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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: Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:29:52 GMT2017-02-27T11:29:52Z

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



Premier League and EFL Cup: eight talking points from the weekend’s action

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:02:00 GMT2017-02-27T00:02:00Z

Manchester United keep the League Cup flag flying, Swansea pin hopes on Fernando Llorente, and Sam Allardyce maintains faith in foreign getaways

Zlatan Ibrahimovic shot his questioner a quizzical look when asked, immediately after the EFL Cup final, whether he sensed something special building at Manchester United. The competition is sometimes put in the context of the wider season – a kind of stepping stone to help build confidence and a winning mentality – but Ibrahimovic made clear that he felt this title was something special in its own right. The 35-year-old has won major trophies all over Europe yet sunk to his knees with joy on hearing the final whistle, while United’s celebrations and the shattered Southampton reactions defied any notion that the competition holds little significance for the players or their supporters. This final was a fine advert for the League Cup, complete with a compelling narrative and charismatic hero, and left no doubt that it remains a worthwhile prize. Lawrence Ostlere

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Leicester covet reluctant Guus Hiddink to replace Claudio Ranieri

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 19:22:41 GMT2017-02-26T19:22:41Z

• Return of former manager Nigel Pearson thought to be unlikely
• Caretaker Craig Shakespeare could get job on permanent basis

Leicester City are hopeful of persuading Guus Hiddink to take over from Claudio Ranieri until the end of the season, although the Dutchman is understood to be reluctant to take on the role at such short notice, meaning the Premier League champions could turn to caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare on a permanent basis.

Representatives of Hiddink, who has been out of work since leaving his second spell as Chelsea’s interim manager last May, are believed to have been approached over the weekend by Leicester officials to gauge whether the 70-year-old would be interested in succeeding Ranieri after the Italian was sacked last week. However, having indicated several times during his second spell at Stamford Bridge that he was intent on retiring after nearly three decades in management, it remains to be seen whether he can be persuaded to change his mind.

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Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic proves the ace to trump Southampton | Barney Ronay

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:00:11 GMT2017-02-26T22:00:11Z

The Swedish striker spares the blushes of José Mourinho’s side while Paul Pogba is clangingly inept during their 3-2 EFL Cup final victory at Wembley

It is tempting to say Zlatan Ibrahimovic stole this EFL Cup final from Southampton but only if having the craft, skill and bloody-mindedness to drag Manchester United’s misfiring collection of high spec parts across the line really counts as anything other than an act of champion will.

What is certain is that United won the first honour of the José Mourinho reboot in the most uneven way, producing a performance at Wembley that clanked and juddered and tripped over its own feet but was still enough to overcome a more fluent Southampton team by virtue of the cold clear attacking edge of their star centre-forward.

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Tottenham’s Harry Kane maturing into one of world’s top strikers | Sachin Nakrani

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:29:58 GMT2017-02-26T18:29:58Z

Hat-trick for Spurs against Stoke was another sign of a rapid development that has confounded sceptics

As Tottenham Hotspur completed yet another 4-0 victory against Stoke City, the mind drifted towards Vincent Janssen. Put yourself in his shoes for a moment: you have arrived at a new club in a new country as a £17m centre-forward and two thirds into the season have scored only four times and not once from open play. You are desperate to prove your worth and as you sit on the bench on a grey afternoon in north London you see the man keeping you out of the team score his third hat-trick in nine games. It is enough to make a Dutchman pine for a return home.

Yet for everyone else associated with the hosts there was only glee to be taken from Harry Kane’s contribution here. One of their own and a wonderful goalscorer.

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Football transfer rumours: Rabiot to Spurs or Arsenal? Agüero to Real Madrid?

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:49:58 GMT2017-02-27T08:49:58Z

Today’s fluff can see through this, see what’s behind

Sergio Agüero has made up his mind, reports the Sun, and he’s decided to join Real Madrid at the end of the season. Now all he needs is for the Spanish giants to bid “over £60m” for a player who can’t reliably get into the Manchester City team, used to play for Real’s big local rivals, and will be 29 by the time the transfer window next opens. So good luck with that, Sergio. In many ways City may be more concerned at the prospect of losing one of their youngest forwards, with rumours swirling that 16-year-old Jadon Sancho —who has looked ever so good since they stole him from Watford’s youth system a couple of years back — might now be stolen from their own youth system by Arsenal, thereby continuing his own personal ring of repeated juvenile player-theft.

Related: Leicester covet reluctant Guus Hiddink to replace Claudio Ranieri

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Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp: directors, not players, are undermining managers

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:30:42 GMT2017-02-26T22:30:42Z

• German wary of communication between boardroom and dressing room
• Liverpool visit King Power Stadium as Leicester begin post-Ranieri era

Jürgen Klopp has denied player power is on the rise and claimed the biggest threat to managers such as Claudio Ranieri are directors with a direct line of communication to the dressing room.

Ranieri was sacked as Leicester City manager on Thursday amid reports of a dressing‑room revolt among players he turned into Premier League champions nine months previously.

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Resurgence of Cesc Fàbregas asserts substance of Antonio Conte’s style

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:30:42 GMT2017-02-26T22:30:42Z

From the youthful zest of his early days at Arsenal, via Camp Nou and now as part of a reborn Chelsea squad running away with the Premier League, Fàbregas is coming of age under the Italian – and he has no intention of stopping yet

It was a throwaway line but you still knew what Cesc Fàbregas meant when, after comfortably eluding Swansea City’s grasp for 90 minutes, he was asked how he might envision the next stage of his career. “I think every time I plan something it never goes the way it’s supposed to.” If that speaks of past disappointments he could, at least, savour an afternoon in which everything came together by design.

Fàbregas chose the occasion of his 300th Premier League appearance – and first top-flight start of 2017 – to provide a best-of compilation; a highlights package in which he sharpened the knife, inflicted the wound and never quite let go against “very, very compact” opponents Antonio Conte decided would struggle with his subtlety from the start. Sometimes an afternoon works out perfectly for everyone and while his manager could take satisfaction from his own logic there was a sense of liberation in Fàbregas, whose professionalism in the face of a staccato season’s involvement has not gone unnoticed at Stamford Bridge.

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David Moyes: Sunderland must win five of final 12 league games to stay up

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:30:42 GMT2017-02-26T22:30:42Z

• ‘I don’t think it’s too late. We’ve got a tough run,’ admits manager
• Everton’s Romelu Lukaku has sights on Premier League Golden Boot

David Moyes believes Sunderland must win five of their remaining 12 Premier League matches to avoid relegation and that another feat of escapology is not beyond the division’s basement club.

Sunderland remain rooted to the bottom of the table following their 2-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday and three points from safety after Patrick van Aanholt, their former player, gave Crystal Palace a crucial victory against Middlesbrough.

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Lionel Messi seals win for Barcelona with late goal against Atlético Madrid

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 17:27:37 GMT2017-02-26T17:27:37Z

There were four minutes left when Lionel Messi scored the goal that allowed Barcelona to depart the Vicente Calderón top of La Liga and believing they could actually win it. This was not a good game, but it was a very good result for Luis Enrique’s side on their last visit to this stadium, due to be bulldozed in the summer.

Although the occasion revealed the flaws in their football, and while Real Madrid were at that stage yet to kick off against Villarreal and still have a game in hand to play against Celta de Vigo, by the end of it Barcelona were top, for a few hours at least. How they got there is another question. The answer, as so often, was Messi.

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Crystal Palace coach vandalised by mistake before Middlesbrough game

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:16:51 GMT2017-02-27T11:16:51Z

• Palace had to arrange for replacement coach to take them to match
• Vandals understood to have caused £40,000 of graffiti damage

Crystal Palace were forced to arrange for a replacement coach to take them to Saturday’s Premier League victory over Middlesbrough after the original vehicle was vandalised outside the team hotel.

The coach was daubed with ‘Crystal Palace FC’ in red, white and blue paint across the sides and rear of the vehicle. The incident occurred hours before Palace secured a vital 1-0 win that lifted them out of the relegation zone.

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America's soccer migrants: the US footballers crossing Mexico's border – video

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:05:24 GMT2017-02-27T09:05:24Z

Despite President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about Mexicans crossing the border to the US, American soccer players such as Omar Gonzalez are heading south for new opportunities, more money and a better standard of football. The Guardian travels to Pachuca, Torreón and Guadalajara to speak to top clubs, US immigrant players and Mexico legend Jared Borgetti – who find the prospect of a border wall at odds with the reality of the two nations’ interdependent relationship

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Norwich and Ipswich cancel each other out as status anxiety looms | Paul MacInnes

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 17:25:38 GMT2017-02-26T17:25:38Z

The East Anglian rivals, who drew 1-1 at Carrow Road in the Championship, both yearn to return to the top flight but are enduring frustrating seasons

For much of this East Anglian derby the main subject of debate between opposing supporters was Ipswich Town’s recent history. Their 15 continuous years in the Championship is the longest current run of any club in any of the three Football League divisions and Norwich City fans gave it an ironic minute’s applause at the relevant point in the match. Ipswich fans responded with the following chant: “Fifteen years in the Championship, we’re still famous and you’re still [word that almost rhymes with Championship].”

It was a decent bout of ribaldry between two clubs that are more evenly matched than they like to think. Ipswich have the history, Sir Alf, Sir Bobby, the Uefa Cup and all that. Norwich have the more recent pedigree, spending four of the past six seasons in the Premier League (they have also not lost to Ipswich since 2009). But while no one can take Portman Road’s honours board away, however long ago it was last updated, the Carrow Road club is currently enduring a prolonged bout of status anxiety.

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Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester exit a tale of deceit and discourtesy | Daniel Taylor

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:05:00 GMT2017-02-25T20:05:00Z

The Foxes’ title-winning manager deserved better from Leicester’s players and the club’s ungracious owners

It was the headline in Gazzetta dello Sport that jumped out from the news stands on the morning after the kind of newsflash that made it easy to understand what Gareth Southgate meant when he talked about loving the sport but not necessarily liking it. Claudio Ranieri had become another managerial statistic and it was quickly becoming apparent there were players at Leicester City who would be glad to see the back of him. “Inglesi Ingrati,” was the verdict in capital letters on the front page of Italy’s biggest-selling sports daily.

A touch rich, you might think, in the country where some of the more trigger-happy football club owners are known as mangia-allenatore –translation: manager-eaters – and, strictly speaking, the decision to overthrow Ranieri was taken from Bangkok rather than Braunstone or Beaumont Leys.

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Gareth Bale on target as Real Madrid fight back to defeat Villarreal

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:53:34 GMT2017-02-26T22:53:34Z

Gareth Bale, starting a game for the first time since November, was on target as Real Madrid staged a late fightback to beat Villarreal 3-2 at El Madrigal after being 2-0 down, with all the goals coming in a hectic second half.

The victory took Real back to the top of La Liga, a point ahead of Barcelona who had moved above them briefly on Sunday afternoon after a 2-1 win over Atlético Madrid at the Estadio Vicente Calderón.

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Sutton United win with outfield player in goal after Wayne Shaw exit

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:09:19 GMT2017-02-25T17:09:19Z

  • First-choice Ross Worner injured during 3-2 win at Torquay
  • Defender Simon Downer had to go in goal and conceded once

Sutton United immediately felt the aftermath of Wayne Shaw’s departure from the club when they were forced to call on an outfield player in goal during their comeback win at Torquay.

Shaw, Sutton’s reserve goalkeeper, left the club after eating a pie on the sidelines during their FA Cup tie against Arsenal, something a betting company offered odds on happening during the game. Shaw admitted that he knew the market was open, and suggested that some friends place a bet on it happening. The Football Association and Gambling Commission have confirmed they are investigating Shaw.

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Antonio Conte says trophy-winning experience fuels Chelsea’s title charge

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 19:37:43 GMT2017-02-25T19:37:43Z

• ‘I’m lucky to have a lot of players who, in the past, won a lot of trophies’
• ‘I think we deserve to stay there,’ says Conte after 3-1 defeat of Swansea

Antonio Conte believes the trophy-winning experience in his Chelsea ranks could prove key to the leaders’ pursuit of a second Premier League title in three years after watching his team open up an 11-point lead at the top with victory over Swansea City.

Related: Fàbregas and Pedro see off stubborn Swansea as Chelsea stay way out in front

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Jamie Vardy denies Leicester players plotted to oust Claudio Ranieri

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 21:36:32 GMT2017-02-25T21:36:32Z

• ‘Speculation I was involved in his dismissal is completely untrue’
• ‘The only thing we are guilty of as a team is underachieving,’ says striker

Jamie Vardy has joined Kasper Schmeichel in denying any involvement in Claudio Ranieri’s sacking as Leicester manager as senior players broke their silence on the Italian’s departure from the Premier League champions.

Related: Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester exit a tale of deceit and discourtesy | Daniel Taylor

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David Moyes suffers miserable return to Everton with Sunderland defeat

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:04:51 GMT2017-02-25T17:04:51Z

So much for mid-season breaks. Both clubs here on Saturday took the opportunity to get away recently, Everton for a spot of warm-weather training in Dubai and Sunderland for a perhaps ill-advised jolly to New York, yet neither of them looked fresher or more energised by the exercise.

Until Idrissa Gueye broke the grimmest of deadlocks with a quality strike five minutes from the interval the first half had been one of the stodgiest in memory. Everton just about shaded it but they were so unfocused in their attacks, so predictable going forward, that the crowd began to groan each time a move broke down on the edge of the Sunderland area.

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André Ayew pounces to earn West Ham hard-fought draw against Watford

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 19:41:13 GMT2017-02-25T19:41:13Z

Bravery matched caution on a gusty night as Watford and West Ham United shared the spoils in a match that was controlled by the visitors but could easily have ended in a home victory.

Two late opportunities after West Ham had been reduced to 10 men might have given Walter Mazzarri’s side three points, but they were lucky to take one after choosing to sit on the early lead given to them by Troy Deeney’s third-minute penalty.

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Moussa Dembélé scores as Celtic beat Hamilton for 21st straight win

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:32:29 GMT2017-02-25T17:32:29Z

Moussa Dembélé made the difference once again with both goals in Celtic’s 2-0 Scottish Premiership win over the bottom side Hamilton at Celtic Park. The 20-year-old striker lit a dull first half with a wonderful strike from the edge of the box just before the break. Dembélé then added a second from the spot just before the hour to take him to 29 goals for the season before he was replaced by Leigh Griffiths, returning from injury.

The runaway Premiership leaders coasted to their 21st consecutive league win as they extended their unbeaten domestic run since the start of the season to 32 games. As the stats become more impressive by the week, Brendan Rodgers’ side maintained their 24-point lead over Aberdeen as they motor towards a sixth successive title.

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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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Southampton’s Manolo Gabbiadini grabs the limelight but is denied final glory | David Hytner

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:30:16 GMT2017-02-26T20:30:16Z

The new signing continued his rich vein of scoring form but defensive frailty cost Saints dear as Manchester United won the League Cup final 3-2

Manolo Gabbiadini probably does not know too much about the late Bobby Stokes, who became one of Southampton’s greatest heroes after scoring against Manchester United in a Wembley showpiece. That was in the FA Cup final of 1976, when Stokes conjured the only goal of the game to secure the club’s first piece of major silverware.

Gabbiadini did everything within his power to update those old images; to reacquaint the club with that glorious feeling and his performance was the outstanding facet of a gripping EFL Cup final. The January signing from Napoli scored twice to haul his team back from 2-0 down and the arguments would rage long into the night as to why he had another one chalked off, wrongly, for offside in the 11th minute.

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Sadio Mané taking long route to the top with Liverpool reaping rewards

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 14:08:59 GMT2017-02-26T14:08:59Z

The striker’s agent says that Mané is aiming to become Africa’s best player and he will not just follow the money, instead focusing on steady improvement

There were more than a few eyebrows raised on Merseyside at the end of June when Liverpool agreed to pay £34m for a player who had only two years remaining on his contract at Southampton. Eight months on, such is the impact made by Sadio Mané that any dissenting voices are not so easy to find these days.

The 24-year-old’s two goals in the space of 138 seconds against Tottenham Hotspur in the last round of Premier League matches not only finally ended a barren run of five Premier League games without victory for Jürgen Klopp’s side but also confirmed that Mané has easily surpassed Luis Suárez’s record from his first 21 matches for Liverpool. While the Uruguay striker found the net eight times and provided three assists in that period after signing from Ajax in 2011, his successor has already managed 11 goals and four assists in his first season at Anfield.

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Simon Mignolet: ‘Jamie Vardy’s story shows in football anything can happen’

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:30:13 GMT2017-02-25T22:30:13Z

Liverpool’s goalkeeper discusses facing Leicester again, a potential Hollywood role and how Jürgen Klopp has reinvented the Reds since the Steven Gerrard days

Simon Mignolet is expecting a call from Hollywood sometime soon. If there is going to be a movie about Jamie Vardy there must be a bit part for the goalkeeper who was beaten by his unstoppable shot from outside the box last season. In fact the stunning strike that summed up in a couple of seconds what Leicester’s drive to the title was all about was precisely what fired the film producer’s imagination.

“I would be available; they can call me if they want to,” jokes Mignolet as he prepares for Liverpool’s return to the King Power on Monday night. “I must be the only person who does not enjoy seeing that clip over and over again but it was a fantastic goal. I can see why people like watching it.

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Leicester’s present dangers made Claudio Ranieri’s past glories irrelevant | Paul Wilson

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:30:13 GMT2017-02-25T22:30:13Z

Unpleasant decisions have to be made at this time of year when club owners decide whether a change could ward off relegation

There is no doubt the Premier League lost one of the good guys when Claudio Ranieri was sacked and, as José Mourinho rightly says, the Italian’s towering achievement last season will never be forgotten, though the key element in that sentiment is “last season”.

Last season is history, last season counts for nothing in football, the game is all about the present. Mourinho knows that better than most and if Ranieri did not see what was coming he is not quite as sharp as he is portrayed.

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Football League your thoughts: Newcastle come back to save a point

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 19:32:32 GMT2017-02-25T19:32:32Z

Rafa Benitez’s side came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2, Leeds United pulled clear of Sheffield Wednesday while Aston Villa beat Derby County

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Leicester City getting rid of Claudio Ranieri now is hardly madness | Barney Ronay

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:30:41 GMT2017-02-24T20:30:41Z

Italian’s team won the title last season by being ruthless and clear-sighted so their manager’s exit with only 13 league games left makes sporting sense

Like all the best fairytales Leicester City’s title story came to an end on Thursday night with a bracing little touch of cruelty. This is usually the way of these things: poisoned apples, hungry wolves, the doomed gingerbread house. Or, as in this case, someone getting the chop.

And so farewell then, Claudio Ranieri. We’ll always have Leicester city centre on a muggy night in May. We’ll always have Robert Huth leaping above the floodlights to score at Spurs. Not to mention those oddly foggy memories of Riyad Mahrez sending Joe Hart and Martín Demichelis halfway to the Manchester velodrome with an insolent little swivel en route to a goal and a victory that gave the title pursuit an air of unstoppable ascent.

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Robert Lewandowski hits hat-trick as Bayern Munich hammer Hamburg 8-0

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:27:27 GMT2017-02-25T17:27:27Z

Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick as Bayern Munich obliterated Hamburg SV 8-0 on Saturday to stay five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and equal their opponents’ heaviest ever league defeat.

Lewandowski, who has now scored 19 league goals this season, struck twice in the first half and slotted home a third in the 54th minute, after Arturo Vidal had put the hosts ahead.

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Phoenix lead late-season scramble as finals race remains wide open

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 19:00:37 GMT2017-02-26T19:00:37Z

With the identity of the A-League premiers virtually assured, most of the regular season’s remaining intrigue is being provided at the other end of the table

Sydney FC bounced back in style to continue their march towards the Premiers’ Plate and Melbourne Victory did what was required of them to stay in touch with the leaders, but it was below the A-League’s top two where the race to the finals was shaken up by a weekend of shocks, fatigue and a touch of class.

A particularly telling moment arrived just after the hour mark in Brisbane on Saturday, when a move involving more than 20 passes and covering the majority of the Suncorp Stadium pitch was finished off with three touches that would not have been out of place on the Nou Camp training ground.

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Banned Western Sydney fans are 'juvenile idiots', says Ange Postecoglou

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 07:58:46 GMT2017-02-26T07:58:46Z

  • Socceroos coach wants life bans for Red and Black Bloc offenders
  • Wanderers belatedly issue apology to Graham Arnold over homophobic banner

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has denounced Western Sydney’s active support group as “juvenile idiots” and called for lifetime bans on Red and Black Bloc members involved in the offensive Sydney derby banner.

The Wanderers issued a belated formal apology to Graham Arnold on Saturday, a week after members of the RBB unfurled a tifo of the Sydney FC coach engaging in a sex act during their team’s 1-0 win.

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Jets miss out on A-League top six after F3 derby stalemate with Mariners

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 08:28:27 GMT2017-02-26T08:28:27Z

  • Newcastle Jets 1-1 Central Coast Mariners
  • Jets two points off Wanderers in sixth; Mariners four off finals berth

Central Coast came from behind to draw 1-1 with Newcastle, denying the Jets a return to the A-League’s top six and a first home F3 derby win in 1,590 days.

Aleksandr Kokko scored his maiden A-League goal to put the hosts ahead early but Scott Galloway made them pay for a sloppy start to the second half at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.

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MLS stadiums ranked: why Orlando City's new home comes out on top

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:08:12 GMT2017-02-24T12:08:12Z

Almost three-quarters of teams in the league now have soccer-specific stadiums. Simon Veness runs down the great and the not-so-good

The MLS commissioner, Don Garber, recently visited the new Orlando City stadium and hailed it as “a blueprint for the future.” That blueprint may not last for long, however, as a stream of new MLS franchises are rapidly queuing up to make it obsolete.

Related: Brian Schmetzer and the burden of repeating the Sounders' MLS Cup win

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Bastia handed three-match stadium ban for racist abuse of Mario Balotelli

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:57:01 GMT2017-02-24T13:57:01Z

• Ligue 1’s disciplinary committee also imposes suspended one-point deduction
• Bastia have already banned one supporter for making monkey chants

Ligue 1’s disciplinary committee has ordered Corsica’s Bastia to close part of their stadium for three matches after a group of supporters shouted racist insults at Nice striker Mario Balotelli during a 1-1 draw in January.

The club was also given a suspended one-point deduction, meaning that for now they are still second-from-bottom in the standings on 23 points, a point ahead of Lorient.

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A-League: Victory beat Adelaide, as Wellington Phoenix upset tired Roar

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 11:26:21 GMT2017-02-25T11:26:21Z

  • Melbourne Victory 2-1 Adelaide United
  • Perth Glory 2-0 Western Sydney Wanderers
  • Brisbane Roar 1-2 Wellington Phoenix

Melbourne Victory have continued their surge toward the A-League finals, surviving a late scare from last-placed Adelaide United to claim a 2-1 victory. The second-placed Victory’s two-goal lead evaporated in the 90th minute when Adelaide’s Tarek Elrich pounced on some loose defending by Jason Geria.

The Reds continued to press their case but ran out of time to claim an equaliser, with Victory climbing to within eight points of ladder-leaders Sydney FC.

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Sydney FC put bad week behind them with win over Melbourne City

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 22:16:10 GMT2017-02-24T22:16:10Z

  • Melbourne City 1-3 Sydney FC at AAMI Park
  • Graham Arnold’s side return to winning ways after derby defeat

Graham Arnold believes the circus that followed the Sydney derby has galvanised his team for the A-League finals run-in, following a 3-1 win over Melbourne City on Friday night.

Sydney FC were defeated for the first time this season last weekend when cross-town rivals Western Sydney edged a tightly fought derby. The fall-out from that result would provided plenty of interest in itself.

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Socceroos slated to play Brazil in June friendly in Melbourne

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:06:20 GMT2017-02-22T23:06:20Z

  • MCG potentially to get look at likes of Neymar and Philippe Coutinho
  • Game to be played a day before Australia fly to Russia for Confederations Cup

Brazil star Neymar will look to again terrorise Australian defenders when the Socceroos meet the five-times world champions at the MCG in a pre-Confederations Cup litmus test.

The Socceroos will host Brazil on 13 June in a friendly, with the South American giants in Melbourne for a blockbuster Superclasico clash with Lionel Messi’s Argentina four days earlier.

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Western Sydney escape with $20,000 FFA fine for fans' homophobic banner

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 06:22:58 GMT2017-02-23T06:22:58Z

  • Wanderers brought to book over incident at Sydney derby
  • But FFA opt not to trigger suspended points deduction

Western Sydney have been fined $20,000 after being found guilty by Football Federation Australia of bringing the game into disrepute after Wanderers fans had displayed an offensive banner during a match against Sydney FC.

The homophobic banner depicted Sydney FC manager Graham Arnold engaging in a sex act. FFA could have activated a suspended points penalty on the Wanderers, but decided instead to impose the fine.

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Lionel Messi pulls Barcelona back from the brink, but for how long? | Sid Lowe

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:59:29 GMT2017-02-20T16:59:29Z

There was something about the win over Leganés, the performance, the whole night, that was deeper than a single game. Barça need something to believe in

It was the 89th minute and it could have been the end; 63,378 people watched, minus those who’d already departed depressed – and there were plenty of them – as he stood alone before them. Standing before him, meanwhile, was Iago Herrerín; Iago Herrerín and disaster. But there were no nerves, just annoyance, and there would be no joy, not even much sign of relief. Leo Messi took the penalty that might just have rescued Barcelona’s season, pulling them from an even darker place and keeping them alive for another week at least, as if all he really wanted was to get rid of the ball. Kick the bloody thing away. So he did: dismissively, angrily … and into the net.

And then he stood there. Messi didn’t smile, didn’t raise his fingers to the sky, another goal dedicated to his late grandmother Celia, and didn’t say anything. Team-mates ran over and embraced him but there was barely a flicker. He had just scored the winner in the last minute – although there was still time for Nabil El Zhar’s shot to fly wide at the other end – yet he didn’t feel like celebrating, didn’t feel he had anything to celebrate. He just stood, eyes lost, as if he was embarrassed or angry or both, ashamed by it all, black thoughts going round his mind. At the full-time whistle he walked off, occasionally responding to an opponent’s outstretched hand, but not stopping, like he just wanted to get out of there.

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Adelaide United struggle in ACL defeat to Gamba Osaka

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:35:29 GMT2017-02-22T12:35:29Z

  • Adelaide United 0-3 Gamba Osaka
  • A-League champions no match for wily Japanese side

Japanese side Gamba Osaka proved too strong for Adelaide United, running out 3-0 winners in the opening match of Group H in the Asian Champions League at Coopers Stadium on Wednesday night.

Against the club to whom they lost the 2008 Champions League final, Adelaide struggled from early on in front of just more than 5,000 fans.

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Brian Schmetzer and the burden of repeating the Sounders' MLS Cup win

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 12:25:57 GMT2017-02-21T12:25:57Z

The Seattle Sounders coach won the team’s first ever title within six months of taking charge. So how does he follow up an extraordinary first season?

Brian Schmetzer’s storybook year came complete with a final cinematic flourish, in which he hopped off the trolley carrying his MLS Cup champion Sounders through the streets of Seattle to walk with supporters leading the parade.

The connection between a head coach and the fans who root on his team can feel clichéd, fraught – but not in this case.

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Claudio Ranieri sacking: two Leicester City fans give their verdicts

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 08:59:00 GMT2017-02-25T08:59:00Z

Two Leicester City supporters offer different views on whether the dramatic dismissal of Claudio Ranieri, their title-winning manager, was the right decision

My first doubts crept in at the start of October. We were playing Southampton at home and they’d just come back from a Thursday night fixture in Israel. But we sat off them, we didn’t try to attack. It was then I thought that Claudio Ranieri was changing what had made us win the season before.

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Absence of Santi Cazorla, Arsenal’s Penfold-ish skill-goblin, adds to sense of loss | Barney Ronay

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:18:07 GMT2017-02-24T12:18:07Z

He resembles not so much an elite streamlined modern athlete as a clever, cheerful cartoon mouse but with Cazorla in the centre Arsenal are a different team. Mainly they’re a better one

English football has always had a thing about leadership. What is it exactly? How loud should it be? How many layers of bandage should be entwined around its blood-caked temples? More to the point, without it who will keep the men in check, prevent them from fleeing the trenches, retain some sense of fragile, orderly decline?

More often than not leadership is defined as an absence, a feeling that something brusque and manly and vital has been allowed to wither. Arsenal lack leadership. England lack leadership. In both cases the leadership lacked is of one kind: forceful, muscular, collar-grabbing. Last week Teddy Sheringham suggested Leicester’s players could solve their problems with conditioning, tactics, motivation and personnel not by working on the training field but by getting drunk and “having a bit of a fight”, thereby settling their differences like men, or at least like primates.

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The ‘giant-killing’ FA Cup is no longer such a football fairytale | Matthew Engel

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 10:00:02 GMT2017-02-25T10:00:02Z

Football loves a fairytale – especially if it involves an underdog and the FA Cup. But the reality is rather murkier

In an ever-changing game in an ever-changing world, there is something wonderfully reassuring about the FA Cup. Even its language has a quasi-liturgical permanence. Every year the football writers tell us about the “romance” and “magic” of the cup, which is “a great leveller”. Feats of “giant-killing” are performed against “goliaths” by “minnows”, a word first identified by The Guardian as a cliche in 1961. (Quite how minnows are meant to do this is unclear; food poisoning, presumably.)

And these ritual incantations have had a fine old workout these past few weeks, even before minnows Lincoln beat goliaths Burnley to become the first non-league team since 1914 to reach the tournament’s last eight. Whatever happens next, the 9,000 Lincoln supporters allotted tickets for the next game at Arsenal on 11 March will have a splendid day out. Beating Arsenal? That would be a “fairytale”.

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Said & Done: ‘It was unlucky for Olga – she really is a charming girl’

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 09:30:26 GMT2017-02-26T09:30:26Z

Also featuring: Gianni Infantino, Ronaldinho and unwavering support

Gianni Infantino - starting his second year at Fifa with a) an open letter pledge to keep rebranding, “protect football’s integrity” and “change the face of the organisation”, and b) a trip to Harare for an audience with Robert Mugabe.

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The Fiver | Tremendous stick for shooting Bambi’s mum

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:54:11 GMT2017-02-24T15:54:11Z

In today’s Fiver: Claudio Ranieri, a Mexican stand-off and the Dele fail

Winning is for losers. That’s why The Fiver follows the Mr Roy survival plan for getting along in today’s dog-eat-dog world. Keep expectations at a minimum, avoid pressure at all costs, embrace mediocrity. Let it wash over you. Easy does it. No one will expect anything from you if you don’t give them a reason to. You wouldn’t catch Mr Roy doing anything as silly as actually winning the Premier League with Leicester, would you? In fact, he wouldn’t dream of doing it anywhere. You only need to look at history to see how dangerous it is to win a trophy. Like Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Mancini and José Mourinho before him, Claudio Ranieri is merely the latest manager to win the Premier League and receive his P45 less than a year later. Even Manchester United spied a chance to get rid of Lord Ferg when they found out David Moyes was available in 2013 (it’ll all come out one day).

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What is the biggest fee earned from a football sell-on clause? | The Knowledge

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:00:30 GMT2017-02-22T10:00:30Z

Plus: the amazing Ljubomir Fejsa, Shamrock Rovers’ returning heroes of 2013 and goalscoring streakers. Send your questions and answers to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU

“What is the biggest fee a lower-league club has bagged from a sell-on clause?” wonders Jonathan Brown.

Due to the usually confidential and always complicated nature of transfer deals, it’s hard to be precise with a question like this, but the battle of the beneficiaries seems to be between QPR and Barnsley.

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Football transfer rumours: is Wayne Rooney set for romantic Everton return?

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:03:10 GMT2017-02-24T09:03:10Z

Today’s fluff has retained the dressing room

Leicester City have sacked their manager because of relegation fears. A point above the bottom three, the Foxes have taken the decision to remove Claudio Ranieri from his position amid fears that the Italian has lost the dressing room. It seems an uncontroversial decision by the club’s board, who can rest assured that they’ll face no flak for handing Ranieri his P45. Nothing to see here. Now the search for Ranieri’s replacement begins.

Guus Hiddink and Roberto Mancini are the glamorous options. Leicester could take a punt on Gary Rowett. Alan Pardew has plenty of spare time on his hands at the moment; just don’t ask him to give up his street dance classes every Tuesday and Thursday night. It’s said that some players would like to see Nigel Pearson return. Leicester just need to find a way to contact him. It is said that Nige can be found deep in the forest, bare-chested, wrestling an ostrich.

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Ricardo La Volpe, baseball's worst pitches and MMA showboating gone wrong | Classic YouTube

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 10:00:00 GMT2017-02-23T10:00:00Z

This week’s roundup also features footballers downing tools, a gnarly garden, and a Hot Wheels psychedelic nightmare

1) It’s tough being a gaffer – stuck on the touchline, unable to let loose on opponents. Full marks, then, to the Club América coach Ricardo La Volpe, who makes his own rules and does his own tackling – dispossessing the Chivas right-back Jesús Sánchez in Mexico’s Clásico Nacional. He joins a big list of managers who can’t help but get involved, including: Alan Pardew, of course (with bonus coverage on Sky from Paul Merson: “Something’s gone on here, Jeff, something’s gone on”); the Ayachucho manager Rolando Chilavert beating Garcilaso’s Iván Santillán to a long ball; Fiorentina’s Delio Rossi weighing up then reacting to his own player Adem Ljajic sarcastically applauding his substitution; Nigel Pearson giving James McArthur a quick strangle; Paolo Di Canio calming down then taking on Leon Clarke; and, at the top end of the scale, the Turkish club Ankaragucu’s manager Umit Ozat dealing with a pitch invader. He was fined and banned.

2) And here’s another Pardew tribute, from an unlikely source: the British MMA fighter Joe Harding taking time out to taunt his opponent John Segas with a Pardew-at-Wembley dance. It doesn’t end well.

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David Squires on … Lincoln City, Joey Barton and the FA Cup fifth round

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:45:47 GMT2017-02-21T10:45:47Z

Our resident cartoonist looks back at the last 16 of the FA Cup, including the Imps’ historic upset and Leicester’s Gladiators falling in the Lions’ Den

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Lincoln City make history amid FA Cup drama – Football Weekly

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:20:04 GMT2017-02-20T15:20:04Z

The podders look back on an historic weekend in the FA Cup. Plus, Manchester City look to stop Monaco’s awesome attack, while Leicester head to Sevilla

Subscribe and review: iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast & Stitcher. And join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

James Richardson returns to the helm for this edition of Football Weekly, ably assisted by Barry Glendenning, Iain Macintosh and Paolo Bandini.

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Said & Done: ‘I’m feeling like Jesus to be honest - everyone at me for no reason’

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 09:30:05 GMT2017-02-19T09:30:05Z

Also featuring: Maradona; Donald Trump’s face; and a unanimous board decision

Diego Maradona – meeting the press 24 hours after becoming a Fifa goodwill ambassador. His key line - denying he hit a reporter who asked him a question: “I didn’t hit. If I hit you, you wouldn’t have a nose left. One on one, I’d destroy you.”

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Football League your thoughts: Cardiff continue mean streak under Warnock

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 19:22:10 GMT2017-02-18T19:22:10Z

QPR humble Gianfranco Zola’s Birmingham, Norwich slip up at Burton, Lee Clark savours late Bury win and Newport County come undone

• Neil Warnock continues to rise to the challenge, with Cardiff City steamrollering past Rotherham United 5-0, to keep their immaculate record this calendar year in check. Since taking over in October, when the club were second-bottom and already scanning League One stadia, Cardiff have climbed the league table and finished Saturday firmly in mid-table. Warnock himself said this week that his five-month spell in south Wales has left him refreshed. The feeling is surely mutual among his players, who racked up a third straight league win in convincing style. No team has won more points in the Championship (21) in 2017 than the Bluebirds. The only sour note for Warnock was the first-half injury sustained to striker Rhys Healey – on his first home start for the club.

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Football quiz: name the missing club in these playing careers

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:45:03 GMT2017-02-16T12:45:03Z

Which French club bought Ray Wilkins? Which London club picked up George Best? And which Scottish club signed – and quickly released – Fabrizio Ravanelli?Diego Maradona: Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, ****, Newell’s Old Boys, Boca JuniorsReal MadridLeicester CitySevillaNew York CosmosRay Wilkins: Chelsea, Manchester United, Milan, ****, Rangers, QPR, Crystal Palace, QPR, Wycombe, Hibs, Millwall, Leyton OrientLyonMarseilleParis Saint-GermainMonacoPeter Beardsley: Carlisle, Vancouver Whitecaps, Manchester United, Vancouver Whitecaps, Newcastle, Liverpool, ****, Newcastle, Bolton, Fulham, Hartlepool, Melbourne KnightsPortsmouthTottenhamEvertonManchester CityPep Guardiola: Barcelona, Brescia, ****, Brescia, Al-Ahli, SinaloaJuventusRomaBayern MunichEspanyolDavid Platt: Crewe, Aston Villa, Bari, ****, Sampdoria, Arsenal, Nottingham ForestMilanInterNapoliJuventusGheorghe Hagi: Farul Constanta, Sportul Studentesc, Steaua Bucurest, Real Madrid, ****, Barcelona, GalatasarayChelseaBresciaJuventusMilanGeorge Best: Manchester United, Stockport, Cork Celtic, LA Aztecs, ****, LA Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Hibs, San Jose Earthquakes, Sea Bee, Hong Kong Rangers, Bournemouth, Brisbane Lions, Osborne Park Galeb, Nuneaton Borough, TobermoreChelseaArsenalFulhamQPRGary Lineker: Leicester City, ****, Barcelona, Tottenham, Nagoya Grampus EightLiverpoolChelseaEvertonAston VillaFabrizio Ravanelli: Perugia, Avellino, Casertana, Reggiana, Juventus, Middlesbrough, Marseille, Lazio, Derby, ****, PerugiaRangersDundeeCelticHearts Gianluigi Buffon: ****, JuventusCataniaFiorentinaParmaNapoliJames Milner: Leeds, Newcastle, ****, Manchester City, LiverpoolEvertonWest BromAston VillaFulham Continue reading...[...]


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Mourinho praises Southampton for 'beautiful final' – video

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:44:22 GMT2017-02-27T09:44:22Z

José Mourinho praises Southampton for a ‘Beautiful’ EFL Cup final on Sunday, after Manchester United clinched a 3-2 win in the 87th minute. Mourinho says that winning a major trophy with Manchester United was his ‘big target’, but that the team wants to achieve more

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Harry Kane can become a Tottenham 'legend', says Pochettino – video

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 21:09:32 GMT2017-02-26T21:09:32Z

The Tottenham manager, Mauricio Pochettino, says Harry Kane could become a club legend, following his hat-trick in Spurs’ 4-0 win over Stoke City on Sunday. Pochettino says Spurs are still pursuing Chelsea at the top of the Premier League, and will ‘be there’ should Chelsea drop any points

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Antonio Conte says Chelsea deserve to be top of the table – video

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:51:59 GMT2017-02-25T20:51:59Z

Conte says Chelsea deserve to be at the top of the table due to their efforts both on and off the pitch, and also points to his players’ experience in winning trophies, following the 3-1 win over Swansea.

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Jürgen Klopp compares Ranieri sacking to Brexit and Trump – video

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 16:31:49 GMT2017-02-24T16:31:49Z

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp reacts to the sacking of Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, comparing it to the vote for Brexit and Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Klopp looked ahead to Liverpool’s match against Leicester on Monday, saying he didn’t know what to expect

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Claudio Ranieri's reign at Leicester City - in pictures

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 23:58:58 GMT2017-02-23T23:58:58Z

From his opening match at Lincoln City and the miracle of winning the Premier League, to the slump in form this season and defeat in Seville - here are the best photographs of the Italian’s reign at Leicester City

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Leicester City sack Claudio Ranieri nine months after Premier League title win – video report

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 22:21:30 GMT2017-02-23T22:21:30Z

Claudio Ranieri has been sacked by Leicester City less than one year after he led the club to the Premier League title, it was announced on Thursday. The Italian leaves the club fighting for survival in the league this season. But he will always be remembered for the incredible 2015-16 campaign and Leicester’s astonishing rise to the summit of English football

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Publicity stunts in sport: when it doesn't go as planned – video

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:45:54 GMT2017-02-21T17:45:54Z

Wayne Shaw has left Sutton United amid investigations into his pie-eating antics during the FA Cup game against Arsenal but he is not the first person in sport to have a publicity stunt backfire. We take a look at some other cases where things just didn’t quite go as planned

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Vietnamese football team refuse to continue playing after controversial penalty – video

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:45:34 GMT2017-02-20T12:45:34Z

Long An players refuse to continue playing in a Vietnam league match on Sunday after the referee awards a late penalty to opponents Ho Chi Minh. After the penalty makes the score 3-2 and effectively decides the result, Long An players are so incensed with the decision they decide to stop playing. Ho Chi Minh score two further goals, unchallenged, to make the final score 5-2

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Wigan Athletic youth player Thelo Asgaard scores rabona goal from 20 yards – video

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:42:48 GMT2017-02-17T13:42:48Z

Thelo Asgaard, a youth player for Wigan’s under-15s side, scores with an audacious rabona strike from outside the area recently. Asgaard picks up the ball 20 yards from goal and curls an unbelievable strike past the Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper and into the top corner

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José Mourinho lauds Zlatan Ibrahimovic display and praises Southampton

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:45:56 GMT2017-02-26T20:45:56Z

• Mourinho says Ibrahimovic ‘won the game for us because he was outstanding’
• Ibrahimovic on EFL Cup victory: ‘This is what I came for – to win, and I am’

José Mourinho watched Zlatan Ibrahimovic snatch what he admitted was a slightly undeserved EFL Cup final victory against Southampton and he joked that Manchester United’s supporters ought to camp outside the striker’s house to persuade him to sign on for another season at the club.

United led at Wembley through goals from Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard before Southampton’s new signing, Manolo Gabbiadini, hit back with two goals of his own. Gabbiadini, who joined at the end of January from Napoli for €17m, had seen an 11th‑minute effort wrongly disallowed for offside.

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Ibrahimovic takes Manchester United to EFL Cup final win over Southampton

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:47:32 GMT2017-02-26T18:47:32Z

In the end, perhaps it was just inevitable that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would insist on having the final say. Southampton had given everything to drag themselves level and, for long spells, it had felt as if Manchester United could fall to one of the more improbable comebacks of any Wembley final. It would need a flint heart not to sympathise with the losers but this is why José Mourinho was so determined to sign Ibrahimovic: the decisive moments on the occasions that really matter.

The clock had ticked into its 87th minute when United’s new talisman applied the header that spared them the possibility of losing a game they had led 2-0. The same player had opened the scoring with another reminder of his eye for the spectacular and his late winner brought a measure of relief as well as jubilation, bearing in mind the determination of Southampton to fight back and give their opponents an almighty scare.

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Manchester United 3-2 Southampton: EFL Cup final – as it happened

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:35:28 GMT2017-02-26T18:35:28Z

The magnificent Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice, the second a late header to shatter an heroic Southampton and settle a thrilling final

That’s about it for today’s liveblog. We’ll have a match report shortly. Thanks for your company, bye!

Related: Ibrahimovic takes Manchester United to EFL Cup final win over Southampton

Zlatan speaks “That was nice. It was a great cross from Herrera. This is a team effort. I came to win, and I’m winning. The more I win, the more satisfied I get. You appreciate winning more as you get older. This is my 32nd trophy – wow, I’m super happy.”

Interviewer “Has it gone better than you hoped when you signed?”

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Atlético Madrid v Barcelona: La Liga – as it happened

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 17:10:41 GMT2017-02-26T17:10:41Z

Lionel Messi struck late on again to give Barça a 2-1 victory and punish Atlético for failing to capitalise on their first-half dominance at the Vicente Calderón

Related: Lionel Messi seals win for Barcelona with late goal against Atlético Madrid

So Barcelona are back on top, for a few hours at least, and it should put the pressure on Real Madrid going into their match at Villarreal later. They were rarely fluent, but were the better side in the second half, capitalising on Atletico’s defensive uncertainties and their first-half profligacy. Diego Simeone’s side really should have done more with their early pressure, when they bossed Barca physically and tactically. And they learnt – for the umpteenth time – that Messi can determine even those games in which he’s peripheral, as he was for the first hour or so here. This title race remains wide open, even if Atlético might end up focusing on the Champions League now. That’s all for me now. Thanks for your company and comments. Bye.

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Harry Kane hat-trick sets the tone as Tottenham Hotspur rout Stoke

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 15:29:29 GMT2017-02-26T15:29:29Z

Lads, it’s Stoke City. After the embarrassing exit from the Europa League on Thursday, Tottenham Hotspur eased back into Premier League action by thrashing their most submissive opponents. Mauricio Pochettino’s team had beaten Stoke 4-0 in their two previous meetings and it took only one half for them to reach that score here, as Harry Kane struck three goals before inviting Dele Alli to hit another. If Wembley spooks Spurs, the sight of Stoke City jerseys cheers them right up.

Spurs, in fairness, have clobbered most opponents at White Hart Lane this season, their tally for the Premier League campaign now standing at 11 wins and two draws from 13 matches. But few visitors have been as obliging as Stoke, who, seemingly unrefreshed by a break in Dubai began as if expecting another trouncing. That was a self-fulfilling attitude that made them ideal opponents for a Spurs team eager to reassert their top-team credentials after flopping out of Europe at Wembley.

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Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City: Premier League – as it happened

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 15:20:44 GMT2017-02-26T15:20:44Z

Tottenham swept Stoke aside with an imperious first-half performance, Harry Kane scoring a hat-trick before laying one on for the similarly excellent Dele Alli

A perfect afternoon for Tottenham after that disappointment on Thursday. The game was won by half-time, and they played some beautiful foootball in the first period. In the second, they could more or less ease off and see it out. They’ll hope there is nothing too badly wrong with Alderweireld, but apart from that it’s all smiles; for now they are second. I think the less said about Stoke there, the better. They just didn’t turn up, to put it kindly. Thanks a lot for your company – now join Rob Smyth for the League Cup final!

Related: Harry Kane hat-trick sets the tone as Tottenham Hotspur rout Stoke

There you go.

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

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 13:56:49 GMT2017-02-26T13:56:49Z

A hard-fought East Anglian derby ended all square, Jacob Murphy equalising for Norwich to earn a point after Ipswich had taken the lead against the run of play through Jonas Knudsen’s header

Both teams may feel a little disappointed with a draw. It’s what Ipswich came for, but they executed their game plan so well and took a second-half lead after Bartosz Bialkowski, who was otherwise excellent, let Jacob Murphy’s shot squeeze inside his near post.

Norwich had most of the chances, with Cameron Jerome particularly guilty of wastefulness, and the play-offs now look a long shot despite avoiding the anguish of a derby defeat. Thanks for joining me. Bye!

That’s that. Honours even in the East Anglian derby, after Jacob Murphy cancelled out Jonas Knudsen’s opener for Ipswich.

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Leicester City v Liverpool: match preview

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 09:00:26 GMT2017-02-26T09:00:26Z

It is a little over a year since an outrageous swing of Jamie Vardy’s right boot sent the ball sailing high over Simon Mignolet and it started to dawn that, just possibly, Leicester could actually win the Premier League title. Claudio Ranieri’s exit has given this match a new subplot but the central issue has not changed. The champions are in the bottom three and badly need a victory. Paul Chronnell

Kick-off Monday 8pm

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José Mourinho: my three league titles do not match Claudio Ranieri’s one

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:30:13 GMT2017-02-25T22:30:13Z

• ‘No one can delete history; you can’t go to a laptop and press delete’
• ‘We cannot go around believing it is the same game we had 20 years ago’

José Mourinho has told Claudio Ranieri his achievement at Leicester last season was bigger than all three titles he won in his two spells at Chelsea, and the people of the city will never forget him.

Related: José Mourinho wants to revive Manchester United’s taste for trophies

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Tottenham may not be ready to win trophies, says Mauricio Pochettino

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:30:13 GMT2017-02-25T22:30:13Z

• ‘It’s like the stadium: we need to wait, to build the foundations’
• Pochettino calls for ‘clever’ additions in summer transfer window

Mauricio Pochettino says patience must be the watchword in Tottenham Hotspur’s quest to win a trophy – since they might not yet be ready for it. The manager watched his team go out of the Europa League on Thursday night against Gent and he acknowledged the club’s honours drought was something of a millstone.

Tottenham have won three trophies in the past 33 years – one FA Cup and two League Cups – and none since 2008 but Pochettino, who has overseen significant improvements since taking charge in May 2014, is confident they are on the right path.

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Football’s hostile environments can start at home | Andrew Anthony

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:00:12 GMT2017-02-25T22:00:12Z

Moving to a new stadium can play havoc with a team’s form as West Ham and Tottenham have found out to their cost this season

What’s in a football stadium? Essentially the stands and the pitch. You could add the fans, of course, and inedible burgers, but they are transportable. However, there seems to be some mysterious process by which the fans interact with the stadium to create what is widely known as the “atmosphere”.

Hence, although the West Ham fans attending the London Stadium in Stratford are largely the same as the those who attended the Boleyn Ground last season (except there’s more of them now), the atmosphere by general consent has not been conducive to winning. Or not losing.

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Lawrie McMenemy: ‘Southampton didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance’

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 21:59:12 GMT2017-02-25T21:59:12Z

Former Saints manager remembers the 1976 Wembley showpiece that gave Southampton their first silverware after a shock defeat of Manchester United

Lawrie McMenemy answered the phone in his room at the team hotel. It was the morning of the 1976 FA Cup final and the voice on the other end carried a distinctive West Country burr. It was Mick Channon, one of the key members of the Southampton team McMenemy would send out to face Manchester United at Wembley later in the day.

“Gafuuuur,” McMenemy says, mimicking Channon. “He wanted to know whether I had seen the bookies’ prices. I said: ‘No, what are they, Michael?’ He said: ‘Six or seven to one.’ He was effing this and effing that. He said: ‘We’re total, so-and-so, underdogs. We haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance.’ And that was how it was. There were two horses in the race and you could get six or seven to one on one of them.”

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Brighton go top after Anthony Knockaert seals points against Reading

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:29:54 GMT2017-02-25T20:29:54Z

Brighton issued a further reminder of their promotion credentials with a convincing 3-0 home victory over Reading that returned them to the top of the Championship.

Albion’s battle with Newcastle United at the summit continues after the Magpies dropped home points in a 2-2 draw with Bristol City earlier on Saturday.

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Watford 1-1 West Ham United: Premier League – as it happened

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 19:31:19 GMT2017-02-25T19:31:19Z

West Ham grabbed a deserved point through Andre Ayew after Troy Deeney’s penalty gave Watford an early lead

Related: André Ayew pounces to earn West Ham hard-fought draw against Watford

What an end to the game! Cleverley’s brilliant corner bounces across the face of goal, prompting a big appeal for handball, and then Success misses a bouncing ball four yards from goal! Watford almost nicked it, though that would have been harsh on West Ham. The first half was dreadful, the second extremely enjoyable. Thanks for your company, night.

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How Manchester United became the Zlatan Ibrahimovic show | Paul Wilson

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:57:00 GMT2017-02-25T17:57:00Z

N’Golo Kanté’s impact at Chelsea has been phenomenal but he has not carried his team in the way the brilliant Swede has carried José Mourinho’s United

If all the friends of Wayne Rooney quoted anonymously in the media are to be believed, the striker has not been making much of a secret of the fact that he is unhappy with his present position in the pecking order at Manchester United. It is not difficult to see why. While losing one’s place in the starting line-up is an occupational hazard for a goalscorer in his 30s, it must be galling to lose it to a player who is four years his senior.

Yet Rooney can have no real complaint. José Mourinho kept him on as captain and retained him in the side long enough for Rooney to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s club scoring record. The fact it took him so long – he began the season on 245 goals and is now still on 250 – tells its own story. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 24 goals in the same time.

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Chelsea 3-1 Swansea City, Everton 2-0 Sunderland and more – as it happened

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:40:40 GMT2017-02-25T17:40:40Z

  • Chelsea extend their Premier League lead to 11 points
  • Sunderland remain bottom after defeat at Everton
  • Champions Leicester drop into bottom three with Hull
  • Crystal Palace win at home against toothless Boro
  • Championship leaders Newcastle held by Bristol City
  • Celtic maintain their 24-point lead in Scotland

Scottish Premiership: Moussa Dembele made it 29 goals for the season in all competitions to leave Celtic 24 points clear of Aberdeen at the Scottish Premiership summit.

Related: Moussa Dembélé scores as Celtic beat Hamilton for 21st straight win

Premier League: Troy Deeney has given Watford an early lead from the penalty spot at Vicarage Road. Well, one of the penalty spots. You can follow the action from that match with Rob Smyth.

Related: Watford v West Ham United: Premier League – live!

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West Brom’s Gareth McAuley seals fightback against Bournemouth

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:24:31 GMT2017-02-25T17:24:31Z

West Brom continue to exceed all expectations this season and remain surprise contenders for European football after beating Bournemouth 2-1 at The Hawthorns.

Expected to struggle, Albion are flying high in eighth place in the Premier League and seventh spot may bring qualification for next season’s Europa League – a position currently occupied by Everton, who are four points ahead of Tony Pulis’ team.

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Crystal Palace out of drop zone after Patrick van Aanholt goal sinks Boro

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:18:05 GMT2017-02-25T17:18:05Z

Crystal Palace disrespected the point in the only way acceptable to Sam Allardyce. Not through style or class, but through persistence and perspiration. Little annoys Allardyce more than seeing his team lose a game that they could have drawn by throwing needless caution to the wind, and this was a contest that might have been a goalless grind on another day, but Palace were clinical and professional against opponents whose timidity risks bringing about their downfall.

Resilient after Patrick van Aanholt’s goal, Palace earned their second league win under Allardyce and their third at home this season. The prospect of relegation still hangs over them, despite their position a point above the bottom three, but here was compelling evidence of their manager’s skills as a survival expert and, instead, it was Middlesbrough, stodgy and limited, who looked the likelier team to be playing in the Championship next year.

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Michael Keane makes amends for Burnley to rescue point at Hull City

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:10:18 GMT2017-02-25T17:10:18Z

This was not the result Marco Silva will have wanted in Hull City’s bid to avoid relegation. They were playing a Burnley side who have struggled away from home, but there were at least green shoots of improvement once again.

In a game that was even throughout, a draw was a fair result. Tom Huddlestone put Hull ahead from the penalty spot following handball by Michael Keane before Keane atoned with the Burnley equaliser. Ashley Barnes was sent off for a second yellow card late on, but neither side could make the decisive breakthrough.

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The Joy of Six: goals going in off the woodwork

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 09:59:43 GMT2017-02-23T09:59:43Z

From Ronaldinho’s exocet against Sevilla to Darren Anderton’s both-posts rattler, via Zinedine Zidane versus Gianluigi Buffon

The beauty of a goal that crashes in off the crossbar is that anyone can score one, but there are some players you would expect to do it more than others. Demba Ba’s nominative determinism aside, the outer reaches of the goal frame appeal to the game’s more expansive talents, seeking to paint every inch of their chosen canvas.

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Last stop Rochdale in one fan’s quest to visit every league ground in record time | Barry Glendenning

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 09:29:36 GMT2017-02-18T09:29:36Z

Leeds-based 51-year-old Ed Wood will leave Spotland on Saturday having visited 93 league grounds in only 189 days, reclaiming a record he held for three years in the 1990s, all in the name of charity

The final whistle of Rochdale’s encounter with Charlton Athletic this Saturday will signal more than the end of just another League One football match. It will also mark the conclusion of a remarkable odyssey for one football fan. Barring disaster, Ed Wood, a Derby County supporter, will leave Spotland having reclaimed and smashed the Guinness world record for attending a match at each of England’s 92 league grounds in the shortest time. This modern day, football-loving Phileas Fogg will have gone around the stadiums in 189 days.

Truth be told, it is actually 93 league grounds. To mix things up a bit, Shielfield Park, the home of Berwick Rangers, an English side from Northumberland who compete in Scotland’s League Two, was included in the itinerary of Mike Jones and Bob Wilson, who set the original record of 264 days in 1968-69.

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Kevin-Prince Boateng: ‘Mandela shook my hand and said: my daughter wants to marry you’

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 16:30:19 GMT2017-02-07T16:30:19Z

Las Palmas’s former Spurs and Portsmouth midfielder talks about fighting racism, speaking at the UN and waking up one day ‘looking like 50 Cent: that’s not me’

“I was so nervous. I was sweating. My legs were trembling.” Kevin-Prince Boateng was a long way from the Berlin streets where he grew up; a long way from the football pitch too, although it was a game that brought him to the United Nations in Geneva. It was March 2013. It was also, he says, “the craziest moment of my life” – and his is some life. There’s a lot to discuss as he eases into a yellow chair: from the eight clubs in four countries to playing his brother at the World Cup and meeting Nelson Mandela. Who, incidentally, tried to marry him to his daughter. But first, this.

It’s some time before Boateng heads out past the technicians laying cables and across the grass at the Estadio Gran Canaria where he plays for Las Palmas on the island that’s become home. “You know, I’m always honest,” he says, getting up. That much has become clear over an hour spent talking with sincerity and humour: good times and too-good times; things people don’t see, like loneliness, and things they do; talent and personality, confrontations and convictions, always willing to make a stand. “I’ve never lacked guts, for good or bad.” That much is clear too.

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‘It was one man and his dog’ – the day 3,036 watched a Premier League match | Paul MacInnes

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 17:21:00 GMT2017-01-26T17:21:00Z

Wimbledon’s home game against Everton on this day in 1993 garnered the lowest attendance in Premier League history – but those who were there saw a game to remember

They used to say of the 1960s that if you could remember them, you weren’t there. The same principle also applies to Wimbledon’s home game against Everton on 26 January, 1993. The reason, however, is nothing to do with intoxication or spiritual awakening. It’s because there was barely anyone there to remember it in the first place. The match boasted a crowd of just 3,036, the smallest in Premier League history.

Come the end of the 1992-3 season Wimbledon would finish above Everton, one point and one place higher in 12th position. The men from Goodison Park won this midweek encounter 3-1 though. A brace from Tony Cottee was followed by an Ian Snodin strike while a looping John Fashanu header pulled one back for the Dons. It was cold, the Selhurst Park pitch was awful and there was an 18-man ruckus towards the end. It’s necessary to note all this because you weren’t there.

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