Tag Archives: winger

Robin van Persie signs for BT Sport

Van Persie joins BT Sport's dream team! United striker to appear alongside Bale in ambitious broadcaster's ad campaign

By
Brian Lee

PUBLISHED:

10:54 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:19 GMT, 26 April 2013

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BT SPORT LOGO

BT Sport's list of big-name signings expanded again today as they added Manchester United striker Robin van Persie to their star-studded line-up.

The broadcaster, who will air 38 Premier League games next season, confirmed the news on Twitter that Van Persie will appear alongside Gareth Bale in ad campaigns for their coverage.

Van Persie leads the Premier League scoring charts this season with 24 goals to his name, one more than Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, and the Dutchman's hat-trick against Aston Villa on Monday night sealed United's 20th top-flight title.

BT have also snapped up Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Scroll down for video

Smashing signing: Manchester United striker Robin van Persie will appear on BT Sport's ad campaigns

Smashing signing: Manchester United striker Robin van Persie will appear on BT Sport's ad campaigns

Dream team: Van Persie joins Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on BT's list of stars

Dream team: Van Persie joins Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on BT's list of stars

Great news! BT Sport confirmed Van Persie's signing on Twitter

Great news! BT Sport confirmed Van Persie's signing on Twitter

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who signed for the Gunners from Southampton in 2011
and has 10 England caps, will also become a BT Ambassador for the next
three years.

The 19-year-old winger said: 'I am very pleased to be named as a BT
Ambassador and to feature in the adverts and as a guest for BT Sport.

'As a young player, I hope I can bring some real insight into the Premier League, as part of the BT Sport team.'

Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: 'We are thrilled that Alex has
agreed to sign up for BT Sport. Alex is emerging as an international
star, having broken into the senior team aged just 18.

'His hard work and dedication to improvement has already taken him to
great heights and serves as an inspiration to young football fans that
if you are good enough, you are old enough.'

Regular guest: Arsenal youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain will be appearing on BT Sport next season

Regular guest: Arsenal youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain will be appearing on BT Sport next season

VIDEO: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joins BT Sport

As well as the rights to show 38 live games a season from the Barclays
Premier League, including 18 of the top picks, BT Sport has also secured
the rights to live top-tier matches from Serie A in Italy, Ligue 1 in
France, Brasileiro in Brazil and Major League Soccer in the USA.

And BT’s acquisition of ESPN’s TV channels business in the UK and
Ireland will bring the rights to show live games for the FA Cup,
Scottish Premier League, Europa League and the German Bundesliga.

BT Sport will also show up to 69 live rugby union games a season from the Aviva Premiership.

In
addition, BT has signed a deal with the Women’s Tennis Association
(WTA) to show up to 800 hours of live tennis, including the TEB BNP
Paribas WTA Championships.

I'm in: Spurs winger Bale has already signed for BT Sport ahead of their Premier League coverage

I'm in: Spurs winger Bale has already signed for BT Sport ahead of their Premier League coverage

And... action: Bale films an advert for BT Sport

And… action: Bale films an advert for BT Sport

Andre Schurrle: Chelsea close in on 20m deal after talks with Leverkusen chief Rudi Voller

Chelsea close in on 20m Schurrle as Leverkusen hold talks over deal

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

22:20 GMT, 18 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:52 GMT, 19 April 2013

Andre Schurrle's 20million transfer to Chelsea moved a step closer after Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller flew to London for talks with Stamford Bridge bosses.

‘It was good to meet Chelsea officials, and the discussions went well, but no decision has been made yet,’ said Voller, who was accompanied by his Leverkusen assistant Michel Reschke on Thursday.

Key: Andre Schurrle's Chelsea move could depend on Michael Becker, the man who sealed Ballack's deal

Key: Andre Schurrle's Chelsea move could depend on Michael Becker, the man who sealed Ballack's deal

Makeweight: Kevin de Bruyne (left), on loan at Bremen from Chelsea, could be used as part of the Schurrle deal

Makeweight: Kevin de Bruyne (left), on loan at Bremen from Chelsea, could be used as part of the Schurrle deal

Persuading Chelsea winger Kevin De
Bruyne to join Leverkusen on loan, rather than pursue a permanent
15million move to Borussia Dortmund, is one of the key elements to a
deal being struck, and Voller and Reschke were flying on to Brussels to
meet the 21-year old’s agent.

Meanwhile, Schurrle’s
representatives, Ingo Haspel and Dr. Michael Becker, are expected in
London on Friday for negotiations with Chelsea about a proposed five-year
contract for the Germany forward.

Becker negotiated former Germany
skipper Ballack's free transfer from Bayern Munich in 2006 and has
emerged as a key figure in Schurrle's proposed 20million move from
Bayer Leverkusen.

After impressing on loan at Werder Bremen this season, De Bruyne is in demand in the Bundesliga, with Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke all vying for his services.

Dortmund have even indicated a willingness to buy him outright for 15million, but Chelsea are thought to favour Leverkusen's proposal of taking him on loan next season as a temporary replacement for Schurrle.

With De Bruyne aware of Dortmund's intentions, there could yet be some hard bargaining before a deal for Schurrle is concluded to everyone's satisfaction.

Chelsea are in for a shock if they pursue their interest in Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez.

The Bayern target man will figure on Jose Mourinho's wanted list, should the outgoing Real Madrid coach return to Stamford Bridge, and is ready for a fresh start after slipping down the pecking order at the Allianz Arena.

Big-name signing: Becker sealed Michael Ballack's move to Chelsea from Bayern Munich in 2006

Big-name signing: Becker sealed Michael Ballack's move to Chelsea from Bayern Munich in 2006

MICHAEL BALLACK

But while Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted his position will be reviewed at the end of the season, he was adamant the 27-year old will not be allowed to leave on the cheap.

Chelsea can expect to be quoted at least 20million for a player who cost 30million from Stuttgart four years ago.

Meanwhile, John Terry has tipped David Luiz to be his long-term successor as Chelsea captain. ‘I think so,’ said Terry, when asked if Luiz might inherit the armband one day. ‘Hopefully I have a few years left but he pushes the lads, demanding a lot from himself and others.’

Alexander Kacaniklic recalled from loan spell at Burnley

Fulham recall Swedish international winger Kacaniklic from loan spell at Burnley

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

14:41 GMT, 18 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:41 GMT, 18 April 2013

Fulham have recalled winger Alexander Kacaniklic from a loan spell at Burnley.

The 21-year-old has made six appearances for the npower Championship outfit since joining them at the start of March.

Back at the Cottage: Kacaniklic has scored three goals for Fulham this season

Back at the Cottage: Kacaniklic has scored three goals for Fulham this season

However, Kacaniklic has now been recalled by Martin Jol and could be involved in this weekend's home clash with Arsenal.

The Sweden international has already appeared for Fulham 19 times this season, netting three goals.

Chelsea v Manchester United FA Cup live

FA CUP LIVE: Chelsea v Manchester United – the quarter-final replay as it happens from Stamford Bridge

-1907FBDC000005DC-228_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”One last push: Sir Alex Ferguson urges his side to press after Demba Ba's goal put Chelsea on course to Wembley” class=”blkBorder” />

One last push: Sir Alex Ferguson urges his side to press after Demba Ba's goal put Chelsea on course to Wembley

68min: It should be 2-0. That was a big, big miss from Hazard. He pounces on a sloppy Michael Carrick pass and drives towards goal. He drags a shot wide of De Gea's post from just inside the area. He has got to hit the target there and should really have beaten De Gea from that range.

65min: Ryan Giggs has replaced Nani now. The Portugal winger was pretty shoddy today. He offered so little and I'd love to see his pass completion stats. Ferguson won't be happy with his man, that's for sure.

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64min: Neil Ashton is glad to see Tom Cleverley subbed for Van Persie.

He adds from Stamford Bridge: 'Cleverley is sacrificed for RVP. Still not sure what Cleverley is supposed to do, yet to see him have a decent game for United or England.

'The latest chants around the ground are “Rio Ferdinand, **** off to Qatar”'

Wonder save: Petr Cech somehow kept Javier Hernandez's header out after Ba's opener

Wonder save: Petr Cech somehow kept Javier Hernandez's header out after Ba's opener

63min: Matt Barlow reports: 'United have reacted to the goal by loosening their formation. The full backs going forward with more adventure and it has created more space for Mata, Oscar and Hazard.'

61: What a save! Javier Hernandez heads from close range at Cech's goal. Somehow the goalkeeper, at full stretch, tips the ball over the bar. One of the saves of the season. Utterly sensational.

Van Persie replaces Cleverley.

Get in: Demba Ba hooks the ball into the net as Rio Ferdinand (left) chases

Get in: Demba Ba hooks the ball into the net as Rio Ferdinand (left) chases

59min: Ryan Bertrand receives Phil Dowd's second yellow card. Cynical from the left back there, as he chops down Javier Hernandez to prevent a break.

Robin van Persie has stripped off and is ready to try to turn this one round for United.

57min: Graham Poll has his view on the Chelsea goal: 'At last some action. Excellent work from assistant Andy Garratt on non-offside for Demba Ba’s goal.

'Absolutely indisputable yellow card for Cleverley for heavy challenge on Ramires.'

56min: The goal has lifted both sides and we can expect a more exciting match from here on in.

United look like they want this one and have upped the ante.

54min: Sami Mokbel believes Ferdinand was culpable for Ba's strike.

He adds: 'Rio won’t be happy with his contribution to Demba Ba’s opener. Got caught napping for a split second and got punished. Great finish, though.'

Neil Ashton also points out that Ferdinand has never won an FA Cup, and may never get the chance should United lose today.

Meanwhile, Tom Cleverley goes into the book for a hefty tackle on Ramires.

52min: The Chelsea fans are in full voice now.

Game on: Demba Ba (left) celebrates after opening the scoring for Chelsea

Game on: Demba Ba (left) celebrates after opening the scoring for Chelsea

Neil Ashton reports they are chanting '”Rio Rio what's the score” coming from the Matthew Harding Stand.

49min: GOAL! CHELSEA 1 Man United 0

What a strike! Juan Mata lifts the ball over the United defence and Demba Ba is onto it. It looks like it's out of his reach but the striker wraps his foot around it and hooks it into the top corner. Wonderful finish.

Sportsmail's Neil Ashton describes it as a 'really special strike'. I can't disagree with that assessment. It's a sublime finish.

48min: Excellent improvisation from Demba Ba there. Ryan Bertrand puts in a speculative ball to the striker who raises a leg to flick the ball goalwards. David de Gea is wise to it and gathers well.

There's still a fizz lacking from this match at the moment. It needs a pick-me-up before this half gets going.

46min: No changes at half-time. United press early on and Phil Jones wins a free-kick on the edge of the area.

But Nani puts the ball into the Chelsea wall.

13.32: KICK-OFF: MANCHESTER UNITED RE-START THE MATCH

13.29: Chelsea have had the better of this one. Just. United never made it out of the blocks and Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez are the only two players who look like causing Chelsea any problems.

Nani has been particularly off colour. A couple of substitutions would liven this tie up.

Meanwhile, the players are back on the pitch and ready for the second half.

13.24: Surprisingly, there haven't been too many talking points so far. These two teams normally serve up thrillers when they meet but it's been anything but that in the first half. Perhaps Robin van Persie was right when he said the players would be too tired for this one.

13.18: Here's Matt Barlow's views on the first half.

'“Handbrakes on” as Arsene Wenger would say in the first half.

'Chelsea have enjoyed the territorial edge but United will not be unduly worried about that. The visitors have looked in control, Smalling and Ferdinand have been strong, and the visitors have threatened on the break.'

On your back: Oscar tries to take the ball from United full back Patrice Evra (front)

On your back: Oscar tries to take the ball from United full back Patrice Evra (front)

13.17: HALF-TIME: CHELSEA 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 0

44min: United have a pretty tenuous penalty claim as Nani goes down unde the challenge of Ryan Bertrand. Graham Poll is having none of it.

He says: 'Nani diving for a penalty and what would have been a red card for Ryan Bertrand – can’t keep him out of the headlines.'

Rivals: John Terry (right0 warms up on the bench as Rio Ferdinand walks across the pitch

Rivals: John Terry (right0 warms up on the bench as Rio Ferdinand walks across the pitch

43min: Sportsmail's Sami Mokbel is at the match too.

He's reporting that both sets of fans have behaved pretty well so far in this one. Good to see but it's a shame the game hasn't really got going yet.

Enjoying it Frank Lampard (right) and John Terry watch from the Chelsea bench during the first half

Enjoying it Frank Lampard (right) and John Terry watch from the Chelsea bench during the first half

41min: Petr Cech gets away with some suspect goalkeeping there. Javier Hernandez pulls the trigger from range and the Czech international dives to the left but ends up saving the shot with his right foot. It almost crept in.

39min: Eden Hazard looks in the mood. He pounces onto a loose ball in the United box and smashes the ball towards goal. But he's put too much on it and it whistles past the post.

38min: Graham Poll is also disappointed with Nani's behaviour.

He says: 'Why kick the ball out There was nothing wrong with Nani and he stayed down to try and prove he’d been hit.

'Hoping for a repeat of the Champions League game; a red card for Nani should help both teams and the game.'

35min: Nani is lying on the floor after a knock from John Obi Mikel. Chelsea put the ball out but Nani is straight up.

Replays show that it was barely even a tap from Mikel and an accidental one at that. Pretty poor conduct from Nani really.

35min: Matt Barlow has spotted John Terry warming up on the touchline.

'JT out to warm up and getting relentless stick from United fans.'

33min: Ramires creates an opening for Ba this time. The Brazil international slides the ball into Ba who should hit the target. Instead, he pulls his shot into the legs of Chris Smalling.

Chelsea have injected a little more urgency into their attacks now as United look stuck in second gear.

Hitting the deck: Ramires (left) and Chris Smalling of Manchester United (right) both go to ground

Hitting the deck: Ramires (left) and Chris Smalling of Manchester United (right) both go to ground

31min: Eden Hazard creates Chelsea's first scoring opportunity. The diminutive playmake wrong-foots Chris Smalling and slips the ball into Demba Ba.

The Senegalese striker fires low and hard but David de Gea sticks a leg out to save well. Excellent work from Hazard.

28min: Javier Hernandez gets his first sight of goal but fails to shoot. The Mexican twists and turns away from David Luiz in the area but looks reluctant to shoot with his left foot.

The striker slips as he tries to work it back onto his right and Chelsea can bundle the ball away.

27min: Ashley Cole injury update from Matt Barlow.

'Cole disappears down the tunnel with a brief shake of his head. Is his injury another episode in the story of intricate pre-planned training programmes

'Cole has been handled carefully by club and country. He travelled with England, didn’t play against San Marino, played against Montenegro, rested against Southampton on Saturday and yet lasted only 20 minutes on a cold day with an early kick-off.'

26min: United have finally lurched into gear. Tom Cleverley is found in acres of space on the left and curls a ball into the area. Ivanovic spots it and boots it away. Much better from the visitors.

Best of enemies: Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson (left) shook hands this time

Best of enemies: Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson (left) shook hands this time

24min: Former Premier League referee Graham Poll is watching Phil Dowd's performance closely today… and the misfiring Nani.

'If Phil Dowd was performing like any number of players, in particular Nani, there would be an outrage!

'Why is it players can play like this and refs can’t put a foot wrong'

A good point well made. Nani is having a stinker so far. I'm not sure if he's found a pass yet.

21min: United waste a pretty good chance there. Ashley Cole pulls up lame when chasing Danny Welbeck, who finds Nani on the edge.

But the Portugal winger attempts an atrocious pass which is quickly cut out. Shocking.

Cole will be unable to continue, and Ryan Bertrand takes his place. Looks like a hamstring injury.

19min: You can see why Ferguson has deployed Phil Jones in the deep midfield role. He was exceptional there in the Champions League first leg against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. The problem for United is that Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar drift in and out of the wide areas.

15min: Chris Smalling just put his body on the line! Eden Hazard is teed up by Demba Ba for the shot. The Belgian pulls the trigger and it hits the sliding Smalling straight in his private parts. Cue huge cheers from the Chelsea crowd, but it did the job.

In action: Danny Welbeck (left) tries to hold of the challenge from Chelsea midfielder Oscar

In action: Danny Welbeck (left) tries to hold of the challenge from Chelsea midfielder Oscar

14min: Nani hasn't really done much thus far. Former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel has noticed too.

He tweeted: 'Can somebody wake up Nani….!'

13min: United almost showed their prowess in attack. Welbeck burst forward on the left and almost leaves Branislav Ivanovic in his wake. But the Serbian gathers himself and marshals the England international expertly, winning the ball back for the Blues.

9min: Chelsea are having the lion's share of possession so far. United seem happy enough to sit back and settle into this one before pouncing.

We all know how quickly they can break with Welbeck and Hernandez in attack though…

7min: Matt Barlow is keeping a close eye on the fans of each club.

He reports: 'Fans trade a few chants. “Where’s your racist centre half” from United fans. John Terry songs from Chelsea end. Boos for Rio on the ball. '

5min: Chelsea have a trio of players behind Demba Ba that have buckets of flair.

Shake on it: Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole get the formalities over and done with

Shake on it: Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole get the formalities over and done with

Oscar, Mata and Hazard are a handful for any team. Oscar just turns Patrice Evra with aplomb in the United box, but Chris Smalling reads his cross to clear well.

4min: Rio Ferdinand gets his first touch of the ball at the back. A chorus of boos from the Chelsea fans.

2min: It appears Phil Jones will be playing in his adoptive role anchoring in midfield. A potential week spot for United is that Antonio Valencia will deputise at right back in Rafael's absence.

KICK-OFF: CHELSEA GET THE GAME UNDER WAY

Warming up: Manchester United's substitutes gear up for the clash

Warming up: Manchester United's substitutes gear up for the clash

12.28: Matt Barlow's take as the teams are making their way out onto the pitch.

'Teams come out and United fans sing: “Rio, Rio, Rio”.'

And yes, Benitez and Ferguson DID shake hands before kick-off.

12.22: Last time these two sides met, Sir Alex Ferguson walked straight past Rafa Benitez before the match and neglected to shake hands with the Chelsea boss. Rafa says he'll shake on it this time. Let's wait and see.

Ferguson had this to say to ITV on Rooney's injury: 'He got a groin injury playing for England and he wasn't 100 per cent yesterday. There’s no point risking a player with a groin injury.

'Hopefully he'll be ready for next Monday's game.'

12.20: Sportsmail's Matt Barlow is also at the match.

'Sleepy feel inside Stamford Bridge. None of the High Noon electricity you might have expected.

'Kerry Dixon has just presented Frank Lampard with an award for becoming the second Chelsea player to 200 goals for the club. Sure it will warm up.'

12.18: I'm going to have to disagree with Robin van Persie's prediction for this game. The Dutchman believes the players will be too drained from the weekend's schedule to put on a show to remember.

He bemoaned the fixture pile-up ahead of the replay and said: 'These games are just too close to each other.

'People have to realise they can’t expect a great game of football because it is not possible.

'Normally on the second day your muscles are quite bad, but now we have to play at this certain time.

'It is a shame but we can’t do anything about it because there are Champions League games in midweek and Chelsea are still in the Europa League.'

12.14: Further confirmation of Rooney's injury from Neil Ashton at the stadium.

'Rooney is out with a groin injury picked up on England duty.

'United hope he will be back for Monday's game with City, or Sunday's semi-final at Wembley if they make it there.'

12.07: The crowd reaction to Ferdinand will be under the spotlight this afternoon.

Rio's brother Anton was the player Chelsea's John Terry racially abused during last season's game against QPR. Which resulted in a four-game ban for the centre half, who rigorously denied any wrongdoing and was cleared of criminal charges for the on-pitch incident.

12.06: Sportsmail's Neil Ashton is at Stamford Bridge for this one, and he's got some news from the stadium.

He says: 'Teams read out, lot of boos for Rio Ferdinand from Chelsea fans. Still 20 minutes until kick off.'

12.01: Phil Jones will deputise at right back this afternoon for United, after Rafael limped off after just half and hour against Sunderland on Saturday.

Nemanja Vidic is also out of Ferguson's side. He looked in some discomfort at the beginning of the Sunderland game when he was clutching his back. That said, Ferguson has opted for a pretty hefty overhaul of his squad.

12.00: Both of these teams will be looking to improve on their weekend performances. Although United beat a poor Sunderland side, they looked lethargic at times and only won by the most narrow margin.

Chelsea on the other hand were beaten at St Mary's by Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton side.

11.55: Rooney update: Sir Alex Ferguson has told ITV that the striker has picked up a groin injury while on international duty with England.

That would explain why he is out of today's clash, and why he wasn't in the squad for United's victory against Sunderland.

Now the good news for United fans Rooney should be okay to play against Manchester City in next week's derby.

11.52: Gary Cahill is still out with a knee injury for Chelsea, but John Terry will start on the bench today instead of Brazilian defender David Luiz.

11.50: Although there will be no Wayne Rooney this afternoon, this Chelsea back four won't be resting on their laurels.

Javier Hernandez has scored a remarkable six goals in his previous seven appearances against Chelsea.

11.44: Undoubtedly the biggest shock of the line-ups is that Wayne Rooney has not made Sir Alex Ferguson's squad. We're not sure whether he's injured or whether Sir Alex has decided to drop him for a big game like he did against Real Madrid. But watch this space for updates.

Six changes by Chelsea and seven by Manchester United from the Premier League fixtures this weekend.

11.43: Manchester United team: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Nani; Hernandez, Welbeck

Subs: Giggs, Lindegaard, Young, van Persie, Powell, Kagawa, Vermijl

11.36: Chelsea starting XI: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Ramires, Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Ba

Subs: Turnbull, Terry, Benayoun, Bertrand, Moses, Lampard, Torres

11.34: The winners will book their place in the semi-finals, where Manchester City wait after beating Barnsley at the Etihad. United are hoping to keep their hopes of a League/Cup double alive, whereas interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez is desperate to deliver a trophy to Blues owner Roman Abramovich. The FA Cup and Europa League are the only two competitions Chelsea can hope to prevail in.

11.30: Good morning, good morning. Is there a better way to spend your Bank Holiday Monday than following coverage of two Premier League giants going head to head in the FA Cup quarter-final

Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney's goals were cancelled out in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford by second-half goals from Ramires and Eden Hazard, who forced this afternoon's replay.

And Sir Alex Ferguson believes Chelsea even deserved to win the game, claiming his side were tired and emotional after their Champions League defeat by Real Madrid.

Ferguson said: '‘I thought we were lucky to be honest with you (in the first leg),’ Ferguson told United’s official website, manutd.com.

In transit: Robin van Persie and his team-mates travelled by train yesterday from Manchester Piccadilly

In transit: Robin van Persie and his team-mates travelled by train yesterday from Manchester Piccadilly

‘I thought that tiredness had got into the team and, from a comfortable position for the first 20 minutes, you could see the signs when we started to give the ball away just before half-time. That is a definite sign of tiredness.

‘The tiredness came, possibly, from the emotional intensity of the Real Madrid game and also the way we lost it. I think that affected two or three players. In the second half in particular there was no doubt that Tom Cleverley’s and our two full-backs’ [Rafael and Patrice Evra] legs had gone.

'That was [due to] emotions. The way full-backs are, they put so much energy into getting forward but they found it difficult getting back.'

Destination Wembley: Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the original tie at Manchester United

Destination Wembley: Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the original tie at Manchester United

Australia stars Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna suspended after Melbourne Rebels team bus brawl

Two Wallaby stars suspended for punch-up on team bus after embarrassing club loss

By
Gerard Brand

PUBLISHED:

12:48 GMT, 24 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:23 GMT, 24 March 2013

Australia utility back Kurtley Beale and fellow Wallaby Cooper Vuna have been suspended by the Melbourne Rebels after an incident on their team bus.

It followed the side's embarrassing 64-7 loss to the Durban-based Sharks in South Africa on Saturday.

The Rebels said in a statement Sunday that an internal investigation resulted in Beale, who did not play in the match due to a broken left hand, and winger Vuna being ordered to return to Australia.

Punching above their weight: Rebels were torn apart by Sharks in Durban

Punching above their weight: The Rebels were torn apart by Sharks in Durban

Kurtley Beale

Cooper Vuna of the Rebels

Suspended: Kurtley Beale (left) and Cooper Vuna (right, white shirt) will not play until the matter is resolved

Rebels coach Damien Hill said both Beale and Vuna had broken team protocols and as a result cannot be part of the team 'until the disciplinary process is complete.'

He added: 'The club will not tolerate this type of behavior and I am embarrassed for everyone associated.'

The Rebels launched a probe after it emerged that Beale may have punched Vuna in an altercation on the team bus.

Officials initially refused to name the individuals involved but tweets subsequently deleted by Vuna suggested Beale had assaulted him.

'I need to leave right now, this ain't for me! I tried to help someone but got punched so instead of putting him in hospital il [sic] leave!' Vuna posted in the early hours of the morning.

Catch up: Rebels are currently third bottom of the Super 15 league

Catch up: Rebels are currently third from bottom of the Super 15 league

But Hill added: 'The Club will not tolerate this type of behaviour and I am embarrassed for everyone associated with building this Club.'

Reports of the confrontation came after Hill had questioned whether his players had pride in the jersey.

'Our guys just didn't show up and it's quite embarrassing to be honest,' he said after his side's mauling at the ABSA Stadium.

'It's probably the worst defeat I've ever been associated with through the club, and I'm really questioning the pride these guys have in the jersey.

'Even though it's a new team, you've got to be prepared to leave blood on the field when you're playing a team like the Sharks. And our guys didn't.'

Northampton approach Scarlets over move for Wales winger George North

Northampton approach Scarlets over move for Wales winger North

PUBLISHED:

20:22 GMT, 19 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:23 GMT, 19 March 2013

George North's agent has revealed the Scarlets and Northampton are in talks over a possible move for the Wales winger.

The giant three-quarter has one year left on his contract with the west Wales region, and helped Wales retain their RBS 6 Nations crown with a record 30-3 victory over England in Cardiff.

The 20-year-old has previously been linked with a move to France, where several members of the current Wales squad ply their trade, but his agent, Christian Abt confirmed discussions are being held with the Saints.

Targeted: Wales international George North could join the Premiership

Targeted: Wales international George North could join the Premiership

He told the BBC: 'There has been an approach between the two clubs to discuss a possible transfer.'

'I don't think it will drag on too long,' he added.

'I think these things need to happen quite quickly if it's going to happen so that each party knows where they stand.

'It's counter-productive to sort of drag on and for the player as well to know where he will be, so ideally I'm sure it will resolve itself in the next couple of weeks.'

Six Nations winner: North is among Wales' key players

Six Nations winner: North is among Wales' key players

If a move is completed North, widely expected to feature on the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia, would become the latest Wales player to opt to play club rugby outside the principality.

Mike Phillips (Bayonne), James Hook (Perpignan), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Aled Brew (Biarritz), Lee Byrne (Clermont) and Paul James (Bath) have already moved, while Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate are set to cross the Channel this summer.

The Scarlets said they would not discuss players' contracts publicly when contacted by Press Association Sport, while Northampton also declined to comment on Abt's remarks.

Ipswich defender Tyrone Mings gives tickets to skint fan

Every little helps: Ipswich youngster Mings helps 'skint' fan out with tickets

By
Angus Paterson

PUBLISHED:

10:40 GMT, 17 March 2013

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UPDATED:

11:55 GMT, 17 March 2013

Footballers get a lot of bad press but Ipswich defender Tyrone Mings is being hailed left, right and centre for his act of generosity on Saturday.

He had been wished good luck before the game by a supporter on Twitter, who said he wasn't able to make it because he was 'skint'.

Mings asked him if he could get to the game and upon receiving a positive response, told the fan that he was setting aside two tickets for him.

New ground: Tyrone Mings made the step up to Ipswich from non-league Yate Town

New ground: Tyrone Mings made the step up to Ipswich from non-league Yate Town

The twitter conversation

Although Mings, 19, was just an unused substitute for the game, the fan will have enjoyed his day out as Ipswich beat Bolton 1-0.

Carlos Edwards scored his first goal in two years to boost the club's bid to beat the npower Championship drop and dent Bolton's play-off charge.

The veteran winger struck with just two minutes to go as Bolton's five-match winning streak shuddered to a halt.

The twitter conversation

Good job you went: Carlos Edwards (left) scored the winner as Ipswich won, but Mings stayed on the bench

Good job you went: Carlos Edwards (left) scored the winner as Ipswich won, but Mings stayed on the bench

Stewart Downing: Liverpool are starting to click into gear

I love it when a plan comes together! Downing hails Rodgers after Liverpool thrash Wigan

By
Carl Markham, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

13:49 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:49 GMT, 3 March 2013

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing believes the side are starting to click into gear and while it may be just a little too late to snatch a Champions League place he is confident they can still finish the season on a high.

The 4-0 demolition of Wigan at the DW Stadium came courtesy of a Luis Suarez hat-trick after Downing's second-minute header but there were other elements of the performance which impressed.

Since taking over in the summer manager Brendan Rodgers has spent his time trying to ingrain a new way of playing into the side, although he admits he will still require a number of transfer windows to bring the best out of his methods.

On the up: Stewart Downing celebrates after scoring against Wigan

On the up: Stewart Downing celebrates after scoring against Wigan

But the ease with which 8.5million January signing Philippe Coutinho seamlessly fitted in on only his third appearance – providing assists for the first two goals – suggests Rodgers' plan is working.

And despite their frequent difficulties in finishing off their dominance in possession results are starting to suggest when things go right they do so in impressive fashion.

The sequence of Liverpool's last six league victories since December 22 is 4-0, 3-0, 3-0, 5-0, 5-0, 4-0.

'I think it's coming together. We've had some good results of late. We're finishing teams off and defending ever so well,' said Downing.

'Pepe Reina made some great saves (against Wigan) and if we do our bit at the other end of the field, we've got a chance.

'It's all coming together. We've got 10 games to go and we've got to keep winning games.'

Liverpool's total of 53 goals from 28 matches is their second best at this stage of a Premier League season – bettered only by the 56 scored in 1995-96 – but Rodgers is not getting carried away.

He can see the progress being made but knows Champions League qualification this season remains some way off for his seventh-placed side at this point.

Treble: Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Wigan were put to the sword

Treble: Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Wigan were put to the sword

'We are not thinking about that. All we are looking at this moment in time is the next game – that is what we spoke about in the last few days,” said the Reds boss.

'We have played well a lot of this season, what has got us behind has been individual errors.

'Yesterday I could see the graft the players are doing on the training field being taken onto the pitch.

'There was a real focus and concentration in our performance.

'They are being very accustomed to how we are asking them to press as a team high up the pitch and when to drop in and build a block and control the game. That was wonderful for us.

'We have to give great credit to the players because it is very easy, especially after getting knocked out of the Europa League, to feel sorry for ourselves.

'We will focus on finishing as high as we can and look to finish the season strongly.'

Suarez stole the show again with a hat-trick which lifted him to 21 league goals for the season and past Manchester United's Robin van Persie as the country's leading scorer.

'It was another great performance,' added Downing.

Cruise control: Liverpool are finding their feet under Brendan Rodgers

Cruise control: Liverpool are finding their feet under Brendan Rodgers

'There were all types of different goals for his hat-trick.

'At the minute he's on fire and if you have a striker like that in your team, you always have a chance of winning games.

'We played some good football. Obviously getting the early goal helped.

'It settled us down and on a tricky pitch, I thought we dominated for large periods of the game.'

Of his rare header he said: 'It was nice to get a goal, no matter how they come.

'The manager said to me to try to get in a position to score goals and if you get in the box, you have a chance.

'It was a great ball from Philippe and I was able to make a good contact on it to get it past the keeper.'

Downing's goal set the tone for what was probably Liverpool's most comfortable victory of the season.

Coutinho's perfectly-weighted pass put Suarez through for a clever finish in the 18th minute and the Uruguayan then scored a deflected free-kick with 34 minutes gone and Wigan in disarray.

Four minutes into the second half right-back Glen Johnson charged 40 yards downfield before releasing Suarez to complete his treble with an angled shot through the legs of goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

Saracens 35 London Welsh 14 – Sarries go top: Match report

Saracens 35 London Welsh 14: Sarries go top as Strettle's hot streak continues

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

17:02 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

17:02 GMT, 3 March 2013

David Strettle continued to push for an England recall by sealing a bonus point win for Saracens against beleaguered London Welsh that took them to the top of the Aviva Premiership.

The in-form winger followed up his double at Leicester last week by running in Sarries' fourth try as they took themselves four points clear of Harlequins at the summit.

It rounds off a difficult week for Welsh, who find out their fate over the alleged ineligibility of scrum-half Tyson Keats at an RFU hearing on Tuesday which is threatening to seal their fate in their battle against the drop.

Man of the moment: Strettle crosses the whitewash to score late on for Sarries

Man of the moment: Strettle crosses the whitewash to score late on for Sarries

The visitors got off to a disastrous start when Keats' kick in the first minute was charged down by Alistair Hargreaves, leading to a penalty and an easy three points for Charlie Hodgson.

Unsurprisingly, Saracens were having the lion's share of possession in the early stages and soon doubled their lead when Hodgson was given another simple kick at goal from under the posts.

A horribly-executed scrum then led a Welsh player being penalised for going in off his feet at a ruck, but Hodgson was this time unable to punish them as he kicked wide.

Completely against the run of play, London Welsh scored the game's first try after 26 minutes when Julio Cabello's off-load bounced nicely for Seb Stegmann on the left wing.

Flying start: Stegmann races clear for relegation-threatened Welsh

Flying start: Stegmann races clear for relegation-threatened Welsh

The debutant sold two Saracens players a dummy which both bought – and he could not believe his luck as he sauntered over, although Gavin Henson's missed conversion meant the hosts retained their lead.

But the visitors then lost Canadian winger Phil Mackenzie to the sin-bin and a few minutes later conceded a penalty try as a Sarries lineout led to a maul that was illegally dragged down.

To make matters worse, prop Tom Bristow was yellow-carded for the offence, but while they were down to 14 men, Henson knocked over a penalty.

High hopes: Joubert collects lineout ball for Saracens

High hopes: Joubert collects lineout ball for Saracens

However, yet more ill-discipline from the Exiles allowed Hodgson to slot another penalty before Henson reduced the gap to 16-11 with a scrappy drop goal that clipped the crossbar right on half-time.

Saracens managed to put more daylight between the sides seven minutes into the second half when a sweeping move involving Hodgson and Duncan Taylor led to Joel Tomkins holding off his tackler to score, with the former converting.

To London Welsh's credit, this latest setback still did not break their spirit and they brought the deficit back down to nine points with another Henson penalty.

Full stretch: Will Fraser adds another five points to Sarries' total

Full stretch: Will Fraser adds another five points to Sarries' total

The inevitable raft of substitutions hurt the game's rhythm somewhat, Hodgson seeing a penalty come back off the left-hand post.

But Sarries took a huge step towards victory just after the hour mark when Strettle found Schalk Brits, whose off-load allowed Will Fraser to just about finish in the corner, with the try awarded by the TMO.

Still Welsh refused to lie down and the visitors thought they had a route back in the game when Henson touched down on the right wing – only to see the try chalked off for obstruction by Tom Arscott in the build-up.

The outcome was settled with eight minutes remaining when Saracens sealed the bonus point after Strettle went through a gap that appeared to be made by Tomkins holding back Henson.

Martin O"Neill tells Sunderland winger James McClean to forget about Twitter

Sunderland players given social media lesson after McClean's latest Twitter row

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

16:31 GMT, 1 March 2013

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UPDATED:

00:13 GMT, 2 March 2013

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has called on a technology expert to teach his players the pitfalls of Twitter and other social networking sites.

The briefing follows James McClean’s latest Twitter row, which led to the Republic of Ireland winger deleting his account this week.

Last Friday, McClean professed his love for The Broad Black Brimmer by the Wolfe Tones. The song tells of a boy whose father is killed while fighting for the IRA, with the title referring to the wide-brimmed hat worn by many of the group’s members in the 1920s during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War.

Ill-advised: James McClean's controversial tweets have got him into trouble

Ill-advised: James McClean's controversial tweets have got him into trouble

One DUP MP called for McClean to be sacked but O’Neill, who has repeatedly warned his players about Twitter, is hoping the midfielder’s decision to stay off the site can help him concentrate on re-establishing himself in the Sunderland team after losing his place following Danny Graham’s arrival.

O’Neill said: ‘We have had someone in to talk to the younger boys about the social media thing and he’s going to have a chat with the senior boys for them to keep an eye on it.

‘He can tell you all the ills and woes and the possibility of what might happen if you were sending out a normal message to your friend, how people can log into these things, and it goes global. It will be a real eye-opener for me because I want to be in the meeting.

Unhappy: Martin O'Neill wants McClean to forget about Twitter and concentrate on his football

Unhappy: Martin O'Neill wants McClean to forget about Twitter and concentrate on his football

‘It’s just getting back to trying to be a bit more responsible for your own actions. I’d never have believed even five years ago that we’d be having this conversation.’

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will open talks on a new contract, just days after his agent claimed he would have to quit Sunderland to enhance his international career.

Captain Lee Cattermole has had an injection in his knee but still faces a lengthy lay-off.