‘Match reports’

Analysis: Man United false start shows depth of malaise

“With untried youngsters Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard in the line-up, United looked uncertain in Van Gaal’s favoured 3-4-1-2 formation and at half-time the manager abandoned it, reverting to a 4-2-3-1 shape. But although United equalised through new captain Wayne Rooney, Sigurdsson soon restored Swansea’s lead and the hosts’ attempts to find a second equaliser were incoherent. Juan Mata was largely anonymous, despite the fact that United’s new system is designed partly to give the Spanish playmaker optimal conditions in which to work. And with Marouane Fellaini — gangling symbol of Moyes’s failures — thrown on to chase high balls into the Swansea box, the final stages of the game resembled the darkest days of the previous campaign.”

My piece for AFP on why Manchester United’s opening-day defeat by Swansea City suggests that Louis van Gaal will not be able to revive their fortunes overnight can be read here.

Match reports and reaction 2014-15

A collection of my match reports and reaction pieces for AFP from the 2014-15 season:

Reaction: In-form United ‘forcing luck’, says Van Gaal (Premier League)
Report: De Gea stars as United deepen Liverpool gloom (Premier League)
Reaction: Liverpool will ‘fight’ for return – Rodgers (Champions League)
Report: Basel thwart Liverpool to reach last 16 (Champions League)
Reaction: Van Persie rescued United, admits Van Gaal (Premier League)
Report: Van Persie sends lacklustre Man United third (Premier League)
Report: Agüero undoes Southampton as Man City go second (Premier League)
Report: Stunning Agüero treble gives Man City hope (Champions League)
Reaction: Hodgson dismayed by England fan chants (friendly)
Report: Rooney at the double as England silence Scots (friendly)
Report: Rooney, Welbeck inspire England fightback (Euro 2016 qualifying)
Report: Tevez returns as Argentina overcome Croatia (friendly)
Reaction: Man City have ‘crisis of confidence’ – Pellegrini (Champions League)
Report: Nine-man Man City left on brink by CSKA Moscow (Champions League)
Reaction: Van Gaal says beaten Man United getting closer (Premier League)
Report: Agüero gives City spoils against 10-man United (Premier League)
Reaction: Shocks are warning for England, says Hodgson (Euro 2016 qualifying)
Report: Rooney on mark as England school San Marino (Euro 2016 qualifying)
Reaction: Mourinho urges Chelsea to stay grounded (Premier League)
Reaction: Wenger plays down Mourinho touchline spat (Premier League)
Report: Hazard, Costa sink Arsenal in stormy derby (Premier League)
Reaction: Pellegrini rues carelessness after Roma hold City (Champions League)
Report: Totti makes history as Roma thwart Man City (Champions League)
Reaction: Rodgers heartened by Liverpool resilience (Champions League)
Reaction: Van Gaal wants more from match-winner Di María (Premier League)
Report: Falcao debuts as Man United crush QPR (Premier League)
Reaction: Hodgson hails Welbeck for biding his time (Euro 2016 qualifying)
Report: Welbeck gives improved England winning start (Euro 2016 qualifying)
Reaction: Angry Hodgson dismisses England statistics (friendly)
Report: Rooney rescues England in turgid Norway win (friendly)
Reaction: Wenger backs Sánchez to fill Giroud’s shoes (Champions League)
Reaction: Pellegrini gladdened by Jovetić display (Premier League)
Report: Jovetić at the double as Man City sink Liverpool (Premier League)
Reaction: Ancelotti predicts ‘new cycle’ for Madrid (UEFA Super Cup)
Report: Ronaldo still the boss as Madrid win Super Cup (UEFA Super Cup)
Reaction: Wembley win sets tone for Arsenal – Wenger
(Community Shield)
Report: Vibrant Arsenal down Man City in Community Shield (Community Shield)
Reaction: ‘Lethargic’ Arsenal not ready yet – Wenger (Emirates Cup)
Report: Falcao scores comeback goal to sink Arsenal (Emirates Cup)
Reaction: Wenger enthused by Sanogo-Campbell double act (Emirates Cup)
Report: Sanogo upstages Sánchez in Arsenal romp (Emirates Cup)

Report: Romero shootout saves send Argentina into final

“Sao Paulo (AFP) – Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved two penalties in a shootout with the Netherlands on Wednesday to take his country through to the World Cup final for the first time since 1990.”

My AFP match report on the ‘other’ 2014 World Cup semi-final can be read here.

Report: Higuaín fires Argentina into World Cup semi-finals

“Brasília (Brazil) (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuaín smashed home an early goal as Argentina dashed the World Cup dreams of much-fancied Belgium with a 1-0 win in the quarter-finals in Brasília on Saturday.”

My AFP match report from the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha can be read here.

Reaction: Angry Wilmots derides ‘ordinary’ Argentina
Analysis: Higuaín, the Valdano to Messi’s Maradona?
Analysis: Hazard flops, but hope springs for Belgium

Report: Pogba opens door as France reach last eight

“Brasília (Brazil) (AFP) – A Paul Pogba header and a Joseph Yobo own goal saw France edge a hard-fought contest with Nigeria 2-0 in Brasilia on Monday to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.”

My AFP match report from the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha can be read here.

Reaction: Keshi blasts referee after Nigeria fall to France
Analysis: Pogba ready to shoulder French expectations

Report: Rodríguez rocket earns Colombia Brazil clash

“Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – James Rodríguez knocked Luis Suarez out of the headlines with an exquisite goal as Colombia beat Uruguay 2-0 on Saturday to set up a World Cup quarter-final against hosts Brazil.”

My AFP report on the night James Rodríguez electrified the Maracanã can be read here.

Reaction: Rodríguez ‘like Maradona’, says Uruguay coach Tabárez
Reaction: Tabárez says Suarez bite case not a distraction

Report: Messi magic gets Argentina up and running

“Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Lionel Messi scored a trademark individual goal as Argentina opened their World Cup campaign with a narrow 2-1 win over Bosnia-Hercegovina at Rio de Janeiro’s renovated Maracanã on Sunday.”

My AFP report on the night Messi illuminated the Maracanã can be read here.

Related link: Shot-shy Rooney gives Hodgson England dilemma

Report: Italy’s Balotelli sinks England in muggy Manaus

“Manaus (Brazil) (AFP) – Mario Balotelli’s second-half header earned Italy a 2-1 victory over an enterprising England side in an engaging World Cup Group D opener in Manaus on Saturday.”

My first World Cup match report for AFP on a captivating encounter at the Amazonia Arena can be read here.

Reaction: Hodgson shields Rooney after opening defeat
Reaction: Prandelli blasts ‘absurd’ lack of time-outs

Report: Ramsey completes Arsenal comeback in FA Cup final

“London (AFP) – Aaron Ramsey scored an extra-time winner as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought by coming from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 in a gripping FA Cup final on Saturday.”

My AFP match report on one of the best FA Cup finals of recent years can be found here.

Reaction: Wenger urges Arsenal to build on FA Cup win

Report: Man City stroll to Premier League title

“London (AFP) – Manchester City secured a second Premier League title in three seasons by comfortably defeating West Ham United 2-0 at a jubilant Etihad Stadium on Sunday.”

My AFP report on the final day of the 2013-14 Premier League season can be read here.

Analysis: Man City out-punch rivals to Premier League glory
Review: Liverpool slips allow Man City to succeed United

Report: Džeko sends 100-goal City to brink of title

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City are within touching distance of the Premier League title after overwhelming Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday to close to within a point of the championship.”

My AFP match report from a soggy but satisfied Etihad Stadium can be read here.

Reaction: Manchester City will be worthy champions, says Pellegrini

Report: Man United past and future see off Hull

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Teenage debutant James Wilson scored twice as Manchester United rang out the old and ushered in the new in a 3-1 win at home to Hull City on Tuesday.”

My AFP match report on a night of hellos and goodbyes at Old Trafford can be read here.

Reaction: Giggs ‘still undecided’ on Man United future

Report: Palace fightback shreds Liverpool’s title bid

London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Premier League title bid was left in ruins after Crystal Palace mounted a sensational comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Selhurst Park on Monday.”

My AFP match report on an extraordinary night at Selhurst Park can be found here.

Reaction: Rodgers proud despite Liverpool collapse

Report: Norwich leave Chelsea’s title bid in tatters

“London (AFP) – Norwich City all but ended Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge and gave themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation by recording a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.”

My AFP match report on the day that Chelsea’s title dream died can be read here.

Reaction: Chelsea wait on trio amid title disappointment

Report: Atlético sink Chelsea to set up all-Madrid final

“London (AFP) – Atlético Madrid set up a Champions League final against city rivals Real Madrid after coming from behind to win 3-1 at Chelsea in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday.”

My AFP report on how José Mourinho was denied a Champions League final reunion with Real Madrid can be read here.

Reaction: Mourinho rues Courtois friendly fire
Reaction: Simeone ‘excited’ by all-Madrid final
Analysis: European exit exposes Chelsea’s limitations

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