Tag Archives: prowess

Africa Cup of Nations – Zambia 1 Nigeria 1

Zambia 1 Nigeria 1: Defending champions hold Nigeria to a draw thanks to keeper who SCORES a penalty at the death!

PUBLISHED:

17:57 GMT, 25 January 2013

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UPDATED:

18:14 GMT, 25 January 2013

Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene once again proved decisive on penalties Friday as the defending champions held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mweene first saw Nigeria's John Mikel Obi send a spot kick on to the outside of the post in the first half after diving the right way, and then scored one himself at the other end to equalise in the 85th minute.

Hero: Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene (pictured) of Zambia scores a penalty - he also saved one in the first half

Hero: Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene (pictured) of Zambia scores a penalty – he also saved one in the first half

Jubilant: Team-mates rush to surround him after earning his nation a point

Jubilant: Team-mates rush to surround him after earning his nation a point

Mweene's penalty-saving prowess was one of the keys during Zambia's winning campaign in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea last year and Mikel seemed to be wary of the goalkeeper's skills as his missed kick was weak.

Zambia have now given away penalties
in their last four Nations Cup finals matches and, in an incredible run
of fortune, seen their opponents fail to score on each occasion.

Emmanuel Emenike then put Nigeria ahead with a smooth finish in the 57th minute but Mweene stepped up to the spot himself to level with five minutes remaining.

Vital: Mweene saves a spot kick from Chelsea's John Obi Mikel

Vital: Mweene saw Chelsea's John Obi Mikel hit his penalty off the outside of the post

The 1-1 draw at the Mbombela Stadium between the two heavyweights in Group C leaves both teams perilously placed without a win but still with a chance to grab a quarter-final place early next week.

'I'm happy with the result because of the circumstances,' said Zambia coach Herve Renard

'Never forget we had Nigeria ahead of us. We are still alive and we are still in a good way to qualify.'

Mweene slotted home after Emmanuel Mayuka had been tugged down on the edge of the Nigerian area by Ogenyi Onanzi in what looked a harsh decision from Egyptian referee Grisha Ghead.

Battle: Nigeria's Victor Moses (right) fights for the ball with Zambia's Joseph Musonda

Battle: Nigeria's Victor Moses (right) fights for the ball with Zambia's Joseph Musonda

The champions had the better of the first half exchanges as they pinned back Nigeria, who had Victor Moses in the line-up after injury, but laboured in the second period.

Nigeria boss Stephen Keshi said: 'I have no choice but to be happy but my goal was to get three points. Zambia were never going to be easy to play against.'

Trumpets: Nigerian fans try to lift their team

Trumpets: Nigerian fans try to lift their team

Papiss Cisse will prove his worth, says Alan Pardew

We don't know why he's not scoring but Cisse will prove net worth, insists Pardew

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has backed goal-shy Papiss Cisse to re-discover his goalscoring prowess, and believes the 8million striker is a better player than last year.

It is nearly a year since the Senegal international joined Newcastle from Freiburg. He scored on his debut as a substitute against Aston Villa and finished the season with 13 goals in 14 games, while his partner Demba Ba found the net just once.

This season, with Ba claiming the central striking role in a new-look Newcastle, and Cisse playing mainly on the right flank, he has only found the net twice in the Barclays Premier League while Ba has 11, second only behind Michu and Robin van Persie.

Off target: Papiss Cisse has been below his best in front of goal this season

Off target: Papiss Cisse has been below his best in front of goal this season

On Saturday, Pardew was booed by home fans when he replaced Cisse with match-winner Shola Ameobi and the unhappy striker reluctantly shook his manager’s hand.

But Pardew is insistent the 27-year-old will have a crucial role to play for the remainder of the season, especially when Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye return from injuries in the New Year, and he has new recruits. With Ba’s Newcastle future still in the balance as the club await the dreaded 7.5million bids which will invoke his release clause, Cisse could be back as centre forward very soon.

And Pardew admitted: ‘Papiss is a victim of our injury problems. Without Ben Arfa and Cabaye we have lacked quality in the last third and have not created a lot of moments for him to score.

Backing: Alan Pardew is confident Cisse will rediscover his form

Backing: Alan Pardew is confident Cisse will rediscover his form

'Hopefully we can create more moments for him and he will start scoring goals soon.

‘I can confidently predict Papiss will score more goals in the second half of the season. In some respects playing right has helped his game and his ball retention.

'He needed to improve on that as a striker and I thought, even last year when he was scoring goals, that was a weakness in his game.

‘He has improved that. It has taken the pressure off him to score goals that has helped a little bit. He’s still had chances.

'When you look at him in training, we are a little bit perplexed as to why he’s not scoring goals. But he is getting there, getting chances and that’s the main thing.’

Football League: The top 10 players to buy in January

Looking for a bargain Here are the top 10 players that can be picked up in the Football League's January sale

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UPDATED:

12:59 GMT, 24 December 2012

The Football League plays host to a number of players who could help most Premier League squads in need of a boost in the January transfer window – Sportsmail's Joe Ridge takes a look at who the top ten signings would be.

Wilfried Zaha, winger, Crystal Palace, 15m

Has gone off the boil somewhat in recent weeks since being given a surprise England debut in Sweden last month, but Zaha’s maverick ability is there for all to see.

This season he has aligned a work rate and a decision-making prowess with his outrageous skill set and blinding pace and is rightly rated at 15m-plus.

Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City have all been keeping tabs on the 20-year-old, and should one make a move in January it could well spark a bidding war.

Wanted man: Wilfried Zaha has been targeted by the Premier League's elite clubs

Wanted man: Wilfried Zaha has been targeted by the Premier League's elite clubs

Will Hughes, midfielder, Derby, 5m

The Championship’s answer to Jack Wilshere, Hughes has got a bit of
everything, and at just 17 he is one of the hottest prospects in English
football, let alone the Football League.

The combination of a natural swagger on the ball and a willingness to
run himself into the ground suggest that Hughes would not look out of
place at a top six side, let alone at strugglers needing someone to
dictate proceedings from the middle of the park.

It would have to take a bid in the region of 5million to tempt Derby
though, as the England Under 21 international – not 18 until April – is
dragging Nigel Clough’s side into play-off contention and is clearly
loving playing week in, week out.

Harry Maguire, defender, Sheffield United, 3m

An imperious yet serene presence at
the heart of the Blades’ defence, Maguire may be playing in League One
but there are far worse centre backs starting regularly in the top
flight.

At just 19, Maguire – another England
Under 21 international – would be happy to sit tight and see out another
promotion bid for the Blades rather than gamble on a move to the
Championship.

However, if a Premier League club come calling with a bid in
the 3m-region that saw fellow academy graduate Matthew Lowton join
Aston Villa in the summer, it may be too good for him and his club to
refuse.

Will Hughes

Harry Maguire

Jack Butland, goalkeeper, Birmingham, 6m

Like Zaha, Butland was exposed to international football very early
in his career after competing at the London 2012 Olympics for Team GB
this summer and for England against Italy in August – all this before he
had even made his Birmingham debut.

After a couple of early season blunders Butland has been showing his
class in recent weeks and he has an aura about him that only the best
goalkeepers have. Liverpool and Southampton are expected to tempt the
financially-stricken Blues with an 6m bid for the 19-year-old.

Top stopper: Jack Butland competed at the Olympics for Team GB

Top stopper: Jack Butland competed at the Olympics for Team GB

Charlie Austin, striker, Burnley, 5m

Austin lost his place at the top of
the Championship’s goalscoring charts to Crystal Palace striker Glenn
Murray at the weekend, but the pair’s respective ages – 23 and 29 – make
the former a more attractive prospect to any prospective buyer.

An instinctive finisher with a strong
physical presence, Austin has been nothing short of lethal with both
feet and in the air this campaign for a stuttering Burnley side.

The ex-Swindon man was working as a
bricklayer just three years ago, and he has the potential to cement
safety for a Premier League side in need of goals.

Paul Robinson, goalkeeper, Blackburn, 1m

Rovers boss Henning Berg insisted he
had not fallen out with the former England No 1 Robinson after defeat at Blackpool despite dropping him to the bench in
favour of rookie Jake Kean.

The Norwegian cited footballing
reasons for the decision to leave the ex-Tottenham and Leeds man on the
bench, but in truth the 33-year-old has been a standout performer in a
dismal season so far for the club.

Robinson looks certain to leave Ewood
Park in January and would represent good value for money for the likes
of Southampton, Fulham and Reading.

Charlie Austin

Paul Robinson

Chris Wood, striker, Millwall (on loan from West Brom), 1m

Strictly speaking the 21-year-old New
Zealander is a Premier League player, but he has made just three top
flight appearances for the Baggies since joining the club in 2009,
compared to 96 games in four separate loans to Football League clubs in
the same period.

Wood, who’s loan deal the Den expires
in January, netted twice in the Lions’ 2-2 draw at Brighton on Tuesday
night, taking his season tally to 10 goals in 18 games.

With a plethora of striking options
available to manager Steve Clarke, West Brom are looking to cash in on
the pacy and powerful frontman and a whole host of Championship clubs
are preparing 1m bids, but Norwich boss Chris Hughton could gazump the
lot of them with a move for the man he brought to Birmingham on a
five-month loan last season.

Lethal: Chris Wood has performed well for Millwall while on loan from West Brom

Lethal: Chris Wood has performed well for Millwall while on loan from West Brom

Thomas Ince, winger, Blackpool, 6m

Released by Liverpool less than 18
month ago after failing to make a single appearance at Anfield, the Reds
are ironically leading the chase for the son of former England
midfielder Paul.

Thanks to an exposure to regular
first–team football at Bloomfield Road last season, 20-year-old Ince has
shot to stardom in 2012. He nearly fired play-off runners-up Blackpool
to promotion with a blistering run of form that he has continued into
this campaign.

Capable of playing on either flank or
behind a main striker, Ince is blessed with a sweet left foot, a turn of
pace, a bag of tricks and a goalscoring record any striker would be
proud of.

Ince is likely to cost around 6m, but on current form he could walk into most top flight sides.

Tom Pope, striker, Port Vale, 500k

No doubt a left-field selection, but
late bloomer Pope is finally living up to his potential under Micky
Adams at Port Vale having flattered to deceive at both Crewe an
Rotherham.

The powerfully built Pope, 27, has
always show flashes of brilliance to suggest he could play at a higher
level, but this season he has added consistency and, more importantly,
goals to his game, putting off-field problems including a six-month
suspended prison sentence for affray in 2009 behind him.

Pope is not going to be the first
name on any top flight shopping list, but if any Premier League manager
is looking to pick up a bargain from the lower leagues they could do a
lot worse than taking a punt on the 6ft3in striker, who tops the League
Two goalscoring charts with 19 goals.

Thomas Ince

Tom Pope

Harry Forrester, midfielder, Brentford, 500k

Released by Aston Villa in the summer
of 2011, Forrester is starting to live up to his undoubted potential at
League One Brentford.

The 21-year-old former England youth
international has put in a string of impressive displays as the Bees
have forced themselves into automatic promotion contention with a
nine-game unbeaten run.

Forrester, who has bagged eight goals
from midfield this season, has been linked with a return to Villa Park
with Paul Lambert reportedly preparing a bid.

Growth: Harry Forrester (right) is starting to live up to his potential

Growth: Harry Forrester (right) is starting to live up to his potential

Luke Donald aiming for 499 puts out of 500

In short, Donald is supreme: Golfer closes in on almost-perfect putting milestone

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 22 November 2012

Last year, Luke Donald went 449 holes without a three-putt. This year’s amazing illustration of the Englishman’s prowess on the greens isn’t bad either.

Sometime on Friday, if all goes to plan at the Dubai World Championship, Donald will complete 500 putts inside 3ft, with 499 of them successfully holed.

Think about that for a second. All those putts of smelly length on devilishly fast greens with the flags usually located in mischievous spots. And he has missed just one

How about that Luke Donald is close to an astonishing 499 out of 500 holes putted within 3ft

How about that Luke Donald is close to an astonishing 499 out of 500 holes putted within 3ft

DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

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‘One of the things that both those stats
show is how hard I’ve worked on my lag (long) putting, and making sure I
don’t leave myself too many difficult second putts,’ he said.

It is not only from short distance
that Donald is so good, of course. Give him greens as pure as these at
the Earth course and he will invariably hole more than his fair share
from any distance.

Out in front: Donald is the leader after round one of the DP World Tour Championship

Out in front: Donald is the leader after round one of the DP World Tour Championship

That was certainly the case on Thursday
as he followed up the three 66s with which he finished last year’s
event with a 65 to take the first-round lead.

This time last year Donald was fending
off Rory McIlroy to clinch the Race to Dubai.

That title has already
been sewn up this time by the latter, of course, but given the form of
the world’s top two there must be a chance of a thrilling duel on Sunday
for the other trophy on offer here, after McIlroy opened with a fairly
effortless 66 to be tied second with Scot Marc Warren and Spaniard
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

Strolling: Donald (right) Francesco Molinari of Italy walk to the 17th green

Strolling: Donald (right) Francesco Molinari of Italy walk to the 17th green

As for the rest of the Ryder Cuppers,
Lee Westwood shot a useful 67 with Justin Rose and Nicolas Colsaerts a
further stroke behind. Ian Poulter, however, could only manage a 72.
His reponse: ‘Completely disgusted with myself, I’ve finally hit the
wall and jetlag has hit me for six.’

Finally, as for the answer to the day’s big question… Donald’s miss came on the 12th hole during The Open at Lytham.

Phil Jagielka hits back at Steven Gerrard for comparing Everton to Stoke

Jagielka hits back at Gerrard: Everton may play long balls but at least we don't just pass short for the sake of it!

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UPDATED:

01:46 GMT, 31 October 2012

Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard’s assertion that Everton are 'just like Stoke' with his own barbed comments about Liverpool’s style of play.

Everton were incensed by Gerrard’s comments following Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, particularly as stats for the game showed they made more passes (448 to 314) and enjoyed more possession (56 per cent to 44 per cent) than Liverpool.

While Jagielka was happy to admit Everton could be direct when they want to be, to utilise the strength and aerial prowess of Marouane Fellaini, he suggested that Liverpool’s methods of always wanting to play on the ground are flawed.

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

'If Stevie says we are a long ball team then I’m not going to deny the fact that we play long balls,’ said Jagielka. ‘Do we play them for the full 90 minutes No. But we play quite direct.

'Who wouldn’t when you have someone in form like Marouane Fellaini, who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there Why wouldn’t you do that We don’t believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.

'If we can put the ball forward and cause them trouble then let’s cause them as much trouble as possible. We won’t change the way we play. We won’t start to look to put in a thousand passes a game.

'If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what That’s what we’ll do.’

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, though, is not someone who will change his philosophy and he has added further spice to the fallout by backing up his captain’s claim that Liverpool have to play in a certain, attractive manner.

He did, however, acknowledge that Everton do have a number of skilful players who have made significant contributions this season.

'I believe there were two different styles,’ said Rodgers. ‘This is a club brought up with a certain way of playing. Its history has been defined by the many great managers who have been here. You have to win games but you have to win games by playing in a certain style.

'It’s the beauty of the Premier League – there are so many diverse ways of working and playing. We play a certain way. If you look at Everton and a number of other teams, they are a bit more direct and then play off the front players.

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

'But they have players with finesse like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, who are terrific footballers. For us here at Liverpool, there’s a way in which we play and want to win games. the supporters and the history of the club dictates that.’

There is a feeling amongst Evertonians that Gerrard’s comments have shown that David Moyes’ squad have started to get under Liverpool’s skin. Everton are six points ahead of their neighbours and aim to finish above them in the table for the second successive year.

'I suppose it’s a backhanded compliment,’ said Jagielka. ‘Stevie must have thought Liverpool were in a game to come out which such comments. It makes you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it which must be that we are doing something well.'

Toulouse 23 Leicester 9

Toulouse 23 Leicester 9: McAlister boots French side to victory against Tigers

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UPDATED:

17:55 GMT, 14 October 2012

Two-time Heineken Cup champions Leicester could not pick up a point from their opening Pool Two match against Toulouse after defeat in the south of France.

The Tigers were only 11-9 behind at the break but the kicking prowess of Luke McAlister won the day for the home side with his boot accounting for 18 points, with centre's Gael Fickou's first half try the only of the game.

Leicester started strongly and could have gone ahead after seven minutes through Toby Flood – but he was thwarted by full-back Jean-Marc Doussain in the corner.

On form: Luke McAlister's kicking was excellent

On form: Luke McAlister's kicking was excellent

The England man did kick his side into the lead after Louis Picamoles was penalised at the breakdown, before McAlister levelled after Dan Coles gave away a penalty.

Flood put his side back in front, but the centre gave away a penalty from which McAlilster put his side on level terms for the second time.

Toulouse were down to 10 men after 28 minutes when Guthro Steenkamp was sent to the sin-bin by Nigel Owens after he tripped Scott Hamilton and the visitors took advantage as Flood converted another penalty.

Power: Toulouse were too strong for Leicester

Power: Toulouse were too strong for Leicester

However just before the break the home side were in front as 18-year-old Fickou collected his own kick forward and touched down.

Three more points from the boot of McAlister at the start of the second half extended their lead before Ben Youngs gave up a golden opportunity to get his side back into the game after going for a quick tap and try rather than taking the three points after Toulouse were penalised in front of their posts.

The move broke down, Toulouse cleared their lines and two minutes later McAlister hammered over another long range penalty after Tom Youngs had been penalised.

Dejection: Martin Castrogiovanni

Dejection: Martin Castrogiovanni

Another penalty soon after, this time for a deliberate knock-on in front of his own posts by centre Anthony Allen, gave McAlister another three easy points and the game had slipped away from the English side.

McAlister ended with 18 points with six successful kicks from eight attempts to give the four-time champions a great start to their 18th European campaign.

Michael Phelps holes 50yard putt

Olympic legend Phelps holes astonishing 50-YARD putt at Dunhill Links

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 5 October 2012

Don't you just hate people like this Not only is Michael Phelps the most decorated Olympian of all time – with 18 swimming golds to his name – but he's also an amazing golfer too.

The American holed a monster putt from over 50 yards in the Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns in Scotland on Friday, proving his sporting prowess extends onto dry land as well.

Phelps is playing with former Ryder Cup player Paul Casey and his brilliant putt, which took a full 17 seconds to drop, probably even made his decorated partner jealous.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE PHELPS PUTT

Long shot: Phelps lines up the improbable 50 yard putt

Long shot: Phelps lines up the improbable 50 yard putt

Nearly there: The ball creeps towards the hole

Nearly there: The ball creeps towards the hole

It's there! Phelps jumps for joy as the putt drops in

It's there! Phelps jumps for joy as the putt drops in

'It was the longest putt I've ever had and to see it go in was a pretty cool feeling,' Phelps, 27, said afterwards.

Casey's caddy said he believed the putt was from 159ft, or 53 yards.

It
certainly beat the famous 33-yard putt by broadcaster Terry Wogan at
Gleneagles in 1981, which held the world record for the longest
televised putt.

All-rounder: Swimmer Michael Phelps proved his golfing talent with a 53yd putt at the Dunhill Links Championship

All-rounder: Swimmer Michael Phelps proved his golfing talent with a 53yd putt at the Dunhill Links Championship

New record: It was estimated the putt was 159ft, or 53 yards, making it the longest ever televised putt

New record: It was estimated the putt was 159ft, or 53 yards, making it the longest ever televised putt

The putt gave the 'Baltimore Bullet', who is playing off a 16-handicap, a net hole-in-one at the 337-yard sixth and he followed that up with a net eagle at the seventh.

It was an eventful round for Phelps and Casey, as a dog, later named on Twitter as Digby, ran onto the green at the 12th and pinched Casey's ball.

And here's Terry Wogan's record-breaking effort from 1981

Hull 1 Peterborough 3: Emile Sinclair hat-trick

Hull 1 Peterborough 3: Sinclair treble helps underdogs earn first points

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 29 September 2012

Emile Sinclair scored a hat-trick as Peterborough gladly assumed the role of Saturday's coupon-busters and recorded not only a first win of the season but their first points of it at promotion hopefuls Hull.

With seven straight defeats to their name this campaign, there were few who expected Posh and their under-fire manager Darren Ferguson to topple City, a side chasing a seventh straight home league win.

But, thanks to a treble from Sinclair, whose pace and power was too much for Hull to deal with, United upset the form book, despite Jay Simpson's goal, at a ground Sinclair has great affection for.

Oh no: Steve Bruce had an unhappy day

Oh no: Steve Bruce had an unhappy day

Match facts

Hull: Amos, Elmohamady, Chester (Rosenior 62), Faye, Bruce, Dudgeon, Koren, Olofinjana (Proschwitz 59), Quinn, Simpson, Aluko.

Subs Not Used: Oxley, Dawson, Evans, Mclean, McShane.

Goals: Simpson 61.

Peterborough: Olejnik, Little, Rowe (McCann 76), Knight-Percival, Alcock, Brisley, Bostwick, Ferdinand (Ntlhe 72), Barnett (Tomlin 81), Boyd, Sinclair.

Subs Not Used: Day, Zakuani, Swanson, Mendez-Laing.

Booked: Boyd, Sinclair.

Goals: Sinclair 24, 29, 73.

Att: 15,279

Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

His two-goal salvo for Macclesfield
in the Carling Cup by the Humber last August brought him to Ferguson's
attention and they duly signed him later that month for 100,000. He
scored 10 goals last season but these three may well be more important
than all of them combined.

It is the second successive week
Steve Bruce's Hull have conceded a hat-trick as well, with David Nugent
having done the same for Leicester last Sunday.

That 3-1 reverse showed that despite
their previous home prowess, Hull have a soft underbelly and Sinclair
immediately set about testing it out today.

He broke down the left with 10
minutes gone, showing the pace to get away from Alex Bruce, the son of
Steve, before working Ben Amos with a low drive.

It appeared as though Peterborough
would pay for not taking that chance, especially as Hull then got after
them, with Sone Aluko hooking a volley over and then cutting in from the
right to work Robert Olejnik at his near post.

But Peterborough would get another
opportunity and, with 24 minutes gone, Sinclair took it. It first seemed
that Stephen Quinn had covered the long ball aimed for the striker but
as he dallied, Sinclair clattered into him to regain possession and then
torched past Bruce before rounding Amos and tucking into an open goal.

His composure belied a man who can occasionally appear cumbersome and six minutes later he was at it again.

George Boyd was the man to show Bruce
– keeping a dangerously high line – a clean pair of heels on this
occasion and, after holding his run temporarily, he played Sinclair
through on goal and he dragged Amos left before beating him with a slick
finish.

Hull's only response before the break
came from Aluko's low drive which Olejnik dealt with, and the former
Rangers man should have at least hit the target from six yards four
minutes after it, only to plant Quinn's cross into the stand.

Simpson was the next to fluff his
lines, mis-kicking from 10 yards out, and lightning nearly struck thrice
for Hull just after as Sinclair broke free but failed to beat Amos.

His miss would haunt him too as
Simpson clicked into gear on the hour, drilling in his fifth of the
season after a neat pull-back from Ahmed Elmohamady.

Having missed his hat-trick chance
and with Hull growing, it looked as though Sinclair would end as the
villain rather than the hero, but with 16 minutes left he was left
alone, allowed to advance, and he eventually decided to place a low
strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

West Ham: Sam Allardyce on Matt Jarvis

Best is yet to come from Jarvis, says West Ham manager Allardyce

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UPDATED:

15:05 GMT, 26 August 2012

Manager Sam Allardyce believes new signing Matt Jarvis needs to be given time to settle in before producing his best form for West Ham.

The England winger completed his big-money move from Wolves on Friday and was thrown straight into the side for yesterday's 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Swansea.

There were some bright moments from the 26-year-old and he was only denied a debut goal by a superb reflex save from Michel Vorm from his close-range volley.

But there were also moments of frustration as he attempted to fit into a West Ham game-plan that was ripped to shreds by a combination of defensive lapses and Swansea's offensive prowess.

West Ham's new signing Matt Jarvis showed some glimpses of his ability in Saturday's defeat to Swansea City

West Ham's new signing Matt Jarvis showed some glimpses of his ability in Saturday's defeat to Swansea City

There is pressure on Jarvis to deliver given the 10.75million fee paid for him, but Allardyce has little doubt that, given time, he will thrill the club's fans.

'It's about us continuing to supply him with the service he likes,' Allardyce said.

'When you give him that service he is exceptionally talented in the final third.

'I think their full-backs just couldn't stop him crossing the ball when he did that little trick where he drops the shoulder, because he is so good with both feet.

'It's about us giving him the service to show that ability. Unfortunately he faded a bit in the second half but he was very good in the first.

'He tired a bit but he has had such a big week and he will get better and better as he settles in with the players; as he learns to understand them and they learn to understand him.'

Sam Allardyce saw his game plan torn apart by Swansea on Saturday

Sam Allardyce saw his game plan torn apart by Swansea on Saturday

If it was not the debut Jarvis had wanted, it was truly a day to forget for James Collins.

The Wales defender had a torrid time at the heart of the Hammers' defence, and gifted Swansea's second goal to Michu with a sloppy back-pass.

Wales boss Chris Coleman recently said the 28-year-old's withdrawal from his squad to face Bosnia-Herzegovina was down to a hernia problem.

But Collins has since played in West Ham's opening games of the season, and Allardyce dismissed suggestions he is carrying a problem that may need surgery.

He said: 'He has not got a hernia. He has a slight groin problem, I think.

'There is no need for an operation. He just needs to do his rehab and prevention and he'll be okay.

'We'll probably look to give him a rest [in the Capital One Cup] against Crewe on Tuesday and then look to play him against Fulham. He's okay.'

Allardyce dismissed speculation that James Collins (right) has a hernia problem

Allardyce dismissed speculation that James Collins (right) has a hernia problem

In addition to Michu, Angel Rangel and Danny Graham also found the net as Swansea and Michael Laudrup's dream start to the season continued.

The Welsh club appear set to lose Scott Sinclair before the end of the transfer window, but with Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer beginning the season in brilliant form it would appear the former Chelsea man may not be greatly missed.

Routledge was little more than a bit-part player under former manager Brendan Rodgers last term, but Laudrup believes the 27-year-old is thriving thanks to his greater involvement.

'Wayne has everything for this position. He has a good pass, he is quick, he has good vision, he turns fast with the ball,' Laudrup said.

'In my way of seeing football, if the wide players remain wide they close down the full-backs. If they are there, there is no space for them, no room, and you also have fewer players in the centre of the pitch to move the ball around, so the wide players are very important for us.'

The Belgian Invasion! Including Eden Hazard, Marouane Fellaini and Vincent Kompany

The Belgian Invasion! Why the top clubs' first port of call for young talent is one tiny European country

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 21 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson was trying to explain Manchester United's frustrating start to the season when Marouane Fellaini's name cropped up in his post-game debrief.

'He is a handful,' Ferguson remarked. 'He is a big, tall, gangly lad. Everton just lumped the ball forward to him. That's all they did. They worked from that base all the time and they got their goal, so it was justified.'

The clearest sign of how effective an opposition player has been against United is that Ferguson makes barbed comments, and the fact that he referred to Fellaini on Monday in less than sophisticated terms provided final confirmation: Everton's powerhouse had got under his skin.

Belgian Invasion: Marouane Fellani scored the winning goal for Everton against Manchester United on Monday night

Belgian Invasion: Marouane Fellani scored the winning goal for Everton against Manchester United on Monday night

And another one: Kevin Mirallas is the most recent Belgian to travel to British shores after he signed for Everton on Tuesday

And another one: Kevin Mirallas is the most recent Belgian to travel to British shores after he signed for Everton on Tuesday

Bursting with
muscular aggression and brimming with talent, Fellaini's development
into one of the Barclays Premier League's most influential midfielders
mirrors the rise of his nation's footballing prowess.

Belgians are popping up all over this country and the English top flight is all the richer for their presence.

From Vincent
Kompany, who led Manchester City with such distinction on their march to
the title last season, to Arsenal club captain Thomas Vermaelen and
Chelsea's 32million man Eden Hazard, the secret that Belgium have
produced an outstanding generation of footballers is well and truly out.
'I don't know what it is,' said Everton's Kevin Mirallas, the latest
Belgian to arrive on these shores.

'We just have
an excellent crop of players. We are all a similar age and we are all
choosing to come and play in the Premier League.

'It is good
that we are all here. We are playing together or against each other, so
that will be a positive thing for the national team.

Romelu Lukaku, on loan to West Bromwich Albion from Chelsea, scored his team's third goal against Liverpool on Saturday

Romelu Lukaku, on loan to West Bromwich Albion from Chelsea, scored his team's third goal against Liverpool on Saturday

Chelsea's new signing Eden Hazard had a hand in both his team's goals at Wigan on Sunday
Chelsea's new signing Eden Hazard had a hand in both his team's goals at Wigan on Sunday

'It is a coincidence – a happy coincidence – that so many of us are playing here at the same time.'

Belgium once had
a fine tradition – they were runners-up in the 1980 European
Championship and reached the 1986 World Cup semi-final, when they were
beaten by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina – but performances since
have not been quite so impressive.

Their last
appearance at the European Championship was in 2000, when they were
co-hosts with Holland, and they have not been to a World Cup since
exiting in the second round in 2002, which led to the Belgium Football
Association taking action.

A project was
started that meant national team coaches could not run sides if they did
not have coaching degrees, and the total football influence of their
neighbours Holland means Belgium's national sides all play a 4-3-3
system.

Vincent Kompany was very impressive in Manchester City's title-winning season

Vincent Kompany was very impressive in Manchester City's title-winning season

Thomas Vermaelen was named Arsenal's new captain following the departure of Robin van Persie

Thomas Vermaelen was named Arsenal's new captain following the departure of Robin van Persie

Scouts,
unsurprisingly, are now making Belgium one of their first ports of call
and already they are monitoring Dennis Praet, an 18-year-old striker
from Anderlecht, and Genk's 16-year-old forward Siebe Schrijvers.

It is no
accident, then, that Belgian talent is crossing the Channel. With the
standard of academies in Belgium leaving something to be desired, many
of the players who have broken through now left the country to aid their
development.

Hazard
flourished in France at Lille's academy, as did Mirallas; Vermaelen and
Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen developed in Holland at Ajax.

A wider
audience may have been alerted to Fellaini's talents after he bullied
United into submission on Monday but Everton regulars will tell you he
has been performing to such levels for the past year, most notably when
dominating a spectacular game at Old Trafford which ended 4-4 in April.

His statistics
from last season merely add weight to how much of an influence he has
been. No Everton player covered more distance than the 209.63 kilometres
Fellaini pounded between August and May.

No Everton player completed more passes (821) or made more tackles (87).

Coming hot on
the heels of Hazard's illuminating display against Wigan at the DW
Stadium, the old cliched dinner party question about 'name a famous
Belgian' has quickly been replaced by 'how many Belgians playing in thje
Premier League can you name'

Tottenham signed centre-back Jan Vertonghen from Ajax during the summer

Tottenham signed centre-back Jan Vertonghen from Ajax during the summer

Simon Mignolet,
Sunderland's goalkeeper, kept a clean sheet at the Emirates on Saturday;
Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, scored on his West Bromwich Albion
debut against Liverpool and now the focus will be on Mirallas to see if
he can uphold the form.

Like his
compatriots, he has arrived with a fine pedigree – he was the top scorer
in Greece last season with Olympiakos and Player of the Year – and
Mirallas, 24, turned down Champions League football to link up with
Fellaini again.

'It wasn't just
Arsenal who were after me,' said Mirallas. 'There were other clubs too.
Discussions were fairly well down the line with them.

Porto were
interested and so were one or two other English clubs. 'But, after
speaking to my agent, we knew we had made the right choice.

'I was aware
that Everton had been following my progress. I'm very much a family
person, so when I make a decision, I do it with my partner and my
parents as well.

'After I spoke
with David Moyes and Marouane, we realised this is a family club. To
progress as an individual and to flourish in that family environment was
something that attracted me. I am convinced, definitely, we have made
the right choice.'

Who are the Belgians and where have they come from