Sunday 25 March 2018

Keane strike boosts Bhoys

Robbie Keane's first-half strike against Dundee United at Parkhead took Celtic to within seven points of Rangers at the top of the SPL and set up a tasty Old Firm encounter at Ibrox next Sunday.

Keane, on loan from Tottenham, turned in a man-of-the-match performance, topped off in the 21st minute when he raced on to a through ball from Diomansy Kamara to slot the ball past Tannadice 'keeper Dusan Pernis.

Rangers have a game in hand after their lunchtime game at St Johnstone was called off due to the frost but Celtic can increase the pressure in Govan next week in a game which now takes on added significance.

Taylor swoops for Magpies

Newcastle continued their unbeaten home record in the Championship as they registered a comfortable 3-0 win against Preston.

Peter Lovenkrands had opened the scoring for the home side in only the third minute and, despite the visitors creating more than there fair share of chances, Kevin Nolan's close-range strike extended Newcastle's lead after 55 minutes.

Ryan Taylor rounded off proceedings by scoring in injury-time for the second consecutive game to bring Newcastle's goal tally in their last two games to seven as well as extending their lead at the top of the table to five points.

Edwards gives Ipswich hope

Carlos Edwards came to the rescue for Roy Keane as Ipswich reacted to the manager's midweek criticism with a 1-0 victory over relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

The 31-year-old, who played under Keane at Sunderland, gave the visitors a half-time advantage with his first goal for the club on his return to the starting line-up.

Keane had accused his squad of lacking character after their defeat to struggling Peterborough in midweek. But they showed the fight to satisfy their manager and secure a win which lifts them ahead of their opponents and out of the bottom three.

Ipswich were aided by a poor Wednesday performance that will intensify the anxiety around Hillsborough.

O'Neill hailed as new Clough

Burnley boss Brian Laws is relishing the chance to take on the man he considers the modern equivalent of Brian Clough.

Laws and Martin O'Neill both played under the legendary Clough in separate eras at Nottingham Forest. The pair will meet today as Laws continues his sharp Premier League learning curve with a trip to Aston Villa.

"Martin has had a phenomenal season but he is a phenomenal manager," said Laws. "If I could say anyone was close to Brian Clough's management, it would be him. He would say there is no one near Brian Clough, he was a one-off, and I don't think he would want to be likened to him. But the way he sets about things and motivates his players is the key factor in their success.

"He is more of a self-motivator. He makes the players play out of their skins and that is something that is unique."

Hodgson sets his sights high

Roy Hodgson believes Fulham are on course to emulate their most successful season under his guidance.

The Cottagers exceeded all expectations last term when they finished seventh in the Premier League. What sets the season apart for the Fulham manager is their ongoing success in the FA Cup and Europa League. Despite the workload placed on an injury-hit squad, Hodgson expects them to perform on all fronts.

"The FA Cup is very special and that quarter-final will probably be the most important match we play in the coming weeks," Hodgson said.

"The game in Shakhtar is one we'll definitely want to do well in. We have another 12 games in the Premier League and we have to make sure we continue producing performances like we did in the first leg against Shakhtar."

Moreno ready to take the hit

Wigan's on-loan Bolivia striker Marcelo Moreno is prepared to take the hard knocks of the Premier League if it means scoring the goals that will safeguard the club's survival.

After two substitute appearances for the Latics, Moreno believes he has adapted quickly.

"I feel good. My position is right up front, whether by myself or as part of a three-man forward line it is all the same to me.What I have noticed is defenders certainly don't pull any punches in this country. They get stuck in -- but that's fine," he said.

Sunday Independent

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