Sports

Apr 242016
 
Everton have not won a game in all competitions since beating Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on 12 March

Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists he is still the right man for the job after an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United increased pressure on his position.

Anthony Martial’s goal deep into injury time gave United a 2-1 victory at Wembley to end Martinez’s hopes of bringing Everton their first trophy since 1995’s FA Cup win.

Martinez defiant on future

Asked whether he felt he was still the man to take Everton forward amid growing speculation that this was a game he had to win to survive, he said: “I am. I have got so attached to this football club and my ambition is exactly the same as this club’s ambition.

“We have handled our assets really well, the squad has a great valuation. We develop young players very well and I share the drive the football club has, which is to get into the Champions League and to bring silverware back to Everton.”

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Highlights: Everton 1-2 Man Utd

Martinez has faced growing unrest from Everton’s fans, who jeered their team off at half-time at Wembley before a second-half rally brought them back into the game.

There will now be renewed pressure on Martinez after the end of their trophy hopes and with Everton lying in 11th place in the Premier League.

He said: “I just feel that every season we are developing and showing certain signs that we can please our fans and bring them the silverware they deserve but of course this is a difficult day.”

Read Phil McNulty’s match report

Relive Manchester United’s win over Everton

Lukaku finds support

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De Gea denies Lukaku from penalty spot

Martinez defended striker Romelu Lukaku after he endured a miserable semi-final of missed chances and had a second-half penalty saved by Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

He said: “I always feel strikers need to be measured in the chances they create and sometimes you need to give credit to the goalkeeper. I thought we created as a team and he showed his power and his uniqueness. I don’t think that’s a worry at all.

“I thought his second-half performance was one of a mature footballer. He held the ball up and we played around him. He is only 22. It shows we want to give young players big roles.”

‘As cruel as football can be’

“The feeling we share now is that this is as cruel as football can be,” said Martinez.

“I thought it was a terrific game but it took us 45 minutes to get into our rhythm, although then we showed a strong mentality to stay in the game and we created the best two chances.

“In the second half, I thought we built up incredible tempo and intensity to impose ourselves on the game but at the end the whole story becomes very heartbreaking.”

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Barcelona 6-0 Sporting Gijon

 Posted by at 4:25 AM
Apr 242016
 
Luis Suarez has now overtaken Cristiano Ronaldo as La Liga’s top scorer this season (34 to Ronaldo’s 31)

Luis Suarez scored his second consecutive four-goal haul as Barcelona returned to the top of La Liga with victory over Sporting Gijon.

Victories for Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid earlier on Saturday had left Barca third by kick-off.

Lionel Messi’s looping header into an empty net gave Barca the lead.

Suarez made it 2-0 before Barca won three late penalties, the Uruguayan scoring two and Neymar the other, and Suarez converted Messi’s pass late on.

Sporting had Ognjen Vranjes harshly sent off for conceding the third penalty for a foul on Neymar.

Striker Suarez also scored four in Wednesday’s 8-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Barca over their crisis?

At the start of April, Barcelona were nine points clear at the top of La Liga – and unbeaten in 39 games.

But losing to Real in El Clasico sparked a disastrous run of one win in six games, allowing the Madrid clubs to close the gap, while Atletico knocked them out of the Champions League.

However, 14 unanswered La Liga goals in four days have taken them to within three wins of successfully defending their title.

They are level on points with Atletico and one point above Real, with their head-to-head record meaning they will edge out either Madrid side if they finish the league equal on points.

Unstoppable Suarez?

Luis Suarez took control of the race for the Pichichi – the Spanish golden boot – with his second quadruple of the week.

He now leads Real’s currently injured star Cristiano Ronaldo 34-31 with three games left.

Suarez’s fellow Uruguayan Diego Forlan is the last player other than Ronaldo or Messi to win the award – back in 2008-09.

The former Liverpool striker had a hand in the opener, putting keeper Ivan Cuellar under pressure before the ball came to Messi, who headed a looping effort into the empty net from 18 yards.

Barca’s second did not come until the 63rd minute when Suarez converted Andres Iniesta’s pass – possibly from an offside position.

Suarez scored their first penalty after Roberto Canella handled Dani Alves’ cross. His hat-trick goal came from the spot after Antonio Sanabria shoved over Neymar.

Barcelona got a third penalty when Vranjes was deemed to have pushed Neymar, and was sent off for a second booking.

Out-of-form Neymar this time took the penalty, and scored down the centre, with keeper Cuellar almost keeping it out.

But Suarez still had time for his fourth when he fired home Messi’s pass via the post.

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Everton 1-2 Manchester United

 Posted by at 2:06 AM
Apr 242016
 

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Highlights: Everton 1-2 Man Utd

Anthony Martial’s injury-time winner sent Manchester United into a record-equalling 19th FA Cup final with victory over Everton at Wembley.

Martial ensured Louis van Gaal’s side will face either Crystal Palace or Watford with a composed finish in the dying seconds of an enthralling semi-final.

Marouane Fellaini gave United a deserved first-half lead from close range – but they were then indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea as he brilliantly saved Romelu Lukaku’s 57th-minute penalty.

Everton rallied after a passive first 45 minutes that saw them jeered off at half-time and they drew level with 15 minutes left when Chris Smalling deflected Gerard Deulofeu’s cross into his own net.

As the game looked destined for extra-time, Ander Herrera’s poked pass sent Martial clear and the striker showed great composure to drill a low finish past Everton keeper Joel Robles.

Relive Manchester United’s win over Everton

Rooney excels in quarterback role

Wayne Rooney’s early goalline clearance gave Manchester United the platform to go on and open the scoring

With England manager Roy Hodgson looking on, his international captain Wayne Rooney showed his class – and perhaps the future – in a deep-lying role behind United’s attack.

In the opening half especially, afforded time and space by a timid Everton, Rooney not only showed his full range of passes to create chances and dictate the game, he even showed the energy to get back and clear Lukaku’s early goalbound effort off the line.

Rooney’s place in England’s attack has come under increasing scrutiny with the emergence of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy as potential rivals, but this was the sort of performance that might just give Hodgson food for thought as he makes his plans for Euro 2016.

Lukaku’s Wembley nightmare

Romelu Lukaku was responsible for bringing Everton to this semi-final with two goals and a powerhouse performance against Chelsea in the quarter-final – but he had a game to forget here.

He had two good chances in the first half but twice his touch was heavy and let him down, then when his big chance came from the penalty spot he was thwarted by an admittedly brilliant save from De Gea.

Lukaku simply could not find the magic touch and his face was a mask of bitter disappointment at the final whistle.

He has made regular noises about possibly leaving Everton in the summer – he will not do so with a trophy to his name after a performance that came up short.

Van Gaal trophy hopes live on

Manchester United’s win keeps alive their hopes of winning a first FA Cup since 2004

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been surrounded by constant speculation about his Old Trafford future – but the dramatic conclusion here at Wembley means he still retains the hope of winning a trophy at every club he has coached or managed.

This was a two-faced United performance, excellent in the first half but ragged for much of the second and yet, as they have done through much of this FA Cup campaign, Van Gaal’s team got the job done and are through to their first FA Cup Final since 2007.

Whether he survives as United manager or not, he has the chance to make sure United have silverware to remember him by. He will lead United out as favourites in the final.

What now for Martinez?

Everton have not won a game in all competitions since beating Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on 12 March

Martinez heard his players roundly jeered by thousands of Everton fans at they left the pitch after a dreadful first-half performance, but they were a team transformed after half-time and deserved to take this semi-final into extra time.

After the debacle of the 4-0 loss to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby, Everton at least regained some pride and credibility in a second half in which they turned the tide of this semi-final.

The bottom line, however, is that Everton once again conceded a last-minute goal – almost a trademark this season – and in a week that Martinez himself admitted was “defining”, he has ended up a loser to both Liverpool and Manchester United.

With Everton’s new major shareholder, Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri, watching from Wembley’s directors’ box, Martinez will at least have a hard-luck story to tell. Whether it saves his job is another matter altogether.

Man of the match – Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney had one shot on target and created two chances but it was his control from a deep-lying role that allowed United to dictate the tempo of the match, especially in the first half

The stats you need to know

  • Marouane Fellaini has scored two goals in five FA Cup appearances this season – double his league tally (1 in 17 apps).
  • Four of Anthony Martial’s seven assists for Manchester United this season have come in the FA Cup.
  • Romelu Lukaku has missed his last two penalties for Everton after scoring his previous five for the club (all competitions).
  • Chris Smalling scored his first own-goal since April 2010 (all comps), when he did so against Everton while playing for Fulham.
  • Martial scored and assisted in the same game for the third time this season.
  • Martial has been involved in 21 goals for United this season, registering 14 goals and seven assists in all competitions.
  • United have progressed to their first FA Cup Final since 2007.
  • Everton have been eliminated in their last two FA Cup semi-final appearances, also losing in 2012 to Liverpool.
  • This is the first time in three FA Cup semi-final meetings between the sides that United have been victorious, having been knocked out by the Toffees in 1966 and 2009.

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Apr 242016
 

BBC Sport outlines the battles for promotion and relegation – and the race for Europe – in England and Scotland.

RECENT PROMOTIONS AND RELEGATIONS

PREMIER LEAGUE

The top three teams will qualify for the group stage of next season’s Champions League, with the fourth-placed team set to enter in the play-off round.

The fifth-placed team will enter the Europa League at the group stage, as will the FA Cup winners.

Leicester City are guaranteed a top-four finish following their 2-0 win against Sunderland on 10 April and will clinch the title with two games to spare if they win at Manchester United on Sunday.

Manchester City are already assured of at least a Europa League place after winning the Capital One Cup. If they finish in the top four, their place in the Europa League third qualifying round will pass to the sixth-placed team. The same will happen if they secure a place in the Europa League group stage by finishing fifth.

Should City win the Champions League and finish outside the top four, they will enter the Champions League at the group stage. If Liverpool win the Europa League, they will qualify for the Champions League.

Uefa does not permit