Stiliyan Petrov visits Villa Park after leukaemia diagnosis

Petrov's agent distances player from quit reports after emotional visit to Villa Park

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UPDATED:

17:34 GMT, 31 March 2012

The agent of Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov has distanced his client from reports that surfaced in Bulgaria, claiming the Aston Villa skipper will retire from football.

The 32-year-old international was at Villa Park to watch his side take on Chelsea and will start treatment for the illness in a London hospital on Monday.

But the midfielder, who has been at Villa for six years, revealed he is taking inspiration from Fabrice Muamba.

Brave: Stiliyan Petrov watches as Aston Villa take on Chelsea

Brave: Stiliyan Petrov watches as Aston Villa take on Chelsea

Petrov released a statement shortly after arriving at the ground, thanking the football community for their support.

Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest
during a FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham a fortnight ago, but has
defied expectation in his recovery at the London Chest Hospital.

Petrov revealed a picture of Muamba
sitting up in bed released had inspired him, along with numerous
well-wishes, to get back to health.

'I
would like to thank all of the people who have left messages of
support. The response has been overwhelming and I appreciate it very
much,' Petrov said.

'This is a difficult time for my family and myself and I ask people to respect my privacy.

Support: Aston Villa fans made their feelings clear at their game against Chelsea

Support: Aston Villa fans made their feelings clear at their game against Chelsea

Petrov, who had been capped 105 times by Bulgaria, said he had felt a
strange headache during the first half of Villa's 3-0 defeat by Arsenal
last Saturday and the team doctor had even suggested a half-time
substitution.

'I lost my energy early in the second half and it was very unusual for me,' he said.

'But this is life, you see we drank a coffee in London a week ago and now we're talking about things like this.

'I'll fight, it's clear and I also would like to thank everyone for the support from all around the world.'

United: Chelsea players wore t-shirts in support of Petrov

United: Chelsea players wore t-shirts in support of Petrov.

'With the help and love of my family, my team-mates, all of my friends in football, Aston Villa and all of the fans, I am sure I will beat this illness and I am determined to do this.

'I saw the picture released yesterday by Fabrice Muamba, my fellow player, and it has inspired me as has all of the support in the past 24 hours.

'For me, football will have to take a back seat for a while, but I'm here to support my team-mates today and I will continue to support them as I know they will support me. Thank you to everyone.'

An avalanche of support poured in from all parts of the world.

'Let's all pray and believe that
Stiliyan Petrov, one of the best football players Bulgaria have ever
produced, one of my best and closest friends, will win this battle,'
Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov said on his Facebook
account.

'He deserves all your support. Believe,' his compatriot added.

'But of course, wishes from Bulgaria
encourage me most,' said former CSKA Sofia and Celtic midfielder Petrov.
'They give me strength to believe that one day I will recover.'

In our thoughts: Petrov's Aston Villa's team-mates showed their support before their game with Chelsea

In our thoughts: Petrov's Aston Villa's team-mates showed their support before their game with Chelsea

Both sets of players wore shirts to show their support in the warm-up. Villa's players wore shirts reading 'Support Stan' while the message on the Chelsea shirts read, 'Our thoughts are with you'.

Villa fans stood and applauded during the 19th minute of the match, in reference to the fact Petrov wears the number 19 shirt.

The Villa skipper had made a trip to London yesterday after his diagnosis was revealed but made the return journey late last evening to attend today's fixture in an executive box.

The illness was diagnosed after Petrov had complained of suffering with a fever following last week's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal.

Fulham 2 Norwich 1: Dempsey and Duff on target to sink Canaries

Fulham 2 Norwich 1: Dempsey and Duff on target to sink Canaries

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UPDATED:

16:22 GMT, 31 March 2012

Clint Dempsey's early goal set Fulham on course for a hard-fought but deserved Barclays Premier League victory over Norwich that ended a three-match losing streak.

The Cottagers headed into the game on the back of defeats to Aston Villa, Swansea and Manchester United and had to be on their toes to see off the Canaries.

Fulham enjoyed the best possible start by netting after 107 seconds, Dempsey bundling home after John Ruddy parried a Bryan Ruiz shot into his path.

Early lead: Clint Dempsey fires Fulham ahead after two minutes

Early lead: Clint Dempsey fires Fulham ahead after two minutes

MATCH FACTS

Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, John Arne Riise, Murphy (Diarra 71), Dembele, Ruiz (Etuhu 82), Dempsey, Duff, Pogrebnyak (Kacaniklic 35).

Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Senderos, Frei, Trotta.

Booked: Etuhu.

Goals: Dempsey 2, Duff 13.

Norwich: Ruddy, Ward, Whitbread (Jackson 46), Ryan Bennett, Martin, Naughton, Fox (Elliott Bennett 84), Surman, Howson, Hoolahan, Morison (Wilbraham 68).

Subs Not Used: Steer, Drury, Johnson, Crofts.

Booked: Ward, Fox.

Goals: Wilbraham 77.

Attendance: 25,700

Referee: Anthony Taylor

The United States international soon turned provider as the hosts doubled their advantage in the 13th minute, slotting through an exquisite ball for Damien Duff to curl home.

With Fulham in the ascendancy it looked like the visitors could be on course for a thrashing similar to the one they received on their last trip to Craven Cottage, where Fulham's 6-0 win on the final day of the 2004/05 season condemned the Canaries to relegation.

However, Norwich responded well and forced a nervy ending thanks to Aaron Wilbraham's 77th-minute effort.

Fulham came into the match on a poor run of form, with Monday's 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford equalling a club worst run of three goalless Premier League outings.

However, any fears that the streak would be extended against the Canaries were extinguished inside the opening two minutes.

Fulham broke forward as Ruiz latched onto a long ball, turned and saw a low drive saved by goalkeeper Ruddy, whose parry fell kindly for Dempsey to bundle home.

The American's 10th goal in all competitions this year was followed up by a period of sustained Norwich pressure.

Followig up: Dempsey scores Fulham's goal

Followig up: Dempsey scores Fulham's goal

Paul Lambert's side were enjoying the lion's share of possession but went further behind in the 13th minute.

Again the Canaries were caught out by a quick surge forward as Dempsey slotted the ball through to Duff, who curled home a left-footed effort from inside the box.

Mousa Dembele had a shot deflected as Fulham pushed for a third, before Dempsey twice saw headers go awry.

Elliott Ward picked up the game's first booking for a challenge on Ruiz in the midst of the Cottagers' dominance and there were calls from the home faithful for the centre-back's dismissal after he was adjudged to have taken down Pavel Pogrebnyak minutes later.

All you need is Duff: Republic of Ireland winger Damian Duff doubles Fulham's advantage

All you need is Duff: Republic of Ireland winger Damian Duff doubles Fulham's advantage

The Russia international looked to have picked up a knock in the clash and was replaced in the 35th minute by debutant Alex Kacaniklic.

While struggling to control the match, Norwich were still looking dangerous in flashes and Jonny Howson wasted a gilt-edged chance to reduce the deficit by firing across the face of goal.

However, only the goal frame and a last-ditch debutant Ryan Bennett block prevented Fulham taking an unassailable lead on the stroke of half-time as Dempsey hit the post from an acute angle and Dembele saw his follow-up deflected behind.

Seeing his side were lacking an end product, Norwich boss Lambert brought on striker Simeon Jackson in place of defender Zak Whitbread for the second period.

The future is bright: Dempsey and Zak Whitbread battle for the ball

The future is bright: Dempsey and Zak Whitbread battle for the ball

The alteration saw the visitors switch to a 3-5-2 formation, although that gave Kacaniklic a free reign down the left flank in the early stages.

The 20-year-old was impressing on his Fulham debut and was unfortunate to see a superb right-footed curled effort tipped onto the crossbar by Ruddy four minutes after the restart.

Norwich tightened up soon after and attacked with renewed vigour, with Mark Schwarzer doing well to stop a Wes Hoolahan drive before Aaron Hughes brilliantly blocked Andrew Surman.

Russell Martin headed straight at Schwarzer from the resulting corner, before David Fox collected a booking for scything down Dembele.

Life of Bryan: Bryan Ruiz vies for the ball with Elliott Ward

Life of Bryan: Bryan Ruiz vies for the ball with Elliott Ward

Surman saw a 25-yard free-kick deflect wide as the Canaries continued to press, before Stephen Kelly burst through at the other end and was only thwarted by Bennett's late sliding tackle.

The chance began a change in momentum in the home side's favour, with Kacaniklic, Hughes and John Arne Riise all going close.

While the Whites were looking comfortable, they – like so many times before this season – switched off in the final 15 minutes.

Moments after substitute Wilbraham inexplicably shot wide, he made amends by reducing the deficit 13 minutes from time as his effort deflected in off Hughes.

Midfield battle: Steve Morison and Danny Murphy compete for the ball

Midfield battle: Steve Morison and Danny Murphy compete for the ball

As Fulham began to rock, Norwich threw bodies forward and only last-gasp defending prevented Lambert's side finding another goal.

Schwarzer and his defence were being tested by the visitors, with Dickson Etuhu booked shortly after coming on against his former club.

Wilbraham and Kyle Naughton had efforts as the game came to a close, but the west Londoners held out.

West Ham 2 Reading 4: Royal hammering has Irons looking at playoffs

West Ham 2 Reading 4: A right Royal hammering has Irons looking at playoffs

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UPDATED:

16:21 GMT, 31 March 2012

Reading took a giant stride towards promotion to the Barclays Premier League as West Ham imploded at Upton Park.

The Hammers, who had drawn their last
five home matches to slip out of the top two, were leading through
Carlton Cole's strike as half-time approached.

Not only that, Sam Allardyce's side
were also putting in comfortably their best performance in front of
their own fans this season.

On their knees: Noel Hunt celebrates Reading's second goal to leave West Ham on their knees

On their knees: Noel Hunt celebrates Reading's second goal to leave West Ham on their knees

MATCH FACTS

WEST HAM: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Faye, McCartney, Nolan, Noble (Collins 46), O'Neil, Vaz Te, Cole (Maynard 72), Taylor (Baldock 60). Unused subs: Carew, Lansbury.

Goals: Cole 8, Vaz Te 77

Booked: Tomkins

READING: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Kebe (Afobe 82), Karacan (Tabb 55, Robson-Kanu 67), Leigertwood, McAnuff, Hunt, Roberts. Unused subs: McCarthy, Church.

Goals: Gorkss 44, Hunt 45, Harte (pen 59), Leigertwood 84.

Booked: Roberts.

Referee: Chris Foy

But, the match, and possibly West Ham's entire campaign, turned in the space of two minutes.

Totally against the run of play, Kaspars Gorkss equalised from a corner in the 44th minute and then, in first-half stoppage time, Noel Hunt fired Reading into an unlikely lead.

In the second half Ian Harte added a third from the penalty spot and, although Ricardo Vaz Te pulled one back, any hopes of a comeback were extinguished by Mikele Leigertwood's disputed fourth six minutes from time.

After booing their recent bore draws, the West Ham fans at least got the entertainment they craved, but their side now appear destined for the play-offs.

Yet it had all looked so different after seven minutes when Cole fired the Hammers ahead.

Bubble's burst: Sam Alladyce looks on in frustraion

Bubble's burst: Sam Alladyce looks on in frustraion

Kevin Nolan's neat footwork sent Matt
Taylor away down the left and the United skipper arrived in the area to
meet the return ball with a firm downward header which hit the foot of
Adam Federici's post.

The ball fell to the feet of Cole who
took a touch before thumping it past the grounded Federici for his 10th
goal of the season, and his first in 10 games.

Reading should have equalised in the 23rd minute but Hunt's fierce drive from eight yards out was headed clear by James Tomkins.

However, the hosts seemed well in control and Vaz Te headed straight at Federici before firing over from close range.

On the slide: Mark Noble challenges Reading's Jobi McAnuff

On the slide: Mark Noble challenges Reading's Jobi McAnuff

But, instead of pushing home their
advantage, West Ham promptly fell to pieces by conceding a soft leveller
a minute before half-time.

Harte swung in a routine corner but defender Gorkss got in ahead of the flat-footed Nolan to head in at the near post.

And the hosts were stunned in
first-half stoppage time when Julien Faubert's challenge on Jason
Roberts served only to present the ball to Hunt, who made no mistake
with a low drive past Rob Green from 12 yards.

Things got worse for West Ham 12
minutes into the second half when Hunt tumbled over Abdoulaye Faye's
challenge in the area and referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot,
allowing Harte to step up and convert the penalty.

With 15 minutes left Vaz Te's towering header from Gary O'Neil's corner threatened a home fightback.

But instead Leigertwood rammed home
the fourth despite Hunt being well offside when the ball clipped his
heels and bounced to the midfielder.

West Ham's luck was well and truly out – and their hopes of automatic promotion have been severely dented.

Everton 2 West Brom 0: Baggies come unstuck at Goodison as Toffees ease to win

Everton 2 West Brom 0: Baggies come unstuck at Goodison as Toffees ease to win

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UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 31 March 2012

Everton sent out an early warning to Liverpool ahead of next month's FA Cup semi-final by overtaking their Merseyside rivals in the Barclays Premier League table after victory over West Brom.

For most of the season the Toffees have toiled to recover from another characteristically slow start, but since the turn of the year they have generated significant momentum.

Just two defeats in 11 league matches has seen them rise to seventh and, although Liverpool can reclaim the advantage at Newcastle tomorrow, David Moyes' team have found form and confidence at exactly the right time.

Going ahead: Leon Osman celebrates after his part in Everton's opening goal

Going ahead: Leon Osman celebrates after his part in Everton's opening goal

MATCH FACTS

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines, Osman (Gueye 46), Gibson, Fellaini, Pienaar, Cahill (Anichebe 62), Jelavic (McFadden 87).

Subs Not Used: Mucha, Stracqualursi, Distin, Neville.

Booked: Jelavic, Cahill.

Goals: McAuley 18 og, Anichebe 68.

West Brom: Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Brunt (Cox 77), Andrews, Scharner (Dorrans 67), Tchoyi (Fortune 73), Long, Odemwingie.

Subs Not Used: Daniels, Shorey, Mulumbu, Dawson.

Booked: Olsson.

Attendance: 32,051

Referee: Peter Walton

The Everton manager insists the focus remains on improving their league position and not the all-Merseyside encounter at Wembley in a fortnight's time, and on current evidence he is right to do so.

It may not have been the most fluent of performances but importantly they got the job done with goals in either half.

Leon Osman may have his work cut out persuading the Premier League he should be credited with the first after a huge deflection off Gareth McAuley provided the decisive touch, but there was no doubt about substitute Victor Anichebe's second.

Aside from the hosts' 18th-minute opener, there were few incidents of note in the first half.
Osman, heading wide Leighton Baines' cross, and Darron Gibson, firing just over, both served early warnings to West Brom.

However, with Everton having exerted plenty of energy in booking an FA Cup semi-final place at Sunderland in midweek, it took the home side a while to find their fluency.

It came in ideal fashion as a good passage of possession play brought the goal and was probably the only period of the first half when they looked as though they were in real control.

That'll do it: Everton's Victor Anichebe celebrates after scoring the second

That'll do it: Everton's Victor Anichebe celebrates after scoring the second

Beating his man: Tony Hibbert gets to the ball ahead of Chris Brunt

Beating his man: Tony Hibbert gets to the ball ahead of Chris Brunt

When the ball was eventually worked to Osman in the inside right channel, he turned experienced defender Liam Ridgewell far too easily and offloaded to Nikica Jelavic on the edge of the penalty area.

The Croatia striker returned the pass and Osman fired goalwards only for the ball to take a huge deflection off McAuley and leave goalkeeper Ben Foster stranded.

Easy does it: Marouane Fellaini holds off a challenge from Keith Andrews

Easy does it: Marouane Fellaini holds off a challenge from Keith Andrews

West Brom's only chance of the half almost brought the equaliser when Tim Howard pushed Paul Scharner's shot into the path of Chris Brunt at the far post but the winger's attempt to smash home the rebound hit Shane Long and went behind.

Marouane Fellaini's low, long-range effort was tipped around the post by Foster before the Belgium midfielder reacted angrily to Keith Andrews raking his studs down his Achilles tendon but referee Peter Walton – in his final Premier League match before becoming general manager of the Professional Referee Organisation for the United States and Canada – awarded only a free-kick.

Mixed emotions: Roy Hodgson and Everton's manager David Moyes look on during the game

Mixed emotions: Roy Hodgson and Everton's manager David Moyes look on during the game

Magaye Gueye replaced Osman for the start of the second half but the early incidents all involved Jelavic.

He had a half-chance from a near-post header which Foster caught easily before he was booked for catching Ridgewell on the back of the head with his arm.

West Brom's left-back was also on the receiving end of a late tackle from Tim Cahill, who was yellow-carded.

Going close: Nikica Jelavic takes a shot

Going close: Nikica Jelavic takes a shot

The Australia international was then replaced by Anichebe with just over an hour gone.

Everton appeared to have lost their way with West Brom showing signs of improvement but Jonas Olsson's foul on Steven Pienaar, which also warranted a caution, presented a good opportunity to establish a cushion only for Jelavic to curl his shot over.

Anichebe showed his fellow striker how it should be done in the 68th minute when he fired in off the far post after Pienaar's diagonal run.

Pienaar should have put the result beyond doubt in the 74th minute having been played in by Jelavic but he shot straight at Foster.

So long: Everton manager David Moyes with referee Peter Walton after officiating in his last Premier League match

So long: Everton manager David Moyes with referee Peter Walton after officiating in his last Premier League match

Jelavic then headed wide Baines' shot and Gueye shot at Foster as, with the confidence of a two-goal lead, Everton attacked more fluidly.

Things were not so happy in the West Brom camp with Foster and Peter Odemwingie exchanging heated words as frustrations bubbled over late on.

Wigan 2 Stoke 0: Alcaraz and Moses on the scoresheet as Latics revival continues

Wigan 2 Stoke 0: Alcaraz and Moses ensure Latics revival gathers momentum

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UPDATED:

16:29 GMT, 31 March 2012

Goals from Antolin Alcaraz and Victor Moses earned Wigan their first Barclays Premier League win at the DW Stadium for seven months as they deservedly saw off Stoke to boost their survival hopes.

Not since Roberto Martinez's men beat QPR 2-0 in August had the Latics picked up three points at home while they also made it back-to-back wins for the first time all season following last weekend's victory over Liverpool at Anfield.

It had seemed like it would be another case of what might have been when Franco Di Santo and Jean Beausejour missed glorious chances in the first half but Alcaraz headed in emphatically in the 54th minute and Moses made sure in injury time.

Winner: Antolin Alcaraz of Wigan Athletic heads home the only goal of the game

Winner: Antolin Alcaraz of Wigan Athletic heads home the only goal of the game

MATCH FACTS

Wigan: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour (Sammon 87), Moses, Di Santo (Gomez 81), Maloney (Ben Watson 70).

Subs Not Used: Kirkland, Crusat, Jones, Stam.

Booked: Beausejour, Boyce.

Goals: Alcaraz 54, Moses 90.

Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Pennant (Palacios 65), Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington (Jerome 49), Crouch, Walters (Fuller 65).

Subs Not Used: Sorensen, Jones, Upson, Shotton.

Booked: Wilson,Whelan,Whitehead,Wilkinson.

Att: 19,786

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

The only negative for Wigan was victories for fellow strugglers QPR and Bolton, which meant they stayed in the bottom three on goal difference.

Stoke brought good memories for the Latics, who have lost only once to Tony Pulis' side in the Premier League and secured their top-flight status with a 1-0 win at the Britannia Stadium on the final day of last season.

The visitors, playing their 49th game of a hectic campaign, had the first chance when Ryan Shawcross got his head to a Jermaine Pennant corner but Ali Al Habsi was alert.

And moments later a mistake from Andy Wilkinson let in Di Santo but the Argentinian never looked entirely confident running at Asmir Begovic, who nevertheless did well to block the shot.

Wigan continued to press for the opener and Begovic had to be alert to keep out Shaun Maloney's volley in the 15th minute, while Stoke had a rare opening thanks to a miscued clearance from Emmerson Boyce but Jon Walters steered his volley just wide.

Wigan really only had themselves to blame for failing to take the lead five minutes before the break when Moses sent a perfect cross along the six yard line but Beausejour somehow failed to guide the ball into an empty net.

The bobbly pitch arguably did the winger no favours but it really was an astonishing miss.

Hope: Wigan celebrate as they take the lead against Stoke

Hope: Wigan celebrate as they take the lead against Stoke

Wigan wanted a penalty in the opening minute of the second half when Dean Whitehead handled but referee Mark Clattenburg was unmoved despite being surrounded by Latics players.

Stoke made their first substitution a couple of minutes later, with Cameron Jerome replacing Matthew Etherington, who looked like he was still struggling following a first half tackle from Boyce.

Leading from the front: Roberto Martinez celebrates as his Wigan side earn the three points

Leading from the front: Roberto Martinez celebrates as his Wigan side earn the three points

Wigan had resumed their pressing and probing and in the 54th minute they finally found a moment of precision to take the lead.

Maloney, who had caused Stoke
problems all afternoon, played in Beausejour down the left and he made
up for his horror miss with a lovely cross to pick out defender Alcaraz,
who powered a header into the bottom corner for his first Wigan goal of
the season.

Sitter: Jean Beausejour (right) misses an open goal for Wigan in the first half

Sitter: Jean Beausejour (right) misses an open goal for Wigan in the first half

Pulis responded with a double change, sending on Ricardo Fuller and Wilson Palacios for Pennant and Walters, while Ben Watson replaced the impressive Maloney for Wigan.

Beausejour certainly had not worn his shooting boots and another golden chance went begging in the 72nd minute.

Battle: Victor Moses tries to get past Andy Wilkinson as Wigan record another win

Battle: Victor Moses tries to get past Andy Wilkinson as Wigan record another win

The winger was inexplicably left completely unmarked at the back post when Watson swung over a free-kick but again he scuffed his shot and Begovic saved easily.

Stoke fashioned their first chance of the second half 78 minutes in as Wilkinson swung over a cross from the right for Shawcross but the defender could only nod wide.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Wigan's Victor Moses scores his sides second goal to wrap up victory

Signed, sealed, delivered: Wigan's Victor Moses scores his sides second goal to wrap up victory

Wigan were beginning to get a little nervy and some hesitant defending allowed Jerome to fire a shot over the bar, but they also continued to look dangerous in attack and Begovic did well to deny substitute Jordi Gomez.

And the hosts made sure of the points in injury time when Wilkinson again wanted too much time and was robbed by Moses, who did what Di Santo could not, rounding Begovic and slotting home.

Pile on: Wigan players celebrate with Moses (hidden) as they record back-to-back Premier League wins

Pile on: Wigan players celebrate with Moses (hidden) as they record back-to-back Premier League wins

Wolves 2 Bolton 3: Crucial win for Owen Coyle

Wolves 2 Bolton 3: Crucial win for Coyle's boys will keep Muamba smiling

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UPDATED:

16:28 GMT, 31 March 2012

Bolton came from behind to claim a vital victory at Molineux and leave rock-bottom Wolves seemingly staring relegation in the face.

After dominating the first half without managing to convert, the hosts deservedly broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute through the lively Michael Kightly, but they subsequently imploded.

Martin Petrov's penalty and further goals from Marcos Alonso and Kevin Davies saw them fall 3-1 behind, with Matt Jarvis' 88th-minute response proving a mere consolation.

Euphoria: Marcos Alonso celebrates after scoring with a horde of delighted Bolton fans

Euphoria: Marcos Alonso celebrates after scoring with a horde of delighted Bolton fans

MATCH FACTS

Wolves: Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Bassong, Ward, Kightly, Davis (Henry 87), Edwards (Milijas 87), Jarvis, Ebanks-Blake (Doyle 81), Fletcher

Subs Not Used: De Vries, Hunt, Berra, Zubar

Booked: Stearman

Goals: Kightly 53, Jarvis 88

Bolton: Bogdan, Ricketts, Ream, Wheater, Alonso, Miyaichi (Eagles 77), M Davies, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Klasnic (K Davies 70), Ngog (Knight 90)

Subs Not Used: Jaaskelainen, Boyata, Sordell, Vela

Booked: Klasnic

Goals: Petrov 63 pen, Alonso 80, K Davies 84

Attendance: 25,215

Referee: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire)

The result – Bolton's third win on the bounce against fellow strugglers after their league triumphs over QPR and Blackburn – means the Trotters move up a place to 16th in the Barclays Premier League, a point clear of the drop zone.

The picture is more bleak for Wolves, who are now six points adrift of safety at the foot of the table and have taken only one point from a possible 18 under manager Terry Connor, suffering five losses in a row.

The midlands outfit's remaining home matches are against Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton and Connor's predecessor Mick McCarthy had described this contest as a “must-win” game.

Win they did not – although for long periods it seemed as if this was destined to be Connor's first victory.

Wolves made a positive start, with Kightly looking a threat down the right flank and a couple of corners causing panic in the Bolton box.

Kightly then lofted a free-kick forward which Steven Fletcher did well to keep in and the ball came to Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who brought a save out of Adam Bogdan with a snap-shot.

The Trotters served a warning at the other end, Petrov seeing an effort blocked by Richard Stearman and miscuing an attempted volley moments later, but the hosts were soon back on the offensive as Fletcher headed Jarvis' corner wide before Ebanks-Blake drilled off target from distance.

Cool: Martin Petrov strokes home the equaliser from the spot

Cool: Martin Petrov strokes home the equaliser from the spot

Opener: Michael Kightly broke the deadlock

Opener: Michael Kightly broke the deadlock

Bolton forward David Ngog sent a shot harmlessly wide just prior to the half hour mark and there was a nervier moment for Wolves soon after as Petrov just cleared the crossbar having cleverly flicked the ball over Roger Johnson.

Bogdan then did brilliantly to claw away Fletcher's header, but the hosts were looking vulnerable at the back and after Trotters striker Ivan Klasnic was allowed to get a shot away, Wolves skipper Johnson and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey squared up to each other.

Referee Jon Moss did his best to calm the pair down and within moments, Fletcher had come close to scoring again, the Scotland international's header being cleared off the line by Ryo Miyaichi.

Muamba

Solidarity: Martin Petrov gives Stiliyan Petrov a goodwill message

Support: Bolton fans have a message for Fabrice Muamba, while Petrov has his own for Villa's Stiliyan Petrov

Spot of bother: Tempers flare after Bolton are awarded their penalty

Spot of bother: Tempers flare after Bolton are awarded their penalty

Fletcher then had another near miss just before the interval as he nodded Kightly's cross against the bar.

Wolves looked to pick up where they left off as the second half got under way and Johnson produced a header which was easily caught by Bogdan, but they then survived a scare as David Wheater glanced Miyaichi's cross just the wrong side of the post.

The hosts' dominance finally paid off eight minutes after the restart as Kightly received the ball from Ebanks-Blake, darted past Alonso and arrowed a shot beyond Bogdan into the corner of the net.

The home supporters breathed a sigh of relief, but within 10 minutes, Bolton had equalised as ex-Wolves man Mark Davies went down after being challenged by Johnson in the box and Petrov buried the resulting spot-kick.

Strike: Kightly's goal gave Wolves the head-start in a relegation six-pointer

Strike: Kightly's goal gave Wolves the head-start in a relegation six-pointer

Disagreement: Wayne Hennessey and Roger Johnson get fiesty

Disagreement: Wayne Hennessey and Roger Johnson get fiesty

As part of his celebration, the Bulgarian revealed a t-shirt displaying a message of support for his compatriot and namesake Stiliyan, the Aston Villa captain who has been diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

The Trotters wide man then almost added another, unleashing a stinging drive that Hennessey managed to save, and struck a free-kick at the goalkeeper moments later.

With just under 15 minutes to go, Jarvis blew a chance to put his side back in front by heading wide when he should have done better, and it proved costly.

Advice: Owen Coyle dispenses some instructions

Advice: Owen Coyle dispenses some instructions

Three minutes later Ngog headed Petrov's cross against the bar and Alonso had little trouble converting from close range.

Bolton then swiftly extended their
lead as one substitute Chris Eagles had the space to find Kevin Davies
who slotted past Hennessey.

Jarvis gave Wolves hope by pulling one back two minutes from time but it was too little too late.

Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 4: Torres ends Premier League drought as Petrov watches on

Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 4: Torres ends Premier League drought as Petrov watches on

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UPDATED:

16:24 GMT, 31 March 2012

Fernando Torres scored his first Barclays Premier League goal for six months as Chelsea revitalised their hopes of securing a Champions League spot with victory at Aston Villa.

The Blues looked to be cruising as Daniel Sturridge and Branislav Ivanovic earned them a 2-0 lead only for Villa to rally through goals from James Collins and Eric Lichaj.

But Ivanovic's second goal of the game and then Torres' injury-time finish enabled Roberto Di Matteo's side to close the gap on fourth placed Tottenham to two points.

Pure delight: Fernando Torres celebrates after scoring Chelsea's fourth goal against Aston Villa

Pure delight: Fernando Torres celebrates after scoring Chelsea's fourth goal against Aston Villa

MATCH FACTS

Aston Villa: Given, Lichaj, Collins, Baker, Warnock, Gardner, Herd (Albrighton 70), Agbonlahor, Ireland, Bannan, Weimann (Heskey 82).

Subs Not Used: Guzan, Johnson, Williams, Carruthers, Grealish.

Booked: Warnock.

Goals: Collins 77,Lichaj 80.

Chelsea: Cech,Ivanovic,Luiz (Cahill 45), Terry, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Sturridge, Mata (Malouda 74), Kalou (Ramires 59),Torres.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Essien, Bosingwa, Bertrand.

Goals: Sturridge 9, Ivanovic 51,83, Torres 90.

Att: 34,740

Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

It was an emotional atmosphere at Villa Park after skipper Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed yesterday with acute leukaemia.

Petrov attended the game before starting treatment for the illness on Monday and was applauded by both sets of fans.

He had witnessed Chelsea not being over-extended by a Villa side lacking eight senior players through illness or injury until their late revival.

It was Chelsea's sixth win in eight games under Di Matteo ahead of next week's Champions League return clash with Benfica.

Villa's inexperienced line-up showed plenty of spirit but still need a
few more points to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.

The first clearcut chance fell to Chelsea striker Torres and he failed to take advantage.

David Luiz slipped a through ball to the Spaniard, who found himself
with only Shay Given to beat but the Villa keeper was quickly off his
line to block the shot.

Chelsea were not to be denied and after nine minutes went ahead through Sturridge's 12th goal of the season.

Salomon Kalou cut in from the left and picked out Juan Mata, whose shot was blocked by Given.

Back with a bang: Torres scored his first Premier League goal for six months against Villa

Back with a bang: Torres scored his first Premier League goal for six months against Villa

The rebound fell to Torres, who was denied by a last-ditch tackle from
Stephen Warnock, but Sturridge converted the loose ball from close
range.

Villa were fortunate when a fierce drive from Mikel deflected off James Collins straight into the hands of Given.

Collins had a chance at the other end when attacking a Barry Bannan corner but could not keep his header down.

Brave: Stiliyan Petrov watches on as Aston Villa lose to Chelsea at Villa Park

Brave: Stiliyan Petrov watches on as Aston Villa lose to Chelsea at Villa Park

Support: Both Aston Villa and Chelsea players gave their backing to Petrov

Support: Both Aston Villa and Chelsea players gave their backing to Petrov

Support: Both Aston Villa and Chelsea players gave their backing to Petrov

Mata came close to making it 2-0 when his shot struck a post and Torres' follow-up attempt was blocked by Collins.

Sturridge was looking full of confidence and cut in from the left, forcing Given to make a low save.

Then two minutes before the interval a superb save from Petr Cech kept Chelsea ahead.

Opener: Daniel Sturridge (right) celebrates putting Chelsea in front against Aston Villa

Opener: Daniel Sturridge (right) celebrates putting Chelsea in front against Aston Villa

Weimann played the ball to Agbonlahor, who spun sharply 10 yards out before firing in a powerful low drive.

But Cech somehow managed to deflect the shot over the bar to deny Agbonlahor a first goal in 15 Premier League games.

After 51 minutes Ivanovic doubled
Chelsea's lead. Torres attacked a near post corner from Mata and looked
to get a slight touch on the ball before it fell to Ivanovic.

Double trouble: Branislav Ivanovic scores Chelsea's second goal against Villa

Double trouble: Branislav Ivanovic scores Chelsea's second goal against Villa

The defender made no mistake in turning the ball past Given.

Warnock became the first player to be yellow carded for a late challenge on Chelsea skipper John Terry.

Mata curled a long range free-kick over the bar and Torres glanced a header wide.

Back in it: Aston Villa's James Collins scores his side's first goal of the game

Back in it: Aston Villa's James Collins scores his side's first goal of the game

Collins gave Villa a lifeline with 14 minutes remaining when he headed a long throw from Lichaj past Cech.

Then four minutes later Villa Park erupted when Lichaj equalised for Alex McLeish's side.

Albrighton was the creator with a dangerous low ball across the Chelsea six-yard box and Lichaj made no mistake at the far post.

Leveller: Eric Lichaj (left) scores Aston Villa's equaliser before Chelsea hit back to win

Leveller: Eric Lichaj (left) scores Aston Villa's equaliser before Chelsea hit back to win

But Villa were again caught out at a corner in the 82nd minute when Ivanovic restored Chelsea's lead.

Malouda floated the ball into the danger area and no-one picked up Ivanovic as he headed past Given.

Then in time added on Torres scored his first Premier League goal for six months when he beat Given with a low drive.

Peter Ebdon beats Ding Junhui to meet Stephen Maguire in China Open final

Ebdon sees off home favourite Ding to set up China Open final against Maguire

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UPDATED:

17:15 GMT, 31 March 2012

Qualifier Peter Ebdon came from 3-1 down to beat Ding Junhui and book his place in the final of the China Open.

Ding looked set to delight his legion of fans in Beijing when he led by two frames at the mid-session interval, but Ebdon reeled off the next five in succession to set up a clash with Scotland's Stephen Maguire.

Upset: Peter Ebdon dispatched home favourite Ding to set up a final clash with Stephen Maguire

Upset: Peter Ebdon dispatched home favourite Ding to set up a final clash with Stephen Maguire

After winning the first frame after the interval, a break of 69 saw Ebdon level the scores at 3-3 before an epic seventh frame which lasted 37 minutes.

With just the last three colours remaining, Ding missed a straightforward blue to the middle while trying to force position on the pink, which was near the yellow pocket.

Ebdon potted the blue and then brilliantly cut the pink in from a narrow angle, while still managing to get position on the black on its spot.

The former world champion then compiled a break of 68 in the next frame which was ultimately enough to win it, before sealing victory with runs of 64 and 58 to win the ninth frame 127-0.

Earlier in the day, Maguire beat Stephen Lee 6-2 by taking the last four frames in a row.

The Scot sealed the win after his opponent had battled back from 2-0 down to level the scores.

But Maguire, who only edged past Ronnie O'Sullivan on a respotted black in the final frame in the last round, had six breaks over 50.

Easy does it: Stephen Maguire beat Stephen Lee in Beijing

Easy does it: Stephen Maguire beat Stephen Lee in Beijing

Maguire, who won this tournament in 2008 and was the 2004 UK champion, started the better, taking the first frame with a 76 break and then edging a scrappy second as he punished Lee for not taking his chances.

Lee beat reigning champion Judd Trump in the last eight and the 37-year-old battled his way back into the contest.

He won the third frame on the back of a 67 and then drew level, breaks of 47 and 39 enough to see him over the line.

But he simply had no answer to Maguire after the mid-session interval as the 31-year-old raced away with the match

The Scot knocked in a 51 and a 53 to restore his lead and from there just continued to up his game.

He rattled in breaks of 66 and 71 to take the match away from Lee before saving the best till last, a run of 91 handing him victory in emphatic fashion.

Manchester City 3 Sunderland 3: Title hopes suffer another blow despite late rally

Manchester City 3 Sunderland 3: Title hopes suffer another blow despite late rally

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UPDATED:

16:34 GMT, 31 March 2012

Manchester City dropped two potentially vital points in the Barclays Premier League title race despite a rousing late fightback against Sunderland.

Mario Balotelli's second goal of the afternoon and a powerful Aleksandar Kolarov strike inside the last five minutes at the Etihad Stadium earned City a draw but it was not enough to take them back top.

Sunderland had powered into a 3-1 lead with two goals from Sebastian Larsson and a fine header from Nicklas Bendtner.

Warring factions: Two-goal hero Mario Balotelli squabbles with Aleksandar Kolarov over the taking of a free-kick

Warring factions: Two-goal hero Mario Balotelli squabbles with Aleksandar Kolarov over the taking of a free-kick

MATCH FACTS

Man City: Hart, Richards (Johnson 46), Toure, Kompany, Kolarov, Milner (Pizarro 81), De Jong, Toure Yaya, Silva (Tevez 58), Balotelli, Dzeko. Subs not used: Pantilimon, Clichy, Barry, Zabaleta.

Booked: De Jong.

Scorer: Balotelli (pen) 43, Kolarov 86.

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, Kilgallon (Kyrgiakos 81), Colback, Larsson, Gardner, Cattermole, McClean, Sessegnon, Bendtner. Subs not used: Westwood, Campbell, Richardson, Vaughan, Ji, Meyler.

Booked: Gardner.

Scorer: Larsson 31, 55, Bendtner 45.

Referee: Phil Dowd.

Attendance:

From that position, City would
ordinarily have been pleased with a draw – which preserved their
unbeaten home record – but arch-rivals Manchester United now have a huge
advantage and could go five points clear on Monday.

It was a fractious affair in which Balotelli appeared to argue with team-mate Carlos Tevez.
Problems appeared to be mounting for City before kick-off when, a day
after manager Roberto Mancini mysteriously refused to discuss top scorer
Sergio Aguero's ankle problem, Samir Nasri revealed he had been ruled
out by injury.

City at least had the reassurance of
captain Vincent Kompany back in their defence after four games out with a
calf injury but the hosts lacked bite and were pushed back from the
outset.

Micah Richards found himself in the
firing line early on as he blocked a powerful shot from James McClean
and then required treatment after Stephane Sessegnon beat him to create
another opportunity.

Sessegnon failed to make the most of that chance, opting not to pass to McClean to cut inside and Kolo Toure cleared.

Hammer blow: Sebastian Larsson beats Joe Hart for his second goal of the game

Hammer blow: Sebastian Larsson beat Joe Hart for his second goal of the game

The first signs of City unrest were
perhaps seen as Balotelli and Yaya Toure were involved in animated
discussions as play was stopped for Richards' injury.

Sunderland had another good chance to
go ahead as Sessegnon was twice involved in a sweeping move but Craig
Gardner's shot into the side netting.

City responded as Edin Dzeko tested
Simon Mignolet and Kompany scuffed a shot wide from the resulting corner
but Sunderland remained just as likely scorers.

Controversy: Sunderland players remonstrate with referee Phil Down after seeing a penalty awarded to Manchester City

Controversy: Sunderland players remonstrate with referee Phil Down after seeing a penalty awarded to Manchester City for a foul on Edin Dzeko

McClean turned on the edge of the
area to shoot narrowly wide and Bendtner then had an effort blocked
before the visitors deservedly went ahead on the half hour.

Larsson did the damage with a superb finish from the edge of the area, beating Joe Hart with a low shot into the bottom corner.

City tried to reply quickly and Yaya Toure won a free-kick on the edge of the area but Mignolet saved from Kolarov.

On top: Nicklas Bendtner is congratulated by Lee Cattermole after putting Sunderland 2-1 up

On top: Nicklas Bendtner is congratulated by Lee Cattermole after putting Sunderland 2-1 up

City got back into the game from the penalty spot after Phil Dowd controversially ruled that Gardner had upended Dzeko.

Sunderland were furious at the decision but Balotelli kept his cool to level.

An argument broke out between Dzeko
and Phil Bardsley when play was stopped following a clash of heads
between Richards and Colback.

Not now: Phil Dowd pushes Roberto Mancini away after the final whistle as the Italian complains

Not now: Phil Dowd pushes Roberto Mancini away after the final whistle as the Italian complains

Balotelli proved an unlikely
peacemaker and play eventually restarted, but City may have wished it
had not as Sunderland reclaimed the lead in first-half injury time.

Bendtner made no mistake as he planted a firm header past Hart from a Sessegnon cross.
City needed to respond but it was Sunderland who continued to force the pace in the early stages of the second half.

Yaya Toure, weary after a heavy
tackle, was beaten to the ball inside his own half as Sessegnon launched
the attack which led to Sunderland's third.

Parity restored: Kolarov lets fly to make it 3-3

Parity restored: Kolarov lets fly to make it 3-3

Bendtner raced into space down the
right and played a low ball into the box for Larsson, who timed his run
perfectly to slide in at the far post.

Mancini's response was to send on
Tevez for Silva and the hosts spurned a chance moments later as Kolo
Toure headed over from a corner.

City won a free-kick after Kolarov
went down on the edge of the area and frustrations boiled over as the
hosts could not decide who should take it.

Fightback: Balotelli levels just before half-time

Fightback: Balotelli levels just before half-time

Balotelli clearly wanted to be
involved and reacted unhappily when Tevez lined up behind the ball.
Kompany had to push the Italian away and in the end it was Kolarov who
took it, curling a shot wide.

Tevez had his first chance as City broke from deep but hit the side netting from the edge of the area.
Bendtner missed a fine chance to make it 4-1 when he fired over from the edge of the box and City finally stirred into life.

Balotelli reduced the arrears with a
fine goal, all of his own making, five minutes from time as he came in
from the left and ran across the edge of the box to beat Mignolet from
distance.

High riser: Bendtner puts Sunderland ahead

High riser: Bendtner puts Sunderland ahead

The hosts threw everything into
attack and were rewarded again as substitute David Pizarro rolled the
ball wide for Kolarov to smash home.

Despite some frantic late scenes, however, City could not claim a winner.

QPR 2 Arsenal 1: Diakite winner provides massive boost in relegation fight

QPR 2 Arsenal 1: Diakite winner provides massive boost in relegation fight

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UPDATED:

17:09 GMT, 31 March 2012

QPR breathed new life into their
relegation battle with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Loftus
Road to end the Gunners' Barclays Premier League winning streak.

Former Tottenham midfielder Adel
Taarabt had fired the hosts into the lead on 22 minutes with his first
Premier League goal, but Arsenal levelled through Theo Walcott.

Rangers, though, snatched what could
prove a priceless victory when Samba Diakite crashed in midway through
the second half, but remain in the bottom three after Bolton won at Wolves.

Flying high: Adel Taarabt celebrates scoring the opening goal

Flying high: Adel Taarabt celebrates scoring the opening goal

MATCH FACTS

QPR: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Taiwo, Barton, Diakite, Derry, Taarabt, Mackie, Zamora. Unused subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Campbell, Bothroyd, Buzsaky, Young, Wright-Phillips.

Goals: Taarabt 22, Diakite 66

Booked: Taarabt, Mackie

ARSENAL: Szczensny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs (Chamackh 81), Song, Arteta (Oxlade-Chamberlain (81), Ramsey (Gervinho 69), Walcott, Rosicky, Van Persie. Unused subs: Fabianski, Santos, Djourou, Benayoun.

Goals: Walcott 37

Booked: Vermaelen, Song

Referee: Mike Dean

QPR captain Joey Barton had used his pre-match programme notes to call for the Rs fans to get behind him after being booed off the pitch while being substituted during the win over Liverpool 10 days ago.

However, the controversial midfielder received a mixed reception when his name was read out ahead of kick off.

Walcott made early progress down the right channel, forcing a corner which was eventually hacked clear. Arsenal continued to press without stretching the home side.

On seven minutes, Clint Hill bundled Walcott over to concede a free-kick just right of centre, 25 yards out. Robin van Persie struck a low, curled effort goalwards, which Paddy Kenny gathered at the second attempt, with Walcott looking to pounce on the loose ball.

Rangers were soon on the offensive, with Alex Song needing to make a couple of important blocks as Bobby Zamora threatened.

Well taken: Taarabt slides home Rangers' opener

Well taken: Taarabt slides home Rangers' opener

The home side continued to push
Arsenal back, and Zamora sent a free header over from 10 yards after a
deep free-kick into the area.

The hosts had the lead on 22 minutes.

Taarabt collected a pass from the
halfway line, before turning Thomas Vermaelen on the edge of the penalty
area and dispatching the ball into the bottom corner.

Hoop dreams: Taarabt side-foots the hosts in front in the London derby

Hoop dreams: Taarabt side-foots the hosts in front in the London derby

Moroccan Taarabt marked his first
Premier League goal by donning a fez that he then threw into the crowd,
but referee Mike Dean took a dim view of his actions and brandished a
yellow card.

Arsenal needed to regroup, but had been in this situation more than once recently and recovered to secure victory.

QPR, however, remained full of
energy, with Taarabt enjoying plenty of the ball. Arsenal were level on
37 minutes with their first real chance.

Crunch: Joey Barton (right) and Arsenal's Mikel Arteta tangle

Crunch: Joey Barton (right) and Arsenal's Mikel Arteta tangle

Van Persie made space on the edge of the area and stabbed the ball to Walcott.

The England winger cracked a
first-time effort off the base of the far post, and was quickest to the
rebound, hooking in his seventh Premier League goal of the season.

Arsenal now passed the ball around with confidence, Aaron Ramsey dragging a low shot from 20 yards across goal and wide.

Ouch: Jamie Mackie (left) gets a boot in the face from Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs

Ouch: Jamie Mackie (left) gets a boot in the face from Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs

Leveller: Theo Walcott (right) put Arsenal on terms

Leveller: Theo Walcott (right) put Arsenal on terms

The visitors pressed again at the
start of the second half, as Bacary Sagna floated over a deep cross from
the right which fellow full-back Kieran Gibbs nodded just wide.

QPR were now finding it difficult to retain much possession, and then gave the ball away when looking to build a break.

On 57 minutes, Kenny punched away an
angled free-kick from Van Persie. The Dutchman was denied again by the
QPR keeper after spinning off his marker and racing into the penalty
area.

On terms: Walcott (14) scores in front of the visiting Arsenal fans at Loftus Road

On terms: Walcott (14) scores in front of the visiting Arsenal fans at Loftus Road

QPR went ahead for the second time on
66 minutes. Vermaelen slipped again, allowing Jamie Mackie to skip into
the penalty and pulled the ball back for Diakite to slam home.

Arsenal needed another response and
on 69 minutes, Gervinho replaced Ramsey. QPR soaked up plenty of
pressure, but also looked dangerous on the break as Arsenal committed
men forwards.

Lucky thirteen: Arsenal's goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny beats Mackie to the ball

Lucky thirteen: Arsenal's goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny beats Mackie to the ball

With 10 minutes left, Mikel Arteta was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marouane Chamakh came on for Gibbs.

Barton almost sealed it when his
effort was tipped over by Wojciech Szczesny after another break by
Mackie down the right. The late Arsenal fightback never
materialised as Rangers closed out four minutes of stoppage time to
boost their hopes of staying up.

Fez a jolly good fella: Taarabt didn't score a 'hat'-trick but he was delighted with his goal

Fez a jolly good fella: Taarabt didn't score a 'hat'-trick but he was delighted with his goal