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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Spurs winger Bale scoops PFA Player of the Year award

Posted: 17 Apr 2011 07:21 PM PDT

The hat-trick that counted: Gareth Bale acknowledges the kudos at Spurs' defeat of Inter Milan at the San Siro stadium in Milan, October 20, 2010. — Reuters pic

LONDON, April 18 — Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale was yesterday named the English Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) player of the year after a number of fine performances this season.

The speedy Welshman, who scored a stunning hat-trick at holders Inter Milan in the Champions League group stages, beat off competition from the likes of Arsenal's Samir Nasri and Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez.

"It is an honour really when you look at the names that have won it before, and it just makes you go 'wow' really," said Bale, the fourth Welsh player to win the award after Ian Rush, Mark Hughes and Ryan Giggs.

Bale, who can also play at left back and has been lauded by Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho and several clubs in Italy, was barely a Tottenham regular until this season.

The 21-year-old has scored 11 goals for Spurs in all competitions in the current campaign as they push for fourth spot in the league, and was also on the shortlist for young player of the year, with that award going to Jack Wilshere.

Midfielder Wilshere has forced his way into the first team of Arsenal and England this term, thanks to his close control and mature passing ability for a 19-year-old. — Reuters

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Arsenal held 1-1 by Liverpool after late drama

Posted: 17 Apr 2011 04:45 PM PDT

Manager Arsene Wenger remonstrates with a match official after Arsenal's match against Liverpool at the Emirates stadium. — Reuters pic

LONDON, April 18 — Arsenal's title hopes took another blow when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Liverpool yesterday after an astonishing finale in which both teams convert stoppage-time penalties.

Second-placed Arsenal thought they had won it when Dutch striker Robin van Persie slotted home in the eighth minute of injury time, only to see Dirk Kuyt reply from another penalty with the last kick of the game.

The 12 minutes added on for treatment of a head injury to Liverpool's Jamie Carragher were a complete contrast to normal time, which featured precious few chances.

Robin Van Persie scores the opening penalty for Arsenal. — Reuters pic

Arsenal, who are trailing leaders Manchester United by six points with six games remaining, were left to rue a series of missed chances after Laurent Koscielny hit the bar with a header and Van Persie had a goal ruled out for offside.

"It was difficult for us to create chances because they defended very deep. Overall they defended well, like most of the Premier League teams that come here, they don't really come out," manager Arsene Wenger told reporters.

"We will have to give everything to the last game of the season and see if it is our year or not. It is about winning games. We are on a 15-match unbeaten run but recently we have not taken enough points."

Arsenal dominated possession in the first half but Koscielny's header from a Van Persie corner was the closest they came to breaking down a dogged Liverpool defence.

Nicklas Bendtner and Andrei Arshavin were thrown on as the home side searched for a goal, which finally came after Jay Spearing tripped Cesc Fabregas to win the penalty that Van Persie converted.

But four minutes later, Liverpool replied when Emmanuel Eboue fouled Lucas Leiva and Van Persie's fellow Dutchman Kuyt, who on Saturday extended his contract until 2013, equalised.

"I don't think it was a penalty," said Wenger, who was seen exchanging angry words with Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish after the final whistle. "Lucas stopped Eboue's run to go to the ball, it is no penalty. Eboue goes for the ball he doesn't go for the player."

Liverpool, who have not won away at Arsenal since 2000, lost centre-back Carragher, who was carried off on a stretcher after a clash of heads early in the second half.

Dalglish praised his side's resolve after Fabio Aurelio had earlier been withdrawn with a hamstring problem, and striker Andy Carroll also left the pitch in the second half with an injured knee.

"I don't think there is any team anywhere that showed the attitude that we showed today," Dalglish told reporters.

"I thought one (of the penalties) was right and one was wrong, you can make up your mind which is which." — Reuters

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