Press Association In the 34th minute Mulgrew bulleted a header from a Maloney cross past the post from six yards as Scotland turned the screw and the home fans at last found their voice. Four minutes from the break, Fletcher failed to get on the end of a Maloney cross after the former Celt delightfully pulled a Russell Martin pass out of the air, and another opportunity for Scotland was lost. O’Neill’s side came out for the second-half in a more purposeful mode and in the 50th minute, from a fine McGeady cross, Hanley did well to challenge Walters and concede a corner which came to nothing. Moments later, from another Irish corner, Walters’ flick was helped on by Long from close-range with the home fans palpably relieved to see Marshall make the save. Fletcher was replaced by Chris Martin but Marshall again came to Scotland’s rescue by pushing an angled-drive by McGeady past the far post for another James McClean corner, which he confidently plucked out of the air. In the 65th minute, with the game tantalisingly balanced and not for those of a nervous disposition, Martin screwed a Steven Naismith pass inches past Forde’s left-hand post from eight yards out. Long and Darron Gibson were soon replaced by Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn in a double substitution but to no avail. Off a whipped-in free-kick from Mulgrew, Walters headed the ball against the top of his own crossbar but the luck of the Irish immediately went missing. Maloney took a short corner to skipper Scott Brown, then took the clever return pass and curled the ball from 16 yards past Forde and into the far corner and Parkhead erupted. O’Neill threw on Keane for Hendrick and the Scots were forced into some desperate defending but saw out four additional minutes – in which the ball came off their bar in a last-ditch Irish attack – to the cheers of the home fans who may already have the scent of France in their nostrils. Scotland confirmed their 2016 European Championship qualifying credentials with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Republic of Ireland thanks to a wonderful second-half strike by Shaun Maloney Scotland go level on seven points with Ireland and Germany, with Poland Group D leaders taking 10, but there are surely twists and turns still to come before the two automatic qualifying spots and the play-off place are secured. There had been plenty of guesswork about personnel in an intense build-up to the game and the Scotland team sheet showed that Strachan, back at his former club, made three changes with left-back Andy Robertson, stopper Grant Hanley and midfielder Charlie Mulgrew returning as Steven Whittaker moved to right-back. Irish manager Martin O’Neill, another ex-Celtic boss, lost midfielders Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy to injury but the shock news was that skipper and top scorer Robbie Keane had been dropped to the bench. Republic fans had been officially allocated around 3,200 tickets but there were a few thousand more Irish accents in the ground at kick-off, helping create quite a din, albeit it took quite a while for the stadium to fill up to almost its 60,000 capacity. Amid a cracking atmosphere, the question of whether Republic of Ireland’s Scots-born winger Aiden McGeady would get booed on his return to his old ground was answered in the affirmative by the Tartan Army, who never let up. However, there was more for them to focus on in a frantic opening as Scotland keeper David Marshall was tested by Jon Walters before Scots striker Steven Fletcher headed a Maloney corner over the bar. A tetchiness then enveloped the match. In the 12th minute Hanley was booked by Serbian referee Milorad Mazic for a desperate tackle on Shane Long and then McGeady and Jeff Hendrick were shown yellows for fouls on Fletcher and Whittaker respectively. Gordon Strachan’s side had the best of a tense, frenetic first-half at Celtic Park but passed up a couple of good chances to take the lead. The visitors came out rejuvenated after the break but Scotland regained control with Wigan forward Maloney, back on his old stomping ground, curling the ball past David Forde in the 75th minute with technique fit to win any game.
The Magpies have put together a run of five successive victories, four of them in the Barclays Premier League, to completely change the complexion of their season. However, they have lost men along the way to injury, some of them on the training ground, and that is something the manager and his coaching staff will look to address as they attempt to strike a balance between achieving the highest possible fitness levels and the demands that places on the squad. Press Association Pardew told the Shields Gazette: “I met my staff and we are going to change one or two things. We are pushing these players to the limit. We’re trying to get the maximum we can out of them, and if you do that, you are going to lose players here and there. “The other players, you can tell, are really super-fit, and we’re strong. But we still need a few more bodies back. “As a group, we have to make sure we protect the players and give them the best possible chance to be at their maximum on a Saturday. “We’re pushing the players, and we’re going to get injuries. We’re pushing them because we want them to be fitter and stronger than everybody else, and so you’ve got a balance there. “We’ve just got to make sure we get that right, because we lost one or two that perhaps we shouldn’t have.” Captain Fabricio Coloccini is one of the men currently on the casualty list, although he picked up his calf problem in the 2-0 win at West Brom last time out and could be missing for several weeks. With Steven Taylor battling a similar injury, the Magpies recalled 20-year-old Remie Streete from his loan spell at Port Vale last week, although Taylor is hopeful of being fit for QPR’s visit to St James’ Park on Saturday. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is to ease the workload on his players after admitting they have been pushed to the limit.
Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky, making a first start of the season, swept in a second on the break before Charlie Austin set up a tense finale when he converted a penalty with 11 minutes left. Unlike at Liverpool last weekend, Arsenal held on under late pressure to move within two points of Southampton and one behind fifth-placed West Ham, whom they play on Sunday. Arsenal, who had lost only one of their 17 previous Boxing Day Premier League matches, made an electric start and were awarded an early penalty when former Gunners defender Armand Traore tripped Sanchez. The Chilean held onto the ball, and Santi Cazorla, who scored from the spot here against Newcastle, gave way. However, Sanchez’s effort lacked any real pace towards the bottom right corner, and Robert Green got down to make the save. Arsenal’s tempo dropped after the penalty miss, but the home side remained dominant in possession nevertheless as the conditions worsened. Onuoha looked to have wrestled Danny Welbeck to the ground just inside the QPR penalty area, but this time referee Martin Atkinson was not interested. Rio Ferdinand, making his first start since October, pulled back former United team-mate Welbeck to concede a free-kick 25 yards out in a central position and was cautioned. The Gunners were in cruise control following Alexis Sanchez’s 10th league goal on 37 minutes, the Chilean having seen a tame early penalty saved. However, a rush of blood from France striker Giroud at the start of the second half reduced Arsenal to 10 men. The Frenchman charged into Nedum Onuoha, the defender hitting the ground in front of the referee. Press Association Arsenal survived the sending-off of striker Olivier Giroud for a reckless headbutt to beat QPR 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium and close back up on the top four of the Barclays Premier League. Giroud whipped the ball over the wall, but Green made a smart diving save. QPR, who had lost all eight of their Premier League away matches so far, continued to defend deep, with six men sitting around the edge of the 18-yard box. The visitors’ rearguard was, though, breached on 37 minutes. Cazorla pushed the ball out to Kieran Gibbs on the overlap down the left. The defender looked up before chipping a cross back through the six-yard box, where no-one had picked up the run of Sanchez as the diminutive Chilean guided a cushioned header into the far corner. Arsenal were reduced to 10 men on 53 minutes following a moment of red mist by Giroud. The France striker was bundled over by Onuoha on the edge of the area as they chased a long ball forwards. Giroud, incandescent with rage, scrambled to his feet to confront the defender, pushing his forehead into the defender’s face. Onuoha went to ground and the referee, who was right on the spot, reached for his back pocket to brandish a red card. The Arsenal striker, who will now serve a three-match suspension, knew what was coming and headed straight down the tunnel as Gunners boss Arsene Wenger glared on. Arsenal looked to respond by continuing their pressure, but QPR had been handed a lifeline and manager Harrry Redknapp made a change on 62 minutes as Karl Henry was replaced by Leroy Fer and Traore by Junior Hoilett. The Gunners, though, soon doubled their lead. Sanchez made another penetrating run to the edge of the QPR penalty area, where he played in Rosicky on the overlap and the Czech midfielder dispatched a low, first-time shot past Green. QPR then grabbed a lifeline with 11 minutes left after Mathieu Debuchy tripped Hoilett just inside the penalty area, with the referee again expertly placed although replays suggested the defender did get a touch on the ball. Austin made no mistake from the spot, blasting the ball down the centre for his 12th goal of an impressive season. Wenger sent on defender Calum Chambers for the closing stages, replacing Rosicky, and Mathieu Flamini bundled a goal-bound effort off the line as the Gunners battled to victory.
Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, who receives an OBE in the New Year Honours, dedicated his award to the people who kept football going in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Press Association “But most importantly I would like to dedicate this honour to the people who kept football in Northern Ireland going through the many, many difficult years – be they players, officials, coaches or spectators.” Boyce was directly affected by the violence when he was injured by the explosion in 1972. He was off work for a year with a leg in plaster for almost all of that time. He added: “I view myself as one of the lucky ones. I have always been someone who thought politics and religion should play no part in sport and I am very glad Northern Ireland is now a very different place than it was then.” The Belfast-born 70-year-old receives the OBE for services to football in Northern Ireland. Boyce, who was severely injured in a Belfast car bomb in 1972, is a former Irish Football Association president and current head of FIFA’s referees’ committee. He steps down from the vice-presidency in May. He told Press Association Sport: “It’s a tremendous honour and I must pay tribute to my devoted wife Hazel and daughters Joanne and Lisa.
Jamie Heaslip is unlikely to feature again in Ireland’s quest to retain the RBS 6 Nations title after being ruled out of action for the next month. The 31-year-old number eight was forced out of Ireland’s 18-11 victory over France on Saturday after receiving a knee to the back from Pascal Pape, who has since been cited for the challenge. Ireland bosses confirmed Heaslip suffered “fractures of the transverse process of three vertebrae” in his back, leaving only a slim chance he could return for the final match against Scotland on March 21. Ireland can equal their best-ever run of 10 wins on the spin against England, who were the last team to beat Kiwi coach Schmidt’s side, 13-10 at Twickenham in last year’s Six Nations. France lock Pape only received a yellow card from referee Wayne Barnes for his knee to Heaslip, but was cited on Monday and will appear before a disciplinary committee this week. Referee Barnes ruled Pape’s challenge on Heaslip was intentional after video review during Saturday’s clash, but declined to hand the 34-year-old a red card. Independent citing commissioner Stefano Marrama from Italy has deemed the incident worthy of further investigation however, and Pape will appear before a disciplinary commission later this week. “Pascal Pape, second-row forward for France, has been cited by the independent citing commissioner at the RBS 6 Nations match between Ireland and France in Dublin on Saturday, for the incident in the 52nd minute of the match for which the player received a yellow card,” read a statement from tournament organisers. France boss Philippe Saint-Andre claimed Pape’s challenge was accidental, but the Stade Francais lock could now face a ban. “When you watch the images of the incident I don’t think you can say it was deliberate,” said Saint-Andre on Sunday morning. “However, I said to Pascal you received a yellow card just at the moment we were gaining the upper hand both physically and territorially as we were in their 22. “Although we didn’t concede many points it was still a pivotal moment. You expect something like that from an inexperienced player, not one with over 50 Tests under his belt. It was the worst possible moment for that to happen.” Head coach Joe Schmidt admitted Heaslip was “very uncomfortable” straight after Saturday’s second-round victory, while Pape now faces a possible ban for his crude challenge. “Scans have revealed fractures of the transverse process of three vertebrae in Jamie’s back,” read an Ireland statement. “Although this injury causes a good deal of discomfort it does not impact on the structural integrity of the spine, and once healed should pose no long-term issues. “Typically this injury is treated akin to a soft tissue injury; according to symptoms. “Jamie is already feeling more comfortable and it is hoped that he will be available to play again in approximately four weeks.” The 70-cap loose forward binds together the industry and grit of Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien in Ireland’s first-choice back row, and his absence is a clear loss to boss Schmidt’s side. Ireland host England in Dublin on March 1 in a match already billed as the Six Nations title decider, with the two teams the last remaining unbeaten sides. Heaslip’s injury opens the door for Leinster back-rower Jordi Murphy to step up for that all-important England clash. Press Association
But he was much more forthcoming when appearing on Goals on Sunday on Sky Sports – a network he had strongly criticised for their coverage of Diego Costa’s stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can last month, when replays of the incident carried the strapline ‘Costa’s crimes’. Costa was later handed a retrospective three-match ban. Taking the opportunity to turn the tables, Mourinho used a question about Barnes’ tackle to repeat his complaint. “When I finished at the game against Liverpool, I went to the dressing room and the first thing I saw on the big screen, reading non-stop – ‘Diego Costa crimes’,” he said. “I would like to know how to you, Sky Sports, describe the actions of the Burnley player yesterday? My English is not good enough to find a word. “When you think ‘Diego crimes’ after he puts his boot on a hand, when this is ‘Diego crimes’, the minimum you have to say is ‘criminal tackle’. “Did you apologise to Chelsea, to Diego or myself? You didn’t. As an institution, Sky is so important in the Premier League, you never apologise. “When Diego Costa has a three-match ban, probably three matches to Matic… tell me how many matches this player deserves?” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has branded Ashley Barnes’ tackle on Nemanja Matic “criminal” in a lengthy attack on refereeing standards and media coverage while appearing on Sky Sports. Press Association Mourinho was fined £25,000 by the Football Association in January for claiming there was a “campaign” in the media against Chelsea, but maintained his attack on coverage. “I don’t like the fact you start immediately, in that moment, the public judgement of the player,” he added with regard to the Costa coverage. “You gave no space to the people that have to decide, the pressure was so much. “You don’t do this with every club, with every player. Last year, Yaya Toure against Norwich, you didn’t have the same approach; (Robin) van Persie against West Ham, you didn’t have the same approach. “This one (on Saturday) was even worse. This can be end of career. Matic is a very lucky guy.” Mourinho repeated his list of complaints regarding decisions which he believes have gone against his team this season, suggesting Chelsea would be 12 points clear of Manchester City rather than five had officials got their decisions right. “I’m risking my dugout in the (Capital One Cup) final because maybe tomorrow I get a ban,” he said. “The incidents, I’m speaking about week after week exactly because it’s week after week… “When I go to the media and do what I did (on Saturday), ’30, 33, 43, 69 and goodbye’ or do what I’m doing with you, I’m not attacking the honest or dignity of anyone, I’m not trying to bring the game into disrepute – which is always (the phrase) they use when they want to punish me. “I’m just trying to be honest. If you ask me about the five-points difference I would say that if we are in a normal situation where mistakes which are part of the game are sometimes in our favour, sometimes against us, it wouldn’t be five, it would be 12.” The Portuguese went on to add that he was sympathetic to the difficulties referees face, and suggested that more video technology should be used. “If the referee cannot see a penalty three metres in front of him, some official in front of a screen cannot miss it,” he said. “If we want to protect the integrity of referees and believe the mistake is a consequence of misinterpretation or a bad position or the unpredictability of the game, I think technology can help.” Matic was sent off for his reaction to Barnes’ tackle in the 70th minute, but the Burnley player went unpunished in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Mourinho had little to say in his post-match press conference, simply listing the key moments in the game and adding: “If you look at these moments you know exactly what I think about the game.”
Dunkin’ Donuts, one of Liverpool’s official sponsors, asked its followers to tweet alternatives to the club’s crest on Wednesday. The American doughnut company came up with their own controversial version, replacing the Hillsborough flames with what looked like coffee cups. Press Association The flames were added to the crest out of respect to the 96 fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989. The Shankly gates were replaced by the slogan, “America runs on Dunkin'” and the Liverbird figure at the heart of the crest made way for the company’s “DD” logo. The tweet, since taken down, read: “Love the LFC crest? Tweet us what you’d want on your personal crest and we might surprise you with your own!” Many Liverpool fans were outraged by the post. Kop magazine, the club’s unofficial fanzine, tweeted: “Do you wanna tell @DunkinDonuts how bad replacing the eternal flame with coffee is or should we? #LFC” Dunkin’ Donuts admitted it had made an error. “We apologise for any insensitivity regarding our tweet supporting an LFC-themed promotion featuring the LFC Crest,” a Dunkin’ Donuts spokesperson said. “As a proud partner of LFC, we did not intend any offence, particularly to the Club’s supporters. We have removed the tweet and halted the campaign immediately.” A Dunkin’ Donuts Twitter campaign backfired after it was forced to apologise to Liverpool fans for replacing the Hillsborough eternal flames on the club’s crest with coffee cups.
Irish siblings Sam and Chloe Magee had to settle for badminton mixed doubles bronze after losing their semi-final to French pair Gaeten Fontaine and Audrey Mittel on Saturday. The Magees rallied in the second set, but were beaten 21-12 23-21, giving Sam a second bronze medal having also reached the podium with brother Josh in the men’s doubles on Friday. And the Letterkenny 25-year-old pronounced himself “over the moon” with his haul after revealing he had been struggling with a back injury since arriving in Baku. Magee said: “I injured my back and the doctor told me I had to pull out, but the team said to come just to see what I can do. “I had no expectations at all. A week ago I couldn’t bend my back forward and I had given up on my dream of winning a medal. But once you get that close to gold, you want more.” Ireland’s Katie Taylor strengthened her claim to be the greatest women’s boxer of all time as she outpointed Estelle Mossely of France to claim the 18th major title of her career at the European Games in Baku. Taylor’s triumph was much more expected, and now only India’s six-time world champion Mary Kom can come anywhere close to eclipsing the Bray 28-year-old’s career achievement in women’s competition. Taylor said: “I felt a bit tired after my previous bout but I managed to pull through. My main goal is to go on to defend my Olympic title – I want to go down in history as the greatest female boxer of all time.” While Taylor enjoyed an easier final than her wafer-thin semi-final verdict over Azerbaijan’s Yana Alekseevna on Friday, she was still tested by Mosseley and admitted the strain of the competition had left her some way short of her best. The favourite struggled to find her range in a first round which one judge gave in favour of her opponent, but she was far more accurate with right hooks in the second, and pressed home her advantage in the second half of the contest. Taylor added: “I felt like she was causing me a small bit of trouble. I’ve had great preparation for this competition so it wasn’t the fitness at all, but yesterday’s bout took its toll mentally and physically really. “Sometimes you go into the ring feeling more tired than usual but you have to dig deep and pull through and I think that is the mark of a great champion.” If Taylor’s win was to be expected the same could not be said of 22-year-old Portlaoise middleweight O’Reilly, a relative newcomer to the Irish elite programme who was not given much of a chance against World Series of Boxing finalist Musalov. But O’Reilly caught his opponent off-guard with a furious start to claim the first round, and although he showed signs of tiring in a second which swung Musalov’s way, a rousing finale saw the unassuming O’Reilly scrape a deserved victory. Press Association Taylor conceded she was not at her best following a recent wrist injury but she still proved a cut above her competition as she added the inaugural lightweight gold to her Olympic crown and five world championship titles. And team-mate Michael O’Reilly made it double boxing gold for Ireland when he shocked home favourite Xaybula Musalov to claim the middleweight title in a rousing scrap in front of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev.
Mick Halford’s five-year-old disappointed on his return to action in the Irish Lincolnshire but having regained winning ways last month, he was the 5-2 favourite to clinch another valuable handicap. Foley, earlier successful on Final Frontier, navigated Hasanour into contention inside the final furlongs and always appeared confident he would pick up the pacemaking Breathe Easy. The market leader did just that and was good value for his half-length verdict. Halford said: “I’m thrilled with that. Shane said he travelled really well and when the gaps appeared he was able to take them. That’s a good trip for him and he loves it here. “He may go to Galway. Richard (McNally, owner) is a big Galway fan and he won there last year. The other option is a £150,000 handicap at Goodwood, but I’d say he’ll go to Galway. “He didn’t get into the Hunt Cup at Ascot but maybe it was a blessing in disguise as the ground was very fast. “He’s a very straight forward horse to train, and winning like that gives them confidence. “He could end up in Dubai some day.” Hasanour lunged late to claim his third course and distance success at the Curragh in the Paddy Power Handicap. Press Association
Press Association Transfer spending ahead of the new campaign has already eclipsed £500million, and with the window open for the remainder of August, last year’s total spend of £835million is set to be surpassed. Chelsea begin the defence of their title against Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. And despite a low-key summer of transfer activity, Mourinho’s side are the bookmakers’ favourites to seal back-to-back triumphs. Jose Mourinho expects this season’s Barclays Premier League to be the most competitive of his Chelsea tenure. But the Blues boss believes the spending power of the top flight – due in part to next year’s bumper TV deal – will make this season’s title race one of the fiercest in recent campaigns. “Maybe I’m wrong but I think fewer points will win the title,” Mourinho said. “You have a minimum of five title contenders and the other teams get stronger and stronger. “I think nobody can complain because everyone is investing – you go to Watford, you go to Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Stoke, every club. “Every club has very good players so I think it’s difficult for the top teams in England because of the competitive nature.” Mourinho, whose side romped to the title last term, cited Yohan Cabaye’s £12million move to Crystal Palace, Georginio Wijnaldum’s arrival at Newcastle from PSV and Max Gradel’s switch to newly-promoted Bournemouth for a reported £7million fee, as examples of the league’s strength in depth. “There will be more times when the non-title contenders win matches against the title contenders,” added Mourinho. “It’s also difficult because they have players who could play in our teams – Cabaye could play for Chelsea, Wijnaldum could play for Chelsea, Gradel could play for Chelsea. “It’s very difficult to win multiple titles. It hasn’t happened in other countries where the domination is clear. In England it’s more difficult and we all know that.” Meanwhile, Mourinho urged Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the highly-rated England youngster, to take his chance if the opportunity arises this season. The 19-year-old started for Chelsea in matches against Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion at the end of last season, but he was heavily criticised by Mourinho following a post-season game in Australia. Chelsea have come under fire for failing to promote English players from their academy through to the first team. But asked if homegrown youngsters, such as Loftus-Cheek, feature in his plans for the upcoming season, Mourinho said: “It depends on him not on me. You have to ask him. “People normally ask about chances and chances and chances and maybe that’s a good excuse for the young players to be where they are. “I think maybe for the good of English football, you should go the other way. Are you ready to get the chance? Must the manager give confidence to a player? Or must the player give confidence to a manager? “I had this nice internal discussion with my people. At the end of the day we arrive into a conclusion that players pick themselves. That’s the responsibility that they must have. “We’re in England so it’s quite fair that people are trying to get solutions for more local players. “But you know, I’m a coach. I’m not an office man and for me, as a coach, I think that the players they must give confidence for me to say ‘Let’s go’. Not the other way.”