Sixth Time Unlucky for Real Madrid

Real Madrid C.F.
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For the Sixth season in a row Real Madrid have failed to qualify for the quarter final stage of the European Champions League after crashing out 2-1 on aggregate to French club Lyon.

Despite spending £200 on new players success still eludes the Madrid giants and it is looking increasingly likely they will end the season with no silverware this year.

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No Happy Return For Beckham

David Beckham at Al Saad Sports stadium.
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It was an unhappy night for David Beckham and his AC Milan team mates at Old Trafford tonight as Manchester United ran out comprehensive 4-0 winners to stroll into the Champions Leaague quarter finals 7-2 on aggregate.

By the time he came on for his emotional return Manchester United were 3-0 up and even the crowds standing ovation offered little consolation. He did however manage to make a little more of an impresion on the pitch than his collegues and forced Edwin van der Sar into a save as well as putting in a few good crosses.

However on the night only one team shone and on this form Manchester United look potential Champion League winners.

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Arsenal Stroll Into The Champions League Quarter Finals

European Cup trophy
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After their somewhat controversial defeat in Porto, Arsenal thanks to a Nicklas Bendtner hat-trick  hammered Porto 5-0 last night to gain their place in the last eight of the Champions League. This will be especially pleasing to Bendtner who was u8nder the spot light following a succession of misses in Saturday’s win against Burnley.

Trailing 2-1 from the 1st leg due mainly to Porto never really looked like a team capable of holding their narrow lead and the game was already won before Bendtner hit his 3rd goal in injury time.

In the end Arsenals 6-2 aggregate victory was no more than they deserved and no one will fancy meeting them in the last eight.

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FA Cup Semi Final Draw Give Chance of London Final

Closeup of the second Wembley Stadium, one day...
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Thanks to the remaining London clubs avoiding each other in the draw there is a chance of an all London final in the 2010 FA Cup Final.

The Draw is:

Chelsea v Aston Villa, a repeat of the 2000 final

Tottenham or Fulham v Portsmouth.

Both ties will be played at Wembley which should ensure the pitch gets even more damage before the final.

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Villa Win Thriller At Madejski Stadium

In by far the most entertaining of the weekends FA Cup Quarter Final ties Aston Villa came back from a two goal deficit to win 4-2 at Reading, thanks to a hat trick from big John Carew.

Reading leading deservedly at half time seemed to go to sleep defensively in the opening minutes of the second half and suddenly from being in control found themselves 3-2 down as Villa responded to Martin O’ Neils undoubtedly strong half time team talk. Despite Readings Best efforts in the second half they never really looked like staging a comeback and man of the match John Carew hit a late penalty to put the result beyond doubt.

As well as putting Villa into the Semi Final at Wembley this win ended Marin O’ Neils unenviable record of having never won a game as Villa managed in March.

In the other ties Portsmouth and Chelsea both won 2-0 and Fulham and Tottenham will replay after an uninspiring 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage.

Lucky 13 For England

Fabio Capello.
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In their 13th game against African countries England managed a welcome win, but were far from convincing as their preparation for the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa got underway. Against a skillful Egypt team fresh from their 7th victory in the African Cup Of Nations England failed to impress and went into the dressing room a goal down at half time.

Fabio Capello made some inspired changes at half time bringing on Peter Crouch and Michael Carrick and this turned the game with Crouch scoring the equaliser and England’s third.

A 3-1 win look convincing but had the linesman spotted that Peter Crouch was offside for one of his goals and the goalie made a better effort at stopping Shaun Wright-Phillips volley then things would have looked very different.

Still Fabio Capello will be happy with was England’s 500th win, even if he has lots to think about squad wise.

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Barrow Hold Out For FA Trophy Semi Final Place

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Barrow took another step towards repeating their 1990 FA Trophy win last night when holding on to win 2-1 over fellow Conference Premier side York City.

Barrow were ahead after 5 minutes and added a second with a 1st half penalty, however York pulled a goal back in the 70th minute making for a slightly anxious last 20 minutes.

Barrow now face Salisbury in the 2 legged semi finals for the chance to play either Stevenage Borough or Kidderminster Harriers at Wembley in what has been a successful season for them in the Cups which has included reaching the FA Cup 3rd round where they lost to Sunderland.

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Barrow v York Finally Goes Ahead

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Barrow and York City will finally play in their FA Trophy Quarter Final match at Holker Steet tonight after two previous postponements due to frozen pitchs.

These two one time football league members will be relishing the chance of a possible trip to Wembley and the welcome gate receipts from the 2 legged semi finals against Salisbury City.

Both have to make changes for tonights game and York will be without leading scorer, Richard Brodie, who completes his three match suspension tonight, while Barrow are missing Nick Chadwick who is cup-tied having played for the now sadly defunct Chester earlier in the competition.

The winner will collect £16,000 in prize money for reaching the Semi Finals.

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FA Cup Quarter Final Weekend

Chelsea F.C.
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This weekend (6-7 March) is FA Cup Quarter Final weekend and the ties include a London Derby, a club desperate for the money and a sole representative from outside the Premier League in giant killers Reading. Every game has a bit of interest to it with plenty for the neutrals to enjoy.

The biggest game is arguably the all London clash between Fulham and Spurs which should be a close game as Fulham are no push overs at Craven Cottage. However Tottenham have finally matured into a genuine champions league challenger and they will expect to avoid defeat at the very least and should win a replay at White Hart Lane.

In the other London game FA Cup holders Chelsea take on Stoke who have overcome the odds this season beating Arsenal, Manchester City and non league York City on their way to this clash. All three games finished 3-1 (whats the odds of that) but they will find things tough away at Chelsea and it will be a major surprise if they manage to reach the Semi Finals.

Ordinarily Portsmouth V Birmingham would not be a tie to capture the imagination of the neutral, but given Portsmouth’s fall into administration many neurtral fans will be hoping they can progress to the Semi Finals and give their beleaguered supporters something to shout about. It will be difficult against a well organised Birmingham side and this might be another game heading for a replay.

The final tie pits the only surviving non Premier League team Reading who have already beaten Liverpool and Burnley in the earlier rounds against Aston Villa who were a tad unlucky in the League Cup Finals and will be well up for this as its their only realistic chance of Silver Ware this season.

Reading have played well in the cup despite their somewhat erratic league form but have needed replays against Liverpool and West Brom and one gets the feeling that their luck will run out soon. I think on this occasion Villa will prove too strong although it might take a replay again.

In the end I expect the last 4 to be Chelsea, Tottenham, Villa and Birmingham.

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Manchester United Win The League Cup

Wayne Rooney
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Manchester United added the 2010 Carling sponsored League Cup to their impressive list of trophy’s following a controversy tinged 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at The New Wembley on Sunday.

Although on the balance of chances United clearly deserved to win it could have been so different had Phil Dowd followed the rules and sent off Vidic for a professional foul on Villa Striker Agbonlahor in the 5th minute, a tackle which led to the penalty which put Villa 1-0 up. One can only assume that Phil Dowd didn’t think it was a goal scoring opportunity, however even Alex Ferguson to his credit admitted it probably should have been a red card. The final decision was no card at all and this again played a part in the second half when Vidic was booked.

Anyway controversy aside it was an entertaining game and once Michael Owen had leveled the scores there was only ever going to be one winner.

The Luckless Michael Owen who had looked sharp during the 1st half succumbed to and was replaced by Wayne Rooney, who inevitably scored the winner and could easily have added a second had his deft header not crashed against the post.

Villa played some nice football but never looked like getting back into the game after Rooney struck and despite bringing on John Carew with 10 minutes left united always looked comfortable and held out for the win they just about deserved.

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