Betting Week in Review: The Six Nations and the Premier League
Holders England endured a torrid day in the Six Nations, Scotland easily beating the Old Enemy at fortress Twickenham. Another fixture-packed week in football means the Premier League also features in our betting week in review.
Scotland Stun Old Enemy in Six Nations Opener
The last time Scotland tasted victory at Twickenham, Keith Harris and Orville were top of the pop charts, and Margaret Thatcher was four years into her eleven-year tenure as prime minister. Nearly four long decades had passed since Scotland had beaten their ‘Old Enemy” at “the Home of England Rugby” in 1983.
The Six Nations’ current holders were heavily backed, as seen in the pre-match odds of 3/20 for England. Scotland was priced at 7/1, with the draw at 30/1. Expectations were high for England to retain the Six Nations crown that they won in October last year.
Scotland was fourth-placed in the last Six Nations and went into the match on the back of a three-match winning streak from that tournament, and on the 150th anniversary of the first time the two teams met, it was the Scots who claimed a surprise 11-6 win.
It was a defeat that England brought upon themselves. Injuries to three experienced props meant England had fielded an inexperienced front row. Ill-discipline from these players gave Scotland chances, with four penalties awarded within the opening five minutes.
Fly-half Finn Russell, returning to the team after a shoulder injury, gave the visitors a three-point advantage. The 28-year-old who plays his club rugby with Racing 92 was later involved in the move that enabled Duhan van der Merwe’s to score a try. England did manage to pull six points back after Russell was shown a yellow card, but Scotland were worthy winners on the day.
Their hopes of retaining the title have taken a big blow for England, especially as France took a bonus point in their game against Italy in their Saturday game.
France Hammer Italians & Welsh Enjoy Winning Start
The Six Nations runners-up, winning 50-10 in Rome. Antoine Dupont, the winner of the 2020 Player of the Championship, continued his fine form and scored a try alongside Teddy Thomas’s assist. Matthieu Jalibert was lethal with his kicking, adding 15 points to the scoreline.
In Sunday’s game between Wales and Ireland, the Welsh team came from behind to beat 14-man Ireland 21-16 in Cardiff.
Peter O’Mahony became the first Ireland player to be sent off in the Six Nations, referee Wayne Barnes showing the red card after O’Mahon made contact with Tomas Francis’s head when trying to clear out a ruck on 13 minutes.
Despite being a man down, the Welsh led 13-6 at halftime. In the second half, a much-improved display by Wales, inspired by George North, who scored a try after ten minutes, put Wales in front. Louis Rees-Zammit scored a try for Wales on his Six Nations debut to increase their lead, and despite a late fightback, which included a Billy Burns penalty, the Welsh hung on.
Liverpool Suffer Third Home Defeat
In the biggest game of the weekend in the Premier League, Manchester City took a giant step to dethrone current champions, Liverpool, by inflicting a heavy 4-1 defeat on them. City was already seven points ahead of Liverpool before this game, and with the Citizens having a game in hand, it was Liverpool who needed the win more than the visitors.
It looked like luck was with the home side when Fabinho fouled Raheem Sterling to concede a penalty in the first half. The normally reliable Ilkay Gundogan blasted the ball over from the resulting spot-kick, the main talking point after a goalless first half.
If the first half disappointed with the lack of goals, the second half didn’t, with five goals scored. Ilkay Gundogan made up for his early penalty miss by reacting quickest after Allison could only push out a Phil Fodden shot. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah equalised from the spot; a rather dramatic fall after contact by Rubben Dias enabled the Egyptian to score his sixteenth league goal.
Two errors by Allison in the last third of the game gift-wrapped the points for City. In three minutes of madness, Allison first failed to clear the ball twice, enabling Phil Fodden to set up Gundogan for his second goal. Moments later, Allison failed to deal with a back pass, passing straight to Bernardo Silva’s feet. The 26-year-old ran towards goal before chipping a delightful cross, which Raheem Sterling converted from almost the goal line. Phil Fodden scored the game’s best goal, his thunderous shot finding the net with seven minutes remaining to make the score 4-1.
It was a well-deserved goal for the 20-year-old who was the best player on the pitch. The youngster now has five goals and three assists in eleven starts.
It wasn’t the best result for the bookies; the over 2.5 goals market is always well backed with games between these two. A saving grace is that Mohamed Salah didn’t score the first goal, nor could he score a brace, another market the Liverpool player is faithfully backed in.
Bookies Cheer Last-Gasp Everton
While the Liverpool and Manchester City game may not have been a bonanza for the bookies, Saturday night’s clash between Manchester United and Everton was.
In an enthralling game, Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored in the fifth minute of added time to level the game 3-3.
United appeared to be coasting to a win. Edinson Cavani gave the home side the lead after 24 minutes, continuing his good form with a powerful header. Bruno Fernandes doubled the lead on the stroke of halftime with a great finish that was reminiscent of an Eric Cantona goal. Everton fans must have been fearing the worst for the second half with the Manchester side in control.
Whether Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti gave his side the hairdresser treatment or merely reminded his team of the erratic nature of Manchester United’s home form, it did the trick as Everton came out for the send half flying. Goals by Lucas Digne on 49 minutes and another three minutes later by James Rodriguez who rifled home the equaliser, meant the Toffees were level within seven minutes of the restart.
Scott McTominay’s header in the 70th minute looked to have won the game for United but as the game went into extra time, Everton pushed forward, even sending goalkeeper Robie Olsen up front for a Lucas Digne free-kick. It was from this free-kick that Dominic Calvert-Lewin converted from close range, taking advantage of poor defending, most notably Harry Maguire, to steal a point at the death.
It was a draw that Everton deserved for their attitude and work rate but one that is damaging for United as City are now two points ahead and have two games in hand.
United are in FA Cup action this week, they face a tough challenge against West Ham United on Tuesday. Everton are also playing, facing José Mourinho’s Tottenham at home on Wednesday. Manchester City are also in fifth round action on Wednesday, they face Championship team Swansea City.