Crystal Palace v Stoke City: match preview

It may not yet be December, but it feels as if crunch time is already upon Crystal Palace. Roy Hodgson has overseen significantly improved performances over his side’s past five matches, yet the team have still won only once all term and are adrift at the foot playing catch-up from that wretched start. Stoke City, who have not won at Selhurst Park in a decade and are enduring their own inconsistencies, must surely be overcome if Palace’s confidence is to be bolstered before Tuesday’s derby at Brighton. This may be the time to fling Christian Benteke back into the fray from the start. Dominic Fifield Kick-off Saturday 3pm Continue reading...

Hamish McAlpine, the goalscoring goalie who inspired a piano ballad

Who do you turn to when your strikers keep missing penalties? Your crossbar-swinging, songwriter-bothering, Grace Kelly-impressing goalkeeper By Graeme Webster for Nutmeg, part of the Guardian Sport Network A pulsating Scottish Division One match between Kilmarnock and Raith Rovers was finely poised at 3-3 as the sun began to set behind the old Rugby Park. The 1,436 fans scattered around the ground on 12 September 1987 scanned the pitch for a potential hero. Sometimes heroes are the unlikeliest figures. With the clock running down, Raith Rovers’ veteran goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine, launched a kick from his own penalty area towards his opposite number, Barry Holland, in the Killie goal. Incredibly, the ball bounced once and flew beyond his baffled opponent into the back of the net. As the Raith Rovers fans celebrated, McAlpine looked on in bewilderment as he tried to figure out what had happened. Astonishment soon turned to Continue reading "Hamish McAlpine, the goalscoring goalie who inspired a piano ballad"

Football transfer rumours: Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge to join Milan?

Today’s fluff is keeping it real With the stock of Keylor Navas at Real Madrid having plummeted in recent weeks, the under-performing Spanish side remain in the market for a new goalkeeper. The Costa Rican has made quite the name for himself since signing shortly after the 2014 World Cup, but has recently fallen out of favour with Zinedine Zidane and the Mirror reports that Real have switched their attention from longtime target David de Gea to his Chelsea counterpart Thibaut Courtois. No stranger to Madrid, having spent three happy seasons on loan at Atlético before establishing himself as Chelsea’s first choice goalkeeper, the Belgian has yet to renew his contract, which runs until 2019. Related: Chelsea did not give Mohamed Salah his chance to make it, claims Eden Hazard Continue reading...

Villas-Boas future in doubt ahead of China FA Cup final

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> Shanghai (AFP) – Shanghai SIPG need to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the Chinese FA Cup final second leg on Sunday, in what could be coach Andre Villas-Boas’ last game in charge. The former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager has refused to say if he will continue at big-spending SIPG next season and said after last weekend’s first-leg defeat at rivals Shanghai Shenhua that he would make an announcement after the FA Cup final.  Some Chinese media say that the 40-year-old Portuguese, who took over a year ago, must win a trophy this season or face the sack. With the Chinese Super League (CSL) season over, the FA Cup is his last remaining chance of silverware, but Villas-Boas told reporters following Sunday’s narrow away-leg defeat: “My decision has already been taken regarding next season. “You will know it at the end of the season, but it’s already taken and
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Japan’s Reds target Asian glory after race row

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> Tokyo (AFP) – Urawa Reds will be favourites to exorcise Japan’s Asian Champions League demons when they host Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the second leg of the final on Saturday. With the Reds hoping to end a decade of hurt in Asia’s premier club competition, Brazilian forward Rafael Silva became embroiled in a race row following last weekend’s 1-1 draw in Riyadh, adding to the tension. Urawa officials filed a formal protest to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after racist comments were posted on the player’s Instagram account. “From my heart I would like to say it doesn’t bother me at all,” Silva told local media, looking to defuse the controversy. “My focus is elsewhere. All my energy is focused on the second leg,” added the Brazilian, who gave Urawa an early lead last week before Syrian sharp-shooter Omar Kharbin equalised for Al Hilal. Japanese clubs have struggled in Continue reading "Japan’s Reds target Asian glory after race row"