Feb 2, 2008

Saturday Summary, Feb. 2, 2008: Real Rocked, Heerenveen Hot

A ray of hope, perhaps, for Barcelona in Spain's Primera Division, as their arch rivals Real Madrid went down for only the third time this season, succumbing to seventh-placed UD Almeira, 2-0. Second-placed Barca can cut Real's lead to six points with a victory over Osasuna tomorrow, which would essentially re-open a title chase many had just began to write off.

Elsewhere, Michael Bradley's Heerenveen romped to a 7-0 victory over Vitesse Arnheim to retake second place in the Dutch Eredivisie. The son of U.S. men's national team coach Bob Bradley continued his scoring streak (six games and counting) with a 50th minute goal to put his team up 3-0. It was icing on the cake after that. The Pride of Friesland can rightfully stake their claim as one of Europe's hottest teams at the moment, having won their last four games by a combined score of 19-1. Perhaps the Top 25 committee will take notice? It may depend on whether Heerenveen hold onto second place. Third- and fourth-placed Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam face off tomorrow. Both are two points behind Heerenveen, so stay tuned.

In the Premiership, top-of-the-table side Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane (and were only able to salvage the point by virtue of a deep-into-stoppage-time goal by Carlos Tevez. Still, with Arsenal winning at Manchester City, the Red Devils relinquished first place. Third-placed Chelsea and fourth-placed Everton were also held, drawing at Portsmouth and Blackburn, respectively. This opened the door for Liverpool to close the gap with their cross-town rivals, as Rafa Benitez' side beat Sunderland at Anfield (don't be fooled by the 3-0 score, the game was far closer and Roy Keane's men had a clear penalty waved off in the middle of the second half when they were down 2-1). But Aston Villa, currently sixth, can retake fifth place by beating Fulham tomorrow (and how hard should that be? I mean seriously, Cottagers are so bad they have run out of Americans to sign and are resorting to Canadians. That just asks for relegation right there). Toward the back of the table, Wigan knocked off West Ham to move further away from the danger zone. I've been singing the praises of Steve Bruce's men for some time and they vindicated me once again today. Reading, on the other hand, look more like relegation fodder, losing at home to Bolton Wanderers today. Ouch.

Photo taken from SC-Heerenveen.nl without permission.

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