Tuesday 21 November 2017

In brief: Lennon issues Bhoys warning

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has told his players to expect a much-improved Aberdeen side from their previous Hampden encounter as they meet today in their second semi-final of the season.

Celtic were 4-0 up against the Dons at half-time in their Scottish League Cup meeting in January before a solitary Aberdeen second-half goal restored some respectability.

But Aberdeen ran Rangers close in midweek before losing to a Nikica Jelavic goal.

"We know we have a hard game in front of us," Lennon said. "Aberdeen played very well on Wednesday night. There is something to play for there, a piece of silverware that means a lot."

Motherwell in Hampden final

Motherwell skipper Stephen Craigan believes the club can win the Scottish Cup as a 'thank you' to their supporters.

Motherwell, who last won the competition in 1991, became the first team to book their place in the Hampden Park showpiece yesterday, seeing off St Johnstone with a convincing 3-0 win.

Early goals from Craigan and Jamie Murphy were added to with a long-range John Sutton strike. "If we can perform well and play well, we will have a good chance," Craigan said. "The 1991 win lives long in the memories of the supporters of this club and this is a chance for us to give them something back."

Smith shuns mind games

Walter Smith watched Rangers move one point ahead of Celtic in the Scottish Premier League with a 2-1 win over St Mirren, then said psychological advantages count for nothing at this stage of the season. "It's fairly simple -- if you are in our position you need to keep winning," said Smith.

Rangers were made to work for their victory. Steven Whittaker claimed the winner from the penalty spot after Sasa Papac's opener was cancelled out by Darren McGregor.

Bluebirds ease past Pompey

Cardiff moved into the Championship automatic promotion places courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 victory over Portsmouth.

The Bluebirds' intent was epitomised by Craig Bellamy, who set up Seyi Olofinjana's opener. Pompey's cause was then hampered when Ricardo Rocha received an 18th-minute red card. Cardiff capitalised on their one-man advantage with goals from Jay Bothroyd and Peter Whittingham.

Ronaldo grabs Real leveller

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo exchanged penalties at the Bernabeu last night as El Clasico ended in a 1-1 draw.

Messi converted in the 52nd minute after Raul Albiol had been sent off for a clumsy tackle on David Villa. Barcelona looked destined to hold on to their slender lead, but in the 82nd minute Dani Alves was adjudged to have taken down Marcelo, and Ronaldo crashed home.

In a game that only caught fire in the second half, Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid team defended deep, perhaps mindful of the Spanish Cup final this week and the forthcoming Champions League double-header between the two sides.

The game opened up after Ronaldo's penalty, but neither side could manage a crucial second, so Barcelona remain eight points clear at the top of the table.

The great rivals will have another chance to do battle on Wednesday.

US investors seal Roma deal

A new era in Italian football began yesterday when Thomas DiBenedetto led a group of US investors in purchasing Roma.

DiBenedetto ended the 18-year reign of the Sensi family and made Roma the first Serie A club to have foreign ownership.

"The business aspect has been very important but I love Rome and I want to do something big for this city," DiBenedetto said.

Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti, who played for Roma and has said he would one day love to coach the club, has been linked with a move to Roma.

Kuyt commits to Kop cause

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt has agreed a one-year contract extension to remain at Anfield until 2013.

The Holland international, who joined from Feyenoord in 2006, was contracted until next summer but has been rewarded for his form this season.

"I am very happy," said Kuyt.

"We have spent a long time [in discussions] but always with the intention to reach an agreement. All the conversations were conducted in a friendly atmosphere. It fits perfectly with the feeling I got at this club."

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