Thursday 14 December 2017

In brief: Stokes stars in Celtic rout

Neil Lennon was delighted at seeing his side leapfrog Rangers by two points at the top of the Scottish Premier League table after Celtic's 9-0 humiliation of Aberdeen at Parkhead yesterday, in a game where Anthony Stokes grabbed one of two Celtic hat-tricks.

"It was a wonderful day and a brilliant performance," the Celtic boss said. "It will have done the goal difference a power of good and the players a power of good."

Stokes revealed that both he and Gary Hooper, who also netted three times, were rewarded with a match ball. "Gary and I got a ball each after the game," said Stokes. "He wanted to take the second penalty when he was on a hat-trick but I knew if I had scored we would both have the chance."

Smith urges Gers rebound

Rangers manager Walter Smith branded suggestions that a team could maintain a 100 per cent record throughout the entire season as ridiculous after the Scottish champions dropped their first points last weekend.

Smith claimed dropped points are inevitable over the course of a campaign and simply urged his players to return to winning ways at St Mirren today. "We've made a good start to the season," he said. "You're not going to go through a season without dropping any points. You always try to make sure that you're not dropping that many and that means we need to get back on track and try to make sure that we win."

Koscielny calls for home rule

Laurent Koscielny has challenged his Arsenal team-mates to become "unbreakable" at the Emirates Stadium as Arsene Wenger's men look to keep up the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea with victory over Newcastle today.

Arsenal have had struggles at home this season, with laboured wins over Birmingham and bottom club West Ham following the shock defeat by West Brom on September 25.

"The toughest match for me so far was definitely West Brom," 24-year-old Koscielny said. "To lose against them at the Emirates Stadium left a bitter taste and we have to be unbreakable at home."

Keane happy with gritty win

Ipswich manager Roy Keane admits his side were given a stern test in the Tractor Boys' 2-1 victory over Sheffield United. Tamas Priskin gave the Blues a sixth-minute lead, and although Stephen Quinn levelled for the Blades, Gareth McAuley's 40th minute strike proved the winner.

"It was a tough game, a really tough game," said Keane. "They put us under a lot of pressure but we managed to hold on and grind out a result without being spectacular."

Ten-man QPR regain top spot

QPR manager Neil Warnock was delighted after his side's 3-1 win over Reading despite seeing Bradley Orr sent off.

Adel Taarabt opened the scoring from the penalty spot after he was fouled in the area by Matt Mills and Alejandro Faurlin doubled QPR's advantage before Shane Long pulled one back for the Royals. Tommy Smith sealed the win mid-way through the second-half to move QPR back up to the top of the Championship.

"I could see why the referee sent Orr off, but when you see it in slow motion it looks harsh," said Warnock. "But, if anything, it galvanised us."

Snodgrass the hero for Leeds

Robert Snodgrass stole the show as Leeds recorded back-to-back wins with a thrilling 3-2 success at Coventry.

The Scottish playmaker, regaining top form after an injury that ruled him out of the first seven weeks of the season, laid on an opener for the in-form Jonny Howson before netting a wonderful solo second.

Snodgrass stole the show with a fine exhibition of wing play that had the Coventry defenders bedazzled all the way through yesterday afternoon's game.

Fourth-placed Coventry hit back after the break through Lukas Jutkiewicz and, although Max Gradel's penalty was quickly cancelled out by Ben Turner's goal to set up a tense finish, Leeds held on.

Crofts takes centre stage

Andrew Crofts netted an injury-time equaliser -- and was then sent off -- as Norwich denied Burnley their first away win of the season in a 2-2 draw. Martin Paterson marked his return to the side with a first-half brace to seemingly put Burnley on their way to three points.

Substitute Chris Martin pulled one back for Norwich after 71 minutes, just eight minutes after replacing Simeon Jackson. Crofts popped up to level from close range, but was sent off moments later for his second booking.

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