December 26, means it’s Boxing day; something which brings pure excitement as the Premier League teams hardly get time to rest hence fatigue and injuries is a regular occurrence. Having said that, today we will take a look at two of best boxing day fixtures here, hence, fasten your seat belts.
Chelsea 4 Aston Villa 4, 2007 –
The game had everything in it; goals, red cards, clumsy challenges and what. Ironically, it were Aston Villa who started off the fixture brilliantly. Stunning a certain 41,686 spectators at the Bridge, Aston Villa found themselves leading the game 2-0 courtesy to a fantastic brace by Shaun Maloney. Chelsea, however, handed a lifeline when Zat Knight’s clumsy challenge on Michael Ballack earned them a penalty.
Andrei Shevchenko converted from the spot and just four minutes after the restart, he brought his side to the level terms with a beautiful finish after centre-back Alex completed a stunning comeback for the Blues. Despite being one man down, Villa did the unthinkable as Martin Laursen equalized for the Villans. Meanwhile, tempers started flaring and Chelsea were dealt a major blow after Ricardo Carvalho was given his marching orders for making a two-footed challenge on Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor.
The drama didn’t stop; Chelsea restored their lead via Michael Ballack’s curling free-kick and as soon as Chelsea thought they have won it, tables were turned as Ashley Cole was given a straight red for deliberately handling in the box. Gareth Barry was given the nod to draw his side back on level terms and the veteran made no mistake in doing such.
Eight goals, five yellow cards, three red cards and 48 tackles perfectly summed up the fixture’s intensity.
Here is how it happened:
Cech, Ferreira, Alex, Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Kalou, Essien, Lampard (Ballack 26), Joe Cole, Pizarro (Obi 85), Shevchenko (Wright-Phillips 82).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Ben-Haim.
Carvalho (80), Ashley Cole (90).
Essien, Alex, Ballack.
Shevchenko 45 pen, 50, Alex 66, Ballack 88.
Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Knight, Bouma (Harewood 90), Maloney (Davies 46), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Carew (Moore 78), Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Gardner.
Maloney 14, 44, Laursen 72, Barry 90 pen.
Chelsea eventually ended as the runner-up in the season but their accumulated 85 points set a new record for the most points gained in a 38-game season without securing the title.
Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 3, 2012 –
An important fixture for Manchester United given that it was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last boxing day fixture as he would go on to retire at the end of the season.
A game full of excitement this, the fixture was played against 75,596 spectators at the Theatre of Dreams and a certain Javier Hernandez proved out to be the hero of the game, as it was he who scored an injury-time winner for the Devils.
It all started in as early as the fourth minute when James Perch slotted home a simple tap-in after David De Gea pushed Demba Ba’s low shot onto his path. The goal was all down to Michael Carrick’s fault as the Englishman failed to clear the ball from midfield and Ba was quick to react. United were back on level terms in the 25th minute when Jonny Evans scored from close range after only Tim Krul could do was to deflect Javier Hernandez’s attempt following Robin van Persie’s free-kick.
Then came the sucker punch for Manchester United as Danny Simpson’s low shot from the edge of the penalty area was converted inside the post by Jonny Evans. Assistant referee Jake Collin raised his flag for offside as he saw Cisse standing into an offside position, but referee Mike Dean rightly allowed the goal as the striker had not touched the ball. Newcastle restored their lead some three minutes after conceding.
With the rain pouring all over the arena, a certain Alex Ferguson was left furious with Dean’s decision of allowing the goal to be counted. Newcastle then came close to making it 3-1, but Sylvain Marveaux’s free-kick was denied by the frame of the post. United eventually responded in the 58th minute and Patrice Evra’s low shot from the edge of the box drew Manchester United back on level terms.
Newcastle, however, took the lead for the third time in the game when Cisse produced a fine finish from Gabriel Obertan’s low cross in 68th minute. Just three minutes later, Manchester United came back in style after Robin Van Persie slotted home a neat finish after being denied by Krul’s excellent save from his initial effort.
For the first time in the fixture, United came close to taking a lead after Javier Hernandez’s shot struck Coloccini’s arm but the referee waved play on, The Mexican then missed a sitter from some six yards and just when he thought it was not his day, he produced the moment of magic which left the entire Old Trafford into a frenzy.
Timing his run to sheer perfection, Hernandez guided home a perfect poacher’s finish from Michael Carrick’s inch-perfect cross and gave United a much-needed win.
Manchester United (4-4-2)
David De Gea; Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra (c); Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes (Tom Cleverley 69), Ryan Giggs; Javier Hernandez (Darren Fletcher 90), Robin van Persie
Scorers: J Evans (25), P Evra (58), R van Persie (71), J Hernandez (90)
Newcastle United (4-3-3)
Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; James Perch, Gael Bigirimana (Gabriel Obertan 65), Vurnon Anita; Papiss Cisse (Sammy Ameobi 80), Demba Ba (Shola Ameobi 71), Sylvain Marveaux
Scorers: J Perch (4), J Evans (28 og), P Cisse (68)
Manchester United – Evans (36), Hernandez (38), Valencia (53); Newcastle United – Williamson (43), Simpson (61), Cisse (64)