By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
We got to enjoy another weekend of top quality goals, excitement and one hilarious Gareth Barry own goal. Hopefully you managed to navigate your way to at least one successful bet, but if not, you might want to blame one of these teams for ruining your accum. Here’s a look at the chief culprits who failed to do the business at short prices over the weekend.
Porto – 1/10
Opposition: Olhanense at Estádio do Dragão (Portuguese Liga)
What went wrong?
If you are the type of person of likes putting short odds Portuguese giants into your footie accums, then this Sunday was your Chernobyl. The trio of Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon all failed to oblige when odds on and at least two of them were surprising results. Porto and Benfica started the day a whopping 14 points clear of the pack at the top of the table, but couldn’t get the better of opposition they were expected to cake walk past.
The odds tell us Porto were the biggest offenders. They had home advantage against relegation battlers who have won once since the middle of November. The Dragons only have themselves to blame, both in a figurative and more literal sense. After going behind to an early counter attack sucker punch, they failed to convert their chances thanks to an inspired display from Rafael Bracalli in the Olhanense goal. That inspired display was kind of Porto’s fault as they actually own the Brazilian keeper and let him go to the Algarve on loan for the season. Plus Jackson Martinez missed a penalty with a woeful effort that would make Jonny Wilkinson proud.
Porto – champions in eight of the last 10 seasons – got an equaliser, but couldn’t get a winner leading to frustration somewhat eased by Benfica’s stumble against Nacional. They also had to stop for a while due to a hailstone shower – an amusing but not especially relevant footnote.
Ajax – 1/7
Opposition: Roda at the Amsterdam Arena (Eredivisie)
What went wrong?
Title challengers, Ajax were expected to destroy lowly Roda on Sunday and they pretty did – just not on the scoreboard. The match stats tell the story of a pummelling. The hosts had 71 per cent possession, 19 shots on target compared to Roda’s one and 14 corners to the visitor’s none. They hit the woodwork a couple of times and generally just made heavy weather of things.
Despite starting with a swagger that suggested they’ve had an easy afternoon of it, they fell behind just before half-time with Roda’s only on-target effort of the game. Ajax equalised thanks to a goal from Daley Blind, son of club legend, Danny. That nugget of trivia won’t do much to ease the pain if you threw them into the accum because what followed was 35 odd minutes of pounding the Roda goal to no avail. The combination of the woodwork and the Limburgers’ very baby-faced goalkeeper, Filip Kurto kept Ajax out meaning the defending champions slipped three points behind PSV at the top of the table.
Swindon – 2/5
Opposition: Hartlepool at the County Ground (League One)
What went wrong?
If you’re the type of person who loves mad Paolo Di Canio quotes, then nothing went wrong on Saturday. If you’re a Swindon fan or someone who saw the short price and decided them to throw them into the weekend accum, then it was a downright failure. The Robins would have gone top with a win and against the bottom of the table Monkey Hangers, they were expected to deliver.
It started well thanks to an early goal from Simon Ferry and the next hour or so was spent trying to increase the lead with no success. Despite dominating the stats, it had ‘barely warranted late equaliser’ written all over it and that’s how it panned out when Andy Monkhouse scored after 74 minutes. Di Canio wasn’t very happy with his players, but it did make for some amusing post-match quotes.
The lads are the protagonists. If they think they are donkeys then hopefully we will improve. The problem is when they feel arrogant. They have to feel hurt. They have to say ‘we were stupid and like donkeys’ today
Manchester City – 4/6
Opposition: Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium (Premier League)
What went wrong?
‘What were they thinking sacking Nigel Adkins?’ no-one thought to themselves as Southampton tiki-taka-ed the ball around in front of the soon to be deposed champions on Saturday night. The Saints have been getting a lot of lip service about being a potential banana skin, but with the season hitting the home turn, everyone just assumed City would whip out some of that ‘ruthless’ they’ve developed in recent seasons and brush them aside.
Sticking City down on the accum made a lot of sense. Instead, using only pidgin English and semaphore, Mauricio Pochettino communicated to his players how to run rings around the visitors. Yes, it was helped by City collapsing like cheap self-assembly furniture, but even without Joe Hart’s blunder and Gareth Barry’s exquisite finish, Southampton looked the better team. After Sunday’s results, it leaves Mancini’s men a chasmal 12 points behind. Manchester United are champions (so we say at least) and City can now concentrate on securing their group stage exit from next season’s Champions League.
Athletic Bilbao – 7/10
Opposition: Espanyol at San Mames (La Liga)
What went wrong?
You might recall Athletic Bilbao from their swashbuckling defeat of Manchester United in last season’s Europa League. That’s your first mistake. They’re still playing that swash-buckling brand of football under Marcelo Bielsa, but just not to as much avail. As eye catching as those legs against United were, they haven’t ignited this season and are hovering uncomfortably close to the trapdoor.
In terms of price, a team losing at 7/10 isn’t a massive upset, but this one is notable for just how amusing disappointing the uneasy favourites were. They were well and truly stuffed at home by an Espanyol team who started the day one place below them in the league. The Catalan club made easy work of the Basque team, helped in large part by the hosts’ ‘musical statues’ defending style. Bielsa’s team did create chances and the lion’s share of possession, but they couldn’t find the net. The stats tell us that Espanyol scored from all four of their four shots on target, but that’s clearly a lie because they had a penalty saved and tapped in the rebound, which is two attempts on target on their own.
Although highlighting bad data recording is satisfying, it’s scant consolation for Bilbao backers. Iraizoz’s penalty save was good, but the fact the ball rebounded to the Espanyol player only added to the feeling it was one of those days when if they feel into a barrel of boobs, they’d come out sucking a knob.