Sport Soccer

Tuesday 30 May 2017

In brief: Lennon hails Hoops display

Neil Lennon hailed his side's first-half performance in the 4-1 victory over Aberdeen as the best he has seen from a Celtic team at Hampden -- but an injury concern for his only fit centre-back meant the Parkhead manager could not enjoy it too much.

Goals from debutant Kris Commons, Charlie Mulgrew, Thomas Rogne and an Anthony Stokes penalty put Celtic four ahead inside 34 minutes and on their way to the Co-operative Insurance Cup final against either Rangers or Motherwell who meet in the other semi-final today.

"The performance in the first half was the best I have seen from a Celtic team at Hampden in my time,'' said Lennon. "They were exceptional.''

Lennon was disappointed but not surprised that his side could not keep up the pace in a second half in which Scott Vernon scored the only goal.

But his main worry was Rogne's strained calf, which forced Celtic to finish the game with full-backs Mulgrew and Mark Wilson in central defence.

Lennon now expects the club to step up their attempts to sign a new centre-back before tomorrow night's transfer deadline.

Hearts back in the groove

Hearts deservedly returned to winning ways in the SPL as Rudi Skacel's third-minute goal was enough to earn victory as St Johnstone saw their five-match unbeaten run come to an end at Tynecastle.

Skacel converted Craig Thomson's early cross but missed a second-half chance to put the contest beyond doubt as Jim Jefferies' men bounced back from the midweek loss at Celtic to record a 13th win in the last 16 SPL games.

Meanwhile, Mickael Antoine-Curier was on target as bottom side Hamilton fought back to earn a 1-1 draw against 10-man Kilmarnock.

Conor Sammon grabbed the only goal of the first half to hand Killie the lead, before Jamie Hamill saw red for the Ayrshire men.

Norwich edge little closer

Norwich manager Paul Lambert was enjoying a taste of the high life after his side moved up to second in the npower Championship.

A point from a goalless draw at Crystal Palace was enough to lift the Canaries into the automatic promotion places.

It could have been even better had skipper Grant Holt not blazed the best chance of the match over with five minutes remaining.

"The team came up from League One last year so it's been a huge rise for us,'' said Lambert. "We're in second, it's extraordinary what we have done.''

QPR stay five clear at top

Rearguard action prevailed at the KC Stadium as Hull and QPR ground out a scoreless stalemate in their Championship encounter.

Rangers boss Neil Warnock will be the happier of the two thanks to a point that keeps them five points clear at the top of the table.

However, it was a frustrating afternoon for the promotion favourites as they were worked hard by an equally well-marshalled Hull team, who missed out on the chance to make up vital ground on the play-offs.

Fourth Asian Cup for Japan

Japan won the Asian Cup for a record fourth time when substitute striker Tadanari Lee struck in extra time for a 1-0 victory over Australia in yesterday's decider in Doha.

Lee had all the time in the world to perfectly time his left-foot volley in the 109th when he was left completely unmarked just 10 yards from goal.

Qatar has won the bid to stage the 2022 World Cup and the Asian Cup was the tiny but wealthy Gulf nation's first rehearsal for the showcase tournament of world soccer.

After mostly meager crowds during the three-week, 32-game tournament, the Khalifa Stadium was nearly full at 37,174 spectators.

But in a first glitch to what had been a generally smooth organisation, there were reports of many ticket holders being locked out of the stadium, among them foreign fans.

Many suspected that people without tickets were allowed in to fill the seats and avoid a potential embarrassment of empty rows.

Bruce clinches double deal

Sunderland had a busy day in the transfer market on yesterday as they signed Stephane Sessegnon from Paris St Germain and also acquired Inter Milan's Sulley Muntari on loan for the rest of the season.

Sessegnon, 26, the Benin international, penned a three-and-a-half year deal after signing for €7m.

Muntari previously played in the Premier League with Portsmouth before moving to Inter in July 2008. The midfielder joins Ghana team mates Asamoah Gyan and John Mensah at the Stadiumm of Light.

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