Manchester City brush aside Fulham with 2-0 victory

Fulham's Ivan Cavaleiro, left, jumps for the ball with Manchester City's John Stones during their match in Manchester. (AP)
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Updated 05 December 2020

Manchester City brush aside Fulham with 2-0 victory

  • Guardiola’s team is now just 3 points behind leaders Tottenham after a dominant display at the Etihad

LONDON: Manchester City climbed into the Premier League’s top four on Saturday, easing past Fulham 2-0.

Pep Guardiola’s team have had a patchy start to the season but are now just three points behind leaders Tottenham after a dominant display at the Etihad.

Earlier, Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his 11th Premier League goal of the season to rescue a point for Everton in a 1-1 draw against struggling Burnley.

City, who had won just four of their opening nine matches, are showing ominous signs they are returning to their best form after building on their 5-0 mauling of Burnley last week.

They made a superb start at the Etihad, with Raheem Sterling putting them ahead inside five minutes to end his recent goal drought.

The England forward, who had already had one shot saved by Alphonse Areola, raced through on goal from a measured Kevin De Bruyne pass and calmly side-footed into the far corner.

De Bruyne, in Guardiola’s 700th game as a manager, doubled the lead from the penalty spot after Sterling was brought down by Joachim Andersen.

The Belgian rattled the bar early in the second half as City continued to dominate possession but they could not add to their lead.

The result lifts City to fourth in the table on 18 points, ahead of Leicester on goal difference, while Fulham remain fourth from bottom.

Earlier, Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton trailed at Turf Moor after a fine strike by midfielder Robbie Brady before England forward Calvert-Lewin leveled on the stroke of half time.

But neither side could find a winner in a contest in which goalkeepers Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope — rivals for the England number one shirt — caught the eye.

“We are not satisfied with the result but the performance was quite good,” Ancelotti told the BBC. “The start was terrible and Burnley are able to defend. We created some good chances.”

“(England manager) Gareth Southgate has to be pleased, both goalkeepers did really well,” he added.

Premier League chiefs on Saturday issued advice to supporters on coronavirus safety measures, including a warning for fans not to get carried away when their team scores a goal.

“Fans can celebrate but should remain socially distanced from people outside their social bubble,” said the advice.

“Hugging of other fans and high-fives should be avoided and fans are asked to be respectful to those around them, including avoiding excessive shouting or singing.”

London and Liverpool are among the areas to have been placed into the Tier-2 category based on COVID-19 rates, meaning up to 2,000 fans will be able to attend matches.

But clubs based in Tier-3 areas, such as Manchester and Birmingham, are still not allowed to open their gates.


Klopp plays down Salah reaction after substituting top striker

Updated 06 March 2021

Klopp plays down Salah reaction after substituting top striker

  • Liverpool languishing in 7th place in Premier League and are 4 points behind Chelsea

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp has played down any potential fallout following Mohamed Salah’s show of displeasure after his substitution in Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat by Chelsea.

The Egypt international made no secret of his annoyance at being withdrawn just after the hour mark at Anfield on Thursday as the champions slipped to a fifth successive home league defeat for the first time in their history.
Liverpool are languishing in seventh place in the Premier League and are four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of Sunday’s home game against lowly Fulham.
Klopp said he could not make substitutions on the basis of what reaction it created, adding he took off the Premier League’s leading scorer because he thought he was feeling the intensity of the game.
“I’m not even sure if this situation is now a reason for a ‘proper talk’ about it,” he said on Friday.
“We are 1-0 down, that makes no player happy. You go off and you react in different ways because you are not happy.
“You get subbed, you are a striker and you think you should stay on the pitch. That’s all completely clear and not an issue, it is just normal life.”
Klopp said managers were forced to make quick judgments on the basis of what they saw on the pitch.
“We make these decisions in the moment and not with any thoughts in behind, the problem only is you only have to explain it after the game and the day after the game,” he said.
“These kind of stories (rumors of unhappiness) so far didn’t happen. I cannot guarantee for the future and for all times it will never happen but these kind of discussions we never had.”
Salah has scored 17 Premier League goals this season and needs only one more to register 25 for the campaign in all competitions for the third time in four seasons at Anfield.
Previously his tally has been supplemented by significant contributions from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino but his fellow forward are well short of their usual numbers.
Mane has just 11 in all competitions and Firmino six, while Diogo Jota, who made his comeback against Chelsea after three months out with a knee injury, has nine goals.
“We all have to improve,” said Klopp. “Mo still has a great scoring record and I am sure everyone knows and he knows himself even he could have scored more goals.
“But that, Mo’s goalscoring, is not our problem. But in general we have to improve, 100 percent.”


Guardiola wary of ‘difficult’ United ahead of Manchester derby

Updated 06 March 2021

Guardiola wary of ‘difficult’ United ahead of Manchester derby

  • City are on a run of 21 successive wins in all competitions — a record for an English top-flight team

LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says Manchester United will be “difficult” opponents despite a huge gulf in form between the two sides ahead of Sunday’s derby.
City are on a run of 21 successive wins in all competitions — a record for an English top-flight team.
They are top of the Premier League table, 14 points clear of second-placed United, who have won just one out of their past five league matches and are struggling to score goals.
But the City boss said he was wary of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team, who are unbeaten away from home in the league for more than a year.
“I know how difficult United are,” he said on Friday.
“Every year they get better from the previous season. They (have gone) more than one year not losing away and they have good results at the Etihad.
“We have the good opportunity to increase the distance. We spoke in training about what we have to do to beat them.”
Guardiola has been impressed by the hunger of his players, who are red-hot favorites to win a third Premier League title in four seasons.
“It comes from themselves,” said the Catalan. “It comes from inside, try to win. The smell when we win is so beautiful but, when we lose, the perspective will be calm.
“Today we trained incredibly well, tomorrow will be the same.”
“I had incredibly hungry teams in my career in Barcelona and Bayern Munich,” he said.
“To do what we have done in these four years, still winning, to be there at the end, these guys have something special like in Barcelona and Bayern Munich.”
Solskjaer, meanwhile, said he did not agree with the “narrative” that Manchester United’s form has dipped alarmingly as he prepares his team to face Manchester City.
The Norwegian manager admitted his team, who were top of the table in late January, were lacking a “spark” in front of goal but was bullish about their form.
“We have had a week without scoring a goal, not six weeks of bad form,” he said on Friday. “We beat Real Sociedad 4-0 (in the Europa League last-32 first leg) and Southampton 9-0.
“The amount of games can have an effect. I am not buying into the narrative that we have had such a dip in form. We have defended well but we have lacked a little spark to score a goal.”
The 48-year-old United boss hailed City’s “fantastic” run but said his focus was on winning a trophy.
United have lost four semifinals under Solskjaer, most recently to City in the League Cup in January but are still in the Europa League and FA Cup.
“Our focus is just on this one game and not where we’re going to end up,” he said.
“We just have to be the best possible Man United and try to improve on last season. That means moving up the table, getting more points, hopefully challenge or get to a final, win a trophy,” he added.
“What other teams do we can’t control, so we have to just keep at it ourselves, challenge ourselves. They’re ahead of us by a fair distance at the moment so Sunday’s a chance to test ourselves against a very good team.”


Tuchel gives credit to Chelsea players for unbeaten run

Updated 06 March 2021

Tuchel gives credit to Chelsea players for unbeaten run

LONDON: Thomas Tuchel says his Chelsea players should take the credit after masterminding a 10-match unbeaten run since he replaced Frank Lampard as manager.
Chelsea’s 1-0 win against Liverpool on Thursday lifted them to fourth in the Premier League table and put them on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Stamford Bridge side were languishing down in ninth place when Tuchel took over in late January.
German boss Tuchel has refused to take credit for that resurgence however, insisting the players must receive the plaudits.
Asked to explain his role in Chelsea’s revival, Tuchel replied: “I am flattered but I will just give the flowers to the players and to the club.
“It is proven that Chelsea is an organization and a club that has everything that you need to be successful as a coach and as a football team, so now it is my job to bring out the very best of myself, together with the team.”
Tuchel inherited a Chelsea squad lacking direction as Lampard’s reign stuttered to a frustrating end.
The former Paris Saint-Germain boss has quickly tightened up the team’s defense and they have conceded just twice on his watch.
Tuchel will pit his wits against Carlo Ancelotti when Chelsea host Everton on Monday. The fifth-placed Toffees are a point behind Chelsea but have a game in hand.
“I am happy to be on the sideline,” said Tuchel. “I feel an attitude, an unbelievable attitude toward training, toward games, I feel the bond that is necessary.
“In the whole world when football is played, the teams that stand out are the teams that fight for each other, are ready to sacrifice, are happy for each other, push each other from the bench and this is exactly what I found. I found a lot of talent.”


Trainer Gordon Elliott banned over dead horse photo

Updated 05 March 2021

Trainer Gordon Elliott banned over dead horse photo

  • Image of trainer sitting astride a dead horse with two fingers raised in a “V for victory” gesture sparked fury and disgust across the sport
  • An Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board (IHRB) panel said his “extraordinarily foolish action” had damaged the reputation of the sport

DUBLIN: Three-time Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliott was Friday banned for a year, six months of which are suspended, by Irish racing authorities after a photograph emerged of him sitting on a dead horse.
The image of the grinning trainer sitting astride the animal with two fingers raised in a “V for victory” gesture sparked fury and disgust across the sport.
The 43-year-old Irishman is one of the most high-profile figures in racing after training Tiger Roll to victory at Britain’s Grand National in 2018 and 2019.
He had his first taste of glory at Aintree with Silver Birch in 2007.
But an Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board (IHRB) panel said his “extraordinarily foolish action” had damaged the reputation of the sport.
“We consider that a suspension of Mr.Elliott’s training license is merited,” they said in a statement, which added that the sanction would apply from March 9.
“In all of the circumstances of this case, to reflect the seriousness of the offense and the damage to the Irish racing industry, to deter other offenses of this nature and having taken into account the mitigating factors we have heard, we consider the period should be 12 months.
“However, the last six months of this will be suspended.”
Elliott, who was also ordered to pay 15,000 euros ($18,000) in costs, said he accepted the penalty and that he had been dealt with fairly.
“Horses are my life,” he said in a statement. “I love them. No one comes into racing for money — it is a hard way to make a living. We are here because we love the horses.”
“I was disrespectful to a dead horse, an animal that had been a loyal servant to me and was loved by my staff,” he added.
“I will carry the burden of my transgressions for the rest of my career. I will never again disrespect a horse living or dead and I will not tolerate it in others.”
British racing authorities had already banned Elliott pending the outcome of the investigation and he will miss the Cheltenham Festival later this month and the Grand National in April.
“We welcome the fact that the Irish authorities have acted swiftly,” said the British Horseracing Authority.
“The suspension will be reciprocated here in Great Britain.”
A number of people who employ Elliott had spoken out in support of him, including Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, who owns the Gigginstown House Stud operation.
But others withdrew horses from his care, including English owners Cheveley Park Stud.
The horse in the photograph was O’Leary’s animal, a seven-year-old called Morgan.
The three-strong IHRB panel said Elliott accepted that his conduct was “disgraceful” and “wholly inappropriate and distasteful.”
They members of the panel said the photograph suggested Elliott was “heedless to the fact a horse in his charge has just died” and that he was “treating the dead animal as an object of amusement.”
They also alluded to the manner in which the photo came to light last weekend on social media, having been taken in 2019.
“In the view of the committee there is also a sinister aspect to this case,” they said.
“The committee are satisfied that the publication of this photograph is part of a concerted attack upon Mr.Elliott, the full circumstances of which are unknown.”
The panel also said it had considered the negative effect on stable staff working for Elliott in making their decision.
The futures of dozens of staff in his stables north of Dublin hang in the balance until the owners decide what to do with their horses.


Pakistan Super League cricket series postponed with ‘immediate effect’

Updated 05 March 2021

Pakistan Super League cricket series postponed with ‘immediate effect’

  • PCB says decision made after seven coronavirus cases reported in the competition
  • Says will focus on the secure passage of all participants, arrange tests, vaccines 

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board announced on Thursday it had decided to postpone the ongoing Pakistan Super League cricket series after a number of players tested positive for the coronavirus.
Three players tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. Islamabad’s two foreign cricketers, including Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, and another unnamed foreign player, are already in isolation after testing positive earlier this week.
“Following a meeting with the team owners and considering the health and wellbeing of all participants is paramount, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to postpone the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 with immediate effect,” the PCB said in a statement. “The decision was made after seven cases were reported in the competition, which had started on 20 February.”
“The PCB, as an immediate step, will focus on the safe and secure passage of all participants, and arrange repeat PCR tests, vaccines and isolation facilities to the six participating sides,” the statement said.
PCB has also decided to offer coronavirus vaccine doses to all participants of PSL, becoming the first cricket board to do so.
“The decision has been made in the line with the PCB’s duty of care policy and to ensure all participants of the league remain safe and healthy during the event, which concludes on 22 March,” PCB said in a separate statement on Wednesday. “The vaccine doses will be administered on Thursday and will be offered to all those inside the biosecure bubble. However, it will solely be the players and officials’ decision if they want to get the vaccine shots.”
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said the cricket board took the “health, safety and wellbeing of its players and officials very seriously.”