West Brom 2-3 Leicester City
It has not been easy for newly promoted Leicester City this season. The struggling club sat at the bottom of the table, and six points away from safety going into the weekend. The remaining points left in the season are all vital for Nigel Pearson’s squad if they have any hope of staying the top flight. On Saturday, the Foxes traveled to take on a West Brom side that are slipping out of the middle of the table, but were still 11 points ahead of their visitors.
It was a nightmare start for the relegation-threatened side as former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher scored his first-ever goal for the Baggies in the eighth minute with a glancing header from the corner. David Nugent got Leicester back on level terms a little over ten minutes later when Leonardo Ulloa flicked on a long Esteban Cambiasso set piece into the striker’s path. The rapid scoring pace continued when Craig Gardner restored West Brom’s one-goal lead just six minutes later when his off-balance scissor kick deflected off a Leicester defender and managed to squeak by Kasper Schmeichel in net.
The 2-1 score line remained unchanged for most of the second half but the constant pressure from the visitors finally paid dividends in the 80th minute. The Foxes’ equalizer came from the unlikeliest of players, as well, when defender Robert Huth placed his headed effort into the corner of the net despite West Brom’s near goal line clearance. The comeback was not over, however, as Jamie Vardy pickpocketed his defender on the halfway line and stormed up the field to slot the ball past Ben Foster in net to give Leicester a massive three points, and their first back-to-back victories since January. The result closed the gap to survival to three points with a game-in-hand, and kept the Foxes’ chances of playing Premier League soccer next season alive and well.
QPR 0-1 Chelsea
The Men in Blazers put it best when they tweeted “Chelsea lead [the] league in giving ‘False Hope’ to the little teams.” José Mourinho’s men traveled to Loftus Road on Sunday to take on a relegation threatened QPR side, and the performance was far from convincing. Going into the match, Chelsea had a stranglehold on the title race with their nearest competitor, Arsenal, sitting seven points behind having played one more game than the Blues.
Willian nearly opened up the scoring for the visitors in the eighth minute when his “scross” (shot/cross) almost found its way into Rob Green’s near post. In an uneventful first half, fans would have had a difficult time telling which of these teams was battling for a title and which was on the precipice of playing in the Championship next season. Thibault Courtois faced his most difficult test of the half in the 44th minute when he was forced into a diving save to deny a rifled effort from Charlie Austin. The two sides went into the dressing rooms, deservedly, notched at 0-0.
The pressure from the home team started to pick up in the second 45 minutes, with QPR on the front foot for much of the half. Matt Phillips came close to scoring the opener in the 64th minute only to see Courtois’ reaction save deflect his close-range effort into the stands. QPR’s impressive performance was all for nothing, however, when Green’s poor clearance found the feet of Eden Hazard. The Belgian star beat his man on the edge of the pitch and perfectly placed a pass into the path of Cesc Fàbregas who passed his effort into the back of the net. Fàbregas’ shot was Chelsea’s first shot on target for the entire match, and it was enough to give the Blues all three points. The victory maintained Chelsea’s seven-point league lead and raised more doubts in the QPR camp about where they’ll be playing next season.
Manchester United 4-2 Manchester City
Words cannot describe the joy I had when writing that score line. Going into the match, United sat just one point ahead of City in third place and the Reds had won their previous five league matches, while their visitors had just lost to Crystal Palace six days earlier. This derby had the potential to flip/flop the two side’s league position and give the winner unmatched momentum for the final push of the season.
Things looked grim for United in the first fifteen minutes of the match as their opponents dominated possession and set the pace of the game. The link-up play between David Silva and Sergio Agüero caused confusion between the Red Devils’ back line and in just the 7th minute, Agüero found himself with a tap-in of a goal to give the visitors an early lead. After the slow start, United’s midfield finally started to find the form that had dazzled fans and destroyed defenses. Ashley Young continued his resurgent dream season and equalized for the hosts in 14th minute. After seeing his initial effort from Ander Herrera’s cross get blocked by Gael Clichy, Young was able to spin and smash home the rebound to level the scores. A little over ten minutes later, Young was again in the spotlight when his cross was able to pick out Marouane Fellaini who out jumped a struggling Clichy to push United into the lead.
Just 20 minutes into the second half, Juan Mata put the dagger into City’s hearts. A well worked passage of play saw the ball find Wayne Rooney who found Mata with an inch perfect through ball and the Spaniard then managed to place his shot between the legs of Joe Hart to make the score 3-1. Ashley Young’s heroics were not yet done as the English midfielder put in another immaculate cross from a free kick in the 73rd minute for fellow Englishman Chris Smalling to head into the back of the net. A late Sergio Agüero goal was too little too late as United ended their four-game losing streak to City with an emphatic 4-2 victory. The result pushed United four points clear of the rivals in the table and put even more doubt into fans’ minds that Manuel Pellegrini will be the manager of the Sky Blues next season.