European Leagues Roundup: Barcelona derby stalemate, Arsenal, Manchester United and City win, while Liverpool lose to West Ham
RCD Espanyol 0-0 Barcelona
In the 163rd Catalan derby, spoils were shared as Espanyol and Barcelona played out a feisty 0-0 draw at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat. Barcelona hit the woodwork two times and would have felt hard done by. However, Espanyol put in an inspired display as they deservedly earned a point against their bitter rivals.
The bitterness between the teams showed as Alvaro Gonzalez of Espanyol and Javier Mascherano of Barcelona got into an altercation in the 22nd minute that ended up with both players being booked. Barcelona's first chance came in the 36th minute, when Lionel Messi's free kick smashed the crossbar.
After the second half resumed, Neymar had a golder opportunity to finish from a rebound, but his shot was blocked brilliantly to deny the Brazilian the best chance of the match. Ivan Rakitic's excellent through ball found Luis Suarez which the forward struck well, but not well enough, as his shot hit the post.
The match had a lot of tackles put in by the players and the referee was kept busy throughout the game. Espanyol finished the game with 22 fouls, while the visitors made 11 fouls. Barcelona lead the La Liga table, only a point ahead of Atletico Madrid who later play Levante at the Vicente Calderon. Espanyol moved up to 11th place with the draw.
West Ham defeated Liverpool 2-0 in the early kickoff, to complete a Premier League double over the Reds. Arsenal squeaked to a narrow 1-0 win over Newcastle United at home to open up a two point lead at the top of the table, as Leicester City drew 0-0 with ten-man Bournemouth. Manchester United were aided by goals from Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial to triumph 2-1 over Swansea. Elsewhere, Norwich, Sunderland and West Brom all defeated Southampton, Aston Villa and Stoke City respectively. In the late kickoff, Manchester City scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to defeat Watford 2-1 away from home.
West Ham 2-0 Liverpool
Scorers: Antonio 10’, Carroll 55’
West Ham went above Liverpool in the table in 5th place, as goals from Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll gave the Hammers a convincing 2-0 victory over a misfiring Liverpool.
Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle United
Scorers: Koscielny 72’
Arsenal started their game on the front foot, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain beat his marker to float in a cross for Olivier Giroud, but Newcastle keeper Elliot parried the ball away. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hector Bellerin combined brilliantly minutes later, but the English winger screwed his shot wide when in a good position to score.
Newcastle responded to Arsenal’s early pressure later on, as Gigi Wijnaldum drew a good save from Petr Cech with a header, and the Czech’s parry eventually required him to make another save from Colback. With Hector Bellerin continuing to make merry down the right, Newcastle managed to withstand the Gunners’ pressure, almost stealing a lead in the 43rd minute as Cech was excellent in smothering a Wijnaldum shot after Ramsey had failed to clear.
Newcastle had a wonderful chance to go ahead after the break, as Ayoze Perez sent Wijnaldum clear. The Dutchman fluffed his one-on-one with Petr Cech, as the Czech keeper made himself big and made a great smothering stop, aiming to extend his freshly set clean sheet record.
As Arsenal laboured to make any clear chances, with Newcastle looking comfortable, the Gunners went ahead slightly against the run of play in the 72nd minute. A corner from Ozil wasn’t cleared by Newcastle and Olivier Giroud did well to cushion a header towards goal, where Laurent Koscielny ghosted past a dozing Perez to neatly tuck away into the net. A late Ramsey chance failed to add gloss to the scoreline, as Arsenal took a two point lead at the top of the table as the final whistle blew, while Newcastle were in the relegation zone in 18th place.
Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City
Scorers: Martial 47’, Rooney 75’ – Sigurdsson 70’
Manchester United started their game well, as Ander Herrera burst into the box but shot over the goal from close range. The game petered out after the initial chance, but midway through the first half, Wayne Rooney had a chance to open the scoring, as he was found at the back post by an excellent Ashley Young cross, but could only find the side-netting.
Rooney was at the end of another Young delivery towards the end of the half, but Fabianski saved comfortably. As the first half drew to close, Louis van Gaal’s ‘boring’ tag found some justification as United made it nine consecutive home games in which they hadn’t scored in the first half.
Ashley Young’s industry down the flanks was finally rewarded 2 minutes into the second half, as the England international found Anthony Martial at the back post with a lovely cross, with the Frenchman heading the ball into the ground and bouncing above Fabianski into the net, as Old Trafford erupted in relief – United were 1-0 up in the 47th minute.
Swansea withstood further United pressure and were rewarded in the 70th minute, as substitute Modou Barrow twisted and turned on the right wing before sending in a peach of a delivery that Gylfi Sigurdsson met with a well times header. Before Old Trafford could have flashbacks of Swansea’s comeback 2-1 win last year, Rooney gave the Red Devils the lead in the 75th minute.
The Old Trafford talisman reminded everyone of his class, deftly flicking a low, hard cross from Martial past his marker with the back of his heel into Fabianski’s net, thus taking him closer to Bobby Charlton’s record. As the game went into the final minutes, Fabianski almost added to the drama, arrowing a header past the goal as the final whistle blew, leaving United in 5th on 33 points while Swansea hover above the relegation zone in 17th.
With the winning goal, Rooney has now overtaken Denis Law as the second highest goalscorer for Man United with 238 goals. Sir Bobby Charlton leads the list with 249 goals in all competitions for United.
Leicester City 0-0 AFC Bournemouth
Red card : Francis (Bournemouth) 57’
Leicester City and Bournemouth could both have gone ahead at the break, as Jamie Vardy hit the post from 10 yards out, while Joshua King and Dan Gosling both missed golden opportunities for the Cherries. The pivotal moment of the match came in the second half, as Bournemouth captain Simon Francis was harshly sent off for a foul on Vardy, even thow replays showed he touched the ball.
Riyad Mahrez stepped up to take the penalty, but the Premier League’s best player of the season so far missed, as Artur Boruc read the Algerian’s stuttering run-up and guessed correctly, to save comfortably. The Foxes overwhelmed the Cherries in the latter stages, but could not break down their defence
Norwich City 1-0 Southampton
Scorers: Tettey 74’
Red Card: Wanyama (Southampton) 73’
Southampton slumped to their fourth defeat in the last five games at Carrow Road as The Saints lost 0-1 to Norwich City. Alexander Tettey’s precise finish gave The Canaries their third win in the last four games. Earlier two reckless challenges from Victor Wanyama meant that the midfielder was sent off, thus leaving his side just a point above Norwich in 13th place. The win takes Norwich six points above the relegation zone.
Sunderland 3-1 Aston Villa
Scorers: Van Aanholt 30’, Defoe 72’ 93’ – Gil 63’
The battle of the two bottom clubs of the Premier League was a thrilling encounter, with Sunderland deservedly coming out on top. Patrick van Aanholt scored for the Black Cats in the first half against the run of play with a long-range deflected strike. Carles Gil’s exquisite equaliser briefly put the cat among the pigeons, but two late strikes from Jermain Defoe were enough to give Sunderland the win. The result leaves Villa mired to the root of the table with 8 points and relegations seems a formality.
West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Stoke City
Scorers: Sessegnon 60’, Evans 93’ – Walters 81’
Red Card: Cameron (Stoke) 84’
West Bromwich Albion beat Stoke City 2-1 with Jonny Evans scoring the winning goal in injury time. After Stephane Sessegnon's opener for West Brom in the 60th minute, Jonathan Walters’ equaliser for Stoke with just nine minutes to go in the match seemed to earn Stoke a draw. However, Evans’ goal gave West Brom their second consecutive victory to propel them to 12th place in the table.
Watford 1-2 Manchester City
Scorers: Kolarov (OG) 55’ – Toure 82’, Aguero 84’
Manchester City’s big players came up with pivotal goals as they came back from a goal down in the final 10 minutes to score a vital victory over Watford, leaving them in 3rd only 3 points behind leaders Arsenal.