Man Utd rout QPR, back on top Mignolet howler helps Albion up to third

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Nov 24, (AFP): Manchester United came back from behind to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1 and return to the top of the Premier League in front of QPR manager-in-waiting Harry Redknapp on Saturday. The hosts struck three times in eight second-half minutes to claim the three points after Jamie Mackie had put QPR in front, meaning that Alex Ferguson’s side have now trailed in nine of their 13 league games to date. Efforts in quick succession from Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher and Javier Hernandez were sufficient to ensure that Rangers’ wretched start to the season continued.

Mackie struck after 52 minutes following neat inter-play between Kieron Dyer and Adel Taarabt, who exchanged passes from a corner before the former sent in a cross that goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard could only turn into the path of Mackie for a simple finish. It was a startling opening goal but, within a dozen minutes, United were level from Wayne Rooney’s left-wing corner, which found Danny Welbeck at the far post.
The forward headed the ball back into the six-yard area, where Evans lost his marker Anton Ferdinand and powered in an unstoppable header of his own.

After 68 minutes, United went in front in almost identical circumstances as Rooney’s corner was met by Fletcher, who eluded Ferdinand too easily before producing a header that gave Julio Cesar no hope.
It was a cathartic moment for the Scotland midfielder, who was making his first Premier League appearance in over a year after a long spell on the sidelines due to a bowel condition. Finally, United were in full flow and minutes later they had a two-goal cushion. Substitute Anderson powered forward impressively from the halfway line before delivering a perfectly timed pass that Hernandez collected in his stride and drove past Julio Cesar from a dozen yards. Earlier, Redknapp took his position in the United directors’ box, just hours after agreeing a two-and-a-half-year deal as Mark Hughes’ replacement, having flirted with the Ukraine manager’s job earlier in the week. Redknapp’s brief is to haul QPR off the foot of the table but the visitors performed admirably and even had the ball in the net after 36 minutes, through a Mackie header, only for the effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.

United were struggling to find their rhythm. Robin van Persie found himself on the end of United’s first real attack of the game, after 19 minutes, but his strike from Welbeck’s pull-back flew into the side-netting.
After 26 minutes Rooney and Paul Scholes showed neat footwork, juggling the ball for Ashley Young to half-volley just wide, before Julio Cesar saved with his legs from Rooney after Welbeck had launched a strong run down the right. The Rangers goalkeeper showed sharp reflexes again a few moments later when he dived to keep out another Rooney shot, this time from the edge of the area. United’s frustrations showed when Young found himself in a furious row with QPR defender Clint Hill, who was angered by the winger for allegedly diving in the box. Seven months ago, QPR skipper Shaun Derry was sent off controversially after a challenge on Young in a fixture won 2-0 by United, and Derry was quick to enter the argument on Saturday as tempers frayed.


Arsenal 0, Aston Villa 0
In Birmingham, United Kingdom, Arsenal were left to rue poor finishing after their Premier League encounter with Aston Villa ended in a frustrating 0-0 draw. Arsene Wenger’s side created plenty of chances at Villa Park but were unable to strike the decisive blow, with Wales international Aaron Ramsey particularly guilty of wastefulness in front of goal. Villa substitute Brett Holman went closest for the home side with a shot that rattled the crossbar from distance, but the point was still enough for Paul Lambert’s side to climb out of the relegation zone. Arsenal, meanwhile, remain sixth, a point below fifth-place Everton and four points outside the Champions League qualifying places. The visitors made three changes from their mid-week game against Montpellier as Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna were dropped to the bench in favour of Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Ramsey.


Aston Villa coach Lambert made one change from the side that lost 5-0 to Manchester City last weekend, with Karim El Ahmadi replacing Stephen Ireland in midfield. Villa carved out an opportunity in the 13th minute when Ashley Westwood’s cross-field pass picked out Andreas Weimann and the Austria international saw his shot from a tight angle beaten away at the near post by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Moments later, Villa forward Christian Benteke laid the ball into Barry Bannan but his ambitious 30-yard shot was comfortably gathered by Szczesny. Arsenal started to find their rhythm as the first half wore on and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain threatened when he cut in from the right flank in the 21st minute, only to drag his shot wide.

The Gunners opened up the home side’s defence again seven minutes later and Ramsey’s low angled shot through a crowd of bodies forced Brad Guzan to make a smart diving save in the Villa goal. Villa had the ball in the net in the 28th minute when a Bannan free-kick caused a scramble inside the penalty area and Weimann squeezed the ball home, but the assistant referee had already raised his flag for offside. Arsenal missed a golden chance to break the deadlock shortly before half-time when Laurent Koscielny lifted a shot over the crossbar from close range after he had been picked out by Olivier Giroud. The visitors began the second half brightly and the lively Santi Cazorla curled a shot round the post just after the break following a swift counter-attack. Villa were dealt a blow in the 50th minute when captain Ron Vlaar limped out through injury and was replaced by Eric Lichaj, with Matthew Lowton shifting to centre-back.

West Brom 4, Sunderland 2
In Sunderland, United Kingdom, West Bromwich Albion took advantage of a howler from Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to move up to third place in the Premier League with a 4-2 win at the Stadium of Light. Steve Clarke’s side were leading through Zoltan Gera’s blistering first half strike when Mignolet allowed the ball to slip from his grasp and Shane Long tapped in to cement Albion’s lead. Craig Gardner got one back for Sunderland in the second half before a penalty from Albion forward Romelu Lukaku. Stephane Sessegnon struck late for the hosts, but Marc-Antoine Fortune sealed the Baggies’ fourth successive win in stoppage time.


West Brom’s victory lifted the season’s surprise package above Chelsea and within two points of leaders Manchester City, while Sunderland lie only three points above the relegation zone. Black Cats defender John O’Shea, who had already been booked, was involved in an early flashpoint when he challenged Long just outside the Sunderland penalty area. Initially it seemed Mike Dean was about to show the former Manchester United star a second yellow card, but instead the referee booked Long for diving. Albion snatched the lead against the run of play in the 30th minute when Gera pounced on Adam Johnson’s poor control 25 yards from goal and unleashed a superb shot that had too much power and movement for Mignolet to keep out.
Martin O’Neill’s side suffered a blow when midfielder Lee Cattermole was forced off with an injury. And it got worse for Sunderland when Mignolet’s blunder gifted Albion their second goal in the 44th minute.
Chris Brunt’s over-hit through pass should have been easy for Mignolet to collect, but the Belgian somehow let the ball escape and Long was on hand to pounce as the Irish striker slotted into the empty net.


Wigan 3, Reading 2
In London, Spanish striker Jordi Gomez hit a hat-trick to give Wigan a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Reading after an atrocious blunder by goalkeeper Ali al Habsi appeared to have gifted the visitors a share of the points. Gomez, restored to the side after two defeats, hit three clinically-taken second half goals, the winner coming in stoppage time. But 10 minutes from the end, al Habsi had one of those moments all keepers dread as Reading striker Jason Roberts buslted his way into the area and found Hal Robson-Kanu in space only for the winger’s shot to be deflected up into the air. Al Habsi could only stand and watch in horror as the ball dropped earthwards in what looked like slow motion, then let it slip from his grasp and trickle over the line.
But in a final throw of the dice, Gomez sent Ivory Coast striker Arouna Kone away down the left and slamed the return pass into the roof of the net. Gomez had earlier struck twice in 10 minutes early in the second half, as half-time substitute di Santo raised Wigan’s game. Reading ‘keeper Adam Federici had a let-off on the quarter hour when Kone missed a sitter, stealing into the area and, unmarked six metres out, contrived to head Jean Beausejour’s cross wide when it would have been easier to score.


Stoke 1, Fulham 0

In Stoke-On-Trent, Charlie Adam was Stoke’s hero again as the Scotland midfielder scored the only goal in his side’s 1-0 win over Fulham on Saturday. Adam bagged the winner in Stoke’s previous match in front of their own fans against QPR at the Britannia Stadium and the former Liverpool star made the decisive intervention once more to lift City up to 11th place in the Premier League. His first half goal extended Stoke’s unbeaten home league run to 13 games stretching back to February, while ninth-placed Fulham are now winless in their last five games.

In driving rain, Martin Jol’s visitors who made the brighter start, with Giorgos Karagounis firing just wide in the second minute. Stoke hit back and Robert Huth headed wide from Matthew Etherington’s corner before Adam broke the deadlock in the 26th minute. Adam showed impressive footwork as he took one touch, turned and fired home from close-range after Peter Crouch headed down Ryan Shotton’s cross. Ryan Shawcross almost made it 2-0 in the 36th minute when his header crashed off the crossbar.

Norwich City 1, Everton 1
In Liverpool, United Kingdom, Sebastien Bassong scored in the last minute to earn Norwich City a 1-1 draw at Everton on Saturday that prevented the hosts from making ground on the top four. David Moyes’ side would have been a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea if they had won, but Bassong’s dramatic late intervention cancelled out Steven Naismith’s 12th-minute opener to leave Everton frustrated. Norwich, who beat Manchester United 1-0 last weekend, are now unbeaten in six matches, while Everton have won just one of their last seven league games. Costa Rican midfielder Brian Oviedo made his first start for Everton since joining from FC Copenhagen and he made a quick impression by creating the opening goal at Goodison Park. After chesting down a long ball on the Everton left, Oviedo stole past Steven Whittaker and then cut the ball back for Naismith to tap in his third goal in three Premier League starts. It was the first goal Norwich had conceded in over 345 minutes of league football, following clean sheets in their three previous outings.


Everton came close to a second goal on several occasions, with John Ruddy saving from Leighton Baines and Naismith and twice thwarting Leon Osman. Norwich striker Grant Holt screwed a shot wide after bludgeoning his way to the edge of the Everton area, while Bassong put a header fractionally wide from a Robert Snodgrass corner in the 41st minute. The visitors redoubled their efforts to find an equaliser in the second half, with Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard obliged to parry an Anthony Pilkington free-kick just before the hour. John Heitinga then had to slide in to clear the ball off his own goal-line after Snodgrass beat Howard from Holt’s through-ball. Baines stung Ruddy’s palms in the 74th minute after surging into the penalty area but Everton appeared to have done enough, only for Bassong to strike in injury time. Javier Garrido’s deep free-kick fell at the back post and Bassong met it with a strong header that hit the underside of the bar and dropped over the line, with Holt following in to make sure.

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