Johnny Russell adds gloss to Scotland’s uninspiring defeat of San Marino


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Scotland made slow headway along the road to redemption as they followed up defeat in Kazakhstan with an uninspiring away win over San Marino.

Alex McLeish’s side failed to immediately build on Kenny McLean’s fourth-minute goal against the worst-ranked national team in the world. Many of the almost 3,000 visiting fans vented their disapproval towards the Scottish Football Association board even after Johnny Russell doubled the lead in the 74th minute.

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Jeff Hendrick gives Republic of Ireland narrow win over stubborn Gibraltar


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• Gibraltar 0-1 Republic of Ireland (Hendrick 49)
• McCarthy off to winning start despite tricky conditionsJeff Hendrick handed Mick McCarthy a winning start to his second spell in charge as the Republic of Ireland launched their Euro 2020 campaign with a narrow victory in Gibraltar. Hendrick’s first international goal since September 2016 ultimately settled a tight encounter fought out on a plastic pitch in swirling winds at the Victoria Stadium in front of the man who famously took the nation to the 2002 World Cup finals.

However, there was an ill wind blowing in from Dublin as the controversial FAI chief executive, John Delaney, stepped aside from his role, 10 days before he was due to appear before an parliamentary committee over a €100,000 loan provided to the governing body. Delaney will remain in the association he has led since 2005 in a new role of executive vice-president. Continue reading “Jeff Hendrick gives Republic of Ireland narrow win over stubborn Gibraltar”

Winning is only way for Scotland to apologise for Kazakhstan, says McLeish


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• Scots face San Marino after 3-0 humiliation in Astana
• McLeish: ‘We are all hurting … they don’t mean to play badly’

Alex McLeish has vowed to keep trying to make amends for Scotland’s shock defeat in Kazakhstan and believes there will be twists and turns in their Euro 2020 qualifying group.

McLeish and his players have come under fire after a 3-0 loss against the world’s 117th-ranked team in their opening Group I game. Scotland have only once reached a major tournament after losing their opening qualifier, when they recovered from defeat to Czechoslovakia, the then European champions, to make it to the 1978 World Cup.

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Jack Grealish imperious on his return in Aston Villa’s thrashing of Derby


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A Jack Grealish-inspired Aston Villa romped to a one-sided victory over an injury-hit Derby, who slumped to their 11th defeat in 12 games at Villa Park. The talented midfielder was in outstanding form on his return to first-team duty and lit up Villa’s easy win and his own display with a brilliant goal from 25 yards.

Villa completely dominated the game, sealing the victory with a blitz of goals in the first half, two of them coming from Conor Hourihane and one apiece from Tammy Abraham and Grealish. The belated return of Grealish, who was named as Villa’s captain, produced an immediate improvement.

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Wilfried Zaha’s strike caps comfortable win for Crystal Palace at Burnley


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Roy Hodgson has doubled Wilfried Zaha’s goal target after the winger shone again in Crystal Palace’s victory over Burnley. Zaha was the architect of the opener, an own goal by Phil Bardsley, and then scored the third after Michy Batshuayi had doubled Palace’s advantage. It was a fifth goal in as many games for Zaha after 18 matches without one, and he was a thorn in Burnley’s side throughout.

Hodgson said: “Wilf was good. He’s always good. He’s in good form at the moment. He’s a dangerous player to have to mark if you’re a defender when he gets the ball, because he’s an extremely good dribbler and he’s got not only dribbling skills, he’s got strength to add to that.

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Scott Parker looks to get fans on side for Fulham’s daunting salvation bid


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• Strugglers face Chelsea before hosting title-chasers
• Parker wants players to give everything for supportersScott Parker is relishing the challenge of facing the Premier League’s top clubs as he prepares for a daunting introduction to management with Fulham.

The former England midfielder begins his interim tenure at home to west London rivals Chelsea on Sunday after replacing the sacked Claudio Ranieri. The 19th-placed Cottagers, who are 10 points from the last safe spot and facing an immediate return to the Championship, also host title challengers Liverpool and Manchester City before the end of the month.

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Bournemouth’s Josh King misses penalty to let Wolves off the hook


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Joshua King missed an 85th-minute penalty as Bournemouth were forced to settle for a point against in-form Wolves in a contentious game containing three spot-kicks.

King struck his late effort against the right post having earlier given the Cherries a first-half lead from 12 yards.

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Nantes set to take dispute with Cardiff over Emiliano Sala transfer fee to Fifa


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• Nantes have demanded first of three payments for player
• Cardiff want to wait until investigation into crash is completeNantes are set to take their dispute with Cardiff City over the death of Emiliano Sala to Fifa this week if the Premier League club fail to comply with the French club’s request for payment of the first instalment of his £15m transfer fee by Wednesday, it is understood.

The Argentinian striker died when a Piper Malibu plane – piloted by David Ibbotson, who remains missing – crashed into the English Channel on 21 January, just two days after Sala signed for Cardiff from the French club.

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Arsène Wenger suggests Mesut Özil’s new deal put him in ‘comfort zone’


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• Playmaker got deal while Frenchman was still at helm
• Özil has started one game since Boxing DayArsène Wenger believes the decision to offer Mesut Özil a long-term contract last year may have left the German in a “comfort zone”.

Özil ended speculation about his future last year by committing himself to Arsenal until the summer of 2021, with Wenger still at the helm. But the playmaker has fallen out of favour under Wenger’s successor, Unai Emery, having started only one game since Boxing Day to bring renewed scrutiny as to whether he will remain at the Emirates Stadium.

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Leeds United fined £200,000 over Derby County spying affair


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• Club admitted breaching regulations over behaviour
• EFL to ban teams from viewing opposition trainingLeeds United have been fined £200,000 and given a severe reprimand by the EFL after an investigation into spying.

The Championship side had been under investigation after manager Marcelo Bielsa admitting to sending someone to spy on Derby County at their training ground before their match against Leeds last month.

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Liverpool cannot afford to consider Bayern a fading force, says Klopp


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Shaun Harvey calls time after surviving Football League breakaway threat


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Scott Brown sees red for celebration after scoring late winner for Celtic


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Scott Brown scored a dramatic last-minute winner and was then sent off as Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Premiership to eight points with a 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Rangers’ goalless draw at home to St Johnstone on Saturday offered the champions the opportunity to put down a significant deposit on their eighth successive title win but they were matched by Killie in a goalless first 45 minutes.

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David Beckham sees Salford City beaten on first visit since becoming co-owner


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• Salford lose in National League to struggling Dover Athletic
• Beckham watching for first time since buying 10% stakeDavid Beckham saw Salford City suffer a surprise home defeat as he watched the National League club in action for the first time since becoming co-owner.

Beckham last month followed his former Manchester United team-mates Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt in securing a 10% stake in the club from Peter Lim, making The Class of 92 majority shareholders, with the Singapore businessman retaining 40%.

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Blunt Rangers lose ground on Celtic after Saints stalemate


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Rangers risk losing further ground in the title race after being frustrated at home by St Johnstone. The 0-0 draw with Tommy Wright’s men may mean Rangers have trimmed Celtic’s lead at the top back to five points for 24 hours.

But Brendan Rodgers’ reigning champions will look to punish a wasteful display from the Light Blues when they travel to Kilmarnock by stretching their advantage to eight.

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Rangers’ Steven Gerrard calls for ban on ‘dangerous’ artificial pitches


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  • Players sign petition calling for end to synthetic turf
  • Gerrard: ‘My opinion is that players are safer on grass’

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard says it is time the Scottish Professional Football League started listening to its players and outlawed “dangerous” plastic pitches.

Union chiefs from PFA Scotland have revealed a petition signed by every player from the nine top-flight clubs with grass surfaces demanding synthetic turf is banned in the Scottish Premiership. The move is set to be fiercely resisted by the three top-flight clubs who play on plastic – Kilmarnock, Hamilton and Livingston – but Gerrard’s views will not shift.

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West Brom’s Dwight Gayle could face two-match ban for diving


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• Striker was awarded penalty in draw against Forest
• Jürgen Klopp charged over comments about officialsDwight Gayle could face a retrospective ban for diving after he was hit with a Football Association charge following West Brom’s 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

The Baggies striker went down in the penalty area under pressure from Alexander Milosevic and Yohan Benalouane in the 89th minute of the Championship clash at The Hawthorns. Jay Rodriguez duly equalised from the penalty spot to rescue a point for the hosts.

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Nicolò Zaniolo’s double delivers first-leg advantage for Roma against Porto


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Teenage forward Nicolò Zaniolo scored twice as Roma edged the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash against Porto 2-1 at Stadio Olimpico.

There had been little to chose between the sides during the first half, with Edin Dzeko seeing his shot come back off the post. The Bosnian played a part in breaking the deadlock on 70 minutes when he laid the ball off for Zaniolo to drill the ball in at the far post.

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José Mourinho to start new job … as host on Russian TV show


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  • Mourinho to host fortnightly Champions League show
  • Programme will air from 7 March until 1 June

José Mourinho is to host a football show on RT providing coverage of the Champions League.

Related: José Mourinho dancing on ice – at last, he’s served up something watchable | Marina Hyde

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Kylian Mbappé pledges £27,000 to help search for Emiliano Sala’s pilot


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French footballer among those who have donated £120,000 to help David Ibbotson’s family

More than £120,000 has been raised by a campaign to restart the search for the pilot of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala, with Gary Lineker and Kylian Mbappé among those to have donated.

A page raising funds to continue the search for David Ibbotson, who was flying the plane carrying the Argentine footballer when it crashed in the Channel, was set up on Friday.

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