Weekend Football Review

Leicester’s fairytale rise from relegation candidates to Premier League title contenders hit a new high on Saturday with a 3-1 win at Manchester City that cemented their hold on first place in the table while Arsenal returned to third place in the Premier League after Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goals ended a four-game winless streak with a 2-0 victory at Bournemouth. There was a rare win for Aston Villa while Chelsea struck late to earn a draw against Man United.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Jermain Defoe capped a dramatic Sunderland fightback as the Premier League strugglers recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Liverpool on Saturday.

Goals from Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana seemed to be enough to give Liverpool all three points, but Adam Johnson’s 82nd minute free-kick started the revival and Defoe’s 89th minute strike stunned a half-empty Anfield.

No such worries for Tottenham Hotspur, who moved up to second with a 1-0 victory over Watford to notch their sixth successive win across all competitions. Mauricio Pochettino’s men leapfrog Manchester City, who lost to leaders Leicester City earlier in the day, thanks to defender Kieran Trippier’s goal midway through the second half.

Then Arsenal returned to third place in the Premier League after Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goals ended a four-game winless streak with a 2-0 victory at Bournemouth on Sunday. Arsenal arrived at Dean Court with their title challenge under threat after a poor run in January capped by a failure to score in their previous three league matches.

Finally, a goal in added time by Chelsea’s Diego Costa earned a point against Manchester United and preserved Guus Hiddink’s unbeaten record since returning to the London club as interim manager in December while denying Dutch compatriot Louis van Gaal victory. It also meant United had failed to win any of their last 10 league and cup meetings with Chelsea over the past three years.

Downs demolish Stars

Mamelodi Sundowns took their tally to 42 points on the Absa Premiership log standings when they beat Free State Stars 5-2 on Sunday afternoon at James Motlatsi Stadium. A first half strike by defender Wayne Arendse and four goals in the other half from Keagan Dolly, Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat and Mogakolodi Ngele handed the Tshwane side the three points.

Following the win, they now lead second-placed Bidvest Wits by six points, while Ea Lla Koto sit at position 10 on 22 points from 17 matches.

Elsewhere, Orlando Pirates are up to seventh on the Absa Premiership standings following a 1-0 win over the University of Pretoria at Tuks Stadium on Saturday. Thabo Matlaba scored the only goal of the game in a tightly contested clash in the capital, the defeat for Tuks, leaves them in 15th place, one point off Jomo Cosmos who lost at Chippa United.

Kaizer Chiefs were made to work hard for their win over Maritzburg United, a 91st minute goal sealing a 3-2 Absa Premiership victory at the FNB Stadium on Saturday. Amakhosi had been 2-0 up after 36 minutes thanks to goals from Willard Katsande and Camildine Abraw, only for United to score in the 43rd and 49th minutes through Thamsanqa Teyise and Evans Rusike, before Lorenzo Gordinho netted a stoppage time winner.

Then Bidvest Wits bounced back to their winning ways when they beat Golden Arrows 1-0 on Saturday afternoon at Chatsworth Stadium. A stunning first half set piece by debutant S’fiso Hlanti gave Gavin Hunt’s men the deserved win as they now move to the second spot on the Absa Premiership log table with 36 points.

Unconvincing wins for Barca, Real, more woe for Neville

Barcelona cruised to a 2-0 win at Levante and regained their three-point lead at the top of La Liga on Sunday, as Real Madrid maintained their pursuit with a laboured 2-1 win at Granada. Champions Barca, with Luis Suarez scoring his 36th goal of the season, equalled a club record 28 matches unbeaten set in the 2010/11 season under Pep Guardiola. They have won 23 and drawn five.

Third place Real remained four points behind Barca and one short of Atletico Madrid after a superb late strike by Luka Modric gave them victory at Granada.

Gary Neville’s Valencia, however, suffered another defeat, losing 1-0 at Real Betis to extend their winless run to 12 matches and nine under the former Manchester United defender.

DR Congo take Chan title

DR Congo sealed their second African Nations Championships title when they defeated Mali 3-0 in a one-sided final at Kigali’s Amahoro National Stadium on Sunday.Meshack Elia scored a double and Jonathan Bolingi added a third as the Leopards overwhelmed the young Malian side under driving rain.

The champions, winners of the inaugural title in 2009, dominated the match and it was not a surprise when Elia put them ahead after 29 minutes. The TP Mazembe star picked up a long ball down the left, before firing a thunderous shot past the Malian keeper.

Elia doubled the lead in the 62nd minute for his fourth goal of the tournament.

Mali’s best chance came in the 58th minute when substitute Kouame N’Guessan tried a long range shot which flew over the bar. Bolingi ended all hopes for the Eagles with a third goal in the 73rd minute to crown the Leopards’ dominant display.

Ivory Coast took third spot after beating debutants Guinea 2-1 in the play-off. Guinea missed two penalties in the game.

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