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Football | The Guardian



Football news, results, fixtures, blogs, podcasts and comment on the Premier League, European and World football from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice



Published: Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:15:08 GMT2018-02-18T19:15:08Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018
 



Steven Davies stuns Spurs with late goal to secure replay for Rochdale

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 18:18:54 GMT2018-02-18T18:18:54Z

One last punt, one last chance for Rochdale to rescue the Wembley dream that had so cruelly been taken away when Harry Kane converted an 88th minute penalty for Tottenham. In it went, Spotland held its breath and the substitute Steve Davies held his nerve to drill a 93rd minute equaliser into the bottom corner and sent the team who are somehow bottom of League One to a date beneath the arch. Mauricio Pochettino patted the grizzly beard of Rochdale counterpart Keith Hill and exited down the tunnel. A fairytale ending, and thoroughly deserved.

This was the FA Cup in all its majesty. One of the most financially-stretched clubs in England stretched a team who had competed in the Champions League in midweek to the limit. A replay seemed to have been ripped from them when Harrison McGahey tripped Dele Alli late on and Kane, a fellow Tottenham substitute, converted the spot-kick on the ground where he made his professional debut. But Rochdale would not be denied. They had performed with spirit and no little quality throughout and when the ball broke for Davies inside a crowded penalty area in stoppage time only the most hard-hearted of Spurs supporters could have begrudged a precise finish into the bottom corner.

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Real Betis v Real Madrid: La Liga – live!

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:08:40 GMT2018-02-18T19:08:40Z

Bale is back in the starting XI after missing out in midweek. Looks like it could be him and Ronaldo down the middle in a very attacking side. Will Betis be able to cope with them?

Earlier today in La Liga, Atletico Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-0 to leave them just seven points behind Barcelona in the league, leaving some to think they can still challenge for the title but surely that is a little optimistic.

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Timm Klose gives Norwich a point in dramatic finish against Ipswich

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:45:21 GMT2018-02-18T14:45:21Z

It may have acquired a irreverent nickname, but this match should leave no doubts as to the strength of feeling generated by the Old Farm derby. It was like the harvest festival and the summer equinox came all at once.

Two crunching headers in the dying minutes provided a dramatic enough climax in itself. Timm Klose’s 95th minute equaliser, six minutes after Luke Chambers thought he had sealed a late win, caused pandemonium among players and fans alike. But Mick McCarthy also saw his emotions boil over and the Ipswich manager was accused of swearing at his own fans as he celebrated Chambers’ goal.

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Hakan Sukur – Turkey’s fallen hero who can never return home

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 08:01:38 GMT2018-02-18T08:01:38Z

Scorer of the fastest World Cup goal had Turkey’s president as a wedding guest but now lives in enforced exile in the US

There is a photograph, famous in Turkey, taken at the wedding of one of the nation’s greatest footballers, a Uefa Cup winner who played in a World Cup semi-final. In the picture, Hakan Sukur is next to two witnesses, the nation’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the cleric Fethullah Gulen. A wedding is supposed to be one of the highlights in a man’s life but it did not work out like that for Sukur.

The woman he married that day is dead, Sukur’s father has been imprisoned and the player capped 112 times by Turkey finds himself in exile. Should he ever return to his native land he would face charges of insulting the president and rebelling against the government. Life imprisonment would be certain and he could even face the death penalty. He will never see his father again, all the adulation he once had is lost. Sukur has lost his country.

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Juventus’ derby win over Torino marred by Gonzalo Higuaín ankle injury

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 16:36:00 GMT2018-02-18T16:36:00Z

Juventus’s 1-0 derby win against Torino on Sunday came at a cost, with Gonzalo Higuaín limping off with an apparent left ankle injury before Alex Sandro’s first-half winner.

Related: First the knife but then Juve’s assassin turns into a Sunday League fat bloke | Barney Ronay

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José Mourinho: VAR ‘went against original protocol’ to rule out Mata goal

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 21:20:11 GMT2018-02-17T21:20:11Z

• Video official was deployed to judge Juan Mata offside
• Lines on the screen appeared to be wavy and uneven

José Mourinho said that the use of VAR to disallow a Juan Mata goal in Manchester United’s 2-0 FA Cup fifth round win over Hudderfield Town “went against the original protocol” of the system and that football is “ too beautiful to be spoiled by something not perfect.”

Mata was initially adjudged to have beaten the offside trap to score in the first-half, but the decision was referred to the video referee and he was deemed to be beyond the last man - or, at least, his knee was slightly beyond the offside line.

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Said & Done: ‘It’s as if you’re supposed to be penniless’ - Gordon Taylor

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:30:40 GMT2018-02-18T09:30:40Z

The week in football – also featuring: Greg Clarke, Alan Pardew and a clown face

Gordon Taylor: taking his 10-year PFA income to £16.2m. Among his best work in 2017 - calling out the “disrespectful” FA for losing touch with reality: “There’s a perception that they’re disconnected dinosaurs.”

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Valverde’s Barcelona balancing act turns crisis talk to treble talk

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 18:36:31 GMT2018-02-17T18:36:31Z

The coach used Neymar’s exit as a chance to reboot the faltering giants as Chelsea may find out on Tuesday

Sometimes football really is life. On Tuesday Barcelona face Chelsea in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge where in 2009 Andrés Iniesta scored a last-minute goal that he still watches occasionally. “It’s a moment that is always there, forever,” he says. For some fans, reminded of it daily, that is especially true. According to a spokeswoman for the maternity ward at the Quirón hospital in Catalonia, his goal didn’t only take Barça to the final, it provoked a spike in the birth rate. “I’m going to have to get more staff in if they keep winning titles,” Mercedes Rodríguez joked.

Nine months after Iniesta’s goal, Rodríguez noted that births were up from nine or 10 a day to 14 or 15 in her hospital alone. “People asked if there had been a full moon or something,” she said. Some reports claimed a 45% increase, which seemed unlikely, so it was tested. A study in the British Medical Journal admitted to potential “bias owing to the effects of the adjacent jubilation” of Barcelona-supporting researchers and was quick to note that they “didn’t contribute to the observed effect”, but tentatively concluded that it was plausible to talk of a 16% rise. More research, though, was needed.

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Southampton’s Hoedt and Tadic ensure rough ride for West Brom

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 17:14:23 GMT2018-02-17T17:14:23Z

‘Taxi for Alan Pardew’ might be a premature call but despite the beleaguered West Brom head coach claiming his players’ second-half rally proved they were behind him, his future appears in jeopardy after this latest setback.

Jonny Evans lost the captaincy but kept his place as Pardew gambled on his team responding to “one crazy evening” in Barcelona by reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals.

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W-League more competitive than ever but FFA must do more for fans

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 18:00:50 GMT2018-02-18T18:00:50Z

Despite reaching new heights, change is required to be competitive against rival codes

After a dominant and disciplined display over Sydney FC, the Melbourne City juggernaut rolls on for another season, winning three championships from three attempts.

Having won the league from fourth place last year, Melbourne City recruited smartly in the off-season, adding Matildas Kyah Simon and Alanna Kennedy from Sydney FC and Yukari Kinga from Canberra United. City pursue top names in women’s football with a full purse that other clubs admire and envy in equal doses. Their wealth is a clear advantage in a league where players are free agents at the end of each season, and has helped them freshen up their approach year to year.

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Antonio Conte says Chelsea need ‘perfect game’ to beat Barcelona

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 23:29:00 GMT2018-02-17T23:29:00Z

• Manager seeks to exploit ‘weaknesses without the ball’
• Cesc Fàbregas to forget old friendships on pitch

Antonio Conte insists Barcelona are not infallible and that it would be dangerous for his rejuvenated team to focus solely on stopping Lionel Messi – who has never scored against Chelsea – when the two sides meet at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening.

Chelsea host Ernesto Valverde’s side in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 for the first time since beating the La Liga leaders in the semi-finals of the competition in 2012, the same year they went on to lift the trophy after edging out Bayern Munich on penalties.

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Jupp Heynckes, the safe pair of hands Bayern Munich can’t bear to lose

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 20:17:04 GMT2018-02-17T20:17:04Z

Instead of just minding the shop in his fourth stint as manager the man from Mönchengladbach is being begged to stay

Jupp Heynckes has a proud record to protect. In each of the three seasons he has coached a team in the Champions League, they have reached the final. And should Bayern Munich win this season’s competition – a quest that continues with Tuesday’s first-leg meeting with Beskitas – he is likely to repeat what followed his two victories: swiftly departing the club he guided to Europe’s premier prize.

In 1998, Real Madrid sacked him despite a first European Cup in 32 years, while in 2013 Bayern had already agreed to bring Pep Guardiola to Bavaria. Having beaten Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at Wembley, Heynckes somewhat reluctantly entered a retirement that lasted until September’s return as a sprightly 72-year-old.

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Jess Fishlock inspires Melbourne City to third W-League title

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 07:56:34 GMT2018-02-18T07:56:34Z

  • Sydney FC 0-2 Melbourne City at Allianz Stadium
  • Wales international scores one and has a hand in another

Three years, three titles. Melbourne City’s domination of the W-League shows no signs of abating after Jess Fishlock inspired the club to a third championship in the three years of their existence in a 2-0 win over Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium.

Welsh international Fishlock scored one and played an integral part in the other – netted by another import, Jodie Taylor – as City, who finished the regular season in fourth place on the ladder, proved they know what it takes to win when it really matters.

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FA Cup quarter-final draw - Leicester to face Chelsea, Man Utd draw Brighton

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 20:10:24 GMT2018-02-17T20:10:24Z

Leicester will host Chelsea in the last eight of the FA Cup, while Brighton will face Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday could host Tottenham

Manchester United were drawn at home to Brighton in an FA Cup quarter-final draw which saw all the big guns avoid each other on Saturday evening.

Jose Mourinho’s men learned they would face the Seagulls shortly after sealing their place in the last eight with a 2-0 fifth-round win at Huddersfield thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s brace.

If everything goes with the form book then we should be looking at Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Spurs in the semi-final. The FA Cup is rarely that simple, so we should end up with an upset or two, if we are lucky.

We do get a repeat of the 1983 FA Cup final when Manchester United host Brighton but other than that it looks like it could be a quiet round. Only time will tell, though.

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Jürgen Locadia scores on debut in Brighton stroll against Coventry

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 17:24:57 GMT2018-02-17T17:24:57Z

For Brighton this win brought a quarter-final place for the first time since 1986 and the suggestion Chris Hughton finally has the depth at his disposal to combine a tilt at the FA Cup and a successful relegation fight.

For Coventry the battle remains yet more profound; Mark Robins’s League Two side were well beaten but it must be hoped that, as a minimum, such an engaging run has propelled a famous, deeply troubled old name back into the national consciousness for good.

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Ryan Sessegnon sets Fulham on way to win over play-off rivals Aston Villa

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 17:10:56 GMT2018-02-17T17:10:56Z

Ryan Sessegnon does not turn 18 until May, by which point Fulham could well be, on this evidence at least, celebrating their return to the Premier League. Sessegnon’s seventh goal in eight matches kick-started an impressive victory over Aston Villa before Floyd Ayité’s stunning effort from the halfway line after an error by the goalkeeper, Sam Johnstone, ensured the visitors’ seven-match winning run came to a grinding halt by the Thames.

Related: Jamie Vardy strike enough for Leicester to see off Sheffield United

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Sheffield Wednesday take Swansea to FA Cup fifth-round replay

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 14:57:25 GMT2018-02-17T14:57:25Z

Carlos Carvalhal had said it would be “OK” if Swansea City did not reach the quarter-finals, so there was scant surprise when he made it plain his side could do without the impending replay in south Wales.

This is what so often happens when a weakened team harbouring alternative ambitions contests a cup tie with its collective mind set half a yard off the pace. In football’s version of a “cock-up rather than conspiracy” theory it ends up facing yet another unwanted fixture.

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‘It isn’t easy admitting you were one of Barry Bennell’s boys’

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:46 GMT2018-02-16T12:00:46Z

Micky Fallon, one of the former players Bennell has been convicted of abusing, reveals the horrors he endured and asks how Crewe did not realise the coach was a risk when opponents called them ‘The paedophile lads’

There is a scar on my cheek that will always be there to remind me about my childhood. Over the years, I’ve got used to it being there, I suppose. But whenever anyone asked how I got that scar I would just say as little as possible and move on swiftly. It was easier that way because, if I said what really happened, that would mean explaining I used to be at Crewe Alexandra. I knew if I said those words I’d have to get my head in a space that took me back to that football club. And from the age of 18, since the day I left that club, I’d shut down that part of my life off and, until now, never wanted to revisit it.

The truth is not easy for me to explain. For 32 years, I denied everything. I read the interview with Andy Woodward that opened all this up and for a while I carried on pretending it hadn’t happened to me. Steve Walters, another of my old Crewe mates, was next and, though it hit me like a ton of bricks, I still couldn’t bring myself to admit straight away I was another one. It’s only now, after an awful lot of soul-searching, that I feel strong enough to do it. But it’s tough, really tough. It isn’t easy admitting you were one of Barry Bennell’s boys.

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Did this special football talent kill himself because of Barry Bennell?

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:00:39 GMT2018-02-16T08:00:39Z

Mark Hazeldine was a star of the Manchester City youth set-up but his behaviour changed dramatically after he went on a trip to Spain alone with Bennell. In 2006 he took his own life

It doesn’t take long, listening to the stories about Mark Hazeldine, to understand why there are still people involved in football today who find it difficult to understand how someone with his rare talent could be lost to the sport.

Mark played for one of the junior teams affiliated to Manchester City, the club he grew up supporting. Blue Star FC even wore the red and black stripes that Malcolm Allison, City’s assistant manager, introduced in the 1960s, inspired by the great Milan sides.

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Time for Eden Hazard to show he can produce his best on the big occasion | Jacob Steinberg

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:00:51 GMT2018-02-16T17:00:51Z

Chelsea’s hopes of upsetting Barcelona rest on Belgian but he may wonder if his best chance of achieving greatness is to move

This week a clip emerged of three Barcelona players being confronted by a metal railing, with each of them choosing to deal with the obstacle in a different way. While Jordi Alba continued to mooch along the suggested route and Luis Suárez dealt with the inconvenience by jumping over it, Lionel Messi could be seen scurrying under the barrier, like a small child setting off on an adventure at passport control, weaving through the legs and dividing lines and leaving his parents in a state of bewildered panic.

Related: Chelsea’s Conte confident of new Eden Hazard deal despite Real interest

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Alex McLeish getting Scotland job stems from blind panic and lack of foresight | Ewan Murray

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:14:37 GMT2018-02-16T15:14:37Z

Scottish FA’s failings are exposed by decision to bring in McLeish from the cold to manage the team for a second time

Any search for ill will towards Alex McLeish within Scottish football would be a tough one. Although unanimous sentiment towards football managers is an impossibility, those who have dealt professionally with the 59-year-old will generally report on a thoroughly decent, charismatic, clued-up individual. McLeish’s knowledge of global football is understated and an exception to the notion that detail is the domain of younger coaches.

McLeish has 77 Scotland caps. When faced with downsizing at Rangers he returned seven trophies – including a domestic treble – and progress to the last 16 of the Champions League. Success with Birmingham preceded as bizarre a managerial move in 2011 as it looks today: to Aston Villa.

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Gordon Taylor is paid four times sum of benevolent grants to former players | David Conn

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:00:42 GMT2018-02-16T10:00:42Z

PFA chief executive was paid £2.29m last year while grants to those ill, infirm, in poverty or with mental conditions totalled £530,000

The annual unveiling of the salary paid to Gordon Taylor has become a ritual of public bewilderment, a surfacing of dysfunctional relationships embedded in a flourishing sport. This time the gasps were for £2.29m paid last year to the 73-year-old, who is the chief executive – since 1981 – of the Professional Footballers’ Association, which is still constituted as an actual trade union.

Given the PFA’s distinguished past battling to overturn players’ oppressive pay and conditions, it is customarily noted that Taylor takes home very much more money than the chief executive of any other trade union. The Professional Cricketers’ Association paid its chief executive, David Leatherdale, £137,990 last year; the Rugby Players’ Association in England paid Damian Hopley £134,430.

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Barry Bennell: unmasking of football paedophile who ruined young lives – video explainer

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:08:13 GMT2018-02-15T14:08:13Z

For 25 years Barry Bennell lived a dual existence, publicly he was lauded as one of English football's best talent spotters but in private he committed a campaign of sexual abuse against the young boys in his care. When Andy Woodward, one of Bennell's victims, eschewed his anonymity in an interview with Daniel Taylor, the story instigated the largest ever police investigation into sexual abuse in the UK.

The predatory Pied Piper who made stars and shattered lives

Manchester City ‘ignored warnings’ and kept Barry Bennell in youth set-up

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Jürgen Klopp full of praise as Liverpool put five past Porto – video

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 09:56:59 GMT2018-02-15T09:56:59Z

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has expressed his delight after his side scored five in the first leg of their Champions League tie with Porto. Klopp singled out the comeback of Sadio Mané, whose impressive hat-trick proved to be a comfortable night for the Reds

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Tottenham players were fantastic in Juventus draw, says Mauricio Pochettino – video

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 11:50:39 GMT2018-02-14T11:50:39Z

Tottenham produced a superb comeback to draw 2-2 at Juventus after a nightmare start to their Champions League last-16 first leg in Turin. Spurs conceded twice within the opening nine minutes but goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen ensured they hold the edge going into the second leg at Wembley

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The Comfort Zone: the unconventional methods of Östersund's Graham Potter – video

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:58:24 GMT2018-02-12T15:58:24Z

Graham Potter is the English manager who took Arsenal's Europa League opponents Östersund from the fourth tier of Swedish football to the top flight in only five years. Increasingly bored by the formulaic coaching that defined his life as a professional, Potter completed an Open University degree in social sciences while still playing. He is the focus of a documentary, The Comfort Zone – the title of which is taken from the methods he uses: he gets his side to sing and perform in front of each other regularly

The full documentary, The Comfort Zone, will be broadcast on SVT1 on 5 April 2018.

Produced by Thomas Reckmann 

Cinematographer Minka Jakerson 

Editor Andreas Jonsson-Hay

Main image: Marie Birkl for the Guardian

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Lokomotiv Tashkent player scores from own half in AFC Champions League – video

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 14:53:23 GMT2018-02-12T14:53:23Z

Anything David Beckham can do, Ikromjon Alibaev of Lokomotiv Tashkent can do too. The midfielder scored from inside his own half as his side ran out 5-0 winners over Al Wahda in their AFC Champions League Group B encounter on Monday

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Newcastle win was lucky but they fought for their lives, says José Mourinho – video

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:22:18 GMT2018-02-12T11:22:18Z

José Mourinho said Newcastle’s 1-0 win over his Manchester United side was lucky but ‘they went over all the limits of the effort, of sacrifice, of everything a manager likes to see in his teams.’ A goal by Matt Ritchie condemned Manchester United to their fifth Premier League defeat of the season.

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The 100 best footballers in the world 2017

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 11:00:24 GMT2017-12-19T11:00:24Z

Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017. Click on an individual to read more about their year.

Messi edges Ronaldo to No1 | The data behind our 100 | Watch: our top 10
Meet our panel of judges for 2017 | 2016 edition | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

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Inside the Sporting Lisbon academy, where Ballon d'Or winners are made

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 13:35:21 GMT2018-02-16T13:35:21Z

Sporting have developed Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo and eight of the 11 players who started for Portugal in the Euro 2016 final

By Alex Clapham for In Bed With Maradona

“Effort, Dedication, Devotion, Glory.” Those are the first and last words the young hopefuls see as they enter and leave the Sporting Clube de Portugal academy. I had visited Benfica’s €15m complex the night before and was immediately struck by the contrasting values at this rural complex in Alcochete. Perhaps it was the €0.40 coffee served to me in the clubhouse by a bronzed pensioner who was wearing a permanent scowl. Without extravagances, this is a place for football.

As coaches gathered around a portable TV to watch Primeira Liga highlights and plan what the evening would have in store, I couldn’t help but daydream about the players who had walked these corridors and slept in the rooms next door, back when they owned nothing more than a pocketful of ambition. Sporting have produced Portugal’s two most capped players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luís Figo, both of whom have won the Ballon d’Or, the Champions League and a shedload of leagues and cups. There are signed pictures and murals of the pair plastered all around the facilities.

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Anonymous letters and threats: How racism came to stalk US youth soccer

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:00:12 GMT2018-02-15T10:00:12Z

For players as young as eight on Idaho’s Juniors FC, the possibility of abuse when they step on the field is very real. And they are from from unique

Jeromy Tarkon, a youth soccer coach in Boise, Idaho, walked out to his car on a Sunday morning this past January and discovered a plastic-wrapped letter sitting on its windshield. “It’s because of liberals like you,” the letter began, “that our state is full of nigers [sic] and wetbacks.”

The anonymous letter writer said one young black player on Tarkon’s club team, Juniors FC, had “made the field unclean when he stepped on it,” and how, if he wasn’t careful, Tarkon himself might one day soon “piss off the wrong parent or families”.

Tarkon, a white military veteran originally from California, could have accepted a personal attack, but racially abusing the eight- and nine-year-old children on his team was more abuse than he was willing to tolerate.

After consulting with his assistant coaches – all of whom come from immigrant backgrounds – Tarkon decided to publish the letter on the team’s Facebook page and go public with the story.

Tarkon’s team, though, had been the victim of racial abuse before. In one incident last year, Juniors FC players were taunted by the parents from an opposing team as they walked out onto the field for a game. “Here come the future convicts,” some parents shouted loud enough for the Juniors FC coaches to hear. “Watch out for your wallets.” In two other separate incidents, Tarkon says that he has heard parents from opposing teams aim the n-word at his players.

Tarkon had previously believed that comments like these weren’t worth reporting to the Idaho Youth Soccer Association (IYSA), the state’s governing body and the only institution with the power to levy punishments. He and his assistants figured that their players could respond with their play on the field and that, if the incident was bad enough, they could work something out with the club of the offending party, a process outlined in the IYSA’s policies.

“Maybe I haven’t been proactive enough and the reason why is I know we don’t want to get people more mad than they already are,” Tarkon told the Guardian.

Related: 'It’s only working for the white kids': American soccer's diversity problem

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Toulouse's fear of relegation is harming their talented young players

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:05:30 GMT2018-02-12T13:05:30Z

Toulouse should be developing their academy products instead of signing Premier League misfits such as Yaya Sanogo

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Things were supposed to improve for Toulouse when they dismissed Pascal Dupraz a few weeks ago but their struggles continued on Saturday with a 1-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain. Despite putting in a spirited performance at the Stade Municipal against the league leaders, the outlook remains bleak. Even their two 1-0 victories were underwhelming – it is hard to take much solace from beating a Nice side torn apart by injury and a Troyes team who were forced to play nearly the entire match with 10 men – and their most striking result of recent weeks was the 2-0 defeat to Ligue 2 strugglers Bourg-en-Bresse that handed them an embarrassing elimination from the Coupe de France.

Dupraz’s fiery personality and skill as a motivator helped the team avoid relegation in 2016 but he has struggled to develop a talented group of players. Highly touted players such as Issa Diop, Alexis Blin, Yann Bodiger and Kelvin Amian are no further along than they were 18 months ago, having been stymied by inconsistent tactics and a lack of discipline. This charge cannot be levelled at the club’s teenage goalkeeper, Alban Lafont, who played a blinder on Saturday, but he seems to be the exception who proves the rule.

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Kylian Mbappé poses Unai Emery a dilemma as PSG face le money time | Paul Doyle

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 09:00:24 GMT2018-02-11T09:00:24Z

The manager must decide whether an out-of-sorts Mbappé or in-form Ángel Di María is better equipped for Real Madrid test

Paris Saint-Germain are nearing le money time, to use the Anglicism that has gained currency among French commentators without ever being circulated widely in English. It refers to the decisive stage in contests, the moments where top performers step up and prove they are worth the big bucks. Wednesday’s Champions League tie between PSG and Real Madrid fits that bill even if it is only a last-16 eliminator.

Related: Champions League last 16: tie-by-tie analysis | Marcus Christenson

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European roundup: Real Madrid go third thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 23:24:10 GMT2018-02-10T23:24:10Z

• Real beat Real Socieded 5-2; second-placed Atlético beat Málaga
• Robert Lewandowski equals record as Bayern go 18 points clear

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid moved into third place following a 5-2 thumping of Real Sociedad at the Bernabéu. Ronaldo set up Lucas Vázquez for his first-minute opener before going on to add the second himself just before the half-hour mark.

Toni Kroos fired Real’s third in the 34th minute with Ronaldo notching his second – and the hosts’ fourth – three minutes later. Jon Bautista pulled one back for Sociedad in the 74th minute but Ronaldo was again on target 10 minutes from the final whistle. Asier Illarramendi added the visitors’ second in the 83rd minute but it was too little, too late.

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Van Marwijk's Socceroos appointment shows lack of long-term direction

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 18:00:34 GMT2018-02-11T18:00:34Z

The Dutchman has no incentive to invest in the future of Australian football

Bert van Marwijk made a solid first impression as Socceroos coach last week. He lobbied persuasively for his career to be appraised without such laser beam focus on the notorious 2010 World Cup final. He spoke knowledgeably about tactics and trends, using specific examples from his stint in Saudi Arabia to illustrate the courage and flexibility of his decision making. But amongst the technical proficiency, Van Marwijk’s visit crystallised the flaws in Football Federation Australia’s appointment.

The most obvious flaw is Van Marwijk’s nationality. The coach of Australia’s national team should be Australian, and some of the consequences of that not being the case can already be felt.

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US Soccer picks new president, frustrating those seeking big changes

Sat, 10 Feb 2018 20:05:47 GMT2018-02-10T20:05:47Z

After US failure to qualify for World Cup, vice-president Carlos Cordeiro, described by Hope Solo as ‘more of the same’, takes top job

US Soccer has a new president, yet those demanding radical change following the failure to qualify for this summer’s World Cup were left deflated on Saturday.

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Philippe Coutinho scores first Barcelona goal in Copa del Rey win at Valencia

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 23:03:42 GMT2018-02-08T23:03:42Z

• Valencia 0-2 Barcelona (0-3 agg)
• Brazilian off the mark as Barça set up final against Sevilla

Philippe Coutinho scored his first goal for Barcelona as they completed victory over Valencia in their Copa del Rey semi-final on Thursday.

The former Liverpool forward stretched at the far post to meet a cross from another one-time Anfield favourite, Luis Suárez, and directed the ball across goal and into the left corner.

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As US Soccer picks a new president, everyone thinks they have the answer

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 10:00:00 GMT2018-02-09T10:00:00Z

Sunil Gulati’s successor will be elected this weekend in Orlando and ideas to secure a permanent place in the world’s elite are flying back and forth

The US Soccer Federation has nearly $150m in the bank, up from roughly $6.6m at the turn of the century. The federation is not hoarding – spending has roughly tripled over that same time span – and it has legions of youth players: somewhere between 3.5 million and 4 million registered and millions more unregistered, even in the gloomy surveys showing kids turning away from sports.

What it does not have is a berth at the 2018 World Cup finals. Nor does it have youth teams that qualify for tournaments as consistently as they used to. Even the mighty US women’s team isn’t as mighty as it once was, following up its first failure to medal in a major international event (the 2016 Olympics) with a bunch of losses.

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Barry Bennell: the predatory Pied Piper who made stars and shattered lives

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:36:10 GMT2018-02-15T13:36:10Z

The former Manchester City and Crewe coach exploited his status to abuse potentially hundreds of boys, employing gifts, a sheep’s head and haunted houses to subject his victims to unspeakable horrors

Andy Woodward, one of the boys lost and brutalised during Barry Bennell’s decades of preying on young footballers, can remember one story that probably helps to explain why the detectives investigating the man described as a “child molester on an industrial scale” believe the true number of victims will be incalculable.

Bennell had taken a group of Crewe Alexandra players to Florida in the summer of 1990 to help with a series of junior coaching courses. He had hired jet-skis and was out in the sea at Pensacola beach, with an 11-year-old on the back, when he fell into the water. He was climbing back on board when Craig Hignett, the first-team striker, came past on his own jet-ski and turned to spray him. Except Hignett also lost control of his machine.

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Neymar wilts in Madrid as superclub tie descends into Disneyfied dystopia | Jonathan Wilson

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 11:14:40 GMT2018-02-15T11:14:40Z

The Brazilian repeatedly ran down blind alleys as PSG appeared incoherent in the face of Real and Cristiano Ronaldo’s efficiency

Two superclubs! The most successful club in European history! The other a club that has just arranged the two most expensive transfers in history! Cristiano Ronaldo v Neymar, the ageing great against the rising star! Skill! Tricks! Flair! Late drama! Rabonas, backheels, dribbles! There was plenty to watch in Real Madrid’s win over Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, plenty of story and plenty of spectacle, but there was also a sense of the emperor’s new clothes to the whole affair. The actual football wasn’t very good.

There was plenty of fine individual skill, for sure, plenty that could be cropped and gif-ed, but there was very little in the way of cohesion. This was a film executive’s idea of football, a game that called to mind the fact Real Madrid’s director general, José Angel Sánchez, has said the club sees Disney as its model. It was full of screams and dives and needless flourishes, a mess of individuals in desperate need of structure, self-absorbed and self-indulgent.

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Liverpool’s Henderson and Milner provide base for front line’s fireworks | Ben Fisher

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 09:00:11 GMT2018-02-15T09:00:11Z

Jürgen Klopp’s team struck the perfect balance in Porto with Jordan Henderson and James Milner assuming midfield control and Sadio Mané profiting from their dominance

How many will Mohamed Salah get this season? Forty? Fifty? A tired puff of the cheeks by Porto’s Moussa Marega after his irresistible 30th said it all. There was half an hour on the clock inside the Estádio do Dragão when Salah opened his tally for the evening. Liverpool supporters idolise the man they call the Egyptian King but Salah seems to have grander plans, like conquering Europe, for starters. Salah provided the delicate touches on a night when Liverpool displayed an iron core and just what their manager, Jürgen Klopp, had requested – “a real serious performance”.

Related: Sadio Mané’s stunning hat-trick inspires Liverpool stroll against Porto

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The Fiver | Chill, Antonio, and be more like Nigel

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 16:55:11 GMT2018-02-16T16:55:11Z

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Just over five years have elapsed since Southampton responded to a sorry little 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge by telling Nigel Adkins that his services were no longer required and replacing him with an obscure foreign man who went by the name of something like Manuel or Marco, sparking an outpouring of rage in the British media. The guy couldn’t even speak English! Imagine! What on earth were they thinking? Not much, clearly, which is why $exually Repressed Morris Dancing Fiver, our English cousin, was hoping to hear Adkins prepare for his return to Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea host Hull City in the fifth round of the FA Cup this evening, by blasting some hot invective in Southampton’s direction.

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Football transfer rumours: Manchester United's Paul Pogba to Real Madrid?

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 09:10:55 GMT2018-02-16T09:10:55Z

Today’s fluff just toss that ham in the fryin’ pan

In devastating news for Manchester United fans, it seems that one of their top midfielders is likely to leave this summer. Get the emotional tributes ready as soon as possible because there are reports in Turkey that Marouane Fellaini has agreed a contract with Besiktas. Don’t all cry at once. Oh, and Paul Pogba is also off. The Frenchman will join Real Madrid for £120m after deciding that José Mourinho ain’t worth it. United will console themselves by signing Mauro Icardi from Internazionale.

Related: Tottenham have option to extend Érik Lamela’s contract by a further year

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English sides excel, Ronaldo's wane and the failing PSG project - Football Weekly Extra

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:11:46 GMT2018-02-15T15:11:46Z

Max Rushden and co discuss a great week for English teams in the Champions League and why the away goal rule should be abolished

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts,Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Philippe Auclair and Jonathan Wilson after a midweek goal fest in the Champions League where Tottenham staged a thrilling comeback against the Italian Champions, both Manchester City and Liverpool scored for fun in Switzerland and Portugal respectively and Paris Saint-Germain failed again in Spain.

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Futsal finals, muddy faceplants and Luís Boa Morte on MTV Cribs

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:00:12 GMT2018-02-15T10:00:12Z

This week also features an Olympic skier riding an escalator, an Eagle making a speech and FA Cup fifth-round goals

1) In case you missed it, Portugal won their first European Futsal title at the weekend, defeating Spain in extra-time. And while we’re here, why not enjoy some great Futsal Euro final goals of yesteryear.

2) Mud, tumbles and a lost shoe: it’s the BUCS Cross-Country Championships in sunny Uxbridge. Also of note in the preceding race – this outstanding faceplant into the bank.

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Footballers joining and leaving a club soon after | The Knowledge

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 10:16:35 GMT2018-02-14T10:16:35Z

Plus: extreme weather at the very first MLS Cup and winning the FA Cup the hard way. Mail us your questions and answers or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“Scott Bain signed for Hibs on loan on the first day of the window and left for Celtic on the last day. Have any other players ever joined and left a club in the same window?” tweets Brian Milne.

The answer, of course, is yes. In the summer of 1980, Clive Allen joined Arsenal from QPR for a fee of £1.25m. He played in three friendlies before joining Crystal Palace’s team of the 80s, in a swap deal which sent Kenny Sansom and his Norman Wisdom impressions in the opposite direction. Ostend Gudgeon reckons this became a Newman-Baddiel running gag, “probably in the Mary Whitehouse Experience”.

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Said & Done: 'They make up nonsense for money' - Ramzan Kadyrov

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 09:40:24 GMT2018-02-11T09:40:24Z

The week in football – also featuring: Gianni Infantino, Ed Woodward and an emotional moment

Gianni Infantino – unhappy with “the amount of money flowing out of football” to agents. Infantino – paid £1.15m basic plus bonus, house, cars and a flowers budget – warned the culture “raises questions about potential misuse of funds”.

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The Joy of Six: Aston Villa v Birmingham City memories | Scott Murray

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 10:24:52 GMT2018-02-08T10:24:52Z

Bitter rivalry, free-scoring marksmen, stretchers, rage and Peter Enckelman: half a dozen Second City derby stories

Villa dominated the Football League during its Victorian infancy – they racked up five titles by 1900 – so their early command of the Birmingham scene is no great surprise. In November 1887, they met the club that would become bitter city rivals in serious competition for the first time: Small Heath Alliance were dispatched 4-0 in the FA Cup second round. It was payback for the first friendly between the clubs in 1879, which Alliance won 1-0 at their Muntz Street ground. Villa – already a grand, bordering on aristocratic, institution despite being just four years and nine months old – complained bitterly that the pitch was full of holes.

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Sky and BT are paying less but the Premier League bubble has not burst

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 15:01:13 GMT2018-02-14T15:01:13Z

Broadcasters are saving under the latest TV rights deal but it does not look like the beginning of the end for the money feast

An assessment of the near-£4.5bn committed to Premier League clubs for live UK televising of their matches from 2019‑22 can be assisted by adapting a famous old quip: reports of football’s bubble bursting are greatly exaggerated.

True, this £4.464bn to 20 football clubs, on which Sky and BT Sport will aim to make profits by charging supporters subscriptions, is approximately £500m less than the record £5.13bn the two broadcasters paid last time for the 2016-19 rights. But it does not look like the beginning of the end for the money feast for clubs, their owners, managers, players and agents, which they have been served up for 25 years by making supporters pay to watch football on television.

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It’s time to ignore the sceptics and take delight in this Tottenham team | Barney Ronay

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 18:14:39 GMT2018-02-14T18:14:39Z

While the doom merchants point out they have yet to win anything, most fans would like to see their own team built, and play, like Mauricio Pochettino’s

The last time a Premier League team produced a stirring two-goal comeback in Turin was in 1999 when the world was still young, when the current managers of Chelsea, Real Madrid and France were playing for Juventus, and when a Manchester United team with an armature of homegrown talent gave post-Heysel English football its first really compelling European story.

The comparison with Tottenham’s stirring 2-2 draw at the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday goes only so far. Which is, in reality, not very far at all. There was a tempting little mnemonic in the angle of Tottenham’s comeback goal, the way Harry Kane cut the ball across into the far corner from the left, drawing an echo of Roy Keane’s flicked near-post header with United also 2-0 down, a moment of footballing Madeleine cake washing about in a silver teaspoon of grainy old YouTube highlights’ films.

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When Arsenal showed France tough love on Valentine's Day

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:59:56 GMT2018-02-14T09:59:56Z

Michel Platini thought playing a ‘very British’ Arsenal team at Highbury would prepare France for a World Cup qualifier in Scotland, but the plan backfired. France lost both matches 2-0

By Steven Pye for That 1980s Sports Blog

It’s hard to imagine Arsenal being in the title race in February and then adding an extra fixture against a national football team to their schedule. It wouldn’t happen these days but in 1989 George Graham’s team took a break from their pursuit of the championship to do Michel Platini a favour.

The France manager needed all the help he could get after a stuttering start to their qualifying campaign for the 1990 World Cup. France beat Norway 1-0 in their first qualifier thanks to an 84th-minute penalty from Jean-Pierre Papin but only could only draw in Cyprus before losing to Yugoslavia. With a difficult trip to Scotland on the horizon, Platini came up with the plan of playing a British club side to prepare his men for the challenge ahead.

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Matty Fryatt: ‘I was coming off the training pitch nearly crying, in agony’

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 12:59:27 GMT2018-02-08T12:59:27Z

Striker who played for Hull in 2014 FA Cup final is retiring aged 31 because of an achilles injury sustained at Nottingham Forest

There were times over the past three years when Matty Fryatt felt “like a car on the driveway, rusting away”. He talks about being “lost and forgotten” at Nottingham Forest, where he battled to overcome an achilles injury that led to three operations and plenty of soul‑searching as he kept asking himself when he would ever get the chance to return to the pitch. The answer, Fryatt decided this week, is never.

After travelling all over Europe in search of a cure, undergoing surgery that he regrets, fighting back tears on the training ground and feeling embarrassed that he was simply unable to run, Fryatt has come to the conclusion that enough is enough and used this interview to announce his retirement from professional football at the age of 31.

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FA Cup fifth round: Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur – as it happened

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:59:45 GMT2018-02-18T17:59:45Z

Steve Davies scores a stunning injury-time leveller for Rochdale after Lucas Moura and Harry Kane seemed to have given Tottenham a comeback win

Related: Steven Davies stuns Spurs with late goal to secure replay for Rochdale

I’ll leave you there. What a day of football drama! And it would take a heart of flint to begrudge Rochdale that replay. They approached this tie the right way and were rewarded accordingly. There was guile and, at the end, genuine grit. The replay will be a proper hassle for Spurs, with all their games, but that’s their problem; Rochdale have a backlog of their own to clear if they are to battle out of their – improbable, on this evidence – relegation battle but they won’t care about that tonight. These two will meet again! And we will, too, but for now goodnight!

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Norwich City 1-1 Ipswich Town: Championship – as it happened

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 13:58:48 GMT2018-02-18T13:58:48Z

Timm Klose’s last-gasp header rescued a draw for Norwich just as Luke Chambers app

Ok, that’ll be it from me. One apiece there, and I hope you enjoyed all that late drama. I’m back for Rochdale-Spurs later, via a lie down. Bye!

Related: Timm Klose gives Norwich a point in dramatic finish against Ipswich

That was the game’s last action. What a finale there. Chambers boots the ball away in frustration. Ipswich have a habit of not hanging onto situations like these. A draw is fair but they will be gutted.

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Sky netted a sweet Premier League deal but the TV rights bubble isn’t over

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 07:00:37 GMT2018-02-18T07:00:37Z

The value of TV packages may have plateaued in the UK but footie bosses aren’t worried, with the game’s appeal growing globally and the likes of Amazon on the sidelines

On the face of it, the outcome of the latest battle for Premier League TV rights appears to be business as usual. Sky has taken the lion’s share of the best matches, extending its stranglehold on the biggest prize in British sports broadcasting to at least three decades, with BT slotting into second place.

But with Amazon in the running for at least one of the two remaining rights packages, Rupert Murdoch poised to take full control of Sky and then sell it to Disney, and BT calling time on its big spending on sports rights, it is a seminal moment.

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Ian Henderson: ‘In Turkey I didn’t get paid. I was acting as my own lawyer’

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 22:30:27 GMT2018-02-17T22:30:27Z

Bad luck and instability almost led Rochdale’s captain to quit football. Now he has found a happy place and has Spurs in his sights

Ian Henderson had reached a crossroads in his life when the invitation came to train with Rochdale five years ago. He had just been released by Colchester United and the realities of life as a professional footballer were not turning out to be what he had envisaged when he was coming through the youth system at Norwich City. Being offered bags of cash by persons unknown to leave the Turkish club Ankaragucu in 2009 had seen to that.

Clubless and careerless, or so he thought, the striker considered turning his back on football to become an orthodontist. Today, as captain of Rochdale in the FA Cup fifth round, it is only the lilywhites of Tottenham Hotspur that concern him. Today he will feel indebted to the manager, Keith Hill, for providing the right direction.

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Huddersfield Town v Manchester United: FA Cup – as it happened

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 19:35:47 GMT2018-02-17T19:35:47Z

Romelu Lukaku scored twice for Manchester United as they beat Huddersfield, despite a Juan Mata goal being disallowed in a confusing VAR moment

VAR was a distraction here, and I hope that the confusion that surrounded the end of the first half doesn’t unfairly occupy the headlines. It was a mess, without a doubt, but it seems the decision was ultimately correct and the big problem seems to have been the wiggly lines that somehow made their way to the broadcasters.

Let’s concentrate on the actual football, though, which was entertaining, if only sporadically outstanding. Huddersfield fought hard, and played their way through midfield well, but their final delivery simply wasn’t good enough. Time and again they made it as far as the United defence but no further, with Smalling in particular winning countless headers and flinging his limbs in the way of various passes and shots. United were outfought and outplayed in midfield, but had the cutting edge at one end and the concentration and determination at the other. They had few chances, and only two shots on target, but that’s all they needed.

Related: Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku turns on power to sink Huddersfield

90+4 mins: And that’s it! United weren’t great, but they have won.

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Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku sinks Huddersfield despite VAR chaos

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 19:34:05 GMT2018-02-17T19:34:05Z

Paul Pogba missed this game through illness, leaving Manchester United to book their place in the last eight of the FA Cup without him. Thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s 20th and 21st goals of the season they managed it comfortably enough, the striker showing the value of possessing an accomplished goalscorer when chances are few and far between.

Huddersfield could have done with a similarly potent spearhead, since for all their attacking intent they came up short in front of goal. With the benefit of an early lead United could afford to be economical, letting their opponents have most of the ball and hitting them effectively on the counter. The visitors were not at their swaggering best, yet the home side ended up grateful to a VAR call at the end of the first half for helping keep the scoreline respectable. “We didn’t get the result we wanted but confidence wise we are going in the right direction,” David Wagner said. “We are building up momentum again.”

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Rochdale v Tottenham Hotspur: match preview

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 09:00:11 GMT2018-02-17T09:00:11Z

Rochdale are staring relegation full in the face as they sit bottom of League One and are 11 points from safety. There is some hope in having between three and five games in hand on their rivals for the drop and it is a similar glimmer that Keith Hill will cling to against Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino has apologised for his criticism of the, now relayed, Spotland pitch but his side’s heroics in Turin might not be ideal preparation. Even with a much-changed lineup, including a debut for Lucas Moura, Tottenham should prevail. Graham Searles

Sunday 4pm BBC One

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Ryan Mason forced to retire from football after head injury

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 10:58:00 GMT2018-02-13T10:58:00Z

  • Hull City midfielder suffered fractured skull in 2017
  • ‘Having taken expert medical advice, I have no option’

Gary Cahill has offered his condolences to Ryan Mason after the midfielder was forced to retire from football on medical advice following the head injury he suffered during Hull City’s Premier League match at Chelsea in January 2017.

Mason, 26, sustained a fractured skull in a clash of heads with Cahill while defending a corner during his team’s defeat and subsequently received treatment for around nine minutes on the Stamford Bridge pitch. He had surgery at St Mary’s Hospital in London and was released eight days later but has since struggled with his recovery, admitting he had “no option” but to retire.

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