Sport Soccer

Tuesday 12 December 2017

In Brief: Celtic get into mood for Barca

Celtic warmed up for their Champions League clash with Barcelona with a 5-0 thrashing of St Mirren in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Goals from Gary Hooper and Efe Ambrose, then Victor Wanyama's double, gave an under-strength Hoops side an unassailable interval lead against sorry-looking Saints.

Tony Watt scored with four minutes remaining to seal a commanding victory, which manager Neil Lennon would have wanted ahead of their Champions League Group G clash with Barcelona on Tuesday night.

"Every game we are getting better and that is as good as it gets,'' said Lennon in reference to his side's first-half performance.

But Lennon admitted his side had stepped off the gas in the second half, adding: "We were sloppy at times, we had good enough chances to win more comfortably. But overall I am thrilled.''

Hughes looks on bright side

QPR boss Mark Hughes believes player turnover and a host of injuries has masked the quality of his squad at Loftus Road.

Rangers' chairman Tony Fernandes bank-rolled several big-name signings over the summer and, although the desired results have not followed, Hughes is confident once they gel they will be successful.

"Everyone understands what we are trying to do here. They knew and we discussed that there was a possibility the start of the season could be a little bit difficult,'' said Hughes.

A lot of the R's first-team squad are now working their way back to match fitness, with only Fabio and Andy Johnson ruled out of today's match against Everton.

After keeping QPR afloat last season Hughes believes his time at Loftus Road so far ranks amongst the best in his career.

"The job we did from January until the end of last season was a huge job. We are still very early in the process and we are still trying to move this club forward and we will do.''

Colback: win all-important

Jack Colback will settle for a derby victory, however it comes, as Sunderland attempt to break Newcastle United's stranglehold on the fixture today.

The Black Cats have just one win either home and away against the Magpies in 15 attempts.

"It is certainly something we will be looking to change. We would rather have a shocker of a game performance-wise and win the game than play well and lose, for sure,'' said Colback.

"It's the type of game in which, certainly at home, defeat just isn't an option. We will be looking to win and hopefully we will give the fans that.''

Reid on target as Cardiff slip

Cardiff lost top spot in the npower Championship with a 3-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest.

Andy Reid opened the scoring while on-loan defender Daniel Ayala quickly added a second goal to give the hosts a 2-0 half-time lead.

Forest made sure of all three points shortly after the restart when Billy Sharp scored his first goal for the club since arriving on loan from Southampton.

Heidar Helguson pulled a goal back for Cardiff midway through the second half as Forest finished the game with 10 men following Adlene Guedioura's red card for two bookable offences.

Leicester take over at the top

Leicester substitute Ben Marshall's late strike salvaged a deserved point against Birmingham to move the Foxes to the top of the npower Championship.

Birmingham had capitalised against the run of the play in first-half injury time as Peter Lovenkrands converted a great cross from Marlon King for his third goal of the season.

Jewell hints at Ipswich exit

Ipswich manager Paul Jewell was left considering his future after a 2-1 defeat at Hull left his side with just one win in 10 games.

Substitute Nick Proschwitz scored twice in the last 20 minutes to turn the game around after Jay Emmanuel-Thomas' first-half goal, and leave the Tractor Boys in the npower Championship relegation zone with seven points.

"The way I'm feeling now, I need to think seriously about it,'' said Jewell. "There's a point that you think it's not working. "I'll speak with Marcus [Evans, club owner], and we'll see what the best thing is.''

Phillips hails Bolton rally

Caretaker boss Jimmy Phillips hailed the resilience of Bolton's players after they fought back from a dismal start to secure a 3-2 victory over Bristol City.

In his first game in charge following Owen Coyle's departure, Phillips could have been forgiven for wondering what he had let himself in for when Steven Davies struck twice inside 21 minutes.

Yet Bolton gradually improved and were ultimately good value for three points, gained through goals from Chris Eagles, Jay Spearing and Martin Petrov.

"It wasn't a good start, but the response of the players was great,'' said Phillips.

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