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Chelsea, Man Utd Go Goal-Wire In Premiership …Thumps Villa 7-1, Bolton 4-0, Respectively

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English Premier League title contenders, Chelsea and Manchester United yesterday made it a goal harvest in their respective league matches against Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers.

While Chelsea thumped Aston Villa 7-1 at the Stamford Bridge to go top of the table, United responded in an almost like manner against Bolton, 4-0 away, to reclaim top spot in one of the tightest race to the premier league title in recent time.

Frank Lampard passed the 150 goal mark for Chelsea as they threw the gauntlet down to Premier League pace-setters Manchester United by destroying Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard’s four goals made him the third-highest scorer in the club’s history eclipsing legends Roy Bentley and Peter Osgood with 151 goals.

His efforts, two from the penalty spot, were the centrepiece of an emphatic Chelsea victory as they followed up their 5-0 midweek win at Portsmouth with another goal-laden attacking display.

And as coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted the disappointment of their Champions League exit at the hands of Inter Milan may yet aid their attempts to regain the title, Chelsea’s embarrassing superiority over a Villa side with sights set on the top four provides the perfect tonic for next Saturday’s visit to Old Trafford.

It was a win made all the more impressive because it was achieved without main marksman Didier Drogba, who was rested on the substitutes’ bench after picking up a knock in the victory at Fratton Park. To say he was not missed is an understatement.

Lampard gave Chelsea an early lead when he converted Florent Malouda’s cross at the far post, but John Carew quickly put Villa level after good work by Ashley Young.

The game took a crucial twist right on half-time when Lampard put Chelsea back in front from the spot after Yuri Zhirkov was brought down by James Collins – and there was no way back for Villa as Ancelotti’s side cut loose after the interval.

Malouda took advantage of more fine work from Zhirkov to beat Friedel, and Lampard completed his hat-trick with another penalty. He made his mark in Chelsea history by slipping his spot-kick comfortably past Villa keeper Brad Friedel after another run from the rampant Zhirkov drew a foul from Dunne.

Villa crumbled and Malouda piled on the agony after he was set up by Lampard and substitute Salomon Kalou made it six when he shot low past Friedel after Nicolas Anelka had been given what seemed like an age to turn in the area.

It was fitting that Lampard rounded off the rout with his fourth goal in the dying seconds, turning home his effort inside the area as Villa gave every impression of a side who simply could not wait for the whistle to sound.

And as if this was not enough to ignite ecstasy around Stamford Bridge, the roars were deafening as news of Birmingham City’s late equaliser against Arsenal filtered through.

Barely one hour later at the Reebok stadium, Dimitar Berbatov scored twice as Manchester United returned to the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win away to Bolton Wanderers

Jlloyd Samuel opened the scoring with an unfortunate and somewhat absurd own goal on 38 minutes, Berbatov provided two cool finishes after the break and substitute Darron Gibson completed the rout.

United leapfrogged Chelsea to go a point clear, and they are now four ahead of Arsenal who drew at Birmingham. It completed a satisfactory evening for United that began amid injury worries over two of their leading players.

Fears over the state of Wayne Rooney’s knee inflammation appear to be well-founded after the England striker was left out of United’s match squad altogether despite having a week to recover since their last game against Liverpool.

Less surprising was the omission of Rio Ferdinand, following his umpteenth back twinge of the season – both absences will cause major concern for fans of both United and England with the World Cup less than three months away.

The first half initially offered little in the way of excitement before exploding into life late on. Ryan Giggs returned from a broken arm and was deployed through the middle to replace some of Rooney’s spark, but the Welshman failed to assert himself.

United carved out some half-chances, with Berbatov volleying at Jussi Jaaskelainen and Jonny Evans thrashing a left-foot shot over following a corner.

But Bolton came closer, bringing two world class saves from Edwin van der Sar. First Johan Elmander raced onto an exceptional through ball from Jack Wilshere, but saw his shot repelled by the Dutchman’s strong wrist at the near post.

Then Van der Sar had to be at his acrobatic best to leap and tip over a Fabrice Muamba shot that appeared destined for the top-left corner.

But between those two saves came Samuel’s aberration. Giggs sent in a low cross from the left and Samuel met it at the back post, planting the ball back across goal into the far corner, giving Jaaskelainen no chance. A great finish, if only he had meant it.

It was the 11th own goal scored in United’s favour in the Premier League this season – the previous record for any side is six.

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Alcaraz Overwhelms Djokovic To Defend Wimbledon Title

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Carlos Alcaraz powered to victory over an out-of-sorts Novak Djokovic in a bewildering final to defend his men’s singles title at Wimbledon.
A repeat of last year’s showpiece, it failed to live up to the five-set thriller of 12 months ago as Djokovic appeared helpless against the dominant Spaniard.
After squandering three championship points when trying to serve out the victory, Alcaraz held his arms aloft after edging through the third-set tie-break for a 6-2 6-2 7-6 (7-4) win.
For a second straight year, Djokovic was attempting to equal Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.
The 24-time major winner was also trying to move ahead of Margaret Court to take sole ownership of the all-time record for the most Grand Slam singles titles.
Graceful in defeat, Djokovic shared a smile and warm embrace with Alcaraz at the net after the comprehensive defeat.

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Uruguay Coach Blasts Copa America Organisers

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Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa has lashed out at the plague of liars running the 2024 Copa América, two days after his team’s semifinal against Colombia ended with a brawl in the stands involving players and fans.
At a fiery, extraordinary news conference, Bielsa criticized the lack of security provided to Uruguayan families; argued that his players were obligated to climb into the crowd to protect their loved ones; and said that post-brawl punishments should not be for the players, “but rather for those who forced them to act how they acted”, tournament organisers.
And Bielsa did not stop there. He blasted the patchy, temporary grass fields laid down for this Copa América, which is being hosted by 14 stadiums across the United States.
He also said the “training fields were a disaster.”
He suggested that Bolivia had been unable to train because one pitch was so bad.
He said that  Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, who blasted the quality of the field at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on opening night, had been threatened and told not to speak out again. (At multiple news conferences since, Scaloni has indeed declined to discuss the state of fields when asked.)
Bielsa noted that U.S. authorities, such as those in charge of the stadiums, have responsibility for some of this, but “they have not lied,” Bielsa said.
He instead directed most of his criticism at CONMEBOL, the South American soccer confederation primarily in charge of (and primarily profiting from) the tournament. “They say that the pitches are perfect, and all these lies that they have told!” Bielsa ranted, gesticulating furiously.
At one point, he cut himself off, and acknowledged: “I’m saying everything I promised I wouldn’t say.” But he couldn’t hold back.
He had been asked by a reporter whether he feared that his players who fought with fans would be sanctioned for their roles in the melee. “The players reacted like any other human being would,” Bielsa responded as he grew angry. He said that their families had no escape route. “And if you see your woman, or your mother, or a baby, being attacked, what would you do?”

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Euro 2024: Mikel Oyarzabal Clinches Victory For Spain

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Mikel Oyarzabal scored a late goal to give Spain a 2-1 victory over England in the Euro 2024 Final yesterday at Berlin’s Olympiastadion.
Coming off the bench, Oyarzabal scored the winning goal to give Spain a record fourth European Championship, their first since 2012.
Following a cagey first half in Berlin, in which neither team scored, Spain increased the intensity early in the second half.
A lovely infield shuffle from the 17-year-old Lamine Yamal followed by a cross-pass in the path of Spain’s left-winger, Nico Williams ended up as the opener.
Williams slotted the ball past Jordan Pickford at the bottom corner of the far post to make Spain go ahead of the game.
In the 70th minute, Cole Palmer was substituted in for Kobbie Mainoo.
The Chelsea player took three minutes to combine alongside Jude Bellingham for England’s equalizer.
The winner finally came via another substitute, this time for Spain, as Oyarzabal pounced onto a Marc Cucurella’s low cross from the left to see his team win the game.

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