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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, 26 Mar 2017 17:42:59 GMT2017-03-26T17:42:59Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



England v Lithuania: World Cup 2018 qualifier – live!

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 17:39:46 GMT2017-03-26T17:39:46Z

79 min “Is it me or does Jamie Vardy look like he’s had his eyebrows waxed?” says Keith Tucker. “Maybe it’s a way to make himself more aerodynamic; marginal gains and all that. I’m a metrosexual myself but this has to be a first for a Premier League footballer.”

I shudder to think what other grooming marginal gains might be available.

78 min Some good defending stops Vardy getting on to crosses from first Walker and then Lallana. England have been much better since Vardy and Rashford came on.

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Flexibility key to solving football’s wages dilemma | Sean Ingle

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 17:02:08 GMT2017-03-26T17:02:08Z

Leading sports lawyer Ian Lynam believes rewarding players based on the team’s performance – rather than individual bonuses – is a sensible model for clubs

It was a classic local newspaper story from the mid-90s, joyfully regurgitated for the social media generation. “I’ve had enough Yorkshire puds says United star Yeboah,” ran the clipping from a 1996 edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post, which did the rounds on Twitter last week, along with the story of how the Leeds striker’s unique bonus – two puddings per goal, plus one for each for his team-mates – had ended because “the Ghanaian hotshot’s goal grabbing exploits have earned him so many puds he had to say ‘no more thanks’.”

I thought of that heart-warming tale while listening to sports lawyer Ian Lynam, who has spent more than a decade acting for players and clubs on transfer deals and contracts, make a fascinating admission: the way in which Premier League clubs pay players has changed very little in the past 25 years, with most teams still getting their pay and bonus culture wrong.

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Premier League fans’ verdicts – the run-in, part 2: Manchester Utd to West Ham

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:25 GMT2017-03-26T08:00:25Z

With eight weeks to go, fans assess the season so far, and what lies ahead
Click here for part 1: Arsenal to Manchester City

What’s the mood among fans? The games are coming thick and fast – you expect that when you end up in the Europa League but belong in the Champions League. Most fans would take winning in Stockholm over fourth place but both are attainable. Then for some big work in the summer: we’re still in transition, so José Mourinho will have to add to the squad again and ship out the dead wood, regardless of their previous status.

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Ireland’s Martin O’Neill says surgery on Séamus Coleman’s leg was a success

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 12:49:03 GMT2017-03-26T12:49:03Z

• ‘It’s a double break but it has been pinned up now and screwed in’
• O’Neill reluctant to put timescale on right-back’s recovery

The surgery on Séamus Coleman’s broken leg has been a success. The Republic of Ireland right-back suffered a double break of his right leg in a tackle with Wales’ Neil Taylor during the World Cup qualifier in Dublin.

The Republic captain was given oxygen before being carried off in Friday’s goalless draw at the Aviva Stadium and was taken to St Vincent’s University hospital.

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Jesse Lingard: ‘England is like a family. We're not going to let others bully us’

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 12:00:30 GMT2017-03-26T12:00:30Z

The Manchester United midfielder has taken the long route to the top and believes Gareth Southgate’s young squad can compete with the world’s best

Everything is happening in a hurry for Jesse Lingard. First picked in a Manchester United matchday squad by Sir Alex Ferguson at the age of 18, he waited nearly three more years to make his debut, which was curtailed by injury after 24 minutes, and was a couple of months short of his 23rd birthday before he made a second first‑team appearance for United. Those four years brought four loan spells and enormous uncertainty about his future at the club of his childhood dreams – but then the doors started to open. And they kept opening.

Within a year of that second match he had played 46 more, scored an extra-time winner in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace and another goal on his return to Wembley for the Community Shield, and made his full international debut. Now he has played in four of England’s past five games (he was an unused substitute in the other) and is expected to win a fifth cap against Lithuania on Sunday afternoon. He says of footballing success that “it can come quick, but other times you’ve got to be patient and wait for your chance” and it is a lesson borne of personal experience. “Marcus [Rashford] got straight in and then stayed there,” he says of his friend and team‑mate. “Others like myself had to take the long route.”

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Prudent Peterborough profiting from their Posh talent agency

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 10:00:27 GMT2017-03-26T10:00:27Z

Peterborough United have become adept at uncovering gems at lower levels and selling them on for a handsome profit under their director of football Barry Fry

A quick tot-up of reported transfer fees suggests that, over the past 10 years, Peterborough have made a profit of about £21m from player sales. Not bad for a League One club. But Barry Fry, the club’s director of football, bristles. “Nah, we’ve made about £50m.” That’s us told.

The idea of a Football League club developing talent then selling it on as a method of financial survival is not a new or novel one. But Peterborough have got it down to a fine art, managing to run things in a way others may want to but doing it much better.

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Séamus Coleman’s horrific injury demands rethink of misplaced tolerance | Daniel Taylor

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 17:31:35 GMT2017-03-25T17:31:35Z

The broken leg suffered by the Republic of Ireland defender against Wales is a lesson for anyone who thinks players should be able to get away with more in certain fixtures

It doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times you watch it. The way he lands, his instinctive reaction to assess the damage, the split second where you just hope your first suspicions might be wrong. But then Shane Long is cradling Séamus Coleman’s head and that is the point when you don’t need confirmation from any doctor or press officer. You know it’s snapped, you know that’s him done.

And, deep down, you know this is one of those occasions – “a good old British game”, to use the jarring words of Chris Coleman – when a certain level of aggression is considered OK, mandatory even, and the people demanding it usually just assume everybody will be able to walk off at the end. “Heavy-metal football,” the Irish Times called it: all thrash, not enough melody. The kind of game, in other words, when players do cross the line, behaviour-wise, and the risk of getting hurt is higher than usual – often wrapped up in the guise of “passion”.

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Matthijs de Ligt suffers nightmare debut as Holland are stunned by Bulgaria

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 23:13:03 GMT2017-03-25T23:13:03Z

• Mistakes by the 17-year-old Ajax defender prove costly as Bulgaria win 2-0
• France, Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland win; Belgium draw with Greece

Matthijs de Ligt’s dream debut for Holland quickly turned into a nightmare as he handed Bulgaria an early goal in a 2-0 defeat for the Dutch in World Cup qualifying. Bulgaria kept alive their hopes of reaching the finals for the first time since 1998 after Spas Delev struck twice with his first international goals. The 2-0 win at the Vasil Levski stadium sent Petar Hubchev’s team to third in the Group A standings with nine points from five games, one point behind Sweden and four behind leaders France. Holland are fourth on seven.

Related: Belgium 1-1 Greece: World Cup 2018 qualifier – as it happened

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Pressure mounts on Strachan before Scotland’s ‘must-win’ Slovenia clash

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 16:14:13 GMT2017-03-25T16:14:13Z

• ‘What we don’t have to do is win it in the first five minutes,’ says manager
• Scotland have won four points from four games in World Cup qualifying

A persecution complex often envelops a manager in trouble but Gordon Strachan cannot blame a disgruntled Scottish support or media for treating Slovenia’s visit to Hampden Park on Sunday as a defining moment for his reign. That responsibility lies with his employer, the SFA chief executive, Stewart Regan, and a sequence of results that have turned World Cup qualification into a distant prospect with four qualifying matches played.

“That’s really a must-win game for Scotland,” Regan said last month when looking ahead to the country’s first competitive fixture since the 3-0 defeat by England in November. “We know how important it is to get our campaign back on track. Gordon knows it. The team knows it.”

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Megan Rapinoe: 'God forbid you be a gay woman and a person of color in the US'

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 10:00:06 GMT2017-03-25T10:00:06Z

The US women’s team star caused quite a stir by kneeling for the national anthem. But, she tells Matt Pentz, she has no regrets fighting for what’s right

Megan Rapinoe will no longer kneel during the national anthem. In accordance with the US Soccer policy released earlier this month – a policy that was aimed in her general direction – Rapinoe will stand with both feet planted, squared up to the flag.

But Rapinoe won’t be entirely silent about it.

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Belgium 1-1 Greece: World Cup 2018 qualifier – as it happened

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 21:40:22 GMT2017-03-25T21:40:22Z

A disappointing Belgium grabbed a point against nine-man Greece through Romelu Lukaku’s superb late goal

Eeh Bel Gium. That’s a frustrating night for Roberto Martinez’s team, and an excellent point for nine-man Greece. They would have won but for Romelu Lukaku’s brilliant late goal. Thanks for your company; night.

The game ends with a bit of a rumble involving Lukaku and Tzavellas. Both are booked, which means Tzavellas goes off as it’s his second yellow. Greece are down to nine men. Lukaku then goes looking for trouble with someone else off camera. Tremendous stuff.

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Séamus Coleman mental strength will help recovery, says Martin O’Neill

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 22:30:13 GMT2017-03-25T22:30:13Z

• O’Neill admits to being ‘pretty shaken’ after defender suffered broken leg
• Wales manager Chris Coleman says Neil Taylor ‘devastated’ after tackle

At the end of a tense night in Dublin, where emotions were still running high long after the final whistle, Martin O’Neill sounded like a man in a state of shock as he reflected on the awful moment when Séamus Coleman reached out to hold on to his broken right leg. “I was pretty shaken by it,” the Republic of Ireland manager said.

It was a reckless challenge from Neil Taylor, the Wales left-back, and it was easy to see why television companies decided against showing a replay. O’Neill had not seen the tackle again and the last thing he wanted to hear was that there was a picture of the lower part of Coleman’s leg pointing in the wrong direction. He was informed that it was similar to the awful photograph that circulated after Henrik Larsson broke his leg while playing for Celtic, the year before O’Neill became the club’s manager. “Don’t tell me that,” O’Neill said.

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Leroy Rosenior: ‘There were 5,000 Leeds fans shouting Sieg Heil at us, hatred in their eyes’

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 08:30:04 GMT2017-03-25T08:30:04Z

In an exclusive book extract, the former Fulham, QPR and West Ham forward recalls the racism he faced in the 1980s, including being spat at by a schoolboy

I remember going to play at Leeds for Fulham in 1984. Playing there is never dull and on this occasion, the locals were in particularly boisterous mood. We got a throw-in down at the big Kop end that housed the fanatical home support. Paul Parker and I were closest and looked to get our attack back on track. As we got to the corner flag any thought of launching that attack went from our minds as we were met in the corner by thousands of fans with hate in their eyes, intent on unsettling these two young black footballers who had dared to come to their town to play a game of football.

Usually there were the monkey chants, the “ooh-ooh-ooh” noises that all black players had been subject to at the time. There were the chants about shooting niggers and the bananas that fell from the terraces of 1980s football stadiums – local greengrocers of that era owe us black footballers a fortune if you ask me – with increasing regularity. What happened was none of the above.

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Serbian football’s eye-watering racism problem shows no sign of abating

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 12:00:01 GMT2017-03-25T12:00:01Z

Everton Luiz’s tearful response to appalling abuse at FK Rad highlighted an old problem but clubs are powerless and frightened to intervene against the ultras

FK Rad’s home stadium in the Belgrade suburb of Banjica is a strange, two-sided venue that comes to life whenever Crvena Zvezda or Partizan make the simple mile-long journey south for a derby in the Superliga. In March 2009 a visit for a match against the former had largely been spent ducking firecrackers thrown between the rival supports when, around an hour in, the tone shifted from tense to sinister.

As the away side readied the dreadlocked Brazilian substitute Jeff Silva the projectile sparring stopped and the sound that replaced it, once experienced, does not fade easily from the memory. Silva’s introduction was being greeted by “monkey” noises from a sizeable minority of the home support and the shock to these naive ears cannot be registered on the same scale as the impact on the player who, just for a second or two, turned round and stared the bank of offenders down.

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Mixed fortunes for Shane Duffy and Sergio Agüero - Football Weekly Extra

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 14:20:39 GMT2016-08-18T14:20:39Z

The podders reflect on extraordinary feats by Manchester City’s star striker and Blackburn’s hapless defender. Plus, Joe Hart heads towards the exit; Paul Pogba’s (second) United debut; and a preview of the big kick off in Serie A

Subscribe & Review: iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast

Max Rushden continues in the hot-seat for this edition of Football Weekly Extra, and he’s got James Horncastle, Paolo Bandini and Nick Miller for company.

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Rogues’ gallery: English football’s worst owners, from Becchetti to Bates | Barry Glendenning

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 12:02:00 GMT2017-03-25T12:02:00Z

Leyton Orient fans believe their owner is leading them to oblivion but Hicks and Gillett, and Peter Ridsdale at Leeds remind us feckless owners are nothing new

In just two and a half seasons as owner, the waste-management magnate has taken Leyton Orient from the verge of the Championship to the brink of relegation from the Football League and possibly even extinction. Since buying the club from Barry Hearn for £4m, the Italian has overseen nine managerial changes and faced repeated claims of interference in team affairs. In December 2015, he earned himself a six-match ban for kicking Orient’s then assistant manager, Andy Hessenthaler, following a win over Portsmouth. Last week, Orient survived a winding-up order at the high court and Becchetti was given until 12 June to either sell the club or pay off its debts. Waltham Forest council are among the creditors, for providing health and safety advice, as is the company that provides match-day stewards and the official club photographer. If Becchetti fails to either pay or sell up, Orient – bottom of League Two and seven points off the last safe spot – risk going into liquidation and out of existence.

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‘Woman on!’ Arsenal’s girls benefiting from mixing it with the boys

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:09:11 GMT2017-03-24T12:09:11Z

Arsenal Ladies’ under-10s and under-12s are in a league with boys from this season and an afternoon watching the younger age group reveals an environment which is helping the females to achieve their potential

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, nobody told a bunch of girls and boys who spent their Sunday afternoon engaged in a highly skilled and hotly competed game of football. It is important to stress that this was not mixed football, but a contest that pitted boys against girls at under-10 level. It is part of a new initiative that has been introduced by the Football Association this season which permits girls teams to enrol in boys’ grassroots leagues.

Strange? Awkward? Complicated? Not remotely once the match kicked off. The beauty of this enterprise is that if there were any extra butterflies or surges of determination based on gender stereotyping, it all melted away with the referee’s whistle. With the kick-off, the entire focus for two seven-a-side teams was the game itself. Perhaps the only unusual moment was when one of the boys spontaneously yelled “woman on” to warn one of his team-mates that an opponent was rushing in. Not his usual vernacular but it did the trick.

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Uwe Rösler: ‘English football is fantastic – wow. But you also have a dark side’

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:53:35 GMT2017-03-24T15:53:35Z

Former Manchester City striker is working wonders at Fleetwood and will have both eyes on promotion when he takes his team to Bury on Saturday

Shortly before Uwe Rösler accepted an offer on the eve of this season to become the Fleetwood Town manager, the German signed up for a masters degree in sporting directorship at Manchester Metropolitan University, eager to learn more about leadership and the role that he believes can help to solve English football’s “dark side”.

An affable and intelligent man, Rösler has a huge amount of affection for the English game and talks with a mixture of pride and excitement about scoring goals for Manchester City at Maine Road, the special atmosphere at grounds up and down the country, and the part that everyone at Fleetwood is playing in their record-breaking season in League One. Yet the 48-year-old also sounds dismayed at the way so many clubs operate, in particular in the Championship, where he has personal experience of the managerial merry-go-round that has been in full swing once again this season.

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Giampaolo Pazzini, new Wembley’s first goalscorer, feels the emotions 10 years on

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:57:12 GMT2017-03-24T13:57:12Z

The striker took only 30 seconds to register the rebuilt stadium’s first goal for Italy Under-21s, ended with a hat-trick and is still moved by a standing ovation from England’s fans when he was substituted

Exactly 10 years have passed since Giampaolo Pazzini scored the first goal, and then the first hat-trick, at the new Wembley Stadium. The stand-out performer in a 3-3 draw between England’s and Italy’s Under-21 sides, he still remembers the fine details: from the sound of the crowd to the way his first shot skipped off Anton Ferdinand’s thigh on its way into the top corner.

In fact, just about the only thing Pazzini doesn’t remember about that day is the fact he should have scored four. With just over 10 minutes left to play the England goalkeeper Lee Camp parried an Arturo Lupoli shot into his path only for him to drag the ball wide from six yards out.

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Who could begrudge Lukas Podolski his Roy of the Rovers ending? | Jason Humphreys

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:33:21 GMT2017-03-24T15:33:21Z

Lukas Podolski’s professionalism, jovial charm and steely determination helped him to win 130 caps and score 49 goals for Germany. He earned every last one

By Jason Humphreys for Englische Woche, part of the Guardian Sport Network

An hour after playing his 130th and last game for Germany, and after scoring the winner with a trademark left-booted hammer, Lukas Podolski made an impromptu appearance on a sports chat show, still wearing his full kit complete with captain’s armband and boots. Still buzzing from the night’s events, he stood there with muddied knees and a wide smile spread across his face as the bemused technician fitted a microphone under his sweaty, grass-stained shirt.

That he had taken the time to gatecrash the show, long after his media duties were over, goes some way to explaining the extent of the heartfelt send-off he had received on the pitch earlier in the evening.

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Everton’s Bramley Moore stadium opportunity is one they cannot miss | Andy Hunter

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:37:46 GMT2017-03-23T19:37:46Z

The club have planned to leave Goodison Park before and failed; this time they appear to have the imagination and ambition to pull it off

The press release announcing Liverpool city council’s intention to help Everton move to a prime waterfront location describes it as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to regenerate the Atlantic Corridor in north Liverpool”. It is a second-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Everton and one that, even with a £300m price tag, they cannot afford to miss.

A transformation is planned for a 2.3km bank of the river Mersey and a proposed state-of-the-art stadium at Bramley Moore can have a ripple effect on Everton. Thursday’s confirmation that the club has agreed a deal for the land with Peel Holdings and the council intends to act as guarantor for the loans represents a significant but modest step forward. Major obstacles remain in the form of funding and planning permission and Everton’s track record on stadiums invites scepticism that, 125 years after refusing to pay the rent at Anfield and upping sticks to Goodison Park, a fifth home will become a reality. But things have changed at Everton, not least the driving force behind Bill Kenwright’s dream of relocating to the Liverpool waterfront.

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A-League: Sydney FC celebrate Premiers' Plate with win over Perth

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 10:36:17 GMT2017-03-26T10:36:17Z

  • Sydney FC 3-0 Perth Glory at nib Stadium
  • Wellington Phoenix 5-0 Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium

Sydney FC have celebrated winning the A-League Premiers’ Plate in style with a decisive 3-0 victory over Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Sunday. An own goal on 38 minutes from Glory debutant Lucian Goian, Brandon O’Neill’s sweet strike three minutes later and a Bobo goal in the 63rd minute sealed an 18th win of the campaign for Sydney.

Having secured the first-past-the-post title after Brisbane Roar defeated Melbourne Victory on Saturday night, the Sky Blues are now an astonishing 14 points clear at the top of the table. Their total of 59 points is a record for a 27-round A-League season. With three rounds remaining before the finals, Sydney could break Roar’s record for a 30-round campaign of 65 points.

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Roar's wonder goal sinks Victory and hands Premiers Plate to Sydney FC

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 09:27:59 GMT2017-03-25T09:27:59Z

  • Brisbane Roar 1-0 Melbourne Victory
  • Central Coast Mariners 2-3 Adelaide United
  • Sky Blues now uncatchable at top of ladder

Brisbane sharpshooter Jamie Maclaren delivered a timely reminder of his quality to Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou with an A-League wonder-goal to sink Melbourne Victory and deliver the Premiers Plate to Sydney FC. Brisbane’s 1-0 win confirms the Sky Blues’ first silverware in seven years as the runaway leaders enter Sunday’s clash with Perth 11 points ahead of second-placed Victory with three rounds to play.

Related: A-League: Santalab sets club record as Wanderers beat Melbourne City

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Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic lead the way as USA trounce sorry Honduras

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 05:23:07 GMT2017-03-25T05:23:07Z

  • USA 6-0 Honduras (Lletget 5, Bradley 27, Dempsey 32, 49, 54, Pulisic 46)
  • Bruce Arena’s team claim first win in the Hex as Honduras fall apart

A Clint Dempsey hat-trick and a scintillating playmaking performance from Christian Pulisic got the second Bruce Arena era off to a spectacular start, as the USA swept Honduras aside with an emphatic 6-0 win in San Jose.

Related: USA 6-0 Honduras: World Cup qualifying – as it happened

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A-League: Santalab sets club record as Wanderers beat Melbourne City

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 11:42:15 GMT2017-03-24T11:42:15Z

  • Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 Melbourne City at Spotless Stadium
  • Brendon Santalab hat-trick lifts him to record 14-goal season

Evergreen Western Sydney Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab has set a new club goalscoring record as his hat-trick helped shore up the club’s A-League finals hopes with a 3-1 home victory over Melbourne City. The 34-year-old poacher swelled his tally for the season to 14, eclipsing the previous record of 11 he had shared with Mark Bridge.

Sanatalab equalised midway through the first half at Spotless Stadium on Friday, after City took a fortuitous lead in the third minute when a Neil Kilkenny shot deflected off Wanderers’ defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis. He then added two more in four minutes in the second half.

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Brazil thrash Uruguay to close on World Cup place as Argentina edge past Chile

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:07:54 GMT2017-03-24T10:07:54Z

• Paulinho scores hat-trick as table-toppers Brazil win 4-1 in Montevideo
• Lionel Messi penalty earns 1-0 win to lift Argentina into third place

Brazil were not intimidated by more than 60,000 raucous fans at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, as Tite’s side outclassed second-placed Uruguay to win 4-1 and stay firmly on course for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho scored an unexpected hat-trick and Neymar added another goal as Brazil recovered from conceding an early penalty, scored by Edinson Cavani.

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China are the England of Asian football: big hopes followed by inevitable failure

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:22:06 GMT2017-03-22T13:22:06Z

Chinese clubs are spending a fortune on players but the national team are 86th in the world rankings and have little chance of going to the World Cup in Russia

By Cameron Wilson for Wild East Football, part of the Guardian Sport Network

China host South Korea in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday but, with the home side already all but out of the running for a place in Russia, serious issues already threaten their chances of making it to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. China scraped through the first of two group stages in the Asian qualifiers but they have not won any of their five games so far in the second group stage. They sit bottom of their qualifying group – behind Iran, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Syria and Qatar – and, even if they pull off an unlikely victory against South Korea at the Helong Stadium on Thursday night, it would only postpone their inevitable exit.

China are not a million miles behind the continent’s leading teams, such as Japan and Australia, but there is a clear talent gap – not that their supporters or media see it that way. When their elimination arrives, be it next Tuesday when they travel to group leaders Iran, or later, the reaction in China will be as angry as ever from fans and media, who have hugely unrealistic expectations.

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As a Peru fan, I know the ritual agony of World Cup qualifying | Luis Miguel Echegaray

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:00:01 GMT2017-03-23T10:00:01Z

The Peruvians haven’t been to a World Cup since 1982, and two huge matches this week could decide my team’s fate. For better or worse, I’m keeping the faith

With six matches to go in South American World Cup qualification, the table could hardly be tighter. The difference between first-placed Brazil and fifth-placed Argentina is eight points. Below them, three other teams still have a realistic chance of qualification. Only Bolivia and Venezuela are out of it.

Related: Germany 1-0 England: five talking points from the friendly in Dortmund | Jamie Jackson

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Australia denied by Iraq’s Ahmed Yasin in fourth consecutive draw

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:37:36 GMT2017-03-23T14:37:36Z

  • Iraq 1-1 Australia
  • Yasin 76 Leckie 39

The Socceroos escaped with a nerve-wracking draw against Iraq amid dreadful conditions in Tehran to leave their World Cup qualification hopes in the balance.

Mathew Leckie gave Australia the lead with a 40th-minute header from an Aaron Mooy corner but Iraq’s attacking persistence paid off and they equalised through the substitute Ahmed Yasinin the second half.

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Why Eden Hazard eclipses the N’Golo Kanté cult and is player of the year | Barney Ronay

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 18:03:56 GMT2017-03-24T18:03:56Z

The stifling orthodoxy that N’Golo Kanté is the top flight’s most important player ignores the bravery and skill of Chelsea’s Belgian playmaker alongside him

There are some things in sport that you’re just not allowed to say, lines that must not be crossed. For a long time it was more or less impossible to say in public that you thought Paul Scholes was simply a very good footballer, as opposed to a chasteningly complete distillation of perfection and a one-man anti-glam debunking of the Premier League star system. You might think this. But saying it out loud is still technically an offence under the Scholes Act 2009, punishable by being stabbed in the eye with a skewer by the Queen.

The same goes for Sachin Tendulkar, the most astonishingly hyped player in the history of cricket, a very good, enduring batsman whose po-faced messianic persona conferred a kind of devotional light on his fine strokeplay and solid defence. To point out that, actually, you’d rather watch Virender Sehwag is to admit not just to idiocy but to heresy, punishable by being publicly garrotted with a piece of twine by a group of sad, betrayed children. These are, of course, inappropriate opinions and anyone who holds them should be ashamed.

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Wembley at 10: iconic venue and national symbol but is it good value? | Nick Ames

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:31:00 GMT2017-03-23T12:31:00Z

It is 10 years since the reconstructed stadium opened at a cost of £757m after years of arguments about its financing and role. Its world-class status is scarcely in doubt but not everyone considers it an unadulterated success

When photographers converged upon Wembley on 24 March 2007 to capture the first proper match since its reconstruction, they discovered no expense had been spared. The working area was as spacious and plush as should be expected in a state-of-the-art £757m football stadium; shooting England Under-21s’ curtain-raiser against Italy would present few major problems but it was an addition to the facilities that raised eyebrows. To some astonishment, those present opened the doors on a fully equipped darkroom, with sinks provided for the wet processing of films. It was a pristine setup with one flaw: there was absolutely no need for it, with the vast majority of its target users having long since switched to digital methods.

The speed of technological change had, in this case, outstripped what had often seemed a glacial rate of progress since Wembley was first identified as the new national stadium’s home in 1996. Yet in context it was more a quirk than a bump in the road and, a decade on, the impression is of a facility more comfortable in its own skin than when it opened its doors under a lingering cloud of debate about its financing and the very role it ought to play.

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England football away trips: a gap year for the Brexit generation | Barney Ronay

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:41:02 GMT2017-03-23T14:41:02Z

The songs of some England fans at the Germany game were boneheadedly inappropriate but the general vibe was not aggressive, with many youthful fans like a slightly tougher version of the Inbetweeners

There was a funny outtake from the Guardian’s Football Weekly at the last World Cup, a part of the show that was deemed too disturbing for broadcast. It was recorded the night before England played Italy in Manaus when, along with the Guardian’s then chief sports news reporter, I got a cab into town with some travelling England fans. Not long into a dark winding journey it became clear these weren’t everyday fans, but a small group of what appeared to be ageing “faces”, grizzly old semi-retired hoolie types, a bit wasted, out on the town, talking about pawdah and brasses, showing off and being self-consciously rowdy but still a bit disturbing on a dark night on the outskirts of the jungle.

In the middle of which, as scheduled, James Richardson from the Guardian’s award-winning football podcast phoned for a chat about England’s chances at the Arena Amazônia, a conversation that took place against a back drop of Mal and Gav and Dave shouting: “Fack off, you slag,” “This bloke’s a ponce, give me the phone mate,” and so on while playfully rabbit-punching me with enormous concrete fists. Through this your correspondent continued to talk in measured tones about tactics and formations and the chance of seeing Raheem Sterling in the No10 role, a kind of Partridge meets the Sex Pistols scenario. Eventually we got into downtown Manaus. At which point my colleague and I made our excuses and ran away.

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The Fiver | Shirtless, oiled and with a cross of St George painted across his face

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:42:24 GMT2017-03-24T16:42:24Z

In today’s Fiver: World Cup qualifiers, Mickey Mouse football and more

It’s pretty easy to wonder what the point of international football is these days. It isn’t, and hasn’t been for a while, as good as club football; it can be followed by cavalcades of tumbling halfwits whose primary method of self-expression is to sing songs about a war that ended 40 years before they were born; managers are left with thousand-yard stares, their lives turned into punchlines for the crime of not winning a World Cup; players who don’t perform to the demanded standard end up on the front page of a paper for buying their mum a sink. It would probably be better if we just wrote the whole thing off as a bad job, but today, The Fiver is choosing positivity. We are choosing to embrace it. We are choosing life. Or at least we’re choosing to accept that it’s here, it probably isn’t going away, so we might as well tolerate it in the best humour we can.

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Football transfer rumours: Manchester City to move for Kingsley Coman?

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:56:28 GMT2017-03-24T08:56:28Z

Today’s tittle-tattle is in your town tonight

A photo of a beaming Riyad Mahrez holding one thumb aloft features on the front page of Spanish daily Sport. The Leicester playmaker has apparently made it his “objective” to secure a move to Barcelona, but tellingly there seems to be no great indication that the Spanish side are hugely interested in bringing him to Camp Nou. Worryingly for Arsenal fans, Hector Bellerín also gets a mention, with the full-back having told a Spanish radio station that he is extremely flattered to be linked with a return to the club from which Arsène Wenger plucked him as a youth.

“Any player in the world would be very excited to know that Barca are interested,” Bellerín said in an interview with Cadena Ser. “It is very nice to get recognised by Barcelona. My departure from Barça was a bit bittersweet because of the treatment from some people. I was not treated the way I would have liked to but it is clear that if Barcelona are interested it would be difficult to say no.”

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Which football manager has been sacked by one club the most times? | The Knowledge

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:00:32 GMT2017-03-22T10:00:32Z

Plus: Flamengo, Atlético Mineiro and a pitch for the ages; happy Hornets; and wedding venues where you can see the most grounds. Send your questions and answers to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“Steve McClaren has been sacked by Derby for a second time,” notes Stuart Willsher. “Which manager has been sacked the most times by the same club?”

To no great surprise, a strong contender for the unofficial Guardian P45 Cup comes from Atlético Madrid in the Jesús Gil years. “I don’t think anybody can hold a candle to former Luton Town hero Radomir Antic,” writes Chai. “He has the unfortunate distinction of being sacked three times in two years (1998-2000) by Atlético Madrid’s trigger-happy president. After getting the sack at the end of the 1997-98 season, Antic was rehired just 11 league matches into the 1998-99 campaign. He was let go at the end of the season before returning again in February 2000. He lasted 10 weeks before being fired after the team were relegated.”

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VVS Laxman lording it, tenpin trickshots and Nani's unappreciated japery | Classic YouTube

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:00:01 GMT2017-03-23T10:00:01Z

Also featuring the council caretaker versus Barry McGuigan, an on-air ticking off and a lesser spotted Gary Pallister thunderbolt

1) The final and deciding Test between India and Australia begins on Saturday; at the end of yet another belting series, the sides are level at 1-1. But well though the various characters have played, none has embroidered his name across proceedings with anything approaching the style of VVS Laxman. Here he is, scoring 281 at Kolkata in 2001; here’s Ian Chappell telling us about the best batting against spin that he’s ever seen; and here are full highlights of what is perhaps the greatest contest of all time. Yet Laxman wasn’t even voted man of the series – that honour went to Harbhajan Singh. Here’s his hat-trick, also at Kolkata, and here are all of his 13 wickets in the match. And finally, here are India securing the Border-Gavaskar at Chennai – where Harbhajan took another 15 wickets, giving him a mere 36 in the three matches.

2) Also this Saturday, Ant Crolla rematches Jorge Linares, after losing their first fight – and therefore his belt – on points in September. Other lighter-weight Brits to contest world titles include the council caretaker Jim McDonnell, who earned a shot by beating Barry McGuigan before losing to Azumah Nelson; Jim Watt; Duke McKenzie; and Naseem Hamed.

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David Squires on … Germany v England and other business

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 11:14:07 GMT2017-03-21T11:14:07Z

Our resident cartoonist looks ahead to international fortnight, while taking in Tim Sherwood’s potty-mouth, an aerial dogfight over the Hawthorns and more

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Win a year's supply of shaving products with Football Weekly's official partner

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:11:19 GMT2017-03-20T11:11:19Z

The Guardian has teamed up with Cornerstone, the official partner of Football Weekly, to offer readers the chance to win a year’s supply of shaving products

The Guardian has teamed up with Cornerstone, the official shaving partner of Football Weekly, to offer readers the chance to win a year’s supply of shaving products, including an engraved razor, blades, face scrub, shaving gel and balm and top up, delivered to their door, whenever they need it. Cornerstone is a young, British start-up that is changing the face of shaving in the UK.

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The Joy of Six: football celebrations gone wrong | Michael Butler

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 11:55:35 GMT2017-03-16T11:55:35Z

From Steve Morrow falling from Tony Adams’s shoulders to Stuart McCall headbutting an affordable car, here are half-a-dozen bittersweet moments

Steve Morrow was a fine player. Thirty-nine international caps for Northern Ireland, a Cup Winners’ Cup medal in the cabinet and a career that took him from Arsenal to QPR to Dallas probably deserves to be remembered for more than a calamitous fall to ruin what is almost certainly the high point of his working life. But as David Baddiel and Frank Skinner were at pains to point out a few years later, Morrow’s ill-fated tumble off the shoulders of his captain, Tony Adams, after the 1993 League Cup final would eclipse everything else, even the winning goal Morrow had scored for Arsenal not half an hour previously.

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Arctic blasts force Icelandic football match to be abandoned ... eventually – video

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 11:38:43 GMT2017-03-24T11:38:43Z

An Icelandic League Cup match between Breiðablik and Fram is abandoned on Thursday when extreme weather forces the referee to stop the match after 70 minutes of play. Footage posted to social media shows players huddling for warmth on the bench, as heavy snow and wind forces play to stop. The Football Association of Iceland has not yet rescheduled the game

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Liverpool captain and coach Ronnie Moran: a look back at his life – video

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:14:46 GMT2017-03-22T12:14:46Z

Ronnie Moran, a veteran of Liverpool Football Club, has died aged 83 after a short illness. He had served the club in roles as varied as player, captain, coach and interim manager for 49 years before his retirement in 1998, and played 379 times for the club between 1952 and 1968

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Bastian Schweinsteiger leaves Manchester United for Chicago Fire – video report

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:09:40 GMT2017-03-21T15:09:40Z

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is leaving Manchester United to join Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire in a one-year deal reportedly worth £3.6m. United haven’t released a statement. But players at the club have used social media to send messages of support to the German international

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Ryan McBride death 'devastating' for club, says Derry City CEO – video

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 16:33:21 GMT2017-03-20T16:33:21Z

CEO of Derry City Sean Barrett says the death of captain Ryan McBride on Sunday is ‘devastating’, less than 24 hours after captaining Derry to victory over Drogheda United. In an audio clip posted on Drive105 Match Night Live, Barrett says McBride was the ‘heart and soul’ of the club

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'I'd rather win Europa League than finish fourth in the league,' says José Mourinho – video

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 16:49:04 GMT2017-03-19T16:49:04Z

Manchester United manager José Mourinho admits that he would prefer to win the Europa League than finish fourth in the Premier League this season, as his team move to fifth after a 3-1 win at Middlesborough on Sunday. Mourinho praises the attitude of his team, who were missing many first choice players

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Premier League clubs continue to struggle in the Champions League – video report

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 14:03:11 GMT2017-03-16T14:03:11Z

Leicester City remain the Premier League’s sole representatives in the Champions League this season after both Manchester City and Arsenal exited the competition in the last-16 round. English football’s fourth contingent, Tottenham, fared no better and were knocked-out in the group stage. It continues a trend of recent years in which English clubs have repeatedly struggled in European club football’s showpiece event

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‘Judas is No1,’ says Mourinho after Manchester United lose at Chelsea – video

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 09:11:22 GMT2017-03-14T09:11:22Z

José Mourinho gives his reaction after Chelsea defeated Manchester United 1-0 in their FA Cup quarter-final at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho states that ‘Judas is No1’, a reply to those home fans who accused him of betrayal for managing a Premier League rival after he was sacked by the Blues in 2015

José Mourinho hits back at Chelsea fans and Conte: ‘Judas is still No1’

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FA Cup photo essay – Middlesbrough v Oxford United in the fifth round

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 18:10:23 GMT2017-03-10T18:10:23Z

The Guardian photographer Christopher Thomond is documenting the road to Wembley, starting with his local team Stockport County in the first round and following the winning side from each game, all the way to the final. Here is the fifth-round tie, when League One side Oxford United went to the Riverside to take on Middlesbrough

Check out Chris’ FA Cup Road To Wembley project so far

Middlesbrough scraped into the FA Cup sixth round after fending off a second-half comeback from League One Oxford United at the Riverside, who were cheered on by more than 3,000 travelling fans.

It took the emergence of the heavy artillery from the bench to prevent an unwanted replay, with Cristhian Stuani’s winner settling a fascinating tie and sending Boro into the quarter-finals, after Oxford had fought back from 2-0 down.

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Barcelona stun PSG: the best reactions to the thrilling comeback – video

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 12:08:53 GMT2017-03-09T12:08:53Z

Barcelona’s futsal team, journalists and fans are left stunned and delirious as the Catalan club complete their historic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday. Barça won 6-1 on the night and beat PSG 6-5 over two legs

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Fifa president says US travel ban could risk 2026 World Cup bid – video

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 18:26:05 GMT2017-03-09T18:26:05Z

Fifa president Gianni Infantino suggests that Donald Trump’s travel ban, which blocks immigration to the US from six Muslim-majority countries, could put the nation’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup at risk. Speaking in London on Thursday, Infantino says that ‘any team ... who qualify for a World Cup need to have access to the country’ and suggests that countries will have to decide whether to continue their bids ‘based on the requirements’

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Premier League fans’ verdicts – the run-in, part 1: Arsenal to Manchester City

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:25 GMT2017-03-26T08:00:25Z

With eight weeks to go, fans assess the season so far, and what lies ahead
• Click here for part 2: Manchester United to West Ham

What’s the mood among fans? With all the uncertainty about Arsène Wenger’s intentions and the increasingly likely exit of our two world-class talents, the ‘end of days’ mood around N5 couldn’t be stronger. Fans of most clubs would be delighted with a Wembley semi and a continued push for the top four – but we’re just dreading the prospect of an extended 10-game wake. And then there’s having to turn my phone off for the entire summer, should we end up finishing below our neighbours for the first time in 22 years.

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Gareth Southgate lets England players and Eddie Jones do the talking | Dominic Fifield

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 22:36:00 GMT2017-03-25T22:36:00Z

Coach called on Jones to give his squad a lesson in winning before their match with Lithuania and his charges are learning the value of initiative

Gareth Southgate handed the stage to the player at his side when it came down to dissecting more precisely the advice and guidance offered up by Eddie Jones on Friday night. The England rugby union coach had addressed the nation’s senior football squad back at their team hotel in Hertfordshire, his presentation devoid of PowerPoint slides or whiteboard bullet points. Players have a tendency to drift off on such occasions, staring blankly at the rat‑a‑tat of buzzwords, but the Australian apparently held the room.

“We have taken massive inspiration from his work,” said Ryan Bertrand. “His England team were on a fantastic record run [equalling New Zealand’s 18-game winning streak], so we dug deep to find out what measures he had put in to achieve that sustainable success. Not just temporary success, getting the odd win, but making it sustainable.

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England veteran Jermain Defoe set to return from international wilderness

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 22:30:13 GMT2017-03-25T22:30:13Z

• Sunderland striker poised for recall against Lithuania
• ‘Deadly finisher’ Defoe likely to replace Vardy up front

Jermain Defoe is poised to represent his country for the first time in almost three and a half years as Gareth Southgate seeks to prise apart Lithuania’s attempts at stubborn defence and maintain England’s leadership of Group F.

Southgate is expected to start with the 34-year-old striker, whose 55th and most recent cap came against Chile in November 2013, and recall Raheem Sterling, recovered from a slight knock, to his starting lineup at Wembley against the team ranked 107th in the world. The 3-4-3 system adopted for the friendly defeat in Germany in the week is likely to revert to 4-1-4-1, with the quartet of attack‑minded players in front of Eric Dier playing just behind the Sunderland forward.

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Bolton and Portsmouth tighten grips around automatic promotion

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 18:30:21 GMT2017-03-25T18:30:21Z

Coventry City sealed their first back-to-back wins in five months while Exeter City produced a stunning comeback with three late goals to draw with Yeovil

Bolton Wanderers took another telling step towards automatic promotion to the Championship after second-half goals from Mark Beevers and Adam Le Fondre saw off Shrewsbury Town 2-0 at New Meadow. In doing so Phil Parkinson’s side closed the gap to the league leaders Sheffield United to four points after the Blades were held in a 1-1 draw at Oldham.

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Arsenal and Manchester United likely to be crowded out by the top four | Paul Wilson

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 13:46:00 GMT2017-03-25T13:46:00Z

The teams in the top four appear favoured by form and the fixture list while Arsenal and Manchester United have too much to do despite games in hand

When the Premier League returns after the international break it does so as if making up for lost momentum; a full midweek programme follows this coming weekend’s fixtures and by the time everyone has played twice in four or five days the remaining games will be down to single figures and the run-in will be under way.

Chelsea’s 10-point lead means they are universally regarded as a shoo-in for the title, though by that reckoning Arsenal have no chance of overhauling Tottenham, who are nine points ahead of their London rivals. While Arsenal have a game in hand, they also have a testing match coming up with the visit of Manchester City.

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USA 6-0 Honduras: World Cup qualifying – as it happened

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 04:50:12 GMT2017-03-25T04:50:12Z

Clint Dempsey scored three on his return to international football as USA hammered Honduras 6-0 to move off the bottom of the Hex

Here’s Graham Parker’s full-time report:

Related: Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic lead the way as USA trounce sorry Honduras

Well, USA are back in the mix for Russia 2018, and they’re back in style. They absolutely blew Honduras away this evening: they were much, much better than their hapless opponents. Pulisic, Bradley and Nagbe were excellent, but it was all about Dempsey this evening: a hat-trick on his return to international football, and that’s 54 goals for USA now for the Sounders star. Bruce Arena’s team needed to win tonight, and they did, and with Mexico beating Costa Rica earlier, they look good bets for next year’s World Cup. Forget the problems under Klinsmann: this is a pretty decent team, and tonight they showed their class.

We’re going to wrap this blog up now. Thanks for reading. Goodnight.

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Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon caps 1,000th game with clean sheet and win

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:24:00 GMT2017-03-25T00:24:00Z

• Italy beat Albania 2-0 in Palermo
• Diego Costa on target as Spain beat Israel 4-1

Gianluigi Buffon kept a clean sheet on his 1,000th professional appearance as Italy kept pace with Spain at the top of Group G in World Cup qualifying. The evergreen 39-year-old goalkeeper cheekily suggested in the build-up he might “do a Zidane and head[butt] someone on the pitch” in homage to the former France midfielder who did exactly that in the 2006 World Cup final to Italy’s Marco Materazzi.

But there were no such theatrics from the Juventus captain, who had a quiet night’s work – making a single save in his 168th match for the national side – as the Azzurri defeated Albania 2-0 in Palermo.

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Séamus Coleman’s leg break a huge blow to club and country, says Martin O’Neill

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:20:49 GMT2017-03-25T00:20:49Z

• Republic of Ireland and Everton full-back injured in draw
• Wales coach Chris Coleman defends ‘devastated’ Neil Taylor

Martin O’Neill described Séamus Coleman’s broken leg as a huge blow to the Republic of Ireland and Everton after the right-back suffered a horrific injury that overshadowed the goalless draw against Wales. Neil Taylor received a straight red card for the reckless challenge that led to Coleman leaving the field on a stretcher and being taken to hospital.

Taylor tried to apologise to Coleman after the game but the Ireland defender had already left the stadium.

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Joe Hart becomes an old England head and looks to instil calm

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 22:30:45 GMT2017-03-24T22:30:45Z

• Goalkeeper keen to make newcomers welcome as he takes captaincy
• Joe Hart says loan spell at Torino has improved his game

A few days on from England’s defeat to Germany and positivity continues to surround Project Southgate. The result was not what the manager wanted in his first game in full-time charge but the performance was undeniably encouraging. There was poise and panache from those in blue, with the only ingredient lacking – albeit, a key one – a ruthlessness in front of goal.

It would be unwise to get too carried away – this is England after all and Germany were uncharacteristically poor until Lukas Podolski scored with a rocket of a shot in his farewell game for the world champions. Nevertheless before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley, there is cause for quiet optimism about a team that includes figures of recent, crushing failure – six of the players who started in Dortmund also did so against Iceland in Nice nine months ago – but looks somewhat refreshed.

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Séamus Coleman broken leg sours Republic of Ireland draw with Wales

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 21:53:31 GMT2017-03-24T21:53:31Z

The defining image of the evening was a horrible one as Séamus Coleman left the field on a stretcher, holding an oxygen mask and with his right leg broken. It was an awful tackle from Neil Taylor that left Coleman pointing to his leg in despair and there were some horrifying pictures of the damage that was inflicted. Taylor received a red card and Coleman was taken straight to hospital.

That moment overshadowed everything else and will come as a huge blow to Everton as well as the Republic of Ireland. Martin O’Neill, the Ireland manager, talked afterwards about a player who had been “having the season of a lifetime at club level” and expressed his hope that Coleman would be able to fight back.

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Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales: World Cup 2018 qualifier – as it happened

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 21:49:20 GMT2017-03-24T21:49:20Z

Ireland and Wales drew 0-0 in Dublin, but Seamus Coleman suffered a horrible injury after a challenge by Neil Taylor, who was sent off

And with that, we shall bring this whole sorry business to an end. Thanks for reading, and good night. Be safe out there.

Well, not a good game, on several levels, for both teams. A point is better than nothing but not great for Wales, plus Bale will be suspended for their next game against group leaders Serbia, who they’re now four points behind. And of course for Ireland, they have to deal with a horrible injury to Seamus Coleman, sustained after that reckless foul by Taylor. Sorry to report that the initial impressions suggest we’re talking Eduardo, Ramsey, Henrik Larsson territory. Would not recommend watching it.

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Former scout arrested in historical football sexual abuse investigation

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 18:49:39 GMT2017-03-24T18:49:39Z

• Harry Dunn, 84, charged by police in Edinburgh over non-recent offences
• Dunn said to have worked as scout for Liverpool, Chelsea and Rangers

A former youth football scout has been arrested by police investigating allegations of historical abuse in the sport.

Harry Dunn, 84, is said to have worked for clubs including Rangers, Liverpool and Chelsea during his career and has been arrested by police in Edinburgh.

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Eric Dier urges England fans to behave ‘the right way’ after Germany incidents

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:06:00 GMT2017-03-24T17:06:00Z

• England supporters booed German anthem and sang about both world wars
• Dier calls on fans to be ‘respectful’ for Wembley qualifier against Lithuania

Eric Dier has called on England’s fans to behave “in the right way” at Wembley on Sunday after the unsavoury chanting from a section of those who attended the defeat by Germany in Dortmund on Wednesday.

England supporters booed the German national anthem and, during the match, went through a range of songs about the first and second world wars, plus one attacking the IRA. The Football Association’s chairman, Greg Clarke, described the behaviour as “inappropriate, disrespectful and disappointing” and Dier, who played the whole of the midweek 1-0 loss, added to the condemnation.

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Tottenham’s Dele Alli banned for three European club games over red card

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:56:40 GMT2017-03-24T10:56:40Z

• Alli could miss half Spurs’ group games if they get into Champions League
• Midfielder punished by Uefa for reckless challenge against Gent

Tottenham’s Dele Alli has been suspended for three European club matches after he was sent off against Gent last month, Uefa has announced.

Alli received a straight red card for his reckless tackle on Gent’s Brecht Dejaegere, in which the 20-year-old speared his right boot high into Dejaegere’s shin.

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Italy's veteran manager turns to youth to restore their former World Cup glories

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:49:04 GMT2017-03-24T10:49:04Z

Gian Piero Ventura has been coaching for 41 years but the squads he has picked for Italy’s World Cup qualifiers show he has not lost his faith in young players

By Matt Santangelo for The Gentleman Ultra, of the Guardian Sport Network

Two hours of football in Berlin’s Olympiastadion were not enough to separate Italy and France in the 2006 World Cup final. In the resultant penalty shoot-out, Italian defender Fabio Grosso stepped up to take his kick with the dreams of a nation in his left boot. He confidently converted his penalty, floating the ball into the top-right corner as Fabien Barthez dived the other way. Italy were champions of the world and there was pandemonium at the Piazza Venezia back in Rome as Italians celebrated winning their fourth World Cup.

The shadow of the Calciopoli scandal loomed large over Italian football at the time, but the Azzurri could not have done a better job alleviating the embarrassment of the scandal that rocked their domestic game. Throughout the tournament, the Italians – led by Ballon d’Or winning captain Fabio Cannavaro – had pulled together and, when necessary, deployed their famed Catenaccio tactics. Their “door-bolt football” limited opponents to only two goals in seven matches – and one of those was an own goal and the other was a penalty.

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Manchester City’s Enes Unal ready to justify Turkish wonderkid hype | Emre Sarigul

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:30:30 GMT2017-03-24T10:30:30Z

The striker has shone on loan with Twente this season and appears to be mastering what, for many of his compatriots, can be a difficult move overseas

Freddy Adu, Federico Macheda, Giovani dos Santos: the football world is full of wonderkids who never quite lived up to expectation. There are exceptions, though, as Manchester City may be about to find out.

Enes Unal was the hottest talent emerging from Turkey when named in the 2014 Guardian Next Generation series. Now aged 19, he is the most exciting player to have left the Super Lig since Arda Turan.

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Five things Bruce Arena’s US team needs to do in the World Cup qualifiers

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:00:28 GMT2017-03-24T09:00:28Z

The US should beat Honduras but if they fail then the pressure is likely to tell on a team left floundering at the end of the Jürgen Klinsmann era


Let’s start with the obvious — Honduras is a must win game. Concacaf qualifying may appear to present a ridiculously forgiving format, but there’s only so far that forgiveness stretches when you’ve lost your first two games and dropped points in the third. And no team has ever secured an automatic qualifying spot after losing its first three games, so unless the US team fancy playing in a wild card game after the Hex (and that’s a best case scenario…), they need to win on Friday.

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International football: 10 things to look out for in World Cup 2018 qualifying

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:30:56 GMT2017-03-24T08:30:56Z

Wales have a great chance to beat an injury-ravaged Ireland, Gordon Strachan faces his last chance with Scotland and Kylian Mbappé could start for France

Wales were on a giddy high after last summer’s European Championship, following their appearance in the semi-finals, while the Republic of Ireland team departed from France with a sense of disappointment after losing in the second round. Their fortunes have rather reversed since: Ireland top Group D with three wins from four, whereas Wales only have one victory to their name. The game between the two on Friday could be the best chance Chris Coleman’s side have to get their qualification campaign going, if only because of Ireland’s injuries. “How long have you got?” said Martin O’Neill when asked about the many ailing players in his squad, from which you could fashion a respectable team. Shane Duffy, Ciaran Clark, Harry Arter, Wes Hoolahan, Daryl Murphy, Rob Elliot, Paul McShane and Liam Kelly are all out, James McCarthy is doubtful, while Seamus Coleman, Jonny Hayes and Shane Long all missed at least some training in the lead-up to the game. Ireland could be there for the taking.

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Tottenham granted permission to play 27 home games at Wembley

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 22:59:45 GMT2017-03-23T22:59:45Z

• Brent Council’s planning committee vote in favour at heated meeting
• Spurs have until 31 March to activate option to play at national stadium

Tottenham moved one step closer to playing home games at Wembley next season after their application to host 27 matches at the stadium’s full 90,000 capacity was approved on Thursday night.

Brent Council’s planning committee voted in favour of the proposal by a majority of five to one after a heated meeting, lasting three hours and 32 minutes during which frustrated local residents were allowed to air their views.

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England fans’ chants in Germany condemned by FA chairman Greg Clarke

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 22:56:45 GMT2017-03-23T22:56:45Z

• Clarke says they were ‘inappropriate, disrespectful and disappointing’
• FA and police to review video and those involved may be banned

The Football Association’s chairman, Greg Clarke, has condemned the “inappropriate, disrespectful and disappointing” behaviour of England fans in Germany on Wednesday night – but stopped short of issuing an apology to their hosts.

England’s 1-0 defeat in Dortmund was marred by supporters booing the German national anthem, outstretching their arms to mimic fighter planes and spending large parts of the night going through a repertoire of songs about the first and second world wars. The FA is now liaising with the UK Football Policing Unit about going through the video footage to see if it is possible to identify any member of the England Supporters Travel Club who might have been involved with a view to potentially banning them.

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Real Madrid aim to prise Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 22:30:16 GMT2017-03-23T22:30:16Z

• La Liga club may offer Álvaro Morata in part-exchange for Hazard
• Courtois considered to be possible replacement for Keylor Navas

Real Madrid intend to make a summer move for Eden Hazard as they seek the latest galáctico at the Santiago Bernabéu. They are also considering a bid for his Chelsea and Belgium team-mate Thibaut Courtois and believe the goalkeeper would be open to the move even though he has publicly stated he does not see himself leaving London.

The Spanish club have prepared a strategy they hope can force through a deal for Hazard and contact has been made with his camp. Madrid do not consider the large number of star players, including the “BBC” of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, to be an impediment to his inclusion in the team.

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Life with the last Italian football club left in London

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:55:23 GMT2017-03-23T10:55:23Z

In 1968 Luigi Farnesi took his priest’s advice and set up Italia Wasteels. Luigi still goes every week but his Italian community has changed beyond recognition

By Gianlucca de Paoli for The Gentleman Ultra, of the Guardian Sport Network

When a player breaks his leg in a top-flight game, it is never immediately obvious. There are always two conflicting views from the two sets of supporters. As one group of fans cry gamesmanship, the other lot rail against the act of battery they have been forced to witness. After a few minutes, when a stretcher is brought on and the strap of an oxygen mask is slipped behind the player’s head, the argument is settled, though rarely the cause.

Italia Wasteels’ games are not played in front of a large crowd of supporters, so it is more immediately obvious that something is very wrong when Domenico Cattini goes down. Unimpeded by the roar of fans, the sound of a bone snapping is terrifyingly loud.

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How it feels to have made one appearance in the Premier League

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:59:25 GMT2017-03-22T10:59:25Z

Established stars speak about top-flight football the way we talk about office jobs but players with one appearance remember just how surreal and exciting it is

By Stephen Tudor for The Set Pieces, part of the Guardian Sport Network

When Premier League legends describe what it’s like to play at the highest level they usually reduce it to cliché, like you or I would if we were detailing our work environment on any given Monday. Yet what a crazy, high-octane trip it must be to find yourself pitched into a frenetic battle with global superstars on a perfect green pitch, surrounded by thousands of fans willing you to succeed or fail, as a multitude of cameras judge your every brain-scrambled touch of the ball.

For elite players this surreal, adrenaline-charged experience becomes the norm throughout lengthy careers at the top of the game. Perhaps, then, the closest we can come to understanding the reality behind our childhood fantasies is to ask someone who only peered behind the curtain once, making just a single top-flight appearance. To them it was anything but the norm; it was a glimpse into another world that fascinates us all.

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Khalida Popal, Afghanistan football pioneer: ‘If the haters couldn’t stop me, Trump can’t’

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 12:37:00 GMT2017-03-15T12:37:00Z

She was the face of women’s football in Afghanistan but had to flee because of death threats. Now Popal is living in Denmark, defying the US president and helping women gain confidence through sport

Khalida Popal has paid a high price for becoming the face of the Afghanistan women’s football team. “Sometimes I still have nightmares,” she says quietly. “Those men are standing and looking at me and laughing or there is the fear that they will rape me.”

It is six years since Khalida had to leave her family and her homeland, terrified for her life and personal safety, after pioneering women’s football in a country that has been described as one of the most dangerous places to be female.

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How Anthony Vanden Borre went from being the future of Belgian football to playing in DR Congo

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 17:59:00 GMT2017-03-14T17:59:00Z

The 29-year-old, who made his Anderlecht debut aged 16, fell out of love with the European game and moved to TP Mazembe this month. ‘I am simple and honest, but the football world is hard,’ he says

Anthony Vanden Borre has never been your average footballer. “I am a simple and honest boy but the football world is hard,” the former Belgium international said last week. “Money is the most important thing and that is a shame. I do not trust many people. That’s certainly the case with journalists and managers. A lot of people judge me without really knowing me.”

Less than two months after he announced his retirement at the age of 29 citing “a lack of motivation”, 30,000 supporters thronged the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s second largest city Lubumbashi last Wednesday to catch a glimpse of TP Mazembe’s new signing. Sporting the club’s black and white striped shirt and standing on the passenger seat of a car with his head poking through the sunroof, Vanden Borre could not wipe the smile off his face as he filmed the chaotic scenes with his smartphone. A fleet of 4x4 vehicles then whisked his entourage to the club’s stadium and then to the nearby estate belonging to Mazembe’s owner and DR Congo presidential challenger Moïse Katumbi, which will be Vanden Borre’s home during his stay in the country.

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