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Coleman’s late strike earns Everton win; WBA ‘surge’ Odemwingie brace lifts Stoke past Hammers

LIVERPOOL, March 15, (AFP): Seamus Coleman’s stoppage-time strike earned Everton a dramatic 2-1 victory over Cardiff at Goodison Park to keep his side in the hunt for European football. Roberto Martinez’s team looked set to be frustrated after Juan Cala cancelled out Gerard Deulofeu’s opener for the hosts. Cala’s goal seemed likely to earn Cardiff a priceless point in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s efforts to keep the Welsh club in the Premier League. But deep into stoppage-time substitute Aiden McGeady crossed from the left, Gareth Barry kept the ball in play with a committed run and header and Coleman saw his miscued attempt wrong-foot goalkeeper David Marshall and fly into the goal. That moved Everton back up to sixth place, while Cardiff dropped to second bottom, three points from safety. Deulofeu, the young winger on loan from Barcelona, had scored an opening goal that looked likely to continue Everton’s recent dominant home form early in the second half.

After 58 minutes, the 20-year-old ran onto Leon Osman’s through ball down the left flank and past Gary Medel before cutting in towards the near post and scoring via a shot deflected off Steven Caulker. But within 10 minutes, Peter Whittingham’s superbly-placed free-kick into the Everton six-yard area found the chest of Cala who guided the ball past the stranded Tim Howard into the corner of the Everton goal.
Seeking a seventh consecutive home victory that would have improved their chances of a fifth-placed finish and European football next season, Kevin Mirallas almost shot Everton into an early lead, shrugging aside Caulker and seeing his shot saved tidily by David Marshall. Leighton Baines’ resulting corner caused confusion in the Cardiff area and a ricochet struck Sylvain Distin before narrowly clearing the bar. But it was a resilient display by Cardiff, often featuring five men in defence, and one that threatened Everton with a number of half chances on the break.

The better opportunities fell to the home side, nevertheless, with Seamus Coleman’s perceptive cross after 26 minutes being moved on by Romelu Lukaku for Mirallas whose strike was deflected behind.
Just before the half hour, Everton enjoyed a narrow escape after Kim Bo-Kyung was tackled on the edge of their area and the ball broke kindly for Fraizer Campbell whose shot was only kept out by the quick reactions of Howard. The first half ended with Everton back in the ascendancy, James McCarthy’s piercing through ball finding Deulofeu whose shot was well saved by David Marshall. Lukaku also tested Marshall with a stinging 18-yards shot which the goalkeeper tipped over his cross-bar acrobatically.
The momentum remained with Everton upon the restart as Cala was required to perform an impressive piece of goal line defending to deny Lukaku connection on a Baines cross, although there was an instant reminder for the home side of the dangers posed by the visitors as Campbell’s low snap shot was well handled by Howard at the foot of his post.

Deulofeu broke the deadlock soon after, effectively his last involvement of the afternoon as he was replaced by McGeady soon afterwards, although it took Cala only nine minutes to restore parity.
Osman wasted a good opportunity within minutes of that, leaning back and shooting wide from 16 yards.
Cardiff, looking for their first Goodison victory since 1926, continued to threaten on the counter attack and claimed they should have had a late penalty after substitute Wilfried Zaha clashed with Sylvain Distin.
WBA 2, Swansea 1
In Swansea, United Kingdom, Youssouf Mulumbu scored an 85th-minute winner as West Bromwich Albion won 2-1 at Swansea City on Saturday to clamber three points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
Playing hours after sacking Nicolas Anelka following his five-match ban for performing a ‘quenelle’ salute, West Brom fell behind to a second-minute strike by Roland Lamah at the Liberty Stadium.
However, Stephane Sessegnon marked his first start since New Year’s Day by equalising early in the second period before Mulumbu completed the visitors’ comeback with an elegant finish.
The Congolese midfielder’s goal gave West Brom manager Pepe Mel a first victory at the ninth attempt, lifting the club three points clear of third-bottom Sunderland and to within one point of 14th-place Swansea.
West Brom sacked Anelka late on Friday after he claimed to have unilaterally terminated his contract and the French striker’s departure should allow the club to focus purely on their bid to avoid the drop.
Mel brought Sessegnon, James Morrison, Graham Dorrans and Craig Dawson into his starting XI, switching to a 3-5-2 formation, but he saw his side fall behind with less than 120 seconds on the clock.
Wilfried Bony’s pass from deep split the visiting defence and Lamah cut in from the left before beating Ben Foster from a prohibitive angle.
In response, Victor Anichebe shot straight at Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm, but the hosts, characteristically dominating possession, continued to threaten.
Foster thwarted Bony at point-blank range after the Ivorian attacked a cross from Lamah, who put a header off-target from a corner and narrowly failed to apply the finishing touch to a centre from Wayne Routledge.
Routledge then teed up Bony to lash a shot over the top, before the livewire Lamah sent in a cross that eluded Bony and could not be turned in by Jonathan De Guzman.
Swansea captain Ashley Williams, meanwhile, could only direct a free header into the ground and over the bar from eight yards out.
West Brom attacked the second period with vigour, equalising in the 52nd minute when Sessegnon sent a low shot skidding past Vorm from 25 yards.
Swansea had a penalty appeal turned down after a shot from Bony appeared to strike Gareth McAuley on the arm and the hosts then introduced Michu from the bench, following a three-month absence with an ankle problem.
De Guzman forced Foster to save with his feet after a driving run and with five minutes remaining, Mulumbu guided a shot between Jordi Amat’s legs and past a motionless Vorm to give West Brom a much-needed victory.

Stoke 3, West Ham 1
In Stoke-On-Trent, Peter Odemwingie netted a brace and Marko Arnautovic also scored to lift Stoke City to a 3-1 win at home against Premier League rivals West Ham.
Both were equal on points before the clash with only goal difference separating the midtable sides scrambling to move away from the drop zone.
But the hosts were trailing after just five minutes when striker Andy Carroll scored from a set piece pairing with Mark Noble at the Britannia Stadium.
Carroll rose above Peter Crouch and smashed a header past Asmir Begovic, who had rushed off his line to try to punch the ball away.
It was 25-year-old Carroll’s first start since his sending-off at the start of February, and his first goal since last April.

Stoke pulled level after 33 minutes when Crouch’s acrobatic shot deflected in off Odemwingie on the line.
Both Steven N’Zonzi and Stephen Ireland missed chances to give the hosts the advantage before the break.
Kevin Nolan thought he had made it 2-1 to the visitors in the 61st minute only for his effort to be controversially ruled offside.
But Austrian winger Marko Arnautovic put Stoke ahead after 69 minutes before Odemwingie slammed home his second from an angled shot off an Ireland pass ten minutes later.
It gave manager Mark Hughes something more to celebrate on his 300th Premier League game as a manager.
Hughes becomes the 10th manager to reach that milestone.
Stoke are provisionally tenth with 34 points, three points above West Ham.

Palace 0, Sunderland 0
In Sunderland, United Kingdom, Sunderland missed a chance to improve their Premier League survival prospects after being held to a 0-0 draw by fellow strugglers Crystal Palace.
Gus Poyet’s team were unable to turn their possession into goals in a tense clash at the Stadium of Light and they remain in the relegation zone, sitting three points adrift of safety following their third consecutive league match without a win.
Palace dropped to one place above the bottom three after their fourth successive game without a win.
With Sunderland desperate for a victory against one of their main rivals in the fight to beat the drop, Poyet made seven changes to the team beaten by Hull in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Oscar Ustari, Santiago Vergini, Andrea Dossena, Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback, Emanuele Giaccherini and Ignacio Scocco were axed as Vito Mannone, Wes Brown, Marcos Alonso, Liam Bridcutt, Ki Sung-Yueng, Adam Johnson and Fabio Borini returned.
Sunderland were quickly into their stride, with former Manchester City star Johnson at the heart of their best moments. Johnson was a real menace to Palace left-back Joel Ward, who earned an early booking after chopping down the elusive winger.

The fierce wind whipping around the Stadium of Light made two already anxious teams even more hesitant in possession and there were few real chances in a scrappy first half. Poyet’s men were having the better of it but poor execution let them down on the rare occasions they had a sight of goal. Steven Fletcher was unable to convert a miscued shot from Borini, while South Korea midfielder Ki blazed well wide from long-range.
Poyet sent on Jozy Altidore for Fletcher at half-time and the American striker came close to breaking the deadlock with a dipping shot that forced Julian Speroni to make a fine save. Yannick Bolasie fired straight at Sunderland goalkeeper Mannone when Palace finally got through the Black Cats’ defence after good work from Tom Ince.
Borini was denied by the woodwork when his powerful strike beat Speroni but cannoned back off the angle of bar and post.
And Palace fared no better when South African midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi dragged his shot wide from a good position inside the Sunderland penalty area.

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