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Tuesday 08 April 2014

Barclays U21s: Battle hots up for play-off places

Leaders defeat Chelsea; Arsenal beat Man City in seven-goal thriller, Man Utd also win

  • Liverpool clear the ball away from their goal against Chelsea

  • Jon Toral celebrates scoring his second goal in the win over Manchester City

Jack Dunn scored his seventh goal in six matches to give Liverpool a 1-0 victory over Chelsea, a result which guaranteed the Reds a place in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League end-of-season play-offs.

Dunn struck the decisive goal on 24 minutes when he pounced on Kristoffer Peterson's through-ball to finish calmly past Jamal Blackman.

Liverpool, who welcomed back Marc Pelosi as a second-half substitute after more than a year out of the game with a broken leg, had goalkeeper Ryan Fulton to thank as he denied Chelsea's Charly Musonda, Adam Nditi and Kasey Palmer in the closing stages.

The match, played in difficult weather conditions at Aldershot FC's ground, was watched by a crowd of more than 3,500 people. It was Chelsea's first league defeat since September and leaves them in fourth, seven points behind leaders Liverpool with three matches to play.

Liverpool have one more match of the regular season left to play, against Everton on Monday, 14 April.

Elsewhere, Arsenal put a dent in Manchester City's attempt to make the top four when they claimed a 4-3 victory in a seven-goal thriller at Boreham Wood's Meadow Park.

Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin put Arsenal 2-0 before Adam Drury pulled a goal back for the visitors at the start of the second half. Stefan O'Connor made it 3-1 on 73 minutes and it looked as if Arsenal would claim a comfortable win but the contest did not end quietly as Devante Cole scored with a minute on the clock to set up a tense finale. However, Toral added his second in stoppage time to restore Arsenal's two-goal advantage, only for Greg Leigh to grab another for City before the final whistle.

City are in sixth, two places and one point off the top four play-off places. However, they will overtake Fulham in second and Southampton, who have played all their matches, in third if they win two of their remaining three ties.

Arsenal moved up to 16th and boosted their hopes of making it into the top half of the table. Next season the Barclays U21 Premier League splits into two and Arsenal are four points off 11th, the cut-off point with three matches to play.

Sunderland still in contention

Sunderland AFC ensured they remain in the hunt for a top-four spot with a 3-0 home win over Tottenham Hotspur. The Black Cats, who had first-team players Jozy Altidore and Ondrej Celustka in their line-up, started the match strongly but had to wait until just after the half-hour to break the deadlock, the goal coming from Martin Smith. Mikael Mandron and Charis Mavrias struck within a minute just before half-time to put the result beyond doubt.  Sunderland are fifth, level on points with Chelsea, with only one match left for them to play.

Manchester United kept their top-four hopes alive with a convincing 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford. United, who had Jonny Evans making a return following injury, took control of the match with two goals in four first-half minutes from James Wilson and Joe Rothwell, while Saidy Janko sealed victory six minutes into the second half.

United are seventh, three points behind Chelsea, having played the same number of matches.

Georg Iliev and Tom Walker gave Bolton Wanderers a 2-0 victory over West Ham United, to move into the top half. Iliev scored just before half-time with a powerful shot from Zach Clough's pass, while Walker added a second with a fine solo effort.

West Ham's hopes of finishing in the top four now look over, as they need to win both of their remaining matches to have any chance of making it. They are five points behind Chelsea having played one match more.

Bottom club Blackburn Rovers had to come from behind to earn a 3-3 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Leigh Sports Village. Ibrahim Keita put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot after only three minutes while the lead was extended five minutes later when Hyuga Tanner headed into his own net. Tanner made amends at the start of the second half with a goal from 18-yards but Wolves restored their two-goal advantage through Eusebio Bancessi. Rovers were not finished, though, and they made sure they shared the spoils with goals from Dean Rittenberg and Tanner.

Top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League table

CLUB

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

Liverpool

20

13

2

5

54

29

25

41

Fulham

21

11

5

5

38

30

8

38

Southampton

21

11

3

7

35

30

5

36

Chelsea

18

10

5

3

39

21

18

35

Sunderland

20

10

5

5

38

30

8

35

Man City

18

11

1

6

46

25

21

34

Find out the full Barclays U21 Premier League fixture list here and view the table here.

Barclays Under-21 Premier League fixtures

7 April
Arsenal (Toral 2, Bellerin, O'Connor) 4-3 Manchester City (Drury, Cole, Leigh)
Blackburn Rovers (Tanner 2, Rittenberg) 3-3 Wolves (Keita, Tanner OG, Bancessi)
Bolton Wanderers (Iliev, Walker) 2-0 West Ham United
Manchester United (Wilson, Rothwell, Janko) 3-0 Aston Villa
Sunderland (Smith, Mandron, Mavrias) 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool (Dunn)

Barclays Under-21 Premier League fixtures

9 April
7pm Leicester City v Everton, King Power Stadium

11 April
7pm
Norwich City v Bolton Wanderers, Carrow Road
2pm West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers, Rush Green

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

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