal kick by Allan McGregor which the Senegalese striker brought down superbly, before playing in Nikica Jelavic, who’s deflected shot looped over Brad Guzan to give the Tigers the lead. Fifteen minutes from time the $3 million signing from Lokomotiv Moscow had a goal of his own to celebrate. Gaston Ramirez did well to win a header in the box and N’Doye hit the ball goalwards; Guzan did well to save it but the ball fell straight back to N’Doye who made no mistake at the second time of asking. The win takes Hull up to 15th in the table, but they still sit just a point above the bottom three. Meanwhile, under pressure Lambert says he is well aware of the fans anger; “I was aware of it months ago. I try to do my best. I’ve told the players, they’ve got 13 cup finals – that’s how they have to look at it,” he told the BBC.

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