x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Andrew Johnson needs a bit of practice celebrating

The Fulham striker has forgotten how to celebrate after scoring his first Premier League goal in the best part of two years.

Andy Johnson, of Fulham, scored his first Premier League goal in two years at Wigan.
Andy Johnson, of Fulham, scored his first Premier League goal in two years at Wigan.

Worst celebration

It has been a long time between goals for Andy Johnson. In the best part of two years since the injury-troubled Fulham striker last scored in the Premier League, you would have thought he might have choreographed a worthy celebration for himself.

Perhaps he did, but it was scuppered by the thrill of the moment when his drought ended with the equaliser at Wigan on Saturday.

As his shot squeezed past Ali al Habsi, Wigan's Omani goalkeeper, and bobbled into the net, Johnson peeled away, hurdled the first line of advertising boards and made a beeline for the travelling fans.

He looked set to launch himself into the Fulham faithful, but quickly realised the jump was too high.

He ended up swinging a wild haymaker of a high five instead. Unfortunately for him it was at no one in particular, as the burly supporter who led the charge towards him stumbled just before he was within touching distance, and ended face down at the front of the stand.

Best Maradona impression

Javier Saviola. Pablo Aimar. Andres d'Alessandro. Carlos Tevez. Lionel Messi. Many have been labelled the "New Maradona". Few have carried it off with the elan of Manchester City's captain.

Similarly stocky he may be, but Tevez's game is based more on tireless running and predatory goal instincts than his celebrated Argentina forebear, Diego Maradona.

However, he did manage a passable imitation of the South American Wizard of Dribble when he jinked his way through the Wolverhampton Wanderers defence to give his side the lead on Saturday.

The solo effort might not have been quite in the same league as Maradona's vintage best. It did also bring to mind that classic strike by another vaunted Argentine export, Ricky Villa, for Tottenham Hotspur against City in the 1981 FA Cup final.

But City fans do not like being reminded about that. So Maradona it is.

Worst yellow card

It is derby day. It is the Tyne-Wear Clasico between Sunderland and Newcastle United. It is harem-scarem. And it is Joey Barton. It is oh, so inevitable.

It is bound to be something completely horrific, like an X-rated, alert-the-ER, two-footed lunge, maybe. Or a cigar forcibly prodded into the earhole of a 12-year-old ballboy, perhaps.

Not so. In fact, it was all a little anticlimactic. He went up for a header in the middle of the field. The ball flicked off his hand.

Howard Webb, the referee, gave a free-kick against him. Barton provided the mandatory back-chat, then went in the book. There were no casualties. Nothing to see here.

Best derby victory

There were some serious local bragging rights up for grabs this weekend. Yesterday's Merseyside meeting between Liverpool and Everton was invested with plenty of emotion, given as it was Kenny Dalglish's first since returning to a job he initially gave up two decades ago after one derby too many.

Birmingham City could have pushed their arch-rivals, Aston Villa, nearer the bottom of the table in the Second City derby.

And Sunderland versus Newcastle United was hardly any friendlier for the absence of the home side's injured captain, wildcard Lee Cattermole.

All the above rank as parochial squabbles, however, when set against one of the subplots to Manchester City's encounter with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

When Nenad Milijas struck a surprise early opener for Wolves at Eastlands, it seemed as though the little-heralded Serbian midfielder was going to upstage his Balkan neighbour, Edin Dzeko.

However, Dzeko, a Bosnian Muslim who spent his childhood in war-torn Sarajevo, laughed last on his big unveiling as one of England's costliest ever players.

He may not have made the scoresheet, but his City side still downed their free-spirited guests in a seven-goal thriller.

Worst hissy fit

Fernando Torres, the Liverpool striker, cannot possibly still be in a strop with Jonny Heitinga over the Dutchman's brutal tactics in the World Cup final against Spain last year.

Spain won, Holland were widely chastised for their malevolence, and it is not like Torres was even on the pitch long enough to get fouled back then anyway.

But something is obviously still chewing him, judging by their contretemps at Anfield yesterday.

Just before half time, the Spanish No 9 threw himself to ground theatrically with Heitinga, the Everton defender, nearby.

Phil Dowd, the referee, tried to get them together to make up, but Torres was not interested.

Heitinga tried to broker the peace with a friendly pat on the head, only for Torres to slap his hand away.