Tag Archives: opportunist

Chelsea"s Oscar pledges to bring electric Champions League form into the Premier League

Look out City and United! Oscar pledges to bring electric Euro form into the Premier League

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UPDATED:

22:13 GMT, 8 November 2012

Brazilian playmaker Oscar reflected on another Champions League wonder goal, claiming afterwards that he can do even better.

The midfielder added to a spectacular strike against Juventus with a stunning 40-yard effort that helped defeat Shakhtar Dontsk 3-2 at Stamford Bridge.

He said that his performance levels will raise as he becomes used to the demands of English football and as he develops an understanding with his team-mates.

All four of his goals have come in the Champions League. And although he has yet to make the same sort of impact in the Premier League, he says his time will come.

Magical: Oscar reacted quickly to Andriy Pyatov's botched header

Magical: Oscar reacted quickly to Andriy Pyatov's botched header

'I feel as though I've settled well, although all my goals so far have come in Europe,' he said, 'the most important thing is I'm adapting myself to Chelsea.

'I have to keep that process going, keep getting used to my team-mates. I can do better.

'It is a very different sort of football here – compared to Brazil in particular, and it does take some getting used to.

'These are my first experiences in English football, so naturally there is a process of adaptation as I get used to the different environment but I'm pleased with everything so far.

'Every game I play I will get more used to it, so I know I will keep improving.

'I've been really happy with the move. Both in terms of the football and in terms of the city – London is a marvellous place to live.

You little beauty: Fernando Torres and Ramires grab Oscar after his opportunist strike

You little beauty: Fernando Torres and Ramires grab Oscar after his opportunist strike

'As a player, I have a lot to learn and there is room for improvement. I have to show what I'm capable of and I feel I'm getting better with every day.

'It's the same with the relationship with my team-mates. You can feel that improving and it's a pleasure to play for a team which attacks like Chelsea does.

'I'm Brazilian, so of course, I like playing this style of football a lot. It makes me happy to be playing in a team which plays this way and be at a club that I enjoy. It's important to me.'

And what of those spectacular strikes

'I've not scored many like that in my career,' he added, 'it's definitely the first time I've scored from that sort of distance. I can't remember another one from that range. It was a beautiful goal.'

Harlequins 16 Saracens 18: Owen Farrell on fire

Harlequins 16 Saracens 18: Farrell on fire for Sarries to break unbeaten Quins run

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UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 30 September 2012

England fly-half Owen Farrell kicked the winning penalty six minutes from time as Saracens consigned Harlequins to their first defeat in five Aviva Premiership matches this season.

Farrell scored all 18 points for the visitors, with six penalties, in a hard-fought encounter at the Twickenham Stoop.

Harlequins, knocked off the top of the table when Northampton beat Wasps on Friday night, replied with an opportunist try from scrum-half Danny Care and 11 points from the boot of fly-half Nick Evans.

On form: Owen Farrell scored all of Sarries points

On form: Owen Farrell scored all of Sarries points

Breakout: Brad Barritt is tackled by Harlequins' Nick Easter

Breakout: Brad Barritt is tackled by Harlequins' Nick Easter

Match facts

Harlequins: Brown, Stegman, Hopper, Turner-Hall, Monye, Evans, Care, Marler, Gray, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Guest, Robshaw, Easter.

Replacements: Buchanan for Gray (28), Matthews for Kohn (54), Fa'asavalu for Guest (54).

Not Used: Lambert, Collier, Dickson, Clegg, Lindsay-Hague.

Sin Bin: Kohn (33).

Tries: Care. Cons: Evans. Pens: Evans 3.

Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Tomkins, Barritt, Wyles, Farrell, Wigglesworth, Gill, Brits, Du Plessis, Borthwick, Hargreaves, Brown, Fraser, Joubert.

Replacements: Strettle for Tomkins (53), Hodgson for Wyles (69), Spencer for Wigglesworth (74), Vunipola for Gill (49), Smit for Brits (63), Stevens for Du Plessis (45), Kruis for Hargreaves (54), Saull for Fraser (72).

Sin Bin: Kruis (66).

Pens: Farrell 6.

Att: 14,224

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

But the usually dependable former All
Black missed three kickable second-half penalties, any one of which
would have been enough to preserve Quins' 100 per cent record this
season.

Evans kicked Harlequins into a
second-minute lead but six minutes later he saw a second attempt rebound
off the post after Sarries flanker Will Fraser pulled down a rolling
maul.

Saracens drew level in the 12th minute with Farrell's simple opening penalty after Harlequins strayed offside.

Two minutes later Evans restored his side's lead with his second successful kick.

Farrell equalised again in the 21st
minute after former England number eight Nick Easter was penalised for
not rolling away from a ruck.

The first try-scoring opportunity was
wasted by Quins. Evans found Easter but, with full-back Mike Brown
outside him, the back-row man's final pass went straight into the arms
of Saracens' England wing Chris Ashton.

A quick break out of defence put
Sarries on the front foot when Farrell and hooker Schalk Brits combined
to release Ashton down the right touchline but he was superbly tackled
into touch by Brown.

Harlequins hit trouble when they lost
hooker Joe Gray to injury, had lock Ollie Kohn sin-binned and fell
behind to Farrell's third penalty.

Over the line: Danny Care dives over to score a try

Over the line: Danny Care dives over to score a try

Gray's game ended in the 28th minute
when he was replaced for the second time by Rob Buchanan, only four
minutes after returning to the pitch following a 14-minute blood-injury
absence.

Five minutes later referee Andrew
Small showed Kohn the yellow card for killing the ball near his own line
and Farrell landed the resulting penalty.

On the move: Care breaks through

On the move: Care breaks through

But 14-man Quins put the misfortunes
behind them when Care, looking far more lively than England scrum-half
rival and opposite number Richard Wigglesworth, scored a real sniper's
try.

Exploiting a rare gap in the
Premiership's meanest defence, he dashed clear to touch down near the
posts, leaving Evans a simple conversion.

Charge: Harlequins' Mike Brown breaks through a tackle from Saracens' Will Fraser (left) and Steve Borthwick

Charge: Harlequins' Mike Brown breaks through a tackle from Saracens' Will Fraser (left) and Steve Borthwick

Farrell reduced Quins' lead to a single point with a 45-metre penalty four minutes into the second half.

Then hooker Brits produced a touch of
magic worthy of a half-back when he found space and directed an
inch-perfect kick into the corner for the chasing Ashton but he was once
again thwarted by Brown's first-class covering.

Evans missed a 52nd-minute penalty
kick for Harlequins and, three minutes later, Farrell kicked the
visitors ahead after Quins were penalised at the breakdown.

Pure gold: Mo Farah does the Mobot with the Harlequins mascots and daughter Rihanna

Pure gold: Mo Farah does the Mobot with the Harlequins mascots and daughter Rihanna

Evans was off-target again in the 62nd
minute after Sarries' replacement prop Mako Vunipola was penalised for
entering a ruck from the side.

But Evans made no mistake from in
front of the posts in the 66th minute after Saracens' replacement lock
George Kruis, who had only been on the pitch for 12 minutes, was
yellow-carded for hands in the ruck.

Evans then missed another penalty shot before Farrell kicked the winner in the 74th minute.

Wallets and watches stolen from Chelsea training ground

EXCLUSIVE: Wallets and watches stolen from Blues HQ in Chelsea raid

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UPDATED:

22:15 GMT, 25 September 2012

Chelsea have called in police after six wallets, nine mobile phones and several watches were stolen from staff and players at the training ground in yet another amazing security breach at the club.

The thefts, which took place earlier this month, were discovered when the players returned to the changing room after training at their Cobham base in Surrey.

It is the latest serious incident at the training ground this year and has caused disruption and anger amongst the players affected.

Raid: Chelsea's training ground was the site of a theft

Raid: Chelsea's training ground was the site of a theft

Earlier this year a knife was discovered in the dressing room at the club’s academy. The club claimed it had been mislaid by a workman.

Chelsea fired academy starlet Jacob Mellis after he caused a full-scale evacuation of the training complex by letting off a smoke bomb.

On top of that, three of Chelsea’s staff damaged the European Cup while posing for unauthorised pictures with the trophy won in a thrilling final against Bayern Munich last May.

Absent: The theft took place while Chelsea were training

Absent: The theft took place while Chelsea were training

Players are now demanding to know how their possessions could have been taken during an hour-and-a-half training session.

Although Chelsea insist the thefts are not an inside job, police have yet to make an arrest after they were called in last week.

This is the first time police have been called to the training ground about alleged thefts, but there have been various disturbing reports involving players’ personal effects this year.

Joy of six: Chelsea cruised to victory over Wolves on Tuesday night

Joy of six: Chelsea cruised to victory over Wolves on Tuesday night

Players have frequently complained about cash going missing from their changing room but there has never been any proof of theft.

Chelsea are convinced the crimes have been committed by an opportunist thief walking into the training ground. Police are studying CCTV footage of the facility.

On Tuesday night, Chelsea said the thefts did not involve the first-team dressing room, but the identities of the victims have not been revealed.

SIX NATION 2012: Stuart Lancaster hails "outstanding" England

Lancaster hails 'outstanding' England as he awaits decision on top job

PUBLISHED:

19:49 GMT, 17 March 2012

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UPDATED:

19:49 GMT, 17 March 2012

England interim head coach Stuart Lancaster felt his team had been 'outstanding in every department' as they closed out their RBS 6 Nations campaign with a 30-9 win over Ireland at Twickenham.

Owen Farrell kicked 20 points in a near-flawless afternoon, while referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try against an Irish scrum that was obliterated from start to finish.

Ben Youngs completed the rout with an opportunist late try as England finished championship runners-up to Grand Slam winners Wales, muting awful Ireland's St Patrick's Day celebrations in the process and enhancing Lancaster's claims to be the permanent successor to Martin Johnson.

Ending on a high: Stuart Lancaster (middle) celebrates with Forwards coach Graham Rowntree and Backs Coach Andy Farrell

Ending on a high: Stuart Lancaster (middle) celebrates with Forwards coach Graham Rowntree and Backs Coach Andy Farrell

Lancaster said: 'We were outstanding. I'm really really pleased with the performance. Today was difficult but we were outstanding in every department.

'At the outset there's a long-term plan, and that revolves around giving a load of young players some experience. I think a lot should be made of their self-belief, they believe in the team, they believe in the direction they're going, they believe in the coaches and it showed today.'

Job well done: Stuart Lancaster with Owen Farrell

Time to smile: Lancaster with Lee Dickson

All together now: Lancaster celebrates with Owen Farrell and Lee Dickson

Asked how much he wanted to remain as England boss, he added: “That's for others to decide, but if you said to me I'd be walking around Twickenham applauding 82,000 people with a group of lads I respect and a management group I respect I would have taken it.'

Top performance: Lancaster celebrates with man of the match Ben Morgan

Top performance: Lancaster celebrates with man of the match Ben Morgan

England number eight Ben Morgan added: 'Performing like that against a tough, tough Ireland side is just incredible. The group has come together, the team that Stuart has brought in for us has made us grow.'

Bath 16 Leicester 17

Bath 16 Leicester 17: Tigers edge into final thanks to youngster Ford

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UPDATED:

22:33 GMT, 9 March 2012

Leicester's 'shadow' team battled their way into the LV= Cup final with a never-say-die performance against a near full strength Bath side at the Recreation Ground.

Eighteen-year-old fly-half George Ford kicked four crucial penalties – three of them in the second half – to help earn the win

The Tigers try was an opportunist effort in the first half by lock Graham Kitchener.

Charge: Leicester's Horacio Agulla (centre) in action against Bath

Charge: Leicester's Horacio Agulla (centre) in action against Bath

Bath had romped through the pool stages, scoring almost seven tries a game, but found themselves locked in a typically hard-fought contest with their old rivals.

Now they face an uphill task to climb into the Aviva Premiership top six to qualify for the Heineken Cup.

Their own tyro fly-half, Tom Heathcote, kicked three penalties and converted a try by hooker Lee Mears.

Having announced an unchanged team from last weekend's 36-17 win over Worcester, Bath had been forced to make a late change when number 8 Simon Taylor pulled out. Carl Fearns stepped up from the bench for his first start since September.

The Tigers, already without five of the England match day squad, could have started Toby Flood and Thomas Waldrom when they were released from international duty in midweek but kept faith with the majority of players who had steered them to the semi-final.

Going nowhere: Bath's Tom Biggs faces up to the tackle of Horacio Agulla

Going nowhere: Bath's Tom Biggs faces up to the tackle of Horacio Agulla

They included fly-half Ford, still a week away from his 19th birthday.
It was a poignant occasion for ex-Leicester favourite Lewis Moody, forced to announce his retirement on Tuesday with a chronic shoulder problems and consigned to media duties. He had made just 18 appearances for Bath.

Bath made most of the running in a frenetic first quarter of an hour but a combination of alert Leicester defence and the odd handling error meant the game remained scoreless until Ford chipped over a penalty.

He had already shown maturity beyond his years with a series of superb kicks out of hand and it was his finely judged Garryowen that forced the penalty from ex-Tiger Sam Vesty.

Almost immediately Ford then unleashed another inch-perfect 60-metre kick to the corner. Bath fumbled and Kitchener pounced for a try which went unconverted.

Leicester had looked the hungrier side to that point but Bath were suddenly stung into action and Heathcote kicked a 30-metre penalty to cut the deficit to 8-3.

On the half hour, they took the lead through Mears after Matt Carraro carved through the Leicester midfield.

Get off! Dave Pearson asks Alex Lewington to leave the pitch as he stretches

Get off! Dave Pearson asks Alex Lewington to leave the pitch as he stretches

The move was carried on through Tom Biggs and Fearns before Olly Barkley threw a long pass to the Lions hooker. Heathcote converted from touch with the help of both posts.

The home side could have scored again when Matt Banahan chased his own kick to the posts, only for Ford to scoop the ball up in the giant wing's shadow and clear to touch.

The half-time break provided only temporary respite as Bath went on the attack from the break, helped by a miscued kick from Scott Hamilton.
Biggs beat five defenders on a mazy run to launch a series of attacks from which Ben Skirving nearly forced his way over.

After just five minutes of the half, Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill had seen enough and changed his props, bringing on Marcos Ayerza and Logovii Mulipola.

That paid off at the next scrum as Bath were penalised and Ford kicked the penalty.

That was immediately cancelled out as Heathcote put his side back in front at 13-11 with a fine touchline kick but Ford replied just as quickly with his third penalty to restore Leicester's one point advantage.

Stop! Steve Mafi of Leicester charges down a kick from Michael Claassens

Stop! Steve Mafi of Leicester charges down a kick from Michael Claassens

A great pick-up by Skirving off a retreating scrum provided the impetus for another Bath barrage.

They had to be content with a third Heathcote penalty to edge them back in front at 16-14 but he was wide with a long-range effort on 65 minutes.

Leicester showed they were far from out of it as Steve Mafi broke away from a ruck, forcing Bath to scramble back desperately until referee Dave Pearson awarded a relieving penalty.

Pearson was not so popular when he awarded Bath a penalty at a collapsed scrum only then to reverse it on the advice of his touchjudge. Ford's kick was spot on again, with just nine minutes remaining.

Heathcote was quickly given another long-range opportunity after Banahan and Cuthbert launched a counter-attack but could not find the direction.

Instead it was the Tigers who almost scored again, Horacio Aguila fielding Michael Claassens' high kick and speeding down the left touch line before being forced into touch by Cuthbert.

But the visitors had done enough to earn a place in the final at Worcester on March 18 when they will face either Northampton or Scarlets.

Alex King: The insider – French danger men for England

Alex King: The insider – French danger men for England

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UPDATED:

23:38 GMT, 8 March 2012

Alex King, former Wasps fly-half and now assistant coach at Clermont Auvergne, gives the inside track on France's danger men ahead of Le Crunch in Paris on Sunday…

Wesley Fofana Centre, Clermont Auvergne, Age: 24, Caps: 3
X-factor: Wesley Fofana of France

X-factor: Wesley Fofana of France

Wesley took his chance when the France regulars were away at the World Cup last autumn and has not looked back since – three tries in three games is quite a start to his international career. He's worked incredibly hard at his game, he's very powerful and his attitude is spot on. He came to the club on Monday and warned me he is going to score two more against England. When he arrived here at 18 he was a bit overweight but the academy system at the club has brought him through all that. He's got the X-factor and has the ability to change a game through a big tackle, kick-and-chase or a line break. He's got all the skills.

Julien Dupuy Scrum-half, Stade Francais, Age: 28, Caps: 7

He's a scrum-half who I really rate. An opportunist who is always on the look-out for an opening, as Leicester found to their benefit when he played a full season in England. Has the ability to make a break out of nothing.

Julien Bonnaire Flanker, Clermont Auvergne, Age: 33, Caps: 73

Julien returned very frustrated after the World Cup and has had the honesty to say that this could well be his last Six Nations. He's a very good line-out technician and is very strong and a versatile back-rower. He has become very important for both us and France.

Julien Malzieu Wing, Clermont Auvergne, Age: 28, Caps: 19
Julien Malzieu of France (right)

Powerful: Julien Malzieu of France (right)

'Zen' has come back to top form after one or two injuries last season. He was very disappointed to miss out on the World Cup and has a point or two to prove now that he's back in the squad. He's very powerful and is an extremely good finisher.

Clement Poitrenaud Full back, Toulouse, Age: 29, Caps: 45

Poitrenaud must be one player England will be looking at targeting. A great attacker and exciting player but also one who can make mistakes. England will look to put him under pressure from the word go.

Aurelien Rougerie Centre, Clermont Auvergne, Age: 31, Caps: 74

'Ro-Ro' is a legend. He is our figurehead. He's become a very experienced guy who has been there and done it. Centre has become his position, which enables him to get into the game and to use his physicality. He was a bit quiet against Ireland and so will be ready for a big show.

SIX NATIONS 2012: Is it time to axe Chris Ashton? – Ben Kay

England are making progress, but is it time to axe Ashton

It was a good opportunist try from Scott Williams that won the game for Wales – but it was the one big mistake that England made.

They turned the ball over and had an excellent attacking opportunity with lots of numbers on the outside, but Ben Youngs took too many steps before passing. Courtney Lawes should have had enough time to ship the ball wide but he felt he had to stick his head down and hit contact. The support players stayed wide, thinking ‘we’re on here’ and he was isolated.

Lawes will get a lot of blame for having the ball ripped out of his hands but gone are the days when it is a surprise that a back can rip the ball off a forward – Manu Tuilagi was the most powerful player on the pitch.

Decisive moment: Scott Williams goes over after robbing Courtney Lawes

Decisive moment: Scott Williams goes over after robbing Courtney Lawes

People were doubting if Owen Farrell could fit into the fly-half role but he played better in that position than at centre. He looked more comfortable as the orchestrator, pulling the strings without having to think about being a carrier as well.

With Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi alongside him – who did awesome defensive work against Wales’s big ball carriers – that new axis has a really nice balance.

In the first half, Wales’s Jamie Roberts flew out of the line in defence to hit the man outside Farrell, so the fly-half changed his pass and threw a floated ball over the top. It showed temperament and skill.

The scrum was a big area of concern for England and Wales could have transformed the complexion of the game. They had a very early scrum on England’s line and England got penalised – the Welsh just had them on toast. Wales decided to go for the kick at goal when if they had called another scrum I think they would have got a try and the whole psychological dynamic of the game would have changed. Wales would have torn the England scrum apart. Facing Adam Jones was Alex Corbisiero’s biggest test and he looked like he was in real trouble.

Mauled: England's scrum struggled against Wales' Lions props

Mauled: England's scrum struggled against Wales' Lions props

Geoff Parling was my man of the match. He was absolutely exceptional. He put in 10 tackles in the first 20 minutes and I thought he was going to blow up but he never did. He was brought on for the line-out but he was also the top tackler on the pitch.

On Wales’s first line-out, they cut to a six-man line and Parling reorganised the defence instantly. Then they tried to split him and drag him away but he read the dummy and lifted Chris Robshaw for the steal.

I remember hearing Stuart Pearce, now England’s caretaker football manager, once describing a ‘two-cap game’ where if you play well enough you know you are in the next week. For me, that was a five-cap game.

Chris Ashton has lost his swagger and confidence. In the past in possession he would put his foot down and head full-tilt into contact or try to wrestle through. Now it is almost as though he does not want to get caught with the ball so he tries to go into contact in a controlled way, but he does not make yardage and he goes to ground too early.

Struggling: Chris Ashton is lacking confidence

Struggling: Chris Ashton is lacking confidence

Struggling: Chris Ashton is lacking confidence

The whole back three are quiet. Form is a complete myth – they just have to rediscover their confidence. I was working at the Gloucester-Harlequins game on Saturday evening and the Gloucester back three have more cutting edge. It puts a bit of pressure on.

Dropping someone can have one or two effects. Either it hits their confidence and they become worse or it can relieve all the pressure and the next time they get an opportunity off the bench they look transformed. Maybe it is time to give another wing a go.

Wales are a better side at the moment because of where they are in their evolution but England were not helped by the referee. Steve Walsh is a good referee but he had a poor game.

Early on, a Welsh tackler was lying on top of David Strettle, which enabled Wales to make a turnover; at the next ruck the same thing happened the other way around and Wales were given the penalty and were able to level the scores at 6-6. England could feel aggrieved but as a player you should always take the referee out of the equation.

The no-try decision at the end was spot on. England were playing an advantage but they should not have come back for it because Strettle had got over the line – England had a try-scoring opportunity but did not quite land it and so the chance was gone.

Ben Kay is a rugby analyst for ESPN’s Aviva Premiership Rugby coverage