European roundup : Liverpool and Arsenal play a thrilling draw, while Leicester City win to go joint top with City drawing, Barcelona win
The midweek round of fixtures under floodlights witnessed the Premier League at its very best. Liverpool scored late to snatch a thrilling 3-3 draw against Arsenal at Anfield. Leicester also scored a late winner to defeat Tottenham 1-0 and go joint top of the table. Manchester City and Everton played out a goalless draw at the Etihad. Chelsea conceded a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw with West Brom at Stamford Bridge. Elsewhere, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland defeated Watford, Norwich and Swansea respectively.
Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal
Scorers : Firmino 9’, 19’, Allen 90’ – Ramsey 13’, Giroud 25’ 55’
Liverpool started the game like a house on fire, as Roberto Firmino gave the Reds an early lead. As Theo Walcott lost the ball with Liverpool attacking in numbers, Petr Cech could only parry a stinging Emre Can shot into Firmino’s path who fired under Koscielny’s legs past Cech. Arsenal responded in a few minutes, as Joel Campbell’s slide rule pass found Aaron Ramsey who had made an excellent darting run to strike past Simon Mignolet at his near post, equalizing for the Gunners in the 13th minute.
A breathtaking start to the game did not let up, as Firmino scored his second of the night in the 19th minute in stunning fashion. The Brazilian found himself in space quite a few yards from goal, but attempted an equisite curling effort from range that flew into the top corner, leaving Cech no chance. The topsy-turvy game took another twist 6 minutes later as Arsenal equalised from a corner; Simon Mignolet should have done better as a near post flick from Giroud squirmed underneath his legs and into the net.
The game continued at breakneck speed as Giroud and Aaron Ramsey missed open goals, thus eschewing the chance to give Arsenal the lead going into the break. Similarly, Firmino should have had a first half hat-trick in injury time as he turned and created space for a shot that came off the crossbar, thus drawing an end to a frenzied first half.
The second half continued in the same vein, as Arsenal and Liverpool traded blows. The Gunners took the upper hand in the 55th minute, as Bellerin made a birst down the right flank and found Campbell, whose pass deflected onto Giroud; leaving the Frenchman to brilliantly wrong-foot Kolo Toure with a deft spin and find a yard of space to finish into the bottom corner with his left foot. Liverpool had a couple of long range efforts that didn’t overly trouble Cech as the half progressed.
The snow started falling around Anfield in the final stages of the game, as Arsenal required a couple of wonderful tackles from Mertesacker to thwart Ibe and Lallana. Jurgen Klopp brought Christian Benteke and Joe Allen on as a last throw of the dice and the Liverpool striker made the difference in the final minute, as it was his cushioned header from a diagonal that allowed Joe Allen to volley home Liverpool’s equalizer that sent the Kop into a frenzy.
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Leicester City
Scorers : Huth 83’
Leicester snatched a late win away at White Hart Lane to continue their run in the title race. A corener from Christian Fuchs in the final ten minutes found it’s way onto the head of Robert Huth, who stretched his neck muscles and powered home a looping header from far out to score for the Foxes.
As the final whistle blew, the Foxes celebrated the three points that allowed them to go joint top of the table, only trailing Arsenal on goal difference, with the 43 points they have accrued until now eclipsing the 41 points they earned last season to stay in the Premier League. Spurs, meanwhile lose further ground away from the top of the table but remain in 4th with 36 points.
Manchester City 0-0 Everton
Manchester City and Everton played out a goalless draw at the Etihad, but the score belied the excitement that the game provided. Yaya Toure came close for City in the first half with a powerful header, while Leon Osman almost scored for the visitors with a swerving shot.
The Sky Blues dominated the second half, and were very aggrieved as the final whistle blew, as Raheem Sterling had a penalty claim turned down in injury time, after the striker was clumsily brought down by John Stones. With Arsenal dropping points at Anfield, City would be disappointed to still remain in 3rd on 40 points.
Chelsea 2-2 West Bromwich Albion
Scorers : Azpilicueta 20’, McCauley OG 73’ – Gardner 33’, McClean 86’
Chelsea opened the scoring from an unlikely source, as Cesar Azpilicueta made a late run to tap in a Branislav Ivanovic cross from the right that had squirmed through to the far post. As Chelsea threatened to take control of the game, West Brom equalised midway in the first half. The Baggies profited from a turnover, as Craig Gardner buried the ball into the bottom corner with a long range effort.
Chelsea took the lead midway through the second half, as Willian burst down the right with his trademark burst of pace, and his vicious cross was turned into the Baggies net by Gareth McCauley, under pressure from Chelsea youngster Kenedy. There was a final twist in the 86th minute as James McClean produced a daisy cutter from the edge of the box to equalize for Chelsea, thus earing the Baggies a deserved draw.
Southampton 2-0 Watford
Scorers : Long 16’, Tadic 74’
Stoke City 3-1 Norwich City
Scorers : Walters 49’, Joselu 67’, Bennett OG 80’ – Howson 55’
Red Card : O’Neil (Norwich) 31’
Swansea City 2-4 Sunderland
Scorers : Sigurdsson 21’, Ayew 40’ – Defoe 3’ 61’ 85’, Van Aanholt 49’
Red Card : Naughton (Swansea) 37’
Copa del Rey
Espanyol 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona progressed into the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey after beating Catalan rivals, Espanyol 2-0 at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat. Munir El-Haddadi scored both the goals of the game as Barcelona finished the tie 6-1 on aggregate.
Fifth-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi sent Munir through on goal in the 32nd minute and the Spanish forward went round the keeper to slot the ball into an empty net. Barcelona new men, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal were involved in the build up to Munir's second goal in the 88th minute.
Villareal 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
Celta Vigo 0-0 Cadiz
Las Palmas 0-0 Eibar
Coupe de la Ligue
Paris St. Germain 2-1 Lyon
Paris Saint-Germain defeated Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the Coupe de la Ligue (French League Cup) at the Parc des Princes to progress through to semi-finals of the competition.
Adrien Rabiot scored the first goal for the home side in the 17th minute in controversial circumstances as the ball had gone out of play well before the French midfielder forced it home. Lyon equalised before half-time as Corentin Tolisso blasted the ball into the roof of the net after some poor defending by the PSG defenders.
Continued pressure from Les Parisiens paid off as Lucas Moura scored the winning goal in the 73rd minute from an Angel di Maria pass. Lyon could have had two penalties in the last 15 minutes, but, the referee did not heed to the visitors’ claims.