Tag Archives: winless

Six Nations 2013: George North pitch invader was his dad! EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE: Look behind you, George – the pitch invader who wants a quick word is your Dad

By
Luke Benedict

PUBLISHED:

22:45 GMT, 11 February 2013

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UPDATED:

07:53 GMT, 12 February 2013

When George North scored the match-winning try against France in Paris with only eight minutes to play, one supporter was so caught up in the moment that he simply had to celebrate it with his boy.

North’s father David was sitting only 20 feet from where his 6ft 4in son caught a bouncing ball, bulldozed over Francois Trinh-Duc and stretched over the line to score.

The 12th international try of his career was scored in the corner of the Stade de France where most of the travelling supporters were based.

Look behind you: George North was grabbed after his try against France, but it turned out to be his Dad

Look behind you: George North was grabbed after his try against France, but it turned out to be his Dad

Look behind you: George North was grabbed after his try against France, but it turned out to be his Dad

David had watched his son’s career every step of the way and, for a moment, lost himself in the excitement.

Speaking to Sportsmail, the 54-year-old said: ‘It was a freezing night and we were sat in that corner, right in front of where George caught the ball. I was just so happy and overwhelmed watching him score.

‘It was such an important game for the team and I know first hand how hard they have been working to get that victory. Before I knew it, I was on the pitch.

‘Thinking back, I know it was a silly thing to do, but I just got caught up in the excitement of it all.’

David revealed that as soon as he explained to the pitchside stewards who he was, he was allowed to return to his seat.

David may have been ecstatic that Wales had ended their eight-match winless streak, but George was too focused to notice his father was on the field next to him, patting him on the back.

North Jnr said: ‘He was in that corner in a big group of Welsh fans. He just lost his head in the excitement.

‘To be honest, I can’t understand why running on to the pitch was the first thing that came into his head!’ he added after the 16-6 win.

Pure delight: The try kick-started Wales' Six Nations campaign and inflicted a second defeat on France

Pure delight: The try kick-started Wales' Six Nations campaign and inflicted a second defeat on France

‘My back was turned and I was jogging back to the halfway line for the kick-off. I was oblivious to it. A couple of the boys were saying, “Is that your old man” And everyone was like, “No, it can’t be”.’

While George remained oblivious to his father’s joy, his team-mate on the wing, Alex Cuthbert, spotted David running on to the pitch, recognised him and smiled before jogging over to tell the try-scorer.

North added: ‘It was such a huge match for us and he is such a devoted supporter of Welsh rugby that he just got caught up in the moment.’

Former Wales centre Tom Shanklin joked: ‘It just shows that George’s dad is a mad fan like all Welsh fans really.’

When George was representing Wales at Under 16 level, North Snr drove his son from Anglesey in north Wales to Cardiff for training and matches.

The journey took between four-and-a-half and six hours. The doting father did so twice a week, sometimes more.

George has spoken of his gratitude for the sacrifice that his parents made in helping him turn his favourite sport into a career.

When he was asked who his rugby idols were, he named the recently retired Wales wing Shane Williams first, then his father.

Wolves 1 Birmingham 0 match report:

Wolves 1 Birmingham 0: King scores at wrong end to hand derby win to Solbakken's men

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UPDATED:

19:43 GMT, 8 December 2012

Marlon King's own goal handed Wolves the derby spoils as they saw off neighbours Birmingham at Molineux.

King has bagged 13 goals for City this season, but he found the net at the wrong end in the first half to hand Wanderers their first home win in seven attempts stretching back to late September.

The striker sliced past Jack Butland when attempting to clear Bakary Sako's drilled free-kick at the front post, with Nathan Redmond also guilty of turning his back on the ball as part of a one-man wall.

Unlucky: Marlon King put the ball in his own goal

Unlucky: Marlon King put the ball in his own goal

MATCH FACTS

Wolves: Ikeme, Ward, Johnson, Berra, Foley, Henry, Sako, Doumbia (Davis 74), Ebanks-Blake (Pennant 84), Sigurdarson, Doyle

Subs not used: De Vries, Stearman, Batth, Forde, Nouble

Booked: Johnson

Goal: 34 (og)

Birmingham: Butland, Caldwell, Davies, Spector (Morrison 46), Caddis, Robinson, Mullins, Elliott, Redmond (Lovenkrands 72), King, Hall (Burke 80)

Subs not used: Doyle, Packwood, Hancox, Morrison, Diop

Booked: Robinson, Mullins

Referee: Taylor

Attendance: 21,339

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Wolves put in a much-improved
performance after the break and enjoyed several chances to extend their
advantage, but profligate finishing and some superb saves from Butland
ensured the result hung in the balance until the final whistle.

It was only the second time Wolves
have won back-to-back games this season after last weekend's 4-1 triumph
at Bristol City, a result which ended a nine-match winless streak.

Birmingham went into the clash also
underperforming this term and struggling at the wrong end of the npower
Championship table, although it was they who started the better, Paul
Caddis seeing his curling effort from 20 yards well parried away by Carl
Ikeme.

Bjorn Sigurdarson found the
side-netting for the hosts after good work down the left by Sako before
Ikeme had to be alert once again to tip over after Roger Johnson and
Jonathan Spector tussled to get on the end of Redmond's set-piece.

Blues were certainly posing the
greater attacking threat and looking the more lively, but Wolves were
steadily coming into the game more as the first half wore on.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake saw his appeals
for a penalty waved away before Kevin Doyle put the ball into the net
only to be denied by the assistant's flag.

But Wolves did get the breakthrough just minutes later.

Ebanks-Blake went down easily under a
soft challenge from Steven Caldwell right on the byline outside the
penalty area. Sako whipped in the resulting free-kick and King could
only divert the ball into his own net at the near post when trying to
clear.

It was a goal Wolves arguably did not
deserve on the overall balance of play in the first half, but that will
not have mattered much to under-pressure manager Stale Solbakken.

Wolves have been heavily criticised of late for lethargic second-half performances, but that was certainly not the case tonight.

Sigurdarson found himself clean
through almost immediately after the restart only to fire straight at
Butland, although the assistant's flag was raised.

Doyle's driving run ended with a shot
narrowly wayward of Butland's left-hand post before Sako finished
another mazy venture forward with an effort off target as Wanderers
dominated.

Stephen Ward brought a solid save out
of Butland at his near post, with Curtis Davies deflecting Doyle's shot
on to the top of the crossbar from the resulting corner.

Butland then produced a superb instinctive save to keep out Sigurdarson's header from Sako's corner, keeping Blues in the game.

But they could not force a late
leveller and Wolves were left celebrating only their third derby success
over their local rivals in 15 attempts.

Middlesbrough 3 Huddersfield 0 – match report: Scott McDonald hits double

Middlesbrough 3 Huddersfield 0: McDonald double gets Boro back to winning ways

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UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 27 November 2012

Scott McDonald's brace helped Middlesbrough recover from back-to-back defeats as they recorded a convincing win over an out-of-sorts Huddersfield.

Boro's impressive start to the campaign had hit a snag when they suffered successive losses to Cardiff and Bristol City, but they got back to winning ways in front of nearly 22,000 at the Riverside this evening.

With Marvin Emnes and Ishmael Miller both on the bench, McDonald repaid manager Tony Mowbray's faith in starting him by stabbing home the opener.

At the double: Scott McDonald (right) hit two goals as Middlesbrough beat Huddersfield

At the double: Scott McDonald (right) hit two goals as Middlesbrough beat Huddersfield

MATCH FACTS

Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Hines, Bikey, Halliday (Parnaby 90), Ledesma (Zemmama 87), Bailey, McEachran, Smallwood, McDonald, Jutkiewicz (Miller 87).

Subs Not Used: Leutwiler, Thomson, Emnes, Luke Williams.

Booked: Hoyte.

Goals: McDonald 28, Ledesma 66, McDonald 85.

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Lynch, Peter Clarke, Dixon, Ward, Norwood (Atkinson 54), Arfield, Robinson (Hammill 54), Church, Novak (Lee 68).

Subs Not Used: Bennett, Woods, Gerrard, Wallace.

Att: 21,850

Ref: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire).

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Only the crossbar denied the hosts a
second before the break as Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies pushed
Peter Clarke's hacked clearance on to the woodwork.

Lukas Jutkiewicz and McDonald
continued to cause the visitors' back four problems but it was Emmanuel
Ledesma who got the second goal with a dipping free-kick just after the
hour mark.

McDonald then fired in his second of
the evening, Jutkiewicz once again grabbing the assist, to extend
Huddersfield's winless streak to three games.

Both sides made changes from their weekend XIs and it was Huddersfield who were the more impressive starters.

After a couple of speculative efforts
went wide, Jack Hunt's mazy run culminated in a vicious left-foot strike
which just whistled over the top of the crossbar.

There was plenty of frustration for
the home side early on as Josh McEachran and Ledesma failed to coax out
their creative sides.

That all changed 28 minutes in, though, as McDonald turned in Jutkiewicz's centre for the opener.

Justin Hoyte burst into the box from
his right-back berth and rolled the ball to Jutkiewicz, who in turn
fired across goal where McDonald produced one of his predatory finishes.

You beauty: Emmanuel Ledesma (second right) scores the second goal for Boro from a free kick

You beauty: Emmanuel Ledesma (second right) scores the second goal for Boro from a free kick

Terriers captain Clarke then had his goalkeeper Smithies to thank just before the break as he spared the centre-back's blushes.

Jutkiewicz kept his head down when
embarking on a run and was oblivious to the fact nobody in a red shirt
was near his cut across, yet Clarke sliced his clearance towards goal
and Smithies had to palm the ball on to the crossbar.

Smithies' opposite number Jason Steele
also had to be alert to ensure Scott Arfield's dipping effort did not
drop under his crossbar.

McDonald and Jutkiewicz almost
combined to devastating effect once more minutes after the break but the
latter dallied when the chance materialised, allowing Smithies to
narrow the gap and make the save.

Manager Simon Grayson waited less than
10 minutes after the interval to make alterations for the visitors,
introducing Adam Hammill and Chris Atkinson.

It did not prevent Boro's front two
from threatening their goal once more, however, as Jutkiewicz displayed
great strength to turn away from two men before teeing up McDonald, who
smashed an effort narrowly wide.

The hosts did not have to wait much longer to double their advantage as Ledesma curled in a magical 25-yard free-kick.

The Argentinian earned the set piece
himself, when he cajoled Paul Dixon into tripping him, and his curling
effort dipped so low that Smithies could only push it into the roof of
his net.

Jutkiewicz forced Smithies into a good
save before he once more assumed his role as the provider for McDonald
five minutes from time.

The visitors wanted play stopped with
Hunt down on the ground injured but Boro continued unabated and
Jutkiewicz's cushioned header down was drilled home by McDonald to wrap
up the points.

Brian McDermott relief as Reading beat Everton

McDermott's relief at Reading's rise from relegation places

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UPDATED:

18:41 GMT, 17 November 2012

Reading boss Brian McDermott believes the club's maiden Barclays Premier League victory of the season is a turning point for the club.

Adam Le Fondre scored twice as McDermott's side came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory over high-flying Everton.

Steven Naismith had put Everton ahead but Le Fondre levelled with a second-half header before scoring the winner from the spot after being brought down by Seamus Coleman.

Denied: Everton's Phil Jagielka sees his shot saved by Reading keeper Adam Federici

Denied: Everton's Phil Jagielka sees his shot saved by Reading keeper Adam Federici

Match facts

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey, Robson-Kanu, Leigertwood, Tabb, McAnuff, Roberts, Le Fondre (Hunt 81). Subs Not Used: Stuart Taylor, Mariappa, Pogrebnyak, McCleary, Harte, Cummings.

Booked: Roberts, Gorkss, Hunt.

Goals: Le Fondre 51, 79 pen.

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines, Naismith (Oviedo 80), Osman, Fellaini, Hitzlsperger (Vellios 82), Pienaar, Jelavic. Subs Not Used: Mucha, Distin, Junior, Kennedy, Duffy.

Booked: Coleman,Fellaini.

Goals: Naismith 10.

Att: 24,184

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

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McDermott said: 'Everyone was saying
“You haven't won, you haven't won” and that can play on people's minds
and I obviously know that.

'But all you can do is concentrate on
playing the game, enjoying the games and then the results will come
because I know with the group we have got there was never any fear that
they couldn't do it.

'Obviously it is a relief, I'm just so pleased for the players tonight, that has been coming for quite some time.

'Certainly as the manager it (the
winless streak) is not relevant, all that is relevant is the points you
have got on the board.'

The win lifted Reading out of the bottom three, although McDermott felt his side were not at their best until the second half.

'First half we were a little bit too respectful, in the second half I thought we deserved to win,' he said.

'In any sport what you need to do is
stay in the game, I just said (at half-time) that you are right in the
game at 1-0 and if we can raise our tempo and play the way we can it
will give us an opportunity.

Adam Le Fondre (2nd R) celebrates with team mates after scoring the first goal for Reading

Line up: Adam Le Fondre (2nd R) celebrates after scoring the first goal for Reading

Cool head: Le Fondre scores the winner from the penalty spot

Cool head: Le Fondre scores the winner from the penalty spot

'I thought we saw the game out really
well, we have been working on that as well. We have been in the lead on
a number of games in this league but haven't seen them out.'

Everton manager David Moyes refused
to blame referee Martin Atkinson after seeing his side throw away the
lead. Although he had no complaints over the award of the penalty, Moyes
felt his side should have been given at least one themselves.

'I'm not angry with the referee, he should have given a penalty in the first half… but he doesn't give it,' Moyes said.

Tricky: Le Fondre beats Everton keeper Tim Howard to the ball but fails to score

Tricky: Le Fondre beats Everton keeper Tim Howard to the ball but fails to score

Slide rule: Jobi McAnuff of Reading tussles with Leighton Baines of Everton

Slide rule: Jobi McAnuff of Reading tussles with Leighton Baines of Everton

On the run: Jason Roberts of Reading turns Phil Jagielka of Everton

On the run: Jason Roberts of Reading turns Phil Jagielka of Everton

'But I'm more angry with my team because we should have scored and it is up to us to do it.

'We didn't punish them and left the door slightly ajar for them to come in and they did do.

Angry and satisfied: David Moyes Left) was not happy with his side, but Brian McDermott (right) was pleased

Angry and satisfied: David Moyes Left) was not happy with his side, but Brian McDermott (right) was pleased

Angry and satisfied: David Moyes Left) was not happy with his side, but Brian McDermott (right) was pleased

'I think certainly we should have had
one penalty kick, I have got no problem with the Seamus Coleman one, it
is a definite penalty for Reading.'

Le Fondre's equaliser came courtesy
of a free-kick from Nicky Shorey and Moyes pinpointed the conceding of
set-pieces as a factor in Reading's fightback.

Ouch: Everton's Steven Naismith feels challenge of Reading's Kaspars Gorkass (right)

Ouch: Everton's Steven Naismith feels challenge of Reading's Kaspars Gorkass (right)

First blood: Steven Naismith handed Everton the lead at Reading

First blood: Steven Naismith handed Everton the lead at Reading

Steven Naismith (R) scores the first goal for Everton

'We gave away a couple of corner
kicks and a free-kick in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, we
encouraged pressure and gave the ball away a couple of times in our own
half,' he said.

'Quite simply we didn't pass the way
we did in the first half and we gave them encouragement. I have got to
give Reading credit, they upped it and tried to do better, which they
did do.'

Moyes felt his side created enough
chances throughout the game, adding: 'We are not scoring the goals; when
we get the opportunities to put the games away we are not taking them.

'The result should have been the other
way but it wasn't and I have to give Brian and his team credit, they
hung on and kept going and that is what you have to do in the Premier
League, you have to get wins maybe when you are not always expecting to
and Reading did that.'

Peterborough 0 Nottm Forest 1: Match report

Peterborough 0 Nottm Forest 1: Reid's wonder strike condemns Posh to another home defeat

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UPDATED:

16:43 GMT, 6 October 2012

Andy Reid's superb strike gave Nottingham Forest their first away win in the npower Championship and left Peterborough as the only Football League club without a home point so far this season.

Reid scored the only goal of the game after 51 minutes as Forest halted a five-game winless streak, but they were indebted to goalkeeper Lee Camp who made a couple of good saves to keep his team in front.

Forest also had chances to win by a bigger margin and might have done so had it not been for Posh keeper Robert Olejnik.

You beauty! Andy reid (centre) celebrated his wonderful goal

You beauty! Andy reid (centre) celebrated his wonderful goal

MATCH FACTS

Peterborough: Olejnik,Little (Swanson 63),Brisley, Knight-Percival, Alcock, Rowe (Tomlin 67), Ferdinand, Bostwick, Boyd, Barnett, Sinclair (Berahino 63).

Subs Not Used: Day, Zakuani, McCann, Ntlhe.

Nottm Forest: Camp, Halford, Ayala (Moloney 46), Collins, Harding, McGugan (Jenas 61), Gillett, Reid, Cohen, Sharp, Cox (Majewski 81).

Subs Not Used: Evtimov, Moussi, Guedioura, Coppinger.

Goals: Reid 51.

Att: 10,469

Ref: Mark Haywood (W Yorkshire).

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After finally kick-starting their
npower Championship campaign last weekend with a 3-1 victory at Hull and
following up those first three league points with a 2-0 success at
Barnsley on Tuesday night, Peterborough were unchanged for the third
straight game.

Forest made one change as Simon Cox was restored to the starting line up after a one-match suspension.

He partnered Billy Sharp up front as
midfielder Henri Lansbury dropped out of the team and was absent from
the squad ahead of the England Under-21s' forthcoming European
Championship play-off double-header against Serbia.

Lewis McGugan looked up for it early
on with three attempts on the Peterborough goal in the opening 10
minutes, although only one worked Olejnik and that was a 25-yarder
straight at the Austrian.

Forest got the ball into the box
regularly in the first 15 minutes but Chris Cohen twice failed to get
enough on headers to worry Olejnik.

Peterborough won the first corner of
the game after 17 minutes. It signalled the beginning of a sustained
spell of pressure from the hosts during which Nathaniel Knight-Percival
turned a shot over the crossbar.

Tyrone Barnett then curled an effort wide midway through the first half.

Forest battled back and McGugan had
two further efforts either side of the half-hour mark – one going wide
and the other being blocked – before a deflected Cox shot narrowly
missed.

Camp was called into his first piece of meaningful action at the start of the second half.

Reid gave the ball away inside his
own half and Michael Bostwick advanced to the edge of the area before
forcing Camp to beat away his shot. From the resulting corner, Camp
parried again from Barnett's header.

That got the Posh crowd behind their team but they were soon quietened by Reid's blockbuster.

After collecting the ball on the
halfway line, the former Republic of Ireland international let rip from
the left side of the area and his shot flew into the top corner of the
net.

Camp immediately had to preserve
Forest's lead with another parrying save to thwart Barnett after the
striker managed to get his volley in after getting goal-side of Dan
Harding.

Jermaine Jenas, on as a 61st-minute
replacement for McGugan, thought he had scored his first Forest goal in
almost 11 years midway through the second half but the on loan Tottenham
midfielder was denied his moment of glory when a referee's assistant
ruled that Sharp had run the ball out of play in the build up.

At the other end, Camp was at it
again – this time getting down quickly to push a long-range effort wide
from Posh sub Danny Swanson.

Jenas was denied again after 75
minutes when Olejnik got fingertips to his curler from inside the box.
The Posh keeper then produced an even better save from the rebound to
keep out Cox.

Peterborough put Forest under
pressure during the closing stages but the visitors held on and would
have done so by two goals to nil had Olejnik not blocked Sharp's shot in
injury time.

Didier Deschamps leaves Olympique Marseille

Deschamps favourite to replace Blanc as France boss after leaving Marseille

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UPDATED:

08:28 GMT, 2 July 2012

Didier Deschamps is leaving Olympique Marseille after three years as a coach and could be heading for the vacant France manager spot.

The former Chelsea and Juventus midfielder is favourite to take over from Laurent Blanc who turned down a new Les Bleus contract offer.

The 43-year-old's future at Marseille had been uncertain with reports claiming he wanted to leave the club he had once captained after three years in charge.

Favourite: Didier Deschamps is considered most likely to succeed Laurent Blanc

Favourite: Didier Deschamps is considered most likely to succeed Laurent Blanc

Marseilles announced Deschamps' departure with a statement on their website reading: 'Didier Deschamps was received on May 23 by club officials to prepare for the 2012-2013 season.

'Deschamps stated his desire to leave OM and the terms of his departure were considered.

'In the days that followed, Deschamps repeatedly confirmed that he was and remained the coach of OM.

'Olympique de Marseille and Deschamps have finally decided by mutual agreement not to continue working for the 2012-2013 season.

'Olympique de Marseille thank Deschamps for his work for the team for three years and wish him good luck for the future.

'Deschamps thanks Olympique de Marseille for their support throughout these last three seasons.'

Moving on: Blanc does not want a new deal

Moving on: Blanc does not want a new deal

He played 103 matches for France and has long been known to desire a shot at the big job.

Deschamps took over as Marseille boss in the summer of 2009 and in his first season in charge led them to the Ligue 1 title as well as the Coupe de la Ligue.

They were runners-up the following year to Lille, although they retained the Coupe de la Ligue.

However, last season was poor for the club who at one point endured a 14-match winless streak and they finished in 10th place although another successful cup defence saw them qualify for the Europa League.

Following the end of a highly-successful playing career, which saw him win the Champions League with both Marseille and Juventus as well as the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship with France, Deschamps was appointed manager of Monaco.

He guided them to second in Ligue 1 in the 2002/03 season which saw them qualify for the Champions League in which they reached the final the following year where they lost to Porto, led by Jose Mourinho.

Staying put: Arsene Wenger wants to stay at Arsenal

Staying put: Arsene Wenger wants to stay at Arsenal

After resigning in autumn 2005, Deschamps was appointed as Juventus coach the following summer with the club having been relegated to Serie B after the match-fixing scandal.

Deschamps guided them to an immediate return to the top flight but almost as soon as they had been confirmed as Serie B champions he resigned.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger ruled himself out of contention for the vacant position.

'There are a lot of names,' Wenger told Telefoot.

'But me, I will be very busy with Arsenal where my contract still runs for two years.'

Blanc was once a contender for the Tottenham managerial job after Harry Redknapp's sacking but it looks like Andre Villas-Boas has sown that up.

Louis Saha: Tottenham will finish third

We're Gunner get you! Saha insists Spurs WILL finish third above Arsenal

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UPDATED:

14:16 GMT, 28 March 2012

Louis Saha has warned Arsenal that Tottenham are capable of going a run which he thinks could end with his team pipping their north London rivals to third in the Barclays Premier League.

Tottenham set up an FA Cup semi-final clash against Chelsea last night when they beat Bolton 3-1 on an emotional night at White Hart Lane.

It was just their second victory in eight games and the Londoners are currently in the midst of a five-match winless streak in the league which has seen Arsenal overtake them in the race for third.

Three and easy: Louis Saha celebrated Spurs third goal in their win over Bolton on Tuesday night

Three and easy: Louis Saha celebrated Spurs third goal in their win over Bolton on Tuesday night

Last month Spurs looked poised to move 13 points ahead of Arsenal, but a second-half comeback by the Gunners in the north London derby proved to be the spark for a seven-match winning run that has helped

Arsene Wenger's men reclaim their position as the capital's top team.
Saha, encouraged by last night's win and Saturday's goalless draw at Chelsea, has told Wenger's squad to put their celebrations on ice, however, and claims Tottenham can repeat their neighbours' form and edge the battle for third.

'It is football, with lots of paradox and things can quickly change,' said Saha, who scored Tottenham's final goal in injury-time last night.

'Arsenal have had a run so they are confident. They are in the front seat, they are in a good position but it doesn't mean we cannot do the same.

'We have shown consistency during the season. We may have dropped a few points during the past weeks but we have shown that we have closed the gap in terms of our performances.'

Gunner get you: Saha believes Tottenham can pip rivals Arsenal to third place

Gunner get you: Saha believes Tottenham can pip rivals Arsenal to third place

Harry Redknapp's team seemed on the brink of challenging for the title this year after going on an 11-match unbeaten run at the end of 2011.

Critics have claimed inexperience of being at such a lofty height is the reason why the Londoners have plummeted to fourth recently, but Saha disagree.

'We definitely have players with experience like Emmanuel Adebayor, William Gallas and Rafael van der Vaart, who has won lots of things, so I think that experience is on our side,' he said.

Many had questioned Redknapp's decision to sign Saha in the January transfer window but the 33-year-old has silenced his critics by scoring four times in nine appearances – four of which have come off the bench.

Paying off: Saha has proved to be a shrewd signing by manager Harry Redknapp

Paying off: Saha has proved to be a shrewd signing by manager Harry Redknapp

The move has also enabled Saha to win a recall to the France squad and he is delighted that swapping Everton for Spurs has paid off.

'It's been brilliant because this is a great club and I like the way we play,' Saha added.

'It's just a joy to play in a team like this and obviously scoring goals is something I love.'

Spurs, meanwhile, will have Aaron Lennon available for Sunday's game against Swansea.

The winger has missed the last three weeks with a hamstring injury, but Tweeted last night: 'For all asking I will be fit for the weekend.'

QPR 0 Fulham 1: Pavel Pogrebnyak goal settles derby

QPR 0 Fulham 1: Pog strike enough to beat 10-man Rangers as Diakite sees red

Pavel
Pogrebnyak's early goal earned Fulham the west London bragging rights
as indiscipline once again cost struggling QPR in the Barclays Premier
League clash at Loftus Road.

The
clubs' once-amicable relationship is far more tense nowadays due in no
small part to Bobby Zamora's defection to join former Whites manager
Mark Hughes at Loftus Road.

The
now-QPR manager suggested Fulham lacked ambition following his
departure last summer and was reminded of his comments by the raucous
visiting support when Pogrebnyak rounded goalkeeper Paddy Kenny to break
the deadlock in the seventh minute.

Early bird: Pavel Pogrebnyak is congratulated by team-mates after netting in the seventh minute

Early bird: Pavel Pogrebnyak is congratulated by team-mates after netting in the seventh minute

MATCH FACTS

QPR: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Taiwo (Traore 72), Diakite, Mackie, Taarabt, Barton, Wright-Phillips (Buzsaky 83), Zamora. Subs not used: Cerny, Derry, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Smith.

Sent off: Diakite

Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, John Arne Riise, Ruiz (Duff 78), Murphy (Baird 74), Dembele, Dempsey, Pogrebnyak, Johnson (Etuhu 81). Subs not used: Stockdale, Orlando Sa, Senderos, Frei.

Goal: Pogrebnyak 7

Booked: Riise, Dembele, Pogrebnyak

Referee: Phil Dowd.

QPR's hopes of exacting revenge for their 6-0 defeat in the reverse fixture were made remote in the 33rd minute when debutant Samba Diakite received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.

It was the third home league match out of four a Rangers player was dismissed in the first period and they were made to pay as their poor form continued.

QPR have now only won once in 14 league games as their almost 29-year winless streak against Fulham continued to the delight of 3,115 visiting supporters.

After a bright start from the Rs, Fulham found the back of the net in the third minute.

Mousa Dembele, playing again in an unusual central midfield role, put through John Arne Riise on the left, and his cross was nodded home off the underside of the bar by Johnson.

Seeing red: Rangers debutant Samba Diakite (right) is dismissed

Seeing red: Rangers debutant Samba Diakite (right) is dismissed

The
effort was ruled out for offside but the visiting support did not have
long to wait to celebrate a goal as Dembele once again proved the
catalyst.

The
Belgium international's exquisite back heel played through Pogrebnyak,
who showed superb composure to round Kenny and slot home.

The
goal was the recent addition's second in as many games, although it was
tempered somewhat by his booking for celebrating with the Fulham fans.

QPR
looked shell-shocked as they saw Clint Dempsey fire wide, before Kenny
stopped the American prodding home by grabbing hold of a Pogrebnyak
cross.

Handle with care: Clint Hill challenges Pogrebnyak (right)

Handle with care: Clint Hill challenges Pogrebnyak (right)

The Rs were struggling to get a foothold in the game and their
frustrations saw Diakite pick up a booking for a late challenge on Bryan
Ruiz in the 20th minute.

QPR were only fleetingly impressing and somehow failed to capitalise on defensive confusion in the 26th minute.

Mark
Schwarzer parried a 20-yard Shaun Wright-Phillips effort into the path
of Zamora, whose goalbound attempt was clawed away by the Fulham
goalkeeper before Adel Taarabt inexplicably fired wide.

Perhaps fortunately for the Morocco international, the linesman had already raised his flag for offside.

On the run: Bobby Zamora (right) shields the ball from former Fulham teammate Danny Murphy

On the run: Bobby Zamora (right) shields the ball from former Fulham teammate Danny Murphy

Taarabt,
though, was looking QPR's most dangerous player and fired inches wide
from 20 yards, before the Cottagers returned to the attack.

Nedum Onuoha was forced to put the ball out for a corner as Dempsey
threatened, before Kenny palmed away a fierce Danny Murphy effort.

The
home side's afternoon was made all the more difficult in the 33rd
minute when Diakite became the latest Rangers player to earn a
first-half red card.

QPR
had been reduced to 10 men in two of their previous three home fixtures
and the Malian followed suit, receiving his second booking of the
afternoon for another foul on Ruiz.

Arms race: Jamie Mackie (left) under pressure from Fulham's Moussa Dembele

Arms race: Jamie Mackie (left) under pressure from Fulham's Moussa Dembele

Debut dismissal: Diakite (right) lasted barely half an hour

Debut dismissal: Diakite (right) lasted barely half an hour

Barton
fired over as half-time approached but Fulham returned to the attack
after the break, with only pressure from Onuoha preventing Ruiz getting a
shot away inside the opening minute.

Taarabt rained in shots from all angles as he attempted to force an
equaliser, before Rangers captain Barton saw an effort deflected behind
and Dembele picked up a booking.

The
second period was a much calmer affair as Martin Jol's side welcomed
the hosts on, which almost backfired when Mackie latched on to a Taarabt
ball to fire just wide.

Left-back Riise was booked for a foul in the build-up and then saw
opposing number Taiwo limp off and replaced by Armand Traore.

Under pressure: Shaun Wright-Phillips (left) challenges Fulham's Moussa Dembele

Under pressure: Shaun Wright-Phillips (left) challenges Fulham's Moussa Dembele

Fulham
made sweeping changes in a bid to sure things up heading into the final
10 minutes, but were fortunate not to concede in the 83rd minute when
Wright-Phillips somehow curled wide when one-on-one with Schwarzer.

Substitute
Chris Baird was booked for clipping Zamora's ankles as the clock wound
down before fellow replacement Dickson Etuhu ran through the middle to
shoot just wide in the 90th minute.

Fulham
continued to press in stoppage-time and Dembele saw the last shot of
the afternoon blocked by Onuoha after he had neatly turned the defender.

Tiger Woods: Fittest I"ve been in 10 years

Woods is ready to rise up the rankings: 'This is the fittest I've been in 10 years!'

Tiger Woods has declared his fitness is the best it has been in a decade ahead of his first tournament of the year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Woods will start his 16th season in the professional ranks and the first time the current world No 25 and former world No 1 has teed-off in the United Arab Emirates capital.

Woods last competed when winning December's Chevron World Challenge that ended a two-year winless drought for the 36-year old, who has had to deal with personal problems during his slide down the rankings.

Fighting fit! Woods says he's in great shape heading into first tournament of 2012

Fighting fit! Woods says he's in great shape heading into first tournament of 2012

He said: 'Actually it's been quite a few years since I've been physically fit.

'So I'm looking forward to getting out there and then playing and giving it a full season, which I haven't done in a while, so I'm really looking forward to that.

'It's probably been about eight, 10, 12 years ago I felt 100 percent. I had surgery in 2002. I had surgery in 2008. A couple of others ones in there, too.

'I missed most of last year and then to finally be able to get ready for a tournament properly and to do the type of lifting that I think I need to do to be ready, I was finally able to do that. Hence my game came around, so it's very exciting.'

Practice round: Woods has been familiarising himself with the Abu Dhabi course

Practice round: Woods has been familiarising himself with the Abu Dhabi course

Practice round: Woods has been familiarising himself with the Abu Dhabi course

Woods won the Chevron World Challenge in December, but that followed a third place finish at the Australian Open in Sydney and a superb singles win over Aaron Baddeley at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne.

Asked by Sky Sports if he saw the Chevron as a big step forward Woods said: 'I certainly did, but I think Australia was probably more.

'I played really well at the Open, then carried on in the Presidents Cup and basically continued that trend in the World Challenge. Hopefully I can build on that heading into this year and get ready for Augusta.'

His bid for a fifth Masters and 15th major starts on April 5.

Top trio: Woods with McIlroy (centre), and Westwood (right)

Top trio: Woods with McIlroy (centre), and Westwood (right)

Beating the drum: Westwood, Woods and McIlroy sample some local culture at the event launch

Beating the drum: Westwood, Woods and McIlroy sample some local culture at the event launch