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Goal of the season – Premier League contenders so far

After wonder goals from Lowton and Remy, Sportsmail picks the contenders (so far…) for the Premier League's goal of the season

PUBLISHED:

10:49 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

Forget the title race or the fight to avoid relegation, here's one competition that pretty much all football fans can enjoy – goal of the season.

It may only be the first week of April, but screamers from Matthew Lowton and Loic Remy at the weekend will definitely be contenders.

Super strike I: Matthew Lowton fires home his volley for Villa at Stoke

Super strike I: Matthew Lowton fires home his volley for Villa at Stoke

Super strike II: Loic Remy crashes home the ball in QPR's draw with Wigan

Super strike II: Loic Remy crashes home the ball in QPR's draw with Wigan

Lowton's sumptuous late volley at Stoke breathed life into Aston Villa's battle to stay up on Saturday.

And Remy fired home a rocket from the edge of the box to give fellow strugglers QPR hope before Shaun Maloney's equaliser at the death.

Let's hope there are further contenders in the climax to the season – but, for now, Sportsmail's team of experts nominate their favourite of the campaign so far.

*Who would you vote for Explain your choice at the bottom of the article…

NEIL ASHTON

Gareth Bale – West Ham 2 TOTTENHAM 3 (February 24, 2013)

Special players score goals at important moment, living with the pressure and winning games for their team with top class finishes when others are fading. Bale did just that when he won this fixture for Spurs at West Ham with a top quality strike from outside the area. His celebrations with Andre Villas-Boas on the touchline were even better.

SAMI MOKBEL

Gareth Bale has got quite a collection to choose from this season – but this is right up there. Final minute. 30 yards. Left foot. Bang. Three points.

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas
DOMINIC KING

Leighton Baines – Newcastle 1 EVERTON 2 (January 3, 2013)

An absolute humdinger from the best left-back in the country, his effort from 30 yards dipped, swerved and sped past Tim Krul before he realised what had happened. Great technique and phenomenal power. Eclipses Luis Suarez's stunning control and deft finish against the same opponents at Anfield in November.

Rocket: Leighton Baines crashes the ball home from 30 yards at Newcastle

Rocket: Leighton Baines crashes the ball home from 30 yards at Newcastle

SIMON CASS

Luis Suarez – LIVERPOOL 1 Newcastle 1 (November 4, 2013)

Luis Suarez’s equaliser against Newcastle back in November will take some beating. The Uruguayan plucks Luis Enrique’s long ball out of the air, holds of Fabricio Coloccini before taking a touch to go past Tim Krul to roll it into the net. Genius.

Control: Luis Suarez bamboozles the Newcastle defence to score this wonder goal

Control: Luis Suarez bamboozles the Newcastle defence to score this wonder goal

SAM CUNNINGHAM

Dimitar Berbatov – FULHAM 1 Stoke 0 (February 23, 2013)

This goal was everything that sums up the nonchalant Bulgarian – class, quality, precision, technique, grace. He was standing just inside the box on the right when a defensive header dropped from the sky. The ball plummeted 20-30 metres, a distance your average armchair fan would struggle to even control the ball from, and Berbatov stroked it into the top corner from just inside the box on the right.

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

CHRIS WHEELER

Cameron Jerome – STOKE 3 Southampton 3 (December 29, 2012)

Jerome's blockbusting 90th-minute equaliser was stunning – if it wasn’t for the net, this one would still be travelling now.

Salute: Cameron Jerome celebrates his stunning last-minute goal for Stoke

Salute: Cameron Jerome celebrates his stunning last-minute goal for Stoke

JOHN EDWARDS

Loic Remy – QPR 1 Wigan 1 (April 7, 2013)

It has to be Remy, for one simple reason. While Lowton’s goal was spectacular, Remy’s had an air of wonder, bordering on mystique, about it. We’ve had any number of brilliantly-executed volleys down the years, but never, as far as I can recall, a first-time side-foot shot on the run from 20 yards hit with such power, it was past the keeper before he could move. Like Paolo Di Canio’s airborne effort against Wimbledon, it left you shaking your head and wondering exactly how he did it.

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ADAM SHERGOLD

Robin van Persie – MANCHESTER UNITED 3 Fulham 2 (August 25, 2012)

What a way to introduce yourself. A cross in from the left, a step in front of the defender and, in one fluid movement and without even looking at the goal, the ball is swept home. It was a goal that said: ‘I’m worth every penny and I’m here to get your title back.’ And how he has.

Touch: Robin van Persie directs the ball home in United's win over Fulham

Touch: Robin van Persie directs the ball home in United's win over Fulham

MIKE ANSTEAD

Papiss Cisse – NEWCASTLE 4 Southampton 2 (February 24, 2013)

Cisse has now scored a few belters for Newcastle. He likes to drop the odd cracker in among his finishes inside the six-yard box. This goal reminded me of Alan Shearer in his Newcastle pomp, lashing it home from 25 yards.

Sealed with a kiss: Cisse celebrates his stunner against Southampton

Sealed with a kiss: Cisse celebrates his stunner against Southampton

MATT FORTUNE

Theo Walcott – ARSENAL 7 Newcastle 3 (December 29, 2012)

It's not the tidiest, the most sweetly struck, or skilful, but for the befuddlement I still feel when watching it back, Walcott's hat-trick goal saw him tie two players in knots by the touchline, trip over his own feet on entry to the box, somehow slide on his knees practically through the legs of another, take out a fourth, jump to his feet and scoop the ball from a narrowing angle into the top corner.

Joyous: Theo Walcott wheels away after completing his hat-trick against Newcastle

Joyous: Theo Walcott wheels away after completing his hat-trick against Newcastle

ALEX KAY

Michael Kightly – Manchester United 4 STOKE 2 (October 20, 2012)

The former Wolves man doesn’t always get a game for Stoke but his run from the halfway line at Old Trafford was phenomenal and one he will remember for the rest of his career. There was a slightly lucky bobble along the way but the finish was excellent.

LUKE BENEDICT

Matthew Lowton – Stoke 1 ASTON VILLA 3 (April 6, 2013)

For the patience to wait for the ball to drop on to his foot despite two Stoke players closing down fast, for the vision to shoot on goal given the magnitude of the match and just how far out he was, then finally for the technical ability to actually pull it off. Can you imagine the fuss if Messi had scored it

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Barcelona: Cesc Fabregas hat-trick Eric Abidal returns after transplant

Fabregas scores hat-trick but Abidal gets Nou Camp ovation on emotional return

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

21:59 GMT, 6 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:45 GMT, 7 April 2013

Cesc Fabregas scored the first hat-trick of his career as Barcelona moved closer to the Primera Division title with a 5-0 victory over Real Mallorca, but the main story was the return to action of Eric Abidal after a year out following liver surgery.

The home side were also inspired by
head coach Tito Vilanova, who was on the Nou Camp touchline for the
first time since January after undergoing treatment for cancer.

Abidal's appearance brought the crowd
to their feet, with the Frenchman given a standing ovation when he
replaced Gerard Pique in the 70th minute.

Happy return: Barcelona's Eric Abidal received a rousing reception

Happy return: Barcelona's Eric Abidal received a rousing reception

Happy return: Eric Abidal

The 33-year-old former France
defender, who was passed fit to return to training with his team mates
last month, is a huge favourite with the Barca fans.

In a pitch-side television interview with Spanish broadcaster Canal Plus, Abidal thanked the cousin who provided part of his liver for the procedure.

'It was a very special moment for me after a year out,' said Abidal, wearing a shirt with 'Merci mon cousin' on the front.

Tribute: Abidal shows a shirt to thank his cousin who donated his liver

Tribute: Abidal shows a shirt to thank his cousin who donated his liver

'I want to thank my cousin as without him I would not be here today. It is a unique moment,' he added.

Abidal's return is well timed as Barca centre backs Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano and full back Adriano are all out injured at a critical stage of the season.

In the game itself, it was Fabregas who commanded the spotlight. In the injury-enforced absence of Lionel Messi, he scored three and
set up two for Alexis Sanchez as Barcelona romped home.

Main man: Cesc Fabregas scored his first competitive hat-trick as the league leaders romped to victory

Main man: Cesc Fabregas scored his first competitive hat-trick as the league leaders romped to victory

Main man: Cesc Fabregas scored his first competitive hat-trick as the league leaders romped to victory

Mallorca held their own but it was no surprise when Barcelona made the breakthrough with two goals in two minutes.

Fabregas carried the ball from midfield and played a one-two with Alexis before steadying himself and coolly slotting the ball home across goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.

Mallorca's heads went down and in the 22nd minute they found themselves 2-0 adrift. This time Fabregas cut inside on the left of the area before unleashing a shot which Aouate pushed away from goal only for Alexis to follow up and fire home.

On the scoresheet: Alexis Sanchez was also on target in Barcelona's facile victory

On the scoresheet: Alexis Sanchez was also on target in Barcelona's facile victory

In the 37th minute an intricate passing move ended with Fabregas laying a first-time ball off to Alexis on the right of the area which he reciprocated for Fabregas to drill home.

The former Arsenal captain was involved everywhere and a minute later he provided a superb pass over the top for Alexis, who had got between two defenders, controlling the ball with his right before slotting home with his left.

Fabregas wrapped up his hat-trick seconds after the restart when he collected Iniesta's threaded ball and checked inside the defender before slotting home from close range.

Alex Ferguson says Rafa Benitez should stand in front of him to shake hand

Rafa wants to shake my hand Well, he should stand in front of me next time! Fergie stokes new row with Chelsea boss

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

13:40 GMT, 15 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:41 GMT, 16 March 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson has re-opened his feud with Rafael Benitez over their handshake row.

The pair, who have a history of fall-outs, didn't shake hands before their FA Cup clash at Manchester United on Sunday.

Benitez later claimed that Ferguson ignored him prior to kick-off in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

Scroll down for video

Clash: Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and Rafa Benitez on the touchline on Sunday

Clash: Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and Rafa Benitez on the touchline on Sunday

Hitting back: Sir Alex Ferguson (right) at the Cheltenham Festival with Paul Nicholls this week

Hitting back: Sir Alex Ferguson (right) at the Cheltenham Festival with Paul Nicholls this week

But Ferguson has now hit back, insisting that he did not refuse – before giving them Chelsea boss some advice.

He said: 'It is nonsense. Why would I refuse to shake his hand

'I was signing autographs and I never saw him. Why he has said that I have no idea.

Pointing the way: Benitez takes charge of Chelsea's training session on Friday

Pointing the way: Benitez takes charge of Chelsea's training session on Friday

'If he wanted to shake hands he could have stood straight in front of me. It is absolute nonsense.'

Ferguson and Benitez have had several run-ins in the Barclays Premier League – dating back to their United v Liverpool clashes.

The Spaniard famously held a press conference in 2009 where he ran down a list of 'facts' attacking Ferguson's record.

VIDEO “I didn't see him.” Fergie denies Benitez handshake claim

Absolute NONSENSE. Fergie rubbishes Benitez handshake claim

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Alex Ferguson on Rio and Reading

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Mor Diouf scores 70-yard winner two minutes from time for Supersport United against Mamelodi Sundowns

Bury it like Beckham! Senegalese defender scores 70-yard winner two minutes from time

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

17:41 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:41 GMT, 13 March 2013

Only the greats of the game including David Beckham, Xabi Alonso and…well, Maynor Figueroa score from their own half, but it looks like the trio have been trumped by a Senegalese defender.

While the above were all just inside their own half when they famously scored from distance, Mor Diouf ended up beating the opposition goalkeeper in a South African Premier League match from an incredible 70 yards!

Mor Diouf's 70-yard wonder goal

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Even more impressive was the fact the goal came two minutes from time, with the defender helping his Supersport United side defeat Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 in a home clash last weekend.

Judging by the celebrations after, it was Supersport boss Gavin Hunt that was more impressed with the goal following his excited run down the touchline like Jose Mourinho, while Diouf just stood there and folded his arms like it was something he did every week.

Hunt said of the strike: ‘It's something that wins games as tight as this. Once he hit it, I knew it was a goal because I saw where the goalkeeper was and he hit it sweetly.’

The result moved Supersport up into a mid-table seventh spot and left the Sundowns in 11th, just five points off the bottom two.

How does Diouf's effort compare to Beckham, Alonso and Figueroa's strikes

Sir Alex Ferguson barged by linesman v Chelsea

More trouble for Fergie with officials… this time the linesman crashes in to him!

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

18:08 GMT, 10 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:49 GMT, 10 March 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson's relationship with officials has been strained this week, after Nani was harshly sent off in the Champions League against Real Madrid and his side crashed out.

And now they're physically turning on him too – the Manchester United boss was minding his own business on the touchline in the FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea when the linesman barged in to him.

But instead of exploding in fury,
Ferguson saw the funny side and cracked a smile afterwards while rubbing
his arm where he had been hit.

Watch out: The linesman barges past Sir Alex on the sideline

Watch out: The linesman barges past Sir Alex on the sideline

Barge: The linesman knocks Sir Alex

Barge: The linesman knocks Sir Alex

ITV pundit and former United player Roy
Keane also found the whole thing amusing, making a joke in the studio
referencing his outspoken views over the Nani red card.

On Wednesday, Keane fought against the tide of people claiming Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was wrong to dismiss the Portugal star for a 'dangerous' challenge.

And he joked that the linesman could have been dismissed for 'dangerous play' after his skirmish with Fergie on Sunday night.

Furious Man United fans turn on Roy Keane

Furious Man United fans turn on Keane after former captain claims Nani red card was 'right decision'

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

23:08 GMT, 5 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

06:09 GMT, 6 March 2013

Manchester United fans have reacted furiously after Roy Keane claimed the decision to send off Nani in the Champions League clash with Real Madrid was the right one.

United fans on Twitter have described Keane as 'bitter' and claim to have 'lost respect' for the former Old Trafford hero.

Keane's comments came on ITV in the moments after the match which saw his former side kicked out of Europe's elite competition by a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Right decision: United fans are furious their former captain failed to support the club

Right decision: United fans are furious their former captain failed to support the club

The turning point of the match came midway through the second half when Nani was shown a straight red for a clumsy challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.

The Portugal international appeared to be watching high ball land and his leg hit the Madrid player in his midriff.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was apoplectic on the touchline, but Keane believes Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir made the right decision.

He said: 'I think the referee has actually made the right call. Everyone's upset about it and it's slightly unlucky, but it's dangerous play. Whether he meant it or not is irrelevant.

'It's dangerous play – it's a red card.

'You have to be aware of other players on the pitch. Does he think he's going to have 20 yards to himself

'Whether it's [a brave decision] or not, it's the right decision. Whether he meant it or not doesn't matter.

'Nani's a quick boy to go down anyway. He's not the bravest player on the planet.'

Keane insisted the referee had carefully considered his decision.

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

He added: 'It doesn't matter if he
knows there's somebody there or not, it's irrelevant. I don't think the
referee actually made the decision because he waited a couple of minutes
while the player was getting treatment.

'I think it might have been the assistant that made the decision, and I actually think he's made the right call.

'We always say referees are very quick to make decisions – he waited a couple of minutes.

'Any time I was sent off in my career
I always thought, “did I give the referee chance to send me off” And
if the answer is yes, then it's out of your hands.'

The defeat leaves United battling on
two fronts for domestic silverware, but Keane may not be welcome at the
home of the Barclays League leaders in the wake of his comments.

One Twitter user said: 'Worst thing
to come out of tonight is Roy Keane's dirty comments, absolutely quality
for us as a player but what a bitter fella.'

Another added: 'The last bit of respect I had for Roy Keane has now well and truly gone.'

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

Despite
a highly successful working career together, Keane has blasted his
former boss on a number of occasions since his departure in November
2005.

Keane was unhappy with the way he was ushered out of Old Trafford eight years ago.
An
interview with MUTV in which he was critical of some of his Manchester
United team-mates was given as a reason for his departure after
12-and-a-half years.

Asked if he could envisage a time
when he would have a good relationship with the Scot again, Keane told
The Sun: 'I wouldn’t have thought so, no. He’s a busy man and I’m fairly
busy.

'I said before I
was disappointed the way I was treated at the end, nobody will change
that. But that doesn’t mean to say I’m bitter and twisted towards Man
United. Far from it.

'I can go back there, I just wouldn’t be comfortable so that’s my choice.'

Keane
also told the Sunday Times: 'People say Ferguson always does what is
right for Man United. I don’t think he does. I think he does what is
right for him.'

David Beckham son Brooklyn joins training at Paris Saint-Germain

First Chelsea, now PSG! Brooklyn Beckham joins dad David in training as his fledgling football career receives another boost

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

17:06 GMT, 19 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 19 February 2013

With his famous father, Brooklyn Beckham was always going to get his foot in the door at Europe's top clubs.

But, just a month after Sportsmail revealed he had a trial at Chelsea, David Beckham's son got another chance to impress today by joining his dad in training at Paris Saint-Germain.

Brooklyn was on the Under 14 roster at the LA Galaxy academy while his dad played in California, and is approaching the age when top clubs will be able to make a call on his prospects of reaching the top.

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

That's my boy: David Beckham (centre) took son Brooklyn (below) into training with him on Tuesday

And Sportsmail revealed last month that Brooklyn had a trial at Chelsea's state-of-the-art training ground.

Beckham on trial at Chelsea! But it's not the superstar former England captain… it's his son Brooklyn

Read how Sportsmail broke the exclusive story of Brooklyn Beckham's trial at Cobham

Players and parents were stunned to
see Beckham on the touchline at Cobham, but he was there not for talks
with Chelsea and instead went to watch his
son in a low-key academy game aimed at giving him a taste of English
football at junior level.

If any of Beckham's sons – Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz, who are on half-term holiday from their new school in London – do make the grade, it will not be the first father-and-son combination to
play top-class football. Other father-and-son professionals include Teddy and Charlie Sheringham; Mark Chamberlain and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Arnor and Eidur Gudjohnsen and Johan and
Jordi Cruyff.

David Beckham

David Beckham

Building fitness: Beckham is preparing for his PSG debut after joining the French giants in January

Seeing red: PSG crashed to defeat at lowly Sochaux on Sunday and saw their lead in Ligue 1 cut

Seeing red: PSG crashed to defeat at lowly Sochaux on Sunday and saw their lead in Ligue 1 cut

Beckham Snr, meanwhile, was looking to build up his match fitness, with his PSG debut still on hold following his move to the French big-spenders on January transfer deadline day.

The former England captain, who is looking to win the league championship in a fourth different country, started full training with PSG last week and has not played a competitive match since his last appearance for the Los Angeles Galaxy in December.

He is likely to make his bow for Carlo Ancelotti's side at home against title rival Marseille on February 24. PSG hosts Marseille again three days later in the French Cup.

PSG saw their lead at the top of the Ligue 1 standings slashed in half after they suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat at lowly Sochaux on Sunday while nearest challengers Lyon thrashed Bordeaux 4-0 away from home.

Real Madrid 1 Manchester United 1: match report

Real Madrid 1 Man United 1: Ronaldo on target against old club after Welbeck opener but De Gea is the hero for Ferguson's side

PUBLISHED:

21:36 GMT, 13 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:43 GMT, 13 February 2013

Manchester United hold the advantage over Real Madrid in their two-legged Champions League showdown following a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

Danny Welbeck handed the Barclays Premier League side the lead after heading home a Wayne Rooney corner with 20 minutes of the last-16 tie gone.

But Real Madrid were level only nine minutes later when Cristiano Ronaldo leapt above former United team-mate Patrice Evra to score a well-executed header.

Hang time: Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former club with a well-executed header past David De Gea

Hang time: Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former club with a well-executed header past David De Gea

Hang time: Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former club with a well-executed header past David De Gea

Sir Alex Ferguson selected an attacking side, with Robin van Persie spearheading a front three of Rooney and Welbeck.

But after an even first half, the
away side found themselves on the back foot following the interval with
United goalkeeper David de Gea making a number of strong saves to keep
the tie level.

Hero: Manchester United stopper David de Gea turned in a fantastic display to keep the tie level

Hero: Manchester United stopper David de Gea turned in a fantastic display to keep the tie level

That said United had chances to win
the match. Van Persie hit the frame of the Real Madrid goal after 71
minutes before fluffing his lines with a mishit just moments later.

Ferguson will however, be the happier of the two managers ahead of the return leg at Old Trafford on March 5.

More follows…

Head boy: Danny Welbeck scored the opening goal of the game from a Wayne Rooney corner

Head boy: Danny Welbeck scored the opening goal of the game from a Wayne Rooney corner

Danny Welbeck

.

Making his point: Sir Alex Ferguson selected an attacking line-up to face the Spanish giants

Making his point: Sir Alex Ferguson selected an attacking line-up to face the Spanish giants

Tough to watch: Jose Mourinho cut an animated figure on the touchline during the last-16 clash

Tough to watch: Jose Mourinho cut an animated figure on the touchline during the last-16 clash

Battle: Robin van Persie holds off the challenge from Alvaro Arbeloa as Fabio Coentrao slides in on Wayne Rooney (below)

Battle: Robin van Persie holds off the challenge from Alvaro Arbeloa as Fabio Coentrao slides in on Wayne Rooney (below)

Battle: Robin van Persie holds off the challenge from Alvaro Arbeloa as Fabio Coentrao slides in on Wayne Rooney (below)

It had to be him: Ronaldo is mobbed by his Real Madrid team-mates after scoring for the hosts

It had to be him: Ronaldo is mobbed by his Real Madrid team-mates after scoring for the hosts

Rolling back the years: Real Madrid 3 Leeds 2; March 6, 2001

Danny Welbeck is the first Englishman to score for a Premier League side at the Bernabeu since Alan Smith in 2001.

Smith (below), playing for Leeds at the time, scored the opening goal of the game but the English team eventually lost the tie 3-2 following a brace from Raul and a solo strike by Luis Figo.

On target: Alan Smith

Sir Alex Ferguson referee watch: Manchester United manager loses his temper briefly

Fergie ref watch: After his haranguing of Dean and co, how did Sir Alex behave on the touchline for clash against West Brom

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UPDATED:

01:24 GMT, 30 December 2012

It seemed like Sir Alex Ferguson was on his way to giving another set of officials the full treatment during Manchester United's 2-0 victory over West Brom at Old Trafford.

But although he did start shouting at assistant referee Andy Garrett over the award of a throw-in, he soon made up with him.

These pictures show the Red Devils boss giving Garrett an earful before later making him laugh, along with fourth official Phil Dowd.

Sir Alex Ferguson shouts at assistant referee Andy Garrett

Just joshing: Ferguson laughed with him afterwards

Making up: Sir Alex Ferguson shouts at assistant referee Andy Garrett… but then joked with him afterwards

Time for a chat: Garratt giggled while Ferguson chatted to fourth official Phil Dowd

Time for a chat: Garratt giggled while Ferguson chatted to fourth official Phil Dowd

The officials would have been wary
after the United manager's incredible rant at Mike Dean and his
assistants during the side's 4-3 win over Newcastle on Boxing Day.

He strode on to the pitch to harangue
Dean about Newcastle’s controversial second goal and then berated both a
linesman and the fourth official.

But because the referee did not
include the incidents in his match report he is believed to view
Ferguson’s comments as within the boundaries of reasonable
communication.

Dean did not report him because he did not feel there was abusive language or any questioning of his integrity.

Caught between a rock and a hard place: Dowd was sandwiched between Fergie and the United mascot

Caught between a rock and a hard place: Dowd was sandwiched between Fergie and the United mascot

Manager watch

Wenger v Pardew

Pardew was banned for shoving an assistant referee this term but kept his hands to himself yesterday. Wenger stayed seated.

Hughton v Mancini

While Hughton was a silent witness to defeat, Mancini was furious with Nasri's red card, though he was sanguine at the time.

Jol v Laudrup

Laudrup remained in control amid doubts over Fulham's goal. Jol knew he and his players were to blame for defeat.

Lambert v Martinez

Lambert kept cool despite another thrashing. His rival appeared annoyed by refereeing decisions but reined himself in.

McDermott v Allardyce

A feisty game but neither tangled with the officials. McDermott stood in his technical area while Big Sam stayed seated.

Pulis v Adkins

Both were animated but well behaved throuighout. Pulis was asked to retreat from the touchline in the second half, and did.

Martin O'Neill v AVB

Little to move Andre VIllas-Boas, who sat through most of the game. Martin O'Neill prowled his technical area as usual.

Roberto Mancini blasts officials for Samir Nasri red card

Furious Mancini rages against officials again after 'incredible' decision to send off Nasri

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UPDATED:

19:02 GMT, 29 December 2012


Head-to-head: Samir Nasri and Sebastian Bassong (left) clashed

Head-to-head: Samir Nasri and Sebastian Bassong (left) clashed

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini hit out at the 'incredible' decision to send off midfielder Samir Nasri in this afternoon's thrilling 4-3 Barclays Premier League win at Norwich.

The champions, beaten at Sunderland on Boxing Day, were off to a flying start when they went 2-0 up inside four minutes after Edin Dzeko's quick brace.

Norwich reduced the deficit through Anthony Pilkington's deflected free-kick, before Nasri was shown a red card by referee Mike Jones on 44 minutes for putting his head into the face of Sebastien Bassong.

Although the decision did not
eventually cost City as Sergio Aguero and an own-goal from Norwich
keeper Mark Bunn eventually saw off the spirited Canaries, the Italian
was left less than impressed by the whole incident.

Mancini
– who is already facing a Football Association probe for comments after
the Sunderland game that referee Kevin Friend had 'ate too much for
Christmas' – felt City were hard done by and will appeal against what is
set to be a three-match ban.

Things got ugly again just before the break when Bassong upended Nasri on the far touchline.

'Incredible': Roberto Mancini raged at the decision to send off Nasri but not Bassong

'Incredible': Roberto Mancini raged at the decision to send off Nasri but not Bassong

The
duo squared up face-to-face, with Nasri pushing his head into the
Norwich defender – which on consultation with the assistant referee
resulted in a red card for the France midfielder, and a caution for
Bassong.

Mancini lamented: 'Both players came forward with their heads, so if you are going to send off one, then you have to send off both, not only Samir.

'Samir said he touched his head, okay, but the other player has done the same.

'The linesman has a big responsibility also, because it was not a good decision, it is incredible.

'You want to send off both players Then, okay, the referee was there, he saw everything. The linesman was behind [the players], he could not see. We will appeal, sure.'

Mancini continued: 'I am disappointed with Samir, and he will pay his fine, but the decision was not correct.

'Samir did a mistake, okay, but after why when the other player did the same thing, does he send off only one

'There are two rules for different teams, and I hate this in football and cannot accept this.

'In life, there is only one rule for everyone. This season, I have seen things which are not good.

'For the referees, this is the most easiest thing to do, but I do not want to talk about the referees too much, because I said last time that they had a big lunch for Christmas, and I don't know what [will happen].'

Lunge: Bassong was booked for this lunge on Nasri which sparked the incident

Lunge: Bassong was booked for this lunge on Nasri which sparked the incident

City have now won three out of their last four Premier League games, but still trail leaders Manchester United by seven points.

Mancini was just happy to get a victory, which was made harder by some poor defending as all of Norwich's goals came from set-plays.

'I am delighted with the result and the performance,' the City boss said.

'In the first few minutes, we played some fantastic football and scored two goals, but after the sending off it was difficult, however, we fought well.'

Norwich, meanwhile, have now lost three Premier League games in a row, having been on an unbeaten 10-match run before Christmas.

Unimpressed: Mancini was upset at what he percieives to be another unfair decision

Unimpressed: Mancini was upset at what he percieives to be another unfair decision

Canaries boss Chris Hughton, though, remained positive despite a second home loss in a week, after Chelsea ran out 1-0 winners in Norfolk on Boxing Day.

'Manchester City showed why they spend the amount of money they do for the offensive players they have, but you cant be 2-0 down so early on and expect to have a good day,' Hughton said.

'However, we displayed great character and certainly at 4-3 it seemed it might be going our way, but again they showed real good quality.

'I cannot fault the endeavour of the players we have got, so now we will look to go again.'

Hughton could empathise with Mancini's complaints on the refereeing.

He said: 'In the build-up to their second goal, there was a foul by Vincent Kompany in midfield, which was disappointing.

'On the sending off, there was certainly a coming together of heads and some movement, now whether that was enough for a sending off… if the referee has given it for that reason, was it a bit harsh Probably yes.'