Tuesday 17 December 2013
Fulham stretched their lead at the top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League table to four points as they hit five goals past Tottenham Hotspur, while Chelsea also gave a five-star performance against Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City pipped West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.
Muamer Tankovic hit a hat-trick as Fulham recovered from letting a three-goal lead slip to overcome Spurs in a thrilling match at Motspur Park.
Kit Symons' side raced out of the blocks as Tankovic opened the scoring from a well-worked set piece before doubling his tally with a composed finish. Tom Richards then gave the hosts a 3-0 half-time lead but Spurs rallied after the interval, pulling back two goals within eight minutes of the restart through Dominic Ball and Kenny McEvoy.
Midway through the second period Shaquille Coulthirst levelled the match with a flying header but Tankovic edged Fulham back in front with a 73rd-minute penalty and George Williams ended the visitors' resistance with an added-time strike. The Whites are four points clear at the top of the table with 25 points from 11 matches, while Spurs - last season's runners-up, are back in 17th place.
Chelsea are up to fifth place in the standings after offering another commanding performance against Bolton Wanderers.
The Blues, who now lie seven points behind Fulham with a game in hand, eased past the Trotters with the help of a hat-trick from Isaiah Brown and two wonderful strikes by Lewis Baker and John Swift.
Baker paved the way for a superb team performance with a stunning long-range effort, while Brown added a second on the half-hour mark with a powerful finish. He scored two more clinical strikes soon after the break, with the coup de grace applied by the mercurial Swift in added time.
Ben Foster made a return to action but ended up on the losing side as Man City completed an away victory thanks to two late goals at The Hawthorns.
Foster kept a clean sheet for the 45 minutes he was between the posts. Despite both John Guidetti and Sinin Bytyqi twice coming close for Patrick Vieira's charges and Devante Cole firing wide on 59 minutes, Albion held out until Bytyqi curled a superb 20-yard free-kick into the bottom right-hand corner with eight minutes remaining. Seconds later City doubled their lead when Jordy Mayifuila fired Adam Drury's ball past Jack Rose from 15 yards to take resurgent City up to ninth place.
Southampton inflicted a third successive defeat upon Stoke City as they edged a narrow victory at the Weaver Stadium.
The Potters, who included winger Matthew Etherington in their line-up as he bids to battle back from injury, dominated for long periods but were unable to unlock Southampton's obdurate rearguard and were made to pay by the visitors who scored with their only shot on target through Jake Flannigan. The triumph takes Saints up to sixth place in the standings, nine points behind the leaders.
Villa rounded off 2013 in style with a hard-earned away victory at Wolves.
Janoi Donacien and Andras Stieber got the goals at Bucks Head as Gordon Cowans' side produced an accomplished display. And, in a further boost for Villa fans, Gary Gardner stepped up his bid for match fitness by playing an hour of this Barclays U21 Premier League clash.
The opening goal came from an unlikely source in Donacien, who leapt to head Callum Robinson's precise left-wing cross past Wayne Hennessey on 14 minutes and, four minutes after the interval, the visitors doubled their advantage. A superb counterattack down the left flank was well finished by Stieber who raced into the area before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner.
Two goals of the highest quality lit up Leigh Sports Village on Monday night as Middlesbrough overcame Blackburn Rovers in convincing fashion.
With Paul Robinson, who has been sidelined all season with a serious illness, included in the hosts' line-up Boro knew they needed to produce something special to beat the former England goalkeeper, and they managed just that when Andre Bennett controlled Robinson's punched clearance, cut inside and sent a curling shot in off the far post. On 57 minutes, Robinson was again helpless as Emmanuel Ledesma unleashed a missile into the top corner from distance. The win takes Boro level on 10 points with 19th-placed Newcastle United, five points ahead of Rovers, who lie at the foot of the table.
Heavy rainfall caused the matches between Arsenal and Leicester City and Reading and West Ham United to be postponed.
Fulham (Tankovic 3, Richards, Williams) 5-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Ball, McEvoy, Coulthirst)
Stoke City 0-1 Southampton (Flannigan)
West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Manchester City (Bytyqi, Mayifuila)
Blackburn Rovers 0-2 Middlesbrough (Bennett, Ledesma)
Bolton Wanderers 0-5 Chelsea (Baker, Brown 3, Swift)
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Aston Villa (Donacien, Stieber)
Arsenal P-P Leicester City
Everton P-P Liverpool
Reading P-P West Ham United