Sergio Aguero Goal Gives Manchester City 2-1 Win Over United at Old Trafford

Manchester City certainly proved critics wrong when they triumphed over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Some might have said that the 165th Manchester Derby between United and City would be less of a spectacle in terms of what is at stake. This couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Going into tonight’s game, United held a 15 points lead with less than 10 Premier League games to go. In the past, a derby game may have won either side the League, but as City manager Roberto Mancini has said recently, this is not looking likely.

The earlier fixture saw United come out on top 3-2 with a late van Persie free-kick at the Etihad Stadium. For Manchester City, tonight’s game was consolation and largely a regaining of pride over their bitter rivals.

Always a feisty and passionate encounter, 8 yellow cards were shown in a game which saw Manchester City win 2-1.

An open game in the first half saw the sides go in level at the break. The quality of attacking play and creativity from both teams was there, but there was a lack of any real attacking endeavour.

City were the first to go ahead 5 minutes after the break. A schoolboy error from veteran Ryan Giggs eventually saw the ball arrive at James Milner’s feet where his deflected shot found its way in.

Cue ‘the Noisy Neighbours’

United haven’t not scored on home soil in over three years and the inevitable happened when a brilliant free-kick from van Persie found its way onto Vincent Kompany’s head and went in.

An end-to-end game always needed a bit of quality and that was found from Manchester City substitute Sergio Aguero who scored after a mazy run.

Cue ‘the Noisy Neighbours’

The Premier League season will fail to live up to the hype it did throughout last season. Manchester City did deserve to win today but have not performed effectively throughout.

It is still mathematically possible for Mancini and Manchester City to retain the title, but this would of course require serious bad form for United.

van Persie is however suffering from a serious goal-drought so you never know…

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Hot Off the Press – Michael Owen to Retire from all Football

Today, footballer Michael Owen broke the news that he is to retire from all football at the end of the season. At the age of 33, it perhaps is understandable. Owen is not getting any better, and a lack of performances for his current club Stoke City has seen just 1 goal from 7.

On the other hand, as I write this, I have to genuinely say that I am gutted about his announcement today. For me, Michael Owen will always be my first ever football hero. He seemed such a fantastic person, and from the age of 18 was set to hit the big time.

Having read his autobiography, Owen constantly talks of his family in the highest regard, notably his father. In his statement given today, Owen refers to his family as the most important factor in his life.

I will never forget the happiness I felt after he scored a hat trick for England against Germany in a 5-1 win; my first ever poster on my wall.

I had quite a soft spot for his first club, Liverpool and Owen was an integral part of that team, scoring 158 goals in 297 appearances. For England, Owen hit 40 in 89 which put him high on the all time goal scoring charts.

In 2004, Owen left Liverpool to join Real Madrid; one year before Liverpool won the European Cup; an accolade Owen unfortunately didn’t win in his illustrious career. That day in 2004, aged 10, I felt somewhat empty as I do today as it is then end of an era.

Subsequent moves to Newcastle, Manchester United and now Stoke followed as injuries blighted Owen’s career.

Who knows what would have happened had Owen stayed at Anfield. I would like to hope more trophies as well as more record breaking goals for England. Nevertheless, winning European Footballer of the Year as well as many other accolades puts Owen as an all time great.

One will always have the memories of a humble and friendly, family man, who put smiles on so many faces. My boyhood hero: Michael Owen.

Rafa Benitez Confirms Chelsea Exit

Since replacing Roberto Di Matteo in November, Rafael Benitez has not enjoyed his time at Chelsea.

The Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich set Rafa up for a fall, but nevertheless the performances throughout his time have simply not been good enough.

As a manager in general though, Benitez has somewhat proved himself. In 26 years he has won the 9 major club trophies on offer in Football and has a pedigree in the Champions League, winning the trophy with Chelsea’s bitter rivals, Liverpool, in 2005.

Abramovich’s agenda is particularly shocking. Throughout his tenure, he has rid of frequent managers. On this appointment, Benitez was set as ‘Interim Manager’ until the end of the season.

As an experienced professional, Benitez has a right to take dislike to his job title and finally has expressed this as a “mistake.”

Perhaps due to his recent managerial tenures combined with the frustrations of the sacking of Di Matteo, the Chelsea faithful have been defiant in expressing their dislike towards Benitez. This has been expressed since November with banners being paraded and chanting of hatred.

It can surely come as no surprise that Benitez has had enough. Speaking to Radio 5 Live, he demanded more respect than what he currently receives. He expressed his dissatisfaction at the title of his appointment. And he confirmed he will leave Chelsea at the end of the season.

Chelsea currently lie far adrift in the Premier League. As a major club in the game, this is simply unacceptable. They are currently competing in Europe’s minor Cup competition, the Europa League after winning the Champions League under Di Matteo last season.

Rafa’s outburst has come off the back of a Fa Cup victory where Chelsea will go on to face Manchester United in the Quarter-Final of the FA Cup; a Cup Chelsea also currently holds.

As an avid fan of football, though this may not come as a surprise regarding Chelsea, it is a shame that Benitez’s relatively illustrious career is being tarnished under the Roman Abramovich regime. Whether or not Benitez ‘won the dressing room’ or even the fans, he was trying to do an almost impossible job from the start and he has finally crumbled.

Benitez’s outburst can be heard here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21611064

Real Madrid Beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp to Reach Cup Final

An eagerly anticipated Copa Del Rey Semi-Final clash between rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona has ended 4-2 on aggregate to Madrid, after a 3-1 victory at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.

After a stalemate in the first leg, Barcelona had an away goal and it was all to play for. The build up and expectations towards this game was spectacular, and the two players everyone was talking about were Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

However it proved to be the latter that shone on the night with Ronaldo bagging a brace, including a penalty to bring shockwaves throughout the home crowd at the Nou Camp.

Currently in the Spanish top flight, Barcelona are 16 points ahead of Madrid, with much talk focused on the future of Madrid manager Jose Mourinho after some poor performances of late.

However, Barcelona, usually a somewhat invincible team have won just five from their last ten matches. To add to this, they have conceded at least one goal in their last 12 matches.

Such is the frequent amount of times that this tie takes place. Barcelona are in fact travelling to the Bernabeu on Saturday for the sixth El Clasico of the season where Mourinho will again be looking to play his normal, beautiful attacking supplement of play that has brought them to the Cup Final.

The debate will of course run on between Messi and Ronaldo. Tonight was Ronaldo’s and Madrid’s night, but there is no doubt that Lionel Messi, with his impeccable goal scoring rate for Barcelona puts him up there with the best.

Madrid, will of course be building up for a tasty encounter against Manchester United next week at Old Trafford, hoping to reach the latter stages of the Champions League. For Mourinho, the League chance has all but faded, but the possibility of two trophies to boot, will aid his cause for surviving in his current managerial post.