Jacob Steinberg

Author's details

Name: Jacob Steinberg
Date registered: September 27, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/football/chelsea

Latest posts

  1. Leicester City v Sevilla: Champions League last 16, second leg – as it happened — March 14, 2017
  2. Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: FA Cup – as it happened — March 13, 2017
  3. FA Cup semi-final draw – as it happened — March 13, 2017
  4. Chelsea’s Antonio Conte: I never, ever, ever train for the counterattack — March 12, 2017
  5. Antonio Conte will stay exuberant when Chelsea face Manchester United — March 10, 2017

Author's posts listings

Mar 14

Leicester City v Sevilla: Champions League last 16, second leg – as it happened

Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton scored as Leicester reached the last eight of the Champions League at the expense of 10-man Sevilla

9.44pm GMT

“Incredible,” says Wes Morgan. “We did it. We proved a lot of people wrong. We’ve pulled off the impossible again.” And how much longer are they going to keep pulling off the impossible? Into the last eight they go, at the expense of one of the best sides in Spain. Sevilla are no mugs. They’re third in La Liga! Leicester are 15th in the Premier League! They sacked their manager a month ago! They’ve never been in the Champions League before! But they’ve come up with a performance that was a blend of defiance and quality. They were gutsy, organised and ruthless at the crucial moments. They also rode their luck at times. But they also made their own. How about Kasper Schmeichel saving a penalty in each leg? There’s something about this Leicester side. It’s not quite a case of Claudio Who? But you have to take your hat off to Craig Shakespeare. Good old Craig. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

9.37pm GMT

Barcelona. Bayern Munich. Borussia Dortmund. Juventus. Real Madrid. Leicester City. Craig.

9.36pm GMT

Kasper Schmeichel’s been mobbed by his team-mates in the middle of the park. Sevilla’s players can’t believe it. But it’s happened.

9.36pm GMT

Leicester City have done it! They’re into the last eight of the Champions League!

9.34pm GMT

90 min+4: Correa twists and turns and crosses. It’s deflected. Schmeichel can’t stop it going behind. Rico’s up for the corner!

9.34pm GMT

90 min+3: It’s all Sevilla. They’ve got 10 men!

9.33pm GMT

90 min+2: Vitolo chases after a ball down the inside right channel. The heroic Schmeichel races out of his area and concedes a throw. Sevilla lob another long one into the area. The ball falls to Correa, who lifts his volley over the bar!

9.32pm GMT

90 min+1: Escudero chips a nothing ball into the Leicester area. Albrighton shepherds it out for a goal-kick.

9.31pm GMT

90 min: There will be four added minutes. The home fans roar.

9.31pm GMT

89 min: Daniel Amartey replaces Riyad Mahrez, who’s booked for timewasting.Am I the only one who thinks that Vardy gets Nasri sent off with an Oscar-winning reaction to the latter’s face getting to slightly close to his own?” Hanne Mallinen-Scott says. No, but it was moronic from Nasri.

9.29pm GMT

88 min: Slimani cleverly finds Mahrez, who tears off up field, away from the trailing Sevilla runner and towards goal. He hares off to the left, then unselfishly pulls it to Vardy, unmarked to his right. It’s not his night, though. With only Rico to beat, Vardy blazes over the bar!

9.28pm GMT

87 min: Jovetic crosses from the left. Huth clears at the second time of asking. Leicester storm up the other end and Slimani’s through on goal, but he can’t take it round Rico. This is magnificent end-to-end stuff now!

9.27pm GMT

86 min: Fuchs chucks a long throw down the line. Albrighton brilliantly steers a reverse header into the six-yard box and Vardy should score, only to head too close to Rico.

9.26pm GMT

85 min: Do Sevilla drop into the Europa League if they don’t score?

9.25pm GMT

84 min: Ndidi’s booked for leading with an arm in an aerial challenge.

9.23pm GMT

83 min: Jorge Sampaoli has been sent to the stands! It’s not clear why.

9.23pm GMT

82 min: That was a shocking penalty by N’Zonzi.

9.22pm GMT

81 min: Leicester are going to win the Champions League.

9.22pm GMT

80 min: N’Zonzi casually runs up to the spot-kick and rolls it towards the bottom left corner with his right foot at around 3mph. Schmeichel guesses right and pushes it away! What drama! He saved one in the first leg and he’s denied Sevilla again! His dad’s on his feet in the stands!

9.20pm GMT

79 min: Vitolo bursts through on goal and dinks it over Schmeichel, who clatters into him! The ball’s cleared off the line but the referee points to the spot, deciding that Schemichel impeded Vitolo! The Leicester keeper’s booked.

9.19pm GMT

78 min: Replays show that Vardy had wound Nasri up with a couple of shoves in the back. Nasri didn’t react well. Vardy certainly made the most of the incident too.

9.18pm GMT

75 min: Nasri took a long time leaving the pitch. He was very eager to continue the debate with Vardy and had to be pulled away by his team-mates. He has badly let himself down. Jorge Sampaoli will be furious.

9.17pm GMT

74 min: Samir Nasri has completely lost the plot! Remonstrating about something or other with Jamie Vardy off the ball, he juts his head into the Leicester striker’s and after a brief delay, the Italian referee brandishes a second yellow card! Vardy was also at it, but that is ridiculous from Nasri. He was already on a booking and his team-mates are busy chasing a goal to save their skins. What a berk.

9.14pm GMT

73 min: Vitolo slips a beautiful pass through to Correa, who turns and lashes goalwards. Schmeichel’s strong hands push the drive away.

9.13pm GMT

72 min: Sevilla’s domination is of the sterile variety. They do not look like scoring.

9.12pm GMT

71 min: Vitolo threatens to scamper into the area from the right, but Fuchs covers splendidly and the move dies a sad death. Leicester’s defending has been faultless since half-time.

9.10pm GMT

69 min: Iborra hoicks a cross towards the far post from the left. Simpson knocks it behind. The corner comes to nothing.

9.09pm GMT

68 min: Sevilla make their final change, Joaquin Correa on for Wissam Ben Yedder.

9.08pm GMT

67 min: Mahrez teases Sevilla on the right before driving a low ball into the six-yard box. Rico pushes it away from Slimani, who was poised for a tap-in, but only as far Vardy. He could kill this tie off, more or less, but scuffs wide with his left foot. Will it be a costly miss?

9.07pm GMT

66 min: “This from Phil West in tonight’s MBM – “Followers of the MBM’s, OBO’s and the Rugby see all of you as distant mates in a hypothetical pub – chatting about the events”,” says Andrew Howard. “I’d like to second this – it sounds a little daft, but the MBM / OBO in all its guises is one of the warmest, friendliest parts of the internet and for many of us, it is a reliable, comfortable old friend that provides light relief and sanity in a slightly crazy current world and it is made by the Guardian team and the community that you foster. My thoughts are with Dan’s family and friends and you guys. 31 is stupidly, cruelly young.”

9.06pm GMT

65 min: Sevilla try a long throw. Iborra can only flick it on to Schmeichel. That pretty much sums up where the visitors are at the moment.

9.04pm GMT

63 min: Islam Slimani replaces Shinji Okazaki, who’s a right old pest.

9.04pm GMT

62 min: Jovetic, quiet since his introduction, wins a corner on the right. The travelling fans roar their encouragement, but Nasri’s corner’s headed away. “If this were a curling MBM, we’d be talking about Ailsa Craig,” says David Sterling.

9.02pm GMT

61 min: There’s very little conviction or intensity about Sevilla at the moment. They looked stunned. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

9.00pm GMT

59 min: Vitolo’s booked for dissent. Sevilla are in danger of losing the plot here. “Former Neighbours ‘actor’ Craig McLachlan did something unusual and released a hit song in 1990,” says Brand King. “Titled ‘Mona’ it seems fairly harmless until he suggests to his love interest by way of lyric that he intends to build a house next to hers. Probably not the cleverest of stalking tactics, given the time it takes to get building approval. The video is an accurate depiction of the Australian courting ritual.”

8.59pm GMT

57 min: “If you do decide to start riffing on Mr. Fuchs, maybe I should let you know that Brazilian club EC Vitória’s coach is called Argel Fucks (you can google it, I promise you won’t be fired for this),” says Victor Lucindo. “Yes.”

8.58pm GMT

56 min: As it stands, Sevilla need a goal to force extra-time. This is ridiculous. They should have smashed Leicester in the first leg and now look!

8.57pm GMT

Shinji Okazaki picks up possession on the edge of the area and tries a shot. His effort’s blocked and spins over to Mahrez on the right. His cross is headed away by Rami, but only as far as Albrighton, who controls with one touch before lashing a low drive past the statuesque Rico with his left foot! Incredible! A minute after Sevilla hit the bar, Leicester go straight up the other end and score!

8.55pm GMT

53 min: Escudero lollops forward from the back and decides he might as well have a go from 30 yards. Leicester won’t mind that. Or so you’d think. The defender’s effort wobbles and dips and swerves amazingly through the air. It looks like it’s going over. But Schmeichel’s concerned enough to leap into a dive. He knows. The ball drops devastatingly at the last moment – but not enough! It crashes against the bar and Leicester live on. But wait! Here’s Ben Yedder, surely about to wallop in the rebound. But no! He blasts it over! And…

8.53pm GMT

52 min: Nasri wafts an effort well off target, earning the derision of the Leicester fans. “Let’s not forget Cricket has provided some notable Craig’s – Craig McDermott from Australia and Craig McMillan form New Zealand!” says Ammar Zaidi.

8.52pm GMT

51 min: Albrighton pounces on a poor pass out from the back and dashes down the left before finding Okazaki, who promptly loses it.

8.51pm GMT

50 min: Craig.

8.50pm GMT

49 min: Nasri lofts a dangerous ball into the area, looking for Ben Yedder, but Fuchs is in the right place to clear. Moments later, Vardy lands awkwardly after an aerial challenge with Mariano. He’ll need some treatment.

“Been thinking of a likely team that the two Shakespeares would send out,” says Kevin Ryan. “What do you think of this lot?
Goalkeeper: Hamlet- Prince of Denmark (i.e. Peter Schmeicel)
Back Four: Puck( nippy), Malvolio and Shylock (nasty, horrible) Toby Belch (iracible, loud)
Midfield: Antonio, Bassanio and Graciano (well, they sound tasty and they’re Italian, which is much the same thing)
Forwards: Caliban (an early Diego Costa), Othello (big and strong, a sort of Lukaku) , Brutus (devious, shifty, likely to dive and get opponents sent off).”

8.49pm GMT

48 min: Vitolo diddles his way to the right byline and digs out a low cross. Schmeichel plunges down to claim it, but Huth gets there first and boots it behind.

8.47pm GMT

46 min: Off we go again. Sevilla get the second half underway and they’ve made two changes. Mariano and Stefan Jovetic are on for Mercado and Sarabia. “Have none of your Welsh readers offered Craig Bellamy as an addition to the illustrious list?” says Peter Oh.

8.32pm GMT

Leicester are 45 minutes away from a place in the Champions League quarter-finals thanks to a goal from Wes Morgan. Uh huh.

8.31pm GMT

45 min: Okazaki’s brought down by the error prone Pareja 25 yards out. The ball’s over to the left, but Mahrez might fancy a shot here. Or not. Instead Leicester work the ball to Fuchs on the edge of the area and his shot’s charged down.

8.29pm GMT

43 min: Sevilla probe down the right flank. Mercado drills a low ball towards the near post. Huth shovels it behind with Ben Yedder looking to cause some trouble. The corner comes to nothing and Leicester clear their lines. Pareja’s misjudgement on the halfway line allows Vardy to set off on a sprint down the right flank and attempt to find Okazaki with a dinked cross. The ball’s headed back to him and he tries an ambitious volley from 20 yards. Under pressure, he hits it wide.

@JacobSteinberg Thanks Jacob, the best Craig of them all, Jim Craig, European cup winner with Celtic, 1 Scotland cap, returned to dentistry!

8.26pm GMT

40 min: Fuchs imaginatively tricks his way past his man on the left and after some scrappy play on the edge of the area, the ball bounces back to him. There’s a hint of a foul on the Leicester left-back, but he just about keeps his balance when he might have gone down looking for a penalty and in the end he mishits a shot straight at Rico.

8.23pm GMT

38 min: Drinkwater dribbles a shot straight at Rico from 20 yards. “Shakespeare is making notes,” says Graeme Jamieson. “Who will be the first professional footballer to appear on Craigslist?”

8.22pm GMT

37 min: Leicester’s last clean sheet was against Middlesbrough on 2 January. And your Thursday night five a side team could keep a clean sheet against Middlesbrough.

8.22pm GMT

35 min: A poor clearance from N’Zonzi drops to Vardy on the edge of the area, but the Leicester striker can’t make the most of the opportunity, seeing a tame shot easily blocked. Sevilla storm up the other end, but Sarabia’s dispossessed in the Leicester area. “My good friend is a funeral-home director who goes by the name of Craig,” says Richard Robinson. “He’s not famous, regrettably, but the strap-line on his business card reads: “From Cradle to Craig”, which would be cracking banter if a) it scanned properly and b) it wasn’t being foisted into the shaking hands of the recently-bereaved.”

8.20pm GMT

34 min: Leicester are sitting back and challenging Sevilla to open them up. Their shape has been good, although it must be said that Sevilla have been disappointing.

8.17pm GMT

32 min: Mercado drives a cross into the area from the right. Schmeichel has to push it over the bar. The corner comes to nothing. “Don’t forget Craigslist, favourite haunt of creepy middle aged men looking for younger women,” says Bill Zull.

8.16pm GMT

30 min: Sevilla have woken up, all right. The ball’s headed back into the Leicester area. Huth and Morgan leave it to each other, allowing Ben Yedder to nip in and let fly with his right foot. His shot flashes wide of the near post, though. “Please tell Jason Onerheim that Richard III was written by William Craig,” says Geoff Wignall.

8.15pm GMT

29 min: Leicester need to switch on at the back. Iborra finds a pocket of space just outside the area and shoots. It’s blocked. Corner to Sevilla. The ball’s sent into the area and Fuchs heads it away. Nervy times for the disbelieving home fans.

8.14pm GMT

And boy do they make the most of that opportunity! Riyad Mahrez, a peripheral presence so far, swings in an inviting free-kick with his left foot. It flies over everyone in the middle but Morgan is alert at the far post and manages to bundle it over the line with one of his enormous thighs! The King Power Stadium erupts with an outpouring of joy! Leicester lead on away goals.

8.11pm GMT

26 min: Vardy skedaddles inside from the left. He seems to have taken a heavy touch, but he just nicks it away before Iborra comes steaming in and rashly brings him down on the left, just outside the area. This is a good opportunity for Leicester to load the Sevilla area.

8.10pm GMT

24 min: Mahrez is struggling to get on the ball at the moment. Leicester need him on the ball. He can’t get on the ball.

8.08pm GMT

23 min: Jeers greet a spell of extended Sevilla possession. The Spaniards aren’t going anywhere here, though. This is a tight game. “I’m enjoying the Famous Craigs riff,” says David Hopkins. “Why stop with that? Picking a player at random, does anyone know any famous Christians? Or any famous Fuc… Oh no, hang on..”

8.07pm GMT

21 min: Sevilla counter, Nasri lobbing a pass forward to Ben Yedder, who uses his strength to nod it down to Sarabia, arriving late to offer support. Sarabia takes a touch and drags a shot a few yards wide of the left post. “Anyone know what Sami Nasri’s girlfriend’s twitter name is?” sys Charles Antaki. “On the strength of her previous public pronouncements, I’d like to know what she thought of the ref just then.”

8.05pm GMT

20 min: “Kevin Bacon was in the movie Balto with the actor Jim Carter,” says Jason Onerheim. “Jim Carter was in the movie Richard III. Richard III was written by, you guessed it, Shakespeare!”

8.04pm GMT

19 min: Leicester have responded well to Sevilla’s early pressure and they’re looking dangerous when they attack. Simpson bursts down the right and lofts a high cross towards the far post. Rico unconvincingly pats it away.

8.03pm GMT

18 min: Nasri, presumably miffed to have had that free-kick taken off him by Rami, boots Ndidi up into the air in a harmless position on the left. He’s booked. “He might be a Craig but what do you reckon his real surname to be?” says Geoff Wignall. “Marlowe? De Vere? Jonson? Dee?”

Craig.

8.02pm GMT

17 min: Adil Rami moves Samir Nasri aside. Then he wonks the free-kick over the bar. Here’s a song about Craigness, courtesy of Geoffrey Vivian.

8.01pm GMT

16 min: Vitolo rumbles through the middle and Ndidi bundles him over from behind around 25 yards from goal. Sevilla might fancy a shot here. Samir Nasri’s lining it up.

8.00pm GMT

15 min: Iain Gray alerts us to Wendy Craig.

7.59pm GMT

14 min: “In America, where I live, Craig rhymes with Greg,” says Simon Kaplan. “There’s a small town in Scotland called Craigmillar. Does that count?”

7.57pm GMT

12 min: Fuchs chucks the throw to the area. It sails above everyone. It’s a shame Rory Delap never played in the Champions League.

7.57pm GMT

11 min: Leicester begin to squeeze Sevilla and Albrighton’s bustling earns a corner on the left. Albrighton swings it in and Ndidi almost gets his head to the ball in the six-yard box. Sevilla clear as far as the edge of the area, where Mahrez is lurking. His shot’s deflected by Iborra and spins off for a throw on the left.

7.55pm GMT

10 min: CRAIG.

7.54pm GMT

9 min: “Even more amazing, Craig Shakespeare has the same first name as Craig David, Craig Charles and Craig Douglas,” notes Kevin Ryan. “And get this, his first name is the same as the current surname of the present star of James Bond movies. Impressive, huh?”

Please send me examples of further famous Craigs.

7.53pm GMT

8 min: Okazaki wriggles mischievously on the right, but he can’t shake off Vitolo. Despite his attempts to win a corner, Sevilla end up with a goal-kick.

7.52pm GMT

6 min: Sevilla are beginning to get a feel for the ball. Leicester might have to endure long spells without the ball tonight. That might suit them, though. As everyone but Pep Guardiola knows, they love playing on the break.

7.51pm GMT

4 min: Sarabia clips a ball into the area from the light. Nasri steps in front of Morgan at the near post, skipping away from the Leicester captain with a fine first touch before rapping a shot goalwards with his second. Schmeichel brilliantly turns it behind for a corner. What a save. Sevilla are already creating chances, though, and that has to be a worry for Leicester. The Spaniards don’t look intimidated at all.

7.49pm GMT

3 min: Nasri slides a pass towards the onrushing Ben Yedder, who threatens to burst through on goal, only for Huth to step in with a superb challenge.

7.47pm GMT

2 min: Did you know that Craig Shakespeare has the same surname as William Shakespeare?

7.46pm GMT

And we’re off! Leicester, kicking from left to right and all in blue, get the game underway. The noise is deafening. Sevilla are in white shirts and shorts and red socks.

7.42pm GMT

Here come the teams! The King Power Stadium is rocking and it’s a sea of blue and white in the stands. It’s almost time. But first, the Champions League anthem.

7.41pm GMT

Leicester are unchanged for the third game running under Craig Shakesperare. 4-4-2, back to basics, plenty of hard running, get it to Mahrez and Vardy – you know the drill. There’s still no place in the 18 for Ahmed Musa, though.

Sevilla have made eight changes from the 1-1 draw with Leganes. Mercado, Pareja, Iborra, N’Zonzi, Escudero, Vitolo, Ben Yedder and Nasri all come in.

7.37pm GMT

Everyone at the Guardian was shocked to hear that our colleague, Dan Lucas, suddenly passed away on Sunday. Dan was a talented member of our live blogging team on the sports desk and a good-hearted soul. I’m sure that his family and loved ones will appreciate the following messages from our readers.

“Very sad to hear the news about Dan Lucas,” Ian Copestake says. “If there is something as grand as an OBO/MBM community, then he was an important part of it and will be greatly missed among those who circulate within it.”

6.54pm GMT

Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Albrighton, Ndidi, Drinkwater, Mahrez; Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Zieler, Chilwell, Amartey, King, Gray, Slimani, Ulloa.

Sevilla: Rico; Mercado, Rami, Pareja; Sarabia, Iborra, N’Zonzi, Escudero; Vitolo, Ben Yedder, Nasri. Subs: Soria, Ferreira, Kranevitter, Correa, Jovetic, Vazquez, Lenglet.

1.29pm GMT

The players of Leicester City have probably spent most of the day debating whether it would actually be wise to beat Sevilla. Just imagine the moral outrage if those ungrateful so and so’s have the temerity to reach the last eight of the Champions League less than a month after sticking the knife into dear old Claudio, the saintliest saint who ever sainted. No, it just won’t do. The only way for these scoundrels to regain our trust and respect – for what else could possibly be more important – is to do the gentlemanly thing, roll over and let Sevilla whoop them 10-0.

Thing is, though, these professional footballers who have been portrayed as the lowest of the low also happen to be the champions of England. Perhaps, then, we can grudgingly admit that they do have some good qualities. And maybe now everyone’s calmed down, might it be possible for us to acknowledge that while nobody can take away Claudio Ranieri’s achievements last season, the Italian’s magic had worn off long before the time he was handed his P45 (and an enviable severance package)? The truth is that Leicester were going down under Ranieri. It was time for a change. Players who looked lost and confused a month ago have been rejuvenated under

Roberto Di Matteo
Craig Shakespeare and Leicester have won two games on the bounce since parting company with Ranieri. Stretch that winning streak to three matches here and they could keep their European Cup dream alive. Worth the hassle? Worth the hassle.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/14/leicester-city-v-sevilla-champions-league-last-16-second-leg-live

Mar 13

Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United: FA Cup – as it happened

N’Golo Kanté scored from long range to earn Chelsea a place in the FA Cup semi-finals, after Ander Herrera was sent off for two yellow cards

9.56pm GMT

Related: N’Golo Kanté sends Chelsea past 10-man Manchester United in FA Cup

9.41pm GMT

Jose Mourinho is on the pitch congratulating his players and applauding the away end. I suspect he’ll have a few things to say about the officiating in his press conference. Complaining about Ander Herrera’s red card won’t change anything, though, and it’s Chelsea who go through thanks to N’Golo Kante’s goal in the second half. Thanks for emailing and reading. Join me for coverage of the semi-final draw elsewhere. Bye.

Related: FA Cup semi-final draw – live!

9.39pm GMT

It’s all over! N’Golo Kante’s winner has sent Chelsea into the last four of the FA Cup!

9.38pm GMT

90 min+5: Get Iniesta on.

9.37pm GMT

90 min+4: Costa finally leaves the field. Batshuayi is on.

9.36pm GMT

90 min+3: Chelsea are bringing Costa off. He’ll take his sweet time about it.

9.34pm GMT

90 min+1: Rashford, who’s still running, peels away from Luiz on the left. Cahill clears his cross. Chelsea storm up the other end and De Gea saves Fabregas’s drive.

9.33pm GMT

90 min: There will be four added minutes.

9.32pm GMT

89 min: Kurt Zouma replaces Victor Moses. He’s immediately into the thick of things, winning a header against Pogba in the Chelsea area.

9.31pm GMT

88 min: Victor Moses is down receiving treatment.

9.30pm GMT

87 min: Diego Costa loses his cool at last and catches Jones late. He’s booked.

9.28pm GMT

85 min: Chelsea counter, Costa spraying it out to Alonso on the left, but Valencia puts his low centre behind before it reaches Hazard.

9.26pm GMT

82 min: A rare United attack ends with a loose ball running to Pogba, who skims a shot a few yards wide of the left post. “As a United fan, may I please remind everyone that N’Golo Kante’s transfer fee (£29M) was one-third of Paul Pogba’s (£89M)?” says Brian Gallaway. “Which of those two has been three times the better player this game, much less this season?”

9.24pm GMT

80 min: Pogba finally makes a meaningful contribution, hauling Kante down. The break in play allows Chelsea to bring on Cesc Fabregas for Willian. Manchester United make their second change, cup specialist Jesse Lingard on for Ashley Young.

9.22pm GMT

79 min: Jesse Lingard is getting ready to come on.

9.21pm GMT

78 min: Valencia jumps into a tackle on Kante. He is very lucky not to be booked. Michael Oliver tells him to calm down. Moments later, Young hacks Moses down from behind and earns a yellow card.

9.20pm GMT

77 min: Young gifts Chelsea a corner on the right with an errant header. It’s cleared.

9.19pm GMT

75 min: Rojo sells himself by going to ground, allowing Willian to skip round him on the right. Willian flashes a low ball into the middle but Costa can’t make contact with the ball in the six yard box and United live on.

9.17pm GMT

74 min: United can’t cross the halfway line. “What do you think is in the part of Diego Costa’s brain where his shame is supposed to be?” says JR in Illinois.

9.16pm GMT

73 min: Kante threads a pass through to Willian on the right. The Brazilian turns and shoots viciously towards the near post. De Gea pushes it over. The danger for Chelsea is giving United hope if they don’t kill this off with a second goal.

9.14pm GMT

71 min: The game is being played exclusively in United’s half.

9.13pm GMT

70 min: “Whether you have sympathy or not for them changes little or nothing,” says Dael Morris. “The referee is required to apply the rules, not some fancy of the fans’ making.”

He did apply the rules. A player got booked for a foul.

9.11pm GMT

68 min: Moses swings in a deep cross from the right. Jones heads behind for a Chelsea corner.Nothing comes from it.

9.10pm GMT

67 min: Willian lobs a pass over to the top to Costa. He’s offside. The whistle blows. Rojo barges him over anyway and Costa goes down like he’s broken his leg. These two will come to blows before the final whistle. They’re both trying to get each other sent off.

9.08pm GMT

65 min: Hazard decides to try his luck from long range. His luck’s out.

9.07pm GMT

63 min: Costa goes down in the United area, looking for a penalty, but it’s an expert challenge from Rojo.

9.06pm GMT

62 min: N’Golo Kante finds himself with the ball on the edge of the United area again. He tricks his way past Fellaini and the crowd urges him to shoot again. Instead he tees up Willian, who bends one inches over from 20 yards. De Gea wouldn’t have saved that.

9.05pm GMT

60 min: From there, Chelsea break, N’Golo Kante storming upfield with options left and right. He opts to play it to Matic on the left, but his pass just forces the Serbian a tad wide, stalling his momentum. He chips it to the far post and Hazard wins a corner. Willian flashes it to the near post, where the unmarked Costa somehow heads wide.

9.04pm GMT

59 min: Chris Smalling Beckenbauers out of defence and clumps a ball down the left. David Luiz steps out of defence, ready to chest it clear, but then apparently has a flashback to Belo Horizonte in 2014 and runs off in tears, leaving Rashford to run the isolated Cahill. He’s got the beating off the England defender, twisting him this way and that and leaving him for dead before sizing up Thibaut Courtois. He tries to slide it underneath the Belgian and this looks like the equaliser. But Courtois sticks out a leg to divert it wide! What a save!

9.00pm GMT

57 min: “Michael Oliver was in charge of the FA Cup QF game against Arsenal at Old Trafford in 2015,” says Admir Pajic. “He sent off Di Maria and United lost 2:1. Is there a pattern or we need a red card for Marouane Fellaini in FA Cup 2019 for confirmation?”

8.59pm GMT

56 min: Azpilicueta has another shot from 25 yards. It flies over again.

8.58pm GMT

55 min: It was a surprise to see De Gea beaten from that range. Kante’s shot was accurate, but he didn’t hit it especially viciously. I think De Gea was slow to react.

8.56pm GMT

53 min: How on earth are United going to score?

8.56pm GMT

Chelsea probe for a while, searching for a way through. Manchester United look so solid. Where’s the gap? Eventually the ball comes to N’Golo Kante, 25 yards out. Paul Pogba’s let him go. Kante takes a touch and then whips a low shot into the bottom right corner, seemingly taking De Gea by surprise.

8.53pm GMT

50 min: Azpilicueta wastefully shoots miles over from 25 yards.

8.52pm GMT

49 min: This is going to be attack versus defence all the way, until Manchester United win 1-0 on penalties.

8.50pm GMT

47 min: “The rules don’t allow you to make an example of someone who didn’t contravene them.” says Dael Morris.

I have absolutely no sympathy for Ander Herrera or Jose Mourinho. It’s not unusual to see someone booked for persistent fouling anyway.

8.49pm GMT

46 min: Manchester United get the second half underway. “This game resembles a Man Utd vs Chelsea game of Ferguson-Mourinho days, which says a lot about Jose,” says Ben Simmons. “His systematic dismantling of club footballing traditions as a means to satisfy his niggling-foul fetish really needs to come to an end. That instant replacing of Mkhitaryan with Fellaini just about sums it up. The man is sick. Props to Michael Oliver for the decision.”

8.47pm GMT

“Lots of talking points after an exciting half but yet again the same old issue raises it’s head to detract from the football being played…what on earth is going on with Darmians beard?” says John Delaney.

8.46pm GMT

The second Herrera booking wasn’t worth a booking in isolation, but it needs to be viewed in context. Phil Jones had fouled Hazard around 0.00001 seconds earlier and Michael Oliver had spotted that they were doing it on rotation. Oh well. “This first half fouling extraganza from United reminds me of the time Mourinho’s Madrid players took turns fouling Messi in one of the 173 Clasicos between him and Pep,” says Nas Iqbal. “They rarely finished with 11 men.”

8.35pm GMT

Michael Oliver peeps his whistle. Ander Herrera’s red card has left Manchester United in something of a pickle.

8.31pm GMT

45 min+1: There will be two added minutes. “A ten-man, backs-against-the-wall war of attrition against a club that sacked him,” says Justin Kavanagh. “Is there a game that the Moudy one would love to win more than this?”

8.31pm GMT

45 min: Pogba relieves some of the pressure on United with a driving run. Kante stops him.

8.29pm GMT

43 min: “Since Mourinho’s plan was, obviously, to kick Hazard out of the game, he can have no complaints,” Lou Roper said. “Indeed, Mr Oliver has been rather too patient.”

8.28pm GMT

42 min: Costa lays the ball off to the onrushing Willian, who trips over his own feet. No penalty. “Stone wall red card, clear second yellow, in my view,” says Chris Goddard. “Michael Oliver had literally JUST finished warning them about persistent fouls on Hazard. Five seconds later, a blatant trip. Only one choice…”

8.27pm GMT

41 min: Conte completely lost it after that foul on Alonso. He was screaming in Mourinho’s face. I don’t think Conte screaming at you would be a pleasant experience. The fourth official managed to keep the pair of them apart, though, and Michael Oliver’s trying to calm things down. Tempers are frayed.

8.26pm GMT

40 min: Victor Moses lets fly with a fierce effort from the right of the area, but it soars over the bar.

8.25pm GMT

39 min: Off camera, Conte and Mourinho have clashed on the touchline. It came after Valencia fouled Alonso on the left.

8.24pm GMT

37 min: Marouane Fellaini replaces Henrikh Mkhitaryan. United still have a free-kick to defend. It’s tossed high into the middle and De Gea punches it clear before going down after catching an accidental elbow from Costa – if such a thing exists – in the ribs. He needs some treatment.

8.23pm GMT

35 min: Manchester United are down to 10 men! There had been a whiff of this in the air. Phil Jones had just received a final warning from Michael Oliver for bundling Hazard over. Play resumed, Hazard set off on another dribble and Herrera, already on a booking, trips him from behind. Foolish. Mourinho is smirking, United are fuming, but they’ve paid for too many fouls.

8.19pm GMT

34 min: “I’m really not a fan of Cahill on the left side of defence,” says Leo Madden. “He is not mobile or good on the ball and struggles to do anything meaningful with the ball. I can’t see Conte sticking with him in the long term, as good as the defence has been this season.”

8.19pm GMT

32 min: Some Chelsea fans were telling Mourinho to eff off a few moments ago. He responded by

gouging them all in the eye
reminding them that he won them three titles.

8.16pm GMT

30 min: Phil Jones tackles Kante cleanly, but the ball runs to Hazard, who’s lost his shadow. He skedaddles into the area, but blazes high and wide.

8.15pm GMT

28 min: “Is Jones man-marking Hazard?” says JR in Illinois. “I sense no danger… But seriously, Phil Jones is a menace. I figure Mourinho is hoping he hurts an opponent as opposed to himself or a teammate. I’ve never seen him hurt a referee though so Michael Oliver should be okay.”

I think United are playing with four narrow defenders, the wingers dropping deep, Herrera deep in the middle, Pogba on Kante, Mkhitaryan doing busywork and Rashford bounding around after scraps up front. It’s just like chess.

8.13pm GMT

27 min: Hazard schemes again, but Pogba nicks the ball away with a sliding tackle from behind. Michael Oliver rules that he timed it perfectly.

8.11pm GMT

25 min: You could spend the next 20 minutes trying to decipher United’s formation.

8.10pm GMT

24 min: United’s formation is still quite hard to work out. I initially thought that Jones would be in central midfield, but it looks like he’s tracking Hazard. Or at least trying to. That’s a thankless task.

8.08pm GMT

23 min: Matic shoots from 30 yards. The ball lands in the Shed Upper.

8.08pm GMT

22 min: Ander Herrera has become Jose Mourinho’s on-pitch Rui Faria, hasn’t he? I didn’t know he had it in him. But then he did manage to corrupt Xabi Alonso.

8.07pm GMT

20 min: Chelsea attack again, Eden Hazard at the heart of things and trying to play a give and go with Costa. Ander Herrera stands in Hazard’s way and blocks him off, knocking the Belgian to the floor. Michael Oliver plays the advantage and the attack breaks down when Costa confuses himself on the left. The break in play allows Oliver to book Herrera for that moment of Jose-scented cynicism.

8.05pm GMT

18 min: The Chelsea pressure subsides when Costa heads over from Willian’s corner. David De Gea, though.

8.05pm GMT

17 min: Chelsea have woken up now. Marcus Alonso volleys dangerously into the six-yard box from the left and it’s turned over by Smalling before Costa can tap it in. Chelsea continue to press, though Michael Oliver first has to sort out some nonsense between Costa and Rojo in the middle. Watch this space.

8.04pm GMT

16 min: Eden Hazard, quiet in the opening 15 minutes, suddenly comes alive, embarrassing Chris Smalling with a glorious Cruyff turn to wriggle away from the United defender. Off he goes, dribbling brilliantly through the middle. He skips past another defender, scooting to the right, and aims for the far corner with a low drive. De Gea brilliantly tips it wide. Corner to Chelsea. Willian swings it into the area and Cahill wins a wrestling match before jabbing a low drive towards the same corner. De Gea’s reflexes are magnificent again, though, and Chelsea have to settle for another corner.

8.00pm GMT

14 min: David Luiz taps the free-kick to William, who’s promptly tackled by Ashley Young. Chelsea made a right mess of that. They’re back on the front foot soon enough, though, and space opens up for Kante 20 yards from goal, but his shot’s blocked.

7.59pm GMT

13 min: Willian embarks on a mischievous dribble down the inside left flank and Darmian scythes him down from behind. He’s fortunate not to be booked.

7.58pm GMT

12 min: Marcus Rashford uses his pace to hare after a long punt up field. He’s away from David Luiz, but Cesar Azpilicueta steps across to halt him with a fine challenge. The ball breaks to Mkhitaryan, though, and he has a go from 20 yards. His low shot fizzes just wide.

7.57pm GMT

11 min: Cahill sends a pass down the left flank. It rolls straight out of play for a throw.

7.55pm GMT

10 min: United have started impressively. They’re pressing high and squeezing Chelsea, who look a bit confused at the moment.

7.53pm GMT

8 min: Chelsea haven’t got into their flow yet. United are working hard to keep a solid shape and restrict their options.

7.52pm GMT

6 min: The Manchester United fans are having a lovely sing-song in the away end. It’s great to see the underdogs get their big day out in the FA Cup.

7.51pm GMT

5 min: Diego Costa bumps into Ander Herrera on the halfway line. They shake hands like a right pair of gentlemen.

7.50pm GMT

4 min: It’s Chelsea’s turn to attack, Willian probing on the right and finding Nemanja Matic on the edge of the area. He shuffles it to the left for Marcos Alonso, but the Spaniard can’t find Eden Hazard.

7.48pm GMT

2 min: Manchester United haven’t conceded after 30 seconds. That’s another sign of their progress under Jose Mourinho. They’ve also started well here, winning a corner on the right. Ashley Young whips it in, but Rojo heads over. Meanwhile they’ve not lined up in a 3-4-3 system. Instead it’s 4-2-3-1, with Phil Jones in central midfield, a role he performed with distinction against Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid four years ago.

7.46pm GMT

And we’re off! Chelsea, in their blue home strip, get the ball rolling. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half. The first task for Manchester United is to go one better than the league game and not concede after 30 seconds.

7.45pm GMT

The teams are out and that means it’s time for the Liquidator. And almost time for kick-off.

7.42pm GMT

Jose Mourinho’s calling Chelsea defensive again in a BBC interview. Antonio Conte disagrees. For what it’s worth, Chelsea have scored 18 more goals than United in the league this season.

Related: Chelsea’s Antonio Conte: I never, ever, ever train for the counterattack

7.40pm GMT

It’s been 18 years since Dwight Yorke’s double at Stamford Bridge kept Manchester United on course for the treble.

7.24pm GMT

Jose Mourinho – the man who stole the show. pic.twitter.com/BNKnGWTVRT

6.59pm GMT

Despite making two changes, Chelsea aren’t playing a weakened team at all. Antonio Conte hasn’t allowed sentiment to cloud his judgement and there’s no start for John Terry, even though this could be his final FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge. Willian and Nemanja Matic are the players to come in from the win at West Ham last Monday, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas dropping to the bench,

As for Manchester United, it looks like Jose Mourinho has replicated Conte’s 3-4-3 system. Or it could be 7-0-3. Or 7-2-1. Or 7-3-0. Or 10-0-0. Alternatives are that it’s a 4-2-3-1, either with Matteo Darmian at right-back or central midfield. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are nowhere to be seen, of course, but United haven’t had to stoop so low as putting Marouane Fellaini up front. Instead it turns out Marcus Rashford isn’t ill after all. That Mourinho. He’s made fools of us all!

6.55pm GMT

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Matic, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Costa, Hazard. Subs: Begovic, Terry, Zouma, Chalobah, Fabregas, Pedro, Batshuayi.

Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Jones, Rojo; Valencia, Herrera, Pogba, Darmian; Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Young. Subs: Romero, Bailly, Blind, Lingard, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata.

6.46pm GMT

Scrap the entire preamble! Despite suffering from the sniffles, Marcus Rashford starts up front for Manchester United. I’ll have the full team news shortly.

10.26am GMT

Hello. It’s always satisfying to see your ex in a miserable state. But while Chelsea are smitten with their youthful, energetic, handsome Italian manager these days, they would be wise not to become complacent if Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge looking like Tony Soprano in the midst of one of his misery bouts, complete with unkempt hair, crumbs in his beard, and ketchup stains on his dressing gown. They’ll point and whisper and snigger at how he’s let himself go. Remember how dashing he used to be? To think he used to make us go weak at the knees.

Manchester United have travelled down to Stamford Bridge for this FA Cup quarter-final in the position of world’s most unlikeliest underdogs. They don’t exactly belong in the same category as your Lincolns or Millwalls, but they do have problems, namely a total lack of anyone to play up front. The, er, Ferguson Association has banned Zlatan Ibrahimovic for resting his elbow on Tyrone Mings’s jaw, Anthony Martial’s got a knock, Marcus Rashford’s ill and Wayne Rooney’s made the mistake of going near Phil Jones during a training session, all of which means we could be treated to the spectacle of Marouane Fellaini’s Zlatan impression. It’s Jose against the world, and life is so very unfair.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/13/chelsea-v-manchester-united-fa-cup-live

Mar 13

FA Cup semi-final draw – as it happened

Chelsea were drawn against Tottenham, while Arsenal and Manchester City will meet in the other FA Cup semi-final, with the ties played on 22 and 23 April

9.52pm GMT

Prediction:

Arsenal v Tottenham Tottenham v Manchester City Chelsea v Arsenal
Chelsea v Manchester City final. But there’s only one way to be sure! They’ll have to play those semi-finals on 22 and 23 April. Bye!

9.49pm GMT

Arsenal v Manchester City

9.49pm GMT

Chelsea v Tottenham

9.49pm GMT

The balls are in the pot… THE BALLS ARE IN THE POT.

9.44pm GMT

Hello. It’s almost time for the semi-final draw. Chelsea have just joined Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham in the last four. Ah, the romance.

10.27am GMT

It’s an all-star cast of Premier League heavyweights in the FA Cup semi-finals but who will be paired together? Here are your balls:

Related: Premier League and FA Cup: talking points from the weekend’s action

Related: Son’s hat-trick for Tottenham the perfect response to Millwall’s idiot minority | Dominic Fifield

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/13/fa-cup-semi-final-draw-live

Mar 12

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte: I never, ever, ever train for the counterattack

• Conte responds to José Mourinho’s insinuations that Chelsea are defensive
• Italian does not feel timing of FA Cup quarter-final hinders Manchester United

Antonio Conte has responded to José Mourinho’s insinuations that Chelsea are a defensive team by offering an insight into his methods on the training ground and insisting that he is not a coach who focuses on counterattacking football.

Related: Chelsea v Manchester United: match preview

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/mar/12/chelsea-antonio-conte-i-never-train-for-counterattack-jose-mourinho-fa-cup-manchester-united

Mar 10

Antonio Conte will stay exuberant when Chelsea face Manchester United

• United’s José Mourinho was angered by Conte during October’s 4-0 defeat
• ‘I live the game with great passion,’ Chelsea manager says. ‘It’s normal’

Antonio Conte will not tone down his touchline exuberance when Chelsea renew hostilities with Manchester United on Monday night despite José Mourinho accusing the Italian of trying to humiliate him when the teams met in October.

Mourinho was less than impressed with the way his replacement at Stamford Bridge behaved when the league leaders thrashed United at Stamford Bridge. Facing his old side for the first time since his sacking in December 2015, Mourinho was infuriated by Conte whipping up the home support after N’Golo Kanté made it 4-0 to Chelsea. United’s manager, speaking in Italian, appeared to tell Conte he should behave like that “at 1-0, not at 4-0” and backroom staff of both clubs clashed in the tunnel after the final whistle.

Related: José Mourinho accuses Antonio Conte of humiliating him after Chelsea defeat

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/mar/10/antonio-conte-chelsea-manchester-united-jose-mourinho-celebrations-football

Mar 07

More money, more football, but are we now reaching saturation point? | Jacob Steinberg

BT Sport has gambled on the Champions League with a new £1.18bn deal but could the competition’s predictability lead to more people switching off?

Before this gets mistaken for a nostalgic lament about the good old days on ITV, it is worth pointing out that BT Sport has done a good job of broadcasting the Champions League since wrenching the rights from Sky in 2013, offering a slick, professional product that looks and feels the part. Lengthy analysis, access to every game, a warm as-it-happens goals show hosted by James Richardson and astute use of social media arguably represents value for money. Yet, despite all those advances, that nagging sense that people might be about to switch off won’t go away.

There are few better bargaining chips than live sport, which is why BT has been accused of squeezing customers to fund its increasingly intense battle with Sky. The telecoms giant has parted with £1.18bn to secure the exclusive rights for Champions League and Europa League football until 2021, a 32% increase on the cost of the current three-year deal, and it has announced its third price hike in 18 months, including higher costs for broadband and calls and a new £3.50 a month charge to subscribe to BT Sport.

Related: BT denies squeezing customers after paying £1.2bn for Champions League

Related: BT’s £1.2bn Champions League splurge is price of staying in Sky game

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/mar/07/bt-sport-champions-league-money-football-saturation-point

Mar 06

West Ham United 1-2 Chelsea: Premier League – as it happened

Chelsea moved 10 points clear at the top of the table thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa

9.56pm GMT

The scoreline is slightly deceptive. It makes the game look closer than it was. Chelsea were always comfortable and declared after going 2-0 up early in the second half. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa got the goals and next for the leaders is the visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup next Monday. West Ham were poor despite Manuel Lanzini’s late consolation. They stay 11th, behind Southampton on goal difference. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

Related: Chelsea restore 10-point lead at top of Premier League after win at West Ham

9.54pm GMT

That’s it. Chelsea move 10 points clear at the top of the table.

9.53pm GMT

90 min+3: There’s surely not enough time left for West Ham to find an equaliser.

9.52pm GMT

The comeback’s on! Andre Ayew dribbles through the middle and manages to work it to Lanzini in space on the right of the area. He hammers it low past Courtois.

9.51pm GMT

90 min: There will be three minutes of added time, meaning there’s enough time for me to calmly note that the London Stadium is a sick joke.

9.49pm GMT

89 min: Carroll almost makes contact with a cross for the first time, but doesn’t.

9.45pm GMT

86 min: Costa is down and he’s angry. He soon gets to his feet. Obviously he’s still angry.

9.43pm GMT

83 min: “Andy Carroll can’t jump?” says Peter Oh. “That can’t be good for his valuation in the Chinese Super League. However, his apparent ability to perform stepovers should ensure that his price tag stays above the 30 million quid mark.”

9.41pm GMT

82 min: Willian gives Fabregas a sight of goal. He can’t believe he sidefoots over.

9.40pm GMT

80 min: The ground is emptying.

9.36pm GMT

77 min: Edimilson Fernandes replaces Mark Noble. West Ham have used their three subs now.

9.36pm GMT

76 min: Chelsea make their final change, Kurt Zouma on for Victor Moses.

9.34pm GMT

75 min: Chelsea bring on Willian for Eden Hazard.

9.34pm GMT

74 min: Carroll has barely been able to jump tonight. Is he even fit? Anyway, Noble gets through some nice work on the left, but sees his low ball blocked behind for a corner.

9.32pm GMT

72 min: Very little of any note is taking place.

9.30pm GMT

71 min: Obiang skews a shot well wide from 25 yards.

9.27pm GMT

67 min: Hazard superbly flicks a pass in between two West Ham defenders and finds Costa, who spins and lets fly with a vicious shot, all in one movement. The Chelsea fans are already celebrating, but Randolph somehow tips wide for a corner.

9.26pm GMT

66 min: Huff. Puff.

9.24pm GMT

65 min: Nemanja Matic replaces Pedro.

9.24pm GMT

64 min: West Ham bring on Andre Ayew and Sam Byram for Sofiane Feghouli and the limping Winston Reid.

9.23pm GMT

63 min: Both teams are preparing substitutions.

9.22pm GMT

61 min: From Snodgrass’s corner, Courtois flaps and Chelsea lose their composure a little. West Ham keep it alive in the area, Snodgrass chipping to the far post again, and after an air shot from Fonte, Feghouli controls and lashes it goalwards. His shot beats Courtois, but there’s Moses on the ball to clear. West Ham continue to hammer on the door, though, and when Reid lobs the ball into the middle from the left, Fonte heads just over. That’s the closest West Ham have come.

9.19pm GMT

60 min: Snodgrass races on to Lanzini’s cute pass and wins a corner off Azpilicueta.

9.17pm GMT

57 min: Chelsea have killed this off so crushingly. They let West Ham have their fun, but on their terms. Then they pounced.

9.15pm GMT

56 min: West Ham have lost all conviction.

9.13pm GMT

54 min: Carroll does a stepover, just because, and shoots from 25 yards. His effort lands on the top of the net.

9.12pm GMT

53 min: Alonso tricks his way past Fonte brilliantly but he’s stretching as he shoots and prods a few yards wide of the far post.

9.11pm GMT

52 min: Lanzini hopefully shoots from 25 yards. But no.

9.10pm GMT

Game over. Fabregas’s corner is headed on by Obiang at the near post and Diego Costa nudges it over the line from close range. Awful defending. Everyone can go home.

9.09pm GMT

50 min: A West Ham attack breaks down and Chelsea break, Hazard outrageously back-flicking the ball to a team-mate. They surge up field and Alonso wins a corner on the left. And…

9.08pm GMT

49 min: Kante gives the ball away – we are contractually obliged to call this an “uncharacteristic error” – and Snodrgass wins a corner on the left. He takes it. But he mishits it.

9.07pm GMT

47 min: There are lot of empty seats inside the London Stadium.

9.05pm GMT

46 min: West Ham get the second half underway.

8.56pm GMT

On Sky, Jamie Carragher cannot fathom why West Ham’s defenders went up for the free-kick before Chelsea’s goal when Manuel Lanzini was lining up a shot. It’s a fair question.

8.49pm GMT

This is what inevitability feels like.

8.49pm GMT

45 min+4: “I think that Chelsea kit is ‘light black’ rather than ‘dark blue’, unless you’re a tetrachromat or something like that..?” says JJ.

8.48pm GMT

45 min+3: Snodgrass’s free-kick is cleared and Chelsea are off again. Hazard leads the lightning charge, finding Costa, who shuffles it on to Alonso. But the Spaniard’s crowded out. West Ham get away with it.

8.47pm GMT

45 min+2: Cesc Fabregas picks up the first booking for barging Cresswell over. Snodgrass will swing this in.

8.46pm GMT

45 min+1: There will be four minutes of stoppage time.

8.45pm GMT

45 min: Cresswell hobbles back on. He’s quickly back into the swing of things, deflecting a Moses cross behind for a corner.

8.44pm GMT

44 min: Cresswell seemed to jar his knee while blocking Moses’s shot. West Ham are down to 10 men for the time being. They’ll do everything they can not to get Arthur Masuaku on.

8.43pm GMT

41 min: Hazard scampers clear down the left, Jose Fonte wandering off for a walk to grab a cup of tea and letting the Belgian skedaddle away, but he can’t find Costa in the middle. A scramble still ensues, though. Moses looks certain to score. But no! Cresswell heroically blocks his effort! Pedro has a go. Randolph beats it away and West Ham survive. But Cresswell is down in the middle. He’s hurt himself.

8.41pm GMT

40 min: Lanzini, quiet so far, suddenly shows a change of pace and combines with Noble, who cleverly tees him up for a drive from 18 yards. Lanzini should do better, but he blazes it miles over. He hit it so far over it might just have reached the second or third row behind the goal!

8.39pm GMT

39 min: Obiang loses possession to Kante in a danger area and the brilliant Chelsea midfielder threads a pass to Pedro on the right. But Obiang redeems himself with a fine challenge, just when Pedro seemed to have earned space for a shot.

8.38pm GMT

38 min: West Ham badly miss Michail Antonio’s pace and energy. He makes things happen.

8.36pm GMT

36 min: Pedro tries to find Hazard with a pass from right to left, but it’s too close to Randolph.

8.34pm GMT

34 min: For all that West Ham pressure before the goal, Chelsea didn’t once come close to conceding the opener. They are so solid.

8.32pm GMT

32 min: Feghouli does a kick straight to Hazard. Kouyate flies through the back of Hazard. An inauspicious little spell for West Ham.

8.29pm GMT

29 min: Cresswell crosses. Carroll is not in the middle.

8.28pm GMT

27 min: This is what champions do.

8.27pm GMT

For once, West Ham don’t chuck the ball into the Chelsea area and this is what happens. Mark Noble cheaply concedes possession with a poor pass, Kante inevitably stepping in, and Chelsea are finally off. For the first time, they’ve got pace and for the first time, they’ve got their flow. Eden Hazard scoots off with menace high on his agenda, swaps passes with Pedro, rounds Darren Randolph and slides it into the empty net. This is utterly ruthless. Chelsea have done very little in attack and now look!

8.25pm GMT

25 min: Lanzini kerblammos his effort straight into the wall. And…

8.24pm GMT

24 min: Obiang pings a fine pass out to Cresswell on the left. One touch, cross. Cahill heads away from Carroll. Chelsea can’t properly clear their lines, though, and West Ham win a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Send for Payet!

8.22pm GMT

22 min: Snodgrass’s free-kick is a waste, easily claimed by Courtois.

8.21pm GMT

21 min: Carroll dribbles through the middle, like a dancing horse, but Kante brings him down around 40 yards from goal. Just as well, there were only three Chelsea defenders back to deal with him.

8.21pm GMT

20 min: Costa momentarily finds space on the edge of the area, but Fonte is firm with him. West Ham’s intensity has been so impressive. Whether they can maintain it remains to be seen. And Chelsea have dealt with this kind of thing before.

8.19pm GMT

18 min: Snodgrass hoists it high to the far post. Cahill and Carroll challenge for it. The Chelsea man heads it behind. Snodgrass sends in a curling inswinger this time. Kouyate attacks it and Courtois looks uncertain, but Moses heads it away. Moments later, Kouyate gets a bit too excited and fouls David Luiz.

8.17pm GMT

17 min: Snodgrass finds space on the left again, Lanzini picking him out. His cross is poor, though. West Ham win back possession. Snodgrass schemes on the left again. This time he wins a corner.

8.16pm GMT

16 min: Carroll hares off after a Randolph punt and throws himself into an aerial challenge, beating Azpilicueta to the ball and nodding it to Snodgrass. The winger knows his job. He doesn’t take long to lob a cross into the area. But it’s not in Carroll’s vicinity. Feghouli picks up possession on the right. Back to Noble. Another cross. David Luiz heads clear.

8.14pm GMT

14 min: Chelsea probe for a while. West Ham deal with a couple of hopeful high balls into their area.

8.12pm GMT

12 min: Snodgrass burrows down the left wing, in the style a man named Snodgrass does, and somehow manages to force his way past a couple of Chelsea challenges. David Luiz squeezes him out, though.

8.10pm GMT

10 min: Gary Cahill’s torn his shirt. He’ll need a new one. It’s all happening.

8.09pm GMT

9 min: West Ham have started brightly here and Chelsea look content to sit back and absorb the pressure for the time being.

8.08pm GMT

8 min: Snodgrass finally whips the corner in from the right, but Courtois acrobatically pushes it away and Chelsea look to counter. A loose pass lets West Ham off the hook, though. With the ball out of play, Carroll’s allowed back on.

8.07pm GMT

7 min: Carroll is still receiving treatment. I doubt he’ll be allowed to stay on for the corner, which is precisely what West Ham don’t need.

8.06pm GMT

6 min: West Ham enjoy a decent spell of possession and Kouyate slips a pass down the right to Feghouli, who lifts a cross towards Carroll. This is the kind of delivery the big man needs. But, er, Victor Moses beats him to it and clobbers Carroll on the nose for good measure. The loose ball comes to Cresswell, who sees his shot deflected wide for a corner. Before it can be taken, though, Carroll will need some treatment. He’s got a bloody nose.

8.03pm GMT

4 min: Fabregas tosses the free-kick into the West Ham area, but it’s too high and Randolph claims the cross.

8.03pm GMT

3 min: Chelsea attack down the left, Hazard sneaking forward. Kouyate brings him down.

8.02pm GMT

2 min: There’s a fine old atmosphere out there. The West Ham fans are advising their Chelsea counterparts about places to put blue flags, but this is a family website, so we’ll leave it there.

8.01pm GMT

And we’re off! Chelsea, in their dark blue away strip, get the game underway. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half and instantly look to catch West Ham by surprise, David Luiz launching a huge raking pass forward for Pedro. Winston Reid’s out of position, but Pedro can’t bring it down.

7.56pm GMT

Here they come! The players are out at the London Stadium, the bubbles are floating around the place and the match is about to begin!

7.54pm GMT

“Disturbingly, located between the team badges at the London Stadium in your photo are the eyes of Darth Maul,” says Ian Copestake. “Given the nature of his demise I hope we do not get a game of two halves.”

I thought it was Deadpool.

7.44pm GMT

It’s a question we’ve asked a lot this season…

Why have #WHUFC struggled at home?@MichailAntonio has the answer. pic.twitter.com/0EZxNYm338

7.40pm GMT

“This league is very tough,” Antonio Conte says. “To be in this position, we must be very proud.” That’s the pre-match interviews done. Not long until kick-off now.

7.39pm GMT

Slaven Bilic is running through Chelsea’s various threats. He says he’ll be starting with four at the back. “Or maybe six,” he adds with a chuckle.

7.39pm GMT

Both managers are asked about the returning Andy Carroll.

“We know what he is capable of,” Slaven Bilic says. “We are expecting a lot.”

7.29pm GMT

“You may be able to name Chelsea’s best 11 off by heart but surely they have not achieved the ultimate title contender status of being easily imagined as cartoon characters,” says Ian Copestake. “After all they’ve only got one comedy villain.”

There is a lack of comedy villains in this league. Perhaps Chelsea should sign Pepe.

7.11pm GMT

West Ham make one enforced change. They don’t have Michail Antonio’s energy in attack because of his red card against Watford, but Andy Carroll returns from a groin injury to lead the attack. He scored twice against Chelsea last season.

One area Chelsea will look to exploit will be West Ham’s weakness at right-back. Cheikhou Kouyate, who gave a penalty away against Watford, fills in at right-back. Tonight he’s up against Eden Hazard, who’s shaken off an injury concern. Chelsea are as expected. It’s always a good sign when you can name a title contender’s best 11 off by heart.

7.05pm GMT

West Ham: Randolph; Kouyate, Fonte, Reid, Cresswell; Obiang, Noble; Feghouli, Lanzini, Snodgrass; Carroll. Subs: Adrian, Collins, Masuaku, Byram, Fernandes, Ayew, Calleri.

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard. Subs: Begovic, Terry, Zouma, Matic, Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Batshuayi.

8.21pm GMT

Hello. Let’s see how far we can get before saying pwopa nawtee. Not that far! But hopefully that’s the last time we’ll have to pretend to be Danny Dyer. Things got a bit heated in the stands the last time Chelsea visited everyone’s favourite athletics arena, but everyone’s promised to be on their best behaviour and security has been ratcheted up to Bond Villain’s Lair Levels, so hopefully there won’t be a repeat of the disgraceful scenes that marred October’s League Cup tie.

West Ham won that match, of course, on a rare enjoyable outing for them in their weird new home. But that was against a slightly weakened Chelsea – Michy Batshuayi started – and Antonio Conte haven’t really been in the business of losing league matches against teams of West Ham’s calibre. Chelsea won’t just be out for revenge here, they’ll be desperate to respond after wins for Manchester City and Tottenham yesterday and move 10 points clear at the top with 10 games to go. It probably won’t have escaped their attention that Arsenal and Manchester City have both won heavily in Stratford this season.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/06/west-ham-united-v-chelsea-premier-league-live

Mar 05

Danny Drinkwater: Craig Shakespeare would be good fit as Leicester manager

• ‘Every player probably knows Shakes more than anyone else’
• Shakespeare focuses on training in Dubai after 3-1 win over Hull

Shortly after giving Leicester City the lead, Riyad Mahrez tore off in pursuit of Kamil Grosicki, sprinting after the Hull City winger in an attempt to stop him breaking clear down the left flank. Danny Simpson had sold himself and Grosicki was threatening to break clear near the halfway line. Mahrez, however, was determined not to let him advance any further, chasing back, covering for his floundering team-mate and dispossessing Grosicki. The crowd applauded. So did Simpson.

Related: Riyad Mahrez revives the old magic as renewed Leicester sink Hull City

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/mar/05/danny-drinkwater-craig-shakespeare-good-fit-leicester-manager-hull-city

Mar 05

Sunderland v Manchester City: Premier League – as it happened

Goals from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane moved Manchester City up to third, eight points behind Chelsea, while Sunderland remain bottom

6.24pm GMT

Related: David Silva runs the show as Manchester City waltz past Sunderland–

5.50pm GMT

Martin Atkinson’s final whistle confirms the inevitable. Goals from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane move Manchester City up to third, eight points behind Chelsea. Sunderland remain bottom, six points behind Crystal Palace in 17th place with 11 matches left. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

5.48pm GMT

90 min: There will be three minutes of stoppage time.

5.46pm GMT

89 min: Fabian Delph replaces Leroy Sane.

5.45pm GMT

88 min: Sane finds Aguero on the edge of the area. He hits this one viciously, but Pickford brilliantly pushes it wide.

5.43pm GMT

87 min: Nolito shoots straight at Pickford from 18 yards.

5.41pm GMT

84 min: City steam up the other end and Sane and De Bruyne combine to release Aguero, who rams a shot straight at Pickford.

5.40pm GMT

83 min: Jermain Defoe nods past Willy Caballero. He’s miles offside.

5.39pm GMT

82 min: Nolito – remember him? – replaces Raheem Sterling. And Wahbi Khazri replaces Adnan Januzaj.

5.37pm GMT

80 min: This is walking football.

5.34pm GMT

78 min: Kevin de Bruyne replaces Yaya Toure, which seems cruel and unfair on Sunderland.

5.33pm GMT

76 min: City are barely allowing Sunderland a touch.

5.31pm GMT

74 min: The brilliant Sane surges, twists and turns on the left. Jones just does enough to put the German off. He probably should have shot earlier. He settles for a corner.

5.30pm GMT

73 min: Pickford assertively charges out to boot clear before Sane can race on to a through ball.

5.27pm GMT

70 min: Yaya Toure lines one up from 25 yards. High. Wide.

5.25pm GMT

69 min: Darron Gibson is down with an injury. Luckily David Moyes has another former Everton midfielder on the bench. Jack Rodwell replaces him.

5.24pm GMT

68 min: Oviedo dinks a cross into the middle from the left. Januzaj glances wide.

5.24pm GMT

67 min: As Aston Villa found out, it catches up with you in the end. This looks like the season for Sunderland.

5.21pm GMT

64 min: David Silva is being allowed far too much space. He’s killing Sunderland with those little soft-shoe dribbles. They can expect further punishment if they don’t get closer to him.

5.19pm GMT

63 min: David Moyes: beleaguered.

5.19pm GMT

62 min: Manchester City’s fans are serenading Pep Guardiola. Sunderland’s are not serenading Pep Guardiola.

5.17pm GMT

61 min: From the resulting corner, Kone heads straight at Caballero.

5.17pm GMT

60 min: Sunderland look for an instant response. But Caballero saves Larsson’s low drive from the right with his feet.

5.16pm GMT

You’re always going to be in trouble if you give David Silva the freedom of the park. Sunderland allow the Spanish magician to advance through the middle and he sends Leroy Sane through on the left of the area. He speeds clear, fires past Pickford and sees his shot go in off the inside of the far post.

5.14pm GMT

57 min: City toy with Sunderland on the edge of the area on the right until Sterling tees up Silva, who drives a shot towards the far corner. Pickford pushes it away.

5.13pm GMT

56 min: Oviedo catches Sterling heavily from behind. Martin Atkinson settles for a lecture.

5.12pm GMT

55 min: Sunderland’s players keep running offside. Which is sub-optimal.

5.09pm GMT

52 min: Niall Quinn has just paid Manchester City a compliment for their defensive strength, which doesn’t say a great deal for Sunderland’s attacking.

5.08pm GMT

51 min: Silva releases Sagna with a lovely pass on the right, but the full-back makes a mess of his cross. Toure doesn’t hide his frustration in the middle.

5.04pm GMT

47 min: Sunderland manage some early pressure. City hack a cross away as far as Gibson. His shot’s deflected through to Defoe, but he’s offside. The problem is that most refs are too chicken to blow for fowl throws,” notes Robin Hazlehurst.

5.03pm GMT

46 min: Sunderland get the second half underway. “Following up on the Question about Pep getting Sunderland promoted back to the Premier League, do you think if Allardyce was appointed as Rotherham’s manager he would be able to save them from certain relegation?” says Renasha Mishra. No, but you’d fancy his chances with Bristol City or Wigan.

4.47pm GMT

It’s been scrappy and Sunderland have competed fairly well, but Manchester City have Sergio Aguero.

4.46pm GMT

45 min: David Silva puts the ball in the Sunderland net at the end of a flowing break. The flag’s up for offside. Silva was onside but Sterling, tussling with a Sunderland defender in an offside position nearby, was deemed to have interfered with the play.

4.44pm GMT

44 min: I think that was City’s first shot on target. They haven’t been at their best going forward, but one clinical moment has made the difference.

4.44pm GMT

One moment it seems Willy Caballero has put Manchester City in bother, the next it’s in Sunderland’s net. Caballero looked to have put City under pressure with a poor, low clearance, but Toure helped out with a firm challenge and then powered forward on the break. He swept a pass out to Sterling, who slid a low ball towards the near post for Aguero to skip away from Kone and scoop a clever finish over Pickford.

4.41pm GMT

40 min: There’s nothing like a good discussion about foul throws.

@JacobSteinberg Lingard foul-throwed against Bournemouth yesterday!

4.39pm GMT

39 min: Defoe shows good strength on the edge of the area, turns and shoots. A deflection takes it spinning wide for a corner on the left. Larsson curls this one in and again Jones gets his head on the cross. This time his effort drops wide.

4.37pm GMT

37 min: Sane wriggles and shakes off Jones, who slips, but the German’s centre is too strong for Silva, who can’t believe he hasn’t been presented with a simple tap-in.

4.36pm GMT

36 min: Sunderland win a corner on the right. Januzaj swings it in and Jones rises highest, only for Caballero to save his downward header.

4.34pm GMT

34 min: Sterling scoots on to a magnificent pass from Yaya Toure. But the flag’s up for offside.

4.33pm GMT

33 min: “Following on from your Moyes question, here is one for you to ponder: if Sunderland went down and Pep Guardiola took over, would he get them back up again?” asks Shaun Wilkinson.

Yes.

4.32pm GMT

32 min: Aguero, peripheral so far, turns on the halfway line, looks up and sees Sane and Sterling sprinting through in front of him. Before he can release the ball, though, he slips. Martin Atkinson stops a trip by O’Shea and books the Sunderland defender.

4.30pm GMT

30 min: “Last fowl throw,” says Kireet in India. “Emre Can vs Leicester last week.”

4.28pm GMT

29 min: Sane tries to beat Kone for pace. Nope.

4.27pm GMT

27 min: Sunderland’s defending has been very organised. City are finding it difficult to pick their way through.

4.24pm GMT

25 min: When was the last time you saw a foul throw given in the Premier League?

4.24pm GMT

24 min: Gael Clichy is penalised for a foul throw. Dearie me.

4.22pm GMT

22 min: Billy Jones wins Sunderland’s first corner. They wanted a free-kick for a foul by Gael Clichy. Nothing doing. Januzaj’s corner is headed away. Up the other end, Leroy Sane scampers on to a pass inside Jones, but overruns the ball, much to Sunderland’s relief.

4.21pm GMT

20 min: The scrappiness suits Sunderland, whose intensity is rising. Jermain Defoe turns 25 yards from goal and he doesn’t need City to invite him to shoot early. He lets fly without much backlift and the ball bounces past Caballero and against the base of the right post! Borini, following up smartly, can only direct an awkward header wide with the rebound! That was a difficult chance for the Italian. The ball came back at him very quickly.

4.19pm GMT

19 min: This is quite scrappy at the moment. Neither goalkeeper has been tested yet.

4.17pm GMT

17 min: Silva takes it again, Sunderland deal with it again. Set-pieces don’t feel like the likeliest route to goal for City today.

4.16pm GMT

16 min: Sunderland can’t get out of their half at the moment. They keep conceding possession cheaply. Aguero wins a corner on the left.

4.14pm GMT

14 min: Raheem Sterling almost capitalises on a calamity at the back for Sunderland. Lamine Kone leaves a loose ball in the area, so does John O’Shea, and Jordan Pickford has to be alert to smother it before Sterling can snaffle it in.

4.12pm GMT

13 min: A free-kick to City on the left. Silva floats it in. Sunderland head it away.

4.10pm GMT

10 min: City play themselves into some bother deep on the left, but Januzaj fouls Kolarov.

4.08pm GMT

8 min: City are helping themselves to a prolonged spell of possession. Sterling wins a corner on the right. Silva’s delivery is headed away. “Your question about David Moyes – absolutely they should stick with him if they go down. Sunderland is an absolute basketcase of a club that could have gone down at any time in the past five years; that they have not gone down in any one of the last few seasons beggars belief, and that luck has to run out at some point,” says Shaun Wilkinson. “Moyes is a good manager who might be the one who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, ie the season when that luck finally does run out. If they do go down, I don’t think they could find a manager better equipped to get them back up again.”

4.06pm GMT

6 min: Kolarov chugs back on to the pitch after receiving treatment.

4.05pm GMT

4 min: Sunderland look determined to test Manchester City at the back. Borini has a shot charged down by Kolarov, who goes down winded, and the ball spins off to the right. Jones beats Clichy too easily, storms into the area and looks for Defoe with a cutback. Stones fends him off, though, and Caballero collects the loose ball.

4.04pm GMT

3 min: Willy Caballero effortlessly knocks a five-yard pass straight to Kolarov. See, what a playmaker. Kolarov lollops up the left flank, then pings a glorious raking pass from left to right towards Raheem Sterling. One-on-one with Oviedo, he tries to beat him with a backheel. Oviedo blocks it and the ball runs to Fernandinho, who crashes a shot into the top tier from 25 yards.

4.01pm GMT

2 min: Sunderland are defending from left to right in the first half. Manchester City are attacking from right to left.

4.00pm GMT

And we’re off! Manchester City get the game underway, ensuring that their possession statistics in the very first second stand at a Pep-pleasing 100%! It’s all downhill from here.

3.57pm GMT

Here come the teams. They stride purposefully out of the tunnel. Sunderland’s players don’t look scared at all. Relax! Everything’s going to be fine. Right. A few handshakes to get out of the way and then we’ll begin.

3.50pm GMT

“No trousers?” asks Phil James. He’s had to borrow some from David Moyes.

3.46pm GMT

Someone asked me earlier what Guardiola’s wearing today. B

aseball cap, 1995-96 Manchester City tracksuit
Grey v-neck, white shirt, skinny black tie. Pure style.

3.38pm GMT

If Sunderland go down, an eventuality which is looking increasingly likely, would you hang on to David Moyes? Would there be any value in sacking him given all the upheaval there in recent years? Wouldn’t it better to let him start afresh and build.

3.33pm GMT

“No sign of ‘Nesta 2.0’ Lynden Gooch today?” says Luke Forrester. “They’re calling him the new Puyol, up here in the north east. But not even a subs appearance for ‘the American Maldini’?”

No need. Papy Djilibodji is fit.

3.30pm GMT

Pre-match reading: Paul Wilson on Sergio Aguero.

Related: Sergio Agüero out to prove his value in Manchester City’s finishing stretch | Paul Wilson

3.25pm GMT

Tottenham have beaten Everton 3-2 to move seven points behind Chelsea and four clear of Manchester City, who have two games in hand on Mauricio Pochettino’s collection of nutcase puppies. None of this is relevant to Sunderland.

Related: Tottenham Hotspur v Everton: Premier League – live!

3.04pm GMT

Sunderland: Pickford; Jones, Kone, O’Shea, Oviedo; Ndong, Gibson, Larsson; Borini, Defoe, Januzaj. Subs: Mannone, Manquillo, Djilibodji, Rodwell, Khazri, Honeyman, Love.

Manchester City: Caballero; Sagna, Stones, Kolarov, Clichy; Yaya Toure, Fernandinho; Sterling, Silva, Sane; Aguero. Subs: Bravo, Otamendi, Fernando, Nolito, Iheanacho, Delph, De Bruyne.

11.01am GMT

Hello. For now, there is no title race. Such a thing does not exist. But if there is going to be one this season, then Manchester City must be utterly ruthless. Any slip and that small glimpse of blue they can still just about make out in the distance will vanish from view as Chelsea sail away for good. At the moment, however, City still have a glimmer of hope. It’s unlikely, but it’s not impossible. In all likelihood City’s indifferent winter form has given them too much to do, meaning that the top four has to be their focus, but a victory over Sunderland would take them eight points behind the leaders and slightly turning up the heat on Chelsea before their visit to West Ham tomorrow.

There was a time when the Stadium of Light was threatening to become City’s bogey ground. They struggled here under both Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, losing 1-0 on four consecutive visits. It briefly seemed that they were heading for a fifth straight defeat on Wearside when Connor Wickham gave Sunderland a 1-0 lead in December 2014. That was when City decided enough was enough, though, hitting back with four unanswered goals. Sergio Aguero was inspired that night and the striker may well fill his boots this afternoon. City won 4-1 at Sunderland in the League Cup last season and 1-0 win in the league and David Moyes’s side, rooted to the bottom of the league and six points off Crystal Palace in 17th place, treated their long-suffering fans to a shambolic 4-0 defeat to Southampton in their last home game. Still, they did get to see the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in New York the other week, so every cloud and all that.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/05/sunderland-v-manchester-city-premier-league-live

Feb 24

Manchester United get long-distance Rostov date in Europa League last 16

Manchester United face a gruelling trip to Russia in the last 16 of the Europa League, while Lyon tackle Roma in the round’s stand-out tie

12.26pm GMT

Celta Vigo v FC Krasnodar

Apoel v Anderlecht

12.23pm GMT

As for Manchester United, they’ll take a tie with FC Rostov. That said, the Russians reached the Europa League largely thanks to a shock home win over Bayern Munich in their Champions League, so United won’t want to take them lightly. The tie also comes during a draining period for United. They’ll be in Russia on 9 March, travel to Chelsea in the FA Cup on 13 March and play the second leg on 16 March. Ouch. Luckily for Jose Mourinho, he has a big squad. There might even be some game time for the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Wayne Rooney. But that’s all from me for today. Thanks for reading. Bye!

12.18pm GMT

We’ve got an all-Belgian tie, an all-German tie and a cracking match between Lyon and Roma to look forward to. Olympiakos v Besiktas looks tasty as well.

12.17pm GMT

The draw is over. That was the draw. The ties will be played on 9 and 16 March.

12.17pm GMT

FC Copenhagen v Ajax

12.16pm GMT

KAA Gent v Genk

12.15pm GMT

Olympiakos v Besiktas

12.14pm GMT

FC Rostov v Manchester United

12.14pm GMT

Lyon v Roma

12.13pm GMT

Schalke v Borussia Monchengladbach

12.12pm GMT

Apoel FC v Anderlecht

12.11pm GMT

Celta Vigo v FC Krasnodar

12.08pm GMT

Former Bayern Munich defender Patrik Andersson will be pulling the balls out of the hat.

12.05pm GMT

Giorgio Marchetti is master of ceremonies. He’s offering “warm congratulations” to every club in the last 16 and that makes it all worth the effort.

12.04pm GMT

Who do Manchester United need to avoid? “Sevilla, of course,” parps Nathanael Balete. “They’ll win the Europa again.”

12.01pm GMT

Off to Nyon we go! The draw’s set to begin. But first, a Uefa man is doing some talking on stage.

11.51am GMT

Not to come across all Brexit, but it feels like this is Manchester United’s competition to lose. Who can stop them? Roma, second in Serie A, are the likeliest challengers. But Schalke and Borussia Monchengladbach are mid-table in Germany, as are Celta Vigo in Spain. Besiktas are a threat; Lyon, too. Anderlecht could be dark horses. Come on, European football experts. Educate me. Who should United be looking to avoid?

11.41am GMT

While we wait, here’s some pre-draw reading. It’s me on Tottenham’s failure to beat KAA Gent, the eighth best team in Belgium! Still, the Wembley arch looked nice last night.

Related: Dele Alli’s rush of blood renders Tottenham’s intent fruitless | Jacob Steinberg

11.11am GMT

Hello. Welcome to the draw for the last 16 of the Europa League, featuring Manchester United

and Tottenham Hotspur
.

Oh, Tottenham. You’ve really gone and done it this time. Gent! Gent, for crying out loud.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/24/europa-league-last-16-draw-live

Feb 22

Porto v Juventus: Champions League last 16, first leg – as it happened

Juventus capitalised on Alex Telles’s rash red card by taking a decisive step towards the last eight thanks to late goals from Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves

9.41pm GMT

Well, this tie is probably over. Porto have a huge mountain to climb after this defeat and they’re likely to find the task insurmountable in Turin on 14 March. The game was defined by Alex Telles’s brain fart in the first half, the Porto left-back letting himself down and dropping his team-mates in it with that preposterous red card. Two identical bookings in the space of 74 seconds, for crying out loud! I mean really. Porto held out bravely for as long as possible, but they cracked in the end and Max Allegri’s substitutions made the difference, goals from Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves meaning that Juventus head back to Italy with a commanding 2-0 lead. They’ve got one foot in the last eight and it will take something special from Porto to stop them getting there. That’s all from me for now. Thanks for reading. Good night.

9.35pm GMT

Peep! Peep! Peep! That’s it!

9.33pm GMT

90 min: Two minutes of stoppage time.

9.32pm GMT

89 min: Marcano trips Higuain 30 yards from goal. He’s booked.

9.30pm GMT

87 min: This is so nearly three. Juventus casually stroll through the middle, gliding through Porto’s defence. Sami Khedira looks certain to score as he slides in and reaches the ball before the onrushing Casillas, but his shot drifts just past the post.

9.28pm GMT

86 min: Claudio Marchisio replaces Paulo Dybala.

9.28pm GMT

85 min: Nothing. Juventus break and Herrera picks up a booking for cynically bringing Pjaca down.

9.27pm GMT

84 min: The willing Maxi Pereira wins a corner for Porto on the right. What can they do with this?

9.26pm GMT

83 min: Juventus are playing out time, keeping the ball, teasing Porto. What Alex Telles would give to have those 74 seconds when he lost his head back.

9.24pm GMT

81 min: To their credit, the Porto fans are still making a racket, but this game has died a death since those Juventus goals.

9.21pm GMT

78 min: Pjanic takes aim from 20 yards. Deflection. Corner.

9.20pm GMT

77 min: Pjaca, a menace since his introduction, threatens to add a third, but overruns the ball on the right. He settles for a corner.

9.19pm GMT

77 min: Alex Telles has a lot of explaining to do.

9.19pm GMT

It’s fair to say that Max Allegri has got his substitutions spot on this evening. On the pitch for all of a minute, Dani Alves keeps his cool when a cross from the excellent Alex Sandro reaches him at the far post, controlling with his chest before slashing a volley to the right of the helpless Casillas. This tie is probably over.

9.17pm GMT

73 min: Dani Alves replaces Stephan Lichtsteiner.

9.17pm GMT

Juventus suddenly increase the tempo after much aimlessness. Paulo Dybala schemes on the edge of the area and attempts to thread a pass through on the right. Fortune favours Juve. His pass is inaccurate, but it deflects off the unlucky Layun and runs to Pjaca, the substitute, who joyously lashes it past Iker Casillas! Juve have been rewarded for their patience. The 10 men’s resistance is over.

9.13pm GMT

70 min: Brahimi, a rare lively presence in Porto’s attack, jigs around on the right, but overruns the ball down on the right byline.

9.11pm GMT

68 min: This Mandzukic as left winger experiment is producing mixed results. What’s Allegri’s angle here? Is it some kind of punishment for the Croatian target man?

9.10pm GMT

67 min: Juventus make their first change, Marko Pjaca replacing Juan Cuadrado.

9.09pm GMT

66 min: More of this, for example. Gonzalo Higuain, who’s hardly been in the game, shows wonderfully quick feet to throw a couple of Porto defenders off the scent on the edge of the area and earn space for a short. He opens up his body and aims for the far corner, but his curler flies just wide. Casillas didn’t move.

9.08pm GMT

65 min: Juventus are beginning to resort to a fair few crosses from deep positions. They’ve rarely been in behind the Porto defence. They’re playing in front of the hosts a bit too much. They could do with more urgency and invention.

9.06pm GMT

63 min: Is this Juventus side creative enough?

9.04pm GMT

61 min: Jesus Corona – there’s a lot going on in that name – replaces Ruben Neves.

9.03pm GMT

60 min: Porto are just beginning to show signs of losing their shape, leaving room for Juve to run into whenever they venture forward. Sandro again leads the latest charge. His cross is headed away to Khedira, who controls, volleys and watches as the ball drops just wide of the right post. Casillas stood and watched.

9.02pm GMT

59 min: Sandro, a constant threat on the left, fizzes a low centre into the middle. A Juventus attacker – I’m not sure who – arrives late and unmarked, only to take a swing and a miss when the opening goal appeared to be moments away. Porto survive. Portuguese hearts were in mouths there.

9.00pm GMT

58 min: Nothing much is happening. Porto are defending well.

8.57pm GMT

55 min: I jest, before you start. He’s a good player. Don’t hurt me. Back to the action. Sandro’s cross from the left is headed away, but only as far as Pjanic, who perceptively tees up Dybala. Miguel Layun flies across to divert his shot wide. The corner is a waste.

8.57pm GMT

54 min: Juan Cuadrado wafts a cross behind for a goal-kick. “Ah yes,” say Chelsea fans.

8.56pm GMT

53 min: Dybala pops up in a pocket of space again and pulls the trigger from 25 yards. Straight at Casillas.

8.54pm GMT

52 min: Sami Khedira leans back and bends one miles over the bar, rather summing up Juve’s imprecision in the final third.

8.53pm GMT

50 min: Lichtsteiner attempts to reach a bouncing ball in the Porto area, but he catches Herrera with a high, late challenge and receives a booking. Cue ironic cheers from the Porto fans.

8.52pm GMT

48 min: Miguel Layun drifts inside from the left and floats a cross towards the far post, over the dozing Alex Sandro and on to the head of Hector Herrera. It’s a magnificent chance for the Porto man, but he mistimes his leap and nods wastefully wide. How costly could that be? Porto are unlikely to get many more openings.

8.50pm GMT

47 min: The replays suggest that Hector Herrera might have been playing Dybala onside.

8.48pm GMT

46 min: Juventus get the game going again. Within a minute, the ball’s in the Porto net, but the flag’s up for offside against Paulo Dybala, who hammers his shot high into Iker Casillas’s net.

8.43pm GMT

Exclusive footage of Felix Brych versus Alex Telles.

8.34pm GMT

Jeers from the home fans greet Felix Brych’s half-time whistle, but Porto have no one but themselves to blame for their current difficulties. They can’t point at the officials. They’re down to 10 men for no reason other than monumental rashness from Alex Telles, whose left his team-mates in a hole after his early red card. They’re hanging on for now, but Juventus are likely to step it up in the second half.

8.33pm GMT

45 min+2: Maxi Pereira picks up a booking for a wild hack on Mario Mandzukic, who’ll definitely be looking to trouble the right-back with his pace now!

8.32pm GMT

45 min+1: A corner to Juventus on the right. They take it short. They pass the ball around for a while. Eventually it’s worked to Dybala, in space, and he lets fly with his left foot from 25 yards. His low zinger whooshes past Casillas this time, away to the Porto goalkeeper’s left, and the hosts are mightily relieved to see it clang off the base of the post and to safety.

8.29pm GMT

43 min: Dashing left wing whizzkid Mario Mandzukic hoicks a hopeful ball into the middle with his right foot. Nope.

8.27pm GMT

42 min: The marauding Alex Sandro wins a corner on the left. He’s shown more urgency than anyone so far. But his good work counts for little. Casillas comfortably claims the corner.

8.26pm GMT

41 min: “Juventus looked to be in pretty decent “surrounding the referee” form there in the 5th minute when they didn’t like a call but Porto really showed their opponents how it’s done on that red card,” says JR in Illinois. “Virtually perfect execution. You’d think Mourinho was still their manager. The ref had every right to hand out about six cards at that point.”

8.25pm GMT

39 min: Alex Sandro probes down the left again and slides a low centre towards Higuain, whose shot takes a deflection off Felipe and briefly appears to be heading inside the bottom right corner. Casillas reacts smartly, though, and dives to his right to push the ball past the post. The Porto goalkeeper’s movement didn’t appear to be hindered there. The corner amounts to nothing.

8.24pm GMT

37 min: Porto are annoyed with Felix Brych’s refusal to book Sami Khedira for a handball. The referee isn’t interested. The Portuguese side feel they’re not getting the rub of the green with the decisions. Moments later, Yacine Brahimi crumples on the left. He’s told to get up, heightening the sense of injustice in the stands. That prompts an outpouring of noise from the home stands. This isn’t really what Juventus need. They won’t want any controversy.

8.21pm GMT

36 min: Casillas is trying to run it off. He’s staying on for now. Juventus might want to test his movement.

8.20pm GMT

35 min: More problems for Porto. Iker Casillas is grimacing and clutching a hamstring. He might not be able to continue. Jose Sa, the home side’s reserve goalkeeper, is warming up.

8.19pm GMT

34 min: Piercing whistles greet a long spell of Juventus possession. It’s doubtful that will be enough to put them off. Alex Sandro hoicks a dangerous ball into the area and Khedira arrives late, but his header drops wide.

8.18pm GMT

33 min: Porto are sitting deep now and no wonder. They’re inviting Juventus on, asking the Italians if they can pick the lock. Miralem Pjanic decides to have a go from long range. His low fizzer is straight at Casillas.

8.16pm GMT

31 min: It’s often harder to play against 10 men, you know.

8.15pm GMT

30 min: Porto make the inevitable defensive change, Miguel Layun replacing Andre Silva.

8.15pm GMT

28 min: Those yellow cards arrived in the space of 74 seconds. Dearie me, what a laughable buffoon. This is going to be an almighty struggle for Porto now and Juve almost make them pay straight away, only for Cuadrado’s effort from 18 yards to whistle just off target.

8.14pm GMT

27 min: This is absurd! Booked barely a minute ago, Alex Telles flies into another unnecessary challenge on Stephan Lichtsteiner on the right touchline and sends him flying! Juve’s players are fuming and they crowd Felix Brych, imploring the German referee to show a second yellow. He’ll be very lucky if he gets away with this. And Brych isn’t in a mood to let him off, rightly flashing a yellow and then a red in the Porto left-back’s face. He can’t have any complaints after displaying such indiscipline. Porto will have to play with 10 men for more than an hour.

8.11pm GMT

26 min: Juve have had 66% possession.

8.11pm GMT

25 min: It’s been a while. But Porto are enjoying some sustained possession in Juve’s half. It doesn’t last long, though. A slack pass and the ball’s back in Juve’s possession. Moments later, Alex Telles foolishly steams in on Juan Cuadrado from behind and stands on the back of his ankle on the right touchline. He didn’t need to make that challenge, but he did, and he’s booked, for rank stupidity more than anything else.

8.09pm GMT

23 min: A throw to Juventus on the left. Sandro chucks it inside and Higuain flicks it on to Dybala, who’s left unattended on the edge of the area. That feels like a mistake. You can’t give that much space to a player this good. Porto get away with it, though, because Dybala is stretching and sliding as he shoots and his 20-yarder flies harmlessly over. He looks anguished. He might have shown more accuracy there.

8.07pm GMT

21 min: Mario Mandzukic appears to be playing as a left winger tonight. It’s not a role that seems to play to his strengths. But who knows? Perhaps we’re watching the next Ryan Giggs. He’s almost through here as well. Higuain, standing offside, allows a long punt to run on to Mandzukic. But he doesn’t have the legs to reach it before Iker Casillas, who storms out to boot clear.

8.05pm GMT

18 min: Higuain and Dybala combine deliciously on the edge of the Porto area. Higuain backheels to Dybala, who instantly flicks it back to the forward, sending him through on goal. He’s just onside. But he wants too long and Marcano denies him with a brilliantly timed sliding challenge. That is wonderful defending from the Porto centre-back, who’s prevented a certain goal. Reprieved, Porto spring up the other end, but Soares lacks conviction on the left and coughs up possession too tamely.

8.02pm GMT

17 min: There had been 42 goals at the equivalent stage of the City-Monaco match last night. But these two sides have yet to treat us to a goalscoring opportunity. An intriguing tactical battle awaits.

8.01pm GMT

16 min: Juventus are beginning to look like the home side. Which might be a concern for Porto. Unless they’re planning to hit them on the break. If so, nothing to see here.

8.00pm GMT

14 min: Juventus are beginning to dominate and Khedira barrels into the area on the left. He almost finds Higuain in space, but the ball doesn’t reach him, Marcano in the way with an important interception. The ball comes back to Alex Sandro, but he hammers it over the bar from long range. Neither keeper has been tested yet, both sides yet to find their range in front of goal.

7.58pm GMT

12 min: Juan Cuadrado rolls around a bit, holding his ankle after a foul by Ruben Neves. It’s all a bit scrappy at the moment. There had already been 23 goals at the equivalent stage of the Manchester City versus Monaco match last night. Come on, lads, what gives?

7.56pm GMT

11 min: Juventus work their way promisingly down the right flank, but Lichtsteiner’s cross is aimless. The Italians are feeling their way into this, though, and they’re beginning to enjoy more possession now.

7.56pm GMT

10 min: A free-kick to Juventus 40 yards from goal, a chance to load the Porto area. Or not. Pjanic decides to shoot. He does not score. The big men give him a few dirty looks as they chug back into position.

7.54pm GMT

9 min: Juventus acquaint themselves with the Porto half for the first time, Alex Sandro driving powerfully down the left. Maxi Pereira keeps him away from danger, though.

7.53pm GMT

8 min: Brahimi drops back on to his favoured right foot on the left and sends an inswinger into the area. Chiellini clears as far as Ruben Neves, who ignores support to his right and rams a volley miles over from 30 yards. That was a touch ambitious from the midfielder.

7.52pm GMT

6 min: Brahimi does the gentlemanly thing and delicately feathers the free-kick a few yards over the bar, Buffon waving it away to safety. Juventus are still seething, though.

7.51pm GMT

5 min: Andre Silva bursts through the middle and falls under a fairly tame challenge from Chiellini. Peep! The whistle is blown. Free-kick to Porto, 25 yards out in a central position. Juventus are furious. They think Silva dived. They’ll be even more annoyed if Brahimi plonks this into the top corner.

7.50pm GMT

4 min: Porto are seeing most of the ball early on. As Atletico Madrid demonstrated against Bayer Leverkusen last night, possession doesn’t always count for everything.

7.49pm GMT

3 min: In the heart of Juve’s defence, Chiellini and Barzagli are both back from thigh injuries. No sign of Bonucci, though. He’s in the stands after a bust-up with Max Allegri. It must be nice to be able to drop a defender as good as Bonucci and not suffer a drop in quality in defence.

7.46pm GMT

And we’re off! Porto, in dark blue, get the ball rolling. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half. Juventus are in white.

7.43pm GMT

Here come the teams, led out by Felix Brych at the Estadio Dragao. There’s plenty of shouting in foreign in the tunnel. Using my keen translation skills, I assume that was either Portuguese or Italian for one of “Come on, lads, let’s ‘ave it, this lot don’t fahkin’ fancy it” or “Good game, old bean, best of luck out there”.

7.41pm GMT

While we wait for kick-off, some quick pre-match reading. It’s Matt Gault on the men who made Antonio Conte, once of Juventus.

Related: The men who made Antonio Conte: Trapattoni, Lippi, Ancelotti and Sacchi

7.39pm GMT

Elsewhere in Europe, there’s been a big shock in La Liga. Valencia have just beaten Real Madrid 2-1! There’s light at the end of the tunnel for Barcelona! It was some game and it featured a stunning goal from Simone Zaza, on loan at Valencia from Juventus. West Ham fans might find that hard to believe.

“WHAT A GOAL FROM ZAZA! SENSATIONAL!”
Watch on SS1 or follow here: https://t.co/xuIPbmxQb9 https://t.co/dwvstu9EXm

7.17pm GMT

Porto make changes from the side that thumped Tondela 4-0 on Saturday. In come Yacine Brahimi, Hector Herrera and Danilo. Out go Otavio, Andre Andre and Jesus Corona.

Juventus also hit four on the weekend. They conceded one against Palermo. Three points for them! And a few changes too. Out go Dani Alves, Mehdi Benatia, Leonardo Bonucci, Marko Pjaca, Claudio Marchisio and Stefana Sturaro, to be replaced by Stefan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Juan Cuadrado, Miralem Pjanic and Mario Mandzukic.

6.55pm GMT

Porto: Casillas; Pereira, Marcano, Felipe, Telles; Danilo; Herrera, Neves, Brahimi; Silva, Soares. Subs: Sa, Boly, Corona, Andre, Layun, Jota, Torres.

Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Chiellini, Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic; Cuadrado, Dybala; Mandukic, Higuain. Subs: Neto, Benatia, Marchisio, Pjaca, Asamoah, Alves, Rugani.

11.04am GMT

Hello. In what appears an intriguingly open field, indeed one that may well turn out to be one of the most competitive this competition has witnessed in years, this looks like a wonderful chance for Juventus to win the Champions League for the first time since 1996. Without an obvious favourite, it’s up for grabs this season. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich both stand out, of course, as do Atletico Madrid, while Paris Saint-Germain will fancy their chances after duffing up Barcelona last week. Don’t rule out Borussia Dortmund if they get past Benfica. Seville know what it takes to win a European competition. Perhaps Manchester City’s attacking brilliance will cancel out their comedy stylings at the back. These are all top sides – but are these sides as top, top as Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, say, or even the Bayern of Jupp Heynckes, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United or Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea?

There’s plenty of time for any of those contenders to reach that level, but at the moment picking a winner isn’t easy (which is just the way the European Cup should be, but that’s another debate for another day), and that means it could be the year Juventus, who were beaten finalists in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2015. It’s been business as usual for the Italian champions despite the summer sale of Paul Pogba and Max Allegri’s side are running away with Serie A again, six straight wins taking them seven points clear of Roma, their closest challengers. Tough and talented, they probably had a good old chuckle at some … okay, all of the defending on show at the Etihad last night, and they’ve got goals in them too, with their two Argentinian forwards, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain, a match for any defence in Europe. Losing Pogba was a blow, but they bought cannily, bringing in Dani Alves, Higuain and Miralem Pjanic.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/22/porto-v-juventus-champions-league-last-16-first-leg-live

Feb 22

Wembley atmosphere even better than at White Hart Lane, says Harry Kane

• ‘Even though fans are not as close to pitch, having 90,000 there is incredible’
• Tottenham aim to recover from Europa League first-leg defeat by Gent

Harry Kane has insisted that Tottenham Hotspur have no reason to fear playing at Wembley as they attempt to recover from last week’s 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their last-32 Europa League tie against Gent and that the atmosphere there is even better than at White Hart Lane.

Related: Tottenham fit enough to stay in running on three fronts, says Jan Vertonghen

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/feb/22/wembley-atmosphere-better-than-white-hart-lane-harry-kane-tottenham-gent

Feb 21

Bayer Leverkusen v Atlético Madrid: Champions League last 16, first leg – as it happened

Saul Niguez, Antoine Griezmann, Kevin Gameiro and Fernando Torres scored as Atletico Madrid took a decisive step towards the quarter-finals

9.37pm GMT

A fun game and a spirited performance from Bayer Leverkusen in the second half, but Atletico Madrid were far too good and the truth is that the scoreline makes it look much closer than it was in reality. Despite some weirdly slack defending at times after the break, four away goals should be enough to ensure that Atletico will cruise into the last eight, barring a miraculous fightback from Leverkusen in the second leg in Spain. It’s highly unlikely. They were outclassed tonight and fortunate that Atletico limited themselves to four. That’s all from me. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

9.34pm GMT

It’s all over.

9.33pm GMT

90 min+2: Torres releases Correa on the right. He scampers clear and aims for the far corner, but Leno saves with his feet.

9.32pm GMT

90 min+1: Bailey’s deflected shot runs to Pohjanpalo, but he directs his effort straight at Moya from close range. Atletico’s defending in the second half has been unusually suspect.

9.30pm GMT

90 min: Another booking. Filipe Luis shoves an arm in Henrichs’s face and he’ll also miss the second leg.

9.29pm GMT

89 min: Gabi won’t play in the second leg. He’s been booked.

9.29pm GMT

88 min: Leon Bailey replaces Julian Brandt. Fernando Torres has been booked, meanwhile.

9.28pm GMT

Koke opens Leverkusen up on the right, a perceptive pass creating space for Vrsaljko. He whips a cross towards the near post, where Fernando Torres escapes his markers to glance a low header inside the far post. That should be that.

9.26pm GMT

85 min: Atletico break at last and Koke curves a pass from right to left for Correa. He settles for a corner, though, and Atletico are going to take their sweet time over this.

9.23pm GMT

83 min: Kampl ambitiously and wastefully drags a shot well wide from 25 yards. The Leverkusen have heeded Hernandez’s call. They’re making a racket again.

9.23pm GMT

82 min: Hernandez, who’s really come alive in the past few minutes, sees a shot deflected over from 20 yards. Now he’s whipping up the crowd. Leverkusen fancy an equaliser here!

9.22pm GMT

81 min: Leverkusen are all over Atletico now! This is absurd. The ball reaches Hernandez in the area. This time the little poacher turns and shoots and Filipe Luis clears off the line!

9.21pm GMT

80 min: Henrichs cleverly finds Hernandez in space in the Atletico area. He wants too long and loses possession. Moments later, Hernandez nods goalwards and Savic blocks. Against all the odds, Leverkusen are beginning to turn the screw!

9.18pm GMT

78 min: Atletico make a double change, Fernando Torres on for Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Angel Correa on for Antoine Griezmann.

9.17pm GMT

77 min: Almost a second Atletico own-goal! Wendell flashes another awkward cross into the middle from the left, Gimenez hangs out a leg unconvincingly and the ball bounces into the side netting. Atletico deal with the corner,

9.15pm GMT

75 min: Gabi is still receiving treatment. Leverkusen’s supporters, whistling furiously, are suggesting he’s milking this for all it’s worth. He eventually gets back to his feet, hobbling gingerly.

9.14pm GMT

73 min: Aranguiz, who should have been booked for a cynical foul earlier, catches Gabi with a late challenge. The referee bides his time, with Gabi rolling around on the floor, and eventually decides to book Aranguiz, who’s very lucky to still be on the pitch.

9.11pm GMT

71 min: Thomas Partey replaces Kevin Gameiro. It’s a defensive midfielder for a forward. Read into that what you will.

9.10pm GMT

Brandt escapes down the left and whips a dangerous bouncer into the six-yard box. Moya should deal with it, given that no Leverkusen player attacks the cross, but instead he pushes it straight into the unwitting Savic, who can do nothing to prevent a highly avoidable own goal. Oh dear. Dismal goalkeeping and Leverkusen are back in it again! On the touchline, steam is coming out of Simeone’s ears.

9.06pm GMT

66 min: Joel Pohjanpalo replaces Karim Bellarabi. They’ll be excited on YLE.

9.04pm GMT

64 min: Wendell catches Vrsaljko. He’s booked.

9.03pm GMT

63 min: Carrasco is through on goal, but the flag’s correctly up for offside. There’s at least one more goal in this for Atletico. They’d be rude not to.

9.02pm GMT

62 min: Why YLE show Leverkusen matches,” says Dylan Drummond. “The reason is mundane: Finnish striker Pohjanpalo is in the Leverkusen squad. Previously, though not nowadays, Finnish football icon Sami Hyypiä was involved with Leverkusen, that was a strong reason for selecting them for a Finnish audience. Is my two cents worth. Or maybe there is an YLE conspiracy, we shall never know of…”

9.00pm GMT

60 min: If it stays like this, Leverkusen are going to need at least three goals at the Vicente Calderon. Hmmm.

8.59pm GMT

Gameiro hammers his penalty down the middle, Leno dives out the way and Atletico restore their two-goal lead.

8.59pm GMT

57 min: The excellent Kevin Gameiro nips in front of Dragovic, then nutmegs and wriggles past the struggling defender, who hauls him down in front of the official behind the goal. The only question is whether it was inside the area, but the referee points to the spot and books poor old Dragovic.

8.56pm GMT

56 min: Kevin Volland replaces Kai Havertz.

8.55pm GMT

55 min: Carrasco blooters one over from 25 yards.

8.53pm GMT

52 min: That Leverkusen goal hasn’t really knocked Atletico out of their stride. They’re still being granted an astonishing amount of space on the break and here comes Gameiro, burning effortlessly away from Kampl on the right. He steams into the area and decides not to shoot, unselfishly, but his cutback is just behind Griezmann, who would have had a tap-in.

8.51pm GMT

50 min: Kevin Gameiro hits the bar! Atletico break after Koke intercepts a poor pass in the middle. Aranguiz tries to halt the move, cynically bringing Griezmann down from behind, but the referee astutely plays an advantage and the ball’s worked to Gameiro on the left of the Leverkusen area. From a tight angle, he hammers a shot against the angle of post and bar. So unlucky.

8.49pm GMT

It’s not so silent now! Kampl spreads a pass out to the right for Wendell, who cuts it back for Bellarabi to sweep a sweet first-time finish into the far corner from six yards out! Game on!

8.46pm GMT

46 min: Off we go again. Atletico are on the attack straight away. Carrasco has a snapshot from the right. It’s deflected to safety. The ground is silent. “The Finnish state broadcaster YLE shows one Champions League game a week,” says Kari Tulinius. “They almost always, if possible, show Bayer Leverkusen matches. I have not been able to ascertain why. My theory is that some YLE bigwig’s a fan. So since moving to Finland I’ve seen more Leverkusen games in two years than I had before in nearly three decades of football watching. They always look like they’re on the edge of calamity, even if they’re winning they’re panicky. Mind you, usually they play better than this.”

8.31pm GMT

Leverkusen are lucky they’re only two goals down. Atletico Madrid have been excellent and have probably already made sure of their place in the last eight thanks to goals from Saul and Antoine Griezmann.

8.29pm GMT

44 min: They could probably call this now. Leverkusen aren’t scoring two unanswered goals, are they, let alone three.

8.27pm GMT

41 min: Bellarabi tries to speed past Vrsalkjo on the left, but the Atletico right-back isn’t having it, mopping up with ease. Bellarabi petulantly kicks out at him. Vrsalkjo, well aware he has the winger’s number, grins.

8.24pm GMT

39 min: Kampl’s cross from the right finds Hernandez, but he mistimes his header. Gimenez puts it behind for a corner. Atletico deal with it.

8.23pm GMT

37 min: This is the first time since their 3-1 win over Chelsea in 2014 that Atletico have scored more than once in the away leg of a knockout tie in the Champions League, which maybe says more about this injury-hit Bayer Leverkusen side than it does about the Spaniards.

8.20pm GMT

34 min: The MBMer curse strikes. Gameiro capitalises on more dreadful Leverkusen defending, scampering into space on the right – where have all the defenders across – and setting up Griezmann for what looks certain to be his second. Instead Leno saves this one, turning Griezmann’s effort over the bar. If anything, it felt a bit too easy for Griezmann this time and his finish was a shade too casual.

8.17pm GMT

31 min: Griezmann’s finish for the second goal was that of a player utterly confident in everything that he sets out to achieve at the moment. It was the finish of an elite player, a striker who knew there was no way he was going to miss, the goalkeeper rendered an irrelevance by the conviction of the strike.

8.15pm GMT

29 min: Brandt and Kampl combine on the left, the former dribbling into the Atletico area. He prods a ball into the middle, looking for Hernandez, and the sliding Koke is relieved to see his attempted clearance spin just wide of the far post! Moments later, Kampl tries to emulate Saul with a bending left-footed effort from the right, but Moya tips it over.

8.13pm GMT

Dragovic, who’s having a shocker out there, has had a nightmare here. Bayer Leverkusen are on the attack, but Atletico are sitting deep and a cross is headed away by Gimenez. Not that much should happen from there. Leverkusen have the situation under control as the ball drops towards Dragovic just inside Atletico’s half. Yet instead of bringing it down, he shanks a woeful volley straight to the wily Gameiro, who races into the vacant Leverkusen half. He uses his pace and strength to hold off two desperate Leverkusen defenders, then shows composure when he reaches the area, spinning to set up Griezmann, who’s not about to pass up this opportunity. With only Leno to beat, his left-footed finish off the underside of the bar is emphatic and this tie might be over already.

8.08pm GMT

23 min: Atletico have a ruthless edge to them tonight and look capable of scoring pretty much every time they attack, especially on the break. Leverkusen look a bit outmatched.

8.06pm GMT

21 min: Javier Hernandez, who hasn’t been in the game so far, is alert when the ball runs to him on the edge of the area, shooting snappily. But his swept effort is straight at Moya. It’s a sign of his threat, though. Atletico won’t want to be giving him too much space.

8.04pm GMT

19 min: Saul loves playing against German sides in the Champions League, doesn’t he? He scored a peach against Bayern Munich last year. He’s got a wonderful left foot. He’s an exceptional player and only 22.

8.04pm GMT

Saul Niguez picks up possession on the right, just inside the Bayer Leverkusen area, and Dragovic stands off, inviting him to shoot, defending straight out of the Francis Coquelin playbook. Mistake. He looks up, moves the ball on to his left foot and then Robbens a beautiful curling shot high into the far corner, Bernd Leno nowhere near it. That is a gem of a strike. Away goals don’t come much better than that!

8.01pm GMT

16 min: Benjamin Henrichs clatters through Carrasco and picks up a booking that rules him out of the second leg in Spain.

8.01pm GMT

14 min: This is pleasingly end-to-end at the moment and now Leverkusen break swiftly, a rapid exchange of passes creating space for Brandt on the edge of the area. His shot’s blocked and the ball falls to Kampl. He seems to have overrun it, but nutmegs an Atletico defender cleverly, before seeing his shot take a deflection and spin just wide. The corner comes to nothing.

7.59pm GMT

13 min: Griezmann flicks a header over at the near post from the resulting corner. Atletico are looking ominous.

7.59pm GMT

12 min: Atletico go close to taking the lead twice in the space of a minute! First Griezmann combines with Saul on the left and bursts behind the Leverkusen defence, only to shoot too close to Bernd Leno. Moments later, Filipe Luis sends in a vicious cross from the left and Wendell, facing his own goal, haplessly directs an attempted clearance against the bar! He’s mightily relieved to see it go behind for a corner.

7.56pm GMT

11 min: With regards to the 2015 foul count from earlier, Gloria Greppi is back. She’s done her research, which rules her out for a job at the Guardian. Anyway: 1)Juve 179 2) Bayern Munich 163 3) Leverkusen 155 4) Monaco 146 5) Atleti 140 6) Barcelona 138.”

7.54pm GMT

9 min: They don’t bide their time for long. Suddenly they spring down the right and Griezmann slides a pass into acres of space for Carrasco, who skips easily past a dreadful challenge from Toprak, who sells himself like an employee of Sutton FC. Carrasco’s cutback is hacked behind for a corner, however, and that amounts to nothing much.

7.53pm GMT

7 min: Leverkusen are making most of the early running here. Atletico have seen this all before, though, and they’re happy to play on the break for the time being and feel their way into this.

7.50pm GMT

5 min: Leverkusen, passing the ball at a fair old pelt, have started brightly and Wendell pings a pass out to Brandt on the right. He jinks inside and threatens to shoot, only to overhit a pass to the overlapping Henrichs.

7.49pm GMT

3 min: There’s a hearty atmosphere in the stadium, a relentless din falling down from the stands. Leverkusen are the underdogs here. They’ll need the crowd’s backing.

7.47pm GMT

2 min: Diego Simeone, dressed like one of the goths in Malcolm in the Middle, is scowling on the touchline already.

7.46pm GMT

Off we go! Bayer Leverkusen, disappointingly all in black instead of fancy dress, get the game underway. They’re kicking from right to left in the first half. Kai

Rooney
Havertz, the 17-year-old prodigy in the Leverkusen side because of injuries tonight, has a jaunt down the left flank straight away, but he’s soon stopped in his tracks.

7.43pm GMT

Here come the teams! Bayer Leverkusen are in black tracksuit tops, presumably because they’re hiding fancy dress underneath. Atletico Madrid are in their red and white stripes. It’s time for the Champions League anthem and a warm exchange between Roger Schmidt and Diego Simeone! When that’s out of the way, it’s time for some Champions League football!

7.33pm GMT

“When these two teams played here two years ago, Saúl was kidneyed by Papadopoulos, no longer at Bayer, and had to remain in hospital in Leverkusen for almost a week,having his kidney drained, and missed several weeks of action,” says Gloria Greppi. “Though Bayer were eliminated, they were still the team committing the most fouls, in CL by a margin, even after the next round!”

Were Atletico second?

7.31pm GMT

“I am at the ground as my brother is a Leverkusen season ticket holder,” says Patrick Ford. “Good atmosphere despite alcohol-freeness. He is bemoaning Leverkusen’s league position and says they are hampered by injury tonight – their second striker is a 17 year old. But Javier Hernandez has banged in four goals in two games since splitting up with his girlfriend, apparently (ending a 1200 min goal drought in the process).”

7.26pm GMT

Bayer Leverkusen: Leno; Henrichs, Dragovic, Toprak, Wendell; Kampl, Aranguiz; Bellarabi, Havertz, Brandt; Hernandez. Subs: Ozcan, Bailey, Mehmedi, Baumgartlinger, Jedvaj, Pohjanpalo, Volland.

Atletico Madrid: Miguel Moya; Vrsaljko, Savic, Gimenez, Filipe Luis; Koke, Gabi; Saul, Carrasco, Griezmann; Gameiro. Subs: Oblak, Torres, Correa, Lucas, Thomas, Gaitan, Henrique.

1.12pm GMT

Hello. If the players of these two teams are interested in Champions League trivia – and it’s safe to assume that professional footballers spend most of their spare time scrawling through Wikipedia and YouTube – then they’ll probably spend most of this match telling each other about how their clubs are linked by losing finals to Real Madrid. What would you give to eavesdrop on those conversations? Javier Hernandez telling Diego Godin about Bayer Leverkusen’s near miss against the Spanish giants at Hampden Park in 2002; Koke regaling Lars Benders with tales of Atletico’s heartbreak against their rich neighbours in 2014 and 2016.

Once they’ve exhausted that topic, presumably they’ll reminisce about the last time they were drawn against each other in the last 16. They won’t have to think back too far. It was only two years ago, after all, and Atletico squeezed through after a tight contest. Obviously they lost to Real in the next round, though, and Diego Simeone’s players can be forgiven for wondering if it’s ever going to happen for them in this competition, no matter how relentlessly and doggedly they continue to punch above their weight when they find themselves in the company of teams whose resources dwarf theirs.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/21/bayer-leverkusen-v-atletico-madrid-champions-league-last-16-first-leg-live

Feb 19

Blackburn v Manchester United: FA Cup fifth round – as it happened

Zlatan Ibrahimovic came off the bench to fire Manchester United into the last eight of the FA Cup at the expense of spirited Championship opponents

6.14pm GMT

Life is much easier when you have Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to bring off the bench. Blackburn Rovers gave Manchester United a scare and were in with a shout even after Marcus Rashford’s way. But Jose Mourinho swung the game United’s way when he brought on Pogba and Ibrahimovic, who combined for the latter’s late winner. A proud effort from Blackburn, then, but it’s United who march into the last eight of the FA Cup. That’s all from me today. Thanks for reading. Bye.

Related: Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic comes on to finish off Blackburn

6.10pm GMT

That’s your lot!

6.08pm GMT

90 min+3: “We want Venky’s out!” the Blackburn fans chant.

6.07pm GMT

90 min+1: United get the corner away, but Blackburn haven’t given up yet.

6.06pm GMT

90 min: There will be four added minutes. Blackburn are still pressing. And they’ve got a corner! “That was the best and worst of keeping (though Darmian was somewhat to blame),” syas Matt Richman. “I think the second block came off his face. Is there a term for that goalkeeping trifecta? Hands, face, and feet I mean.”

6.04pm GMT

89 min: Juan Mata replaces Marcus Rashford.

6.03pm GMT

86 min: Blackburn have the ball in the United net, but the flag’s up for offside. Sergio Romero is mightily relieved, though. The dangerous Mahoney cut inside from the right and shot with his left foot. It was straight at Romero, but the United goalkeeper couldn’t hold it and spilled the ball at the feet of Stokes. He redeemed himself by blocking the rebound, then by saving the second follow-up from Emnes. The ball ran free for Stokes again and he put it into the empty net from close range, but he was standing in an offside position.

6.00pm GMT

85 min: Blackburn look knackered now.

5.59pm GMT

83 min: Mahoney embarrasses Pogba with another swish of the hips. Pogba swipes his legs away. Martin Atkinson decides not to book him.

5.57pm GMT

81 min: Blackburn make their final change, Willem Tomlinson on for his debut in place of Danny Guthrie.

5.54pm GMT

79 min: Blackburn have been stubborn and brave. But that goal always felt likely. United’s extra class has made the difference.

5.52pm GMT

77 min: Anthony Stokes replaces Danny Graham, Blackburn’s goalscorer.

5.52pm GMT

Paul Pogba looks up and lofts a pass over the top of the Blackburn defence. Ibrahimovic is onside. He waits for the ball to fall and then opens up his body to guide a low right-footed finish into the bottom left corner. The substitutes have combined. Jose Mourinho will be delighted with himself.

5.50pm GMT

74 min: Connor Mahoney instantly shows what he’s all about, beating Darmian with a fine piece of skill on the right before winning a Blackburn corner.

5.48pm GMT

73 min: Connor Mahoney replaces the impressive Liam Feeney.

5.46pm GMT

71 min: Herrera lines one up from 20 yards. A deflection off Lenihan takes it wide for a United corner on the left. It’s a waste, though.

5.45pm GMT

70 min: Williams hangs a cross towards the far post, but Feeney’s header is harmless. Up the other end, Mkhitaryan finds Ibrahimovic with a gorgeous ball over the top of the Blackburn defence, but the Swede completely misses his kick after controlling with his chest on the left of the area. Blame the increasing mist.

5.44pm GMT

68 min: Herrera darts towards the byline on the left. But it’s a goal-kick to Blackburn. They’re having to defend with superb organisation, but United are still finding it immensely difficult to prise them open.

5.42pm GMT

67 min: Blackburn manage to break out of their half for the first time in a while and Mulgrew cleverly spreads a pass out to Feeney on the right. His curling cross bends over Romero, but no one’s near at the far post.

5.41pm GMT

66 min: Blackburn are beginning to hang on now. The pressure is growing.

5.40pm GMT

65 min: Influential already, Pogba injects urgency into United’s play with a pass out to Rashford on the left. He dribbles infield and sees his shot deflected wide for a corner.

5.39pm GMT

63 min: Pogba, booed immediately by the home fans, plays a pass inside to Herrera. His low shot slithers across the face of goal, just evading the stretching Ibrahimovic in the six-yard box.

5.37pm GMT

62 min: Martial teases Blackburn on the left and chips a ball to the far post. Williams blasts it clear. That gives United a chance to bring on Paul Pogba for Jesse Lingard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the disappointing Martial.

5.35pm GMT

59 min: Mourinho has had just about enough of this impertinence. Pogba and Ibrahimovic are getting ready to come on.

5.32pm GMT

57 min: Mkhitaryan threads a ball through to Young on the right. His low centre is too close to Steele. He’s down as well after being caught late by Conway.

5.31pm GMT

55 min: Herrera slips as he take a United free-kick on the right and lifts the ball high over the bar, much to the amusement of the Blackburn fans. Pogba and Ibrahimovic are warming up. Up the other end, Feeney sends another cracking cross into the United area from the right. Young heads behind for a corner.

5.27pm GMT

52 min: Lingard picks up a booking for a trip on the excellent Emnes.

5.26pm GMT

50 min: United haven’t really be able to get Martial in the game yet. Expect another six weeks in the reserves for the Frenchman if this doesn’t change soon. They could do with a bit more pace to their passing, though. They’ve played a lot of their football in front of Blackburn’s back four.

5.25pm GMT

49 min: Conway turns on the edge of the United area and shoots straight at Romero.

5.24pm GMT

47 min: The FA Cup, eh? Blackburn haven’t remotely looked like a side sitting second bottom in the Championship. They’re playing above themselves here – and they’ll probably be struggling again next week.

5.21pm GMT

46 min: Blackburn get the second half underway. The rain’s starting to fall.

5.06pm GMT

An enjoyable half of football draws to a close and Blackburn are likely to be very pleased with how this has unfolded. The Championship strugglers took the lead through Danny Graham and although Marcus Rashford equalised for United, they’ve acquitted themselves very well. United will expect to improve after the break – and they still have plenty of firepower on the bench – but don’t rule out another upset here. See you in 15 minutes.

5.03pm GMT

45 min+2: Carrick switches play with calm authority and finds Young on the right. He takes a touch and swings in a cross that finds Lingard unmarked at the near post. He should score but fails to make proper contact and Blackburn get away with it, not that they had much to do with the game remaining level.

5.01pm GMT

45 min: There will be at least three minutes of the added stuff.

4.59pm GMT

43 min: A lull.

4.57pm GMT

40 min: Blackburn are causing problems for United when they attack. Here they pump a high ball into the United area and it’s headed down to Mulgrew. His side-footed effort is deflected wide for a corner. It comes to nothing.

4.57pm GMT

39 min: Liam Feeney runs at Darmian, not for the first time in this half, and whips a cross into the middle. Romero doesn’t look convincing at all and he just about manages to punch it to safety.

4.53pm GMT

37 min: Charlie Mulgrew picks up his head and pings a beautiful pass from right to left for Conway, who’s run off Ashley Young. Conway’s through! But Young does enough to scamper back and put Conway off as he shoots. His effort rises over the angle of post and bar. What a chance for Blackburn.

4.52pm GMT

36 min: Herrera tries to catch Blackburn out with a training ground routine of a free-kick, pulling it back low to the edge of the area, but Lenihan reads it and leads a counterattack, only to run out of steam after breaking past the halfway line and losing the ball to the determined Mkhitaryan.

4.51pm GMT

35 min: Ashley Young is brought down by Williams deep on the right flank. Williams is booked and United have a free-kick in a promising position.

4.50pm GMT

34 min: Martial cuts inside from the left and shoots with his right foot. It’s blocked. It runs to Rashford, who flicks it back into the middle, but Blackburn hack it clear.

4.47pm GMT

32 min: Blackburn are down to 10 men for the time being, Emnes feeling the back of his neck as he walks off, but he should be fine to continue.

4.47pm GMT

31 min: Marvin Emnes is down after coming off worst in an aerial challenge with Chris Smalling.

4.45pm GMT

30 min: United win a free-kick in a dangerous position. Mkhitaryan can’t do anything with this, though, clipping it straight into the wall.

4.44pm GMT

A free-kick to Blackburn in Manchester United territory. But it comes to nothing and United break with ominous intent and acres of space to attack. There’s still so much for Mkhitaryan to do, though. But from a deep position, he spots Rashford’s run and finds him with a peach of a pass with the outside of his right foot. Rashford’s through, onside and although he hasn’t scored for ages, he confidently rounds Steele and rolls the ball into the empty net. That’s quite the response from United.

4.40pm GMT

26 min: Mkhitaryan has a go from 30 yards. His effort fizzes wide.

4.40pm GMT

25 min: Herrera runs on to a pass from Young and wins a corner on the right. It comes to nothing.

4.39pm GMT

24 min: Manchester United are threatening to wake up. Ander Herrera strides through the middle and slides a pass through to Lingard on the right. Lingard puts the ball into the six-yard box and it’s cleared as far as Herrera, who rams a shot back towards goal, forcing Steele to save excellently. The rebound comes to Lingard, but he’s offside.

4.37pm GMT

22 min: Martial’s cross is headed away and Blackburn counter. Conway tries to find Graham, but his pass is overhit.

4.35pm GMT

19 min: “We want Venky’s out!” chant the Blackburn fans. They’re enjoying themselves right now, but they haven’t forgotten the bigger picture.

4.34pm GMT

This is a brilliant goal and Ewood Park erupts! Having given United a scare with shot a moment ago, confidence flows through Marvin Emnes and he torments Marcos Rojo, using strength to hold him off and turning magnificently away from the Argentinian. He gets his head up and slips a pass through to Graham, who spins away from Chris Smalling far too easily before walloping a rising drive high past Sergio Romero with his left foot! Even Jose Mourinho nods and applauds. The underdogs are ahead!

4.31pm GMT

15 min: After a spell of decent Blackburn pressure, Marvin Emnes locates rare space 25 yards from goal and lets fly with a wobbling, swerving, vicious effort that Sergio Romero has to watch carefully and beat away to safety. It was fairly central, but it was moving so much that Romero had to react smartly.

4.29pm GMT

12 min: Rashford plays a snappy one-two with Michael Carrick and bursts past Gordon Greer, but Lenihan covers well, forcing the forward wide and shepherding the ball behind for a goal-kick.

4.25pm GMT

10 min: Charlie Mulgrew is back on. Play continues.

4.25pm GMT

9 min: Play has been stopped. Charlie Mulgrew is down with an ankle injury.

4.24pm GMT

8 min: Lingard burns down the right and completely overwhelms Conway, who can’t live with the winger’s pace or strength. The United youngster makes his way into the Blackburn area and finds Mkhitaryan, but the Armenian’s touch is heavy and neither he nor Martial can find a way through the home defence.

4.23pm GMT

7 min: Ashley Young, who scored the last time United were at Ewood Park, charges down the right but overruns the ball and the move ends with Blackburn earning a goal-kick. It’s been a slow start.

4.20pm GMT

5 min: Feeney probes again down the right and hooks a cross towards the near post. Danny Graham gets in front of his man and nudges the ball goalwards, but his effort loops harmlessly at Romero.

4.19pm GMT

4 min: Blackburn spring forward for the first time and Liam Feeney shows fine persistence to win a throw deep on the right. I thought it was a corner. A throw’s less exciting, isn’t it.

4.17pm GMT

2 min: Manchester United are dominating the early possession, unsurprisingly, with Blackburn content to sit off and soak up the pressure.

4.16pm GMT

And we’re off! Manchester United, in red shirts and black shorts, get the game underway and they’re kicking from left to right in the first half. Blackburn are in their blue and white shirts.

4.13pm GMT

The teams are in the tunnel and Ewood Park is close to capacity for once this afternoon. The players emerge to a huge roar. It’s a grey Lancashire afternoon. Is there any cup magic in the air? We’ll find out soon enough!

3.49pm GMT

A reminder of better times for Blackburn fans.

3.41pm GMT

#prayforsweden – I assume there will be a minute’s silence before kick-off.

@JacobSteinberg have to admire Zlatan making himself available from the bench after what happened in Sweden last night. #brave

3.32pm GMT

Blackburn Rovers: Steele; Lowe, Lenihan, Greer, Williams; Conway, Guthrie, Mulgrew, Feeney; Emnes, Graham. Subs: Raya, Stokes, Hendrie, Nyambe, Tomlinson, Mahoney, Brown.

Manchester United: Romero; Young, Smalling, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera; Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Martial; Rashford. Subs: Henderson, Bailly, Shaw, Schweinsteiger, Pogba, Mata, Ibrahimovic.

3.25pm GMT

The Blackburn team hasn’t been announced yet, but Manchester United’s is in. Jose Mourinho has made changes, but Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are available on the bench in the unlikely event of an emergency.

1.43pm GMT

Hello. If fans of Leicester City think they have it bad, they should have a look at the state of these former Premier League champions and think again. Relax, this isn’t the start of a riff about post-Fergie Manchester United. Instead this is about the plight of poor, mistreated Blackburn Rovers and the hell they’ve been put through by their owners, the absurd Venky’s, who show no sign of getting their act together seven years since they first pitched up at Ewood Park promising to sign Ronaldinho and David Beckham before hiring Steve Kean in place of Sam Allardyce. Relegation inevitably followed in 2011 and now Blackburn are second bottom in the Championship, £120m in debt and play home games in front of sparse crowds. There should be nothing but excitement before a local derby in the FA Cup against their wealthy neighbours, but Blackburn’s fans, grotesquely let down by the authorities, have responded to being given a home draw against United with a collective shrug of the shoulders.

Blackburn versus Manchester United: for people of a certain age, it’s a fixture with a nostalgic tinge to it. This was one of English football’s finest rivalries in the 90s, with Blackburn making good use of Jack Walker’s cash by putting together a team good enough first to challenge Sir Alex Ferguson’s great United side in 1993-94, then to nab the title off them in dramatic circumstances the following year, with a little help from Ludo Miklosko, it must be said. Twenty-two years later, that’s still a famous team: Tim Flowers in goal, Colin Hendry at the back, Tim Sherwood in midfield, Wilcox and Ripley on the wings, the SAS up front. It wasn’t sustainable, of course, Reality caught up with Blackburn soon enough. Alan Shearer left for Newcastle in 1996 and that team gradually fell apart, going down in 1999, but Blackburn bounced back in 2001 and re-established themselves as a solid Premier League outfit, winning the League Cup in 2002.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/19/blackburn-v-manchester-united-fa-cup-fifth-round-live

Feb 17

Fulham’s academy production line a shining light as the dark days recede | Jacob Steinberg

It has not been an easy few years for Fulham but players such as Marcus Bettinelli reckon their academy is one of the best in England

Early morning at Fulham’s training ground in Motspur Park and breakfast is being served in the canteen. The room is far from full but the smell of tea and coffee fills the air. On a nearby table, a couple of academy players are carefully spreading honey on their toast. They talk among themselves, loosening up before training begins, and the thought occurs this must be a pleasant place to come to work every day.

It helps Fulham are upwardly mobile again after spending a couple of years flirting with the idea of becoming another club gripped by decline following relegation from the Premier League.

Related: FA Cup fifth round: 10 things to look out for this weekend | Daniel Harris and Barry Glendenning

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/feb/17/fulham-production-line-dark-days-fa-cup

Feb 05

Manchester City v Swansea City: Premier League – as it happened

Gabriel Jesus continued his dream start to life in England by scoring a dramatic late winner as Manchester City moved up to third

3.40pm GMT

Read Jamie Jackson’s report from the Etihad Stadium here:

Related: Gabriel Jesus at the double as Manchester City leave it late to beat Swansea

3.27pm GMT

Swansea City will be gutted. They were a matter of minutes away from picking up a valuable point in the battle for survival after a spirited performance in the second half, but Gabriel Jesus had other ideas. His second goal could be a turning point in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City career. Hard questions would have been asked of the City manager if that had ended 1-1. Instead the story’s all about his new Brazilian forward, who has the look of something special about him. City move third thanks to Jesus’s double, while Swansea remain a point above the bottom three. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.

3.23pm GMT

A star is born!

3.23pm GMT

90 min+5: City almost add insult to injury, only for Aguero to head over from Toure’s dink. But it’s not going to matter.

3.22pm GMT

90 min+4: Fernando replaces Gabriel Jesus, the two-goal area. Paul Clement has the thousand yard stare on.

3.20pm GMT

Gabriel Jesus wins it for Manchester City! The Brazilian teenager scores his second and Swansea are heartbroken! The assist belongs to David Silva, of course. He dips inside from the right and curls a ball into the middle with his left foot. Jesus is onside and although his downward header is saved brilliantly by Fabianski, he can’t miss the rebound from a yard out!

3.19pm GMT

90 min+2: Jesus finds Aguero. He beats Mawson. He lines up the shot. It’s blocked.

3.18pm GMT

90 min: There will be four minutes of added time.

3.17pm GMT

89 min: There’s no storm of pressure from City. They aren’t attacking in waves. A winning goal would be a surprise.

3.15pm GMT

88 min: Sane displays spectacular skills to dribble clear down the left. From his cutback, the ball squirts up and hits a Swansea player. On the arm? Mike Dean says no.

3.14pm GMT

86 min: There’s no suggestion of a second City goal yet.

3.12pm GMT

83 min: Borja Baston replaces Fernando Llorente for Swansea, while Manchester City have thrown on Sergio Aguero and told him to spare their blushes. Raheem Sterling is the man to make way.

3.11pm GMT

82 min: City have paid for failing to press home their dominance in the first half. They still lack that killer instinct. That said, they might wonder if Sigurdsson’s goal should have been ruled out for offside. Nathan Dyer might have unsighted Caballero when Sigurdsson shot, which might explain the City goalkeeper’s slow reaction time.

3.10pm GMT

The brilliant and vital Gylfi Sigurdsson scores the equaliser that’s been in the air! Luciano Narsingh held off Gael Clichy and found him 25 yards from goal. Sigurdsson shifted the ball on to his left foot and then struck a low shot towards the bottom left corner. Caballero was unsighted and although it was close to him, he couldn’t keep it out! Swansea are level!

3.08pm GMT

81 min: The game remains finely balanced as we enter the final 10 minutes. That didn’t seem likely after the first 10. And sure enough…

3.05pm GMT

78 min: Pablo Zabaleta replaces Kevin de Bruyne, who’s faded since half-time.

3.04pm GMT

77 min: City are getting ready to bring on Pablo Zabaleta, which neatly summarises their edginess.

3.02pm GMT

75 min: Nathan Dyer replaces Tom Carroll.

3.02pm GMT

74 min: Stones covers well after Carroll finds Sigurdsson in the area. He boots it clear and finds Jesus, who falls after using his strength to turn Cork. The Swansea man picks up a booking.

3.00pm GMT

72 min: A glorious little flick from Jesus completely fools Fernandez, who can do nothing to stop the ball rolling through his legs and to Silva, but Mawson steams across to block the Spaniard’s shot. Nothing comes from the corner.

2.56pm GMT

69 min: Renewed City pressure ends with Sterling drilling a low cross into the middle. Mawson turns it over for a corner. Kolarov heads wide from De Bruyne’s outswinging delivery.

2.55pm GMT

67 min: Little is occurring. Football really is a game of two halves.

2.52pm GMT

65 min: Swansea make their first change. Luciano Narsingh replaces Wayne Routledge.

2.51pm GMT

64 min: Stones gives away possession with a poor pass near the halfway line, but he redeems himself with a fine tackle to halt Sigurdsson on the edge of City’s area.

2.49pm GMT

62 min: Routledge tries to turn inside Kolarov, who concedes another corner on the right. Sigurdsson flings it in and Mawson pops up between Stones and Kolarov, only to glance wide of the far post.

2.47pm GMT

60 min: Swansea win another corner over on the left, Kolarov cheaply conceding it with a wonky header. Stones heads Sigurdsson’s delivery away. Moments later, Llorente’s booked for leading with his arm in an aerial challenge with Kolarov.

2.44pm GMT

57 min: Perhaps City could put Claudio Bravo on to calm things down in midfield.

2.44pm GMT

56 min: City haven’t got going at all since half-time. Don’t be surprised if I’m writing GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 1-1 SWANSEA soon.

2.41pm GMT

54 min: This is scrappy.

2.39pm GMT

51 min: De Bruyne finds Sane on the left. He gets his fizzing low cross wrong, but it almost turns out better than anyone could have anticipated when the ball hits the outside of the post. I’m not sure Fabianski would have had that covered if it was on target.

2.37pm GMT

49 min: Sigurdsson’s corner is flicked on by Llorente at the near post and Fernandinho has to head clear from near his own goal-line. From the edge of the area, Jack Cork blazes the follow-up over. Swansea will take encouragement from this spell.

2.36pm GMT

48 min: With everyone waiting for a cross, Gylfi Sigurdsson takes everyone by surprise by going for goal. Everyone, that is, but Willy Caballero. City’s underworked goalkeeper leaps to his right to tip the ball on to the woodwork and behind for a corner. What an effort from Sigurdsson!

2.35pm GMT

47 min: Swansea have made a positive start to the second half and a dynamic run from Olsson ends with Fernandinho bringing him down to the left of City’s area. Sigurdsson is standing over the ball.

2.33pm GMT

46 min: Swansea get the second half underway. They’ll be aiming to put two or three consecutive passes together on a couple of occasions in the next 45 minutes or so.

2.19pm GMT

Amazingly, for all of their poise, Manchester City only have Gabriel Jesus’s early goal to show for their dominance at the end of a preposterously one-sided half. Somehow, in defiance of logic, Swansea are still in this game.

2.16pm GMT

44 min: Swansea’s bright spell fades away. Kolarov is given time and space to rake a pass from deep over Olsson to Sterling, who touches it past the onrushing Fabianski and sprawls to the floor. The City fans behind the goal howl for a penalty, but play continues and the ball ricochets around the Swansea area. Silva tries to force it in, but it’s hacked off the line. Eventually Mike Dean blows his whistle and books Sterling for diving. I think he has that wrong. Fabianski came steaming out, his studs looked up and Sterling appeared to fall while taking evasive action, which wouldn’t seem to fall into the category of simulation.

2.12pm GMT

42 min: This is Swansea’s best spell of the game: City haven’t mustered an attack for a few minutes and now De Bruyne’s been booked for a trip on Olsson on the left.

2.10pm GMT

40 min: “It’s now 3-2 Celtic,” reports out Scottish football correspondent, Simon McMahon. “Which would put them just the 27 points clear. Second placed Aberdeen would be closer to the bottom than the top, in terms of points anyway! Who says Scottish football isn’t competitive?”

2.08pm GMT

39 min: Lukas Fabianski has made 20 passes, which is more than any other Swansea player.

2.07pm GMT

37 min: The danger for City is that they’ll be made to pay for not making the most of their staggering dominance. They should be out of sight by now.

2.05pm GMT

34 min: City’s intensity is growing. De Bruyne’s cross from the right just evades Gabriel Jesus, who was inches away from scoring his second. The De Bruyne sees another goalbound effort blocked. Swansea are hanging on impressively, but their resistance surely won’t last much longer.

2.03pm GMT

33 min: It’s probably safe for City to get Claudio Bravo on. This is embarrassingly one-sided. “It’s time to start feeling sorry for Swansea, and in particular for Fernando Llorente, whose glory days were some time in the last century,” says Charles Antaki. ‘On the few occasions that the ball’s reached him, he’s showing the agility and skill of a person who ought quite reasonably be sitting in their slippers by a warm fire. That will come very soon, I expect.”

2.02pm GMT

32 min: The corner eventually reaches Toure on the left. He outmuscles Olsson, but shoots too closely to Fabianski, who saves.

2.02pm GMT

31 min: Swansea are breathing heavily as they try to keep up with City’s movement. De Bruyne scampers into the area from the right and shoots, but Fernandez deflects his effort behind for a corner.

2.00pm GMT

29 min: Leroy Sane and Leroy Fer discuss how it’s funny that they both have the same name, then the former peels away from the latter, who’s gone to sleep. David Silva picks out Sane’s run, but Swansea escape when the German accidentally kicks the ball with his “wrong foot” and sends it behind for a goal-kick just as he was preparing to cross.

1.58pm GMT

27 min: Yaya Toure misses a great chance to double City’s lead. Silva’s corner found him all alone eight yards from goal, but his body shape was awkward and he sidefooted well wide on the volley. At the risk of enraging the Expected Goals crowd, he should have scored.

1.57pm GMT

26 min: All that’s missing for City at the moment is a second goal and it nearly arrives when Sterling flashes a vicious cross towards the near post from the right. Fernandez just exerts enough pressure to deny Jesus and the ball trickles wide of the far post for another City corner.

1.56pm GMT

25 min: “I’m pretty sure that Swansea are also ‘City’,” says Stuart Jenkinson. That’s true, Stuart, but we’ll just have to hope fellow readers don’t confuse them with Swansea United.

1.54pm GMT

23 min: City have had 82% of the possession so far.

1.53pm GMT

22 min: Yaya Toure bends the free-kick towards the top right corner with his right foot, but Fabianski leaps to his right and magnificently tips it behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.

1.52pm GMT

21 min: City carve Swansea open again with ridiculous ease and Naughton desperately brings Silva down 25 yards from goal. The Spaniar would have been through on goal.

1.51pm GMT

20 min: Leroy Fer tries to start a Swansea counter-attack, only for Yaya Toure to perform a reverse Coquelin and cynically bring him down.

1.49pm GMT

18 min: Manchester City are treating the ball with such care. It feels as though they could keep it in their possession until next week.

1.45pm GMT

16 min: “Building on the theme of level playing fields and noticeable glee when a team loses, Celtic, unbeaten for about 5 years and 200 games in Scotland (or so it seems), are currently losing 2-1 to St. Johnstone,” says Simon McMahon.

Could Guardiola do it at Rangers?

1.45pm GMT

15 min: SWANSEA ARE IN MANCHESTER CITY’S HALF.

1.44pm GMT

12 min: This could turn very ugly very quickly. Now Raheem Sterling nutmegs Olsson on the right and hares off down the wing, but his cross is poor.

1.43pm GMT

Understatement of the weekend: this was coming. Swansea have been under severe pressure since the first whistle and it’s not taken long for them to crack. Gael Clichy finds Silva with a throw-in on the left. He has his back to goal, but he manages to turn and wriggle clear of Fernandez far too easily. He drills a low ball towards Sterling and when it deflects up off the winger, Gabriel Jesus shows off his poaching instincts and speed of thought to arrive on the scene and scissor a low volley past Fabianski.

1.40pm GMT

9 min: David Silva wins a corner for City on the left. Swansea scramble the corner away, but they’re struggling to get out of their third, let alone their half. Tom Carroll has an adventurous dribble, but he only gets as far as, er, his own D before being halted by four City players. Silva has a shot from the left, but it’s blocked. This is relentless from City.

1.38pm GMT

8 min: Kolarov allows himself a sighter from long range. The ball fizzes well over the bar.

1.38pm GMT

7 min: The electric Sane dribbles deliciously past Naughton and reaches the byline, only to find a Swansea defender with his cutback. Moments later, City press again. Alfie Mawson, the young Swansea centre-back, miscontrols and Gabriel Jesus threatens to nick the ball off him. Jesus tumbles, but Mike Dean sees nothing wrong with Mawson’s legal challenge.

1.36pm GMT

6 min: This is already attack versus defence. No prizes for guessing which team is playing which role.

1.35pm GMT

4 min: Kolarov raps Llorente’s shins near the halfway line. The Spaniard felt that one and he’s down for a while, but he should be fine to continue.

1.32pm GMT

2 min: This is a fast start from City and now Leroy Sane surges down the left and whips in a cross to the near post. The alert Gabriel Jesus finds space, but clips his first-time shot over the bar.

1.31pm GMT

And we’re off! Manchester City get the game underway, kicking from left to right in the first half. They’re in light blue. Swansea are in white and they’re immediately on the back foot as City win the ball on the edge of the area. Silva zaps a pass through to Sterling, but his touch is heavy and the ball runs behind for a goal-kick.

1.30pm GMT

The teams have arrived. The action will begin shortly. “Regarding your intro about Guardiola; while I appreciate that Pep’s record and history mean he deserves a chance and time to get things right before we all write him off, can we please drop this generalisation of all Pep-sceptics as Sun-reading luddites who don’t trust Jonny Foreigner and think any triumph outside the Premier League doesn’t count?” says Shaun Wilkinson. “Some people, and I consider myself among them, have nothing against him or foreign managers, but just think maybe he needs to prove himself on a slightly more level playing field than he has done so far in his managerial career before proclaiming him agenius of all time. It is possible to suspect he is maybe not all he is cracked up to be without wanting Harry Redknapp and 4-4-fahking-2 instead!”

There’s a chance that I was exaggerating, but there is a noticeable glee in some quarters whenever a Guardiola team loses.

1.26pm GMT

Can anyone work out Pep Guardiola’s formation here? The return of Fernandinho sees Bacary Sagna drop out, meaning there’s no obvious right-back in the side and only one centre-back, John Stones. I suppose that Leroy Sane could be playing at right wing-back. It could be anything, though. Maybe Sergio Aguero could come on to do a job there if City are struggling. Or maybe I’m thinking too hard and it’s Fernandinho.

1.24pm GMT

An email! “Just a quick word on keeping the faith etc,” says Andy Turner. “Of course I don’t speak for all blues, but I haven’t detected much angst amongst us. Nobody is panicking. When we click it is fabulous to watch. I was brought up on Ali Benarbia, Georgie, Georgie Kinkladze and people like Peter Barnes and Mikes Doyle and Summerbee. Michael Brown tap-dancing on Nicky Butt. A ‘blip’ down to sixth is laughable, we were in division one fifteen years ago. We count our blessings. When Keegan got us promoted to the prem, about 15mins into the first home game next season, somebody got up and shouted ‘Keegan Out’ and we all fell about laughing.”

12.55pm GMT

When these teams met at the Liberty Stadium in September, when Francesco Guidolin was still Swansea’s manager, Sergio Aguero was the hero for Manchester City as they continued their perfect start to the season with a 3-1 win. It was City’s 10th consecutive win in all competitions and two goals for Aguero took him into double figures for the season. But today, despite scoring 18 goals this season, he’s on the bench, just as he was against West Ham on Wednesday. Gabriel Jesus, tenacious and brilliant, is the new star and he starts up front instead. When Aguero came on against West Ham, it was for a 17-minute cameo on the wing. You sense that his relationship with Pep Guardiola is only heading in one direction from here.

12.47pm GMT

Manchester City: Caballero; Stones, Kolarov, Clichy; Fernandinho, Toure; De Bruyne, Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Sane. Subs: Bravo, Kompany, Zabaleta, Fernando, Aguero, Navas, Delph.

Swansea: Fabianski; Naughton, Mawson, Fernandez, Olsson; Fer, Cork, Carroll; Routledge, Llorente, Sigurdsson. Subs: Nordfeldt, Kingsley, Amat, Britton, Narsingh, Dyer, Borja.

12.14am GMT

Hello. So here’s a theory. There’s a chance that Pep Guardiola knows how to manage a football team. I get it. Manchester City conceded four at Everton and Leicester. Claudio Bravo is the first goalkeeper in history whose backers defend him by saying that he’s good with his feet. He said ‘what is tackles’. He’s foreign. He had Leo Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta to make him look good at Barcelona. He sounds worryingly like an expert. An elitist, doing a job that Gary Rowett could be nailing if only someone would give him a chance. Four-four-fahkin-two, Pep. Four-four-fahkin-two. Now go and apologise to Joe Hart.

Now, Guardiola has got a few things wrong this season, like signing a goalkeeper who doesn’t make any saves, mistaking Pablo Zabaleta for Philipp Lahm and making Brian Kidd wear skinny jeans. For members of the Church of Pep, keeping the faith hasn’t always been easy in recent months. But they’ve bounced back well from that humiliation at Everton last month. They played Tottenham off the park at times, only to throw away a 2-0 lead in the end, and destroyed Crystal Palace last week. Admittedly Sunderland scored four goals against Palace yesterday, but anyone who saw City destroy West Ham on Wednesday will agree that this experiment is worth seeing through to the end, especially now that the addition of the exhilaratingly fearless Gabriel Jesus has given their attack extra snarl and menace.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/05/manchester-city-v-swansea-city-premier-league-live

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