English Football: Roundup for Easter weekend

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Monday, April 13, 2009

With a game-in-hand, champions Manchester United maintained a one-point lead over second-place Liverpool after United defeated Sunderland 2–1 and Liverpool defeated Blackburn Rovers 4–0 in English Premier League action this weekend. Third- and fourth-place Chelsea and Arsenal both earned key victories, with Chelsea only four points out of the top of the table.

Federico Macheda, 2009
Image: CrackersTeam.

United's 17-year-old striker Federico Macheda scored the winning goal for the second time in two games with a redirection of a Michael Carrick shot into the corner of the net on Saturday against Sunderland. On April 5, against Aston Villa, Macheda scored the game's final goal in his Manchester United debut. United took the lead over Sunderland on a Paul Scholes header in the 19th minute. Sunderland equalised with a 55th-minute goal by Kenwyne Jones.

For Liverpool, Fernando Torres scored in the fifth and thirty-third minute, and second-half goals by Daniel Agger and David N'Gog sealed the victory over Blackburn. The game also marked Liverpool's observance the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives in a stampede during an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

In other action, Chelsea earned a narrow 4–3 victory over Bolton. After Chelsea went 4–0 ahead, Bolton rallied back with three goals in eight minutes, but could not add the equliser. Michael Ballack scored the game's first goal on five minutes before the half-time break and Didier Drogba scored another just three minutes into the second half. At the hour mark, Bolton right back Grétar Steinsson handled the ball and earned Chelsea a penalty kick which Frank Lampard converted. Drogba added another in the 63th minute. In the span of eight minutes, Bolton scored three times, with goals coming from Andy O'Brien, Chris Basham and Matt Taylor.

Arsenal ran out comfortable 4–1 winners at Wigan. After Mido scored the first goal in the 18th minute, Arsenal saw second-half goals form Theo Walcott, Mikaël Silvestre, Andrei Arshavin and Alexandre Song. Arsenal is now six points behind Chelsea.

The fifth spot in the table on the line, Aston Villa hosted sixth-place Everton in one of two games Sunday, who were just one point behind Villa. Neither club could gain position on the other after the game ended in a 3–3 draw. After being down 3–1 early in the second half, Villa scored twice, once on a penalty to tie the game.

In the other game Sunday, Fulham defeated Manchester City 3–1, with two goals coming from American Clint Dempsey. Dempsey was awarded Man of the Match honors for his brace.

In other Saturday action, Tottenham earned a 1–0 victory over West Ham United. The Spurs' lone goal came in the 65th minute from Roman Pavlyuchenko.

In action in the bottom half of the table, Stoke drew 1–1 with Newcastle, while Portsmouth drew 2–2 with West Bromwich Albion. Middlesbrough gained three key points with a 3–1 victory over Hull City.

Premier League action restarts Saturday, though five Premier League team are involved in European action mid-week. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United compete in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, Manchester City plays in the UEFA Cup.