Friday 24 February 2017

In brief: Naismith helps Gers to victory

Steven Naismith grabbed his second goal of the season as Ally McCoist celebrated his first competitive win as Rangers manager with a 2-0 victory against St Johnstone in the SPL.

Nikica Jelavic was also on target in Perth as the Scottish champions went some way to making amends for last week's draw with Hearts and the reverse against Malmo in Tuesday's Champions League qualifier at Ibrox.

Rangers will now hope this win provides a much-needed boost ahead of their trip to Sweden this week where they must overcome a 1-0 deficit to keep alive their hopes of a place in the group stages.

The breakthrough came after 31 minutes when Lee Wallace flighted a free-kick into the box where Naismith was waiting to send a firm header to the bottom corner.

Five minutes after the restart, Naismith slotted the ball into the path of Jelavic and the Croatian striker shrugged off Callum Davidson before dispatching a low, angled drive into the back of the net.

Arsenal blow two-goal lead

Arsenal were facing more questions about their defensive frailties ahead of the new season after Boca Juniors battled back from two goals down to seal a 2-2 draw in the Emirates Cup.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had kept captain Cesc Fabregas out of the squad, accepting speculation over his future left the Spain midfielder "unsettled", with Barcelona looking to take their former trainee back to the Nou Camp.

Arsenal, though, showed little sign of missing their talisman as summer signing Gervinho impressed to set up Robin van Persie for the opening goal on 27 minutes, with Aaron Ramsey doubling the lead at the start of the second half. However, the Gunners once again hit the self-destruct button at the back as mistakes from Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou were punished when the Argentinian side struck twice in four minutes to secure a draw.

Celtic pass up Pletikosa deal

Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa has revealed his failed trial with Celtic cost him a significant pay-off from Spartak Moscow.

Pletikosa (32) tore up his contract, which had a year to run, in anticipation of a less lucrative deal with Celtic. But he could not impress Celtic manager Neil Lennon sufficiently in friendlies against Cardiff and Wolves.

"I broke my contract with Spartak Moscow, which was worth a lot of money, because I felt it would help me play for Celtic," he said. "I was also prepared to accept a wage three times less. But now I have to find a club elsewhere."

Mourinho cool on Adebayor

Jose Mourinho insists Real Madrid are not in talks to sign Emmanuel Adebayor, despite the Manchester City striker watching their pre-season victory over Leicester.

Adebayor, who spent the second half of last season on loan at the Spanish giants, was in the stands at the King Power Stadium last night as Mourinho's men maintained their 100 per cent record this summer with a 2-1 triumph over the Championship club.

Asked if he was looking to seal a permanent deal for Adebayor, Mourinho replied: "No. He is here because he is our friend and he belongs to us. He is one of us. It doesn't matter if he is playing at Real Madrid or Manchester City or another club, he is one of us.

"He was with us for six months and went to the heart of everybody. He is a great lad and everybody loves him. He was with us in the dressing-room and he is always welcome."

Torres makes instant impact

Substitute Fernando Torres made an instant impact as Chelsea lifted the Barclays Asia Trophy with a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at Hong Kong Stadium.

The Spaniard sidefooted Florent Malouda's low shot past Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given after being introduced just before the hour mark.

Chelsea had taken the lead with the game barely underway as Donegal man Given did brilliantly to deny both Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda, but Josh McEachran was on hand to pounce from close range. Darren Bent wasted a good chance to pull one back late on.

Hiddink offers Blues caution

Former Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink thinks owner Roman Abramovich should follow Manchester United's example and give his manager time to establish himself at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have had seven different managers since Abramovich took over the club back in 2003, including Hiddink as a caretaker coach in 2009 following the dismissal of former Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Andre Villa-Boas is the latest man to be handed the reins, with the Portuguese replacing Carlo Ancelotti over the summer. And Turkey coach Hiddink is hoping the 33-year-old will be given the chance to prove himself.

"If you look at Manchester United, they are the example that clubs need stability," the Dutchman said. "This is what Chelsea need as well. I have told Roman that and I think they are convinced as well now.

"Look at the record of Carlo, he won the double. Of course, if you win the double and you go it is harsh. Carlo did well for the last two years but, hopefully, this decision will bring success as well."

Eriksson gives Jose backing

Sven-Goran Eriksson believes Jose Mourinho should be considered for the England job when Fabio Capello leaves to his position next year. Mourinho led Chelsea to two Premier League titles as well as an FA Cup triumph during his time at Stamford Bridge, earning himself many admirers within the English game.

The Portuguese is now in charge of Real Madrid, but former England manager Eriksson sees no reason why Mourinho should not be considered when the job becomes available.

"Nobody would complain if England were to take Mourinho," the Leicester boss said. "I think what he has done during the last 10 years makes him perhaps the best, or one of the best, managers around."

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