Tag Archives: finished

Christian Benteke not for sale, warns Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert

Benteke is going nowhere! Villa boss Lambert insists he won't sell striker

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UPDATED:

16:10 GMT, 3 December 2012

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has warned any interested clubs that 7million summer signing Christian Benteke is not for sale.

Benteke has been in sparkling form since his move from Genk on a four year contract.

He has has netted six goals, replaced Darren Bent as Villa’s No 1 striker, and also established himself in the Belgium side.

Denied: Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke had a goal ruled out against QPR at the weekend

Denied: Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke had a goal ruled out against QPR at the weekend

Lambert is constantly singing the praises of the 21-year-old and is adamant he will remain at Villa should any interest be forthcoming in the player.

He said: 'Christian has been excellent for us. He is a big strong lad but he can also play.

'If he keeps progressing the way he has so far, he will be an incredible player.

'I have to hold onto Benteke. He’s going nowhere.'

Lambert added: “I have run out of things to say about Christian. He is not the finished article but he has been excellent for us and a fans’ favourite.

'You have to be a good player to get into the current Belgium side and he has scored plenty of goals for them already.

'He might not peak for a few years yet. He’s only 21 and can be anything he wants.'

Premier League Bootroom: Robin Van Persie dare not fail at Manchester United – Martin Keown

Bootroom: Van Persie dare not fail at Manchester United

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UPDATED:

22:07 GMT, 14 September 2012

Robin van Persie saw Arsenal's performance at Anfield two weeks ago and used it to motivate himself at Southampton.

Their display against Liverpool was probably the best I've seen from them in four or five years. Van Persie will have digested the result and considered for a moment if he had made the right choice in leaving.

Three and easy: Van Persie bagged a hat-trick last tine out for Manchester United

Three and easy: Van Persie bagged a hat-trick last tine out for Manchester United

What's the score: Jamie Carragher

He will have seen the service Lukas
Podolski and Olivier Giroud are getting from Santiago Cazorla and
wondered if he had left just as Arsenal were clicking.

Winning so well
at Anfield a week after the champions went there and struggled is
impressive. It’s early days but it is possible that they could challenge
for the title.

Van Persie knows he must not fail at Manchester United. He left Arsenal because he wanted to win trophies and it will be unthinkable for him if Arsenal win one this season and United don’t.

It must be a massive motivation for him and it showed against Southampton. Having missed a penalty, he could see the negative headlines. So he had to make amends. He’s taken responsibility for his team already because of his personal mission to win something. He has to make sure he’s scoring and that his team are winning and doing better than Arsenal.

Van Persie looks like an inspired signing for United, who have bought the finished article, the outstanding player in the Premier League last season. If he hadn’t been there in the last two games, they would have struggled.

People used to goad the Arsenal fans by saying they were a one-man team but Manchester United don’t look much different.

Patience of a Santi: Arsenal are building a new team under Arsene Wenger

Patience of a Santi: Arsenal are building a new team under Arsene Wenger

How the big men match up: The Premier League's tall players

It's unusual for a new signing to
start so well — normally there is more of a bedding- in period. But he
was in such a rich vein of form that the switch doesn’t matter.

He’s clearly enjoying playing with Paul Scholes. Wayne Rooney has been the United talisman since Cristiano Ronaldo left and you don’t ever want him out injured. But Van Persie’s presence means his absence is not a crisis.

Not many players who have left
Arsenal in their prime have gone on to be hugely successful. Think of
Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Alex Hleb. But Van Persie will want to
emulate Patrick Vieira, who also left at 29 and won a host of trophies
in Italy.

TALL ORDER

Manchester City can expect an aerial bombardment from Peter Crouch and Stoke, but they are well equipped to deal with it.

When you look at the starting XIs for the last round of fixtures (right), you can see they are one of the biggest teams in the Premier League with six players over 6ft: Joe Hart (6ft 5in), Vincent Kompany (6ft 4in), Joleon Lescott (6ft 2in), Aleksandar Kolarov (6ft 1in), Yaya Toure and Edin Dzeko (6ft 3in).

PRAYING FOR PEACE AT QPR

There is so much riding on the game at Loftus Road between QPR and Chelsea after what happened between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand last season.

Chelsea have started well but they did last season, too, and then unravelled after the defeat at QPR. They need to avoid a repeat. More importantly, it is vital that everyone involved — players, staff, fans — should treat each other with respect.

We should be talking about football after the game, not another unsavoury incident. The players must set the right tone, even though passions will, as ever, be running high for a local derby.

Bootroom: The weekend's matches

Bootroom: The weekend action

David Price beats Sam Sexton

The Price is right! Deadly David promises bigger things after demolishing Sexton

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UPDATED:

07:18 GMT, 20 May 2012

David Price claimed the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles with a comprehensive victory over Sam Sexton by technical knockout in Liverpool.

The referee called a halt to proceedings in the fourth round of a one-sided clash when Sexton, who did not look in the same class as his opponent, was sent crashing to the canvas.

Price, 28, told Sky Sports 1: 'It's everything I've worked towards since I turned professional. This was the first target, that's done. Now we can move on.'

Crowned: David Price celebrates with his British and Commonwealth titles

Crowned: David Price celebrates with his British and Commonwealth titles

Sexton, 27, had already been sent sprawling in the third as Price unveiled his impressive jab.

'I felt like I boxed the perfect fight,' Price said. 'I don't think Sam Sexton laid a glove on me. I knew when I started getting through I'd hurt him.'

Asked what was next, Price said: 'I'm ready to move on and challenge the best out there.

Crushing: Price delivers another blow to Sam Sexton in Liverpool

Crushing: Price delivers another blow to Sam Sexton in Liverpool

'I've got to take my time, but making a statement like that, I'm going to have to move forward again.'

Price predicted he would go on to become world champion.

'I believe that is my destiny,' he said. 'I'm doing everything right. 'I'm just going to keep working in the gym. I'm not the finished article yet but I will get there.'

Down and out: Sexton was knocked out in the fourth round by Price

Down and out: Sexton was knocked out in the fourth round by Price

Promoter Frank Maloney added: 'What we saw tonight was a perfect performance – 10 out of 10. That's the best jab I've seen since Lennox Lewis.

'We've now got someone who I believe will bring the heavyweight world title back to Britain.'

The Price is right! Deadly David promises bigger things after demolishing Sam Sexton

The Price is right! Deadly David promises bigger things after demolishing Sam Sexton

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UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 19 May 2012

David Price claimed the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles with a comprehensive victory over Sam Sexton by technical knockout in Liverpool.

The referee called a halt to proceedings in the fourth round of a one-sided clash when Sexton, who did not look in the same class as his opponent, was sent crashing to the canvas.

Price, 28, told Sky Sports 1: 'It's everything I've worked towards since I turned professional. This was the first target, that's done. Now we can move on.'

Onwards and upwards: David Price's victory take him a step closer to a world title fight

Onwards and upwards: David Price's victory take him a step closer to a world title fight

Sexton, 27, had already been sent sprawling in the third as Price unveiled his impressive jab.

'I felt like I boxed the perfect fight,' Price said. 'I don't think Sam Sexton laid a glove on me. I knew when I started getting through I'd hurt him.'

Asked what was next, Price said: 'I'm ready to move on and challenge the best out there.

'I've got to take my time, but making a statement like that, I'm going to have to move forward again.'

Price predicted he would go on to become world champion.

'I believe that is my destiny,' he said. 'I'm doing everything right. 'I'm just going to keep working in the gym. I'm not the finished article yet but I will get there.'

Promoter Frank Maloney added: 'What we saw tonight was a perfect performance – 10 out of 10. That's the best jab I've seen since Lennox Lewis.

'We've now got someone who I believe will bring the heavyweight world title back to Britain.'

Thimaar breaks track record in landing Queen"s Prize at Kempton

Thimaar breaks track record in landing Queen's Prize at Kempton

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UPDATED:

15:18 GMT, 7 April 2012

Last year's jockey title rivals were
at full pelt in the Betfred The Bonus King Queen's Prize at Kempton as
Paul Hanagan and Thimaar edged out the De Sousa-ridden Gulf Of Naples.

Thimaar (4-1) had the air of a
potentially good stayer last season and, now gelded, looked closer to
the finished article as he lowered the two-mile track record.

Track record: Thimaar and Paul Hanagan land the Queen's Prize

Track record: Thimaar and Paul Hanagan land the Queen's Prize

Soon in front under Hanagan, he was tackled by 100-30 favourite Gulf Of Naples with two furlongs remaining and was made to pull out all the stops to win by a length, with a yawning seven lengths back to the rest.

'He was the heaviest horse in the yard by a long way last year, so we gelded him because if you weigh less, there's less to carry. It was nothing to do with his attitude,' said trainer John Gosden.

'He has won at Ascot before and will now go for the Sagaro Stakes on May 2.'

Long action: Thimaar has Sagaro target

Long action: Thimaar has Sagaro target

Hanagan, who has made a good start to life as Hamdan Al Maktoum's number one rider, said: 'He's an absolute pleasure to ride, he could get into a lovely rhythm round there and has a lovely temperament.

'He's got such a long action and he likes to use it.

'I didn't really want to commit that far out but the Mark Johnston horse took me on and it probably did him a bit of good, he pricked his ears and went again.'

James Fanshawe's Captivator showed determination to short-head the 7-4 favourite Law Of The Range in the Betfred Mobile Sports Snowdrop Fillies' Stakes.

Lord Vestey's home-bred had captured some minor black type last season but appeared an improved mare at five.

Kieren Fallon pointed Captivator (11-1) through the gaps but faced a sustained challenge from Law Of The Range in the final stages and only just held on.

'We tried her over longer distances last season but she seems to have become quicker so this mile suited,' said Fanshawe.

'She's from a really good family, the dam Cashew has produced horses like Macadamia, and it's great she has stayed in training.

'I'm going to have to have a think about where she'll go now.'

Fallon factor: Captivator ridden (left) took the Snowdrop Fillies Stakes

Fallon factor: Captivator ridden (left) took the Snowdrop Fillies Stakes

Law Of The Range, who was jarred-up from her outing at Glorious Goodwood at the end of July, also thrilled connections with her effort.

A drop back to a mile brought about a startling turn of fortunes for Nazreef in the Betfred Goals Galore Handicap.

Hughie Morrison's gelding failed at hurdling before winning the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton but had made little impression in last week's Rosebery Handicap at the Sunbury course.

Always in front under Darryll Holland, Nazreef looked surrounded with a furlong remaining but found another gear to quicken three lengths clear of 100-30 favourite Double Dealer.

Owner Mike Watson said: 'We tried him over longer last week but it didn't really work. He's been a great horse for us. He's best on the Polytrack but Hughie says he'll go on grass if it's no quicker than good.

Nobody does it better: Darryl Holland at his front-running best on Nazreef

Nobody does it better: Darryl Holland at his front-running best on Nazreef

'He'd like to run him in the Spring Cup at Newbury but it might come too fast, so there's races like the Hunt Cup and the London Mile Final here later in the year.'

Mark Johnston unleashed what looked a pretty smart early-season juvenile as Baileys Jubilee sprinted clear in the Betfred The Bonus King Bingo/British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes.

The daughter of Bahamian Bounty (9-1) looked one of the sharper candidates in the paddock but her turn of foot when asked to go by Silvestre de Sousa with a furlong to run was electrifying as she sprinted four lengths away from Marvelino.

Smart prospect: Baileys Jubilee and Silvestre De Sousa (left) took the maiden

Smart prospect: Baileys Jubilee and Silvestre De Sousa (left) took the maiden

Modern Society, a very rare skewbald or 'painted' racehorse, looked no more than a curiosity at present as he finished a distant last.

Johnston's assistant, Jock Bennett, said: 'She had known her job in the stalls at home and she had been working well, but the best thing about that was the way she picked up and went away. '

It gives us a bit more of a line with our two-year-olds now. I'd imagine she'll go on for a novice event.'

Bring on the kids: England old guard given a shock as Pearce opts for youth against Dutch

Bring on the kids: England old guard given a shock as Pearce opts for youth against Dutch

Stuart Pearce will name an experimental squad for England’s friendly against Holland on Wednesday.

The interim manager spent the day calling senior players to inform them they would not be involved because he will use the game to look at younger talent.

Joleon Lescott, Michael Dawson, Jermain Defoe and Bobby Zamora were among those contacted by Pearce, with the manager assuring them it was only because of their age that they were being omitted for this game.

It led to speculation that Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley could be part of a squad including Micah Richards, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Kyle Walker.

Opportunity knocks: Tom Cleverley (centre) could feature against Holland

Opportunity knocks: Tom Cleverley (centre) could feature against Holland

It will be interesting to see if Pearce also turns to the Swansea duo of Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer.

Pearce is expected to include some senior players. Wayne Rooney, Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard are all thought to be in the squad, and one of those is sure to be Pearce’s captain.

That decision may be delayed, though, until he knows which players emerge from the weekend games unscathed.

Decisions, decisions: Stuart Pearce is expected to opt for youth

Decisions, decisions: Stuart Pearce is expected to opt for youth

Some senior players have been surprised by Pearce’s approach to the fixture. Lescott said: ‘It’s strange, but I’m not one of those involved, so it’s a chance for the younger players to show how good they are.’

England beat Spain and Sweden in November under Fabio Capello, but a number of players feel a game against another side who reached the World Cup final would be useful preparation for Euro 2012. After all, it is not like this emerging, evolving side can consider themselves the finished article.

Staying: Arsenal winger Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to remain with the U21s

Staying: Arsenal winger Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to remain with the U21s

It might also make life difficult for the Under 21 side Pearce normally manages. They meet Belgium in a European qualifier on the same night but could now be without several key men, although Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is understood to be staying with the younger side.

England are very short of centre halves with John Terry and Phil Jagielka sidelined, so it could be a hugely inexperienced defence unless Pearce recalls Rio Ferdinand. For Jones and Smalling, or Gary Cahill, a match against the Dutch would be a big test.

On the flip side, a recall for Richards is overdue. The full back was incredulous when Capello overlooked him for the last squad and understandably so given his form for Manchester City. Richards is a serious alternative to Glen Johnson, despite picking up a slight injury in the Europa League clash with Porto. Gareth Barry also collected a knock.

Welcome return: Micah Richards (left) has been in superb form this season

Welcome return: Micah Richards (left) has been in superb form this season

Rooney is set to miss Manchester United’s match against Ajax tonight with a throat infection but Cleverley is likely to start and his return for England would be timely given the concerns over Jack Wilshere’s availability.

Perhaps most intriguing is whether Pearce will recall Andy Carroll. The Liverpool striker was a source of frustration for Capello but Pearce could offer him a fresh chance.

England"s batsmen need to answer wake-up call – Nasser Hussain

It's time for England's batsmen to answer the wake-up call

England's batsmen have all built fantastic records and have batted beautifully in all conditions apart from these, but there have been hints that there was a chance something like this would happen here.

When the ball has done a bit and when the bar has been raised, England’s batsmen have struggled at times, against South Africa in Johannesburg, against Australia at Headingley and Perth and at home against Pakistan in 2010.

Now they have been found wanting against proper bowling, spinners who can turn it both ways.

Plenty to ponder: Andrew Strauss and his England side lost heavily to Pakistan

Plenty to ponder: Andrew Strauss and his England side lost heavily to Pakistan

This does not make them bad players. It just means they are not the finished article, and just because they have bashed Australia and India around, it doesn’t mean they have sorted out the game. Cricket has a habit of hitting back and biting you on the backside.

The mitigating factor is the quality of the Pakistan attack. Make no mistake, this is a very good bowling line-up, better than the ones England are likely to face in Sri Lanka and India.

But that is how Test cricket should be. It was how it was when players had to face Muttiah Muralitharan spinning it both ways, Shane Warne in his pomp, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram reverse swinging it and any number of great West Indian fast bowlers.

It means that, when the going gets tough, England’s batsmen have to find a way of getting the job done, of making tough, ugly runs when the game is not in their favour.

Let’s look at individuals. Ian Bell averaged 112 last year and has proved an excellent player against good spin bowling. But against great spin bowling he has always struggled, and he has done so again here against Saeed Ajmal.

Blame game: Ian Bell struggled throughout the series

Blame game: Ian Bell struggled throughout the series

The case of Kevin Pietersen confounds me because he has performed against great bowling but in recent times has struggled against decent bowling. And I haven’t liked the sight of him and others staring at the big screen, shaking their heads after DRS verdicts. It’s the same for both sides. Work it out and get on with it.

I am a big believer in only making changes for the better. We are seeing young batsmen like Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler emerge in one-day cricket but for Tests I would take the same seven batsmen to Sri Lanka.

Look at how Stuart Broad has repaid England’s faith after they stuck with him during a bad period last year. Look at what Alastair Cook did after England stuck with him in 2010. Show faith in people you believe in and there is every chance they will repay that faith.

Eoin Morgan hasn’t done it consistently yet in Test cricket, as Broad and Cook had done when they had their bad patches, but I don’t think England will draw a line under him after a three-Test series because they like his temperament so much.

Give him time: Eoin Morgan is another who struggled with the bat

Give him time: Eoin Morgan is another who struggled with the bat

Andrew Strauss has enough credit in the bank to be given an extended chance to regain his best batting form because he has been an outstanding leader who has again marshalled his bowling attack superbly during this series.

Yet Strauss needs a big score soon for his peace of mind and my only concern, with him missing one-day cricket, is his extended absences.

Strauss is a touch player and I feel they need to be playing more often than power ones. We won’t see the captain again until the warm-up games in Sri Lanka and that’s a worry.

This is a wake-up call for England. This is the game telling them, ‘Hold on, don’t look too far ahead. You have done it at home and in Australia but you haven’t done it in Asia for a decade against anyone other than Bangladesh. Don’t get ahead of yourselves.’

I would say to England, forget the IPL, forget world No 1 status, forget your legacy as one of the greatest England teams and just work out a way of getting runs in sub-continental conditions.

I still think this group of batsmen can do that.

Australian Open 2012: Andy Murray looks to tame Ryan Harrison

Murray embarks on another Grand Slam quest with Lendl the legend in his corner and a challenge to tame the… WILD CHILD

He is his country’s great young hope, very talented and has a bit of a temper on him.

No wonder 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison can understand the comparisons between himself and a younger Andy Murray.

The two men face off in the first round of the Australian Open and it represents an intriguing test for Murray as he attempts to get his Grand Slam partnership with Ivan Lendl off to a winning start.

Dream team: Murray and Lendl prepare for the Scot's first-round match

Dream team: Murray and Lendl prepare for the Scot's first-round match

Before that a quintet of British singles players were intent on ensuring that, if he does so, it is not as the country’s sole representative left in the tournament.

While the 24-year-old Scot waits for day two, James Ward, Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Laura Robson were all due to feature in the opening wave of matches.

Having had a full week of work with Lendl, all eyes at Melbourne Park will be on Murray to see if the eight-time Grand Slam winner has been able to effect any changes on the world No 4’s style.

Court time: Murray prepares for his first round clash

Court time: Murray prepares for his first round clash

The indications are that we may see Murray slightly more aggressive than usual against a potentially awkward opponent who is one of a group of younger players gradually emerging with the threat that they can one day upset the established world order. With Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters approaching the twilight zone,

Harrison carries the considerable burden of being America’s best prospect.
The son of the head coach at John Newcombe’s tennis ‘ranch’ in Texas, he has long been marked out for the role.

Harrison is about to start his second full year on the ATP Tour and his world ranking of 84 shows that he is not the finished article but, should Murray exhibit some early tournament nerves, then he is already good enough to cause problems.

On the front foot: Murray is looking to get off to a good start to 2012 by winning his first major

On the front foot: Murray is looking to get off to a good start to 2012 by winning his first major

At the US Open in September the teenager led world No 5 David Ferrer by two sets to one, but he has often struggled to keep his emotions in check and it has acted to his detriment.

Few players appear as regularly on the fines list for racket abuse and at Roland Garros last year he added a new dimension to the practice by hurling his implement into a nearby tree.

Nobody is as good at driving their opponents to distraction as Murray with his constant changes of spin, pace and angles, so it might be a lively encounter and the British No 1 feels that could be to his advantage. ‘I’ll try and make him lose his temper early on,’

Murray said. ‘It’s something that helps if your opponent gets down on himself, and if that happens then you’ve got to keep your foot on the gas.

‘It’s important I get off to a good start. He’s obviously a good player, got a good serve and forehand, but he can be a little erratic. He plays a similar style to Roddick.’

The rivals: Roger Federer

The rivals: Rafael Nadal

The rivals: Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal stand in the way of Murray winning his first Grand Slam

Harrison, impressively articulate, explained himself thus: ‘I’m a very energetic person, I’ve had moments in the past when it has got out of hand, so one of the big challenges for me this year is to learn how to channel it all as positively as possible. But I will never be a guy who just walks from side to side and doesn’t say anything.’

Murray is used to arriving at this tournament with much attention focused on him, but the interest has been taken to a new level by the arrival of Lendl in his team, and there is the possibility that there will be a distracting and pressure-adding element to it.

As he pointed out, it is him playing the tournament and it will be him winning or losing rather than the coach, but the extra scrutiny is inevitable.

At least he is not the overwhelming favourite, which the bookies have agreed is defending champion Novak Djokovic, despite the fact that he has played no tennis of serious note since the World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London at the end of November.

The challenger: Ryan Harrison will look to upset Murray in the opening round

The challenger: Ryan Harrison will look to upset Murray in the opening round

Djokovic also waits until day two before entering the fray and could face a nasty third-round clash against highly-rated and huge-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

His chief rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, like the five other Britons, were due in action on Monday. Amazingly — and it is a tribute to their dominance of rankings one and two — Federer and Nadal have not been in the same half of a Grand Slam draw since 2005.

THE NOT-SO-TINY TEMPER TANTRUMS OF RYAN HARRISON

Ryan Harrison used to receive 20 push-ups from his parents as punishment for his displays of anger. Now he receives regular fines for his conduct. Here are some of the American’s flashpoints from last year.

Repeatedly hurled his racket during his US Open first-round defeat by Marin Cilic. He also kicked a ball into the crowd, prompting boos, as he lost to the Croat in straight sets.A week before the Flushing Meadows event, he threw his racket three times in six games against Canadian Pierre Duclos in the Winston-Salem Open. After his serve was broken for a second time, he chucked his racket over a fence and into a car park.Raged at an umpire during his World Tennis Challenge match against Frenchman Michael Llodra in Adelaide. ‘Are you kidding me You are not even paying attention. The ball is three inches long.’

Martin Jol gutted after Fulham Europa League exit

Jol gutted as Fulham”s Europa hopes vanish after injury-time stunner

Fulham boss Martin Jol admitted his deep disappointment after his side conceded an equaliser deep into stoppage time against Odense which knocked them out of the Europa League.

The Londoners surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Craven Cottage and slip from second to third place in Group K.

Djiby Fall headed the equaliser for the Danes with the last action of the match after Hans Henrik Andreasen”s free-kick had brought them back into the contest.

Get your coat: Jol was dumbfounded by the way the game ended

Get your coat: Jol was dumbfounded by the way the game ended

“It was the last cross of the match, so I”m very, very disappointed,” Jol said.

“They scored a goal from a free-kick and the wall was probably not in the right position.

“We couldn”t get forward, we didn”t do what we did in the first half, it was totally different.”

Crushed: The Fulham players are inconsolable after Fall

Crushed: Fulham players are inconsolable after Fall”s strike (below) sent them out

Crushed: The Fulham players are inconsolable after Fall

Fulham scored two quickfire goals in the first half with strikes from Clint Dempsey and Kerim Frei putting them in command, but they were unable to repeat that display after the break.

“They dropped deep and they tried to protect the lead, but you have to score a goal and try and get in their half,” Jol added.

“We didn”t do that enough. To give two goals away is very disappointing.”

Dane and out: Odense finished bottom of their group

Dane and out: Odense finished bottom of their group