Phillipe Senderos

Liverpool 0-1 Aston Villa

Aston Villa grinded out an unexpected 0-1 win over Liverpool thanks to an early goal by Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Agbonlahor, who this week signed a four-year contract extension at Villa Park, put his boyhood club 0-1 up after just nine minutes when he bundled in a corner thanks to some poor Liverpool defending.

Said defence was under pressure again soon after but this time Phillipe Senderos headed over from Ashley Westwood’s free-kick.

Liverpool throughout tried and failed to break down a resolute and organised Villa side.

Mario Balotelli, who many quoted as a “bargain” at £16 million was ineffective against Senderos and Nathan Baker on his home debut in a Liverpool shirt and was replaced by Rickie Lambert with 20 minutes to go.

The controversial Italian had just one chance of note, a deflected effort in first half injury time that went wide.

Balotelli also had headed chances at corners but did not gain sufficient contact on either of them.

Liverpool’s closest effort came nine minutes before the end when Phillipe Coutinho hit the post from the outside of the area. From the rebound Raheem Sterling’s shot was blocked by his own player Jordan Henderson which summed up their day.

Brendan Rodgers’ side again showed that while plan A of patient but potent passing play can be deadly as well as easy on the eye, the side lacks a different option when teams set up to defend and hit them through a counter attack or, like this case,  a set piece.

Aston Villa however were impressive in the way they set themselves up and continued their recent good form at Anfield, they have not lost there in their last four outings now.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Lallana (Sterling ’61), Markovic (Borini ’71), Balotelli (Lambert ’71)

Subs not used: Jones, Enrique, Lucas, Toure,

Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Baker, Senderos, Cissokho, Westwood, Delph, Cleverley (Sanchez ’86), Richardson, Agbonlahor (Bent ’90), Weimann (N’Zogbia ’72)

Subs not used: Given, Okore, Bacuna, Grealish

Switzerland 0-2 England

A brace from Danny Welbeck got England off to winning ways in their opening game of Euro 2016 qualification.

Arsenal’s £16 million deadline day signing from Manchester United converted Raheem Sterling’s drilled cross just before the hour mark in Basel to give the Three Lions the lead.

He doubled his and England’s tally in second half stoppage time, slotting home after being set up by Rickie Lambert who replaced England captain Wayne Rooney late on.

Rooney worked himself into some space and passed to Sterling who assisted Welbeck in what was some neat build up play by England’s front three for the opener.

In a change of formation, Roy Hodgson set England up in a diamond formation with Sterling playing behind the front two of Rooney and Welbeck who executed their working relationship from their Manchester United days in an England shirt.

Well-IN!: Welbeck wins the game for England.

Wel-IN!: Welbeck scores his first of the night.

 

The three co-operated well throughout the match and in truth their performances should have ended up with more goals. Rooney had a tame shot saved after one Sterling pass and soon after a three-on-one scenario ended in Welbeck’s squared pass being just out of reach of Sterling’s outstretched boot.

Switzerland had opportunities of their own, none closer than when substitute Josip Drmic rounded Joe Hart in the second half but some superb covering defending by Gary Cahill ensured that Hart’s sheet would remain clean.

Cahill’s commitment to the cause resembled an act that Chelsea colleague John Terry is renowned for on the football pitch.

Haris Seferovic came close too for the Swiss, this time in the first half, but his shot was saved by Hart with his feet.

Seferovic also had a second half volley well kept out by England’s number one.

Juventus right back Stephan Lichtsteiner got into the act as well but both his efforts went sailing over the bar. The first, a thumping volley from far out following a cleared corner and he later on spooned over a shot that came from Ricardo Rodriguez’s low cross across the box.

England gave as good they got however, a turn and shot from Rooney just inside the area took an awkward bounce before being saved and Phil Jones had a powerful header denied from the resulting corner.

Under fire Jack Wilshere had a chance deflected wide in what was another uninspiring performance from him, he was replaced by James Milner with 73 minutes played.

Switzerland: Sommer, Lichtsteiner, Von Bergen, Rodriguez, Djourou, Inler, Xhaka (Dzemaili ’74), Behrami, Shaqiri, Seferovic, Mehmedi (Drmic ’63)

Subs not used: Hitz, Burki, Schar, Benito, Senderos, Widmer, Frei, Stocker, Fernandes, Kasami

England: Hart, Stones, Jones (Jagielka ’77), Cahill, Baines, Henderson, Delph, Wilshere (Milner ’73), Sterling, Rooney (Lambert ’90), Welbeck

Subs not used: Forster, Rose, Chambers, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Townsend

Man of the match: Danny Welbeck

Switzerland 2-5 France: Sorry Switzerland flattened by France

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France all but secured their passage through to the next round with a resounding 2-5 win over neighbours Switzerland in the highest scoring game of the World Cup thus far. Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko provided the France goals in a largely one-sided affair.

Two goals in two minutes killed Switzerland off early on in the match. The first coming when Giroud headed in Valbuena’s corner. Diego Benaglio could have done better with it but had a defender in his way that may have put him off.

Benaglio appeared to still be dwelling on the last goal but found himself picking the ball out of his net soon after. Just 13 seconds from the kick-off, France were two goals to the good. A dreadful pass by Valon Behrami was snatched upon by Benzema who fed Matuidi on his left who beat Benaglio at his near post.

It was 0-3 five minutes before half time when France broke on the counter attack. An intelligent pass from Raphael Varane found Giroud who bursted down the left and squared it to Valbuena who tapped home the third.

Les Blues should have even been four up at the break but Benzema had a penalty saved well by Benaglio after Johan Djourou fouled him in the box. Yohan Cabaye hit a rebound onto the post and out from close range.

They did have their fourth after 67 minutes though when substitute Paul Pogba’s silky pass with the outside of the boot was finished by Benzema through Benaglio’s legs after Phillipe Senderos’ attempted clearance contacted with nothing but air.

France had a fifth six minutes later when Moussa Sissoko slotted in first time. Gohkan Inler lost the ball in the midfield, France worked it to Benzema on the edge of the box who found the Newcastle man with a pass that resembled Pele’s to Carlos Alberto in the 1970 World Cup final and like Alberto, Sissoko scored with consummate ease.

Switzerland did hit back with a consolation in the last ten minutes thanks to the first goal scored from a direct free-kick with Blerim Dzemaili taking the honour. It was fortunate though as the French wall allowed it to drift through them when it should have been blocked easily.

Granit Xhaka scored a second for the Swiss three minutes from time, sweeping home a controlled volley but it was too little too late for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side.

Benzema did in fact score again when he curled home a fantastic effort from the edge of box but, in a minor blow to his Golden Boot chances, the final whistle had already gone.