• Thursday, 12 April 2012

    TW3 #7

    That was the (mid)week that was. And what a midweek. So much going on, we'll rattle through as best we can.

    Where to start? France, probably, where third-tier Quevilly made it through to the final of the Coupe de France by beeating Rennes. The Ligue 1 side were ahead early on through Julien Féret, but couldn't find a second. Karim Herouat equalised midway through the second half and, with the game heading for extra-time and Quevilly under massive pressure, they broke quickly and Anthony Laup slid one past Benoit Costil for a sensational late win. They take on Lyon in the final on the 28th of this month after they beat Gazelec Ajaccio on Tuesday. In Ligue 1, Montpellier eased past an increasingly shambolic Marseille side 3-1 to take a three-point lead in the standings over PSG.

    On Tuesday, Barcelona took Getafe apart at a stroll to move within a point of Real Madrid who had a derby clash at the Calderon the following day. A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick helped the leaders past their city rivals with a 4-1 win. Atléti were level, briefly, but El Real were rarely in serious danger of dropping points. The battle for the league rolls on. Valencia were also big winners, 4-1 over Rayo, and move back to third with Málaga in action on Thursday.

    A potentially decisive clash in Dortmund saw BvB place one hand on the championship plate with a 1-0 win over nearest challengers Bayern. Despite the Schwarzgelb dominating the first half, the sides turned round at 0-0, Robert Lewandowski with the best chance as he crashed a thunderous header off the post with Manuel Neuer - the ex-Schalke keeper getting dogs abuse all evening from the local fans - well beaten. Bayern were better after the break, but Dortmund still created the better chances and went ahead as a short corner routine ended with Lewandowski getting a vital touch onto a Kevin Grosskreutz shot. Arjen Robben was playing the big Pole onside and later had a tame penalty easily saved by Roman Weidenfeller, the keeper atoning for his brain explosion that caused him to give it away in the first place. Neven Subotic played the Martin Keown role in reminding Robben of what he'd done and the Dutchman's night got worse when he missed an alomst open goal from all of a couple of yards. Lautern lost again and are nine points from the relative safety of the relegation play-offs with four games remaining.

    In Serie A, Milan went back to the top after Sulley Muntari's early goal was enough to beat Chievo, but a late winner from the ageless Alessandro del Piero helped Juventus beat Lazio and return to the summit a day later. Inter beat Siena and move within three points of Udinese in fourth, though Roma and Napoli sit in between.

    It was a good midweek for Ajax, 5-0 winners over 10-man Heerenveen who had goalkeeper Brian Vandenbussche sent off early on. Theo Janssen converted the resultant penalty and Ajax strolled to a win. PSV lost at Waalwijk to leave themselves and Heerenveen seven points off Ajax with five games to go and all but out of the race. Feyenoord were held 0-0 by Roda JC and are six points back from the Amsterdammers while AZ and Twente drew 2-2, Emir Bajrami with a late equaliser for the Tukkers, leaving them three and five points adrift.

    A surprise defeat for Manchester United at Wigan sees the latter pull themselves out of the relegation places in England for the first time since September. It's also caused a frisson of intrigue at the top, but United's lead over city rivals City remains at five points - a gulf. With QPR winning as well as Wigan, it was a bad midweek for Bolton and Blackburn who were both beaten and both slip into the bottom three along with the doomed Wolves.

    Finally to Scotland where it's congratulations to Ross County on making it to the SPL for the first time. Playing in the Highland League up until 1994, they've slowly been building towards this, coming via a Scottish Cup Final in 2010. Not in action this week, their promotion was confirmed when Dundee were held at home by Queen of the South. This isn't a case of cashed-up Gretna or a financial basket-case like Livingston. It's been slow, steady progress and more power to their elbow for that.

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