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Author Archive for Lawrence Ostlere

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Football League: Sheffield United keep pace at top while Luton hit seven

Sheffield United edge out Ipswich 1-0 in a result marred by an injury to Kieron Freeman, Leeds lose again and Wigan return to the top of League One• Sheffield United took their chance to draw level with Cardiff, the league leaders coming into the weeke…

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Slovenia v Scotland: World Cup 2018 qualifier – live!

4.15pm BST

Slovenia Oblak; Struna, Mevlja, Cesar (c), Jokic; Kurtic, Rotman; Repas, Ilicic, Verbic; Matavz.

Subs: Skubic, Viler, Sirok, Belec, Bezjak, Mlinar Delamea, Koprivec, Vetrih.

1.43pm BST

If football games lasted 85 minutes, Scotland would have nine points and presumably Gordon Strachan would be looking to secure a gig on ITV’s World Cup coverage next year. Instead Scotland head into their final group game with 17 points and a manager still hopeful of leading his team to Russia and their first World Cup for 20 years.

He has overseen the remarkable turnaround of a team almost down and out when they first played Slovenia six months ago. Having been thumped 3-0 by both Slovakia and England, Scotland were ambling towards an insipid draw – and quite possibly Strachan’s sacking – at Hampden Park when Chris Martin bobbled in a late winner off the post.

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Castleford v Leeds: Grand Final 2017 – live!

6.49pm BST

No try! Briscoe is adjudged to have pushed a defender off the ball before grounding for the try and for the second time Leeds are denied by the video referee. Despite everything, it’s still Castleford 0-6 Leeds.

6.48pm BST

37 min Moon pumps one into the sky but Castleford defend it well and come forward again – until Holmes fumbles one and a quick McGuire kick sets up a try opportunity for Leeds. Briscoe gets close to touching down before crashing into the advertising hoardings, and once again James Child refers to the television official…

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Football League: Hull thrash woeful Birmingham as Shrewsbury win again

Wolves downed Burton 4-0 to move within a point of Cardiff at the top of the Championship while League Two leaders Notts County suffered a surprise loss

• Steve Cotterill was in the stands at the KCom Stadium to see the enormity of his task as the new Birmingham City manager, having been appointed on Friday to take charge of the struggling Blues. He watched them receive a 6-1 thumping from Hull City sparked by Fraizer Campbell’s seventh-minute opener, in a rout that keeps Birmingham in the bottom three. Cotterill will need all his 20 years of managerial experience to reinvigorate a piecemeal squad patched together by three different managers who have accrued only one win in their past nine Championship games. The result brought timely relief for the Hull manager Leonid Slutsky, ending the Tigers’ five-match winless run.

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Marco Silva’s proactivity and patience are key to Watford transformation | Lawrence Ostlere

The anticipation of half-time changes by Swansea and being prepared to wait for his resulting new system to bed in while giving instructions from the sideline could be a defining weapon

How many other Premier League managers would have done what Marco Silva did? Watford were 1-0 up and looking comfortable against Swansea City on Saturday when half-time came. In the home dressing room at the Liberty Stadium, Paul Clement prepared two substitutions in an attempt to turn the game. In the away dressing room, Silva anticipated the changes and reacted by ditching the four-man defence Watford had used in every minute of the season so far to play three at the back.

“We changed at half-time as we know they will do this change to three up front,” Silva reflected. “They started to react in the last minutes of the first half. They changed in the second half to two strikers with [Jordan] Ayew in behind – three strong players to challenge in duels. We changed things in half-time as well, to prepare for this situation.”

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Football League: Alfred N’Diaye winner sees Wolves keep pace at summit

• Wolves, Leeds and Cardiff all win to create four-point table-top buffer
• Shrewsbury are Football League’s last unbeaten side as Exeter finally lose

• These are still early days, yet it is hard to ignore the four-point cushion the top three sides have built themselves. Leeds, Wolves and Cardiff all survived close calls, and ultimately all won, to find themselves level on 20 points with the rest looking up. Leeds benefited from a slice of fortune when Bartosz Bialkowski, Ipswich’s goalkeeper and player of the season last term, spilled a corner over his goal-line and a flash on referee Geoff Eltringham’s watch confirmed the error. That put Leeds 3-1 up at a time when Ipswich had their hosts under pressure and, despite Joe Garner’s reply, the home side held on for a 3-2 win.

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Southampton v Manchester United, Stoke v Chelsea and more: Premier League – live!

11.30am BST

Put down that delicious glass of Carabao – the Premier League is back! And how: Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all play on Saturday at 3pm for the first time this century, probably, in a stonking lineup:

West Ham v Tottenham (follow it here!)
Burnley v Huddersfield
Everton v Bournemouth
Manchester City v Crystal Palace
Southampton v Manchester United
Stoke v Chelsea
Swansea v Watford
Leicester v Liverpool (5.30pm BST)

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Vuelta a España 2017: stage 16 individual time trial – live!

1.57pm BST

@lawrenceostlere Don’t discount Gianni Moscon or Julian Alaphilippe putting in a very good dig at the ITT!

I certainly won’t – Julian Alaphilippe has just begun his time trial, though AG2R’s Alexis Gougeard is the Frenchman burning rubber right now. He went through the second checkpoint, at 28km, 11 seconds up on Daniel Oss.

1.51pm BST

Team Sky’s Ian Stannard clocked 50min 53sec, just shy of Koning’s then-leading mark which has been surpassed by BMC’s Daniel Oss and then Yves Lampaert a couple of minutes later. Oss edged out the Belgian by 18 seconds and leads the standings with a time of 48min 49sec. Plenty of riders to come, of course, but that is the mark to beat. Here was Stannard setting off:

Ya en carrera también ciclistas del @TeamSky
The first rider of @TeamSky is road to Logroño.#LV2017 https://t.co/ExV8k7kCMf pic.twitter.com/VjnoKxRrG1

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Golden Goal: Lionel Messi for Barcelona v Santos (2011)

Barça’s beautiful opening goal in the Club World Cup final epitomised more than any other Pep Guardiola’s vision for how he wanted his team to play

Should you ever happen to go for a beer with Pep Guardiola, tread carefully. Things might start off OK, discussing Oktoberfest or how to wear a rollneck with trainers, but inevitably conversation would turn to Barcelona’s glory years, at which point you would laud a famous European title or decisive clásico, and Pep would quietly place down his glass, straighten his rollneck and depart. Perfectionists always find flaws even in what others might consider their best work; to Guardiola, his pinnacle at Barcelona was never in beating Manchester United or Real Madrid, but on a December night in Yokohama when his team carved Santos to pieces.

Eight days before the 2011 Club World Cup final, Barcelona travelled to the Bernabéu in La Liga. For the past three years they had been an obscenely great football team, one of the best ever, dominating Spain and Europe. Carles Puyol led like an army general, Dani Alves’s flagrant disregard for defending was impossible to read, Xavi hadn’t misplaced a pass since 2008 – and they had Lionel Messi. They could be monotonous – tiki, taka, tiki, taka – but part of the thrill was not knowing when it would end or what they’d invent when it did.

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Football League: Bradford’s Charlie Wyke grabs hat-trick while Mansfield get lucky

Bradford City beat a limp Bristol Rovers 3-1 at Valley Parade, Peterborough’s perfect record came to an end and Wycombe downed Forest Green by half-time

• After Bradford lost to Blackburn two weeks ago – their first league defeat at Valley Parade for 32 games – the manager Stuart McCall bemoaned the recent absence of the injured Charlie Wyke; in the day’s early kick-off Wyke showed exactly what they’d been missing. The striker scored a hat-trick to see off Bristol Rovers with two goals from corners and a brave back-post header to wrap up the feat, before a late Billy Bodin consolation made it 3-1. City threw away a three-goal lead at Walsall last weekend but a repeat never looked likely, as Wyke’s first goals of the season restored some of that home aura which carried them close to promotion last year.

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Chelsea complete £35m signing of Danny Drinkwater from Leicester City

• Drinkwater signs five-year deal as Leicester buy Adrien Silva
• Right wing-back Davide Zappacosta joins from Torino

Chelsea have completed the signing of Danny Drinkwater from Leicester City for a fee of around £35m, after the club applied for a two-hour extension to the transfer deadline on Thursday night to complete the move.

The deal had been contingent on Leicester bringing in a replacement midfielder, and the Foxes are now expected to announce the signing of Portugal’s Adrien Silva from Sporting. Drinkwater, 27, has signed a five-year contract.

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Football League: Ipswich finally falter and Norwich ship four again

Cardiff are now the only Championship side with a 100% record – is another promotion on the cards for Neil Warnock?

• Neil Warnock has seven promotions on his managerial CV and at this rate he will secure an eighth at Cardiff City with room to spare. They had to beat QPR the hard way to collect their fifth win from five after making a sluggish start and falling behind to Matt Smith’s 15th-minute opener. Junior Hoilett scored a bizarre equaliser blocking Alex Smithies’ attempted clearance, before Sol Bamba climbed highest at a corner to head the winner on the stroke of half-time.

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Barcelona v Real Betis: La Liga – live!

7.43pm BST

24 min This first moment of classic Barcelona football almost produces a typical Messi goal. Busquets roams out of his deeper role to work an intricate one-two with his captain before Messi bends a shot just wide from 18 yards.

7.40pm BST

21 min Not much is happening right now as Barcelona gently probe with very little joy. Betis will be pretty pleased; Setién seems to have got his team well organised.

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Football transfer rumours: Jack Wilshere to Juventus? Alexis Sánchez to Man City?

Today’s fluff is feeling sprightly

We start at Manchester City, so bereft of attacking talent, who will try to fill that chasm with Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez with a bid of £60m in the coming days, which leaves Arsenal with a modern twist on a familiar riddle: would you rather have one season of Alexis Sánchez or a silo filled with 60 million £1 coins?

Related: Premier League clubs to discuss shorter transfer window for the summer

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World Athletics Championships 2017: Mo Farah goes for 5,000m gold – live!

7.54pm BST

KJT aces 1.95m with a perfect leap! It didn’t even graze the bar. She’s the fourth high jump finalist to clear the height, although the one blot on her card at 1.92m means she is technically fourth and outside the medals.

7.51pm BST

Britain’s Morgan Lake has a perfect card so far, clearing 1.84m, 1.88m and 1.92m comfortably. She raises her arms to get the home crowd behind her before steaming into her arced approach, but nudges the bar and it’s her first failure of the competition, at 1.95m. She is followed by the 19-year-old Ukrainian Yuliia Levchenko, who makes it look easy, and the teenager will join Lasitskene at 1.97m, as will the German Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch. Next up, it’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

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Football League: Cardiff City sweep aside Aston Villa as Blackburn lose again

• Nottingham Forest beat Brentford 4-3, Hull thrash Burton
• Oxford beat Portsmouth, Coventry fly high in League Two

Aston Villa continue to search for their first win of the season after they were well beaten 3-0 by Cardiff City in south Wales. Kenneth Zohore powered down the wing brilliantly before crossing for Junior Hoilett to slam in on the hour, a goal which came between two Nathaniel Mendez-Laing strikes on his full debut to leave Neil Warnock’s side with maximum points from their opening two games and top of the embryonic Championship table.

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World Athletics Championships 2017: Usain Bolt qualifies for 100m final – live!

8.03pm BST

In about an hour and a half Usain Bolt will return to the track. Will he sign off from the 100m in style?

@lawrenceostlere Bolt 2 do the business like he’s always done! Legend of sport not just athletics! What a hero #Unbelievablyamazinglyunreal

7.58pm BST

USA’s Jennifer Simpson and Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui took the other two spots in Monday’s 1500m final: “Today I really ran a great race,” says Laura Weightman. “I knew I had three or four people to overtake in the final straight. That was fantastic and I can’t wait for the final. If I just keep believing in myself I can put in a good performance.”

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League One 2017-18 season preview | Lawrence Ostlere

Blackburn need to bounce straight back and Venky’s seem to have kept their word, Wigan are looking to repeat their 2015-16 feat and Shrewsbury need to keep their eye on the ball and not the planned alterations at their stadium

It seems scarcely believable that Blackburn Rovers will be playing in the third tier, even if most of their supporters will say it has been coming. It has been a painful fall for a former staple of the Premier League and they will be the biggest fish in the League One pond, and begin as title favourites.

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F1: Hungarian Grand Prix – live!

12.43pm BST

F1 managing director Ross Brawn is enjoying the sunshine on the grid, and he’s excited for this grand prix. “Ferrari have come back again here – [their form] is circuit dependent I think, because I understand there’s no great change to cars. It doesn’t look like Mercedes had a great qualifying but what’s great is we don’t know who’s going to win.”

12.39pm BST

Sky Sports’ F1 team are depleted today. Martin Brundle is in Belgium I hear while Paul di Resta has stepped up to replace the unwell Felipe Massa for Williams. Quite a switch from commentary box to cockpit. In Brundle’s stead, Ted Kravitz will take on The Grid Walk.

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Manchester City sign £52m Benjamin Mendy to take spending over £200m

• Mendy signs five-year contract from Monaco
• Transfer fee is world record for a defender

Manchester City have announced the signing of Benjamin Mendy from Monaco on a five-year contract for a fee of around £52m (€57.5m). The France international had been identified as a key target by Pep Guardiola following the departure of left-back Gaël Clichy, while Aleksandar Kolarov also left for Roma last week.

Mendy came through Le Havre’s youth system before a move to Marseille in 2013. The 23-year-old switched to Monaco last summer for £11m where he established himself as one of the best full-backs in world football with his powerful and direct style of play, during a season in which the club claimed the French title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

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