That Man United-Fulham game wasn't exactly the romp I was expecting nor was it pretty. However, a win is a win and more importantly, United go three points above City.
Champions League quarterfinal first legs Tuesday and Wednesday. APOEL Nicosia vs. Real Madrid and Benfica vs. Chelsea for Tuesday. Milan vs. Barcelona and Marseille vs. Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
APOEL's Cinderella run should fizzle against Real Madrid, but the home tie for APOEL might be slightly intriguing. I feel Chelsea have better quality than Benfica, but have been fairly average even since AVB's sacking.
Milan vs. Barca is the big rematch from the group stages. I'd still say Barca are streets ahead of Milan in quality on Milan's best day and it'll be difficult without their best defender Thiago Silva sidelined. I'll also tip Bayern to get past OM over the two legs.
The Artful Dodger wrote:APOEL's Cinderella run should fizzle against Real Madrid, but the home tie for APOEL might be slightly intriguing. I feel Chelsea have better quality than Benfica, but have been fairly average even since AVB's sacking.
APOEL somehow held on to 0-0 until finally Real were able to distance themselves and Real won, 3-0. One foot into the semifinals, suffice it to say.
Benfica-Chelsea was boring to watch and Gary Neville was so nauseating to hear on commentary in assessing the game (Sky Sports' tried and true pro bias of English teams). Chelsea walked away with a 1-0 win and should progress.
Forgot to mention about the FA Cup games today. Everton won the replay at Sunderland, 2-0, and Spurs beat Bolton 3-1 as the makeup game since Fabrice Muamba suffered a heart attack on the pitch (continue to get well, Fabrice). That sets up the FA Cup semifinals beautifully with a Merseyside Derby (Liverpool v Everton) and a London derby (Chelsea v Tottenham).
Big Champions League game Wednesday and that's Milan-Barcelona while Marseille-Bayern Munich also kicks off simultaneously.
The Milan-Barcelona game was a pedestrian one, ending 0-0. First half was fine with both sides getting a few good chances, second half was dull. Barca were the more likely to score but Milan defended well in their own box with some last-ditch stuff. Pep Guardiola played a more conservative lineup and puzzling that he played Andres Iniesta on the wing. Both teams played it narrow, playing not to lose.
Barca are the more fancied side to prevail in the second leg. Bayern Munich won 2-0 away at Marseille and look good to face Real Madrid in the semifinals.
Once again, jammy Manchester City for scraping a 3-3 draw vs. Sunderland. They get a soft penalty in their favor, with Edin Dzeko looking for contact and diving to equalize, 1-1. They fall behind, 3-1 to Sunderland and Sunderland didn't have enough bottle to hang on with all three points.
Disappointing result, but at the beginning of the day, I wouldn't have figured Sunderland could get anything from Eastlands. City couldn't win and that's all that matters; United can go 5 points clear if they can beat Blackburn on Monday at a rather tricky place to play, Ewood Park.
QPR beat Arsenal, 2-1, Bolton see off Wolves 3-2, and Wigan beat Stoke, 2-0. Every relegation battler but Wolves won, which makes the relegation race very interesting. Pretty sure Wolves are condemned to the drop. Blackburn looked safe but if they don't get anything Monday night, they're in the thick of getting dropped down.
Something I wasn't completely aware of until today:
No Premier League side except Wolves has had a record worse than Liverpool Comedy Club since the turn of the New Year.
Liverpool lost their third straight game, this time at Newcastle, 2-0. According to KKKenny Dalglish, this no call of a supposed penalty on an alleged Tim Krul trip of Andy Carroll was what turned the game:
35 million pounds and can't even dive convincingly. Nothing gives me a heartier laugh than Andy Carroll failing at football.
Second to Liverpool making a farce of themselves. Pepe Reina losing the plot when headbutting James Perch and was sent off easily. The latter probably made a meal out of that, but Reina was out of line for doing such a thing:
Reina could (and should) serve a 3-match ban, which includes missing out on the FA Cup semifinal vs. Everton.
Man United beat a determined Blackburn side in a difficult fixture, who put on a great defensive performance. Not sure why Sir Alex played a lineup that was devoid of width and to play a 3-man midfield against a side playing behind the ball, but in the end, it's the result that counts. And it was an immense one.
5 points ahead of City. 8 points possibly with a home win vs. QPR before next Monday's game between Arsenal v Man City. Get. In.
Tony V's strike to break the ice:
Ashley Young's superb goal to seal it:
Anyhow, tomorrow is the big Champions League second leg between Barcelona v Milan. A nil-nil first leg makes for a dangerous second leg for the home side but I still see Barca having the quality to see this out and advance to the semis.
Barcelona weren't quite at their best and unexpectedly didn't create as many clear chances with plenty of possession. Still, Barca beat Milan, 3-1 even with the suspect tactics.
A couple of penalty decisions had gone Barca's way, but both were penalties and Barca didn't get a few penalty decisions (which they should have had) in Milan. Otherwise, fairly comfortable game for Barcelona and really was so when Iniesta finished the game off early in the second half.
Bayern Munich beat Marseille, 2-0 and 4-0 on aggregate, which sets up a fantastic Bayern Munich-Real Madrid semifinal.
Only tie that really hangs in the balance tomorrow is Chelsea-Benfica. Chelsea got the vital away goal and 1-0 lead in Lisbon and should progress, but a reverse result in Benfica's favor forces extra time and any other scoring draw has Benfica progressing. Still, I expect Chelsea to advance and face Barca in the other semifinal.
I know I popped a bottle or two of champagne on one of the most epic Easter Sundays ever. Man United beat QPR, 2-0, and Man City were outclassed by Arsenal, deservedly losing 1-0.
I'm not really sympathetic about QPR going down to 10 men early because of a red card in the box by Shaun Derry, with Ashley Young going to ground in the box. Horrible decision by the ref and Derry was unfortunate. However, United didn't get the decisions in the first half of the season and the universe just has its way of balancing things out. The ABU's can choke on their Easter ham for all I care.
Besides, Mario Balotelli should have been sent off much earlier on a rash challenge that didn't even draw a yellow. Arsenal should have found the net more than once; they pissed all over Mercenary City.
Arsenal fans even took the piss out of City's Poznan celebration too:
I'm loving City's ongoing capitulation. What would be just as epic is Real Madrid bottling it at the top of La Liga (4 point lead with a 0-0 draw v Valencia).