Sports

Apr 232016
 
Mamadou Sakho is in his third season at Liverpool

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho is being investigated by Uefa after failing a drugs test.

Although the France international, 26, is not officially suspended, he will “not be available” for selection during the investigation, Liverpool said.

BBC Radio 5 live senior football reporter Ian Dennis said Sakho failed a test after the Europa League victory over Manchester United on 17 March.

It is thought Sakho tested positive for a type of fat burner, said Dennis.

The player has until Tuesday to request analysis of the B sample.

In a statement, Uefa said “there are no disciplinary proceedings opened at this stage”.

Sakho, an £18m signing from Paris St-Germain in 2013, has played 34 games for Liverpool this season, including 10 in the Europa League.

He scored in the 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund on 14 April which secured their place in the semi-finals.

Liverpool, who are seventh in the Premier League, host Newcastle at Anfield on Saturday.

Sakho’s Liverpool team-mate Kolo Toure was banned for six months in 2011 while at Manchester City after testing positive for a weight-loss drug contained within “water tablets” recommended to him by his wife.

A similar ban for Sakho would rule him out of Euro 2016 in France, which starts on 10 June.

Analysis

BBC Radio 5 live senior football reporter Ian Dennis

“This is a player charge rather than a charge to the club.

“It doesn’t mean Sakho is suspended – he would be eligible today and for Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Villarreal.

“However, the owners, manager Jurgen Klopp, chief executive Ian Ayre and the player himself all felt it was in the best interests for him not to be available while the process was ongoing.”

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Preston North End 0-1 Burnley

 Posted by at 4:22 AM
Apr 232016
 
Joey Barton scores the only goal after six minutes

Burnley moved back to the top of the Championship, and two wins from promotion, with victory over local rivals Preston at Deepdale.

Joey Barton’s deflected free-kick wrong-footed North End keeper Chris Kirkland to give Burnley an early lead.

Andre Gray and George Boyd almost added a second goal after the break but both hit the woodwork in quick succession.

Jermaine Beckford nodded Preston’s best chance over as the Clarets, backed by 5,630 fans, made it 21 games unbeaten.

Burnley have not lost in the Championship since a 3-0 defeat at Hull on Boxing Day, but the fine form of Middlesbrough and Brighton has ensured the battle for promotion will go to the wire.

However, with second-placed Boro playing third-placed Brighton at the Riverside on the final day, Sean Dyche’s side will go up with two more wins.

The Clarets, relegated from the Premier League last season, host Queens Park Rangers on 2 May, followed by a trip to Charlton five days later.

And the signs they will make an immediate return to the top flight look good as they head into the matches on the back of their longest unbeaten run since November 1972.

Defeat for Preston, who were in with an outside chance of a play-off place at the start of April, means Simon Grayson’s men are now winless in five.

Jermaine Beckford made his first start for Preston since August after knee surgery
Championship player of the year Andre Gray hit the post early in the second half

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St Johnstone 3-0 Aberdeen

 Posted by at 4:04 AM
Apr 232016
 
Liam Craig’s composed finish completed the scoring for Saints

Aberdeen surely kissed goodbye to any already distant lingering Premiership title hopes with defeat and a nightmare performance against St Johnstone.

A free-kick from David Wotherspoon gave Saints the lead and Steven MacLean got a touch to Steven Anderson’s header to add a second before half-time.

Liam Craig polished off the win with a third as the Pittodrie side produced a shambolic show of defending.

It was a spirited display by the hosts, who leapfrog Motherwell into fourth.

However, it is hard to underline just how sloppy the Dons – whose fans in the crowd of 3,990 booed them off – were at the back – and, for that matter, the middle and the front.

Dons deflated and defeated

Wotherspoon’s free-kick seemed to catch out the Aberdeen goalkeeper

But for a mysterious decision by referee Craig Thomson to disallow a seemingly legitimate goal it could have been even worse for the visitors.

This was perhaps Aberdeen’s worst performance of the season. There were 87 minutes on the clock before they forced a save from Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark.

It was – to the day – the third anniversary of Dons manager Derek McInnes’s first game in charge of the club and he used the opportunity to give a debut to young right-sided centre-back Michael Rose in place of the injured Ash Taylor.

But he had a tortuous start to his first-team career.

Saints had a golden chance to take the lead when former Dons player Joe Shaughnessy rattled the bar with a header from a corner. The defender should really have buried the opportunity.

However, there was only a short delay in the home side taking the lead.

Wotherspoon curled a free-kick over the wall after a Rose foul. It was a fine strike but Dons goalkeeper Scott Brown looked slow getting down to his right side.

It was a goal that was worthy reward for Saints’ first-half efforts. They were totally in command, while Aberdeen were all over the place and so too was another Craig Thomson refereeing decision with 34 minutes gone.

Wotherspoon took a corner on the left, Brown went down like the victim of a sniper among a bunch of his own players and the ball fell to Anderson, who bundled it home.

But, mysteriously, Aberdeen were awarded a free-kick and the goal was chalked off, despite there being no apparent challenge on the goalkeeper.

MacLean steered the ball beyond Brown for the hosts’ second

The blunders just kept on coming. A harmless looking ball was floated towards the far post and Anderson knocked it back towards goal. Brown was flailing again as MacLean claimed the slightest of touches to carry the ball over the line.

Barry Robson replaced young Rose and abbreviated his debut as he reorganised his back line, but it made no difference.

Mark Reynolds lost possession to Graham Cummins, who played in the unmarked Craig to finished with aplomb.

Aberdeen, along with their championship chances, were dead and buried, with Robson’s late free-kick their only real effort at goal.

Celtic, who face Ross County on Sunday and now need two wins for a fifth straight title, can prepare their celebration party.

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