Hull 1 – Manchester United 3 (Premier League, December 27, 2009) A fiercely fought opening 45 minutes at the KC Stadium saw an off-key Manchester United and a hungry Hull side both have numerous chances to break the deadlock. But the critical moment came with virtually the last kick of the half as Fletcher whipped in a cross from the right that Wayne Rooney poked over the line. (First half highlights here.) Expecting United to go on and win the match after the break, it was a case of self-sabotage just before the hour as a slack Rooney backpass was intercepted in a move that lead to Rafael pushing Altidore in the box, Craig Fagan converting the spot-kick to equalise. Parity lasted for less than 15 minutes and Rooney was at the heart of getting United back in front, the striker bursting down the inside right channel and seeing his cross turned into the net by Andy Dawson. Rooney then went on the inspire United to a third, the centre-forward collecting a header out of defence, racing upfield before picking out Dimitar Berbatov with a delightful pass and the Bulgarian could not miss. (Second half highlights here.)
Arsenal 3 – Aston Villa 0 (Premier League, December 27, 2009) (Longer highlights here and MOTD highlights here.) Arsenal and Villa were nip/tuck throughout a highly competitive first half (highlights here), which forced Wenger to introduce captain Fabregas ten minutes after the break. And it didn’t take long for the substitution to pay dividends as Cesc Fabregas curled a right-footed free-kick past Friedel in the 64th minute. With Villa scrambling for an equaliser ten minutes from time Traore collected a loose ball in defence, pinged a cross-field pass to Walcott who in turn threaded a pass forward to Cesc Fabregas, and the Spaniard slid home his second of the match. Worryingly, the Arsenal captain was soon forced off with an injury picked up from his second goal. As the match ticked into injury time Abou Diaby picked up the ball in Villa’s half, advanced unchallenged, and coolly curled home a killer third to thrust the Gunners firmly back in the title race.
QPR 2 – Bristol City 1 (Championship, December 26, 2009) The home side were booed off despite claiming their first win in seven games. On loan Arsenal striker Jay Simpson scored the opener, Mikele Leigertwood doubled the lead before Nicky Maynard pulled one back for the Robins.
Derby 0 – Blackpool 2 (Championship, December 26, 2009) Brett Ormerod was Blackpool’s hero as desperate Derby slumped to their second home defeat inside a week. Ormerod scored one, forced an own goal from Jake Buxton, and could have hit three more as he led Derby’s flat-footed defence a merry dance all afternoon.
Hibernian 1 – Rangers 4 (SPL, December 27, 2009) In a sensational start at Easter Road, third-placed Hibs tore through Rangers immediately from the kick-off as Merouane Zemmama threaded a pass through the sleeping Gers defence and top-scorer Anthony Stokes fired an angled strike across keeper to break the deadlock inside the opening 10 seconds. The league leaders hit back midway through the first half when Kenny Miller coolly curled a low shot into the corner from 20 yards. And in the 37th minute Rangers had taken the lead as Kris Boyd swept home Bougherra’s low cross at the Hibs’ near post. Two goalkeeping errors from Ma-Kalambay let down Hibs after the break, the Belgian keeper was at fault as Nacho Novo’s miscued low cross flew in at the near post, before Kenny Miller powered a shot past the weak-wristed goalie.
Gent 2 – Anderlecht 2 (Jupiler League, December 27, 2009) Gent established a 2-goal lead with goals from Milos Maric (fine free-kick) and Elimane Coulibaly scoring at the start of each half. Then Anderlecht hit back, Jonathan Legear pulled a goal back on the hour and Tom de Sutter hooked in a volley a minute from time.
Zulte-Waregem 1 – Westerlo 0 (Jupiler League, December 27, 2009)
Germinal Beerschot 1 – Genk 0 (Jupiler League, December 26, 2009) Genk had Eric Matoukou sent off for a dangerous tackle from behind on the stroke of halftime, and after the break home striker Tosin Dosunmu planted a fine 68th minute header for fourth-placed Germinal.
Sint-Truiden 5 – KV Mechelen 2 (Jupiler League, December 26, 2009)
North Queensland Fury 1 – Melbourne Victory 0 (A-League, December 27, 2009) The North Queensland Fury inflicted one of the A-League’s shocks of the season as a classy first half strike from Dyron Daal handed the defending champions their first loss in five games at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Sydney FC 1 – Adelaide United 0 (A-League, December 27, 2009) Steve Corica, 36-years-old , pounced four minutes after the break to give Sydney the points against a woeful Adelaide outfit and send the hosts top of the league.