Mar 092016

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Hull City 0-4 Arsenal highlights

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is concerned by the injury Aaron Ramsey suffered in the 4-0 FA Cup win at Hull.

Midfielder Ramsey, set to play a key role for Wales at Euro 2016 this summer, was replaced 16 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Arsenal have Laurent Koscielny out and fellow centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Gabriel also picked up injuries.

“The most serious looks to be Ramsey,” said Wenger. “I think it’s a thigh strain.”

Mertesacker was involved in a clash of heads with Hull midfielder Nick Powell as holders Arsenal won the fifth-round replay to book a home quarter-final against Watford on Sunday.

“Mertesacker is just a cut on his eye,” added Wenger. “That looks to be very short term. Gabriel is a hamstring.”

Two goals each from France striker Olivier Giroud and England forward Theo Walcott secured Arsenal’s first win in six games.

That run has included a 2-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat by Barcelona and Premier League losses to Manchester United and Swansea.

Against Hull, some Gunners fans held up a banner reading “Arsene, thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye”.

Wenger said: “There’s nothing disappointing for me, I do my job. Look at the history of the club and you will see that I have nothing to be scared of.”

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Real Madrid 2-0 Roma (4-0 agg)

 Posted by at 5:40 AM
Mar 092016
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 90 Champions League goals

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 40th goal of the season as Real Madrid reached the Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-0 aggregate victory over Roma.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Real peppered the visitors’ goal, although Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah wasted chances for Roma at the Bernabeu.

It proved costly as Ronaldo crashed in at the near post before setting up James Rodriguez for an angled finish.

Roma hit the post but Real made the last eight for a sixth successive term.

With Zinedine Zidane’s team 12 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, and disqualified from the Copa Del Rey, winning the Champions League remains their only realistic chance of silverware.

And although the 10-times winners impressed in attack, their casual approach to defence, particularly from left-back Marcelo, will give more potent teams hope.

Roma will now return to Serie A, where they lie third, after winning their last seven successive league games.

Cristiano Ronaldo missed a great chance to double his tally

Ronaldo settles Bernabeu nerves

Strangely for a game where Real wracked up 37 shots, Roma had the better opportunities and could have changed the mood inside the Bernabeu if Salah and Dzeko were more clinical.

Ronaldo did miss a great chance to double his lead, but having been out of favour with Real fans after his seemingly critical comments about team-mates following the 1-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid on 27 February, he proved his value once again.

Early on, Real’s leading scorer appeared to be trying too hard to win supporters over, occasionally guilty of showboating rather than taking the chance to shoot.

Once he stung the hands of Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny either side of half-time, he finally opened the scoring when he showed great anticipation to cut across Roma’s Kostas Manolas and poke in substitute Lucas Vazquez’s close-range cross.

The Portuguese forward, who now has 13 goals in this season’s Champions League, set up Rodriguez for the second four minutes later as the Colombian fired in low after a swift counter attack.

Gareth Bale has scored 14 goals this season for Real Madrid

Bale comes on to improve fitness

The gap to Barcelona in La Liga has coincided with a calf injury to Gareth Bale, but, after appearing and scoring as a substitute in their 7-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday, the Welshman made his first start since 17 January.

The world record signing worked hard on the right wing and sent in several fizzing crosses which, had Karim Benzema been playing, might have resulted in a goal.

As it was, Real took the lead when Vasquez came on to replace Bale and set up Ronaldo with his first touch.

But it was a decent work out for the former Tottenham player, who could yet make a telling difference as the season comes to a close and will be aiming to star for Wales at the European Championship in June.

Mohamed Salah was once described by a former boss as “world-class, if only he could finish”.

Salah the biggest threat for Roma

When Salah played at former team Basel, his manager Murat Yakin said the winger could be world class if only he could finish.

Unfortunately, that proved an accurate assessment of the Egyptian, who had a short-lived period at Chelsea in 2014, during which he was loaned to Fiorentina.

The 23-year-old caused plenty of problems for Real with his pace on the right wing, and set up Dzeko for a great early chance.

But the profligacy shown by both was further underlined with another miss by Salah after the break, and 18 minutes later Real were 2-0 ahead.

Diego Perotti’s shot against the post, two minutes from time, would only have been a consolation.

‘Players’ reaction causes me pain’

Luciano Spalletti, Roma coach: “We are weak and at the first sign of difficulty we cannot be the team that we need to be. It is not as if Real Madrid are going through a great period of form and at the moment they are not irresistible.

“When I come back into the dressing room after the final whistle and see the players satisfied because they will get compliments for the performance, this creates a disappointment and pain in me that I cannot reconcile.

“When you go into the dressing room after a 2-0 defeat, you need to be angry and realise the chances you have thrown away over these two games.”

Stats you need to know

  • Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored in 61 different Champions League matches; more than any other player (Raul 56, Lionel Messi 51)
  • Ronaldo has now scored five goals in his last six Champions League appearances against Roma.
  • Keylor Navas has now gone eight consecutive Champions League games without conceding, one game away from equalling Jens Lehmann’s record by a goalkeeper (9 in 2005/06).
  • Real Madrid has 37 goal attempts, more than Roma, Gent and Wolfsburg combined.

What next?

Real Madrid are away at Las Palmas as they try to close the gap on Barcelona while Roma travel to Udinese in their bid to catch Serie A leaders Juventus.

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Partick Thistle 1-2 Aberdeen

 Posted by at 5:11 AM
Mar 092016
Andrew Considine and Simon Church scored in the 74th and 76th minute

Aberdeen moved to within a point of Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic as two goals in three minutes gave them victory at Partick Thistle.

The spirited home side took the lead at Firhill with a stunning Steven Lawless strike from 25 yards.

Aberdeen refused to fold and Andrew Considine equalised with a far-post header from Johnny Hayes’ cross.

Simon Church headed home a Barry Robson corner to seal Aberdeen’s fifth win in seven league games.

Aberdeen, who host Kilmarnock on Saturday, have played one more game than Celtic, who travel to eighth-placed Partick in the game’s early kick-off.

Hayes, making his return from injury, was a lively presence in the early stages with his direct running, and also lashed a shot over the crossbar.

Simon Church headed the winning goal for Aberdeen at Firhill

Graeme Shinnie delivered a perfectly weighted through ball for Kenny McLean, who failed to make strong enough contact with his weaker foot as he tried to lob Patrick goalkeeper Tomas Cerny.

There was little hesitancy on display in a free-flowing game and, moments after Hayes pulled the ball just past the upright, play swung upfield and Gary Fraser lifted a shot over from Sean Welsh’s delivery.

Chances continued to be traded and, when Hayes sent a free-kick into the penalty area, Mark Reynolds headed the ball down and Church steered over as he stretched.

Fraser cut in from the left and curled a shot narrowly wide of Aberdeen’s far post.

David Amoo, in particular, was a constant threat for Thistle whenever he could take on Considine on the right wing.

The home side also pressed the ball relentlessly and one period of pressure resulted in Lawless gathering the ball and firing left-footed into the top corner beyond Aberdeen keeper Scott Brown.

Steven Lawless fired Partick Thistle into the lead

Moments later, Brown blocked Mathias Pogba’s header from close range.

The appearance of Robson as a substitute stiffened Aberdeen’s resolve, and their fighting spirit was evident as they played their way back into the game.

Having worked the ball out to the left, Hayes crossed for Considine to head home.

Two minutes later, Robson’s corner reached Church, who angled a header past Cerny.

Patrick’s Kris Doolan pulled a shot wide late on, but Aberdeen had the defensive resolve to secure victory.

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Hull City 0-4 Arsenal

 Posted by at 4:59 AM
Mar 092016

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Hull City 0-4 Arsenal highlights

Arsenal ended a run of five games without a win by beating Hull in an FA Cup fifth-round replay to secure a quarter-final against Watford.

The Gunners were gifted the lead when Hull’s David Meyler set up Olivier Giroud to slot home.

Aaron Ramsey almost scored an own goal to let Hull back in but Giroud volleyed in to extend Arsenal’s lead.

Theo Walcott wrapped up the victory for the holders when he side-footed in and then rifled in a late shot.

Relive Arsenal’s win over Hull

Giroud and Walcott back in groove

Giroud celebrated the birth of his baby boy on Monday and manager Arsene Wenger hoped it would inspire him to break his 11-game scoring drought.

The France striker was restored to the starting line-up, along with fellow forward Walcott, but the pair initially struggled against Hull, who had not conceded in six previous home games.

The Tigers were employing a three centre-back formation and rarely looked like being breached until Meyler’s mistake allowed Giroud to slot in his first goal since 13 January.

Walcott’s form has also been a concern and, although he looked short of confidence, he set up Giroud’s second before looking like his former self when his late double gave him his first goals in five games.

Despite a return to winning ways for manager Arsene Wenger’s side, some Gunners fans held up a banner reading ‘Arsene, thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye’.

Theo Walcott’s touchmap in the first half (left) compared to the second half showed his movement and threat increased after the break in the final third

Arsenal’s injury troubles mount

The priority for both of these teams are their league campaigns as Arsenal remain in the hunt for the Premier League title, while Hull are challenging for promotion from the Championship.

The home side made seven changes and the Gunners six, with the visitors forced into more of a reshuffle when centre-back Per Mertesacker went off injured early on after a clash of heads with Nick Powell.

Arsenal were playing their sixth game in 18 days and, with centre-back Laurent Koscielny already sidelined, the exit of fellow defender Gabriel in the second half has provided the Gunners with problems at the heart of their defence.

Gabriel’s replacement in midfielder Aaron Ramsey lasted only 16 minutes before an apparent shoulder injury ended his participation and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger now faces a selection dilemma against Watford on Sunday.

His side may be attempting to win a third successive FA Cup but, after their last-eight tie, they will attempt an unlikely Champions League comeback from 2-0 down at Barcelona before returning to league action.

Hull goalscoring struggles continue

Hull’s main threat came from set-pieces, with one particular free-kick causing panic in the Arsenal area before David Meyler forced keeper David Ospina into a smart save.

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Bruce on Hull City v Arsenal

Powell’s effort from the rebound was parried and Ahmed Elmohamady slotted in, but the assistant referee had already flagged for an offside decision Hull may feel aggrieved by.

However, Hull failed to capitalise on Arsenal’s problems at the back and when a rare chance came their way striker Mohamed Diame sent a header wide from eight yards.

Indeed, the closest the home side came was when Ramsey sent a header wide of his own goal and Steve Bruce’s men have now scored only once in six games.

Man of the match – Olivier Giroud

Giroud’s opener was the first that Hull City conceded at home since 16 December, 2015

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger speaking to BT Sport: “It was a shock as we lost our two centre-backs in the game and then we lost Aaron Ramsey.

“Mertesacker is not serious, just a little concussion, and I think Gabriel looks all right but for Ramsey I am little bit more concerned.

“It’s a thigh injury, but apart from that we have played well.”

Hull boss Steve Bruce: “I don’t think it’s a fair reflection. We’ve given away two awful goals.

“The one on the first half is one of those horrible ones and when you play against Arsenal – one of the top teams – or anybody for that matter then you cannot give goals away like that.”

The stats you need to know

  • Arsenal scored with their first shot on target in this match – the third successive game that they have done this.
  • Arsenal have never lost an away FA Cup match against lower league opposition under Arsene Wenger (W12 D4)
  • The Gunners have won each of their last six visits to Hull in all competitions, scoring at least twice on each occasion.
  • Hull conceded three or more goals in a competitive home game for the first time since Arsenal won 3-1 there in the Premier League in May 2015.

What next?

Arsenal host Watford on Sunday before trips to Barcelona in the Champions League on 16 March and Everton in the Premier League on 19 March. Hull get back to Championship action when they host MK Dons on Saturday.

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McClaren decision within 48 hours

 Posted by at 12:57 AM
Mar 092016
Steve McClaren has overseen Newcastle’s lowest points’ return at this stage of a Premier League season

Steve McClaren remains in charge of Newcastle United, with a board decision on his St James’ Park future expected in the next 48 hours.

McClaren, under pressure with the Magpies 19th in the Premier League, took training as scheduled on Tuesday.

The board – minus the ex-England boss – met away from Tyneside on Monday.

Newcastle are in danger of a second relegation in seven years after five defeats in six league games, including Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Bournemouth.

On Monday, managing director Lee Charnley, chief scout Graham Carr and club ambassador Bob Moncur discussed possible ways forward with 10 games of the season remaining.

McClaren took over in the summer after leaving Championship side Derby but has only won six of his 28 top-flight matches in charge.

Former club owner Sir John Hall claimed the 54-year-old should be sacked, while Alan Shearer, Newcastle’s record goalscorer, has described the club as a “mess from top to bottom.”

The NUFC Fans’ Forum – a representative body of supporters’ groups – has called for action to be taken to arrest Newcastle’s slump in an open letter to the club’s hierarchy.

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