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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
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
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