Friday 23 February 2018

Keane nets late as Celtic stroll

Neil Lennon's chances of getting the Celtic manager's post on a permanent basis were boosted when his side scored four in a second-half mauling of Motherwell yesterday.

Parkhead was less than half-full at kick-off, indicating the depth of the disenchantment felt by the Hoops' fans with a torturous season drawing to a close.

Goals from Aiden McGeady, Darren O'Dea, debutant James Forrest and Robbie Keane extended the Hoops' winning run in the SPL to six games and set them up for the Old Firm derby against Rangers on Tuesday.

Four minutes into the second half McGeady beat Well keeper John Ruddy from the edge of the box with a delightful chip.

In the 82nd minute Forrest came on for McGeady to make his Celtic debut. Two minutes from time he ran on to a Marc-Antoine Fortune knock-on and dinked the ball over Ruddy from 12 yards to make it number three.

In a Celtic breakaway with seconds remaining Keane grabbed the fourth and sent away happy those fans who did turn up.

Hart hopes to keep Palace up

Paul Hart may be about to find himself out of a job for the third time in six months but he is determined to finish in style by saving Crystal Palace from relegation.

Hart was drafted in by the administrators in charge of the Eagles after Neil Warnock quit to join QPR two months ago, and his short-term contract will be up after today's relegation showdown at Sheffield Wednesday.

Proposed investors, the CPFC 2010 consortium, have so far been unable to complete a takeover leaving the club's future as uncertain as Hart's.

The 56-year-old, who was axed by Portsmouth in November and walked out after a month in charge of QPR, has no idea if any potential new owners will want to keep him on but he wants to ensure they take over a club still in the Championship.

"It's important the ownership issue is sorted and they are allowed to come into the club able to make their own decisions without people touting for a job," said Hart.

Palace, who were plunged into the relegation scrap after being deducted 10 points for entering into administration, need only a point to survive and send Wednesday down instead.

The only other issue to be settled today is who gets the last promotion play-off spot between Blackpool and Swansea. Blackpool, who host Bristol City, currently occupy sixth, one point ahead of Swansea, who entertain Doncaster.

Finn goal fires Fingal fourth

Sporting Fingal moved up to fourth place in the Airtricity Premier Division courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds last night.

Ronan Finn gave the visitors the lead on 43 minutes, his effort passing through the legs of backtracking Gavin Peers and wrong footing Rovers' goalkeeper Richard Brush, to leave it 1-0 at the break.

Glen Crowe should have stretched Sporting Fingal's advantage on 62 minutes only for Brush to block well, but Padraig Amond and Richie Ryan both went close at the other end on 64 and 71 minutes respectively.

Despite persistent late pressure from the home side -- and a late penalty shout -- Sporting Fingal held on for the win.

Sligo Rovers: R Brush; P Whelan (D Folan H-T), G Peers, A Keane, D Ventre (capt); J Dillon (M Blinkhorn 58), M Doninger (C O'Grady 72), R Ryan, G McCabe; P Amond, J Ndo.

Sporting Fingal: D Quigley; G O'Brien, S McFaul, S Paisley (capt) (B Gannon 50), S Williams; K Browne, C Byrne (K Dawson 87), R Finn, Kirby; G Crowe (G O'Neill 80), E Zayed.

Pellegrini silent on Special One

Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini kept his feelings to himself over speculation he will be replaced by Jose Mourinho in the summer as the title hopefuls prepare to host Osasuna tonight.

Pellegrini only took over last summer but, according to sections of the Spanish media, his tenure might be coming to an end with Inter Milan boss Mourinho favourite to take over.

Pellegrini, who has found himself under fire following early exits in the Champions League and Copa del Rey, brushed off questions on the matter, saying he was better off keeping his thoughts on the subject private. The Chilean could yet lead Madrid to the Primera Division title, with his side just one point behind Barcelona with four games remaining. Madrid have arguably the easier run-in, although Barca boast the better head-to-head record and that will be crucial if the two sides finish level.

"The league will not be decided until the end. Barcelona have to draw or lose a game and we have to win," said Pellegrini.

"Whichever team is leader has a better chance, but all the games will be decisive because the other teams are playing to get into the Europa League or to avoid relegation."

Sunday Independent

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