Tuesday 12 February 2013
Liverpool's colours were finally lowered for the first time this season as a narrow victory for Tottenham Hotspur moved the north Londoners top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Elite Group, while Aston Villa enjoyed Monday's biggest scoreline with a comprehensive away win at Sunderland.
After going unbeaten since the start of the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Premier League campaign Liverpool's extraordinary 14-match sequence came to an end at Tottenham's Training Centre.
In a hard-fought encounter played out in sleety conditions, the hosts, who fielded Harry Kane alongside Jon Obika and included Jake Livermore in the lineup, won the match thanks to a superb individual goal by Obika.
The 22-year-old dribbled past Reds captain Conor Coady and drilled in a low shot from the just inside the penalty area. Though Krisztian Adorjan came close with a free-kick and Coady hit the post, Spurs held on for their third win from four matches in this second group phase, which took them top of the Elite Group, four points ahead of third-placed Liverpool, who have a game in hand.
All the goals were scored in an eventful first half as Manchester United and Arsenal shared an engaging four-goal draw at Moss Lane.
United took the lead through Jesse Lingard after Nick Powell had cancelled out Chuba Akpom's opening strike but the Gunners striker doubled his tally when Ben Amos failed to hold on to Conor Henderson's strike.
Thereafter, Amos and visiting keeper Lukasz Fabianski, continuing his rehabilitation from a lengthy injury absence, were both tested but no further goals were scored. United lie fourth on four points, while sixth-placed Arsenal remain in search of their first Elite Group stage win.
An added-time penalty by Matt Doherty helped Wolverhampton Wanderers complete a second-half fightback to earn a point against Southampton.
Wolves looked as though they were heading for a fourth consecutive defeat after Southampton had moved into a two goal lead at Molineux, thanks to a deft backheel by Jake Sinclair on 16 minutes and Lloyd Isgrove's run and shot three minutes into the second half.
However, Liam McAlinden gave the hosts hope within 10 minutes with a fine diving header from Jack Price's cross and with time running out it was the striker’s cross that connected with Aaron Martin's arm, affording Doherty the opportunity to salvage a point and to deny Saints their first Elite stage win.
Four unreplied goals in 12 second-half minutes gave Aston Villa a resounding Group 1 victory over Sunderland at a windswept Academy of Light.
The star of the show was Michael Drennan, who completed a hat-trick after an evenly matched first 45 minutes. Drennan opened the scoring just after the hour before teeing up strike partner Graham Burke for a 70th-minute goal.
The in-form front man than rattled off two more goals in five minutes - the last a fine free-kick from the edge of the area - to take Villa up to second place, three points behind early leaders Chelsea with a game in hand.
Marko Marin was on target for Chelsea but his goal could not prevent his side from suffering their first defeat of the Second Phase at Leigh Sports Village as Anton Forrester celebrated his 19th birthday with two goals.
The Germany international put the visitors ahead early in the second half when he collected the ball midway inside the Blackburn half, ran at the defence and cut inside to send a pinpoint shot into the bottom far corner of the net from the edge of the area.
Lewis Baker rattled the crossbar with a long-range free-kick shortly afterwards and within two minutes the Blues were pegged back as a long pass to Forrester caught Chelsea’s defence off guard and the striker made no mistake.
Five minutes later and Dermot Drummy’s charges were behind as January signing Forrester took full advantage of a misplaced pass to race through to double his tally. Though schoolboy Jeremie Boga then struck a post for Chelsea with a fierce strike, Rovers held on for their first win of the 2013 campaign against a west London side who remain top of the section with a three-point lead.
Everton moved level on points with second-placed with Aston Villa thanks to a narrow victory at Fulham.
Conor McAleny's 19th-minute effort proved the difference between the two sides as defender John Stones, a deadline-day signing from Barnsley, enjoyed a winning start to his Everton career.
With Fulham still reshuffling their pack following the departure of the injured Francisco Jr, McAleny got on the end of a sweeping team move down the left flank to score the only goal of the game with a smart drive past Nathan Etheridge.
The Cottagers, with the returning Simon Davies and recent signing from Ajax Eyong Enoh deployed in midfield, dominated proceedings and twice hit the bar through Chris David and Alex Smith, but somehow failed to find the breakthrough against the resolute Toffees.
The honours were even in Berkshire on Monday afternoon as Reading shared a goalless draw with Norwich at Hogwood Park.
In their third match of Phase Two, the Royals dominated the second half but were denied by a resolute Canaries defence. In the first half captain Jake Taylor almost gave his side the lead with a raking shot that fizzed narrowly wide from distance, while Lawson D'Ath followed suit and Canaries goalkeeper Remi Matthews did well to save Niall Keown’s header.
Norwich's Jacob Murphy, playing alongside twin brother Josh, was then denied by a fine double-save by Jon Henly, but will perhaps consider themselves fortunate that Taylor’s blistering strike rebounded back off the post with 10 minutes remaining, especially as they remain top of Group 2 with four points from their two matches.
Download full fixture list here | For full results click here
Manchester United (Lingard, Powell) 2-2 Arsenal (Akpom 2)
Tottenham Hotspur (Obika) 1-0 Liverpool
Wolverhampton Wanderers (McAlinden, Doherty) 2-2 Southampton (Sinclair, Isgrove)
Blackburn Rovers (Forrester 2) 2-1 Chelsea (Marin)
Fulham 0-1 Everton (McAleny)
Sunderland 0-4 Aston Villa (Drennan 3, Burke)
Crystal Palace P-P Manchester City
Reading 0-0 Norwich City
Newcastle (Haidara, Campbell, Quinn) 3-0 Stoke City
West Ham (Lee, Wellington) 2-0 West Brom
To view the league tables after the qualificaton stage, click here