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Soccer Scene: Yorke wins "War of the Roses" for United

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Dermot Clarke

After what many would consider a shaky start, Manchester United find themselves back on top at the end of the second weekend of this year’s Premiership campaign.

The champions began the campaign with a 1-1 tie versus Everton. An emphatic 4-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday was followed by a 2-0 win over Leeds on Saturday last though and the seven points amassed is enough to see them back on a familiar perch.

Dwight Yorke, it was, who sealed the latest victory with two headed goals late in the game. It was a game that could have gone either way, in fairness. David O’Leary’s Leeds team had given as much as they had taken, but when Yorke struck twice in three minutes it was all over.

There were encouraging signs for O’Leary though. Harry Kewell, the young Australian, looked the classiest player on the field in the first half. Confident enough to have a go on sight of goal and prepared to take on defenders and create chances for others. Kewell it was who almost gave Leeds the lead shortly before Yorke struck for the first time. Beating the off-side trap, his low shot hit the inside of the post, with substitute ‘keeper Raimund Van De Gouw beaten. Mark Bosnich had to leave early with a troubled hamstring.

O’Leary didn’t seem too upset at the loss. "It’s all about goals," he conceded."We didn’t take our chances and they took theirs. They were poor goals to concede on our part, and if you were to take them away there was not really a lot in it." Easy to see why the big Irishman got the job now, isn’t it?

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David Beckham’s picture appeared in many publications on Sunday. Surprise! Surprise! I hear you say. Beckham was giving the Leeds fans the old two-fingered salute after the game. Beckham claimed that he in fact held three fingers in the air to remind the Leeds faithful of the last year’s treble, but as the tabloids clearly showed it was three down, two up. "Two become three" — good title for a Spice Girls song, maybe. David could be in trouble with the authorities as a result.

The Keane saga

I won’t go into the Roy Keane saga. I’m as confused as everybody else. Apparently Keane will now make a decision at the end of the season. He could be signed up by another club before the end of January. Ferguson wants him to stay because he hasn’t won a European Cup with the club yet. I don’t know, really.

Gerard Houllier’s appeal for patience, as he attempts to rebuild the Anfield fortress, is understandable I suppose. Most of us thought that this call was a "don’t expect miracles immediately" type plea. We didn’t expect to have to endure home defeats by Watford and their ilk.

On opening day, Watford took part in one of the dreariest 3-2 games in memory, when they lost to Wimbledon. Sunderland put them away easily enough in midweek, 2-0 the score. Then they traveled to Anfield, probably expecting to prop up the table at the end of the day, but amid all the big names and big money signings, a journeyman named Tommy Mooney emerges as the hero. His goal gave Watford the 1-0 victory. You’re trying our patience Gerard.

Watford’s fine victory means that Ruud Gullit’s Newcastle are the bottom club in the premiership. The latest in their three defeats came down at the Dell, against Southampton. An Alan Shearer penalty had given the Geordies a 1-0 half-time lead. The Saints came back to win 4-2 and so force the out of sorts Gullit into offering his resignation. He’s spent even more than Houllier, in fairness.

Arsenal drew 0-0, they did, honest. Niall Quinn was deprived of the chance to face his old club, when Peter Reid decided to reduce the Sunderland strike force to one. Kevin Phillips was the lone forager up front leaving Quinn on the bench. With the score still at 0-0, and with 78 minutes on the clock, the big man was introduced to the biggest roar of the day. When he rose to head a Gavin McCann cross five minutes later, it looked like Peter Reid was about to pull a major stroke. Stand-in Arsenal ‘keeper Alex Manninger flung himself to his right to deny Quinn though, and the game ended in stalemate.

Last minute clincher

Frank Sinclair, should he keep things going as they are, could be a future Lord Mayor of London. The former Chelsea man, scored Arsenal’s winner last week, in the final minute. This week’s last minute gift, Frank bestowed on his old mates to give them a draw. He may not be too popular with his Leicester boss Martin O’Neill, but they love him in the smoke. Leicester and Chelsea tied 2-2.

John Barnes suffered his first defeat as Celtic boss, but was in good spirits afterward. Citing that his side had lost the right way "playing football." And, as was the case with the David O’Leary comments earlier, there’s no answer to that, is there? Rangers new boy Michael Mols scored all four as his side crushed Motherwell 4-1. Rangers boss Dick Advocat’s after-match comments are becoming a little hard to take. "He scored some good goals but he could have had three more." "We gave away a stupid goal at the end. It might have punished us in a different match and that is why you have to concentrate all the time." And those are just two. Rangers move to the top two points clear of Celtic’s conquerors Dundee United.

The League of Ireland got under way at the weekend and Derry City provided the upset of the first series with a come from behind 2-1 victory away to champions St. Pat’s. A crowd of three thousand plus went home, in the main disappointed as Kevin Mahon’s charges took the points back north. Ian Gilzean had Pat’s one up after twenty three minutes when he headed home a Martin Russell cross. Two late goals from Beckett secured the points for Derry and a perfect start to the season for Mahon’s charges. Damien Richardson’s new club Shamrock Rovers beat Drogheda 4-0, and Cork City opened up with a 2-1 win against Finn Harps.

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