Liverpool edge past Augsburg in Europa League

Liverpool warmed up for the Capital One Cup final on Sunday by reaching the last 16 of the Europa League with a tense win over Augsburg at Anfield.

Following a goalless first leg, James Milner scored a penalty after Dominik Kohr's handball to put the Reds ahead.

Liverpool failed to take their chances and a Lucas Leiva back-pass released Augsburg's Caiuby but he shot wide.

An away goal would have put the Germans through and Reds keeper Simon Mignolet had to save from Tobias Werner late on.

Liverpool ended up hanging on as they made it into Friday's draw in which there are no seedings or restrictions on facing teams from your own country.

Follow Thursday's Europa League action here

Liverpool lack cutting edge

The Reds would have wanted to put this tie to bed as quickly as possible with the Wembley showpiece against Manchester City on Sunday and they were aided by the early penalty.

Liverpool pressed high up the pitch and played some stylish football but, with six goals in seven previous Europa League outings this season, they again struggled in front of goal and failed to turn their superiority into a bigger lead.

Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho had a promising chance when he was set up by the impressive Daniel Sturridge, only to see his stabbed shot from eight yards saved by keeper Marwin Hitz.

England international Sturridge had a shot palmed on to a post after a Coutinho pull-back and the striker also sent a shot just wide when he was not flagged after appearing offside.

The anxiety for the home side increased as the game went on - and Reds captain Jordan Henderson had a close-range shot saved before the relief of the final whistle.

"It is frustrating. We should be scoring two or three and killing the game off and it makes it tough second half as you know if they score they go through," England midfielder Henderson told BT Sport.

"We have to give credit to Augsburg as well. They are a quality team and put us under pressure."

Were Liverpool lucky?

The hosts were the better team but Augsburg, who are 13th in the Bundesliga, had their chances as they almost capitalised on Liverpool's lack of ruthlessness.

Kostas Stafylidis had a well-struck shot parried away by Reds keeper Mignolet and Caiuby missed after Lucas' back-pass.

Mignolet also rescued his side when he quickly came of his line to block a Werrner shot when he had been put clean through on goal.

A late 20-yard free-kick from Stafylidis also curled just the wrong side of the post as the German side's debut season in European competition came to an end.

What shape are the Reds in for Sunday's final?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp chose to play a strong line-up, despite the game being just three days before the trip to Wembley.

Sturridge and Coutinho had only recently returned from hamstring injuries but both played, with the former being taken off after 66 minutes and the Brazilian playmaker being substituted after 80 minutes.

Milner did go down at one point following an accidental clash with Stafylidis, but there did not appear to be any other injury worries for Klopp.

"Phil had one or two situations after challenges but we need to find new faith or trust in the body of the players," said the 48-year-old German.

"They (Sturridge and Coutinho) are very important for us but we need them in their best shape and you can only get this from training and matches."

Manager reaction

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "It was absolutely deserved. We were the better team, we created chances but we had one problem in that we didn't use them.

"We couldn't control the game in the last 20 minutes and it was hard, that is how it should be, but we are in the next round."

Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl: "I think we were a little unlucky with the penalty but we kept it going right till the end and that says a lot for our team and I am very proud of the players and the club."

The stats you need to know

  • Two of Liverpool's three fastest goals in all competitions this season have been scored in the Europa League - Adam Lallana v FC Sion (3:47) and Milner v Augsburg tonight (4:29).
  • This was Liverpool's first clean sheet at Anfield in Europe since last season's last-32 Europa League game against Besiktas, also a 1-0 win.
  • Augsburg scored against all three of their other opponents (Athletic Club, Partizan Belgrade and AZ) in their maiden European season but failed to do so in two games against Liverpool.
  • Liverpool have reached the last 16 of a European competition for the first time since the 2010-11 season when they did so in the Europa League.

What next?

As mentioned, Liverpool are back in action on Sunday as they face Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final as the Premier League rivals compete for the first piece of major silverware of the English domestic season.

Source: bbc.com

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Rashford stars as Man U hit five

Teenager Marcus Rashford scored twice on his debut as Manchester United came from behind to thrash FC Midtjylland and reach the Europa League last 16.

The Danish champions led 2-1 from the first leg and Pione Sisto increased their advantage.

Nikolay Bodurov's own goal reduced the deficit before Rashford, who only started after Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up, struck twice.

Ander Herrera's penalty and Memphis Depay's late goal completed the rout.

Juan Mata missed a penalty at 1-1, while Midtjylland finished with 10 men after Andre Romer was sent off for a second yellow card.

Relive all the drama from Old Trafford

Rashford to the rescue

While the scoreline was emphatic in the end, United were looking at an embarrassing exit before Rashford netted twice in the space of 12 second half minutes in front of the Stretford End.

Manchester United debutant Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring in the Europa LeagueManchester United debutant Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring in the Europa LeagueManchester United debutant Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring in the Europa League

The 18-year-old, named as a substitute on the team sheet, was only elevated to the starting line-up after Martial damaged his hamstring in the warm-up.

Manchester-born Rashford showed confidence beyond his tender years from the start, but Sisto's tidy finish left Louis van Gaal staring at an embarrassing exit at the hands of a team formed in 1999.

Bodurov lifted the mood inside Old Trafford when he sliced Memphis' cutback into his own net before Mata's spot-kick was saved by Mikkel Andersen after Ander Herrera was clipped by Kian Hansen.

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The exciting Rashford put United ahead when he tucked home from seven yards in front of the Stretford End before repeating the trick with a half-volley to make it 3-1.

Herrera added his side's fourth from the penalty spot after Hansen handled before Depay's thumping effort completed the scoring.

How's your luck

It looked like another sorry chapter in United's season of under-achievement even before a ball had been kicked.

Defender Chris Smalling was ruled out earlier on Thursday with a shoulder problem, paving the way for 19-year-old Joe Riley, a substitute in United's FA Cup win at Shrewsbury three days earlier, to make his first senior start.

Martial's injury paved the way for Rashford's debut, but after recovering from falling behind on the night, United scored four times inside the final half hour to pull away.

Analysis: BBC Sport's Simon Stone at Old Trafford:
"Manchester United are fond of talking about their 'great' European nights. The last came against Olympiakos under David Moyes two years ago when United overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit to win 3-2.
"This result will be added to the list. Any doubts - and there remain plenty - amongst the United fans about manager Louis van Gaal were set aside for the good of the team.
"They stuck with them when their team went a goal down - and again when Juan Mata missed his penalty. Slight murmurings were beginning with Marcus Rashford took centre stage, and after that the decibel levels went right up.
"So young is Rashford - a product of the same Fletcher Moss club where Wes Brown and Danny Welbeck cut their teeth - he has become United's youngest goalscorer in Europe."

They could even afford to end the match with another teenage debutant on the pitch in the shape of 17-year-old Regan Poole.

Embattled manager Louis van Gaal managed a smile at the end after his side scored five in a match for the first time under his control in front of a 58,609 crowd.

United could face Gary Neville in the last 16

The draw for the last-16 stage takes place on Friday and there is a chance United could be paired with a friendly face - as well as a bitter rival.

Liverpool and Tottenham are also through and, with no country protection, teams from the same league can be drawn against one another.

Valencia, managed by former United defender Gary Neville, are also through after a 10-0 aggregate win over Rapid Vienna.

The stats you need to know

  • United have scored five goals in a European game at Old Trafford for the first time since April 2007
  • Midtjylland scored with their first shot of the match
  • United are unbeaten in 10 European home games
  • The Danish champions have lost their last three European away games, conceding 11 in the process

Next up?

United have just two full days to recover before they entertain Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday (14:05 GMT). The Gunners are seeking to do the double over Van Gaal's side having defeated the Red Devils 3-0 at the Emirates on 4 October.

Marcus Rashford tweetSource: bbc.com

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City win in Kiev

A full-strength Manchester City took command of their Champions League last-16 tie against Dynamo Kiev with an impressive first-leg win in Ukraine.

City dominated the first half and Sergio Aguero slotted in an opener before a slick move let David Silva side-foot in a second.

Vitaliy Buyalsky pulled one back with a deflected shot before he had another effort superbly saved by Joe Hart.

Yaya Toure curled in a superb shot late on to restore City's two-goal lead.

City boss Manuel Pellegrini fielded a weakened side in the FA Cup defeat by Chelsea on Sunday.

But the City boss made 10 changes as he restored his side's stars to the starting line-up on Wednesday and they put the club within reach of the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Follow reaction to tonight's Champions League games here.

City show return to form

City went into the game with just one win in the four matches since it was announced Pep Guardiola would be replacing Pellegrini in the summer.

Pellegrini's selection in the FA Cup also put his side under increased pressure as he clearly prioritised the club's Champions League campaign.

However, he was rewarded with a first-half display which saw his side constantly winning the ball high up the pitch and overwhelming their hosts.

Aguero put the visitors ahead and sent two further efforts wide. He also had another shot parried away by 41-year-old keeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy.

City had to withstand some pressure as the home side regrouped and improved after the break and, despite conceding a goal, Toure's finish put them in control.

"The performance was good, with a lot of high pressing, 3-1 is a good result and we are happy with it," said City captain Vincent Kompany.

"We are going into the second leg with a fairly good chance to go through, which has not been the case before. We looked like a team that was hungry for success."

The Silva & Kompany effect

Pellegrini usually plays Silva on the right wing but moved the Spanish playmaker in a central role behind striker Aguero for this game, and the move paid off handsomely.

Fernandinho was played on the right wing, with Toure dropping back to form a two-man midfield with Fernando to allow Silva to showcase the threat he poses.

Silva's movement and passing proved a constant menace in the first half, while centre-back Kompany had to come to the fore after the break.

Kompany, who was playing only his second game since returning from seven weeks out with a calf injury, gave his side a more assured look at the back when they had to deal with a more threatening home side in the second half.

Kiev off the pace

Dynamo Kiev had not played a competitive game since a Champions League group-stage win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on 9 December because of Ukrainian football's winter break - and it showed.

They lacked rhythm and looked off the pace as they struggled to deal with the intensity of City's pressing game in the first half as their star player Andriy Yarmolenko struggled to make an impact.

Yarmolenko, who had been a doubt with a knee injury, became more of a threat for a brief spell as the home side pulled one back but they could not maintain their pressure.

Dynamo did nearly equalise but Hart brilliantly kept out Buyalsky's effort and the save proved crucial as City went on to restore their two-goal advantage.

Manager reaction

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini speaking to BT Sport: "I'm very happy because it is a very good result.

"It is not finished but playing away and having a two-goal lead is very good. The team played well and had lots of chances. Maybe when it was 2-1 we had moments of doubt, but then we got the third goal.

"Is the tie settled? No, it is important in football to never think it is finished. But to have that third goal gives us more confidence for the second leg."

Dynamo Kiev boss Sergei Rebrov speaking to BT Sport: "The winter break didn't affect us, the fact is we played one of the best teams in Europe. The players were a little nervous, it was their first time in the last 16 and they felt that. When Man City scored we lost confidence.

"When we scored I hoped we could get back into it. We had chances but couldn't score."

Pundit analysis

BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson: "Man City were very, very good - there was a little spell at the start of the second half when Kiev came at them, but in the end City might feel they could probably have won by another goal or so.

"City won this game comfortably. Yes, Kiev had 11 weeks off but that was not City's problem."

The stats you need to know

  • Manchester City are the first English team to win an away Champions League game against Ukrainian opposition since Manchester United versus Dynamo Kiev in October 2007.
  • Sergio Aguero has scored 16 goals in his past 17 Champions League starts.
  • None of Manchester City's 35 Champions League games have ended goalless. They've kept just four clean sheets in 35 CL games.
  • Raheem Sterling has had a hand in five goals in his past four Champions League games (three goals, two assists).
  • David Silva scored in consecutive Champions League appearances for the first time.

What next?

Manchester City have a trip to Wembley to face Liverpool in the League Cup final on Sunday, 28 February, with the game kicking off at 16:30 GMT. Dynamo Kiev restart their league challenge with a home game against Dnipro in the first of two domestic games before the return leg at City on 15 March.

Source: bbc.com

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Sepp Blatter & Michel Platini lose Fifa appeals but bans reduced

Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter and suspended Uefa boss Michel Platini have had bans from all football-related activities upheld.

But the suspensions have been reduced from eight to six years by Fifa's appeals committee.

Both were found guilty of breaches surrounding a £1.3m ($2m) "disloyal payment" to Platini.

They both deny any wrongdoing and have said they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter and Platini said the payment honoured a verbal or gentleman's agreement made in 1998 for work carried out by the Frenchman when he was a technical advisor for Blatter.

Blatter, 79, added in a statement that he was "very disappointed by the appeal committee of Fifa".

Platini, 60, said it was "insulting and shameful" and a "political decision".

The committee said "activities and services rendered to Fifa, Uefa and football" was a mitigating factor.

Fifa's presidential election is due to take place on Friday to find Swiss Blatter's replacement.

Fifa boss since 1998, Blatter had already announced he was quitting after reports emerged he was under investigation in the United States.

Platini had been tipped as a future leader of football's world governing body and is a three-time European Footballer of the Year.

He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of Uefa - European football's governing body - since 2007.

In a statement released after the announcement, Platini said the accusations were without foundation and completely made up "beyond reality".

He said the communication of the decision was done with "an unbearable arrogance" and that Friday's congress would be remembered in history with the "mark of illegitimacy".

"I am the victim of a system which has only had one goal - to stop me standing for the president of Fifa," Platini added.

The decision not to overturn the suspensions follows a 12-year ban imposed on Jerome Valcke, who was sacked as secretary general of world football's governing body last month.

Valcke, the man responsible for running Fifa's day-to-day administration, was found guilty of misconduct over the sale of World Cup tickets, abuse of travel expenses, attempting to sell TV rights below their market value and destruction of evidence.

He also denies wrongdoing.

He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of Uefa - European football's governing body - since 2007.

In a statement released after the announcement, Platini said the accusations were without foundation and completely made up "beyond reality".

He said the communication of the decision was done with "an unbearable arrogance" and that Friday's congress would be remembered in history with the "mark of illegitimacy".

"I am the victim of a system which has only had one goal - to stop me standing for the president of Fifa," Platini added.

The decision not to overturn the suspensions follows a 12-year ban imposed on Jerome Valcke, who was sacked as secretary general of world football's governing body last month.

Valcke, the man responsible for running Fifa's day-to-day administration, was found guilty of misconduct over the sale of World Cup tickets, abuse of travel expenses, attempting to sell TV rights below their market value and destruction of evidence.

He also denies wrongdoing.

Source: bbc.com

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Juventus fightback denies Bayern

Juventus produced a remarkable second-half fightback against Bayern Munich to give themselves hope going into the Champions League last 16 second leg.

The Bundesliga leaders overwhelmed their Serie A counterparts in the first half, and took the lead when Thomas Muller slotted in before Arjen Robben curled in the second.

Juve pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute when Paulo Dybala tucked home.

The comeback was complete when Stefano Sturaro poked in from close range.

Juve's first-half humbling

At half-time, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri must have thought "let's keep this respectable".

His team were pummelled in the first half. The graphic shows that they were camped in their own half by wave after wave of Bayern attacks.

Juve went into the match having conceded only once in the 11 matches they had played since the start of 2016 - however, they had yet to play a team of Bayern's potency.

Arturo Vidal and Juan Bernat tested veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon and Muller went close, before they took the lead. It came when defender Andrea Barzagli's clearance from Douglas Costa's volleyed cross fell at the feet of Muller, who did the rest from 10 yards,

Bayern went again and this time it was a three-man break. Striker Robert Lewandowski appeared to send Robben too far wide with his pass into the area, but the Dutchman - in customary style - cut in and feigned to shoot before sending his effort past the reach of Buffon.

The Old Lady finds her teeth

Even the most adventurous punter would have hesitated putting money on Juve to turn this around.

The key to the change in fortunes were the substitutions. Hernanes, Sturaro and Alvaro Morata provided more energy to the attack, as Allegri experimented with his tactics.

There was a bit of luck with the first as Joshua Kimmich lost the ball 25 yards from goal. This allowed Mario Mandzukic to play in Dybala, who converted with a composed finish.

The Bayern defence was breached again when Morata's headed pass into the six-yard area was slammed in by fellow substitute Sturaro.

Bayern are still favourites to go through because of their two away goals, but Juve's second-half display makes this next match an intriguing prospect.

Manager reaction

Bayern manager Pep Guardiola: "Juventus made it to last year's final, not us. We're not dealing with a team from the provinces.

"I'm really happy with how we played. It's one of the matches from my career that I want to remember the most.

"You cannot really expect that your opponent will not get a single chance. That's football. Sometimes you can't look at just the result. We played with character."

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri: "In the first half they pushed us hard in our own half and we just couldn't settle. We started making a lot of mistakes with our passes and didn't use the space well, but let's not forget we were playing Bayern.

"After the interval we played a lot better.

"We might have even snatched the win at the end, but we will need to make sure there's no repeat of our first half when we go to Munich."

Source: bbc.com

 

 

Paulo Dybala

 

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Messi puts Barca ahead in game one

Lionel Messi effectively condemned Arsenal to a sixth successive exit at the last-16 stage of the Champions League with two decisive goals at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal battled gallantly to give themselves a chance going into the second leg at the Nou Camp in three weeks' time - but suffered at the hands of Barcelona's superstar trio Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud had come close to giving Arsenal the lead, Messi scored his first goal against keeper Petr Cech at the seventh attempt when he crowned a blistering a counter-attack involving Suarez and Neymar to sweep home a finish after 71 minutes.

And further damage was inflicted seven minutes from time when Arsenal substitute Mathieu Flamini floored Messi with a mistimed challenge and he got up to send Cech the wrong way from the spot. It was his eighth goal against Arsenal in the Champions League.

Suarez hit the post and Cech saved from Neymar as Barcelona took control - but this tie already looks well out of Arsenal's reach.

Watch Phil McNulty's post-match Facebook Q&A here

Listen to highlights of the match on BBC Radio 5 live

Listen to Wenger's reaction to the game

All over for Arsenal

Arsenal went out to Barcelona in 2010 and 2011 and that was after a draw and a win at Emirates Stadium - so their chances can be all but written off after this defeat.

The Gunners had their chances but they came to nothing, with Oxlade-Chamberlain a culprit when he allowed Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to save from a huge opportunity before Giroud saw a second-half header well saved.

Such is the ruthlessness of this Barcelona side that even half-chances (or less) have to be accepted and, if they are not, there is almost an inevitability about the outcome.

Wenger can make the usual optimistic noises about the second leg in the Nou Camp but it would be the greatest result of his reign if he managed to inspire a turnaround from this position.

It is, perhaps, on nights like these that those calls for Wenger to sign a world-class striker carry greater resonance because even the smallest opportunities have to count and Arsenal were unable to do so.

Unstoppable MSN

The big fear before the game was that Arsenal would be unable to keep Barca's big three quiet for 90 minutes no matter how hard they tried - and so it proved.

Strange as it may seem, this was not Messi, Neymar and Suarez at their very best but they still cast a huge shadow over Arsenal and created havoc.

Suarez had two missed opportunities at the end of the first half, Cech made two magnificent saves from Neymar and Messi contributed to the two decisive goals. This on a night when even the three themselves will admit they have played much better.

All three carry a touch of genius while offering contrasting qualities. Neymar's change of pace was startling, Suarez is like a shark as he makes his way around defences spreading chaos while Messi remains peerless.

Any team hoping to take the Champions League crown from Barcelona will have to work out how to stop the great Barcelona trinity - easier said than done.

Arsenal deserve credit

Arsenal and manager Wenger will be desolate after this result effectively consigns them to yet another last 16 exit - but they deserve a measure of credit for their display.

In the first half they were hugely disciplined to keep Barcelona at bay, indeed in the first 30 minutes the holders only had two touches in Arsenal's penalty area compared to 11 from Wenger's team.

Goalkeeper Cech was immense while Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey were also excellent.

Ultimately, however, Arsenal were not good enough - no shame in that - but all that is left is for Barcelona to complete the formalities in Catalonia in three weeks.

Manager reaction

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on BT Sport: "Barcelona are a great team. We put a lot of energy in the game and technically we were very average.

"The regret I had was once we looked like we dominated the game, we give the goal away. Similar to Monaco last season, naive, and that is frustrating. When we looked like we could win the game, we just gave it away.

"Realistically it is very, very difficult, if not impossible. We have to go there and fight. We had the chances, we didn't score."

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique: "I am happy with everything. There was nothing that I didn't like. Nothing.

"The result is really good, but the tie is not over. We will have to go out to win."

'Arsenal lacked quality in final third'

Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas on BBC Radio 5 live: "I felt the Arsenal players gave a good account of themselves in parts of the game but this Barcelona side have got too much class.

"Arsenal will be thinking what could have been. They didn't capitalise on the opportunities they had. They didn't seem to have enough when Barcelona ramped it up.

"I was really happy with Arsenal's tactics for once but I don't think they had the quality in the final third."

The stats you need to know

  • Lionel Messi ended a run of 10 hours and 11 minutes without a goal against Petr Cech (seventh game against him).
  • Messi now has eight Champions League goals versus Arsenal - only against and AC Milan (eight) has he scored as often.
  • There were just 47 seconds between Mathieu Flamini coming on to the pitch and him giving away a penalty.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in 33 competitive games - their best ever run in all competitions. The record for a Spanish team is for Real Madrid with 34 games in a row without defeat back in 1987-88.
  • Arsenal failed to score for the first time in 14 Champions League matches.

What next?

Arsenal will have to raise themselves quickly after this defeat as they get back to their Premier League title chase with a game at Manchester United on Sunday, 28 February (14:05 GMT). Spanish league leaders Barcelona host Sevilla in La Liga on the same day.

Source: bbc.com

 

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FA Cup: Chelsea put 5 past Man City

Chelsea swept aside a below-strength Manchester City team containing five teenage full debutants to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini warned he would select a shadow side after the game was scheduled for late on Sunday, before Wednesday's Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine.

And he was true to his word as most of City's big players were missing and defender Tosin Adarabioyo and young midfielders Manu Garcia and Aleix Garcia were selected, along with Bersant Celina and David Faupala.

Faupala actually gave City hope when he scrambled in an equaliser, after Diego Costa headed Chelsea in front 10 minutes before half-time.

The leveller was met with several coins being thrown on to the pitch from the Chelsea supporters' end.

The hosts, however, over-ran City after the break with Willian scoring from close range and Gary Cahill putting the result beyond doubt with a powerful finish from Fernando's poor clearance.

The excellent Eden Hazard curled in a free-kick and Bertrand Traore's header looped over dreadful City keeper Willy Caballero to complete an emphatic win for Chelsea, who were even allowed the luxury of seeing Oscar's penalty saved.

Chelsea will travel to Everton in the quarter-finals.

There are two distinct sides to this argument - those who believe in the power of the FA Cup to such an extent that anything less than a full-strength side is abhorrent, and those who believe City have higher priorities.

Pellegrini, in his defence, has always played strong sides in domestic cup competitions and his anger (and consequently his selection) here came from this game being scheduled for 16:00 GMT on a Sunday before Wednesday's Champions League trip to the Ukraine.

A side with so many full debutants was on a hiding to nothing and so it proved as Chelsea's strength and superior class wore them down.

The eventual result will inevitably draw criticism for Pellegrini but he will insist he does respect the FA Cup, has a track record that proves it, and that his hand was forced by City's arduous schedule, which also includes the Capital One Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley next Sunday.

Hazard shows signs of life

Eden Hazard's form has come under intense scrutiny this season, with many Chelsea fans blaming his lack of impact for the sacking of manager Jose Mourinho.

He was also criticised for his display in the Champions League loss to Paris St-Germain, a club who - along with Real Madrid, have been strongly linked with the Belgian.

Here, he was back to something like his mercurial best, crossing for Costa's opener, playing in Willian for the second before getting his first home goal this season with a swerving free-kick that deceived City keeper Caballero.

Hazard still has some way to go before reaching the standards that inspired Chelsea's title win last season but this was another big step forward and history shows that when he plays well Chelsea are a very potent force.

And the chants at the end suggests he is back in the good books of Chelsea's fans.

So how did City's youngsters fare?

The answer is a simple one - just about as well as could be expected in the circumstances.

And to place their efforts in context against a Chelsea side that was simply too strong and too good for them, it should be noted that keeper Caballero (34), Martin Demichelis (35) and Fernando (28) were quite comfortably among City's worst players.

Caballero was uncertain throughout and might have done better with Chelsea's last three goals, although he saved Oscar's penalty. Demichelis was desperate, fouling Bertrand Traore to concede a penalty, while it was Fernando's clearance that fell invitingly for Cahill's third.

It was certainly not the youngsters who let Pellegrini down.

Young striker Faupala, his goal apart, showed great energy and promise. The 19-year-old almost opened the scoring in the opening moments, following up two nutmegs with a shot that brought a smart save from Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois.

And young defender Adarabioyo, 18, was dealt a tough hand in dealing with the bustling Costa but stuck to his task and acquitted himself better than the vastly-experienced Demichelis.

This was a very steep learning curve for City's kids and they can now return to the junior ranks having had a taste, albeit a painful one, of life at the highest level.

What the managers said

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink: "Manchester City made changes but that doesn't make it easy because the youngsters that came in were dangerous. It was key that we started well in the second half, got an early second and third goal."

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini: "We were forced to select that team, we couldn't play another day and didn't have any more fit players. We knew it was a difficult chance to carry on in the FA Cup. We cannot do anything more.

"If we play on Saturday, it is better for us, then we play in the Champions League for England. We have six players injured and cannot take any more risks. We played against a very good team and that's why they won."

The stats you need to know

  • Guus Hiddink has never lost an FA Cup match with Chelsea (played six, won six), guiding them to the trophy in 2009
  • Manchester City conceded five goals in an FA Cup game for the first time since January 2000 (2-5 v Leeds)
  • David Faupala scored on his first ever senior appearance in English football
  • Diego Costa has scored seven goals in his last seven games in all competitions at Stamford Bridge
  • Eden Hazard has scored and assisted in both of his two FA Cup appearances this season (two goals, three assists in total)
  • Hazard has assisted two goals in a game (all comps) for Chelsea for the first time since March 2014
  • Chelsea (eight) have scored more direct free-kicks than any other team in Europe's top five leagues (all comps)

What next?

Chelsea travel to Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday and Manchester City face a trip to Ukraine on Wednesday to play Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League. They then play Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

Source: bbc.com

 
 
 
 
 
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Manchester City will 'prioritize' Champions League over FA Cup

Manchester City will prioritise the Champions League above their FA Cup fifth-round tie at Chelsea on Sunday, according to boss Manuel Pellegrini.

City play the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match at Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, four days before the Capital One Cup final.

The Chilean said: "The priority is always the next game, but we must make an exception because of many injuries."

City's visit to Chelsea will be shown live on BBC One on Sunday at 16:00 GMT.

The 2012 FA Cup winners are still in contention to a complete an unprecedented quadruple by winning the Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League.

They will have to play a game in each competition in an 11-day span between 21 February and 2 March.

Man City's four competitions in 11 days
Sunday, 21 February: Chelsea in FA Cup fifth round in London
Wednesday, 24 February: Dynamo Kiev in Champions League last 16 in Kiev
Sunday, 28 February: Liverpool in the League Cup final in London*
Wednesday, 2 March: Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield
*City's league game against Newcastle was set for this date and must be rescheduled

Pellegrini added: "We have just 13 players available to play and have to play the Champions League on Wednesday. We'll see the best team we can play on Sunday.

"I always try to play with a strong team in every competition. They are all important but we must prioritise the Champions League."

Chelsea, who are currently 12th in the Premier League, played their Champions League first-leg tie away to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

Interim manager Guus Hiddink, who won the FA Cup during his previous spell in charge in 2009, said: "We have a serious approach to the FA Cup."

Chelsea skipper John Terry has been ruled out of the tie.

Source: bbc.com

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Poor United beaten by FC Midtjylland

Manchester United produced another underwhelming display as they lost to Danish side FC Midtjylland in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

United were without a number of injured players, including Wayne Rooney, and lost David de Gea in the warm-up.

They took the lead through Memphis Depay's shot but Sergio Romero, who stepped in for De Gea, was unable to prevent Pione Sisto equalising.

United's Jesse Lingard hit the bar before Paul Onuachu struck the winner.

After losing to Sunderland 2-1 on Saturday, the Red Devils are six points shy of the top four in the Premier League, leaving qualification for next season's Champions League very much in the balance.

Winning the Europa League could represent their best chance of reclaiming a place in Europe's elite club competition, but if they are to do that they will have to be much better than they were against opponents who had not played for 71 days because of the Danish winter break.

That includes in the second leg of this tie, which is at Old Trafford in a week's time.

Midtjylland were only formed in 1999, the year United won their famous Treble, but what they lack in history they made up for with application and ability.

De Gea injury begins bad night for UnitedMan Utd injury XI

With 13 first-team players out and facing a side whose analytical tactical approach makes them a serious threat from set-pieces, United suffered a major setback when goalkeeper De Gea injured himself in the warm-up.

That meant a first United start in four months for Romero, but the Argentine proved an able replacement with three good saves.

One was a block to deny Vaclav Kadlec, who ran through unchallenged, just 56 seconds before United broke the deadlock through Depay's close-range finish from Lingard's cross.

Romero also produced a superb one-handed diving stop to keep out a powerful goalbound header from Onuachu in the second half.

Between those two saves, he could not stop Sisto pulling the hosts level with a shot that found the net via the shin of Chris Smalling.

Romero was equally powerless to keep out Onuachu's winner - a low drive after the substitute beat Juan Mata on the edge of the box.

Life without Rooney

A knee injury means United face a six-week insight into life without captain Rooney - an absence that could become permanent if reports of a move to China prove correct.

United have refused to comment on speculation about the striker's future, but his absence allowed Depay to make his first start since Boxing Day and gave Anthony Martial the chance to start up front.

Depay, the top scorer in the Dutch league last season prior to his £31m move to Old Trafford, had scored once in his previous 20 United appearances.

And while his display in Denmark was not a notable improvement on past performances in a United shirt he was able to add a goal to his modest tally of goals for the season, which now stands at six.

But the Dutchman, like the rest of the United team, offered little in the second half as the home side came back to win.

Martial, who has operated primarily on the left since joining the club for £36m in September, was largely anonymous in his central role.

Lingard struck the bar with a volley while the score was 1-1, but United rarely threatened as the clock ticked down.

What next?

United travel to Shrewsbury for an FA Cup fifth-round tie next Monday, followed three days later by the return leg against Midtjylland at Old Trafford.

Source: bbc.com

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Chelsea lose to Paris St-Germain

Edinson Cavani came off the bench to give Paris St-Germain the advantage after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Chelsea.

The hosts went ahead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic's deflected free-kick.

But John Mikel Obi scored a precious away goal, capitalising on some terrible defending to sweep home a deserved leveller from six yards.

Chelsea's stoic defending seemed on course to secure a draw before Cavani steered home Angel di Maria's pass.

The 29-year-old Uruguay striker, who has been used primarily as back-up to Ibrahimovic this season, scored moments after substitute Oscar spurned a chance for the visitors.

But with the second leg to come at Stamford Bridge on 9 March, the Blues are still very much in contention thanks to Mikel's goal - and Thibaut Courtois' late save from Ibrahimovic.

Tie perfectly poised

Some have called this a make-or-break week for Chelsea, with this match followed by an FA Cup tie against Manchester City on Sunday.

With their Premier League title defence already over, Guus Hiddink's men will know by the end of the weekend whether they can salvage anything from a disappointing domestic season.

But whatever happens against City, they will be hopeful of progressing in this competition after a promising performance in the French capital.

This is the third successive season these teams have been drawn against each other, and both previous ties were decided on away goals. Chelsea progressed in 2014 despite losing the first leg 3-1 in Parc des Princes.

And Hiddink described Mikel's goal as "important", adding his team was "still in the race".

Blues step up to the challenge

This was Chelsea's first defeat since Hiddink took charge after Jose Mourinho's sacking in November, leading his team to a 12-match unbeaten run.

The Blues thumped Newcastle 5-1 at the weekend, but Laurent Blanc's men were a step up in class.

The Ligue 1 leaders are unbeaten in 44 league games and lead second-placed Monaco by 24 points, though before the match Hiddink questioned the quality of the French top flight.

There is no doubting the quality of players at PSG's disposal, however, with Blanc able to recall the likes of of Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti and Lucas Moura after resting them at the weekend.

The hosts were by far the superior side in the opening 17 minutes, enjoying 74% of possession, but all they had to show for it was a long-range Lucas strike.

As the visitors dragged themselves back into the match, Ibrahimovic scored against the run of play. Indeed, were it not for Kevin Trapp's fingertips diverting Diego Costa's header onto the crossbar, the Blues would have been ahead before the Swede scored his first goal against the Blues.

Ibrahimovic's free-kick struck Mikel en route to beating Courtois, but the Nigeria midfielder quickly made amends by capitalising on poor PSG defending from a corner.

Makeshift defence gives Chelsea hope

With John Terry and Kurt Zouma injured, Chelsea were without their first-choice centre-backs.

But the makeshift partnership of Gary Cahill - who blocked bravely from Blaise Matuidi - and Branislav Ivanovic withstood wave after wave of second-half PSG attacks until they were eventually breached in the closing stages.

They were ably supported by Courtois, who made a series of saves, though he was culpable for allowing Cavani to thread the ball between his legs and in at the near post.

Terry's hamstring injury resulted in a promotion for Ghana defender Baba Rahman, and the left-back played his part in the Blues' rearguard display.

Manager reaction

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink: "The result is negative but, on the other hand, an away goal is important. It hurt a bit because the team was playing decently against a team with capacity to play. But we are still in the race.

"We were not lethal enough at times but otherwise we can be relatively happy.

"We didn't moan a lot about the absence of players and the rest got the confidence and did what they were asked. Over two legs, it is important you have the away goal.

"If we can do it at Stamford Bridge then a defeat doesn't count so much."

Source: bbc.com

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Newcastle in drop zone after Chelsea loss

Newcastle dropped into the relegation zone on goal difference after three goals in the first 17 minutes set Chelsea on their way to an easy win.

Diego Costa opened the scoring when he slid home Willian's pass.

A mistake by Rolando Aarons let Pedro make it 2-0 and Costa played in Willian to score from close range.

Cesc Fabregas set up Pedro for his second and Bertrand Traore turned in Cesar Azpilicueta's cross, before Andros Townsend's late consolation.

Chelsea's interim manager Guus Hiddink remains unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions, and his side are now unbeaten in their past 10 Premier League games.

The only thing to spoil their evening was an injury to captain John Terry that saw the centre-half limp off before half-time and leave him as a doubt for Tuesday's trip to play Paris St-Germain in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.

Magpies suffer again on the road

Newcastle have only scored seven goals on their travels this season, the worst record in the top four divisions in England, but it was their defence that let them down at Stamford Bridge.

Magpies boss Steve McClaren said in his pre-match TV interview that the first 20 minutes would be crucial to the outcome of the match. He was right, but not in the way he would have wanted.

By then, his side had suffered a complete collapse at the back which was summed up by Chelsea's second goal.

That came from a Newcastle free-kick near the home side's corner flag that was cleared to the halfway line before Aarons' horrendous cross-field pass allowed Pedro to gallop clear.

McClaren's side never looked capable of a comeback as they slipped to a fifth successive away defeat.

Andros Townsend's first goal since his £12m move from Tottenham reduced the damage at the end but Newcastle's goal-difference still took a battering and at -22 it is now the worst in the top flight.

Chelsea's injury problems continue

Chelsea's own defensive problems were of a very different sort.

With Kurt Zouma out for the season, the last thing Hiddink needed before a busy fortnight was to see Terry limp off.

Terry appeared to fall awkwardly after a clash with Magpies striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and will have a scan to assess the severity of his hamstring injury.

Gary Cahill only returned to the starting line-up on Saturday because of Zouma's serious knee injury, but could end up being a key figure at the back for his side in the next few weeks.

Man of the match - Chelsea's Diego Costa

Chelsea striker Diego Costa

He was playing with a broken nose, but Chelsea's man in the mask did not miss his mark.

Along with the impressive Willian, Costa scored one goal and made another but he edged the individual accolade because of his delightful finish to give his side an early lead.

"We caused our own problems" - McClaren

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren: "We got exposed on quite a few occasions in terms of defensive frailties. Rolando Aarons had to play at left-back and it was Steven Taylor's second game in six months.

"We caused our own problems. We knew Chelsea would come out quick. They wanted to win that game by half-time with the week they have ahead of them.

"You get one or two of these games a season. I've told the players don't let that derail us. It was damage limitation by half-time.

"I just wanted to make sure we scored a goal and stayed in the game."

What next?

Newcastle are out of the FA Cup and their Premier League game with Manchester City on 28 February has been postponed because City are in the Capital One Cup final.

So the Magpies do not have a game for 18 days until they travel to Stoke on 2 March, and are heading for a training camp in Spain.

In that time, Chelsea play four matches, starting with Tuesday's trip to Paris.

The stats you need to know

  • Chelsea are on the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League - 10 games (won four, drew six).
  • Newcastle United have won only two of their last 20 Premier League away games (drew two, lost 16).
  • Pedro has scored as many Premier League goals versus Newcastle in this match as he did in his previous 19 apps combined (two).
  • All four of Cesc Fabregas' PL assists this season have arrived at Stamford Bridge.
  • Bertrand Traore is the first player from Burkina Faso to score in the Premier League.

Source: bbc.com

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Sunderland beat uninspired Man Utd

Sunderland boosted their Premier League survival hopes with a deserved victory over an uninspired Manchester United.

Wahbi Khazri put the strugglers ahead after three minutes with a free-kick from the left that eluded everyone.

Anthony Martial levelled after he clipped the ball over Vito Mannone, who had parried Juan Mata's shot.

But the Black Cats won it when Lamine Kone's header from Khazri's corner went in via a deflection off David de Gea to dent United's top-four bid.

Will Allardyce's signings keep Sunderland up?

Sunderland's win takes them to within one point of rivals Newcastle and safety after a game inspired by manager Sam Allardyce's January signings.

Tunisia forward Khazri made his first Premier League start in their last game, a 2-2 draw with Liverpool where he assisted Jermain Defoe's equaliser.

And the signing from Bordeaux was inspired again, scoring early on against United with a free-kick which Defoe stepped over to bamboozle United's defence and De Gea.

And their winner - while credited as a De Gea own goal - was all thanks to the powerful header from Kone, a signing from Lorient.

De Gea got a touch, with Martial appearing to hit the ball off his own keeper on the way in.

Allardyce told BBC MOTD: "The new players have been on the list before January. The problem is can you get them here and do they want to come and join the fight? They were desperate to come here."

Pressure will not ease on Van Gaal

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has been frustrated this week by media reports, including from BBC Sport, saying that Jose Mourinho's representatives have spoken to the club about their client replacing the Dutchman.

Van Gaal had continued to insist that the club can finish in the top four, although the defeat keeps fifth-placed United six points behind Manchester City, who now have a game in hand.

And, after the game, Van Gaal said it will be "very difficult" for them to qualify for the Champions League. The result has done nothing either to boost his chances of keeping his job.

United dominated the final stages of the first half, but other than that they were matched or outplayed by Sunderland, who could have scored more.

Love appears on Valentine's weekend

Manchester United now have seven defenders injured after they lost Matteo Darmian to a shoulder injury during the first half.

On Saturday, the day before Valentine's Day, Van Gaal brought on the appropriately named Donald Love, a Scotland Under-21 international. The former Wigan loanee had a solid performance on his debut at right-back.

The 21-year-old joined in United's attack at will and showed he was not overawed when he screamed at captain Wayne Rooney for over-hitting the return ball of a one-two.

The stats you need to know

  • Sunderland recorded their first ever Premier League win against Manchester United at the Stadium of Light in their 14th attempt.
  • United have earned fewer points this season than in any other Premier League campaign after 26 games (41).
  • United have won none of the past seven league games where they conceded the first goal (D1 L6).
  • Sunderland attempted more shots (including blocks) versus United than in any other league game this season (21 shots).
  • The Red Devils have collected just six points from their past seven league away games (W1 D3 L3).
  • Only Wayne Rooney (18) has scored or assisted more goals in all competitions for United this season than Anthony Martial (15 - 10 goals, five assists).
  • Sunderland have gone 12 games without a clean sheet in the league, the longest current run in the division.
  • United have earned fewer points this season than in any other Premier League campaign after 26 games (41).

'We deserved to win'

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce told BBC Match of the Day: "I thought the result was right. On the balance of chances created, a 2-1 win was no more than we deserved.

"It shows the importance of set plays. We've found a lad who delivers a great ball. One, he's scored himself and the second ball for Lamine's goal was quality.

"I thought Jermain Defoe was going to make it 2-0 and then Dame N'Doye got in one-on-one. We all prayed he would score. When he missed I wondered if it would be one of those days.

"Everyone is very happy at the moment. I've sensed a commitment and a desire and will to get out of the problems."

Next up for both sides...

Sunderland have two weeks until their next game, away to West Ham, and are heading to Dubai next week for warm weather training.

United will have no such luxury, as they face Danish side Midtjylland on Thursday in the Europa League, before an FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury the following Monday and the reverse European tie three days later.

United's next league involvement is at home to Arsenal on Sunday, 28 February.

Source: bbc.com

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Chelsea must reach final to save season - Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea must reach the final of the Champions League or the FA Cup to save their season, says goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea face Paris St-Germain on 16 February before their fifth-round FA Cup tie with Manchester City.

"We play against two great sides and we have to try to win those games," said the Blues number one.

"The only way to save our season is to reach the final in one or both of them."

Following their 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester United, Chelsea still sit low down the Premier League table in 13th position, 17 points from a Champions League spot.

"Obviously every time we don't win in the league, and there is one game less, there is less chance to get into the top four," the 23-year-old told Chelseafc.com

Chelsea have gone nine matches without defeat under interim manager Guus Hiddink and they have not given up on reaching a top-four spot.

"We will see where we are with five-six games in a row and see whether we can get there or not."

The Blues next league game is against relegation-threatened Newcastle on Saturday.

Source: bbc.com

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Ogbonna's extra-time header put West Ham into the last 16 of the FA Cup

Angelo Ogbonna's extra-time header put West Ham into the last 16 of the FA Cup with a dramatic fourth-round replay win against Liverpool.

The Hammers led before half-time when Michail Antonio guided in Enner Valencia's cross at the far post.

Liverpool responded shortly after the restart when Philippe Coutinho's low free-kick sneaked under the home wall.

Both sides hit the woodwork in an open tie, before Ogbonna met Dimitri Payet's free-kick to delight the home fans.

The Hammers will visit Championship side Blackburn in the fifth round on Sunday, 21 February.

Re-live a dramatic night at the Boleyn Ground

Magic of the cup?

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has said he would rather win the FA Cup than finish in the Premier League top four, and he showed his intent by picking a near full-strength side against an inexperienced Liverpool team.

Reds counterpart Jurgen Klopp, as he had in his previous three FA Cup matches, rang the changes with only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet surviving from Saturday's Premier League draw against Sunderland.

But any worries - for the neutral observer, at least - that the hosts would dominate their youthful opponents proved unfounded.

The two sides were evenly matched throughout the 120 minutes as a high-tempo game, containing plenty of goalscoring chances and drama, provided a sharp contrast to the dour 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Either side could have nicked an extra-time winner, with Christian Benteke missing three clear-cut opportunities for Liverpool.

And former Juventus defender Ogbonna's first Hammers goal provided the perfect finale for the hosts in what might be the final FA Cup tie at the Boleyn Ground before their move to the Olympic Stadium.

Hammers up for the cup?

West Ham are three-time winners of the FA Cup, but have not lifted the trophy since Trevor Brooking's famous header gave them victory in the 1980 final.

But with Bilic keen to focus on the competition, could he lead the east London club to silverware in his first season as Hammers boss?

The Croat will not publicly admit it, but he must realise his team have a great chance of reaching the last eight as they face a Blackburn side winless in eight league matches and in the lower reaches of the Championship.

France international Dimitri Payet will be central to their ambitions of a possible run to Wembley, with the mercurial midfielder again instrumental in this victory.

The 28-year-old, who the Hammers want to sign an improved deal, outlined his worth by starting the move that led to Antonio's goal and supplying the teasing free-kick that Ogbonna converted.

Benteke to blame?

Since his £32m summer arrival from Aston Villa, Benteke has failed to win over many Liverpool fans, who have questioned the wisdom in spending so much on a striker who has struggled to fit into the Reds' system.

And the Belgian missed the chance to win over the doubters by firing Liverpool, seven-time winners of the FA Cup, past the Hammers.

Benteke had nine efforts at goal - three times as many as any other player - but extended his goalless run to 11 matches in 2016.

Hammers keeper Darren Randolph denied him from close range in both halves of normal time, but Benteke should have scored when put clean through in extra time.

However, he could only shoot at the legs of the Republic of Ireland international - a miss which proved costly.

"It's not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard," said Klopp.

"He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months."

Sturridge return boosts Liverpool

Despite the defeat, there were some positives for Liverpool fans - most notably Daniel Sturridge returning from a hamstring injury to make his first appearance since early December.

Sturridge has spent almost 55% of his time at Anfield injured, but once again showed how important he could be if he manages to stay fit.

The England international gradually grew into the game after arriving as a 59th-minute substitute, showing glimpses of neat footwork and his sharp eye for goal.

His best opportunity came early in the second half of extra time, when he picked the ball up near the halfway line before driving forward unopposed and fizzing a shot inches over the Hammers crossbar.

Too early to start thinking of an England recall?

What's next?

Back to Premier League action. Sixth-placed West Ham go to relegation battlers Norwich on Saturday, while ninth-placed Liverpool visit bottom side Aston Villa on Sunday.

Stats you need to know

  • Liverpool played their 40th game in all competitions in 2015-16, more than any other Premier League team
  • Philippe Coutinho's goal was Liverpool's first in 318 minutes of action against West Ham in all competitions this season
  • The Hammers have lost just one of their past 11 FA Cup games at home, winning six and drawing four
  • West Ham's win was their first in eight FA Cup meetings with the Reds, drawing three and losing four
  • Benteke has gone 11 games without scoring for Liverpool in all competitions, mustering 30 shots in those matches

Source: bbc.com

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Broncos LB Von Miller named Super Bowl 50 MVP

No. 2 was greater than No. 1 in Super Bowl 50.

Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in 2011, snagged the Super Bowl MVP award after leading a dominant Denver Broncos defense that shut down the NFL's No. 1 scoring offense and league MVP Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.

The Broncos forced four turnovers and sacked Newton seven times in the 24-10 win.

Miller was unstoppable all night off the edge. He harassed Newton to the tune 2.5 sacks and a huge strip of Newton in the closing minutes to seal the victory.

The linebacker highlighted his night early with a monstrous strip sack of Newton in the opening quarter that resulted in the Broncos' first touchdown of the game and set the tone for the contest. The play showed off Miller's combination of lightning quickness off the edge and massive strength. Small men don't rip the ball out of Cam Newton's hands.

Miller took home the award, but it could have gone to the entire defensive front. DeMarcus Ware (2 sacks, 4 QB hits) was all over the field, chasing Newton seemingly every play. The middle of the Broncos' defense, led by Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe, pushed the pocket, not allowing Newton to step up or scurry though the line on scrambles. The Broncos defense allowed the Panthers' No. 2 ranked rushing offense no holes, holding Carolina to a combined 118 yards on the ground.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Miller wants to be the highest paid defensive player in the NFL -- the Broncos will first slap the franchise tag on the linebacker. His performance in Super Bowl 50 justified those demands.

Source: nfl.com

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Broncos outlast Panthers, claim third Super Bowl title

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Denver Broncos authored one of the greatest defensive performances in Super Bowl 50, helping Peyton Manning write one of the game's most improbable stories in the process.

The Broncos are Super Bowl champions for a third time after dismantling the Panthers 24-10 inside a raucous Levi's Stadium. It was only fitting that the game's decisive moment was made by Broncos linebacker Von Miller. Miller was named Super Bowl 50 MVP.

Late in the fourth quarter in a one score game, Miller fought off Panthers tackle Mike Remmer's initial block, dipped his shoulder, kept his balance and reach his long left arm at Cam Newton. The ensuing fumble was Carolina's fourth of the day and fourth turnover overall. Like the high-powered Steelers and Patriots offense before them, the Panthers offense had no answers for this incredible Broncos group.

Around The NFL will have more on this shortly.

Source: nfl.com

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Late Costa strike denies Man Utd win

Diego Costa scored a late equaliser to preserve Chelsea's unbeaten record under interim boss Guus Hiddink and deny Manchester United a win.

United dominated early on, Thibaut Courtois producing a fine one-handed save to keep out Anthony Martial.

David de Gea saved well from Nemanja Matic's header before Jesse Lingard's fine turn and shot put United ahead.

Costa rescued a point in the 91st minute after rounding De Gea following Cesc Fabregas' pass.

United were moments away from moving to within four points of the top four when Costa scored his seventh goal in eight games.

Chelsea, who lost defender Kurt Zouma to a serious injury, remain 13th in the table.

Relive all the drama from Stamford Bridge

A United performance to offer encouragement

This will feel like a defeat for United after a bright start and a wonderful goal to give them the lead in what was an entertaining draw between two teams struggling for form.

Apart from the late equaliser, Louis van Gaal's side produced a display full of positives after recent criticism about the team's style and reports linking former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho with the United job.

They started well and offered more zip and energy than their cumbersome hosts.

Courtois' flying save to keep out Martial's curling attempt was excellent, while United forced 10 corners before the end of the first half.

The visitors looked set for a rare win over Chelsea when Lingard displayed terrific balance and agility to break the deadlock with a sublime spin and shot inside the area.

However, United backed off after scoring and invited pressure, Costa pouncing from close range after a terrific Fabregas pass.

Instead of closing the gap on fourth place to four points, they now find themselves six points adrift.

Chelsea leave it late again

De Gea was at his magnificent best to keep out a thunderous attempt by Branislav Ivanovic and then Fabregas as Chelsea surged forward in the final quarter in search of an equaliser.

When Costa blazed over the bar after a free-kick it looked all up for the hosts.

Yet for the second league home game in a row, they rescued a point in stoppage time.

Hiddink's sixth draw in eight league games in charge leaves the defending champions seven points above the relegation zone with 13 games remaining.

Will Terry stay?

This was Chelsea's first game back at Stamford Bridge since captain John Terry announced he was set to leave at the end of the season.

There was no mention of Terry leaving in the captain's programme notes and Blues fans will still be hoping he may yet extend his stay.

They chanted his name throughout as Terry produced an assured performance at the heart of the defence, while he was denied a penalty when his goal-bound shot at the end of the first half struck the arm of Daley Blind.

Terry's importance to the team was underlined by Zouma's nasty-looking injury, the France international landing awkwardly on his right knee after volleying the ball away.

What the managers said

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink:

"I am happy with the reaction of the team. Manchester United did a good job in the first half and in the beginning of the second, they are not an easy team to beat.

"But we deserved a point. We dropped too far back after the first 20 minutes when they dominated us but later on we closed a little more.

"They made a beautiful goal - without good marking from our side - but after I think the team reacted very well."

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal:

"I feel we didn't reward ourselves with a victory because we were the better team. Until the last quarter we played very well and could have scored more goals. But you have to control the game better and we did not do that.

"It isn't a lack of concentration it is not being composed when you are defending. When we have the ball we have to keep the ball.

"You need to give the right pass at the right moment and we did not do that [before Chelsea scored]. Chelsea are a very good team and you play like we played and don't reward yourself, it is frustrating."

The stats you need to know

  • Despite still being unbeaten under Guus Hiddink this season, Chelsea are winless in four consecutive Premier League home games for the first time since November 2012.
  • Indeed, it is the first time they have ever drawn four consecutive home games in the Premier League.
  • Jesse Lingard has scored three goals from his last four shots on target in the Premier League.

Up next?

Both teams are in Premier League action on Saturday at different times of the day. While Chelsea entertain struggling Newcastle United (17:30 GMT), Manchester United travel to Wearside to face relegation-threatened Sunderland (12:45 GMT).

Source: bbc.com

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Spurs beat Watford to move second

Tottenham moved into second place in the Premier League table as Kieran Trippier's first goal for the club sealed a dominant win over Watford.

The former Burnley full-back was in the right place to tap in substitute Dele Alli's fine low cross.

Spurs were always in control against a lacklustre Watford side, but were continually denied by their former goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

The Hornets failed to record a shot on target and fall to 10th in the table.

Spurs were always well on top, having 26 efforts on goal, but lacked the killer touch until Alli came off the bench to continue his superb season and tee up Trippier for the winner.

Alli was left out after feeling unwell during the 3-0 win at Norwich in midweek but quickly made the difference for Mauricio Pochettino's side once more.

Spurs under the radar?

You would have been forgiven for thinking on Saturday morning that the Premier League title was a two-horse race, such was the focus on leaders Leicester's trip to Manchester City.

But Spurs, with just three league defeats all season and seven wins from their last nine games, have crept under the radar to move into a great position to fight for their first title since 1961.

They have not finished second since 1963 but now have a squad who look capable of pushing Leicester and Manchester City all the way.

Leicester's stunning lunchtime win meant Spurs kicked off in the knowledge that a win would put them second overnight.

And their win against the Hornets would have been secured far earlier had Gomes - who had an eventful six-year stay at White Hart Lane - not made eight saves.

Spurs may be five points behind the Foxes but with Leicester facing Arsenal next weekend, while Spurs take on City, that could soon change.

Full-backs key for Spurs

Pochettino rotated his full-backs. leaving out Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, with Ben Davies and Trippier starting instead.

And both players fully justified their selection with superb attacking displays, providing the width in a patient, but attacking display.

In the first half Davies was twice denied by Gomes' reflex saves, and Trippier - who made 10 crosses from right-back - popped up in space to grab the winner when Alli's cross with the outside of his boot picked him out at the far post.

Friends reunited?

For Watford it was largely a day to forget. A damaging run of four straight defeats was arrested at the end of January but there was no sign of a side who had held Chelsea in midweek.

Manager Quique Sanchez Flores chose to split up his 20-goal strike partnership of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, with Deeney tired after a gruelling run of games, but the change in system only served to leave Ighalo woefully isolated in the first half. Ighalo had the fewest touches (14) of any outfield player before Deeney came on at the break.

The captain's return made little difference though, as the Hornets ended the game without a single effort on target.

'We need to be calm'

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, speaking to BBC Sport: "I feel very proud of the players.

"We need to be calm. We are in a very good position in the league but the philosophy from the beginning of the season has been to go step by step. We are a very young squad so it is important to keep going and take every game and competition and be ready to compete.

"We still need to be more clinical, we created a lot of chances but need to score more."

'It was completely difficult'

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores: "It was completely difficult. We expected a tough match. Tottenham play really quick, play intelligent balls, they have a lot of good players so it was very difficult to stop their attacks.

"Tottenham have improved since the last time we played. They have more confidence and they are one of the best teams. They have the chance to win the league.

"Playing against Chelsea and Tottenham in four days is too much. We did all the best we could but it was not enough."

What next?

Tottenham could put a gap between themselves and third-placed Manchester City with a win at the Etihad next Sunday, while Watford face a short trip to freefalling Crystal Palace.

The stats you need to know

  • Spurs have had a league-high 72 shots in the first half of games in 2016 so far but they have scored with just four of those.
  • Kieran Trippier bagged his first Premier League goal in his 43rd appearance.
  • Dele Alli assisted Trippier's goal just 176 seconds after entering the field of play.
  • Alli has had a hand in 11 goals in his last 14 Premier League games for Spurs (six goals, five assists).
  • Spurs had 26 shots, their joint-most in a Premier League game this season - level with their tally against Sunderland at home in January.
  • The Hornets have failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games.
  • Watford have mustered just one shot on target in their two Premier League games against Spurs in 2015-16.

Source: bbc.com

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Leicester stun Man City to extend lead

Premier League leaders Leicester stunned nearest rivals Manchester City with a convincing victory at Etihad Stadium to move five points clear.

Robert Huth met Riyad Mahrez's free-kick to give the Foxes an early lead.

City rarely looked like breaking down the visitors' defence, while their own back line appeared vulnerable.

Mahrez made it 2-0 with a step-over and finish, and Huth found space to head home a Christian Fuchs corner before Sergio Aguero's late consolation.

Follow all the reaction to this match and Saturday's other games

Foxes continue fine away form

Leicester had already beaten third-placed Tottenham at White Hart Lane in January but this resounding result against Manchester City was their most significant in a remarkable season.

The Foxes have now picked up 28 points on their travels and, although they were denied a sixth clean sheet in their past seven matches, this was another win earned by their solid defence.

Aguero's glancing header from teenage substitute Bersant Celina's cross meant Manchester City retained their record of only failing to score once at home this season, but they had toiled in front of goal for much of the match.

Claudio Ranieri's side travel to fourth-placed Arsenal next weekend - win there too, and people might be asking 'who can catch Leicester?' rather than 'can the Foxes really win the title?'.

Manchester City's defence again at fault

While Leicester's defence was a solid and well-organised unit, given further protection by N'Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater in central midfield, Manchester City looked nervy whenever the visitors came forward.

Martin Demichelis was left flat-footed by Robert Huth for Leicester's first goal and was beaten with ease by Mahrez for their second, while Huth was completely unmarked when he made it 3-0.

Things could easily have been even worse for home boss Manuel Pellegrini in his first game at the Etihad since it was announced Pep Guardiola would be replacing him in the summer.

Leicester's Jamie Vardy twice broke clear to latch on to balls over the top and was only prevented from inflicting further damage by smart blocks by Joe Hart.

'Nothing is finished' - Pellegrini

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini said he had "no complaints" about the result but insists his side's hopes of winning the title are not over.

Pellegrini told BBC Sport: "Leicester played better than us. Conceding a goal from a set piece after two minutes was very important for the game.

"We had chances but it was a difficult game. I expected more from the beginning because it was very important, we are at home and playing top of the table, but we couldn't do it.

"There are 36 points to play for, nothing is finished. It is important for us to recover our players and I am continuing to not give up because we got an unexpected defeat but we must continue."

'We play without pressure' - Ranieri

Ranieri saluted his side's defensive discipline at the final whistle, telling BBC Sport: "We played very, very compact and believed everything could be possible.

"We play without pressure because we don't have to win the league. We must enjoy. This league is so strange and now it is important to think about Arsenal.

"I want to wait until the end of April because I know the last matches are very tough. This is a fantastic moment for the Premier League, nobody knows who can win it."

What next?

While Leicester head for the Emirates and another test of their title mettle, Manchester City must pick themselves up for the visit of another in-form team, Tottenham, before starting a run of fixtures that sees them play in the FA Cup, Champions League and the Capital One Cup final in the space of a week.

BBC Radio 5 live In Short: Leicester City: Champions League to Championship?

The stats you need to know

  • Robert Huth has scored more goals in his last five Premier League appearances (3) as he had in his previous 86 in the competition (2).
  • This was only the second time in his Premier League career that he's scored more than once in a game, with the German last scoring two in February 2011 for Stoke v Sunderland.
  • Riyad Mahrez (14 goals, 10 assists) became the first player to reach double figures in terms of both goals and assists in the Premier League this season.
  • Mahrez ended a personal Premier League goal drought of 11 hours and two minutes with his strike in this match.
  • Manchester City have not beaten any side currently in the top six of the league this season (W0 D3 L4).
  • Manchester City have lost as many league home games this season (3) as they had in 2014-15 and 2013-14 combined under Manuel Pellegrini (3).
  • Leicester City have lost just one of their last 16 league away games (W10 D5 L1).

Source: bbc.com

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Jose Mourinho: Man Utd hold talks with former Chelsea manager

Manchester United have held talks with representatives of former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

The 53-year-old Portuguese, who was sacked by the Blues in December, is increasingly hopeful of succeeding Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford.

No agreement has been reached, and the club have made no comment, but negotiations have begun.

Dutchman Van Gaal, 64, is expected to leave United at the end of the season - one year earlier than scheduled.

That would leave the way clear for Mourinho, who is known to be excited by the prospect of taking over at Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho scarf held by a Man Utd fan

Sections of the United support have called for Jose Mourinho to become their new manager

The United hierarchy are thought to be keen to respond after Manchester City secured the services of coveted former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola earlier this week.

Mourinho's arrival would mean a resumption of a rivalry that began in Spain when he was coach of Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013.

Twice in recent weeks, Van Gaal's tenure has seemed perilous.

However, defeats by Stoke on Boxing Day and Southampton on 23 January have been followed by an improvement in both form and performance.

United, who are five points adrift of the Champions League places, play Chelsea on Sunday (16:00 GMT).

Who else is in the frame?

It is widely assumed the most obvious alternative to Mourinho is Ryan Giggs, Van Gaal's assistant.

The Welshman, who joined United aged 14, made a record 963 appearances for the club and won 13 Premier League titles.

The 42-year-old took over as manager on an interim basis in April 2014 following the sacking of David Moyes.

Although he has not spoken about the United job since Van Gaal took over, it would be a surprise were he not interested in replacing the Dutchman should the opportunity arise.

However, while Giggs was happy to further his education under Van Gaal, he is unlikely to be as willing to work with Mourinho.

What went wrong for Mourinho at Chelsea?

Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea manager lasted from 2004 to 2007, and included two Premier League titles.

On his return, he again led the London club to the title, but left just seven months later.

He made a disastrous start to this season, losing nine of the first 16 league games, and departed with the team 16th in the league, one point above the relegation zone.

The former Porto boss fell out with the Blues' medical team, in particular club doctor Eva Carneiro, after describing them as "naive" for running on to the pitch to treat midfielder Eden Hazard during a draw against Swansea in August.

Carneiro, who left the club on 22 September, is taking legal action against Mourinho and the Blues.

How is his relationship with Man Utd?

Mourinho has never hidden his admiration for United, and particularly their legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Speaking before taking his Inter Milan side to Old Trafford for a Champions League last-16 tie in 2009, he said: "I want to face the best and United are a team of champions with a super coach in Alex Ferguson."

But after being linked with the manager's job following the departure of Ferguson in 2013, he declared his allegiance to Chelsea.

"I would have turned down every job in the world - the Manchester United job, every one - for Chelsea," he said.

There were reports last month that Mourinho had written a six-page letter outlining his suitability for the United role, but that was dismissed as "absurd" by his agent.

Analysis

Simon Stone - BBC Sport football reporter

Before the red carpet is rolled out to welcome Manchester United's new manager, a word of warning.

Talks should not be interpreted as an agreement, as an offer, or even the promise of one. None of that has happened.

Neither should we assume Ryan Giggs is out of the running, nor that the merits of Laurent Blanc and Mauricio Pochettino, the two other realistic candidates for the job, have been discarded.

The fact is, given the pressure Louis van Gaal has been under recently, United's hierarchy simply would not be doing their jobs properly if they did not at least get some idea of the thinking behind the major candidates.

And what of Van Gaal?

He may have twice looked as though he was on the brink of being sacked, but he is still in a job and on Tuesday his side delivered their best performance of the season in beating Stoke 3-0.

Even Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini accepts United are not out of the Premier League title race just yet - and if they did win it, there would be no vacancy for Mourinho to fill at the end of the season anyway.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Lazio: Serie A club fined for racist chanting against Napoli

Lazio have been fined 50,000 euros (£38,250) after their match against Napoli on Wednesday was temporarily halted following racist chants.

The Rome club will also have to close three sections of the Stadio Olimpico ground for their next two Serie A home games.

The match was stopped for three minutes in the second half after some fans aimed racist chants at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

League leaders Napoli won 2-0.

Senegal international Koulibaly, 24, praised referee Massimiliano Irrati for stopping the match.

After the match, Lazio manager Stefano Pioli said: "I would not have stopped the match. It was chanting from the minority, but I don't think they were racist. We also have players of colour and they are treated well."

The club have frequently been punished in the past for similar offences.

A spokesman for Serie A's disciplinary office said the club's North End, Tevere North End and Monte Mario North End must be closed for two matches.

This includes a one-match sanction which had been suspended for a year after racist chants from some fans in their home match against Genoa on 10 February 2015.

Source: bbc.com

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Arsenal playing catch up in the Premier League - Arsene Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his side are now playing catch-up in the Premier League title race after their goalless home draw with Southampton.

The Gunners are without a win in four league games and have failed to score in the past three.

They are fourth in table, five points behind leaders Leicester.

"We have to catch that back and we have a difficult programme, especially away from home," Wenger told the club's official website.

"We need to respond quickly away from home now."

Arsenal's tricky away days
Bournemouth v Arsenal (Premier League, 7 February)
Man Utd v Arsenal (Premier League 28 February)
Tottenham v Arsenal (Premier League 5 March)
Barcelona (Champions League last 16 second leg, 16 March)
Everton v Arsenal (Premier League, 19 March)

Arsenal have only won once in the league this year, drawing 3-3 at Liverpool and 0-0 at Stoke, and losing 1-0 at home to Chelsea prior to Tuesday's match.

When asked if he was worried that Arsenal's season would tail off, Wenger replied: "It's too early to say that. It's true that we've had a stuttering start in 2016.

"Our January was bad, starting from the last minute at Liverpool, and then at Stoke.

"Where we especially have a big deficit is in our two home games. We played with 10 men for the whole game against Chelsea and today we created 10 chances and didn't score."

Leicester's 2-0 win over Liverpool means they retain top spot in the division, but Arsenal have now dropped below Manchester City and Tottenham, who won at Sunderland and Norwich respectively on Tuesday.

"Leicester won again and now I am sure that everybody will take them very seriously, especially in the media, so they will be under pressure as well," said Wenger.

"But we have not to look too much at Leicester or Man City, we have to win football games. We have to focus on how to respond quickly and win our next game, that's all we can do."

Arsenal's 'bad' January
Arsenal 2-1 Burnley (FA Cup third round, 30 January)
Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea (Premier League, 24 January)
Stoke 0-0 Arsenal (Premier League, 17 January)
Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal (Premier League, 13 January

The Gunners created a number of good chances against Southampton but were unable to convert them, with Fraser Forster excelling in the Saints goal.

"The quality of the chances we created today, considering it's a Premier League game, was high," added Wenger. "The quality of the finishing was poor.

"Our finishing is very bad at the moment - we have played three [league] games now without scoring a goal. In all those three games we had chances that we didn't take. At that level it's important."

 

Source: bbc.com

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Man U Beat Stoke as they hit scoring form

Manchester United kept in contention for a top-four Premier League place and gave manager Louis van Gaal a rare night of relaxation as Stoke City were outclassed at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal and his players were jeered after defeat by Southampton in their previous home game - but it was all a sharp contrast here as United, inspired by youngster Antony Martial, won at a canter.

Jesse Lingard headed in Cameron Borthwick-Jackson's perfect delivery after 14 minutes to end a shocking sequence of 11 matches without a first-half goal at home stretching over a period of eight hours 40 minutes.

Martial scored the goal his performance merited with a fine curled finish shortly after before setting up the third for Wayne Rooney from close range eight minutes after the break.

It was a win United's performance fully deserved and the victory margin could have been even greater, leaving them in fifth place, five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.

Magnificent Martial

As Manchester United have struggled through this colourless, painful season there has been one shaft of light offering real hope for the present and the future.

Anthony Martial's £36.5m signing from Monaco, when he was only 19, in September was regarded as a gamble by Van Gaal.

On this night of rejuvenation at Old Trafford it looks even more like money well spent.

The wisdom is that the rangy youngster will end up playing as a central striker, but Van Gaal has used him regularly from wide positions and, stationed on the left flank here, he tortured Stoke's defence and made former England defender Glen Johnson's night a misery.

He showed all the pace and athleticism that will be an asset to United for years to come as he was a threat all night, showing wonderful technique and composure to curl in a right-foot shot for the second goal then showed calmness and vision to lay the third on a plate for Rooney.

It was his sixth goal and third assist in the league, with the promise of plenty more to come. He departed to a deserved standing ovation with 11 minutes left.

Some of United's work in the transfer market since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson has been justifiably criticised - not a bit of it with Martial.

Relief at last for Van Gaal

Manchester United's 64-year-old manager has been a besieged figure this season, seemingly facing a crisis and an uncertain future on a weekly basis, scrutinised once more on Monday when neighbours Manchester City announced the world's most coveted coach, Pep Guardiola, would be joining them in the summer.

He received a subdued welcome as he made his way down the Old Trafford touchline to his technical area before kick-off, acknowledging a smattering of applause with a couple of waves.

Van Gaal was able to make the return journey at the final whistle with cheers ringing around Old Trafford after their most impressive performance in months, a display designed to support his theory that things will eventually get better.

It has been a good few days for Van Gaal, with a potentially hazardous FA Cup fourth-round trip to Derby County safely negotiated last Friday and now this convincing victory.

Old Trafford elated

When Lingard stooped to head in Borthwick-Jackson's superb cross after 14 minutes, the roar that went around Old Trafford was tinged with relief and delight.

How United and Van Gaal needed that. The first groans of frustration had surfaced moments earlier when Chris Smalling drove into Stoke City's half but lost momentum because of lack of movement from his team-mates - but the pressure valve was released by Lingard's goal.

Old Trafford was in buoyant mood for the rest of game, United's supporters able to sit back and enjoy their team exerting total control and playing with a fluency rarely seen this season.

What they said:

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal: "I think we have played in the first half attacking- wise very good. In the second half we were more controlling and we didn't give any chances away against a team like Stoke. That is remarkable because they always make it difficult."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes: "We didn't start in the right manner. We conceded early on, were too passive and for the first goal we didn't get close enough to people. Avoiding going 1-0 down early on is what you talk about before coming to Old Trafford, and unfortunately we conceded another poor goal for the second."

What's next?

Manchester United travel to Chelsea on Sunday (16:00 kick-off), while Stoke host Everton on Saturday (15:00 GMT).

The stats you need to know:

  • Jesse Lingard scored Manchester United's first first-half goal at Old Trafford since they netted one against Wolfsburg in the Champions League in September 2015
  • It was the first time since April 2015 against Manchester City that the Red Devils had scored twice in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game at home
  • Wayne Rooney scored his 99th Premier League goal at Old Trafford
  • Rooney scored and provided an assist at Old Trafford in a Premier League game for the first time since Boxing Day 2014 against Newcastle

Source: bbc.com

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Alli & Kane SendTottenham 3rd

England striker Harry Kane scored twice as Tottenham kept up the chase at the top with an easy win at Norwich.

Dele Alli tapped in inside the first two minutes after Christian Eriksen's low shot had been blocked.

Kane then stroked in the second from the spot after Alli, who came off with an illness at half-time, was fouled in trying to follow up Kane's saved shot.

He then fired his second of the night from 15 yards after Eriksen had dispossessed Martin Olsson.

The victory lifts Spurs up to third, above Arsenal on goal difference. Norwich could find themselves in the bottom three on Wednesday if Newcastle defeat Everton.

Re-live the action from Carrow Road

All the action from Tuesday's Premier League matches

The Kane and Alli show on extended run

Keegan-Toshack, Cole-Beardsley, Shearer-Sheringham - Kane and Alli just seem to have an understanding that some of the game's legendary link-ups possessed.

The wholesome twosome have formed a formidable attack at Spurs. Alli has had a hand in 10 goals in his last 13 Premier League games for Spurs, and Kane has scored eight in his last eight. They are a fantasy football player's dream combo.

Kane was his usual hungry self - snapping at the heels of the last defender. He should have got his reward for his doggedness when late in the game he stole the ball from Youssouf Mulumbu, surged towards goal but saw his shot rebound off the post.

However, with seconds remaining he did grab his second when he pounced on the loose ball after good work from Eriksen and fired past Declan Rudd.

As for Alli, he only played a cameo today, but it was a memorable one. The 19-year-old is both a threat outside the area and inside, as proved today. He anticipated brilliantly for the first, and repeated the trick when he won the penalty, which was conceded by Sebastian Bassong.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said he was brought off at half-time because he felt unwell. Spurs fans will be praying he is fit for Saturday's home clash against Watford.

Where do Norwich go from here?

The Canaries were the most active team in the transfer window, but have they made the right purchases?

One of their buys was Portuguese right-back Ivo Pinto. He made his debut in the 5-4 defeat against Liverpool, and followed that up with a truly awful first-half display against Spurs.

He allowed Christian Eriksen far too much space down that flank and was then put into a spin by Kane, who forced a good save from the impressive Declan Rudd.

At the other end, there was little bite. Tall forward Dieumerci Mbokani looked the most potent, and had his side's best chance - a low drive that keeper Hugo Lloris was equal to.

Another new signing Steven Naismith had a relatively quiet game, but perhaps the Scot, his team-mates and manager Alex Neil will have been slightly aggrieved that a penalty was not awarded when he fell under the challenge of defender Kevin Wimmer.

What the managers said

Norwich manager Alex Neil: "Once you concede in the first minute and a half, we make it difficult for ourselves.

"The Spurs penalty is the softest penalty I've seen all season. We didn't get the fair share of the decisions and that cost us.

"If it was a clear penalty, I'd be the first to hold my hands up. The next game becomes huge for us now."

Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino: "The performance was very good. I'm happy with three points. The first half was fantastic.

"Dele felt unwell, but he's OK now.

"Harry is still very young and has big potential to improve."

The stats you need to know

  • Alli has scored in consecutive games for the first time since April 2015 (in all comps), when he netted for MK Dons against Fleetwood and then Leyton Orient.
  • Alli's goal was the fourth quickest in the Premier League this season (1:36) and Tottenham's quickest in the Premier League since Boxing Day 2014 (Kane v Leicester, 0:57).
  • Tottenham have gone 11 games unbeaten away from home in the league for the first time since a run of 16 in 1985.
  • Norwich City failed to score at home in the league for the only the second time in their last 12 fixtures at Carrow Road.

What next?

Norwich face what you can call a relegation six-pointer against Villa at home on Saturday. Spurs are at home to Watford on the same day.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Vardy scored twice as Leicester beat Liverpool to stay three points clear

Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester beat Liverpool to stay three points clear at the top of the Premier League.

The England striker opened the scoring with a brilliant 25-yard strike over goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Riyad Mahrez's long ball forward.

And he sealed the victory when he turned home Shinji Okazaki's deflected shot from close range.

The Foxes fully deserved their victory, with Mignolet touching an Okazaki header onto the bar in the first half.

Leicester's title bid is unique in the Premier League age and with each victory, they move one game closer to winning their first ever top-flight title.

There was a feeling the next two weeks could define Leicester's season - this game against Liverpool is followed by trips to title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal.

But they came through the first of those three games in style. Vardy caught Mignolet off his line with his goal-of-the-season contender and then added a second 11 minutes later.

The Foxes had most of the game's big chances, Mignolet brilliantly denying a Mahrez curling strike as well as touching Okazaki's effort onto the crossbar. Moments before Vardy's second, the hosts should have had a penalty when Mamadou Sakho brought down Okazaki.

Foxes midfielder Danny Drinkwater said: "We're staying on the ground but if we carry on the way we are then why not have the belief [to win the league]? It would go down in history surely."

How man-of-the-match Vardy scored his goal

Vardy - who is set to sign a new three-and-a-half-year deal with the Foxes - had never scored a Premier League goal from outside the box with his first 21 top-flight attempts.

He let Mahrez's long ball bounce before smashing it over Mignolet. After the game he revealed he had seen the keeper stray off his line on previous occasions and decided to try his luck.

Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

Vardy hit the ball with power after letting it bounce

Jamie Vardy

Simon Mignolet

Goal sums his season up'

Leicester midfielder Drinkwater told BBC Match of the Day: "His first goal was incredible. You think he's going to square it but he hits it top corner. It sums his season up. He can turn an average ball into a great ball."

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri said: "Amazing. The first goal was unbelievable. Jamie is very fast and can create a lot but it was unbelievable how Mahrez found him and how he had the time to see the keeper out of the goal and score a fantastic goal."

Reds look out of form

Liverpool, who are now eighth and 16 points off top, look a long way from the side who beat Manchester City 4-1 and Southampton 6-1 in November and December.

With Daniel Sturridge frequently injured and Christian Benteke out of favour, the Reds started with Roberto Firmino as their central forward but the Brazilian only had two efforts, one blocked and one off target.

When BBC Match of the Day's Jonathan Pearce praised Liverpool's work ethic to Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, the German replied: "It's rare a journalist says something more positive than the manager.

"I'm not too fine with our game today. We could have played much better. We had a few shots where we could pass and a few passes where we could shoot. We created half chances but not real chances. Today would have been a good day to show we are ready for this. I need a few more seconds to calm down. I have to watch it again."

What's up next?

Leicester's next game is their biggest of the season to date. They visit second-placed Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime, knowing they could either be knocked off top - or go six points clear.

"The team is in good condition," said Ranieri. "Now it is important to recover the energy because we have to run a lot against Manchester City. We are free of pressure. The players have a good feeling."

Liverpool are at home to second-from-bottom Sunderland.

The stats you need to know

  • Liverpool prevented the opposition scoring with their first shot on target for the first time in 2016 in the Premier League.
  • Mahrez and Vardy have combined for seven Premier League goals this season - the joint most with Ozil/Giroud and Ighalo/Deeney.
  • Vardy has 18 league goals for the season, only one fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez.
  • Leicester have 50 points, only five short of their all-time top-flight record total (55 in 1999-2000).
  • Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in their past six Premier League away games.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Sepp Blatter: Whistleblower gives evidence in criminal case

A whistleblower has given evidence on Sepp Blatter that may be "very helpful" in the criminal case against the banned Fifa president, say Swiss prosecutors.

Blatter was banned from football for eight years for making a "disloyal payment" of £1.3m to Uefa president Michel Platini, and is also under investigation by Swiss state lawyers for alleged criminal mismanagement.

"The Swiss Attorney General's office received valuable information from a testimony that might be very helpful," a spokesman told BBC Sport.

Blatter, 79, is suspected of signing a contract that was "unfavourable to Fifa".

The contract is thought to refer to a 2005 TV rights deal between Fifa and Jack Warner, the former president of Concacaf, the governing body of football in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Blatter, who has always denied any wrongdoing, is appealing against his ban from football. But Fifa's ethics committee hopes to increase his punishment to a lifetime ban.

He won a fifth Fifa presidential election in May, but his 17-year reign at the top of the game's global governing body is set to come to an end in February when the organisation elects a successor.

Platini, who received the money from Blatter in 2011 for work the pair say he did between 1998 and 2002, has also been suspended from football for eight years. He too is appealing against the punishment.

The Swiss criminal investigation against Blatter is ongoing, with German media reports suggesting formal proceedings may start in late 2016 or early 2017.

Source: bbc.com

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Juju man wants attention…Allah will fight for me – Black Stars player Sumaila hits back

Ghana defender Rashid Sumaila has hit back at Malam Isaku Salia over claims that he is responsible for the injury suffered by Black Stars team-mate Jerry Akaminko ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The spiritualist who alleges that the Al Qadsia defender approached him ahead of the World Cup to help him spiritually to be named in the final squad for the tournament has publicly branded the former Asante Kotoko defender a bad player who uses spirituality to afflict his colleagues with injuries.

But the talented defender has denied the allegations saying the spiritualist is only using his [Sumaila] name to be famous.

“I am a staunch Muslim and I don’t engage in that. I am shocked because I don’t know what he is talking about,” Rashid told Ghanasoccernet.com.

“How would I even want to do that when we were only four defenders in the team? I believe in my prayer as my weapon and I pray five times a day. So what at all will I be seeking from a spiritualist? The troubled player questioned.

The former Sundowns defender added that he does not even know the said spiritualist who claims he is the cause of Akaminko’s predicament.

“Wallahi I don’t even know him. I just heard the news this morning and I was shocked.”

“I have never been to any spiritualist in my entire career before so he should come again.”

“This man only wants attention and is trying to pitch me and Jerry at each other. But Allah will punish him.”

The defender concluded that Malam Isaku Salia is only an attention seeker and muat not be taken serious.

“He want to make a name for himself but I think he has chosen the wrong person. He only wants attention and is just trying to use me. My Allah will fight for me,” Rashid retorted.

Jerry Akaminko’s injury laid him off for close to nine months, thwarting his World Cup dream with the Black Stars.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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JUJU Scare hits Black Stars as Spiritualist says he’s behind Akaminko’s 2014 injury

Malam Isaka Salia, a spiritualist based in the Western Region of Ghana has laid a wild allegation against former Black Stars defender Rashid Sumaila for the pre-World Cup injury suffered by team mate Jerry Akaminko.

Akaminko sustained a serious career threatening injury in Ghana’s pre-World Cup friendly with the Netherlands which ruled him out of the competition.

The aggrieved spiritualist who claims the Al Qadsia defender has failed to honour his part of the deal in sidelining Akaminko says Rashid came to him for spiritual assistance to gain a position in the Black Stars set up ahead of the naming of the squad for the tournament.

The 2014 injury. How it happened

“He came to me for assistance ahead of the World Cup and I promised to help him,” Malam Isaka told Takoradi-based Kyzz FM.

“I told him he could only get a position in the squad if one of the center backs is injured. He accepted and asked me to do it to Jerry Akaminko. So I made sure Akaminko was injured so that Rashid’s name will be in the squad. I am now saying this public because he has failed to pay me,”Malam Isaka added.

The troubled spiritual giant added that Rashid Sumaiala sent a delegation to him in a hotel in Kumasi who drove to him in Tahim Ayew’s salon car after the Black Stars game with Egypt at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium.

The spiritualist who claims he has helped many prominent Ghanaians to achieve greater heights warned that the former Black Stars defender has just a week to pay him for what he was contracted to do or risk being exposed with text messages sent to him by the player.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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Chelsea beat Arsenal once again

Ten-man Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the Premier League as Diego Costa's winner gave Chelsea victory at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners never fully recovered from defender Per Mertesacker's 18th-minute red card, awarded by referee Mark Clattenburg after he hauled down Costa as the striker raced clear.

The revitalised Costa scored the decisive goal five minutes later, turning in Branislav Ivanovic's cross at the near post to make it nine Premier League games without defeat for Chelsea against Arsenal.

Arsenal's potency suffered after manager Arsene Wenger decided to replace striker Olivier Giroud and introduce defender Gabriel to compensate for Mertesacker's dismissal.

Victory would have put Arsenal back on top but Chelsea survived in relative comfort to leave the Gunners in third place with Leicester City now holding a three-point lead over Manchester City at the Premier League summit.

Arsenal suffer pure frustration

Per Mertesacker is sent off

This was the day Arsenal were meant to lay the ghost of Chelsea, who went into this game unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games against the Gunners.

 

Even Wenger's bogey man, Jose Mourinho, was out of the picture after his sacking. Wenger has lost five and drawn six of eleven league meetings with his old adversary.

And yet it was the same old story for Arsenal as the frustration of their players and fans inside the Emirates reached boiling point long before the final whistle.

There was no shortage of spirit and endeavour from Arsenal in the face of the numerical disadvantage inflicted on them after Mertesacker's early red card.

If anything, it was inspiration and a little self-belief Arsenal lacked against a side that looked physically stronger in a game where Wenger's side was missing a warrior who could get in and among the visitors in those exchanges.

Their best effort of the match fell to Mathieu Flamini who attempted to convert Aaron Ramsey's through-ball with a kung-fu kick, where a header might have been more appropriate.

The result is hardly a terminal blow to Arsenal's ambitions but a wound inflicted in familiar fashion. It now remains to be seen how much of an after-effect there is.

Costa revival sparks Chelsea

Diego Costa goal

Branislav Ivanovic's pinpoint cross was converted by Diego Costa

 

Diego Costa suffered the abuse of Chelsea's fans in the aftermath of Jose Mourinho's sacking as they regarded his poor form and attitude as a key factor in the sacking of "The Special One".

The relationship is repaired now, with Costa regaining that mixture of marksmanship and menace that made him so significant in last season's Premier League title win.

Costa's near-post finish from Ivanovic's delivery was his sixth in eight games since Mourinho left - and it was not just that quality that helped Chelsea look much more like their old selves.

He got under the skin of Arsenal's players and fans, although he could hardly be blamed for his involvement in Mertesacker's red card when he was unceremoniously bundled over as he tried to race clear.

Costa departed to the resounding jeers of Arsenal's fans and cheers of Chelsea's supporters when he was replaced by Loic Remy after 68 minutes - job done and proof Hiddink's side are so much more effective when the Premier League's pantomime villain is on song.

Sanchez key to Arsenal title hopes

Having talked about the lack of warriors in Arsenal's line-up, one look at Alexis Sanchez back in action shows how he can fit the bill.

The huge roar that swirled around the Emirates when he emerged after 57 minutes to replace Joel Campbell was not simply out of a growing desperation as Arsenal struggled against Chelsea - it was a signal that so much of the rest of the Gunners' season rests on the shoulders of the world-class Chilean.

It was his first appearance since sustaining a hamstring injury at Norwich City on 29 November and it was understandable he looked a little rusty, but the strength, perseverance and sheer force of will to influence a game were still in evidence in this cameo.

This was a major setback for Arsenal's title hopes - but the return of Sanchez confirms all is not lost if they keep him fit.

The stats you need to know

  • Arsenal have now gone nine hours and 32 minutes without a Premier League goal against Chelsea
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in nine Premier League meetings with Arsenal (W6 D3)
  • Costa has scored six goals in six games under Guus Hiddink (all competitions)
  • Chelsea have won back-to-back Premier League away games for the first time this season
  • The Blues are on the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League (W3 D4)
  • The Gunners have failed to score in consecutive league games for the first time since August 2012

What next?

The Gunners are at home to Burnley in the FA Cup next weekend, and the Blues are away at the MK Dons in the same competition.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Australian Open: Novak Djokovic beats Gilles Simon in last 16

Defending champion Novak Djokovic survived a scare against Gilles Simon to reach the last eight of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Five-time champion Djokovic made 100 unforced errors but prevailed 6-3 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 4-6 6-3 after four hours and 32 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic, 28, is through to his 27th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final.

Four-time champion Roger Federer was in vintage form in beating Belgium's David Goffin 6-2 6-1 6-4.

Djokovic plays Japan's Kei Nishikori in the last eight after the seventh seed beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-2 6-4, while third seed Federer plays Tomas Berdych.

The Czech sixth seed came through a testing encounter against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6 6-4 6-3 1-6 6-3.

'Just happy to get through'

"Playing against a player like Gilles you can expect a lot of rallies," said Djokovic, who is also through to his ninth successive Australian Open quarter-final.

"He is always making you play an extra shot. I made a lot of unforced errors today but he was fighting, he was playing well, physically it was very demanding and I'm just happy to get through this one."

Two breaks were enough for Djokovic to win the first set but the 10-time major champion spurned 11 break points in the second before winning the tie-break 7-1.

Djokovic broke twice again in the third but dabbed two limp drop-shots into the net when serving to stay in the set before missing a backhand to send the contest to a decider.

But Djokovic raised his game at the decisive moment, racing into a 4-1 lead in the fifth and serving out for the victory after Simon had saved two match points.

'No more drop-shots!'

When a spectator shouted out during Djokovic's on-court interview, the defending champion asked him to repeat what he had said.

When the member of the crowd repeated "no more drop-shots", the Serb shrugged and replied: "I hate to say it, but you're absolutely right."

Djokovic's tally of unforced errors is not a record - Yevgeny Kafelnikov hit 112 in defeating Fernando Vicente at the 2000 French Open.

On the plus side, Djokovic equalled Jimmy Connors' career mark of consecutive quarter-finals - only Federer has more with 36.

Federer sublime

Roger Federer

Federer won in Melbourne in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010 but was knocked out in round three last year

Seventeen-time major champion Federer, 34, barely put a foot wrong against 15th seed Goffin in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.

Federer raced through the first two sets in 50 minutes, hitting winners on both flanks and showing some beautiful touches at the net.

Goffin did finally break Federer in the third, but the Swiss wrapped up the match in an hour and 28 minutes, finishing with 39 winners and losing only 15 points on serve.

"I'm pleased with how I played," said Federer. "David normally gives me a hard time in practice so I was surprised at how well I went."

Nishikori surprised

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori also reached the last eight in Melbourne in 2012 and 2015

Nishikori broke ninth seed Tsonga's serve five times while the Frenchman hit eight double-faults in a flat display.

"Today was one of the best matches I've had this week," said 28-year-old Nishikori, a US Open finalist in 2014.

"I'm surprised that I broke him early every set. I was returning well, so that made it tough for him to have a good serve all the time."

Nishikori, 26, has never reached the semi-finals in Melbourne and trails Djokovic 5-2 in head-to-heads.

Hewitt's final farewell

Australian Lleyton Hewitt bowed out of professional tennis when he and compatriot Sam Groth lost their men's doubles match 6-4 6-2 to American Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil of Canada.

Hewitt, who lost to Spaniard David Ferrer in the second round of the singles, bows out at the age of 34, having won two Grand Slam titles and helping Australia lift the Davis Cup twice.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Swansea win at Everton as Ayew scores

Francesco Guidolin's reign as Swansea head coach began with an impressive and much-needed victory at Everton.

The Italian oversaw an improved display from the Swans, who led through Gylfi Sigurdsson's penalty.

The hosts levelled when Gareth Barry's near-post flick from a corner was touched into his own net by Jack Cork but Ayew's deflected strike won it.

Everton missed a host of chances, the best of which Seamus Coleman put over from six yards with the final kick.

This was the Welsh side's first league win over Everton but, more importantly, it is the first time they have managed successive victories in the Premier League this season, adding to Monday's 1-0 home success over Watford.

They are up to 15th in the table and now have a cushion between themselves and Newcastle in 18th and a momentum that eludes their relegation rivals.

It is another disappointing result for the Toffees, who twice threw away a lead to draw at Chelsea last weekend and have now won just three of their past 14 matches at Goodison Park and one win in 10 league matches overall.

They are 12th in the table having gone into the campaign hoping to improve on last season's 11th-placed finish.

Guidolin makes instant impact

Guidolin, 61, has spent the majority of his 30-year managerial career in Italy, most recently with Udinese, who he motivated to gain results seemingly beyond their means.

If he is to perform a similar task at Swansea, who had won just once in 11 Premier League away games prior to Sunday, he has begun in the right fashion.

Last weekend, Guidolin watched from the stands as the Swans ground out a narrow win over Watford - but they were more forceful from the start at Everton, working hard to win the ball high up the pitch and moving it effectively when they did.

In the opening 15 minutes they had over 60% of possession and took their first-half chances when they came, scoring from both of their shots on target.

Both goals came with a helping hand from home defender John Stones. His under-hit back-pass allowed Ayew to nip in and draw a foul from Tim Howard for the penalty, then his sliding attempt to block the Ghana forward's shot took it past the keeper for the second.

Swansea rode their luck on occasion as Everton went in search of an equaliser after the break, but they showed discipline and determination that will stand them in good stead for a relegation battle.

Everton their own worst enemy

Everton were on the wrong end of a couple of referee decisions on Sunday - a handball by Ashley Williams to set up the move from which Ayew scored Swansea's second and a dismissed claim for a penalty when Neil Taylor blocked Coleman's cross with his arm.

They were also unlucky to suffer two injuries in the first half, which deprived them of Kevin Mirallas and Muhamed Besic, who had hit the post with the first shot of the game.

Ultimately, though, the home side have only themselves to blame for their failure to gain at least a point from the game.

Stones' error and misfortune helped the Swans score their goals, while the Toffees' own wastefulness prevented them adding to their leveller, which found the far corner of the net off Cork after Barry had flicked on a Deulofeu corner.

Spanish winger Deulofeu delivered several crosses from the right that his team-mates were unable to convert, Romelu Lukaku twice headed over and Coleman dragged a shot wide before somehow side-footing over from just a few yards out in the final minute of added time.

Andre Ayew played a key role in the goals that won this game for Swansea - showing awareness to win the penalty before scoring the second himself. He has now scored in four of the Swans' six wins this season

Manager reaction

Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "We were very slow in our performance - pedestrian - but two aspects affected our momentum which was the two injuries.

"The first half and second half performance were very contrasting.

"We created enough chances to win the game. The fearful aspect of our performance was a real shame."

Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin: "Six points in two matches is very important for us because the table was not good.

"Now it is not very good. I hope to have the possibility to go up in the table.

"In this moment I am very happy. This is the first match in Premier League for me. I dreamed of working in Premier League but I didn't dream of winning the first match.

"I must understand what happens in this day because I am surprised. It is new for me."

The stats you need to know

  • Swansea won their first ever league match against Everton, at the 22nd attempt (D8 L13).
  • Goodison Park has now seen 46 Premier League goals this season, more than any other ground.
  • Tim Howard has given away the most penalties in the Premier League since August 2013 (5, level with Jose Fonte).
  • The Swans picked up their first away win in six Premier League games (D1 L4).
  • Francesco Guidolin emulated Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk by winning his first Premier League game in charge of the Swans.
  • Four of Gylfi Sigurdsson's five Premier League goals this season have come from a set-piece situation (3 penalties, 1 direct free-kick).

What next?

Everton have a cup double next. They are in Capital Cup action, taking a 2-1 lead to Manchester City for the second leg of the semi-final on Wednesday before then going to Carlisle in the fourth round of the FA Cup next Sunday.

Swansea travel to West Brom - who are now just three points above them - for another big Premier League fixture on Tuesday, 2 February.

Source: bbc.com

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Costa goal sinks 10-man Arsenal

Diego Costa's first-half strike earned Chelsea victory and a league double over title-chasers Arsenal who had Per Mertesacker sent off in the first half.

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men in the 18th minute when the German brought down Costa, who was through on goal.

Five minutes later the Spain striker put the Blues ahead when he tucked home Branislav Ivanovic's low cross.

Costa also forced a good save from Petr Cech, and Ivanovic's header was cleared off the line by Nacho Monreal.

The home's side's best chance fell to Mathieu Flamini who fired over from close range when he attempted to convert Aaron Ramsey's through-ball with a kung-fu kick.

Victory sees the Blues move up to 28 points and 13th position - their highest placing since 26 October. Defeat for the Gunners leaves them in third, three points behind Leicester who have 47 points.

More to follow.

Source: bbc.com

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Vardy strikes as Leicester back on top of table

Leicester moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League with an impressive victory over Stoke.

Jamie Vardy struck straight at Jack Butland early on before Leicester's Danny Drinkwater lashed in from the edge of the area close to half time.

Vardy rounded Butland and slotted into an open net as Leonardo Ulloa added a third from close range late on.

Stoke struggled throughout - their best chance falling to Joselu, whose header was pushed away by Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester leaders but now comes the hard part

Leicester had won just one of their last five league games going into this fixture and there were question marks about whether they could stay in the hunt for the Premier League title.

But they answered the critics with a thumping win over Stoke - full of energy and industry, and have now conceded just one goal in their last five games.

The Foxes are patrolled at the back by a strong centre-back pairing of Wes Morgan, who made seven clearances, and partner Robert Huth. In front of them, N'Golo Kante's vigour epitomised the team's performance.

Drinkwater's effort was their first from outside the box this season, while Vardy netted his first goal in six league games, before Ulloa struck after sublime skills from Riyad Mahrez.

Leicester's record of one defeat in their last 16 league games will be firmly put to the test in their next three matches against Liverpool, title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City - games which will define whether they are title pretenders.

One eye on the cup?

Stoke's problems lie in front of goal, having not scored in nine of their 23 league games this season. Striker Bojan was kept on the bench, perhaps with their League Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool on Tuesday in mind.

They managed just two shots on target against the Foxes, with neither effort testing goalkeeper Schmeichel, who had an easy afternoon.

Playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri was kept quiet and things were made worse when skipper Ryan Shawcross hobbled off with an injury in the first half.

Without their leader at the back, Stoke's hopes of finishing in a European spot were dented as they drop to ninth in the table.

What they said:

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri: "Nobody can believe it. Our fans are dreaming and I want them to continue to dream. I don't know if we are a contender at this moment. February is a big month and after that month I can say something more realistic."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes: "We played poorly today. We didn't get our game going at any point. At no point did we look like we were going to come back after conceding. We disappointed ourselves today and our supporters."

What next?

Stoke face Liverpool at Anfield in the League Cup semi-final on Tuesday 26 January, looking to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit, while Leicester host the same opposition in the Premier League on Tuesday 2 February.

The stats you need to know

  • Jamie Vardy ended his personal goal drought of 10 hours and 17 minutes without a goal in the Premier League
  • All four of Danny Drinkwater's league assists this season have been for Vardy
  • Leicester City have won nine and lost just one of their last 14 Premier League home matches
  • Stoke have conceded two or more goals in four of their last five away games in the Premier League

Source: bbc.com

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Aguero double rescues Man City Point

Manchester City lost ground on Premier League leaders Leicester City as Sergio Aguero scored twice to rescue a draw at West Ham.

Enner Valencia struck from inside the area after 53 seconds for the Hammers but Aguero equalised with a penalty after he had been fouled.

The hosts retook the lead when Valencia capitalised on hesitant defending by Nicolas Otamendi to stab in.

However, Aguero struck from 10 yards late on to earn his side a point.

The result means Manchester City are second, three points behind Leicester, while West Ham are sixth.

Read about how the game unfolded

Reaction to all of Saturday's Premier League action

A good point, but City's away form a worry

Of the sides in the top three, Manchester City boast the worst away record.

They have won just four games on the road all season, while their last five away trips have seen them pick up just six points from a possible 18, a far from ideal record for a side challenging for the title.

Against West Ham, it was their inability to complete the basics of defending that was of particular concern.

They switched off in the first minute to allow West Ham to score, but their defending for the hosts' second was particularly poor.

Michail Antonio's quick throw initially caught out Otamendi, but he still had the time to be able to clear before Valencia nipped in to poke home.

Luckily for City they had Aguero to rescue them, but with away trips to struggling Sunderland and Newcastle coming up, Pellegrini's side can ill afford such lapses in those games.

Hammers to challenge for Europe?

After a strong start to last season West Ham dropped away at the turn of the year, winning just three more Premier League games.

The Hammers were similarly impressive in the first half of the current campaign but, crucially, they look capable of continuing that through the second half of the season this time.

They had won three of their four games in 2016 prior to the visit of Manchester City, and boast an impressive record against top seven sides, having lost just twice to the sides around them.

In Dimitri Payet they have one of the most exciting player in the Premier League and he tormented City throughout, with only a world-class save from Hart denying him a goal.

With West Ham six points behind fourth-place Tottenham, a top-four finish might be a tough ask, but their recent form suggests they will be prompting a few nervous glances over the shoulders of their rivals.

Toure struggles to make an impression

After a strong start to last season West Ham dropped away at the turn of the year, winning just three more Premier League games.

The Hammers were similarly impressive in the first half of the current campaign but, crucially, they look capable of continuing that through the second half of the season this time.

They had won three of their four games in 2016 prior to the visit of Manchester City, and boast an impressive record against top seven sides, having lost just twice to the sides around them.

In Dimitri Payet they have one of the most exciting player in the Premier League and he tormented City throughout, with only a world-class save from Hart denying him a goal.

With West Ham six points behind fourth-place Tottenham, a top-four finish might be a tough ask, but their recent form suggests they will be prompting a few nervous glances over the shoulders of their rivals.

Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure made 36 passes in the opposition half - only David Silva made more - but his accuracy was just 69.4%

There has been plenty of uncertainty about Yaya Toure's future in the newspapers this week, but City boss Manuel Pellegrini has urged the midfield to concentrate on helping his side challenge for the title.

Pellegrini clearly felt Toure is fully focused on the task at hand as he recalled him for the trip to West Ham, but was sluggish at the start.

He was left woefully wanting when Cheikhou Kouyate ghosted past inside a minute to set up Valencia for the opener.

In the end, Toure had more touches of the ball than any other City player, but struggled to make a telling impression in the opposition half, with only defenders Fernando and Otamendi having a worst passing accuracy than the midfielder.

What they said

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic: "It was a great game of football. I'm so proud of our team and Man City. There was everything in it. Four goals, chances, yellow cards and a penalty.

"We were a little bit disappointed, but I said to the players they shouldn't be. But if you are disappointed after playing Man City then that's good.

"We defended well and created many chances."

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "It [a draw] was not what we wanted before the game. If you analyse the whole game we had two or three clear chances. It was a difficult game - I was not happy the way we conceded the second goal.

"It was a close game for both teams and a good game for both sets of fans. It was end to end because both teams play in an attacking way.

"Sergio Aguero played very well and scored. I think he is 100% again."

The stats you need to know

  • Valencia's opening goal was the second quickest goal (53 seconds) in the Premier League this season - Matt Ritchie's goal for Bournemouth against Spurs was timed at 49 seconds.
  • Sergio Aguero has been involved in eight goals (six goals, two assists) in his eight league appearances against West Ham.
  • All of Man City's four penalties in the Premier League this season have been taken by different players (Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony, Aleksandar Kolarov and Aguero).
  • The Hammers have scored three goals via thrown-ins in the Premier League this season - Arsenal are the only other team to score via this method (1).
  • Aguero's scored his 89th and 90th goals in his 136th Premier League appearance - the same number it took Ruud van Nistelrooy to hit the 90-goal milestone. Only Alan Shearer (90 in 113 games) has done it quicker.

What next?

West Ham are in FA Cup fourth-round action at Liverpool on 30 January while Manchester City's next game is at Sunderland in the Premier League on 2 February.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Man U Booed off as Saints win at Old Trafford.

Substitute Charlie Austin scored seven minutes into his Southampton debut as a lacklustre Manchester United were booed off at Old Trafford.

Austin rose to head home a free-kick in the 87th minute to win an otherwise dour game of few chances.

Southampton have now won at United in the league for the last two seasons.

United and their manager Louis van Gaal were jeered by home fans at full-time after producing just one shot on target in 90 minutes.

They have won just one of their past five home games - and have failed to score in three of those.

United's first-half record in front of goal is even worse. They have now gone eight hours and 26 minutes without scoring in the first 45 minutes of games at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal's side are now five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who won 3-1 at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Southampton are now just four points and three league places behind United, having won their past three matches. The win also ends a four-match losing streak away from St Mary's for Ronald Koeman's team.

Manchester United half-time scores for last 11 games

Austin's dream debut

Southampton paid QPR just £4m to sign Austin on 16 January - a figure more representative of the length of time left on his contract with the Championship club than his ability.

In the 2014-15 season, the striker scored 18 Premier League goals, then added 10 in 16 Championship matches prior to his move back to the top flight.

And it took him just seven minutes to pick up where he left off as he found space in the box to meet fellow substitute James Ward-Prowse's free-kick and bury a header past David de Gea.

Prior to that, the Saints were comfortable, working hard to disrupt United's rhythm, managing possession well and looking to hit on the break.

They produced the best of what were few chances in the game, but Sadio Mane fluffed a shot from the edge of the box and Shane Long and Victor Wanyama headed wide from successive corners.

United came into the game off the back of two encouraging performances - an improved attacking display at Newcastle and a confidence-boosting win at Liverpool.

But they were unable to build on those, producing a tame 90 minutes strewn with errors and completely lacking in speed of thought or movement.

It made Southampton's containment job an easy one and left them vulnerable to the kind of late sting they had inflicted at Anfield last Sunday.

Van Gaal and his team were booed off at the end of a first half in which Saints keeper Fraser Forster was only tested once - from an optimistic 40-yard shot from Daley Blind - and Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard all shot woefully wide.

The jeers and abuse were far more ferocious at the end of a second half that United began more encouragingly following the introduction of Juan Mata, but quickly faded after Southampton had seen off their initial charge.

Is this the end?

The defeat is sure to intensify the pressure on Van Gaal.

The 64-year-old had suggested last week's win at Liverpool could be "fantastic starting point" for his side in 2016, but he has now led United to their lowest ever Premier League points tally (37) after 23 games.

After the match, the Dutchman admitted that the home supporters were right to boo, adding: "In better or worse we have to stick together.

"You have to meet expectation and expectations are very high, that gives a lot of pressure for the players.

"We are working very hard but we have a lot of injuries. That you cannot change."

The stats you need to know...

  • Southampton have won back-to-back away games at Old Trafford against Man United for the first time since 1969.
  • Charlie Austin has scored four times in his last five league games. It was his first Premier League goal since the final day of last season, meaning he's scored in back-to-back Premier League games.
  • Old Trafford has seen just three first half goals scored in 11 Premier League games this season; fewer than any other stadium. Only one of those has been scored by a United player (Memphis v Sunderland).
  • United have managed just one shot on target in their last two home league games to Southampton.

What they said...

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: "I had a feeling they could score only from a set-play. Our defence in set-plays was weaker because I changed Fellaini and had to change Darmian. Every change was a weakness in defence.

"I wanted to win this game and that's why I changed Cameron Borthwick-Jackson for Adnan Januzaj. That is a risk you take, it was a poor game and we didn't create so much and neither did our opponent."

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman: "We played very good. Our organisation was good, we were very compact, we had good pressing.

"We stayed in the game, controlled the game and you saw more nerves in the Man Utd team and finally we score from a corner kick.

"We showed spirit today, it was an amazing result for the second time here."

What next?

Manchester United are away at Championship side Derby in the fourth round of the FA Cup next Friday evening. Southampton's next match is in the league - a tough trip to Arsenal on Tuesday, 2 February.

Source: bbc.com

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Javier Mascherano: Barcelona player in court to avoid prison term

Barcelona and Argentina defender Javier Mascherano has appeared in court aiming to avoid going to prison over a 1.5m euros (£1.1m) tax fraud.

Mascherano, 31, previously admitted two counts of fraud after failing to declare earnings in 2011 and 2012.

A judge will now rule if Mascherano can pay an increased fine to avoid jail, according to reports in Spain. 

He is alleged to have attempted to conceal earnings from his image rights by using companies he owns abroad.

A court filing released last year confirmed the player had repaid 1.75m euros - the full amount plus interest.

Following the latest hearing at a court in Catalonia, the former Liverpool and West Ham player tweeted a statement, saying:  "I'm a sporting professional, I don't have a great understanding of taxes and law.

"To deal with what are for me technical and complicated matters, I have to rely on other people.

"Throughout all my career I have been an honest person, responsible and respectful of my team-mates and the clubs that I have played for and the countries I have lived in. "

Source: bbc.com

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Arsenal top of the Premier League after a goalless draw at Stoke.

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League thanks to a point from a goalless draw at Stoke.

Arsene Wenger's side missed the creativity of Mesut Ozil, who was injured, but had chances to win the game only to be denied by Jack Butland.

The England goalkeeper tipped over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's long-range strike, before denying Olivier Giroud's header.

Stoke finished strongly as Jon Walters had a late header cleared off the line by Aaron Ramsey.

The draw means Arsenal move ahead of Leicester on goal difference. Stoke remain seventh.

Relive all the action from the Britannia Stadium

No Ozil, no party

Arsenal have started 2016 well poised to challenge for a first league title in 12 years, and key to their impressive form this season has been Ozil.

The German tops the Premier League assist chart with 16, so his absence on Sunday because of a foot injury was undoubtedly a big blow for the Gunners.

It did, however, provided Oxlade-Chamberlain with the chance to step up.

He certainly looked like he had a point to prove, forcing Butland into a fine one-handed save with a curling strike midway through the first half.

However, he was also guilty of losing possession at times and became increasingly anonymous as the game wore on.

If he is to prove himself an able deputy for Ozil, he will need to a show a lot more than he did on Sunday.

Must do better?

Arsenal may never get as good a chance to win the league as they will this season, with the challenge from their traditional title rivals faltering.

Arsene Wenger's side had lost just once in the eight games prior to the trip to Stoke, but Gunners fans might have been forgiven for feeling a little uneasy about their recent away form - they have now picked up just six points from a possible 18.

Arsenal were looking for their first win at the Britannia Stadium since 2010, so a victory at Stoke - especially without their talisman Ozil - would certainly have underlined their credentials as genuine title contenders.

In the opening stages of the game, however, they were second best, struggling to match Stoke's neat passing.

They improved as the game wore on, but not by much. Giroud's header - well saved by Butland - was their only effort on target in the second half.

Butland brilliant again

Stoke's attacking talent has, quite rightly, been getting plenty of praise this season but Butland has been just as impressive in the Potters' goal.

His total of 81 is more saves than any other goalkeeper has made in the Premier League this season and he was key to Stoke's frustrating of Arsenal.

His saves from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud kept his side in the game, allowing them to press in the closing stages as the visitors retreated, opting to protect the point.

As a consequence, Stoke could have snatched all three points just before full-time, but Walters' header from a corner was kept out by Ramsey, before Petr Cech blocked Joselu's follow-up.

What they said

Stoke boss Mark Hughes: "It was a game between evenly matched sides. Both teams approached the game in the right manner and created chances. All-in-all we're pleased. It shows our progress. Teams have found it difficult to get points here.

"We are showing everyone we have belief in our ability. There was a period where Arsenal had some play around the box without creating too much. It was a similar story at the other end.

"It was a competitive game. At times, there were good opportunities to put the ball in the box and so the only criticism I would have is that we were reluctant to do that."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "Maybe we had a better opportunities to score, they played very well, very physical and were very direct, which is an unusual style for them.

"We needed to be strong physically and had a great spirit, we fought very hard but couldn't take our chances. It is a hard fought 0-0. We have done better than years before at this ground and showed we can fight even when we miss certain players.

"It shows the spirit in the team, the desire and togetherness. We were less creative but on the physical front we did well."

The stats you need to know

  • Mark Hughes is unbeaten on home soil as an opposition coach against Arsene Wenger in his past eight Premier League matches (W5 D3), spread across five clubs.
  • Stoke City have lost just one of their eight Premier League games at the Britannia Stadium against Arsenal (W4 D3 L1).
  • It's the first time since November 2012 versus Aston Villa that Arsenal have drawn 0-0 away from home in the Premier League.
  • The Gunners have won just one of their past six Premier League away games (D3 L2).

What next?

Stoke travel to high-flying Leicester on Saturday. Arsenal host Chelsea the following day.

Source: bbc.com

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Rooney earns win for Man United at Liverpool

Wayne Rooney's late strike settled a scrappy encounter to give Manchester United and manager Louis van Gaal a vital victory at Liverpool.

In a game that was a pale shadow of previous meetings between these two Premier League superpowers, Liverpool had the better chances and United keeper David de Gea kept his side in it with fine saves from Adam Lallana and Emre Can.

Jurgen Klopp's side wasted other opportunities and paid the price 12 minutes from time when Rooney fired United's first shot on target high past Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet after Marouane Fellaini's header came back off the bar.

Van Gaal's position had been under scrutiny after only two wins in United's previous 11 games - but victory at Anfield is the perfect tonic and his team are now in fifth, just two points off the Champions League places.

Relive all the action from Anfield

Phil McNulty answers your Premier League questions on the Match of the Day Facebook page 

Rooney still vital for United

Rooney's status as United and England's main man is often questioned - but once again he proved he remains, along with the outstanding De Gea, one of Van Gaal's most crucial players.

The 30-year-old lifelong Evertonian relishes winning at Anfield, and his delight was plain to see after he hammered home his first goal here since January 2005.

It was further proof he is undergoing a rejuvenation after criticism earlier this season, scoring twice in the 3-3 draw at Newcastle United and the winning goals in the FA Cup third-round victory against Sheffield United and the league match with Swansea City.

The question may be asked again soon - but there is still no evidence to suggest the Red Devils are a better side without Rooney than with him.

Klopp's task made clear

Liverpool have shown signs of promise in two big games at Anfield this week - but only earned a point against Arsenal with an injury-time equaliser and were beaten here.

Klopp is still trying to impose his "gegenpressing" style on Liverpool and it has worked better away - in impressive wins at Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton and Stoke City - than it has at Anfield.

Liverpool were arguably the better team here but once again demonstrated a vulnerability to crosses and ran out of steam badly towards the end. The philosophy will not bear fruit until his defenders can clear a cross.

The struggles Klopp faces are summed up by the fact that, for the second game running, he was reduced to throwing defender Steven Caulker, a loan signing from QPR, on as a late substitute in attack.

The German has much work to do.

The friendly 'derby'?

Tongue in cheek, perhaps - but this was a far cry from the thunderous collisions between Liverpool and Manchester United when Scousers such as Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher faced local products Gary and Phil Neville, as well as Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

Anfield, not helped by the lack of quality on offer, was subdued and the aggression that used to be this fixture's hallmark flared only briefly in a couple of early skirmishes involving Liverpool's Lucas and United midfielder Fellaini.

This was every inch a game between sides sitting sixth and ninth in the Premier League before kick-off.

It may have even come as a disappointment to Klopp after the build-up and the history. He called these games "the salt in the soup" - this one needed an awful lot of seasoning.

United's Jesse Lingard, born in Warrington, was as close to local as it got in the starting line-ups - and perhaps that explains the lack of fire and brimstone that used to be a starting point in these confrontations.

What the managers said

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "I didn't see too many chances for Manchester United and we didn't take ours. Of course it is frustrating. We lost a game that we should not have lost.

"The goal was to defend and we didn't do it. That is our responsibility. We have to defend set pieces better.

"We did really well creating the chances, but there were a lot of situations where we could have created more chances and didn't. There were a lot of positive things but we lost in a derby against Manchester United."

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: "We know Wayne Rooney has played for Everton and now plays for United so he wants to score against Liverpool, it means a lot for him.

"We have made a good start in 2016, to beat Liverpool for the second time in a row is it marvellous, it gives a big boost for the players and the fans so I hope it shall continue with winning.

"That is why we are here, to win our games and at end of the season to be in the first three positions of the league."

Stats of the day

  • Rooney (176) has overtaken Arsenal's Thierry Henry (175) as the scorer of the most goals for a single club in Premier League history.
  • Rooney has scored in four successive games for United for the first time since March 2012.
  • Liverpool have conceded more goals from corners than any other team in the Premier League this season (7).
  • United have scored with all four of their shots on target against Liverpool this season in the Premier League.
  • Liverpool's failure to find the net ended an eight-game Premier League run of scoring at Anfield. It is the first time under Klopp they have not scored at home.
  • Van Gaal has won all four Premier League games against Liverpool.

What's next?

Liverpool are hoping to avoid another home defeat - and an embarrassing FA Cup exit - when they host Exeter in a third-round replay on Wednesday.

United are safely into the fourth round already, meaning they are not back in action until Saturday. Van Gaal's side welcome 10th-placed Southampton to Old Trafford in the Premier League.

Source: bbc.com

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic's late winner puts PSG 23 points clear at the top of Ligue 1

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a late winner as Paris St-Germain moved 23 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with a 1-0 victory at Toulouse.

The Swede headed his 24th goal of the season after David Luiz flicked on a corner 17 minutes from time.

PSG maintained their bid to become the first team to complete an entire French top-flight season unbeaten.

Monaco can go second and trim the champions' lead to 21 points with victory at Lorient on Sunday.

Laurent Blanc's side were made to work hard for a ninth consecutive victory.

But once Ibrahimovic had broken the deadlock, they could have gone on to win by a bigger margin as Toulouse left gaps at the back in search of an equaliser.

The sides meet again in Paris on Tuesday in the French Cup.

PSG have lost just once in 31 competitive games this season, a 1-0 defeat by Real Madrid in the Champions League in November.

Toulouse remain in the bottom three after a six-game unbeaten run came to an end.

Source: bbc.com

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Roberto Martinez: Everton boss feels 'pure anger' at Terry goal

Everton boss Roberto Martinez said he was feeling "pure anger" after his side was denied victory by a controversial 98th-minute Chelsea equaliser.

John Terry was a yard offside when he salvaged a point for Chelsea in a pulsating 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Martinez, whose side were leading 2-0 and 3-2, said the officials had made two "major errors" as Terry's goal came after the allocated seven minutes of added time.

"It's heartbreaking," he added.

"Seven minutes of injury time, the last action happens in 97 minutes 51 seconds and John Terry is two yards offside.

"Maybe refs need a bit of help. But to have a player two yards off in the box is unacceptable.

"There is no explanation. It's a big, big error. It's not good enough."

Everton took the lead when Terry put through his own net before Kevin Mirallas sent the visitors 2-0 up.

Diego Costa reduced the margin and Cesc Fabregas's deflected shot made it 2-2.

The Toffees thought they had won it through substitute Ramiro Funes Mori in the 90th minute only for Terry to back-heel in from close range.

Everton are without a win in their past four Premier League games and have one win in nine.

Chelsea's interim manager Guus Hiddink suggested he might have spoken to the referee, Mike Jones, and told him to play additional stoppage time after Everton went 3-2 up.

"There was seven minutes extra time. I said to the fourth referee, 'OK they are celebrating at least one minute in the corner'."

Hiddink also admitted Terry's last-gasp equaliser was offside.

"[Martinez] is quite right, he was offside.

"Sometimes it's in our favour, I've seen it. Oscar touched the ball and John was offside but he made a beautiful goal."

Source: bbc.com

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Leicester City top of the Premier League after a 1-1 draw away to Aston Villa

Leicester City returned to the top of the Premier League after a 1-1 draw away to struggling Aston Villa.

Shinji Okazaki opened the scoring for City, reacting quickest to poke home after keeper Mark Bunn had athletically clawed out Jamie Vardy's lob.

Riyad Mahrez missed a chance to double the lead from the spot after a controversially-awarded penalty.

But Villa striker Rudy Gestede levelled after his second-half shot deflected past keeper Kasper Schmeichel.

In an eventful game for the Villa keeper, Bunn was booked early on for upending Vardy, who was through, but his touch had taken him away from goal.

Just before the half-hour mark, Bunn backpedalled to claw out Vardy's delicate chip, but Okazaki was the first to the rebound. It initially appeared that Bunn may have kept the second shot out, but goalline technology quickly ruled that the ball was over the line.

Leicester were presented with a chance to go 2-0 up in the first half when the assistant referee flagged for handball after Mahrez's shot hit the hand of the diving Aly Cissokho. Villa protested that the defender was simply protecting his face, and felt that justice was done when Mahrez's weak penalty was saved by Bunn.

The home side had their own strong claim for a penalty in the second half when Leicester defender Robert Huth wrapped his arm around Libor Kozak's head to get to a cross first, but the referee turned down the appeal.

Villa fought their way back into the game, and were eventually rewarded for their chances when Gestede did well to hold off the challenge of Huth. His shot took a big deflection off Wes Morgan as it went past Schmeichel.

Jamie Vardy had a chance to win it for Leicester in stoppage time, but he fired over from an angle.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Inter Milan missed a chance to return to the top of Serie A

Inter Milan missed a chance to return to the top of Serie A after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Atalanta.

Roberto Mancini's side had to come from behind after Jeison Murillo's 17th-minute own goal.

They were level before half-time thanks to the game's second own goal from Atalanta defender Rafael Toloi.

Neither side could force a winner as Inter climbed to second, a point behind Napoli, who can increase their advantage against Sassuolo later today.

Inter fell behind when Murillo turned a Boukary Drame cross past Samir Handanovic.

But they equalised eight minutes later when Toloi sliced Mauro Icardi's drilled cross into his own net from six yards.

Handanovic produced a series of second-half saves to keep Atalanta at bay.

Source: bbc.com

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Bournemouth beat relegation rivals Norwich City

Bournemouth easily overcame relegation rivals Norwich City to move five points clear of the bottom three.

The Cherries led when Dan Gosling headed in Marc Pugh's cross.

Bournemouth wanted a penalty when Russell Martin held back Charlie Daniels in the area, and Norwich keeper Declan Rudd was fortunate not to be sent off for fouling Benik Afobe.

But Vadis Odjidja brought down Pugh to allow Daniels to score from the spot before Benik Afobe rounded off the win.

It ended a four-game winless run in the Premier League for Eddie Howe's men, who climb above their opponents into 15th.

Relive Bournemouth's win over Norwich

Read all of Saturday's Premier League reaction

And it could have been more for the Cherries

It was Norwich who came into the game in better form, having won three of their past five matches in the league, but this was a worrying performance against a side who came up with them from the Championship last season.

And the scoreline could have been even more emphatically in the home team's favour had referee Robert Madley decided to award a penalty for Martin's attempt to hold on to Daniels in the area, or opted to show Rudd a red card when the keeper clipped Afobe on his way through to goal.

It turned out the Cherries did not need the assistance of the official.

The tireless Pugh had already provided a superb cross for Gosling to nod in at the back post.

And in the second half Daniels, who was tremendous throughout, added an assist to his converted penalty by skipping past two Norwich players and sliding in a cross that allowed Afobe to poke in his first goal since joining from Wolves in a £10m move.

Afobe a clever purchase?

Norwich were reportedly among the clubs interested in signing Afobe in this transfer window, and they saw first hand at Dean Court that the 22-year-old has the strength, pace and finishing prowess to make an impact in the top flight.

The former Arsenal forward, who had scored nine Championship goals already this season, regularly held off Norwich's centre-half pairing of Sebastien Bassong and Ryan Bennett, laying off the ball to bring team-mates into the game.

He outpaced the Canaries back four on his way to being clattered by Rudd in the first half, before picking the perfect place in the six-yard box to collect his first Premier League goal in the second.

Bournemouth did not even need to use their returning striker Lewis Grabban, a £7m signing from the Canaries this week, as the striker was said to be ill and watched the game from the stands.

Where do Norwich go from here?

There were few positives for Norwich to take away from the south coast, as they dwell on back-to-back defeats in the league that leave them four points above the bottom three.

Their only chance of note was an opening for Dieumerci Mbokani, whose attempted lob drifted 10 yards wide of goal.

Alex Neil's side defended horribly at times, with full-backs Martin and Robbie Brady too often beaten by Bournemouth's widemen.

And the hosts could have added to their tally if Rudd, who was fortunate to still be on the pitch, had not pulled off sharp saves in the second half from Pugh's mazy dribble and shot as well as Steve Cook's header.

More to follow.

Source: bbc.com

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Southampton ease past West Brom.

Southampton followed up their midweek victory over Watford with a convincing home win against West Brom.

James Ward-Prowse scored a brilliant 25-yard curled free-kick and a penalty for his first goals of the season as Saints cruised into a half-time lead.

West Brom boss Tony Pulis made two attacking changes at the break but the home side remained in charge.

Serbian forward Dusan Tadic sealed the three points from a tight angle after a clever pass from Matt Targett.

Ronald Koeman's Southampton move up to 10th in the Premier League table, while the Baggies stay 13th.

Re-live Southampton v West Brom

Reaction to all of Saturday's games

Southampton make it look easy

Shane Long and Sadio Mane sparkled up front for Southampton, Tadic made a brilliant contribution with his goal, while last season's top scorer Graziano Pelle was on the bench.

Before you even get to midfielder Ward-Prowse's two goals, the signing of Charlie Austin from QPR certainly leaves the Saints with plenty of scoring options.

Austin was watching on from the stands, and will have been delighted with what he saw from his new team-mates, who played with real fluency and verve going forward.

The only minor concern for Austin could be over how regularly he will fit into a team that appears to have rediscovered the qualities that drove them into a seventh-place finish last season.

The other side of West Brom

The Baggies' showing at St Mary's was a world away from the dogged away performance that earned a 2-2 draw against Chelsea on Wednesday.

There was little of the determined harrying that unsettled the home side at Stamford Bridge, with Southampton at times afforded far too much time on the ball.

The highlight of the away side's opening 45 minutes was a back-heeled clearance off the goalline by James McClean to block Targett's low shot - denying the 20-year-old a deserved goal for his excellent overall performance.

In West Brom's defence there was an improvement after Pulis' attack-minded substitutions at the break, but Southampton were intelligent in the way they protected the lead, and ruthless in the way they extended it.

The stats you need to know

  • West Brom didn't manage a single shot on target for the third time this Premier League season - more than any other side
  • James Ward-Prowse was the first Southampton player to score a Premier League goal from a direct free-kick since Rickie Lambert in February 2014
  • Ward-Prowse scored more goals in this match than he had in his previous 92 Premier League appearances for Southampton
  • Dusan Tadic now has more goals this season than he managed in 2014-15, with four goals

What next?

West Brom play away at Bristol City in an FA Cup third-round replay on Tuesday before hosting Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday. Southampton's next match is at Manchester United in the league, also on Saturday.

Source: bbc.com

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Newcastle move out of the relegation zone

Jonjo Shelvey made an impressive debut for Newcastle as he helped his side move out of the relegation zone with a win over West Ham.

Shelvey had a hand in both goals as Ayoze Perez curled in a low shot before Georginio Wijnaldum side-footed in from six yards to make it 2-0.

A stray backpass by Chancel Mbemba let Nikica Jelavic score for the Hammers.

Newcastle squandered a number of chances but held on for a first win in six league games.

Magpies striker Aleksandar Mitrovic produced a hard-working performance but was denied by Hammers keeper Adrian three times.

Missed opportunities almost cost the home side, but keeper Rob Elliot kept out a 90th-minute Cheikhou Kouyate header with his knee.

Relive all the action from St James' Park here.

Follow reaction to Saturday's games here.

How good was Shelvey?

Very good. The 23-year-old midfielder, signed for £12m from Swansea, showed the kind of passing, creativity and energy which helped him break into the England squad earlier this season.

With just six minutes on the clock, Shelvey found Wijnaldum, who laid the ball off for Perez to open the scoring.

The new signing then helped set up his side's second with a raking 60-yard ball to Daryl Janmaat, who crossed for Wijnaldum to score his ninth Magpies goal of the season.

Victory moved Newcastle out of the relegation zone at the expense of Swansea, where Shelvey said he had been "hung out to dry".

"I've enjoyed every minute I've been up here," said Shelvey. "It's nice to get out there and show what I am about.

"It's not about me. It is about the team. We are out of the relegation zone and it's onwards and upwards from here.

"I'm very shocked this team is in and around the relegation places. Normally it is hard coming into a new team and slotting straight in, but credit to the players and staff here."

McClaren finally beats Bilic

Steve McClaren was cruelly dubbed the 'wally with the brolly' when his England side were beaten by a Croatia team managed by Slaven Bilic in 2007.

That defeat ended England's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008, and McClaren duly lost his job.

Bilic also came out on top when the Hammers won the reverse fixture earlier this season, but McClaren deservedly emerged victorious this time.

The visitors were overwhelmed in the first half and, despite improving after the break, would have been beaten more convincingly had it not been for Adrian.

More to follow.

Source: bbc.com

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Tottenham maintains their challenge for a top-four finish

Christian Eriksen scored twice as Tottenham maintained their challenge for a top-four finish and deepened Sunderland's relegation worries.

Patrick van Aanholt gave the Black Cats the lead against the run of play but Eriksen levelled as Lee Cattermole failed to clear on the goalline.

Mousa Dembele fired Spurs ahead before Eriksen's 25-yard shot deflected in off Sunderland debutant Jan Kirchhoff.

Harry Kane then converted a penalty after Kirchhoff fouled Danny Rose.

Tottenham remain in fourth, while Sunderland drop a position to 19th following Newcastle's win over West Ham.

Relive Tottenham's win over Sunderland

Follow live coverage of Saturday's football

Spurs again come on strong in second half

Although routine in the end, it was an important victory for Tottenham having lost two of their previous three home league games to fall away slightly from the leading trio of Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester City.

Mauricio Pochettino's side are now unbeaten in their past 12 league games against Sunderland, although in 11 of them they have been level at half-time.

It was difficult to fathom how that was the case on Saturday as they totally dominated the opening 45 minutes, enjoying 70% possession and 15 shots to the visitors' three.

Dutch left-back Van Aanholt, who netted against Swansea on Wednesday, beat Hugo Lloris at his near post from Adam Johnson's pass to give Sunderland an underserved lead.

Spurs were level within 91 seconds as Lee Cattermole could only deflect Eriksen's shot into the roof of the net on the goalline after Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford - making his Premier League debut - saved from Kane.

Dembele's low left-foot shot gave Spurs a 2-1 lead and they noticeably relaxed from that point, stretching away thanks to Eriksen's second and Kane's 12th league goal of the season.

Kirchhoff caught out

Despite being on the back foot throughout, Sunderland had looked relatively secure for almost an hour and occasionally threatened on the break.

Buoyed by successive league wins over Aston Villa and Swansea, they largely restricted Spurs to shots from outside the box in the first half.

Their failure to protect their lead until half-time proved costly, although former Spurs striker Jermain Defoe - who had scored five in his previous two games - had a chance to restore it early in the second half.

He and Adam Johnson raced clear of the home defence but the counter-attack lost momentum and the 33-year-old fired into the side-netting.

Debutant centre-half Kirchhoff, signed from Bayern Munich, had only made one appearance this season prior to joining Sunderland this month.

He struggled after coming on in the 58th minute, with the foul on Rose for the penalty demonstrating how much he was off the pace.

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce said of Kirchhoff: "It's a bit risky signing players from abroad in January but we have to take that risk. Hopefully he learns from today."

'Outstanding' Pickford makes fine Premier League debut

Sunderland keeper Pickford spent the first half of the season on loan at Championship club Preston and Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce said it would have been wrong not to recall him as he "made such an outstanding impact".

Allardyce hopes he can follow England Under-21 international predecessors Joe Hart and Jack Butland in graduating to the full national team and, despite conceding four goals, he made an impressive league debut, replacing Vito Mannone.

The 21-year-old, who has been on loan at six different clubs over the past four years, made superb saves at full stretch in the first half to deny Kane and Eriksen.

Pickford made further stops from Kane and Rose in the second period and was not at fault for any of the goals.

Manager reaction

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino told BBC Sport: "It was a good response to the Leicester defeat. I'm very pleased. We need to be patient.

"We had a lot of shots on target - their goalkeeper was fantastic. I feel very pleased in the last few games. The belief is fantastic. We have a very good, strong squad - today was a good example."

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce told BBC Sport: "Our players put themselves in one fantastic position and then in the space of a minute conceded. It's one of the reasons we ended up losing.

"If we came in at half-time 1-0 up we could have built on that. It was a really sloppy thing to do. We ran out of legs in the end. In the last quarter, physically we were tiring.

"I changed the shape but that didn't work. The scoreline, 4-1, looks more comfortable than it was."

On Jordan Pickford: "Playing a keeper at a young age is not an easy decision to make. But I thought he handled it well. He might not play too many more games this season because Vito Mannone has done a fantastic job. The rest of the team up to 65 minutes were doing the job right but in the last 20 they failed miserably."

The stats you need to know

Christian Eriksen has now scored in all four of his Premier League appearances against Sunderland (five goals).

Harry Kane has now scored 11 goals in his past 13 Premier League appearances.

Each of Sunderland's three goalkeepers (Costel Pantilimon, Mannone and Pickford) have conceded four goals in their first Premier League appearance of 2015-16.

What's next?

Tottenham travel to Leicester for an FA Cup third-round replay on Wednesday (19:45 GMT), which is live on BBC One, before a league trip to Crystal Palace next Saturday (15:00 GMT). Sunderland host fellow strugglers Bournemouth on the same day (15:00 GMT).

Source: bbc.com

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Manchester City moved top of the Premier League

Manchester City moved top of the Premier League by thrashing a lacklustre Crystal Palace side.

After a slow start from the hosts, midfielder Fabian Delph gave them the lead with a long-range drive that squirmed under Wayne Hennessey.

Striker Sergio Aguero doubled the advantage with an effort that deflected in off the head of Scott Dann.

Aguero finished off a sublime team move and David Silva added a fourth, with Palace winless in five league games.

The Eagles could have gone ahead in the first couple of minutes but defender Damien Delaney headed straight at Joe Hart when free inside the area.

Yohan Cabaye went close late on with an effort that flew narrowly wide, but Palace have now failed to score in their past five league games.

Clinical City signal intent

Manuel Pellegrini's side failed to score against Everton in their last league game, and there were concerns over the form of Aguero going into the game.

But the Argentine - who had scored just once in his past five league games - showed his class at a snowy Etihad Stadium, scoring twice and setting up the impressive Silva for another, as the hosts found the net with all four shots on target.

City's third was particularly special, as four players with a value of £141m combined to score - Aguero starting and finishing a move that also involved Silva, Yaya Toure and Kevin de Bruyne.

The Blues have not been beaten in the league since their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal before Christmas and, with Aguero and Silva hitting their stride after injury, are finding form at just the right time.

Eagles falling rapidly

As recently as 19 December - when Palace beat Stoke - there was talk of Alan Pardew's side challenging for a place in Europe, perhaps even in the Champions League.

Then, they had the same number of points as fourth-placed Tottenham, but an alarming slump has seem them drop to eighth in the table.

This was another game in which they failed to score or take a point. Having made a mistake in their defeat by bottom side Aston Villa in midweek, goalkeeper Hennessey was again at fault for City's opener.

Manager Alan Pardew was unhappy with the Welshman's performance - but he has problems at both ends of the field.

Pardew has admitted he needs to bring in a striker in the transfer window, and neither the hard-working Connor Wickham nor the ineffectual Marouane Chamakh forced Hart into a save.

Palace's best chance came in the second minute. Had skipper Delaney scored with his header, it could have been a different story, but their wait for a goal and a point continues.

What they said

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "Was it comfortable? No, because you never know in this game. The first half, the two goals gave us more space as they've had to go for the draw. That allowed us to use that space and score two more."

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew on the performance of goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey: "Wayne is going to have to show me this week in training. A mistake at Villa, he needed to respond today and made another mistake.

"The ball is in his court to keep out the other two goalkeepers but I need to see it in training. I need to see a reaction from him."

What next?

Manchester City travel to West Ham next Saturday (17:30 GMT), while Crystal Palace host fellow Londoners Tottenham (15:00 GMT) on the same day.

Source: bbc.com

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Chelsea rescue late point against Everton

John Terry scored a controversial 98th minute equaliser to earn Chelsea a point in a thriller against Everton.

The Toffees took the lead when Terry put through his own net and Ross Barkley hit a post for Everton before Kevin Mirallas put the visitors 2-0 up.

Diego Costa reduced the margin and Cesc Fabregas's deflected shot made it 2-2.

Ramiro Funes Mori restored Everton's lead in the 90th minute only for Terry to back-heel in from close range - although he was a yard offside.

Relive the drama from Stamford Bridge

Everton undone by defensive failings

Everton's players were angry Terry's goal was allowed to stand, but in a pulsating game the visitors only had themselves to blame for allowing a 2-0 lead to slip.

They appeared to be coasting to a first win in four league outings when Mirallas doubled the lead with a crisp shot after Leighton Baines' cross.

Baines had also been instrumental in the first goal, Terry getting his feet into an awful tangle while attempting to clear his cross.

Costa comfortably rounded Howard to make it 2-1 after Phil Jagielka failed to deal with a long ball forward by Cesc Fabregas, who made it 2-2 with a deflected shot which deceived Howard.

More to follow.

Source: bbc.com

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Leicester City: Club speak to FC Copenhagen about Daniel Amartey

Leicester City are in talks with FC Copenhagen over the signing of Ghana international Daniel Amartey.

The Danish club has confirmed that the 21-year-old, capable of playing in defence and midfield, could move to the Premier League side in January.

It has been reported by BBC Radio Leicester that he could join for a fee of up to £6m.

Amartey, who has won six caps for Ghana, has previously played for Swedish side Djurgarden.

Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri had previously said that he did not plan to make any more signings in January, following the capture of winger Demarai Gray from Birmingham City.

Leicester are second in the Premier League, level on points with leaders Arsenal, with 17 games remaining.

Source: bbc.com

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Emmanuel Adebayor a target for Crystal Palace - Pardew

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has confirmed he is interested in signing former Tottenham forward Emmanuel Adebayor.

The 31-year-old is a free agent since leaving White Hart Lane in September.

Palace are the lowest scorers in the top half of the Premier League with 22 goals and Pardew is looking for attacking reinforcements.

"We've had discussions about him and he is in that kind of nine or 10 strikers that possibly we could get," he said.

"It's a tough call for anyone who takes Adebayor - how much game time has he had? That is a question mark."

Pardew made a failed attempt to sign the Togo international in 2006 when he was in charge at West Ham.

Adebayor instead joined Arsenal from French league club Monaco. He went on to play for Manchester City and a loan spell at Real Madrid before joining Spurs in 2012.

Questions have been raised about Adebayor's attitude and commitment, but Pardew added: "Whenever he has played against me he has been totally committed and he's a dangerous world player.

"I have had difficult players before, none more difficult than [Hatem] Ben Arfa [at Newcastle]. If I can deal with him, I can deal with Adebayor for sure.

"You have only got to look at his clubs and of course, for whatever reason there has been a fall-out at Spurs, but he remains a player that can have a great impact. He's one of those players that would improve us."

Will Adebayor be a good signing for Palace?

On BBC Radio 5 live's weekend preview show, the guests discussed whether Palace should sign the striker. The Daily Telegraph's Jason Burt revealed the club would need to negotiate with Spurs, who still pay him £100,000 a week.

Former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson said: "He's a really good player. He'd put bums on seats. I think Alan Pardew is very capable of managing high-maintenance players. If he does decide to go for it, it won't be on a whim."

Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam added: "He'll take the load off Connor Wickham. I think he'd be a good signing."

For all the latest transfers check out our transfer deals page and for all the manager ins and outs, see the our list of current bosses.

Source: bbc.com

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