Championship Wrap: Leicester go top, QPR, Burnley both lose

Leicester City moved top of the Championship with a 3-0 win over Millwall while Burnley and QPR fell to surprising defeats.

Nigel Pearson’s City opened up a three-point lead at the summit by registering their 12th win in 17 games, courtesy of a Jamie Vardy double and Lloyd Dyer’s sixth goal of the season.

Meanwhile, Burnley’s first league defeat in 13 matches came at the John Smith’s Stadium as Huddersfield Town completed a 2-1 victory over Sean Dyche’s side.

Oliver Norwood and James Vaughan scored within 10 minutes of the second half starting, the latter from the penalty spot, to give Huddersfield a comfortable cushion.

Danny Ings pulled one back for Burnley with six minutes remaining after a neat one-two with Sam Vokes, but the hosts held on.

Michael Duff’s late red card added to the misery for Burnley, who have lost top spot for the first time since the start of October.

QPR looked on course for another victory thanks to Charlie Austin’s first-half goal at Doncaster Rovers, but Theo Robinson and Paul Quinn netted in a shock comeback.

Blackpool celebrated the return of manager Paul Ince to the dugout following his recent ban with a 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Ricardo Fuller scored in the sixth minute and Dan Gosling struck with 17 minutes remaining to send Dave Jones’ side to a third consecutive defeat.

Gary Johnson’s Yeovil Town recorded only their third victory of the season, ending a run of three straight losses with a 3-0 triumph at Watford.

Byron Webster, Ishmael Miller and Joe Edwards were on target and Yeovil’s win dropped Barnsley to the foot of the table as a 3-0 loss at home to Birmingham City cost manager David Flitcroft his job.

All the goals at Oakwell came in the first half, Paul Caddis recording his first and second for Birmingham before Nikola Zigic added a third in the 37th minute, with Barnsley announcing Flitcroft’s dismissal after the match.

Blackburn Rovers picked up a fifth home win of the season when beating in-form Leeds United 1-0 at Ewood Park.

Tommy Spurr’s goal on the stroke of half-time was enough to earn all three points and end Leeds’ run of three consecutive wins.

Aitor Karanka collected his first victory as Middlesbrough boss with a 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers, while Ipswich Town triumphed over Charlton Athletic by the same score to move up to 11th.

The day’s early game saw two south-coast clubs go head-to-head, but Bournemouth and Brighton and Hove Albion could not be separated in a 1-1 draw.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Martinez hails Deulofeu show

Roberto Martinez hailed Gerard Deulofeu after the teenage winger led Everton’s destruction of Stoke City on Saturday.

The Barcelona loanee was in irrepressible form throughout the game at Goodison Park, as he marked his first Premier League start by opening the scoring in the 4-0 rout by finishing off a finely crafted team move on the stroke of half-time.

Deulofeu then played a key role in goals two and three from Seamus Coleman and Bryan Oviedo as Martinez’s side overwhelmed Stoke with an irresistible attacking performance, Romelu Lukaku adding the fourth.

The 19-year-old impressed after coming on as a substitute in Everton’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool last week, and Martinez insisted his menacing display on Saturday came as no surprise as he was determined to make amends for missing two opportunities against their local rivals.

“I think he was fairly disappointed with last week – from my point of view I thought he was outstanding when he came on against Liverpool but he had two very good chances and he thought he should have took them,” the Everton manager said.

“I thought his goal was sensational. The way he works for the team and the way he understands his role in the side is very, very impressive.”

Martinez made three changes to the team that drew with Liverpool last time out, with Deulofeu and Oviedo being joined in the starting XI by Leon Osman at the expense of Kevin Mirallas, the injured Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley.

And the former Wigan Athletic boss was delighted with the incoming trio, saying they were key in his side being able to play to the same level as the Merseyside derby.

“I was a little bit worried before the game if we’d be able to maintain the tempo and intensity we had in the previous game, (but) the way we controlled the game was very pleasing … (the) players with fresh legs made a big impact,” he added.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Hughton hails defence after Palace win

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton was thrilled with his defenders after picking up a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The hosts came up against a reinvigorated Palace side spurred on by the arrival of new manager Tony Pulis and had to defend well to earn the points and a clean sheet.

A first-half goal from Gary Hooper ensured the triumph, with the striker getting on the end of a fine ball from Wes Hoolahan to put his men ahead.

The result also marks Norwich’s first clean sheet in four Premier League games – and just their second win in all competitions since the end of September – and Hughton was thrilled to get back on track.

“It is a big win and there is certainly a better feeling going into Wednesday’s game at Liverpool,” he told BBC Sport. “We just have to make sure we have more of them.

“Tony (Pulis) has set Crystal Palace up to be very difficult to beat and they will cause teams a lot of problems.

“I thought we defended well and restricted them to minimal chances.”

The win sees Norwich climb to 14th place in the table, with their next challenge coming away to Brendan Rodgers’ side on Wednesday.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Guardiola pleased with professional Bayern

Pep Guardiola praised Bayern Munich for their professionalism as they recorded a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday.

The Bundesliga leaders had a taxing schedule leading into this game, having claimed away wins against title rivals Borussia Dortmund in the league and CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League in the space of five days.

Arjen Robben’s first-half double sealed the triumph to extend Bayern’s unbeaten league run to 39 games.

The hosts were dominant for long spells and enjoyed 78 per cent possession, but rock-bottom Braunschweig had their chances on the counter-attack and could have scored on a couple of occasions.

Guardiola was particularly happy with Robben as the Dutchman took his goal tally to 10 in all competitions this term.

“I’m pleased,” the coach said after the match. “Robben is very important for us and makes many goals.

“It was a difficult game because we came from Dortmund and Moscow.

“This game was a whole different ball game.”

The victory maintains Bayern’s four-point lead at the top of the table from Bayer Leverkusen, with Dortmund a further three points behind.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Premier League: Cardiff City 0 Arsenal 3

Aaron Ramsey returned to haunt his former club as Arsenal recorded a 3-0 victory at Cardiff City.

The midfielder, who swapped South Wales for North London in 2008, scored two of his side’s goals, either side of a Mathieu Flamini strike.

The result – Arsenal’s fifth win on the road this season in the Premier League – extends the club’s lead at the summit to seven points, with the rest of the top six not playing until Sunday.

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay made one change to the side that started last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United, with Kim Bo-Kyung, who scored the late equaliser against the champions, coming in for Peter Odemwingie.

Arsenal, meanwhile, made three alterations to the team that recorded a 2-0 UEFA Champions League victory over Marseille on Tuesday, bringing Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla into the starting XI in place of Nacho Monreal, Flamini and Tomas Rosicky.

The visitors were quick out of the blocks, with Jack Wilshere, who netted both of his side’s goals in midweek, rattling the crossbar inside two minutes with a left-footed curling strike from the edge of the penalty area.

A nasty clash of heads between Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna left the German in need of lengthy treatment in the opening stages, and Fraizer Campbell headed narrowly wide of the left-hand post for Cardiff before the defender returned to the action.

Mesut Ozil then touched the ball beyond Steven Caulker in the 15th minute to send Olivier Giroud through on goal, but the striker incorrectly assumed he was in an offside position and stopped playing. The delay gave goalkeeper David Marshall time to come off his line and block the eventual effort.

However, Ramsey broke the deadlock for Arsene Wenger’s men in the 29th minute, meeting an Ozil cross to head into the top corner for his seventh league goal of the season. Having performed Cardiff’s trademark ‘Ayatollah’ gesture before kick-off to the delight of the home fans, Ramsey refused to celebrate after putting his former employers a goal down.

Arsenal maintained their pressure after the break, with Caulker having to clear off the line from a Giroud strike following good work in the penalty area by Ramsey.

But the hosts were almost level six minutes into the second period, Wojciech Szczesny getting down brilliantly to his right to keep out a Campbell headed effort.

Kevin Theophile-Catherine drilled a long-range effort goalwards shortly afterwards as Cardiff continued to push for an equaliser, but Szczesny was equal to the strike once again.

But Arsenal doubled their advantage in the 86th minute, when Flamini smashed home from 18 yards after receiving the ball from Cazorla, before Ramsey finished off a quick Arsenal counter-attack to deliver the final blow in stoppage time.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Premier League: Everton 4 Stoke City 0

Gerard Deulofeu inspired Everton to a comprehensive 4-0 win over Stoke City at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The Barcelona loanee, who was handed his first Premier League start after a bright display as a substitute against Liverpool last week, was the shining light in a vibrant attacking display that lifts Roberto Martinez’s side up to fourth in the table.

Everton dominated from start to finish and Deulofeu opened the scoring just before the break by finishing off a superb team move, before second-half goals from Seamus Coleman, Bryan Oviedo and Romelu Lukaku ensured they made it 16 home top-flight games without defeat.

Martinez made three changes from the thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool last week, with Leon Osman, Oviedo and Deulofeu coming in for Kevin Mirallas, the injured Leighton Baines and Ross Barkley.

Mark Hughes, meanwhile, made two alterations from Stoke’s 2-0 win over Sunderland, as Marc Muniesa and Oussama Assaidi replaced Robert Huth and Marko Arnautovic.

Everton unsurprisingly started the game on the front foot, with the impressive Deulofeu proving a thorn in Stoke’s side.

The 19-year-old had the first effort on goal when he forced Asmir Begovic into a smart save from his 20-yard free-kick after just three minutes.

Begovic was once again called into action in the 26th minute as he made a superb reflex save from Osman’s deflected shot following another sustained period of Everton pressure.

Martinez’s men continued to control proceedings and finally broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Deulofeu finished off a brilliant move from close range.

The Spaniard played slick one-twos with Steven Pienaar and Gareth Barry in the Stoke box before rifling past the helpless Begovic from six yards.

The hosts picked up where they left off after the interval and had to wait just minutes to extend their lead through Coleman.

Deulofeu was once again the architect, as his elusive run down the left led to Gareth Barry mis-controlling the winger’s cross, only for the ball to fall fortuitously to Coleman who scuffed his left-footed shot past Begovic.

And Oviedo made it 3-0 shortly before the hour, as he received a short corner from Deulofeu before cutting inside onto his right foot and arrowing his first Premier League goal into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

Tim Howard was forced into his first save of the game from Peter Crouch soon after, but Lukaku had the final say when he rounded off another incisive move by slotting home Oviedo’s cross from six yards 11 minutes from time.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Premier League: West Ham 3 Fulham 0

Fulham slumped to a 3-0 defeat at West Ham on Saturday to intensify the pressure on under-fire manager Martin Jol.

Jol admitted in the build-up that a defeat to their London rivals would leave him fearing for his job, having overseen their worst ever start to a Premier League season.

Modibo Maiga had the first half’s best chance as he headed an effort against the post, but goalmouth action was infrequent for the rest of the period.

The hosts did have the lead less than 60 seconds after the break, however, as Fernando Amorebieta deflected a Mohamed Diame shot past Maarten Stekelenburg.

Carlton Cole and Joe Cole scored in the closing stages to seal an emphatic scoreline for West Ham’s 12 Premier League matches, while Jol’s team suffered a fifth successive loss.

Sam Allardyce made four changes from last week’s defeat to Chelsea, Matthew Jarvis and Diame recalled.

Swansea City were Fulham’s conquerors last time out and boss Jol named three alterations to that team as he dropped Bryan Ruiz and Derek Boateng, while captain Dimitar Berbatov missed out through illness.

The hosts dominated the early proceedings and nearly took the lead 10 minutes in as Modibo Maiga directed Mark Noble’s right-wing free-kick goalwards, but it struck the post.

Stekelenburg was forced into his first save of the match seven minutes later as Stewart Downing cut in from the right and fired a long-range effort towards the bottom corner, but the Dutch goalkeeper palmed the strike away.

With just a few minutes of the first half remaining Kevin Nolan looked set to score as he met Downing’s chipped cross with an acrobatic scissor-kick, but the attempt bounced up and into Stekelenburg’s hands.

Following their struggles in front of goal in the first period, it took West Ham less than a minute to open the scoring after half-time as Diame stole possession from Scott Parker and then saw his 20-yard effort deflected into the net off Amorebieta.

Just after the hour-mark the hosts had two headed opportunities in quick succession as James Tomkins directed a corner agonisingly wise and Jarvis knocked the ball straight at Stekelenburg, before Downing’s cross struck the crossbar.

With just eight minutes remaining, Allardyce’s men made sure of the win as Carlton Cole latched on to Downing’s low cross and poked the ball home for his first goal since December 2012.

There was still enough time for Joe Cole to find the net in the 90th minute following an excellent Ravel Morrison run to heap the misery on Fulham and Jol.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Premier League: Norwich City 1 Crystal Palace 0

Tony Pulis’ tenure as Crystal Palace manager got off to a losing start with a 1-0 defeat away to Norwich City on Saturday.

The former Stoke boss – who was announced as Ian Holloway’s successor last weekend – saw his men fall to their 10th Premier League loss of the campaign after a first-half goal from Gary Hooper.

The striker netted his second league goal for the hosts in the 30th minute, after some impressive build-up play from Wes Hoolahan.

Pulis will take some positives from the defeat, however, after a battling display – and he will have an almost immediate chance to seek a response when Palace host West Ham on Tuesday.

The 55-year-old opted to make just two changes from the side that he had watched beat Hull City 1-0 last Saturday, with Yannick Bolasie’s suspension seeing Jason Puncheon called in, while Cameron Jerome replaced Dwight Gayle.

Injury concerns played into Norwich boss Chris Hughton’s selections, with three changes from their 2-1 loss to Newcastle United including a return for Sebastien Bassong, who made his first appearance since November 2.

The 27-year-old almost marked his comeback with a goal within the first minute, but headed wide.

Seven minutes later, the hosts looked to have taken the advantage when Leroy Fer jumped higher than the Palace defence to head at goal, only to see his effort bounce down off the crossbar and onto the line, with goalline technology showing that it had not crossed.

Hughton’s men continued to apply the pressure, however, and they were eventually rewarded in the 30th minute when Hooper fired into an empty net after getting on the end of a fine pass from Hoolahan.

Palace responded and Barry Bannan was denied an equaliser by first the crossbar and then Martin Olsson in the 32nd minute as the visitors entered the break behind.

Pulis’ words at half-time clearly had an effect, as his side quickly upped the pressure at the start of the second half, although they struggled to carve out clear-cut chances.

Hoolahan squandered the best chance of the early part of the second period at the other end, as his weak shot was easily saved.

The hosts were almost made to rue that missed opportunity just a few minutes later, when Bannan’s cross skidded across the face of goal before Bassong just managed to wrap his foot around the ball to send it over the crossbar.

Palace had another chance to grab an equaliser in the 82nd minute, but substitute Jimmy Kebe – who had come on just six minutes earlier – saw his strike graze the outside of the post.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Premier League: Aston Villa 0 Sunderland 0

Sunderland’s search for an away Premier League win continues after their 0-0 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday.

Gus Poyet’s side are winless on the road this season but did pick up their first away point since the 1-1 draw against Southampton in August.

They should have left Villa Park with all three, Emanuele Giaccherini hooking the ball over the bar from point-blank range at the end of the first half when it looked easier to score.

The hosts had slightly the better of a dour affair, but again it was the visitors who came closest to scoring in the second half, Fabio Borini striking the crossbar with a header in the 67th minute.

The hosts made four changes from Monday’s draw at West Brom, with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann among those to return to the side following injury, while Poyet made three alterations as Andrea Dossena, Craig Gardner and Borini all came in.

Agbonlahor threatened twice inside the opening five minutes, glancing a header wide before curling a low shot from the edge of the box that was comfortable for Vito Mannone.

Goalmouth action was scarce in a turgid opening half hour, Christian Benteke steering his effort a yard over the bar after being teed up by Ashley Westwood in the 29th minute.

Sebastian Larsson whipped a free-kick narrowly wide of the post four minutes later after Dossena had been fouled by Ron Vlaar on the corner of the box.

Former Villa man Gardner did have the ball in the net after 41 minutes, but the goal was rightly disallowed as the midfielder had received the pass in an offside position.

Giaccherini then spurned a golden opportunity on the stroke of half-time as the Italian somehow turned the ball over the bar from two yards after being picked out by Phil Bardsley’s knock down.

Villa started the second half the stronger, Mannone beating away Agbonlahor’s drive at the near post four minutes after the restart, before Westwood curled a shot straight at the goalkeeper from 25 yards.

Midway through the half, Borini met Giaccherini’s left-wing cross firmly, only to see his glancing header crash off the bar and away to safety.

It was the last action of note, both sides struggling to create chances in the final stages as Sunderland made it five away games without a goal, although the draw did end a run of five consecutive away league defeats for Poyet’s side.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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Galliani to stay at Milan, Berlusconi claims

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi claims that Adriano Galliani will not be leaving the club.

Vice-president Galliani claimed on Friday that he would be stepping away from San Siro due to his reputation being “seriously damaged” by ongoing turmoil at the Serie A giants.

Reports had suggested that Berlusconi’s daughter, Barbara, would assume day-to-day control of running club affairs.

Rumours of a rift between the pair have been rife in recent times, with a poor start to the Serie A season only serving to increase the pressure on the hierarchy.

Milan sit 13th in the Serie A table, already 20 points behind reigning champions Juventus, and they have slumped down the division following a run of just three wins from their first 13 games.

However, Berlusconi now expects Galliani to prolong his 27-year association with Milan after a reported four-hour meeting on Friday.

“Serenity has returned to AC Milan. Adriano Galliani will remain in his position,” Berlusconi told ANSA.

Galliani himself refused to confirm Berlusconi’s claim as the squad departed for Catania ahead of Sunday’s Serie A clash.

He told the club’s official website: “It is not up to me to comment on the words of president Berlusconi.”

Meanwhile, Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has urged his players not to be distracted by off-field matters.

“The thing that we need to do, notwithstanding all that’s happening in the club, stuff that everyone around the world can see, is get good results and get back in the high quarters of the Serie A table,” he told a press conference.

“Getting wins will bring more serenity to the club, but we need to do it because it’s our duty.

“We need to stop thinking about the problems of the club and concentrate only on football.”

Stephan El Shaarawy has been included in Allegri’s squad for the trip to Sardinia and could make his first appearance since September after a foot injury.

Sat 30 November, 2013
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