Niall McVeigh

Author's details

Name: Niall McVeigh
Date registered: October 7, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/football/championship

Latest posts

  1. Jorge Linares beats Anthony Crolla to defend WBA world lightweight title – as it happened — March 25, 2017
  2. Football League your thoughts: Brentford bounce back to win thriller with Burton — March 18, 2017
  3. France 20-18 Wales: Six Nations – as it happened — March 18, 2017
  4. Scotland 29-0 Italy: Six Nations – as it happened — March 18, 2017
  5. Europa League: Manchester United face Anderlecht in quarter-finals – as it happened — March 17, 2017

Author's posts listings

Mar 25

Jorge Linares beats Anthony Crolla to defend WBA world lightweight title – as it happened

Anthony Crolla was comfortably beaten in his rematch with Jorge Linares, the Venezuelan delivering a near-faultless performance and sending Crolla to the canvas in round seven before winning by unanimous decision

12.13am GMT

Jamie Jackson’s report

Related: Anthony Crolla shows heart but loses on points to Venezuelan Jorge Linares

11.45pm GMT

Manchester gives their man a final ovation as the fighters exit the ring. Crolla showed a lot of heart to get off the canvas and go the distance, but this was a very different story to the thriller in September. Jorge Linares put on a masterclass, a clinic of counter-attacks, jabs and uppercuts that will surely elevate him into the big leagues. That’s all from me – we’ll have a ringside report from Jamie Jackson online soon. Bye!

11.42pm GMT

Here’s an emotional Anthony Crolla: “Jorge Linares is a great champion, he proved it again tonight. Manchester, I’m so sorry I couldn’t do it for you tonight. He caught me with a great shot, I thought I was gonna get to him but he moves so well. I got beat by the better man, no excuses.”

11.39pm GMT

Jorge Linares speaks (via a translator): “I didn’t feel the pressure like last time, because I know the crowd appreciate me. Anthony and I are both warriors… I’m in the best moment, I worked three times as hard [for this fight] and I want to tell Manchester, Anthony Crolla has some big balls.” Lovely.

11.36pm GMT

All three judges score the fight 118-109 in Linares’ favour.

11.35pm GMT

Round 12: A tired right hand to the ribs from Crolla, before a low blow from Linares earns a warning from the referee. It’s about the only mistake he’s made all night. Another imperious uppercut rocks Crolla on his heels, but he hangs on to the bitter end. Crolla’s admiration for his opponent is clear as the fighters embrace.

11.31pm GMT

Round 11: Plenty of guts and gusto from Crolla, desperate to give his home crowd a show in the last two rounds. He’s nowhere near shaking Linares, who has performed with such swagger tonight. After skipping around the ring and ducking everything Crolla threw at him, Linares ends the round with another vicious uppercut. Joe Gallagher thinks about stopping this, but Crolla demands to hear the final bell.

11.27pm GMT

Round 10: Linares will not give Crolla a second to strategise, serving up a clinical counter attack whenever Crolla steps forward. The end result is a flurry of ineffectual punches from the home fighter, who needs a knockout if he is going to win his belt back.

11.23pm GMT

Round nine: Crolla keeps rallying, turning to the body shot again and pulling his opponent down. Linares is understandably tiring, his punches lacking their early ferocity, but he still has an answer for everything Crolla throws at him. A close round swings the champion’s way as Linares brings out the trusty uppercut before the bell sounds.

11.18pm GMT

Round eight: Crolla has only been stopped once in his career, and wants to give his hometown crowd something to cheer. He lands a feisty combination and a body shot, with Linares’ concentration wavering. Another body shot has the crowd making some overdue noise, and Crolla may have edged that one…

11.15pm GMT

Round seven: Crolla is down! Linares’ clinical jabs are really hurting his opponent now, and as he tries to regroup, a long-range uppercut through the guard sends Crolla to the canvas! He’s utterly dazed, and does well to beat the count, before clinging on for the rest of the round.

11.11pm GMT

Round six: Crolla can only hope his opponent tires later in the fight, but it’s the home fighter looking weary here, shuffling in search of an opening but walking into an uppercut, then a jab. Crolla has a cut above his left eye, and very little to take comfort from in the first half of the fight.

Jorge Linares: Pure, vicious class

11.06pm GMT

Round five: Crolla gets Linares on the back foot with a clumsy-looking left hook, but he’s understandably cautious about attacking. Linares is ferocious on the counter, landing body shots, then a spiky uppercut. That’s four rounds in a row in the champion’s pocket.

11.04pm GMT

Round four: Linares making ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla feel like about ten quid, bobbing and weaving at lightning speed as the challenger’s punches connect with fresh air. Linares doesn’t over-exert himself on the counter, but makes his uppercuts count. It’s been a near-flawless start from the champ.

10.58pm GMT

Round three: The champion lands a razor-sharp right, earning a nod of respect from Crolla. The challenger tries an uppercut, but Linares counters with a fearsome four-punch combination. Very few gaps in Linares’ armour in the early stages.

10.56pm GMT

Round two: Another very tight, tentative round, but Linares is able to steer clear of Crolla’s attacks with his tremendous speed. Crolla was on top in the first bout, but didn’t make it count before a big sixth-round shot swung the fight in Linares’ favour.

10.51pm GMT

Referee Howard Foster has a quick word with both fighters, and we’re off. Both fighters exchanged body blows, but Crolla may have edged it with a clean right-hander to the body. He certainly needs a strong start against such a classy opponent.

10.42pm GMT

31-year-old champion Linares is a year older than Crolla, and has 41 career wins to Crolla’s 31. The Venezuelan has won 27 fights by knockout, compared to just 13 for his opponent. Linares has won world titles at four different weights but has lost three fights by knockout – although the last was five years ago. Physically, there’s very little to separate these two – Crolla weighed in at 9st 8lbs 8oz, with Linares four ounces lighter. Both men are 5’8”, while Linares has a two-inch reach advantage.

10.41pm GMT

For Linares, it’s an Eminem-AC/DC combo, like we’re at a student union night rather than a boxing match. A few boos around the arena, but Linares’ reputation as a lovely bloke and excellent boxer make him hard to hate.

10.39pm GMT

Starting with Anthony Crolla, who makes his way out to (I think) James Arthur’s cover of Adele’s ‘Hometown Glory’. Makes sense, but I prefer a bit of Stormzy.

10.29pm GMT

Jack Arnfield takes it, declared the narrow winner on all three judges’ cards – by two points on two, and by four on the other. Tony Bellew says it was “a sparring contest”, and he’s right that it never really caught fire.

10.27pm GMT

The final round sees Arnfield land the bigger punches, but it remains too close to call. Rose was the cleaner boxer, Arnfield preferring to wear his opponent down. Different motivations for both fighters – Arnfield looking to build on recent progress, Rose hoping to prolong his career with a landmark win. Who’s got it?

10.10pm GMT

Rose is proving a wily operator against Arnfield, countering well when the champion tries to dominate. It’s a very even contest with four rounds remaining, although Arnfield has had the better of recent rounds.

Meanwhile, Anthony Crolla is warming up in his dressing room, with three of the four Smith brothers – Callum, Liam and Stephen – helping him out with sparring and moral support.

10.02pm GMT

Into round six, and Arnfield is getting back into the fight, using his jab well against Rose, who is left with a swollen nose after a particularly vicious left-hander from Arnfield.

9.50pm GMT

It’s the Battle of Blackpool now, with Brian Rose and Jack Arnfield fighting for bragging rights, and the WBA international title. It’s currently in Arnfield’s possession but Rose, five years his senior, has edged the first couple of rounds. So far, it’s nowhere near as lively as the weigh-in:

The weigh-in for Jack Arnfield vs Brian Rose gets a bit feisty with Rose’s trainer Bobby Rimmer in the thick of it. Via @VJRichMcCarthy pic.twitter.com/xSedyoeFqg

9.36pm GMT

Before the next bout gets under way, a quick announcement. Our colleague Dan Lucas sadly and unexpectedly passed away earlier his month. His family are raising money for Juvenile Diabetes in his memory. If you’d like to donate, follow this link.

9.29pm GMT

Katie Taylor wins 80-72 on points, winning each of the eight rounds. “That was a great contest for me against a strong opponent” she says, adding that she hopes to challenge for a world title after “two or three fights”. Taylor will be back in action on the Joshua-Klitschko undercard in April.

9.23pm GMT

Taylor turns up the heat on Koleva in the sixth round, a flurry of punches giving the Bulgarian nowhere to go. It continues in the seventh, Taylor able to pick and choose her shots. Koleva is unsteady on her feet, going down once, but will return for the final bell…

9.17pm GMT

This is Taylor’s fourth professional bout, and her first eight-rounder. She’s trying to finish it inside the distance, throwing left hooks and combinations in the second round and dominating the first half of the fight.

Meanwhile, Oscar de la Hoya has popped in to see fellow ‘Golden Boy’ Jorge Linares in his dressing room. There’s the usual array of pugilists ringside, including Carl Froch, Tony Bellew and Kell Brook.

8.56pm GMT

We’ve just seen a surprise, with promising local middleweight Marcus Morrison beaten on points by Jason Welborn. Morrison had won his first 14 fights but was comfortably beaten by Welborn, whose last fight was at a leisure centre in Solihull. Tonight, he’s stunned the Manchester Arena to take the WBC International belt.

3.50pm GMT

It was a long, hard road to the world title for Anthony Crolla. After two defeats in 2012, he finally earned himself a world title shot in January 2015 – only for a horrific injury weeks before to leave him back at square one. Crolla was struck by a concrete slab while chasing burglars out of his home, leaving his boxing career in jeopardy.

Against the odds, Crolla recovered for a title fight just seven months later, against Colombia’s Darleys Pérez. The Mancunian was denied victory in front of his home crowd – judges controversially calling it a draw. Four months later, against the same opponent, a well-timed body shot was enough to finally land the belt. After just one successful defence, Jorge Linares strolled into town and took it away last September.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/mar/25/anthony-crolla-v-jorge-linares-wba-world-lightweight-title-fight-live

Mar 18

Football League your thoughts: Brentford bounce back to win thriller with Burton

Defeat leaves Burton fearing the drop but Rotherham are all but down with Wigan set to join them, while Sheffield United are closing on a return to the second tier as Stevenage shake up the League Two promotion race

Related: David Wagner’s survivalist mentality steels Huddersfield for the big time

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/football-league-blog/2017/mar/18/football-league-your-thoughts-brentford-bounce-back-to-win-thriller-with-burton

Mar 18

France 20-18 Wales: Six Nations – as it happened

France prevailed after one of the most dramatic, chaotic conclusions to a game in Six Nations history, with nearly 20 minutes of extra time played before the hosts scored a converted try to snatch victory

Match report: France 20-18 Wales

5.16pm GMT

That brings this MBM to a close. After all the late drama, I will leave the final word to a reader I know Dan greatly enjoyed talking rugby with. Here’s Matt Dony:

“Many have said it more eloquently than me already, but Dan’s passing is a ridiculous loss. Gary Naylor’s tweet absolute nails-on-the-head the whole MBM world. I’ve never met any of the writers, or the regular contributors, but the names have all become familiar parts of my sporting enjoyment.

5.10pm GMT

What it means is that France move into second place, ending Scotland’s chances of finishing as runners-up. That will have been an unbearable final passage of play for them, too. England already have the title, but they’re going for the grand slam in Dublin right now. Join Michael Butler for that:

Related: Ireland v England: Six Nations – live!

5.08pm GMT

An awful lot to take in from almost 20 minutes of extra time. Rabah Slimani was allowed to come back on, Samson Lee’s absence was effectively curtailed by other delays, and I’ve no idea why Barnes didn’t just award a penalty try after repeatedly blowing up for Welsh trangressions. It was a glorious shambles; Dan would have loved it.

Related: France go the extra mile to defeat Wales in marathon finish

5.03pm GMT

Lopez kicks the conversion, and after a dull, scrappy game, one of the most bizarre conclusions to a game in rugby history ends in an unbelievably dramatic French victory!

5.02pm GMT

This is absolutely extraordinary. After another France advantage Antoine Dupont, the only player with any energy left, keeps driving for the line. Dan Biggar kicks the ball on the floor – meaning he’ll be sin-binned when play stops – but France keep pushing, and they finally haul the ball over the line! It looks like replacement hooker Camille Chat got the score.

4.59pm GMT

98 mins: Happily, we can play on, and the scrum goes again. The Welsh pack are turned, and Barnes gives the visitors a warning. If it happens again, there will be another yellow card – and potentially even a penalty try.

4.58pm GMT

96 mins: Nicky Smith is on for Rob Evans. It’s another penalty advantage for France, and another scrum. This half kicked off over an hour ago. And now there’s reportedly an issue with the fourth official…

4.57pm GMT

95 mins: We’re seeing replays of Dulin on the floor, close to North’s right leg. The TMO tells Barnes there is no conclusive evidence. Back to the French scrum.

4.55pm GMT

93 mins: There will be another stoppage here, as Barnes checks with TMO. The reason? George North is claiming he was bitten, and there’s a mark to prove it. This would be an extraordinary end to the game.

4.54pm GMT

91 mins: France get an advantage, but push for the line – first through Dupont, then Fickou down the left. They run out of forward momentum, and we’re going back to that scrum. And Samson Lee is coming back on!

4.51pm GMT

90 mins: Two more minutes, and Samson Lee will be able to come back on…

4.50pm GMT

89 mins: Another French penalty, and this time Picamoles kicks from hand and lunges for the line. Wales close the door, France switch to the left, but the ball is spilled. France had an advantage, and we’re back where we started. France scrum, three metres out.

4.49pm GMT

87 mins: France and Wales have now spent the best part of 10 minutes trying to put together an acceptable scrum…

4.45pm GMT

83 mins: There is a long, slightly farcical stoppage as Wales sort out their substitutes. Tomas Francis eventually comes on for Leigh Halfpenny, after convincing Barnes he is fit to return. The scrum leads to a French penalty and another French scrum, as the clock ticks on…

4.44pm GMT

81 mins: From the scrum, Picamoles barges to within inches of the line, but Wales hold on. Chouly repeats the trick, offloading to Dupont. France have a penalty advantage, and will get another chance. Samson Lee is shown a yellow card in that melee, and will have to hang on with 14 men! This is extraordinary drama.

4.41pm GMT

80 mins: The suspense is drawn out as Barnes resets the scrum a couple more times, before Uini Antonio goes off, replaced by Rabah Slimani. The French doctor confirms Antonio has a head injury. After a long wait, play restarts…

4.37pm GMT

79 mins: France have a scrum, five metres out. It’s now or never. Barnes warns Wales to hold their weight, and the scrum is reset twice. The referee’s fastidiousness is irritating the French pack, but this is a crucial moment…

4.36pm GMT

78 mins: France knocking at the door here, replacement scrum-half Dupont wriggling beyond two tackles. The hosts inch to within five metres, and get a penalty advantage, but Wales stand firm.

4.34pm GMT

77 mins: Yoann Huget and Julien Le Devedec are on for France, with the former stripped of the ball by Warburton. The captain tries a grubber kick that splits the French defence, but runs just out of play beyond the try-line.

4.32pm GMT

75 mins: Tipuric and Warburton lead the way in tackles; Wales have smothered France in this second half. France need a converted try, or their campaign will end in bitter disappointment.

4.29pm GMT

73 mins: Can Wales get over the line? They bring on Samson Lee, and bring back Ross Moriarty, trying to hold their makeshift pack together for another seven minutes.

4.29pm GMT

Barnes gives Wales another penalty, this time for a high tackle on Ken Owens, as the crowd vent their fury. Halfpenny scores from close range, and Wales restore their five point advantage.

4.26pm GMT

“Thanks for publishing all the memories of Dan. It feels odd watching the Six Nations and knowing that Dan’s gloriously splenetic (but scrupulously fair) commentary isn’t accompanying it today” says Oliver Bevan.

“Having left the UK a few years ago, I relied on Dan’s excellent commentary. I’ll miss him but am proud of what he established and proud to help continue building it. Also, this is an indescribably lovely, painfully honest, absolutely fitting tribute to Dan by his girlfriend, Liz.”

4.23pm GMT

Francois Trinh-Duc comes on for Lamerat rather than Lopez, and France power forward, winning a penalty under the posts. Lopez scores France’s first points in over 50 minutes of play.

4.22pm GMT

Slowly but surely, Wales are inching their way to victory here – but there’s still a long 15 minutes to go, particularly with their pack less sturdy with replacements coming in; Scott Baldwin has just come in for Jake Ball.

4.20pm GMT

A fifth successful penalty for Leigh Halfpenny, sending a low kick between the posts.

4.19pm GMT

63 mins: Barnes is not the most popular with this Paris crowd, but he’s correct to penalise a nudge at the lineout, preventing Tipuric claiming the ball. Halfpenny lines up another one…

4.17pm GMT

62 mins: Faletau strips the ball from French hands, before Tipuric sweeps it out wide to Liam Williams, who is short of support.

4.15pm GMT

60 mins: Wales continue to soak up France’s breaks forward, but Serin finds a precise diagonal kick to move them upfield. Replacement Chouly is forced out of touch, and France have 20 minutes to find a breakthrough.

4.11pm GMT

58 mins: Liam Williams, prone on the right touchline, does well to stop Fickou, and George North continues the impressive defence from the Welsh backs, proving a match for Guirado. The French crowd take a break from booing Wayne Barnes to belt out La Marseillaise.

4.09pm GMT

“I loved Dan’s take on cricket and rugby; his passion and enthusiasm always seemed to pervade his work” says Robert Shaw.

“Even with lacklustre games he made it worthwhile following his commentary. He seemed to lack the cynicism of many and would have been great company to chew the fat at close of play.”

4.08pm GMT

55 mins: Changes for France too. Rabah Slimani, Cyril Baille and Fabien Sanconnie go off, replaced by Uini Antonio, Eddy Ben Arous and Damien Chouly.

4.07pm GMT

54 mins: Changes for Wales, with Jamie Roberts and Luke Charteris on for Scott Williams and Ross Moriarty.

4.05pm GMT

Wales take the lead! Halfpenny’s kick is inch-perfect, his fourth penalty completing his team’s comeback from a ten-point deficit.

4.04pm GMT

52 mins: Alun Wyn Jones is going off, replaced by Luke Charteris with Sam Warburton returning to a familiar role as team captain. Wales win a penalty from the scrum. It’s on the halfway line, close to the touchline, but the in-form Leigh Halfpenny will have a go…

4.00pm GMT

51 mins: Scott Williams drops the ball and Fickou gathers. France kick clear, Tipuric doing well to protect the ball, and Wales win the scrum.

4.00pm GMT

49 mins: Given both sides’ prior efforts in this year’s tournament, it’s perhaps no great surprise that this has become a bit of a scrap. Dulin collects a sliced kick from Liam Williams, but is bundled into touch.

3.57pm GMT

47 mins: France get the momentum and the Welsh scrum subsides. Another put-in for France with the visitors looking vulnerable – but the hosts concede a penalty, and the crowd make their feelings known.

3.55pm GMT

46 mins: After a stoppage for Webb and the unfortunate Guirado to get patched up, play restarts with a French scrum…

3.54pm GMT

@niallmcveigh Dan took his sport seriously enough to know and care about it and lightly enough to find its joy and humour. MBMing nailed.

3.54pm GMT

45 mins: Webb’s kick is charged down and France have an unexpected opening – Wales are penalised for crossing, but France run out of room after juggling the ball along the touchline.

3.52pm GMT

44 mins: …Lopez then kicks towards Liam Williams, before finding touch with his next attempt.

3.51pm GMT

43 mins: Guirado, who has been able to continue after suffering with injury in the first half, collects from a French line-out. Serin sends the ball high into the sky, before Biggar returns the favour…

3.50pm GMT

42 mins: Alun Wyn Hones is in need of treatment after both packs collided in the opening minutes. Wales are sticking with the plan that worked against Ireland; getting the forward play and fundamentals right to frustrate their arguably more artistic opponents.

3.48pm GMT

We are back under way, with just one point separating the sides.

3.43pm GMT

Here are a couple more lovely tributes to Dan:

“So sad that Dan Lucas has gone. He was a wonderful writer whose work made every match much more enjoyable. If I couldn’t be with friends to watch England play he made me feel like I was watching with a friend. A witty and knowledgeable one with an enviable turn of phrase. Missing his company as the Six Nations concludes” – Max Swooth

3.37pm GMT

A message from Dan’s father, Gary:

“Just a word from the Lucas family (mum Tracey, sister Kirsty) and girlfriend Liz to thank all MBM and OBOers for their kind words. They really mean a lot. It is so good to know that people could see the Dan we knew and makes us very proud.”

3.31pm GMT

Lopez returns, but his kick-off is grasped by North, and Wales have one more attack. France turn the ball over, and kick for touch to end the first half.

3.29pm GMT

After a moment’s thought, Wales decide to take the three points on offer, Halfpenny slotting the ball over from close range.

3.28pm GMT

37 mins: From a Welsh scrum, the ball is chipped forward and Scott Williams breaks clear of a tackle. Wales get an advantage and work the ball to the right – but Tipuric is forced to scoop the ball from the floor, and Dulin makes the tackle.

3.27pm GMT

36 mins: Guirado is again down, receiving treatment for what looks like a shoulder injury. It’s been a tough half in terms of injuries for the hosts.

3.26pm GMT

34 mins: There’s been a brief lull in intensity, with both sides exchanging kicks, the match finely poised as half-time approaches.

3.22pm GMT

32 mins: Wales have rallied after France’s slow start, with George North winning a penalty to relieve pressure after slick passing from Serin. Vatakawa has returned to the fray, but fly-half Camille Lopez is off, being treated for a head injury.

3.20pm GMT

“Shocked and saddened to hear about the awful news of Dan Lucas passing away” says Dennis O’Neill.

“I’d just like to add my voice to those who offer their sincere condolences to his family, his partner, and you and everyone else at the Guardian on such a terrible and unexpected loss.
“I knew Dan’s work through the cricket OBOs and always looked forward to his work. I’ll miss him.”

3.18pm GMT

Wales decide to go for goal from the halfway line, and another precise Halfpenny kick cuts the deficit to four points.

3.16pm GMT

26 mins: Biggar leaps to collect Serin’s kick and Wales hold onto the ball, Jake Ball crashing through tackles before France are caught offside…

3.14pm GMT

25 mins: Serin is back on for France after receiving treatment. France need a win – no bonus points required – to stake their claim for second place, although if Ireland beat England later, it’s academic.

3.13pm GMT

23 mins: Urgency from Wales as they look to capitalise on their numerical advantage – but Biggar’s awkward kick cedes possession and Nakaitaci smartly carries the ball downfield.

3.11pm GMT

21 mins: Wales have a foothold in the game, and captain Alun Wyn Jones wins the ball from the line-out. A change at scrum-half for France, young Antoine Dupont replacing Baptiste Serin.

3.09pm GMT

Wales elect to kick, Halfpenny using up two minutes of Vakatawa’s enforced absence lining up the kick. It pays off, as he hooks a tricky effort between the uprights.

3.08pm GMT

18 mins: Barnes concludes that Vakatawa intentionally knocked on, to a barrage of jeers from the crowd. There’s no penalty try, but Vakatawa will spend 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

3.06pm GMT

17 mins: Wales almost find a gap down the right, but Biggar is held up by Vakatawa. Biggar complains that the French back knocked the ball on as he tried to offload to George North. I think he has a case, but Wayne Barnes will go to TMO.

3.04pm GMT

“Had the pleasure of meeting Dan once with Gary Naylor” says Ian Copestake. “Was a lovely moment for me and is a fond memory.”

3.02pm GMT

France win another cheap penalty as the Welsh scrum goes down. Lopez tucks the kick between the posts, and this is officially a bad start for Wales now.

3.02pm GMT

13 mins: Jonathan Davies is endeavouring to co-commentate, despite having almost totally lost his voice. I imagine this particular time of year is quite tough on Davies’ vocal chords.

2.59pm GMT

12 mins: From a rock-solid French scrum, Louis Picamoles benefits from a missed tackle and Gael Fickou bursts clear, but Wales hang on and regain possession.

2.58pm GMT

10 mins: A break in play as France captain Guirado gets treatment. Camille Chat is waiting on the touchline, in case the hooker can’t continue.

2.57pm GMT

9 mins: Ross Moriarty collects the ball cleanly and barrels forward before offloading to Justin Tipuric – but the move breaks down, and France will have a scrum deep in their own half.

2.53pm GMT

Simple but highly effective from France, Gourdon riding two missed tackles before Lopez skewers a pass over the Welsh defence. Remi Lamerat is first to it, and scores under the posts. Lopez adds the conversion.

2.49pm GMT

@niallmcveigh loved dan’s mbm & obo’s he will be missed by loads fantastic live blogger

2.49pm GMT

3 mins: Lopez’s kick from 45 metres is hooked toward the right-hand upright, but drops just short.

2.48pm GMT

2 mins: Noa Nakaitaci cuts infield as France start on the front foot. Sam Warburton is offside, and after an advantage, France will kick for goal…

2.45pm GMT

Dan Biggar kicks off, Picamoles wins the ball at the breakdown and Lopez fires his kick into touch.

2.44pm GMT

Time for the anthems, both sung with hair-raising ferocity. It’s a gloomy, overcast day just north of Paris, with a few empty seats but an almighty noise nonetheless. Wayne Barnes will get us under way.

2.40pm GMT

Guy Novés makes one change from the win over Italy, with Sebastién Vahaamahina replacing Julien Le Devedec. Rob Howley sticks with the team that defeated Ireland last time around.

France: Dulin, Nakaitaci, Lamerat, Fickou, Vakatawa, Lopez, Serin; Baille, Guirado (c), Slimani, Vahaamahina, Maestri, Sanconnie, Gourdon, Picamoles.

2.04pm GMT

I’m currently watching the last 20 minutes of Scotland v Italy, where many of you have paid lovely tributes to Dan. He was a great fan of a musical interlude, so here’s one from one of his favourite bands:

10.37am GMT

Wales go to Paris for a match where the winner stands a good chance of finishing second in this year’s Six Nations. There was a time when this fixture was worth even more; from 2004 to 2013, these two nations took eight of the 10 Championships available. Times may have changed, but today’s game is significant for both sides.

Guy Novès is seeking a first French top-half finish since 2011, and the extra job security that will bring. Wales, meanwhile, have one eye firmly on the world rankings. Victory, and defeat for Ireland later today would see them climb to fourth, increasing their chances of a much kinder World Cup draw than in 2015.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/mar/18/france-v-wales-six-nations-live

Mar 18

Scotland 29-0 Italy: Six Nations – as it happened

Finn Russell led Scotland to a bonus-point victory in Vern Cotter’s final game in charge, while we paid our respects to Dan Lucas, our talented writer who passed away last week

2.30pm GMT

I’m now heading over to France v Wales, which kicks off in 20 minutes. We will continue to remember Dan Lucas, who would have so enjoyed that hard-fought, whole-hearted game. I will leave the final word here with Dan’s girlfriend, Liz. Thank you all for joining me.

@niallmcveigh thank you, and all of Dan’s MBM readers, for your beautiful tributes. It means so much x

2.24pm GMT

Italy make a late push for the line, but like all of their other efforts, it falls short. A knock-on brings the final whistle. The scoreline doesn’t truly reflect the play, but Scotland have got what they set out for – a bonus point win, and a chance at finishing second in the table.

2.21pm GMT

78 mins: Finn Russell is deservedly named man of the match. The scoreline would be nothing like as one-sided without his contribution.

2.20pm GMT

77 mins: Vern Cotter allows himself a smile, his time as Scotland head coach ending with a bonus-point win, a likely shutout and a full house at Murrayfield.

2.19pm GMT

75 mins: Change for Scotland, with replacement Matt Scott having to go off with an injury. Duncan Weir takes his place, with Russell switching to 12. Federico Ruzza is on for Italy, replacing George Biagi.

2.17pm GMT

Scotland have their bonus point, and in fine style. After moving through the phases slowly, deliberately even, Pyrgos flings the ball right to Russell, who finds Hogg. The full back’s pass out to Tommy Seymour leaves Italy with no chance, and he steams down the right flank to score. Russell kicks the conversion.

2.13pm GMT

69 mins: Italy manage to wrestle the ball back, but Scotland win the resulting line-out. A fourth try, one more than they managed against Ireland (and, indeed, England) feels like an inevitability.

2.11pm GMT

67 mins: Scotland’s refreshed pack are finding it easier to make headway now, as they search for a fourth try…

2.08pm GMT

65 mins: There’s a Mexican wave going around Murrayfield as Scotland make two front-row changes. Ross Ford and Zander Fagerson are off, replaced by Fraser Brown and Simon Berghan.

2.06pm GMT

63 mins: Scotland now have just over 15 minutes to grab a bonus point. Italy look totally deflated after conceding that third try; they must wonder how they are still scoreless.

2.03pm GMT

From the restart, Scotland work the ball left, and Hogg splits the defence with a cute kick forward. Visser and Russell chase it down, the former getting a crucial hand to it and after a TMO referral, the try is awarded. Russell kicks the conversion.

1.59pm GMT

60 mins: Russell orchestrates another move upfield, before play stops for George Biagi to receive treatment. John Barclay is back on the field after his yellow card.

1.57pm GMT

58 mins: Scotland need two more tries to get a bonus-point win, and a chance at finishing second. They’ve offered nothing going forward in this half, their first foray forward ending as Italy turn the ball over.

1.56pm GMT

57 mins: Scotland advance downfield thanks to two delicate kicks from Finn Russell, who has stood out so far in a scrappy game. Two more Scottish replacements, Tim Swinson and Allan Dell on for Gilchrist and Gordon Reid.

1.55pm GMT

@niallmcveigh Gonna miss Dan’s great commentary. He even reminded us to grab a cuppa between breathtaking games on days like today. RIP Dan

1.53pm GMT

55 mins: Italy win the line-out, but they lose possession as Dunbar strips the ball from Parisse. It goes left to Visser, who kicks clear before tangling awkwardly with the touch judge.

1.52pm GMT

54 mins: Scotland’s scrum is rock-solid close to their own try-line, and Hogg is able to relieve the pressure with a kick to touch. Changes for both teams: Minto and Violi are on for Mbanda and Gori, while for Scotland, Henry Pyrgos replaces scrum-half Ali Price.

1.49pm GMT

52 mins: Italy just cannot score – but you have to give credit to the Scottish forwards, who somehow stop another maul inches from the line. Italy’s backs have to take responsibility as another move to the right goes awry, Esposito tackled by Hogg and the rebound landing in Scottish hands.

1.46pm GMT

50 mins: Ryan Wilson, who suffered an early injury, is replaced at number eight by Cornell du Preez. Gilchrist concedes another penalty, and Italy remain camped close to the Scottish line.

1.45pm GMT

@niallmcveigh Dan’s coverage was my favourite way to follow the rugby – always made me laugh. My condolences to his family and friends.

1.45pm GMT

49 mins: From an Italian scrum, Barclay is warned that the next Scottish transgression will lead to a yellow card. Remarkably, it’s the captain himself who commits it. Barclay is sent to the sin bin, and their tough start to the second half gets worse.

1.43pm GMT

48 mins: Italy are held up on the Scottish line for an awfully long time, before Gori switches the play with a terrific pass to the right. Italy must score, but Padovani’s pass is behind Esposito, and the winger is held up by Hogg. Italy just cannot get on the board.

1.40pm GMT

46 mins: Gilchrist tackles his man in the air, and needs treatment after an awkward landing. Another kick into the corner as Italy keep the pressure on.

1.39pm GMT

45 mins: From the Italian lineout, Parisse drives his team forward and they win a penalty – but it’s kicked to the corner, with Canna’s confidence in shreds.

1.37pm GMT

43 mins: Hogg spills Padovani’s kick, but Russell darts back to collect. Scotland are pinned close to their own try-line, and Hogg slices it into touch.

1.36pm GMT

41 mins: Italy have made two front-row changes: Dario Chistolini and Leonardo Ghiraldini are on in place of Gega and Lorenzo Cittadini.

1.34pm GMT

The sun has come out at Murrayfield.

1.33pm GMT

“Dan was one of those who made sport enjoyable and engaging without the need for visual backup. He brought it all to life with words, and made all of us welcome. I take my hat off to him” – Andrew Benton

“The Guardian’s pages became one of my go-to places to ‘watch’ sport, increasingly even when I had access to other media. There is a sense of community here and Dan Lucas will be greatly missed. Terribly sad” – Chris Howell

1.32pm GMT

“Dan will be hugely missed by this reader for sure. His MBM and OBO outputs were always fantastic; to do this sort of written broadcasting well is actually very hard indeed. I like that he was as funny, engaging and pleasant in person as he was on the screen, but he was also very very good at his job. Sad news indeed” – Felix Wood

“For me, Dan was a godsend for both rugby and cricket. These were both sports in which I am a bit of a ‘casual’, as I only regularly watch international games. he intricacies of the respective sports were and will continue to be beyond me. But with Dan, I always felt like I was an expert. While he is certainly irreplaceable, his memory will live on” – Patrick Green

1.28pm GMT

Here are more of your wonderful tributes to Dan, starting with Guy Hornsby:

“Today’s a day of mixed emotions for many of us: a grandstand finale of this glorious tournament, but coloured with sadness from losing one of our own. It feels desperately unfair that Dan isn’t here on these pages, his irreverent and quick-witted prose inviting us amateurs to the party, for surely this was a Saturday made for him.
“As many have said, the MBM and OBO is a community, and I feel lucky to have met a few of you in the flesh over the years. Dan was top of my list to snare for a pint, so it seems surreal, and hugely saddening that it won’t happen. So for me, today is Dan’s day, and I hope to toast an England victory later in his honour. I’m sure many of us feel the same way. My heart goes out to his nearest and dearest. We’ll miss him dearly.”

1.19pm GMT

After a slow start, tries from Finn Russell and Matt Scott have put Scotland in control at Murrayfield, with Italy’s Carlo Canna missing three penalties as his team remain scoreless.

1.19pm GMT

42 mins: The Scottish defence hold on for two minutes of additional time, Italy keeping the ball moving but not making any progress – until Canna and Gega work an opening on the left, and force a penalty.

This is a much tougher kick than the two Canna has missed – 40 metres away, close to the left touchline. He misses this one too, again sending it wide of the left post.

1.16pm GMT

39 mins: Hogg’s clearing kick is scuffed, allowing Parisse to trap it under his boot and start a final Italian attack in this first half. Biagi is stopped in his tracks, but Italy inch into the Scottish 22…

1.14pm GMT

Italy are penalised, but Scotland make use of the advantage, Russell sending a speculative kick into the corner. Hogg spills it backwards, but Matt Scott is on hand to touch down. Russell misses a tricky conversion.

1.13pm GMT

36 mins: Italy lineout, but the pressure tells and Price wins possession. Hamish Watson and substitute Scott drive the ball forward…

1.12pm GMT

34 mins: Venditti is again uncertain under a high ball, and Scotland have a lineout. Nobody can gather in the ball, and an exchange of kicks follows – but Hogg wrestles momentum back Scotland’s way with an expert diagonal kick.

1.08pm GMT

32 mins: It’s another dreadful miss from Canna, this time sending the ball across the posts and wide, on a day with hardly any breeze. Conor O’Shea looks rueful. This feels like the first half at Twickenham, when Italy didn’t get the points their play deserved.

1.06pm GMT

31 mins: The referee stops play and consults the TMO, Gray penalised for obstructing Parisse. Penalty for Italy, 30 yards out but central…

1.06pm GMT

30 mins: After a stuttering start, and bearing in mind the heavy defeat at Twickenham, Scotland finally have a spring in their step, and Venditti is forced into a hurried clearance under pressure.

1.04pm GMT

“I loved reading Dan’s coverage of the rugby, I really enjoyed his live blogs,” says Brownyn Molony. “He will be sorely missed by all his readers.”

1.02pm GMT

Scotland win the lineout before Barclay barrels to within inches of the line. Italy’s defence hold firm by their left corner, and again under the posts, but Dunbar shows great hands to move the ball wide to Russell, who slides over in the opposite corner, then kicks his own conversion.

1.00pm GMT

26 mins: Scotland were awarded a penalty in the melee before Russell’s kick, and the fly-half kicks to the corner. Jones was injured racing for the line, and has to come off. He’s replaced by Gloucester’s Matt Scott.

12.59pm GMT

25 mins: …Gray and Ford add bulk to this Scottish attack, now rumbling beyond 20 phrases. Jones finds a gap, but slips on the turf in sight of the try-line. Scotland run out of patience, and Russell chips across to Visser, the wing spilling the ball as he tries to collect.

12.56pm GMT

24 mins: Scotland’s backs finally get involved, Huw Jones sidestepping a challenge. Scotland work through the phases, being careful with the ultra-slippery ball…

12.55pm GMT

22 mins: Pascal Gauzere has a word with both captains and reminds them to keep their discipline. Braam Steyn is the latest to be penalised, for a push.

12.52pm GMT

20 mins: It’s a really poor kick from Canna, out to the left but from a distance that should have made it routine. He skews it wide to the left, and Italy haven’t made the most of their momentum.

12.51pm GMT

19 mins: Gori’s chipped kick causes havoc in the Scottish defence, and after an Italian knock-on is missed by the referee, Italy force a penalty, just inside the 22.

12.50pm GMT

@niallmcveigh Still shocked that I’m not chatting with Dan today. Rest in peace man. We’ll not forget you.

12.49pm GMT

17 mins: …Italy win it and Lovotti leads the charge deep into Scottish territory – but Scotland and Fagerson stay strong, and win a pressure-relieving penalty.

12.48pm GMT

16 mins: Another ragged lineout from Italy, but they are making headway in mauls, and Canna’s precise kick sets up an opportunity…

12.47pm GMT

14 mins: After a couple of false starts, Zander Fagerson is penalised as the Scottish scrum gives way. Both sides are struggling with their set pieces early on.

12.45pm GMT

13 mins: Nigel Owens, the touch judge, steps in to award a Scottish scrum, close to the Italian 22, for Venditti’s knock-on.

12.44pm GMT

12 mins: Hogg sees a clearing kick charged down, presenting Italy with an attacking opportunity – but Scotland win the lineout and Russell clears. Conditions out there are slippery, and Venditti drops the high ball.

12.42pm GMT

10 mins: From the lineout, replacement Gilchrist is penalised for collapsing the maul. Italy penalty, which sets up a lineout, which is messy once again. Scotland penalty, which Russell kicks to touch, keeping the pressure on Italy.

12.40pm GMT

8 mins: Another Italian lineout, but it’s ragged, and Scotland are awarded a scrum in midfield. The ball is worked to Russell, who kicks low to touch, forcing Italy into another lineout.

12.38pm GMT

@niallmcveigh lovely words from familiar names I’ve gotten 2 know through Dan. I’ll miss you brother. Cheers 4 everything Dan. RIPDan

12.38pm GMT

6 mins: There’s a stoppage in play as Ryan Wilson gets treatment for a shoulder problem. Play restarts with an Italian line-out, and a maul makes good ground for the visitors. Gori sends a looping kick forward, but Ali Price collects, and calls a mark.

12.35pm GMT

The penalty is beyond the range of Finn Russell – but Stuart Hogg steps up and delivers a perfect kick, considering the conditions.

12.33pm GMT

3 mins: The Italian scrum has a slight weight advantage on the Scottish pack, helped by second-rower George Biagi – an Italy international born in Irvine, Ayrshire. Scotland totally dominate the first scrum, and force an early penalty.

12.32pm GMT

1 min: An early exchange of kicks at a damp Murrayfield, Canna and Padovani failing to find touch before a knock-on leads to a Scotland scrum.

12.30pm GMT

The anthems are ringing around Murrayfield, which is sold out for an Italian visit for the first time. Kick-off is approaching, but please do keep your tributes to Dan coming in.

12.22pm GMT

We’re 10 minutes or so away from kick-off. Italy are guaranteed to finish with the wooden spoon, but Scotland could finish anywhere from second to fifth – and a surprise defeat could be bad news for their world ranking, with the World Cup draw coming up. It is of course also Vern Cotter’s last match in charge of Scotland, with Glasgow’s Gregor Townsend taking over after this Six Nations campaign.

12.11pm GMT

This is lovely, from Robin Hazlehurst:

“For many of us the MBM is like a pub, where you drop in to watch the match and chat with your mates. It’s unbelievable to think that Dan’s stool at the bar will be empty for today’s matches. It won’t be the same without him. He always interacted with readers like a true gent and a genuine mate, even emailing back about things on occasion, and debating keenly in the commentary.

12.04pm GMT

“Like many others who only ever knew Dan through his writing and in particular his work for the Guardian, I’ll miss him” says Simon McMahon. “He felt like a friend. Cheers, Dan.”

11.58am GMT

Here are today’s teams. Richie Gray was ruled out yesterday with a hamstring problem; he’s replaced by Edinburgh’s Grant Gilchrist.

Scotland: Hogg, Seymour, Jones, Dunbar, Visser, Russell, Price; Reid, Ford, Fagerson, Gilchrist, J Gray, Barclay (c), Watson, Wilson.

10.28am GMT

As many of you will already be aware, our colleague Dan Lucas suddenly and shockingly passed away last weekend.

In recent years, Dan helmed the Guardian rugby union MBMs, including the Six Nations and World Cup, and did so with his trademark dry humour, encyclopaedic knowledge of the game and an innate ability to make readers feel part of the story. He covered virtually every game in this year’s tournament. He should be typing this preamble.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/mar/18/scotland-v-italy-six-nations-live

Mar 17

Europa League: Manchester United face Anderlecht in quarter-finals – as it happened

José Mourinho’s side will face a short trip to the Belgian league leaders, while Lyon face Besiktas, Ajax take on Schalke and Celta Vigo play Genk

12.33pm GMT

Related: José Mourinho hits out at scheduling as Manchester United draw Anderlecht in Europa League

12.32pm GMT

Manchester United will play current Belgian league leaders Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-finals. José Mourinho’s side travel to Brussels on April 13, with the second leg at Old Trafford a week later.

A short trip will come as a relief to Mourinho, with his team having travelled to Istanbul, Odessa and Rostov already in this year’s tournament. Manchester United have faced Anderlecht six times previously, with a 10-0 European Cup win over the Belgian side in 1956 still their all-time record competitive victory.

12.19pm GMT

Thoughts on that draw? United have a little history with Anderlecht – the sides have met six times in European competition, with United winning four and losing two. Their last meeting, in October 2000, saw the Brussels club win 2-1 – a result that helped them pip their opponents to top spot in their Champions League group. A more positive omen for United is that their record win in any competition came against Anderlecht – a 10-0 triumph way back in the 1956 European Cup.

12.12pm GMT

Anderlecht v Manchester United
Celta Vigo v Genk
Ajax v Schalke
Lyon v Besiktas

12.12pm GMT

And finally, a tricky round trip for Lyon, second favourites for the trophy behind United.

12.11pm GMT

Two former winners of the UEFA Cup – Ajax in 1992, Schalke in 1997 – are drawn together.

12.11pm GMT

Celta, the only hope for Spain to continue their recent dominance of this competition, face Genk.

12.10pm GMT

United will face the Belgian league leaders!

12.09pm GMT

Here we go…

12.07pm GMT

Niels Pedersen reckons “the only possible iconic final would be Manchester United v Ajax”. That would have a certain something that, say, Besiktas v Celta Vigo might not.

12.05pm GMT

Some good old-fashioned optimism here:

@niallmcveigh It doesn’t matter who we (United) draw – we’re capable of losing to anyone…

12.03pm GMT

Here are the eight teams again:

Ajax (Netherlands)
Anderlecht (Belgium)
Besiktas (Turkey)
Celta Vigo (Spain)
Genk (Belgium)
Lyon (France)
Manchester United (England)
Schalke (Germany)

11.59am GMT

@niallmcveigh I want one of those teams where journalists can write “..their entire squad was worth their most expensive player…”

Getting in there early, Genk’s record signing is Neeskens Kebano, a £3.4m striker signed from Charleroi who is now at Fulham.

11.49am GMT

Manchester United fans: what’s your preference? Genk, currently seventh in the Belgian league, are the bookies’ rank outsiders. Then again, they just came up against Gent, the team who knocked Spurs out, and walloped them 6-3 on aggregate. No easy draws here.

10.55am GMT

Manchester United’s Europa League run has bubbled away on the back burner throughout the season, the team progressing step by step, with little in the way of real peril or drama. Now they’re into the last eight, favourites to lift the trophy and with it, a route back into the Champions League. It hasn’t stopped José Mourinho complaining about his lot, but – as he couldn’t resist pointing out – United are the only team in England’s top six still in Europe.

There are plenty of dangerous teams left in today’s draw, not least Lyon, who eliminated Roma in the last 16. Ajax, Besiktas and Schalke are also potentially thorny opposition in an agreeably cosmopolitan, old school draw. Only one nation has two teams in the last eight – it goes without saying that it’s Belgium. The draw is at 12.00 GMT.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/17/europa-league-quarter-final-draw-live

Mar 17

Champions League quarter-final draw: Bayern Munich v Real Madrid – as it happened

The two European titans will meet at the quarter-final stage, Leicester face Atlético Madrid, Borussia Dortmund face Monaco and Juventus play Barcelona in a repeat of the 2015 final

11.35am GMT

That’s it from me – but head over here to find out who Manchester United draw in the Europa League last eight, coming up shortly:

Related: Europa League: quarter-final draw – live!

11.27am GMT

Here’s our report on the Champions League draw:

Related: Champions League quarter-finals: Leicester City to face Atlético Madrid

11.26am GMT

If nothing else, we may get to see Jamie Vardy recreating this timeless programme cover:

The last time Atlético Madrid won in England (vs. Leicester, 1997) Ian Marshall ate some paella: pic.twitter.com/WfJTbTnbKv

11.21am GMT

What do we make of that? It’s an interesting draw, with arguably the four biggest teams historically drawn together – and Dortmund v Monaco promises to be a high-octane spectacular. For Leicester, it’s Atlético Madrid – a team that, remarkably enough, they’ve played twice before in Europe. Atlético won both ties, in the 1962 Cup Winners’ Cup and 1998 UEFA Cup. I don’t know, it’s just the same teams again and again, isn’t it?

11.14am GMT

Atlético Madrid v Leicester City
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid
Juventus v Barcelona

11.13am GMT

And it’s a repeat of the 2015 final to finish.

11.13am GMT

That’s a huge tie, between teams with 16 European Cups between them…

Related: Real Madrid v Bayern Munich: the night Juanito kicked Matthäus in the face

11.12am GMT

That should be fun…

11.11am GMT

It’s Atletico, runners-up in two of the last three finals, for Leicester! Any draw would have been tough, but that’s nasty.

11.08am GMT

Ian Rush is out to conduct the draw. Here’s a couple more of your wishlists:

@niallmcveigh I’d like to see Madrid v Barca, ATL v Monaco, Leicester v Bayern, Dortmund v Juventus

@niallmcveigh Bayern v Juve, A Madrid derby, Barca v LCFC & Monaco v Dortmund predictions

11.04am GMT

Uefa head suits Pedro Pinto and Giorgio Marchetti are out on the stage, to a smattering of applause. It’s (almost) time.

“Real Madrid will somehow still get Wolfsburg,” reckons Victor Valkov.

11.00am GMT

Ayokunle Omoniyi wants to see Leicester against Monaco. That would be quite something. Any other ties you’d like to see? Get them in quick.

10.58am GMT

The draw is five minutes away – give or take. Remember, anyone can draw anyone else at this stage, with a team’s nationality and original group no longer a factor. So Barcelona can play Real Madrid, Bayern can play Dortmund and Leicester can… never mind.

The teams

10.47am GMT

Zinedine Zidane, coach of defending champions Real Madrid, doesn’t want to face Leicester – and says “I don’t think there will be a single coach” that fancies taking on the Foxes. Craig Shakespeare, waking to find himself in charge of a Champions League quarter-finalist, has claimed “we might just be the surprise team.”

Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel is more eager to avoid Bayern Munich – “not because we would be scared, but because we want to compete internationally.” Of course not, Thomas.

10.37am GMT

While we wait: who are the other English sides to reach the Champions League quarter-finals? Which manager has reached the quarter-finals four years running? And which player awaiting the draw was once bought for two Nottingham Forest shirts? Find out here:

Related: Sports quiz of the week: Leicester’s run, rugby records and Cheltenham races

9.38am GMT

Hello. After the most dramatic opening round of knockout games in recent years, the Champions League field has been trimmed to an elite eight with the usual suspects in attendance. Comeback kings Barcelona join last year’s finalists, Real Madrid and Atlético, in a typically healthy Spanish contingent. Juventus and Bayern Munich, both in the process of extending their iron grip on domestic silverware, are also in the mix.

Even the continent’s wildcards – Borussia Dortmund and Pepbusters Monaco – are sides with frightening ability and pedigree. Then there’s England’s sole remaining representative – Leicester City, 15th in the Premier League and guaranteed to be massive underdogs whoever they draw. They have, of course, been there before. The draw will get under way with the maximum of fuss at 11am GMT.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/mar/17/champions-league-quarter-final-draw-live-leicester-barcelona-real-madrid-juventus-bayern-atletico-dortmund-monaco

Mar 11

Football League: Josh Wright scores three penalties in nine minutes for Gillingham

Wright’s quickfire hat-trick of spot-kicks seals comeback win over former club Scunthorpe, Bristol City end their away-day blues at Wigan, Jonathan Kodjia proves his worth for Aston Villa and a glimmer of hope for Newport

Related: Ryan Sessegnon double takes play-off hopefuls Fulham past Newcastle

Related: Burton leapfrog Nottingham Forest thanks to Cauley Woodrow free-kick

Related: Safe standing a step closer after Football League’s green light for rail seats

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/football-league-blog/2017/mar/11/football-league-josh-wright-scores-three-penalties-in-nine-minutes-for-gillingham

Feb 26

England 36-15 Italy: Six Nations – as it happened

An off-colour England were tested by Italy who executed an unusual gameplan to lead at half-time, before Jack Nowell scored two late tries as the hosts eventually claimed a bonus-point victory

5.14pm GMT

Related: Jack Nowell propels England past spirited Italy after first-half scare

5.05pm GMT

England are back at the top of the Six Nations table, with 13 points after claiming five today. Today was a struggle for long periods, but their finishers got the job done. It’s now 17 games unbeaten, but Scotland and Ireland will put that run under severe scrutiny based on today’s evidence.

Credit is due to Italy, who came with an unconventional game plan and deservedly led at half-time. They were overpowered in the end but answered their many critics with an attention-grabbing, competitive display. Thanks for joining me, and enjoy the rest of your Sundays.

5.01pm GMT

Dylan Hartley speaks about Italy’s tactics: “We found something out there that we’ve never really seen before, and it took half an hour for us to realise. We wanted to play the ball quicker and around the ruck… I was confused by it, but we hit the gain line, hit gaps and kept the ball moving.”

4.56pm GMT

Here’s man of the match Joe Launchbury: “Italy came with a plan around the breakdown, took us a while to work it out. We let ourselves down in a couple of areas today, but we’ll come out firing in a couple of weeks’ time. We’ve got two weeks to address those areas.”

4.51pm GMT

England get the job done, but this match was much closer than anyone expected. Italy led at half-time, and were within two points with 20 minutes to go before England pulled away at the death, helped by Jack Nowell’s two tries off the bench.

4.49pm GMT

Exeter’s Slade and Nowell combine artfully on the right, before Nowell recovers from a hefty tackle to crash over the line. Farrell kicks the conversion to give the scoreline a flattering look.

4.47pm GMT

78 mins: Joe Launchbury, who finally foiled Italy’s no-ruck tactics in the second half, is named man of the match.

4.45pm GMT

76 mins: A raft of replacements, with Tomaso d’Apice on for Ornel Gega, and George Biagi on for Marco Fuser. For England, Henry Slade replaces try scorer Te’o and Harlequins’ Jack Clifford also comes on.

4.42pm GMT

England wrap it up thanks to Kyle Sinckler, the replacement barrelling through a gap, allowing Brown space to offload and find Ben Te’o, who scores on his first Test start. Farrell adds the conversion, and England will escape with the win.

4.40pm GMT

71 mins: Has Jack Nowell, one of Eddie Jones’ finishers, just finished off Italy? If England do hold on, they’ll also claim a bonus point after scoring their fourth try.

That was Jack Nowell’s 10th try for England. pic.twitter.com/9xgF3TnoBH

4.39pm GMT

England made a meal of that, but Nowell gets over the line on the opposite side, despite a shoddy crossfield pass from George Ford. Farrell misses the conversion – just 1 from 5 for him today.

4.37pm GMT

69 mins: George picks out Lawes, and England organise and power towards the line, but fall just short – they have to reset and try again…

4.36pm GMT

68 mins: England win the ball, and Youngs sends a precise kick towards the corner. Daly is onto it like lightning, but as he prepares to dive onto it, Canna clears it with his right boot! After some confusion, a lineout for England…

4.34pm GMT

66 mins: Another handling error from England has Eddie Jones grimacing with frustration, and Italy have the scrum in midfield.

4.33pm GMT

65 mins: Farrell’s penalty is caught in the breeze, and carries beyond the left upright. A chance for breathing space is passed up.

4.31pm GMT

64 mins: England scrum, and the ball is ferried to Nowell, who slips on the pitch – it’s been raining for the last few minutes. Youngs keeps England moving forward, and offloads to Brown, who is caught early by Steyn. England penalty…

4.29pm GMT

62 mins: Carlo Canna, who started Italy’s first two matches, is on at fly-half with Allan too hurt to continue. Two points in this, with 18 minutes to go, and the atmosphere inside Twickenham is suddenly far less relaxed…

4.28pm GMT

And the moment I write that, England switch off and Campagnaro wriggles into space – helped by George Ford missing a tackle – and creeps over the try line. With Allan down, Padovani takes the conversion, but misses the chance to level the scores.

4.27pm GMT

59 mins: Italy inch forward, but fly-half is Allan down with a shoulder injury, leaving them short of creativity…

4.25pm GMT

58 mins: Two more Italy changes – Leicester’s Michele Rizzo is on for Andrea Lovotti, and Maxime Mbanda replaces Favaro in the back row.

4.24pm GMT

57 mins: Nowell makes an immediate impact, darting inside Nathan Hughes and breezing over the try line – but Hughes was blocking McLean’s path to tackle.No try, and a penalty to Italy.

4.21pm GMT

56 mins: Here come a trio of England finishers: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell replace Hartley, Marler and Jonny May, who didn’t get the chance to shine.

4.19pm GMT

54 mins: Italy enjoy a spell of attacking play, but England win it back at the breakdown. I wonder if Conor O’Shea has a different trick up his sleeve. Ben Youngs wallops the ball into touch to end the danger.

4.16pm GMT

52 mins: Care and Ford combine well, before McLean gets back to make a vital tackle. Care goes off, replaced by Ben Youngs. Italy make two changes: Tommaso Benvenuti and Pietro Ceccarelli are on, replacing wing Giulio Bisegni and Lorenzo Cittadini, who missed a tackle on Launchbury moments ago.

4.13pm GMT

50 mins: A spell of swirling high kicks to a chorus of ‘Swing Low’. Everyone of an English persuasion feeling much more comfortable now.

@niallmcveigh But the game isn’t over yet… https://t.co/o37xk0cMep

4.11pm GMT

48 mins: After that foggy, penalty-ridden first half, England can sniff a bonus point, with Launchbury collecting the ball and barrelling forward. Italy intercept, but avoiding the ruck is emphatically not working any more.

4.10pm GMT

England are a very different proposition in this second half, with the pack beginning to dominate. Itoje offloads to Haskell, who powers forward and sends the ball left. Ben Te’o works it to Daly, who crosses with ease. Farrell converts this time.

4.07pm GMT

Danny Care takes it quickly, bursting from the centre of the field to the left-hand touchline and catching the Italian defence cold. Farrell misses the conversion, admittedly from a tight angle.

4.06pm GMT

42 mins: England turn over the ball to cement that positive start. Italy, ironically enough, were trying desperately to force a ruck, but Itoje denied them. The first scrum splinters, and England have a penalty…

4.04pm GMT

41 mins: England are back on the field with Jones’ voice still ringing in their ears, and a beautiful long diagonal kick from Elliot Daly puts Italy under immediate pressure.

4.03pm GMT

The second half is under way, with 50-1 shots Italy leading England 10-5.

4.00pm GMT

I’ve just seen the sad news about Bill Paxton. Here’s how I’ll remember him – giving absolutely 100% in a VT for a theme park ride:

3.56pm GMT

“No rucks, what is the problem? Just pick up the ball and run with it and make territory” says I. Wilson (or possibly I, Wilson). Fair point: what Italy are doing is unusual but entirely legal, and England’s constant questioning is driven by the fact they can’t deal with it.

Hey @jameshaskell Couple of quid on eBay#Engvita #6nations2017 pic.twitter.com/siMKIJy1Xb

3.49pm GMT

Hands up who saw this coming? England have been woeful, Italy’s tactical tweaks causing havoc among their forwards, and the visitors deservedly lead at half time through Giovanbattista Venditti’s opportunistic try. More soon…

3.48pm GMT

Allan’s penalty clatters off the right post, but as it drops, Venditti is the quickest man on the pitch, clutching the ball and going over! Allan converts, and Italy will lead at half time…

3.46pm GMT

39 mins: England aim to add some gloss to the scoreline, Lawes powering through again – but the ball is lost, and Italy break away. Van Schalkwyk strides between the lines, the ball is worked to Campagnaro, and Italy have a penalty in front of the posts!

3.43pm GMT

37 mins: England take a more direct approach via Courtney Lawes, before Care dances through a gap, getting through one-on-one with Padovani. He tries to lift the ball over the full-back, who keeps his cool, collects it and calls a mark.

3.41pm GMT

36 mins: Haskell and Hartley are still hassling the referee over Italy’s avoidance of rucks. They look a bit daft, to be honest. Gori has gone off, replaced by fellow Treviso man Giorgio Bronzini.

3.38pm GMT

35 mins: As Gori receives treatment after a clash with Farrell, a long, meandering kick stays the wrong side of touch, from an England perspective. That challenge is reviewed, but officials find nothing wrong with Farrell holding his line and offering a shoulder to Gori.

3.37pm GMT

34 mins: No ruck from Italy again, but Hughes makes use of this time, bustling forward into space – but as the ball is worked left, Care’s careless pass is intercepted!

3.36pm GMT

“You would think Hartley would understand the rules of the game by now,” says Chris in Cork, who I’ll wager has enjoyed this first half.

3.35pm GMT

Padovani pushes England onto the back foot, and the ball is worked back to Allan, who is in prime position to tuck away a drop goal!

3.34pm GMT

32 mins: Parisse wins a penalty and takes it quickly, but Italy can’t find a gap in the white wall from 10 yards out. Te’o and Ford hold up Campagnaro, but Italy maintain possession…

3.32pm GMT

31 mins: James Haskell asks Poite what he’s supposed to do when Italy fail to engage in the breakdown. “I’m a referee, not a coach” he fires back, not unreasonably.

3.31pm GMT

30 mins: 72% of possession has been in England’s half so far, and Eddie Jones has just been down to the touchline to have strong words with his team.

3.30pm GMT

28 mins: England do well to wrestle the ball back, Itoje diving smartly to collect from a knock on. England make hard work of it, but eventually get the ball back to Ford, who clears into touch.

3.29pm GMT

27 mins: Another promising lineout for Italy, which Parisse hauls in. Itoje is penalised for tackling the Italian captain in mid-air. Italy kick for the corner, and are within yards of the try line…

3.27pm GMT

26 mins: After such a strong opening quarter, Italy will feel deflated to find themselves behind. It was an effective piece of brute force from England, an appropriate breakthrough after an attritional start.

3.25pm GMT

England win a lineout, and Dan Cole locks onto the back of a maul that powers over the try line. Relief for England, although Farrell misses the conversion. It’s not been his best day so far.

3.24pm GMT

22 mins: Italy’s refusal to create rucks is bothering England – with Dylan Hartley complaining that their players are constantly offside. Poite tells him “I can understand you’re frustrated, but that’s the law”.

3.23pm GMT

21 mins: Gega aims for Steyn from the lineout, but overthrows, and England collect the ball. They find space on the right, Te’o stepping between tackles – but his pass to May is deflected into touch.

3.21pm GMT

20 mins: Once again, Italy don’t contest the breakdown, but after an exchange of big kicks, Ford finds touch to give England some breathing space.

3.20pm GMT

18 mins: Tomasso Allan, from a similar distance but on the opposite side of the field, misses wide right. Italy could be 6-0 ahead, and the fly-half had to take one of those chances.

3.17pm GMT

16 mins: Italian penalty as the England scrum collapses, and Allan kicks for another dangerous lineout. Parisse collects, but an errant pass allows Te’o to intercept. A lovely offload from Daly finds Farrell, but his kick is wayward. Italy come back at England, and win another kickable penalty…

3.16pm GMT

15 mins: A very slow start from England, with individual errors keeping them largely pegged back in their own half.

3.15pm GMT

14 mins: Brown finds a pocket of space down the right flank, and Gori is caught offside – but Farrell’s kick dribbles beyond the try line and out of play.

3.13pm GMT

12 mins: Parisse collects a high ball under pressure from Daly, before Hughes does likewise with blue shirts advancing. No Italian players engage, meaning no ruck forms, which causes momentary confusion in the England ranks.

3.12pm GMT

10 mins: England concede another penalty, and Italy set up an attacking lineout. They can’t capitalise, and it’s England ball – but not before Poite has a stern word about the state of the lineouts so far.

3.09pm GMT

8 mins: An England lineout is stopped as Italy encroach, and the hosts take a scrum. Italy’s scrum, led by Andrea Lovotti, push the England pack back and earn a penalty.

3.07pm GMT

6 mins: Another Italy attack is snuffed out by Elliot Daly’s tackle on Padovani, with Itoje staying on his feet and forcing a penalty.

3.06pm GMT

4 mins: Hughes’ second error gives Tomasso Allan the chance to kick some early points from 25 yards, but misses, skewing his effort wide of the left upright.

3.04pm GMT

3 mins: A first scrum, where England have a three stone-plus advantage. Italy win the ball and Campagnaro breaks through the lines with a diagonal burst. Gori moves the ball left, and Hughes concedes a penalty…

3.02pm GMT

2 mins: Care’s kick swirls in a stiff breeze, causing Italy to spill the ball, but they regain possession. Gori kicks, Brown collects, but Nathan Hughes knocks on.

3.01pm GMT

1 min: Edoardo Gori, Italy scrum-half and part of the team’s Treviso-based fulcrum, sends a searching kick upfield that Mike Brown gathers.

3.00pm GMT

George Ford gets the game started. The referee is Romain Poite, who took charge of Scotland’s win over Ireland.

2.58pm GMT

Kick-off is coming up… after another ad break. Oh, for the days of Grandstand.

Related: In praise of David Coleman, Grandstand and a slower, more peaceful age | Rob Smyth

2.56pm GMT

Owen Farrell leads England out as a special treat for his 50th cap, as the players assemble on the field under a slate-grey sky. Time for the national anthems:

2.54pm GMT

Here’s Eddie Jones:

“Italy beat South Africa in November, and they’ve always got one game in them. The biggest game for every team in the Six Nations is us. We’re looking to make a quicker start [than against Wales]. Ben [Te’o] has got quick feet, our 10 and 12 are both excellent passers of the ball, so there’ll be opportunities for him. Owen [Farrell] is a real leader in our team, I know his next 50 caps will be better than his first 50. If we’ve got the right attitude, we’ll put in a good performance, and a good performance is what we need.”

2.49pm GMT

“Everytime I see Robin Hazlehurst’s name on the MBM I think of Ronnie Hazlehurst, composer of the Two Ronnies’ theme music” says Andrew Benton. Any excuse:

2.45pm GMT

Owen Farrell gets his 50th cap today. Here’s Paul Rees on a player who has come on leaps and bounds under Eddie Jones:

Related: Eddie Jones puts faith in Owen Farrell to follow in Jonny Wilkinson’s footsteps

2.40pm GMT

Eddie Jones has made four changes from the narrow win over Wales. Ben Te’o replaces Jonathan Joseph, who is left out of the 23, Jonny May is in on the wing for Jack Nowell, and Danny Care gets a start at scrum-half. The pack remains the same, save for James Haskell, who is back after a long injury lay-off. In one of rugby’s more curious recent stories, Haskell was forced to deny that he had died back in December.

Related: James Haskell: being on the England bench is hard but you still have a big role

2.36pm GMT

Conor O’Shea speaks, and confirms a late change, with Albania-born Ornel Gega replacing Leo Ghiraldini in the front row.

“We’ve got proud, proud players, and we’ve had a terrible 120 minutes [since leading Wales 7-3 at half-time]. We’re asking the players to give everything they have, England are a brilliant side but we’re not going to roll over. The game is about energy and we haven’t had a huge amount of it, but we know we’re capable of much better.”

2.28pm GMT

“Tricky game for England this in terms of Lions berths” says Robin Hazlehurst.

“Play a stormer and it will be given an asterisk, make a mistake and your plane ticket is gone. Webb and Williams L, Sexton and Murray, and the whole Scottish team (except the front row) put their noses forward yesterday, hard to see how any England player can really impress like that. Sorry Italy, but it’s true.”

2.22pm GMT

The weekend so far

England kick off this match in third place in the Six Nations table, although they’ll return to the top with a win. Ireland are currently in top spot, after Jonny Sexton led them past France in Dublin:

Related: Johnny Sexton kicks Ireland to top of Six Nations with victory over France

Related: Tim Visser’s heroics help Scotland end Six Nations losing streak against Wales

12.14am GMT

David Miliband becoming Prime Minister. Britain winning Eurovision. Towie’s Mark Wright playing James Bond. All more likely than Italy winning this match, if you ask the bookies. The Azzurri are available at 50-1 to snap England’s 16-game unbeaten run, and cause the biggest shock in Six Nations history.
It’s no surprise that the focus has been on the potential margin of English victory. Eddie Jones has urged his side to be ruthless, conscious of the marker Ireland put down and with a Dublin trip and the Calcutta Cup still to come. Jones has made changes, with Ben Te’o making his first Test start and James Haskell returning from long-term injury.
Wounded pride aside, Italy will be conscious of keeping the scoreline respectable. Recent form has left Conor O’Shea’s team much closer to Georgia, pressed against the glass ceiling, than any of their Six Nations opponents. That has led to renewed talk over whether Italy merit their place in this tournament. Nobody expects them to win, but it’s imperative that they compete.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/feb/26/england-v-italy-six-nations-live

Feb 26

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

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

1.56pm GMT

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

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

1.53pm GMT

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

1.53pm GMT

94 mins: Pritchard’s corner goes over everybody, and Ward clears. Norwich come straight back at Ipswich, but Pritchard’s ambitious cross shot drifts behind goal.

1.51pm GMT

93 mins: Norwich still probing, Ipswich sitting deep. Two minutes to hold out as Skuse, perhaps the standout player, wrestles the ball from Jacob Murphy. Another Norwich corner…

1.50pm GMT

92 mins: Knudsen tries a little trickery near the corner flag, flicking the ball up and clearing – straight into the stand. The throw-in bobbles and bounces all the way to Bialkowski.

1.48pm GMT

90 mins: Another Norwich corner goes begging, Pritchard’s cross turned wide by Klose. Five minutes to go.

1.48pm GMT

89 mins: Hearts in mouths for Ipswich fans as Jerome races onto Pritchard’s pass, and is bundled over by Berra in the area. Jerome is flagged offside, the correct call by a very narrow margin.

1.45pm GMT

88 mins: Dijks, a persistent attacking threat down the left, fires a low shot that Bialkowski holds onto with relative comfort.

1.44pm GMT

86 mins: Every Ipswich player is back in their own half as Jordan Spence hauls down Josh Murphy, and earns a late booking.

1.43pm GMT

85 mins: Ipswich break, but Moore’s long, hopeful cross towards McGoldrick is cut out by Klose. At the other end, Jacob Murphy’s cross is headed over by Jerome, who was closely marked by Chambers.

1.41pm GMT

84 mins: Ward’s cross towards Moore is dealt with by Martin, and the ball is worked upfield. Dijks picks out Pritchard, whose disguised near-post shot almost wrongfoots Bialkowski – but the goalkeeper gets down well to turn it behind.

1.40pm GMT

83 mins: Ipswich are ably running down the clock. Despite Jacob Murphy’s equaliser, this would still be a much better point for them than for Norwich.

1.39pm GMT

81 mins: Jacob Murphy’s long, low pass is helped on by Pritchard to Josh Murphy. His cross is deflected behind, but the referee doesn’t spot it, and awards a goal kick.

1.38pm GMT

80 mins: Mick McCarthy somehow adds more solidity to his line-up, bringing on Toumani Diagouraga, on loan from Leeds, to replace Emyr Huws.

1.37pm GMT

79 mins: Josh Murphy fires in a cross from the left that Spence blocks. There are hearty appeals for handball, but Langford isn’t having a bar of it.

1.36pm GMT

78 mins: Ipswich keep the ball in the Norwich half, before Knudsen’s cross is cleared away. Another Norwich change, with former Spurs man Alex Pritchard replacing Wes Hoolahan.

1.34pm GMT

76 mins: Change for Norwich, as Josh Murphy comes on in place of Steven Naismith.

1.34pm GMT

75 mins: Oof! Tettey shoots from 20 yards, and collects the rebound after Berra blocks. He steps inside the Ipswich area and crashes a shot at goal, but Bialkowski gets a big left hand to it, and turns it behind!

1.33pm GMT

74 mins: Dijks’ floating cross is met by Jerome, who can’t steer it inside the far post. Ipswich bring on Kieffer Moore, a quintessential big man up front, in place of the peripheral Freddie Sears.

1.31pm GMT

“Jerome is just not good enough and should have bagged a first half hat trick, and why does Alex Neil play Naismith? He offers nothing going forward” says Richard Everitt, a Norwich fan watching in Delhi whose mood will have improved since he sent this.

1.30pm GMT

72 mins: This one is nicely poised with 20 minutes to go. Alex Neil will be mightily relieved – Norwich looked to have run out of ideas going forward.

1.28pm GMT

71 mins: That goal from Jacob Murphy is bad news for twin brother Josh, who was about to come on. There’s been a break in play for Howson to receive treatment.

1.27pm GMT

Murphy plays a one-two with Hoolahan, cuts to his right, and shoots low towards the near post. Bialkowski gets down to it, but the ball squirts into the net! That’s a costly mistake, and Norwich are level.

1.25pm GMT

68 mins: Naismith has a half-chance from a tight angle, and finds enough power to force Bialkowski to parry clear…

1.25pm GMT

67 mins: Norwich had looked by far the likelier team to open the scoring, but Cameron Jerome missed a free header, and was given a lesson in finishing by left-back Knudsen. Now, the hosts have 25 minutes to avoid a painful defeat.

1.24pm GMT

65 mins: Ipswich win a free kick close to the corner flag, but Klose heads it clear. It’s won back and McGoldrick, who held the ball up expertly in the build-up to the goal, cuts it back to Sears, who just runs out of space.

1.22pm GMT

It’s Jonas Knudsen, who scored in the reverse fixture (thanks Nick Ames), that gives Ipswich the lead, meeting Jordan Spence’s cross at the far post with a thumping downward header. It bounces into the ground and rises into the far corner with John Ruddy on his heels!

1.20pm GMT

Ipswich strike on the break to take the lead!

1.19pm GMT

61 mins: A brilliant improvised backheel from Jerome sets Hoolahan free in space, but with Howson ahead of him, he can’t get away from Cole Skuse, who battles back to regain the ball.

1.18pm GMT

60 mins: Ipswich have 10 men back, but none of them bother to mark Cameron Jerome, who has a free header from 10 yards out. It’s straight at Bialkowski; another let off for Ipswich.

1.17pm GMT

59 mins: Free kick in a useful position, as Sears clips Ivo Pinto’s heels. It’s a booking for Sears too, and a chance for Hoolahan to whip a cross in from 25 yards out.

1.16pm GMT

57 mins: Dijks, unable to get up to support Murphy down the left, moves forward now but pelts a cross out of play. Murmurs of frustration from the home fans.

1.15pm GMT

56 mins: Sears pops up on the right and hooks a cross in that McGoldrick can’t quite reach. Knudsen collects it on the far side, but his cross is cleared and Norwich break. Ipswich still have numbers back, and Jacob Murphy is swallowed up by the blue defensive wall.

1.14pm GMT

55 mins: Tommy Smith comes on for Kenlock and will drop into the back three, with Jonas Knudsen moving out to wing-back.

1.13pm GMT

54 mins: Sears has been frustrated up front, drifting out wide to get on the ball, and conceding a cheap free kick when he does get possession.

1.12pm GMT

53 mins: Norwich keep the ball in opposition territory, moving the ball across midfield – but Knudsen closes Hoolahan down, then wins a free kick.

1.08pm GMT

50 mins: Under pressure, Pinto concedes possession, and McGoldrick finds Sears, who runs out of options on the left. Norwich tear up the other end, but Dijks’ cross from the left curls into Bialkowski’s gloves.

1.07pm GMT

48 mins: Hoolahan has found his range, his free kick from way out wide on the right finding Naismith, whose header is saved smartly by Bialkowski.

1.06pm GMT

47 mins: Norwich have a goal disallowed! Hoolahan’s corner sails over Bialkowski’s head, and Dijks bundles the ball in – but it’s chalked off, and replays show the defender sneakily punched the ball into the net.

1.04pm GMT

46 mins: McGoldrick sees a hopeful shot from 25 yards repelled by Russell Martin. He was Ipswich’s best attacking outlet in the first half, not that there was much competition.

1.03pm GMT

Ipswich start the second half.

1.01pm GMT

Having mentioned Ed Sheeran, I’ve spent half-time trying to find a musical Norwich fan, in the interests of balance. The best I can do is Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Still, this is a belter:

12.47pm GMT

A local derby between two inconsistent teams, kicking off at noon on a Sunday, has panned out as expected so far. Norwich have had the better chances, but Ipswich could have had a penalty in the early stages. Still all to play for, back in a bit.

12.45pm GMT

44 mins: Naismith gets to the ball ahead of Spence, who brings the Norwich forward down. Hoolahan curls the ball in, but Jerome is penalised for a push.

12.43pm GMT

43 mins: A shot on goal from Ipswich, McGoldrick weaving between two defenders before shooting high and wide from an improbable angle.

12.42pm GMT

42 mins: We’ve just been treated to a lingering shot of Ipswich fan Ed Sheeran in the stands, which sums up the last couple of minutes.

12.41pm GMT

40 mins: Bialkowski, offering us a passable Manuel Neuer impression in the first half, races out of his area and chests the ball past Jerome, before clearing into the stands.

12.41pm GMT

39 mins: Hoolahan drifts out to the left and rolls the ball back to Murphy, whose angled effort is deflected wide. Somehow, that’s Norwich’s ninth corner, and like the eight before it, it is wasted.

12.39pm GMT

37 mins: That lapse in concentration has inspired Norwich, and Hoolahan forces a corner off Knudsen. He takes it himself, and after a spot of pinball, a desperate shout for handball as the ball deflects off Knudsen’s knee.

12.37pm GMT

35 mins: From a harmless long ball upfield, Berra heads the ball back to Bialkowski, unaware the keeper has charged off his line. Jerome races onto it close to the byline, but can’t hook the ball home, sending it into the stands to Berra’s immense relief.

12.35pm GMT

34 mins: Naismith and Spence are both down briefly after colliding on the touchline, as both sets of fans continue to exchange pleasantries.

12.33pm GMT

33 mins: Berra concedes a corner, which Jacob Murphy plays short. The ball ends up back at the halfway line, but is worked back to Naismith. Dijks relays his low cross to Hoolahan, 20 yards out, but his shot is dreadful.

12.32pm GMT

31 mins: Ipswich’s 3-5-2 is clogging up the middle of the park, but Spence on the right has been isolated. Dijks motors past him once again, but his low cross evades Jerome.

12.30pm GMT

30 mins: Alex Neil, a man who looks permanently under pressure, is haranguing his players from the touchline. The intensity has dropped in the last few minutes, although a Dijks diagonal to Jerome has Bialkowski off his line to slice the ball clear.

12.28pm GMT

28 mins: Lovely stuff from McGoldrick, playing a backheeled one-two before sweeping the ball wide to Kenlock, in space down the left flank. Like most of Ipswich’s attacking play so far, it ultimately comes to nothing.

12.27pm GMT

26 mins: Pinto almost dallies too long in defence, McGoldrick breathing down his neck, but he clears the ball away.

12.26pm GMT

24 mins: Klose gets his head to the long free kick, and Norwich break upfield. Howson tries to find Jerome from the right-hand side, but Bialkowski collects it.

12.25pm GMT

23 mins: Ipswich’s three-man midfield are having a little more joy, and Skuse sets up McGoldrick, who is brought down by Howson. Free kick just outside the centre circle, and Howson gets a good talking to.

12.23pm GMT

22 mins: Ipswich have had more of the ball so far, according to the stats. It hasn’t felt like it.

12.22pm GMT

21 mins: Murphy spins in midfield, but misjudges his through ball to Jerome, who will latch on to one of these eventually.

12.21pm GMT

19 mins: Norwich, who have seen three decent chances come and go, are making all the running now. Ivo Pinto cuts through the Ipswich defence with a diagonal pass, but Bialkowski is off his line to claim ahead of Jerome.

12.19pm GMT

17 mins: Yikes, that was close. Dijks outfoxes Spence down the left, shaping to cross and cutting inside, before firing a low cross towards Jerome. It rebounds off Knudsen, and Bialkowski has to react fast to turn the ball over, and prevent an Ipswich own goal.

12.17pm GMT

16 mins: We’ve just had a round of applause, apparently to celebrate Ipswich’s 15 years in the second tier. That’s impressively petty.

12.16pm GMT

15 mins: The first corner is cleared, but the second finds Jerome unsupervised – but his awkward header loops well over the bar.

12.15pm GMT

13 mins: Ipswich doing a decent job of keeping their hosts at bay, their five-man defence pressing the Norwich midfield – but Kenlock plays Jerome onside from a through ball, and Berra has to get back smartly to concede a corner.

12.13pm GMT

11 mins: Norwich win a free kick in Ipswich territory, Jacob Murphy drawing a foul from Cole Skuse with some fancy footwork. Ipswich are awarded a free kick to end the move, resulting in hearty ironic cheers from the away end.

12.11pm GMT

9 mins: Controversy from the corner, as McGoldrick is penalised for a tussle with Dijks. Replays show that the Dutch defender hauled the Ipswich striker over. Where’s Mike Dean when you need him?

12.09pm GMT

8 mins: Norwich stroke it around at the back, but Dijks is caught out by Spence, whose cross finds Sears in the area. McGoldrick is in the middle, but Sears’ cut back is cleared behind.

12.07pm GMT

6 mins: Another opportunity for Norwich, as Dijks is allowed to motor down the left, before crossing low for Hoolahan. It escapes him, but runs through to Jerome, whose first-time shot on the turn flies wide. He had time to take a touch.

12.06pm GMT

4 mins: Cameron Jerome does his slow, ball-shielding shuffle all the way upfield to win a corner. It’s swung towards Howson, who fluffs his volley – but it rebounds to him, and his second shot squirms just wide, via a deflection.

12.04pm GMT

3 mins: Silky link-up play between Ward and Emyr Huws, before Spence pings in a deep cross that’s cleared away.

12.03pm GMT

2 mins: Grant Ward is introduced to the game by Mitchell Dijks, the Norwich left-back stopping an Ipswich attack with a crunching tackle.

12.01pm GMT

Referee Oliver Langford gets us started. Norwich are in yellow shirts and green shorts, Ipswich all in blue.

11.55am GMT

Cracking atmosphere inside Carrow Road, even at this ungodly hour on a Sunday. This is a big game for Norwich for reasons beyond the obvious. Sheffield Wednesday’s loss to Leeds means that a win here, and another at Hillsborough next Saturday will leave the Canaries perched on the cusp of the play-offs.

11.39am GMT

Two changes for Norwich, with Steven Naismith back from injury and Wes Hoolahan also coming into the starting eleven. Alex Pritchard and January signing Yanic Wildschut drop to the bench. Ipswich are unchanged from the draw with Leeds, with Tom Lawrence serving the final game of a suspension.

11.29am GMT

Here’s Phil Withall:

“To add a little context to the challenge Ipswich face. Last time they won a derby Barack Obama had been president of the United States for three months. There has been quite a few important events since then. Ipswich can only hope a Trumpian upset occurs.”
Indeed, it’s been 2,871 days since Ipswich last beat Norwich – April 2009, when this tribute to Mick McCarthy was riding high in the charts:

11.22am GMT

Norwich City: Ruddy; Ivo Pinto, Martin, Klose, Dijks; Howson, Tettey, Jacob Murphy, Hoolahan; Naismith, Jerome.
Subs: McGovern, Whittaker, Wildschut, Lafferty, Pritchard, Bennett, Josh Murphy.

Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Spence, Chambers, Berra, Knudsen, Kenlock; Ward, Skuse, Huws; McGoldrick, Sears.

12.14am GMT

The 103rd East Anglian derby arrives with both Norwich and Ipswich striving to hit the Championship home straight with the sort of forward momentum that’s eluded both sides for most of the season. Norwich have lost just twice in 10 league games since Boxing Day – but those defeats came away to Burton and Rotherham.

That stuttering run has left them playing catch-up in the play-off race, while Ipswich are mired in mid-table despite finding some rare consistency in February: four games unbeaten, and points picked up against Brighton, Reading and Leeds. That has eased the pressure on Mick McCarthy, although it’s sure to return in spades with defeat today.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/26/norwich-city-v-ipswich-town-championship-live

Feb 14

The best goals of the week: Fernando Torres, Andy Delort and Jonny Howson

Featuring a long-range late winner, a flying backheel from Italy, two Barrow belters and Florent Sinama-Pongolle resurfacing in Thailand

Jonny Howson (NORWICH CITY v Nottingham Forest)

What a stunning cross!

Éder finds Candreva with the outside of his boot as @Inter_en go two up. #InterEmpoli https://t.co/lM9hFMVQ5t

Gustiamoci ancora il gol di Francesco Nicastro per il definitivo 1-0!#forzagrifo #TerPer https://t.co/yrJL0WzdF2

Javier Hernández caps off a fine @bayer04_en team move with a brilliant volley. #Bundesliga https://t.co/q8Q4Q1vFPH

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/feb/14/the-best-goals-of-the-week-fernando-torres-andy-delort-and-jonny-howson

Feb 13

Bournemouth 0-2 Manchester City: Premier League – as it happened

Goals from Raheem Sterling and substitute Sergio Agüero – via a Tyrone Mings deflection – gave Manchester City a hard-fought win that puts them second in the table, eight points behind Chelsea

9.55pm GMT

That’s your lot. Three wins in a row for City, who climb to second in the table. They were made to work hard by Bournemouth in a bruising encounter but a little extra class, plus goals from Raheem Sterling and substitute Sergio Agüero (via Tyrone Mings) made the difference. Bournemouth stay six points off the bottom three, but if they play like that every week, will not be in any danger of going down. Thanks for joining me. Bye!

9.53pm GMT

93 mins: One more attack from City, with De Bruyne unlocking the home defence and setting Sané free down the right. His shot from a tight angle fizzes wide of the far post.

9.52pm GMT

92 mins: Nolito, who has rather fallen down the pecking order, replaces Sterling for the final minute.

9.51pm GMT

91 mins: De Bruyne lifts a long ball into Sané’s path, but Cook does well to hold him up, and his cross to Agüero is dealt with by Arter.

9.50pm GMT

90 mins: Three added minutes. City just need to keep their focus for the full 98.

9.49pm GMT

89 mins: Smith sneaks a late round in his bout with Sané, stripping the winger of the ball.

9.48pm GMT

88 mins: Sterling is named man of the match, which is entirely fair.

9.47pm GMT

86 mins: Kolarov, who has been wandering upfield from left-back since Otamendi came on, stings Boruc’s palms with a volley from 25 yards. It rebounds to Sané, who’s offside.

9.46pm GMT

85 mins: Bournemouth battling to keep the scoreline respectful now, with Cook racing back 30 yards to keep Aguero and Sterling at bay.

9.45pm GMT

83 mins: …it’s worked left to Sterling, whose cross falls to Sané. He skips beyond his marker, then almost snaps the crossbar with a thunderous strike! Spectacular, but he probably should have scored.

9.44pm GMT

82 mins: Silva and De Bruyne exchange passes in midfield, the visitors suddenly in total control…

9.42pm GMT

80 mins: Silva, starting to flourish in his deeper midfield role, shimmies before slotting a disguised pass to Sané – but his long ball to Sterling clatters into the first man.

9.40pm GMT

79 mins: Steve Cook’s long throw in is cleared away, but he gets another chance and Mings flicks on. Caballero, who has done well when required, comes out to collect.

9.38pm GMT

77 mins: Sané and Smith tussle down the left again, with the Bournemouth full back conceding a soft free kick. De Bruyne swings it in to Fernandinho at the far post, but his header is a long way off target.

9.37pm GMT

76 mins: Jordon Ibe goes off, replaced by Pugh. Ibe was very good in spells, which is a familiar story.

9.36pm GMT

“A member of the Bournemouth coaching staff just walked halfway round the pitch to instruct a ball-boy to sit 10 yards higher up” says Christopher Vaughan. “Is there some tactical element to ball-boy placement no one told me about?”

I reckon Eddie Howe is just trying to impress Guardiola.

9.35pm GMT

75 mins: Arter and Daniels combine before Fraser, by the corner flag on the left is closed down by Sterling. He’s been everywhere tonight. Nicolas Otamendi is on for City, in place of Yay Touré.

9.34pm GMT

72 mins: The Dubious Goals Panel will have their say in due course, but what we can say for sure is that goal was crucial for Manchester City, who have killed a game that was very much up for grabs.

9.32pm GMT

Sterling switches to the left, turns poor Adam Smith inside out, and then back the right way round, barrels to the byline and crosses for Agüero, who prods towards the far post. It immediately deflects off Mings and into the net. It’s mighty tough to tell if that first shot was going in, but the trusty narrative demands that it’s Agüero’s goal, for now.

9.30pm GMT

City make it two-nil, and it’s Sergio Agüero (probably) who turns in Raheem Sterling’s cross!

9.28pm GMT

68 mins: There’s been plenty of needle so far, with Arter the fifth player to be booked for a foul on Agüero.

9.28pm GMT

66 mins: Sane’s through ball has Smith scurrying to get back ahead of Aguero, but he does so, switches the ball left, and Afobe is sent clear. He pulls the ball back to Arter, who draws a smart save from Caballero at his near post!

9.26pm GMT

65 mins: The free kick leads to a spell of pwopa nawty head tennis, before the ball is hauled back in towards King. The assistant spots that he’s three yards offside, and gets called a cee by the home fans for his trouble.

9.24pm GMT

63 mins: Smith and Sané’s running battle relocates to the City half, with Sané penalised for clipping the right back’s heel as he cuts inside. Yellow card, joining Touré and Sterling in the book.

9.22pm GMT

61 mins: “Sergio, Sergio” sing the travelling fans. Does Gabriel Jesus have a chant yet? Is it to the tune of this – and if not, why not?

9.21pm GMT

60 mins: Afobe is flagged offside as Bournemouth look to regain their early momentum.

9.20pm GMT

59 mins: Lovely stuff from City, controlling the tempo before Fernandinho slots a diagonal ball to Silva on the left. It’s cleared behind, and from the corner, Fernandinho tests Cook down the left again. Once again, he’s up to the job.

9.18pm GMT

57 mins: Agüero and Silva link up before the latter slides a pass to Sané, who cuts inside, then back outside, allowing Smith to win the ball back. Sterling is booked for kicking out at King before that last Bournemouth breakaway.

9.16pm GMT

56 mins: Sagna presents the ball to King deep in Bournemouth’s half and the hosts break at speed, but Fraser is eventually jostled off the ball by a clutch of City defenders.

9.15pm GMT

54 mins: De Bruyne, stepping forward from midfield, latches on to Sané’s through ball and forces Arter into a smart block, with Sterling waiting at the far post.

9.14pm GMT

53 mins: Agüero does find a pocket of space, but after cutting inside, he sees his shot from 20 yards blocked by Cook.

9.12pm GMT

52 mins: Agüero has struggled to get into the game, finding himself in the wrong places and failing to hold the ball up when Silva and De Bruyne do pick him out.

9.12pm GMT

51 mins: Sterling gets to a loose ball ahead of Fraser, and earns a pressure-releasing free kick. Winning those kind of balls has been a hallmark of their recent revival.

9.11pm GMT

50 mins: Stones looked shaky at times in the first half but makes an exceptional challenge here, timing his slide tackle on King, who had barrelled into the penalty area, perfectly. Bournemouth starting the second half strongly…

9.10pm GMT

49 mins: Afobe gets the better of Fernandinho again, earning a free kick on the right which Caballero punches away. All things considered, maybe Fernandinho should be moved back into midfield, and soon.

9.09pm GMT

48 mins: Ibe finds space on the right, and gets beyond Fernandinho, twisting all the way to the byline – but his cross is scrambled away with Afobe waiting.

9.08pm GMT

46 mins: Touré is penalised for a trip on Afobe, but avoids picking up a second yellow card. He’s on thin ice, is Yaya.

9.06pm GMT

We’re back under way.

9.05pm GMT

We had five minutes of injury time in the first half, so Guardiola’s 95 minutes prediction may be some way off. On that matter, here’s Robin Hughes:

“The amount of additional time given by English refs has been pretty solid at 6 mins for the last few years. So it turns out that managers preparing for ‘a tough 95 minutes’ are actually guilty of rank negligence, and their teams are open to the kill for at least one minute per match.”

9.04pm GMT

“I like Mark Thomas’s mime analysis of card-waving” says Justin Kavanagh. “Surely it’s only a matter of time before a goalkeeper — outraged with the non-effectiveness of his defenders at a free-kick — runs out to the ref’s foam line and does that sad-faced, flat-handed impression of a solid wall.”

8.55pm GMT

This sort of stuff is more my level:

“My wife would like you to confirm that Jesus was chasing a cross when he was injured” – Phil Gray.

If Sané dived, it’s a case of bad playacting – a ham Sané if you will @niallmcveigh

8.54pm GMT

I’m spending the half-time break chuckling at your Adam Smith gags, with references to the famous economist’s oeuvre, which I am of course totally familiar with, and did not have to Google.

“Perhaps ‘The Wealth of Nations’ would be better used as to describe City’s transfer kitty. Or, perhaps, ‘The Delph of Nations’! I’ll see myself out.” Thanks, Woolie Madden.

8.51pm GMT

An all action first-half with plenty of chances, a disallowed Josh King goal, three players off with injuries and Raheem Sterling’s seventh career goal against Bournemouth. City lead, but it’s been far from comfortable.

8.49pm GMT

48 mins: Sané has haunted Adam Smith throughout the first half, and again sends the right-back spinning before stepping over a prone Harry Arter, and going down in the area. No penalty, and Sané is lucky to escape without a booking for a blatant dive.

8.47pm GMT

47 mins: Wilshere, who seemed to pick up a knock closing down Silva, is going off. He’s replaced by Benik Afobe, who may fancy his chances against Stones and Kolarov.

8.46pm GMT

45 mins: Silva, as magical as ever in midfield so far, controls the ball beautifully and tees up De Bruyne for a long shot that just doesn’t dip in time. There will be FIVE added minutes, so don’t go anywhere.

8.44pm GMT

43 mins: Sané takes down a long diagonal ball with his chest, then switches play to the right, where Sagna streaks forward and crosses. It’s flicked on towards Fernandinho, who twists and turns, but can’t find a shooting angle.

8.43pm GMT

41 mins: Fraser causes more bother down the left, befuddling Stones and forcing Kolarov to clear behind. Arter and Fraser work it short, setting up an angle for Fraser, who balloons his cross out of play.

8.40pm GMT

39 mins: Corner for City, which Silva whips in. Touré steps in to strip Smith of the ball, before Sterling forces another as his cross is blocked. From the second corner, Sterling flays a shot high and wide.

8.39pm GMT

37 mins: More grumbling from the home fans, but it’s justified this time, as the assistant misses Agüero straying offside. He’s relieved to see the striker pump his shot into the English Channel.

8.37pm GMT

36 mins: King almost latches onto a lofted cross, with Touré slow to react. The Ivorian is having one of his more casual nights so far, much to Guardiola’s chagrin.

@niallmcveigh Card waving is really a form of mime. Of which the British are rightfully suspicious.

8.36pm GMT

34 mins: A lull after that salvo of chances, with Bournemouth fans giving Swarbrick a roasting. Wait until you’ve seen a replay, guys.

8.34pm GMT

32 mins: Silva gets into space and finds Aguero, who draws a save from Boruc. This game is being played at breakneck speed, and Bournemouth have found gaps in the City defence.

8.32pm GMT



GOOOOO
DISALLOWED!
Seconds later, Josh King bursts onto an Ibe through ball and fires past Caballero – but Swarbrick gives a free kick! He’s not offside (Kolarov was carelessly playing him on) but is penalised for pulling Stones back. Excellent spot from the referee, there.

8.30pm GMT

Bournemouth concede in midfield, Silva slides a pass to Sané, who looks for Sterling at the far post. Cook gets a boot to it again, but only flicks the ball into Sterling’s path, who blasts into the top corner.

8.28pm GMT

27 mins: The resulting corner is half-cleared away, and Touré fizzes a shot inches wide from 25 yards. City getting closer…

8.28pm GMT

26 mins: Sterling hits the post! Sané’s trickery sends Smith skidding over, and he has time to pick out Sterling, whose shot is somehow deflected by Cook onto the upright! It rebounds to de Bruyne, but his shot is deflected behind.

8.26pm GMT

25 mins: King’s cut back towards Wilshere is foiled by City defenders charging out to block, before Fraser is booked for a studs-up challenge on De Bruyne. He claims to have got the ball; replays confirm that he did not.

8.24pm GMT

22 mins: Charlie Daniels does well to wrestle Sterling off the ball, and the winger is penalised. No harm done, but Arter insists on giving the assistant an earful, for some reason.

8.22pm GMT

21 mins: Simon Francis is down, another casualty of a bruising first 20 minutes. Tyrone Mings replaces him in central defence.

Unless I’ve missed it, Bournemouth fans haven’t booed Sterling, yet. Five ‘good lad’ points to them.

8.21pm GMT

“Not sure what the difference is between Wilshere giving it large to the ref to book Yaya, and waving an imaginary card” says Paul Ruffley.

Card-waving is one of those things that’s just a bit too foreign for British audiences, like bendy bananas, or wine.

8.20pm GMT

19 mins: Big chance for Bournemouth, as Jordon Ibe plays a quick one-two with Wilshere, and breaks free of the City back line – but Caballero does brilliantly to extend a leg and prod the ball clear!

8.18pm GMT

17 mins: Fraser, a fantastic old-fashioned winger, twists Sagna’s blood and plays a pass to King, who can’t find room to get a shot away.

8.16pm GMT

15 mins:

Nolito
Sergio Agüero is on up front, with a point to prove. It’s almost as if Guardiola knows what he’s doing.

8.15pm GMT

13 mins: Jesus is very slow to get up – he picked up an injury chasing that cross from Sterling a few minutes ago. He’s coming off, and you know what that means…

8.13pm GMT

12 mins: “One of the best throw-ins I’ve seen all season” parps Niall Quinn, as Fernandinho finds Silva in space. Jesus gets beyond Steve Cook, who pulls him down when Swarbrick isn’t looking.

8.11pm GMT

10 mins: Touré is into the book dangerously early, bringing down Adam Smith in midfield.

8.10pm GMT

9 mins: Cracks appearing in the Bournemouth defence: first, Sterling almost picks out Jesus from the right, but Cook clears away smartly. Moments later, Sterling brings down a crafty diagonal ball from Fernandinho. Boruc collects it, luckily for the assistant, as Sterling was offside.

8.08pm GMT

8 mins: Touré’s long pass is instinctively flicked on by Jesus to Sterling, whose cross-shot is cleared behind. The corner doesn’t amount to much.

8.06pm GMT

6 mins: Arter has been busy in central midfield, and bursts beyond Yaya Touré – but he was being held up by Fraser, and Neil Swarbrick gives the free kick.

8.05pm GMT

4 mins: Bournemouth have a first glimpse of goal, Arter’s snap shot thudding off Kolarov’s bonce and away from danger. Kolarov, previously a left back, is at centre-back, with Fernandinho, a midfielder, at left back.

8.04pm GMT

2 mins: Silva and Sané combine again, but Adam Smith gets across to clear the ball for a throw-in, from which Silva’s cut back finds De Bruyne, who scuffs his shot from a promising position.

8.01pm GMT

1 min: Touré’s ball forward is deftly flicked forward by Silva, into Sané’s path down the left – but his cross is miscued.

7.59pm GMT

Here we go. How long until the first lingering shot of Agüero on the bench?

7.52pm GMT

The state of this:

7.50pm GMT

Paul Kerton is nervous: “As a Chelsea fan I hope Bournemouth cream Man City, but I feel that Pep might be getting his zip back having found Jesus. A draw would be good for us, still 10pts clear, but fear that Bournemouth have lost their way a bit. Well, more than a bit actually.”

7.47pm GMT

“Is it just me or has ‘It’s going to be a tough 95 minutes’ become the latest trendy pre-match soundbite to roll off football managers’ tongues?” asks Peter Oh. “Why do they assume that the ref will add five minutes of stoppage time?”

It’s a strange one – just saying ‘90 minutes’ wouldn’t imply they had left their team completely unprepared for injury time, so I’m not sure what the point is.

7.40pm GMT

If you want even more on poor Sergio Agüero, here’s a lukewarm take from some chancer in today’s Fiver:

Related: The Fiver | A relentless Sensible Soccer sprite that can subsist on goals alone

7.32pm GMT

Here’s Eddie Howe:

“[Jordon Ibe] has done really well off the bench… he’s been a positive for us in recent games. Tactically we’re going to have to be very good tonight, and impose our style on them. We’ve had some really big wins here, against some top teams, and we’ll draw on that for confidence.”

7.29pm GMT

Here’s a little pre-match info from our man at the Vitality Stadium:

Manchester City rocked up 20 minutes late at the ground, but Pep Guardiola was soon signing autographs, while Leroy Sané and Gabriel Jesus headed straight inside. Sergio Agüero? He was last to trudge off the team bus and he looked like a player with a big, grey cloud over him.

7.27pm GMT

Neville and Carragher have been discussing Agüero’s demotion at length, highlighting the striker’s struggles in pressing defenders. What’s odd to me is that Agüero seems only a couple of tweaks away from excelling in a typical Guardiola system. I shudder to think what he’d have done with Edin Dzeko.

Your thoughts on that, or any weekend highlights (seen this?) are welcome. Email niall.mcveigh.casual@theguardian.com, tweet @niallmcveigh.

7.14pm GMT

Pep Guardiola speaks!

On his front three: “They did really well the last three games. Their first pressure is so intensive, they can run in behind and they have the quality.”

7.12pm GMT

Just one change for City, with Bacary Sagna replacing Gaël Clichy. Sagna, John Stones, Aleks Kolarov and Fernandinho make up the back four, although time will tell in what precise order. Sergio Agüero stays on the bench – not a massive shock, with Guardiola talking up Jesus, Sané and Sterling recently – as does Claudio Bravo.

For Bournemouth, Adam Smith replaces Tyrone Mings, Jordon Ibe gets a start in place of Marc Pugh, and Charlie Daniels is passed fit to return at left-back.

7.03pm GMT

Bournemouth: Boruc; Adam Smith, Francis, Steve Cook,
Daniels; Arter, Surman, Fraser, Ibe, Wilshere; King.

Subs: Gosling, Pugh, Afobe, Brad Smith, Stanislas, Allsop, Mings.

Manchester City: Caballero; Fernandinho, Stones, Kolarov, Sagna; Touré, Silva, De Bruyne; Sterling, Jesus, Sané.
Subs: Bravo, Kompany, Fernando, Nolito, Agüero, Delph, Otamendi.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick

4.31pm GMT

Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are, to use the modern parlance, in a bad moment. From 3-0 up against Arsenal six weeks ago, a spectacular tumble has seen two points taken from five games, a dismal FA Cup exit and 19 goals conceded. The 6-3 shellacking at Everton was the ninth game in the last 12 where their defence has shipped at least three goals; a state of affairs that has left the Cherries dangling perilously above the relegation dogfight below.

On the face of it, there could hardly be worse opposition to strut into town tonight than Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side appear to have located their groove, led by the irrepressible attacking trident of Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling. City can climb from fifth to second with a win – a scenario that brings its own pressure, with their next league fixture not until 5 March.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/feb/13/bournemouth-v-manchester-city-premier-league-live

Feb 11

Football League your thoughts: Darren Bent leads dramatic Derby comeback

Derby rally from 3-0 down to draw with Bristol City, Fulham make a comeback of their own against Wigan, Shrewsbury breach Scunthorpe’s fortress and Plymouth win a high-stakes Devon derby

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/football-league-blog/2017/feb/11/football-league-your-thoughts-darren-bent-leads-dramatic-derby-comeback

Jan 30

FA Cup: fifth round draw: Sutton United to host Arsenal – as it happened

Arsenal will travel to Gander Green Lane and Lincoln City will visit Burnley, while Chelsea, Spurs and both Manchester sides all face tricky trips to Championship teams

9.22pm GMT

Related: FA Cup fifth round draw: non-league Sutton to face Arsenal

7.31pm GMT

I don’t think we could have asked for any more, really. If Leicester come through their replay, every single tie will see a Premier League tie face lower-league opposition, and in tricky ties. Sutton United hosting Arsenal is the obvious highlight, but Fulham, Wolves and Huddersfield will certainly test Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Elsewhere, Manchester United face a derby at Blackburn, and non-league Lincoln have a top-flight trip to Burnley. Even the two most unremarkable ties could well see upsets, with Oxford at Boro, and Millwall hosting either Derby or Leicester. Keep your diary free for the weekend of 18th/19th February. Cheerio!

7.26pm GMT

…and it’s an absolute beauty.

Burnley v Lincoln City
Fulham v Tottenham
Blackburn v Manchester United
Sutton United v Arsenal
Middlesbrough v Oxford
Wolves v Chelsea
Huddersfield v Manchester City
Millwall v Derby/Leicester

7.25pm GMT

Millwall v Derby County or Leicester City

7.25pm GMT

Huddersfield Town v Manchester City

7.24pm GMT

Wolves v Chelsea

7.24pm GMT

Middlesbrough v Oxford United

7.23pm GMT

Sutton United v Arsenal!

7.22pm GMT

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United

7.22pm GMT

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur

7.22pm GMT

Burnley v Lincoln City

7.21pm GMT

Let’s do this. Sutton are ball No4, Lincoln ball No7.

7.19pm GMT

The Beeb have 17 supporters (Derby and Leicester are the only sides who have to replay) standing outside in replica shirts and scarves. They look freezing. One lad in a Lincoln shirt says he wants “a big away trip, for the money”. I’ll bet that’s not what he really thinks.

7.13pm GMT

As you’ll no doubt be aware, National League sides Lincoln City and Sutton United are both in the fifth-round draw. It’s an incredible achievement – only seven other non-league sides have reached this stage since 1945. All fell at the fifth-round hurdle, with Blyth Spartans’ replay defeat to Wrexham in 1978 the closest a non-league side have come to the quarter-finals in the postwar era.

6.59pm GMT

The draw is around 20 minutes away, and will be conducted live on the One Show by England manager Gareth Southgate and Robbie Savage. No Rod Stewart, which is a shame.

Related: Sir Rod Stewart rocks Scottish Cup fifth round draw with bizarre antics

6.00pm GMT

1 Tottenham Hotspur
2 Derby County or Leicester City
3 Oxford United
4 Sutton United
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers
6 Arsenal
7 Lincoln City
8 Chelsea

9 Manchester United
10 Millwall
11 Huddersfield Town
12 Burnley
13 Blackburn Rovers
14 Fulham
15 Middlesbrough
16 Manchester City

5.59pm GMT

Welcome to a draw that could make or break this season’s FA Cup. This weekend’s slew of shocks has reignited that ol’ Cup magic, but five of the Premier League’s big six are still standing, with a ruthless running aggregate score of 37 goals to five.
Even if, Liverpool aside, the element of surprise hasn’t reached the very top, this has still been a remarkable year for the underdog. The fifth-round draw features two non-league teams for the first time since the Football League began, and just two other top-flight sides (Burnley and Middlesbrough) have secured a place in the last 16.
The perfect draw would thin out the favourites, and give Sutton and Lincoln a shot at further progress. If we end up with a quarter-final line-up of the big five and a few indifferent stragglers, then the party’s over. The balls will fall at around 7.20pm, GMT.

11.12am GMT

Relive all of the fourth-round action here, from Bastian Schweinsteiger’s return to Southampton’s limp attempt at progress:

Related: FA Cup fourth round: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/jan/30/fa-cup-fifth-round-draw-live

Jan 25

Football transfer rumours: Leverkusen winger Julian Brandt to Liverpool?

Today’s fluff is sinking in the sand

The Mill’s January transfer totaliser, a rudimentary device made of tin cans, gaffer tape and a Casio DF120 calculator, has been gathering dust – and we blame the big six. The Premier League’s leading sextet have spent £40,000 between them this month, if you don’t count Gabriel Jesus joining Manchester City, which you shouldn’t. Arsenal’s budget move for Cohen Bramall harks back to a simpler time when add-ons amounted to a set of training cones and social media was no more than a dystopian vision from the mind of JG Ballard.

Related: Transfer window January 2017: every deal in Europe’s top five leagues

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jan/25/football-transfer-rumours-leverkusen-winger-julian-brandt-to-liverpool

Jan 18

Plymouth Argyle 0-1 Liverpool: FA Cup third round replay – as it happened

Lucas Leiva’s first Liverpool goal for seven years was enough to seal a hard-fought victory, as Divock Origi missed a late penalty and Jake Jervis hit the post for Plymouth

9.47pm GMT

Liverpool’s young side weren’t totally convincing, but found a way through the Plymouth defence early on, and despite a few nervous moments, held on and could have won by more, Divock Origi wasting a late penalty. After only losing 1-0 over 180 minutes, the hosts will wonder what might have been – particularly Jake Jervis, who saw a brilliant effort strike the post. Thanks for joining me. Bye!

Related: Lucas heads lax Liverpool through in FA Cup replay against plucky Plymouth

9.39pm GMT

Lucas Leiva’s first-half header sends Liverpool through to the fourth round, where they’ll play Wolves at home.

9.38pm GMT

94 mins: Ojo’s cross rebounds to Moreno, whose shot is blocked. Graham Scott has seen enough…

9.37pm GMT

93 mins: Gomez is on hand again to deal with a testing left-sided cross from Tanner. Woodburn leads the breakaway, and Purrington brings him down, earning a yellow card. That might be that…

9.37pm GMT

92 mins: Gomez wins a crucial header, but Wilson is bullied off the ball and Plymouth have it back…

9.35pm GMT

91 mins: Bradley lumbers upfield to play as the archetypal big man up front. The long throw is towards him, but his flick on is cleared away – and Bulvitis is caught offside.

9.34pm GMT

90 mins: Four more minutes…

9.34pm GMT

89 mins: Origi tries to make amends, tussling with Bradley, stepping away from Songo’o but sending a shot, struck 100 times harder than his penalty, just over the bar.

9.33pm GMT

88 mins: Ojo’s low ball from the left almost falls to Woodburn, but he can’t sort his feet out. Still five minutes or so for Plymouth to find an equaliser.

9.31pm GMT

It’s a shocker, in truth, hit meekly at McCormick, who is able to collect it. Home Park is bouncing…

9.31pm GMT

9.31pm GMT

Just as I was typing a gushing review of Yann Songo’o’s performance, he hacks down Moreno needlessly, and it’s a penalty! Songo’o is booked into the bargain…

9.30pm GMT

85 mins: Wilson slaloms into the area, and his mishit shot falls kindly to Ojo, whose shot is blocked…

9.28pm GMT

84 mins: Ojo again goes over a little easily, and is booked for simulation. He’s Premier League ready!

9.28pm GMT

83 mins: Liverpool keeping possession in the opposite half here, Ojo getting the better of Threlkeld before slipping over on the edge of the box.

9.26pm GMT

81 mins: Ojo causes problems down the left, twice trying to pick out Origi, who is eventually penalised for a foul on Songo’o.

9.24pm GMT

79 mins: Jordan Slew is off, replaced by Bulvitis, who’s had to wait patiently for his chance.

@niallmcveigh Good LP Green. Coutinho will “Turn You Inside Out”. Sturridge: “You Are The Everything”. “Hairshirt” for Klopp. Can – “Get Up”

9.23pm GMT

77 mins: Birmingham have pulled a goal back against Newcastle, and it’s still goalless between Southampton and Norwich. Coming up: a long 15 minutes for Liverpool.

9.20pm GMT

75 mins: Sheyi Ojo is on, replacing Daniel Sturridge. He looks a bit miffed, but I’m not sure why players have to be delighted about being subbed.

9.19pm GMT

74 mins: What a goal this would have been! A long ball is flicked across goal by Bradley, and Jervis’ scissor kick clanks against the post with Karius stranded. Liverpool are hanging on…

9.17pm GMT

73 mins: Plymouth have remembered that Karius is a bit iffy on corners, and send in a tempting free kick, then a corner, that draw him off his line, flapping like billy-o. Neither fall to a green shirt, and Liverpool clear.

9.16pm GMT

71 mins: Origi combines with Sturridge and tests McCormick with a fierce shot from the left-hand side of the box. For Plymouth, headline writer’s dream Louis Rooney is on for Garita.

9.15pm GMT

70 mins: Harry Wilson, with his excellent old-school footballer’s name, has been impressively combative in midfield – a little too much this time, as he concedes a free kick.

9.13pm GMT

68 mins: Yikes! McCormick drills his clearance straight at Harry Wilson’s shins, and the ball ricochets over the bar. That could have just as easily flown in.

9.11pm GMT

67 mins: Purrington shows cat-like reflexes (sorry) to cut out a Woodburn-Sturridge one-two. Change for Argyle, with Craig Tanner coming on for Ryan Donaldson.

9.10pm GMT

65 mins: Coutinho is withdrawn, replaced by Harry Wilson, a 19-year-old who’s been banging them in for the Under-23s.

9.09pm GMT

63 mins: Garita’s bulk proves too much for Lucas and Gomez, who collectively haul the striker down. The free kick is lifted towards the far post, but Carey’s header back across goal is nowhere near another green shirt.

Cameroon ahead – I think they’re home to Brentford if they can hold on to that lead. @niallmcveigh

9.06pm GMT

62 mins: It just won’t quite happen for Plymouth in the final third, Slew and Garita failing to breach the back line, and earning the latest of several tongue-lashings from McManaman.

9.05pm GMT

61 mins: Woodburn has moved more centrally, behind a front two of Origi and Sturridge. He begins a move that ends with Coutinho’s toe poke to Sturridge failing to connect.

9.04pm GMT

60 mins: Plymouth keep testing this makeshift Liverpool defence from crosses, Threlkeld the latest to whip a delivery in from the right. It has Karius worried, but drops onto the roof of the net.

9.02pm GMT

58 mins: Plymouth break forward and win a corner, but Jervis’ corner clatters into the first man. They at least get a throw-in, from which Purrington heaves a cross towards Garita. Karius collects it, then spills it – but Garita is penalised for sneakily knocking the ball loose with his hand.

9.00pm GMT

56 mins: Sturridge gets goalside of Purrington and watches Lucas’ long ball drop onto his right foot – but with no real options in the middle, he drags a shot wide from a narrow angle.

8.59pm GMT

54 mins: Liverpool enjoy a long spell of slick, pass-and-move possession, stalling Plymouth’s early momentum in the process. Moreno fizzes a cross in which Songo’o turns behind for a corner.

8.56pm GMT

52 mins: Woodburn, kept to cameos out on the right, sends in a cross that’s cleared away. The Lucas goal is becoming more incongruous with every aerial ball that Plymouth deal with effortlessly.

8.55pm GMT

50 mins: Ejaria is booked for pulling Jervis’ shirt – or, as it turns out, his shorts, as the midfielder barrelled past him. The replay is something to behold pre-watershed.

8.54pm GMT

48 mins: A glorious, Depeche Mode inspired chant is rippling around the ground. Over 17,000 fans in the ground tonight, Argyle’s highest attendance since their second-tier days.

8.51pm GMT

47 mins: Garita combines with Slew, and sees his low ball back towards his team-mate cut out by Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool’s best player tonight.

8.50pm GMT

46 mins: Carey is able to continue, and he’s involved as Plymouth break forward, before Jervis lays the ball off to Fox. His low shot forces Karius into a save, if not a particularly tricky one.

8.48pm GMT

No changes for either side, and we’re back under way.

8.46pm GMT

“Lovely to see Launceston getting a mention,” says Dave Moore. “Having grown up there, I can confirm that Warnock is the most (in)famous resident, aside from Charles Causley and Roger Moore, who went to boarding school there.”

It trumps my home town of Devizes, Wiltshire, whose most famous residents are David Gower and the bloke who wrote the EastEnders theme tune.

8.42pm GMT

Half-time thoughts

“What’s the combined numbers on the backs of the Liverpool first eleven? A record?” asks ‘GlennMutant’ on Twitter. The answer is a princely 316; it was 368 in the first game.

8.34pm GMT

Entertaining fare so far, with Lucas Leiva’s first goal for seven years the difference, and Arnie Garita coming very close indeed for Argyle. There’s life in this one yet.

8.33pm GMT

46 mins: Moreno fires in a left-wing cross that McCormick holds well with Origi in hot pursuit.

8.32pm GMT

45 mins: A passage of crisp passing from Plymouth ends when Slew fails to read a through ball. One minute of added time to come.

8.31pm GMT

43 mins: An awkward moment as Plymouth fans let Steve McManaman, on co-comms tonight, what they think of his recent criticism.

8.30pm GMT

42 mins: Carey is trying to hang on until half time, which is approaching as the game goes through a brief lull.

8.28pm GMT

40 mins: Nauris Bulvitis, a Latvian international, looks set to come on for the ailing Carey. Elsewhere, it’s Newcastle 2-0 Birmingham, and Cameroon 1-1 Guinea-Bissau. Honestly, there’s no romance in the Africa Cup of Nations any more.

8.26pm GMT

38 mins: Bradley does well to get a head on Coutinho’s diagonal pass to Woodburn. Liverpool regain the ball, and Moreno’s cross bounces to Alexander-Arnold, whose clever flick is headed off Sturridge’s boot by Threlkeld.

8.24pm GMT

37 mins: Another free kick 35 yards or so out, Stewart and Ejaria struggling a little bit with Plymouth’s physicality. With Carey hobbling, Fox takes it and after a bit of head tennis, Slew hustles to win a throw-in.

8.23pm GMT

35 mins: Ejaria is being kept busy in midfield, blocking off Jervis before conceding a free kick for a scrappy foul on Ryan Donaldson. It’s launched deep towards Bradley at the far post, but his knock down comes to nothing.

8.21pm GMT

33 mins: Oh my word, Plymouth should be level. Threlkeld races past Moreno on the right, then delivers a dangerous low cross which Lucas misses. It looks a certain goal for Garita, but Alexander-Arnold does brilliantly to get a touch, and clear for a corner.

8.20pm GMT

31 mins: A spell of midfield drudgery, Plymouth not wanting to fall further behind, Liverpool not wanting any nasty surprises.

8.16pm GMT

29 mins: Origi and Sturridge push forward, two on two, but Origi is penalised for a pretty blatant handball as he tries to bring the ball down.

8.15pm GMT

27 mins: Alexander-Arnold gets forward well on the right, and cuts the ball back smartly, forcing a desperate clearance with Sturridge lurking.

8.14pm GMT

25 mins: A minute’s applause for Daniel May, the 25-year-old who died while his father was watching Plymouth at Anfield.

8.12pm GMT

25 mins: The free kick is laid off to Jake Jervis, whose shot crashes wide of the wall and into the advertising hoardings.

8.11pm GMT

24 mins: …from the goal kick, Plymouth come again, and Slew gets the wrong, or right, side of Gomez, who brings him down on the edge of the area. Booking, and a dangerous free kick.

8.11pm GMT

23 mins: Fox lifts a pass towards Garita, who sends an awkward header wide…

8.09pm GMT

20 mins: Time for Plymouth to show us what they’ve got going forward – and Graham Carey tests Karius with a terrific, dipping left-footed shot from the edge of the area!

8.07pm GMT

Coutinho’s corner dipped towards the near post, where Lucas raced away from his marker and headed the ball past McCormick. That’s his first Liverpool goal for a long time – since 2010, in fact – and maybe his last, with Inter Milan sniffing around.

8.06pm GMT

After 108 minutes of trying, Liverpool break through in the simplest of fashions.

8.05pm GMT

17 mins: Jervis leaps smartly to cut out a Coutinho cross, and it’s another Liverpool corner…

8.03pm GMT

15 mins: Plymouth are unable to hang onto the ball for any length of time, and it’s a familiar feeling for their defenders, forced to scurry in every direction to keep Liverpool out.

8.02pm GMT

Alan Gomes points out that in Gabon, “the mighty Cameroon are losing 1-0 at halftime to tiny Guinea-Bissau. If the result holds, it would be an even greater upset than Argyle knocking Liverpool out”.

Related: Guinea-Bissau: intrepid outsiders who will make history at the Cup of Nations

8.00pm GMT

12 mins: Sturridge gets clear from a Woodburn through ball, and cuts back behind Threlkeld, who makes contact and sends Sturridge to the turf. Scott doesn’t give anything – his angle suggesting Sturridge slipped. Replays suggest Threlkeld was very lucky.

7.59pm GMT

10 mins: Moments later, a looping cross from the right lands at Coutinho’s feet, but his scuffed shot is hoofed away from goal by Bradley. The home fans inform Coutinho that he’s, er, a low-quality version of Graham Carey.

7.57pm GMT

9 mins: Coutinho plays a one-two with Moreno from a corner, then thwacks a cross which Garita heads away.

7.55pm GMT

7 mins: Sturridge, who is stationed slightly ahead of Origi and Woodburn, sends a fizzing shot high and wide, drawing the obligatory ‘waaaaaaay’ from the home fans behind the goal.

7.54pm GMT

5 mins: Arnie Garita is offering nuisance value up front for Plymouth, winning a free kick on the right and then climbing above Gomez to connect with a header – but it flies over Karius’ crossbar.

7.53pm GMT

“‘Collar me, don’t collar me’ and ‘We are agents of the free’: some oblique references to Liverpool’s marking this season?” asks Steven Hughes. With this youthful line up, Liverpool certainly haven’t got their spine.

7.51pm GMT

3 mins: Moreno undercooks a free kick from a promising position and Plymouth break, Karius forced some 30 yards off his line to clear into the stands.

7.50pm GMT

2 mins: Coutinho hooks a pass to Woodburn, who volleys it straight across goal in search of Origi, starting centrally. Yann Songo’o cranes his neck to head the ball away.

7.48pm GMT

1 min: Plenty of noise, as you’d expect, from the Plymouth fans. Jervis raises the volume with a thudding early clearance.

7.47pm GMT

The teams are out, and referee Graham Scott gets us started.

7.35pm GMT

Here’s Jürgen Klopp:

“It’s good for us that we have this game… another place, same opponent, it will be interesting. Football is not that complicated, we made it look it in the last game. We need to be ready in defence at the start, each opportunity [for Plymouth] will bring noise. It’s a nice pitch, longer than Anfield, maybe wider… we’re looking forward to it.”

7.26pm GMT

Ginsters have baked this enormous pasty for Jürgen Klopp, telling him the precise mileage from Plymouth to Liverpool after he admitted to not knowing where Plymouth was. As shameless PR stunts go, it’s… different.

7.13pm GMT

Neil Warnock, a man who struggled to get out of bed for his own team’s Cup tie, has happily made the short hop from Launceston for punditry duties, alongside Steven Gerrard. The PA is blaring out REM’s ‘Orange Crush’… taken from the album ‘Green’.

7.10pm GMT

“Are there now no easy games in the entire Football League, let alone the Premier League?” frets Ian Copestake.

“I know that no Liverpool fan worth their salt will be taking this for granted. But it would be nice. I sorely miss taking things like winning football matches for granted!”

7.06pm GMT

BT Sport are doing their usual lower-league, behind the scenes thing at Home Park, which is comfortably bigger than top-flight Bournemouth’s ground. Jake Humphrey has a chat with Argyle boss Derek Adams, who keeps it no-nonsense, with lots of references to ‘the football club’.

“For the staff around the football club, it’s been very difficult. For the players, it’s just another game. It’s going to be a fantastic occasion here tonight. We have to defend for large spells of the game, but we want to have good possession, and create good chances.”

6.53pm GMT

Just two changes for Liverpool, but they’re pretty significant. Philippe Coutinho starts for the first time since November, and Daniel Sturridge leads the line, with Emre Can and Sheyi Ojo making way. The hosts make just one change, with Ryan Donaldson replacing Gary Miller, who was so cruelly injured at Anfield.

Today’s team sheet #pafc #ARGLIV @thegraphicbomb @EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/PtgxGJXkvt

6.49pm GMT

Plymouth Argyle: McCormick; Threlkeld, Songo’o, Bradley, Purrington; Fox, Carey, Donaldson; Jervis, Garita, Slew.

Subs: Dorel, Sawyer, Bulvitis, Rooney, Tanner, Fletcher, Rose.

6.34pm GMT

Tonight’s match programme is a thing of beauty…

Tonight’s souvenir match-day programme #pafc #ARGLIV @thegraphicbomb pic.twitter.com/LRkv1W8BSp

1.06pm GMT

Hello. The first instalment of this Cup tie earned mixed reviews. On a thin third-round weekend, fourth-tier Plymouth holding a Liverpool side to a draw, no matter the names involved, was comfortably the headline act. The result was a piece of FA Cup history in itself: the first draw earned by a fourth-tier side at Anfield since 1974.

Like an Oscar-nominated art house film, for every neutral moved to tears by Plymouth’s defensive masterclass, there was another bored to tears. I enjoyed it; I don’t know if I’d watch it again. If this is the magic of the Cup these days, the naysayers sniffed, then no wonder we’re switching off.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/jan/18/plymouth-argyle-v-liverpool-fa-cup-third-round-replay-live

Jan 14

Football League your thoughts: Norwich are floored by Rotherham revival

The pressure on Alex Neil grows, Newcastle go top as Brighton slip up, Callum Connolly makes an instant impact and League One gets turned upside down Related: Football clubs suffering as owners experiment with chaos theory Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/football-league-blog/2017/jan/14/football-league-your-thoughts-norwich-are-floored-by-rotherham-revival

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