Northern Ireland ‘confident’ in bid to reach World Cup

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 28, 2017 with No Comments
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Jamie Ward scored for Northern Ireland against Norway

Jamie Ward’s goal – his fourth for Northern Ireland – came after 87 seconds at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland’s exploits at Euro 2016 have given them confidence in their bid to reach their first World Cup since 1986, says Jamie Ward.

The Nottingham Forest forward scored in the second minute of Sunday’s 2-0 win over Norway which keeps them in contention for Russia 2018.

Michael O’Neill’s men are second in Group C with 10 points from five games.

“We have been in this position with the Euros and have the experience of pressurised games,” said Ward, 30.

“We are extremely confident going into every game and are not worrying about what the other teams in the group do.

“We have made a good start, we have 10 points and we just have to focus like we did in the Euros.”

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Man City fined £35,000 over penalty protests

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Manchester City

Manchester City are third in the Premier League

Manchester City have been fined £35,000 by the Football Association for their players’ behaviour during the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on 19 March.

The club admitted to a misconduct charge for failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion.

It followed an incident “in or around the 50th minute”, when referee Michael Oliver awarded Liverpool a penalty.

James Milner scored from the spot, with Sergio Aguero equalising on 69 minutes.

Both Gael Clichy, who was penalised for a raised boot on Roberto Firmino, and David Silva were booked after Oliver pointed to the spot.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39411403

Loftus-Cheek scores twice in convincing win for England U21s

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Loftus-Cheek

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has scored five goals in his past six starts for England Under-21s

England Under-21s continued their preparations for this summer’s European Championship with a convincing victory over Denmark in Randers.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored twice, and Solly March and Cauley Woodrow were also on target, as England swept aside another team to have qualified for June’s tournament in Poland.

It followed Sunday’s underwhelming 1-0 loss against Germany.

England face holders Sweden in their tournament opener on 16 June.

Chelsea midfielder Loftus-Cheek, a second-half substitute against Germany, was the central figure against the Danes.

He opened the scoring by slotting in Jacob Murphy’s low cross, and completed the rout by finishing off a pass from Jack Grealish.

In between, March curled in a superb left-footed strike from the corner of the area, and Woodrow turned in Kortney Hause’s knockdown.

“I didn’t underestimate the opposition,” coach Aidy Boothroyd told BT Sport. “They are at the European finals so it makes it even more special to get the result we did.

“Ruben was terrific. But the reason he was terrific is he had 10 other players who worked really hard for him.

“He still has things to do in certain aspects of his game, but they all do.”

Live Text

Match ends, Denmark U21 0, England U21 4.

Second Half ends, Denmark U21 0, England U21 4.

Joseph Gomez (England U21) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Rasmus Nissen Kristensen (Denmark U21).

Attempt missed. Kasper Junker (Denmark U21) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Mikkel Duelund.

Corner, Denmark U21. Conceded by Joseph Gomez.

Foul by Will Hughes (England U21).

Lasse Vigen Christensen (Denmark U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Lasse Vigen Christensen (Denmark U21) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Mikkel Desler.

Attempt missed. John Swift (England U21) left footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by Demarai Gray.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (England U21) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Jakob Blåbjerg (Denmark U21).

Substitution, Denmark U21. Emiliano Marcondes replaces Christian Nørgaard.

Attempt saved. Christian Nørgaard (Denmark U21) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner.

Foul by Will Hughes (England U21).

Mikkel Desler (Denmark U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Demarai Gray (England U21) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is too high. Assisted by Will Hughes.

Substitution, Denmark U21. Patrick Banggaard replaces Andreas Maxso.

John Swift (England U21) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Christian Nørgaard (Denmark U21).

Substitution, England U21. Tammy Abraham replaces Cauley Woodrow.

Attempt blocked. Mikkel Duelund (Denmark U21) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Christian Nørgaard.

Goal! Denmark U21 0, England U21 4. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (England U21) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jack Grealish.

Corner, England U21. Conceded by Andreas Maxso.

Attempt blocked. Cauley Woodrow (England U21) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Corner, Denmark U21. Conceded by Kortney Hause.

Attempt saved. Jack Grealish (England U21) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Demarai Gray with a cross.

Corner, England U21. Conceded by Jakob Blåbjerg.

Substitution, Denmark U21. Kasper Junker replaces Mikkel Uhre.

Substitution, England U21. Demarai Gray replaces Solly March.

Goal! Denmark U21 0, England U21 3. Cauley Woodrow (England U21) left footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner following a corner.

Attempt blocked. Kortney Hause (England U21) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Solly March with a cross.

Corner, England U21. Conceded by Andreas Hansen.

Attempt saved. Cauley Woodrow (England U21) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Attempt missed. Solly March (England U21) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Jack Grealish (England U21) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jakob Blåbjerg (Denmark U21).

Corner, Denmark U21. Conceded by Angus Gunn.

Attempt saved. Mikkel Duelund (Denmark U21) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Christian Nørgaard.

Foul by Jack Grealish (England U21).

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39302209

England need to develop ‘flexibility’

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 26, 2017 with No Comments
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Southgate wants ‘flexible’ England team

Gareth Southgate says England must have the “flexibility” to adapt against different opponents ahead of Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

Southgate played a new three-man defensive system in Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat by Germany in Dortmund.

But the 46-year-old wants his players to adapt against different opponents.

“It’s not certain we will play the same way. It depends on the opposition and how we think we can hurt them,” he said.

“We have got the flexibility to play a number of different ways and it’s important our players feel able to do that.

“We have to be adaptable as we go through the next 18 months. We need to be able to change quickly within games as well as at the start of games. It’s a key skill for us to develop.”

‘Players and fans need to be great ambassadors for the country’

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Netherlands slip up again, Belgium salvage draw and France remain unbeaten on road to Russia

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 26, 2017 with No Comments
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Netherlands' players react after losing to Bulgaria.

The Netherlands are now in fourth place in Group A

World Cup qualifying for the 2018 finals in Russia continues over the next few days.

With the Republic of Ireland and Wales playing out a goalless draw on Friday and England, Northern Ireland and Scotland preparing for Sunday’s games, BBC Sport takes a look at some of the stories from elsewhere in the world…

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39380244

Southgate must establish an England identity

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 26, 2017 with No Comments
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Gareth Southgate (centre)

Gareth Southgate instructs his players during a training session

England boss Gareth Southgate must establish an identity for the national side, says Paul Scholes.

Southgate effectively used a three-man defence in the 1-0 friendly loss in Germany on Wednesday.

It is the same system used to good effect by Premier League leaders Chelsea and Italian champions Juventus.

“If he [Southgate] feels that’s the right way to go, I think it’s a really good way of playing,” former England player Scholes told BBC’s Sportsweek.

“Over the past few years we seem to copy whoever is doing well, whether it’s Spain or Germany. There was a spell when academies were copying what even Belgium were trying to do.

“I think it’s about time now that Gareth and his staff brought an identity to English football and the national team that we can be proud of.

“It’s going to be difficult and it will take a little bit of time, but if he’s playing this way and England are being successful then that’s what it’s all about.”

Media playback is not supported on this device

Southgate wants ‘flexible’ England team

‘We’ve got a passionate man in charge’

England’s defeat in Germany was their first in four games under Southgate, who was made permanent boss last November after having taken over on a temporary basis following the departure of Sam Allardyce.

Southgate, who represented England as a player, was previously manager of the under-21 side, after having led Middlesbrough from 2006 to 2009.

“I really liked Gareth when I played with him,” said Scholes. “He was good with the young lads… he’s been successful with England which not many players have been, getting to the semi-finals of Euro 96.”

Scholes said that Southgate maybe hadn’t fully “earned his stripes” at domestic club or European level, but added: “We’ve been down the route of so-called super coaches who haven’t worked.

“Now we’ve got a passionate man in charge, he likes to play young players which is good,” added the ex-Manchester United midfielder. “Hopefully the future is bright under him.”

‘Rooney still has a part to play’

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England v Lithuania: Eric Dier urges Wembley fans to be ‘respectful’

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 24, 2017 with No Comments
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Dier reveals England captain ambitions

England midfielder Eric Dier says fans must be “respectful” during Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

England lost 1-0 to Germany in Dortmund on Wednesday, but some away supporters booed the German national anthem and sang chants referencing World War Two.

Tottenham player Dier said he did not hear the chants during the friendly defeat, but called for the home crowd at Wembley to act “in the right way”.

“In general, the fans are fantastic with us wherever we go,” said Dier.

“The support they give us is amazing, but we ask it is done in the right way.”

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has described the conduct of a section of England fans in Germany as “inappropriate, disrespectful and disappointing”.

It is understood the FA is trying to gather footage of the behaviour. If found to be involved, supporters could be banned from attending games.

The England Supporters Travel Club has written to members warning anyone involved in anti-social, xenophobic or disrespectful behaviour in Germany will have their membership withdrawn.

Dier also referenced the Westminster attack in central London on Wednesday and said England’s players will “do everything” to honour those who died.

There is set to be a minute’s silence and a pre-match wreath-laying ceremony at Wembley, while the stadium’s arch will be lit up in red and white and England will wear black armbands.

“Of course, with the dreadful stuff that’s happened, we hope fans are respectful of that and we’ll respect everything in the right way,” added Dier, 23.

Fans can expect to see armed police as they make their way to the ground as part of the Metropolitan Police’s increased security presence.

‘Learning lessons from Iceland defeat’

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Ten-man Wales dealt World Cup blow with Republic draw

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 24, 2017 with No Comments
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Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off for a high tackle on Seamus Coleman

Wales’ hopes of World Cup qualification look increasingly remote following a goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland, whose captain Seamus Coleman suffered a broken leg after a wild tackle that led to Neil Taylor being sent off.

The hosts seemed content to play for a draw as their deep-lying and stubborn defence shackled Wales – and the visitors’ lack of creativity and incision contributed to an underwhelming encounter.

Gareth Bale twice went close for Wales, but their task became a daunting one after 69 minutes as Taylor was shown a straight red card for his lunge on Coleman, who was carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

That incident lit the fuse for a tempestuous atmosphere that appeared to inspire the Republic, but despite their push for a late winner, Martin O’Neill’s side had to settle for a point and second place in Group D.

They lost top spot after Serbia’s victory in Georgia earlier on Friday but remain four points ahead of Wales.

For Chris Coleman’s side, a fourth successive draw of the campaign is another setback in their stuttering bid to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

  • Reaction to the draw in Dublin
  • Republic captain Coleman suffers broken leg

Wales’ qualifying hopes take another hit

Wales boss Coleman had been careful to avoid using the phrase “must win” for this fixture but, with the Republic four points in front, the visitors could ill afford anything other than three points from Dublin.

Rather than emphasise the importance of this result, Coleman had said he and his side were driven by a “desperation” to replicate last summer’s run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, a hunger to qualify for a second successive major tournament after an absence of 58 years.

The enormity of the occasion made for a tense and disjointed start to the match, with all 11 home players regularly in their own half as they sought to contain their opponents.

Wales’ inability to unlock the dogged defence before them was a familiar failing, as they had struggled similarly in their home draws with Georgia and Serbia, as well as their last-16 triumph over Northern Ireland at the European Championship.

Bale and Aaron Ramsey, usually their most potent attacking weapons, looked off the pace having both returned from injury relatively recently.

Bale sprung into action early in the second half with a dipping free-kick straight at keeper Darren Randolph and a swerving shot that went narrowly wide – but his frustrating evening was capped by a yellow card, meaning he will be suspended for June’s trip to Serbia.

Taylor sees red

The match was played with a ferocity most would expect from relatively local rivals and two teams comprised of several Premier League club-mates.

But the physicality spilled over after 69 minutes. With the ball running loose, Wales left-back Taylor lunged recklessly at Coleman, who was clearly in great pain as he was taken off the field on a stretcher.

Roared on by a vociferous home crowd, the Republic sought to exploit their one-man advantage with a frantic late push forward – but they were thwarted by some stubborn Wales defending.

The hosts were also arguably paying for their earlier pragmatism and unwillingness to attack.

Where as Wales had some catching up to do with their group rivals, the Republic could afford to sit back and wait for their opportunity to pounce – even though they had been overtaken at the top of the table following Serbia’s victory.

With a home encounter against the group leaders to come later in the campaign, O’Neill’s side seemed to consider this fixture a chance to consolidate, rather than significantly improve, their position.

Live Text

Match ends, Republic of Ireland 0, Wales 0.

Second Half ends, Republic of Ireland 0, Wales 0.

Attempt saved. Jeff Hendrick (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Attempt blocked. Shane Long (Republic of Ireland) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Aiden McGeady with a cross.

Aiden McGeady (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Ashley Williams.

Attempt missed. Gareth Bale (Wales) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Wales. Conceded by Cyrus Christie.

Attempt missed. Aiden McGeady (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by James McClean.

Attempt missed. Gareth Bale (Wales) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Sam Vokes.

Foul by Gareth Bale (Wales).

James McClean (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Jazz Richards.

Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Aiden McGeady replaces David Meyler.

Chris Gunter (Wales) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by James McClean (Republic of Ireland).

Attempt missed. Shane Long (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Glenn Whelan with a cross.

Gareth Bale (Wales) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Cyrus Christie (Republic of Ireland).

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by James Chester.

Attempt blocked. James McClean (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Glenn Whelan.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Chris Gunter.

Attempt blocked. Richard Keogh (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Chris Gunter.

Attempt blocked. James McClean (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt missed. James McClean (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by David Meyler with a headed pass.

Chris Gunter (Wales) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Richard Keogh (Republic of Ireland).

Substitution, Wales. Jazz Richards replaces Joe Ledley.

Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Cyrus Christie replaces Seamus Coleman because of an injury.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Seamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland) because of an injury.

Neil Taylor (Wales) is shown the red card.

Foul by Neil Taylor (Wales).

Seamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Gareth Bale (Wales) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Gareth Bale (Wales).

John O’Shea (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Sam Vokes (Wales) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey.

Attempt missed. Shane Long (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39300143

Everton’s Coleman suffers broken leg in Republic draw

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 24, 2017 with No Comments
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Seamus Coleman

Coleman succeeded Robbie Keane as captain of the Republic of Ireland team

Republic of Ireland skipper Seamus Coleman suffered a broken leg in his side’s goalless draw with Wales at the Aviva Stadium.

The Everton defender was given oxygen before being carried off following the challenge with Neil Taylor, who was sent off for the tackle.

The incident happened midway through the second half of the important World Cup qualifier.

Republic manager Martin O’Neill said the defender suffered a “bad break”.

“He’s a fantastic player and character,” O’Neill told Sky Sports. “It’s a major blow for the lad, his club and us.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world – I haven’t seen it. He’s gone to hospital. I saw his reaction immediately and it didn’t look good.

“He was holding his leg up and it didn’t look good. At the end of it all the most important thing is Seamus’ health.”

Wales manager Chris Coleman said defender Taylor was “despondent” following the game.

“First and foremost, the most important thing is Seamus Coleman,” he said. “We are told that it is not so good, which we are sorry for.

“Neil Taylor is not really that type of player, but it’s a tough one for Seamus. Our thoughts are with him. I have not seen it again.”

  • Match report: Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales
  • ‘All our thoughts are with Seamus’ – Coleman

Everton midfielder James McCarthy was scheduled to start for the Republic, but was withdrawn from the team-sheet before kick-off due to a hamstring injury.

“You can train and feel OK – he didn’t feel as if it was worth taking a chance,” added O’Neill.

The draw in Dublin meant the Republic missed out on returning to the top of Group D, after Serbia beat Georgia earlier on Friday, with Wales four points behind in third.

Gareth Bale twice went close for Wales from long range, but the visitors had to withstand a spell of heavy pressure following Taylor’s sending off.

Wales will also be without Real Madrid forward Bale when they visit Serbia on 11 June after he was booked for a foul on John O’Shea.

The Republic’s next Group D qualifier is at home to Austria, also on 11 June.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39388290

Scots’ confidence rocked by poor start

Posted by Warren Fyfe on March 23, 2017 with No Comments
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Robert Snodgrass and La'Vere Corbin-Ong

Scotland drew 1-1 with Canada at Easter Road

Manager Gordon Strachan felt Scotland struggled to recover from their poor start in the 1-1 draw with Canada.

The visitors led through Fraser Aird’s strike after 11 minutes, with Steven Naismith levelling before the break.

“Because of our first 15 minutes, giving the ball away, I thought we got a bit negative,” Strachan told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound.

“That’s what happens when players don’t play regularly. We could’ve trusted each other better with the ball.”

The Scots host Slovenia on Sunday in their fifth World Cup qualifier, with the visitors four points ahead of second-bottom Scotland.

And Strachan was glad to have had the friendly with Canada at Easter Road, despite only being able to draw with the side ranked 117th in the world.

Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney – who has scored nine goals in 41 appearances at club level this season – was given his international debut and it was from his shot that Naismith diverted the ball over the line to draw Scotland level.

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