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In brief: Harte hits spot for Reading

Former Ireland international Ian Harte, enjoying an Indian summer at the Madejski Stadium, scored his 13th goal of the season from the spot to open the scoring yesterday as Reading beat Derby County 2-1 -- to secure fifth place and a two-legged play-off clash with Cardiff.

Harte also missed a kick from the spot, hitting the post when the game was tied 1-1, but the Royals were not to be denied as a scruffy strike from Hal Robson-Kanu after 72 minutes secured victory. Robbie Savage made his farewell appearance for Derby.

Cardiff pipped by bitter rivals

Craig Bellamy's last-minute equaliser rescued a point for Cardiff against Burnley but they still surrendered third place to bitter rivals Swansea and finished fourth in a disappointing end to the campaign yesterday.

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest secured their place in the play-offs with a comfortable win over 10-man Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The victory means Billy Davies' side will now tackle Swansea in the play-off semi-finals.

Forest lost in last year's play-off semi-finals to Blackpool, but Davies is confident his side can succeed. "This group of players have been written off time and time again. But we know what the play-offs are about -- Lady Luck and refereeing decisions," he said.

Smith praises exiting Murray

Rangers manager Walter Smith has told new owner Craig Whyte he has a hard act to follow now he has taken over David Murray's shareholding in the Scottish champions.

The Scots tycoon completed his takeover of the club last night, bringing to an end Murray's association of more than 22 years with Rangers.

"If you are a Rangers supporter, you've got to say that David Murray has been excellent for Rangers in the period of time that he's owned the club," said Smith after Rangers stretched their lead at the top of the SPL to four points with a 4-0 win over Hearts yesterday.

Cole spells out double trouble

Andy Cole has warned Manchester United to be on their guard on two fronts today when they face Chelsea at Old Trafford.

Cole, who scored 121 goals in 275 appearances for the club, believes Didier Drogba and Michael Essien could hurt his former side.

United are three points ahead of Chelsea at the top with three games remaining and also knocked their opponents out of the Champions League.

"When Drogba wants to play he causes problems. When he came out in the Champions League he did that," said Cole.

"I do not think that has been his attitude all season. But I would imagine he will be fired up as he was in the Champions League after being left on the bench.

"As for the midfield Essien is a big plus for them. When he plays well, so do Chelsea.

"If we can nullify him we will have a great chance as Frank Lampard has been disappointing in all the big games against United."

Toon chief hits out at chants

Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has hit out at the travelling fans who abused former striker Andy Carroll at Liverpool last weekend.

The Gateshead-born England international, who made a £35m January move from St James' Park to Anfield, was barracked by Magpies supporters still angry at his defection following his introduction as a second-half substitute.

"Andy faced a barrage of insults from a section of fans in the stadium which he most certainly did not deserve," said Llambias.

"The abuse he received was difficult to stomach after everything Andy brought to our club, and I only hope he didn't pay too much attention to the taunts being directed at him.

"To go from hero to villain simply for moving clubs, which is just part and parcel of football, is beyond me.

"Andy is a Geordie lad and a lifelong Newcastle supporter. He worked his socks off for this football club over the years, eventually landing the much-coveted No 9 shirt. He will always be welcomed back at St James' Park."

Gomez helps Bayern qualify

Mario Gomez hit a hat-trick as Bayern Munich sealed a spot in next season's Champions League qualifying round with an 8-1 rout of St Pauli yesterday.

Bayern can still finish second in the Bundesliga to book an automatic group stage spot with a win next week if Leverkusen lose -- due to a far better goal difference.

Sunday Indo Sport