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Tuesday 04 December 2012

Barclays U21s: West Brom seal Elite spot

A review of the weekend's action in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League

Hector Bellerin helped Arsenal seal a 2-2 draw against Reading at the Madejski Stadium

West Bromwich Albion sealed their place in the Elite Group Stage of the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Premier League by coming from behind to overcome Bolton Wanderers 2-1.

The hosts knew that victory would ensure they became the final side from Group 1 to reach the Elite Group Stage via automatic qualification so Adam Blakeman's 16th-minute strike for Bolton came as a considerable setback to the Baggies.

However, Albion were helped back into the match by Ben Hampson's own goal and after Adil Nabi curled in a wonderful shot on 26 minutes, the visitors held on for the crucial win and three points which mean they cannot be deprived of a place in the Elite Group Stage.

West Brom report | Bolton Wanderers report

Fulham 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool’s impressive campaign continued apace as they stretched their unbeaten run to 11 matches with a 2-1 success against Fulham.

The Reds, playing under Alex Inglethorpe for the first time, took just two minutes to take the lead as Adam Morgan scored his ninth goal of the season. Fulham responded in style just before half-time when Corey Woodrow scored an audacious goal from a near-impossible angle only for Krisztian Adorjan to restore the Merseysiders’ lead and their supremacy at the Group 3 summit.

Fulham report | Liverpool report

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Manchester City

Wolves claimed a dramatic victory over City to seal third place in Group 1 and secure their place in the Elite Group Stage.

The home side needed to win the match to seal third spot in Group 3 and they took the lead early on when Johnny Gorman rounded goalkeeper Richard Wright after only two minutes.

Luca Scapuzzi then equalised for City on 62 minutes after firing home from eight yards out only for Liam McAlinden to put Wolves back in front with his seventh goal of the season with five minutes to go.

There was still time for late drama as City were awarded a penalty in injury time but Aljaz Cotman was the hero as he saved the spot kick.

Wolverhampton Wanderers report | Manchester City report

Middlesbrough 2-3 Chelsea

Chelsea extended their unbeaten run to five matches after hanging on for victory in a five-goal thriller at the Riverside stadium.

The visitors looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory when Billy Clifford's free kick, Lewis Baker's shot and Alexander Davey's close-range effort put Chelsea 3-0 ahead.

But Middlesbrough fought back impressively, Ryan Brobbel pulling a goal back on 49 minutes while Kyle Oliver poked the ball home with 25 minutes to go.

Boro piled on the pressure in the closing stages but they could not find the equaliser. With Wolverhampton Wanderers winning against Manchester City, Chelsea will now have to wait to see if they qualify for the Elite Stage as best third-place finisher from Groups 2 and 3.

Middlesbrough report | Chelsea report

Southampton 1-1 Manchester United

A late penalty save from Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone denied Southampton victory at St Mary's Stadium and means that qualification for the Elite Group Stage is out of their hands.

After a goalless first half, Tadanari Lee put Southampton in the lead from the spot after the Japan striker had been fouled. With 10 minutes remaining Federico Macheda equalised for United, but Southampton’s hopes of gaining all three points were ended when Lee put his second spot-kick too close to Johnstone.

Victory would have put Southampton above United into third . Instead United remain there on 17 points, a point ahead of Southampton with both teams having only one match remaining.

Southampton report | Manchester United report

Sunderland 4-1 Stoke City

Fraizer Campbell, Titus Bramble, James McFadden and as Ji Dong-won were all in the starting line-up as Sunderland completed an emphatic success against Stoke City.

Campbell and Ji were both on target, after a deflected Bramble shot and Adam Reed penalty had set Sunderland on their way, while last-placed Stoke responded late on with a consolation goal by Karim Rossi.

Sunderland report | Stoke report

The knockout stage

The sides who finish in the top three places in Group 1 qualify for the Elite Group stage, along with the top two teams and the best third-placed finisher from Groups 2 and 3.

The remaining third-placed team from Groups 2 and 3 and clubs who finish fourth, fifth and sixth in the three sections go through to Qualification Group Tier 1, while the seventh-placed clubs plus the side to finish eighth in Group 1 go to Qualification Group Tier 2.

The two teams who top the Qualification Groups will compete in a play-off to reach the first semi-final, where they will meet the team that finishes top of the Elite Group Stage. The teams that finish second and third in the Elite Group Stage play in the other semi-final.

Barclays U21 Premier League results

Group 1
West Ham 0-1 Blackburn Rovers

Sunday, 2 December

Group 1
Everton 2-1 Norwich City
Reading 2-2 Arsenal

Group 2
Newcastle United 2-3 Aston Villa

Monday, 3 December

Group 1
West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

Group 2
Southampton 1-1 Manchester United
Sunderland 4-1 Stoke City

Group 3

Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Middlesbrough 2-3 Chelsea
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Manchester City

For all the fixtures and the latest league tables, click here

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

Key Points

  • West Bromwich Albion sealed their place in the Elite Group Stage with a 2-1 win against Bolton Wanderers
  • Liverpool remain unbeaten this season after a 2-1 success at Fulham
  • Sunderland hit four against Stoke City in Group 3

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