Popular Posts

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bayern Munich Win Bundesliga, Chelsea and Juventus Close in

Bayern Munich became the first team among Europea’s Big 5 leagues to be crowned league Champions.

The Bavarians were made to sweat in their match against Hertha Berlin but Bastian Schweinsteiger provided the cutting edge scoring the only goal 10 minutes before the end in a 1-0 win on Saturday.

That result meant that second-placed Wolfsburg had to win at Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday to push Bayern’s inevitable title celebrations to another week. However, The Wolves were beaten 1-0 courtesy of Max Kruse’s 90th minute goal for Gladbach, handing Pep Guardiola the Bundesliga title in his first season in charge, and Bayern’s third on the trot and 25th overall.

With the league title safely secure in the cabinet with 6 games to play, the Champions League semi-finalists will be gunning to go a step closer to a third consecutive league and cup double when they play rivals Borussia Dortmund in the semifinal of the DFB Pokal Cup on Tuesday. They have beaten Jurgen Klopp’s side over two legs in the Bundesliga this season but Die Schwarzgelben were the celebrating lot the last time the two met in a cup match (Dortmund beat Bayern 2-0 in the season-opening Super Cup clash).

Torino won the Derby della Molle for the first time in 20 years beating rivals Juventus 2-1 to delay the Old Lady’s title claim on hold. Andrea Pirlo had put the runaway leaders ahead with his typical effortless freekick in the 35th minute but Matteo Darmian leveled at the stroke of half time.

Juventus old boy Fabio Quagliarella scored the winner eight minutes into the second half to hand Torino the derby win in a match that was marred by crowd violence. Lazio failed to take advantage of Juventus’ only third defeat in Serie A this season as they were held 1-1 by lowly Chievo.

However, Massimiliano Allegri’s men still have an unassailable lead and will be crowned champions on Wednesday should they beat Fiorentina and Lazio fail to beat relegated Parma.

Chelsea moved to within utmost two wins in their remaining five games to secure the Barclays Premier League title despite drawing 0-0 at Arsenal. The Blues are 10 points clear of second-placed Manchester City and with a game in hand. A win over Leicester City on Wednesday could see them put one hand on the title.

La Liga

Both leaders Barcelona and second on the log Real Madrid won on the weekend to ensure the La Liga race is still open to either. Neymar and Lionel Messi scored as Barca edged Espanyol 2-0 in the Barcelona derby while Real Madrid edged Celta Vigo 4-2 thanks to Javier ‘Chicarito’ Hernandez’s brace. Carlo Ancelloti’s men are on 79 points, two points behind the Catalans while Atletico Madrid, 3-0 winners over Elche, are third on 72 with five matches to play in La Liga.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Champions League: Real Madrid Draw Juventus, Barca Face Bayern

Barcelona and Real Madrid were kept apart in the Champions League semi-finals draw putting on hold a possible El-Classico clash at least until the Lisbon final.

Reigning Champions Real Madrid have been drawn to face Serie A leaders and Champions-elect Juventus while Barcelona will have to battle with Bayern Munich for a place in this year’s final.

Carlo Ancelloti’s Madrid booked their berth to the semis after squeezing out a narrow 1-0 second leg win over city rivals Atletico Madrid to advance, the first leg having ended barren. Juventus also advanced on a similar scoreline against French side Monaco thanks to Arturo Vidal’s first leg penalty and an unyielding defensive display in the return leg in France which ended scoreless.

The last semi-final meeting between Massimiliano Allegri’s side and Madrid was in the 2002-03 season. The Old lady proved superior on both legs, winning 2-0 in the first leg at home and 2-1 in the return leg at the Bernabeu in their way to losing the final to AC Milan.

However, the La Liga side won the most recent encounter between the two sides which was in the group stages of the 2012-14 competition. Madrid won 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu but were held 2-2 in the return leg in Turin. Juventus have never lost to Los Blancos when playing host.

Barcelona will be hoping to banish memories of two seasons ago when they got embarrassed by Bayern Munich in their last Champions league meeting. The Catalans were put to shame as Bayern ran riot in both legs, winning 4-0 at Allianz and 3-0 at Camp Nou in a shocking 7-0 aggregate loss.

The Bavarians overturned a 3-1 first leg deficit against Porto brushing aside the Portuguese outfit 6-1 for a 7-4 aggregate win in the quarters. Luis Enrique’s Barcelona on the other hand were comfortable victors in both legs winning 3-1 in France and 2-0 at Camp Nou against Paris Saint Germain.

It will be a clash of ex-Barcelona teammates as Enrique faces off with Pep Guardiola.

The first leg ties will be played on 5th and 6th of May with the return legs set for May 12th and 13th.

Meanwhile in the Europa League, defending champions Sevilla have been drawn to face Fiorentina in the semis. Sevilla were held to a 2-2 draw away at Zenit in the return leg but progressed 4-3 on aggregate having won the first leg 2-1 while Fiorentina beat 10-man Dynamo Kyiv 2-0 in Florence to progress on a 3-1 aggregate.

Napoli landed a last four tie against Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Rafa Benitez’s men were held to a 2-2 draw by Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg but advanced on a 6-3 aggregate score having impressively won the first leg 4-1 in Germany. Evgeniy Shakov’s 82nd minute goal helped Dnipro beat Club Brugge 1-0 to advance, the first leg having finished 0-0.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern in Champions League Semis

The second matchday of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal return leg matches lacked the goals that were the order of the day before with only one goal scored in two matches.

Forgotten Mexican Javier ‘Chicarito’ Hernandez emerged from the abyss as he scored the only goal of the night, a vital one as it helped defending champions Real Madrid progress to the last four.

With the match still barren after 178 minutes of football, the on-loan Manchester United forward popped up with the goal tapping in a Cristiano Ronaldo pass.

The timing of the goal and the fact that Atletico had been reduced to 10-men with quarter an hour to go meant Diego Simeone’s men could not prevent their first defeat in their previous 8 matches against the reigning champions.

The Stade Louis Stadium in Monaco opened and closed without any goal being sighted. Juventus, holding a 1-0 first leg advantage reminded many of their old days when resolute defending was their and Italian football mainstay.

Monaco had 12 shots but only one tested Gianluigi Buffon in the Old Lady’s goal as they restricted the hosts to trying their luck from outside the box.

In the end, Arturo Vidal’s converted penalty in the first leg in Turin proved decisive as Juve won the tie 1-0 on aggregate to book their first semi-final berth in 12 years.

Real Madrid and Juventus joined Bayern Munich, Bundesliga defending and champions-elect, and FC Barcelona in the last four.

Pep Guardiola’s Bayern produced a breathtaking second leg display by thumping FC Porto 6-1 at Allianz Arena to win 7-4 on aggregate having shockingly lost 3-1 in the first leg.

Barcelona, 3-1 winners at Parc de Princess a week earlier, completed the job fairly easily at Camp Nou as Neymar double saw them run out 2-0 winners and 5-1 on aggregate.

The four teams are arguably the best there is in Europe, be it in the domestic front or at the continental level. No matter who draws who in the semifinals, we should expect a football treat.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Porto Defeat Leaves Bayern with their Biggest Character Test Yet

At the final whistle, some FC Porto were left lying on the ground, not celebrating, perhaps overcome with emotions after one of the club’s best European results in recent memory.  They had done a job. A great job. Had you, by your own fault or otherwise, tuned in to watch the match at that point, you’d have been forgiven for thinking Bayern Munich had grabbed a routine Champions League win over some lowly ranked team.

But no.

Bayern were second best at Estadio do Dragao despite wearing the favorites tag right from Friday March 20 when the draw was conducted in Nyon and they were pitted against the Portuguese in the Champions League quarter finals.

However, a trio of defensive lapses paid put to their chances of taking control of the tie. As early as the third minute, the Bayern defence started erring. Xabi Alonso, always known to be a cool customer with the ball at his feet, was perhaps too cocky and miscalculated the distance between him and Porto’s Jackson Martinez. The Colombian, making his return after over a month out with injury dispossessed the Spaniard. Both players fell on the ground but Martinez was faster in recovering.

With the Bayern goal gaping at him, the Porto captain made two touches, his third getting him closer to Manuel Neuer. He moved to round off Neuer but who tripped him with a loose right leg with the referee deciding the contact was illegal enough to warrant a penalty. Quaresma stepped forward, sent Neuer to the left while tucking the ball into the right side of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Seven minutes later, the Bayern defence was at it again. Dante seemed to be in total control when he received the ball just yards from the center circle. However, his first touch was poor allowing Quaresma to close him down, rob the ball and race unchallenged towards Neuer and slot the ball home. 2-0.

Thiago Alcantara scored at the back post in another poorly defended goal just before the half hour mark to make it 2-1. That should have proved a vital away goal but Bayern were caught napping in the 65th minute when Martinez was once again gifted after Jerome Boateng miscalculated the flight of the ball allowing the Colombian to slot home and make it 3-1.

Bayern rallied for another goal but Porto held on to ensure Pep Guardiola’s side lost for the first time in Portuguese soil.

In the aftermath of their defeat, Bayern attacker Thomas Muller took a swipe at the Portuguese club accusing them of ‘parking the bus’ but it’s hard to understand his logic given that Porto scored three times and could have had more had Neuer had an uncustomary bad day in office.

You only score when you ‘unpack the bus’ and venture forward.

The Bavarians were held 0-0 away to Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16 but were merciless at the Allianz Arena in the return leg slicing the Ukrainians into pieces in a 7-0 whitewash.

Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger met the first leg clash but will most likely be available for selection in the return leg. The Bundesliga leaders will still be favorites to win their return leg clash against Julen Lopetegui’s FC Porto but whether they can overturn a 3-1 deficit is the biggest question.

On account of their defending on Wednesday night though, it might prove to be a monumental task.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jurgen Klopp to Quit Dortmund at the End Current Season

After seven years of service in which he transformed Borussia Dortmund to a Bundesliga giant and one of Europe’s best clubs, German, Jurgen Klopp, will end his relationship with the club – at least as far as being their manager is concerned – at the end of the current season.

A club statement released on Wednesday stated that the 47-year-old requested to be released from his contract which was due to run until 2018, a time in which he would have celebrated 10 years managing the club.

"It's extraordinary for such a relationship to last seven years in football. Nobody is to blame for our parting of the ways, whether it be the team, the fans or anybody else,” said Klopp.

"Jürgen, you can be sure that after our incredible achievements and outstanding co-operation you have earned the gratitude of all Borussia fans," BVB CEO Hans-Hoachim Watzke told him.

Klopp joined Dortmund in May 2008 signing a two-year contract at Signal Iduna Park. Having finished in a lowly 13th place the previous season under Thomas Doll, Klopp helped Dortmund rise to 6th in his first full season in charge and one higher place the season after.

In his third season in charge, he delivered the 2010-11 Bundesliga title, Dortmund’s first in 8 years before successfully defending it in the 2011-12 season. He won the German Football Manager of the Year in both occasions.

He made Dortmund a permanent UEFA Champions League club, coming close to winning the competition in the first ever all-German final in 2012-13 season. They lost 2-1 to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.

At the start of the current season, they beat Bayern Munich 2-0 to win the DFL-Supercup but that success has evaded them in the league. By the time he announced his imminent departure, Dortmund are out of the Champions League and need one hell of a miracle in the Bundesliga to even finish in a Europa League space. 

Die Schwarzgelben were at one time bottom of the Bundesliga before winning a couple of matches that catapulted them to a slightly higher position. They have won only 9 games and lost 13 which sees them placed 10th with 33 points, over twice less than leaders Bayern who are on 70 points, and 18 adrift of Bayer Leverkusen who occupy the last of the four Champions League spots.

The likable Klopp is the longest serving head coach in the history of Dortmund and has delivered 129 victories in 232 games, the highest average in the club’s history.

Although he will most certainly leave Dortmund without having delivered Champions League football for next season, the former Mainz player and boss commands huge respect across Europe.

There will be suitors for sure. Be it Manchester City in England, either of the Milan sides in Italy or an above average club in Spain, it would be interesting to see where he will land.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Champions League: Spoils Shared in Madrid Derby, Juve Pip Monaco

Bloodied Mario Mandzukic. Photo - The Guardian

It was bloody, tense, edgy, tight but barren at the end as the 8th Madrid derby of the season ended with nothing to separate two protagonists, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

The duo who clashed in the final of last year’s UEFA Champions League final which Real won 4-1 at extra time, met at the Vicente Calderon for the first leg of their quarterfinal tie.

It was the 8th Madrid derby of the season and for Real, it ended the way the past 8 have; winless against their rivals. Carlo Ancelloti’s men produced a far better performance than they have been in those eight games. However, there was one huge wall in the Atleti defence that proved impenetrable to Los Blancos from as early as the fourth minute; Slovenian keeper Jan Oblak.

Oblak first denied Gareth Bale from scoring Real’s first goal at the Vicente Calderon in their last four visits. He was equal to the task, punching, parrying, and collecting every shot aimed at him as the visitors dominated the opening half. He thwarted Cristiano Ronaldo and twice denied James Rodriguez before the interval.

The early minutes of the second half saw Atletico forward Mario Mandzukic getting entangled on a battle that left him bloodied as he got elbowed by Sergio Ramos before Dani Carvajal allegedly tried to bite the Croat’s shoulder.

On the football side, Oblak came out on top saving a Toni Kroos effort while Godin came close to beating Iker Casillas on the other end. Mario Suarez and Marcelo got in the referee’s book meaning they will miss the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in 8 days.

The match ended with Diego Simeone’s side failing to score versus their rivals for the first time in 9 games while Real failed to beat their rivals for the 7th time since their Champions League final triump.

It was a fairly entertaining derby for the neutrals and one that laid testament to the face that the Madrid derby is increasingly reestablishing itself as one of the world’s best, thanks to the reemergence of Atletico as a La Liga top dog.

In Turin, Arturo Vidal’s second half penalty ensured Juventus will take a slim advantage to France next week having beaten visiting Monaco 1-0. Monaco mustered more shots at Gianluigi Buffon’s goal (16) but only 4 were on target, one less than Juve’s efforts at the other end.

Like the Madrid derby, Monaco and Juventus lacked cutting edge with the match poised at 0-0 until the 57th minute when Arturo Vidal beat Danijel Subasic from the spot, Ricardo Carvalho having fouled Alvaro Morata in the box.

That proved to be the only goal of the night as Massimiliano Allegri’s men ensured the tie is in their favor heading into the return leg at Stade Louis II.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Yaya Toure Makes Himself Dispensable after another Poor Big-Game Display

By the time Juan Mata sublimely collected Wayne Rooney’s pass before slotting between Joe Hart’s legs and into the back of the net to make it 3-1 to Manchester United, there were already jokes going round about how one Manchester City player was still celebrating his success with the national team.

It was unfortunate; it is always unfortunate, to blame one player when his team receives an inexcusable hiding, especially at the hands of their greatest of rivals.

But then again, when you suffer a heavy defeat ala Manchester City’s 4-1 capitulation at Old Trafford, finger will always be pointed, most of the times at the manager, sometimes at the player. In the aftermath of their defeat to United though, fingers were pointed at both; Yaya Toure, the player, and Manuel Pellegrin, the manager.

There’s not much to write about Pellegrini. The writing is on the wall really. He will get sacked. It might not happen now. But at the end of the season, should they somehow do the impossible and win the league, or do the possible and qualify for the Champions League or miss it, he will not be at the Eitihad next season. Period.

Which leaves us with the case of Yaya Toure. Given their financial muscle, Manchester City have managed to acquire some of the best players the Premier League and Europe has to offer. Toure is among the  top three best players in the club alongside David Silva and Kun Aguero.

He was a vital cog in the Citizens’ title chase last season, scoring crucial goals in crucial matches and at crucial times. He started pretty well again this season. However, after going to the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast and leaving with the winners medal around his neck, his return to City has seen him struggle, especially in big matches against the Liverpools and Manchester Uniteds of the Premier League, never mind against Barcelona in the Champions League.

With Aguero scoring twice and Silva setting up the Argentine’s first goal, there was always going to be focus on Toure, the third member of the City top three. Assuming the captain’s armband at half time from the substituted Vincent Kompany who has been so shambolic lately people are almost forgetting how good he has been, Toure was expected to organize the team and make them look like reigning Premier League champions.

That never happened.

Daley Blind found Wayne Rooney who fed Mata who was already on his tracks. The Spaniard tucked home through the legs of Hart albeit with a hint of offside to make it 3-1 to United. Critics replayed the footage and found Yaya at fault, somehow.

Chris Smalling was allowed to head home Rooney’s freekick with Eliaquim Mangala playing the Englishman onside for the fourth goal. Trevor Sinclair, Lancaster City assistant manager and former Man City boy blamed Toure for the goal saying the Ivorian should have organized his defence number.

There’s no doubt that Toure has been missing in the big games. His display against their City rivals only served to win him more critics than admirers. With Pellegrini’s position as Man City boss increasingly looking towards the exit door, Toure’s position as a Citizens player is looking the same direction.

 And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Why the Mashemeji Derby is Gor Mahia’s to Lose

Photo: Goal.com/ke

The first of at least two ‘Mashemeji’ derbies this season is due for kick off this Sunday as AFC Leopards play host to their biggest rivals – in titles, history, fan base, ambition, name it – Gor Mahia.

The duo, arguably the best the country has to offer, and without doubt the most successful clubs in Kenyan football history renew their rivalry which first began on May 5 1968, a match that Gor Mahia won 2-1.

Gor Mahia go into the clash in a far superior shape. The two-time defending champions have won all their opening four matches of the season that sees them sitting pretty comfortably on top of the Kenya Premier League log on 12 points, 4 points and 5 places ahead of Leopards and with a game in hand.

Gor are also the leagues’ top scorers having planted the ball in the back of the net in all their matches while averaging 3 goals per game. However, they face an AFC Leopards side who have the second meanest defence in the league having conceded only three goals in their opening 5 matches, keeping three clean sheets. Whether Ingwe, managed by Zdravko Logarusic, a man who delivered the title to Gor Mahia in 2013, will prevent the free-scoring champions from breaching their backline is open to debate.

The form book is also hugely in favor of Frank Nuttall’s men. They have lost only once in their last 20 KPL matches and that was way back in October last year where they suffered a 3-2 loss to Sofapaka. In fact, Kogalo have lost only twice in their last 27 KPL matches, the Sofapaka defeat and coincidentally a 3-1 loss to Leopards in June 8th last year.

Leopards’ last win when hosting Gor Mahia was in October 2011. Charles Okwemba, playing his 9th Mashemeji derby, scored the opener in the first half before two goals after the interval from Mike Barasa and Laurent Tumba secured Ingwe a 3-0 win, their biggest winning margin over the bitter rivals since 1981.

Since then AFC have played host to Kogalo on three occasions in the KPL, winning zero, losing twice and drawing once. Gor Mahia lead the 13-time champions 5-4 in head to head count, taking into account only their previous 12 matches. However, Leopards have scored 16 to Gor’s 15 goals in those matches.

As the statistics suggest, the Gor Mahia-AFC Leopards clash is a game of thin margins. Thin margins decide derbies and this one won’t be any different.

A win for Leopards will not see them topple their rivals off the top of the table but it will get them closer, boost their momentum but more importantly deliver the bragging rights to the fans in blue.

The Leopards’ den is not quite stable as yet. There are cubs that still need to suckle some milk if Logarusic’s comments about some of the club’s players being ‘passengers’ are anything to go by.

For Gor, they have the momentum, they are scoring goals, one two, three, even four. Their new signings are working alongside the club oldies like a well-oiled clockwork. A defeat will almost be catastrophic, a draw will be an underachievement, a case of two points lost rather than one gained.

Three points, derby bragging rights, is K’Ogalo’s to lose.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sports Cabinet Secretary to attend Sports Journalists AGM

Sports journalists who attended the Media Society of Kenya (MCK) training in Naivasha last December
The Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) will hold its Annual General Meeting this Saturday in Nairobi to review the gains and losses of the past year and plan activities for this year.
Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts, Dr Hassan Wario is among various sports stakeholders and sponsors who are expected to attend the meeting at the Norfolk Hotel. 

After the AGM, SJAK, an affiliate of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS), will have a brief session to deliberate on how its members - sports journalists drawn from both local and international media houses - can preserve the value of sports by joining the battle against the ills facing the sports industry, especially doping and corruption.

“As journalists, we realize that if we let these cancers kill our sports, then the sports will die and in the end finish this industry and our cherished art of sports journalism,” said SJAK Chairman Chris Mbaisi. 

Part of the agenda at the AGM will be to elect one member to join the nine-member Executive Committee who were elected last year for a four-year term. The event will be hosted in partnership with Coca Cola. 

SJAK has in the past year organised trainings for its members and assisted key sports federations in their accreditation processes. The association seeks to enhance the cooperation between its members in defending sport and their professional interests.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gabon to Host 2017 AFCON; Kenya, Nigeria Land Tough Qualifier Groups

Gabon will host the 31st edition of Africa Cup of Nations in 2017 after beating off competition from fellow West Africans Ghana and North Africans Algeria.

Les Panthers who co-hosted the 2012 edition alongside Equatorial Guinea received the nod to host the tournament for the second time in their history from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Executive Committee, who voted in Cairo, Egypt.

Algeria, hosts in 1990, were bookmakers favorites to get the rights with Ghana, bidding for a fifth time, also favored ahead of Gabon.

Meanwhile the draw for the qualifiers for the 2017 tournament was also conducted. Reigning Champions Cote d’Ivoire were drawn in a tricky Group I which also has the hosts Gabon, 1970 AFCON winners Sudan and underdogs Sierra Leone.

Group G looked the tough on paper with record champions Egypt drawn alongside 2013 winners Nigeria, with Tanzania and Chad completing the Group.

2017 AFCON Qualifiers Group A
Tunisia                                                                                  Togo
Liberia                                                                                   Djibouti

2017 AFCON Qualifiers Group B
Democratic Republic of Congo                                       Angola
Central Africa Republic                                                    Madagascar

2017 AFCON Qualifiers Group C
Equatorial Guinea                                                            Mali
Benin                                                                                  South Sudan

2017 AFCON Qualifiers Group D
Burkina Faso                                                                      Uganda
Botswana                                                                            Comoros

2017 AFCON Qualifiers Group E
Zambia                                                                                 Congo
Kenya                                                                                   Guinea Bissau

2017AFCON Qualifiers Group F
Morocco                                                                              Libya
Cape Verde                                                                        Sao Tome

2017 AFCON Qualifiers Group G
Nigeria                                                                                  Tanzania
Egypt                                                                                     Chad

2017 AFCON Qualifiers Group H
Ghana                                                                                   Mozambique
Rwanda                                                                                 Mauritius

2017 AFCON Qualifiers Group I
Cote d’Ivoire                                                                      Sierra Leone

Sudan                                                                                  Gabon

And That's thesteifmastertake!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Man City’s Title Hopes Put to the Sword at the Palace

For Crystal Palace, it felt like a moment of déjà-vu. On May 5th last year, a Tuesday night, they came from three goals down versus title-chasing Liverpool, scoring three goals in 11 minutes to claim a hitherto unlikely 3-3 draw.

That stalemate saw Liverpool surrender the title-hunt driving seat to Manchester City who seized the chance and were crowned Champions at the end of the season.

Fast forward to April 6th, on a Monday night, Crystal Palace was at it again, this time Manchester City – the team they did a favor to last season – being on the receiving end.

For much of the opening half, the defending champions hunted around the Palace danger area. With every pass they conjured together, they got closer to getting behind the often stubborn, diligent and hard to break home team defence.

It was all looking good for Manuel Pellegrini’s men despite having a passenger in the name of Jesus Navas who for the umpteenth time couldn’t find a blue shirt with his crosses. You have to wonder why the Chilean boss keeps playing him ahead of more deserving players like Samir Nasri and James Milner.

Football’s unfairness can bite even the least harmless and Crystal Palace who had barely had a sniff of Joe Hart’s goal bit Manchester City when it looked least likely. Four Palace players were involved in the build up; Joel Ward, Joe Ledley, Scott Dan and Glenn Murray all touched the ball as it moved swiftly towards Hart, every touch of every man hinting offside.

Murray was the last to touch the ball, the 31-year-old Englishman planting the ball home for the hosts to take the lead in the 34th minute despite vociferous protest from City led by captain Vincent Kompany. Referee Michael Oliver would hear none of it and allowed the goal to stand.

Jason Puncheon had troubled the Citizens’ defence on occasions that The Eagles went forward. He got rewarded just three minutes after the interval when his curling left-foot freekick beat the City wall and landed in the back of the net with Hart chasing to no success.

Puncheon’s free kick was worth winning any game. It was as well as feather in the cap of a matchday in which the Premier League witnessed some mesmerizing goals. The visitors created chances, Murray was lucky to escape with a handball inside the penalty area while Toure almost reproduced Puncheon’s stunning free kick which went just over.

However, with 12 minutes to go, Yaya Toure pulled one back for the visitors to set up a tense finale. It was a customary Yaya Toure goal with power, pace and direction behind it, Sergio Aguero deflecting it in but it would be almost disastrous to deny the Ivorian the goal.

That’s the best it got for City with Pardew’s men hanging on for the full points.

When Pardew took over at Selhurst Park, Palace were 18th but after conquering the English Champions on Monday night, they  moved to 11th, just 3 points shy of the top half.

The defeat for City left them 4th on the log, two points behind Arsenal in second place and 9 adrift of leaders Chelsea who also have a game in hand.

It seems like for the second season in a row, the dream for the Premier League title has once again been shattered at Selhurst Park.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!