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Author Archive for Observer Sport

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Rhian Brewster hat-trick sends England into Under-17 World Cup semi-finals

• USA Under-17s 1-4 England Under-17s• Morgan Gibbs-White and Liverpool youngster star in rampant win in GoaLiverpool’s Rhian Brewster scored a hat-trick as England beat the USA 4-1 in Goa to secure their first place in the U17 World Cup semi-finals.En…

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Mo Farah takes world 5,000m silver to fall short of a farewell double

• Briton fails to add to 10,000m success in final major run on the track
• Farah, winner of four world and Olympic doubles, beaten by Muktar Edris

Mo Farah missed out on the 5,000m and 10,000m double at the World Athletics Championships, bringing down the curtain on his track career at major events with a silver medal.

Farah, 34, is stepping up to the marathon and had hoped to add to the doubles he won at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and the 2013 and 2015 world championships. He also won the 5,000m at the 2011 worlds, giving him 10 global golds in all.

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Burnley abandon pre-season friendly against Hannover on police advice

• Crowd trouble forces match to be abandoned at Turf Moor
• Burnley led 1-0 at half-time against Bundesliga opposition

Burnley have said they had to abandon their pre-season friendly against Hannover on Saturday on police advice after crowd trouble marred the action at Turf Moor.

Supporters of the newly-promoted Bundesliga side were pictured ripping up seats and throwing them towards home sections of the stadium while the first half was still being played. Defender Ben Mee opened the scoring for Burnley before police attempted to restore order over an extended half-time interval.

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Burnley abandon pre-season friendly against Hannover on police advice

• Crowd trouble forces match to be abandoned at Turf Moor
• Burnley led 1-0 at half-time against Bundesliga opposition

Burnley have said they had to abandon their pre-season friendly against Hannover on Saturday on police advice after crowd trouble marred the action at Turf Moor.

Supporters of the newly-promoted Bundesliga side were pictured ripping up seats and throwing them towards home sections of the stadium while the first half was still being played. Defender Ben Mee opened the scoring for Burnley before police attempted to restore order over an extended half-time interval.

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Euro 2017: Switzerland hang on to beat Iceland after 11 minutes of injury time

• Iceland 1-2 Switzerland (Fridriksdottir 33; Dickenmann 43, Bachmann 52)
• Swiss hold on to earn first ever win at a European finals

Switzerland claimed their first ever win at a women’s European finals but had to hold on for 11 minutes of injury time to defeat Iceland in Doetinchem.

Both sides needed a result after losing their opening games but it was Iceland, backed by fervent support, who took the lead after 33 minutes. Fanndis Fridriksdottir collected a through pass and drove the ball beyond Gaëlle Thalmann and into the bottom corner.

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Antonio Conte praises Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi after double in Arsenal win

• Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea; Willian 40, Batshuayi 42, 49
• Pedro forced off with concussion during pre-season friendly in Beijing

Antonio Conte praised the performance of Michy Batshuayi after he scored twice in Chelsea’s comfortable pre-season win over Arsenal in China. Both Arsène Wenger and Conte named strong teams for the match at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, with Alexandre Lacazette again featuring for Arsenal. Wenger also named youngsters Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Cohen Bramall in his starting lineup. Recent £58m Chelsea signing Álvaro Morata did not feature but arrived in Singapore on Saturday to meet up with his Chelsea team-mates.

Batshuayi excelled in attack, leading the line in front of Pedro and Willian, who opened the scoring five minutes before half-time. Batshuayi, who scored the decisive goal at West Bromwich Albion as Chelsea won the Premier League in May, scored his first goals of the new season in style, curling an opener before striking home from the edge of the box.

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A lot of people do not want Real Madrid to win La Liga, says Zinedine Zidane

• Zidane: ‘We know where we are and that we have to win it ourselves’
• Luis Enrique says final game at Camp Nou is ‘not goodbye, but see you later’

Zinedine Zidane has said he has no issue with the people who do not want his Real Madrid team to win their first La Liga title for five years, insisting it has always been and always will be that way. Madrid’s fate is in their own hands and they are guaranteed to win the domestic title on Sunday evening providing they secure at least a point at Málaga. Three points will separate the league leaders and second-placed Barcelona at kick-off and should Zidane’s side suffer a surprise fourth league defeat of the season, Luis Enrique’s men could win the title if they win at home to Eibar.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want Real Madrid to win La Liga, but that’s always been the case and it always will be,” the Real Madrid manager, who spent five years at the club as a player, said at his pre-match press conference. “It is no problem. We know where we are and that we have to win it ourselves out on the pitch and by working hard every day, fighting and never letting our heads drop. That’s how we’re going to continue.

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FA Cup roundup: Adebayo Akinfenwa’s late winner breaks Stourbridge hearts

• Third round’s lowest-ranked side beaten 2-1 by Wycombe
• Oxford win 3-2 away at Rotherham; QPR lose 2-1 at home to Blackburn

Stourbridge, the lowest ranked side in the third round, were beaten 2-1 at League Two Wycombe. Dan Scarr cancelled out Sam Wood’s opener 20 minutes from time, but the Northern Premier League team were left heartbroken by Adebayo Akinfenwa’s late winner.

Oxford’s manager, Michael Appleton, distanced himself from the vacant England Under-21 job after seeing his side knock out Championship club Rotherham with a 3-2 away win. Goals from former Miller Ryan Taylor, Phil Edwards and substitute Kane Hemmings secured a fourth-round place. “Talk about that job is pure speculation. It is a fantastic role for whoever does get it but I’m just keeping my focus on Oxford. I’m delighted with this win. We knew the game was there to be taken.”

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Fulham fans up in arms against morning FA Cup tie in Cardiff

• Third-round tie to start at 11.30am for TV scheduling reasons
• ‘Insulting to supporters who are the lifeblood of the game’, says Fulham trust

BBC Wales. It’s a hard sell for the BBC – marketing the FA Cup’s fan-led magic and tradition at the same time as moving a game to late morning. It means Fulham fans have the choice of one train on Sunday, which arrives in the city centre 31 minutes before kick-off.

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The alternative 2016 sports awards: the year’s best quotes, gaffes and meltdowns

Forget the medal tables: it was another big year for sporting soap opera. The quotes, the rows and the capybaras that made the past 12 months special

Cristiano Ronaldo – won a fourth Ballon d’Or, launched a range of CR7 blankets, tossed a microphone into a lake, inspired a tantrum meme, and hosted the era’s defining football press conference, with the press banned from asking questions. He denied it was his idea to have all the questions posed by a Uefa media officer instead: “I decide nothing.” He also appeared to spit out a magic fully-formed Euro 2016 TV graphic during Portugal’s quarter-final. Flawless.

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Sports Personality of the Year 2016: when it’s on, what to expect and how to vote

Back in 1954 Spoty was a reserved, solemn affair. This year’s it’s an arena stage show starring Robbie Williams

Sunday, from 6.40pm. When “Spoty” began in 1954 it was a low-key affair: 45 minutes in total, including a no-frills 45-second trophy presentation. This year there’s a different vibe: two hours and 20 minutes of montage, music and uneasy banter, featuring an unprecedented 16-strong shortlist for the main award. It all takes place at Birmingham’s Genting Arena – the fourth time it has been staged in Birmingham. Aside from London, no other city has staged it more than once.

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Observer Sport writers recommend their favourite books of 2016

From the idiosyncratic brilliance of James Hunt to a teenage cricketing obsession with Phil Tufnell: our writers’ selection of the best sporting books of the year

The ghosted autobiography seldom excites much attention or enthusiasm in these sorts of columns but there have been two published this year that are much better than most. Absolutely Foxed (Simon & Schuster) tells us of Graeme Fowler’s cricketing life, which encompasses growing up in Accrington, playing cricket for Lancashire then England, mixing with knights – Sir Ian and Sir Elton – coaching a succession of cricketers from Andrew Strauss downwards at Durham University and a moving, candid account of his own mental health issues.

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The Agenda: Cristiano Ronaldo up for Ballon d’Or, darts comes to Ally Pally

Portuguese seeks to cap triumphant year; world champion Michael van Gerwen is back at the oche; and snooker heads to Glasgow

Football’s most prestigious prize for individual achievement, the Ballon d’Or, has been shared between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi since Kaká’s win in 2007 and the idea of anyone else winning seems farfetched even by 2016’s high standards. The Portuguese is overwhelming favourite after a season that culminated in European triumph for club and country. Barcelona won La Liga but Messi’s missed penalty in the Copa América final and failure to deliver Argentina’s first trophy in 20 years will likely rule him out of a fifth award. Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suárez are outside bets while Jamie Vardy is the only Englishman nominated. (The last English winner was Michael Owen in 2001.) As of this year, the Ballon d’Or is no longer a Fifa-sanctioned gong since football’s world body has ended its six‑year bond with the event, which has been run by France Football since 1956. Those Zurich-based blazers will now relaunch their world player of the year prize under a new name, details of which remain sketchy. Perhaps they will broaden it out to 48 players.

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The Agenda: Cristiano Ronaldo up for Ballon d’Or, darts comes to Ally Pally

Portuguese seeks to cap triumphant year; world champion Michael van Gerwen is back at the oche; and snooker heads to Glasgow

Football’s most prestigious prize for individual achievement, the Ballon d’Or, has been shared between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi since Kaká’s win in 2007 and the idea of anyone else winning seems farfetched even by 2016’s high standards. The Portuguese is overwhelming favourite after a season that culminated in European triumph for club and country. Barcelona won La Liga but Messi’s missed penalty in the Copa América final and failure to deliver Argentina’s first trophy in 20 years will likely rule him out of a fifth award. Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suárez are outside bets while Jamie Vardy is the only Englishman nominated. (The last English winner was Michael Owen in 2001.) As of this year, the Ballon d’Or is no longer a Fifa-sanctioned gong since football’s world body has ended its six‑year bond with the event, which has been run by France Football since 1956. Those Zurich-based blazers will now relaunch their world player of the year prize under a new name, details of which remain sketchy. Perhaps they will broaden it out to 48 players.

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The Agenda: A Rangers return for Holloway as Sir Bradley bids farewell

Wiggins saddles up for the final time to compete in ‘the Monaco Grand Prix of six-day racing’, while Holloway gets back in the saddle at Queens Park Rangers

Relax, the international break is almost over. On the continent, club football returns with a bang onnext Saturday evening when Diego Simeone’s Atlético host Zinedine Zidane’s Real in the Madrid derby, kick-off 7.45pm. Real sit on top of La Liga without yet being at their sparkling best and this game is more important for the hosts who are six points adrift of their neighbours. Before that, watch Der Klassiker as Bayern Munich travel to face the exciting, but unreliable, Borussia Dortmund (5.30pm).

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The Agenda: Neymar and Messi go head-to-head in World Cup showdown

Barcelona team-mates become international adversaries, the big names of men’s tennis count down to the ATP World Tour Finals and the stars of darts and snooker will gather in the Midlands

And you thought England v Scotland was this week’s big grudge match. The giants of South America meet in Belo Horizonte on Thursday night in a key World Cup qualifier with Barcelona team-mates Neymar and Lionel Messi carrying the weight of their respective nations. Brazil lead the 10-team table with 21 points after 10 games. The top four go through and fifth-place face a play-off. Worryingly for Argentina they currently sit sixth, but it is tightly packed with six games to go and a win over their old rivals could take them into third. Defeat, though, would be very problematic indeed.

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Shane Sutton maintains innocence after Jess Varnish’s allegation is upheld

• ‘I’m adamant that I am innocent. I have definitely never overstepped the mark’
• Sutton admits legal action is a possibility after lengthy investigation

Shane Sutton has maintained his innocence after British Cycling’s board of directors upheld allegations made by Jess Varnish of “inappropriate and discriminatory language” and has refused to rule out legal action.

Varnish had accused Sutton of telling her to “go and have a baby” and that she was “too old” to compete at the Rio Olympics which, along with further allegations that he described Paralympic athletes as “gimps and wobblies”, led to his resignation as British Cycling’s techinical director in April.

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The Agenda: FA Cup magic, Manny Pacquiao’s return and Melbourne mania

The first round proper gets underway with Westfields of the Midland League the lowest ranked team remaining, Tottenham look for an improved performance at Wembley in the Champions League and China goes snooker loopy

Emirates-branded first-round magic as the FA Cup proper gets going, with minnows battling to get within one tie of a third round giantkilling. Among this year’s sides to watch are Westfields – the Midland League Premier Division side from Hereford who have nothing to do with shopping centres and are the lowest ranked team still standing. They beat Leiston 2-1 to get this far, and face Ashton-under-Lyne’s Curzon Ashton on Saturday. The official @Westfieldsfc1 feed has been getting itself all worked up with tweets including: “Let the magic boil in your veins! Let the atoms collide and cause an inferno” and “We are Division Nine, but we have League One teams in our sniper range. Tremble to your new Gods fo Steam and Fire!! TSSSSHHHHSSSS!!!”

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Twickenham prepares for its NFL debut: mascots, merchandise and Craig David

Rugby’s ultra-traditional spiritual home stages its first NFL match on Sunday – New York Giants v LA Rams. It’s going to be quite a culture shock

Gentile Twickenham won’t have seen anything like this?

They’ve had Beyoncé, Iron Maiden and 55,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses but no, nothing quite like this. Walls have been knocked through, there’s new branding, pyrotechnics, cheerleaders, an LED wall, supersized locker-rooms, road closures and Craig David doing a pre-game show (and he’s usually chilling on a Sunday). There’s even a tailgate party in the car park.

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Twickenham prepares for its NFL debut: mascots, merchandise and Craig David

Rugby’s ultra-traditional spiritual home stages its first NFL match on Sunday – New York Giants v LA Rams. It’s going to be quite a culture shock

Gentile Twickenham won’t have seen anything like this?

They’ve had Beyoncé, Iron Maiden and 55,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses but no, nothing quite like this. Walls have been knocked through, there’s new branding, pyrotechnics, cheerleaders, an LED wall, supersized locker-rooms, road closures and Craig David doing a pre-game show (and he’s usually chilling on a Sunday). There’s even a tailgate party in the car park.

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