Goals galore for City, Arsenal as United win again

Updated 31 December 2012
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Goals galore for City, Arsenal as United win again

LONDON: Goals rained down on the Premier League on Saturday, with Arsenal beating Newcastle United 7-3 and champions Manchester City edging Norwich City 4-3 to keep pace with leaders Manchester United.
City’s win prevented United from extending their seven-point lead at the summit, after they overcame West Bromwich Albion 2-0 to take their tally for the season to 50 goals.
United manager Alex Ferguson was the focus of pre-match attention at Old Trafford for an outspoken attack on Newcastle United coach Alan Pardew, but his side got down to business quickly and went ahead inside nine minutes.
The scorer wore a blue and white shirt, however, with West Brom defender Gareth McAuley inadvertently shinning the ball into his own goal after Ashley Young drove a low cross across the face of goal.
The hosts were not able to breathe easily until substitute Robin van Persie curled a glorious shot into the top-left corner in the last minute, before unveiling a T-shirt that paid tribute to a personal friend who recently died.
“We’re in a good position,” Ferguson told the BBC.
“We’re halfway there. We’ve a game on Tuesday away from home at Wigan and we’ve got a few players to freshen it up. We’ll look forward to the next game and try and win it.”
City lost Samir Nasri to a first-half red card at Norwich but edged an open-ended encounter thanks in no small part to Edin Dzeko, who scored twice and might have had a hat-trick.
The Bosnian, who has had to become accustomed to a role on the substitutes’ bench this season, struck twice inside the opening four minutes to put City in control at Carrow Road.
But Norwich hit back through a deflected Anthony Pilkington free-kick, and the visitors were then dealt a blow when Nasri was sent off for aiming a head-butt at Sebastien Bassong.
Sergio Aguero’s deft, lobbed finish made it 3-1, but City were indebted to an own goal by Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn, who inadvertently deflected Dzeko’s shot into his own net, after Russell Martin had twice hit back for the hosts.
“I don’t know why (Nasri was sent off) as the linesman was there and I don’t know what he saw,” said City manager Roberto Mancini, whose side lost 1-0 at Sunderland on Wednesday.
“We saw the video — both players touch heads. With 10 men it was difficult. The guys played very well.”
A day bursting with goals — 35 in total — concluded in an extraordinary game at the Emirates Stadium in which Theo Walcott claimed a hat-trick as Arsenal overcame Newcastle 7-3 to climb to fifth.
Arsenal took the lead three times, through Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski, only for Newcastle to hit back each time through Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux and Ba again.
Arsene Wenger’s men finally killed the game off in the latter stages, with Walcott completing his treble and substitute Olivier Giroud claiming a quick-fire brace.
“I’ve been saying for the past few weeks that I want to play up front and I am showing the manager what I can do,” said Walcott.
Tottenham had earlier overturned a half-time deficit to win 2-1 at Sunderland and provisionally move into third place.
John O’Shea scored against the run of play to put the hosts ahead at a rain-sodden Stadium of Light, but a Carlos Cuellar own goal drew Spurs level before Aaron Lennon completed the comeback with a composed 51st-minute strike.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side have taken 19 points from a possible 24 and are now a point above third-place Chelsea, who have two games in hand and visit Everton on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Aston Villa’s recent miseries continued as they sank 3-0 at home to Wigan Athletic.
Goals from Ivan Ramis, Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone put paid to Paul Lambert’s young team, who have now shipped 15 goals in three games after losing 8-0 to Chelsea and 4-0 to Tottenham Hotspur.
Villa would have slipped into the relegation zone had third-bottom Southampton not been denied victory in a 3-3 draw at Stoke City by a sensational 25-yard strike from Cameron Jerome.
Southampton had led 3-1, and played against 10 men following the 71st-minute dismissal of Steven N’Zonzi, but second-bottom Reading did a better job of defending a lead in a 1-0 home win over West Ham United.
Fulham’s dismal form continued, meanwhile, as they lost 2-1 at home to Swansea City.


'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 21 June 2018
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'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.