VIDEO: Liverpool beat Wolves; Mancini opens his Man City career with Stoke win; Chelsea drop points at Birmingham; Hammers sink Pompey; Fulham hold Spurs; Fellaini rescues Everton at Sunderland; Burnley-Bolton stalemate

Liverpool 2 – Wolves 0 (Premier League, December 26, 2009) (Longer highlights here, extended highlights here and MOTD highlights here.) Wolves held Liverpool to a goalless first half at Anfield, but the visitors found themselves up against it ten minutes after the break when Stephen Ward picked up his second booking. Liverpool soon made their extra numbers count as Steven Gerrard planted home an Insua cross with a thumping header. With the floodgates open, Yossi Benayoun helped himself to a second when the Israeli stepping inside Karl Henry and thumping the ball home.

Manchester City 2 – Stoke 0 (Premier League, December 26, 2009) (Longer highlights here.) The Mancini era at Eastlands began, against the run of play, with City taking the lead over Stoke. Carlos Tevez powered down the left channel, his pass was skewed by Robinho with the ball fortunately falling to Martin Petrov to score at the back stick. Two minutes into first half injury time and City struck again, Zabaleta crossed to Barry who cushioned a header to Carlos Tevez and the Argentinian toe-poked the ball past Sorensen. (First half highlights here.)

Birmingham 0 – Chelsea 0 (Premier League, December 26, 2009) (Longer highlights here and MOTD highlights here.) A stubborn Birmingham performance ensured that Chelsea dropped another two points in their title hunt as Joe Hart made several superb saves to repeatedly deny the Pensioners. (First half highlights here.)

West Ham 2 – Portsmouth 0 (Premier League, December 26, 2009) (Longer highlights here and MOTD highlights here.) West Ham are celebrating putting some daylight between themselves and basement club Portsmouth after this Boxing Day victory courtesy of a first half penalty from Alessandro Diamanti (3 goals in 3 games) and a late Radoslav Kovac header.

Fulham 0 – Tottenham 0 (Premier League, December 26, 2009) (Longer highlights here and MOTD highlights here.) Spurs had Heurelho Gomes to thank for keeping them in contention with the Brazilian keeper making a string of fine saves. In the second half alone he kept out goal-bound efforts from Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora, while Damien Duff and Zoltan Gera also went close. Spurs had their chances though, Peter Crouch forcing Schwarzer into a smart save in the final 10 minutes.

Sunderland 1 – Everton 1 (Premier League, December 26, 2009) (MOTD highlights here.) The Black Cats struck just after the quarter hour against Everton, Darren Bent beat Heitinga in the air and to knock the ball out wide to Kenwyne Jones on the right, the striker raced down the wing before swinging a cross back over to Bent to nod home his 11th league goal of the season. Just as it looked like the Toffees would lose once again after going behind, Hibbert’s deep right-wing cross was headed on by a defender and Marouane Fellaini drilled home the leveller from six yards.

Burnley 1 – Bolton 1 (Premier League, December 26, 2009) (MOTD highlights here.) Bolton struck first at Burnley through Matty Taylor superb free-kick, the goal-scorer running the length of the pitch to celebrate with the visiting fans. The Clarets equalised 11 minutes after the break when an Elliot cross was converted by David “the Nuge” Nugent and Burnley were unfortunate not to claim all three points in the final stages.

Wigan 1 – Blackburn 1 (Premier League, December 26, 2009) (MOTD highlights here.) Latics started well but it was Rovers who found themselves in front on the half-hour mark when Keith Andrews’ floated free-kick was headed back across goal by Ryan Nelsen and Benni McCarthy pounced to side foot home from close range. Wigan rallied after the break, N’Zogbia supplied a fine cross from the left and Hugo Rodallega met the ball at the far post to head back across goal into the corner and beyond Paul Robinson.

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Sheffield Wednesday 2 – Newcastle 2 (Championship, December 26, 2009) Wednesday burst ahead of Championship leaders Newcastle through Luke Varney’s 14th minute header. But the Magpies were quick to turn the match around as Kevin Nolan and Shola Ameobi both struck quickly in the 19th and 22nd minutes. The Owls levelled just before the hour as Varney beat the United keeper Harper to Spurr’s cross, his header hit the crossbar, but James O’Connor was on hand to tap home the rebound from close range.

Leicester 2 – Sheffield United 1 (Championship, December 26, 2009) Michael Morrison’s header and a Matty Fryatt penalty helped Leicester up to fourth in the table. Half-time substitute Henri Camara immediately got United back into the game with his first touch but Kevin Blackwell’s side could not find an equaliser despite making it an uncomfortable second half for the Foxes.

Leeds 3 – Hartlepool 1 (League One, December 26, 2009) Armann Bjornsson opened the scoring for the Pools, but a goal from Luciano Becchio and a brace from hotshot Jermaine Beckford sealed victory for the Whites.

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Celtic 2 – Hamilton 0 (SPL, December 26, 2009) Celtic took a first half lead against Hamilton when Glenn Loovens hooked home a 13th minute corner to put the Bhoys in front. A late Niall McGinn second wrapped up the points.

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Standard Liege 2 – Lokeren 0 (Jupiler League, December 26, 2009) Axel Witsel, who was passed fit to play despite needing seven stitches for a head wound incurred in his last match, fired Standard ahead against Lokeren hooking in a shot inside the six yardbox. Igor Da Camergo doubled the hosts lead heading home a left wing cross just sixty seconds later in the 26th minute.

Club Brugge 2 – Cercle Brugge 1 (Jupiler League, December 26, 2009) Oleg Iachtchouk fired Cercle ahead on the quarter hour in the Brussels derby, but late goals from Karel Geraerts and Wesley Sonck turned the match in the hosts favour.

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Maccabi Tel Aviv 4 – Beitar Jerusalem 3 (Ligat ha’Al, December 26, 2009) Maccabi’s midfielders midfielder Shiran Yeini, Tamir Cahlon, Emmanuel Mayuka and Yossi Shivhon did the damage to secure the hosts the three points, yet it was Beitar striker Barak Yitzhaki who provided plenty of highlight reel material, including a magnificent half-scissor kick goal that tied the score at 2-2. Then, with Beitar trailing by 4-2 in the 80th minute, Yitzhaki outfought two Maccabi defenders and took advantage of a collision between goalkeeper Liran Strauber and one of his defenders to cut the lead to 4-3. Sadly there was no equaliser to the 7-goal thriller.

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Perth Glory 4 – Newcastle Jets 0 (A-League, December 26, 2009) (Longer highlights here.) Two goals to Jamie Harnwell, and one each to Naum Sekulovski and Mile Sterjovski saw the Glory win their first game since their November 22 home victory over Sydney FC.

Gold Coast United 5 – Brisbane Roar 1 (A-League, December 26, 2009) A-League leading scorer Shane Smeltz hit a hat-trick as third-placed Gold Coast United recorded a comprehensive victory over Brisbane Roar to keep pace with leaders Melbourne Victory and Sydney. Defender Kristian Rees also scored twice as Gold Coast recovered from Matt McKay’s early opener for Brisbane to record a third win in four games.

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