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By Jonathan Stevenson
1814: What a weekend. The title race is heading for a final-day finish, four teams are separated by two points in the race for fourth and we pretty much know all the relegated teams. Hope you've enjoyed it - don't forget to catch Match of the Day 2 at 2200 BST on BBC Two and online and
in the chair for Lyon v Bayern Munich on Tuesday. I'll see you a day later.
From norniron_pete 606:
"What a scoreline. It will be strange next week, with most Man Utd supporters wanting Liverpool to win and some Liverpool supporters wanting Chelsea to win."
Chelsea hat-trick hero Salomon Kalou: "If you want to win the league you have to play with everyone. Whenever I play I'm always ready to help the team and you cannot start every game. Now we have to focus on the next game and try to get the three points."
Chelsea's Frank Lampard: "I thought 7-0 was a fair scoreline because of the chances we created and how we played. The goal difference is to our advantage now but we still have to go and win our last two games."
From Rachel Tyrrell, Lincoln, via text to 81111: "So at least we know the title won't be decided by goal difference."
From optajoe on Twitter:
"Chelsea have scored 7 goals in a PL match for the 3rd time in 2010. Prior to this year they had never hit 7 in a single PL game. Rampant."
BBC Radio 5 live's Graham Taylor: "Chelsea have to be given credit for an excellent performance today. That Stoke team is well-organised and strong and they do not concede many goals even away from home. Chelsea have just blown them away - but the title race is far from over yet."
1757: Full-time Chelsea 7-0 Stoke
1755: We're into injury time at Chelsea, by the way. I make that now 33 goals in their last eight league games.
Chelsea goal: It's goal crazy. Every attack seems to be one - Michael Ballack lofts the ball out to the right to Joe Cole and his excellent first-time cross along the six-yard box is bundled in at the back post by Florent Malouda. There's a suspicion of offside, but I don't think it matters much now.
1752: GOAL Chelsea 7-0 Stoke
Chelsea goal: Procession. The Potters have been well and truly destroyed today as Didier Drogba plays in Daniel Sturridge and his excellent first touch takes him through, a fine second touch takes him around Asmir Begovic and with the third, he clips left-footed into the empty net. Begovic was slow, but Chelsea have been rampant.
1750: GOAL Chelsea 6-0 Stoke
1750: Stoke break, but Tuncay's cross from the left byeline is woeful, ballooning over everyone in the Chelsea box. This must be one of the easiest 90 minutes of Petr Cech's life.
1747: Chelsea have now scored 31 goals in their eight home league games in 2010. Wow.
Chelsea goal: What a finish - that's as good as Florent Malouda's miss was funny. Sam Hutchinson whips over a cross from the Blues right and, on the edge of the six-yard box, left of centre, Frank Lampard sticks out his right foot and without the outside of it, nonchalantly flicks the ball past Asmir Begovic. Sublime from the England midfielder.
1745: GOAL Chelsea 5-0 Stoke
1742: Nicolas Anelka shares a joke with Didier Drogba before being taken off as Daniel Sturridge comes on in his place.
1741: It's all Chelsea. They break with pace and after a one-two with Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka has a shot blocked by Dean Whitehead, before Florent Malouda has a clear sight of goal from eight yards and is denied by a fine Asmir Begovic save.
1739: See 1329: Never say I don't do anything for you. Meanwhile, Robert Huth kicks Ashley Cole up in the air and to the floor by the touchline and is booked. From the free-kick, Michael Ballack blazes over from 15 yards.
From Richard C, via text to 81111: "Re: Brian Laws statement. To Burnley fans - which was worse for you today, getting relegated or finding out Laws will be staying next year?"
1737: Sam Hutchinson comes on for Paulo Ferreira for Chelsea.
1736: Haha, miss of the season. In fact, miss of any season. That will be shown a fair few times for sure - Nicolas Anelka turns the ball across from the right and, two yards out with an open goal and on his favoured left foot, Florent Malouda slices wide. It's astonishing.
1734: Joe Cole comes on for hat-trick hero Salomon Kalou, who gets a standing ovation from the Stamford Bridge regulars.
1733: Salomon Kalou will be hoping to play a big part at the World Cup this summer for his country Ivory Coast - and his national team manager Sven-Goran Eriksson will be enjoying this performance from his seat in the stand.
Chelsea goal: Too easy. I mean really, that isn't Premier League defending. Frank Lampard plays a lovely pass out to the right to man-of-the-moment Salomon Kalou and he surges into the box. After his first shot is saved by Asmir Begovic, he's allowed the freedom of the Stoke box to tuck in and complete a fine hat-trick.
1731: GOAL Chelsea 4-0 Stoke
1729: Didier Drogba cushions the ball back to Nicolas Anelka on the edge of the Stoke box and after he shifts it to create some space, his right-foot shot flies a few yards wide of Asmir Begovic's left-hand post.
Burnley boss Brian Laws: "Financially we will be one of the strongest sides in the Championship. We've had the lowest budget in the Premier League and nearly did the impossible. I'll be here next season and I'm looking forward to the fight and to bouncing back."
1725: It's a training game for Chelsea now, nothing more. They are knocking the ball around with consummate ease, under very little pressure at all.
1723: After Glenn Whelan is booked for a late challenge on Didier Drogba, Alex hammers the free-kick miles over from about 35 yards. Bit of a waste, but this game is already over.
1722: Stoke send on Tuncay for Dave Kitson, who is not happy and walks off shaking his head. His strop takes him all the way down the tunnel. Another silly boy.
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson on the late penalty at Everton: "It's very hard to take. I thought it was our throw-in in the run-up to the decision. The team did remarkably well. I'm really gutted for them. It was the 97th minute. It always seems to happen to us."
BBC Radio 5 live's Graham Taylor: "Chelsea have played exceptionally well, been very progressive in their play and left themselves short at the back on occasions, which is very unlike them. But they realised they had to go out and win this game."
From SkrtelPower on 606:
"Commiserations to Burnley. They provided some memorable performances at Turf Moor this season, and their fans have been fantastic. All the best in the Championship."
1708: Back under way in the glorious late afternoon sunshine at Stamford Bridge where it's Chelsea 3-0 Stoke.
From msbabc on Twitter:
"May not have been a pen, but 3-0 is more generous to Stoke than harsh - and we've been screwed out of about eight pens this season!"
1700: We're hearing that Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen has been taken to hospital with a suspected broken elbow, by the way. I'd like to have told you earlier, but there was some other stuff going on. Thanks to most of you for being patient.
1656: Full-time Everton 2-1 Fulham
BURNLEY ARE RELEGATED FROM THE PREMIER LEAGUE
1655: Full-time Burnley 0-4 Liverpool
Everton goal: With the last attack attack of the match the hosts are awarded a penalty for a Chris Baird foul on Tim Cahill. It's a foul, but it's desperately harsh on the visitors after a top display with basically a reserve team. Mikel Arteta steps up and sends Mark Schwarzer the wrong way to send the Goodison faithful crazy.
Liverpool goal: Substitute Lucas sends a through ball which puts Ryan Babel clear - and the Dutchman calmly slots underneath Brian Jensen to make it 4-0 and complete an emphatic victory which puts the seal on Burnley's relegation.
1654: GOAL Everton 2-1 Fulham
1654: PENALTY TO EVERTON
1653: GOAL Burnley 0-4 Liverpool
1652: Half-time Chelsea 3-0 Stoke
1651: Leighton Baines floats over a fine cross from the Everton left and at the back post, Louis Saha heads wide against his former club. What a chance for the Frenchman.
1651: Into injury time at Everton 1-1 Fulham too.
1649: Into injury time at Burnley, with the Clarets on the brink of relegation from the Premier League as they trail Liverpool 3-0. Rory Delap heads wide for Stoke at Chelsea - they're losing 3-0 too.
From "Anon", via text to 81111: "Caroline Cheese is way quicker than you!" Cheesy, I've told you to stop texting in on days off.
1646: We're into seven minutes of first-half stoppage time at Chelsea, because of that injury to Stoke's Thomas Sorensen. Will let you know if we hear anything else about the Dane.
Chelsea goal: Blues fans - listen up. You deserve to be winning, and 3-0 probably isn't that harsh. But that's not a penalty ever, ever, ever. Salomon Kalou tries to get past Robert Huth on the edge of the Stoke box and it's a foul as Huth brings Kalou down. But the original foul is a good two yards outside the area and Kalou stays on his feet long enough to fall over in the area. He's clever - but referee Steve Bennett falls for it and awards the penalty, which Frank Lampard slots easily past Asmir Begovic.
1644: GOAL Chelsea 3-0 Stoke
1643: PENALTY TO CHELSEA
1640: Decent chance for Everton, but Tim Cahill's shot from the left-hand corner of the six-yard box is well saved by Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer.
1637: What a chance for Fulham. They break and Erik Nevland picks out Stefano Okaka on the edge of the Everton box. He's got an age to decide what to do, but shoots first time and it's straight at Tim Howard. Still Everton 1-1 Fulham.
1636: Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen is coming off with an injury sustained as Salomon Kalou slid in to score Chelsea's second goal. Kalou flew in wildly to reach the loose ball and, although he scored with his left foot, his right foot caught Sorensen's right hand or wrist and the Denmark international is in some pain. He had lengthy treatment before being stretchered off and Asmir Begovic, who joined from Portsmouth in January after a move to Tottenham fell through, will replace him.
1634: Fulham's Clint Dempsey bursts into the area in a rare chance for the visitors, but Everton defender Leighton Baines makes a saving challenge.
Liverpool goal: The Clarets are dead and buried. Yossi Benayoun finds Alberto Aquilani and his long pass to Maxi Rodriguez sees the winger hammer the ball past Brian Jensen first time from 12 yards. It's the Argentine's first goal in English football and it was far too easy.
1633: GOAL Burnley 0-3 Liverpool
1632: Burnley's Steven Fletcher controls a long ball on his chest and from 12-yards he thumps a half-volley past Pepe Reina but back off the post. At Goodison, Everton look dangerous from set pieces. Louis Saha heads Mikel Arteta's corner goalwards but it hits his team-mate Victory Anichebe and bounces just over the bar.
Chelsea goal: There's only one team in this at the moment. A lovely Blues move ends with a great flicked touch from Didier Drogba to tee up Frank Lampard 20 yards out and when Thomas Sorensen cannot hold his low right-foot drive, Salomon Kalou dives in there to prod home before Sorensen can collect.
1631: GOAL Chelsea 2-0 Stoke
1629: A Rory Delap throw causes some alarm in the Chelsea six-yard box and after the ball seems to fly past about 10 players, it's back with Petr Cech. At Everton, Jonathan Greening nearly puts through his own net with a headed clearance from about 10 yards that is whisker past the far post.
1626: Everton want a penalty when Victor Anichebe's cross looks like it may have struck Nicky Shorey on the arm - referee Lee Mason is not interested.
1626: Frank Lampard has a snap-shot after a pull-back from the Chelsea right, but it's a routine save for Thomas Sorensen. By the way (see 1519) Fulham fans, Hamburg lost 5-1 in the end.
Chelsea goal: It's been coming, they definitely deserve to go ahead. Florent Malouda picks out Didier Drogba down the Chelsea right and he keeps the ball in play with an outrageous piece of control when the ball was behind him. His cross is low, but from six yards out, Salomon Kalou stoops, a bit like Trevor Brooking in the 1980 FA Cup final, to head the hosts into the lead.
1624: GOAL Chelsea 1-0 Stoke
1622: Florent Malouda finds Didier Drogba with a fabulous long pass and the Ivorian's first touch is useless, his second is brilliant and his third, a volley, sails miles over.
1621: The Press Association has given Everton's equaliser to Chris Smalling, by the way. Victor Anichebe's header did hit the Fulham defender, but that seems a bit harsh.
1620: Paulo Ferreira sends over an excellent cross from the Chelsea right that Didier Drogba does well to glance goalwards at the near post, only for Thomas Sorensen to dive across and tip the ball away with his left hand. Fabulous save from the Dane.
Liverpool goal: That's not deflected - it's just brilliant. Alberto Aquilani hooks a long ball over his head to about 25 yards outside the Burnley penalty area, from where Steven Gerrard curls the ball with pace into the left-hand corner of Brian Jensen's net. Stunning finish - and it's probably just relegated the Clarets.
1618: GOAL Burnley 0-2 Liverpool
1613: Everton almost complete a lightning-quick turnaround at Goodison. Tim Cahill leaps highest to meet Mikel Arteta's corner, but Mark Schwarzer does well to parry his goalbound header.
1613: A decent chance for Chelsea. Frank Lampard's 25-yard shot is pushed away by Thomas Sorensen and Ashley Cole, following up, has his first-time effort blocked by a last-ditch challenge.
Liverpool goal: Bit lucky, but hey, they all count. Steven Gerrard plays a one-two with Yossi Benayoun, cuts inside his man and shoots right-footed from 20 yards, the ball taking a horror deflection off Leon Cort and wrong-footing Brian Jensen in the Clarets goal.
1612: GOAL Burnley 0-1 Liverpool
Everton goal: Strange one, but the Toffees are back on level terms. Bjorn Helge Riise gives the ball away and Mikel Arteta clips in a cross from the left that Yakubu misses with an attempted overhead kick and Victor Anichebe, on the pitch for only four minutes, heads gently into the corner past Mark Schwarzer's despairing dive.
1609: GOAL Everton 1-1 Fulham
1609: Stoke are forced into a very early change as Abdoulaye Faye limps off and Ryan Shawcross, who has been injured recently, is on in his place.
1605: And they've started again at Everton 0-1 Fulham. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has been withdrawn for Victor Anichebe at the interval by David Moyes.
1605: Back under way in the north-west in the Burnley 0-0 Liverpool game.
1604: Steve Bennett makes himself unpopular with Ricardo Fuller by awarding a super harsh free-kick against the striker as he tussled with Branislav Ivanovic by the Chelsea byeline.
From henrywinter on Twitter:
"Chelsea's announcer, Neil, tells crowd: "We didn't expect Tottenham to do anything at Old Trafford. Spurs always let you down." Tense here... Impressive acceleration by Capello, sitting in smart seats here at the Bridge after attending Villa game."
1600: Under way in the final Premier League game of the weekend, as second-placed Chelsea take on Stoke, who are 13th.
From Rob, via text to 81111: "Liverpool are excruciatingly painful to watch. All we need to do is score a goal and Burnley will fall. We just don't look capable of scoring though, unfortunately. Bad times."
1556: The teams are out at Stamford Bridge. Win, and Chelsea go back to the top of the league. Anything else and it's advantage Manchester United.
1555:Chelsea v Stoke:
The Potters' last win at Stamford Bridge came 36 years ago this month, but they are unbeaten in all six away league games in 2010, Tony Pulis's side. Chelsea, who
lost at Spurs last time out,
have not suffered back-to-back defeats in the league since May 2006. They've scored a remarkable 26 goals in their seven home league games in this calendar year.
Birmingham defender Roger Johnson: "You can't talk to referees, don't be silly. He just kept waving us away. Of course it wasn't a penalty - the reaction of 10 of our players tells you that. If the referee couldn't tell the assistant on the other side should have, but the crowd noise was up and Villa were at home, so..."
1546: Glen Johnson's cross from the Liverpool right finds Ryan Babel all alone at the far post, but he can only tamely pass it back to Brian Jensen from an angle. Poor.
1545: Moment of inspiration from Fulham's Stefano Okaka at Everton, lofting the ball impudently over the home team's defence for Clint Dempsey, with the American volleying over on the slide. What a goal that would have been.
1544: Liverpool are not enjoying their afternoon and their captain Steven Gerrard is cautioned for a silly and needless late challenge on Wade Elliott.
1542: Burnley are the better team at Turf Moor and David Nugent nutmegs Jamie Carragher before Daniel Agger clears the danger. Soon after, a cross from Tyrone Mears from the right finds Jack Cork unmarked eight yards out, but his header is too close to Pepe Reina and is saved.
1541: Clash of heads at Everton between Mikel Arteta and Kagisho Dikgacoi and the Spaniard will need a little bit of treatment.
1540: Tim Cahill almost hits back instantly for Everton - Yakubu sends in an inviting cross from the left but the Australian miscues his header well wide. Moments later, Yakubu's slightly mis-hit shot rolls goalwards, but it's a routine save for Mark Schwarzer.
1538: Some decent pressure by Burnley at Turf Moor, but after a bit of pinball in the Liverpool box the visitors manage to clear their lines. It's pretty even-steven so far, it must be said.
Fulham goal: I think Leighton Baines will be hoping Fabio Capello isn't watching MOTD2 tonight (at 2200 BST on BBC Two and online). There seems no danger when he receives the ball outside the Everton box from Tim Cahill, but he passes back blind to Tim Howard and Erik Nevland has sneaked in, the Norwegian keeping his cool to clip over an advancing - and presumably furious - Tim Howard. Advantage Cottagers.
1536: GOAL Everton 0-1 Fulham
1535: Burnley's fans want a penalty, but their players don't seem to appeal too much as the ball appears to hit the chest and then thigh of Glen Johnson after a cross from the right.
From GavJB on Twitter:
"Hmmm, is it just me or did Man Utd overpay for Smalling? He does seem slightly error prone!"
1533: Chelsea make five changes from the side that lost at Tottenham last week as they look to return to the top of the table. Ashley Cole returns from his ankle injury to play his first game since 10 February at left-back in place of Yuri Zhirkov and Branislav Ivanovic replaces the suspended John Terry at centre-back. Joe Cole makes way for Nicolas Anelka, while Salomon Kalou and Michael Ballack come in for Deco, who is unwell, and Jon Mikel Obi, who is injured, in midfield. Stoke make two changes from the side that lost to Bolton. Ricardo Fuller replaces Tuncay and Matt Etherington is preferred to Liam Lawrence.
1531: Mark Schwarzer dallies on the ball at Everton and it's risky from the Fulham keeper with Yakubu bearing down on him. The striker charges him down, but the Cottagers survive.
1531: Chance for Liverpool as Steven Gerrard forces his way into the Burnley box and has a shot saved low down by Brian Jensen.
1528: Everton's Tony Hibbert and Fulham's Nicky Shorey go in for a proper old-fashioned 50-50 and there's nothing left in the changing room there. Shorey needs some treatment.
1526: Steven Fletcher attempts an ambitious overhead kick at Burnley, but it flies over and he's flagged offside anyway. Moments later and the best chance of the game comes when Martin Paterson crosses from the right and Fletcher climbs high to thump a header over the bar.
1525: A pass down the line to Dirk Kuyt sees the Dutchman hoik the ball out of play in ungainly fashion. At Everton, Fulham's Erik Nevland has a shot deflected behind for a corner. I'm feeding on scraps, people.
From Joe in Manchester, via text to 81111: "I hope that bus is going to be parked inch perfectly by Stoke today. I can then look forward to watching an absolutely terrible 0-0."
1520: Mistake at the back from Fulham as Chris Smalling lets the ball roll under his foot, but there's still an awful lot to do and Everton striker Yakubu fires off target from 16 yards.
1519: Ryan Babel cuts inside from the Liverpool left, but the Dutchman's right-foot shot flies well wide of Brian Jensen's right-hand post.
1519: Chelsea v Stoke City line-ups: Chelsea: Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Ivanovic, Alex, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Ballack, Malouda, Kalou, Drogba, Anelka. Subs: Hilario, Joe Cole, Zhirkov, Sturridge, Belletti, Hutchinson, Van Aanholt. Stoke: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Huth, Abdoulaye Faye, Collins, Delap, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington, Fuller, Kitson. Subs: Begovic, Lawrence, Beattie, Pugh, Shawcross, Sanli, Wilkinson. Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)
From bujubanteron 606:
"Hamburg [Fulham's Europa League semi-final opponents] must be resting players too. They're 3-0 down to Hoffenheim after 30 minutes."
1515: Mikel Arteta whips over a cross from the Everton right and Tim Cahill gets up prodigiously high once again to glance a header wide of the Fulham goal. Best leap in the Premier League.
1514: It's raining in Burnley. I'm not just telling you so I could use the rain graphic, I just thought you might like to know. Does break the text up nicely though, doesn't it?
From Seaside_Exile on 606:
"Best end to a season since Liverpool and Arsenal in 1989. And it's not even just about two teams - it's the top 7. Brilliant!"
1510: Burnley's Tyrone Mears has conceded each of the three corners Liverpool have had so far, but none of them have come to anything. Burnley just keep giving the ball straight back to the Reds.
1506: Steven Pienaar goes down inside the Fulham box under a challenge from Chris Baird and the South African half appeals for a penalty, but there's nothing doing there. Fulham have barely touched the ball so far.
1505: Very quiet start at Turf Moor with only one Liverpool corner to speak of so far, and that was headed away comfortably by the Burnley rearguard.
1502: Everton have made a very good start and Tony Hibbert's cross from deep on their right is volleyed against the base of Mark Schwarzer's right-hand post via the left foot of Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Great effort from the Russian.
1500: Under way at Everton and, moments later, we're under way at Burnley as well.
1457: The teams come out at Turf Moor and at Goodison Park and our Merseyside double extravaganza is about to get under way.
1455: Two kick-offs at 1500 BST, remember: Burnley v Liverpool and Everton v Fulham. Starting an hour later, Chelsea take on Stoke hoping to go back to the top of the Premier League.
From Maxi_Headroom on 606:
"If Liverpool still fancy their paper-slim chances of a CL spot, they're going to have to put some goals in the bank too, i.e. make up their 3-goal deficit to Man City. They're not going to do it next week & Hull might be leaving it a bit late."
1450:Everton v Fulham:
Meaningless? No way. Everton are eyeing Europe and however many changes Fulham have made, that's not how these boys roll. Though Cottagers fans might like to look away now: Everton have won their last 16 successive home games with Fulham, who have not won in 21 previous trips to Goodison Park.
No Bobby Zamora for the visitors today, either.
1446: Um, fans of goalless draws might like to know that Nabil Hassan will be your match report writer for the Burnley v Liverpool match. This is the exact same Nabil Hassan who presided over
Wolves 0-0 Stoke
a couple of weeks ago and
Arsenal 0-0 Manchester City
yesterday. You've been warned.
1443:Burnley v Liverpool:
dismal for so much of the last few months,
will be relegated if they lose today. Their last league win over Liverpool at Turf Moor came in December 1973; in the Burnley squad, only Graham Alexander was even alive back then. The Reds, remarkably, are winless in their last seven away league games, all in 2010. But have they still got a shot at finishing fourth?
From henrywinter on Twitter:
"Good news for Capello as he races down the M40 from Villa Park... Ashley Cole is starting for Chelsea v Stoke."
From Nick in Wimbledon, via text to 81111: "Stevo, I'm gutted to only just hear about the
World Cup mug shots thing.
Just three days ago Michael Ballack was right outside my house, would've been perfect. Got a 5er on Burnley doing over Liverpool today by the way. Don't laugh." Haha.
1434: TEAM NEWS: Everton boss David Moyes makes just one change to the side than won at Blackburn, with Yakubu preferred to Louis Saha up front. By contrast, Fulham boss Roy Hodgson makes a whopping nine changes to the team that earned a draw in Hamburg three days ago, with only Mark Schwarzer and Chris Baird retaining their places. Among the new faces in the Cottagers' line-up is right-back John Pantsil, who makes his first appearance for four months following a knee injury. Bobby Zamora, who aggravated an Achilles injury in Germany, is not in the squad. An unfamiliar-looking Fulham bench includes Matthew Briggs, Christopher Buchtmann and Andranik Teymourian.
1432: TEAM NEWS: Burnley's Clarke Carlisle has failed a fitness test on his injured ankle, but striker David Nugent returns after his tight hamstring. Liverpool are without David Ngog who has a back injury, so Dirk Kuyt is expected to start up front. The Reds are of course already without top scorer Fernando Torres.
1421: Ever bumped into Ryan Babel, or spotted Louis Saha? Get a photo with them? If so, send it to us and you could appear in our
BBC Sport's World Cup Photo Album
very soon! If you haven't sent us a pic yet - we want your mug shots with a player or coach heading to South Africa this summer. Email them to email@example.com, or send them to us via
(where there are some examples of what we mean) but for goodness sake, check the
BBC terms and conditions
From milns on 606:
"It was 100% NOT a penalty but after the decisions against us in the Carling Cup and FA Cup semi-final, can anyone really begrudge us getting this decision?" Birmingham fans, please don't answer this question.
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish: "It was a great tackle, simple. Viewers all over the world have seen it and it was a bad mistake by the referee. It was a terrific performance by my players and I thought we deserved to win it, let alone losing to a controversial penalty. It's like Tony Pulis said this morning, the bigger teams seem to get the big decisions. I'm sorry Martin, I'd have to disagree with you - if that's a penalty, there would be 40 a game."
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill: "I can understand their frustration because they played well, but that's happened a lot to us this season. If they're disputing the decision there's no dispute about it because it's a penalty kick. I've seen it back since, and it's a penalty."
From Mike, Manchester, via text to 81111: "Re: Akram (1217)... Please can you tell me next week's lottery numbers? Thanks."
Aston Villa's James Milner: "I don't know about the penalty, I was a long, long way away. Looked a bit like one to me. Joe Hart's seen me take a lot on England Under-21 duty, so it was nice to stick one away."
1358: The Birmingham players' anger did not subside with the final whistle. An apoplectic Roger Johnson and then Sebastian Larsson were both followed by manager Alex McLeish in remonstrating with referee Martin Atkinson at the final whistle, still fuming at the awarding of that late penalty.
BBC Radio 5 live's Steve Claridge: "There is no doubt that Villa were a little bit lucky today but they've got the result they needed more than anything and that's all that counts for them. Birmingham will wonder how they've lost, because they were probably the better team."
1352: Full-time Aston Villa 1-0 Birmingham
1352: Wow that was close. Keith Fahey's left-foot volley looks to be flying in, but a Villa defender heads away.
1350: Villa have a corner. They're killing the end of this game, and who can possibly blame them?
1349: Villa are just keeping the ball in the corner, classic time-wasting stuff.
1348: We're into injury time now and we're going to get about four minutes of it. Cue some groans from the Villa fans.
From Sammuthegreat on 606:
"It was pretty much the definition of borderline. Johnson definitely took the ball, and he definitely took a big chunk of Agbonlahor too. Could've gone either way."
1344: Stephen Carr sends over a deep cross from the Blues right and it bounces at the far post, where Barry Ferguson heads over.
1343: I know some of you hate me having an opinion, but I don't think that was a penalty. Anyway, Birmingham bring Kevin Phillips on for Craig Gardner.
Villa goal: They don't deserve it, but since when was football about what you deserve? It's a hugely contentious penalty - Gabby Agbonlahor bursts into the Blues box and Roger Johnson slides in. The defender nicks the ball away from Agbonlahor, the striker falls under the challenge and referee Martin Atkinson points to the spot. Birmingham are furious, Johnson and Stephen Carr are booked and the nerveless James Milner steps up with seven minutes left to slam the ball into the roof of the net down the middle. Great penalty.
1340: GOAL Aston Villa 1-0 Birmingham
1339: PENALTY TO ASTON VILLA
From HibaMS on Twitter:
"Re: 1329 - Don't say such things Stevo! We have to win today to go back to the top! Goals galore by Chelsea today hopefully!!" As many as exclamation marks?!
1335: Oh Emile. The ball breaks for the Villa sub inside the Birmingham box after a defensive mistake and Emile Heskey is one-on-one with Joe Hart - but his attempted finish clips the keeper and goes behind for a corner. Great save. The resulting corner is headed over by Richard Dunne.
1333: Birmingham take off Sebastian Larsson for Keith Fahey and Gregory Vignal for Stuart Parnaby, with about 15 minutes remaining.
From James, Manchester, via text to 81111: "Does anyone actually think Villa could compete in the Champions League? City are much more suited surely?" Got to agree with you, James. Especially on this evidence.
1329: Remember that day a couple of weeks ago when we went hours without a goal? I wonder if we can go a whole day this time...
1327: Emile Heskey comes on for John Carew. That won't change things at all, will it? Alan Green on BBC Radio 5 live is perplexed.
1325: After Birmingham half-clear a corner, James Milner floats over a cross and Richard Dunne gets up to loop a header on to the roof of the Blues net.
1324: Another brilliant save from Brad Friedel. A ball clipped into the Villa box causes mayhem and after Craig Gardner's shot is blocked it falls to Lee Bowyer 12 yards out - his goalbound effort is superbly deflected wide by the body of the American keeper. Villa are so lucky to still be level.
From Phil in Kent, via text to 81111: "It's so frustrating as a Villa fan to only ever see Martin O'Neill bring Heskey on for Carew, especially when the same 11 players we've used all season are clearly tired."
1321: Ashley Young clips a cross in from the Villa right, but it goes over the head of John Carew and there are no other Villa players busting a gut to get into the Birmingham box as it runs out for a goalkick. Hmm.
1320: The Holte End roars as Villa move forward, but the move breaks down and James Milner commits a foul and the groans quickly take over. This could be turning into a hugely disappointing afternoon for the hosts.
1318: We've had an hour at Villa Park and it remains 0-0. Recent big screen shots of subs Nathan Delfouneso and Emile Heskey both provoked cheers from the home supporters.
BBC Radio 5 live's Steve Claridge: "This is comfortable for Birmingham and if anything they look the likelier team to win the game. Villa are going to have to change something if they want to win it, they don't have enough quality at the moment."
1313: Well what's all this? It's suddenly threatening to get sparky. Gregory Vignal goes in late, a lunging challenge on Stewart Downing just inside the Villa half and he's possibly a touch lucky to only see yellow. Silly boy.
1310: Carlos Cuellar cynically hauls down Cameron Jerome who has suddenly burst into life and was flying down the Birmingham left. The Spaniard is booked and the visitors are well on top right now.
1308: From the corner, Liam Ridgewell's goalbound header is booted off the Villa line by Stewart Downing. That's three great chances inside a minute for the visitors.
1307: Two frighteningly close escapes for Villa. Lee Bowyer sends a terrific pass through for Cameron Jerome, but the striker's attempted clip over Brad Friedel hits the American on the head - top save. From the rebound, James McFadden's left-foot shot looks to be arching into the bottom corner, but is deflected behind for a corner.
1305: Villa are having most of the early ball in this half, but both Carlos Cuellar (twice) and James Collins are off target with simple passes, much to the frustration of the home fans.
1303: Back under way at Villa Park. Huge 45 minutes for Martin O'Neill and his dream of taking Aston Villa back into European football's premier competition.
From Goonerlicios98 on 606:
"Big day for Joe Hart. He could win a derby, confirm his place in England's World Cup squad and do his parent club a favour. Or he could do none of the above."
From James, via text to 81111: "The importance of Joe Hart is underlined by the fact that all of Birmingham's wins this season have been by one goal."
BBC Radio 5 live's Steve Claridge: "It's missing a bit of an edge, a bit of brilliance, this game. Sometimes there is a lack of movement and options for Villa when they've got the ball. Predictable's too strong a word, but they could do more."
1247: Half-time Aston Villa 0-0 Birmingham
1246: James Milner gets to the byeline down the Villa right and his clipped cross is headed wide by John Carew about six yards out.
1244: Stephen Warnock throws the ball to James Milner and he passes it straight out of play. That sums up the last 10 minutes of this one.
1241: The sun's gone in at Villa Park and the game isn't as good anymore. I wonder if there's a direct correlation...
1239: Birmingham will be very happy with how it's going so far, they are more than matching the hosts right now. Just over five minutes until half-time, it's still Villa 0-0 Blues.
From StanSP on Twitter:
"Who'd you prefer in the play-off final (should you get there) - Cardiff or Leicester?" The thought of it terrifies me to my core. Er, Leicester?
1234: It's all about the keepers. Villa get up the other end and James Collins meets a knock-down with a sweet left-foot half-volley that is flying into the roof of the net until Joe Hart sticks out a hand and tips it over. Top, top stop - in front of the watching Fabio Capello and England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence.
1232: Good job Brad Friedel's been concentrating. Birmingham's former Villa midfielder Craig Gardner forces another save from the veteran American with his shot from 20 yards and it's another excellent one, away to Friedel's right.
1231: Cameron Jerome gets his first half-sight of goal, but the Blues striker's 25-yard shot is deflected into the path of Brad Friedel. Friedel rolls the ball out to Richard Dunne but he miscontrols and from 20 yards, Sebastian Larsson's first-time drive forces Friedel to save low down to his left.
1228: Villa are building up some pressure now and James Milner tees up Stewart Downing, but his 20-yard shot is again well dealt with by Joe Hart.
1227: Fine save, Joe Hart. From the Villa right, Carlos Cuellar picks out Stiliyan Petrov on the edge of the Blues box and his first-time right-foot shot is heading towards the bottom corner before Hart dives across to his right to keep it out.
1225: Bit of Villa pressure, but Birmingham's solid defence is coping well with every cross into their box so far. Did I mention that it's sunny in the west Midlands? I mean it always is in the east Mids...
From Take a bow son on 606:
"This is a proper derby, tackles flying in everywhere and played with real passion. This is how derbies should be."
1221: A Blues corner comes to nothing and Villa break, but Stephen Carr defends quite superbly for Birmingham, staying with Gabby Agbonlahor and getting in a tackle on him and then on James Milner. Top stuff.
1218: Sebastian Larsson takes a free-kick from just outside the Villa box on the left and it slaps into the face of Stiliyan Petrov, who needs a little bit of help from the physio before getting back to his feet.
1217: A long Villa ball causes some confusion at the back for the Blues, but just as James Milner is about to shoot from 20 yards, Gregory Vignal gets in a crucial block.
BBC Radio 5 live's Steve Claridge: "We might need a goal to open this game up a little bit because Birmingham will be quite happy to keep it like this and wait until they can hit Villa on the break."
1213: The Birmingham players are furious after a decision goes against them, but their players go too far and referee Martin Atkinson has to calm Roger Johnson down, talking to the defender along with his captain Stephen Carr. Good officiating.
From Akram, eager Spurs fan from east London, via text to 81111: "Expect a stalemate first half at Villa Park, with Milner nicking it late on. Marathon? More like a jog."
1210: Very, very good goalkeeping from Brad Friedel - Birmingham break and Lee Bowyer slips an excellent pass in for Sebastian Larsson, who is through. But Friedel stands tall and forces him so wide that Larsson's shot from a narrow angle slices miles away from the target.
1206: BBC Radio 5 live say Birmingham told them this morning that Manchester City do not have a release clause on the loan spell of Joe Hart, who is playing for the Blues today. This is on the back of
Shay Given's injury while playing for City on Saturday.
So Hart will not play for City in their remaining Premier League games.
From InfostradaLive on Twitter:
"Villa-B'ham is 23rd derby McLeish-O'Neill. At Celtic, O'Neill won 10 of 20 v Rangers' McLeish. Total: O'Neill won 12 of 22."
1202: These early kick-offs can be subdued at times, but there's a cracking atmosphere inside Villa Park already. The Claret-and-blue fans know exactly how important this is.
1200: As morning turns gently into afternoon, bang on the button of noon referee Martin Atkinson gets us under way at Villa Park.
1156: The players emerge from one of the widest tunnels in the Premier League to a rapturous welcome from the Villa and Blues fans in the Midlands.
1154:Aston Villa v Birmingham:Defeat for Spurs
a draw for Man City
on Saturday has left the door for fourth place and the riches of the Champions League ajar. Villa can move level on points with Tottenham in fourth if they beat noisy neighbours Birmingham - what a double incentive that is on derby day. A win would give Villa their biggest tally since 1993; but then the Blues are on course for their best season since 1959 themselves.
From 20ledge-kb on 606:
"Results were great for Villa yesterday and they have to jump at the opportunity to make a push for fourth. Think it's now between them and Spurs as Man City will leak goals without Shay Given." Rubbish. It's a four-horse race, this one. Big day for Villa.
1148: I hope you noticed that gap after the first game - that's when your chat will become even more invaluable. A plea, though: please, please, if you text to 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide), put 'FOOTBALL' at the start of your message; it'll help us differentiate between the 64 million being sent for the marathon. You can also scribe your thoughts to
my Twitter page @Stevo_football
and via the
606 thread too.
The floor's all yours.
From David, Birmingham, via text to 81111: "No Scott Dann, Stevo? Pressure on ex-Villa boy Ridgewell playing in the middle now, and on Vignal who'll have to deal with Young and Downing.
1145: Stevo's Predos: Aston Villa 2-0 Birmingham Burnley 1-3 Liverpool Everton 2-0 Fulham Chelsea 2-1 Stoke Lawro's predictions
1142: TEAM NEWS: Richard Dunne, Stiliyan Petrov and Stephen Warnock have all overcome injury concerns as Aston Villa name an unchanged side. Sebastian Larsson is back for Birmingham, replacing Keith Fahey, while Gregory Vignal comes in for the injured Scott Dann. Veteran Kevin Phillips is on the bench against one of his former clubs.
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