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UK Football Frenzy

The 2018 season is shaping up to be a big one for European teams in all leagues. A roundup of recent action:

Aston Villa Dominates Birmingham City

Aston Villa is on a roll. The Villa Park team moved into second place in the Championship thanks to Saturday's 2-0 win over Birmingham City.

The game saw Albert Adomah score his 13th goal of the season and Conor Hourihane net a second for the Aston team. The win enabled Villa to chalk up their seventh successive league win. This puts Villa in the position of being unbeaten in their last 12 encounters with Birmingham. Manager Steve Bruce remains undefeated in eight home games against Birmingham.

Adomah turned the game in Villa's favour with the first goal of the game but took the individual honours by reflecting Birmingham's tackles as the Blues tried to keep him in check

Birmingham hasn't scored in their last five visits to Villa Park but the team showed improvement and gave the Astons a run for their money. Aston's finale was aided by Birmingham being reduced to 10 men following Cheikh Ndoye's second yellow card at the death.

The crowd numbered more than 40,000 fans for a home win for Aston Villa. Grealish emerged as a key player for Villa in a highly charged atmosphere. Grealish set up a number of promising moves which put the visitors at full stretch to stay in the game. The Blues marked Grealish who withstood a heavy tackle by Ndoye. After that tackle Birmingham's attack play improved but they were never able to net a goal.

One such Grealish move enabled Alan Hutton to advance, though Robert Snodgrass was unable to make the resulting low cross Birmingham's Scott Hogan kept the tension up by working his way along the edge of the penalty area and then firing in a shot which was halted by the top of the crossbar.

Several of the Birmingham players deserve accolades. Goalkeeper David Stockdale deflected Adomah's first goal attempt with spectacular save and the grafting work by David Davis and Maikel Kieftenbeld kept Birmingham in contention. They almost took the lead just before the break but they never quite broke through.

Carlow Vx. Leitrim

Turlough O'Brien surprised visitors Leitrim in this third round Division 4 NFL tie at Netwatch Cullen Park. Star midfielder Brendan Murphy scored five points for Carlow which combined with other early scores to push Carlow to the front. Carlow, which beat Leitrim last summer in the All-Ireland Championship Qualifier, enjoyed control of the game from start to finish.

Game highlights included a 3rd-minute penalty that was converted by captain John Murphy and supplemented points from Darragh Foley and Brendan Murphy. Keith Beirne's pointed from on eight minutes kept the momentum going which gave Carlow its 1-5 to 0-4 lead.

After a halftime downpour Paul Broderick picked off a brace of points including a free which went in off the post The shot hit the post and fell back into play which John Murphy drove into the posts to give him his second goal of the game.

Carlow now has full points from three games including their wins away over Limerick and London. They are keeping their promotion push going. Leitrim, which finished the game with one point thanks to Darragh Rooney's point from play in the second half, has now lost all three games in the division.

Stoke City Ties with Brighton

Relegation-threatened Stoke City drew with Brighton thanks to Charlie Adam's late penalty save at the bet365 Stadium. Xherdan Shaqiri's strike in the 68th minute cancelled out Jose Izquierdo's 32nd-minute goal and brought the Potters level, giving the hosts their chance to snatch all three points at the death.

Then, Bobby Madley ruled that Dale Stephens had fouled substitute Jese Rodriguez in the box and pointed to the spot. Jese Rodrogiez expected to take the penalty but Charlie Adam was given the chance to make the kick from 12 yards out which was deflected by Mathew Ryan.

Following the miss, Anthony Knockaert headed Mame Diouf's stoppage-time header off the line, keeping the score at an even 1-1.

Izquierdo started moving in the 34th minute to put the visitors ahead with a one-two with March, Solly and Dale Stephens. Moments later Badou Ndiaye kicked wide and Davy Propper took Brighton off-target for Brighton before the interval, heading over again after the restart to meet an equalizer from Jese and Shaqiri that resulted in a curled shot from the outside.

Jese won a penalty in the 90th minute, giving Stoke a golden opportunity to seal victory but Adam's spot kick was saved by Ryan, snatching victory away.

Liverpool Fixture

Premier League officials ruled that Jurgen Klopp's side would be forced to play Southampton late on Sunday afternoon, earning them the wrath of Liverpool scoring great John Aldridge.

Aldridge wanted to play the game on Saturday which would give them enough time to prepare for their upcoming Champions League trip in which they will face FC Porto. Players often object to the league officials' demands, saying that they seem to think that the effort involved in away games is akin to playing at an online casino.

Aldridge aligned with Man United manager Jose Mourinho regarding the issue about which Mourinho has often complained. "I don't agree with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho too often, but he has been criticising the scheduling of matches for England's European representatives for years and he has a very valid point on this issue."

Aldridge was frustrated with league officials who, he said, don't understand the needs of the players. "Why did Liverpool have to play an away game against Southampton late on Sunday? I don't understand the logic behind that decision ahead of a big Champions League game."

He pointed out that Juventus had their latest Serie A game moved so that they can prepare for a game against Tottenham since Italian authorities understand how important the extra day is for preparation.

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