Daniel Harris

Author's details

Name: Daniel Harris
Date registered: September 28, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/football/burnley

Latest posts

  1. Tour de France 2017: Mollema wins stage 15 as Froome retains yellow jersey – as it happened — July 16, 2017
  2. Pakistan chasing Sri Lanka’s target of 237 to win in Champions Trophy – live! — June 12, 2017
  3. Mark Selby beats John Higgins to win world snooker championship – as it happened — May 1, 2017
  4. Burnley v Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened — April 23, 2017
  5. Manchester United v Chelsea: Premier League – as it happened — April 16, 2017

Author's posts listings

Jul 16

Tour de France 2017: Mollema wins stage 15 as Froome retains yellow jersey – as it happened

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

5.03pm BST

So thanks all for your company – enjoy the rest of the weekend. Bye!

Related: Chris Froome holds on to yellow jersey as Bauke Mollema wins stage 15

Related: Tour de France: Chris Froome gives ‘maximum’ after suffering puncture

5.01pm BST

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.

4.57pm BST

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.

4.56pm BST

Of course, Barguil has extended his lead in the row for the polka dot jersey.

4.54pm BST

1. Bauke Mollema
2. Diego Ulissi, 0.19
3. Tony Gallopin
4. Primoz Roglic
5. Warren Barguil, 0.23

4.52pm BST

Victoire de @BaukeMollema !! / Mollema takes the win #TDF2017 pic.twitter.com/WnhFiv0TpS

4.51pm BST

Incredible that Mollema held on so comfortably – not easily. The chasing lot never got within striking distance.

4.50pm BST

What a performance! He’s been brilliant today, and fully deserves that maiden success.

4.49pm BST

Mollema has absolutely smashed the granny out of this, and he’s grinning to himself as he powers through the last few hunnert metres …

4.48pm BST

Mollema is looking nails! One more kilometre and he’s hame!

4.48pm BST

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.

4.46pm BST

Barguil, 14 seconds behind, is looking to have one last dart.

4.45pm BST

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.

4.43pm BST

Landa is just taking the piss on everybody. Once he starts to pedal with both legs everybody will be hurting @LeTour

4.40pm BST

You can leave your hat on… #TDF2017 pic.twitter.com/wVYLwx6HaO

4.40pm BST

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.

4.38pm BST

The chasing four are organising themselves as they barge through a headwind.

4.36pm BST

Barguil and Roglic are 20 seconds behind Mollema … and Ulissi and Gallopin are also in the chase now!

4.34pm BST

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!

4.32pm BST

Roglic has made a move.

4.31pm BST

Froome and Landa are having a schmooze; I wonder what about? Brexit or the weather, probably.

4.29pm BST

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.

4.27pm BST

Mollema is really putting it on them. Can he hold it down?

4.24pm BST

Mollema is about 18 seconds clear at the front, but it seems inconceivable that he can lead them home from here.

4.19pm BST

Change at the front! Mollema leads, with Caruso, Ulissi, Pinot, Pauwels, Benoot, Gallopin, Barguil and Roglic in pursuit.

4.18pm BST

Quintana is now over a minute behind.

4.17pm BST

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?

4.14pm BST

Landa has headed back off towards the front.

4.12pm BST

Bardet attacks! Froome is going too!

4.11pm BST

Barguil is going to take the ten points for this climb … he’s looking strong in the fight to be king of the mountains.

4.11pm BST

4.10pm BST

Pauwels is after Barguil, but Barguil looks comfy … as comfy as you can look when amazingly uncomfy.

4.09pm BST

Froome is back with the group; can he stay with them through the next climb?

4.08pm BST

Sky’s Mikel Landa has dropped back from the leading group to try and help Froome-o.

4.07pm BST

“Cameron Carter-Vickers has the widest arse at Spurs”, offers Nathan Cooper.

It’s quite a selection.

4.06pm BST

Froome has lost his buddies! He’ll have to go it alone.

4.04pm BST

Quintana is all sorts. He can hardly stay upright.

4.03pm BST

Froome is about 30 seconds off Bardet.

4.03pm BST

And Barguil takes him out!

4.02pm BST

Martin looks shattered now – he can hardly move! He’ll be caught any second!

4.02pm BST

We have reached the brown stuff/reality interface.

3.58pm BST

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.

3.56pm BST

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?

3.53pm BST

Froome is 8.40 off the lead.

3.52pm BST

Froome, who has just changed a wheel, has closed the gap on Bardet and Aru.

3.50pm BST

The peloton has now split, with Froome in the second half. Carruso, his shirt flapping open, is leading the chase for Martin.

3.48pm BST

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.

3.42pm BST

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.

Tony Martin persévère et creuse sur l’échappée / Tony Martin keeps riding and the gap increases #TDF2017 pic.twitter.com/9Y3fMtKek6

3.41pm BST

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…

3.37pm BST

Afternoon again all – we’re just hearing about John Kerry’s brilliance as a cyclist, able to pound downhill like nobody’s business.

Special guest this morning for the team meeting. Thanks for being with us @JohnKerry. Enjoy the day next to @wegelius! pic.twitter.com/0W7krFvapw

3.35pm BST

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.

3.32pm BST

The Peloton is almost nine minutes back, now…

3.31pm BST

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!

3.29pm BST

Martin is enjoying himself: tucked up tight and coasting down hill.

3.28pm BST

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?

3.23pm BST

Clever work from Tony Martin, this. The lone wolf breakaway specialist has given himself breathing space as we move into the last 60km.

3.17pm BST

The temperature out there looks like it’s rising, incidentally. Up to 29 degrees C, which can’t be fun.

3.17pm BST

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.

3.11pm BST

Just 69km go, and the peloton deficit is back on the rise: up to 7.12.

3.06pm BST

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.

2.59pm BST

No doubt Daniel gave this a nudge earlier, but this is enjoyable. William Fotheringham’s week on Le Tour.

Related: Tour de France diary: Arnaud Démare’s men go down with their captain

2.57pm BST

The deficit of the peloton is up over seven minutes, and rising. Highest its been. That 28-man breakaway looking strong.

2.52pm BST

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.

2.45pm BST

Sean Kelly is going off comms, which is a huge shame, because, well, that voice. *Swoons*

2.44pm BST

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.

2.41pm BST

Right, your Will Macpherson is going to guide you through the next little bit … and here he is!

2.38pm BST


2.36pm BST

But the peloton is now nearly six minutes off the pace.

2.35pm BST

We’re embroiled in a quiet period.

2.34pm BST

“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.

2.31pm BST

Sean Kelly has a spectacular accent.

2.29pm BST

100km to go, the peloton 5.45 behind.

2.28pm BST

And yes, Martin had nipped off, and yes, he was summarily retrieved.

2.26pm BST

I should note that tomorrow is a rest day, and then we get on with the Alps and stuff. Eeasypeasy.

2.22pm BST

Has Tony Martin nipped ahead of the leaders? I think he may have done, and then been dragged back.

2.20pm BST

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.

2.17pm BST

Again, it seems like those in front will finish in front….

L’écart augmente, 5’40” maintenant / The gap increases, 5’40” now #TDF2017 pic.twitter.com/WJPOPmpG8G

2.16pm BST

105km to go, with the leaders 6.13 ahead of yer yellow jersey.

2.16pm BST

People; the very state of.

⚠ Please respect the race & the riders ⚠

Do not run alongside the riders. #TDF2017 pic.twitter.com/uOa1HpRxzI

2.15pm BST

70 km into stage 15, the situation settles with 28 riders at the front, 4”20″ ahead of the Peloton.#TDF2017 #TDFdata pic.twitter.com/9Vd9NFmg4X

2.12pm BST

The leaders now move through another picturesque village, more or less in single file.

2.08pm BST

Team Sky still boss the peloton, 5.15 behind the leading 28.

2.05pm BST

It’s about 28 degrees on the road, but with a light breeze. However, the finishing section is hot as.

1.58pm BST

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.

1.55pm BST

Something to read, now that you ask? Joy of Six: sporting beauty, featuring Eddie Merckx.

Related: The Joy of Six: sporting beauty | Daniel Harris

1.52pm BST

28 riders in the lead group today now, including ‘s @nicholasroche #TDF2017 pic.twitter.com/ntpw5IbESp

1.50pm BST

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).

1.45pm BST

We’re into the mid-section of today’s pain, with 129km still to go.

1.41pm BST

Carruso now leads Pauwels, Barguils, Van Baarle and Grmay in that order.

1.37pm BST

Matthews is after sprint points, so Barguil, flush with his mountain points, will presumably do all he can to facilitate his team-mates.

1.36pm BST

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.

1.33pm BST

Team Sky lead the peloton now, 4-odd minutes behind the leaders.

1.31pm BST

The Central is Massif! That’s what the next banner should say.

1.30pm BST

The leading group leads by 55 seconds from the 23 chasers.

1.28pm BST

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?

1.23pm BST

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)

1.22pm BST

And Barguil nabs the points, uncontested; Pauwels gets the one.

1.21pm BST

Barguil rises on his pedals to assert how little this awful pain is bothering him. The others let him be.

1.18pm BST

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.

1.11pm BST

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?

1.10pm BST

“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.

1.07pm BST

The peloton is stung-out; there’s a group between it and the leaders, including Mollema, Di Marchi and Roche.

1.01pm BST

Two men are rejoining the leaders: Van Baarle and Grmay. Well done them, that cannot have been easy.

1.00pm BST

Just 157km to go. I ran 10km this morning and you didn’t hear me complaining.

12.59pm BST

Tim Wellens of Lotto-Soudal quits for this year; he’s been struggling with allergies.

12.57pm BST

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

12.54pm BST

Froome’s group is now – are now – one of the two – are 2.46 off the lead. He’ll be down with that.

12.53pm BST

Barguil takes the ten points at the top of Montée de Naves d’Aubrac, extending his lead as he bids to sort the hills.

12.52pm BST

“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.

12.50pm BST

Barguil, current King of the Mountains, is still banging out the Ks at the front, and looking pretty not horrifically distressed about it all.

12.48pm BST

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.

12.46pm BST

“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.

12.45pm BST

Barguil is really putting it in. Already, it looks hard for anyone to catch the leading three, but of course it’s eminently possible.

12.44pm BST

Mollema’s break is fragmenting the peloton.

12.43pm BST

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.

12.39pm BST

Still Carruso and Pauwels leading the way.

12.39pm BST

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.

12.38pm BST

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.

12.34pm BST

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).

12.33pm BST

It’s not too hot today, at the same time as being hot.

12.31pm BST

The leaders will soon begin the first appalling climb of the day. The peloton has given up trying to catch them.

12.30pm BST

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.

12.25pm BST

A left-hand turn resolved a blockage in the peloton, and now a larger group is in pursuit of the leaders.

12.24pm BST

Froome is nicely ensconced in about 15th place.

12.24pm BST

Question: if you’re not French, is it in any way acceptable to call the Tour de France the Tour de Fronzz?

Clue: NO.

12.22pm BST

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.

12.21pm BST

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.

12.15pm BST

There’s a break of ten or so riders now, 19 seconds in front of the main group.

12.13pm BST

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.

12.12pm BST

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!

12.10pm BST

There were talks of an early break, but no such thing as yet. It all looks pretty pleasant for the now.

12.09pm BST

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.

12.05pm BST

Of course, Froome is now back in yellow, which increasingly suits his complexion as he piles on the Vitamin D.

12.03pm BST

The lads are on their way out….

10.07am BST

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.

Start: 12.10pmBST

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jul/16/tour-de-france-2017-stage-15-live

Jun 12

Pakistan chasing Sri Lanka’s target of 237 to win in Champions Trophy – live!

3.40pm BST

10th over: Pakistan 65-0 (Azhar 16, Fakhar 43). Fakhar doesn’t have to do much here, Lakmal – brought back after one over from Thisara – angling into the left-hander from around the wicket and missing his line. Bread and butter for a lefty, turned around the corner and beating the man at the 45. Four more. By the eight of the power play’s final over a further four come, helped by a legside wide. Pakistan getting a chance to lay an early knock-out punch, I reckon. Athers confirms that Pakistan did need to win in ten overs to top the group. So that’s resolved now, it’ll be India and Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Thursday. Delicious.

John Williams on the email is helping me out on rivers and music. Perhaps not the most conventional OBO topic but let’s run with it. “Here’s a fine tribute to chilling by the mighty River Taff courtesy of tremendous Cardiff girl group The Baby Queens.” Thanks. Here it is.

3.34pm BST

9th over: Pakistan 57-0 (Azhar 16, Fakhar 36). Pakistan’s 50 is up through the Pradeep over. They’ve got their act together after looking ropey to begin. Then INTO THR RIVER AGAIN! What did I say about Pradeep? He’s done nothing wrong here, winning the fattest top edge slogging to midwicket, but instead it has gone out of the ground at third man! Get the fandangled bat speed machine on Fakhar’s blade there, I say. That’s gone bloody miles. A new ball comes out for the second time in as many overs. Oh I should add: Pradeep won his edge more conventionally to begin the over. The nick, of course, fell just short of first slip. Urrrgh. 13 more from the over. Sri Lanka another half hour or so from being out of this game.

So then, sticking with the Melbourne/river theme. Our Kylie and Our Nick with Their Duet.

3.29pm BST

8th over: Pakistan 44-0 (Azhar 16, Fakhar 24). WHOA! Into the RIVER goes Azhar to the first ball of Thisara Perera’s day. Have some of that. More or less right over his head. Reminds me of a club ground sometimes, Cardiff, with so many balls lost into the River Taff. Umpire Gunner Gould brings out a box to pick from. Certainly one way to break the proverbial shackles. He’s back to form, playing back along the carpet, immediately thereafter. When Fakhar gets his turn he doesn’t miss a beat, flogging Thisara back past his feet for four more. Making a nice dint in this chase now. A wide follows. Not a great start at all from the quick. 13 from it.

A song about rivers. It’s a little bit sweary, but a lot good. I’ll have another one for you next over.

3.23pm BST

7th over: Pakistan 31-0 (Azhar 9, Fakhar 19). Thrilled to see The Unluckiest Man In World Cricket Nawan Pradeep get a jam roll, replacing Malinga. He gets about with a bit of colour in the hair, a mullet out the back as well. Can move it both ways, in the air away from right handers and off the seam back towards them. The Sri Lankan Jimmy, how I described him last year. He’s into it early here, beating Fakhar on the outside edge then Azhar on the inside. I reserve the right to get very excited if, for just this once, things go his way.

Pakistan will need a new captain and keeper if they are found – after the game – to have been more than two overs behind the rate…

3.19pm BST

6th over: Pakistan 27-0 (Azhar 7, Fakhar 18). Athers on the box doing some expert computer analysis of Malinga’s action. Boils down to this: he’s hitting the shiny side of the ball rather than the seam, making it hard to swing. In the middle, Azhar fires a shot for the first time today, over the 30 yard circle and to the rope down to midwicket. Not the most convincing hoick you’ll see in this comp, but sufficient. Much more encouraging for Pakistan is the straight drive that follows, albeit straight to a fielder. He retains the strike with a single clipped to square leg, a sweeper out there early. Six to the slower of the two men from it.

Some colour here about semi-final tickets. In short: don’t play with touts if you’re an Indian fan who picked up one for Cardiff.

Info with regard to semi final tickets. pic.twitter.com/y0MnhvJe8X

3.13pm BST

5th over: Pakistan 21-0 (Azhar 2, Fakhar 18). Malinga again. Another quick single where Azhar looks exposed, failing to slide his bat properly, to the brief excitement of fielders. But he’s home. Only that and another single from the set. No hurry here, of course. But Azhar could do with getting his act together.

Chandimal being retired off by Sri Lankan fans on the interwebz. Bit harsh, given he stitched together – from memory – six half centuries on the spin about nine months ago. But I do admire the photoshop.

Hope this is Chandimal’s last limited over match for Sri Lanka #ThankYouChandimal pic.twitter.com/snf5BWlMfp

3.09pm BST

4th over: Pakistan 19-0 (Azhar 1, Fakhar 17). The Sri Lankan fans break stride with the drums they have going in the outoer to give Azhar the Bronx Cheer when he finally gets off the mark, 15 balls after his arrival. Lakmal beat him with the first of the over too. But let’s himself down to Fakhar ending the over with a gimme on the hip, the opener making no mistake. He’s away.

Bit going on in the Shires, evidentially. Join Will Macpherson in another tab. County cricket: bloody hell.

County cricket – bloody hellhttps://t.co/DBaVbHjUu4

3.05pm BST

3rd over: Pakistan 14-0 (Azhar 0, Fakhar 13). “Have a look how UFO-like the ball comes down” asks Simon Doull of Malinga. You know what, I reckon we noticed that at some point over the last 15 years. The bowler twice overpitches on the spin here though, Fahkar taking both to the point boundary. The first was a full toss, but the second require some lovely timing to beat the ring. Malinga reverts to round the wicket. Doull adds to his earlier criticism, to be fair to him. He believes that Malinga once upon a time was more upright. Yeah? The change of direction has changed nothing though, Fahkar hitting the off-side rope for the third time in the set, courtesy of a delightful cover drive. Malinga ends the eventful over with a beauty, beating the left-hander with one that straightens after pitching. Handy.

If Zaman bats sensibly, no one will be able to call him a silly Fakhar… #ct17

2.58pm BST

2nd over: Pakistan 2-0 (Azhar 0, Fakhar 1). Pakistan’s run comes from Lakmal’s first delivery of the afternoon, a legside wide. Surprised Pradeep hasn’t got the new one – he is class. Blimey, what did I say about Pakistan never doing things easily? A clean pick up and throw – from Gunathilaka again, would have surely had Azhar back in the sheds, a suicide single for reasons that only the two in the middle can explain. Of course, he missed the pick up, so the throw never came. Village. No further runs. Get ready for chaos.

Of openers to have batted 10 innings since the 2015 WC, Azhar (79.19) has the 2nd lowest SR in #CT17. The lowest? Shehzad’s 74.61 #SLvPAK

2.54pm BST

1st over: Pakistan 0-0 (Azhar 0, Fakhar 0). Malinga has the new ball and immeditely finds his length, Azhar shouldering arms a couple of times then displaying a nice, straight blade. OH NO! DROPPED CATCH! Azhar flogs a shorter delivery to gully and Ghunathilaka has put it down. Sharp chance, low. But after batting the way they did it has to be taken. The replay doesn’t flatter, nothing wrong with the catching height. A maiden that should be a wicket maiden. Well then.

2.50pm BST

“You can’t judge a pitch until both teams have batted.” Simon Doull’s take as they walk back on. To the White Stripes, of course.

But why can’t you? The both teams/judgment line is used a lot. Hell, I’ve almost certainly said it. But in this rapid world of ours, why can’t we judge a track earlier than that? Don’t they evolve across the 100 overs anyway? Ponder that. Okay, we’re on.

2.46pm BST

Afternoon. Thanks, Daniel for steering us through the morning. Pakistan’s quicks have done their bit. Can their sketchy batting list do the same and pop them through to the final four? On paper, of course they should. But I’d be surprised if it was easy. I’ve watched a lot of Pakistan over the last few years and nothing is easy.

Phil Russell is straight out of the blocks with a query on the email. “How many overs do Pakistan need to get these in to have a good enough NRR to win the group? Guessing it’s about 10?” Oh yeah, I like this. But I have absolutely no clue how to calculate. Despite doing this for a living, I leave NRR and DLS to others. Someone fancy having a bash at it for us before they players arrive?

2.24pm BST

So, thanks all for your company and comments; Adam Collins will be here presently to narrate the chase.

2.24pm BST

Sri Lanka batted pretty well through most of that innings, but were undone, first by Hasan Ali and then by a brilliant post-drinks spell from Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir. Or, put another way, Pakistan are Pakistan so pakistaned; and as such, might still lose.

2.22pm BST

That’s not enough is it?

2.21pm BST

Pradeep leaps back to try and turn to leg but instead loops up a return catch via leading edge. What a performance from Pakistan!

2.19pm BST

48th over: Sri Lanka 235-9 (Malinga 8, Pradeep 1) Malinga takes a single, Pradeep does likewise, and then a slower ball absolutely befuddles the former. It’s impossible to watch limited overs cricket and not wonder how its finest exponents will do in Tests, and I can’t wait to see Hasan; he finishes with 3-43 from his 10 overs, and with seven wickets in the tournament sits behind Plunkett and Hazlewod in the list of bowlers.

2.16pm BST

He’ll throw the bat! Except Hasan has sent him an off-spinner that makes it harder for him to generate the necessary power to clear the long boundary. Instead he picks out the fielder, ending a gutsy, intelligent and crucial knock.

2.14pm BST

48th over: Sri Lanka 232-8 (Gunaratne 27, Malinga 6) Amir’s first two balls cede just a single, and then Hasan Ali dives very nicely to stop Malinga’s flick around the corner. Naturally, Amir responds with a bouncer – Gunaratne has been backing away, so the bowler followed him – and there’s a brief pause but no new helmet. Gunaratne, though, remains unshaken, adding two and enjoying a wide, before taking a single to retain the strike. Will he throw the bat or take whatever he can?

2.10pm BST

47th over: Sri Lanka 226-8 (Gunaratne 23, Malinga 5) Hasan continues and the batsmen look for singles … Malinga taps to cover, and breaks into a stroll well before Hafeez shies – if he hits it’s out by miles … but he misses. Next, Hasan slams it in, and Gunaratne looks at something in his midriff, and at the same time scoops a one-bounce. The no-look Gunascoop.

2.05pm BST

46th over: Sri Lanka 218-8 (Gunaratne 17, Malinga 3) Sanjay Manjrekar reckons Hasan has been the picks of the bowlers; I’d go Junaid, who returns here to finish off. And after two singles and a wide, he ought to have another wicket! Gunaratne plays a reverse flick off a low full-toss which loops up to short third man; it’s a dolly, but Faheem Ashraf leaps unnecessarily and spills it nonetheless.

1.59pm BST

45th over: Sri Lanka 214-8 (Gunaratne 16, Malinga 1) A run a ball gets around 245; a run a ball and a big over gets around 260. Sri Lanka are still properly in this.

1.58pm BST

As I was saying, Hasan Ali was just about to send down a off-cutting slower delivery that induced Lakmal to slog and miss far too early. The ball duly clips the very top of the bails – for extra amusement, entirely without his knowledge. Byeee! Off you pop!

1.56pm BST

45th over: Sri Lanka 213-7 (Gunaratne 16, Lakmal 26) The excellence of this comeback cannot be overstated. Of course, Pakistan were never going to sustain that frankly repulsive brilliance, but Sri Lanka could easily have been tempted by the prospect of home. Yet they were not.

1.53pm BST

44th over: Sri Lanka 210-7 (Gunaratne 25, Lakmal 15) Amir returns in place of Hasan, but his first delivery is too straight; Gunaratne eases it down to fine leg for three, Fakhar again saving the boundary. Lakmal, meanwhile, is enjoying himself; he turns two away to mid-on, then smacks a fuller one over the bowler’s head to the fence.

1.50pm BST

43rd over: Sri Lanka 200-7 (Gunaratne 18, Lakmal 12) The batsmen are in now, and it looks like they’ll post a target to give Pakistan pause; you’d back them to chase 240, but with someone else’s money. They take three from the over, raising their team’s 200 in the process; the partnership is 33.

1.47pm BST

42nd over: Sri Lanka 197-7 (Gunaratne 16, Lakmal 11) Hasan serves Lakmal a half-volley, and credit where it’s due – despite his confusion these last few minutes, he doesn’t miss out, slamming four through mid-off. And after a leg-bye and a single, he raps four more; Hasan is bowling fuller than before to remove the tailenders, when his shorter length was working fine.

1.44pm BST

41st over: Sri Lanka 187-7 (Gunaratne 10, Lakmal 8) Imad sends an arm ball at Lakmal that totally hoodwinks him by doing absolutely nothing, so next go he tries to mow into the leg side and takes it on the boot. There’s a strangulated appeal, but that was going just dow, and Lakmal does better thereafter, stroking a single to long-off. No more runs from the over, though we should note that Umpire Oxenford signals wide, is told by his partner that the ball flicked the pad, so overrules himself.

1.40pm BST

40th over: Sri Lanka 185-7 (Gunaratne 9, Lakmal 7) Hasan isn’t as on it as he was earlier, which tells us that it’s probably time for a jaffa. But not this over, which sees a princely one added to the total; to be competitive, Sri Lanka need another 60, I’d say.

Rob Smyth returns to note that “These *profanity as a compliment* won a World Cup after losing their first game by 10 wickets, being bowled out for 74 in the third and winning one of the first five games!”

1.37pm BST

39th over: Sri Lanka 184-7 (Gunaratne 8, Lakmal 7) Sarfraz, who has captained superbly since winning the toss – his changes and field placings have been very good indeed – brings on Imad. His first delivery flicks the pad, and it looks close though still going down, then is followed by five more dots. The boot has stopped stamping the throat, to tread on it instead.

1.34pm BST

38th over: Sri Lanka 184-7 (Gunaratne 8, Lakmal 7) And here’s the man who started it the first time: Hasan Ali has the ball, and he won’t wait to be asked. He’s not bowling that quickly though as he searches for his line, ceding three; who’d have thought that’d count as welcome respite half an hour ago?

“Initially thought it was a huge gamble to bowl first,” emails Nabeel Younas, “what with Pakistan being awful at chasing half-decent totals (never mind huge ones), but it’s paying dividends at the moment. It’s nice to see all the seamers playing their part. In the past, one or two would play well but be let down by an expensive spell by another errant bowler.”

1.30pm BST

37th over: Sri Lanka 179-7 (Gunaratne 5, Lakmal 5) It’s always invigorating to be reminded that amid the scoops, flat-bats and slogs, brilliant bowling beats all else. Things have quietened for a second – perhaps it’s time for Hasan – but it doesn’t much matter.

“Both times Pakistan won a global tournament they were thrashed in the opening game,” recalls … RA Smyth, obviously. And they also won in Cardiff last term. Good luck, England!

1.26pm BST

36th over: Sri Lanka 174-7 (Gunaratne 4, Lakmal 1) And Hasan Ali has six overs left! I’m not sure he’ll need all of those. But Gunaratne sees five wides added to the score, before Amir slings down a rare yorker – somehow, an under-edge earns a single. It is amazing how quickly this game has been effectively finished … or has it? This is Pakistan after all.

1.23pm BST

35th over: Sri Lanka 167-7 (Gunaratne 3, Lakmal 0) That was last ball of the of the over, but let’s not mither with fripperies of that ilk. We are in the presence of greatness, we are in the presence of Pakistan. Savour every last sensation.

1.22pm BST

What a spell this is, at both ends! This is back of a length and moves just as Thisara plays, then spanks his edge on the way past, to be snaffled in front of his phizog by Babar at first slip. That’s a fine catch! Sri Lanka don’t know what has hit them! Pakistan has hit them!

1.20pm BST

35th over: Sri Lanka 167-6 (Gunaratne 3, Thisara 1) Every run is now a struggle. Re the haal, read and love this.

Related: Exploring the soul of the Pakistan cricket team

1.16pm BST

34th over: Sri Lanka 165-6 (Gunaratne 2, Thisara 0) Amir is bowling sharply now! But Thisara finds a leg-bye, then Fakar lets the ball through his legs at point and they run two. The crowd are absolutely loving this; every ball is an event, and Pakistan are swarming Sri Lanka now! In steams Amir, Gunaratne edges, and Sarfraz looks to have taken another brilliant catch, diving right and holding low! Except his momentum rolls him over, the ball spills, and the soft signal is not out; the tape confirms it. Can Sri Lanka bat the 50?

1.11pm BST

What a catch this is. What a catch this is. And what a wicket this is! Dickwella edges unexpectedly, so Sarfraz changes direction and slides a glove under the ball, on the dive. That three wickets for one run in 12 balls since drinks!

1.09pm BST

33rd over: Sri Lanka 162-5 (Dickwella 73, Gunaratne 0) This is such an attack. Wicket-maiden from Junaid, and 320 has suddenly become 270.

1.07pm BST

The haal is rolling! Junaid, whose last over was a beauty, slants in a full one which nips off the seam, zooms away from the bat, kisses its edge, and is taken behind. De Silva, who only arrived yesterday, is probably wondering why he bothered.

1.03pm BST

32nd over: Sri Lanka 162-4 (Dickwella 73, De Silva 1) That was Amir’s first wicket of the competition, and ramps up the pressure on Dickwella; he is going to have to carry this innings while the others swing around him. One off the over, to go with the cricket, and Amir is now up to 138 clicks.

Mathews’ average vs left-arm pace in ODIs is 28.31, his lowest against any bowl type. He is yet to face Aamir or Junaid in this inns. #CT17

1.00pm BST

And there it is! Amir extracts some extra bounce and Mathews mistimes his flick to midwicket – he ought to have played into the off side really – sending an inside-edge careering into his stumps! My days did Pakistan need that.

12.58pm BST

32nd over: Sri Lanka 161-3 (Dickwella 73, Mathews 39) That break might just help Pakistan who are searching for something.

12.54pm BST

31st over: Sri Lanka 161-3 (Dickwella 73, Mathews 39) I think we’ll see Mathews going hard now; Dickwella will stick around, so there’s a chance for him. Sarfraz recognises this, bringing back Junaid, and he spirits a seam-upper past Dickwella’s outside-edge and then another! He felt for both of those, and how set he is tells you how good they were. And there’s another! Beautiful bowling.

“I kid you not, but am editing a draft paper by a co-author which has ‘commonly-used’, ‘ad-hoc’ and ‘near-total’, returns Kabindra.

12.48pm BST

30th over: Sri Lanka 160-3 (Dickwella 73, Mathews 38) In which regard Pakistan bring back Amir, but Mathews isn’t arsed; he takes a couple of stutter-hops down the track and clouts four over mid-on. He timed that so, so well – as he does a pull off a short ball, which only gets two not four because of an excellent stop from Azhar Ali. He is zoned.

12.45pm BST

29th over: Sri Lanka 151-3 (Dickwella 73, Mathews 30) “Something between the six and the eight will be on Sri Lanka’s mind.” Er, what might that possibly be? This is a good over anyway, four singles before Dickwella gets well forward to the final ball and slams it hard into the ground and away for four through cover. Beautiful shot., and Pakistan are back to needing a wicket.

12.41pm BST

28th over: Sri Lanka 143-3 (Dickwella 67, Mathews 28) Dickwella pulls a bad ball towards square-leg, but Fakar Zaman hares after it and saves a single with his dive; they run three. In commentary, they reckon Sri Lanka will be looking for five an over till about 37, at which point they’ll want their sloggers in.

12.39pm BST

27th over: Sri Lanka 138-3 (Dickwella 63, Mathews 27) Imad’s first ball is wide and pleading for punishment; Mathews picks out the man at point, and chastises himself accordingly. Oh my! After a single, Dickwella back away and, to paraphrase John Arlott, plays a chop so late it’s reincarnated. The ball was right in front of the stumps; that was as dicey as riley.

12.36pm BST

26th over: Sri Lanka 136-3 (Dickwella 62, Mathews 26) As I was saying, Mathews will immediately saunter down the track and hoist Hafeez for six. Next ball, he defends to leg, sprints down the track, AND IMAD SMASHES DOWN THE STUMPS AT THE BOWLER’S! BUT MATHEWS’ DIVE HAS PRESERVED HIS WICKET! That’s brilliant for both batsman and fieldsman. Nine off the over.

“Your point on spurious-hyphenation is so very-good and well-taken. This habit in-fact totally-annoying,” tweets Kabindra.

12.32pm BST

25th over: Sri Lanka 122-3 (Dickwella 62, Mathews 18) Imad returns and is gently milked, five come from the other and we’re halfway; Sri Lanka will have t turn it up soon, but not quite yet; they don’t bat all that deep and will need this pair to score most of their runs.

12.28pm BST

24th over: Sri Lanka 122-3 (Dickwella 61, Mathews 14) Hafeez isn’t spinning it, but is hurrying through overs so fast as to make them vanish. Four off this one.

12.26pm BST

23rd over: Sri Lanka 118-3 (Dickwella 58, Mathews 13) Fahim sends down an accidental beamer; Dickwella handles it well, hooking for one. It’s still a no ball, though, so Mathews has a free hit – or a “free-hit” if the scoreboard is to be believed. And really, what is it with hyphens these days; I recently saw a footballer described as playing “in-behind”. Er, ok. Anyway, Mathews flips for four to wide midwicket; the Lankans needed that. And they keep at it thereafter, adding four more singles and a two to make it 12 for the over, their most profitable since the fourth.

12.20pm BST

22nd over: Sri Lanka 106-3 (Dickwella 53, Mathews 7) Dickwella doesn’t get all of a sweep, but the ball drops short of deep square-leg and they run a one. It’s been a while since the last boundary, and the remainder of this over sees a wide, a bye and a single.

12.16pm BST

21st over: Sri Lanka 102-3 (Dickwella 51, Mathews 7) Aha – Fahim is back at Hasan’s end. Mathews takes a single, then Dickwella ramps him – Junaid almost runs past the ball, coming from wider. Athers uses this as an opportunity to point out that at Cardiff, you want your men fine, as the boundaries are shorter there.

12.12pm BST

20th over: Sri Lanka 100-3 (Dickwella 50, Mathews 6) Hafeez on for Fahim and Dickwella comes down immediately, taking one on the pad. So he waits for the next ball, turning to leg and ambling through for his fifty, which has come off 52 deliveries. Mathews then edges two, before imparting a leading edge that drops safe and adds one. Six an over from here gets 280, eight an over gets 340.

12.09pm BST

19th over: Sri Lanka 96-3 (Dickwella 49, Mathews 3) Sri Lanka have righted themselves somewhat, but need this partnership to do some work. After the batsmen add a single each, Hasan goes around the wicket to Dickwella, of whom he’ll particularly want rid; a single gets him down the other end, but a decent line and some extra lift discomfits Mathews, who swings at the final ball, missing.

12.03pm BST

18th over: Sri Lanka 93-3 (Dickwella 47, Mathews 2) Quick running earns Dickwella two, but Fahim retorts well with a skiddy delivery that shoots past the edge. But like Anthony Soprano Junior he struggles to maintain, sending down consecutive wides and ceding two further singles.

“I failed not to swear when I just checked the score.” emails Hugh Maguire. “This Pakistan attack…

11.57am BST

17th over: Sri Lanka 86-3 (Dickwella 43, Mathews 1) Hasan’s third nut is a nut, bouncing just enough, moving just enough, and making Mathews look cumbersome. He doesn’t get a touch though, so resets to go again. One off the over.

“Does sitting through a meeting without a single yawn count as an achievement? Ok I also looked ‘engaged’,” tweets Sraye.

11.53am BST

16th over: Sri Lanka 85-3 (Dickwella 42, Mathews 1) Mathews has a look, which makes this a chance for Pakistan; if they can get shot of him, they’ll be set. But he flat-bats one to point to get off the mark, then Dickwella, who’s still at the other end, gets a single of his own.

“Not sure this is my greatest achievement re my child,” emails Peter Salmon, “but the ONE TIME I forgot to bring a nappy bag with me, my one-year-old daughter Pearl threw up all over the back of the car while I was out shopping. I had to strip her naked and run to the nearest clothing shop. ‘Please help me,’ says I. ‘I need some clothes for my child!’ Not a good dad look. I may have set gender politics back several years, although it was in Shropshire, so maybe not. Oh, and surely ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ is more appropriate for a game featuring Lasith Malinga.”

11.49am BST

It’s all changed! Chandimal stretches to crack a wide one through cover, but doesn’t move his feet at all and ends up dragging on via bottom edge.

11.47am BST

15th over: Sri Lanka 83-2 (Dickwella 41, Chandimal 0) Pakistan needed that, and Hasan sends down a similar delivery, quick and nipping back but a touch shorter with a touch more bounce. Chandimal wears it on pubis and the fielders are up!

11.44am BST

Bazzer of a jazzer from Hasan! He goes wide of the grease and slings down a quick one which swings in and clatters the actual bails, middle and off. He celebrates like he means it too, and that’s Pakistan cricket right there!

11.42am BST

15th over: Sri Lanka 82-1 (Dickwella 41, Mendis 27) Pakistan don’t look like getting a wicket nor to they look like stemming the flow of runs. But Hasan is a wicket-taker, and nearly nobbles Mendis when he goes to flicks to leg only to inside-edge into the pad…

11.39am BST

14th over: Sri Lanka 81-1 (Dickwella 40, Mendis 27) Hello, hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me, is there anyone home? This morning I stubbed my toe on a ladder, and managed to yelp without swearing in front of my 3-year-old daughter; do email in with your finest recent achievements. Seven from the over, and their doing a fine job of accumulating without fuss.


In-play highlights from the winner takes all #CT17 clash https://t.co/vkgEHTQrLs#PAKvSL pic.twitter.com/K7KxxuBNCX

11.35am BST

13th over: Sri Lanka 74-1 (Dickwella 36, Mendis 24) Hasan Ali into the attack and he overpitches a touch, so Mendis welcomes him to the match with a drive on the up, more or less one-armed; his bottom hand flies off the bat while he plays the stroke. Hasan responds well enough though, ceding four singles from the remaining five balls, the last of which is a jazzer, lifting sharply off a length and leaving Mendis to play inside it.

11.30am BST

12th over: Sri Lanka 66-1 (Dickwella 34, Mendis 18) Sarfraz tries Fahim, and Dickwella goes to third man again, adding two, then square leg for two more. Off the fourth ball, though, he nearly drags on, but Pakistan can’t build pressure; Babar is caught chilling, turning one into two.

Another wonder of the modern world: Paulie Gualtieri’s laugh.

11.25am BST

11th over: Sri Lanka 60-1 (Dickwella 28, Mendis 18) Mendis takes a single, then Dickwella goes down on one knee to flip around the corner to fine leg; they sprint the first run to enable the second. Then, after a dot, Dickwella shows that he’s on top of Imad, waiting to see if the ball moves, then feathers it late, earning four at third man. A two and a one follow, making it 10 from the over; Pakistan need something.

11.19am BST

10th over: Sri Lanka 50-1 (Dickwella 19, Mendis 17) Lovely from Mendis, leaping back and across to glide four through square-leg with velvet wrists. Next ball, he comes down to defend, so Junaid hurls at him and/or the stumps – he chuckles to compound any annoyance – and then grinds it in further by cracking four more to backward square-leg. Lovely tackle, 10 off the over, and Mendis is now in.

11.16am BST

9th over: Sri Lanka 40-1 (Dickwella 19, Mendis 8) Time for spin; Imad Wasim is on. Mendis turns a single to square-leg, Dickwella does likewise to cover – they sprint through – and then Mendis pushes a further one to leg.

11.10am BST

8th over: Sri Lanka 37-1 (Dickwella 18, Mendis 6) Oh this is lovely! Mendis leans into a length ball, the first of the over, and introduces it to the full phizog in perfect form. That’s four all the way. I mean of course it is, because every four is, but there was never any doubt. Or something like that. But Junaid comes back well, ceding only another single.

11.05am BST

7th over: Sri Lanka 32-1 (Dickwella 18, Mendis 1) Dickwella twists one to midwicket and they run three; Ashraf does well to be arsed with the chase, saving one in the process. Mendis then opens his account with a single and Amir slings down a bumper – Dickwella ducks – and then flicks two to midwicket. They kept things ticking nicely in that over.

11.00am BST

6th over: Sri Lanka 26-1 (Dickwella 13, Mendis 0) Mendis, who’s in lovely touch, has a look at the bowling – perhaps he’s learning from Gunathilaka, who forced it.

10.56am BST

This was very simple, and just what Pakistan needed. Gunathilaka looked to drive on the up, the ball wasn’t there for him, he went anyway, and lobbed a simple catch to mid-off. He’ll be ruing that missed two harder now; don’t laugh.

10.54am BST

5th over: Sri Lanka 26-0 (Dickwella 13, Gunathilaka 13) Some much-needed control from Amir; he starts with a bouncer, and his line is much tighter this over, nothing too straight. A single off the final delivery is all it yields; really it ought to have been two.

10.50am BST

4th over: Sri Lanka 25-0 (Dickwella 13, Gunathilaka 12) Crack! Begone! Junaid gives Gunathilaka width first up and he does not miss out, rocking back to fling hands, wrists, arms and shoulders right through the ball which sizzles through cover to the fence. A dot follows, and then Gunathilaka goes again, forcing over midwicket. He’s not timed that one, but it dribbled over the rope nonetheless and the bowlers are now under a bit of pressure. And even more so now; Dickwella strolls across his stumps while the ball’s still in-hand, then, when it arrives, ramps it over the keeper for a one-bounce four! Beautifully done!

10.45am BST

3rd over: Sri Lanka 12-0 (Dickwella 9, Gunathilaka 3) Dickwella turns Amir’s opening delivery around the corner; it drops just short of Hafeez at short midwicket. Two twos follow, and then, after a dot, yerman goes; he tries to lift of the leg side but instead imparts a top edge; they run three and it falls safe. But this is much better, a gen-u-ine flick to wide long on which also adds three. Much better over for the Lankans.

10.39am BST

2nd over: Sri Lanka 4-0 (Dickwella 4, Gunathilaka 0) Junaid with the ball at the other end, and he finds a touch a seam – just enough – to move one away from Gunathilaka. But it defeats his edge, and then so does another – except this time the batsman plays, looking to drive down the ground, then he misses again. Maiden, and a fine one at that.

10.35am BST

1st over: Sri Lanka 4-0 (Dickwella 4, Gunathilaka 0) Amir opens up with a beaut, swinging away and squaring up his man. It’s proper windy out there, throuser billowing like garish marquees, so Dickwella has a look at things before timing a push, transferring his weight perfectly into the stroke to find the point fence. That was fit as, was that.

10.31am BST


10.31am BST

Mo Amir is warming his arm as Ramiz tells us batting is about “not having a pixelated mind”. I love that. I think Dickwella will be fine.

10.28am BST

It has now seamlessly segued into Seven Nation Army. Imaginative, what.

10.27am BST

It’s ripe for a jungle remix, though.

10.26am BST

The Sri Lanka tune is a choon.

10.24am BST

Anthem time. There’s hardly anyone in the ground; is it really beyond the organisers to go around local schools handing them out for nowt?

10.21am BST

A pleasure of watching cricket is partial, passionate, knowledgeable commentary. This ICC broadcast squad has ruined that.

10.18am BST

Imad Wasim reckons Babar Azam is the best player of his age in world cricket. He’s certainly the most fun.

10.15am BST

I’m compiling the seven wonders of the modern world.

1. Ramiz Raja’s hair.

10.14am BST

Angelo Mathews is important. More news as I get it.

10.10am BST

Ramiz reckons we’ve got a typical English track, and Athers confirms that there’s more in it for the seamers than at the Oval, with quite a thick layer of grass. Boundaries are short straight and long down the ground.

10.09am BST

As far as our teams go, Pakistan make one change: Faheem Ashraf for Shadab Khan, a seamer for a leggy. The short boundaries and general conditions are responsible.

The Lankans have also made one change, an batsman for a batsman: Dhananjaya de Silva for the inured Kusal Perera.

10.05am BST

Angelo Matthews would’ve done likewise – overhead conditions might be helpful, and there’s a touch of grass on the pitch.

10.00am BST

Roughly, we watch sport for two reasons: to see what happens, and to see something incredible; in both of those aspects. we have no greater ally than the Pakistan cricket team. In this tournament alone, they have been annihilated by India and have annihilated South Africa thanks to their peculiar confection of aggressive bowling, enterprising batting and wondrous awfulness.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have been much the same: first they were walloped by South Africa and then they caned India. Accordingly, relating what’s likely to happen today is a complete waste of time; we’d be as well nailing jelly to a wall, or asking the Great British public a crucial question to determine the future of the nation. All we know if that at some point there’ll be a winner, and that team will meet England in the semi-final. Enjoy the ride!

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jun/12/sri-lanka-pakistan-icc-champions-trophy-2017-live

May 01

Mark Selby beats John Higgins to win world snooker championship – as it happened

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

11.16pm BST

PS if anyone’s got the slightest clue about what to do tomorrow, I’d be glad for any suggestions.

Related: Mark Selby retains world title after gritty victory over John Higgins

11.15pm BST

That’s about us, then – thanks all for your company and comments. Nighty-night!

11.14pm BST

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.

11.12pm BST

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.

11.11pm BST

Selby joins Davis, Hendry and O’Sullivan as the only men to have retained the world championship.

11.10pm BST

“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.

11.07pm BST

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.

11.05pm BST

AND THERE IT IS! Selby pauses, flexes both forearms as his people, and then keeps going.

11.03pm BST

44 ahead, 55 remaining … one more red …

11.01pm BST

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.

10.58pm BST

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.

10.56pm BST

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.

10.53pm BST

Gah! Higgins runs out of position on 19, so Selby’s back up on the bottom cushion and the safety beginsagain.

10.51pm BST

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!

10.48pm BST

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.

10.45pm BST

Selby leaves a double … Higgins thinks hard before taking it on, takes it on, misses … but leaves nothing.

10.45pm BST

‘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.

10.40pm BST

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.

10.38pm BST

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.

10.35pm BST

So, frame 33 begins as we pass the 11-hour mark.

10.33pm BST

131! What skill! What moxie!

10.30pm BST

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!

10.27pm BST

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.

10.22pm BST

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.

10.21pm BST

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?

10.19pm BST

There is nothing, nothing like this.

10.18pm BST

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.

10.15pm BST

We’re back to in and out of the cluster. Another rerack looks possible for second, but Selby plays up the table.

10.13pm BST

He has not. Selby plays away from the touching ball but up to baulk.

10.12pm BST

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?

10.11pm BST

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

10.10pm BST

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.

10.08pm BST

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.

10.05pm BST

@DanielHarris To think I considered getting an early night at 16-12. World Snooker, nothing quite like it pic.twitter.com/mzc0hZyTGh

10.05pm BST

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.

10.03pm BST

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.

10.01pm BST

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!

10.00pm BST

And that’s there!

10.00pm BST

Just the blue required… I’m shaking!

9.59pm BST

Eeesh. He finishes to close to the brown, but it’s still pottable … and it’s there!

9.59pm BST

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….

9.57pm BST

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.

9.56pm BST

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!

9.51pm BST

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!

9.45pm BST

But potting the blue, Selby takes such great care to miss the brahn that he cannons the yeller; end of break, 46 the lead.

9.44pm BST

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.

9.42pm BST

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.

9.40pm BST

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.

9.37pm BST

Game on now

9.36pm BST

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.

9.32pm BST

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…

9.29pm BST

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.

9.27pm BST

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.

9.24pm BST

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.

9.22pm BST

“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.

9.19pm BST

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.

9.15pm BST

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.

9.14pm BST

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!

9.11pm BST

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.

9.08pm BST

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.

9.07pm BST

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.

9.04pm BST

Of course he is.

9.03pm BST

Higgins gets a double-kiss, and Selby is in.

9.02pm BST

“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.”

9.01pm BST

He starts with a decent break-off…

9.00pm BST

Back they come. Has Higgins got anything left?

8.44pm BST

For those catching up, here’s Barry Glendenning’s report of the afternoon session.

Related: Mark Selby the thin-lipped spectre gives John Higgins a fright in world final

8.40pm BST

A 70 clearance, a spring through the curtain, a trudge from Higgins, and that’s the mid-session. Selby is zoned.

8.39pm BST

Selby is grinning to himself as he proceeds around the table. He knows, Higgins knows, and the whole world knows.

8.38pm BST

Selby is just the complete player and a consummate competitor.

8.37pm BST

In they go, then a pink, and that’s that.

8.36pm BST

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.

8.33pm BST

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.

8.32pm BST

“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.

8.29pm BST

Selby is 55 ahead, with 75 on the table.

8.29pm BST

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!

8.26pm BST

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!

8.24pm BST

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.

8.23pm BST

Fortune is not favouring Higgins at the moment… pic.twitter.com/ptlKwiBtWj

8.22pm BST

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.

8.20pm BST

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.

8.16pm BST

But Higgins responds well, so Selby responds weller, leaving the cue-ball tight on the bottom cushion.

8.16pm BST

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.

8.14pm BST

That cut…

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

8.12pm BST

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.

8.10pm BST

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.

8.08pm BST

Three reds and three high-value colours needed – it’s going to take a kick.

8.05pm BST

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.

8.03pm BST

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.

8.00pm BST

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?

7.58pm BST

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.

7.55pm BST

He plays it! But gets so close that he leaves it when he misses! Higgins sinks it, and that’s the frame!

7.55pm BST

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!

7.53pm BST

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.

7.51pm BST

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!

7.49pm BST

“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!

7.47pm BST

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!

7.45pm BST

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.

7.44pm BST

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

7.44pm BST

Higgins plays a fine safety shot, leaving TJFL behind the yellow – he tries to roll into the cluster, but his effort doesn’t reach.

7.42pm BST

PS did you know that science has not yet explained the phenomenon of bad contacts? Me neither.

7.42pm BST

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?

7.39pm BST

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.

7.36pm BST

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.

7.34pm BST

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.

7.32pm BST

Higgins plays a red as a shot to nothing, misses it thick with safety in mind … and Selby pots yet another great long one.

7.29pm BST

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.

7.26pm BST

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.

7.23pm BST

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.

7.22pm BST

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.

7.20pm BST

“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.

7.18pm BST

“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.

7.15pm BST

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!

7.13pm BST

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.

7.11pm BST

And there it is: “the first frame is crucial for John Higgins,” revelates Hendry.

7.11pm BST

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.

7.09pm BST

“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:

Related: When sport and real life collide: a story about getting divorced during the 2005 Ashes

7.04pm BST

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.

6.53pm BST

“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

5.27pm BST

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.

5.25pm BST

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.

5.22pm BST

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

5.19pm BST

“Have a shower and try and brush himself down,” recommends Jayvee when wondering how Higgins should spend the impending break. Ahem.

5.18pm BST

“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.

5.15pm BST

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.

5.10pm BST

Higgins looks like he wants someone to indicate the way to his habitual abode, for he’s fatigued and has a desire to retire.

5.07pm BST

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.

5.05pm BST

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.

5.05pm BST

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.”

5.02pm BST

Which means we’ll get another frame this afternoon. Selby hasn’t led since frame 3.

5.02pm BST

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.

4.59pm BST

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.

4.57pm BST

“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.

4.54pm BST

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.

4.52pm BST

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.

4.50pm BST

“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.

4.47pm BST

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!

4.44pm BST

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.

4.42pm BST

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.

4.41pm BST

Anyhow, Higgins was first in with 19, and we’re now enveloped in a safety exchange.

4.40pm BST

Or rather, we’ve been back a few minutes, but my everything crashed.

4.39pm BST

And we’re back.

4.17pm BST

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.

4.15pm BST

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!

4.13pm BST

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.

4.12pm BST

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…

4.08pm BST

“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.

4.07pm BST

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.

4.06pm BST

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!

4.00pm BST

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.

3.56pm BST

“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.

3.53pm BST

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.

3.49pm BST

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.

3.46pm BST

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.

3.41pm BST

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.

3.39pm BST

Selby runs out of position, so his break ends at 32.

3.37pm BST

“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.

3.34pm BST

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.

3.32pm BST

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.

Related: Hearn ‘disgusted’ by snooker players turning down chance for 147 breaks

3.30pm BST

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.

3.28pm BST

The Wiz is making hard work work work work work of this, but he clings on and compiles a crucial clearance of 78.

3.23pm BST

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.

3.21pm BST

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.

3.19pm BST

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.

3.14pm BST

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.

3.12pm BST

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.

3.10pm BST

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.

3.08pm BST

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!

3.08pm BST

Oh dear. Higgins wades into a long red, hits it much too thick, and leaves it as an easy starter into the opposite middle.

3.07pm BST

Steve says Higgins is “losing it a bit”, but just as much, Selby is selbying and the balls have run in his favour.

3.05pm BST

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.

3.04pm BST

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.

2.59pm BST

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.

2.57pm BST

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.

2.55pm BST

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.

2.52pm BST

On the other hand, we may be here no time at all. One mistake, and the frame is done.

2.51pm BST

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.

2.48pm BST

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.

2.48pm BST

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.

2.45pm BST

What on earth! Higgins absolutely slams the black, catches the near knuckle, and Selby is back at the table! What was Higgins thinking?

2.44pm BST

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!

2.42pm BST

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.

2.40pm BST

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.

2.38pm BST

Higgins barely had a look at a pot in that frame. He badly needs to chap himself the next one.

2.37pm BST

Selby wants to win this session apparently. And he also wanted to win the first frame. Similarly, the first hour is crucial.

2.36pm BST

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.

2.34pm BST

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.

2.32pm BST

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.

2.30pm BST

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.

2.27pm BST

“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.

2.26pm BST

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!

2.21pm BST

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.

2.18pm BST

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.

2.15pm BST

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.

2.13pm BST

“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?

2.11pm BST

Higgins leaves Selby a tempter, but he eschews; it’s going to be a long day. Get in!

2.09pm BST

Selby breaks off. He’s even money, with Higgins 8/11.

2.08pm BST

And out comes the Jester.

2.07pm BST

Out comes ‘Iggins…

2.07pm BST

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.

2.02pm BST

Housekeeping: first to 18 wins, so Higgins needs another eight and Selby needs another 11.

2.01pm BST

Right then, here we go!

1.01pm BST

“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.

Continue reading…

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

Apr 23

Burnley v Manchester United: Premier League – as it happened

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:

Related: Arsenal v Manchester City: FA Cup semi-final – live!

Related: Liverpool v Crystal Palace: Premier League – live!

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

stub a cigar out on his eye
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.

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?

In today’s warm-up, #MUFC are wearing t-shirts to show their support for @Ibra_official & Marcos Rojo, following their injuries on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/V1uaynvsqh

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.

Related: Mourinho running out of options after latest Manchester United injuries

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/apr/23/burnley-v-manchester-united-premier-league-live

Apr 16

Manchester United v Chelsea: Premier League – as it happened

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

6.01pm BST

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!

6.00pm BST

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.

5.54pm BST


5.54pm BST

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.

5.52pm BST

90+3 min Tim Fosu-Mensah is rewarded for bringing Mourinho an apple, brought on for Ashley Young.

5.51pm BST

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.

5.50pm BST

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.

5.49pm BST

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.

5.48pm BST

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.

5.46pm BST

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.

5.43pm BST

84 min Cahill welcomes Ibrahimovic to the game with a late challenge on halfway.

5.42pm BST

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.

5.40pm BST

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.

5.39pm BST

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.

5.37pm BST

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.

5.35pm BST

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.

5.34pm BST

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.

5.32pm BST

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.

5.31pm BST

72 min Pedro gets in behind Darmian and laces a low cross looking for Costa, but De Gea dives to snaffle.

5.30pm BST

71 min Similarly, if only it was Matic who was unwell and not Alonso, we could have the headline ILLMATIC.

5.29pm BST

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.

5.27pm BST

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.

5.26pm BST

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.

5.24pm BST

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.

5.21pm BST

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.

5.20pm BST

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.

5.18pm BST

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.

5.17pm BST

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.

5.16pm BST

57 min And here comes that change – Michael Carrick is preparing himself.

5.16pm BST

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?

5.14pm BST

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.

5.13pm BST

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.

5.12pm BST

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.

5.11pm BST

52 min Again, Lingard finds Rashford, receives the return, and lashes a shot over the top.

5.10pm BST

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.

5.07pm BST

48 min Cahill takes a chance, stretching high and hard to win a loose ball off Fellaini; he misses, and is booked.

5.07pm BST

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.

5.05pm BST

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.

5.04pm BST

46 min Willian is getting himself ready.

5.04pm BST

46 min We go again.

5.04pm BST

“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.

5.01pm BST

“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.

4.53pm BST

Mourinho being Mourinho, will he leave things alone or, knowing that Conte will adjust, try and pre-empt him?

4.52pm BST

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.

4.49pm BST

United have been excellent, sharp in the tackle and clever up front. As a consequence, Chelsea have been discomfitted.

4.48pm BST

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.

4.47pm BST

45 min There shall be two additional minutes, a minimum of.

4.46pm BST

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.

4.45pm BST

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.

4.44pm BST

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.

4.42pm BST

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.

4.39pm BST

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.

4.36pm BST

35 min Chelsea win a free-kick down the right which Hazard will take – Rojo thunks it away.

4.36pm BST

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.

4.35pm BST

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.

4.34pm BST

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.

4.32pm BST

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.

4.30pm BST

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.

4.28pm BST

27 min Chelsea have swapped their wing-backs, presumably to get Azpilicueta on Rashford, who’s enjoying bare joy down the right.

4.27pm BST

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.

4.26pm BST

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.

4.25pm BST

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.

4.23pm BST

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.

4.21pm BST

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.

4.19pm BST

19 min Antonio Conte is wearing a baseball cap with his syoot. The score is a fair reflection of that.

4.18pm BST

18 min Amazingly, this is quite a good game – when Chelsea get going, we could have something serious.

4.18pm BST

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.

4.17pm BST

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.

4.15pm BST

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.

4.11pm BST

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.

4.11pm BST

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.”

4.10pm BST

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.

4.08pm BST

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.

4.07pm BST

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.

4.05pm BST

5 min It’s been a slow start, featuring a bit of possession for either side, most of it slow.

4.04pm BST

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?

4.03pm BST

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.”

4.02pm BST

1 min Alonso is unwell – Chelsea knew that to be so, but he thought he’d have a bash at playing.

4.01pm BST

1 min Off we go!

4.01pm BST

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.

3.59pm BST

“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.”

3.57pm BST

The players are tunnelled. Like Mourinho’s team selection, the music is ironic.

3.56pm BST

“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.

3.54pm BST

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.

3.52pm BST

“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.

3.50pm BST

Kurt Zouma replaces him, so presumably Azpilicueta will move to wing-back.

3.49pm BST

“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.

Related: When sport and real life collide: a story about getting divorced during the 2005 Ashes

3.48pm BST

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.

3.47pm BST

3.46pm BST

Pour aller à la gare?

Pour info, #Martial avait été très critiqué après son entrée fantomatique à Anderlecht. L’envie n’est plus là, des deux côtés, semble-t-il. https://t.co/f2Gr0tPJau

3.42pm BST

“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.

3.40pm BST

“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.”

3.39pm BST

“Are we going to see how Chelsea handle a bit of pressure,” Graeme Souness is asked. He retorts with his usual menacing shrift.

3.38pm BST

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?

3.33pm BST

“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?

3.32pm BST

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.

3.29pm BST

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.

3.25pm BST

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.

3.23pm BST

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.

3.20pm BST

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.

3.18pm BST

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.

3.11pm BST

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.

12.50pm BST

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.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/apr/16/manchester-united-v-chelsea-premier-league-live