Though football has infinite possibilities, it delivers very few goals unlike any other, but the genius of Ronaldinho found a wayFootball has lots of worthy aims: identity, community, competition and the like. But important though they are, none are fe…
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/nov/09/golden-goal-ronaldinho-for-barcelona-v-chelsea-2005
Jota shot over the bar when through on goal and Keinan Davis whacked against the bar, but the Second City derby got the goalless draw the sides’ performances deserved 2.01pm GMT So there we are. Villa stay 6th, Birmingham stay 21st, and let us never sp…
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/oct/29/birmingham-city-v-aston-villa-championship-live
Two late goals enlivened a dull match into a thrilling finish, though the resultant draw suited neither side; Everton move up to 16th and Brighton to 14th 3.53pm BST Related: Wayne Rooney penalty rescues Everton from defeat against Brighton 3.28pm BS…
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/oct/15/brighton-v-everton-premier-league-live
Gary Hooper scored twice to send Wednesday on their way to victory before Kieran Lee wrapped up their first Championship win in four matches
So, that’s about that – enjoy the rest of your weekend, and join Jacob Steinberg for Everton-Burnley. Bye!
It’s actually pretty difficult to pick out a star man for Wednesday – Kieran Lee, Ross Wallace Gary Hooper, Stephen Fletcher and Barry Bannan were all brilliant. It’s not often so many play to the top of their ability, though, so the trick for Carlos Carvalhal is to get his team to a higher bottom level, because at their best they can beat any team in this division; in the meantime, they move up to 12th while Leeds stay 4th.
A superb performance from Wednesday, the score reflecting the superiority in all departments.
90+5 min Palmer is late on Dallas, earning a booking.
90+4 min Wednesday are playing out time and enjoying the process … until they go forward, Wallace again pulling out wide before crossing towards Rhodes, And the ball breaks for Hooper to complete his hat-trick! He picks across past the one man blocking his route to goal, allowing the ball across his body as the sliding challenge comes in, then laces a monster against the bar!
90+3 min Rhodes replaces Fletcher. “You won everything,” he tells him as they swap places.
90+2 min Wallace leaves a forearm on Saiz as the two meet for a challenge, and Saiz takes exception, pressing brow against brow. Nothing comes of it.
90 min There shall be six added minutes.
90 min Danny Higginbotham reckons Leeds’ problem is trying to play on the break without the first goal, but I don’t really think that it’s that. They just haven’t played or competed as well as Wednesday – their method can work.
88 min It’s not been a good few weeks for Leeds – this will be their third defeat in four league games. Even so, they’ve shown flashes in this game – better finishing before they went behind, and things would be very different. But they’ve been far too compliant since Wednesday went in front – it looks like they came for a stroll, not a row.
87 min Bannan gets the ovation his performance has earned, replaced by Butterfield.
85 min If Wednesday play like this every week, they’ll be a tricky night for anyone. In particular, Lee and Bannan have been excellent in midfield, while the strength of Fletcher and movement of Hooper has been too much for a Leeds defence already struggling to keep up with Wallace down the right.
O’Kane gets too wide, trying to retain possession by dinking a clearance he should’ve lamped, and the ball bounces perfectly into the path of the advancing Lee, who meets it beautifully just after the half-volley, caressing a finish into the bottom left from 25 yards. He’s had a really, really good game today.
81 min Lovely again from Wednesday, dragging Leeds out wide, again down their right, before sending the ball into Bannan inside the box. He does really well to get it out of his feet and to aim a shot towards the near post rather than the expected far, only to cannon the woodwork.
80 min Berardi flies into a challenge with Wallace, there’s a soupcon of afters in the untangling, then some squaring up. It does, though, come to nowt.
79 min Lee, who’s been excellent, finds Wallace with a square pass, and he unloads a shot from 20 yards that Wiedwald has to beat clear.
78 min Lovely from Bannan, conjuring space outside the box and sliding a pass out to Lee, whose low, hard cross is destined for Hooper until Pennington intervenes.
76 min Wednesday get away with one! Reach gives the ball away to Dallas, who slips through to Saiz, on the left of the box again, but close to goal. He really, really should score, and in trying so to do looks to the far corner wile aiming for the near. The gap, though, is too small, and the shot sneaks just wide; it needed a left-footed thrash.
75 min Phillips returns, and this time Leeds get the ball away, Wallace fouling Sacko.
74 min Phillips walks off and Leeds will have to defend the corner with 10 men … and the delivery from Wallace is good, Hooper stopping Wiedwald from moving and forcing Lasogga to thunk over his own bar.
73 min It never rains. Phillips is now down, and Leeds have used all their subs.
72 min Immediately, Wednesday get the ball out to Wallace, and Berardi has to block his cross behind.
71 min Dallas comes on, so Leeds go to three centre-backs with Berardi moving inside.
70 min Oh dear. Janssen is going to be stretchered off, and he’s doesn’t look in a great way, his hand over his eyes.
68 min Janssen and Phillips collide as they pursue a loose ball. Hooper, the other man on the scene, wants play to continue, but the ref is having no such thing. Janssen is down a fair old while.
67 min Hernandez, who’s making a difference, slips a pass infield for Saiz, and on the left of the box, he opens his body to curl a shot just wide.
66 min Ayling crosses into the middle, but Leeds is there to head behind. And Hernandez’s corner is a good one, met by Janssens face, eventually, but Lee bundles off the line.
63 min Bannan is on one, accepting possession and stretching towards the box, ball an extension of his foot, before one slips t’other through a gap an into the stride of Hooper, who’s made an angle for the shot. The hat-trick is on, but Wiedwald is out sharply to block, wearing a stinger on his chest.
62 min Hernandez and Sacko replace Roofe and Alioski.
61 min Ayling sends the ball down the line for Lasogga, and he forces a corner. Alioski takes is short, accepts the return, and curls past the far post and over the by-line, where the two men seeking it trip over one another. It’s quite funny.
61 min Leeds are preparing Sacko and Hernandez.
59 min Excuse me?! Are the Wedneday band playing … Chopsticks? Stop the game, I’m getting off.
57 min Bannan is absolutely bossing this now, strutting about midfield playing one and two-touch. Leeds can’t get near him.
55 min Fletcher, Bannan, Hooper and Lee move the ball so quickly between them, before Wallace dinks a cross towards the far post. Fletcher is so much stronger than Ayling too, but can’t quite get at the ball as he’d like, so it bumps off his forehead and into the ground before Leeds clear.
55 min Leeds have quality going forward, they’re just missing fury in midfield and focus at the back. That’s the difference here.
54 min Wednesday are back in charge, Bannan and Reach swapping passes before the latter crosses towards the excellent Fletcher; Jansson is there first, but only just.
53 min Ideally, Leeds will bring on Grot, he’ll either equalise or score the winner, and GROT BAGS will be tomorrow’s headline.
51 min Fletcher drops deep and feeds Reach down the left, who shifts it quickly and bends a cross into the middle. Hooper is marginally offside, but this time the flag stays down and he leaps into a volley with his heels, diverting the ball just over the top.
50 min This is much better from Leeds, who presumably spent the interval listening to some words.
48 min Much better from Leeds, but how many chances can they afford to ruin? The ball goes out to Alioski down the left, who crosses for Lasogga at the far post, and he makes an angle to shoot back across goal, dragging it slightly – enough to force it against the post.
46 min They almost do right away, Berardi heading to no one in general and Van Aken leaving it to Wildsmith, who’s still on his way out. Roofe nips in, but can’t get good enough contact to force the ball into the empty net.
46 min Leeds set us away again. Can they find themselves?
An excellent half from Wednesday, who take 15 minutes to get going before taking over; they’ve been fast to the ball, strong in the tackle, and have absolutely wasted Leeds down the right flank. They’re good value for their lead, and will extend it after the break if things don’t change.
45+3 min News on Hunt: he’s hurt his knee.
45+1 min Leeds win a free-kick 30 yards out on left, and Roofe curls the ball towards the far post where Lasogga is arriving; Fletcher does enough to put him off, leaning in Sheryl Sandberg-style such that the header goes wide.
45 min There shall be three added minutes.
44 min Wednesday win another free-kick down the right, this time 30 yards out. Again, Wallace curls it in, but this time Jansson heads out, only for the home side to reach the second ball first; Bannan cracks a low drive only just wide.
43 min I say it’s over, though it isn’t really; it’s just Wednesday are so dominant it’s hard to see Leeds reversing momentum.
It doesn’t matter, because Wednesday have scored anyway! They’re absolutely clattering Leeds in midfield, which is allowing them to stomp down the right, which they do again. Palmer crosses towards the back post, Fletcher wins the first header, no defender anticipates that he will, obviously Hooper does, and he nods in with ease. This is over!
39 min Carlos Carvalhal is in a right bate, because Wallace comes inside then slips a ball down the side of the Leeds centre-backs for Hooper, who cross low. Jansson blocks, though, except as he falls, the ball flicks his hand. It would’ve been harsh.
39 min Bad news for Wednesday – Hunt limps off and Palmer comes on. Will he be able to replicate the attacking threat?
37 min Hunt is down, so the away support try to rouse their team. They need it.
36 min Roofe’s control lets him down and Lee marches through him before finding Wallace again – Berardi is in all sorts against him and Hunt. This time the cross is cleared, but if Leeds can’t find a solution to the threat down their left, it won’t be long before they concede again.
35 min Leeds have barely mustered a kick these last 15 minutes.
33 min WHAT A MISS! Wallace is having a brilliant half, and again he comes inside on his left foot then curls towards the far post, where Fletcher has easily escaped Pennington; perhaps he told him to look over there. Anyhow, all he needs to do it guide the ball home, and he confidently caresses towards the far corner … but he’s been too deliberate, and it bounces just wide.
32 min Wednesday are going to score again if things don’t change. Again, Janssen is drawn out of the middle, and when Wallace swivels into a low cross, Pennington does brilliantly to block Hooper’s low sweep. That was headed towards the far corner, so the intervention pretty much kept Leeds in the game.
30 min And there’s Bannan again, sliding a lovely disguised ball into the box for Lee after Hooper comes short and he fills the space. Lee’s finish is a confident one, too, but the flag goes up for offisde, which is most definitely was not. Still, great football from Wednesday.
28 min Wallace curls in a flaming, spitting cross, which has just too much on it for Van Aken, alone at the back post. Leeds needs Phillips and O’Kane to get hold of things, because at the moment, Bannan and Jones are dominating, getting the ball out wide where overloads are making things difficult.
27 min Suddenly Wednesday are flying, Bannan driving forward and finding Lee. He can’t get the ball into the box, but the attack is kept alive and eventually Wallace finds Hunt with a ball inside Berardi, who chops his man down when Alioski doesn’t follow the run.
This is a strange-looking goal. The free-kick is drilled toards the far side of the box, where Lees outjumps Ayling, heading down into the space behind the two lines – there’s loads of it. And only Hooper looks to fill it, following in to poke home the opener like the predator his is.
24 min Hunt glides down the right, so Roofe steps across him; naturally, he then protests the free-kick…
24 min This is a fine photo.
22 min Wednesday have been much better these last few minutes.
20 min Wednesday win a free-kick down the right which Wallace curls in. The ball flashes across the face of goal, flicking a Loiner of some description on its way, resulting in a corner. That goes to Lees on the edge of the box, and he shoots low, a deflection off O’Kane making things harder to Wiedwald. All the same, he should do better than beat out straight down the middle of the box, and is fortunate no one is on-hand to punish him.
20 min “An MBM report for a Leeds match!” emails Ravi Raman. “And not just part of the Championship coverage! Surest sign that the club is re entering the Premier League.”
Yes, that is precisely how it works. You’re welcome. Oh, and we take requests.
18 min Bannan cracks a shot into Pennington and doesn’t get whatever decision he was expecting, and as such imparts some homsepun widsom to the grateful referee.
16 min Saiz looks a class above everyone else on the park, and he wriggles space outside the D, then curves a pass over the top with the outside of his right foot. It takes a while to come down for Alioski, but when it does, he lifts into Roofe, in front of goal, only for the linesman to detect offside where there was none. Leeds are coming.
15 min Leeds burst forward on the break and Saiz does superbly, taunting Van Aken as he sidewinds forward at inside-right before nipping outside and chipping a cross for Alioski at the back post … only for him to stoop and head wide of the near post. That is bad behaviour.
14 min Hooper holds the ball up before feeding Wallace; again he cuts inside onto his left, driving low into the nearest shins.
13 min Leeds are knocking it about nicely not, and the movement of their front three is a problem for Wednesday. Phillips takes possession in midfield and clips a clever reverse-pass into space for Lasogga, who swivels to cross … Wildsmith is up well to claim, one-handed.
12 min Roofe wins a corner down the right which Alioski takes to the near post – Lee sees it away, but Alioski picks the ball back up, advances, and whams a shot into the nearest defender. That’s a waste of a decent situation.
11 min Nice from Ross Wallace, drawing Jansson out of the middle and teasing him inside and out before bringing the ball onto his left foot and curling a dangerous-seeming cross just past the back post.
10 min Alioski is staying on the line this afternoon, where usually he cuts in, and in so doing he takes a throw and feeds Saiz, who thrashes a shot well over. But Leeds’ plan to stretch Wednesday is working well so far.
8 min Is there a more likeable player anywhere than Barry Bannan? Everyone should have his liberal attitude to tackling and general scheming manner.
6 min Leeds look the far more confident outfit, but far more importantly, both managers are dressed in peculiar rigs. Carvalhal is in syoot with grey-cardy-puffa-thing underneath; Christiansen is in grey-cardy-puffa-thing. Euro-style, or something.
4 min But here come Leeds, Berardi finding Saiz down the right, and with Roofe taking Lees away, his cross picks out Phillips on the burst … he can’t quite get his head around the ball though, powering just wide.
3 min The ball is mainly bumping about in midfield, but it’s Wednesday looking to make what running there is.
2 min Lasogga missed his daughter’s birth to play for Leeds in midweek. I can see both sides, what a thing to miss and what a thing to miss, and also that it’s none of my business.
2 min Why do Wednesday now dress up as Ipswich?
1 min Away we go! Hi, ho!
Leeds huddle. All the difference.
The players are with us.
In lieu of a snap of Wednesday’s kit from 1985-86, its stripes quite the most luscious shade of violet blue, here’s the Serg.
Thomas Christiansen is expecting a reaction from his players after defeat at Cardiff. He makes three changes, bringing Pierre-Michel Lasogga back, saying that he can knock defences about, more or less. But that is not to underestimate the importance of the returning O’Kane, whose midfield diligence is so crucial, nor the absence of defence lynchpin, Liam Cooper.
Carlos Carvalhal explains that he’s playing the same team that lost the derby – keeper aside, Wildsmith replacing Westwood due to injury – because it’s a big opportunity for his players.
This is a great shot. And Sheffield is a great sight from the M1, perhaps the best cityview from any major UK road.
For those of a certain age – above 35, more or less – this fixture means one thing and one thing only.
“So glad to be playing Leeds in our current state,” tweets jami3rez, his irony palpable. Yes, it’s not easy to see a way for Wednesday here.
The players arrive at Hillsborough, and head straight out to inspect the pitch… pic.twitter.com/dWIXNzeRwu
Sheffield Wednesday (the height of 4-4-2): Wildsmith; Hunt, Lees, Van Aken, Reach; Wallace, Jones, Bannan, Lee; Fletcher, Hooper. Subs: Dawson, Rhodes, Butterfield, Palmer, Nuhiu, Jaoo, Pudil.
Leeds United (a Monkian 4-2-3-1): Wiedwald; Ayling, Pennington, Jansson, Berardi; Phillips, O’Kane; Alioski, Saiz, Roofe; Lasogga. Subs: Lonergan, Shaughnessy, Dallas, Vieira, Sacko, Hernandez, Grot.
Muddy pitches, violent tackles, lively crowds and magical hairdos – some clubs just stench of Football League Division 1, and these are indisputably those. And, while promotion must be earned, few Premier League fans would complain if trips to Hillsborough and Elland Road returned to the calendar: proper atmospheric grounds in proper atmospheric cities, offering plenty of potential for mischief.
This looks unlikely to happen in time for next season. Leeds have a decent manager and a decent chance, but Wednesday are struggling, even contriving defeat at Birmingham in midweek – after losing a home derby. It’ll take a significant improvement today for them to stop the rot.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/oct/01/sheffield-wednesday-v-leeds-united-championship-live
Tomer Hemed’s second-half goal gave Brighton the points and their second Premier League win, propelling them to 13th in the table; Newcastle stay ninth
So, that’s about us – enjoy the rest of your weekends. Bye!
It’s not at all easy to predict who’ll go down with Palace at the end of the season. All three of the promoted clubs have a chance of staying up, and the more early points they can rack up, when they’re confident and can still remember what it’s like to win regularly, the better. I’m not sure both of these two will make it, but they’re doing enough to put themselves in with a chance.
So there we go! The Amex is bouncing, and Brighton are now 13th in the table, above Everton and below Arsenal on goal difference. Newcastle stay ninth.
Brighton have their second Premeer League victory!
90+3 min Brighton snatch possession just outside their own box and Murphy stretches as his tam-mates rush forward. So Lascelles hacks him down and is booked.
90+2 min Gayle finds himself in the box, frantically swivelling to shoot as the ball drops, but can’t get anything like the necessary power.
90 min There shall be three additional minutes.
90 min Lascelles wanders forward and squares to Merino, who moves on to Shelvey. Dead centre, he sets himself for a shot and thunders into it, but it’s travelled about 3.4cm when Dunk blocks, and if he hadn’t Duffy was behind him, spread to do likewise.
88 min Brighton have seen this out pretty nicely thus far. After a bit of slip and tackle, Hemed accidentally stands on Yedlin’s calf, and no one sees anything untoward.
86 min Lovely ball over the top from Merino, who’s struggled to exert a constant influence, but looked Newcastle’s most likely threat. Anyway, breaking into the box, left-hand side, is Shelvey, but with men milling about he holds into possession for far too long and sees his low cross deflected behind. The corner comes to nothing.
85 min Tomer Hemed is announced as man of the match, and he clearly davened his arse off on Rosh Hashana.
83 min Last shot from Newcastle: Gamez replaces Mbemba.
82 min Newcastle have created very little this afternoon and Brighton will know that. March, who’s been excellent, nips around the side and crosses low – Clark has to be alert to get it out.
80 min Change for Brighton: a displeased-looking Knockaert is replaced by Murphy.
79 min Yedlin arcs in a cross and Gayle gets a touch at the near post, but after Shelvey flings himself at it, the ball takes a nasty bounce and gets big on Atsu at the back post, who can’t get over his shot.
77 min Dunk is well late on Perez, so is booked. From 25 yards out, left of centre, Shelvey curls the free-kick way over the top.
76 min “Disappointed that I haven’t heard the Brighton supporters sing this tune for Davy Pröpper,” emails A.P.
73 min Newcastle are having plenty of the ball now, and there we go – Gayle gets between Duffy and Dunk, Shelvey hits one long at him, and Brighton are forced to concede a corner. Shelvey takes it, sees Gayle heading towards the near post and Ryan failing to guard it, so has a dig! And it’s a goodun too, clattering the base of the near post! Diejo Marashelvey!
71 min Gayle replaces Joselu, and will presumably look to give Shelvey a target to hit.
70 min Brighton are already sitting a little deeper, which is not a criticism. Newcastle have struggled to create today, so it makes sense.
69 min Dwight Gayle also looks imminent.
68 min Change for Newcastle: Shelvey replaces Hayden. The crowd give him plenty.
65 min Bruno looks like Richard from Guess Who – which should be Guess Whom, right?
64 min “That goal was no good,” emails J.R. ‘Running across the defender’? Bruno set a freakin’ back pick on Mbemba. As I understand it that is legal in basketball but not football. And I don’t just think that because that goal screwed my fantasy team.”
Artistic licence. I’m an anarchist.
63 min Benitez calls for Shelvey! Now it’s on!
61 min Ritchie allows Perez’s pass to run across his body, tempting Suttner to foul; free-kick, left of centre, 25 yards out. There appears to be a shoot/cross debate taking place – Ritchie seems to ask Benitez his thoughts – before driving into the wall. The ball, though, ends up with Merino, who shoots, only for Dunk to chuck a head at it and send it behind. The corner comes to nowt.
59 min Newcastle are hanging in there now. On the plus side, their fans have the joy of a six-hour quench home to look forward to.
58 min We see sweetheart, you’re Tim Krul on the Brighton bench, minding me of one of the greatest football songs that never was.
56 min Lovely from Brighton, Knockaert backheeling to send Bruno away down the right. His cross is low and hard towards the far post, where March slides in, connecting well … but Elliot dives back, over his own line, to shovel it away from on the line. He’s kept his team in the match, there.
56 min Watching that goal again, we can see Dunk and Bruno doing an excellent job of running across defender to block them off. Even better done, Chris Hughton.
54 min The ground is up as Brighton seek to press home their advantage, but they can’t find the quality in their passing – at least not for now.
53 min With Newcastle set up to break, Brighton would do well to wade in before they can reorganise.
This is really nicely done.With Newcastle expecting a ball into the middle, Gross’ free-kick goes to the back post where Stephens has pulled away. His downward header passes through a pair of legs, whereupon Hemed – Chhhemed – six yards out, imparts a kind of overhead hook of a shin, into the roof of the net. Well done Chris Hughton – that was clearly a plan.
50 min Again, it’s Brighton making the running, and Suttner lifts a much better ball into Hemed who, on the half-turn, tips it away from Lascelles and rides the inevitable foul. Free-kick Brighton, 25 yards out, level with the left edge of the box….
49 min It is not at all easy to foresee a goal. I do not foresee a goal.
48 min Brighton lump the ball forward thrice, to predictably little avail.
47 min Does any team contain as many verbs – Dunk, March – nouns – Knockaert – and adjectives – Propper – as Brighton? I contend not.
46 min Why waste your time, you know you’re gonna be mine.
The players are back with us.
“First we had the Steel City derby which was awesome (for neutrals and Blades fans at least),” says
J.R. in Illinois, “and now we’ve got this game which is hella entertaining! Who needs Chelsea v Arsenal and Man United v Everton like last Sunday? This is a proper Super Sunday!”
I’d agree with half of that. This game would be great if it was later in the season and the stench of desperation diffused through the screen, but for now it’s about adequate if we take it for what it is. In my frequently incorrect opinion, anyhow.
Not a terrible game, I don’t suppose. Let’s leave it there.
45+1 min Brighton win a free-kick down the left, plenty far from goal but when Dunk wins the header and knocks the ball back across, Hemed isn’t far from catching up with it.
45 min There shall be one added minute.
45 min Newcastle exert a bit of pressure with crosses and such, both Yedlin and Mbemba having sticking them in. Nothing comes of either, but they reflect their team’s greater control in midfield.
43 min Nice from Newcastle, Merino gliding forward and sliding into the path of Atsu, outside him. The ensuing cross is a good one too, low and hard; Perez and Ritchie both slide in, but neither can impart the decisive touch.
42 min As you may have divined, there is not a whole lot currently coming to pass.
40 min Point of order: Hemed, as in Tomer Hemed, is pronounced with a guttural H, written in English as Ch, or in Hebrew with a chet, like thus: חמד. Thanks.
38 min Ritchie looks to curl the free-kick around the wall, hoping the keeper moves, which he doesn’t, and as such the ball clunks into his midriff.
37 min Nice from Newcastle, Ritchie allowing a pass from Merino through his legs before trying a wall-pass off Joselu. But Gross is wise to the ruse, blocking him off at cost of a free-kick, 30 yards out and right of centre.
36 min Brighton are back on top now, moving the ball around as Newcastle sit deep and wait for something to happen. Dunk then attempts to slip in Kncokaert, but Yedlin is paying attention and nips in front of him to clear.
33 min Brighton, who’ve been quiet the last few minutes, swarm forward when Propper sweeps out to March, who’s been a constant threat. He switches the ball back inside for Stephens, who finds Gross; inside the box,he can’t quite decide what to do and eventually squares when he might’ve shot … all the delay Clark needs to intercept.
31 min Merino starts a move with a lovely flick, moving the ball behind his standing leg and feeding Atsu, suddenly in all manner of space at inside-left. He then finds Mbemba who, with little left foot to speak of, nips inside and squares for Perez, arriving to send another shot wide. Brighton do not look at all secure at the back.
29 min Newcastle enjoy some possession and Perez bursts into the box at inside-left, looking to open his body and curl a perfect finish into the top corner before racing to embrace the adulation of his adoring public. Instead, he sends a miserable effort miles away from anything.
26 min Newcastle have been better the last five minutes or so, but then March chases a ball larruped down the line and shoves Yedlin to the ground, earning a free-kick in the process. Lascelles is not at all happy – with good reason – but when the cross, from the left touchline, comes across, he’s there to head away and one of his mates then clears Stephens’ attempt to put it back in the danger zone.
24 min Perhaps Newcastle’s gameplan is to sit deep and break fast, but they won’t have anticipated being put under as much pressure as they have been. Still, Dunk whacks a clearance into Duffy and Newcastle have a corner, but Bruno, at the near post, gets rid without much aggravation.
22 min Atsu breaks and finds Yedlin on his outside … his cross is a fair one, but Joselu makes it a fine one, dragging it into his path on the half-turn. For a second he looks a cert to score only for Duffy to come sliding in, nowhere near the ball but restricting the shooting angle; the eventuating effort is dragged wide of the far post from ten yards.
21 min The master of the genre…
19 min “Enjoyed Knockaert shoving Mbemba out of the way only to block the shot himself,” tweets Paul Waggott. “Football’s karma gods working well there.”
A team-mate blocking a goalbound shot is one of life’s true delights. I’m also a big fan of the prematurely celebrated goal.
18 min Mbemba makes a fine interception to keep a through-pass from finding Knockaert, but his team have a problem. They’re far too rigid to cope with Brighton’s movement, can barely muster a decent kick of the ball, and are going to concede if they don’t do something about it, and quickly.
16 min Brighton have been very good these last few minutes, Knockaert, Gorss and March giving Newcastle all manner of aggravation. The way that they’re interchanging is allowing them to stretch the play without being outnumbered in midfield, though they could use another man in the box when the ball comes in.
14 min Brighton are all over this now, Knockaert finding Bruno, whose cross is brilliantly headed away by Yedlin, straining every follicle to reach it. March, though, is on-hand to zip in a low cross, strongarmed out by Elliot with Hemed, perfectly placed to intervene, caught on his heels.
12 min Knockaert, doubtless still smarting, hauls back Atsu and is booked.
11 min Oh mate! Maaaate! Gross drifts outside so Knockaert comes in inside and spreads play out to March on the left. His cross is a good one, the ball arriving back with Gross who drives a shot at goal …. it’s going in … until it hits Knockaert!
11 min After a reasonable start, things have slowed down. Brighton are enjoying – in the loosest possible sense – most of the possession.
9 min I like to think that Andre Marriner goes as Dre, still has love for the street, and is the subject of this song.
8 min Perez pops up between the lines and slides a pass out to Atsu. He swiftly whacks a cross into the nearest pair of shins, then does so again when the ball rebounds straight to him.
7 min Stephens makes a mistake and Atsu pounces on the loose ball 30 yards out, quickly finding the nearest shins into which to smash the ball.
6 min Gross drifts left and swerves in a cross for Hemed, peeling away at the near post. He gets his head to it, but can’t quite get his head around it, sending the ball wide of the near post.
5 min And Knockaert swings the ball in, Propper and Duffy throwing feet to try and get it in but a phalanx of defenders doing just enough to block.
4 min Stephens sweeps a ball wide to March, and he lays back for Suttner. His cross is deflected behind and now it’s Brighton with the corner.
2 min Well! Ritchie curls the corner to the edge of the box, far left side, and Gross chases over to block. But all he succeeds in doing is blocking Ryan’s sight of Merino’s volley, into the ground and only just wide.
1 min Perez wriggles some space and feeds Joselu, so Duffy ploughs through the back of him, a reet sair yin. There’s a brief pause, and Ritchie will now curl one in from 40 yards out, on the right – Hemed heads behind.
1 min Away we go!
Imagine the nick the Newcastle fans are in right now; imagine the nick they’ll be in when they get home. ENVY.
Out come the teams!
“Regarding your assertion about Andre Marriner,” emails Kári Tulinius. “Surely the least (or possibly most) referee name for a referee ever is golden oldie Segar Bastard, ‘The Knight of the Whistle’, who refereed the 1878 FA Cup final and then went on to earn an England cap. Incidentally, his first name is an old norse name, Sægeir, which means ‘sea spear’.
I did think of him – and his grandson Spoilt, of Viz fame – but decided that wasn’t such an unorthodox name in its era.
I wonder if this game will be decided by which number 10 has the better afternoon. Pascal Gross was excellent in Germany last season and is growing into the Premier League, while Ayoze Perez has the kind of improvisational talent that, if harnessed, will see him develop into a proper player. In a tight contest, that could be crucial.
Rafael Benitez says his team is unchanged because it’s only playing one game a week. Chris Hughton says he’s happy with how his team have been playing, and that people said they’d struggle to score before they did so thrice against a well-organised West Brom team.
Graeme Souness likes someone! Well done Matt Ritchie!
I do not think we’re going to see many goals today. I’m going 0-1, but Jonathan Pearce reckons Brighton will shade it, so a draw is the most likely outcome.
We’re watching tape of Davy Propper, having been told by Chris Hughton that he’s used to playing in a three not a two. As for the man himself, he’s more comfortable now he’s certain he can score and create goals in the Premier League, and Newcastle will need to get a hold of him today.
“So Seagulls v Magpies, eh?” asks J.R. in Illinois. “I think this match-up should be pretty even. Seagulls have a massive size advantage (have you seen Shane Duffy?) being anywhere around five times the mass and up to three times the wingspan of magpies, but being the only non-mammal to recognise itself in a mirror means magpies absolutely crush the seagulls in the intelligence department.”
I wonder about this. Perhaps the real brain is the seagull, who is above the narcissism and painful self-awareness that pains anything cursed by a sense of self. Deep, yeah?
“It’s bigger than I thought it was going to be,” says Graeme Souness of the Amex. I’m glad he doesn’t bother with the internet – if he did I’d have to re-evaluate my entire system of belief.
“Newcastle not being in the EPL was just a temporary blip,” returns yerman Rob, “while Brighton shouldn’t really be there. This is the difference, and it will out again before tea-time too.”
I’m not sure about this. Couldn’t we say the same about Stoke when they came up, and Burnley – even Huddersfield?
Hairs on back of neck, etc.
Email! “Does anyone seriously think that Brighton can ‘do’ ‘gritty’?” asks Rob Coughlan.
Well, to the extent that anyone can “do” “anything”, of course not. And I don’t think they’ll stay up, but reckon it’ll be lack of goals that does for them.
So what does it all mean? Well, Brighton make one change: Liam Rosenior of the Guardian is replaced at right-back by Bruno, his new diet of lentils and hummus ill-received in the dressing room. Newcastle, meanwhile, are unchanged; as such, they have a bench which hosts Jonjo Shelvey and Dwight Gayle, key men for them last season.
Brighton & Hove Albion (a retro 4-4-1-1): Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross; Hemed. Subs: Krul, Rosenior, Huenemeier, Schelotto, Izquierdo, Murphy, Brown.
Newcastle United (a characteristic 4-2-3-1): Elliot; Yedlin, Lacelles, Clark, Mbemba; Hayden, Merino; Ritchie, Perez, Atsu; Joselu. Subs: Darlow, Gamez, Manquillo, Diame, Murphy, Shelvey, Gayle.
There are certain phrases that appear, at first glance, to describe a circumstance … but at all other glances describe the individual using them. “Gritty realism”, for example, could suggest depressing drama that it complex, yet approachable … or it could suggest a person who speaks in television listings and is unwilling to or incapable of thinking for themselves.
In a Premier League context, Brighton v Newcastle could not be more gritty, more real, nor more grittily real. After spending last season in a mass pagga to get promoted and earn the right to play in the biggest matches, both squads will now know that life isn’t actually like that. The games are a slog, the season is a slog, and if they want the privilege of repeat slogging they’ll need to outslog at least three other devoted sloggers.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/sep/24/brighton-v-newcastle-united-premier-league-live
Chris Froome sealed his first Vuelta title in Madrid as Matteo Trentin won the stage in a sprint finish – but Froome denied the Italian the green jersey
Well that’s all from me, thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with our initial stage report:
As night time falls, Alberto Contador takes to the roads for one more lap with the Spanish flag aloft. He finished fifth in his final grand tour, behind Kelderman, Zakarin, Nibali and Froome.
Chris Froome also won the combined jersey, making it a treble of red, green and white on the day he sealed an historic double of Vuelta and Tour, the first man to win both in the same year since Bernard Hinault in 1978. It’s his first Vuelta a España title.
Froome has shown his climbing skills in this Vuelta, his descending skills, his time-trialling and now his sprinting too, in order to hold on to the sprinter’s jersey from Matteo Trentin. The Italian can at least console himself with the stage win, his fourth of this grand tour.
Froome comes across the line in 11th, which means he wins the green jersey too! What a performance.
Trentin pulls away from his team-mates with 200 metres to go, he has plenty of distance to cover but he holds on to win the stage and secure the green jersey… unless Froome came in the top 12 or so. We wait to see!
1km to go The penultimate corner is negotiated safely. Still Quick-Step lead the way, now it is up to everyone else to get on Trentin’s wheel and try to jump him on the line…
2km to go The pace cranks up to 70km/hr as they approach the final two kilometres of this Vuelta. Trentin is best placed…
3km to go Matteo Trentin is well placed at the back of the Quick-Step Floors group and they are near the nose, but it’s really a mesh of teams and riders near the front and it is going to be a case of finding the right position from here.
4km to go There are several lead-out trains trying to get themselves in position in this final lap. Cannondale are right in the mix, as are Trek…
5km to go Costa and De Marchi glance at each other, shake hands and finally relent. They take their feet off the pedals (not literally) and rejoin the peloton as they take the bell.
7km to go Nick Schultz gives up the fight, peeling away from the break to rejoin the peloton, but Costa and De Marchi refuse to throw in the towel and the duo are still working hard 10 seconds or so in front of the main bunch.
8km to go Rui Costa, Alessandro De Marchi and Nick Schultz continue on the front around 10 seconds ahead of the chasers, led by Quick-Step Floors who are desperate to give Matteo Trentin the chance to win this in a sprint on the Paseo della Castellana.
10km to go Rui Costa glances over his shoulder, where he sees the peloton swarming in the middle distance. Two laps of this circuit to go…
12km to go The leading trio continue to tap out a high pace but Quick-Step Floors are refusing to go away, with Trentin in close attendance.
15km to go This is all good news for Chris Froome, of course. If this breakaway can cling on then they will deny Matteo Trentin the win he needs to take the sprinter’s jersey from Chris Froome’s back (he’s not actually wearing it, but you know).
18km to go There will be a full lap of honour by Alberto Contador at the end of this race, they say. First we must get there and Costa, De Marchi and Schultz still lead the way and they have extended their lead a little, to 15 seconds.
Before we reach the climax in Madrid, here’s Lars Boom reflecting on his Tour of Britain victory today in Cardiff:
22km to go Costa, De Marchi and Schultz haven’t managed to make a significant enough lead for the peloton to be too worried here. They cross the line for the final four laps with the main pack 12 seconds behind.
25km to go Australian Nick Schultz is the third rider up there with Costa and De Marchi in this break, and they are working well together to keep a high pace.
28km to go Another hairpin navigated safely and the peloton ride on. Suddenly a breakaway – three riders have made a dash for glory: Rui Costa with Alessandro De Marchi and one other.
34km to go Quick-Step are keeping the pace high at the front with Team Sky close by – and Chris Froome is up there too! He only needs a couple of points to seal the green jersey and he goes for it… But Matteo Trentin comes to the front and with the help of his team-mates keeps Froome at bay. Trentin takes the maximum four intermediate points and it means he will claim the green jersey should he win this stage. That was a bit of unexpected fun.
37km to go The first circuit of eight laps around Madrid is complete and Sky have made their intentions clear – they are going to try and deny Matteo Trentin the green jersey and instead bolster Chris Froome’s collection. Greedy, perhaps, but much more fun for us.
40km to go Team Sky are riding on the front and it will be interesting to see if they try to make life difficult for Trentin as the Italian sprinter tries to accumulate the points. The pace is hard and it seems like Sky want to have some fun. Quick-Step aren’t impressed – a wave of blue hit the front with their man in tow. Still five kilometres until the intermediate spint, in which Trentin needs to finish second or better.
43km to go This circuit is a little tricky with three hairpins to navigate per lap, but the first couple are dealt with without bother. All eyes are on Matteo Trentin and his attempt to win the green jersey; to do that he must win the stage but first he needs to claim the intermediate sprint points.
45km to go The streets are packed and cries of “Alberto!” ring out as Contador goes on 100 metres ahead of the peloton to the start of this city circuit. He offers up a few waves and applause – this must be very emotional for the veteran rider and three-time Vuelta winner.
50km to go The peloton enters the city from the south west. Shortly they will begin the eight laps of a little more than 5km each, and the intermediate sprint will pop up with 34km to go to provide a flurry of action. Right now Alberto Contador has been allowed to go on ahead solo to soak up the acclaim of the home crowd on his final grand tour.
58km to go Hello, Madrid! The peloton snakes round an expanse of roundabout with water feature as they enter the fringes of the Spanish capital. Once they reach the centre there will be eight laps of a circuit to be completed before the finish on the Paseo della Castellana. Over in Cardiff, Lars Boom has secured his second Tour of Britain title:
“Those Vuelta photos…” begins Adam Hirst on email, referring to this lovely gallery of images. “I missed Stage 3 in the Pyrenees. Those walls house a village called Villefranche-de-Conflent. A couple of springs ago we had a long day driving from San Sebastian into France and up and over the Pyrenees. Andorra la Vella didn’t look so good so we carried on down the other side. We found a sign for Evol, the most beautiful village in France and decided to stay there. We seemed to be the only people in the village, it was late and there was nowhere to stay or eat, so we slept in the car. Woke up at dawn to a beautiful view of the castle but no breakfast. On our early way down the valley we stopped at Villefranche and wandered around the inside for a look. The smell of fresh bread was in the air so we followed it down the street and found an ancient boulangerie. The baker was just pulling large loaves out of a big old oven. It was the most perfect bread-thing you could ever hope to find.” You’ve painted a picture and I like it. “On with the cycling,” Adam adds. “Same again next year Chris?”
The giant Irishman Conor Dunne is the man who will have the dubious honour of finishing last in the general classification, having been out on the road more than five hours longer than Chris Froome. Finishing, of course, is part of the challenge and on his grand tour debut he’s very happy: “It’s tougher for me, I’ve ridden an extra stage! I’ve really enjoyed this Vuelta, I’ve had my moments where it felt good and it’s been an honour to be a part of it. The support has been incredible and it’s kept me going. It’s our [Aqua Blue Sport’s] first year [as a team] so it was a big goal for us. For us it’s really been a success. We’ve won a stage, been in the breakaways, so from here we’ll keep on working and come back next year.”
68km to go Valerio Agnoli rides up to Chris Froome to offer him a cup of coffee. The array of beverages consumed so far is impressive.
75km to go This procession is currently rolling down one side of a highway at 55km/hr while traffic continues in the opposite direction. Not so much beer-drinking and selfie-taking now as they approach the city with Sky on the front of the group.
A reminder that there is an intermediate sprint to come at the 84km mark, which Matteo Trentin needs to win to have any chance of winning the best sprinter’s green jersey. Here are the standings which he needs to overhaul:
82km to go They are still riding, in case you wondered, just extremely slowly. Team Sky are rolling along at the front in the sunshine, moving a little closer to the outskirts of Madrid. At the finish it’s a family affair, with mixed levels of excitement but excellent levels of hat-wearing:
I agree with just about every sentiment from Guy Hornsby, on email: “Chapeau to Chris Froome. He may not Gaby the charisma of Wiggins (let’s be honest: who else does?) but his dedication and commitment are second to none, and of course it helps having such a lavish team behind him, with a slew of super-domestiques, but it’s still him on the bike. This Vuelta’s been my favourite Grand Tour for some time, with attacking racing, great climbs and a fitting finale for both Froome and Contador, who – whatever your position is, and mine is flawed cheat but brilliant bike rider – has lit up this race. I honestly never thought I’d see a Tour/Vuelta double and not sure we will for a long time. I’d love to see him get the Giro but i think he wants 5 Tours on the trot first, and you wouldn’t bet against him. We’re lucky to have him.”
90km to go The pace has slowed back down a little with no fans along this rural part of the route. Here’s Enric Mas, the Quick-Step Floors rider, talking before the stage about Alberto Contador’s special moment yesterday. “I was very moved. I was in the breakaway from the beginning and I ran out of strength. I helped Alberto as long as I could. I just hope that some of us younger riders will be able to put on a similar show like he has done in our career. We want to be like him.”
“I think Chris (soon to be Sir Chris) Froome should really go for the Giro next year,” reckons Michael Christie on email. “Then the Tour de France and, if he still has the use of his legs, the Vuelta too. Imagine winning all three in one calendar year. Impossible? As then Pop Idol winner Will Young sang back in 2002 ‘Anything Is Possible’. What do you mean you don’t remember it?” A quick YouTube search shows it is the third most popular song with that title, some feat. The gap between the end of the Giro and the start of the Tour is so narrow that I’m not sure it really is possible to do the treble, but if any team can then it is the megabucks of Team Sky.
97km to go Team Sky have decided to up the pace a little as the lines of fans thicken and various flags wave around them – they want to put on a bit of a show.
100km to go Froome has moved on from beer to Cava. More as I get it. While the peloton get on the sauce, why not take a look at some of the best images from this year’s Vuelta. I challenge you to name a better sporting environment for photography than one of cycling’s grand tours:
Related: Vuelta a España 2017 – in pictures
“I think Froome should retire if he does the double,” emails Andrew Benton. “He’d open up the competitions a lot if he did, and give other Sky riders a chance of glory in the future. In these days of multiple awards just for being moderately OK at something sporty, shouldn’t he get a BBC personality award if he does the double, or a knighthood? Wiggo hasn’t really used his knighthood for the public good – encouraging people to get on their bikes for health and lifestyle, supporting bicycling charities and stuff – would Froome?” He absolutely should be recognised in a way that he almost inevitably won’t be. I don’t think he’ll be hanging up his helmet just yet though.
Here’s where someone will win stage 21 this evening in Madrid. Either our photographer has an impressive lean on him, or he’s jumped the barrier: either way, the effort to get this snap is appreciated.
109km to go Team Sky have been enjoying themselves with a singalong and a few beers as the peloton trundles gently towards Madrid as one. The riders are being cheered along by the odd cluster of spectators strung along the streets.
“After a tedious, boring and at times a good comparison to watching the grass grow for most of Le Tour this year, I’m glad we have had a sensational Vuelta,” emails Sam Charlton. “The manner of Froome’s win is completely the opposite of that of Le Tour, he used intuition and gusto as well as the now expected Sky tactic of grinding ones opponents to oblivion. My big question to him would be, does he go for 5 Le Tours, or does he go for the Giro to make the hat-trick complete? Both are an elite club, he won’t have too many years left to decide either. I hope he goes for the three grand tours before the 5 TdF’s. Just because it’s that extra bit special.” From what I’ve read it sounds like his priority is that fifth Tour de France, and obviously going for the Giro would compromise that so it may have to wait, but I agree – the hat-trick would be pretty special. Either way, he would join a very special group of riders to have achieved those feats.
The peloton has left the neutralised zone and they are officially racing, but you wouldn’t tell as they cruise along a fairly nondescript highway prodding each other in the ribs. Team Sky have got their selfie stick out, the height of modern frivolity. Here’s Mikel Nieve, talking pre-race: “In the end we did a good job. It was stressful because everyday we had to defend the red jersey but we take a lot of joy in it. I can tell Chris is delighted.”
If you’re thinking “this is a total non-event why am I reading this Froome has already won isn’t it all a bit unnecessary it’s just a procession” then let me put you at ease. Firstly, there is a Vuelta stage to be won, and not just any stage but the final stage of a grand tour on the streets of Madrid, which adds a certain kudos. On top of that, the best sprinter’s crown is still up for grabs. Currently Froome leads the standings with Nibali in second, but Matteo Trentin has designs on glory from third place. To do that he will have to win the four intermediate sprint points on offer at the 84km mark, before winning the stage itself on the Paseo della Castellana. It is a tough task but British sprinter Adam Blythe, speaking before the start of the stage, says the Italian is the man to beat. “I’m very tired, but we’ll give it a go today. It’s going to be quite hectic but it’s the last day of the race so we’re all in. Matteo, he’s the favourite for sure, everyone’s going to be fighting for his wheel. We’ll see.”
The riders are away with Froome, all smiles, bedecked in red at the front and happy to chit chat with Alberto Contador, yesterday’s stage winner who today ends his storied career of grand tours. They face a relatively flat 118km route from Arroyomolinos just to the south-west of Madrid, before eight laps around a circuit on the streets of the capital where we can expect a bunch sprint.
Chris Froome last night described his imminent Vuelta triumph as his greatest achievement in the sport. “That is probably the toughest grand tour I’ve ever ridden. There was something different happening every day. I’ve had good days and then I’ve been lying on the ground, bleeding, thinking my race might be over.” It has been relentless in its intensity, no days bobbing through the fields of northern France saving their collective legs for the Alpine stages, but instead a constant underlying threat to his dominance which needed repelling. Time and again Froome and Team Sky responded, and now he begins stage 21 with victory all-but secured: this evening’s cruise into Madrid will seal a historic Vuelta-Tour double not achieved since Bernard Hinault in 1978.
That’s our lot … until the men get underway at 3.45pm BST. Lawrence Ostlere will have your back.
So well done D’Hoore and well done Wiggle High5. None of the team were left by the end, but they did the necessary to enable the finish, which D’Hoore timed to perfection.
Sunweb try to set up Rivera for the sprint with Chloe Hosking still in it, but Jolien D’Hoore, anonymous for the whole race, wins for the second year in a row!
Less than 1km to go now, and Sunweb still lead but Ale Cipollini form their own line.
3km to go, the dead turns negotiated bar one. Sunweb lead en masse, protecting Rivera who’s going for her fifth win on tour this season.
Jasinska presses on! She’s still in front, no she isn’t, Sunweb pile past her. See ya!
So they hit the bell and the peloton have a problem. If the three chasers catch Jasinska – and they have! – if they work together, this could be a decisive group.
A couple of riders have left the peloton to have a hack at Jasinska, and her lead is being eroded.
The peloton is strung out now, physically and mentally, no doubt. Jalzinska still leads…
Jasinska leads by 12 seconds, not bad. She’s absolutely rocking and rolling all over the bike, really hurting, but for now she’s getting it did.
11km to go, penultimate lap…
And we have another sprint, Barbieri just holding off Moberg.
Malgorzata Jasinska has decided it’s time, and she now leads by a bit.
People attack out of each dead turn, and are then reeled in. And there we go, that’s pretty much it. Rivera still chills at the back of the peloton.
It’s looking like this race will be settled by a sprint at the very end now. We’re still expecting failed breaks, mind.
Sunweb unite to foil another break and Barbieri hits the front to win the next sprint. Moberg is nowhere.
Five km appear to have been added to the race ticker. That’s pretty funny.
This whole race has been one long calm before the storm.
Coryn Rivera, one of the favourites for the sprint at the end, is chilling at the back of the field. It’s possible she’s saving herself for next week, or planning to make a very late bid here.
It’s remarkable how large the main pack is. I’ve no idea how we’re going to follow the sprint at the end, but it’ll be fun.
Once again the peloton is back together. None of the big teams have wanted to let a break go, so we were where we are with just over 20km to go.
And Barbieri wins another, Moburg in second place – she still leads that section overall.
Barbieri has just won the latest sprint, her second of the afternoon. Again, not much effort was expended but Moburg seems to be gone.
Irena Ossula of USA has gone for it, and she leads by 20m or so. They’ve not yet started to reel her in.
I say that, but Longho-Borghini now has seven riders with her and behind them another little lot are leaving the pack.
Longho Borghini is stretching things out a little now, not with the intention of breaking but to put some more pain into the legs of her rivals.
Off we go in another sprint, and this time it’s a bit of a race. Moberg finishes second this time, but the commentary team don’t quite reveal who beats her.
35.1km to go and the speed is quickish, but it’s still unclear whether or not we’ll get a definitive breakaway.
The peloton is closing in on the leaders now and will catch them the shortly.
Radotic won the sixth sprint, incidentally.
Bronzini is clear now and has company – from Fahlin. But Moberg has also joined, and they’re putting distance between them and the rest.
The time is really quick so far, with riders properly stepping on as they come out of the bends.
Sunweb appear keen to take it on, Bronzini forcing herself to the front.
43.6km to go, and Jasinska leads from De Jong. The field is fragmenting at just over halfway.
There are now 10 in the break which is enough to keep it going, especially given the quality of rider therein.
We have ourselves a break! De Jong leads, with Kelly Druyts and Jasinska there too. Of course, they may not intend to stay ahead, rather put some pace into the legs of the rest.
We’re there for another sprint, and again Moberg of Norway takes it – with ease.
One of the hairpins is really quite unpleasant – on an earlier lap somewhere in the region of 20 riders were forced to unclip.
Moberg wins the second sprint, though the commentators note that no one seems overly fussed about winning them – presumably because of the World Championships, which start in Bergen in just six days.
The peloton is big and bunched. No one wants to take it on, with the bigger teams confident in the pace of their sprinters.
There are 11 laps to go after this one. Simona Frapporti, though, might have a problem completing them – she’s currently got a busted chain. They reckon she can change bike.
The corners are particularly tough, we’re told, which makes it a pain on the legs. But the pace is still pretty quick.
“There’s a slight climb after they pass the finish line” – of this lap rather than at the end, I imagine.
64 of 87km to go, and Radotic picked up the points for the first sprint, a prize of 2,000 Euros – equivalent to roughly £4m.
Afternoon all and here we go!
*here we are already going!
Our coverage Stage 21 of the 2017 Vuelta a España will be under way from around 4.30pm BST, as Chris Froome soaks up the acclaim on route to Madrid and his historic Tour-Vuelta double. Here William Fotheringham’s report from yesterday’s action:
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/sep/10/chris-froome-vuelta-a-espana-2017-final-stage-live
Leicester can learn January lesson to beat Chelsea, Tottenham could find they like Goodison Park, and will Chris Hughton take a gamble against West Brom?
After the humiliation of their 4-0 defeat at Liverpool and the perceived humiliation of their end to the transfer window, Arsenal couldn’t have wished for a kinder fixture with which to return – albeit the kind of kinder fixture which frequently challenges them. But however you look at things, Bournemouth have not started the season well, nor are they set up to exploit Arsenal’s weaknesses.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/08/premier-league-10-things-to-look-out-for-this-weekend
Liverpool were as excellent as Arsenal were abject, the four-goal margin a fair reflection of their relative quality and desire; Liverpool go second in the league, Arsenal 16th
So that’s about us. Thanks for your company and comments, sorry I couldn’t get to them all; stay strong through international fortnight.
But let’s try, eh? Arsenal went into that game as though they’d never seen Liverpool play, played like they’ve never played themselves and never wanted to play themselves, so took the pasting Liverpool earned than they deserved. It is now acceptable to talk of league tables, so Liverpool are second, Arsenal 16th.
I don’t think I have words to add to that.
90+3 min In dark times, laugh at the misfortune of someone else; at Wembley, Burnley have scored a last-minute equaliser. However bad Arsenal get, they’ll always have Spurs.
90+2 min Gary Neville gives man of the match to Salah, not Can. Fair either way.
90+1 min Salah finds himself running at Holding again; it’s just bullying now. And with the defender expecting him to come inside, he instead lashes a shot with Cech tips over. The corner comes to nowt.
90 min There shall be three added minutes.
90 min It’s impossible to understate how good Arsenal have been today.
89 min Arsenal win a free-kick on the left which Ozil curls in; Giroud is up first but gets underneath it and hairstyles well over the top.
87 min “’Koscielny, Holding and pals’” tweets Hubert O’Hearn, quoting me back to myself. “Are we sure they’re pals? They play like they’ve only just met one another.”
That’s the thing with Arsenal; they fall in love quickly and out of love slowly.
87 min Karius launches himself at a corner and punches clear! Wahey!
85 min “One recent escapee who might be looking back at Arsenal and thinking he’d dodged a few bullets is Gabriel Paulista,” emails Charles Antaki. “On the other hand, he’s facing Real Madrid away tonight.”
I thought you’d never ask! Join me for live MBM coverage, from 8.15BST! Gabriel is yet another failed central-defensive purchase from Arsene Wenger; in 21 years at Arsenal, is Sol Campbell, an no-brainer, his only unqualified success?
83 min Sky catch Sanchez sniggering on the Arsenal bench; time for all the body language experts to decide what that means, when for all they know David Ospina has just let one rip.
81 min Welbeck finds Xhaka – not a bad effort, 80 minutes hiding in plain sight – and he snatches at a shot which skids wide.
80 min Off goes Firmino, on comes Milner.
This is another lovely goal. Gomez starts the move on the right touchline and the ball moves infield to Firmino and then Can, who’s been excellent. He eventually finds Salah outside him, and a measured, studied cross picks out the path of Sturridge at the back post. Even so, there’s plenty of work to do, and he does brilliantly to catch up with it, crane his neck, and guide a header into the net.
77 min Arsenal get the ball in the Liverpool half but Welbeck slows down the play and they can’t recapture the pace.
75 min “I’m not always a big Hendorson fan – lots of energy, often erratic,” says Richard McGahey. “But he has been great today. Constantly moving into good positions filling spaces intelligently and super-aggressive on the ball.”
Agreed, he has played well, though in circumstances unfeasibly conducive to the same. He’s a good player, just not an elite player; no shame in that.
74 min Change for Liverpool: off goes Mane, and on comes Sturridge to score the seventh. I doubt Koscielny, Holding and pals will welcome that adjustment.
73 min Holding ploughs through Henderson before he can get away from him and is booked.
70 min Liverpool’s pressing is far too much for Arsenal’s back-however many. This time, Salah dips infield and flips a ball in behind; Holding allows it to bounce, because … well your guess is as good as mine. Mane charges through him, tries to clip a finish over Cech, who gets a touch, and Bellerin slides off the line.
69 min Welbeck pulls right and knocks back for Ozil on the edge of the box. He flights a corss towards the back post, where Giroud and Lacazette gather, the presence of the former allowing the latter to side-foot a volley just wide.
68 min “I’d like to see you try this not naming the referee game when Mike Dean was officiating,” emails JR. “He’d find out and you’d be in for a major league upbraiding.”
If it came complete with gesticulations, my work on this planet would be complete.
67 min Liverpool have slowed a little. I’d still expect them score again, mind, closer to the end once Arsenal are demoralised yet further.
65 min Karius botches another kick. A footballer, required to impart foot to ball; who could possibly have anticipated such shocking requirement.
64 min “Ironically named footballers?” tweets booboo_76. “You forgot Dennis Wise.”
The man who started the kids on laps of honour nonsense. He deserves our displeasure for that alone.
63 min Sanchez does not look at all happy, whether with his role in this shower or the notion of drowning under it for a full nother season.
62 min Wenger is going for the concede nine option. Off go Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain – will either play for Arsenal again? – and on come Giroud and Lacazette. That’ll sort the midfield imbalance.
61 min “Re Melo, Bravo ironic names,” emails Joseph Bradfield, “the term for that is nominative contradeterminism – the frequently injured Danny Invincibile is my favourite of the genre.”
Surely that depends on the intention of the namer?
59 min It’s as though Arsenal have never seen Liverpool play before. “His team could score and get back in it, they could concede nine,” says Neville.
Arsenal are horrendous, horrific, awful and appalling. They narrowly avoid being countered and win a corner, which is headed clear; naturally, Bellerin decides to be cunning and nip away from Salah just as his mate Monreal did to such wondrous effect a few minutes ago. Salah powers through him, screeches clear, leans right, slides his finish left, and that is that.
55 min Monreal cunningly elects to skip inside Salah, who dispossesses him and races towards goal. He moves the ball on to Henderson, who lamps over the top.
54 min The corner comes to nowt and Arsenal contrive a break, Moreno doing well to track down Oxlade-Chamberlain and concede a throw.
53 min Holding cedes an unnecessary free-kick 25 yards from goal and not far from the corner of the box. Salah gently curls it in and Can hairgels just wide; naturally, He Who Should Not Be Noticed awards a corner.
52 min Elsewhere, Dele Alli has put Spurs ahead at Wembley, where they’re entertaining Burnley.
50 min Matip rolls Karius the ball for no reason and Welbeck charges in to close him down; of course, the Biberach an der Riss Messi tries to dribble his way out of it, makes a mess instead, and does well to escape further embarrassment.
49 min Arsenal are playing with some snap now. Oh my! Now I’ve seen it all! Ozil slides in for a ball he can’t hope to win, boots Henderson up in the air, and is booked! Maybe Arsene’s fury isn’t quite as Biggus Dickus as I’d imagined.
47 min Arsenal are playing 4-3-3 now. That should help, because they’ve been monstered out wide.
46 min Aha! The lesser-spotted Ozil, now playing behind Welbeck, picks up a second ball outside the box, left of centre, and drags a shot wide of the far post.
46 min Off we toddle once more. Arsenal make one change: Coquelin for Ramsey.
“Just saw your entry at 1 minute re Kim Novak,” emails Patrick Crumlish. “RTÉ 1 in Ireland are showing Vertigo as we speak. Some film. About a man who really should learn from the past but seems obsessed and unable to change his ways. It all ends in tragedy. No relevance to events at Anfield. No sirree.”
Heh! I love Vertigo. Lessons for eternity.
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Henry, who definitely never played in a side which went in at half-time 5-1 down, is also vex. He reckons Ramsey is a number 10; not sure about that, because he has an incredible engine, but he might need two men alongside him.
In the studio, Souness is on one. “This beggars belief … you just don’t know what messages they’re getting told.”
Half-time email: “Following on from your Ser Loris comment,” says Ronan Heffernan, “I’ve always hoped Aaron Ramsey would finish his career in the lower divisions in the north-west. Perhaps the headline would simply read ‘Ramsey, Bolton’.”
By the looks of things, Arsenal’s strategy has been conceived by John Snow.
Half-time reading: here’s a column, written by, er, me, on Neymar, Coutinho, Van Dijk, Rose, and why footballers should be allowed to play for whoever they want.
Gosh, that was something; Liverpool have been great, Arsenal have been tame, idle, pathetic and imbecilic. I hope Arsene Wenger is furious; gosh, I’d absolutely love to spectate on Arsene Wenger being furious.
45+2 min “Welbeck, who has worked hard it must be said…” No further questions, yer honour.
45+2 min “It’s not slang, it’s literally a bedbug that bites and bothers you, but otherwise is not dangerous,” emails Dmitry Tuzoff. “A proper name for a Liverpool manager, indeed, at least from a United point of view.”
I take it you don’t remember the 80s. Lucky, lucky you.
45 min There shall be two added minutes, ironically, two more than the mark out of ten you’d give Arsenal for this first-half submission.
44 min “Question:” colons Matt Loten. “Is Wenger so myopic that he genuinely believes he is setting up his defence in the best manner to win games; is he convinced that his forwards, with the addition of Lacazette, are capable of masking the defensive frailties; or does he just not care anymore, and is happy to do just enough to win his next two-year contract? Or, bonus choice, does he have a personal grudge against Gary Neville and is attempting to induce a rage-fuelled cardiac arrest?”
I’m sure he cares; he’s an arch competitor. I even thought he’d remembered what a good team looks like, given the pace, power and movement he’s added lately. But he doesn’t seem able to pick the right team for the right game often enough, nor instil the concentration and lunacy that you need to succeed over a season.
42 min “Arsenal deserve battering,” says Gary Neville; if he nips back to the studio, he might find Souness and Henry keen to help with that one.
Arsenal didn’t deserve to get to half-time just one behind, and they don’t. They lose the ball on the edge of the Liverpool box, Liverpool streak forward, and Firmino sends Mane away at inside-left. Holding, who finds himself responsible for defending the situation – an invidious imposition – knows he’s cutting inside just as Cech knows he’s ramming a low shot towards the far corner. It makes no difference. He cuts inside, rams a low shot towards the far corner, and that’s a goal in each league game so far for yerman.
39 min Bellerin and Welbeck craft space down the Arsenal left but Loveren inserts himself between man and ball, winning a free-kick in the process.
38 min In commentary, Neville and Tyler wonder how many changes Wenger make at half-time; it feels cruel to snark about one of football’s great menschen, but if he’s not subbing himself, it really doesn’t matter.
37 min “Apparently Klopp is Russian slang for bedbug,” tweets Peter Gowing.
A thing which bites, or a thing which eavesdrops? Anyone know who we might ask?
35 min Liverpool are absolutely stomping over Arsenal in midfield, Wijnaldum dipping inside and outside in centrefield with lovely skill and composure. He can’t make anything of it, but the passage underlined the gulf between the teams.
34 min Oh dear Arsenal. Bellerin tries to break so Henderson powers through him, Koscielny waves a foot at the ensuing cross, misses, and after Ramsey intercedes and runs the ball back towards his own goal, Xhaka tries to find Cech with a backheel. This is footballing tragicomedy.
32 min Henderson tosses a cross into the box which Holding and Wijnaldum contest; the ball breaks to the edge, and of course it’s a red shirt hurrying to it, Mane thunking a volley wide.
31 min A quiet period. Arsenal will have expected this, because the pace at which Liverpool always start isn’t sustainable; but it doesn’t look like they’re set to take advantage.
29 min If Oxlade-Chamberlain really wants to leave Arsenal – and presumably Wenger knows either way – I really don’t grasp why he’d play today, in a role which demands discipline and focus. Not because he’ll loz it off, but because if he’s mentally checked out, the best will in the world won’t check him back in.
27 min “Each time these two teams play recently, I’m secretly hoping for a scrappy midfield contest,” emails Matt Dony,” gifting us the potentially magnificent commentary of, ‘Xhaka, Can, Xhaka, Can…’”
Tangentially, in Hebrew, “Moreno” translates as “our teacher”, putting him in an august group of ironically-named footballers along with Felipe Melo, Mark Noble and Claudio Bravo.
25 min But here’s the thing: Arsenal are clueless. A long ball sets Salah at Monreal again and amazingly, Monreal, a left-back playing at centre-back, has no idea what to do. Salah cuts inside him, shoots low, and Cech shovels away.
25 min Arsenal have done well to only be 1-0 behind, and miserably as they’ve played, Liverpool’s defence has already offered plenty of encouragement.
24 min Arsenal have improved a little, Ramsey tricking his way down the left touchline and drawing a foul from Gomez, who’s booked.
22 min Welbeck runs to cut off Moreno as he clears, tickles him in the process, and is booked for no reason. Which reminds me, amid earlier kerfuffle just after Liverpool scored, Lovren was booked for a foul.
20 min Karius – whose dressing room nickname is surely Ser Loris – botches a kick. Of course he does. Arsenal can’t take advantage. Of course they can’t.
19 min Henderson dashes in to rob Ramsey, who stands about as you do; he charges on, collects Firmino’s return pass which puts him in, but can’t dink home from a tight angle. “I’m fuming,” says Gary Nev.
19 min “They can dizguzt you at times, Arsenal” says Gary Nev, and he’s right. Well as Liverpool are playing, this is pathetic.
That was so coming it was ridiculous. This time, Liverpool stretch Arsenal down the right, Xhaka dawdling on the touchline. Gomez catches him then moves the ball inside to Can who feeds it back to him – he is bossing this game at the moment. The ensuing cross is perfection, Firmino glances it down and across, and there we are.
16 min Another one-two down the Liverpool left and this time it’s Oxlade-Chamberlain not mithered to compete. Mane’s cross is deflected behind, and from the corner Lovren might’ve done better than head over the top.
16 min Arsenal are not remotely in this game at the moment.
14 min “This surely was an ‘expected goal’ for Salah, wasn’t it?” asks Marc on Twitter. Or a chance as we once called it, information gleaned either from a graph, from a map or from watching the game.
12 min Gary Neville is eviscerating Ozil and Ramsey for not tracking runners in the lead-up to that cross; indeed.
10 min Oh my days what a save! Oh my days what a miss! Can exchanges passes with Firmino and caresses a cross to the back post, finding the feet of Salah four yards from goal. He could fart this in, but somehow picks out Cech, diving back across his goal from the other side.
10 min Lovely idea from Can, lifting a pass from centre to right, over the Arsenal defence for Salah; that’s a nice run. But the ball is overhit, drifting behind.
9 min Arsenal are sitting deep and narrow when Liverpool have the ball, which makes sense; Mane wants to come inside and Salah wants to get in on goal.
7 min There we go. Welbeck does really well on halfway, disturbing Henderson and setting Sanchez away. The two of them burrow forward, and when the return pass comes, Welbeck is goal-side of Gomez. Gomez then does well to lean into his man, but even so, Welbeck ought to do better than lean back and scoop the ball over the top. Of course he ought; of course he can’t.
6 min Koscielny flies out to head clear, gets a little nudge off Firmino, and Salah dashes into the space behind Monreal. His cross, though, is overhit, and when Mane retrieves it, Can heads over the top. Still, decent pressure from Liverpool.
4 min It’ll be interesting to see how Granit Xhaka does today. When he plays well, Arsenal are likely to, but Wenger singled him out for grief last week and Liverpool’s pressing might also disturb his equilibrium.
3 min As you’d expect from a side who played so well in midweek, Liverpool have started confidently, knocking the ball around at pace. Arsenal are charging around too, though, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey almost passing their way into a threatening position.
2 min “This match is, of course, going to end badly for one team or other,” prophesises Charles Ataki. “You might say that of any match, but there’s something about the pent-up angst on both sides that suggests, far more than say a Watford-WBA or even a Man United-Man City, that suggests a water-filled ballon dangling precariously over a pin. There will surely be tears before bedtime.”
We can but hope.
1 min Anfield’s new camera angle is vertiginous, and not in a Kim Novak kind of way.
1 min Away we go!
Campaign against solo perambulation has finished its latest effort. We’re good to go.
Tell you what, those new Sky player pics are the absolute business.
The boys march towards the baize. Both teams are wearing tracky tops. Oh.
As Omar Little might’ve said: “Indeed.”
A left back on the pitch. A left back on the bench. An international left back not in the squad. A right midfielder selected at left back
“I think a good season for both of these clubs would be proving that they have married a more convincing defensive game plan to their undoubted attacking qualities,” reckons Matt Loten. “Some say that ‘defences win titles’ is nothing more than a cliché, and to a degree they are right, but no one has yet convinced me that title-winning teams are not at least capable of defending with the best of them. Competent defending does not equal a lack of invention in the final third and vice-versa. Liverpool and Arsenal will score hatfuls this season, but United and Tottenham will score plenty whilst also keeping them out, and they will finish higher in the table because of it.”
Yep, that’s definitely part of it. I also think that the two teams you mention know exactly what they’re doing – one up on Arsenal – and have elite attacking players – one up on Liverpool.
“The one thing that’s even better than mass on-pitch violence,” virtue-signals Kari Tulinius, “is when an animal runs onto the field and assorted stewards and players run around trying to catch it”.
That is very good, or at least was until said animals were immediately furnished with their own Twitter accounts by hilarious funsters before so much as eluding their first steward.
“Were Arsenal really all that happy at the end of the season, even having the Cup win?” asks David Wall. “I thought they were grinding their teeth over the failure to qualify for the Champions’ League. And if Everton’s non-performance following an away European tie in midweek is any guide to how the Thursday -Saturday routine might affect Arsenal this season too (especially as they have less experience of that schedule), then it’ll be increasingly hard for them to finish higher this season than last. Might Wenger’s last couple of years at the club see them having to focus increasingly on cups, and give up even any lame pretence of challenging for the title (as Mourinho admitted for United in the second part of the season last year)?”
I can’t see Arsenal winning another title under Wenger, and ultimately, the moments and madness which stays with you, with which you bore
anyone prepared to speak to you, generally relate to winning stuff not qualifying for stuff.
your kids and grandkids
Graeme Souness does not think Klopp is rolling straight dice on Mignolet. He’s not rubbing his thighs quite yet, but an error or two and we may reach peak Gattuso-Jordan territory.
Mignolet is rested, says Klopp, after standing on his line musing about life for a few games in a row just before international week. Yeah, just.
Lacazette “is still in a patient phase”, says Wenger. It’s hard not to translate that as “will beef least if he’s left out”. He also notes that Ozil, Sanchez and Welbeck did well at the end of last season.
Email! “Am I the only one looking forward to the possible comedy defending that may happen in todays game?”
Absolutely not; for all the devastating brilliance that football brings, mass on-pitch violence is the only thing better than comedy defending, amirite?
What would constitute a good season for these two teams? I can’t see either of them winning the title; I can’t see either challenging. Liverpool need to win something, anything, partly because it’s far more meaningful for supporters than qualifying to not win another competition, but also because players need to know that they can. Very few start success with a league title.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are in a bind. They might sneak into the top four again, but to what end? If I was them, which I’m not, I’d be wanting the Uefa Cup.
While we wait, two on-point Joys of Six.
So let’s have a closer look at those teams, then. Liverpool leave out Mignolet altogether; would it really have been beyond them to get Pickford or Butland? At right-back, Gomez continues after replacing Alexander-Arnold in midweek and the rest of the team is as expected, which is to say that Mane had better play well.
Arsenal, meanwhile, prefer the running about of Welbeck to the goalscoring of Lacazette. I wonder about that, not because Welbeck doesn’t have other qualities – his movement and link-up play for example – but because if the returning Sanchez doesn’t score, who else is going to?
Liverpool (a wacky mettlar’s 4-3-3): Karius; Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Moreno; Henderson, Emre Can, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané. Subs: Ward, Klavan, Alexander-Arnold, Grujic, Milner, Solanke, Sturridge.
Arsenal (a desperately unoriginal 3-4-2-1): Cech; Holding, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Ozil, Sanchez; Welbeck. Subs: Ospina, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Walcott, Lacazette Giroud.
Afternoon all and how was your “summer”? Now, those inverted commas could disguise no chat as ironic weather chat, or even no chat as tell me about yourself while I don’t listen, can’t believe you didn’t look away like I did chat, but in fact represent a genuine inquiry as to your footballing equilibrium. Did you swoop or double-swoop? Flash your war chest or your community chest? Act like Uranus or … well … granted it can be hard to know the difference sometimes. But that’s FOOTBALLTM innit, all about the fine margins.
At the end of last season – and amazingly – both Liverpool and Arsenal were happy. The former skated into the Champions League by virtue of some fast, aggressive, cohesive football, and the latter dredged up their best performance in a generation to win the Cup a ruin a hated rival’s Double. Thereafter, they simply needed to sod off on holiday and sip platinum piña coladas before coming back to, er, go again.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/aug/27/liverpool-arsenal-premier-league-live
Newcastle did a good job of policing Spurs until Jonjo Shelvey got himself sent-off three minutes into the second half for treading on Dele Ali; Alli put his team ahead soo after, and Ben Davies then cemented their victory
Louise Taylor’s match report:
That aside, enjoy the rest of your weekends. Bye.
Anyway, there we go; every team in the Premier league has now played, save Manchester United and West Ham United. Follow their match here, with Rob Smyth.
But what about Jonjo Shelvey?
Jonjo Shelvey, though.
Easy for Spurs in the end, but they did not play well until Shelvey got himself sent-off. Newcastle looked solid and well-organised, though will need to find more attacking cohesion against sides who allow them more of the ball.
90+3 min Please take a read of the below.
90+2 min Son drives at the heart of the Newcastle defence and slips in Kane. With just Elliott to beat, he beats Elliott, shooting low and hard across him, only to cannon the foot of the post.
90+1 min Alan Smith gives Walker-Peters man of the match, which is fair enough given the lack of obvious contenders. Eriksen has been Spurs’ most consistent threat, but this game was won by one man’s sense of mischief: Dele Alli.
90+1 min There’ll be three added minutes.
90 min Harry Winks comes on for
88 min Newcastle have done pretty well not to crumble here. Spurs haven’t exactly had at them, but still, they’ve been disciplined in keeping shape with the ball moving around them.
86 min Davies leaves one on someone – Perez I think – and is booked. Newcastle have a free-kick on the right, not far from the corner of the box, and Clark curls it in nicely. Various attackers and defenders then contest the first ball, sending the second onto the laces of Clark, loitering on the edge. He lines up a volley, but gets right under the ball, slicing it towards Lloris who leaps to catch above his heed.
84 min Newcastle have done well these last few minutes and Clark cuts the ball into the box from right, at which point Hayden arrives to moves it from near side to far post. Walker-Peters, though, does enough to distract Atsu who, from a narrow angle, fires into the side-netting.
83 min Alli goes off, slowing down under the guise of applauding the away support but really to antagonise the home support, who are jeering. He does well not to crease.
81 min This’ll end up a dispiriting afternoon for Newcastle, but the signs for them are good: they’ve looked solid at the back and enterprising going forward, though another striker would make a big difference. I think they’ll stay up.
80 min Atsu hasn’t given up, running up Alderweireld and making to go outside before nipping inside and leaving him hanging. His shot, though, isn’t well hit and Lloris fields easily, but that was still nice.
78 min Walker-Peters, who’s had a decent game, agains finds himself in an advanced position, knocking back to Eriksen. He’s sold him short, but yerman still manages to nudge square for Dembele, who does likewise for Dier; his shot, swept from right to left, is deflected just past the far post. Naturally, the corner comes to nothing.
77 min Merino, making his debut, replaces Gayle.
75 min With that Shelvey red it’s the thickness more than anything else. There was literally nothing to be gained with that tread – it wasn’t even going to hurt – and instead he walked right into the trap. A proper look over there, slap! moment.
72 min Spurs will probably score another soon. Amazingly, they’re much too good for Newcastle with an extra man.
And there it is. Kane into Alli outside the box, and he turns a lovely return pass around the corner which Eriksen bursts into inside the box. He might swivel and shoot, but sees Davies arriving from the other side, allowing him to stroke a low finish past Elliott.
69 min “You’ve got to hand it to Jonjo Shelvey, he’s as consistent as they come, as reliable as a Swiss timepiece,” emails JR. “Benitez is going to need to get some power drinking tips from Ashley if he’s counting on Shelvey.
Side note: I could watch a whole game with the camera only focused on Dele. As Ray Hudson would say, he is magisterial.”
67 min It’s pretty quiet now. Spurs will just keep possession and tire Newcastle, then take a second goal when the opportunity presents itself, which it surely will.
65 min What’s a suitable punishment for Shelvey at training tomorrow? Sweatsuit, Deep Heat and beep test?
63 min Nice from Kane, pulling left then moving in off the line with the ball, driving a reverse-pass into the box for Eriksen. From an acute angle, he can’t decide whether to shoot or cross, squirting the ball into the middle instead.
Dele Alli is hilarious. Outside the box, Kane and Eriksen exchange passes before the latter clips a ball over the top from right to left; naturally, Alli has timed his run beautifully, stretching to divert it back across Elliott and this game is over.
60 min I reckon if Spurs still haven’t scored with six seconds to go, Pochettino will send on Janssen.
59 min Son finds Alli outside the box, and he spreads wide to Walker-Peters. The eventuating cross is a decent one, but no one gambles at the near post and Newcastle clear.
58 min Pochettino realises he needs to go for this now, so removed Sissoko to replace him with Son. His wrist is in plaster, but he looks fine.
56 min That Kane chance looked a lot easier than it was, incidentally. He was close to goal, it’s true, but striking the ball properly meant that it’d always go in line with his swing, so the keeper could spread himself and have a good chance of blocking. The kind of thing that Ludo Miklosko did to Andy Cole on the last day of 1995-96, basically.
54 min Jonjo Shelvey, eh.
52 min Ritchie is booked for that foul on Alli.
51 min Alli is buzzing, enticing Ritchie into a foul before Spurs break. Eriksen drifts across the face of the box and looks to spread the play, but the pass takes a deflection off Hayden AND KANE IS IN! Waiting for the the ball to drop over his shoulder allows Mbemba to extend a leg but it barely matters, and backpeddling to take account of the bounce, he spins and clatters a shot from close range! But it’s straight at Elliott!
50 min The game needed something, but it’s Newcastle who strike first, Atsu and Gayle wriggling space inside the box and Lloris beating away the latter’s resultant shot.
This is classic Dele Alli! Alli, down after a challenge, pokes the ball away as Shelvey tries to retrieve it so Shelvey treads on his ankle. Alli then flings himself backwards – grassing, where Shelvey comes from – and the ref shows the red. He blundered right into that, I’m afraid; what a clown.
47 min “Yawn,” says David Flynn. “Between this game and Jose’s United still to come, I reckon advertising standards might have something to say about Sky claiming this is a Super Sunday.”
Er, that’s not a description of the football, rather what the day of the week is now called. In sequence:
46 min We’re back underway.
“Did the Sky commentator just say that Spurs (with Eriksen/Alli/Kane) haven’t scored a free kick since October 2015?!” asks Matt Loten. “Absurd.”
The thing about free-kicks is they hardly ever go in. I’ve always wondered if there’ll come a time where all teams just stickitinthefackinmixah.
I see the merits of Charlotte, but anyone not in thrall to Dr Gaz is dead to me.
Or if highbrow is more your style, here’s the prophet of reality telly.
Half-time entertainment: archive of Newcastle.
Not the greatest half. But Newcastle have done very well to shut Spurs down without shutting their own attack down in the process; Spurs have lacked authority and conviction in their passing and movement, and have a bollocking in the post.
45+2 min Spurs win a free-kick 40 or so yards from goal, which Eriksen lifts onto the forehead of a defender. Newcastle then break, and Perez hares down the right, then chips a cross into the middle looking for Shelvey. But Lloris is up early to claim.
45+1 min There shall be three added minutes. Given two injuries, it could’ve been far, far worse. We’re nearly there.
45 min Kane touches down to Eriksen, Spurs’ liveliest player this half. He bursts onto the ball and contemplates feeding a runner before shooting tamely straight at Elliott.
43 min Spurs need to get the ball moving more quickly, and more men into the box. Newcastle need to keep doing what they’re doing.
41 min Eriksen moves inside again and using Clark as a screen tries a curler looking for the far corner. But he doesn’t get hold of it correctly and the ball loops into Elliott’s arms.
41 min Nothing is happening, less or more. The advertising hoardings are changing, but that’s about it.
39 min Let’s be real, sunny Sunday afternoons like this are not for football, so we’re not really seeing any. Serves us right.
37 min If it’s still 0-0 at half-time I don’t think it’ll be long before we see at least one of Son and Winks. Spurs lack spark and speed, and both those two can supply it.
34 min Oh dear. Lejeune can’t continue, and Newcastle make their second defensive change, bringing on Mbemba.
33 min Ok, I take it back; Kane’s actual tackle wasn’t so bad, but stretching his lead leg around Lejeune’s lead leg, trailing leg wrapped-up trailing leg. Lejeune goes off for treatment.
32 min Lejeune, though, is down and struggling.
31 min Kane goes around Lejeune on the outside, overruns the ball, and scythes in to win it back. He fails, and is booked for his trouble. Seems a bit excitable to me, on Dre Marriner’s behalf.
30 min Again Atsu causes trouble, dashing to the line and cutting back; Walker-Peters blocks behind for a corner of which nothing comes.
29 min Atsu takes possession on halfway, allowing the ball through his legs and stretching away. With Walker-Peters stranded Dembele gives chase, but he can’t quite keep up and when the low cross arrives Gayle ought to be there to tap home … except he’s on his heels and too late.
28 min “Classic Rafa,” tweets Hubert O’Hearn. “Every player knows his space and duty, and where his team-mates will be. Never flashy, but maximum efficiency.”
Yep, that’s true – though this is also a good time to be playing Spurs.
27 min Davies finds a bit of space down the left and nips a pass back to Eriksen. From the edge of the box, he shoots early and low, ball passing between Lascelles’ legs and just wide of the far post.
25 min Walker-Peters snaps down the right and snaps over a cross at roundabout shin-height. Sissoko fastens onto it, looking to turn it in at the near post, but Clark is on-hand to block him off.
23 min Lascelles crunches Alli then accidentally runs into him accidentally. This is exactly what Alli is after, taking the opportunity to engage in the mouth that gets him going and chortling in the process. Lascelles affects levity too, but without comparable elan.
22 min Spurs win a free-kick on the right touchline, level with the edge of the box, and Eriksen whips in a tremendous cross that Kane is very close to nodding home. But not close enough.
20 min Newcastle sit deep and Spurs probe, but without the movement and touch to which we’ve become used. The wide pitch at St James’ Park isn’t to their advantage, I don’t think; not just the lack of a winger, but the excellent Kane’s lack of pace too.
18 min We can now assert this as A Good Start for Newcastle. No chance conceded, some promising movement up front, and general calmness and all that.
16 min Newcastle win a free-kick 35 yards from goal, chipped over the top by Shelvey, again into the space between Walker-Peters and Alderweireld. And again, Gayle is there first, but this time he’s gone too early, so as he hits the ground following apparent contact, Andre Marriner is saved from having to make a penalty decision by the linesman’s flag.
14 min “This game is a 7:30am start here,” emails JR in Illinois, where they particularly hate Nazis. “The jackass next door decided that it was time to mow the lawn at 7am on the dot. This didn’t matter much to me as I was going to get up for the game anyway. Mrs. J.R. in Illinois not quite so sanguine about this beginning to the day.”
Are you sure it was the neighbour’s fault?
13 min Eriksen ventures infield and clips a lovely ball over the top for Alli, pulling right. He cushions a volley across the face, winning a corner; it comes to nowt.
11 min Spurs are into this now, picking passes around the pitch. They’ve not created anything mind – Alli and Kane have barely had a touch – but already it looks ominous for the home side.
9 min Dembele, who would be one of the best midfielders in the world if he scored and made a few more – in other words, if he maximised his talent – glides around Hayden and lamps a drive from distance. It’s blocked.
9 min Clark has gone to left-back with Lascelles now alongside Lejeune in the middle of the Newcastle defence.
8 min It doesn’t. Lascelles, the club captain who can’t get into the side, replaces him in time to defend a corner. Oddly, Eriksen doesn’t immediately pump it into the middle but goes short to Davies, of which nothing comes.
6 min Dummett over-stretches a hamstring and goes down; hard to see how that’s getting better in the next minute or so.
5 min All Newcastle so far, and Dummett takes a throw inside the Spurs half, gets it back, and lifts a ball over the top between Walker-Peters and Alderweireld. Gayle makes a good run too, but it’s a tricky finish coming over his shoulder, and he slashes over the top.
3 min Spurs then. How would you strengthen their first XI? Last season I suggested that a winger instead of Christian Eriksen might help, which wasn’t to decry his pressing, delivery or late goals. Just that the most obvious thing the side was missing was attacking width, something I thought especially glaring at Wembley in the Champions League.
1 min Newcastle put Walker-Peters under, a long ball sending Perez haring at him. He copes well and wins the free-kick.
1 min Newcastle kick-off with Gayle knocking it back. That law change makes sense I suppose, but there’s something great about the old way of doing it, using three strikers.
Newcastle huddle. All the difference.
Today is also Dan Lucas Day. Help save the world and remember our buddy and yours by donating here.
Out come our teams!
Apropos of saving the world: this is Ava Vidal.
I think it was me who said dept: read my preview of the Premier League season here.
He’s also asked whether Newcastle have to get after Spurs or sit back. Both, he says.
Sky ask Rafael Benitez if he’s excited. He confides that he is.
I love club Twitter accounts.
He reckons he was too hasty in binning Sam Allardyce and was unfair to Chris Hughton. Alan Shearer “did a fantastic in job in everything else but the odd result not going his way.” Laugh!
“I was probably too keen to get going and make a difference,” says Ashley, who is, no doubt, also a bit of a perfectionist who thinks things can be done too quickly, is too humble, too self-deprecating, and likes to do everything himself.
“Here’s hoping Sky’s new half time entertainment is Pards throwing some shapes in the centre circle,” tweets Matt Loten.
I know Wayne Rooney isn’t everyone’s vat of slurp, but he deserves our love and affection for ensuring that jig became part of football folklore for all the right reasons.
“The normally camera-shy Newcastle owner Mike Ashley” – Adam Darke really just spoke those words.
On which point, for a lesson in how to celebrate a goal against a former club, visit a popular video hosting site, put in “Man United Chelsea 1997”, and see Mark Hughes show how it’s meant to be done.
They’re now showing VT of Javier Hernandez and asking if he’ll celebrate a goal. I can report that we might be #classytouch deficient. I’m sorry.
Alan Pardew is the new – or should I say “noo” – eye candy on sky’s football coverage. They do spoil us.
Tangentially, let’s have a closer look at our teams. Newcastle give debuts to Lejeune and Manquillo, while Atsu is now officially theirs. They’ll look to Ayoze Perez to disquiet the league’s best pair of centre-backs.
Spurs, meanwhile, have lozzed their three at the back – for now, at least, though it’s hard to see it working at Wembley as well as it did at White Hart Lane. At full-back, they had no choice but to field Walker-Peters and Davies, an area for Newcastle to target, while in midfield, Pochettino goes for Dier not Wanyama or Dier and Wanyama; he’ll be pleased to know I consider that a sensible decision. On the other hand, well, er, Moussa Sissoko.
Did you know: Metallica’s black album is 26 years old today. What a piece of work that was and is, making headbangers out of indy kids.
Newcastle United (a usual 4-2-3-1): Elliot; Manquillo, Clark, Lejeune, Dummett; Hayden, Shelvey; Atsu, Perez, Ritchie, Gayle. Subs: Darlow, Lascelles, Murphy, Aarons, Mbemba, Merino, Mitrovic.
Tottenham Hotspur (a whatchagonnado 4-2-3-1): Lloris, Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Eriksen, Sissoko, Alli; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Carter-Vickers, Wimmer, Wanyama, Winks, Son, Janssen.
Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur are two of English football’s most evocative names. Each club has a rich history of maverick players, attacking style and spendthrift spending, their lots of FA Cups and not lots of league titles casting them as heroes and tragic heroes of their own self-parody and self-mythology. In many ways, they encapsulate The GameTM.
And they arrive at today’s fixture in similar nick, promising previous seasons naused up by failure to arrange necessary and expected reinforcements. Both managers will hope to have this addressed before the transfer window gently eases closed, but in the meantime, Newcastle must stay up but ought really to manage better, while Spurs need to win something, anything.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/aug/13/newcastle-united-v-tottenham-hotspur-premier-league-live
Dylan Groenewegen wins the final stage of the race but Chris Froome is the hero of the day, winning his third straight Tour and fourth overall
That, then, is more or less that. Thanks all for your company and comments these last three weeks, and enjoy the rest of your weekends!
Reading from a prepared speech, Froome thanks his family and team for helping him nail his toughest challenge, then the other riders – “we race hard together, we suffer together, but the most special thing is the camaraderie in the peloton”.
He goes on: “I will never forget what an incredible privilege it is to wear the maillot jeune, and to stand here on the Champs Elysees.”
Froome waves his teddy and flowers, then collects his nipper. He’s dead, dead happy.
He waves to the crowd, has the yellow jersey draped over him, and imagine knowing the joy he feels right now. Or maybe don’t.
AND HERE COMES CHRIS FROOME!
Warren Barguil, also of Sunweb, enjoys his polka-dot jersey as king of the mountains; his olds are greeting.
Out comes Michael Matthews of Sunweb to don his green jacket after accumulating most points. He looks like Rory McIlroy with a tan.
Groenewegen is on the podium, where all sprinters want to be. He looks chuffed, and his missus is greeting.
We sing La Marseillaise…
So, Froome wins by 54 seconds from Riggoberto Uran; Roman Bardet is third, a second ahead of Mikel Landa, with Fabio Aru fifth.
The main man speaks: “Amazing … the Champs Elysees never disappoints when you’ve spent three weeks thinking about it at this moment … amazing. Feels like more than a month on the road also feels amazing to see them [his wife and young son] again.
Each time it’s felt so different, a different battle to get to this moment … this year will be remembered for being the closest and hardest-fought battle between the GE riders.
Talking of yerman, here’s William Fotheringham’s report.
“I read the Fotheringham piece,” says David Jamie Wells, “and surely the animosity towards Froome this year is far more basic: the perception Sky ‘strangled’ this tour; the strength of the team made the mountains more like a team time-trial/team pursuit. 4 or 5 riders, to 3 led by Kwiatkowski, to 2 with Landa, and then Froome over the line. The consequence was time-trial gains have decided it in a race that was meant to limit time-trial gains. It was so well done that the romanticised idea of the tour (which was probably imagined anyway) died.
People prefer the idea of the heroic cyclists banging the pedals up the hills mano-a-mano, indulging in some French lifestyle, possibly seducing the local girls with their jerseys, and then being back on their bikes the next day. Of course, this probably didn’t even happen in the 30s, but stories like taking the train helped make the legend.”
I can see that. But professional sport is professional sport, and part of that is knowing how to win, I suppose.
Phew. That was quite a sprint, and it’s been quite a jaunt overall, the closest of all-time. But the result is the result, and the pretenders still can’t find a way of beating Froome and Team Sky.
He shares the moment with his team and basks in the congratulations. What a man!
Hagen was third, by the way…
Groenewegen leads, bumps Princetov, and here comes greipel, BUT GROENEWEGEN WINS! AMAZING STRENGTH!
Greipel isn’t there as they come down the final straight…
The pace is serious now, Greipel is in position….
Stybar’s been caught, obviously, and they come by the Louvre…
Be careful chaps…
Sunweb are all down the far-right, winding it up, and they go around the Place de la Concorde for the last time.
3.5km to go!
Stybar leads now, but it doesn’t much matter – no one’s getting home unopposed now, and the lads are moving after him in a swarm.
Some break from the group to go on the smooth stuff right next to the kerb. The peloton is now a pincer.
Aaaaaand there’s the bell. And there’s Team Sky settling in at the head of the peloton, chasing Astana’s Dimitriy Gruzdev who’s having a go.
There’s now one big group, but stretched out – if the pace slows, it’s going to be a blanket finish, and already the chaps will be looking to get their sprinters into position.
9.5km to go now…
The leaders are looking at each other, and THEY’RE NOT NO LEADERS NO MORE!
The peloton are closing .. AND TONY MARTIN ATTACKS!
These are our
* leaders: Imañol Erviti (Movistar), Miki Schär (BMC), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Daryl Impey (Orica-Scott), Julien Vermote (Quick-Step Floors), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert
To win, you need to be in the first six coming around the final corner, more or less.
The gap is down to 10 seconds! But we’re two laps from the bell and the peloton will have put in far more than they anticipated in getting to this point.
The blokes are having a right go at these cobbles; I shudder at the mere thought of the pain that might inflict.
Still the peloton can’t put a dent in things … they did not expect this when the break came. I doubt even the breakers did.
The peloton need to gap to be at around 12 seconds, maximum – with three tours restants, that just does not look likely.
We see an overhead of Paris; it is suuuch a city. It doesn’t have the jungle that London has, but.
The lead is now back to 20 seconds with four laps to go; the peloton is/are running out of time!
The leaders are holding their 18-second lead. That’s pretty smart work, and with 23.5km to go, the chasing sprinters will be starting to wonder.
De Gendt is putting it in to close the gap….
The peloton now trail by 15 seconds; they are led by teams rather than individuals, namely Cofidis, Lotto-Soudal and Lotto-Jumbo; Roglic leads for them, trying to get Groenewegen into position.
The serious rain has stopped – just mizzle now.
Froome is gliding along and there are five laps to go. I’ve no idea who’s going to win, obviously; no one does.
Englad are rolling at Lord’s! Savour and suffer the final two overs, here.
Impey – Daryl, not Andy – was first at the intermediate sprint. Er, no he wasn’t, ta official Tour side. Michael Schär took him out at the last.
Barguil has a puncture, but just needs to get himself over the line … except his buddies are into the chase for home. They’ll find a way.
With 45km to go, these are the leaders: Imañol Erviti (Movistar), Miki Schär (BMC), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Daryl Impey (Orica-Scott), Julien Vermote (Quick-Step Floors), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
They’re 20 seconds ahead of the next lot.
Andre Greipel fancies his chances of winning this stage, and earlier today said all the frivolity isn’t fun for the sprinters. Can he get into position? It’s now raining hard.
The leading group comprises: Erviti, Schar, Lutsenko, Impey, Vermote, Burghardt, Politt, Chavanel and Smith.
48km to go, and Chavanel is up with the leaders now. Will the sprinters be able to reel them in?
The break has been reeled in, more or less. Van Keirsbulck leads the chase.
Impey attacked down the main road, and he’s still in front as they going round the Arc,
They’re going through the Place de la Concorde, and about to swing onto the Champs Élysées.
The racing begins!
“I wasn’t going to comment again but…” begins C. Lear, “sailing a hobby?!
Try doing a wall-sit for 5 minutes. Then imagine doing it for half an hour. Then imagine doing it on a boat, while your arms are burning from holding the ropes, spray is in your face, you’re constantly trimming the sails, you’re trying to read every single wave to get the best line over it, you’re reading the water and the sky to work out what the wind’s going to do, you’re working out tactics against the other competitors. Not to mention the starts, which are across an imaginary line on the water you have to work out yourself and then perfectly time your crossing over it, because if you don’t you’ll be screwed (the positive drafting effect in cycling is a negative one in sailing).
Through the Louvre they go, crowd noise echoing off the ceiling. I love Paris; aesthetically and historically, way way better than London.
59.2km away. They’re about to move onto the main Pairs thoroughfare, and there are bare people waiting for them.
“Brian Jacks. End of” reckons Paul Haynes of the Superstars superstar.
Froome is swapping bikes. In commentary, they suggest his new one has a gopro on it.
“How would you rate Ben Ainslie’s achievements,” asks Chris Keylock, “including the defining interview of the 2012 games” – which I can’t publish, I’m afraid, copyright and all that.
I guess I consider sailing a hobby.
Meanwhile, planes plume the tricolor.
71.7km to go. Sky are in formation, but they appear to have aborted the sesh. Lads, we need to have a chat.
“Lewis and Ennis only got a gold each,” retorts Paul Roome. And how does not getting a gold diminish Radcliffe’s record? I mean, she owned her event. Her world record is incredible … we shouldn’t really judge someone on the ability to hit form and avoid injury on a one off-day every four years, especially not in an event like the marathon. Lewis and Ennis never got close to a record … and to paraphrase Steve Ovett (unbeaten in 40+ races in the late 70s I think), “the heptathlon [decathlon] is 6 Mickey Mouse events and a slow 800m [1500m]”.
PS – Cook was running against the doped-up Russians and Americans of the 80s … I just feel really sorry for her. Maybe if the retrospective testing that Ennis is benefitting from now was available then we might be celebrating a double sprint champ. Alas, we’ll never know.”
I am not sure that would’ve come over to my wife. No, I am not sure at all.
Why not read this on yerman Froome?
Spieth and Kuchar are tied at the top of the Open leaderboard. Open this in another tab, yo.
“Re: bike type today,” tweets Keith Sutherland, “presumably the extended cobbles sections are a factor”.
Ah – I guess they do the same for the Tour t’Weatherfield.
Simon Yates is really happy and looking forward to arriving in Paris. His brother is training hard for the Vuelta.
At Lord’s, England have got Harmanpreet! They’re still in trouble, but it’s a start.
We’ve all got a mate like that, talks a good game then does everything possible to avoid and adds two onto the end-of-night tally. Pathetic.
Froome is now spraying beer – far be it from me to suggest that he’s a jibber.
88.3km to go. That’s a lot of drinking, as Froome gets sprayed with bubbles and beers come out. Basically they’re getting the train, but on their bikes.
“I’d add Tanni Grey-Thompson and Sarah Storey,” emails C. Lear. “As for what teams need to do to stop Froome, I think it’s more what to do to stop Sky. Other teams either need more super-domestiques so they can control the race in the way Sky do – difficult because of budgets and the experience Sky now have in doing so. Or they need to attack far more often and wear Sky out as the only team wanting to control the race in the way they do. Neither are easy! I’d note too that excluding time trials from the Tour (not a viable option, just mentioning it) would have made a difference to this year’s result.
Here’s Neil Mackie: “Plenty of names have been nominated already but someone who seems to get overlooked by most is Rachel Atherton. Downhill mountain biking may be a niche within a niche but from round 2 of the 2015 World Cup until she recently injured her shoulder she won every race. Plus she’s a four-time world champion and likely to make that five times this year.”
“Could you explain why the cyclists are not using road bikes for the final stage?” asks Rob Blackmore. “They look more like hybrids to me.”
I can’t I’m afraid. Anyone?
Froome necks the dregs and hands his glass to an arm out of a car, then dashes close to the spectators, exhorting them to fete him.
Apparently Froome can sling the glass when he’s done as “it’s plastic”. Er…
Relive the best of this year’s Tour with this collection of superb snaps.
Related: Tour de France 2017 – in pictures
They’ve started on the Personality, I’m pleased to report – looks like rosé fizz to me. Froome has a glass.
So how many Tours can Froome win? What do the rest need to do to stop him?
It’s raining. But not in my heart.
“Blimey you led with the chin there,” says Matthew Trim, “possibly just to get people riled up. Anyway, I’ll play:
Everyone’s having a gay old time.
Chris Froome is wearing sunglasses. The sun isn’t out. No further questions yer honour.
We’re off! The lads have eased out of Montgeron, where the first Tour started in 1903
“Are there time bonuses in this stage?” asks Henry Heath. “If so will Landa fancy a sprint for third?”
Yes there are bonuses, and yes, he’ll be going for it – but he’ll need badness to befall Brdet.
This is NOT an advert.
“’Denise Lewis, Jessica Ennis’, begins Paul Roome. “They might not even be in our top three female athletes. Radcliffe, Gunnell, Packer and Holmes all arguably superior. Kathy Cook too set records in all 3 sprint distances at a time when the opposition was less than fair – and those records lasted 30+ years.
The lack of any women in other sports in your list is a bit of a shame too. Grainger? Pendleton? Laura Davies?”
Kwiatkowski speaks to Eurosport: “Today is just happiness … we’ve been motivated for three weeks … today we have to enjoy it … there is not many times in your life when you achieve something like that.”
Also elsewhere: the run-rate is creeping up for India.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling” says Sean Kelly of completing the Tour, though in his day you had to sprint your way home. His arms are a spectacular feat of engineering.
Elsewhere, things have got real for Jordan Spieth. Scott Murray has the latest.
Mr Jeff tweets our attention to the work of Chrissie Wellington.
“Is there any recognition for the best domestiques?” asks Danny Fraser. “My vote would be for Kwiatkowski, the man was everywhere: leading Froome in the technical finishes, splitting the peloton in crosswinds, repeatedly riding himself to a literal standstill in the mountains, giving Froome a wheel and a pat on the arse. If the organisation can judge a combativeness award, one for the guys who suffer the most seems fair.”
Do they suffer the most because they don’t get kavod, or do they actually have to work the hardest?
Ha! I was waiting for an angler, and here’s John Feltrup emailing in with Bob Nudd. Here he is!
Laura Kenny and Kelly Holmes?
Er, Steve Redgrave and Chris Hoy. Mo Farah, begrudgingly, Seb Coe.
So go on then, who have I missed out?
Chrrrp … crrrk … pop … slurrrp … burrrp! Le Tour’s superhumans are all set for another Sunday’s suffering, oh yes they are! And sometime in the early evening, Chris Froome will collect his third consecutive title, his fourth in a total – a frankly astonishing achievement that takes him beyond Louison Bobet, Greg LeMond and Philippe Thys, alone as the only man one behind Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil Bernhard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
And that’s just in cycling. Outside of it, Froome is right there with Denise Lewis, Jessica Ennis, Lennox Lewis, Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Daley Thompson, Andy Murray, Nick Faldo, Gareth Edwards, Phil Taylor, Ian Botham, AP McCoy, George Best and whoever I’ve forgotten as one of Britain’s greatest ever sportsmen. We are privileged to be living in his time; imagine his distress should he not win Sports Personality of the Year! Ouch! Stinng! Burrrrn!
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jul/23/tour-de-france-2017-final-stage-live
A storming, aggressive ride from Bauke Mollema gave him his first stage victory, while Chris Froome just about retained the yellow jersey after suffering a puncture at a particularly inopportune moment
So thanks all for your company – enjoy the rest of the weekend. Bye!
So, that was a pretty nifty day of behaviour. Barguil and Bardet properly put it in, but winners are Mollema, who rode brilliantly and aggressively all day to snaffle his first stage win … and Chris Froome, just about. He survived a puncture at a terrible time and retains the yellow jersey; the question now is how much the battle back to out of his legs, especially given how tight it is at the top. We’ll find out on Tuesday, after a rest tomorrow – do join us for that.
Dan Martin, in sixth overnight, suddenly breaks away from a group that includes Froome … but Froome is among those who respond, and he stays in yellow! Martin moves above Landa.
Of course, Barguil has extended his lead in the row for the polka dot jersey.
1. Bauke Mollema
2. Diego Ulissi, 0.19
3. Tony Gallopin
4. Primoz Roglic
5. Warren Barguil, 0.23
Incredible that Mollema held on so comfortably – not easily. The chasing lot never got within striking distance.
What a performance! He’s been brilliant today, and fully deserves that maiden success.
Mollema has absolutely smashed the granny out of this, and he’s grinning to himself as he powers through the last few hunnert metres …
Mollema is looking nails! One more kilometre and he’s hame!
Gallivan is the fastest sprinter, but Roglic is your time-trial man; at this stage of the Tour, no one knows what they have left, so no one knows what might happen.
Barguil, 14 seconds behind, is looking to have one last dart.
With 5km to go, Mollema leads by 20 seconds. The chasers clawed back the first 20 very quickly but they’re struggling now, and it’s beginning to look like they might not manage it.
Landa is just taking the piss on everybody. Once he starts to pedal with both legs everybody will be hurting @LeTour
It’s hard to see how Mollema can compete with four riders working together, just 100m behind. Maybe he should let them catch up, then attack again.
The chasing four are organising themselves as they barge through a headwind.
Barguil and Roglic are 20 seconds behind Mollema … and Ulissi and Gallopin are also in the chase now!
This is brilliant from Mollema, who is 100m from the top of the Côte de St-Vidal as some clown takes his pants off and runs behind him. Hilarious!
Roglic has made a move.
Froome and Landa are having a schmooze; I wonder what about? Brexit or the weather, probably.
The leading group has split, and the car has just cut in front of Barguil. He shakes his head, because of course he was just about to boust to the front.
Mollema is really putting it on them. Can he hold it down?
Mollema is about 18 seconds clear at the front, but it seems inconceivable that he can lead them home from here.
Change at the front! Mollema leads, with Caruso, Ulissi, Pinot, Pauwels, Benoot, Gallopin, Barguil and Roglic in pursuit.
Quintana is now over a minute behind.
With 28km to go, Bardet must be contemplating another attack. He’ll surely reckon himself with more left than Froome and, as the Ethics of the Fathers teach, אם לא עכשיו, אימתי; if not now, when?
Landa has headed back off towards the front.
Bardet attacks! Froome is going too!
Barguil is going to take the ten points for this climb … he’s looking strong in the fight to be king of the mountains.
Pauwels is after Barguil, but Barguil looks comfy … as comfy as you can look when amazingly uncomfy.
Froome is back with the group; can he stay with them through the next climb?
Sky’s Mikel Landa has dropped back from the leading group to try and help Froome-o.
“Cameron Carter-Vickers has the widest arse at Spurs”, offers Nathan Cooper.
It’s quite a selection.
Froome has lost his buddies! He’ll have to go it alone.
Quintana is all sorts. He can hardly stay upright.
Froome is about 30 seconds off Bardet.
And Barguil takes him out!
Martin looks shattered now – he can hardly move! He’ll be caught any second!
We have reached the brown stuff/reality interface.
Nieve, Kiryienka and Henao are doing all they can to get Froome back with the pack, but AG2R are doing all they can to make it difficult; their lad, Bardet, currently lies third.
So, can Froome find the energy to do the necessary on a new climb? He’ll have expended energy faffing, and is now 45 seconds behind Bardet! Could he lose the yellow jersey today?
Froome is 8.40 off the lead.
Froome, who has just changed a wheel, has closed the gap on Bardet and Aru.
The peloton has now split, with Froome in the second half. Carruso, his shirt flapping open, is leading the chase for Martin.
1.30 ahead of the chasers, Martin has started climbing the Peyra Taillade, a new element in today’s stage. Meanwhile, the distance to Froome is growing, now at 9.15. Team Sky might have to make a move, even if they reckon they can catch back up on the downhill.
These are some prodigious buttocks. Martin would not be out of place at Spurs who, though they’ve lost Kyle Walker, still have Vincent Janssen, Mousa Dembele, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane.
As we were saying earlier, Tony Martin is past it. He’s got a lot of work to do to hang on here, but it’s possible…
Afternoon again all – we’re just hearing about John Kerry’s brilliance as a cyclist, able to pound downhill like nobody’s business.
So, as we dip into the final 50km and approach the big climb, Daniel is back, fed and watered! Thanks for your company … over to him.
The Peloton is almost nine minutes back, now…
That’s a remarkable field they are riding past: bails creating an hourglass-shaped sheep enclosure with the sun and the moon in there too. Not a sentence I ever thought I’d type. Martin’s descent continues. He has that full minute gap from the rest of the breakaway!
Martin is enjoying himself: tucked up tight and coasting down hill.
The main peloton is a whopping 8.05 back now after Martin’s dash. Is he looking for a minute’s gap from the rest of the breakaway by the foot of the climb?
Clever work from Tony Martin, this. The lone wolf breakaway specialist has given himself breathing space as we move into the last 60km.
The temperature out there looks like it’s rising, incidentally. Up to 29 degrees C, which can’t be fun.
So Tony Martin wasn’t satisfied with the pace and has pulled away from the rest of the breakaway group, with around 65km to go. He’s got a gap of 22 seconds.
Just 69km go, and the peloton deficit is back on the rise: up to 7.12.
Alberto Contador is having a chat with the TV folks. He’s being very sheepish about when the attack is on the way. The peloton’s deficit is sat at 7.01 with 73km to go, but has been as high as 7.15.
No doubt Daniel gave this a nudge earlier, but this is enjoyable. William Fotheringham’s week on Le Tour.
The deficit of the peloton is up over seven minutes, and rising. Highest its been. That 28-man breakaway looking strong.
Speculation has turned, given tomorrow’s rest day, to how many risks will be taken this afternoon. Peloton’s deficit is sat at 6 mins 19, and there are 83km to go.
Sean Kelly is going off comms, which is a huge shame, because, well, that voice. *Swoons*
Hello, Will here giving Daniel a well-earned breather. Speaking of well-earned breathers, these lucky riders have an 8km climb coming up. Envy doesn’t cover it.
Right, your Will Macpherson is going to guide you through the next little bit … and here he is!
But the peloton is now nearly six minutes off the pace.
We’re embroiled in a quiet period.
“Sean Kelly does indeed have a spectacular accent,” tweets Gary Naylor, “especially when he speaks French”.
No way does he call is the Tour de Fronzz, but.
Sean Kelly has a spectacular accent.
100km to go, the peloton 5.45 behind.
And yes, Martin had nipped off, and yes, he was summarily retrieved.
I should note that tomorrow is a rest day, and then we get on with the Alps and stuff. Eeasypeasy.
Has Tony Martin nipped ahead of the leaders? I think he may have done, and then been dragged back.
The aptly-named Tony Gallopin is not especially looking forward to the final climb, but is still eager to get stuck into it. The mentality of a rider, right there.
Again, it seems like those in front will finish in front….
105km to go, with the leaders 6.13 ahead of yer yellow jersey.
People; the very state of.
⚠ Please respect the race & the riders ⚠
The leaders now move through another picturesque village, more or less in single file.
Team Sky still boss the peloton, 5.15 behind the leading 28.
It’s about 28 degrees on the road, but with a light breeze. However, the finishing section is hot as.
Carruso is the highest-ranked masochist in the leading pack, lying 14th. As such, the peloton, 5 minutes behind and led by Sky, slow down. This looks like a nifty little stage for them.
Something to read, now that you ask? Joy of Six: sporting beauty, featuring Eddie Merckx.
The Matthews group – a term that will bring you 90s types out in hives – have caught the leaders at 60km. The 28 now read:
Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Damiano Caruso, Alessandro De Marchi, Amaël Moinard and Nicolas Roche (BMC), Kristjian Durasek and Diego Ulissi (UAE), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Tony Martin, Robert Kiserlovski, Maurits Lammertink (Katusha), Tiejs Benoot, Thomas De Gendt and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Michael Matthews, Warren Barguil and Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Luis Angel Maté and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Lilian Calmejane and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida), Romain Hardy and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fortuneo-Oscaro).
We’re into the mid-section of today’s pain, with 129km still to go.
Carruso now leads Pauwels, Barguils, Van Baarle and Grmay in that order.
Matthews is after sprint points, so Barguil, flush with his mountain points, will presumably do all he can to facilitate his team-mates.
By the looks of things, the leading group is not going to stay the leading the group; the chasers, led by Michael Matthews of Sunweb, are just 30 seconds behind at 50km.
Team Sky lead the peloton now, 4-odd minutes behind the leaders.
The Central is Massif! That’s what the next banner should say.
The leading group leads by 55 seconds from the 23 chasers.
Froome is now 4.33 off the lead, and looking easy, but with such a crowd at the top he can’t relax. Will he have to defend an attack today?
1.15 behind the leaders are: Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Alessandro De Marchi, Amaël Moinard and Nicolas Roche (BMC), Kristjian Durasek and Diego Ulissi (UAE), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Tony Martin, Robert Kiserlovski, Maurits Lammertink (Katusha), Tiejs Benoot, Thomas De Gendt and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Michael Matthews and Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Luis Angel Maté, Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Lilian Calmejane and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Romain Hardy and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fortuneo-Oscaro)
And Barguil nabs the points, uncontested; Pauwels gets the one.
Barguil rises on his pedals to assert how little this awful pain is bothering him. The others let him be.
Barguil is pounding on, with his pals alongside doing the same. They’re en route – get the old Français – to the top of Côte de Vieurals, where two more points are on offer. Barguil will be assuming they’re his.
Talking of which, would teleporting be worth it – no Tube, no traffic – if it meant parents, wives, kids and ilk could turn up in your face whenever they fancied?
“L’UBRAC ON ADORE!” announces a huge sign in a field, and it certainly looks a pleasant part of yer Masssif Central. I’d happily teleport there right now.
The peloton is stung-out; there’s a group between it and the leaders, including Mollema, Di Marchi and Roche.
Two men are rejoining the leaders: Van Baarle and Grmay. Well done them, that cannot have been easy.
Just 157km to go. I ran 10km this morning and you didn’t hear me complaining.
Tim Wellens of Lotto-Soudal quits for this year; he’s been struggling with allergies.
The official Tour site confirms that mountain result: “Result of cat. 1 KOM at Montée de Naves d’Aubrac, km 28.5:
Warren Barguil, 10 points
Froome’s group is now – are now – one of the two – are 2.46 off the lead. He’ll be down with that.
Barguil takes the ten points at the top of Montée de Naves d’Aubrac, extending his lead as he bids to sort the hills.
“This is like missing a step on a staircase,” tweets Gary Naylor.
Did the Tour go to Yorkshire? They never said. So doughty, humble and understated, them lot.
Barguil, current King of the Mountains, is still banging out the Ks at the front, and looking pretty not horrifically distressed about it all.
A few minutes ago, Contador went to the front of the peloton and had a go at speeding things up, but it didn’t work and he’s now back in the pack.
“Despite the name, I’m French,” tweets Alistair Connor. “If you’re against making any effort of pronunciation, just call it “the Tour Of France”.
Ah, but that’s it’s name, an actual proper noun. The other day, I heard someone refer to thoritho.
Barguil is really putting it in. Already, it looks hard for anyone to catch the leading three, but of course it’s eminently possible.
Mollema’s break is fragmenting the peloton.
5km from the top of the climb, Pauwels, Carruso, Van Baarle and Grmay were the only ones able to follow Barguils; only Carruso and Pauwels could stay with him.
Still Carruso and Pauwels leading the way.
Along with Burghardt, Sieberg and Martin have also been dropped. Martin, they reckon, is now well passed his best. Oh, and Mate is with them too.
Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo has left the peleton for a shy at the leaders. Barguil, meanwhile, keen for the ten points available at the top of Montée de Naves d’Aubrac, is putting it in.
This is the leading group:
Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Robert Kiserlovski and Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida), Giampaolo Caruso (BMC), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal), Angel Luis Maté (Cofidis).
It’s not too hot today, at the same time as being hot.
The leaders will soon begin the first appalling climb of the day. The peloton has given up trying to catch them.
The riders are now bousting through a village; Caruso of BMC is the highest-ranked rider in the leading group, 14th at 11.26, and behind him is Sunweb’s Barguil (Sunweb), 15th at 14.50.
A left-hand turn resolved a blockage in the peloton, and now a larger group is in pursuit of the leaders.
Froome is nicely ensconced in about 15th place.
Question: if you’re not French, is it in any way acceptable to call the Tour de France the Tour de Fronzz?
Kittel leads the peloton, chilling in the middle as though bossing it. The gap is 1.12, and Ulissi of UAE Team Emirates has had enough, breaking to chase.
The scenery is lush today: sparkling emerald green water like we’re in Oz, lots of trees. Contador is in the peloton, we discover, and the leading group are now 46 seconds in front. Causo, Pauwels, Burghardt and Martin are at its front.
There’s a break of ten or so riders now, 19 seconds in front of the main group.
We’re moving through Le Clocher, a pretty little village, as we learn that, at this stage, this is the closest Tour in history. Marcel Sieberg leads, Barguil second.
I have literally no idea how it’s possible to ride so close to someone in front, behind and on either side without crashing into them, or at least tickling them. But here we are!
There were talks of an early break, but no such thing as yet. It all looks pretty pleasant for the now.
Oh, that’s cute! The starter waves his flag three minutes early, presumably having had enough of the adverts. Tony Martin has taken it on.
Of course, Froome is now back in yellow, which increasingly suits his complexion as he piles on the Vitamin D.
The lads are on their way out….
There’s nothing like a nice Sunday bike-jaunt, and Laissac-Sévérac L’Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay is nothing like a nice Sunday bike-jaunt. The Col de Peyra-Taillade aspect, which introduces itself with 31 of the 181.5km remaining and making its debut in this term’s Tour, donates gradients of up to 14% and its summit is more than 1000m above sea-level; just what you need. But for those of us reclining in our comfy chairs, all this means numerous opportunities for breakaways and kerfuffle; this should be a bazzer.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jul/16/tour-de-france-2017-stage-15-live
Pakistan eventually won a remarkable see-saw game against Sri Lanka by three wickets, to reach the semi-finals where they will play England 6.41pm BST An extraordinary victory for Pakistan in the end. Mickey Arthur is elated on the balcony, as he shou…
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jun/12/sri-lanka-pakistan-icc-champions-trophy-2017-live
A fantastic comeback from Mark Selby, taking him from 10-4-down to 16-12-up, gives him his third world title in four years; he becomes the fourth man to retain the trophy
PS if anyone’s got the slightest clue about what to do tomorrow, I’d be glad for any suggestions.
That’s about us, then – thanks all for your company and comments. Nighty-night!
So there we are: three in four years for Selby, number 1 for 116 weeks straight, and he’s already a great of the game. He’s also only 33, so there’s plenty more to come – all the more incredible given how many ridiculous other players are out there.
Higgins, who Selby took pains to point out is a splendid bloke, takes his cheque. I missed the amount, but Selby takes home £375,000; not bad.
Selby joins Davis, Hendry and O’Sullivan as the only men to have retained the world championship.
“Unbelievable, I can’t believe it,” says Selby. “I’m still pinching myself.””
Er, it only happened five minutes ago. He says that he was knackered yesterday, “nothing left to give,” but decided that if he was going out he was going out fighting, Higgins missed a couple of balls he’d not normally missed, and there we go.
That’s three in four years, and me oh my, he’s going win a fair few more of these; he is streets ahead of the rest. His potting, his safety, his invention, his cue-power, his frankly obscene will, his unnerving calmness; he is the man. And John Higgins is the other man, because what a final he’s given us.
AND THERE IT IS! Selby pauses, flexes both forearms as his people, and then keeps going.
44 ahead, 55 remaining … one more red …
This isn’t an easy table, but you just know Selbz will navigate his way around it. He’s up to 21 now, has the black in play, and finds himself jabbing it home; there’s a red for him, but not the one he intended. Four reds and blacks needed, so not the two difficult ones on the top cushion.
Selby plays it beautifully, pots the blue in the yellow pocket, and if he can see away the next red and get position – he can – this might well be frame and championship.
It was fun while it lasted. Selby leaves a red, Higgins cuts it too thinly, cannons the blue, and it goes to the corner. The question is what comes next, becauzse the pink is in the road and it’s a problem to catch it full-ball, so Selby is around the table measuring.
Gah! Higgins runs out of position on 19, so Selby’s back up on the bottom cushion and the safety beginsagain.
Higgins plays a lovely safety shot, leaving the white on the side cushion with the brown close by. Selby then plays down to the top cushion … and he’s left a devilishly tricky one to the middle! Dare Higgins try for it? … This is the match … You bet! It’s there!
Here we go then. There’s a red on the top cushion, or just off it, and the white is nearby, but an angle … dare Selby roll it down the rail? He settles down to try, then changes his mind.
Selby leaves a double … Higgins thinks hard before taking it on, takes it on, misses … but leaves nothing.
‘Iggins could play a pot, but knowing any miss could be his last, he leaves the white on the top cushion, prompting Selby to have a think. He reminds me a bit of a mate who played chess for Scotland, and not Sinai School as I did. So we’d play at university, I’d do my four knights opening or some variation thereof, compete for bit, then at some point he’d have a think for ten minutes, and it’d be all over shortly thereafter.
Higgins clips the green with his cue, sticks the white into the reds, and it’s just a foul, not a miss. Higgins is perplexed; “You’ve had a result there,” says Selby.
Higgins catches a red too thin, but it works out nicely – the chwhite is in the jaws of the yellow pocket. BUT SELBY FEATHERS A CUT INTO THE MIDDLE, TAKING A RED FROM OUTSIDE THE BLUE, PAST IT, AND IN! IT WASN’T EVEN ON, BUT IT WAS! Higgins is now tight in behind the green.
So, frame 33 begins as we pass the 11-hour mark.
131! What skill! What moxie!
This is such a break. The state of the game, after three lost frames in a row, to go to within one of victory, after a rerack, that started with a pressure red. AND THERE’S THE TON!
Selby is gently working his way through the the balls, now up to 36. There are lots of pottable reds and pink and black both in play, as they should be; the opening pot, under that level of pressure, was astoundingly brilliant.
In it goes! Great pot! The white flies up the table, so it’ll be the yellow, a screw, and clack, it rams the back of the pocket and Selby’s back down the business end.
Oh, chuckle! Higgins has to stretch for one, fails, gets the extension and bemoans “too much haggis”. And his shot is not a good one, leaving a tempter; the problem for Selby is that if he misses, he’s in trouble, but if he doesn’t take it on, then what else can he do?
There is nothing, nothing like this.
Higgins leaves a red, a bastard of a red that demands a flat hand because the brown is proximate to the white. Selby cues beautifully to stick it home, but is quickly cursing to the heavens when he fails to get on the pink by the finest of margins.
We’re back to in and out of the cluster. Another rerack looks possible for second, but Selby plays up the table.
He has not. Selby plays away from the touching ball but up to baulk.
Selby doesn’t like his break, leaving a red as a shot to nothing, but Higgins misses it and is quickly tapping the table while tight on the bottom cushion. Two cushions and into the pack, by the look of things … he plays it well, but has he left a thin cut?
That black, then.
Big moment in the 31st frame
Referee Jan Verhaas calls a foul, replays suggest it hit, but he sticks with his original decision. Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/QmqIObNFGV
They’re playing in and out of the cluster now – this is horrific! And after Higgins feathers an impossibly delicate one, they quickly agree to a rerack! I’ve no idea how they can possibly be holding it down.
Tremendous long pot from Selby, but he doesn’t hit it hard enough to get nicely on the black. So he plays a lovely, gentle cut – down it goes – only now he’s not on a red, so back goes the white towards the top cushion.
Wild squeals in the arena as Higgins nails a lovely long pot, holding for the black. He plays a bad positional shot, though, and can’t redeem it with a red to the green pocket. But he gets lucky with the run, leaving nothing on, so Selbzo initiates a safety exchange.
Both John and Steve think it didn’t hit, and in any case, Jan was closest, thought it didn’t, so said what he saw.
Oh my days what a frame that was! “I didn’t see that hit, Mark”! Somehow, Higgins now has three on the trot, and needs one more to make it a best of three! Truly, there is nothing, nothing like this!
And that’s there!
Just the blue required… I’m shaking!
Eeesh. He finishes to close to the brown, but it’s still pottable … and it’s there!
Selby can only leave the red over the middle, almost fluking the snooker with the blue. Green to brown is the key shot, and it’s coming up … oh man….
Higgins doesn’t have a pot on, but does stick the white close to the bottom cushion, leaving yellow and brown between it and the red, which is close to the top-right.
And what’s this! Higgins plays a bad shot from blue to red, misses the black from the side cushion, and the chase for the final red begins. Selby plays a nice little snooker for starters, easy to escape but setting him to lay a better one. He taps the red, sends the white up the table, and has the black defending the pocket it goes into. It’s not a great shot, but Higgins doesn’t respond with a great one, and leaves a chance into the bottom-left … which he misses!
Selby finds a plant – if it goes down and he’s on a colour, that’ll be the frame. He does and he doesn’t, draining the plant but leaving himself without a pot. So he tucks in behind the black, EXCEPT HE DOESN’T HIT THE WHITE HARD ENOUGH! Jan Verhaas calls foul, Selby says he got there, and a discussion ensues. Higgins asks for a replay but that’s not allowed, and then almost talks himself out of the points as the discussion continues – what other sport gives you that kind of debate over the rules? But just when his magnanimity looks set to cost him, Higgins pulls it out of the fire, Jan stays with his original call – I think it was the right one, but even now I can’t be sure, having originally thought Selby hit it. So he plays away, Higgins pots a red, and now looks like compiling a frame-clincher! This is fantastically tense!
But potting the blue, Selby takes such great care to miss the brahn that he cannons the yeller; end of break, 46 the lead.
Five reds and five black, incidentally. And i do mean incidentally, because the spread of the balls is not conducive to a maximum, all the more so when there’s 300k on the line, not 5k.
Mistake from Selby forces him to try a long red to the green pocket, down it goes snd then he’s into the bunch off the black … the Jaws music is playing.
And off again. A confident Higgins plays a long red gently in order to hold for the black, misses, and Selby is at the table. Apparently the opening red is his first ball potted in half an hour.
Game on now
Higgins is working these shots out beautifully now, and he brings up his century to wild applause. He finishes with a 111, and finally, you feel like if he gets a chance he’ll take it; but more than that, that he might be able to muscle his way through the safety exchanges.
But he plays for the blue, because who needs five gee? Then a cannon on the pink has him cutting into the top corner as a shot to nothing – he ought to be on a baulk colour if it goes down. But he pots the red and holds for the blue! For the first time in a while, Selby will be wondering…
If Higgins can win this one and the next one, then we’re talking. And he’s working this one out well, employing the spider to set up his fourth black. Just saying. Chill those beans, Harris.
And there’s the mistake! Selby sends a red down the rail and gets “the old DD” – oo-er – “the dreaded double-kiss”. Higgins strokes it home, then a black, and begins picking away at the stragglers.
Another foul and a miss from Selby, but it costs him just the four points – unless Higgins can find his way in behind the green … he plays it well. This might be the first exchange that he’s controlled since yesterday, so Selby retorts by leaving him just in front of the green. Again, though, TWOW plays it well, a flick off that green leaving the chwhite on the side cushion.
“Whenever I watch pub sports,” emails Simon McMahon, “I’m reminded of the late, great Sid Waddell’s immortal line about the best darts player ever to come out of Kirkcaldy, the incomparable John Thomas Wilson. ‘What an athlete’. Selby just looks too strong for Higgins. I’ll see thee.”
I don’t know what pubs you’ve been in – I’m yet to see a snooker table in one, though I have seen some other strange sights; send in your examples to the address above.
Higgins takes on a pot as a shot to nothing, while Dennis offers us the old “as long as your opponent needs two frames” line. Selby then tries a thin one, misses, and does well to avoid ceding a free ball, the white encroaching just enough onto the baulk line. His next effort is a lot better.
Serious show of gonads from Higgins here – he’s crafted this 88 beautifully, and now he’s playing exhibition shots, down behind the black and out again from yellow to green. Can he go on? It’s a long, long time since he won two in a row.
Anyway, Higgins is up to 46, sinks the pink, and rolls along beautifully for the red on the side cushion , Down it does, then the black, and if he can drain the last red, kissing the yellow on its spot, any colour and the frame’s safe. And he’s on the black!
What Selby does so well is stay calm when in the balls. If he needs to think over shot, he thinks it over – he’s deliberate, but that doesn’t mean he’s risk-averse. Just that when he tries the outlandish stuff, it’s been properly considered and is played with a cool head.
But what a lovely pot from the old master! He eases a red into the middle, deposits the green, cracks the pack, and this is now the chance he was waiting for.
Very quickly, the break is 34, but that’s all it is. it really does not matter. The white is left on the bottom cushion, but it isn’t that – there just doesn’t see any way that the momentum can be reversed.
Of course he is.
Higgins gets a double-kiss, and Selby is in.
“Watching this is a little like watching matches between Murray and Djokovic until about the middle of last year,” says David Wall. “They’d typically start off very tight, Murray often going ahead, before Djokovic repeatedly, and ruthlessly pulled away and ground the Scot into the dust.
It’s the BBC schedulers I feel most sorry for, you can almost hear them digging out an entire series of Coast to fill the rest of the evening when this finishes in two or three frames time.”
He starts with a decent break-off…
Back they come. Has Higgins got anything left?
For those catching up, here’s Barry Glendenning’s report of the afternoon session.
A 70 clearance, a spring through the curtain, a trudge from Higgins, and that’s the mid-session. Selby is zoned.
Selby is grinning to himself as he proceeds around the table. He knows, Higgins knows, and the whole world knows.
Selby is just the complete player and a consummate competitor.
In they go, then a pink, and that’s that.
Trying to catch a red thin, Higgins misses, and because the white’s travelling, it bounces off the bottom cushion and catches the blue – that’s done him a small favour, as there’s now nothing on for Selby. So Higgins plays the pot, misses it and leaves it; red, blue, red and only two more required for the champion.
Higgins must have the better of this safety exchange, and plays an excellent shot to cover a loose, cuttable red with the blue. So Selby responds well, obviously – his geometry is something else.
“Noting O’Sullivan’s tweet that you posted earlier on,” emails David Wall, “who do you think of the current top players is most likely to go into the commentary box when they box-up their cue, and who would you most like to see make that move? I’ve got a feeling that Stuart Bingham would make for an engaging commentator, and given how tortuously he studied every shot, Ebdon might make an informative pundit.”
Ebdon has been in the box this tournament; not to my taste, shall we say. I’d go Graeme Dott.
Selby is 55 ahead, with 75 on the table.
A mistake on the black when he might’ve played the pink leaves Selby shaking his head as he’s down on the next red. But he slides it parallel with the top cushion and into the hole, but eventually chasing the white catches up with him and he misses the next red thick!
Selby is so serene. The run is now 33, but there follows a mistake – he’s straight on the blue, so has to play the trickier pink, which can leave him on just one red. So that’s what happens, and now the black is in play!
I was just about to note that Selby has done an amazing job of turning what look, at first, like mid-level breaks, into frame-winners. But then Hendry says it for me, so I’m now copying him.
Fortune is not favouring Higgins at the moment… pic.twitter.com/ptlKwiBtWj
Selby has eyes only for one red, rammed home after some thought. But the cue-ball rolls past the potting angle for the black … so in goes the pink to the middle! This frame – this final – are not long for this world.
It never rains, but sometimes it pours so hard it makes your head bleed. Selby flukes a five-ball plant, in-off the black, though he’s not on a colour. So he sticks the white tight on the bottom cushion, and Higgins has a problem. “If the safety is as difficult as the pot, I know which I’d be taking,” advises Hendry; Higgins thinks otherwise, goes in-off, and, well.
But Higgins responds well, so Selby responds weller, leaving the cue-ball tight on the bottom cushion.
Playing for a thin contact on a red, Selby misses, but when he’s offered another chance, a graze of the middle knuckle sends Higgins behind the green. Selby raises his hand, which I’m sure is profoundly comforting.
Narrow cut from @markjesterselby and his break of 71 hands him a three-frame lead!
The reigning champ is three frames away from victory… pic.twitter.com/6pUduWMUop
One more frame before the mid-session; surely Higgins can’t afford to lose this one; and no, he couldn’t afford to lose the last one either. Anyhow, a good break leaves him struggling, but he responds well, almost potting the black but instead forcing Selby to play off the side cushion into the pack … but has he left the bottom one? Apparently not.
Selby misses on 71 but it matters not. I’ve no idea what Higgins can do – if Selby is potting pots that he can’t even see, well.
Three reds and three high-value colours needed – it’s going to take a kick.
Selby is so meticulous in his planning. He takes a while over a pink to the middle, has a red cleaned, and 15-12 is in the post.
Higgins takes the missed red, but there’s no colour on, so it’s back up to baulk. Everything looks safe, Higgins thinks everything’s safe, but the finest cut – a paper cut? – and one close to the top cushion is deposited. What a pot that was. The green follows, the reds are spread, and this is a chance.
Oh, Wizard! A careless break leaves a cut to the middle, and down it goes. The brown follows, the pack is cannoned, and there’s a red at the bottom which goes. Those reduced arrears might not stay reduced long, except Selby misses the pot! Is he still farklempt about that last frame?
Higgins misses the green, but has done enough. Back in the game! Should Selby have really taken on that red? If he missed it, Higgins was always likely to be on it and, as they say, never give a genius an even break. Perhaps it’s become too natural for Selby, because he’s usually far more ruthless than that.
He plays it! But gets so close that he leaves it when he misses! Higgins sinks it, and that’s the frame!
There’s one red left, on the side cushion, and Selby disturbs it after potting the black. But he remonstrates with the Gods strongly when it rolls just the wrong side of the middle pocket; will he try and jam in behind, sending it towards the yellow pocket! This feels like almost a match ball!
And still there’s a red left, but Selby catches the near jaw and leaves another plant. This time, Higgins ignores it entirely but plays his safety too hard and Selby cracks it home. I fear for the Wiz if he contrives to lose this frame.
Oh dear. Higgins gambles, doesn’t finish on a red, and has to try a plant on frame-ball! Why did he play it so hard! Safety in mind I suppose, but hit more slowly and that was in!
“Didn’t catch that pink full in face, needs some luck, he’s had some! HE’S HAD SOME!” Higgins finishes on a red though the cannon into the cluster doesn’t go as planned, and surely the frame is now his and the night is now ours!
Selbz uses side to try and coax the white off the side cushion and into the cluster, but hits the pink. So he’s put back, and trying to compensate, over-compensates! He slips past the pack by a fraction, leaves a red, and Higgins is in!
Selby hits the pack nicely with his second shy but Higgins retorts well, sneaking in behind the broon. This frame is unbearably essential for him.
The aforementioned kick.
Kick a man when he’s down!
Higgins gets a horrible piece of luck after being gifted an opening pic.twitter.com/YegFGJHDFQ
Higgins plays a fine safety shot, leaving TJFL behind the yellow – he tries to roll into the cluster, but his effort doesn’t reach.
PS did you know that science has not yet explained the phenomenon of bad contacts? Me neither.
Egad! On 24 and in the balls, Higgins gets a kick; of course he does. So the white goes onto the top cushion, but can he wipe his mind free of injustice?
Selby is looking so smooth, strolling around removing balls. But a careless positional shot leaves him the wrong side of the blue, he takes on a difficult yellow because he’s in the zone, and cues so far cross it he’s almost in the crowd. Higgins can’t have expected another go here, let alone from just 22 points behind. “Come on John, what’ve you got left,” demands Hendry.
Higgins has no choice but to nestle into the pack, problem being there are loose reds about. And he leaves one, long into the green pocket or gentle into the middle – Selby opts for the latter and gives it just enough.
But when Selby cannons the pack off the black, finishes on nothing, and plays a dodgy safety. Higgins can now attack, opening the pack and getting back to baulk in a bid to force the error. Except he doesn’t get a good cue-ball, hitting it too hard, so Selby duly sticks him behind the yellow. This boys and men, I’m afraid.
Higgins plays a red as a shot to nothing, misses it thick with safety in mind … and Selby pots yet another great long one.
Selby sinks the black to leave Higgins needing snookers, and that is going to hurt. He was brave to take on the pink, brilliant to pot it, and still it didn’t happen. A run of 37 is enough for Selbo, and my word, he’s stretching for hame.
But with scored 22, he runs out of position potting the black, and so miffed is he that he plays a careless safety shot, – the cue-ball is short and a red is available. Selby raps in a long one, and it’s hard to see him missing before a frame-clinching advantage is racked up.
Hendry is encouraging Higgins to be aggressive, he is, and it works! He cues beautifully to pot a difficult pink across the other side of the table and into the top-right, enjoys a favourable cannon, and is now favourite for the frame. Concentration required.
But what’s this! Selby misses a red maybe half a foot from the top-right pocket – the left-hand side took it against the jaw – and Higgins sends one into the yellow pocket. It’s a good pot, but he’s just top-side of the blue, so it’s not entirely clear from where the next red is coming.
“Just” the 35 for Selby – he runs out of position and shoves the white off the yellow and close to the bottom cushion. Can Higgins retaliate with a taxing safety? … No. He clips the broon and sits resignedly back in his chair.
“A heated clothes horse?! You’re snacking on grissini and home-made hummus right now, aren’t you?” chides yerman Wall.
I’ve got concede, I’d love to make my own hummus, but I’ve been forbidden from using our Vitamix for such purposes. Green juice and other non-fragrant things only. But, while we’re here, some advice: instead of buying the grainy, lemony supermarket version, find your nearest Kosher shop or section and enjoy the thick, smoothness, hummus how it’s meant to be.
Selby digs into the pack immediately, and it doesn’t quite work out. He has to cut a tricky red, so, er, he cuts a tricky red. He is buzzing!
Higgins leaves a tempter – it’s the only one that’ll be available if Selby misses. Selby doesn’t come close to missing, “right in the heart of the pocket”. There can be no greater endorsement.
And there it is: “the first frame is crucial for John Higgins,” revelates Hendry.
Out come the boys, to Killer – sounded like Adamski’s version, far superior to Seal’s. But we’ll have to make do with this.
“As you suggested earlier,” emails David Wall, “this one looks as though it will go a long time so, assuming there will be plenty of extended periods of safety play (as well as each of the players popping out for comfort breaks between frames), perhaps you could dish more of your Shoot!-style dirt. For instance, who do you sit next to in the dressing room (on the Guardian sports desk)? Which MBM/ OBO/ FBF-er inspired you when growing up? What’s your favourite mid-session interval snack? And what job would you have had if you’d not found work watching, and writing pithy descriptions of various sporting events? It’ll help us all stay calm when the match reaches Line-of-Duty-levels of tension later on.”
Ha ha. We don’t have set seats, though I am currently at home, next to my proudest recent acquisition: a heated clothes hoss. And I did once have what a job, in the loosest possible sense: trainee lawyer in a City firm. You can learn all about how good I was at it, here:
But it’s churlish to whinge if Selby powers through, because what a show he’s giving us. It’s the way he combines opposites that’s so brilliant – invention and attrition, attack and defence, risk and caution. He is going to win a lot of these.
“The first [insert relevant unit of measurement here] is so important” – a staple of sporting cliche. But rarely has it been so pertinent as right very now, with John Higgins is on the slide and Mark Selby on the charge. From 10-4 behind, Selby has won nine of ten frames, and if he can extend his lead to three immediately, any r&r that Higgins has contrived in the short break will immediately evaporate. He looked tired and put-upon this afternoon, while Selby looked raffish and rakish; it’s hard to see how he might turn that around, yet, on the other hand, well though Selby played, the ball ran in his favour and still the frames were tight.
Boyz/baize interface: roughly 7pmBST
So, I’m away, but join me again at 6.45ish for further wonderment. Don’t get too vexed with actual real people in the meantime.
So that’s a session, and what a session for Mark Selby, who has been expletive brilliant. Early on, his safety play set the tone, and after the mid-session he started cueing beautifully; this is pretty much what happened to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2014 final, and just like him, Higgins looks thoroughly despondent and befuddled.
Higgins looks tired, you’ve got to say, and maybe he had a rough night’s kip, allowing 10-4 to become 10-7. Selby has now won this session 6-1, and finds himself in a position he can barely have conceived of this morning, never mind last evening.
Can’t believe john making so many saftey errors not like him at all
“Have a shower and try and brush himself down,” recommends Jayvee when wondering how Higgins should spend the impending break. Ahem.
“You get a sense of your opponent wilting under pressure, and it’s about pouncing,” says Hendry with menace. Selby, meanwhile, overhits a couple in his zealousness to get things sorted, but it doesn’t really matter – he simply responds with a great shot.
Uh-oh. Higgins plays yet another nasty safety, and leaves an easy red for Selbo, which he takes. What previously looked like a cuticle-carver is beginning to look like a procession. Giving a great of this ilk, in his prime, a two-frame start going into the final session of a world championship? Not for me, JV.
Higgins looks like he wants someone to indicate the way to his habitual abode, for he’s fatigued and has a desire to retire.
But Selby does miss, and Higgins concedes. This is simply magical from the Jester, who from 10-4 now leads; that’s eight of nine frames.
Higgins needs Selby to miss, though the frame is now secure, so he can waste time and avoid another frame. That does not look so likely.
Andrew Benton is back with gardening info:
“I used to work in a garden centre – the first May bank holiday was always the busiest. Anyway, gardening’s like snooker, lots of green, and plenty of potting.”
Which means we’ll get another frame this afternoon. Selby hasn’t led since frame 3.
Mistake from Higgins lets Selby in – he needs 46 more points to secure the frame, and it looks inconceivable that he’ll not get them.
But too much topspin potting a black he might’ve stunned leaves the white against the pack and no colour on, end of break, at 24. We’re in rerack territory, but a loose safety from Higgins followed by a loose one from Selby splays reds all over the show instead. The first chance will be a good one now.
“Believe, believe, believe,” says Selby to himself, eyeing-up Higgins as Higgins breaks off. And what a red he immediately smashes home, then a black, then a red which gently fans the pack. If he can see this away in one visit, we’ll sneak in another frame this session, the last thing that Higgins needs.
All square! Selby very carefully and very brilliantly rolls home a far from straightforward red, plays safe, and Higgo concedes! That’s seven of the last eight, and what a visit that 67 was! He’s so clever and calm in the balls.
Selby pots a tricky red – he thought about leaving it, but it was frame ball, so on it was taken, and down it went. The break is 67, the black is missed, and Higgins is back at the table, 48 behind with 43 available; two snookers required.
“In my work pool league we affectionately refer to an attempt at a full length-of-the-table double into the corner as a ‘John’ in honour of the great man*. What would be Selby’s signature shot?
*New laws prevent us from hosting unofficial videos, but Higgins played a beauty on the brown to steal the 2010 UK Championship from Mark Williams MBE.
There’s nothing on for Higgins, so he’s forced to play the pot and misses. Selby quickly drains a red, then gets beautiful action on the white to see away yellow, dragging the cue-ball all the way down the table. He then makes a mess of a red, but it only leaves him on the black, and suddenly, this a serious frame-winning opportunity!
Higgins leaves a tempter to the middle – not really a tempter, actually, rather a chance. Selby misses, and Hendry explains that when the big colours are tied up, as they are, you’re not as enthusiastic about the pot.
Housekeeping: we won’t start a frame after 5.15, so by the looks of things we’ll be at least two short in this session. Tonight is going to be an absolute monster, all the more so if Higgins can get himself in front.
Anyhow, Higgins was first in with 19, and we’re now enveloped in a safety exchange.
Or rather, we’ve been back a few minutes, but my everything crashed.
And we’re back.
So Selby wins the mini-session 3-1, probably the minimum that either player would have accepted. It is thrilling, tense, dramatic, wonderful stuff; I’ll see you on the other side of the mid-session.
Selby leaves a taxing yellow and Higgins takes it on, missing – and flicking the pink to leave it! Down it goes, then a fine pot to sink the green, and after 45 minutes, here we are!
I’m not having Higgins as Nadal after all – it took him too long to win his first world title. He’s more Murray, but older.
It looks like Selby has left a cuttable red, but Higgins taps the table and plays safe. Two shots later, perhaps he wishes he hadn’t, because Selby spanks home a long red. But he needs position on the yellow, just above the brown which is on its spot, and doesn’t really have the angle on the blue. The pink is another option but that’s a much harder pot, so he takes the blue, can’t get position, and has to play safe. I know I’ve said this before, but whoever pots the yellow…
“Having not followed the snooker for a few years I found myself wondering if John Higgins has already been through the redemption narrative of winning the big cup after his ‘troubles,” emails Ian Copestake.
Higgins isn’t quite that guy – this is more like Rafa Nadal winning a slam or somesuch.
This is now the longest frame of the match, up at 35 minutes. Whoever pots this final red should win it, with all the colours nicely set – the score is 40-37 Higgins.
Oh, shot! Higgins leaves a long pot, which Selby hammers into the top-left. And he’s even got an angle on the green to disturb the remaining red, sat on the top cushion. The green duly goes into the middle, but the cannon on the red isn’t hard enough so it’ll be a thin contact and back into baulk. He plays it beautifully, the green, blue and pink all in the road … but Higgins responds with a beaut of his ain!
The balls, the balls! Higgins plays a red off the side cushion to send it down the table, it flicks the blue, and goes in the hole! Then he pots the blue, only to cue horribly across one with the rest – it goes in anyway – and so does another blue. But the two remaining reds are on the top cushion, so it’s end of break; whoever has the better of the upcoming safety exchange will likely win the frame.
“Selby is the first player since Hendry who loses a session but you still just shrug and know that he’ll win anyway,” emails Greg Phillips.
Yep, I’d say that’s probably so. If he can win today, and even if he doesn’t, he looks ready to dominate.
This is really tough work for Higgins, and his break ends when he plays a run-through on a red – a stun would’ve left him on a colour. So, Selby is back at the table and leads 33-28 in what is a vital frame, even more vital than all the other vital frames.
Higgins rolls into the pack and Selby spends quite some time evaluating whether or not a red is on, cueing from inside the cluster and cutting to the top-right. He’s certain that it is but can’t satisfy himself, then he does, and then he misses it! Higgins now has a chance for 12-9, which would leave us where we were at the start of play.
A safety exchange is delicately ended with a blinder of a pot from the champ. The white is up in baulk, green side, and he plays towards the middle to clip a red back towards that same green side, top corner. Brilliant! But he finishes on nowt, so puts Higgins behind the green.
Higgins catches a safety shot too thick, cannoning a red, but this time it’s him with the run – it pulls up close to the cushion and baulk line on the yellow side.
Selby runs out of position, so his break ends at 32.
“As you surely know, Gardener’s World got bumped off BBC2 by the snooker on Friday,” emails Andrew Benton, “and what a Friday to do so, on the cusp of the most important gardening weekend of the year. To make amends for this, could you do a MBM of next week’s Gardeners World, please.”
What makes it the most important weekend of the year? But I’d love to, and while we’re here, not doing the final of University Challenge will go down as my biggest disappointment, whenever I get to do one of the questionnaires they used to ask footballers in Shoot! and Match.
Selby is obviously deeply troubled by that previous frame; he’s just picked out a terrific plant – the two balls where not close to one another – and a kiss on the brown allows him to pot that and proceed back up the table for more points.
Maximum breaks have become a bit of a thing – Ronnie O’Sullivan pretty much failed to make one on purpose earlier in the week – so here’s Barry Hearn having his say.
Selby will be aghast to have lost that frame – two despicable misses made that possible – but there won’t be many times in his career that John Higgins has lost six frames in a row, so what can you do.
The Wiz is making hard work work work work work of this, but he clings on and compiles a crucial clearance of 78.
One good cannon and this is done, but so profoundly is Selbo focused on achieving it that he forgets to sink the black! Higgins is back, and knows he daren’t miss.
Selby cuts in a red, played as shot to nothing, and whaddaya know! As skill would have it, he’s on the black! It’s a weird one, too – he sets it off nice and slowly towards the middle, it looks like it’s not going in, and gradually it curves towards the edge of the pocket. Big chance for all-square now.
Except this is Mark Selby we’re talking about, which means Higgins is soon behind the yellow and “tapping the table in appreciation”. His escape is close, but not close enough and still a foul and a miss; there’s mirth and hilarity and Jan Verhaas is helped replace the ball by the marker. Eventually, Iggins is in position to miss again, potting the white off the brown, more chuckles and chortles, and he does it again! It’s Biggus Dickus territory now, folk creasing and corpsing all over the show, and this time Iggins gets his flick and the exchange recommences.
Faced with the choice of easy blue or missable pink, Higgins chooses the former, but with more work to do with the white, he cannons the brown. The break is 29, but that’s all it is; an excellent safety shot, played while hampered by the yellow, puts him in a strong position to stop the rot.
The Wizard is rolling now, a lovely recovery red cut home, followed by a yellow into its own pocket that he uses to cannon the pack. The split does badly, but he manufactures a delicate pot, striking down, nonetheless.
Higgins can scarcely believe his mazel! He cracks in a red to the green pocket, so beautifully that the “and it’s there!” rings out well before it goes in. Selby looks like he’s had 63 pints of snakebite followed by a bucket chaser.
Oy gevalt! Selby is so focused on getting the white around the back of the cluster to the black, he only goes and misses the red!
Oh dear. Higgins wades into a long red, hits it much too thick, and leaves it as an easy starter into the opposite middle.
Steve says Higgins is “losing it a bit”, but just as much, Selby is selbying and the balls have run in his favour.
Higgins sinks the loose red, but has to double the black; he misses, and that’s five on the spin! Higgins leaves the arena, and desperately needs this next frame.
This has been an excellent run – Dennis has never seen a frame like it, so it’s fair to say you haven’t either. He finishes on 40, the compilation of which took eight minutes. Higgins is now back at the table, 51 behind with 52 available. But the black is on one side cushion, the pink on the other, one red kissing the green and one on the bottom cushion.
Selby is working this break out really well – of course, he needs more reds than normal because he’s taking low-value colours, the blue, pink and black being tied up. It seems no sort of problem.
Talking of books read as a child, this one, Secrets From The School Underground, basically taught me everything I needed to know – and some things I probably didn’t need to know that I absolutely needed to know, aged 10. It’s still brilliant now.
There is now one red roundabout the pink spot, and the rest all above it. It reminds me of a book I read as kid, The Boy With Illuminated Measels. Anyway, Higgins wobbles one in the jaws of the yellow pocket – it’s a decent effort – only for it to cruise all the way over to the yellow pocket, and Selby is up sharply. It’s beginning to look a lot like 10-8.
On the other hand, we may be here no time at all. One mistake, and the frame is done.
There are now seven reds in the baulk half of the table, and they’re playing into and out of the morsels which comprise the cluster. We may be here a while.
That last frame was the longest of the match so far; we now look set for another of similar ilk, as they exchange containing safety.
Selby plays a terrific shot to crack the pack, with ridiculous power off the bottom cushion and back down again. But then he misses a straightforward red with only eight points on the board … only to leave nothing! The run of the balls is in his favour this afternoon.
What on earth! Higgins absolutely slams the black, catches the near knuckle, and Selby is back at the table! What was Higgins thinking?
Excellent safety shot from Selby, but he’s left a red, and what a pot from Higgins! He cues this beautifully – the object ball is about halfway between the white and the pocket. All he has to do now is deal with the black, clip the bottom of the cluster, and he’s in!
Very quickly, the white is nestled in the reds, and they’re playing away and back in; prime rerack territory. But then Higgins plays back up to the baulk line and we’re back to normal.
Hazel Irvine whispering minds me of a time in Primary School when the headmaster retired. The deputy head told us to bring in cash to buy him a present, whispering in the process; he was in Israel at the time.
Higgins barely had a look at a pot in that frame. He badly needs to chap himself the next one.
Selby wants to win this session apparently. And he also wanted to win the first frame. Similarly, the first hour is crucial.
Driiiiiiink! We’ve had our first “WHERE’S THE CUE BALL GOING?!” of the day. The answer is in the yellow pocked, and Selbz will now deposit at least as many points as he needs to win his fourth frame in a row.
Selby can’t build much of a break, but he’s close to having the frame secure – all the more so when excess side has Higgins clattering into the brown. There are balls scattered all over, but Selby doesn’t put him back – oh how the crowd chortle when JV suggests he does – and a further safety exchange ensues.
A poor safety from Higgins has Selby back at the table, and after a red and a pink, he plays a lovely shot striking down on the cue ball to keep the break going. “The best I’ve ever seen with awkward bridging,” says Dennis Taylor. I might just copy that to my clipboard, given how many times I’ve learnt it this week.
Selby wobbles in a pink – it takes four turns around the jaw before it finally relents – but quickly runs out of position, so plays safe. The break was 21, and he now leads 31-1.
“Afternoon Daniel,” tweets Stuie Neale. “Think this may go late but I don’t think too late. I think Higgins will win 18-12.”
I’d be surprised if he won today 8-5. Selby is the best in the world and has been playing like it – if Higgins wins, it’ll be much closer, I’d expect.
Higgins takes on a pot – the red is close to the top cushion and near the top right. It looks impossible for him to overcut it – if he hits it, it’s in. Except he does overcut it, Selby then rolls another red into it and he’s away!
Selby misses a red into the middle, but played as a shot to nothing, and when Higgins is too pacey with his resultant safety, there’s a red on. But Selby misses into the top-left – he’s in big trouble now! Except he’s not because a noble-double-kiss – a quadruple kiss – a double-kiss squared – leaves the white in the jaws of the top-right.
After some time taken to ponder – and were there a world championship of the same, Selby would be a leading contender – he opts not to open the pack any further, probably wise given how trickily things are now set. So he takes a red with a green, then another red, and tucks in behind the blue, on the side cushion, green side. The break was 10 and there shall begin a “fascinating safety exchange”. This is going to be so good.
Selby catches a red far too thin – far too thinly, I should say – but Higgins quickly knocks in a red. But then he jaws a tough blue, and though it – along with the black – is now out of commission – the pink is in play. There is, though, a serious quantity of werk to be done.
“Watching the snooker on German TV because that is “wie ice rolle,” emails Ian Copestake. “Its always a pleasure to listen to the legendary snooker commentator Rolf Kalb, who in terms of enthusiasm makes Klopp sound unhappy…”
It’s funny you should say that. When Selby was busy beating Ronnie in 2014, Liverpool were busy collapsing against Crystal Palace – a bad night for Steve Peters. And tonight, they visit Watford; spooky, eh?
Higgins leaves Selby a tempter, but he eschews; it’s going to be a long day. Get in!
Selby breaks off. He’s even money, with Higgins 8/11.
And out comes the Jester.
Out comes ‘Iggins…
When Selby beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2013, Selby was 10-7 down overnight. The difference there was the deficit should’ve been much, much worse, but the performance he delivered on day 2 was phenomenal. It was perhaps the first time O’Sullivan was beaten when he really didn’t want to be.
Housekeeping: first to 18 wins, so Higgins needs another eight and Selby needs another 11.
Right then, here we go!
“I’ve been trying to think of reasons he won’t win it and I can’t come up with any.” Thus spake Stephen Hendry of Mark Selby, and at the time, it seemed bang on; and even if it didn’t, who is anyone ever to exist in the entire history of existence to argue with him?
But Hendry had reckoned without two very important things: the will and skill of John Higgins, which have very few equals in any sport. In the first two-thirds of yesterday’s play, Higgins, one of the few players in history capable of matching Selby’s tactical pecking, absolutely put it on him; without a late fightback, we’d be preparing for a coronation, and hoping for any kind of session this evening.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/may/01/world-snooker-championship-final-2017-mark-selby-v-john-higgins-live
A professional performance from United puts them a point behind Manchester City, whom the meet on Thursday night, while Burnley, though nearly safe, are still not safe yet
So, bye – thanks all for your company and comments, sorry I couldn’t use them all.
You can now join Jacob Steinberg for what’s left of Arsenal-Manchester City:
All of this means that United stay fifth, but move three points behind Liverpool, who play Palace shortly, and one behind City, whom the meet on Thursday.
Burnley remain 15th, five points ahead of Swansea in 18th.
Mourinhoesque from United, who were always in control of the game, organised at the back, sharp in midfield and dangerous in attack. Burnley, meanwhile, couldn’t quite find the necessary spark or intensity, nor the bounce of the ball on set-pieces. They remain probably safe, but not necessarily safe.
90+3 min You’ve got to laugh: Eric Bailly goes down, and for a second looks injured. But he’s quickly up, and the game proceeds.
90+2 min “Though we won’t know definitively until later in their careers at United (or elsewhere) whether Mourinho has man-managed some of his players in the best way,” emails Matt Loten, “ultimately, Martial has played very well today, and Shaw had an excellent game against Anderlecht on Thursday. This following criticism that many were quick to suggest was overboard. Wayne Rooney, as well, has been eased out with the minimum of fuss, Fellaini is no longer booed onto the pitch, and Juan Mata – who most thought would be the recipient of a one-way ticket out of Manchester upon Mourinho’s arrival – remains an important, and seemingly happy, member of the squad when fit. Throw in the fact that Mkhitaryan has improved as the season has progressed, and it seems to me that whilst you might question Mourinho’s selection policy at times, his handling of players has been pretty spot-on. Every player he has dropped or criticised has come back into the team and given him the performances for which he has asked.”
That’s one way of looking at things, I guess, and there’s certainly some truth in it. On the other hand, he ought to have got more from Mkhitaryan and Martial earlier in the season, and if he had, United would be happily ensconced in third or fourth.
90+1 min There shall be four added minutes.
90 min The ref books Hendrick for an earlier scythe on Fellaini, and Carrick replaces Pogba.
88 min Rooney seizes on a loose clearance to swing a low shot wide from just outside the box, then Pogba breaks from midfield and curls another low shot just wide of the near post. I was about to wonder why he’s still on – I guess because United haven’t scored a third – and he’s now down getting treatment.
87 min Gary Nev points out the job that Fellaini has done in protecting Blind from any physical contact which is fair in a way – Fellaini has played well, as he did off the bench on Thursday. But Blind can also take care of himself, most of the time.
85 min Eric Bailly loves a scrap, so gets involves in a tangle of legs with Agyei, kicking through his, wrapping them up, all that kind of thing, before eventually conniving a free-kick.
83 min Herrera, who’s “in a good moment”, slides a lovely pass down the line for Rashford, and with Heaton coming then backpeddling, he takes the shot early. But he goes for the near post when he should go across goal, allowing Heaton to shove behind fairly easily. Goalkick, apparently.
82 min Martial takes a blow after a very decent effort, replaced by Mkhitaryan.
81 min That’s six goals and six bookings for dissent, as per
@Fino76 on Twitter/
79 min And there it is! Wayne Rooney is booked for dissent after Pogba is penalised for a foul! Brady takes the free-kick, clipped flat towards the back post, where Keane is up first but can only head wide. “Made too good a contact,” reckons Gary Nev.
78 min Martial has made 77 sprints today, more than any other player. That’ll be what Mourinho is after from him, and it’s shown. Turns out the double European champion and multiple league winner knows something about the old association football, even more than folk on www.twitter.com and doers of the Guardian MBM.
77 min Nice from Agyei, a deft touch moving the ball away from Young, but then he leaves it behind and Bailly moves in to snaffle.
75 min Agyei replaces Barnes.
74 min Looking again, Ward probably managed him into touch with two hands to the shoulder. But it was on the ref’s blind side, so nothing to see really.
73 min Rashford puts himself in a race with Ward, putting the ball in behind and setting off. Ward does really well to “manage him into touch,” as Gary Neville puts it.
71 min “There seems to be this prevailing idea that Martial’s best position is as a striker,” emails Rajiv. “While this could turn out to be true he has played the entirety of his Monaco, Man Utd and France career as a winger. All his best performances for Man Utd have come as a winger, and I’m not sure why there’s a huge need (baring injury) to keep trying him as a striker?”
I guess because a player of his quality is worth more in the middle of the pitch. But today, I imagine he was used there because Mourinho wanted pace in that position and also wanted to rest Rashford.
70 min It’s Lingard who departs – I’d wondered if it’s be Rooney as he’s come back from injury, but also to give what might be Thursday’s front three a run together. But Lingard, whose played a fair bit lately, is rested.
69 min And again – Ward raps in a low cross, turned away by Bailly. He’s had a very good ten minutes.
68 min Super cross from the right, swung over by Lowton, but Bailly is up again to head clear.
67 min Marcus Rashford will shortly be upon us – for Rooney, I imagine.
65 min Lowton is late catches Rooney late on halfway, ploughing through the back of him, and is booked.
64 min Burnley seem to have run out of ideas, such that they ever had any, but then, finally, Gray manages to drag and isolate Blind out wide, skipping clear and skimming over a nasty low cross. Bailly, though, is on his mettle, and clears dextrously as Barnes threatens.
63 min Lingard stretches through the middle and finds Rooney to his left, who slips. As you’d expect, everyone laughs.
62 min Change for Burnley: Gudmundsson replaces Boyd.
60 min Jose Mourinho has an interesting decision to make on Thursday night when United visit the Etihad. Marcus Rashford will come back in, but at the same time, it makes little sense to wait all season for Anthony Martial to do the necessary and then drop him as soon as he does. Both could play, but Jesse Lingard has earnt a spot too and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the kind of player able to compete with City’s close-passing midfield.
59 min Martial has played more as an inside-left than a centre-forward, but he takes possession in a more central position then suddenly steps on the gas, sliding a pass through the middle for Rooney. He can’t quite gather it, and is spluttering away when the ref gives a goalkick, not the corner he felt was his due after Keane came across to challenge.
57 min Corner to Brunley down the right, and again United cope well, Fellaini nutting clear.
55 min Martial is so hard to defend when he’s in this mood, quick and able to go off either foot. He isolates Keane, opts to diddle him on the outside, and shoves a square pass across the six-yard box that’s smuggled behind for a corner. It’s quickly cleared, but then Herrera slings over another very presentable ball that no one can quite reach.
54 min Pogba finds space outside the box, left of centre, and rattles a low heat-seeker towards the far post which Heaton pushes away.
53 min It’s worth noting that Daley Blind has been quietly impressive at centre-back so far, all the more so given how Mourinho disparaged him recently when bemoaning his ill-luck in having only Rojo and Bailly for that position. Blind has inalienable flaws, it’s true, but had many fine games last season.
51 min Already, Burnley are finding more time and space in midfield, United sitting deep and actually looking relatively organised. Ah, and there’s Mourinho on the touchline frantically gesturing at his players to get up, while the home crowd voices its frustration at the number of sideways passes attempted.
49 min United have switched off in more than a handful of games this season; if they do so this afternoon, they might well get punished. Talking of which, is a handful more than five, or just more than any amount that reasonably fill one’s hand – tricky when the currency is football matches.
47 min Boyd finds space out on his left for the first time, but with men in the middle can only sling a floaty cross behind.
46 min Oh dear. Ben Mee has an ankle injury, so he’s been replaced by James Tarkowski.
46 min United set us off once more.
It’s taken a while, but United finally appear to be on a roll. They’ve not been dazzling, but they’ve defended well and attacked with enterprise and speed; Martial in particular has been very good, with Pogba, Lingard and Herrera also making crucial contributions. Burnley, meanwhile, need to try and gang up on Bailly and Blind a little more, because there are errors there; the problem is they’re finding it hard to get decent possession, though both Barton and Hendricks have delivered two or three clever moments each.
In short, it’s both easy and hard to see how Burnley get back into this.
45+2 min The rest of the half disappears; Hendrick has one run at the heart of United’s defence, but Pogba pulls alongside and takes the ball away.
45 min There shall be two additional minutes.
43 min Couple of moments for Burnley: they win a second ball off another free-kick launched from halfway, and Gray does really well to turn free of Fellaini, lashing a shot goalwards that’s blocked by Bailly. Then, from the corner, Mee again handles Herrera, but Gray misses his kick, swivelling on the knockdown.
42 min Gary Neville seems to have Mourinho on a no-loser, here: if Martial plays well, dragging him is great management; if Martial plays badly, the manager was right all along. Might it also be possible that he should’ve got this performance from him sooner?
As I was saying. Lingard’s pace and movement stretch Burnley before Pogba pounces on Brady’s poor header just outside the box, turning to simultaneously outskill and outmuscle both him and Barton. He then slides a straight pass into Martial’s stride, gathered nicely to lose Mee, and though Heaton is out sharply to block him off, the ball breaks for Rooney, who scuffs a sidefooter against Keane’s inside calf, through his legs, and just over the line.
37 min If Rooney gets the caution for mouth that’s coming to him – he spent a fair while whinging about the penalty he didn’t get – that’ll be more cards for dissent than goals this season.
35 min United give away another free-kick, about 40 yards away from goal, left of centre. Brady goes to whip it in, but is interrupted by the ref, drawn to some argé-barge between Pogba and Lowton. When, eventually, the the ball arrives, it’s hit flat towards the far post, where Blind does really well to get between Mee and it, diving in to shepherd behind for a goalkick.
33 min A lull.
30 min Rooney accepts possession on the edge of the box and Barton bumps him over from behind. This could easily be a penalty, but there’s a little room for doubt, so the ref says no, and just about legitimately.
29 min “Lloris?! I expect that you support Conte or Poch over Dyche as manager of the season,” retorts Astra Lee, “which Dyche deserves if Burnley stay up.”
Definitely not Pochettino, but it’s hard to look beyond Conte. Not because he looks likely to win the league, but because he took a team on its arse, taught them how to play a particular way, and put together a ridiculous run that burned off the other challengers even before spring. Rarely has a team been so obviously defined by managerial brilliance – Conte should be player of the year as well.
28 min Gary Neville can’t believe Barton didn’t foul Martial in the build-up to the goal, but here he is back in the game, a clever pass releasing Lowton down the right. His cross is low and hard, a pearler, but no one’s attacking the near post and De Gea claims easily enough.
26 min Heavy touch from Fellaini, so Barnes confiscates possession and Fellaini flicks out a boot at roughly knee-height. Ouch. Somehow, Fellaini escapes a card, and then Brady’s free-kick is too close to De Gea, who snatches well before Mee arrives.
25 min So, what do Burnley have? They’ve not offered much in open play so far, and will be wary of committing men forward given what’s just happened to them. As for United, it’s a fair old while since they’ve scored a goal like that against a tea not chasing the game.
25 min Pace, movement and numbers up front make a difference. Who knew?
23 min It is probably fair to say that with Zlatan in the side, United don’t score that goal.
Rooney scrambles the ball out to Martial who megs and eases free of Barton, who amazingly eschews the chance to
pull him down. Martial then goes right to Herrera, whose cross – it’s more of a pass, actually – is typically studied, slid into stride. Martial then takes a clever touch when he might have thrashed, before sliding home a brilliant goal.
stub a cigar out on his eye
20 min Fellaini is late on Barnes for no reason, but the free-kick is wasted and eventually united break…
18 min United break, Lingard rinsing through the middle and snapping wide to Rooney once the Burnley defence narrows. Martial is in the middle and Rooney looks for him, so it’s not entirely surprising when he nearly scores with a cross that floats towards the far top corner.
17 min Again, within 12 mins, Tom Heaton’s two great saves showing why De Gea’s position in the PFA team of the year is utter nonsense,” vexes Astra Lee on Twitter, and I agree – at least in part. De Gea certainly has no business in that team, but I might have gone with Ser Lloris.
15 min Superb from Hendrick, taking Barton’s clever pass and bursting past Fellaini into the box, whereupon he nutmegs Herrera. Swivelling into a cross, Blind slides in ahead of Gray to concede the corner, hit to the back post, where Mee escapes the over-matched Herrera … but can only head over the top.
13 min United have started to play a little, Pogba allowing a pass from Darmian across his body before floating forward. He tries a shot, but it’s blocked and then Brady unfurls a fantastic pass for Gray, whose shot is blocked by Fellaini.
11 min Darmian goes down the left and slaps a pass inside to no one, but United quickly recover possession and Herrera finds Young on the opposite flank then accepts a return and tosses in a brilliant cross. Lowton is forced to concede the corner, which Fellaini meets well, only to head close enough to Heaton such that he can smother.
9 min Great block Ben Mee! Martial finds himself in space on the left side of the box and drags the ball past Ward before clipping back for Herrera. He does really well to take a touch and move on one for Rooney who, from six yards out, looks set to score. But Mee goes down on both knees in front of him, smothering a tame shot which allows Heaton to catch easily enough. That was a chance.
8 min “For readers without Alessandro Del Piero images, please find attached pictures of Mr Dyche’s sideburns in both home and away kits,” emails William Hargreaves.
6 min Burnley win a free-kick on halfway, which, naturally, Heaton tosses into yon mixer. Fellaini doesn’t bother jumping, so Keane flicks-on, and from an acute angle, Brady lashes a left-footer over the top.
5 min Gray runs at Darmian, who does really well to intercede just as he looks certain to be done for pace. He’s actually played pretty well in recent weeks, though remains nowhere near the standard of the players who’ve preceded him.
3 min Heavy touch from Gray down the right, and he’s forced to turn and run towards his own goal. This allows Pogba to nick the ball of him, but before he’s even mid-lank, a tackle raps his ankle. Gray does well to avoid a card for that.
2 min “There’s nothing worse than a Wayne Rooney who is eager to prove a point and make an impression,” emails David Flynn. “Today he’ll no doubt task himself with the role of out-and-out striker/deep-lying playmaker/end-to-end winger/in everybody’s way. The headless chicken role.”
Tangentially, has there ever been a player whose nightmares were as intense as Wayne Rooney? With a bigger gap between highest and lowest level?
1 min “A loose one from Joey Barton”. Ctrl C, Ctrl V.
1 min Burnley set us away!
Mourinho maintaining his record of having Ibrahimovic on the pitch somehow for every second of the season.
Sky have Martial playing through the middle, with Rooney on the left.
Out come the players!
Can’t they just tell them?
Jamie Carragher thinks that Michael Keane should leave Burnley but not go back to United, on the basis that he’ll still be known as the kid who came through. He also mentions that Jones and Smalling will consider him thus, though I’m far from certain both will still be at Old Trafford next season. If a centre-back arrives, one will definitely have to go.
Anyway, what was Louis van Gaal thinking, selling Keane but keeping Paddy McNair? Dearie me.
“The last time Manchester United beat Burnley at Turf Moor (19th April 1976), Apple Computers had just been founded, the Ramones had just released their first album and videogames were barely starting out,” emails Christopher Flaherty. “Don’t see us ending that run today to be honest.”
Looking at that United side, it’s hard to see who’ll take responsibility, if Pogba doesn’t. But, on the other hand, there are a fair few players who can make the difference in a single moment of quality.
Sean Dyche has diagonally-pointing sidies, just like Alessandro Del Piero in the late-90s. He is as cosmopolitan sartorially as he is tactically.
Of Burnley’s 36 points this season, 32 have come at Turf Moor. Sky are now showing us the game between the teams at the start of 2009-10, won by Robbie Blake’s brilliant goal. That night, Wayne Rooney allowed Michael Carrick to take – and miss – a penalty which, with United losing the league by a point, was a crucial oversight.
Also on Martial, Neville says he was pleased to hear Mourinho call him out for not working hard enough, as he thinks it too. That’s a shame, as he’s a brilliant talent, though you wonder if harder work ought to have been coaxed from him by now.
Gary Neville says he’s heard that Rooney won’t be playing up front today. If so, that’s a big chance for Anthony Martial, though I’m not convinced he has the instinct, or at least makes the runs of a centre-forward.
In that connection, Marcus Rashford is left out, and with good reason. He gave everything in midweek and last Sunday, and will be needed in more important games. You’d not trust his team-mates to get it done without him, mind.
Mourinho is sad for his players as individuals, not for his team – what compassion! Zlatan, he explains, is close to the end of his career, and Rojo was playing as well as he ever had, having finally won a spot at centre-back in the Argentina side. Geoff Shreeves decides to ask whether Zlatan will play again, and is given microscopic shrift.
The obligatory question about Rooney follows – “is he at the top of his game and raring to go?” That too is batted away, and what comes next is telling: Mourinho says that rather than the home game against Burnley, when United had 43,986 shots without scoring, today he’s expecting two shots and two goals.
Talking of Martial, it might just be that Zlatan’s injury saves his United career. He looked certain for the off this time last week, but he ought to now get games; if he can play as he did last season, he’ll be a hard man to shift.
So, about that team news, then. Burnley make one change, and it’s up front: Gray replaces the injured Vokes. As for United, out go Romero, Valencia, Rojo, Shaw, Carrick, Mkhitaryan, Rashford and Ibrahimovic; in come De Gea, Darmian, Blind, Young, Herrera, Fellaini, Rooney and Martial.
A team who’re safe against a team who make eight changes, and two of whom played 120 sapping minutes in midweek: yes, we’re in for a cracker this afternoon, alright.
I say Burnley are safe; I say Burnley are safe; and they are. But they’d not mind just a couple more points, and whatever happens, they’re not the sort to toss it off.
Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Barton, Hendrick, Brady, Gray, Barnes. Subs: Flanagan, Defour, Westwood, Gudmundsson, Tarkowski, Pope, Agyei.
Man Utd: De Gea, Young, Bailly, Blind, Darmian, Ander Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba, Lingard, Rooney, Martial. Subs: Carrick, Rashford, Romero, Mkhitaryan, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe.
Daniel will be here soon. In the meantime, here’s José Mourinho on Manchester United’s injuries.:
José Mourinho has admitted Manchester United “are in trouble” due to an injury crisis after Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo suffered what are feared to be season-ending injuries in Thursday’s Europa League victory over Anderlecht.
United have been drawn to face Celta Vigo in the semi-finals of the tournament after beating Anderlecht 3-2 on aggregate. Lyon will play Ajax in the other semi. Mourinho, whose side play Burnley in the Premier League on Sunday, said: “We are in trouble. In this moment, Eric Bailly played six matches in a row, and we lost Marcos Rojo, we don’t have [Phil] Jones or [Chris] Smalling, we are in trouble and now we lose Zlatan too.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/apr/23/burnley-v-manchester-united-premier-league-live
An excellent all-round performance from Manchester United gave them a comfortable win over the league leaders; they move back into fifth, while Chelsea stay four points ahead of Spurs at the top
Anyway, thanks all for your company and comments – sorry I couldn’t use them all. Otherwise, enjoy the rest of your weekends, happy easter and chag sameach. Bye!
Well fellow football mavens (or mevinim, if you prefer) – as football mavens, obviously we all expected that, didn’t we? That being, for the first time this season – the first time in two seasons – United played for 90 minutes, and with intensity and conviction; why? Anwyay, they were well-worth their win, and though they’re still stroogling for the top four, the momentum, confidence and pro forma will help them in Europe. The question now is whether and how they change things, given the difference made by two quick, busy players up front, and whether for Marcus Rashford that was a landmark performance.
Chelsea, on the other hand, just need to forget that this afternoon ever happened. Over 32 games they’ve proved themselves the best team in the league, they’re still top, and have more than enough to get the points they need to become champions. But for the first time, they’ll be thinking about things.
90+4 min In commentary, it is noted that the handball before united’s first goal can be Chelsea’s only complaint. Sagely, Martin Tyler notes that they had 83 minutes to resolve matters, and I agree – if you’re arsed about refereeing decisions, you’re doing football wrong. Here’s something to read on that.
90+3 min Tim Fosu-Mensah is rewarded for bringing Mourinho an apple, brought on for Ashley Young.
90+2 min “The standard Mourinho late substitution this season has been put on Fellaini ‘to shore up the defence’ after which United look massively more unstable,” emails Adam Roberts. “Maybe he’ll learn from the calm presence of Carrick after today?”
I’d agree with that, though Fellaini has played well today, harnessing his mongrel and making some useful passes and challenges.
90+1 min There shall be four added minutes, we’re told, as Gary Neville nominates Herrera as his man of the match, for making a goal, scoring a goal, and nullifying the best player in the league. I’d still have gone Rashford, who set the tone of the game, but yo can’t really argue.
90 min Fabregas is late on Carrick, who goes through with his clearance anyway before being caught with a trailing leg. He’s briefly feart of a red card, but the yellow he’s given is fair.
88 min Chelsea appear to have accepted the result. Of course, they’re still putting it in, but as a matter of principle, not with kavana.
86 min Assuming, for a second, the scoreline stays as it is, Chelsea’s lead will be four points. Will that be enough? With apologies for coming over all Garry Cook and answering my own questions, I’d say so: needing to gain two games with only six left is pretty difficult, all the more so given that Chelsea haven’t looked likely to falter. Anyhow, in fascinating subplot news, the meet Spurs in the Cup semi-final next Saturday.
84 min Cahill welcomes Ibrahimovic to the game with a late challenge on halfway.
82 min Change for United: with the game won(!), Marcus Rashford, who has been a one-man forward-line, is replaced, and the young whipper-snapper, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, given a run-out.
81 min United are bushed. Both Pogba and Young have recently had the ball at their feet and space in front of them, but neither had the kayach to keep going.
79 min Fabregas, who’s made a difference, lifts another pass over the top, this one for Hazard, and he does all he can to catch up with it, sliding down the slope behind the line in the process. Meantime, Martin Tyler takes us along a line of ex-players in the crowd, completely failing to recognise the grey-bearded Franck Lebouef. My churlish mind finds this amusing.
77 min Chelsea still push – perhaps Carrick for Lingard invited them to do that, perhaps it’s natural for United to drop, perhaps the better team are just playing better. Anyway, they win another right-wing corner, and again United get it away. They’ve defended really well today, second balls and loose balls especially.
75 min Fabregas unfurls a long, straight pass over Rojo, looking for Costa; Rojo drags him down and is booked, before the free-kick sails into De Gea’s clammy hands.
74 min It’s not a question that appears to have vexed Mourinho, but throughout this season, there have been suggestions that United might be better off without Zlatan. Not because he isn’t good, but because they need mobility up front. Perhaps, though, the answer is just to play two strikers – a diamond might work with this squad, given Pogba and the lack of wingers.
73 min It’s absolutely caning it down now, as Hazard runs away from Herrera towards the touchline. Shin must clip heel, because Hazard quickly finds himself on the floor, and is booked.
72 min Pedro gets in behind Darmian and laces a low cross looking for Costa, but De Gea dives to snaffle.
71 min Similarly, if only it was Matic who was unwell and not Alonso, we could have the headline ILLMATIC.
69 min I know it’s worse than murder, but I’d love Matic to gob at someone some day, so we can have the headline PHLEGM MATIC! Anyway, Rashford, found by Fellaini rousts at Luiz and Kante twisting this way and that, pulling the former over, and lashing a shot towards the near post that Begovic dives to claim. This has been an excellent display of centre-forward play.
68 min Chelsea are beginning to exert authority. No chances as yet, but if they score once, you’d not back against them scoring or this United conceding. Oh, and Willian is on for Matic.
66 min Herrera and Costa arge and barge in the box, so there’s a delay pre-corner. Eventually it comes in, picking out the obvious mismatch that is those two, but Herrera does superbly to slide in, facing his own net, and wrap his foot around the ball which allows one of his chumsies to clear.
64 min I say this advisedly, but Chelsea look bereft of ideas. As I say that, though, Hazard burrows into the United box at inside-left, forcing Bailly to concede a corner. Rojo powers is away, and when the ball comes back, Pedro, wide on the right, cuts inside and flings a curler over the top. De Gea must’ve got a touch, though, as it’s another corner.
61 min Fellaini does really well to mug Azpilicueta and Fabregas, poking back to Carrick, who immediately slides a lovely pass forward to Rashford. On the half-turn, he slams in a shot from 20 yards that ruffles the side-netting.
60 min “They’ve got their own handshake like the Tottenham boys,” says Martin Tyler, as Lingard says farewell to Rashford. Who’s going to tell him? Anyway, Carrick is on.
59 min What United have shown today – and the two up front have made it so – is the rabidity that’s been missing in pretty much every other game this season. If they’d played with this attitude on a regular basis, they would not be locked into a loveless marriage with sixth place.
58 min Fabregas shows why he’s on the pitch, a quick free-kick hit with expert’s eyes and instep, catching Bailly and finding Costa. But Rojo was on hand to smuggle the ball back to De Gea.
57 min And here comes that change – Michael Carrick is preparing himself.
56 min Mourinho also got his team spot-on in midweek, then ruined it with a bad substitution, taking off the excellent Rashford and replacing him with the less than excellent Fellaini, who duly did nothing as Dendoncker powered past him to equalise for Anderlecht. Can he keep it going this afternoon?
55 min Change for Chelsea: off goes Moses, to pursue sea-splitting peripherals, and on comes Fabregas. Chelsea go to a back-four, with Azpilicueta on the right and Zouma on the left. Hazard is now playing as a number ten.
54 min This game is far from over, but perhaps this is the signature win that Mourinho needed. Under him, they’ve beaten only Spurs of the top seven, and that in a low-key before they seriously got going. This, perhaps, is different.
52 min Oh dear, oh dear. After that first cross from Young that Luiz cleared, Cahill helped up Lingard, who had attacked it, as the ball was coming back in. Noogies and wedgies for him when they get back to the dressing room.
52 min Again, Lingard finds Rashford, receives the return, and lashes a shot over the top.
Rashford’s free-kick is overhit, but Young retrieves it over the other side and drills in a nasty low cross that Luiz does superbly to send back to him. This time, he strolls by Kante and looks to shoot, only for a desperate toe to poke the ball to Herrera who, from 20 yards, leathers a shot that clips Zouma and loops past Begovic. That’s Herrera’s first league goal of the season, and today, he’s barely had a kick, yet has also imparted two of the most decisive examples of the same.
48 min Cahill takes a chance, stretching high and hard to win a loose ball off Fellaini; he misses, and is booked.
47 min In synagogue tomorrow, we read about the crossing of the Red Sea; Moses plays for Chelsea. I’ll take 10% of all winnings.
46 min Darmian is in sharply on Pedro, deep inside the Chelsea half – United start the second half as they played the first, as they’ve played very little of the season.
46 min Willian is getting himself ready.
46 min We go again.
“It sounds like a great game,” writes Ian Copestake. “All niggle and potential handbags. Who needs geniuses when we have grown men doing petulance and simmering resentment?”
O jogo bonito incarnate.
“Bobby Madley seems to have a blind spot for arms,” emails Nate Elliott. “First he ignores Herrera’s extended arm in the lead-up to the goal. Then he watches Rojo swing an arm (twice) at Costa but takes no action. He’s not excelling himself today, is he?”
I’ll cut him a break on the latter, he’ll be relieved to know – I’m not sure there was very much in either of those. But missing the handball was odd – my inclination is he thought it was fast enough and close enough to deem accidental.
Mourinho being Mourinho, will he leave things alone or, knowing that Conte will adjust, try and pre-empt him?
So, Antonio Conte has work to do, but in a way he’ll be pleased. The available evidence tells him that he’ll rearrange successfully, he knows his players won’t play as badly in the second half, and also that United have but a one-goal lead. We should be in for a belter.
United have been excellent, sharp in the tackle and clever up front. As a consequence, Chelsea have been discomfitted.
45+2 min Valencia, deep inside the Chelsea half, darts in off the touchline and finds Lingard, who lays back for Young … he thrashes a presentable chance a quite remarkable distance over the top.
45 min There shall be two additional minutes, a minimum of.
45 min Tyler says that perhaps Conte has been caught out by Mourinho playing the same way at Old Trafford as he did in Cup at Stamford Bridge. There are two differences, though: one is Rashford up front, and the other is a proper partner for him.
44 min Neville reckons Hazard should play down the left, taking Herrera out of the game; he’s certainly got to do something, because it’s passing him by.
41 min Chelsea have been better these last few minutes, with Lingard and Rashford quieter. But they link again down the right, making Cahill look like, er, Cahill, before Luiz and Moses rescue him.
39 min “I reckon Mourinho finds most football mundane,” melfis Kevin Wilson – presumably not the Kevin Wilson. “How can he be motivated against the likes of Burnley or Stoke? He lives for grudge matches. Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid – teams who’ve wronged him in the past. So he makes sure he picks the players in his image. Workhorses like Valencia or Young, or thugs like Rojo and Fellaini, with Herrera somewhere in the middle.”
His needle seems to have lost that air of mischief that made him likeable in the first place; he doesn’t really seem to be enjoying himself anymore. What we’ve seen so far today, though, is much more like the old him.
37 min This Rojo-Costa rumble is nurturing a pleasing tetch. A long ball sees Azpilicueta shove Young in the back and nod across, where the pair compete. Both end up on the floor, Rojo behind Costa, and he wraps an arm around his neck before both fling themselves to the ground, each clutching his phizog. The ref tells them to behave.
35 min Chelsea win a free-kick down the right which Hazard will take – Rojo thunks it away.
35 min “I used to keep my place in the Sunday league team by washing the kit,” admits Alun Pugh. “Always collected it in a black bin liner and threw it in my garage after the game. It stank so my line manager wouldn’t have it in the house. But one Sunday night after a few beers I put one bag too many out for the Monday bin men. Try explaining to your team why a dozen newish jerseys and shorts ended up in landfill.”
Minds me of this, courtesy of red hockey bibs.
33 min Costa is on a rolling boil, and can’t help but extend on Pogba, with the ball gone. Studs are imparted to instep, and that’s a booking.
32 min Hazard is wandering about pulling Herrera into places he might rather avoid. Gary Neville suggests he try and make him defend – I think what we’re seeing here is the benefit of the extra man at the back. Wherever Herrera goes, his team won’t be short-handed, even if those hands are hamfists, another problem entirely.
30 min In commentary, Tyler and Neville are discussing the understanding between Lingard and Rashford, though they’ve never played together as a pair. This is only half an hour of one game, but Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke were generally on opposing sides in training, then one day they were paired together at Southampton and things just worked.
29 min Rashford is all over this, speedwriggling between two challenges down the right before laying back to Pogba. He espies Young, loitering outside the box, but the pass is slightly behind him, and as a consequence, the ensuing shot bobbles wide of the far post.
27 min Chelsea have swapped their wing-backs, presumably to get Azpilicueta on Rashford, who’s enjoying bare joy down the right.
26 min “John Robertson was a football genius,” tweets Gary Naylor. “Main man in a double European Cup winning side all from the 1 yard of space he played in.”
The Andy Reid of his day. But yep – I’m a bit young to have seen him, but the consensus says aye.
25 min Luiz charges forward and a heavy touch is about to see the move break down; ever the gent, Fellaini obliges him with a foul. He’s given a warning, but no card.
23 min United win a free-kick 25 yards out, right of centre, which Rashford bends in. Kante dives to head clear and Chelsea break menacingly, but are quickly unloaded, whereupon Rashford screeches around Moses and whips over a cross from the right. Fellaini can’t quite get over to the near post, but even so, Begovic has to dive and strongarm clear.
22 min What we’re seeing from United is the benefit of two men up front. Given Ibrahimovic’s desire to drop off, and the unwillingness of the rest to pile into the box, they look far more dangerous than usual, looking to score rather than waiting for it to happen.
20 min The answer is eight minutes; the question is how long does it take for Rojo to extract revenge. He reaches around Costa to reach a goalkick, introducing studs to ankle. The free-kick is cleared easily.
19 min Antonio Conte is wearing a baseball cap with his syoot. The score is a fair reflection of that.
18 min Amazingly, this is quite a good game – when Chelsea get going, we could have something serious.
16 min Excellent from United, Valencia hammering a low pass into Rashford, who touches off to Lingard. Showing his underrated football brain, he slips in Young, who shoots low and hard – Rashford is millimetres away from touching it in.
14 min Rashford appears again down the right – after his first league goal in ages at Sunderland last week, he was excellent in midweek. I wonder if United would have more points had he played more games in the middle. Anyway. Costa isolates Bailly on the left touchline, draws him in, and skips away. Naturally, he’s fouled, and the free-kick comes to nowt.
12 min Carragher suggests Hazard change positions to see how far Herrera will follow him. In the meantime, he spreads play wide to Moses, and when the cross comes in, Costa leaves Bailly in a heap. Consternation follows, Rojo and yerman exchange slap and kick, and then everyone gets on with the game.
10 min Lovely long pass from Pogba, and this time Rashford worries Cahill at inside-right. The danger is averted, but United are playing this perfectly so far.
9 min “Under your conditions it might be argued that, whilst possibly the most gifted athlete the sport has ever seen, Ronaldo is not the creative genius that would be included on your list, reckons Edward Wall. “Less of a playmaker, more of a nuclear-level battering ram.”
Herrera, in his own half, blocks Matic’s touch with his hand; wittingly or otherwise, he’s far enough away and his arm’s far enough outstretched such that the ref, who’s close by, should blow. But credit to Herrera, who then turns, advances, and slides a superb long pass perfectly into Rashford’s stride; Luiz is sharp, but nowhere near sharp enough as two perfect touches do for him. Then, as Begovic narrows the angle – going to ground a little early, says this goalkeeping expert – he finds the ball slotted confidently across him. Perfect tactics from Mourinho, as I was saying, which is why it’s me with all the trophies and him on the MBM.
7 min Gary Neville is struggling to deduce United’s formation from the gantry, so I’m not going to try. Herrera, though, is deeper than Valencia on the right.
6 min Flick-on from Fellaini and Lingard nips in to rob Luiz, poking Rashford free. He might return the compliment but instead opts to shoot from just outside the box, tickling a drag wide.
5 min It’s been a slow start, featuring a bit of possession for either side, most of it slow.
3 min It’s Lingard and Rashford up front for United, while Herrera is man-to-man on Hazard. I must say, I don’t quite grasp that. Hazard is an excellent player, the best in the league, but he’s not Maradona – or even Bobby Charlton, to give another example from football history. What’s a defence for, if not to defend the opposition’s best players? And who’s going to give United’s midfield the lost energy and bite?
2 min “Lighting the wrong end of a fag is good, but I can beat it,” reckons Gianlucca de Paoli.
“Whilst chatting to a girl I fancied at school I said something incredibly witty, and then suavely took a long drag from my roll-up, sucking the filter and the burning tobacco into my throat. It burnt my mouth so badly I could not eat spicy food for a month. It didn’t go anywhere funnily enough.”
1 min Alonso is unwell – Chelsea knew that to be so, but he thought he’d have a bash at playing.
1 min Off we go!
That reminds me of a non-romantic yarn. Driving around a roundabout I’d never before encountered, I indicated, then cancelled my signal upon realising that I was taking the wrong exit. This caused a car hoping to come into the traffic huge consternation – there was shouting and gesticulating aplenty. This caused them to stall, and as a consequence the vehicle behind shunted them onto the grass verge.
“In relation to Mourinho’s first season at Chelsea – Robben wasn’t a genii?” asks Edward Wall.
I’d say not. Brilliant player, but did he see things differently?
“Re: the romantic interest blunder scene, I was once disinterestedly observing a slightly sleazy man with a horrible gelled quiff chatting up a young Spanish girl at the Prince Albert in Brighton. As he was leaning in to watch her write her number on a slip of paper, he neglected to notice an open candle, which promptly set his greasy bonnet aflame. Luckily for our man, there was a full-size mirror directly in front of him, which allowed him to hastily pat out the fire and carry on as if nothing had happened before she had finished writing. Such a display of chutzpah have I never seen, and it almost led me to respect him despite his sleazy character. But the look on his face as he did a double-take, realising he’d momentarily turned into a human torch, will give me a little chuckle I imagine for the rest of my days. I only wish I’d not been the only person who’d seen it.”
The players are tunnelled. Like Mourinho’s team selection, the music is ironic.
“Messi, Neymar, Iniesta, Suarez, Ozil, Ronaldo, Aguero, Dybala, Sanchez, Modric, James and Hazard are all football geniuses, surely?” reckons Joseph Day.
I’d say not – Modric, perhaps, but the others are just very good players, not epochal ones with brains that see things differently.
Playing the way that United should dept: “The United starting XI has scored 12 league goals this season,” emails Simon MacKaye. “67% of those come from Pogba & Rashsford, the only two that have more than one league goal. Egad!”
Their performance this afternoon is going to demand the invention of new profanities. I’m quite looking forward to it.
“Having snared a comely lass at a a house party,” brags Gerry Wall, “we had retired to a bedroom and disrobed when she declared she needed a glass of water – a reasonable request. Being the gallant hero, I hopped out of bed threw on a garment, went downstairs and walked back into the kitchen with the party in full swing, wearing her dress. To this day, I have no idea why.”
That is far more heroic than embarrassing.
Kurt Zouma replaces him, so presumably Azpilicueta will move to wing-back.
“If lighting the wrong end of a cigarette is the most humiliating thing you’ve ever done with respect to a love interest, then in my experience you are a very lucky lad indeed,” emails Gene Salorio, whose own yarn is en route.
Er, if only; it was but one example.
Courtois hurt his ankle playing basketball for an ad of some sort! “I think it not important,” says Conte when asked how he did it.
Pour aller à la gare?
“As soon as football chatter mentions the word ‘system’ I switch off and think of the joy that is players no system could contain,” says Ian Copestake. “Your Hagis, Romarios and Daglishes, etc. Genius is where the joy is. Not systems. Are there any geniuses in football at the mo? Hazard? Nah.”
Hmmm. Off the top of my head, I’d go Ronaldo, Messi, Iniesta, Suarez.
“He’s tired – very tired,” Mourinho says of Zlatan; “overtired”, some might say. “I’ll try to protect him but let’s see the result. He’s on the bench and ready to help.”
“Are we going to see how Chelsea handle a bit of pressure,” Graeme Souness is asked. He retorts with his usual menacing shrift.
I was about to begin a riff asking what’s the weirdest thing that your kids have caught you doing, then thought better of it, so tentatively.
And to link it to the preamble, what’s the most humiliating thing to happen while trying to ensnare a romantic interest?
“Read by cities, the top seven is London, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Liverpool Manchester, London,” notes Greg Phillips. “Said aloud this has a pleasing rhythm, but now I can’t stop saying it aloud and my children think I’m odd. Though that’s nothing new.”
Henry VIII was some boy, eh?
Email! “Apologies if this point has been made a zillion times,” emails Rob Hobson, “but Mourinho’s preferred system – safe, hard to break down, good without the ball – really only delivers titles if he gets a billion quid to spend on infallible defenders and two or three attacking genii to conjure the win. And god, is it hard to watch. I’m starting to wonder if the only way to restore his once-lustrous sheen is to take Chesterfield to a European final. Anyone care to disagree?”
I think I do. At Porto, he wasn’t given that money and the genius was him, at Chelsea he just added his Porto players to what was already there and had no genii, he didn’t have money at Inter and the genius was him.
While you wait: Jesse Lingard starts again for United, either wide, at wing-back or up front. Here’s a piece on why he earned and is worth his new deal, with some thoughts on what it might be that people find so awful about him.
Liverpool have won 1-0 at West Brom; they surely have enough points on the board now. As for what finishing below them says about United and Mourinho, ahem.
Another note: Anthony Martial, United’s top scorer last season and generally brilliant talent, is not even on the bench. His Thursday-night cameo in Brussels was horrible, it’s true, but the idea that a team as impotent as United, let alone a team as impotent as United without its top-scorer, has no use for him, well. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t moved on in the summer.
As rumoured this morning, Chelsea are without Thibaut Courtois, but far worse keepers than Asmir Begovic, behind far worse defences, have done ok against United this season.
So, what to make of that United team? Well, Mourinho is prioritising Thursday’s game against Anderlecht, and fair enough; Ibrahimovic has played a lot and probably wouldn’t get much change out of a three-man defence. But that back-five is something else, a sarcastic comment on the very notion of the game of football, a slap in the face of the vicious authorities who ask teams to play games when games are scheduled. My guess is that the plan is for Rashford and Lingard to pull Chelsea’s markers about, fed by bad crosses from the wing-backs and long passes from Pogba. If United get anything out of this game, it’s going to be revolting.
So, what to make of that Chelsea team? Everything and nothing.
Manchester United (5-3-2 or 4-3-3, a stinker either way): De Gea; Valencia, Darmian, Bailly, Rojo, Young; Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford. Subs: Romero, Blind, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw, Carrick Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic.
Chelsea (Coherence): Begovic; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Hazard; Diego Costa. Subs: Eduardo, Zouma, Terry, Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Willian, Batshuayi.
We’ve all been there. You finally get with the person you always fancied, only to discover that you’re both boring and past it; I believe they call it marriage. Still, that’s part of the fun of things, finding a way to hate it less than everyone else; I believe they call it winning.
Except look, there’s that baldy with the pheremone spray and pulling method loved-up with your tedious ex, the pair sporting a complete absence of baldness, pheremone spray, pulling method and tediousness, destroying your swag with the effortless cool that was once all yours. Ah.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/apr/16/manchester-united-v-chelsea-premier-league-live