Tuesday 12 December 2017

Baggies clinch top-flight spot

West Brom secured promotion back to the Premier League yesterday with a 3-2 victory over Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Graham Dorrans fired a glorious free-kick past Neil Sullivan to give the Baggies the lead after 30 minutes before Chris Brunt seized on a poor defensive header to double their advantage.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas responded for Doncaster in the 47th minute but Roman Bednar's 73rd-minute strike re-established West Brom's lead. James Hayter did pull one back for Rovers but it was not enough to prevent the visitors securing their return to the top flight after just one season in the Championship.

Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest hit Ipswich with three second-half goals to secure a play-off spot. The Reds were guaranteed a top-six finish with victory or by bettering eighth-placed Blackpool's result against Newcastle -- and they did both.

The second period was a minute old when Forest opened the scoring through Luke Chambers. Guy Moussi extended the lead 10 minutes later before Robert Earnshaw scored.

Lennon blasts Celtic strikers

A furious Neil Lennon told his Celtic players some of their Parkhead careers were all but over after accusing them of showing no "bottle, desire and hunger" in yesterday's Scottish Cup semi-final 2-1 defeat to Ross County.

Caretaker manager Lennon read the riot act to his squad after locking them in the dressing-room for 15 minutes following the 2-0 loss at Hampden, as Celtic's season hit a new low.

The former Parkhead captain directed much of his ire at misfiring strikers Georgios Samaras and Marc-Antoine Fortune, who he claimed had failed to put their bodies on the line for the cause.

"Whether I'm here or not next season, I told them I'm pretty sure some of them won't be," said an irate Lennon.

Gorman gets Irish off mark

The Republic of Ireland women's U17 side recorded a 3-1 win over tournament hosts Ukraine yesterday in the opening game of the UEFA Championship qualifying phase.

Irish captain Dora Gorman opened the scoring after 14 minutes when a well-worked free-kick from the left was whipped in and Gorman headed into the Ukraine net.

Ukraine equalised through Daryna Vorontsova. However, Ireland were back in the lead in the 61st minute through Stacie Donnelly in an outstanding move and then Denise O'Sullivan sealed the win for Noel King's side on 79 minutes.

Republic of Ireland: G Moloney, K Glynn, M Campbell, J Gleeson, C O'Brien, C Grant, N McLaughlin (R Jarrett 80), D Gorman, D O'Sullivan (A Gilroy 78), S Donnelly (C Shine 80), S Killeen.

Benitez hits back at critics

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has rounded on critics who "don't have a clue" in his continuing defence of last week's controversial Fernando Torres substitution.

Benitez made the surprising decision to take off his top scorer with 25 minutes remaining at Birmingham on Sunday while the score was locked at 1-1. That proved the final score and left Liverpool's hopes of fulfilling Benitez's "guarantee" of a top-four finish in the Premier League looking increasingly unlikely.

But with the striker troubled by a knee complaint and weary after a draining European tie at Benfica, Benitez is adamant he made the right decision, despite the result. "I have been listening to many things," Benitez said. "People don't have a clue when they talk about the substitution.

"Some people say he cannot be tired because he didn't play too many games. That doesn't matter. We played 60 minutes with 10 men against a very good Benfica and we had to work very hard. We wanted to start with Torres because he can make the difference but as soon as we could see he was not making the difference, we needed fresh legs."

Messi strikes to down Real

Lionel Messi's exquisite finish set Barcelona on their way to a potentially decisive 2-0 win at Real Madrid last night to lift the champions three points clear of their arch-rivals at the top of La Liga.

After his brilliant four-goal Champions League haul against Arsenal last Tuesday, the Argentina forward struck in the 33rd minute at the Bernabeu before Pedro doubled the visitors' lead in the 56th with a clinical left-foot strike.

The victory puts Barca on 80 points with seven matches left and leaves the big-spending Madrid club, who have 77 points, facing a season without silverware after their exits from the Champions League and King's Cup.

Sunday Independent

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