Thursday 22 February 2018

Hodgson hails Long on return

Roy Hodgson hailed the performance of West Brom striker Shane Long after his headed winner in a 2-1 success over Bolton at the Hawthorns.

Albion had feared Long would be out for up to eight weeks with a knee injury but he returned after only a month to turn home Nicky Shorey's second-half cross.

It enabled him to put behind the frustration of missing out on Ireland's Euro 2012 play-off win over Estonia.

"It was an easy decision when Shane was declared fit because he is a good player and when he doesn't play, we miss him.

"He adds a dimension to the way we play. When we win the ball back and get it forward, things build up from him," said Hodgson.

"Long was only touch and go in the sense that doctors advise caution and players and coaches are more adventurous," he added.

Long's winner helped Hodgson to get over the frustration of what he perceived to be a harsh penalty awarded against Jerome Thomas for a foul on Fabrice Muamba. Ivan Klasnic converted the spot-kick to cancel out Thomas' early opening goal for the Baggies, when he beat the offside trap and rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Baines strikes late for Blues

Everton manager David Moyes admitted securing three points with a 2-1 win against Wolves was far more important than the performance.

Having gone behind to Stephen Hunt's penalty, Phil Jagielka's header equalised just before half-time but it was not until seven minutes before the final whistle that Leighton Baines stroked home from the spot to secure the Toffees' a crucial win.

Moyes confessed, after five defeats in their previous six Premier League matches, he was not that bothered about how they achieved victory. "The points were all-important today," he said.

"The way we went about it and how we got there was relevant but not as relevant as getting the three points."

Pulis fuming at penalty calls

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was aggrieved to see his team have two strong penalty claims turned down as QPR emerged victorious on a 3-2 scoreline in a thriller at the Britannia.

The Potters' appeals for a spot-kick were waved away by referee Mike Jones in the seventh minute after Jermaine Pennant went down in the box under the attentions of QPR captain Joey Barton.

The outcome was the same when Barton felled Robert Huth in the area towards the end of the game. "There was Pennant in the first half, and then the one in the second half," said Pulis.

"I have had a good look at the DVD and I think they are decisions that could have gone our way easily."

Stoke went ahead early through Jonathan Walters, but Heidar Helguson equalised in the 22nd minute and Luke Young then struck before the break. Helguson made it 3-1 in the 54th minute, and although Ryan Shawcross' header 10 minutes later reduced the deficit, the hosts came up short.

Schwarzer the Fulham hero

Fulham boss Martin Jol praised veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer after he pulled off a stunning late save to deny Sunderland as the game finished goalless.

The 39-year-old prevented Stephane Sessegnon's deflected injury-time shot finding the back of his net with an instinctive block to ensure the Londoners headed south with a point. "He does that all the time. He's got a lot of experience and great quality, so I am happy he is our goalkeeper," said Jol.

Martinez rues key decision

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez insisted his side's "small voice" in the Premier League is counting against them after a controversial 3-3 draw with Blackburn.

The Latics looked to be heading for three priceless points after Albert Crusat's 88th minute strike before Ayegbeni Yakubu equalised with a penalty eight minutes into injury-time.

But Martinez preferred to focus on Blackburn's second goal on the hour, which dragged the visitors back level at 2-2, despite having David Dunn sent off.

Yakubu placed the ball for Morten Gamst Pedersen but did not appear to touch it before Pedersen dribbled and crossed for Junior Hoilett to bundle home. "If I am going to be honest about it I am going to get into trouble and it is going to cost me a lot of money. But it seems too easy to get these decisions wrong," said Martinez.

"We are a small voice in the competition and we played like a real giant."

Stokes brace sinks Caley

Anthony Stokes' second-half double gave Celtic three valuable SPL points as they took a 2-0 win away at Inverness CT, but the game changed in the 36th minute when Caley midfielder Greg Tansey was controversially sent off following a challenge with Georgios Samaras.

Caley boss Terry Butcher hit out at the referee over the dismissal, saying: "I have seen it several times and it was a deadly assault by a fingernail. His elbow is nowhere near Samaras' face."

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