Tag Archives: strike

Barcelona 4 AC Milan 0: Match report – Lionel Messi strikes twice to send Catalan giants through

Barcelona 4 AC Milan 0 (4-2 on aggregate): Magical Messi makes mockery of Italian giants and Villa seals the deal

PUBLISHED:

21:34 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 12 March 2013

Lionel Messi put in another astonishing display to lead Barcelona to the quarter final of the Champions League following a dominant display against AC Milan at the Nou Camp.

Two goals down from the first leg, Messi was on target after just five minutes and although Christian Abbiati was at his best to repel the home side, he could do little to stop Messi doubling Barca's lead five minutes before the break.

David Villa – preferred by Jordi Roura to Cesc Fabregas – scored a vital third before Jordi Alba's injury time strike settled the tie.

Magical: Lionel Messi celebrates after vanquishing Milan's first leg advantage

Magical: Lionel Messi celebrates after vanquishing Milan's first leg advantage

Ecstasy: Gerard Pique roars with delight after Messi's second put the teams level on aggregate

Ecstasy: Gerard Pique roars with delight after Messi's second put the teams level on aggregate

Match facts

Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano (Puyol 77), Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro (Adriano 83), Messi, Villa (Sanchez 74).

Subs not used: Pinto, Fabregas, Song, Tello.

Goals: Messi 5, 40, Villa 55, Jordi Alba 90.

AC Milan: Abbiati, Abate, Mexes, Zapata, Constant, Montolivo, Ambrosini (Muntari 60), Flamini (Bojan 75), Niang (Robinho 60), Boateng, El Shaarawy.

Subs not used: Amelia, De Sciglio, Nocerino, Bonera.

Att: 96,000.

Ref: Viktor Kassai (Hungary).

Milan struggled to deal with the
movement of an inspired Barcelona while they failed to create enough
chances with Victor Valdes rarely tested in the home goal.

It took just five minutes for Barcelona to reduce the deficit and take the lead on the night.

Xavi's intricate pass found Messi whose unstoppable curling effort into the top corner gave Abbiati no chance.

It was Messi's 52nd goal of the season
and he almost created one for Andres Iniesta moments later before
Philippe Mexes intercepted.

The home side were in full flow and
after 13 minutes Abbiati was forced into making a fantastic save to tip
Iniesta's effort on to the bar before Messi somehow shot wide following
up.

The stopper had to be in top form four minutes later to acrobatically tip Xavi's stinging effort around the post.

Poise: Messi bent the ball home from the edge of the box to get the scoring underway

Poise: Messi bent the ball home from the edge of the box to get the scoring underway

Great start: Before long Barcelona, thanks to Messi, had wiped out Milan's first leg advantage

Great start: Before long Barcelona, thanks to Messi, had wiped out Milan's first leg advantage

Quarter finalists

Barcelona
Borussia Dortmund
Galatasaray
Juventus
Paris St Germain
Real Madrid
Bayern Munich or Arsenal
Malaga or Porto

Even at this early stage it was a case
of when, not if, they were to draw level on aggregate and the home side
thought they should have had a penalty when Massimo Ambrosini collided
with Pedro inside the box.

However, the visitors survived and
slowly began to deal with the attacking onslaught of the home side,
whilst creating chances of their own.

The best fell to lone striker M'Baye
Niang who raced clear after breaking the Barca offside trap and although
he beat Valdes, his effort hit the post and away from danger.

Under siege: Abbiati pummels the ball away as Barcelona turned up the pressure

Under siege: Abbiati pummels the ball away as Barcelona turned up the pressure

Company: Messi is surrounded by Milan players but still manages to find a way to score

Company: Messi is surrounded by Milan players but still manages to find a way to score

At the double: Messi's second goal squeezes past Abbiati's outstretched left arm

At the double: Messi's second goal squeezes past Abbiati's outstretched left arm

Milan were made to pay just seconds later and again it was Messi who was the scorer.

Ambrosini lost out to Iniesta who fed Messi, who looked to be in an offside position when the ball was played.

The flag stayed down and the Argentinian cut inside and fired past a helpless Abbiati with his lethal left foot.

Pedro picked up a booking before the
end of the half for a foul on Ignazio Abate, meaning he would miss the
quarter-final first leg should they progress, while Mathieu Flamini was
also facing a suspension for a challenge on Pedro.

Barca began the second period much
like the first and after 55 minutes Xavi's pin-point pass eluded a
sliding Cristian Zapata to find Villa, whose left-footed finish gave the
Milan stopper no chance.

Pulling the strings: Xavi (left) was at his influential best as Barcelona dominated possession

Pulling the strings: Xavi (left) was at his influential best as Barcelona dominated possession

Shackled... or not: Milan tried to keep Messi under wraps but failed miserably

Shackled… or not: Milan tried to keep Messi under wraps but failed miserably

Easy does it: Villa steers home the third with panache

Easy does it: Villa steers home the third with panache

In a bid to increase their attacking options, Massimiliano Allegri brought on Robinho and Sulley Muntari for Niang and Ambrosini respectively.

With 15 minutes left goalscorer Villa was replaced by Alexis Sanchez, with Carlos Puyol coming on for Javier Mascherano shortly afterwards.

The home side were thankful for Jordi Alba's intervention after 81 minutes to deny Robinho a simple chance from close range, before Adriano came on for Pedro.

The win was sealed late on when Alba somehow gathered the strength to burst down the left to fire past Abbiati in what was another memorable Barca performance at the Nou Camp.

Watching on: Jordi Roura takes care of Barcelona in the absence of Tito Vilanova

Watching on: Jordi Roura takes care of Barcelona in the absence of Tito Vilanova

In tatters: Abbiati rages as Villa and Co celebrate their third goal of the night

In tatters: Abbiati rages as Villa and Co celebrate their third goal of the night

Perfect show: Villa celebrates in front of Barcelona's delighted fans after his superbly taken goal

Perfect show: Villa celebrates in front of Barcelona's delighted fans after his superbly taken goal

Spotted: Ronnie Wood (of Rolling Stones fame) was seen in the crowd with wife Sally

Spotted: Ronnie Wood (of Rolling Stones fame) was seen in the crowd with wife Sally

We're a team! Barcelona fans' message of unity for their players ahead of the clash

We're a team! Barcelona fans' message of unity for their players ahead of the clash

Paul Lambert warns Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke against leaving Aston Villa for a bigger club too soon

Do you want to sit in the reserves Lambert warns Weimann and Benteke against move to bigger club too soon

By
Neil Moxley

PUBLISHED:

15:29 GMT, 4 March 2013

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UPDATED:

15:29 GMT, 4 March 2013

Paul Lambert has warned his young strike-force that the grass isn't always greener as he tries to persuade both Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke to remain at Villa Park.

Villa face Manchester City tonight with two of the club's old boys, James Milner and Gareth Barry, likely to feature against their former club.

Both England midfielders left Villa when the financial bait from the current champions was set.

Crucial: Christian Benteke has led the line for Villa since joining from Genk last August

Crucial: Christian Benteke has led the line for Villa since joining from Genk last August

Talent: 21-year-old Andreas Weimann has scored 10 goals during his breakthrough season

Talent: 21-year-old Andreas Weimann has scored 10 goals during his breakthrough season

And now Lambert is facing a fight to keep hold of his two forwards.

Benteke has been linked with a move to Spurs and contract talks with Weimann are likely to resume only when the club's fate is known.

However, Lambert said that, given the duo's age and experience, they may be better off playing week in, week out, rather than becoming part of a squad.

'I think if you asked Gareth Barry and James Milner whether they enjoyed their time here, I'm pretty sure, without knowing them, that they would say they loved it.

'It was great for them. We are not necessarily a selling club. If someone gets more money somewhere else, then people will look at it.

'Everyone in this room would do the same.

'With Andy and Christian, you have to get into their heads and let them know what you think.

'The difference is those two are really young lads, I don’t know what age Gareth and James moved on, but those two are young.

'The thing is do they want to go to a side where they are sitting in the reserves and don’t get a shot at it'

Lambert's future plans to avoid drop have not been helped as it seems that Darren Bent will miss the next three weeks with a foot injury.

Bent has not been featuring ahead of Weimann or Benteke even when fit but the inclusion of an established international in Villa's match-day squad would be an obvious advantage.

'Darren is still struggling,' added Lambert. 'It is a little bit of a concern at the moment.'

James Milner

Gareth Barry

Return: James Milner and Gareth Barry both left Villa to join Manchester City

Valencia 1 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore score before Zlatan Ibrahimovic is sent off

Valencia 1 PSG 2: Lavezzi and Pastore give visitors upper hand before Zlatan sees red

PUBLISHED:

21:37 GMT, 12 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:07 GMT, 12 February 2013

Adil Rami popped up with a crucial stoppage-time strike to hand Valencia a lifeline in their Champions League last-16 tie against Paris St Germain at the Mestalla tonight.

PSG looked on course for a dream result as first-half goals by Argentinian duo Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore put Carlo Ancelotti's men firmly in the driving seat, but their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals suffered a setback in the space of two wild minutes at the end of the contest.

First Rami stole in behind the defence to reduce the arrears for Los Che before PSG's talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off for aiming a stamp at Andres Guardado.

Doubling up: Javier Pastore (right) scored Paris Saint-Germain's second of the evening

Doubling up: Javier Pastore (right) scored Paris Saint-Germain's second of the evening

Excellent start: Ezequiel Lavezzi (right) is hoisted up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic after opening the scoring for PSG

Excellent start: Ezequiel Lavezzi (right) is hoisted up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic after opening the scoring for PSG

Needless: Zlatan Ibrahimovic was red-carded for a lunge by referee Paolo Tagliavento

Needless: Zlatan Ibrahimovic was red-carded for a lunge by referee Paolo Tagliavento

MATCH FACTS

Valencia: Guaita, Rami, Joao Pereira, Guardado, Costa, Oliveira (Valdez 46), Feghouli (Viera 83), Banega (Canales 46), Parejo, Facundo, Costa, Soldado

Subs not used: Diego Alves, Ruiz, Albelda, Piatti

Booked: Joao Pereira

Goal: Rami 90

Paris Saint-Germain: Sirigu, Sakho, Alex, Maxwell, Jallet, Matuidi, Verratti, Pastore (Armand 88), Lucas Moura (Chantome 53), Lavezzi (Menez 76), Ibrahimovic

Subs not used: Douchez, Camara, Van Der Wiel, Gameiro

Booked: Verratti

Sent off: Ibrahimovic 90

Goals: Lavezzi 10, Pastore 43

Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)

Attendance: 55,000

The red card means Ibrahimovic is
suspended for the return leg along with defensive midfielder Marco
Verratti, who picked up his third booking of the campaign.

PSG's late implosion took the shine off an otherwise impressive performance by Ancelotti's troops.

Certainly the watching David Beckham,
who recently joined PSG on a five-month deal but was not in the squad
today due to a lack of match fitness, will have been encouraged by what
he saw.

However, that Lucas Moura played such
an influential role for the Parisians will not have been lost on the
37-year-old, with the Brazilian's pace and trickery down the right
channel not something the set-piece maestro can realistically expect to
replicate.

Lucas was a thorn in Valencia's side
in the opening period and had the first chance on nine minutes when he
latched on to the ball after Ibrahimovic's run was halted and crashed an
effort against the post.

PSG did not have long to dwell on that miss, however, as they took the lead 60 seconds later.

Marching order: Ibrahimovic will miss the next leg of the tie

Marching order: Ibrahimovic will miss the next leg of the tie

Consolation: Adil Rami gave Valencia hope of progressing after cutting PSG's advantage in half late on

Consolation: Adil Rami gave Valencia hope of progressing after cutting PSG's advantage in half late on

Colossus: Ibrahimovic holds off the challenge of Tino Costa

Colossus: Ibrahimovic holds off the challenge of Tino Costa

Making a mark: Salvatore Sirigu (centre) catches the ball to halt a Valencia attack

Making a mark: Salvatore Sirigu (centre) catches the ball to halt a Valencia attack

Lavezzi started and finished the
move, exchanging passes with Pastore on the edge of the area and
advancing beyond the lunging challenge of Ricardo Costa before crashing a
powerful finish beyond Vicente Guaita, who should perhaps have done
better.

Guardado flashed an effort over the
bar as Valencia went in search of the leveller, but it was PSG who
looked most likely to add to the scoring, with Lucas and Lavezzi
bringing saves from Guaita.

PSG's second goal arrived two minutes before the break, but again the Valencia goalkeeper will feel he should have done better.

Lucas, having impressed with a couple
of surging runs from his own half, gave a demonstration of what he can
deliver in the final third as he beat two men on the byline before
running into the area and pulling the ball back for Pastore, whose
first-time finish went through the legs of Guaita.

Aerial battle: Christophe Jallet (left) is unable to compete with Ever Banega in the air

Aerial battle: Christophe Jallet (left) is unable to compete with Ever Banega in the air

Anguish: David Beckham and Leonardo (right) watch the tie

Anguish: David Beckham and Leonardo (right) watch the tie

Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde
shuffled his back at the interval, with striker Nelson Valdez and
attacking midfielder Sergio Canales entering the action for Ever Banega
and Jonas.

Valdez almost made an immediate
impression when his back header from a corner was tipped over by
Salvatore Sirigu under pressure from Roberto Soldado.

Lucas' impressive outing was ended on
53 minutes as Ancelotti sacrificed the attacking flair of the Brazilian
for the more defensive midfield option of Clement Chantome.

Chantome's added midfield bite was
unable to prevent Soldado getting in behind the visiting defence on 61
minutes, the striker running on to Tino Costa's lofted pass only to see
the chance come to nothing as his heavy touch took the ball away from
goal.

On 72 minutes PSG were denied a third
when Chantome turned the ball home after a good move following a
free-kick, the substitute rightly ruled to have been coming back from an
offside position.

Making an appearance: David Beckham (centre) was inside the stadium to support his new team-mates

Making an appearance: David Beckham (centre) was inside the stadium to support his new team-mates

Making an appearance: David Beckham (centre) was inside the stadium to support his new team-mates

Valdez passed up a glorious chance to
get Valencia back into the contest when he stole in ahead of Alex to
reach another lofted pass by Costa, but the striker shanked his
left-footed finish into the side-netting.

Costa's powerful free-kick drew a
good parry from Sirigu in the 87th minute, but the PSG goalkeeper was
culpable for Valencia's late reply, which gives Valverde's men huge hope
ahead of the return.

No chance: Blaise Matuidi (right) snatches the ball away from Daniel Parejo (left) of Valencia

No chance: Blaise Matuidi (right) snatches the ball away from Daniel Parejo (left) of Valencia

Flare up: Visiting Paris Saint-Germain fans set off a flare in the stands

Flare up: Visiting Paris Saint-Germain fans set off a flare in the stands

Costa created the chance with a
chipped free-kick over the top of the Valencia defence, although as the
ball floated into the six-yard box the goalkeeper should have come to
claim.

Instead, Sirigu stayed rooted to his line, leaving Rami unchallenged as he cleverly steered the ball into the net.

And with almost the very last action
of the night PSG's efforts were further diluted when Ibrahimovic allowed
himself to become riled as he challenged with two Valencia players and
went over the ball in a challenge with Guardado, prompting the referee
to brandish the red card.

Star man: Lavezzi (left) was in exceptional form and looked a constant threat

Star man: Lavezzi (left) was in exceptional form and looked a constant threat

Tussle: Matuidi and Banega (right) battle away in the middle of the park

Tussle: Matuidi and Banega (right) battle away in the middle of the park

Leandro Damiao set to join Tottenham Hotspur for 18m

Big-spending Tottenham move to seal 18m signing of Brazil striker Damiao

By
Laura Williamson

PUBLISHED:

15:13 GMT, 31 January 2013

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UPDATED:

20:13 GMT, 31 January 2013

Tottenham face a race against time to secure the signature of Internacional striker Leandro Damiao today.

Spurs have long been linked with the Brazil striker, 23, but are understood to have made a bid of around 18million after a potential loan move for Lyon’s Lisandro Lopez fell through.

Reports from Brazil are suggesting that Internacional are holding out for an extra 2m and a deal could be made for the player to move in the summer.

Lyon value Lopez at around 7m and had already turned down Juventus’ bid to sign the striker on an initial short-term deal with an option to sign the Argentine permanently in the summer.

Prolific: Damiao's goals could secure a top-four place for Tottenham

Prolific: Damiao's goals could secure a top-four place for Tottenham

Spurs are used to leaving it late on
transfer deadline day but any deal for Damiao would be particularly
complicated because around 30 per cent of the player's economic rights are
held by third-party investments.

The protracted nature of negotiations
had led Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to favour a summer bid for the
striker but the north London club have decided to act today.

Boss Andre Villas-Boas has long
insisted he is happy with his current strike force but Jermain Defoe
missed Sunday’s FA Cup defeat by Leeds United with a niggling pelvic
injury and Emmanuel Adebayor will be at the Africa Cup of Nations for
longer than expected after Togo qualified for the quarter-finals.

Concerns: Jermain Defoe

Absent: Adebayor

Limited options: Without Defoe and Adebayor Spurs look very short up front

Internacional sporting director Luis
Cesar Souto de Moura told Brazilian media: ‘Leandro Damiao will only
leave if there is a very quick negotiation.

‘The news involving interest for Leandro Damiao, especially from Tottenham, will always happen, they come and go.

‘Damiao has a lot of quality, is a goalscorer, was the top scorer in the
Olympics and he is a very important player. Internacional understand
that it’s extremely difficult, very difficult, for Leandro Damiao to
leave now.’

Derby and Watford want Wes Thomas

Derby and Watford lead race to sign Cherries striker Thomas

By
James Andrew

PUBLISHED:

17:10 GMT, 9 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:10 GMT, 9 January 2013

Championship duo Derby and Watford are chasing Bournemouth striker Wes Thomas.

The 25-year-old enjoyed a successful loan spell at Blackpool at the end of last year where he scored three times in nine games during his stay in the north west.

But Thomas has returned to League One Bournemouth and seen his first team chances at the Goldsands Stadium restricted by the return of Brett Pitman, and is attracting interest from the Championship pair.

On the move: Wes Thomas (right) is a target for Derby and Watford

On the move: Wes Thomas (right) is a target for Derby and Watford

Both Nigel Clough and Gianfranco Zola are keen to bolster their strike force as they try to mount a promotion push in the second half of the season.

Eddie Howe is looking get Bournemouth out of League One but Sportsmail understands he is willing to listen to offers for Thomas.

Full steam ahead for Arsenal after extra Xmas break – Michael Walker"s Something for the Weekend

Something for the Weekend: Full steam ahead for Arsenal after extra break at Christmas and why Coventry and Bristol Rovers are proving to be such a sell out

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UPDATED:

09:27 GMT, 28 December 2012

Every Friday, Michael Walker will pick out 10 things to look forward to over the footballing weekend.

This week: why Arsenal have an advantage ahead of their game against Newcastle, while former Wolves manager Mick McCarthy returns to Molineux intent on piling more pressure on his former club. And then there's the great Coventry City ticket rush…

1. When Herbert Chapman was manager of Arsenal he famously persuaded London Underground to change the name of the local Tube station from Gillespie Road to ‘Arsenal’. This seems relevant given that Arsenal have a Tube-related benefit again tomorrow against Newcastle United.

The postponement of Arsenal’s game against West Ham on Wednesday due to the Tube strike means that Arsene Wenger’s players have had seven days since they played at Wigan.

/12/28/article-2253898-00124D4400000258-402_634x435.jpg” width=”634″ height=”435″ alt=”Herbert Chapman was successful in changing the name of the local tube station to 'Arsenal' in his time as manager in the 20's and 30's” class=”blkBorder” />

Herbert Chapman was successful in changing the name of the local tube station to 'Arsenal' in his time as manager in the 20's and 30's

Arsenal station will be open for business, while Newcastle will be hoping to avoid going down the tubes

Arsenal station will be open for business, while Newcastle will be hoping to avoid going down the tubes

2. Everton-Chelsea on Sunday is the stand-out Premier League game of the weekend. Rafa goes back to Liverpool and should get a hearty welcome at Goodison Park.

Benitez will see familiar sights, such as the corridor where a Chelsea predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti, was sacked.

3. Mick McCarthy is another returning manager. He goes back to Molineux tomorrow as Ipswich Town boss and will pile pressure on his Wolverhampton successor Stale Solbakken with an away win.

Wolves lost 3-0 at home to Peterborough United on Wednesday. McCarthy got the club promoted to the Premier League and kept them there for three seasons. Wolves are now 14th in the Championship.

Mick McCarthy celebrates with Stephen Ward after Wolves beat Blackburn in May 2011

Mick McCarthy celebrates with Stephen Ward after Wolves beat Blackburn in May 2011

4. Kenny Jackett once managed Swansea. That is enough to ensure he will get 'a reception' when he takes Millwall to Cardiff tomorrow afternoon.

One imagines that will be the least of South Wales police concerns.

5. Home banker alert: in League One it is Sheffield United (top) against Hartlepool United (bottom).

The Blades have scored 21 goals in 12 home games; Hartlepool have conceded 24 goals in 12 away games. The Blades haven’t lost at home; Hartlepool haven’t won away.

Sheffield United Manager, Danny Wilson looks on

Top job: Danny Wilson has taken the Blades to the League One summit after three victories in their last four league games

6. Home banker warning: the biggest surprise (Sean O’Driscoll apart) from midweek came in League Two where Barnet won 1-0 at leaders Gillingham.

Barnet have now won consecutive matches and go to Exeter tomorrow.

7. Barnet’s new six points means they are no longer 92nd of 92. Bristol Rovers have that dubious
honour. They also have very good fans. It falls into the fairly staggering category that for
tomorrow’s trip to Cheltenham, Bristol Rovers were given 1,419 and have sold every one of them.

Edgar Davids in training at Barnet and they are now off the bottom of the league

Edgar Davids in training at Barnet and they are now off the bottom of the league

8. Coventry City are another to have sold out their allocation of tickets for tomorrow, which again is
fairly staggering.

The initial 3,000 tickets for the match at MK Dons went and 2,000 more are on sale now. City are expected to make an announcement about their residence at the Ricoh Arena today (Friday).

9. Sunday’s other Premier League game is QPR-Liverpool. It is over eight years since Djibril Cisse cost 14m when he moved to Anfield.

His transfer was not considered a success, particularly when he went from September 25th to May 15th in his first season without scoring.

But Cisse made the bench in Istanbul, then came off it, then scored Liverpool’s second penalty in the shoot-out.

Cisse scores from the spot as Liverpool win the European Cup in 2005

Cisse scores from the spot as Liverpool win the European Cup in 2005

Cisse shows off his medal and now he will be hoping to shoot down Liverpool

Cisse shows off his medal and now he will be hoping to shoot down Liverpool

10. Rangers, the Glasgow version, have occasions as much as matches this season. Today sees them back at Hampden Park, where once they would visit annually to battle for silverware.

Today it’s a Scottish Third Division fixture against Queen’s Park. Rangers are expected to take 30,000 fans across Glasgow to the scene of the summer vote expelling them from the SPL.

Bolton 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1: Mamady Sidibe strike keeps Wednesday out of relegation zone

Bolton 0 Sheffield Wed 1: Sidibe strike keeps Wednesday out of relegation zone

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UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 26 December 2012

Mamady Sidibe scored his first goal in almost three years to present Sheffield Wednesday with their third victory on the run and keep them out of the relegation places.

The Malian striker nearly retired after suffering a string of serious knee injuries but found the net with a classy header, two days after extending his loan from Stoke to cover the Christmas period.

In a game which lacked the punch of a typical Boxing Day fixture, the 33-year-old’s goal was a moment to cheer, not least for the 3,852 Wednesday fans who had made the trip from Yorkshire to Lancashire without the aid of public transport.

Winner: Sidibe scored the only goal at Reebok Stadium

Winner: Sidibe scored the only goal at Reebok Stadium

Match facts

Bolton: Bogdan, Mears, Ream, Knight, Ricketts (Alonso 73), Eagles (Sordell 73), Andrews, Spearing, Petrov (Lee 66), Ngog, Afobe.

Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Butterfield, Pratley, Riley.

Sheff Wed: Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, Llera,
Reda Johnson (Mattock 76), Antonio (Jermaine Johnson 90),McCabe, Prutton, Helan, Sidibe (O'Grady 76), Lee.

Subs Not Used: /12/26/article-2253412-16A8843B000005DC-967_468x318.jpg” width=”468″ height=”318″ alt=”Trouble: Wednesday are fourth from bottom and two points ahead of the relegation zone” class=”blkBorder” />

Trouble: Wednesday are fourth from bottom and two points ahead of the relegation zone

And in a first quarter of misplaced passes and dud attacks, Ngog’s strike on 14 minutes was the only time either goalkeeper was tested. The former Liverpool striker ran at the backtracking Wednesday defence before firing a left-foot strike across goal which Chris Kirkland did well to palm away.

On 25 minutes, the Yorkshire side scored from their first chance of merit. Right-back Lewis Buxton was given far too much space by the corner of the box and his flat cross invited Mamady Sidibe, who had stolen in front of Tim Ream, to power a header past Adam Bogdan.

It was the 6ft 4in Malian’s first goal since February 2010, when he netted in Stoke’s 3-0 rout of Blackburn. The 33-year-old has endured a torrid time with knee injuries, missing the entirety of last season, and considered giving up football.

But on Christmas Eve, he extended his loan with the club until January 19 and this Boxing Day goal, after all his troubles, was a rather festive way to celebrate. Indeed, his merriment was such that he lost a glove, which he had to run 20 yards to retrieve.

Problems at home: Bolton have lost their last two Championship matches at Reebok Stadium

Problems at home: Bolton have lost their last two Championship matches at Reebok Stadium

Not long after, Miguel Llera flashed Keiran Lee’s corner past the post and four minutes before the interval Kieran Lee twisted and turned in the area and tested Bogdan with a low shot.

Bolton’s only other chance came in added time, when Martin Petrov’s free-kick was punched clear by Kirkland.

The half-time whistle brought not-so pantomime boos from the home crowd. Bolton emerged with more effectiveness, if not the goal craved.

On 52 minutes Afobe roasted Anthony Gardner with pace and pulled back for Ngog, who could only chest goalwards. As the ball spun wide unmarked Petrov was unable to touch it in. In the 71st minute a deep cross from the left from Chris Eagles was met by Afobe but his shot was bundled away by Kirkland. The 19-year-old did not deserve to be on the losing side.

Freedman rolled the dice and brought on Chung-Yong Lee for Petrov and Marvin Srodell for Eagles to move into a more attacking formation. But despite the switch clear-cut chances remained at a premium.

With 13 minutes remaining Sidibe, doubtless tiring after only his fourth start of the season, was replaced by Chris O’Grady. He soaked up the applause from the away section as he made way.

The final 10 minutes saw pressure without real purpose from the hosts. Ngog’s soft header wide was the best of the chances but the day belonged to Sidibe.

Liverpool set to sign Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea

Liverpool set to sign 12m Sturridge after agent cash row is resolved

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UPDATED:

16:21 GMT, 22 December 2012

Liverpool believe they have resolved the cash wrangle over Daniel Sturridge’s proposed move to Anfield and expect to confirm that a deal has been agreed in the next 48 hours.

The 12million-plus transfer was in danger of collapsing after Liverpool took exception to agents’ demands over sell-on fees and threatened to pull out.

Heading north: Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge looks set to complete a move to Liverpool next month

Heading north: Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge looks set to complete a move to Liverpool next month

But Sportsmail understands agreement has been reached over the terms of the 23-year old Chelsea frontrunner’s departure from Stamford Bridge to reinforce a depleted Liverpool strike force.

Sportsmail first revealed Liverpool’s pursuit of Sturridge at the end of August.

Arsenal v West Ham Boxing Day match off due to Tube strike

Wenger granted mid-winter break as Arsenal's Boxing Day clash with West Ham is OFF due to Tube strike (but United will play THREE times in SIX days)

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UPDATED:

14:51 GMT, 19 December 2012

Arsene Wenger has finally had his wish for a winter break granted… by London’s striking Tube drivers.

The Arsenal manager has long been a vocal supporter of the Barclays Premier League taking a mid-winter break like the top leagues in Spain, France, Italy and Germany.

Arsenal's match at home to West Ham on Boxing Day has been postponed due to industrial action on the London Underground, meaning they will not play a match for an entire week over the usually hectic festive period.

Arsene Wenger

Sir Alex Ferguson

Happy holidays: Wenger will be delighted with Arsenal's seven-day break, but Fergie (right) is sure to be furious that United have to play three times in six days

No go: The Gunners clash with West Ham at the Emirates must be rescheduled

No go: The Gunners clash with West Ham at the Emirates must be rescheduled

Wenger's side will not kick a ball for seven days after their trip to Wigan on Saturday until they host Newcastle in the evening kick-off on December 29.

Manchester United, meanwhile, will play three times in six days facing a trip to Swansea (December 23), a home game against Newcastle (Boxing Day) and another home match against West Brom (December 29).

The Arsenal manager's call for a mid-winter break has become an annual tradition. Last month, he even suggested moving the season to be played January to November.

He said: 'I understand it looks completely strange as people have been educated the current way but I moved to Japan and the season was in January to November. We started training in January and after a while it was completely normal.

'The period of rest would be the same. It wouldn’t change the number of games. You would not be confronted with these situations when players are playing in two different championships. You would play during the summer period in the best period for football to be played.

In 2011, Wenger said: 'I think after that [the Christmas break] you would like a little breather. I would like a winter break but after Christmas. Create a break after 2 January for two weeks. We can go on holiday for one week and prepare for one week.'

Arsenal's seven day Christmas break…

Arsenal now have a week off over the manic Christmas period thanks to the Tub strike. /12/17/article-2249424-16789CC6000005DC-469_468x349.jpg” width=”468″ height=”349″ alt=”Christmas cheer Arsenal are facing a tricky festive period” class=”blkBorder” />

Christmas cheer Arsenal now have an extra day to prepare for Newcastle

'We apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused supporters but we feel that the right decision has been made.'

Arsenal's 60,000-seater ground is
five minutes' walk from Holloway Road station in north London, with
Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park also close by. Many fans use
the service to get to games so a suspension would have caused chaos if
the match had gone ahead.

A strike by Tube drivers last year
forced Arsenal to delay their Boxing Day match with Wolves by 24 hours
but they cannot do the same this year as they have a game against
Newcastle on December 29.

A midweek evening in January seems the
likeliest date for re-staging but neighbours Tottenham Hotspur and the
FA Cup are also factors to be considered.

QPR's match with West Brom will kick off at 3pm as planned after the club held a meeting this afternoon to discuss the matter.

Loftus
Road is close to three Tube stations and fans are often reliant on the
service but a statement on Ranger's website read: 'Supporters are
advised to allow extra time for their journeys to and from Loftus Road.

'Buses
will be running on the usual Sunday/Bank Holiday service on the day of
the fixture, whilst parking in the borough will be free.

'Supporters who are unable to attend the fixture owing to the Tube strikes will be entitled to a full refund.'

Fulham will wait for official confirmation of the Tube strike before deciding if any action needs to be taken over their Boxing Day match with Southampton at Craven Cottage.

Derailed: Fans will have find it difficult to get across the capital

Derailed: Fans will have found it difficult to get across the capital on Boxing Day

A club spokesman said: 'We are
monitoring situation and putting contingency in place but remain fully
committed to the game going ahead as scheduled.'

Fulham play Swansea three days later.

Charlton
are the only Championship side hosting a Boxing Day fixture in the
capital but it is understood their match with Ipswich should not be too
badly disrupted and will go ahead. Most home fans travel in from Kent
rather than central London.

The announcement by Aslef means
London Underground drivers are on course to walk out on Boxing Day, as
well as January 18 and 25 in a row over bank holiday pay. It will be the
third successive Christmas walkout by Tube drivers.

The
move was announced after Aslef members voted by 9-1 in favour of
strikes. A spokesman said: 'The ballot result shows the strength of
feeling that remains on this issue.'

Sunderland and QPR eye former Everton striker Tim Cahill

Sunderland and QPR want ex-Everton striker Cahill to bolster their strike force

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 14 December 2012

Sunderland and QPR are among the clubs showing interest in New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill.

The Australian, 33, is ready to return to England on a two-month loan and had been hopeful of joining former club Everton.

For hire: Red Bulls striker Tim Cahill

For hire: Red Bulls striker Tim Cahill

Manager David Moyes said: 'We have not made a decision yet but, if you are asking today, it wouldn't be what we are doing.'

Sunderland need to bolster their strike force and may struggle to sell to help finance recruits. They are keen on Manchester City's John Guidetti, also on an initial loan deal.

QPR are looking for similar deals and manager Harry Redknapp is an admirer of Cahill's all-action style.

Nottingham Forest are close to tying up a 100,000 deal for Derry winger Stephen McLaughlin, 22.