March 18, 2018 thesundaytimes.co.uk/sport FOUR-GOAL SALAH STARS AS LIVERPOOL THRASH WATFORD PAGE 9 England coach forced to eat humble pie as rampant Ireland run out 24-15 winners to take Grand Slam Not bad for a ‘scummy’ nation, Green party: Johnny Sexton, left, and skipper Rory Best lead Ireland’s celebrations with the Triple Crown and Six Nations trophies eh Eddie? TOBY MELVILLE Stephen Jones Rugby correspondent Ireland claimed their third Grand Slam, and their second in nine years, as they swept aside England at Twickenham yesterday. The visitors were on the scoreboard after five minutes when Garry Ringrose touched down and were 21-5 ahead at half-time. Though England showed more purpose in the second half, the result never looked in doubt and Ireland ran out 24-15 winners. It was England’s first home defeat under coach Eddie Jones and the first time since 2006 that they have lost three consecutive Six Nations matches. The loss is particularly embarrassing for the Australian, after the controversy that last week surrounded his past comments on Wales (“a s**** little place)” and Ireland (“scummy”). Mourinho accuses players of ‘lacking class, personality and desire’ Jose Mourinho: critical of his victorious team The glorious optimism of the early stages of Jones’s tenure had long ago dissipated and long before the end at Twickenham yesterday, in a stadium alive with Irish songs and celebrations, it had been replaced by glum resignation and even a rising panic that they appear to have fallen behind their rivals. Ireland gave a performance that was always too powerful and organised for England, and also, in parts, touched by magic. Tadhg Furlong, the Irish prop, was man of the match. Jacob Stockdale’s touchdown on the stroke of half-time meant he became the first player to score seven tries in a Six Nations campaign. England finished an embarrassing fifth, after Wales and Scotland claimed victory over France and Italy respectively. Jones was part-resigned and part-defiant afterwards. “Ireland played well and we just weren’t good enough,” he said. Ian Whittell Old Trafford was substituted at half-time, was one name picked out to bear the brunt of Mourinho’s harsh words, although the majority of his teammates were also clearly in their manager’s sights. “I didn’t like the game,” said Mourinho. “I think we deserved to win because the game was more or less in control the majority of the time but we didn’t play the way I wanted the players to play. “I didn’t have the reaction from all of them. I had the reaction from some of them. Some of them were mentally strong enough with the football quality to play — that was the reason we won. “But a team of 11, when you have a minimum of six or seven players performing and wanting to play, who want the responsibility to have the ball, who have the desire really to play — it is difficult to have a good performance. So I am not happy with the performance all all. But I am happy with the result.” Mourinho’s main tactical complaint centred around his full-backs Shaw and Antonio Valencia, with the United manager admitting he wanted to replace both at the interval. But, more than a tactical issue, Mourinho also clearly felt there Jose Mourinho saw Manchester United reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup at Old Trafford last night and then launched an extraordinary, no-holds-barred critique of his squad. The United manager accused his players of “a lack of personality, lack of class and lack of desire” in an astonishing outburst following the 2-0 victory over Brighton. Mourinho even went as far as to claim that a number of his under-achieving stars lacked the “personality” to be “a Manchester United player”. Only man of the match Nemanja Matic, who scored one of the goals, and his young midfield partner Scott McTominay were spared their manager’s merciless analysis. On Friday, Mourinho had launched an impassioned defence of his record and a retort to his growing army of critics after United’s disappointing exit from the Champions League at the hands of Sevilla. But last night, not even the prospect of an FA Cup semi-final date at Wembley could improve Mourinho’s mood. England defender Luke Shaw, who “We gave them avoidable penalties and allowed them to skip away too far by halftime, and were chasing our tails “Every team I have had that has been a champion team has had these runs, which have been instrumental in how you remake a team. Unless you fix them they catch up with you when you get to the big tournaments such as the World Cup. Some guys have come into the team and have done really well and some will maybe struggle to participate in the future.” Joe Schmidt, the Ireland coach, said: “It’s fantastic for the group of players we have. They’ve worked hard and their class and courage merited this achievement. These players demonstrated their character from start to finish.” SIX NATIONS COVERAGE, PAGES 2-5 was a lack of character from his team in the wake of the midweek European debacle against Sevilla. “That was a decision to change one player for another player in the same position,” Mourinho said of his decision to replace Shaw at the interval. “I wanted to defend better, I wanted my defensive line to be more solid in relation to a few, not many, offensive movements from the sides. “And I wanted more personality in the team because many, many times I felt that Matic was an island of personality, desire and control surrounded by lack of personality, lack of class and lack of desire. I have to say that for example McTominay lost more passes today in all the matches he played put together but he was a Manchester United player. “And for me a Manchester United player is one who, when he plays badly, still gives to the team. That is a question of personality, that is a Manchester United player for me. And that is what some of the others did not have.” Winning goal: Nemanja Matic’s header doubled United’s advantage MAN UTD MATCH REPORT, PAGES 6-7 2 SPORT RUGBY UNION: ENGLAND v IRELAND CLASSY IRELAND SWOOP FOR ENGLAND IRELAND STEPHEN JONES 15 24 BEN STANSALL W Rugby correspondent, Twickenham hen the record books turn dog-eared it will appear as if the third Grand Slam in Ireland’s history was won in a nerve-shredding close game, but all those at Twickenham yesterday will know differently. The gap in performance and aspiration between these two teams was all it should have been — England finished fifth and Ireland are champions and the run of play bore brutal testimony to the differences. The last Ireland Grand Slam team included Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell, two of the greatest Irish sportsmen. But this Irish team is appreciably better, it has the perfect mix of rampage and clinical play, of rhythm and dexterity, and anyone with a euro to spare may even put it on Ireland to win the World Cup. They are way ahead as the world’s second-best team and all the hiss and fury of a courageous rally by an outplayed England could not hide it. This was supposed to be a match between freedom and systems. Eddie Jones, the England coach, declared that England could not play the ultra-systems style attributed to Joe Schmidt. Yet here what was meant to be an Irish machine played with dramatically more freedom and flare and class that England could only dream of. Perhaps it was typified by the burgeoning young men who came on — Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour expressed themselves with abandon. They sidestepped and looked as if they were enjoying themselves. England, meanwhile, played as if in chains, out of line in the backs, dithering and relying in the end on Anglo-Saxon resistance. Much of the late action and the last-act England try could therefore be seen as the flap of a fish already passed away. But to be fair, though, there was admirable resistance. James Haskell was still slowing down the ball, driving in to suck in the defence and competing everywhere, until the very end. There was no lack of heart in Mako Vunipola and Maro Itoje, and Owen Farrell played marvellously under pressure. But the team is bewildered, lacking pace and energy. It became shambolic after a few phases. This bunch was slightly better selected but to play Sam Simmonds at No 8 among all the Irish power athletes was not fair. The two tries they scored in the second half were to their credit, but they never came close enough to put on the pressure, they never had remotely the skills and vision. The man of the match was Tadhg Furlong, the massive prop who can flick away passes. Rob Kearney had a sensational game at full-back, Garry Ringrose has dazzling feet for a big lad and Conor Murray is playing with such confidence that he must feel infallible. But above all Ireland know what they are doing, and they have the raw materials and the licence to carry it out. They are a reasonably young side, and they are European champions going into the last few laps before the World Cup. Tasty. Encouraging. Almost awesome. England always had to play so much rugby to score or even to look dangerous while Ireland played some beautiful Selecting Farrell at fly-half is a mistake Jones can’t gloss over STUART BARNES Twickenham NATWEST SIX NATIONS TABLE P W D L F A B Pts Ireland 5 5 0 0 160 82 3 Wales 5 3 0 2 119 83 3 26 15 Scotland 5 3 0 2 101 128 1 13 France 5 2 0 3 108 94 3 11 England 5 2 0 3 102 92 2 10 Italy 5 0 0 5 92 203 1 1 Four points are awarded for a win and two points for a draw. A bonus point is awarded to a team scoring four or more tries or a team losing by seven points or fewer Three and easy: CJ Stander touches down for Ireland’s second try in a whirlwind first half in which they scored three times ON TV TODAY Six Nations highlights 11.15pm ITV 2018 SIX NATIONS RESULTS AND FIXTURES February 3 Wales 34 Scotland 7 France 13 Ireland 15 February 4 Italy 15 England 46 February 10 Ireland 56 Italy 19 England 12 Wales 6 February 11 Scotland 32 France 26 February 23 France 34 Italy 17 February 24 Ireland 37 Wales 27 Scotland 25 England 13 March 10 Ireland 28 Scotland 8 France 22 England 16 March 11 Wales 38 Italy 14 March 17 Italy 27 Scotland 29 England 15 Ireland 24 Wales 14 France 13 rugby in short bursts to maximum effect, notably when they scored three memorable tries in the first half, each of which said an awful lot about the performance of their team. England needed a start, but they blundered early on when Farrell took out Kearney when the Irish full-back was in the air. Ireland made big ground with the kick and soon afterwards Johnny Sexton isolated Anthony Watson under a monster kick. Watson just managed to reach it before Kearney but lost it under the pressure and Ringrose beat him to score a try that settled any Irish nerves. There was better to come. Sexton is famous for the wrap around and when he found Furlong after a lineout, Furlong shaped as if to pass to Sexton and England’s defence followed. But Bundee Aki came up to the left, took the pass from Furlong and found CJ Stander on his left for the try. Quite beautifully done. England’s try followed a courageous period of pressure after about eight attempts to get a driving maul on the move. The try came when Ireland were reduced to 14 men after Peter O’Mahony killed the ball once too often. Incidentally, before this Aki had hit Elliot Daly with a sickening shoulder crunch. The fact that he made some attempt to lift an arm to make a tackle seemed to save him as the referee only gave a penalty, but frankly Aki could well have been sent to the bin and you have seen red cards given for less. The third Irish try came just before half-time. Ireland’s forwards again made ground on the burst, and when they ran it to the left, Murray gave a delightful pop pass to Jacob Stockdale, who chipped ahead. England had asked that the in-goal area be extended by two metres and Stockdale duly scored in the extra yards. The ball bounced forward from his knee and he scored in the deepest part of the dead-ball area. England persevered but could not get over from their driving attempts. Some of their back alignment was shoddy but eventually Farrell made a break where no space seemed to exist, and chipped ahead for Daly to run on and score. But it was an imposing and richly deserved 21-5 at half-time and although England tried to thunder at Ireland in the third quarter, there was no real sign of the try they desperately needed as Ireland resumed authority. There was just a chance that England might come back into it when Keith Earls was sucked in by a beautiful pass from Farrell which set Daly free, but Earls managed to bring down his man with an ankle tap. In fact, Ireland did not score another MATCH STATS England Ireland 3 Tries 3 409 Metres made 287 0 Kicking conversion % 67 8 Clean breaks 2 54 Possession % 46 5 Offloads 2 58 Territory % 42 133 Tackles made 173 100 Scrums won % 100 20 Tackles missed 18 86 Lineouts won % 100 7 Turnovers won 7 try, but they absorbed pretty well with the defensive line punching its weight. When it was too late, George Ford and Mike Brown made an excellent try for Daly down the left, and then Jonny May scored down the right in the last act of the match. By then the stadium sounded as if it had been transported to Dublin, and the soaring hopes of England in 2016 have been shot through with vast holes. Star man: Tadhg Furlong (Ireland) England: Tries: Daly 32, 65, May 80 Ireland: Tries: Ringrose 6, Stander 24, Stockdale 40 Cons: Sexton (2), Carbery Pen: Murray Yellow card: Ireland: O’Mahony Referee: A Gardner (Australia) England: Watson (Brown 34min); May, Joseph (Ford 56min), Te’o, Daly; Farrell, Wigglesworth (Care 61min); Vunipola (Marler 53min), Hartley (capt) (George 58min), Sinckler (Cole 53min), Itoje, Kruis (Launchbury 71min), Robshaw, Haskell, Simmonds (Armand 67min) Ireland: Kearney; Earls (Marmion 74min), Ringrose, Aki (Larmour 56min), Stockdale; Sexton (Carbery 3441min; 67min), Murray; Healy (McGrath 51min), Best (capt) (Cronin 65min), Furlong (Porter 65min), Ryan (Toner 67min), Henderson, O’Mahony (Murphy 74min), Leavy, Stander JAMES CROMBIE This was an England performance full of flaws. Not so much outclassed by an excellent Ireland Grand Slam team as clinically outthought. It started in selection and continued on the field. Central to the story was England’s most esteemed player, Owen Farrell. Eddie Jones got his selection horribly wrong when he agreed with the majority of Her Majesty’s Press and the English public to opt for Farrell in his favoured club position of fly-half. It was a massive mistake. Farrell had his moments, good and bad, but all the good ones could have occurred at inside centre. The break and the strong fend that gave England the position which turned into a try from a fine chip behind the onrushing Ireland defence. The sort of stuff he does with regularity in the 12 shirt. There was no gain in switching him one position infield. If it was perceived that George Ford was offform, few considered the fact that the decision would leave England even more exposed in the centre. Ben Te’o is a work in progress, Jonathan Joseph no more than a shadow of his former self. England lost so much more than they gained. Much, if not most, of England’s attacking play has emanated from the passing skills of Ford and Farrell. It was not so long ago that Jones waxed lyrical. But a couple of below-par performances in a team set up for conservative England, in a state of confusion, are making the journey from rugby’s heights to the depths as the defeats mount territorial rugby ended the most dangerous passing partnership in the northern hemisphere. It saved England from defeat in Cardiff last year with two of the finest passes you will ever see. An inch out and Wales would have snuffed out the threat of Elliot Daly and beaten them. The margin in international matches between being a Grand Slam team and also-rans is a fine one. England, in a state of evident confusion, are making the journey from rugby’s heights to the depths as the defeats mount. Nothing encapsulated it more than the inaccuracy of the distribution from the England centres. Joseph in particular was dreadful. Just about every time he passed, the ball was slightly behind and inevitably over the shoulder of either Daly or Johnny May. Te’o wasn’t quite as sloppy but he showed nowhere near the quality one would expect. Attention to detail is everything in the mindset of the England manager but his failure to see how savagely the fly-half selection would set back any hopes of the sort of back play that is such a highlight when England click (think the poetry of the passing against Scotland last year) was some mark against his reputation as a selector. There was a cameo of clumsiness in the 45th and 46th minutes. First of all May was stopped in his tracks close to the try line by a pass that checked the Tiger. That was right to left. To prove the partnership weren’t up to it off either hand Joseph threw another pass behind the hard-working May going left to right. With Mike Brown on for the injured Anthony Watson, England had three average to poor passers on the field. Behind by some distance, England had to chase the game. Ford was introduced and England looked another team altogether. The dual passing threat caused Ireland as many problems as the previous centre pairing caused their own wide men. Daly scored, May finally stretched his legs, running onto the ball, as England rediscovered a slickness that eluded them for 55 minutes. It was an act of panicky vandalism on the part of Jones not to trust instincts often so accurate. Ford hasn’t been the problem in the past two games so much as a tactical plan that didn’t play to the strengths of England’s greatest asset. The decision to disrupt the familiar Ford/Farrell partnership wouldn’t have been quite as bad had England a pair of in-form centres. Joseph, out of it in recent months, compounded the selection mess with his defending. Rob Kearney kept Right man, wrong place: England’s Owen Farrell, playing in his favoured fly-half position, makes a break against Ireland bouncing off hapless tackles. Like England and the Paul Simon song, he spent most of the match slip-sliding away. Ford’s appearance resulted in two England tries to the one Ireland penalty. Farrell, playing wider, fired out a fantastic pass. The two of them began to weave their intricate patterns, causing the best team in Europe problems where previously there had only been answers. After this third straight defeat the questions will inevitably be aimed in the direction of Jones. When England lose he has a habit of taking the blame for the side’s preparation. In the week ahead he should hold up his hands once more for what went wrong off the field. Right now there is no option other than Ford and Farrell. If the public and press don’t get it, Jones should. 3 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 SLAM LOTS OF SKILL AND A BIT OF LUCK... PLAYER RATINGS ENGLAND ANTHONY WATSON 6/10 ROB KEARNEY All that England needed was to lose their bright spark full-back to what appeared to be a nasty leg injury Has suffered so much injury but he’s been the full-back of the tournament. Absolutely pugnacious and clever Munster Caps 67 Age 29 Ht 1.78m Wt 86kg DAVID WALSH He still manages to score tries which is some feat, probably slightly unconventional but has become a weapon for England Produced one brilliant tap tackle, but otherwise was probably not the most dangerous Irishman on the day Chief sports writer 7/10 KEITH EARLS 5/10 GARRY RINGROSE Chris Jones Twickenham Captain Rory Best celebrated “the biggest highlight” of his career after leading Ireland to Grand Slam glory. Best was a Slam winner in 2009 but rated this an even sweeter moment because he was captain, and he started every game. “Every kid growing up dreams of playing for Ireland and to win something like this is the biggest highlight of my career,” he said. “This is a special bunch of guys. We looked dead and buried in Paris after 75 minutes against France and we had to make sure that magic moments like that don’t go unrewarded. “Words can’t describe how delighted we are. We just had to make every tackle count, every single one, because we knew the reward would be worth it. It was one of those days when things came off. We knew we would have to play incredibly well to win.” Ireland’s triumph has left England to deal with three successive defeats and a fifth-place finish at the end HEAD-TO-HEAD Ireland wins 49 England wins 76 Draws 8 Biggest Ireland win 43 Croke Park, Feb 2007 Ireland ended England’s run of 15 consecutive home wins, while extending their own record winning run to 12 consecutive Tests 13 Biggest England win 46 Lansdowne Road, Feb 1997 Match stats 6 England have lost three games in the championship for the first time since 2006 8/10 Leinster Caps 13 Age 23 Ht 1.85m Wt 94kg He has talents but there must now be pressure to bring in a footballer such as Daly to the centre position Highly promising. Has good feet in tight corners — given the right men around him, he could become a Lion next time round BEN TE’O 5/10 BUNDEE AKI 7/10 Worcester Caps 13 Age 31 Ht 1.88m Wt 104kg Connacht Caps 7 Age 27 Ht 1.83m Wt 101kg He looked unhappy through most of the game, a shame because he does have some talents of which England should make use Probably keeping a jersey warm for Robbie Henshaw, but his strength and war-like spirit are something 7/10 JACOB STOCKDALE 7/10 Wasps Caps 18 Age 25 Ht 1.84m Wt 94kg Ulster Caps 9 Age 21 Ht 1.91m Wt 102kg His talents are wasted on the wing, but his footballing brain is useful if England can find a better way of using it Apparently, he has to work on his defence. No doubt Ireland feel they can wait for him to do that as he scores tries at a fierce rate OWEN FARRELL 7/10 JOHNNY SEXTON 8/10 Saracens Caps 58 Age 26 Ht 1.88m Wt 92kg Leinster Caps 73 Age 32 Ht 1.88m Wt 92kg You can only imagine his feelings as he was faced with a superior opposition and rather chaotic scenes around him The master controller was on form despite taking a few knocks. Some beautiful plays, his confidence seems to be back RICHARD WIGGLESWORTH 6/10 CONOR MURRAY Not the time to make a deserved comeback, but at least he tried to impose something of a pattern on which to build Arguably now the best there is in his position. So confident and composed, and so intuitive in his selection of plays MAKO VUNIPOLA Ireland captain enjoys career high while Jones talks of remaking team 6/10 Bath Caps 40 Age 26 Ht 1.83m Wt 90kg Saracens Caps 31 Age 34 Ht 1.75m Wt 84kg of a championship that started with them chasing a third title in a row. Head coach Eddie Jones, inset, paid tribute to the Irish before claiming England’s long run of success hid weaknesses he needs to address and warned that some players may not be up to the job. Jones said: “Ireland played exceptionally well and we just weren’t good enough. We gave them avoidable penalties and allowed them to skip away too far by half-time and were chasing our tails the whole game. We knew that even though we had won 23 of 24 games we weren’t good enough to get where we want to get and we knew we had to change the team and sometimes that hurts. “Every team I have had that has been a champion team has had these runs, which has been instrumental in how you remake a team. Unless you fix them they catch up with you at the big tournaments such as the World Cup. Some guys have come in and done really well and some will maybe struggle to participate in the future.” Ireland’s Joe Schmidt said: “The feeling is more relief because you are willing so much for the players to deliver. There is sense of pride. The guys are exuberant and the team is getting better all the time.” ANDREW COWIE There should now be no debate as to who will coach the next Lions team Leicester Caps 34 Age 27 Ht 1.88m Wt 90kg ELLIOT DALY It all went to plan, says proud Best 9/10 Leinster Caps 83 Age 31 Ht 1.88m Wt 95kg JONATHAN JOSEPH On the stroke of half-time, Jacob Stockdale chases down his kick. England had extended the in-goal area by a couple of metres and that made all the difference as the Ireland wing touched down inches from the dead ball line for his team’s third try IRELAND Bath Caps 33 Age 24 Ht 1.85m Wt 93kg JONNY MAY With less than five minutes gone, Anthony Watson spills a high ball after a challenge from Rob Kearney. Garry Ringrose pounces on it for a try but there is a suspicion that Kearney knocked the ball on Schmidt’s men were better prepared and more clinical by Stephen Jones 9/10 Munster Caps 64 Age 28 Ht 1.88m Wt 94kg 6/10 CIAN HEALY 7/10 Saracens Caps 49 Age 27 Ht 1.8m Wt 121kg Leinster Caps 78 Age 30 Ht 1.85m Wt 115kg Clearly spoiling for a huge effort, never took a backwards step and at least England just managed to hold on up front Possibly not quite as prominent here as he can be but his aggression is something to behold. Just indomitable DYLAN HARTLEY 5/10 RORY BEST 8/10 Northampton Caps 93 Age 31 Ht 1.85m Wt 108kg Ulster Caps 111 Age 35 Ht 1.8m Wt 105kg We must accept Eddie Jones’ view that Hartley is an excellent leader but he simply does not have enough impact on games A far more obvious leader than Hartley, probably playing some of the best rugby of his career in recent seasons. Excellent KYLE SINCKLER 6/10 TADHG FURLONG 9/10 Harlequins Caps 10 Age 24 Ht 1.83m Wt 113kg Leinster Caps 23 Age 25 Ht 1.85m Wt 126k Was up against a tough pack and while he did not dominate at least he was respectable. Needs more in the loose It’s been said before, but he’s an unholy combination of grandest old Irish forwards and something huge but ultra-modern MARO ITOJE 7/10 JAMES RYAN Saracens Caps 19 Age 23 Ht 1.95m Wt 115kg Another man to give it everything, and cannot be held responsible when he has given so much to the cause GEORGE KRUIS 7/10 Leinster Caps 8 Age 21 Ht 2.03m Wt 108kg Another one of next generation to make a mark this season, it was something for Ireland to leave out Toner in his favour 7/10 IAIN HENDERSON 7/10 Saracens Caps 25 Age 28 Ht 1.98m Wt 113kg Ulster Caps 38 Age 26 Ht 2.01m Wt 117kg His recall was welcome, England’s lineout was not perfect but as lineout leader he should be an automatic selection Began the Lions tour too slowly but was a core figure yesterday, and is surely going to win a ton of caps CHRIS ROBSHAW 5/10 PETER O’MAHONY 6/10 Harlequins Caps 64 Age 31 Ht 1.88m Wt 109kg Munster Caps 47 Age 28 Ht 1.91m Wt 107kg All much of a muchness, one good burst in the second half but there must be a back row with more devil and balance Departed for the bin in the first half, otherwise a useful lineout threat to England and still going strong JAMES HASKELL 8/10 DAN LEAVY 8/10 Wasps Caps 77 Age 32 Ht 1.94m Wt 114kg Leinster Caps 9 Age 23 Ht 1.91m Wt 106kg England’s outstanding player. Some of the old Red Rose pride was under the red helmet, and he was good for waning morale Another man meant to have weaknesses, and another man to hide them quite superbly here. Was massively influential SAM SIMMONDS 5/10 CJ STANDER 6/10 Exeter Chiefs Caps 7 Age 23 Ht 1.83m Wt 93kg Munster Caps 23 Age 27 Ht 1.85m Wt 114kg Received no favours by being played out of position and was outweighed in such a massive match Scored the first try and while lacking a few dimensions, his charges always seemed to make ground TOTAL TOTAL Replacements: A little energy from here, with Dan Cole contributing well and Mike Brown working off some of his frustrations. But the match was already too far gone Replacements: Probably not as impressive as they might have been, but Carbery and Larmour were bright as buttons. Ireland have forward power to spare 92/150 112/150 Over the years the few good Irish rugby teams who came along were variously described. Mostly their worth was in their belligerence, their spirit, their savvy. Not until this season would the word “clinical” have been used in relation to an Irish team but that is what this, the greatest of all Irish rugby teams, undoubtedly is. And skilful too. They did a job on England at Twickenham yesterday, as they had on Scotland in Dublin a week ago. This was no backs-to-the-wall victory, no toughing-it-out-andgetting-the-result victory. Three first-half tries turned the game Ireland’s way and then, like a fighter who knows he’s only got to stay standing to win, they soaked up the pressure in the second half while keeping England at a safe distance. In the last play of the game Jonny May skipped through for the home team’s second try but that seemed almost a gift from the contented winners, a polite way to end the Test match. They shook hands, embraced and no one felt wronged by the result. England understood they had gotten what they deserved. Ireland were the betterprepared team, the one who clearly understood how it wished to play. They were the more disciplined team and the one with the less forgiving defence. But it’s the clinical side of the team’s nature that defines them. Three minutes into the game Owen Farrell chased his own grubber kick and carried on with his tackle as Rob Kearney cleared. Farrell should have hung back because the full-back’s feet were both off the ground when Farrell collided with him. For that slight lapse in discipline, England would pay seven points, for Garry Ringrose’s try came from the Old-school Irish stand together — and All Blacks will be wary Stephen Jones Ireland had the most stupendous stroke of luck when the game went professional and every other rugby nation in the world was trying to work out what to do. Which professional teams to form, what silly names to call them, whether they should be representative of communities or chunks of the country. Then there was the question of who would pay them, who would own them, the whole panoply of frightful decisions that had to be made. Ireland did nothing. There was nothing to be done. They already had four provincial teams, not random chunks of the nation but institutions that had been in existence for donkey’s years and even before that. Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster did not need silly names, people understood their concept and who they were and the communities believed in them. You go to watch Munster play in Limerick and tell me they do not act like a community club. The other stroke of luck is that given the traditional pace and vision of the Irish Rugby Football Union, the most selfserving and inward-looking of all the major unions, there is no way they would have made the correct call or formed the correct vision in a thousand years had they On the charge: Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong leaves Chris Robshaw trailing in his wake position created by the penalty award. Then, crucially, just before halftime, Kyle Sinckler and Maro Itoje gave away penalties that would give Ireland the position to get their third try. It’s a quality so often central to All Black victories. They get into the scoring zone and they score. Clinical. That’s how Ireland have been this campaign, getting scores just before half-time, just before full-time. And 21-5 ahead at half-time, they showed that when momentum swings the opposition way, they can batten down the hatches. “First eight minutes of the second half,” said head coach Joe Schmidt afterwards, “you can’t let them get a score.” “Thanks Dad,” Owen Farrell would have been thinking about his father Andy’s contribution to the course of the match. Andy Farrell is Ireland’s defence coach and time after time his adopted boys knocked England back in the tackle. This was at Twickenham, where England had not lost in the Six Nations for six years. Ireland were leaking tries out wide in earlier matches and Schmidt was asked about that. “Andy Farrell,” he said, “is a world-class coach.” As for Schmidt, world-class barely describes his ability to get the best from a group of rugby footballers. He was in his mid-20s when he turned up at Wilson’s Hospital school in County Westmeath, a Kiwi English teacher getting his overseas experience in rural Ireland. That was 1990 and this blond-haired Kiwi had stumbled into a world that would become his second home. He returned to New Zealand after coaching Wilson’s Hospital to victory in the Leinster Schools Section A final, a competition they had never previously won. There has been talk of the Lions turning to Eddie Jones for their 2021 tour to South Africa. This has always been a stretch, for even if the Australian made an impressive start with England last season, his winning run didn’t have anything like the longevity of achievement that Schmidt has achieved first with Leinster (two European Cups) and now with Ireland — three Six Nations Championships and just the third Grand Slam in Ireland’s history. “That was one of Joe’s moves,” said man-of-thematch Tadhg Furlong when asked which was the best of Ireland’s three tries, the second one by No 8 CJ Stander but created by the been called upon to make profound changes. Even now, you sense that their officialdom would not know the modern world if it bit them. You also must applaud the Irish togetherness. Clearly, when Munster play Leinster, nobody is thinking about the all-Ireland feeling or national togetherness. But even the most grudging and most parochial supporters always unite in the wider cause. Can Welsh rugby say that? Really? At Cheltenham last week, to have an Irish horse win seemed to some as important as to be on the winner with the bookies. Again, this is an intensity of purpose that other nations cannot match. Take the Irish bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Every Irishman was affronted that they were not chosen, as if their bid was some kind of heady vision of cutting-edge technology and universal spectator experience. It was actually, in relation to the other bids, a pie and a pint affair, but you will never find an Irishman to this day who is not still affronted. And what about the hands of fate? The unity of purpose is such that there are still people who believe Neil Back cost Munster a European final against Leicester by tipping the ball out of Peter Stringer’s hands at the put-in. It was a minor offence that made no difference, but as in the case of the hand of Thierry Henry, which apparently cost Ireland a World Cup winner’s medal, the whole nation is still fuming. But bless them. They are now one of the two best teams in the world, no question whatsoever. And how wonderfully the system has served them, while so much of the rest of the world is still distracted and fighting. This season, as well as the during this tremendous Six Nations, Ireland could easily add the European Champions Cup to their cabinet. Leinster are arguably the most impressive team in the tournament to date and Munster the most fervent, and both could well emerge into the semi-finals and beyond. But even this structure was never good enough on its own to produce a Grand Slam team. You must hand it to the technical side in Ireland, now led by Joe Schmidt. He may have little idea of coping with the demands of the media, but he can be close to inch perfect; his teams clearly know what they are about. Ireland have been superb in bringing through young players, in identifying their weaknesses — it is only six Many thought Kearney’s best days were over, not Schmidt. The full-back was outstanding SHAUN BOTTERILL Master tactician: Joe Schmidt has been key for Ireland cleverest midfield move which used the tighthead prop as the pivot in midfield, disguising his pass before putting centre Bundee Aki through a yawning gap in England’s defence. Aki had Ringrose free on his right, Stander free on his left. It’s not just the technical proficiency because there are many good coaches who master that bit. Schmidt is a masterful selector and a clever man-manager. So many people thought Rob Kearney’s best days were over, not Schmidt. Over these two weekends the full-back has been outstanding and the coach has again been vindicated. With older and younger, Schmidt has that precious gift of instilling belief but lacing it with enough caveats that no one gets complacent. What has astonished the Irish rugby public is that he has somehow built a squad with genuine depth. This is the team who lost centre Robbie Henshaw in the second game, then his replacement in the third game and Ringrose, the third choice, has been one of Ireland’s top performers over the last two weekends. But this is how it is in a good team, players find it relatively easy to produce their best. That is down to Joe Schmidt. There should be no debate about who will coach the next Lions team, nor will there be. Ireland has been fortunate to have him in the team. SIX NATIONS TITLES Six Nations England France Wales Ireland Grand Slams 6 2 5 3 4 3 4 2 years since their propping contingent were on the shocking side of embarrassing. Now they have props coming out of their cauliflower ears. This season alone they have blooded three tremendous new young forwards into the Six Nations — Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Dan Leavy — and by this I do not mean that they have blooded them in the English way, throwing them in way too early. Ireland’s trio are already big and testy and mature, a tribute to them and their coaches and system. But all the while, Ireland seem to be improving, they are now ranked second in the world. They have a concretehard core, bearded growlers, fixers. Love them. That’s a Test pack. Johnny Sexton also now has somebody outside him. Once, it was a void out there, but now there is Garry Ringrose. They are one of the few teams New Zealand would respect and who could beat them — and we know that because they already have. The World Cup in Japan next year could see the Irish momentum become something history-making, astonishing, possibly even title-winning. Not bad for a team based squarely in the past, but who have burst past the others into a glittering emerald future. 4 SPORT RUGBY UNION: NATWEST SIX NATIONS Scotland back from brink to leave Italy with unwanted record ITALY SCOTLAND 27 29 Mark Palmer Stadio Olimpico A 5,000-strong army of headband-sporting Scotland fans forced police to close roads between the Piazza del Popolo and the Stadio Olimpico as they marched in support of Doddie Weir and his struggle with motor neurone disease. So much for the pre-match. Any thought that the game might be a procession proved horribly misplaced. Scotland avoided humiliation but in many respects they were embarrassed, and the scoreline stands as a wholly unreliable witness to how the match actually went. For long spells, it was not close. And for even longer spells, it was not remotely pretty, at least not from the perspective of a visiting side who saw a campaign of progress threaten to crumble about their ears. Somehow they dug themselves back out, but only just. Sean Maitland’s try and the subsequent conversion from Greig Laidlaw inside the final quarter — at the end of a rare passage of concerted pressure — brought the Scots to within five points. They then went ahead for the first time since the 14th minute when Stuart Hogg crossed in the 71st minute to go past Gregor Townsend, Alan Tait and Gavin Hastings on Scotland’s all-time try-scoring list. Even then they toyed with throwing it away, the terrific Tommaso Allan kicking Italy back in front with a penalty five minutes from the end. But Laidlaw’s own typically ice-cool three-pointer, which crept just inside the left-hand post with two minutes remaining, sprang the visitors from jail. It was undeserved, but they will take it, much like when the pain subsides, there will be plenty for Conor O’Shea and his men to carry forward. It felt impossibly cruel that the day ended with the hosts having equalled France’s century-old record for consecutive championship defeats (17) while the immense Sergio Parisse had become the first player to lose 100 Tests. Italy did most of the running and did it in straight lines, charging head-first both at the Scots and any preconception this was to be an easy afternoon. O’Shea’s side brought passion, purpose and, for once, precision. If that last quality has been a far too infrequent part of their campaign, the fact it was Allan doing much of the damage should have come as no surprise. The 24-year-old has history, both with Scotland, d, gewhom he represented at agegrade level before committing to the land of his and his mother’s birth, and d this fixture. Allan’s only previous try at the Olimpico co had come in the 2014 meeting ting between these teams, a day y when, like yesterday, he seemed particularly keen to o make a point. But it was Fraser Brown who scored the first try after er scooping up a long pass on n the right wing from Hamish h Watson to score. That even na scoring pass should be so unconvincing said everything ing Laidlaw: kicked the winning penalty late on about the Scots’ performance. Allan hit back straight st a g t away, stepping between Huw Jones and Willem Nel N to pocket quick ball from Marcello Violi and canter a across. Nick Grigg, Jones’ centre ce partner, had commit committed to the breakdown, exposed, but leaving Scotland S even allo allowing for this lead-in, the invitation Allan accepted ac alacrity. with ala Even better was Allan’s grubber that took out Ryan Wilson and a set up a race between Watson and Matteo Minozzi. As with just about Minozzi other aspect of the every ot game at this stage, Italy won the race and deserved their 12-point lead. Townsend’s side were Town — and largely desperate d desperately fortunate to turn despera only five points round o behind. That was thanks to the lineout lineo drive that ended with John Barclay touching down, but either side of halftime Italy could have had two, three, even four more tries. Sebastian Negri did get himself across but play was pulled back for an earlier knock-on. Undeterred, Italy went straight down the middle once more. Jake Polledri made roadkill of Wilson before giving the fleetfooted Allan a run under the posts. The Azzurri sniffed a bonus point; Scotland, meanwhile, just had to stop stinking the place out. Their driving game, the area where so many previous Roman ventures have run aground, was one of the few things that went well, contributing heavily to them finally getting to play in the right areas. That was even after Finn Russell was forced off and Laidlaw went to fly- half, Jones having been replaced by Peter Horne. They did just enough to win, most improbably of all with a bonus point of their own. But if there is such a thing as a moral victory, Italy do not end the championship with nothing. Star man: Tommasso Allan (Italy) Italy: Tries: Allan 14, 45, Minozzi 21 Cons: Allan (3) Pens: Allan (2) Scotland: Tries: Brown 10, Barclay 25, Maitland 61, Hogg 71 Cons: Laidlaw (3) Pen: Laidlaw Referee: P Gauzere (France) Attendance: 65,000 Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti (Hayward 59min), Bisegni, Castello (Canna 74min), Bellini; Allan, Violi (Palazzani 67min); Lovotti (Quaglio 59min), Ghiraldini (Fabiani 77min), Ferrari (Pasquali 60min), Zanni (Steyn 53min), Budd, Negri, Polledri (Licata 67min), Parisse (capt) Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Jones (Horne 53min), Grigg, Maitland; Russell (Price 54min), Laidlaw; Reid (Bhatti 41min), Brown (McInally 41min), Nel (Fagerson 41min), Swinson (R Gray 53min), J Gray, Barclay (capt), Watson, Wilson (Denton 67min) Wales edge past France to take second PAUL CHILDS WALES FRANCE 14 13 Heading down: the France scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud is taken to ground Sam Peters Principality stadium T his was a game which promised much but ultimately delivered precious little as the Six Nations ended with an unconvincing whimper at the Principality stadium. Wales’ narrow win, built on the back of Alun Wyn Jones’ latest towering display, earned Warren Gatland’s men second place in the table, and well done to them for that, but this was a Test match which left much to be desired. Liam Williams scored the home side’s only try when he latched on to Scott Williams’ first-half kick as Wales did just enough to pip Scotland for the runner’s up spot but were bitterly frustrated by their lack of precision here against France. After Williams’ early try and Gael Fickou’s magnificent response, the first half deteriorated rapidly and the pattern continued in what was, in truth, a woeful second 40 minutes. If France’s infuriatingly inconsistent fly-half Francois TrinhDuc had kicked a simple penalty on 70 minutes, this result could so easily have gone the other way. Wales captain Jones, winning his 117th cap, returned to the side to produce a man-of-the-match performance. But the 32-year-old’s latest herculean effort proved a rare highlight in a game which began in bright and breezy fashion but faded badly as both sides struggled for rhythm. Leigh Halfpenny kicked three penalties and produced an excellent defensive display and while Wales will rightly cheer their third win of the tournament, Gatland knows they have much work to do. The Wales head coach made seven changes to the side which beat Italy 38-14 at the Principality stadium six days previously. With Halfpenny returning at full-back and Liam Williams moving to the leftwing in place of Steff Evans, Wales fielded an all British & Irish Lions back three with the resurgent George North on the rightwing. Sadly, their latent attacking threat failed to materialise in a game lacking shape, structure and almost any accurate passing whatsoever. With England down and out at Twickenham, both sides kicked off knowing a bonus-point win would secure second place in the championship while a defeat by more than eight points would see France finish fifth. In the end, fourth place was a fair reflection of where Jacques Brunel’s men sit. France struck first when Trinh-Duc dropped back into the pocket and struck a crisp drop goal from just outside Wales’s 22. But Wales hit back immediately when Jones gathered Biggar’s short restart just over the 10-metre line and the ball was worked to Scott Williams, who weighted his grubber kick perfectly for Liam Williams to gather and score. Halfpenny missed the conversion but succeeded with his next effort when Fickou was penalised for a deliberate knock on. The Scarlets full-back successfully struck again on 16 minutes with his second penalty after France infringed at a lineout. But just as it seemed Wales would have things their own way, Adrien Pelissie made a bullocking charge down the right before the ball was shipped into the midfield where Fickou cut a wonderful line which saw him cross untouched as the Unsung Navidi shows England the way Josh Navidi: was given his 11th cap against France Welsh cover defence was outpaced and out-thought. Maxime Machenaud added the conversion to make it 11-10 but Halfpenny hit back with his third penalty on the halfhour mark as Wales’ pack began to assert itself. Machenaud had a chance to narrow the gap to one point but his penalty attempt on 40 minutes drifted wide. Taulupe Faletau, showing no ill effects from his third knee surgery in 17 months last December, made a searing break early in the second half but his inside pass to scrum-half Gareth Davies was high and hard and the chance went begging. It summed up the second 40 minutes. Wales threatened but lacked accuracy when it mattered and they were made to Wales flanker impresses in contest against the France back row David Hands The make-up of the breakdown has been overcome by every team in this season’s Six Nations bar one: England. Why is that? Surely not a lack of talent, with 12 clubs to choose from rather than two, as with Scotland and Italy, or Ireland’s and Wales’ four? Nothing to do with central contracts. After all, there are 14 top clubs in France who have provided Jacques Brunel, France’s coach, with no need to choose the outstanding No 8, Louis Picamoles, in his first-choice back row. There was an inclination on this side of La Manche, at the start of the championship, to be dismissive of Wenceslas Lauret, Yacouba Camara and Marco Tauleigne, possibly because we had seen or heard so little of them. Camara has since proved one of the outstanding individuals of the tournament, though sadly he left prematurely here with a damaged left leg. Lauret has worked impressively, and Tauleigne is rapidly growing into the international game. These are players who have established themselves in the Top 14; they are not fresh out of the under-20 team, they have a body of work behind them, as with Wales. They have explored HEAD-TO-HEAD Wales wins 49 France wins 44 Draws 3 Biggest Wales win 47 Colombes, Feb 1909 Biggest France win 5 51 Wembley, Apr 1998 alternatives this season, in the absence of Sam Warburton and, for a long period, Taulupe Faletau, and come up with Josh Navidi and Aaron Shingler. Neither is in the first flush of youth but how much have they added to Welsh efforts? The same could be said of James Davies, who made his debut against Italy at openside. Navidi, 27, and capped first in Japan in 2013, did not reappear on the international stage until last year but yesterday was his 11th cap and his form has been so good it has pushed a British and Irish Lion, Justin Tipuric, into the No 6 jersey. The fascination of the back-row contest was in how the respective teams disposed their impressive resources: the French trio was far more physically engaged, Lauret a valuable 0 pay when France strung 21 phases together and earned a penalty when Hadleigh Parkes failed to roll away. Machenaud kicked a simple three points to close the gap to one point with half an hour left. Wales grew increasingly shapeless, making a string of handling errors before France looked sure to score only for Biggar to intervene with a crucial turnover five metres from the Welsh try-line. With Rabah Slimani on, a questionable penalty awarded at the next scrum allowed Wales to clear their lines. But France’s threat hadn’t passed and a powerful run by No 8 Marco Tauleigne should have led to France taking the lead when Liam Williams, warned by Gatland about his hot-headedness last week, needlessly infringed only for Trinh-Duc, lineout asset too, as all three carried strongly. If you lost sight of Navidi’s dreadlocks, the eye needed only to switch to midfield. His was a masterclass in where and when to become involved, and perhaps significantly, his first contribution was a pass rather than a tackle. Before the interval he had made half-a-dozen tackles, not an outstanding figure but part of an all-round contribution as support runner, as carrier, and as competitor at the breakdown. One of those tackles led to a turnover, one of five to Wales in the first half-hour, He had none of the stand-out moments but he would argue he does not do flash kicking in place of the substituted Machenaud, to miss the simplest of penalty attempts on 70 minutes. Wales held on, just. They take second place. But there is much to do. Star man: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales) Wales: Try: L Williams 4 Pens: Halfpenny (3) France: Try: Fickou 21 Con: Machenaud Pen: Machenaud Drop goal: Trinh-Duc Referee: B O’Keeffe (New Zealand) Attendance: 74,169 Wales: Halfpenny; North, S Williams, Parkes, L Williams; Biggar, G Davies; R Evans (Smith 64min), Owens (Dee 69min), Francis, Hill (B Davies 69min), Jones (capt), Tipuric (Shingler 56min), Navidi, Faletau France: Fall; Fickou, Bastareaud (capt), Doumayrou, Grosso; Trinh-Duc (Beauxis 71min), Machenaud (Couilloud 62min); Poirot (Priso 60min), Pelissie (Chat 51min), Gomes Sa (Slimani 51min), Gabrillagues (Le Roux 71min), Vahaamahina, Lauret (Gabrillagues 77min), Camara (Babillot 26min), Tauleigne and another drew a penalty. It was not all roses: Navidi slipped off a tackle on Mathieu Bastareaud — not that he was alone in that regard — but instantly compensated by halting the next French ball-carrier. He brought none of the stand-out moments, such as Faletau’s long-striding break past Mathieu Babillot just after the interval, but Navidi, who had to double his money in terms of tackles in the second half, would no doubt argue he does not do ‘flash’. So where, this question arises, is England’s Navidi? True, Eddie Jones has not had the best of luck with his openside flankers: injury has robbed him of Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Jack Clifford and the unfortunate Sam Jones, sadly forced into premature retirement. The coach has glanced at the other Curry twin, Ben, at Mark Wilson, Teimana Harrison and again Don Armand without, apparently, being over-impressed. Yet if the Aviva Premiership has one experienced individual who seldom fails to deliver, regardless of where along the back row he is deployed, it is the under-appreciated Jackson Wray of Saracens. Perhaps the issue is philosophical: building a side for the long-term rather than next week’s fixture, but next week’s is always the bedrock for the future. Warren Gatland, Wales’ head coach, made no apology last week for placing a premium on second place in this year’s Six Nations as a springboard to this summer’s clashes with South Africa and Argentina, and beyond. It is also a truism, but nothing is more important than the next game. 5 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 CHARLIE FORGHAM-BAILEY Eddie Jones must ditch men who failed him and start all over again — in time for summer tour of South Africa Only one England player manages to make my team of the tournament STEPHEN JONES LAWRENCE DALLAGLIO W Rugby correspondent ell, that’s that for Eddie’s Mark One team. Their time came to an end yesterday, when they fell victim in part to a sorry lack of players with Ireland’s power and nous, and also to the effects of Jones’ over-loyal selections, odd pronouncements, and his (praiseworthy) attempts to produce a team who can play with some sort of freedom. Jones must urgently reassess his squad, his coaching staff, the lack of an attack coach, the lack of true Test forwards of the modern era — even a scaleddown version of the rampaging Tadhg Furlong would do — the unbalanced back row, and the baby players in the squad who are four years away from Test class yet still parade at Pennyhill Park. He could even review the cook and the coach driver. The inquest must be as sweeping as that and Jones should delve way outside his inner council and seek out trusted mates who can be guaranteed to be brutal. Or even libellous. Frankly, he may even have to go back to coaching England as they like to be coached — by giving them a steel structure and asking them to stick within it. In the hoary old story, it was an old-lag Irish prop who said that his biggest nightmare was to get the ball in his hands in the middle of Twickenham. Frankly, there are some England backs who are very uncomfortable in the same situation. Natural decision-making was not the least of the Irish advantages. It was permissible, of course, to be entranced by the excellent results of the Early Eddie Era, and to drool over the thrashing of Australia in 2016. I did. Three Tests. Boom. Boom. Boom. Those of us whose suspicions began to grow last season — suspicions which crystallised in a major way this season — have been castigated as doomsayers. Ah well. Popularity is overrated. But to greet the awful slump of this team into fifth position in the NatWest Six Nations, the sheer embarrassment, the ponderous confusion of the past three games and the fact that only the Italians keep them off the bottom, as anything other than a total disaster is dangerous. Unless England, and all involved with the team, realise how bad they have become, then the revival will be postponed until long into the future. Injuries are a factor. A small one, Billy Vunipola, would have sorted something yesterday, would not have been bullied as were the rest of the pack. But England probably have fewer first-rankers absent than any of the other teams, and frankly, even Billy at his best would have been unlikely to reverse the power tide of affairs against Joe Schmidt’s superb Ireland side. And the new future must come in a hurry because as we explain elsewhere today, the tour of South Africa in June has suddenly gone from a reasonably testing but eminently winnable affair to a savage confrontation against a reinforced Springboks team. It is so sad that in the past 15 years England have been suckered into the down-under view that their natural power players are old-hat. Too many teams have been ruined by listening too closely to that rubbish, but for England to fall for it too is simply ridiculous. They need far more effort and poundage to fulfil Jones’ promise of a powerhouse pack — it would be a start to produce a team who can drive a maul more than two metres without it ending in a scuffling heap. Their scrum could do with real power and skill and menace, and be based on something other than complaints to referees, resetting and chicanery. Which of England’s forwards would be selected in the current Ireland team? Go on, name one. The lineout needs to be based around George Kruis, and it would be marvellous for them to revive Dave Attwood or any genuine powerful lock so that Maro Itoje could either start on the flank or move there on occasions. Don Armand must stay in the squad. There must be prayers for Billy. Elliot Daly must also be brought closer to the action rather than waiting for random and even token opportunities to show his skills. People seem to panic about his defence but at outside-centre, surely, nous and reading of the game is STEPHEN JONES ON THE GOOD, BAD AND UGLY OF SIX NATIONS 2018 Men in green show quality Twickenham Understandably, my team of the tournament has a streak of green through it. I would have hoped for a few more England players to have been in contention. However, I come back to the point I made before the tournament that, because they invariably contribute a large contingent to the squad, England often struggle in the year after a Lions tour. Their win percentage in Six Nations campaigns following the Lions is 58, compared with 74% for all the other tournaments. I take nothing away, however, from champions Ireland and the team I’ve picked here... Full-back: Stuart Hogg After his injury setback on the Lions tour, the Scot is back to terrorising defences. It’s not just his pace, it’s the angles he runs — and the desire to attack is always there. If one or two more passes from those inside him had gone to his hands, he would have had a few more tries to his name. Wings: Keith Earls, Jacob Stockdale Stockdale is the tournament’s top try-scorer and the breakthrough player of the season — 11 tries in his first nine Tests — but the other Irish wing caught my eye just as much. Earls is skilful and reads the game so well. He’s also fiery and that gives his team an edge in attack. PANIC STATIONS Under pressure: Elliot Daly gets squeezed against Ireland but scored two tries and is a player that Eddie Jones needs to move closer to the action Players of the tournament 1 Johnny Sexton (Ireland) 2 Guilhem Guirado (France) 3 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland) Team of the tournament 1 Ireland 2 French referees - Messrs Gauzere, Poite, Raynal & Garces. Outstanding, and all bilingual 3 Press box stewards at the riotous Principality stadium — by comparison, General Custer had it easy during his last stand just as important as megatonnage in the tackle. He is way more creative that your average England crasher. But if there are personnel matters to adjust then there are also procedural changes needed. Please England, stop taking kids to do the jobs of men until they become men; do not stick silly labels like “apprentice” on players in the main England squad, because that means that you have to leave out the real undercard and who knows, if you chose the wrong thrusters originally, then it can all look very embarrassing. England must be more grown up, bigger, older, nastier, more naturally confident. And they need to be more natural as leaders. Leaders? Try Sam Warburton, Rory Best, Martin Johnson. They all led in different ways but their influence is unmistakeable. He should loosen the reins on some of his coaches, give them more of the spotlight Most disappointing newcomer 1 Stuart Barnes on Twitter. Polite, reasoned, avuncular. What’s happened to him? 2 Bernard Manning tribute act by Eddie Jones 3 Glenn Newman, TMO from New Zealand for England v Wales match. One decision, one huge error, 24,000 miles. Thanks for coming Top tries 1 Teddy Thomas’s run SOUTH AFRICA TO RECALL EXILES FOR ENGLAND CLASH South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus is to overturn national selection rules to undertake a massive reinforcement of the Springboks team to meet England in the three-Test series in June. The Boks won only two of the final eight games of the disastrous reign of excoach Allister Coetzee and have not been helped by the rule that only Springboks who have won more than 30 caps are eligible to be brought back from overseas rugby for the We are still waiting for England’s inner core to start leading and roaring. The Rugby Football Union can help Jones no end. First they could bring back the England A team so that a proper sifting of talent can take place and not the inadvertent perversion of the current process. The RFU and Premiership Rugby should also tear up the onerous requirement for Jones to be restricted in his squad to a certain number of players and then to have to go through a bizarre process of replacement when some of the chosen are injured. Pick who you like, match by match. against Ireland in Paris with eight minutes left 2 Huw Jones’s first for Scotland against England at Murrayfield, inset 3 Gareth Davies’s 65m charge for the opening try of the tournament against Scotland Kick of the tournament Johnny Sexton, nerveless drop goal, 83rd minute, 42nd phase, for Ireland in Paris national team. Coetzee refused even to bring back some of those who were qualified. Erasmus will not only look to bring back the eligible players for the England series but could even ignore the 30-cap rule. Among those he could recall are the Wasps pair Willie Le Roux and Juan De Jongh; Frans Steyn, Bismarck du Plessis and Jan Serfontein of Montpellier; Toulon’s Duane Vermeulen and JP Pietersen; and Pat Lambie of Racing 92. Perhaps Jones needs to review himself. The Australian is a remarkably devoted and busy man. Sometimes you feel that he should change simply to give himself a break, to smell the roses of England’s shires. And perhaps Jones could even loosen the reins on some of his coaches, to allow them to bask in a little more of the spotlight, and to feel less like they are trying to please the headmaster. But England’s aim every season should be a Grand Slam. They are mammoth as a rugby nation. Second is failure, or certainly should be. Fifth? That is rubbish. Same, no matter what Owen Farrell. Composed and consistent and dignified. England’s finest Biggest winners (allegedly) 1 Wales – easily the worst hit by injury, but strong tournament and they have 11 players to return to the squad Smuggest faction Mediocre old guard Welsh Rugby Union board members who refused to Centres: Huw Jones, Owen Farrell Jones’ performance against England alone compels his selection. His two tries at Murrayfield were largely individual efforts as he ripped through the heart of the English defence and ripped the heart out of England in general. There was also that wonderful break against Ireland which sadly he couldn’t round off with the pass for Hogg to score. Farrell has been his country’s stand-out player — admittedly the bar for that has not been as high as it should. There were times at Murrayfield when I thought he was fighting a one-man battle to get his side back into the game. Half-backs: Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray The best 9-10 combination in the world. His stats from the kicking tee might not be as high as he would like but Sexton is the player of the tournament as well as the man who provided its most compelling moment — the drop goal against France. The breakdown battle has been a recurring theme in this campaign and it’s easy to overlook how important it is to have a scrum-half who has the physique, temperament and intelligence to ensure that he and his team are not disrupted by a few opposition forwards making nuisances of themselves. Murray fits that bill. His boxkicking is as effective as ever and, as we saw with tries for the Lions in the second Shingler: produced wonderful moments with ball in hand allow chairman Gareth Davies to drag them into the 20th century (with a view to the 21st later) through a dynamic and leaner structure Biggest morons 1 Half-wits who verbally and physically abused Eddie Jones after Murrayfield defeat 2 Keyboard warriors who trolled Nigel Owens after England’s Calcutta Cup loss Test and last week against Scotland, he has a keen eye for the tryline. Back row: CJ Stander, Hamish Watson, Aaron Shingler No Billy Vunipola and no Taulupe Faletau until last weekend so Stander gets the nod at No 8. He might have hoped for better things on the Lions tour, yet he has shown in the Tests since then that he can lead from the front. Six months ago, Shingler would not have made a Wales XV never mind a team of the tournament. In the absence of more illustrious backrowers, though, he has become a handy lineout option and produced some wonderful moments with the ball in hand, most notably against England when his 50m break deserved to be finished off with a try. Watson too has looked good in possession, whether as link man between pack and backs or as a ball-carrier. He is not the biggest forward around yet he gets his body into a position that means he always gets over the gainline. His breakdown work is another asset — as any England fan at Murrayfield can vouch. Second row: Jonny Gray, James Ryan With the abundance of talented locks in British and Irish rugby, you wouldn’t JONES’ AND BARNES’ TEAMS Stephen Jones 15 R Kearney (Ire) 14 S Maitland (S) 13 G Ringrose (Ire) 12 H Jones (S) 11 E Daly (E) 10 J Sexton (Ire) 9 G Davies (W) 8 T Faletau (W) 7 Y Camara (F) 6 S Negri (Ita) 5 M Itoje (E) 4 C Hill (W) 3 T Furlong (Ire) 2 G Guirado (F) 1 C Healy (Ire) Stuart Barnes 15 R Kearney (Ire) 14 T Thomas (F) 13 H Jones (S) 12 H Parkes (W) 11 J Stockdale (Ire) 10 J Sexton (Ire) 9 C Murray (Ire) 8 CJ Stander (Ire) 7 Y Camara (F) 6 S Negri (Ita) 5 A W Jones (W) 4 J Ryan (Ire) 3 T Furlong (Ire) 2 G Guirado (F) 1 C Healy (Ire) have thought at the start of February that these two would make the teamsheet but they are the form men. Gray has raised his game after missing out on Lions selection. Some doubted whether he had the strength of character to come through an arm-wrestle. Scotland’s victories over France and England showed he did. Ryan’s ability to take his form at provincial level into the international arena is extraordinary for a man of just 21. Reliability at the lineout, strong carrier, high tackle count — what more could you ask for? Front row: Tadhg Furlong, Guilhem Guirado, Cian Healy Furlong has raised the bar for what is expected of tighthead props. His compatriot Healy props down on the other side. After injury problems and the dip in form that saw him slip behind Jack McGrath in the pecking order, the Leinster man has been rejuvenated. Between them I’ve gone for the France hooker. If Les Bleus had another 22 with his workrate, selflessness and appetite for the big occasion they might actually be Grand Slam contenders. 3 Beer-throwing beast who drowned a journalist’s laptop at the Principality stadium Sad farewells 1 The great mic-man Ian Robertson, with his last Six Nations commentary in a brilliant broadcasting career 2 Gus Black, at 92, one of the last survivors of the first post-War Five Nations 3 Shenkin III, regimental goat who always led Band of the Royal Welsh in Cardiff’s prematch entertainment 6 SPORT FOOTBALL: EMIRATES FA CUP Lukaku and Matic send United to Wembley MANCHESTER UNITED Lukaku 37, Matic 83 BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 2 0 Valencia Bailly Smalling McTominay Matic Mata JONATHAN NORTHCROFT 4-2-3-1 Romero Lingard Shaw Martial Lukaku Locadia Football correspondent Old Trafford H Ulloa March Kayal Gross Propper uddled in their winter jackets, with 10 minutes remaining Jose Mourinho chatted to Chris Hughton. For Mourinho this was respite, a fleeting moment of warmth. It was a biting night, snowflakes swirled, and cold, bleak fury was building inside. Two-nil. Clean sheet, decent goals. Into the FA Cup semi-finals and onward to Wembley. None of these elements comforted Mourinho. He liked the result but hated the game: players had hid, he said, the response to Tuesday’s debacle against Sevilla was inadquate. Nemanja Matic was an “island of personality” in his side, and when asked what was to be achieved by lambasting players, Mourinho asked: “What can I lose?” It was remarkable: a second time in two days when one of his press conferences had all the pyrotecnics his Manchester United stubbornly fail to deliver on the pitch, and also classic, Jose-in-crisis. We’ve seen this at Chelsea: the playerhating stage. That comes when he feels cornered and disrespected by the “Einsteins”, the pundits, who are criticising him rather than going for the real culprits, those snowflakes out on the field who are not hardy enough to bear the pressures he has spent a career shouldering. How will it end? It needn’t go the Chelsea way. Winning the FA Cup and finishing second in the league would be a fair yield from this season, and even in the midst of yesterday’s nervy toils United showed they can go on and win the trophy. Matic was superb, a leader who kept the whole operation functioning with his strong presence and calm, consistent covering and passing. He coaxed Scott McTominay through. “The kid”, accurately contended Mourinho, had a bit of a shocker with his distribution, but he still contributed, demonstrating the mentality that has underpinned his sudden rise. The rest? Romelu Lukaku did what Lukaku does, muscularly dispatching a chance to establish United’s lead in the 38th minute. Ashley Young was decent when he came on and Eric Bailly and Sergio Romero were redoubtable. Luke Shaw was once again Mourinho’s punchbag, hooked at half-time. The attackers supporting Lukaku — Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial — have all had better games but whether they deserved to be the focus of quite so much Mourinho ire was debatable, especially Mata. Brighton are brilliantly drilled, and highly competitive, and United are not the first to find them hard to play against. “We’re going to Wembley,” yelled the noisy singing area at Old Trafford and it also chanted “Jose Mourinho”. The supporters weren’t so bothered by the performance. Matic, shortly after the MourinhoHughton conflab, scored the tie-killing second goal, having also provided Lukaku’s assist. Marcus Rashford won a free kick 30 yards out and Young, Rashford’s fellow substitute, sent it to the back post with an expert, outswinging, delivery. Matic and Lewis Dunk grappled and Suttner 4-3-3 Dunk Duffy Schelotto Krul Dunk was tugged over, perhaps illegally, but Andre Marriner did not intervene and nor did the video assistant referee (VAR). Matic headed back across Tim Krul and in. By the time Mourinho was in the press room for his latest rant, earlier questions were forgotten. He dropped Alexis Sanchez and also kept Paul Pogba on the bench. This, at the very moment United needed a big and exciting performance, to chase the Sevilla hangover away: so what did such selection decisions say? The homegrown Lingard and McTominay played in their places and if they were reminders of United’s heritage so was the opening goal. Shaw drove down the left, getting outside Solly March before playing an astute pass to Matic, who then curled a casual cross to the back pos where Lukaku outmuscled Dunk to plant the header past Krul. It extended Lukaku’s remarkable FA Cup record to 12 goals in 11 games but Shaw’s intervention was out-of-context with an otherwise flaky performance, that had Mourinho angrily gesturing. Lukaku didn’t get enough possession. Brighton were hard to penetrate down the middle and their breakaways were bright. Dunk missed a great chance, after 30 minutes, when he moved off McTominay to meet Pascal Gross’ corner, but despite time he headed too close to Romero, who made a plunging save. Just before then, Mata and Martial cut through the opposition with nimble onetwos, leading to a corner from which Chris Smalling missed from close range, but that Mata-Martial moment was an isolated good combination. Mata was the one removed when Rashford came on in the 74th minute and the Spaniard looked aggrieved. Brighton breaks continued. Jurgen Locadia, strong and lively, went close three times in quick succession in the second half. His first near miss was a low, firm shot that skimmed wide. He second a fine, bending effort on the turn which Romero touched away. His third when he headed just past the far post. The fact Hughton had started with Jose Izquierdo and Glenn Murray on the bench showed the FA Cup did not top his priorities but both came on at 1-0 and Brighton trying to force an equaliser. Instead, Matic scored for 2-0 and it was what United deserved following an improved second period where their passing was better, and speedier. So, job done, and Jose is going to Wembley — but in what mood, who knows? Finishing touch: Romelu Lukaku’s goal was his 12th in 11 games in the FA Cup Jose gives his team the cold shoulder on icy night at Old Trafford Referee: A Marriner Attendance: 74,241 Manchester United: Romero, Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw (Young h-t), McTominay, Matic, Mata (Rashford 75min), Lingard (Fellaini 89min), Martial, Lukaku Substitutes: De Gea, Lindelof, Pogba, Sanchez, Fellaini Brighton: Krul, Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner, Gross, Propper, Kayal, March (Izquierdo 68min), Ulloa (Murray 76min), Locadia Substitutes: Bruno, Baldock, Goldson, Maenpaa, Sanders Sawyers sees red in a hurry BRENTFORD MacLeod 34 MIDDLESBROUGH Traore 21 1 1 Barry Flatman Griffin Park Romaine Sawyers will remember his 16 minutes. Introduced from the bench with orders to win the match, he almost did just that with a wickedly swerving shots that was foiled by a sensational save from Middlesbrough goalkeeper Darren Randolph. He then earned a yellow card for a body check on the visitors’ goalscorer Adama Traore. And six minutes later he was adjudged guilty of the same offence that merited the red card coming out of referee Simon Hooper’s pocket. Common consensus had it that Sawyers was unlucky on the second offence and according to Brentford manager Dean Smith, the gang of Middlesbrough players who surrounded the official seemed to influence the decision. “It was unfortunate for Romaine,” said Smith, who pointed out that FA directives forbid more than three players from one side to approach the referee at one time to voice a complaint. Smith maintained his team were unfortunate not to collect all three points and Middlesbrough’s Tony Pulis agreed. Randolph was under siege for much of the second half as Brentford pushed forward and Pulis said: “In the end I was very pleased with a point.” Middesbrough’s point was enough for them to maintain their playoff position, even though the chasing Bristol City won against Ipswich Town. Traore enhanced his reputation with a second goal in as many matches after receiving a pass from Stuart Downing and shooting low and hard past Daniel Bentley. Brentford, heavily beaten at home five days earlier by Cardiff City, were determined not to be overrun again and Lewis Macleod, the former Rangers player, stepped up to equalise with his first goal for the club. First he tried a right footed drive from the edge of the box but saw him effort blocked. Then he hit the ball with his left foot when awarded a second chance and this time he hit the target. Star man: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough) Yellow cards: Brentford: Woods, Sawyers, Mepham Middlesbrough: Clayton, Gibson, Friend, Besic Red card: Brentford: Sawyers Referee: S Hooper Attendance: 11,134 Brentford: Bentley 7, Dalsgaard 6, Egan 7, Mepham 7, Clarke 6, Woods 7, Mokotjo 5 (Judge 84min, 5), Jozefzoon 4, Macloed 6 (Sawyers 75min, 3), Watkins 5 (Canos 67min, 6), Maupay 5 Substitutes: Yennaris, Marcondes, Daniels, Barbet Middlesbrough: Randolph 8, Shotton 6, Gibson 7, Ayala 6 (Fry 60min, 5), Friend 6, Howson 6 (Leadbitter 65min, 7), Clayton 7, Besic 6 (Assambalonga 75min, 5) , Traore 7, Bamford 6, Downing 7 Substitutes: Konstantopoulos, Cranie, Harrison, Baker Ian Whittell Old Trafford Barely 24 hours after Jose Mourinho had produced one of the most memorable press conference performances in recent Premier League history, the Manchester United manager outdid himself at Old Trafford last night. Despite a comfortable 2-0 win over Brighton in the FA Cup quarter-final, Mourinho was furious at the display of most of his players as he looked for a response to the midweek Champions League exit to Sevilla. On Friday, Mourinho had defended his performance in 20 months as United manager while responding to critics. Last night, only Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay, inset, were spared the brutal analysis of their manager as he turned his sights within. The highlights of Mourinho’s latest outburst — some might less kindly describe it as a “meltdown” — included the following . . . Which players played poorly? “I prefer to name the good ones. Matic was an island of personality and quality and reaction to the defeat of last Tuesday. Of course he was not surrounded by water, but surrounded by other people who did a positive job and, for example, Scott played on [his] inside. “Scott played the worst match since he played with me in the first team but he is a Manchester United player for sure because he is the player that made mistakes, passed the ball so bad tonight, lost so many passes but has the big personality to cope with the mistake. “A big personality to say and to think, ‘I am not playing well but at least I am going to do the basic things of the game.’ And the basic things are to keep position, give balance to the team, recover balls and don’t make defensive mistakes. “But a few of the other guys, I saw them scared to play. Look, I cannot say much more. I think it is in relation with personality, in relation to trust, in relation to class. “And you know when the sun is shining — and in football the sun is shining when everything goes well, you win matches, you score goals, everything goes in your direction — every player is a good player and every player wants to play and every player wants the ball and every player is confident to play and every player looks amazing. “When it is dark and cold and that in football means a period of bad results or a bad result like what happened to us a couple of days ago, not everybody has the confidence and the personality to play really. “Because to be on the pitch and touch the ball every five minutes, anybody can do it but to be on the pitch and say, ‘Give me the ball because I want to play.’ That is a little bit more difficult. Not all of them were able to do it.” Why take Luke Shaw off at half-time? “It is my decision. My reason behind it is that we Woe for 10-man Sunderland SUNDERLAND PRESTON NORTH END Maguire 50, Robinson 63 0 2 Ron Clarke Stadium of Light All that was missing from a desolate Stadium of Light was tumbleweed blowing across the banks of empty seats as the desperate decline of Sunderland continues. The only surprise of another hapless afternoon was that it took until a calamitous second half before the white flag was unfurled in surrender. With just eight games to go, a second successive relegation for the Wearsiders looks a safe bet. Sunderland manager Chris Coleman said: “We need to defend and we didn’t defend. We are not going to get out of this if we keep doing what we are doing. Before we kick a ball we are up against it. It is self-induced. The (international) break has come at the best time for us. The pressure is off. We would have liked to have gone into it on a positive note but that is not the case.” As for Preston this easiest of three points leaves them still gambling on promotion and nestled neatly just behind the play-off positions. By contrast this latest Sunderland defeat came after the club announced that dwindling support means sections of the top tier of the ground will be closed next season. Some of that support has already suggested they might be better closing the ground and ending the suffering once and for all. Even the club shop has a mega sale of posters. The bleak weather was a suitable backdrop as Preston were gifted two goals after the break and to add insult to injury they came either side of the hosts being reduced to ten men with a second yellow card for Jake Clarke-Salter, back in the side after a threematch suspension. First, Sean Maguire was left unmarked to head home Paul Gallagher’s free kick and then Callum Robinson nodded home the second 13 minutes later. Preston manager Alex Neil said: “This (Sunderland) is an enormous club and it is a real shame to see them in the position they are in. “Everyone wants to see the big clubs doing well but for some reason that is not the case here.” Star man: Sean Maguire (Preston) Yellow cards: Sunderland: ClarkeSalter Preston: Earl Red card: Sunderland: Clarke-Salter Referee: D Bond Attendance: 28,543 Sunderland: Camp 6, Kone 5, O’Shea 5, Clarke-Salter 4, Matthews 4, Cattermole 4, Honeyman 4 (Lua Lua 68min, 4), Cattermole 4, Ejaria 4 (McNair 64min), Maja 4 (Fletcher 68min, 4), Asoro 4 Substitutes: McManaman, McGeady, Robson, Stryjek Preston: Maxwell 6, Fisher 6, Huntington 6, Davies 6, Earl 6, Pearson 7, Gallagher 8 (Johnson 72min, 6), Robinson 7 (Harrop 85min, 6), Browne 7, Barkhuizen 7 (Bodin 85min, 6), Maguire 8 Substitutes: Clarke, Woods, Moult, Hudson 7 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 JASON CAIRNDUFF FA CUP SEMI-FINAL DRAW 6 The draw for the FA Cup semifinals will take place live on BBC1 after today’s quarter-final tie between Leicester City and Chelsea. The draw will be conducted by Gianfranco Zola, who won the competition with Chelsea in 1997 and 2000, and Petr Cech, the Arsenal goalkeeper, who has five FA Cup winners’ medals Semi-final draw numbers 1 Tottenham 2 Man United 3 Leicester City/Chelsea 4 Wigan/Southampton The semi-finals will take place over the weekend of April 21-22 NICK POTTS PLAYER RATINGS by Ian Whittell Old Trafford MANCHESTER UNITED SERGIO ROMERO BRIGHTON 7/10 7 TIM KRUL David de Gea’s FA Cup stand-in made good saves from a Lewis Dunk header and a Jurgen Locadia’s curler ANTONIO VALENCIA ERIC BAILLY LUKE SHAW SCOTT McTOMINAY NEMANJA MATIC JUAN MATA JESSE LINGARD work on the pitch with certain kinds of movements, where, for me, it was really important for the two fullbacks to be aggressive and to be always in front, to create space for Matic and Scott to play in front of the two central defenders. “And I didn’t have that with Luke and Antonio Valencia, with both of them. “I didn’t change both because it was too aggressive to do it and then I only have one more change in the 90 minutes and then, only if we went to extratime, would I have the possibility of a fourth change. And to try and improve our offensive football and be more aggressive, I had to change one of them and I chose Luke because at least Antonio defensively was capable of some good positionings. And Luke in the first half every time they went in his corridor, the cross was coming and a dangerous situation was coming. So I was not happy with the performance.” “You have been very honest about your players. Could that backfire, could you lose the players? “Yeah.” So why do it? What’s the calculation? “My calculation is that without pressure, they don’t perform well. What can I lose? And the ones that are always there are the ones that will always be there. And that is an example of personality. You have the kid that didn’t play well at all [McTominay]. I told him already, he was the first one I spoke to individually in the dressing room. “And instead of being critical with him, I was positive with him because ‘you played very bad but you did the basic things that one player has to do.’ The basic thing is to keep the emotional balance to play with that red shirt, which is a heavy shirt to wear. And the kid, in his worst performance by far, he was there and he had the body to wear that shirt. He was not afraid to play. He played bad, and every player can play bad. “But to feel not comfortable to play, ‘Please mister, take me from the pitch.’ I felt that. So I have nothing to lose in relation to that. “The strong ones will be always the strong ones. The young ones, under pressure and under criticism, will improve or will not improve.” ROMELU LUKAKU ANTHONY MARTIAL Le Fondre 19 ASTON VILLA 1 0 Marc Iles Macron stadium Aston Villa blew a chance to put some pressure on Cardiff City in the Championship promotion chase with a tame defeat at lowly Bolton. Adam Le Fondre’s first-half strike leaves Steve Bruce’s side seven points behind Cardiff — a gap which they could extend to 10 this afternoon at Derby County. It was no less than Bolton deserved for a thoroughly gutsy performance, exemplifying the fighting qualities Phil Parkinson has instilled in his side since promotion from League One. Bolton move a step closer to survival, which was hardly imaginable when defeat at Villa Park in September left them with just two points from their opening 11 games. Bolton seized the advantage on 19 minutes when Sammy Ameobi’s corner was flicked on inventively at the near post by Darren Pratley, leaving Le Fondre a simple tap-in. Villa tried to muster a swift response in swirling snowstorms. Jack Grealish produced an impudent 25yard volley tipped over the top by Ben Alnwick, who then made a fine stop at the feet of Lewis Grabban. Villa had only failed to score once in 20 previous meetings with Bolton, and on the stroke of half-time they had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Robert Jones when West Ham loanee Reece Burke appeared to handle a cross from Albert Adomah. Bolton, sensing a shock was on the cards, dropped deeper to protect their lead in the second half. Their defensive efforts may have been on the agricultural side, but Villa’s multi-million pound attack found it hard to cut through. As the snow continued to pile down, Bolton’s Jon Flanagan made a miraculous 77/10 Couple of probing runs and shots soon after the restart set the tone for an improved second half from the visitors 6/10 6 LEONARDO ULLOA 6/10 6 Strong start to the game down the left with some probing action but, too often, the final pass or decision was the wrong one Lone striker never enjoyed the service to show what he could do. Linked well with Locadia on occasion, however TOTAL TOTAL Substitutes: Unclear why Shaw was replaced by Ashley Young at the interval. Withdrawing Mata, with Marcus Rashford taking his place, was not popular with United fans but it seemed a logical move Substitutes: Brighton were much stronger in the second half and Chris Hughton made his replacements in an effort to capitalise. Solly worked hard and Ulloa suffered from lack of service 72/110 Le Fondre dents Villa push BOLTON 6/10 6/1 Only a second start for Brighton’s record signing, who burst into life in the second half with couple of decent shots 8/10 PASCAL GROSS Little wonder Mourinho exempts him, along with Matic, from any criticism. Great workrate and a lethal finish for his goal 77/10 Sat in front of the back four to try and mop up United’s midfield runners, which was no easy task given their mobility 6/10 6 JURGEN LOCADIO Struggling to find consistency that would make him a regular starter. Link-up play with Mata and Martial was promising 6/10 6 Out of possession, dropped to join Propper in front of his back four, limiting his impact on the game 6/10 DAVY PROPPER Struggled a little against Brighton’s physical, but legal, play. Got into promising positions but no end product 77/10 Caused Shaw a few first-half headaches — possibly hastening the starting left-backs’ exit — but found Young a tougher customer 9/10 BARAM KAYAL Mourinho’s pet player kept things tight in front of his back four and covered acres of ground. His goal was deserved 77/10 Up against Mata more often than not and did a decent job in that particular tussle, using his strength well 6/10 6 SOLLY MARCH Hugely promising but still a work in progress, as he proved by losing Dunk to present the defender with a free header 6/10 Beaten by Lukaku for the United opener, moments after his own effort had been well saved. Might have expected to score 5/10 5 MARKUS SUTTNER Replaced at the interval — whether that was due to injury or tactics was not clear. Hardly set the tie alight in the first half 77/10 Clearly relished physical nature of his clash with Lukaku and also coped well with the more agile and mobile United forwards 7/10 LEWIS DUNK Superb tackle on Locadia denied Brighton a scoring opportunity at 0-0, after he struck the post at the other end 5/10 Early foray saw him unleash a shot that skidded wide but had his hands full the rest of the way trying to chaperon Martial 6/10 SHANE DUFFY A couple of important blocks and interceptions to show no illeffects from that disastrous own goal against Liverpool CHRIS SMALLING A dropped early cross did not look like a confidence boost but got his angles right to deny Smalling and looked steady 6/10 6 EZEQUIEL SCHELOTTO Caught out of position, and in possession, a couple of times in defence although he remained an attacking threat 7/10 goal-line clearance to prevent substitute Scott Hogan from grabbing an equaliser, hooking the ball into Alnwick’s hands. Finally, Alnwick pulled off yet more heroics with a superb point-blank save to stop James Bree’s header. Star man: Ben Alnwick (Bolton) Yellow cards: Bolton: Henry Aston Villa: Chester, Snodgrass Referee: R Jones Attendance: 19,304 Bolton: Alnwick 8, Flanagan, 7, Burke 7, Beevers 7, A Taylor 6, Henry 6, Derik 6, Ameobi 7, Pratley 7 (Vela 27min, 6), Buckley 6 (Robinson 81min, 5), Le Fondre 7 Substitutes: Noone, Wilbraham, Wheater, Howard, Clough Aston Villa: Johnstone 7, El Mohamady 6, Chester 6, Terry 6, Bree 7, Bjarnason 7, Snodgrass 6 (Davis 82min, 5), Hourihane 5 (Hepburn-Murphy 54min, 6), Grealish 7, Adomah 6 (Hogan 72min, 5), Grabban 6 Substitutes: Lansbury, Jedinak, Onomah, Bunn 71/110 Back of the net: Christian Eriksen gave Tottenham the lead as early as the 11th minute Peerless Eriksen steers Spurs to semi-finals SWANSEA CITY TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR Eriksen 11, 62, Lamela 45+1 0 3 Paul Rowan Liberty stadium Spurs are on their way to Wembley,” sang the away fans with a degree of irony, and they will return to what has become something of a fortress for them of late with a spring in their step and justifiably confident of winning their first trophy in 10 years. This was a stroll against a sorry Swansea side who hoisted the white flag fairly early on and then started frantically waving it after Christian Eriksen scored his second goal just after the hour mark to put the game out of their reach. Eriksen’s two goals came either side of another excellent finish from Erik Lamela. There might even have been a fourth, but Son Heung-min’s effort was ruled offside by the narrowest of margins, a decision by the assistant referee which was backed up by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, and which Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino described as a “nightmare”. The feelgood factor remained strong for Tottenham, however; not just for reaching a semi-final, but the way the victory demonstrated the strength in depth which Pochettino has at his disposal. Harry Kane was out injured, but Pochettino still made six further changes from the side who easily defeated Bournemouth in the Premier League last weekend. “In the last three games, with different starting XIs, everyone has been trying to help the team to help us achieve. I’m so happy and proud because we’ve kept the same level and performance,” said Pochettino, whose attitude to the FA Cup has been lukewarm at best, but he is clearly looking forward to another game at Wembley, saying: “The feeling and perception. It was horrendous seven months ago; now we feel comfortable and happy to play there.” Certainly, any idea that Swansea had to unsettle Spurs at the Liberty was left in the dressing room. At the opposite end of the Premier League with plenty still to fight for, Carvalhal was even more ambivalent about his side’s cup run than Pochettino and this time it showed in technicolour. The Swansea manager made five changes to the side who drew 0-0 with Huddersfield in the Premier League last Saturday, but there was nothing in there to surprise Pochettino, save the realisation that the opposition were prepared to surrender the competition all too meekly. From the first whistle Tottenham were dominant, and after only 11 minutes Eriksen had put them ahead. Lamela played the ball into his path and he was given far too much space, and was able to pick his spot with a trademark curling shot from his left foot which left Kristoffer Nordfeldt with no chance. It was a stroll for the visitors, with Swansea dropping deep yet still giving their opponents plenty of space, and when they tried to move up, Eriksen played the ball over the top and Son finished decisively on 23 minutes. The offside flag then went up as the Spurs fans at the other end celebrated, and VAR backed up referee Kevin Friend’s decision to rule the goal out after a delay of around three minutes, the freezing conditions making it feel even longer. It was one-way traffic directed by Eriksen. The home side were probably ERIKSEN HAPPY AMONG SWANS 6 Christian Eriksen enjoys playing against Swansea. The Dane has had a hand in 13 goals in 10 games in all competitions (eight goals, five assists) against the side from south Wales, more than he has against any other opponent for Tottenham. Four of his past six goals for Spurs in all competitions have been from outside the box 6 The London side have reached the FA Cup semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1980-1 and 1981-2 campaigns. They won the competition in both those seasons counting their blessings that they had restricted Spurs to a solitary goal, but on the stroke of half-time they were caught cold again when Moussa Sissoko gave Lamela the chance to emulate Eriksen. The Argentinian produced an even nicer finish when dragging the ball past a couple of defenders and, having feinted to go the other way, sidefooted in with Nordfeldt rooted to the spot. From Swansea there was little or nothing in return, bar a chance for Nathan Dyer which was well snuffed out by Michel Vorm in the opening minutes. The second half had hardly resumed when they got another chance but Vorm was again alert, producing a fine double save from Martin Olsson and Tammy Abraham. Nordfeldt again came to Swansea’s rescue when he got a strong hand to an Eric Dier piledriver, but Tottenham made the game safe on 63 minutes when Tom Carroll lost the ball near his own area and Lucas Moura set up Eriksen, who scored his second from the edge of the area, this time through several pairs of legs which left Nordfeldt partially sighted and slightly embarrassed, as the ball just evaded his grasp and ended up in the net. The victory didn’t cool Pochettino’s annoyance about Son’s disallowed strike. “It’s a nightmare,” he said. “I am so sorry for the people who try to sell that system. Sonny wasn’t offside. I would have preferred if the referee had just made a mistake: it took three minutes. We need to see the reality: how it will affect the game, the player and the referees. The coaching staff were asking, ‘Was it a foul? What’s this? Why not see the VAR to see if it is or not?’ It’s so complex and what is worse is how it will affect the fans. We’re going to have a massive problem for the future.” Carvalhal said: “A storm came, but good weather will follow for us. We have eight cup finals but they all come for us in the league.” Star man: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) Yellow card: Tottenham: Sanchez Referee: K Friend Swansea City: Nordfeldt, Naughton (Narsingh 45min), Van der Hoorn (Roberts 81min), Bartley, Mawson, Olsson, Dyer (Routledge 86min), Ki, Carroll, Clucas, Abraham Substitutes: Britton, Mulder, Fernandez, Byers Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm, Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Sissoko, Moura (Llorente 73min), Lamela (Alli 81min), Eriksen, Son Substitutes: Lloris, Alderweireld, Dembele, Foyth, Aurier QPR fightback frustrates Fulham FULHAM Cairney 32, Piazon 45 QUEENS PARK RANGERS Luongo 45+3, Wszolek 81 2 2 Brian Glanville Craven Cottage London derbies have laws of their own and few of late can have been so surprising as this one. A week ago QPR had laboured horribly at home to beat Sunderland by one goal. In midweek, revitalised, they went to Aston Villa, who had just beaten league leaders Wolves, and won 3-1. Fulham, on a unbeaten streak, might easily have lost in the last minute when QPR’s left-back Jake Bidwell had a shot saved by Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli. Victory would not have been undeserved. QPR got better as the game went on, even though their equaliser was a gift from Fulham centre-back Denis Odoi, who ineptly lost possession, with Pawel Wszolek scoring easily. For much of the first half, Fulham had at least territorial superiority, and they took the lead after 31 minutes through Tom Cairney. A minute later, Ryan Fredericks’ shot flew across the face of goal, and five minutes later Aleksandar Mitrovic shot just wide. The second goal went in just before half-time. Ryan Sessegnon controlled Fredericks’ cross before playing it to Lucas Piazon, and he beat Alex Smithies. Yet there was an almost immediate response by QPR. Luke Freeman found Matt Smith’s head from a free kick, enabling the Australia international Massimo Luongo to beat Bettinelli. After half-time, it was QPR who began to dictate play, with Matt Smith and Luke Freeman forcing saves from Bettinelli. Fulham briefly revived and Smithies had to rush out of goal to frustrate Mitrovic, but by the time of Odoi’s error, they had lost their way and Bidwell’s 90th-minute cross was well saved once more by Bettinelli. It was an extraordinary second-half recovery by QPR. Their defence was well marshalled by Nedum Onuoha, Darnell Furlong was a progressive right-back and Smith was dangerous up front. Star man: Jake Bidwell (QPR) Yellow cards: Fulham: Targett, Mitrovic Queens Park Rangers: Luongo, Cousins, Lynch Referee: C Kavanagh Attendance: 23,347 Fulham: Bettinelli 8, Fredericks 5, Ream 6, Odoi 4, Targett 5, McDonald 6, Cairney 6 (Fonte 79min, 5), Johansen 7, Sessegnon 6 (Ojo 79min, 5), Piazon 4 (Ayite 68min, 5), Mitrovic 6 Substitutes: Button, Christie, Norwood, Kamara Queens Park Rangers: Smithies 7, Furlong 7, Onuoha 7, Lynch 6, Bidwell 7, Wszolek 7, Luongo 7, Manning 6 (Cousins 74min, 6), Freeman 7, Eze 6 (Smyth 69min, 6), Smith 7 (Washington 69min, 6) Substitutes: Ingram, Baptiste, Perch, Osayi-Samuel 8 SPORT FOOTBALL: PREMIER LEAGUE Palace in better heart after Zaha inspires priceless win HUDDERSFIELD TOWN CRYSTAL PALACE Tomkins 23, Milivojevic 68 pen 0 2 Tim Abraham John Smith’s stadium Roy Hodgson had his heart in his mouth in the dying minutes in West Yorkshire, even though the result was in the bag for the Crystal Palace manager as his side ended a run of four consecutive defeats with a victory that took them out of the relegation zone. Hodgson’s focus instead turned to Wilfried Zaha as he was substituted late on and appeared to be limping. However, a quick exchange of words with the 25-year-old winger put Hodgson’s mind at ease. The previous 89 minutes had been a lesson in why Zaha is integral to Palace’s hopes of beating the drop as he injected a confidence and swagger into a team that struggled without him. Palace have not picked up a solitary Premier League point this season without Zaha in the team. Not one. You have to go back to September 2016, and a 3-2 victory over Sunderland, for the last time the Eagles won a game without Zaha in the team. “He took a few knocks and there is an element of fatigue,” said Hodgson. “It’s his first full game for seven weeks. I haven’t been given an indication he has a serious injury. “He is so good at carrying the ball and we noticed that. He is an outlet for us. He got past people and drew fouls, and that put us in their part of the field and gave our defenders a rest.” Zaha showed his early intent with a deflected shot that looped over the crossbar, then sent Christian Benteke clear with a defence-splitting pass. The Belgian striker’s shot was blocked. Then, on 23 minutes, Zaha showed a moment of ambition to force a corner, and Palace profited. Huddersfield allowed Luka Milivojevic’s flag kick to bounce inside the six-yard box and defender James Tomkins reacted quickly, after his initial shot was blocked by Jonas Lossl, to prod the ball home. Moments later Milivojevic made a crucial tackle to deny Alex Pritchard a clear shot on goal after Collin Quaner had cut the ball back. Palace had an appeal for a penalty turned down 10 minutes into the second half, when Mathias Jorgensen grappled with Benteke, the Belgian going to ground too easily for referee Mike Dean’s liking. Jorgensen was given the benefit of the doubt, but there could be few arguments when he scythed down Andros Townsend 13 minutes later. The impressive Milivojevic dispatched the resulting spot-kick past Lossl to wrap up the three points. Tomkins: scored from close range “It is a vitally important win,” said Hodgson. “All the points teams get against those down near the bottom are vitally important.” David Wagner’s Terriers snapped at the heels of Palace’s players but they lacked their opponents’ quality and rarely threatened. “We were below par and deserved this defeat,” Wagner said of his side, who managed just two shots on target. “It was a disappointing performance. I know what went wrong and we have given the ball away too easily. We were not calm enough. “We have to rally and win the ball back and this was why we were not able to create moments or shots.” Star man: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) Yellow cards: Huddersfield: Hogg, Mooy, Schindler Crystal Palace: Cabaye, Wan-Bissaka Referee: M Dean Attendance: 23,918 Huddersfield: Lossl 6, Hadergjonaj 5, Jorgensen 5, Schindler 6, Malone 5 (Lowe h-t, 6), Hogg 7, Mooy 6, Quaner 5, Pritchard 7 (Kachunga 71min, 5) Ince 5 (Van La Parra 61min, 7 ), Mounie 6 Substitutes: Smith, Billing, Coleman, Depoitre Crystal Palace: Hennessey 6, WanBissaka 6, Tomkins 7, Sakho 7, Van Aanholt 6, Townsend 7, Milivojevic 8, McArthur 6, Schlupp 6 (Cabaye 21min, 6), Benteke 6, Zaha 8 (Loftus-Cheek 89min, 5) Substitutes: Lee Chungyong, Cavalieri, Fosu-Mensah, Kelly, Riedewald HENRY BROWNE/JAMES MARSH CHAMPIONSHIP FOCUS 4-4-2 Begovic Francis S Cook Ake A Smith Stanislas L Cook Gosling Ibe BARNSLEY King Wilson Rondon Rodriguez Brunt Yacob Gibbs MILLWALL Millwall stretched their unbeaten run to eight games with a comfortable win against Barnsley at Oakwell. The hosts remain just a place above the relegation zone. Lee Gregory opened the scoring in the first half before a stunner from Ben Marshall, inset, secured the points midway through the second period, keeping Livermore Nyom Dawson Hegazi Evans 5-3-2 Foster BOURNEMOUTH Ibe 77, Stanislas 89 WEST BROMWICH ALBION Rodriguez 49 2 1 NORWICH CITY READING A LEEDS UNITED SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY Cherries leave it late Basement battle: West Bromwich Albion’s Claudio Yacob and Bournemouth’s Joshua King battle for the ball. Inset, Junior Stanislas celebrates his winner just recovered from illness, had to be replaced 15 minutes from time and Bournemouth profited from the absence of Albion’s most commanding defender. “In terms of delivering our game plan I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Pardew. “Even our harshest critic would say that there was good belief in the team and the performance deserved the win.” Albion had the best of the first half, with Allan Nyom pushing forward to good effect down the right and testing the home defence with a series of crosses. Bournemouth’s approach play, in contrast, was laboured and predictable. Foster was tested by a couple of long-range shots and a low free kick by Stanislas, but for a team on the verge of relegation Albion played with surprising freedom. Salomon Rondon, who bullied Nathan Ake all afternoon, came close with a header midway through the half and was inches away from connecting with another Nyom cross. Howe reshuffled his defence as early as the 17th minute as Steve Francis pulled up with a hamstring problem and was replaced by Charlie Daniels, with Adam Smith, who later also was forced off, switching to right-back. Albion took the lead just after half-time when Kieran Gibbs crossed to the far post, where Rondon headed back across goal for Rodriguez to turn and fire past Asmir Begovic. The goal prodded Bournemouth into life and roused the nervous tension in Albion, who have now conceded 24 points from winning positions. Still Albion seemed in control until Ibe’s 25-yard shot dipped beyond Foster’s dive. Even Howe was surprised that the ball crept in; less so perhaps when Stanislas, who has been in good goal-scoring form in recent weeks, clipped a free kick past Foster from 20 yards. Even then, Albion almost equalised, Daniels hacking Matt Phillips’ header off the line in the last minute. “It was a galling way to end the game,” said Pardew. Galling but depressingly predictable for Albion fans. Star man: Salomon Rondon (West Brom) Yellow cards: Bournemouth: Smith West Bromwich Albion: Livermore, Dawson Referee: G Scott Attendance: 23,918 Bournemouth: Begovic 6, Francis 6 (Daniels 17min, 6), S Cook 6, Ake 6, A Smith 5 (Mousset 57min, 6), L Cook 6, Gosling 6, Stanislas 7, Ibe 7, Wilson 6 (Defoe 73min, 5), King 6 Substitutes: Boruc, Surman, Pugh, Fraser West Bromwich Albion: Foster 5, Nyom 7, Dawson 6, Hegazi 6, Evans 6 (Phillips 77min, 6), Gibbs 7, Livermore 6, Yacob 5, Brunt 6 (Field 82min, 6), Rodriguez 7 (Robson-Kanu 86min, 5), Rondon 8 Substitutes: Myhill, Burke, Krychowiak, McClean Afobe strikes twice for Wolves to underline gulf in class 3 1 WOLVES Costa 15, Afobe 41, 56 BURTON ALBION Dyer 44 Tim Nash Molineux Wolverhampton Wanderers have spent £50m turning themselves into a team fit for the Premier League and it has led to a gulf in class that made Burton Albion look like paupers on the pitch. Nigel Clough, the Burton 3 2 James Maddison’s 14th goal of the season helped Norwich get back to winnings way with a welldeserved victory that piled the pressure on Jaap Stam’s Reading. Andries Ulderink, Reading’s assistant manager, pulled no punches: ‘100%, we are very much in a relegation battle,’ said Ulderink, who was standing in for underpressure manager Stam at the post-match press conference. Andrew Longmore Vitality stadium betting man could have made a fortune on this result, given that West Bromwich Albion had conceded more points from a winning position than any other team in the Premier League and Bournemouth, in recent months at least, have been kings of the comeback. The plan was simple enough: wait for Albion to score and then put the money down on the opposition. And so it turned out. Albion took the lead with a neatly worked goal by Jay Rodriguez three minutes into the second half and duly went into retreat, only to concede two late goals which all but confirmed their relegation. On the touchline, Alan Pardew cut a forlorn figure as Albion slumped to their seventh straight defeat, but no manager can legislate for the sort of basic error that Ben Foster made to let Bournemouth back in the game or for the beautifully struck free kick by Junior Stanislas which secured Bournemouth a fortunate, but vital, late win. Albion are now 10 points adrift of safety with seven games remaining. “We’re running out of time,” said the Albion manager, who refused to clarify his own position after the game. One more win — and Watford are next up — should ensure a fourth straight season in the Premier League for the home side, but they will need to improve if their next campaign is to bring mid-table security rather than another long flirtation with relegation. Bournemouth have strong financial backing, but they defy the odds in not only staying in the division year after year in the smallest ground in the League but in providing decent entertainment. Yesterday was not one of their vintage footballing afternoons, partly due to an understandable lack of confidence after a poor run, in part to a well-organised and, until the last quarter at least, refreshingly positive display by Albion. “It’s another comeback,” said Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager. “It’s the hardest way to win, but we’ll take any win at this stage. We didn’t play well and we had to dig very deep.” Bournemouth have now taken 16 points from losing positions. Pardew will wonder how on earth his side let the game slip but luck is like the tide down on the south coast – when it’s out, it’s out. Jonny Evans, who had only 0 2 manager who was without eight players, called this “the biggest mismatch in English football today” after Benik Afobe’s brace and one from Helder Costa clinched victory for the Championship leaders. Given the difference in budgets and Wolves’ overwhelming dominance, it was hard to believe the scoreline wasn’t even more one-sided. Wolves were without Diogo Jota, their 14-goal forward on loan from Atletico Madrid, but in Costa they had a man who skipped across the snowbound Molineux turf like a turbo-charged gazelle. He scored the opening goal, casually sidefooting the ball into the net after an outrageous pass from Ruben Neves gave the Portuguese winger time and space to pick his spot. Geoff Eltringham, the referee, failed to spot a shove by Barry Douglas, the Wolves left-back, on Tom Flanagan, and that ended any realistic hope Burton may have entertained of getting anything from the game. Ivan Cavaleiro, the Wolves forward, forced a falling save from Stephen Bywater before Afobe made it 2-0 after another sumptuous pass from Neves split the Brewers’ defence. Burton did pull one back against the run of play when Lloyd Dyer’s drive took a deflection to wrongfoot John Ruddy, the Wolves goalkeeper, a minute before half-time. It was Burton’s first goal in 449 minutes of play. But normal service was resumed in the second half as Wolves sniffed blood once again. Cavaleiro curled one effort just wide before Afobe neatly sidefooted into the corner of the net from seven yards after Costa’s reverse pass had put Cavaleiro through on the right. Afobe’s double made it four goals in his last four games and Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves head coach, believes the on-loan Bournemouth striker is reaching his sharpest. “Benik is getting to his best now — like the team,” he said. “This time it was him, before it was Diogo Jota, Helder Costa, Ivan Cavaleiro, Morgan Gibbs-White. “All these players are important. All the things we’re doing with them is focused on building a team.” For Clough, it was a damage limitation exercise. “They have spent £15m in one transfer fee (Neves) and our whole budget is less than half of that. They might well spend another £50m next season,” he said. Star man: Ruben Neves (Wolves) Yellow card: Burton: Sbarra Referee: G Eltringham Attendance: 29,977 Wolverhampton: Ruddy 7, Bennett 7, Coady 7, Boly 7, Doherty 6, Saiss 7, Neves 8 (N’Diaye 90min, 5), Douglas 7, Costa 8, Afobe 7 (Bonatini 82min, 5), Cavaleiro 8 (Gibbs-White 76min, 5) Substitutes: Batth, Mir Vicente, Miranda, Norris Burton: Bywater 6, Flanagan 5, Naylor 5, Buxton 4, McFadzean 5 (Varney h-t, 5), McCrory 6, Sordell 5 (Sbarra h-t, 5), Davenport 5, Akpan 5, Dyer 6, Boyce 5 (Egert 82min, 5) Substitutes: Murphy, Bent, Campbell, Barker 1 2 Atdhe Nuhiu scored a stoppage-time winner to give Sheffield Wednesday victory over Yorkshire rivals Leeds United. Substitute JayRoy Grot appeared to have earned Leeds a share of the spoils with his first goal for the club late on but there was still time for Nuhiu, inset, to snatch Wednesday’s first win at Elland Road since 2007. Nuhiu had earlier broken the deadlock after a goalless first half that BIRMINGHAM CITY HULL CITY 3 0 Garry Monk had every reason to have a wide smile on his face after guiding Birmingham to a vital home win over below-par Hull City. Although they remain in the bottom three, Birmingham’s survival hopes have improved after a runaway victory which was completed in bright sunshine after a blizzard chilled much of the game. After his first victory as Birmingham’s manager, Millwall in the playoff hunt. The visitors broke the deadlock after 24 minutes. Jed Wallace played in Gregory, who found space inside the area and rolled the ball under Nick Townsend. Up until that point it had been all Barnsley, with the in-form Oli McBurnie coming close. Millwall scored their second after 63 minutes, Marshall cutting inside from the left and hitting a spectacular effort from 25 yards that curled into the far corner. The hosts scored three times in an exciting first half in a victory that came after a run of just six points from seven games. Mario Vrancic and Grant Hanley both headed in from corners to put Norwich 2-0 up before Liam Kelly pulled one back for the visitors, only for Maddison to restore Norwich’s two-goal advantage from the spot after 37 minutes. Sam Smith reduced the arrears early in the second period but it was not enough to prevent Reading slipping closer to the drop zone after a run of just one win in 18 matches. underlined how far the two sides have fallen in the past year. Paul Heckingbottom has endured a tough start to life at Leeds, winning only one of his first eight league games in charge. ’I sound like a broken record,’ said the former Barnsley manager. ’The last couple of games I should be highlighting to the players why we’ve won. Instead, I’m going mad at the reasons why we haven’t. They’re both goals we should stop.’ The teams went into the derby with only one win each in 2018. Monk was full of admiration for the impressive attacking performance of his team, which produced an outstanding victory and ended a run of seven successive league defeats. Jota, who had previously failed to score at St Andrew’s since his record signing at the start of the season, was twice on the mark, including a 12thminute opener. Che Adams, who also had an outstanding game, was rewarded with a 48thminute goal while a rejuvenated Jota settled the game in the 59th minute. CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND-UP Milan Djuric’s header put Bristol City’s playoff bid back on track as it secured a 1-0 victory over Ipswich Town at Ashton Gate. Introduced as a substitute for Famara Diedhiou, the Bosnian striker missed one chance before he stooped in the 64th minute to head in Lloyd Kelly’s cross from the left. The visitors created precious little going forward and could have few complaints at the end of a game played in arctic conditions. For City it was a welcome return to winning form at a time when their challenge for the top six appeared to be faltering. Lee Johnson’s team were not at their best but edged a contest of few thrills. The weather was hardly conducive to good football, with a swirling wind and driving sleet and snow creating problems. Sheffield United failed to close the gap on the playoff places as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane. The hosts were in good form, having lost only once in their past five games at home, but failed to take their chances. 9 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 JOHN POWELL MICHAEL SEDGWICK PREMIER LEAGUE W D Man City 30 26 3 1 65 81 Man Utd 30 20 P 5 5 35 65 Liverpool 31 18 9 4 39 63 Tottenham 30 18 7 5 34 61 Chelsea 30 17 5 8 25 56 Arsenal 30 14 6 10 14 48 Burnley 30 11 10 9 Leicester 30 10 10 10 2 40 Everton 31 11 Bournemouth 31 9 L GD Pts 1 43 7 13 -13 40 9 13 -12 36 Watford 31 10 6 15 -16 36 Brighton 30 8 10 12 -12 34 Newcastle Utd 30 8 8 14 -10 32 Swansea 30 8 Huddersfield 31 8 Crystal Palace 31 West Ham 7 7 15 -17 31 7 16 -27 31 9 15 -18 30 30 7 9 14 -21 30 Southampton 30 5 13 12 -15 28 Stoke 31 6 9 16 -29 27 West Brom 31 3 11 17 -25 20 Snow ball: Xherdan Shaqiri, left, tackles Leighton Baines Tosun piles on agony for Stoke STOKE CITY Choupo-Moting 77 EVERTON Tosun 69, 84 1 2 Martin Hardy Bet365 stadium Smiles better: Mo Salah celebrates his first goal after four minutes last night. He has scored 28 Premier League goals this season Four more for super Salah LIVERPOOL Salah 4, 43, 77, 85 Firmino 49 WATFORD 5 0 S 4-1-2-3 Karius Gomez Matip Can Van Dijk Robertson Henderson Wijnaldum John Aizlewood Anfield now fell, temperatures plummeted, Siberian winds blew, but from Mohamed Salah, magnificent Mohamed Salah, there was only warmth. In snowglobe conditions, Liverpool strolled past Watford with insouciant glee, as Salah scored four goals — each of them sprinkled with sunshine — and created another for the outstanding performance of his outstanding season. “The conditions were very difficult,” noted Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager. “Everyone suffered, but not Mo. He was exceptional, he was special and he was outstanding. Performances like that are why we come into football. Obviously, I was pleased about the result, but also the performance. Look at Sadio Mane, look how cool he was on the ball, look how mature he was.” With Champions League qualification for next season likely but still far from certain, Klopp had neither the option nor the inclination to tempt fate ahead of next month’s Manchester City double-header. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s torrid afternoon at the other Manchester team last week meant the teenager was benched for the less taxing visit of Watford, along- FOOTBALL SHORTS Salah Firmino Mane Deeney Richarlison Holebas 4-2-3-1 Pereyra Capoue Doucoure Britos Prodl Femenia Mariappa Karnezis side fellow Old Trafford starters Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner. Untroubled by relegation fears, yet with no prospect of sneaking into the European places, Watford froze in the sub-zero temperatures. After just four minutes, they were behind. Georginio Wijnaldum threaded a crafty through ball into Salah’s path. As Salah charged into the penalty area, Watford’s defenders knew what was coming as surely as the expectant Kop, but what was foreseen could not be prevented. Salah danced with such twinkle-toed daintiness that the bamboozled Miguel Britos was left on his backside. The Egyptian drew Orestis Kanzezis and slotted home his 25th Liver- £1M-A-WEEK NEYMAR DEMANDS MASSIVE PAY RISE TO STAY AT PSG Neymar has asked Paris Saint-Germain for a pay rise as a condition for staying at the Qatar-owned club for a second season, writes Duncan Castles. The player’s father is understood to have proposed the French club improve his son’s financial terms amid Real Madrid’s efforts to take him back to Spain. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique flew to Brazil last week, ostensibly to attend a presentation at Neymar’s charitable institute. According to a PSG source, the pair held discussions about the forward’s future at the club he joined just eight months ago for a record transfer fee of £198m, and a basic salary of more than £264.5m over five years. Neymar’s debut season ended last month when he fractured a metatarsal. ZIDANE: BALE HAPPY AT MADRID Neymar: wanted by Real Madrid Zinedine Zidane has dismissed suggestions that Gareth Bale is unhappy at Real Madrid. The Welshman’s former club Tottenham, as well as Manchester United, have been linked with a possible move for Bale, whose injury troubles have seen his game time restricted this season. But Zidane said, ’Bale is not a sad player at Real Madrid. Everyone can have their pool league goal. By the end of the evening he was on 28. “This was not the best performance from us,” understated Javier Gracia, the Watford manager. “Before the match I thought the passion was there. After conceding five goals, I’m not so sure. We are more comfortable at home than away: we must improve.” Ahead, Liverpool could strut. Their glistening front three, Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino, were in mischief-making mood; caviar musketeers tormenting a bread’n’butter defence. Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson brought the gap-plugging midfield solidity so lacking in Manchester and their defence was untroubled until Roberto Pereyra crossed low and dangerously. Yet, for all Klopp’s urgings from the technical area, the atmosphere was lowkey and that strutting sunk into coasting. Prompted by Pereyra, Watford began to make inroads and when the Argentine crossed to the back post in the 36th minute for Richarlison, Loris Karius was called into action at last. Aura of invincibility pricked, Liverpool roused themselves and the game was settled after 43 minutes when Mane spotted Robertson’s overlap long before the Watford defence. The full-back crossed to the back post where Salah nipped in to tap home. The snow was more insistent after the break and so too were Liverpool. Soon they were three ahead and this time Salah was maker rather than taker. Again, he got the better of Britos, whose half-tackle was neither firm enough nor smart enough. Salah ran to the goalline to cross low and the unmarked Firmino backheeled home. Alone in his refusal to be cowed, Pereyra rattled Karius’s crossbar with a fine free kick in the 54th minute but as the snow turned blizzard-like, LIVERPOOL FANS WANT CAP ON MAN CITY TICKETS 6 Liverpool supporter groups have joined forces to urge their club and Manchester City to cap away ticket prices at £30 for next month’s Champions League quarter-final. The Spirit Of Shankly group and Spion Kop 1906 have called on both clubs ’to do the right thing’. A statement posted on spiritofshankly.com read: ‘Given the escalated ticket prices for travelling supporters so far in this season’s competition, there is an opportunity here to send a strong statement on the value of supporters beyond money. Both Liverpool and City will receive significantly large sums of revenue for reaching this stage of the Champions League, and we ask this be shared with supporters. We ask that both clubs look at their pricing for this fixture.’ It reminded the clubs that away tickets for Premier League games are ‘capped at a maximum of £30’. Liverpool host City in the first leg on Wednesday April 4, with the return fixture taking place the following Tuesday Mane found Salah, who twisted this way and that, dropped a shoulder and poked the ball round Karnezis for his first hattrick in English football. And there was one more to come. This time Salah made it — passing to Danny Ings, whose shot was stopped by Karnezis — then scored it, tapping in the rebound. A day to remember for him; one to forget for Watford. Star man: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) Yellow card: Liverpool: Gomez Referee: A Taylor Attendance: 53,287 Liverpool: Karius 6, Gomez 6, Matip 6, Van Dijk 6, Robertson 6, Henderson 7, Can 5 (Milner 27min, 6), Wijnaldum 6 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 70min, 5), Salah 9, Firmino 8 (Ings 79min, 6), Mane 7 Substitutes: Mignolet, Klavan, Moreno, Alexander-Arnold Watford: Karnezis 6, Mariappa 5, Prodl 5, Britos 4 (Janmaat 81min, 4), Holebas 6, Doucoure 6, Capoue 6, Femenia 5, Pereyra 7, Richarlison 5 (Hughes 65min,6), Deeney 5 (Okaka 70min, 5) Substitutes: Gomes, Cathcart, Gray, Carrillo opinion, but I believe he is here and happy to be at this club.’ Zidane was speaking before today’s meeting with Girona, who are hoping to do the league double over the European champions. being questioned by police after the incident, in which four stationary vehicles were damaged. Sunderland said that they were aware of the incident. GIGGS HIT BY WITHDRAWALS COOK CRITICISES BLAME CULTURE Wales manager Ryan Giggs has lost four players from his China Cup squad, including Chelsea teenager Ethan Ampadu. Neil Taylor, Tom Lawrence and Joe Ledley have also dropped out of the 26-man squad, while Sunderland defender Adam Matthews has been drafted in. Midfielder Ampadu, 17, who made his international debut against France in November, was forced off during the final minutes of Chelsea’s 4-2 Uefa Youth League win at Real Madrid last Wednesday. GIBSON ‘INVOLVED IN CAR CRASH’ Darron Gibson, inset, the Sunderland midfielder, has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after being involved in a car crash on Roker seafront. The former Manchester United player, who has been missing from the struggling Championship side since the new year with a groin injury, was seen Paul Cook, the Wigan manager, has spoken out against football’s blame culture ahead of today’s FA Cup quarterfinal against Southampton, who have Mark Hughes in charge for the first time. Hughes replaced Mauricio Pellegrino last week, just over two months after he was sacked by Stoke City. Cook said: ’Managers and coaches are getting assassinated after every game, which I think is an absolute disgrace.’ MARINE’S TEAM BUS CATCHES FIRE The team coach of Evo-Stik Premier League side Marine caught fire on their way to Hednesford yesterday. The dramatic incident happened close to the end of their 90-mile journey. The club reported that all passengers were safe after a woman driving behind the coach called the fire brigade. The players and staff made it to the match on time, but that was where the good news ended: they lost 3-2. There was a little high-five with assistant Sammy Lee, he took his frozen fingers out of a glove to shake hands with Paul Lambert and then Sam Allardyce slipped away at the side of the pitch, towards the tunnel in front of the Everton fans, and no one even noticed him go. That, for now, will feel like progress. Instead, his players were championed by the 3,000 Everton supporters tucked away in the corner of the snow at the Britannia stadium, none more so than Cenk Tosun, who scored twice and would probably have grabbed a hat-trick but for a bit more intelligent play from his teammates Theo Walcott and Dominic CalvertLewin. Allardyce had revealed during the week that he has had his players spending time with the psychologist who has for so long been a key ingredient of his management philosophy. Perhaps it was that which led Everton to only their second away victory in the Premier League this season, or their sixth in the last two. Perhaps it was the fine, predatory finishing of a player signed for £27m in January, or, as Lambert argued, the key dismissal of Charlie Adam, with just half an hour of the game gone. There should have been no protestations, despite the catcalls and jeers that came Wayne Rooney’s way for the rest of the afternoon from home supporters. Adam, in attempting to drive from the heart of the Stoke midfield, clipped the ball too far, and in his desire to regain control, left the ground with a lunging tackle on Rooney. Martin Atkinson went straight for red and from there it was a question of whether Everton had the intelligence to see the game through with a man advantage, which they did, just. Credit to Lambert, who kept his forwards high and made Stoke dangerous, and it took until the 69th minute for Everton to take the lead. A Yannick Bolasie cross was headed goalwards by Tosun, Jack Butland saved, Calvert- Lewin attempted to prod in the rebound but that was blocked by Kostas Stafylidis before Tosun reacted quickly to smash a left-foot shot into the Stoke goal. Bravely Stoke fought back, and within eight minutes they were level. Joe Allen sent over a right-footed free kick from the left and although the substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting didn’t look like he fancied the challenge, he stuck out a foot that took the ball past Jordan Pickford. In doing so, the forward took a kick and limped off, seven minutes after he had been brought on. It could have been a crucial point, but Everton regrouped and after Walcott had missed a glorious chance, set up by a fine ball from Tosun, the former Arsenal man returned the favour and the Turkish forward was more clinical. Tosun’s diving header had the power to get past Butland, despite a fingertip from the goalkeeper. “You want the top-quality marksman to turn the game in your favour and Cenk has done that,” said Allardyce. “He is adapting a lot quicker than a lot of frontmen who have come to the Premier League from abroad. “We capitalised on Stoke going down to 10 men and we got three points, gladly, away from home.” It leaves Stoke mired deep in relegation trouble, three points from safety with an inferior goal difference to West Ham and Crystal Palace, in 17th and 16th places respectively. “We needed the points,” said Lambert. “We needed to win. I saw the sending-off on the monitor and I understand why Martin has given it. He has put himself in the position to be red-carded. It was a massive blow. “Their first goal was offside. The linesman needs to see that but I can’t ask for anything more than the effort and the commitment the players showed. We got ourselves back into the game and it was a poor second goal.” Star man: Cenk Tosun (Everton) Yellow cards: Stoke: Shawcross Everton: Jagielka Red card: Stoke: Adam Referee: M Atkinson Attendance: 30,022 Stoke: Butland 6, Johnson 5, Shawcross 6, Zouma 6, Stafylidis 7, Adam 4, Shaqiri 7 (Berahino 76min, 5), Allen 7, Ndiaye 6, Sobhi 7 (ChoupoMoting 72min, 5, Jese 79min, 3), Crouch 6 Substitutes: Bauer, Martins Indi, Fletcher, Haugaard Everton: Pickford 7, Coleman 6, Jagielka 7, Keane 7, Baines 7, Rooney 7 (Schneiderlin 87min, 4), Gueye 8, Davies 6 (Calvert-Lewin 53min, 6), Walcott 7, Tosun 8, Bolasie 6 (Holgate 90+2min, 4) Substitutes: Martina, Niasse, Klaassen, Joel SHREWSBURY CLOSE IN ON LEADERS Shrewsbury moved just two points behind League One leaders Blackburn, with a game in hand, after they came from behind to win 2-1 at Scunthorpe. Second-half goals from Jon Nolan and Stefan Payne, with a penalty, helped Shrewsbury to victory after Josh Morris’ first-half free kick put the hosts in front. Blackburn’s match at Gillingham was postponed on safety grounds after snow in Kent. LINCOLN WIN LOCAL BRAGGING RIGHTS Three goals in eight minutes late in the first half were enough for Lincoln City to beat Grimsby 3-1 in the Lincolnshire derby. Lee Frecklington, Matt Green and Scott Wharton were all on target to demoralise Grimsby, who have gone 17 games without a win, before Ben Davies pulled a goal back before the break with a penalty. Accrington increased their lead at the top to three points by beating Forest Green 3-1 and Luton were held 1-1 at Newport. HEMMINGS MAKES COUNTY PAY Notts County were so desperate for their derby against Mansfield to go ahead that chairman Alan Hardy got out his broom to help clear the touchlines of snow. But they were cruelly denied for their efforts, with Mansfield’s Kane Hemmings’ converting a penalty in the Boyd: scored winner for Kilmarnock ninth minute of stoppage time to equalise after Terry Hawkridge put the hosts in front. BOYD RETURNS WITH A BANG Kris Boyd’s goal gave Kilmarnock a 1-0 victory over his former club Rangers at Ibrox. The striker’s 20th goal of the season, above, gave Steve Clarke’s side, who beat Rangers 2-1 at Rugby Park in December, another impressive result. 10 SPORT FOOTBALL ENGLAND’S JOHN PETERS SOUTHGATE HAPPY TO TAKE FAMILY TO RUSSIA No1 PROBLEM Gareth Southgate must use friendlies to identify the goalkeeper to replace Joe Hart, writes Jonathan Northcroft R ob Green, Fabio Capello’s most contentious selection, was rated the worst England player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa . . . by Fabio Capello. The manager’s infamous commercial sideline, the “Capello Index”, gave Green a spectacularly low mark and ranked him his country’s lowest performer despite Capello blithely defending the keeper in interviews. Like most of England’s 2010 debacle, it would have been funny had it not been so excruciating. Green’s handling by Capello cost not just the nation but the player. Green arrived in South Africa at the prime age for a goalie (30), having ended first choice in a successful qualifying campaign and a standout in his final warm-up game. However, Capello refused to confirm him as No 1 for the finals — keeping media guessing and rotating his keepers in training. Green only knew he was playing two hours before England’s opening match The result was a brain freeze and a clanger against USA in Rustenburg, and Green’s career was never quite the same. He only played for England once more, in a 2012 friendly under Roy Hodgson. He is not alone. Scott Carson, Paul Robinson, David Seaman, David James . . . all damaged by howlers as England No 1s. It is a jersey and set of gloves that hangs heavy. England goalkeepers need help, and a priority for Gareth Southgate in friendlies with Holland and Italy has to be nailing down his No 1 for the World Cup. Clearly identifying the player, cleansing him — and the defenders who will be working with him — of doubt. There are only 360 minutes of England football before a World Cup opener against Tunisia, not long to build understandings and confidence. There can be no repeat of the indecision that did for Green. As it stands, by accident rather than Southgate’s design, there is no “England No 1” as such. Joe Hart lost that status as his club form nosedived and is in such shaky fettle that when he was brought back into West Ham’s line-up against Burnley eight days ago, playing did his cause more harm than good. Another error was a reminder of how far Hart has fallen. He is highly fortunate to be in the current 27-man squad. What has kept his World Cup chances alive is probably two decent second-half saves in England’s last friendly against Brazil, helping him to a clean sheet. In the friendly before that, Jordan Pickford excelled on debut, keeping a clean sheet against Germany, but Pickford’s club displays, while better than Hart’s, have been variable too. Jack Butland has also made mistakes for Stoke. A broken finger stopped him playing in the Germany and Brazil double-header and having been a sound performer for Southgate at under-21 level, with the best all-round package of attributes, he seems the safest bet to be World Cup No 1. He took over from Hart for England’s last qualifier, in Lithuania, in October, and acquitted himself confidently. “The only thing going through my mind is making sure it’s me,” he said of the battle for the spot, and that is the right mindset. The left-field candidate is Burnley’s Nick Pope. Up until the last minute, Southgate was unsure about calling him up — which was not a reflection on his ability, rather on Southgate’s uncertainty over whether a player who has not been part of an England camp, at any age level, could be parachuted into the set-up so close to a tournament. Yet Pope’s outstanding season makes it the right call and what a story Pope is — a 25-year-old who has played in every tier of English football down to the seventh one, where Gareth Southgate will defy mounting concerns for safety at the World Cup, caused by the UK’s deteriorating relations with Russia, by taking his own family out to attend the tournament. The Foreign Office has warned Britons travelling to the World Cup of ’the possibility of antiBritish sentiment or harassment’. Nonetheless, Southgate is inviting his wife and teenaged children, Mia and Flynn, to watch England. ‘At the moment they’re planning to do that. We’re like everybody else, we have to see what the advice is and if things change, but that is their intention,’ said the England manager. Alexei Sorokin, head of the World Cup organising committee, has told Arsenal fans they have nothing to fear if they travel to watch their side play CSKA Moscow in the Europa League next month he represented Harrow Borough in the Isthmian Premier Division. His inclusion cements Sean Dyche as the most prolific producer of England internationals outside of Mauricio Pochettino. A challenge for Pope might be Southgate’s desire to build from the back, using a three-man defence. Has he ever played behind a back three? And Dyche asks goalkeepers to distribute the ball long, not make short passes. Butland, Pickford, Pope would be my pecking order. Southgate’s should probably already be established. Pope is one of four uncapped players in the squad. Holland have five in theirs and will be experimenting under their new manager, Ronald Koeman. In their forwards department there are intriguing choices: Justin Kluivert, the exciting 18-year-old son of Patrick and scorer of an extraordinary hattrick for Ajax against Roda in November, and Wout Weghorst, a 6ft 5in target man who divides compatriots’ opinion but has 21 goals this season for AZ Alkmaar. It is a time of renewal for the Dutch, who have failed to reach consecutive tournaments for the first time since 1980. Southgate wants it remembered that England are also in a rebuilding process. “We know what we are — a team ranked 16th in the world. We’re a team that we know is developing, and somebody asked me about ‘wouldn’t you like a more settled team moving into a World Cup?’ But we’re not at the stage of development that Brazil have been and Germany have been,” he said. “They have had a consistency of selection. But that’s mainly because we feel our young players are so exciting that we should push them ahead, because we feel in the mid to long-term that’s going to give us a better chance of winning things. That’s not to limit what we think is possible from them this summer, but I’ve got to be realistic about the number of caps and the ages of the team and what our expectations of that should be.” Southgate said he will consider using Lewis Cook in one of the friendlies. But the newcomers with the best chance of World Cup berths are Alfie Mawson and James Tarkowski, ball-playing young centre-backs in the Southgate mode. Yesterday’s man: Joe Hart’s England stock has fallen and he is highly fortunate to be in the 27-man squad ON TV FRIDAY THE HOME OF LIVE FOOTBALL TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS FA CUP FA CUP WIGAN LEICESTER SOUTHAMPTON CHELSEA Live coverage today from 1pm on talkSPORT Live coverage today from 4pm on talkSPORT V V CHAMPIONSHIP DERBY COUNTY V CARDIFF CITY Exclusive coverage today from 11.30am on talkSPORT 2 1089/1053AM • DAB Radio • App • talkSPORT.com Holland v England 7.30pm ITV, kick-off 7.45pm Bronze hoping to strike gold WOMEN’S FOOTBALL English player closes in on her Champions League dream Rebecca Myers When Lucy Bronze signed for French club Olympique Lyonnais last summer, she made clear she saw it as a stepping stone to her dream of winning the Champions League. Defending champions Lyons, one of the best women’s club sides in the world, have won the Uefa title four times, and come second twice in the past decade. No English team has progressed past the semi-finals since 2007, when Arsenal lifted the trophy. On Thursday at the club’s main, 59,000-capacity stadium, Bronze will be able to sink her teeth into Lyons’ campaign for the 2018 crown when they meet Barcelona in the first leg of the quarterfinals. Barça may have reached the semi-finals only once, but Bronze will not be underestimating the Spanish team. “The pressure is probably a little bit more with Lyons because Lyons have been dominant for so long,” says the England international. “But being in the club and around the girls you can see how much they thrive off it. All season, that’s what their mindset is: we need to win the Champions League, we’ve got to win the Champions League. The club know how important it is and so do all the girls, but that makes it exciting. It’s getting harder each year to maintain that No 1 spot.” While the English league will be represented in the last eight of the competition by Chelsea and Manchester City, who play on Wednesday night against Montpellier and Linkoping respectively, there will also be eyes on the game in France as Bronze comes up against a Lionesses teammate, striker Toni Duggan, who has played for Barcelona since last summer. Wolfsburg host Slavia Praha on Thursday. Bronze notes that Duggan will be a key player for the opposition — “a lot of the goals come from Toni” — as well as the Dutch forward Lieke Martens, whom Bronze considers “the best player in the world.” In another world, she and Martens are fantasy teammates: the Fifpro Women’s World XI was announced this month and Bronze became the first English player to make the cut, voted for by more than 4,000 female footballers in 45 countries. She received the second highest number of votes after Martens. It was hailed as a landmark moment for the English game, as she acknowledges: “I think it was probably a big moment for English football. There were a lot of players like Millie Bright edging in close to it as well, which was really good to see. Obviously the standard is rising and I’m delighted to be part of it — long may it continue.” While Bronze says the quality of football at Lyons is “definitely next level . . . I’ve never played on a team like this before”, she praises the training set-ups within the English league, which reflect ALEXANDRE DIMOU French polish: Lucy Bronze, left, is aiming high with Lyons the strength of the Premier League and the fact that the top teams share facilities with their men’s sides. “But all you need is a football and a football pitch to play. I have everything that I need here. The things that are most important to me are the highest standards I know I’ll ever get. No team is perfect, every team has positives and negatives; you’ve just got to pick which positives mean the most to you.” Bronze found much more égalité across the Channel than she had known at home; Lyons is said to be the best paid women’s team in the world, with an average salary of £145,000 — the English league average is £26,752. Bronze says it’s important that female players feel they “get what they’re worth” and that the gap between the wages at top teams and lower teams in every country needs to be addressed. “You need money to live and to have a life and, to be able to play fulltime, you need to be getting a good wage. “The gap needs to be bridged but at the same time in the English league they don’t want to cap the top teams too much or they are going to struggle to catch up with the Germans and French teams that are doing so well in the Champions League. “You need your good players to stay, perform, be happy and have a good life.” The pitch on Thursday will host some of the most expensive players in the world, as well as the best. Bronze is doing great things for the English game by being among them. 11 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 ‘I didn’t realise Vardy was as skilful as this’ LORNE CAMPBELL OMENS ARE GOOD FOR CHELSEA 6 Chelsea and Leicester City have been drawn against each other five times in the FA Cup and on the past three occasions the sides have met the Londoners have gone on to win the competition — 1997, 2000 and 2012. Leicester have never beaten Chelsea in the Cup. Chelsea won their only previous quarter-final meeting, in 2012, 5-2 6 Leicester have appeared in the quarter-finals on three previous occasions this century, and have lost them all. Other than Chelsea, Wycombe beat them in 2001 and Blackburn Rovers in 2005 6 Claude Puel’s side are unbeaten in their past eight home games in all competitions, while Antonio Conte’s have lost their past five on the road Claude Puel hopes his star striker can make an impact for Leicester City against Chelsea in the FA Cup today JONATHAN NORTHCROFT W Football correspondent hen the weather’s nice — which isn’t often, jokes this man from southern France — his wife Corinne runs in Bradgate Park. It’s a lovely spot, 20 minutes out of Leicester, with deer, wild swans, a ruined castle. Good tourist info always helps and the Puels received theirs from an Englishwoman Claude befriended; he’s a keen runner himself and she’d flash by when he was pounding the clifftop routes around Monaco. Paula Radcliffe. Now resident in Monte Carlo, she went to university in Loughborough, which is near Bradgate. Their friendship had a false start because Claude went running with his dog and she was wary until discovering its soft nature. She’d run the whole, long, clifftop circuit while he’d take a secret short cut so he looked not too off her pace. “When I go running or do anything, always for me it is competition,” Puel grins. That nature may have come from his father, Jean, a welder in a Renault garage in Castres whose passion was rugby. Jean played hooker. “He had not the attributes,” says Puel. “He was skinny but he had vitality, strength, big forearms. He used his fighting spirit.” Puel reckons he inherited “the strength of my father and solidity of my mother ... a good balance”. He’s bringing it to Leicester. His own fighting spirit ( Jamie Vardy reports that at 56, the boss still smashes people in training) gels with their underdog values while solidity is needed, too, by a club where life has been turbulent since winning the title in 2016. Southampton, for some reason, after he finished eighth and reached a cup final, craved more excitement but Puel’s quiet yet determined building feels exactly what Leicester need. They were one point above the relegation zone upon his appointment in October and now they’re eighth and hosting Chelsea in an FA Cup quarter-final. Beyond proven ability, at Monaco, Lille, Lyons, Nice then Saints, to achieve good results, his development record is formidable. He leads Mauricio Pochettino (second) and Jurgen Klopp (third) as the man- Rod Liddle I’ve been saying it all season but I’ll say it again — Southampton were utterly bonkers to get rid of Claude Puel Strong values: Claude Puel, a hard-working midfielder as a player, has instilled the same qualities into his Leicester squad ager in Europe’s top five leagues to give the most minutes to Under-23s since 2008 and this attracted Leicester, who are looking for legacy from their success and plan a new training ground, enhanced academy and stadium improvements. “I cannot train without giving opportunity for players,” he says. “I was a worker- player [for Monaco]. I was in midfield, un porteur d’eau, a water-carrier working for the more technical ones. I like technical players.” An example of his coaching is Hatem Ben Arfa. The mercurial No 10 was out of football after being dumped by Newcastle and going AWOL at Hull when Puel took him to Nice. What ensued was incredible: Ben Arfa, having never scored more than six goals in a league campaign, scored 17 and won a France recall and transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. “Players sometimes can have a bad reputation. I want to know the player. I want to discuss with them, try to understand. The most important thing for me is to feel this player is honest,” Puel says. PUEL’S RUN-INS WITH THE SPORTING GREATS... With eight games to play last season Southampton, who had narrowly lost a League Cup final to Manchester United, were sitting quite comfortably in ninth place in the Premier League with 40 points on the board and a goal difference of zero. They were to finish a very respectable eighth, albeit 30 points below fourth place. The powers that be at St Mary’s took a good long look at this achievement and decided that the best thing to do would be to sack the manager, Claude Puel. There was no great opposition from the fans: Puel was regarded as inculcating in the Saints a certain continental boredom, the ball passed around in anodyne fashion in the middle of the park, the opposing goalkeeper rarely inconvenienced. Indeed, under Puel Southampton scored only 41 goals in 38 games. When you are a fan, and perhaps a chairman, then you are apt to believe that Living in Monaco, Puel found an unlikely running partner — Paula Radcliffe ‘Hazard is the only player I never had to teach, no one had to change him’ Radcliffe: fellow Monaco resident Hazard: coached by Puel at Lille any change must be for the better. And so boring Puel was evicted and in his place came the more flamboyant Mauricio Pellegrino. What a transformation he effected! Southampton are now scoring less than one goal per game and have a negative goal difference of 15. They have 12 fewer points than at this stage last year and, at start of play yesterday, sat one place and one point above the relegation trapdoor. I wonder if those fans now yearn for a bit of boredom. They may well get it, because Pellegrino has been sacked and, via the increasingly absurd managerial merry-go-round of the Premier League, in comes Mark Hughes, whose teams are of course noted more for their obduracy than their flair. It may just save them — in which case, Sparky will get a bonus of £2m. (I wonder what amount of money Southampton and Everton must wake up to the fact that no team are too big to go down Rod Liddle’s column of November 26, 2017 warned of the danger facing the Saints would be an acceptable bonus to save West Brom?) Meanwhile, Puel is at Leicester City, safe from relegation in eighth place and with, yes, 40 points. There is a symmetry in all things. I wrote at the start of the season that I thought Southampton might go down this year, based largely on their extraordinarily low level of shots on target. In November I suggested that while they were sitting in mid-table their trajectory was inescapably downward. I mention them again because I find it more satisfying to draw attention to things I’ve said that were right than things I’ve said which turned out wrong (such as tipping Brentford as dark horses for relegation from the Championship when they were, by common assent, the best team seen at The Den this season). Today the Saints contest a nasty FA Cup quarter-final at Wigan as a prelude to a league run-in that might not be more taxing than those of their relegation rivals but, nonetheless, includes games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City and a crunch clash with — yes, of course — Leicester City. Symmetry, you see. The arrival of old Sparky did not quite electrify the good people of Hampshire. There was some good gallows humour on one of the fans’ forums in which they voted on which underperforming player “With Ben Arfa it was a good moment because he didn’t succeed in England and was without a club. He trained alone. He was ready — ready to listen and improve. We were not a good team and I could put him in the middle of the play and made a system that gave him opportunities to use his qualities.” Puel devised a training exercise involving dribbling through mannequins before bending home shots, near and far post. Difficult, but Ben Arfa was brilliant and Puel then asked him “why, in games, do you do a strong shot? For the fans? When you have these feet and don’t use them?” Productivity beats show: Ben Arfa absorbed the lesson and began delivering in games. Puel has managed Riyad Mahrez humanely — and very successfully — after Mahrez’s “strike” when denied a move to Manchester City. “It was the same with Eric Abidal. I started him with Monaco and took him to Lille. He wanted to go to Paris. It was impatience, a young player without respect. I refused and he was angry and left the club for one month. But I said to him you need respect, to give one more season because this club took It makes you wonder why chairmen keep recycling managers who hop from one failure to the next would be first to get lamped by Hughes in the dressing room. Ryan Bertrand won. There was a feeling among some that Hughes was the right kind of person to get them out of the mess they are in, while some visiting Stoke City supporters suggested that this view might well be misplaced. It does make you wonder why the same old names keep being recycled, with middle-aged managers hopping from one failure to the next and yet still somehow valued by chairmen — Moyes, Allardyce, Pardew, Hughes, Hodgson, Pulis. For example, what made West Brom think that Alan Pardew, who was truly awful at Crystal Palace, could do a better job than Tony Pulis and strike fire into a side who have had relegation certainties stamped all over them since Bonfire Night? Did the trio of clowns who run West Ham not have the imagination to think of a manager beyond the one who had failed you as a young player when you had no profile. After, he went to Lyons then Barcelona and became not just fantastic on the pitch but a great man. “Riyad? People, journalists, give a bad reputation to the player because they didn’t know all the situation. And we need to understand the player,” Puel says. “For Riyad it was a mistake to miss training sessions and two or three games but important to remember it was the first time he had an offer like this.” Leicester are a strong dressing room. How is managing it? “I don’t say easy. Because it is not easy. But they are good men.” Puel admires the players’ “courage” in accepting his change of playing style, to a more possession approach — essential, he says, because opponents had sussed the breakaway style that won the title and were shutting it down. “For example, [Danny] Simpson and [Wes] Morgan were not players at the beginning with the qualities to start with the ball but they improve a lot. Now we see Simpson give crosses. Next time an assist perhaps!” Puel laughs. And Vardy? “Jamie, I like his character, his fighting spirit. I think it was crazy all the influence he could make on the game before. Always long balls, battles, difficult, and every time he came back for the fight. “But I didn’t know he has all this quality with the ball. He is comfortable with it, he can combine with his teammates, have good touches. [At West Brom] he scored a fantastic goal and you cannot score that goal without high technical quality.” The youngsters developed by Puel include Eden Hazard. At Lille, Puel gave Hazard his debut aged 16. “He was the same. Just the same. Same quality. Same ability. First thing, he played a friendly against Bruges and dribbled past four or five players. Most players in this situation then lose their idea of what to do but him, he kept calm, stopped the ball in the box and surrounded by players gave a fantastic assist. On the bench I didn’t even see the pass. He was the one player I didn’t teach anything; no manager could change him.” Leicester fans feel like Southampton’s, that they don’t know him, but they will appreciate him once they do: he fits the understated local character. Outside football? He follows politics (“Brexit…” he says wryly), he lives in town and likes restaurants, meals with friends. Corinne enjoys Leicester. Recently they went to the cinema and it was good, a comedy — though it was in English and he cannot remember the title or the plot. It’s football that occupies his brain, you sense. No, it’s sport. For leisure, he still goes running and has a good route near Leicester’s training ground. Brought up, by his dad, as a rugby fan he is interested in Leicester Tigers and went when his club, Castres, visited Welford Road. “I like the competition,” Puel smiles. “I like the story. I like the efforts of the athlete to prepare the competition, how they live, their success, their defeats, their comebacks. All this, it is fantastic.” ON TV TODAY Leicester City v Chelsea 4.05pm BBC1, kick-off 4.30pm spectacularly at Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland? What, exactly, in Roy Hodgson’s recent managerial record made Crystal Palace think that’s the man for us? The answer the chairmen would give, I suppose, is that the only names available to struggling sides are those who are already mired in failure, having recently been sacked for either relegating a team or dragging them too far towards the bottom for anyone’s liking. The only exception is Sam Allardyce, who does have a decent and recent track record of salvaging teams from self-destruction, even if this is rarely, if ever, translated into a formula for actual success. It is true, too, that the aforementioned chairmen begin their machinations by making overtures in the direction of Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe, both of whom are far too sussed to be deposited at the wheel of a sinking ship. But I do wonder if there might be alternatives options from down below the Premier League. Gary Rowett at Derby County, Dean Smith at Brentford? So long as they keep their hands off Millwall’s Neil Harris. ON TV TODAY Wigan Athletic v Southampton 1.15pm BBC1, kick-off 1.30pm 12 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 SPORT MOTOR RACING MAXIMUM MARK THOMPSON CHANGES FOR THE NEW SEASON SPEED M ax Verstappen isn’t scared of anybody or anything. Well, except for the life-size cardboard cutout of his father Jos in full racing regalia that used to stand in the corner of his bedroom. “Sometimes it scared me in the middle of the night. I would wake up and see somebody in the corner of the room, so I would get up and turn him around to face the wall,” Verstappen said of the only motor racing adornment in his life. There was a map and some flags on the walls of his bedroom as he grew up, but nothing from the world of Formula One in which he was destined to become a star. Just that cardboard cut-out looming out of the darkness. When the new grand prix season starts in Australia at the weekend, Verstappen will come onto the Melbourne grid like a trapped animal suddenly released from its cage. He has not raced for almost four months since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale of 2017, a new year detox that has left him straining at the leash to revive a career that many believe could border on greatness. Last week he was in the Red Bull simulator in Milton Keynes reminding himself of the twists and turns of the Albert Park circuit that will confront him on Sunday. That will be no digital exercise but the real thing and the chance to dethrone four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, the driver who rules the modern era of F1. As always in F1, it will be the quality of his Red Bull car that will determine whether Verstappen can challenge Britain’s world champion, but there is no doubting the scale of his talent and the sport yearns for the arrival of a charismatic new driver who can challenge the dominance of Hamilton and Mercedes. Since the introduction of hybrid engines — which link conventional petrol engines to battery power — in 2014, Hamilton has won 40 of 79 grands prix, an incredible strike rate. Verstappen is F1’s biggest hope to break that sequence — the boy who would be king, according to Bernie Ecclestone, the former ringmaster of the sport who was deposed by Liberty Media when they bought it in 2016. Ecclestone knows a thing or two about the greatest drivers after 50 years in F1. He puts Verstappen in the line with Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Hamilton. “Max is the best thing to come into Formula One since Lewis. He is going to be a massive star,” he said. Verstappen is so precocious that Formula One introduced rules to curb his extraordinary brilliance, first bringing in regulations to prevent other teenagers moving into the top level at such a tender age — he was just 17 years old when he took part in the 2015 Australian Grand Prix — and then a quickly abandoned attempt to clamp down on his occasionally brutal overtaking; it was nicknamed the “Verstappen rule”. Like Senna, Schumacher and Hamilton, Verstappen is not just the possessor of talent from God but he is box office, too. Verstappen was Formula One’s youngest driver when he joined Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s junior team, and was still only 18 when the call came out of the blue to step up to the senior squad alongside Daniel Ricciardo, a proven winner. His debut for the team at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix must have been written in the stars because the Mercedes of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed and Verstap- Dutch driver wants winning start to F1 season on Sunday. By Kevin Eason NEW DRIVERS Sergey Sirotkin Williams’ controversial Felipe Massa replacement is the 22-year-old Russian rookie who was previously Renault’s third driver and who finished third in the GP2 feeder category in 2016. A multimillionpound backing from his Russian bank sponsors secured his place Charles Leclerc Ferrari’s junior driver has been guided to a place in the Ferrariassociated Sauber team. An outstanding prospect at 20 years old Boy racer: Max Verstappen goes into the new season with Red Bull full of confidence I thought I might never win. It happened to Dad and I wondered if it would happen to me pen cruised to a maiden victory and a place in the sport’s history as F1’s youngest winner. Strangely, that was the only time fear revealed itself: Verstappen admits that he went into F1 worrying that, like his father, he might never win. Aside from one year as teammate to Schumacher at Benetton in 1994, Jos Verstappen’s F1 career was pretty undistinguished, starting 106 times with six teams and with only two podium finishes. “I thought that I might never win,” Verstappen said. “It happened to my Dad and I wondered whether it might happen to me. When I crossed the line in Spain, it was a huge weight off my shoulders.” The fear has never left his mother, Sophie, who rarely attends races but before each grand prix went to church to light a candle for her son. “It was ridiculous going to the church and I said that she had to stop,” Verstappen, now a three-time grands prix winner, said with a chuckle. “I told her to sit still, watch the race and enjoy it instead of jumping up and down, going to the toilet about five times during a race. I guess I would be the same if it was my son. When you are not in control, it is very different.” Verstappen always appears to be in control. He is never in awe of the senior drivers, such as Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. He grew up around Boycotting Russian GP not an option for F1 teams At the races: Chase Carey with Vladimir Putin It was the pet project of Russian president Vladimir Putin as he brought one of the world’s richest sports to his home nation as a showcase for his favourite holiday resort and a display of Western glitz and glamour, writes Kevin Eason. But now Formula One is bracing itself for a storm of criticism as the row over the Salisbury poisonings threatens to overshadow Russia’s summer of sport. The World Cup has already become embroiled in the diplomatic argument, with Britain warning that no government ministers or royalty will follow the England team to Russia. Wolves tame timid Dragons RUGBY LEAGUE CATALANS DRAGONS WARRINGTON WOLVES 0 26 Chris Irvine Stade Gilbert Brutus Ailing Catalans, two points adrift at the bottom of the Betfred Super League after being “nilled” at home for the first time, were meat and drink for a Warrington side in search of a restorative win. Wolves were as persistent as the driving rain in Perpignan, inflicting a fifth defeat on Steve McNamara’s rudderless Dragons and raising more questions about the former England coach’s Car changes The biggest visible change is the compulsory fitment of the cockpit halo, a cage-like device designed to protect the driver’s head from flying debris, writes Mark Hughes. It’s been a controversial addition, with many fans and drivers decrying the looks and the ‘health and safety’ ethic behind it. It can withstand the equivalent load of a London bus perched upon it. The big engine cover ‘shark fins’ of last year have been trimmed and the spindly Twings between engine cover and rear wing have been banished. There has been a further restriction on the number of engines and associated components allowed in a season. Each driver must now do the whole season on three engines (previously four) before incurring grid penalties, meaning an average of seven races per engine in the 21-race championship. The associated grid penalties have been simplified and no longer will there be meaningless theoretical multiple grid drops. Any more than 15 places and the driver automatically starts at the back. If more than one driver has 15 or more grid-place penalties, the order between them will be decided by when the engine or component change was made. Wet races will now begin from a standing start rather than behind the safety car – but only after some reconnaissance laps behind the safety car which do not count as part of the race distance. There are seven tyre compounds in Pirelli’s range (previously five), the intention being to widen the performance gap between the three compounds on any given weekend. future at Stade Gilbert Brutus. Whoever succeeded Tony Smith at Warrington faced a daunting task. Going into their seventh game of 2018, almost a third of the way through the regular season, Wolves had dropped into the bottom four — their fate in Smith’s farewell season — after Hull KR’s 38-6 victory at Huddersfield last Thursday. Warrington comfortably avoided relegation in the qualifiers, but their sights were set far higher under Steve Price, who watched his side lose four of six, often at their own hands. In calling for a different mentality, Price knew his side had to improve discipline and decision-making. Compliant opponents certainly helped. Catalans were awful in all departments and trailed 14-0 after 26 minutes. The ease with which Warrington created an overlap for Mitch Brown’s opening try hinted at their vulnerability. Daryl Clark, a persistent thorn in Dragons’ side, drove over from dummy half, before Ben Murdoch-Masila was the beneficiary of Mitch Brown tapping back Kevin Brown’s crossfield kick. Catalans contrived just one first-half try opportunity, which eluded Fouad Yaha, who was then sin-binned along with opposite wing Tom Lineham after a spat. Two tacklers stood little chance against MurdochMasila for the Tonga forward’s second touchdown and Harvey Livett also scored. Catalans could have played until midnight and not produced a worthy chance. McNamara spared his and the club’s blushes by beating Leigh in last year’s “millionpound game” to avoid relegation, but their famously impatient chairman, Bernard Guasch, is unlikely to stay quiet much longer. 6Wakefield’s game against Widnes was abandoned after 26 minutes last night because of a snowstorm. Star man: Daryl Clark (Warrington) Warrington Wolves: Tries: M Brown 4, Clark 17, Murdoch-Masila 25, 43, Livett 78 Goals: Goodwin (3) Referee: C Kendall (RFL) Attendance: 7,500 Catalans Dragons: Mead; Yaha, Gigot, Thornley, Tierney; Bird, Albert; Casty (capt), McIlorum, Moa, Anderson, Wiliame, Garcia. Replacements: Aiton, Bousquet, Simon, Jullien Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Lineham, Goodwin, T King, M Brown; K Brown, Roberts; Hill (capt), Clark, Cooper, Westwood, Hughes, G King Replacements: Murdoch-Masila, Akauola, Philbin, Livett greatness, holidaying with the Schumacher family as Jos and Michael became great friends after their year as teammates. He was introduced to Formula One as a child, hanging around motorhomes while his dad chatted to the superstars of the sport. “I have never thought of anybody as a God. These guys are normal people. They might have had success and you can be respectful, but that’s it,” he said. “I talk to them like anyone I meet in the supermarket. I treat Lewis and Seb no higher than anyone else.” If anything, the established stars have been taken aback. Vettel, particularly, seems to suffer an attack of the collywobbles whenever he sees Verstappen’s Red Bull in his mirrors, as he did in Singapore last season when the German triggered a spectacular first-corner crash and crippled his world titles hopes. The expectation should be a burden on such young shoulders, but it is often But Liberty Media, the new owners of Formula One based in London, could face embarrassment when Putin attends the grand prix and sits in his personal box to watch the 10 teams — seven from Britain — racing. Pictures from the 2017 Russian Grand Prix showed Chase Carey, F1’s chief executive, sitting next to Putin and exchanging pleasantries about the race, which was won by Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes designed and built at Brackley in Northamptonshire. F1 has a six-month buffer until the grand prix on September 30 and will hope difficult to remember that Verstappen is barely 20 years old as he speaks quickly and fluently. His father spent the winter sending cuttings from newspapers and website links, but Verstappen has refused to read the usual catcalling and wild predictions that have filled the empty months of pre-season. “I told him, ‘Dad, just chill’. I don’t need anything to fire me up,” Verstappen said. “I know what I have to do and that is what I will do when I get into the car. I don’t like to play mind games or play things through the media to set things up.” The set-up for the new season really will be mouthwatering if the Boy Wonder of F1 can challenge Hamilton to become the new king. ON TV SATURDAY Australian Grand Prix qualifying 6am Sky Sports F1 the furore has died down. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has also made it clear that he does not want British fans to be penalised by sanctions against the World Cup, and the grand prix is likely to fall into the same category. Putin arrives minutes before the start to be ushered into his personal box and has awarded the winners’ prizes. Human rights groups are only too familiar with F1’s cavalier attitude to dictatorships and have criticised its association with countries such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain and China. There was an outcry before the first grand prix in 2018 CALENDAR Mar 25 Australia, Melbourne Apr 8 Bahrain, Sakhir Apr 15 China, Shanghai Apr 29 Azerbaijan, Baku May 13 Spain, Barcelona May 27 Monaco, Monte Carlo Jun 10 Canada, Montreal Jun 24 France, Le Castellet Jul 1 Austria, Spielberg Jul 8 Britain, Silverstone Jul 22 Germany, Hockenheim Jul 29 Hungary, Budapest Aug 26 Belgium, Spa Sep 2 Italy, Monza Sep 16 Singapore, Marina Bay Sep 30 Russia, Sochi Oct 7 Japan, Suzuka Oct 21 United States, Austin Oct 28 Mexico, Mexico City Nov 11 Brazil, Sao Paulo Nov 25 Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Sochi, which came after Russia’s moves into Ukraine and the downing of a Malaysian airliner with the loss of 298 lives. Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said: “In hosting F1, the Russian authorities need to understand their dismal human rights record will receive a lot of attention in September. F1 fans heading to Russia should be aware that some of the rights they take for granted in Britain cannot be freely exercised in Russia and . . . they may face this themselves.” Teams are contracted to race wherever F1 decides or face heavy fines or exclusion from the championship. There is little Russian money in the sport after the Marussia Manor team went bust and only one driver, Sergey Sirotkin, who is to start his maiden season with Williams. Ferrari are also sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, the controversial antivirus software business. Bernie Ecclestone, the former F1 chief executive and an admirer of the Russian president, tried to stage a grand prix in Moscow and St Petersburg, Putin’s home city. But Sochi was chosen after Russia spent $40bn creating a sports park for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Youngsters bridge generation gap TENNIS Two 20-year-olds upset established stars to reach today’s Indian Wells final Barry Flatman Tennis correspondent The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells is revered as the most important male and female tennis tournament outside the four Grand Slam events and the new generation of the women’s game is certainly making its mark this year. Two 20-year-old standard bearers produced phenomenal victories to reach today’s final. First, Daria Kasatkina, a Russian talent with a game more exciting than any of her major-winning predecessors, came from a set down to beat Venus Williams 4-6 6-4 7-5. Then Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who is 44th in the WTA rankings, annihilated world No 1 Simona Halep 6-3 6-0. “What does this mean? It means that we, the youngsters, are coming. And very soon,” said Kasatkina. Osaka was in a similar frame of mind after her victory, saying: “I feel like there is a new generation and we’re trying to push through.’’ Over the past two weeks in California the pair have together beaten six current or former world No 1s. Osaka proved too strong for Maria Sharapova, Karolina Pliskova and Halep, while Kasatkina outplayed Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber before her win over Williams. Kasatkina was a finalist at last month’s Dubai Duty Free Championships, losing to world No3 Elina Svitolina, while Osaka’s only previous final experience came in Tokyo 18 months ago, when Wozniacki beat her. In the past 12 months she has beaten all four current Grand Slam champions. Osaka dominated Halep until anxiety took hold. “I was kind of nervous that entire last game because it kept going back and forth,” said the Japanese player, who has appointed Sacha Bajin, former hitting partner to Serena Williams and Wozniacki, as a fully-fledged head coach for the first time. 6Roger Federer has experienced his best ever start to the tennis year. After 17 successive victories, the top seed goes into today’s BNP Paribas Open final targeting a sixth Indian Wells title when he plays Juan Martin del Potro. Federer was not at his best in the 5-7 6-4 6-4 win against the unseeded Borna Coric. Had the Croatian not missed a relatively straightforward backhand, he would have led 5-4 in the deciding set with his own serve to come. Federer snatched control and won the concluding 11 points of the match before admitting: “It was very difficult for me and I won simply by fighting.” Del Potro, who is seeded sixth, beat Milos Raonic 6-2 6-3 in 1hr 5min last night. 13 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 SPORT CRICKET MIKE HUTCHINGS STEPHEN BARKER Dawid Malan has come a long way in 12 months and can’t wait to face New Zealand, writes Simon Wilde Rising star: Dawid Malan heads into a Test series in New Zealand as England’s one unqualified success from their Ashes expedition T welve months ago, Dawid Malan was scoring a century in the annual North v South series in Dubai, an audition for aspiring ODI players, capping off a winter of white-ball cricket that also took him to the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL). He was 29 years old and Test cricket seemed to have passed him by, another ageing cricketer exchanging dreams for dollars. How dramatically things change. This week, Malan heads into a Test series in New Zealand as England’s one unqualified success from their Ashes expedition and somebody sufficiently trusted that if the batting line-up is reconfigured to accommodate an extra bowler he could move from No 5 to swim the treacherous waters of No 3. Malan views last winter as crucial to what has happened to him since. “The first time I came into the England squad in 2016 [for a Twenty20 against Sri Lanka] I didn’t play but felt anxious around the team and doubted myself. Then I went to the BPL and PSL, where you’ve got 30-40,000 people watching. In county cricket, you might get a full house at Lord’s every now and again. And I played the way I [normally] play. People talk about these T20 tournaments being bad for cricket but for a players’ development they’re massive. “Nothing prepares you for the pressure of international cricket [but] to be an overseas player in these tournaments the owners have invested a lot of money and want results, the coaches want results, and it’s ruthless if you don’t score runs. You get dropped. And that’s the same as international cricket. That helped me when I got into the England team.” It is the reason Andrew Strauss is encouraging the country’s best talent to head to the Twenty20 leagues. There was nothing uncertain about Malan’s first appearance in a national shirt as he struck 78 from 44 balls in a Twenty20 in Cardiff, and when, on the back of that, head coach Trevor Bayliss brought him into the Test team midway through the series against South Africa he was soon putting a high price on his wicket. In the Ashes, he scored more runs and faced more balls than anybody else in the side. Not that he was satisfied. “If I’m hard on myself, I left at least 100 runs out there. They were good pitches and there were four or five times when I felt I was getting on top and found a way to get out. That was the big learning curve from Perth, being 140 not out and trying something I hadn’t done before. You make a mistake in Test cricket and the opposition pounce. Stick to your disciplines. “Careers are not long and you’re always a few knocks away from being dropped. Alastair Cook at the MCG showed that a hundred is not enough. It was a good lesson for me, Rocky [Mark Stoneman] and [ James] Vince, maybe Joe Root as well. Get in, score big. My aim is to score as many runs as I can and if it takes me two days to score them it takes two days. I know I’ve got the game to score quickly if needed.” Malan’s late development has its advantages. He brings mature views and a willingness to express them, which is why Middlesex recently made him their new captain. His thoughts on England’s Test team are that they need to improve at being front-runners. “Don’t sit back and let things happen,” he said. “There were times in the Ashes when we weren’t aggressive enough in our approach to keep Australia under the pump. We let them dictate terms and that’s when games change. If you’re on top, make sure you put your foot on their throat and keep it there.” He concedes that had he been given an earlier chance by England he probably wouldn’t have been ready. He only turned round his career after a woeful year of championship cricket in 2013 when he mustered 387 runs at 21.5. He went to Cape Town — his father is South African and he spent much of his formative years there — and contacted former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten, who had reopened his academy after stepping down as India coach. “I was in a strange place,” Malan said. “I needed to do something different. Batting against club bowlers in the nets wasn’t making me better. I did about 10 sessions with Gary. He got me to change my Team GB aiming for late medals to hit target Fitzpatrick: the Team GB skier has won three medals so far Flashpoint: Rabada confronts Smith after taking his wicket Rabada’s fate in the balance Ill-tempered series could be over for South Africa’s classy fast bowler Simon Wilde TEST OF PATIENCE ON TV WEDNESDAY New Zealand v England Midnight, Sky Sports Cricket training, look at my scoring areas, be tighter in defence. The things he helped me with make up the foundations of my game now.” Kirsten remains a regular point of contact and the pair exchanged messages during the Ashes. “After Perth, he sent me a nice message saying something along the lines of my going over to England as an 18-year-old, and then waiting as long as I did for an opportunity in international cricket, was a lesson to all those trying to make it: to not give up.” For the forthcoming Tests, Malan has picked the brains of Middlesex teammate James Franklin, a former New Zealand Test left-arm seamer, about conditions and the new-ball partnership of Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Malan has only ever faced one ball from Boult. Auckland will be Malan’s third taste of day-night Test cricket, so he knows how tricky the twilight period can be, as well as the vibrancy of the atmosphere under lights. “I’m hoping to walk out during the day-time,” he said. “I’ve found it easier starting during the day, then going through the twilight. The fourth evening in Adelaide was one of the best, most intense sessions of cricket I’ve been involved with. The Aussies were throwing everything at us, the crowd was getting up, and WINTER PARALYMPICS Pressure on skiers to deliver on final day of competition in Pyeongchang Rebecca Myers The Winter Paralympics draw to a close today but there are hopes of further, last-minute medals in the final hours of competition for Team GB. Great Britain have won five medals so far, four silver and one bronze, all taken by two visually impaired teenagers and their guides across different alpine skiing ENGLAND LOOK TO FOURTH SEAMER WITH STOKES CONFINED TO BATTING Ben Stokes is likely to play in the first Test in Auckland on Thursday primarily as a batsman, because of a back injury he sustained during the one-day series in New Zealand. Stokes’ batting looked in good working order yesterday on the final day of England’s game against a local New Zealand XI at Seddon Park. He stroked his way to 27 off 32 balls before being caught by Glenn Phillips off a miscued pull. Without a win in 11 Tests away from home, England are unlikely to be in the mood for risk-taking and will want five fully fit bowlers. Unless Stokes makes we were edging our way back into the game. Unfortunately I got out three overs before stumps, or it might have been a different game. “I’d like to stay in the middle order to establish myself a bit more before moving, but if the team needs me to bat No 3 I’ll do it. Hopefully I can be successful there and help England win games. I’ll bat wherever. It depends on the balance of the side and who is scoring runs.” While Malan has established himself in England’s Test and Twenty20 teams, he has yet to find a way into the ODI side, even though 50-overs cricket is his disciplines. Menna Fitzpatrick has three medals so far, two silver and one bronze, with her guide Jennifer Kehoe, and world champion Millie Knight and her guide Brett Wild have two silvers. Both are 19 years old and have 3-5% vision. Skier Kelly Gallagher, who became the first British athlete to win a Winter Paralympics gold medal when she triumphed at Sochi in 2014, has had a difficult Games after recovering from a serious crash last year that saw her dislocate her elbow and break several ribs. With her guide Gary Smith she finished eighth in the women’s Super-G, the race in which she was defending champion, and fifth in the giant slalom on Wednesday. She said that although the a remarkable recovery, James Vince, who was out for only five yesterday, will vacate No 3 and the position will be filled by Joe Root, who scored a century off 135 balls, or Dawid Malan. Stokes and Jonny Bairstow would then occupy five and six. The choice of fourth seamer rests between Craig Overton and Mark Wood, both of whom had extensive bowls over the past few days. Overton, who batted briefly yesterday, is favourite given the concerns over Wood’s fitness and Overton having already experienced a day-night Test in Adelaide. strongest suit. “I’d love to play all three formats. It is challenging changing formats but the way I play doesn’t change in terms of technique. I just have different game-plans and take different risks. “It’s a tough [ODI] team to get into at the moment. Every base is covered. You just want to know that if you’re performing you can find a way in. Jonny Bairstow sat on the bench for three years but has come in and been even more consistent than the players that were playing before. It shows that if people get the opportunity they can make you a better team.” He remains a man on a mission. race “didn’t quite go to plan”, she had felt “enjoyment and satisfaction” at making it through the start gate. All three pairs of skiers will compete today in the women’s slalom. Unless they can win more medals, Team GB will miss their target medal haul of seven. They won six medals at Sochi, one gold, three silvers and two bronze. Ahead of the Games, chef de mission Penny Briscoe had conceded that the target was “really tough” but added that Team GB should not be daunted, saying: “Investment is linked to performance.” About £3.9m of lottery and government funding was invested in the Winter Paralympic sports, dwarfing the £750,000 provided for the alpine skiers and wheelchair curling teams for the Sochi cycle. The British wheelchair curling team, who took bronze at Sochi, had a disappointing end to their medal hopes earlier this week when they lost 9-3 to China. They had a strong start to their campaign, beating world champions Norway 5-2 in their opening match, but they finished sixth, failing to reach the semi-finals. Skipper Aileen Neilson, who was part of the bronze medal team at Sochi said: “We’re all gutted but we have to learn from it. Our story is one of ups and downs. We’ve been in this position before and bounced back, we’re very resilient so we’ll learn from this and hopefully we’ll come back fighting stronger.” This was the first South Africa and Australia appear to be putting as much energy into their disciplinary skirmishes as the cricket in a taut Test series which resumes in Cape Town this week. The outcome on the pitch could rest on the success — or otherwise — of Kagiso Rabada’s appeal against a two-match ban which will rule him out of the final two contests if it is upheld. Rabada’s hearing is due to be heard tomorrow and Michael Heron, the ICC’s judicial commissioner, has just 48 hours to decide whether or not the ban should stand. If he is cleared, Rabada will be free to play in the third Test on Thursday. Given his starring role in South Africa’s serieslevelling victory in Port Elizabeth, this could be vital to their future chances. Some terrific cricket has been unnecessarily overshadowed by disciplinary shenanigans which highlight a fundamental inability on the part of umpires and match officials to maintain law and order. Convincing an ICC commissioner or match referee has become the overwhelming priority, as neither side wants to lose a player to suspension, especially one of Rabada’s quality. Two South Africans and three Australians have been punished so far, with Australia’s vice-captain David Warner escaping a suspension after a pavilion fracas with Quinton de Kock during the first Test in Durban. Dale Steyn, who might have been a handy substitute for Rabada given his stellar Test record, has already ruled himself out, saying that he fears failing his team if his long-standing ankle problem flares up again in the middle of a match. “I cannot let my teammates down, or my country. It has happened a couple of times now,” he said, before adding that he hoped to be available for the final Test in Johannesburg. This leaves Morne Morkel as the likeliest replacement should one be needed, but Morkel made little impact on the first Test before missing the second. It is clear that South Africa need Rabada back in the side. His appeal is set to depend on the accusation that Steve Smith, whom Rabada is accused of shoulder-barging after he had dismissed the Australia captain, was partially to blame for the incident by not doing more to avoid Paralympics at which Great Britain had representation in snowboarding, with James Barnes-Miller, Owen Pick and Ben Moore competing across the men’s banked slalom and snowboard cross. Moore had the best finish of the three, ending seventh in the banked slalom. Pick, who was ninth after falling on his second run, said he would aim for Beijing 2022: “I’m glad we’ve shown Britain we can do this. I’m just sad we couldn’t do better,” he added. Scott Meenagh, the first British athlete to compete in the Paralympic Nordic skiing disciplines for two decades, finished 18th and 14th in his races. Nordic skier James Whitley, who was just 16 when he competed at Sochi, managed two top-10 finishes, while Chris Lloyd, competing contact between the players. South Africa are expected to argue that Smith’s role in the incident was also “inappropriate and deliberate”, insofar as he knew he was walking into Rabada’s line and could have changed path. Smith was heading up the pitch to consult his batting partner after been given out lbw. “I believe this is an important case for all South Africans and has implications for our shared project of nation-building,” said Dali Mpofu, a highprofile South African advocate who is representing Rabada. “We should all wish Kagiso luck for Monday.” Far from a 10-day gap between second and third Tests allowing the protagonists to cool down, the Rabada hearing is likely to keep the atmosphere at fever pitch. Rabada has conceded that he needs to learn to rein himself in but has also maintained that he did not feel any contact and would not have contested the charge if he had. Faf du PIETERSEN RETIRES AT 37 Former England captain Kevin Pietersen has announced his retirement. ‘Boots up! Feet up! Family, animals, golf...! HOME,’ wrote the South Africa-born batsman, 37, on social media. ‘Time to move on.’ He played 104 Tests for England from 2005, and added: ‘Ciao, cricket! I love this game!’ Plessis, the South Africa captain, has pleaded for leniency on the grounds that when Rabada gets big wickets “that’s celebration, energy; he shows passion... he’s got to show that or we might as well just put a bowling machine out there, and a robot to bat.” Vernon Philander, Rabada’s fellow fast bowler, appeared to post a tweet in support of his colleague only for him to claim his account had been hacked and the tweet was not his. The tweet suggested that Smith — who has had a relatively quiet series by his own high standards — had faked the bump to his shoulder, close to the argument that Rabada’s defence is now putting forward. Even if Rabada does miss the rest of the series, Australia need to find ways to counter AB de Villiers, whose brilliant century turned the Port Elizabeth Test South Africa’s way. Their bowlers have so far shown little idea about how they can keep him quiet. ON TV THURSDAY South Africa v Australia 8.30am Sky Sports Cricket in the men’s skiing at his first Paralympics, finished 20th and 25th. The USA look sure to finish top of the table, with 35 medals so far, including 12 golds, followed by the Neutral Paralympic Athletes (from Russia) and Canada, both with 24 medals. GB are 21st in the medals table. The closing ceremony will take place today, and it is understood the International Paralympic Committee will be using the occasion to pay tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking, who died on Wednesday aged 76. A spokesman for the IPC said: “Stephen Hawking showed that, despite the fact he had motor neurone disease, he could still excel in his field of work. He is an inspiration for all of us.” 14 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 SPORT FOOTBALL RESULTS Premier League BOURNEMOUTH 2 Ibe 77, Stanislas 89 HT: 0-0 Att: 23,918 HUDDERSFIELD 0 HT: 0-1 Att: 23,918 LIVERPOOL 5 Salah 4, 43, 77, 85 Firmino 49 HT: 2-0 Att: 53,287 STOKE 1 Choupo-Moting 77 HT: 0-0 Att: 30,022 Sent off: Adam (Stoke) 30 WEST BROM 1 Rodriguez 49 C PALACE 2 Tomkins 23 Milivojevic 68 (pen) WATFORD 0 EVERTON 2 Tosun 69, 84 Leading goalscorers 28: Salah (Liverpool). 24: Kane (Tottenham). 21: Aguero (Man City). 15: Sterling (Man City). 14: Firmino (Liverpool); Lukaku (Man Utd); Vardy (Leicester). 12: Son (Tottenham) West Ham 6 Arsenal West Brom 30 17 5 8 52 27 Watford 5 Chelsea Tottenham 7: Grigg (Wigan). 6: Henderson (Rochdale). 5: Lukaku (Man Utd); Marriott (Peterborough); Stockley (Exeter); Lukaku (Man Utd). 4: Doidge (Forest Green); Godden (Stevenage); Iheanacho (Leicester); Kane (Tottenham); Midson (Leatherhead); Rowe (Fylde); Rowe (Doncaster); Stead (Notts Co) 3-0 2-0 5/5 2-2 4-1 5-1 5-0 4-3 3-3 0-3 1-3 1-0 8/4 1/4 2-1 2-0 11/3 2-0 23/4 2-1 1-2 0-1 7/4 2-1 4-0 0-0 0-4 1-2 21/4 2-2 1-1 2-1 5/5 11/3 0-2 2-1 3-3 0-0 0-4 0-0 1-1 7/4 31/3 1-5 0-2 5/5 1-0 1-1 2-2 4-1 20/4 1-0 3-1 3-1 tba 1-0 2-1 0-0 14/4 1-2 1-1 0-1 1-0 1-1 1-0 2-0 0-3 1-0 0-1 1-1 2-1 2-0 21/4 0-0 5/5 0-1 1-0 3-1 1-0 5-0 1-0 1/4 4-2 3-0 8/4 2-2 0-3 28/4 31/3 0-0 2-3 1-1 0-1 2-1 0-2 0-1 2-1 13/5 2-2 2-0 2-1 7/4 31/3 0-2 21/4 5/5 1-0 3-1 0-3 3-2 1-1 4-0 1-1 0-3 1-2 2-1 1-0 0-0 1-1 0-0 0-4 14/4 1-0 1-4 2-3 0-2 2-2 7/4 21/4 1-1 1-1 2-1 2-0 1-1 5/5 4-3 0-0 2-0 3-0 28/4 5-0 2-2 5-0 0-0 4-1 7/4 3-1 2-1 7-2 22/4 4-1 3-1 3-0 2-1 4-1 0-0 3-0 31/3 1-0 13/5 15/4 4-0 2-1 1-1 0-2 0-3 28/4 3-0 0-0 0-0 1-1 0-2 1-0 3-2 2-1 7/4 0-0 3-1 0-3 1-2 1-0 4-1 30/4 1-1 1-1 1-0 2-0 Bournemouth 2-1 15 8 3 4 28 16 +34 61 Brighton 2-1 2-2 15 10 2 3 26 11 15 7 3 5 26 16 +25 56 Burnley 0-1 13/5 28/4 30 14 6 10 55 41 15 11 2 2 39 17 15 3 4 8 16 24 +14 48 Chelsea 0-0 0-3 2-0 7 Burnley 30 11 10 9 27 26 15 6 4 5 12 12 15 5 6 4 15 14 +1 43 Crystal Palace 2-3 2-2 14/4 1-0 2-1 8 Leicester 30 10 10 10 45 43 15 6 5 4 21 17 15 4 5 6 24 26 +2 40 Everton 2-5 2-1 2-0 0-1 0-0 9 Everton Huddersfield 13/5 4-1 2-0 0-0 1-3 0-2 28/4 Leicester tba 1-1 2-0 1-0 1-2 0-3 2-0 3-0 Liverpool 4-0 14/4 13/5 1-1 1-1 1-0 1-1 3-0 2-1 Man City 3-1 4-0 18/3 3-0 1-0 5-0 1-1 5/5 5-1 5-0 Man Utd 29/4 1-0 1-0 2-2 2-1 4-0 4-0 2-0 2-0 2-1 31 11 7 13 37 50 15 9 2 4 25 18 16 2 5 9 12 32 -13 40 10 Bournemouth 31 9 9 13 37 49 16 6 4 6 23 26 15 3 5 7 14 23 -12 36 11 Watford 31 10 6 15 39 55 15 6 4 5 22 26 16 4 2 10 17 29 -16 36 12 Brighton 30 8 10 12 28 40 15 6 6 3 21 21 15 2 4 9 7 19 -12 34 13 Newcastle 30 8 8 14 30 40 15 5 4 6 15 15 15 3 4 8 15 25 -10 32 14 Swansea 2-3 3-1 Newcastle Utd 15/4 0-1 0-0 1-1 13/5 1-0 0-1 31/3 2-3 1-1 0-1 1-0 30 8 7 15 25 42 15 6 2 7 15 19 15 2 5 8 10 23 -17 31 Southampton 1-1 28/4 1-1 0-1 14/4 1-2 4-1 1-1 1-4 0-2 13/5 0-1 2-2 15 Huddersfield 31 8 7 16 25 52 16 5 5 6 15 22 15 3 2 10 10 30 -27 31 Stoke 1-0 1-2 1-1 21/4 0-4 5/5 1-2 2-0 2-2 0-3 12/3 2-2 0-1 2-1 MILLWALL 2 Gregory 24 Marshall 63 HT: 0-1 Att: 13,041 Barnsley: Townsend, Yiadom, Jackson, Lindsay (Isgrove 81), Pinillos, Mallan (Moncur 46), Gardner, Potts (Bradshaw 66), Thiam, Moore, McBurnie. Subs not used: Cavare, Mahoney, Pearson, Walton Millwall: Archer, Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith, Wallace, Williams, Saville, Marshall (Onyedinma 79), Morison (Cahill 90), Gregory (Shackell 75). Subs not used: Martin, Tunnicliffe, Elliott, O’Brien Referee: P Bankes (Merseyside) BIRMINGHAM 3 HULL 0 Jota 12, 59 Adams 48 HT: 1-0 Att: 22,970 Birmingham: Stockdale, Harding, Morrison, Dean, Colin, Jota, Gardner (N’Doye 28), Kieftenbeld, Maghoma (Boga 76), Adams, Jutkiewicz (Davis 83). Subs not used: Roberts, Lowe, Kuszczak, Seddon. Booked: Harding Hull: McGregor, Aina, Dawson, Mazuch, Clark, Larsson, Henriksen, Bowen, Irvine (Campbell 57), Wilson (Grosicki 76), Hernandez (Toral 73). Subs not used: Meyler, Marshall, Tomori, Hector Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland) BOLTON 1 ASTON VILLA 0 Le Fondre 19 HT: 1-0 Att: 19,304 Bolton: Alnwick, Flanagan, Burke, Beevers, Andrew Taylor, Henry, Osede, Ameobi, Pratley (Vela 27), Buckley (Robinson 81), Le Fondre. Subs not used: Noone, Wilbraham, Wheater, Howard, Clough. Booked: Henry Aston Villa: Johnstone, Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Bree, Bjarnason, Snodgrass (Davis 82), Hourihane (Hepburn-Murphy 54), Grealish, Adomah (Hogan 72), Grabban. Subs not used: Lansbury, Jedinak, Onomah, Bunn. Booked: Chester, Snodgrass Referee: R Jones (Merseyside) BRENTFORD 1 MIDDLESBROUGH 1 MacLeod 34 Traore 21 HT: 1-1 Att: 11,134 Sent off: Sawyers (Brentford) 90+1 Brentford: Bentley, Dalsgaard, Egan, Mepham, Clarke, Woods, Mokotjo (Judge 84), Jozefzoon, Macleod (Sawyers 75), Watkins (Canos 67), Maupay. Subs not used: Yennaris, Marcondes, Daniels, Barbet. Booked: Woods, Sawyers, Mepham Middlesbrough: Randolph, Shotton, Ayala (Fry 60), 31 7 9 15 30 48 15 4 5 6 18 23 16 3 4 9 12 25 -18 30 Swansea 3-1 0-0 0-1 1-0 28/4 1-1 14/4 2-0 1-2 1-0 0-4 0-4 0-1 0-3 13/5 17 West Ham 30 7 9 14 36 57 14 5 4 5 16 20 16 2 5 9 20 37 -21 30 Tottenham 1-0 1-0 2-0 1-1 1-2 1-0 4-0 2-0 13/5 4-1 14/4 2-0 16/3 5-2 5-1 0-0 18 Southampton 30 5 13 12 29 44 16 3 7 6 16 21 14 2 6 6 13 23 -15 28 Watford 2-1 31/3 0-0 7/4 4-1 21/4 1-0 1-4 2-1 3-3 0-6 2-4 5/5 2-2 0-1 1-2 GILLINGHAM P BLACKBURN P Match postponed due to a frozen pitch MK DONS 2 BURY 1 Aneke 11, 57 (both pens) G Miller 76 HT: 1-0 Att: 9,247 MK Dons: Nicholls, Wootton, Ward, Lewington, B Williams, Brittain, Upson, Muirhead, Pawlett (McGrandles 71), Sow (Thomas-Asante 54), Aneke (Ebanks-Landell 84). Subs not used: Cisse, Sietsma, Agard, Ugbo. Booked: Aneke, Ebanks-Landell Bury: Ripley, Edwards (Maguire 58), Cameron, Clarke, Leigh, O'Shea, Ince (Danns 46), Bunn (Dawson 46), Mayor, Miller, Hanson. Subs not used: Murphy, Tutte, Thompson, Styles. Booked: Clarke, Cameron, Dawson Referee: G Ward (Surrey) FOREST GREEN 1 16 5 4 7 17 25 15 1 5 9 12 33 -29 27 West Brom 1-1 1-0 2-0 31/3 0-4 0-0 0-0 1-2 1-4 22/4 2-3 1-2 2-2 2-3 1-1 7/4 5/5 2-2 15 2 7 6 16 24 16 1 4 11 8 25 -25 20 West Ham 0-0 1-1 0-3 0-3 1-0 1-1 13/5 2-0 1-1 1-4 29/4 tba 2-3 31/3 16/4 1-0 2-3 2-0 BRISTOL C 1 IPSWICH 0 Djuric 64 HT: 0-0 Att: 21,509 Bristol C: Fielding, Pisano, Wright, Magnusson (Hegeler 71), Kelly, Brownhill, Pack, Smith, Paterson (O’Neil 83), Reid, Diedhiou (Djuric 56). Subs not used: Walsh, Wollacott, Diony, Kent. Booked: Smith Ipswich: Bialkowski, Spence, Carter-Vickers, Chambers, Webster, Knudsen, Ward (Celina 83), Skuse, Connolly, Sears (Morris 90), Waghorn. Subs not used: Hyam, Crowe, Gleeson, Drinan, Kenlock. Booked: Knudsen Referee: D England (South Yorkshire) FULHAM 2 QPR 2 Cairney 32 Luongo 45+3 Piazon 45+3 Wszolek 81 HT: 2-1 Att: 23,347 Fulham: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Odoi, Ream, Targett, Cairney (Rui Fonte 79), McDonald, Johansen, Piazon (Ayite 68), Mitrovic, Ryan Sessegnon (Ojo 79). Subs not used: Norwood, Christie, Button, Kamara. Booked: Targett, Mitrovic QPR: Smithies, Furlong, Onuoha, Lynch, Bidwell, Manning (Cousins 74), Luongo, Freeman, Wszolek, Eze (Smyth 69), Smith (Washington 69). Subs not used: Ingram, Baptiste, Perch, Samuel. Booked: Luongo, Cousins, Lynch Referee: C Kavanagh (Lancashire) LEEDS UTD 1 SHEFF WED 2 Grot 86 Nuhiu 71, 90+1 HT: 0-0 Att: 31,638 Leeds Utd: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Jansson, Pennington, Pearce (Grot 77), Forshaw, O’Kane (Phillips 78), Alioski, Hernandez, Dallas, Ekuban (Lasogga 70). Subs not used: Anita, Wiedwald, Sacko, Ronaldo Vieira Sheff Wed: Wildsmith, Hunt, Frederico Venancio, Lees, Pudil, Boyd, Pelupessy (Fox 90), Hutchinson (Bannan 66), Reach, Lucas Joao, Nuhiu. Subs not used: Jones, Rhodes, Butterfield, Palmer, Dawson. Booked: Nuhiu, Hutchinson, Reach, Wildsmith Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire) NORWICH 3 READING 2 Vrancic 14 Hanley 26, Maddison 37 (pen) HT: 3-1 Att: 25,098 Kelly 32 Smith 51 NORTHAMPTON 0 ROTHERHAM 3 Smith 17, Ball 62, Towell 81 Norwich: Gunn, Ivo Pinto, Hanley, Klose, Lewis, Reed, Vrancic, Hernandez (Zimmermann 90), Maddison, Murphy (Hoolahan 90), Srbeny (Watkins 90). Subs not used: Husband, Oliveira, Edwards, McGovern. Booked: Hernandez, Hanley Reading: Jaakkola, Gunter, Tiago Ilori, Moore, Blackett, Aluko (Swift 52), Kelly (van den Berg 62), Clement, Edwards (Kermorgant 82), Smith, Barrow. Subs not used: Mannone, Evans, Bacuna, Holmes. Booked: Jaakkola, Clement, Barrow, Blackett, Kermorgant. Referee: O Langford (W Midlands) SHEFF UTD 0 NOTTM FOREST 0 HT: 0-0 Att: 28,095 Sheff Utd: Blackman, Leonard (Holmes 71), Stearman, O’Connell, Baldock, Lee Evans, Duffy (Donaldson 81), Fleck, Stevens, Clarke, Sharp (Brooks 60). Subs not used: Moore, Lundstram, Wright, Lafferty. Booked: Fleck Nottm Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Tobias Figueiredo, Fox, Osborn, Cash, Colback, Watson, Dowell (Lolley 62), Murphy (Tomlin 74), Brereton. Subs not used: Mancienne, Guedioura, Kapino, Worrall. Booked: Fox, Watson, Colback Referee: P Tierney (Lancashire) SUNDERLAND 0 PRESTON 2 Maguire 50 C Robinson 63 HT: 0-0 Att: 28,543 Sent off: Clarke-Salter (Sunderland) 60 Sunderland: Camp, Matthews, Kone, O’Shea, ClarkeSalter, Oviedo, Honeyman (LuaLua 69), Cattermole, Ejaria (McNair 76), Asoro, Maja (Fletcher 64). Subs not used: McManaman, McGeady, Robson, Max Stryjek. Booked: Clarke-Salter Preston: Maxwell, Fisher, Huntington, Davies, Earl, Pearson, Gallagher (Johnson 72), Barkhuizen (Bodin 86), Browne, Robinson (Harrop 86), Sean Maguire. Subs not used: Clarke, Woods, Moult, Hudson. Booked: Earl. Referee: D Bond (Lancashire) WOLVES 3 BURTON ALB 1 Costa 15, Afobe 41, 56 Dyer 44 HT: 2-1 Att: 29,977 Wolves: Ruddy, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Saiss, Neves (N’Diaye 90), Douglas, Helder Costa, Afobe (Leo Bonatini 82), Ivan Cavaleiro (Gibbs-White 76). Subs not used: Batth, Mir, Roderick Miranda, Norris Burton Alb: Bywater, Flanagan, Naylor, Buxton, McFadzean (Varney 46), McCrory, Sordell (Sbarra 46), Davenport, Akpan, Dyer, Boyce (Egert 82). Subs not used: Murphy, Bent, Campbell, Barker. Booked: Sbarra Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne & Wear) HT: 0-1 Att: 5,882 Northampton: O'Donnell, Moloney, Taylor, Turnbull, Bunney, O'Toole (van Veen 70), Grimes, Hoskins (Ariyibi 59), Hildeberto, Powell, Luckassen (Mathis 79). Subs not used: Cornell, Barnett, Shaun McWilliams, Facey. Booked: van Veen Rotherham: Rodak, Emmanuel, Vaulks, Ajayi, Mattock (Ihiekwe 67), Taylor (Forde 66), Palmer, Towell, Williams, Ball (Newell 84), Smith. Subs not used: Wood, Price, Yates, Lavery. Booked: Taylor, Ajayi, Mattock Referee: B Toner (Lancashire) OLDHAM 0 PORTSMOUTH 2 Pitman 29, 42 HT: 0-2 Att: 4,306 Oldham: Placide, Dummigan, Wilson, Bryan, Moimbe (Nazon 80), Jack Byrne, Gardner, Fane, McLaughlin (McEleney 56), Doyle, Davies (Holloway 59). Subs not used: de la Paz, Sam Edmundson, Pringle, Hunt Portsmouth: McGee, Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Haunstrup, Close, Donohue, Lowe, Ronan, Naismith, Pitman. Subs not used: Burgess, Kennedy, Chaplin, Deslandes, May, Bass, Widdrington. Booked: Clarke, Donohue, Pitman Referee: S Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear) OXFORD UTD 2 PETERBOROUGH 1 Dickie 6, Henry 61 Marriott 62 HT: 1-0 Att: 6,804 Sent off: Baldwin (Peterborough) 90+3 Oxford Utd: Eastwood, Kane, Dickie, Mousinho, Smith-Brown, Henry, Ledson, Brannagan, Mowatt (Ricardinho 88), Obika (Van Kessel 46), Thomas (Napa 69). Subs not used: Martin, Shearer, Ruffels, Buckley-Rickett. Booked: Ledson Peterborough: Bond, Shephard, Baldwin, Taylor, Hughes, Da Silva Lopes, Doughty, Anderson (Bogle 38), Ward (Forrester 46), Maddison, Marriott, Forrester (Lloyd 54). Subs not used: Tafazolli, Morias, O'Malley, Cooper. Booked: Baldwin, Maddison Referee: R Lewis (Shropshire) PLYMOUTH 3 BRISTOL ROV 2 Ness 34, 48 Lines 12 Carey 85 (pen) Harrison 36 HT: 1-2 Att: 13,466 Plymouth: Matthews, Threlkeld, Vyner, Songo'o, Sawyer, Makasi (Paton 90), Fox, Ness, Carey, Taylor, Lameiras (Taylor-Sinclair 90). Subs not used: Ainsworth, Grant, Letheren, Fletcher, Sangster. Booked: Carey, Matthews Bristol Rov: Slocombe, Partington (Bola 71), Lockyer, Craig, James Clarke, Ollie Clarke (Nichols 87), Lines, Sinclair, Sercombe, Harrison (Gaffney 87), Bennett. Subs not used: Sweeney, Broadbent, Smith, Mensah. Booked: Partington, Lockyer, Bennett Referee: J Brooks (Leics) ROCHDALE 1 AFC WIMBLEDON 1 Cannon 25 Oshilaja 7 HT: 1-1 Att: 2,667 Rochdale: Lillis, McGahey, McNulty, Delaney, Wiseman, Inman (Davies 74), Camps, Cannon (Kitching 74), Done, Humphrys, Henderson. Subs not used: Rathbone, Moore, Hart, Alexandru Dobre, Gillam. Booked: Henderson AFC Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Nightingale, Oshilaja, Meades, Trotter, Soares, Abdou (Forrester 63), Francomb, Pigott (Barcham 63), Taylor. Subs not used: Robinson, Parrett, Sibbick, Kaja, McDonnell Referee: S Oldham (Lancashire) SCUNTHORPE 1 SHREWSBURY 2 Morris 8 Nolan 51 Payne 59 (pen) HT: 1-0 Att: 3,824 Scunthorpe: Gilks, Bishop (Clarke 68), McArdle, Burgess, Wallace, Holmes (Adelakun 68), Ojo, Yates, Morris, Toney (Wootton 78), Hopper. Subs not used: Townsend, Goode, McGeehan, Watson. Booked: McArdle, Toney Shrewsbury: Henderson, Hendrie, Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles, Godfrey (Payne 32), Whalley, Nolan, Ogogo, Rodman, Carlton Morris (JohnLewis 87). Subs not used: Lowe, Thomas, MacGillivray, Bryn Morris, Jones. Booked: Nsiala, Carlton Morris, Nolan Referee: M Salisbury (Lancashire) CHELTENHAM 1 MORECAMBE 2 FA Trophy semi-finals first leg Southern Amateur League Third Division: Weirside 1 Cambridge Heath 3 +25 69 BRACKLEY 1 Gudger 86 HT: 0-0 Att: 1,250 BROMLEY 3 Hanlan 15 (pen), Dennis 51, 82 HT: 1-2 Att: 1,254 19 9 3 7 25 19 +24 69 Vanarama National League 19 7 9 3 26 20 +21 62 AFC FYLDE 3 HARTLEPOOL 3 Bond 46, 55 Tunnicliffe (og) 39 Hardy 77 Cassidy 88, Rodney 90+3 HT: 0-1 Att: 1,753 BOREHAM WOOD 2 TRANMERE 1 Balanta 45, Carvalho 79 Norwood 66 HT: 1-0 Att: 801 CHESTER 0 ALDERSHOT 0 HT: 0-0 Att: 1,612 DOVER ATH 2 MACCLESFIELD 0 Marsh-Brown 2, 36 HT: 2-0 Att: 837 EASTLEIGH 0 LEYTON ORIENT 0 HT: 0-0 Att: 2,013 GUISELEY 1 HALIFAX TN 1 Odejayi 13 Tomlinson 68 HT: 1-0 Att: 1,106 Sent off: Rooney (Guiseley) 41 MAIDENHEAD UTD 0 BARROW 1 L James 49 HT: 0-0 Att: 1,030 Sent off: Gomis (Barrow) 79 MAIDSTONE UTD 1 SUTTON UTD 0 Lewis 75 HT: 0-0 Att: 2,065 SOLIHULL MOORS 1 TORQUAY 1 Yussuf 82 Williams 41 (pen) HT: 0-1 Att: 781 WOKING 2 WREXHAM 2 Staunton 12, Jones 80 Staunton (og) 33, Kelly 60 HT: 1-1 Att: 1,458 P W D L F A GD Pts Macclesfield 37 21 8 8 51 39 12 71 Sutton Utd 38 20 9 9 57 40 17 69 Boreham Wood 38 17 14 7 53 35 18 65 Tranmere 38 18 10 10 62 39 23 64 Wrexham 38 16 16 6 45 30 15 64 Aldershot 38 17 13 8 58 45 13 64 Dover Ath 38 17 12 9 52 33 19 63 AFC Fylde 38 16 11 11 71 49 22 59 Ebbsfleet Utd 37 14 14 9 48 42 6 56 Bromley 35 15 10 10 58 42 16 55 Dagenham & R 37 14 9 14 55 51 4 51 Gateshead 36 11 15 10 51 39 12 48 Maidenhead Utd 38 12 12 14 51 57 -6 48 Eastleigh 37 10 16 11 53 58 -5 46 Halifax Tn 38 11 13 14 42 49 -7 46 Maidstone Utd 37 11 12 14 44 55 -11 45 Leyton Orient 38 11 11 16 43 50 -7 44 Woking 38 12 8 18 47 60 -13 44 Barrow 35 9 12 14 42 48 -6 39 Hartlepool 37 9 12 16 42 55 -13 39 Solihull Moors 37 9 9 19 38 53 -15 36 Torquay 38 7 10 21 34 62 -28 31 Chester 38 6 13 19 32 61 -29 31 Guiseley 37 5 11 21 32 69 -37 26 Total Home Away P W D L F A P W D L F A P W D L F A GD Pts 1 Wolves 38 25 7 6 69 33 19 14 3 2 41 16 19 11 4 4 28 17 +36 82 2 Cardiff 37 23 7 7 58 31 19 14 3 2 35 13 18 9 4 5 23 18 +27 76 3 Fulham 38 19 12 7 66 41 19 10 7 2 34 15 19 9 5 5 32 26 4 Aston Villa 38 20 9 9 61 37 19 11 6 2 36 18 5 Derby 37 16 14 7 55 34 18 9 5 4 29 14 6 Middlesbrough 38 18 8 12 54 36 19 11 3 5 26 14 19 7 5 7 28 22 +18 62 7 Bristol C 38 16 13 9 54 42 19 10 5 4 31 18 19 6 8 5 23 24 +12 61 8 Preston 38 15 15 8 48 37 19 7 7 5 22 19 19 8 8 3 26 18 +11 60 9 Sheff Utd 38 18 6 14 51 43 19 11 3 5 29 16 19 7 3 9 22 27 +8 60 10 Millwall 38 15 13 10 46 37 19 9 7 3 28 18 19 6 6 7 18 19 +9 58 11 Brentford 38 14 12 12 54 46 19 7 9 3 32 21 19 7 3 9 22 25 +8 54 12 Ipswich 38 15 7 16 47 48 19 8 4 7 24 19 19 7 3 9 23 29 -1 -3 52 52 13 Norwich 38 13 13 12 41 44 19 6 8 5 20 19 19 7 5 7 21 25 14 Leeds Utd 38 14 8 16 50 53 19 7 5 7 25 24 19 7 3 9 25 29 -3 50 15 QPR 38 12 11 15 45 55 19 9 5 5 26 25 19 3 6 10 19 30 -10 47 16 Nottm Forest 38 13 7 18 43 54 19 8 2 9 20 25 19 5 5 9 23 29 -11 46 17 Sheff Wed 38 9 14 15 41 52 19 5 7 7 25 28 19 4 7 8 16 24 -11 41 18 Hull 38 9 12 17 53 59 19 6 7 6 37 29 19 3 5 11 16 30 -6 39 19 Bolton 38 9 12 17 33 56 19 8 4 7 22 24 19 1 8 10 11 32 -23 39 20 Reading 38 8 12 18 44 57 19 3 7 9 21 29 19 5 5 9 23 28 -13 36 21 Barnsley 38 7 12 19 37 56 19 3 7 9 16 26 19 4 5 10 21 30 -19 33 22 Birmingham 38 9 6 23 28 57 19 7 2 10 14 21 19 2 4 13 14 36 -29 33 23 Burton Alb 38 7 9 22 27 67 19 2 4 13 13 36 19 5 5 9 14 31 -40 30 24 Sunderland 38 5 13 20 38 68 19 2 6 11 17 33 19 3 7 9 21 35 -30 28 Leading goalscorers: 17: Reid (Bristol C); Vydra (Derby). 16: Grabban (Aston Villa). 15: Clarke (Sheff Utd). 14: Adomah (Aston Villa); K Sessegnon (Fulham). 13: Bowen (Hull); Maddison (Norwich); Jota (Wolves). 12: Assombalonga (Middlesbrough); Bonatini (Wolves); Sharp (Sheff Utd); Waghorn (Ipswich). 10: Diedhiou (Bristol C); Garner (Ipswich); Hooper (Sheff Wed); Lasogga (Leeds Utd); Madine (Cardiff); Watkins (Brentford). 9: Bamford (Middlesbrough); Barrow (Reading); Dowell (Nottm Forest); Gregory (Millwall); Hourihane (Aston Villa); Maguire (Preston); Maupay (Brentford); Roofe (Leeds Utd); Saville (Millwall) Total Home Away P W D L F A P W D L F A P W D L F A GD Pts 1 Blackburn 37 22 10 5 70 35 19 11 6 2 38 18 18 11 4 3 32 17 +35 76 2 Shrewsbury 36 22 8 6 49 27 17 11 3 3 24 10 19 11 5 3 25 17 +22 74 3 Wigan 34 21 8 5 63 23 18 10 6 2 27 9 16 11 2 3 36 14 +40 71 4 Rotherham 37 20 5 12 63 43 19 12 2 5 38 20 18 8 3 7 25 23 +20 65 5 Scunthorpe 38 15 13 10 55 46 19 7 6 6 23 21 19 8 7 4 32 25 +9 58 6 Plymouth 37 16 9 12 47 45 19 10 2 7 29 28 18 6 7 5 18 17 +2 57 7 Peterborough 37 15 11 11 59 47 19 10 3 6 32 24 18 5 8 5 27 23 +12 56 8 Portsmouth 37 16 4 17 45 47 19 9 3 7 26 19 18 7 1 10 19 28 -2 52 BARNET 0 COLCHESTER 0 CAMBRIDGE UTD 1 Ikpeazu 73 SWINDON 3 Norris 16 Richards 62, 84 (pen) HT: 0-1 Att: 5,123 Cambridge Utd: Forde, Halliday, Taft, Taylor, Dunk, Deegan, O'Neil (Ibehre 72), Waters, Maris (Amoo 58), Jevani Brown, Ikpeazu. Subs not used: Carroll, Legge, Mitov, Elito, Lewis Swindon: Moore, Purkiss, Robertson, Menayese, Hussey (McGivern 78), Mullin (Gordon 86), Dunne, Elsnik, Taylor, Norris (Woolery 59), Richards. Subs not used: Knoyle, Twine, Anderson, Henry Referee: L Swabey (Devon) CARLISLE 2 CRAWLEY TN 2 Bennett 38 Ahearne-Grant 56, 81 Hope 47 HT: 1-0 Att: 4,097 Carlisle: Bonham, Liddle, Ellis, Hill, Parkes, Lambe, Devitt (Joyce 64), Jones, Hope, Bennett (O'Sullivan 70), Nadesan (Twardek 77). Subs not used: Grainger, Gray, Brown, Stockton. Booked: Hill, Parkes, Hope Crawley Tn: Morris, Young, McNerney, Connolly, Evina, Bulman, Payne (Tajbakhsh 70), Ahearne-Grant, Smith, Boldewijn, Randall (Camara 54). Subs not used: Cox, Mersin, Djalo, Lelan, Sanoh. Booked: Boldewijn Referee: M Coy (Co Durham) WEALDSTONE 0 Att: 1,250 GATESHEAD 2 Peniket 1, Johnson 35 ABERDEEN 1 DUNDEE 0 Shinnie 35 HT: 1-0 Att: 15,208 HEARTS 3 PARTICK 0 Lafferty 17, Naismith 21, Souttar 44 HT: 3-0 Att: 17,179 RANGERS 0 KILMARNOCK 1 K Boyd 54 HT: 0-0 Att: 49,396 ROSS CO 2 HAMILTON 2 Lindsay 23, Davies 76 Imrie 49 (pen), Ogboe 52 HT: 1-0 Att: 3,586 Played Friday ST JOHNSTONE 1 HIBERNIAN 1 Kane 83 Ambrose Emuobo 2 HT: 0-1 Att: 3,652 Sent off: Marciano (Hibernian) 14 P W D L F A GD Pts Celtic 29 20 7 2 59 20 39 67 Rangers 31 18 4 9 61 36 25 58 Aberdeen 30 17 5 8 44 33 11 56 Hibernian 30 14 10 6 43 33 10 52 Kilmarnock 30 12 10 8 40 38 2 46 Hearts 31 10 12 9 32 29 3 42 Motherwell 29 10 5 14 34 39 -5 35 St Johnstone 30 9 7 14 30 43 -13 34 Hamilton 28 8 6 14 40 50 -10 30 Dundee 30 8 4 18 30 48 -18 28 Partick 30 6 7 17 26 50 -24 25 Ross Co 30 5 7 18 33 53 -20 22 Ladbrokes Scottish Championship Brechin 1 Dumbarton 3; Dundee Utd 1 Inverness CT 1; Dunfermline 0 Morton 0; Livingston 0 Falkirk 0; Queen of South 1 St Mirren 3. Leading standings: 1 St Mirren 28-63; 2 Livingston 28-51; 3 Dundee Utd 25-44 League One Albion 1 Arbroath 2; Alloa 2 Airdrieonians 2; Forfar 0 Ayr 2; Stranraer 2 Queen’s Park 3. Leading standings: 1 Ayr 29-61; 2 Raith 29-58; 3 Arbroath 29-49 League Two Annan 1 Clyde 1; Cowdenbeath 3 Elgin 1; Edinburgh C 2 Stirling Alb 2; Montrose 3 Peterhead 2. Leading standings: 1 Montrose 29-61; 2 Peterhead 30-58; 3 Stirling Alb 28-48 Press & Journal Highland League Cove 1 Wick 1; Forres 1 Buckie 0; Inverurie 9 Lossiemouth 1; Nairn 1 Formartine 2; Turriff 1 Clachnacuddin 0 Ferrari Packaging Lowland League Civil Service 0 East Kilbride 3; East Stirling 2 Vale of Leithen 1; Edinburgh Univ 1 Gala Fairydean 0; Hawick Royal Albert 1 Edusport 1; Stirling Univ 2 Dalbeattie 4 Danske Bank Premiership Ards 1 Coleraine 3; Ballymena 1 Warrenpoint 3; Carrick 0 Cliftonville 1; Crusaders 3 Dungannon 0; Glenavon 0 Ballinamallard 0; Linfield 1 Glentoran 1 North Bluefin Northern Ireland League Boston 4 FC United of Manchester 4; Darlington 6 North Ferriby 0; Gainsborough 2 Stockport 3; Leamington 1 Nuneaton 0; Salford 3 Spennymoor 2; Tamworth 1 Harrogate 1. Leading standings: 1 Salford 33-71; 2 Harrogate 33-69; 3 Brackley 32-64 First Division: Institute 1 H&W 2; Knockbreda 3 Larne 3; Lurgan 1 Dergview 4; PSNI 3 Limavady 0 9 Charlton 36 14 10 12 44 46 19 8 6 5 25 22 17 6 4 7 19 24 -2 52 10 Bristol Rov 37 15 5 17 53 56 18 10 2 6 32 25 19 5 3 11 21 31 -3 50 11 Bradford C 35 15 5 15 48 52 17 6 2 9 21 28 18 9 3 6 27 24 -4 50 12 Gillingham 36 12 13 11 42 40 17 4 9 4 20 18 19 8 4 7 22 22 +2 49 13 Southend 37 12 11 14 43 55 19 9 6 4 28 21 18 3 5 10 15 34 -12 47 14 Blackpool 37 11 13 13 44 48 18 6 7 5 25 25 19 5 6 8 19 23 -4 46 15 Oxford Utd 36 12 9 15 52 54 18 7 4 7 29 29 18 5 5 8 23 25 -2 45 16 Walsall 37 11 11 15 47 54 18 7 6 5 26 24 19 4 5 10 21 30 -7 44 17 Doncaster 36 10 13 13 43 44 17 6 7 4 25 19 19 4 6 9 18 25 -1 43 18 AFC Wimbledon 37 11 9 17 37 48 18 7 3 8 19 24 19 4 6 9 18 24 -11 42 19 Oldham 36 10 10 16 50 62 18 7 3 8 27 27 18 3 7 8 23 35 -12 40 20 Fleetwood Tn 36 10 9 17 46 57 19 4 6 9 26 31 17 6 3 8 20 26 -11 39 Premier Division: Altrincham 1 Stalybridge 2; Hednesford 3 Marine 2; Matlock 1 Farsley 2; Nantwich 1 Halesowen 3; Stafford 4 Coalville 1; Stourbridge 2 Ashton 3; Sutton Coldfield 2 Mickleover 1; Warrington 2 Grantham 1; Witton 4 Shaw Lane 0; Workington 1 Buxton 2 21 Northampton 37 10 9 18 35 60 19 6 3 10 15 28 18 4 6 8 20 32 -25 39 Evo-Stik League Southern 22 MK Dons 37 9 11 17 37 51 19 6 7 6 22 24 18 3 4 11 15 27 -14 38 23 Rochdale 34 7 13 14 34 42 15 4 8 3 14 12 19 3 5 11 20 30 -8 34 24 Bury 37 7 9 21 31 55 19 6 4 9 17 23 18 1 5 12 14 32 -24 30 Premier Division: Basingstoke 3 Hereford 1; Bishop’s Stortford 2 Slough 2; Frome 2 Kings Langley 1; Gosport 2 Redditch 5; Kings Lynn 3 Farnborough 1; Merthyr Tn 1 St Neots 0; Stratford Tn 0 Kettering 4; Weymouth 2 Dunstable 0 League of Ireland South First Division: Cobh Ramblers 0 Finn Harps 2 0 All other matches postponed Bognor Regis 0 East Thurrock 2; Chippenham 2 Weston-s-Mare 0; Concord 1 St Albans 2; Dartford 3 Hemel Hempstead 2; Gloucester 4 Hungerford 0; Havant & Waterlooville 0 Hampton & Richmond 0; Poole 0 Bath 4; Truro 2 Chelmsford 0; Welling 1 Oxford 3. Leading standings: 1 Havant & Waterlooville 33-64; 2 Dartford 34-62; 3 Hampton & Richmond 33-59 Deportivo La Coruna 1 Las Palmas 1; Real Betis 3 Espanyol 0; Real Sociedad 1 Getafe 2; Valencia 3 Alaves 1. Played Friday: Levante 2 Eibar 1. Today: Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao (3.15pm); Celta Vigo v Malaga (5.30pm); Leganes v Sevilla (11am); Real Madrid v Girona (7.45pm); Villarreal v Atletico Madrid (5.30pm) Evo-Stik League Northern Bostik League Leading goalscorers: 23: Marriott (Peterborough). 16: Pitman (Portsmouth). 15: Dack (Blackburn). 14: Oztumer (Walsall). 13: Doyle (Oldham); Eaves (Gillingham); Moore (Barnsley). 12: Graham (Blackburn); Harrison (Bristol Rov); Mulgrew (Blackburn); Powell (Wigan); Taylor (AFC Wimbledon); Wyke (Bradford C). 11: Davies (Oldham); Grigg (Wigan); Morris (Scunthorpe). 10: Cole (Wigan). 9: Bodin (Preston); Carey (Plymouth); Henderson (Rochdale); Jacobs (Wigan); Long (Northampton); Marquis (Doncaster); Parker (Gillingham); Payne (Shrewsbury); Thomas (Oxford Utd); Vassell (Blackpool). 8: Aneke (MK Dons); Ball (Rotherham); Beckford (Bury); Demetriou (Southend); Maddison (Peterborough); Magennis (Charlton) Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership Premier Division: Burgess Hill 1 Brightlingsea 2; Enfield Tn 3 Staines 4; Leatherhead 1 Dorking 0; Leiston 4 Wingate & Finchley 0; Merstham 2 Harlow 0; Met Police 2 Margate 2; Tonbridge 3 Kingstonian 1; Tooting & Mitcham 0 Hendon 2 FA Vase Semi-finals, first leg: Marske 0 Stockton 2; Thatcham 1 1874 Northwich 0 Spain Italy SPAL 0 Juventus 0; Udinese 1 Sassuolo 2. Today (2pm unless stated): AC Milan v Chievo; Benevento v Cagliari; Crotone v Roma; Lazio v Bologna (7.45pm); Napoli v Genoa (7.45pm); Sampdoria v Inter Milan (11.30am); Torino v Fiorentina; Verona v Atalanta Germany Augsburg 1 Werder Bremen 3; Borussia M’gladbach 3 Hoffenheim 3; Eintracht Frankfurt 3 Mainz 0; Hamburg 1 Hertha Berlin 2; Wolfsburg 0 Schalke 1. Played Friday: Freiburg 1 Stuttgart 2. Today: Borussia Dortmund v Hanover (12.30pm); Cologne v Bayer Leverkusen (2.30pm); Leipzig v Bayern Munich (5pm) France Amiens 1 Troyes 1; Angers 3 Caen 0; Bordeaux 0 Rennes 2; Montpellier 2 Dijon 2; Toulouse 2 Strasbourg 2 Holland Heerenveen 2 Utrecht 2; PSV Eindhoven 3 VVVVenlo 0; Twente 2 Willem II Tilburg 2; Vitesse Arnhem 0 Heracles Almelo 0 FIXTURES CHESTERFIELD 1 Graham 79 Dennis 74 HT: 0-0 Att: 2,822 Cheltenham: Flinders, Moore, Grimes (Joe Rodon 76), Boyle, Chatzitheodoridis, Atangana, Dawson (Graham 78), Winchester, Morrell, Andrews (Pell 54), Eisa. Subs not used: Cranston, Lovett, Odelusi, Lloyd. Booked: Andrews Chesterfield: Ramsdale, Barry, Whitmore, Nelson, George Smith, Brown (Dodds 73), Weir, Talbot, Kay (Binnom-Williams 82), Kellett, Dennis. Subs not used: O'Grady, Anyon, Maguire, McCourt, Hines. Booked: Weir, Binnom-Williams Referee: O Yates (Staffordshire) Jacobson 52 (pen) O’Nien 72 HT: 0-0 Att: 2,103 Barnet: Ross, Vilhete (Brindley 42), Sweeney, Santos, Tutonda, Watson, Weston, Ruben Bover (Jack Taylor 65), Coulthirst (Clough 75), Akinde, Nicholls. Subs not used: Akinola, Akpa Akpro, Renell McKenzie-Lyle, Nicholson. Booked: Weston, Jack Taylor Wycombe: Brown, Moore, El-Abd, Jombati, Jacobson, Bloomfield (Thompson 85), Gape, O'Nien, MackailSmith (Tyson 57), Akinfenwa, Freeman (Kashket 79). Subs not used: Bean, Cowan-Hall, McGinley, MakabuMakalamby Referee: L Collins (Surrey) 0-0 2-1 OTHER FOOTBALL Gibson, Friend, Howson (Leadbitter 65), Clayton, Besic (Assombalonga 75), Traore, Bamford, Downing. Subs not used: Konstantopoulos, Cranie, Harrison, Baker. Booked: Clayton, Gibson, Besic, Friend Referee: S Hooper (Wiltshire) Johnson 3 Reid 64 Clark 81 Jackson 90+2 HT: 1-0 Att: 2,313 Accrington: Chapman, Johnson, Hughes, Dunne, Donacien, Clark, Brown, Conneely, McConville, Jackson, Kee. Subs not used: Richards-Everton, Nolan, Zanzala, Williams, Maxted, Sousa, Rodgers Forest Green: Bradley Collins, Charlie Cooper (Grubb 89), Gunning, Rawson, Hollis, Osbourne, Lee Collins, Clements, Campbell, Reid, Wishart (Brown 85). Subs not used: Bennett, Laird, Simpson, Belford, Bray Referee: D Webb (Co Durham) WYCOMBE 2 1-1 31 6 9 16 29 58 19 Stoke SKY BET LEAGUE TWO ACCRINGTON 3 0-2 20 West Brom 31 3 11 17 24 49 SKY BET LEAGUE ONE BLACKPOOL 1 SOUTHEND 1 Robertson 45+2 Fortune 11 HT: 1-1 Att: 3,213 Blackpool: Lumley, Turton, Tilt, Robertson, Daniel, Ryan, Spearing, Solomon-Otabor, Longstaff (Gnanduillet 78), Philliskirk, Vassell (Agyei 78). Subs not used: Aimson, D'Almeida, Clayton, Cooke, Mafoumbi. Booked: Philliskirk Southend: Oxley, Demetriou, White, Turner, Coker, McLaughlin, Yearwood, Timlin, Wordsworth, Fortune (Mantom 74), Cox (Robinson 46). Subs not used: Kightly, Bishop, Cotton, Ladapo, Harrison. Booked: Cox, Turner, Timlin, Coker Referee: A Haines (Tyne & Wear) CHARLTON 0 FLEETWOOD TN 0 HT: 0-0 Att: 9,865 Charlton: Amos, Konsa, Bauer, Pearce, Sarr, Aribo, Forster-Caskey, Marshall (KaiKai 66), Reeves (Ajose 60), Fosu, Magennis (Zyro 60). Subs not used: Jackson, Lennon, Dijksteel, Maynard-Brewer. Booked: KaiKai Fleetwood Tn: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Bolger, Jones, Sowerby, Dempsey, Diagouraga, Hunter, Madden (Hiwula 87), Burns (McAleny 75). Subs not used: Neal, Pond, Grant, Maguire, Glendon. Booked: Diagouraga Referee: M Heywood (Cheshire) 3-0 16 C Palace SKY BET CHAMPIONSHIP BARNSLEY 0 1-2 Swansea 15 10 4 1 31 9 Stoke 4 Tottenham 30 18 7 5 59 25 Arsenal Southampton Leading goalscorers TV Matches Newcastle Utd 15 8 3 4 35 24 +39 63 Man Utd 16 10 6 0 38 10 Man City 31 18 9 4 73 34 Liverpool 15 8 3 4 25 16 +35 65 3 Liverpool BRIGHTON 0 Leicester 15 12 2 1 34 10 +65 81 15 12 2 1 33 7 Huddersfield 15 14 1 0 51 10 30 20 5 5 58 23 Everton 30 26 3 1 85 20 2 Man Utd Crystal Palace 1 Man City HT: 0-2 MAN UTD 2 Lukaku 37, Matic 83 HT: 1-0 Away Chelsea P W D L F A GDPts Burnley Home P W D L F A TOTTENHAM 3 Eriksen 11, 62, Lamela 45+1 Brighton Total P W D L F A SWANSEA 0 Bournemouth PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal EMIRATES FA CUP SIXTH ROUND YEOVIL 1 Fisher 21 HT: 0-1 Att: 2,772 Colchester: Walker, Eastman, Prosser, Kent, VincentYoung, Lapslie, Comley (Senior 46), Wright, Szmodics, Mandeville (Shodipo 71), Guthrie (Mandron 65). Subs not used: Rooney, Murray, Stevenson, Dillon Barnes. Booked: Comley Yeovil: Nelson, James, Sowunmi, Donnellan, Dickson (Mugabi 40), Green, Wing, Bird, Browne, Zoko (Barnes 82), Fisher (Surridge 65). Subs not used: Khan, Maddison, Seager, Santos Referee: T Nield (West Yorkshire) CREWE 1 COVENTRY 2 Bowery 33 Ray (og) 5 Bayliss 43 HT: 1-2 Att: 4,666 Crewe: Garratt, Ng, Ray, Nolan, Bakayogo (Ainley 21), Kirk, Pickering, Green, Sterry, Miller (McKirdy 72), Bowery (Dagnall 80). Subs not used: Raynes, Richards, Lowery, Barlaser. Booked: Ray, Nolan Coventry: O'Brien, Grimmer, Hyam, McDonald, Haynes, Vincenti (Ponticelli 88), Doyle, Bayliss (Kelly 48), Shipley (Reid 77), Clarke-Harris, McNulty. Subs not used: Stokes, Biamou, Barrett, Bilson Referee: A Coggins (Oxfordshire) LINCOLN C 3 GRIMSBY 1 Frecklington 31 B Davies 45+2 (pen) Green 34 Wharton 39 HT: 3-1 Att: 9,774 Lincoln C: Allsop, Eardley, Bostwick, Wharton, Habergham, Whitehouse, Woodyard, Frecklington (Wilson 81), Green (Anderson 65), Rhead (Palmer 59), Williams. Subs not used: Farman, Long, Pett, Rowe. Booked: Palmer Grimsby: McKeown, Hall-Johnson (Mitchell Rose 56), Clarke, Collins, Fox, Clifton, Berrett, Ben Davies, Woolford (Jaiyesimi 66), Cardwell (McSheffrey 46), Matt. Subs not used: Mills, Vernon, Dembele, Killip. Booked: Clifton Referee: D Coote (Notts) EXETER 1 Lavelle 43 Sweeney 37 Rose 78 HT: 1-1 Att: 1,056 Morecambe: Roche, McGowan, Lavelle, Winnard, Conlan, Kenyon, Rose, McGurk (Oliver 80), Thompson, Wylde (Campbell 80), Lang (Wildig 85). Subs not used: Brough, Nizic, Lund, Fleming. Booked: McGowan Exeter: Pym, Sweeney, Brown, Archibald-Henville (Simpson 83), Moxey, Boateng, James (Tillson 60), Harley (Jay 82), Taylor, Stockley, Edwards. Subs not used: Jones, McAlinden, Wilson, Croll. Booked: Moxey Referee: C Boyeson (E Yorkshire) NEWPORT CO 1 LUTON 1 Sheehan 2 Potts 23 HT: 1-1 Att: 3,512 Newport Co: Day, White, Demetriou, O'Brien, Butler, Sheehan (Nouble 70), Dolan, Tozer, Aaron Collins, Amond (McCoulsky 86), Willmott. Subs not used: Pipe, Jackson, Bennett, Reid, Bittner. Booked: Dolan, O'Brien Luton: Stech, Stacey, Cuthbert, Sheehan, Potts, Gambin (McCormack 88), Rea, Berry, Elliot Lee (Cornick 68), Collins, Hylton (Jervis 84). Subs not used: Justin, Mullins, Olly Lee, Shea Referee: C Hicks (Surrey) NOTTS CO 1 MANSFIELD 1 Hawkridge 35 Hemmings 90+9 (pen) HT: 1-0 Att: 12,563 Notts Co: Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Hall, Dickinson, Hawkridge (Alessandra 82), Hewitt, Noble (Smith 90), Grant, Stead, Ameobi. Subs not used: Virtue, Brisley, Husin, Jones, Fitzsimons. Booked: Hewitt Mansfield: Logan, Anderson (Digby 90), Bennett, Pearce, Benning, Atkinson, King (Angol 61), MacDonald, Hamilton, Hemmings, Rose. Subs not used: Olejnik, White, Sterling-James, Byrom, Miller. Booked: Atkinson, Benning, MacDonald Referee: A Woolmer (Northamptonshire) PORT VALE 2 STEVENAGE 2 Wilson 65 Amos 10 Hannant 77 Kennedy 48 HT: 0-1 Att: 3,462 Port Vale: Boot, Davis (Gibbons 46), Raglan, Smith, Montano, Worrall, Pugh, Tonge, Hannant, Harness (Wilson 46), Forrester. Subs not used: Howe, Hornby, Barnett, Whitfield, Howkins. Booked: Raglan Stevenage: Tom King, Vancooten (Franks 46), Jack King, Wilkinson, Martin, Goddard, Sheaf, Jonathan Smith, Amos (Gorman 87), Kennedy, Newton, Franks (Whelpdale 72). Subs not used: Fryer, White, WadeSlater, O'Donnell. Booked: Jonathan Smith, Newton, Martin Referee: A Backhouse (Cumbria) Total Home Away P W D L F A P W D L F A P W D L F A Today GD Pts FA Cup: Quarter-finals: Leicester v Chelsea (4.30pm); Wigan v Southampton (1.30pm) 1 Accrington 37 23 5 9 64 40 19 14 2 3 37 18 18 9 3 6 27 22 +24 74 2 Luton 38 20 11 7 79 40 19 13 2 4 52 21 19 7 9 3 27 19 +39 71 Premier League: Man City v Brighton (4pm); West Ham v Man Utd (1.30pm) 3 Notts Co 38 18 12 8 60 39 19 12 5 2 37 17 19 6 7 6 23 22 +21 66 Sky Bet Championship: Derby v Cardiff (noon) 4 Wycombe 37 19 9 9 70 52 19 10 4 5 40 30 18 9 5 4 30 22 +18 66 5 Mansfield 37 16 15 6 56 38 19 10 8 1 37 19 18 6 7 5 19 19 +18 63 Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership: Motherwell v Celtic (2.15pm) 6 Coventry 37 18 7 12 43 31 18 11 3 4 25 13 19 7 4 8 18 18 +12 61 Ladbrokes Scottish League One: Raith v East Fife (4.10pm) 7 Lincoln C 37 16 12 9 53 40 19 10 6 3 32 19 18 6 6 6 21 21 +13 60 Kick-off 7.45pm unless stated 8 Exeter 36 18 6 12 46 40 18 11 3 4 24 14 18 7 3 8 22 26 +6 60 Tomorrow 9 Swindon 37 19 3 15 58 55 18 8 2 8 23 32 19 11 1 7 35 23 +3 60 Sky Bet League One: Doncaster v Bradford C 10 Carlisle 38 15 11 12 55 48 19 7 7 5 28 19 19 8 4 7 27 29 +7 56 Tuesday 11 Newport Co 37 13 14 10 47 47 17 6 9 2 24 17 20 7 5 8 23 30 0 12 Crawley Tn 37 15 8 14 44 46 18 8 3 7 22 17 19 7 5 7 22 29 -2 53 13 Colchester 37 13 12 12 46 43 19 8 6 5 27 18 18 5 6 7 19 25 +3 51 Sky Bet League One: Northampton v Shrewsbury; Rochdale v Fleetwood Tn. League Two: Crewe v Forest Green; Morecambe v Colchester; Port Vale v Exeter 53 14 Cambridge Utd 38 13 11 14 38 50 19 10 5 4 24 16 19 3 6 10 14 34 -12 50 15 Cheltenham 19 7 6 6 27 23 19 4 6 9 26 31 -1 45 38 11 12 15 53 54 Vanarama National League: Solihull Moors v Bromley Ladbrokes Scottish Championship: Brechin v Dunfermline; Dundee Utd v Queen of South. League One: Airdrieonians v Alloa; Albion v Ayr. League Two: Edinburgh C v Clyde; Elgin v Stirling Alb; Stenhousemuir v Cowdenbeath (7.30pm) 16 Stevenage 37 11 11 15 50 55 18 7 8 3 34 21 19 4 3 12 16 34 -5 44 17 Yeovil 37 11 9 17 47 57 19 8 4 7 27 19 18 3 5 10 20 38 -10 42 18 Morecambe 36 9 12 15 37 47 17 6 4 7 19 23 19 3 8 8 18 24 -10 39 19 Port Vale 37 9 11 17 41 53 18 5 6 7 21 23 19 4 5 10 20 30 -12 38 20 Crewe 37 11 4 22 44 61 19 7 3 9 24 28 18 4 1 13 20 33 -17 37 21 Forest Green 37 10 7 20 44 64 19 8 2 9 28 30 18 2 5 11 16 34 -20 37 22 Grimsby 38 9 10 19 32 57 19 4 7 8 15 23 19 5 3 11 17 34 -25 37 23 Chesterfield 36 8 7 21 37 65 19 6 3 10 22 29 17 2 4 11 15 36 -28 31 Vanarama National League: Barrow v Hartlepool; Maidstone v Macclesfield 24 Barnet 38 7 9 22 34 56 19 4 6 9 16 24 19 3 3 13 18 32 -22 30 Thursday Leading goalscorers: 21: Kee (Accrington). 18: Eisa (Cheltenham). 17: Collins (Luton). 16: Akinfenwa (Wycombe); Doidge (Forest Green). 15: Dennis (Chesterfield); Grant (Notts Co); Hylton (Luton); McNulty (Coventry). 14: Jackson (Accrington); Pope (Port Vale); Rose (Mansfield). 13: Ikpeazu (Cambridge Utd). 12: Norris (Swindon); Stockley (Exeter); Szmodics (Colchester). 11: Green (Lincoln C); Hemmings (Mansfield); McConville (Accrington); Newton (Stevenage); Reid (Forest Green). 10: Amond (Newport Co); Godden (Stevenage); Zoko (Yeovil). 9: Boldewijn (Crawley Tn); Ellison (Morecambe); Mandron (Colchester); Porter (Crewe); Richards (Swindon); Stead (Notts Co). 8: Coulthirst (Barnet); Cowan-Hall (Wycombe); Devitt (Carlisle); E Lee (Luton); Hope (Carlisle); Mackail-Smith (Wycombe); O'Nien (Wycombe); Smith (Crawley Tn) Wednesday Sky Bet League One: Walsall v Wigan. League Two: Crawley Tn v Wycombe International matches: China v Wales (11.35); Denmark v Panama (7pm); Faroe Islands v Latvia (7pm); Malta v Luxembourg (5pm); Slovakia v UAE (09.30); South Africa v Angola (1pm) Friday International matches: Argentina v Italy; Austria v Slovenia; Azerbaijan v Belarus (4pm); Bulgaria v Bosnia-Herzegovina (5pm); Cyprus v Montenegro (4pm); Finland v Macedonia (7pm); France v Colombia (8pm); Germany v Spain; Greece v Switzerland (8pm); Hungary v Kazakhstan; Holland v England; Norway v Australia (5pm); Poland v Nigeria; Portugal v Egypt; Russia v Brazil (4pm); Saudi Arabia v Ukraine (7pm); Scotland v Costa Rica (midnight); Senegal v Uzbekistan (4pm); Serbia v Morocco (7.30pm); Tunisia v Iran; Turkey v Rep of Ireland (5.30pm) Kick-off 3pm unless stated Saturday International matches: Armenia v Estonia (2pm); Canada v New Zealand; Georgia v Lithuania; Israel v Romania (6.30pm); Kosovo v Madagascar; Mexico v Iceland (2.30am); Northern Ireland v South Korea (2pm); Peru v Croatia (midnight); Sweden v Chile (5pm); Togo v Ivory Coast (7pm) Sky Bet League One: Bradford C v Gillingham; Bury v Wigan; Charlton v Plymouth; Fleetwood Tn v Northampton; MK Dons v Blackpool; Oldham v Walsall; Peterborough v Bristol Rov; Scunthorpe v Rochdale; Shrewsbury v AFC Wimbledon; Southend v Rotherham. League Two: Carlisle v Cambridge Utd; Coventry v Grimsby; Crawley Tn v Cheltenham; Exeter v Swindon; Forest Green v Mansfield; Luton v Barnet (5.15pm); Morecambe v Lincoln C; Newport Co v Crewe; Stevenage v Colchester; Wycombe v Port Vale Vanarama National League: Aldershot v Boreham Wood; Barrow v Dover Ath; Dagenham & Redbridge v AFC Fylde; Ebbsfleet Utd v Maidenhead Utd; Halifax Tn v Solihull Moors; Leyton Orient v Woking; Sutton Utd v Chester; Torquay v Guiseley; Tranmere v Eastleigh (12.15pm); Wrexham v Maidstone Utd Ladbrokes Scottish Championship: Dundee Utd v Dunfermline; Morton v Brechin; Queen of South v Livingston. League One: Airdrieonians v Raith; Albion v Alloa; Arbroath v Stranraer; Ayr v Queen’s Park; Forfar v East Fife. League Two: Berwick v Edinburgh C; Clyde v Montrose; Peterhead v Annan; Stenhousemuir v Elgin; Stirling Alb v Cowdenbeath Sunday International matches: Faroe Islands v Liechtenstein (5pm); Gibraltar v Latvia; Kuwait v Cameroon (2pm) Sky Bet League One: Portsmouth v Oxford Utd (4pm). League Two: Chesterfield v Notts Co (1.30pm) 15 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 SPORT RACING ANDREW COWIE Racing wakes up to the talent of women jockeys Female jockeys ride four winners at Cheltenham as top trainers finally judge them on ability P Andrew Longmore acha Du Polder is becoming one of the great scene-stealers in Cheltenham Festival history. Two years ago, the hunter-chaser conveyed the Olympic cycling champion, Victoria Pendleton, safely round Cheltenham, earning nearly as many headlines as Don Cossack, who had won the Gold Cup less than an hour before. Last year he swept Bryony Frost, a onewoman force of nature, to prominence by winning the same Foxhunter Chase. And, on Friday, he brought Harriet Tucker her first festival winner on only her second ride under National Hunt rules, along with a slot on the BBC evening news. More significantly, Tucker’s win, gained despite dislocating her shoulder on the run-in, was the fourth by a female jockey during the week — a record for the festival — and the seventh in the past two festivals. It is a far cry from the day back in 1987 when Gee Armytage became the second woman to ride a winner at the festival (the first was Caroline Beasley in 1983) and was pelted with plastic bottles and paper cups for her courage. After riding her first festival winner, Coo Star Sivola, to victory on the opening day of the festival, Lizzie Kelly suggested that the distinction between a female and a male jockey was starting to become “annoying”. The ride that Kelly, the first woman to steer a Grade One winner over jumps in Britain, gave the 5-1 favourite could not have been improved by any jockey. It was also a tribute to the 24-year-old’s mental strength in coming back from the despair of missing a winner and falling after just two fences in the Gold Cup a year ago. A visit to the top sports psychologist, Michael Caulfield, had helped her relax in the days before the festival and, as she said, “to grow up five years”. The real glimmer for Kelly’s future came the day after her first festival win when Rich Ricci, Willie Mullins’ main owner, asked her to ride one of his horses in the conditional jockeys’ race on the last day. “I have no problem putting girls on my horses,” said Mullins. “Just as long as they know where the winning post is.” Kelly rides mainly for her stepfather, Nick Williams. Bryony Frost, who has taken the racing world by storm this season, has also yet to attract many rides from outside her main employment with Paul Nicholls. “Last year was a good year [for women jockeys at the festival] and this one is even better,” said Kelly. “This is the biggest stage of all, but I’m not sure how much we should read into it. Maybe in five years’ time we won’t be talking about the issue at all.” Dan Skelton, whose conditional jockey, Bridget Andrews, rode Mohaayed to win the County Handicap Hurdle, also sounded a note of caution in predicting a further storming of the gender barricades. “I don’t think that this will necessarily open the floodgates for Bridget,” said the trainer. “It just means she can hold her head high in the professional Going: Soft - Heavy in places HANDICAP HURDLE £3,899: 2M 1F (10) 2.05 Hardrock Davis 46 1 /505-5 K Dalgleish7-11-12.........................C Bewley (3) Hear The Chimes 24 (S) 2 -24305 Shaun Harris9-11-11............................J Quinlan Alfiboy 109 (W) 3 /P-FP0 Mrs S Smith8-11-10...............................D Cook Suprise Vendor 20 (D,F,G,S) 4 43P300 W S Coltherd12-11-9....................S Coltherd (5) Budarri 10 (H) 5 0-3645 W S Coltherd5-11-7 ............................ H Brooke Perseid 44 (D,F,G,S) 6 433033 Mrs B Butterworth8-11-6 ................ S W Quinlan Pc Dixon 3 (D,S) 7 024221 V Thompson5-11-6.......................T Dowson (3) Hartside 26 (V,T,CD,S) 8 F34415 P Winks9-11-5...........................Ryan Winks (5) Bingo D’Olivate 20 (D,S) 9 03306F G Anderson7-11-3..............................B Hughes 100P/3-0 Bill D’Aron 47 (H) J Ewart7-11-1....Steven Fox (5) Betting: 11-4 Pc Dixon, 7-2 Hardrock Davis, 7-1 Hartside, 8-1 Hear The Chimes, 9-1 Alfiboy, Bill D’Aron, 10-1 Perseid, 12-1 Bingo D’Olivate, 14-1 Suprise Vendor, 16-1 Budarri 2.35 NOVICES’ CHASE £9,747: 1M 7F 207Y (4) Bollin Ace 9 (P,D,S) T Easterby7-11-4................................H Brooke Derintoher Yank 32 (H,CD,G,S) 2 112223 D McCain7-11-4..............................W Kennedy Beau Sancy 5 (B,T) 3 064006 K Johnson6-10-12 .......................... A Clarke (7) Kelka 22 (D,S) 4 514-23 R Jefferson6-10-5.............................B Hughes Betting: 6-4 Bollin Ace, 15-8 Kelka, 2-1 Derintoher Yank, 100-1 Beau Sancy 1 2-F421 3.10 NOVICES’ HURDLE £6,498: 2M 3F 61Y (6) Donna’s Delight 47 (CD,S) A Thomson7-11-6..............................B Hughes Point Of Principle 29 (D,S) 2 0-2421 T Vaughan5-11-6..............................R Johnson Haasab 13 3 643253 L Morgan5-11-1.............................P Cowley (5) Mankala 46 (W) 4 3/56 J Candlish8-11-1 ............................ S W Quinlan Montydarkdestroyer 698 5 05/ John Davies7-11-1............................W Kennedy Sting In His Tail 26 6 5 T Easterby5-11-1................................H Brooke Betting: 8-11 Point Of Principle, 9-4 Donna’s Delight, 8-1 Mankala, 16-1 Haasab, 25-1 Montydarkdestroyer, Sting In His Tail 1 0-1423 3.40 HANDICAP CHASE (LEG 4 OF THE VETERANS’ CHASE SERIES) £18,768: 3M 110Y (6) Nendrum 2 (T,BF,S) A Thomson9-11-3.............Rachael McDonald (7) Graystown 9 4 245506 W S Coltherd6-11-0.....................S Coltherd (5) Inniscastle Lad 15 5 234043 D McCain6-10-11.........................L Murtagh (5) War Joey 27 (T) 6 -05P04 Mrs A Hamilton5-10-6 ....................... B Hughes Instingtive 10 (CD,S) 7 004311 Miss L Harrison7-10-0...........Ross Chapman (3) Betting: 9-4 Instingtive, 3-1 The New Pharaoh, 12-1 Inniscastle Lad, War Joey, 20-1 Graystown 3 031210 Ffos Las (Jackpot meeting) 4.25 1 -P1222 Going: Heavy CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS’ HANDICAP HURDLE £4,159: 1M 7F 182Y (7) 2.15 Bonne Question 34 (D,S) Miss V Williams9-12-0.........................J Bowen Jack Bear 11F (BF) 2 U35-05 R Teal7-11-12.....................................H Teal (3) Great Tempo 99 (P,D,S) 3 000-00 D Pipe5-11-12 ................................ M Heard (3) Radical Archie 31 4 66-0PP E Williams7-11-9..........................M Bastyan (3) Under The Woods 36 5 033 E Williams6-11-7...............................C Ring (3) Matts Legacy 82 6 -603RR T Vaughan6-11-1 ................................ R Patrick Flanagans Field 28 (T,P,CD,F,S) 7 234443 B Llewellyn10-10-13 .................... R Williams (3) Betting: 5-2 Flanagans Field, 3-1 Under The Woods, 4-1 Jack Bear, 8-1 Bonne Question, Great Tempo, Matts Legacy, 12-1 Radical Archie 1 22/1-0 2.45 NOVICES’ HURDLE £4,159: 2M 4F (7) 4.15 3.20 NOVICES’ HANDICAP HURDLE £6,498: 2M 1F (7) 3.50 HANDICAP HURDLE £6,758: 2M 4F (9) Cultram Abbey 10 (C,BF,G,S) N Richards11-12-6...........................J Wright (5) My Friend George 28P (T,P,BF,S) 2 2-PPPP L Humphrey12-12-2...............Solomon Wood (7) Numbercruncher 9 (G,S) 3 1-P31P D O’Brien(Ire) 12-12-2..............David O’Brien (7) Bambi Du Noyer 10 (G,S) 4 140534 S Conway7-11-12 ........................... L Stones (5) Milano Magic 672P (P,BF,G,S) 5 222/0D Bourke12-11-12................Cameron Wadge (7) Quel Elite 21P (B,C,D,S) 6 15-445 Miss G Walton14-11-12.....................T Gillard (7) Third Of The Third 31 (V,F,G) 7 043-43 Miss S Whitehead11-11-12............A Ferguson (3) Betting: 1-8 Cultram Abbey, 9-1 Numbercruncher, 14-1 Bambi Du Noyer, 16-1 Third Of The Third, 33-1 Milano Magic, Quel Elite, 66-1 My Friend George 4.50 Seeyouatmidnight 358 (W,C,D,BF,G,S) A Thomson10-11-12 ........................... B Hughes Houblon Des Obeaux 22 (B,D,G,S) 2 -1663P Miss V Williams11-11-7.......................C Deutsch Seldom Inn 31 (P,G,S) 3 P-5323 A Thomson10-11-2 ........... Rachael McDonald (7) Firth Of The Clyde 41 (B,CD,S) 4 6/2-44 R Jefferson13-11-0.............................H Brooke Blakemount 330 (C,G,S) 5 41256Mrs S Smith10-10-8..............................D Cook Scotswell 52 (D,F,G,S) 6 301-0P Mrs H Graham12-10-0 .................. T Dowson (3) Betting: 5-2 Seeyouatmidnight, 100-30 Blakemount, 4-1 Firth Of The Clyde, 9-2 Houblon Des Obeaux, 11-2 Seldom Inn, 12-1 Scotswell The New Pharaoh 49 (H,P,S) 1 315 L Morgan7-11-12 ........................... P Cowley (5) Clash Of D Titans 27 2 2-532 W Greatrex5-11-9 ........................................... One Style 13 Miss V Williams8-11-11...................H Nugent (7) Cawdor House Bert 28 (C,D,G,S) 4 PP2P-1 D Rees11-11-5.....................................S Bowen Magical Man 45 (V,CD,S) 5 5-4146 Mrs D Hamer11-11-1............................T Whelan Betting: 9-4 Cawdor House Bert, 7-2 Alf ‘N’ Dor, Nansaroy, 4-1 One Style, 6-1 Magical Man 3 422/43 Lady Karina 92 (BF,S) Miss V Williams7-12-0 ................... H Nugent (7) Ruby Yeats 23 (P,S) 2 20-02P H Whittington7-11-12.......................H Bannister Sergeant Brody 38 (S) 3 31/4-2 S Drinkwater7-11-7..............................R Dunne Corzeam 27 4 R-PPP3 N Twiston-Davies6-11-5..................J Savage (7) Take Em Out 36 (T) 5 5-04F2 T Vaughan6-11-4 ................................. A Johns Fly Du Charmil 28 (P,C,S) 6 55/4P1 W Greatrex7-11-2.............................A P Heskin Tudors Treasure 28 (P,C,S) 7 16-0P2 R Stephens7-10-11.............................T O’Brien Dark Invader 46 8 42-344 E Williams6-10-10..............................A Wedge Hillary View 7 (P,CD,S) 9 104616 P Bowen6-10-9..................................S Bowen Betting: 3-1 Fly Du Charmil, 7-2 Lady Karina, 6-1 Dark Invader, Sergeant Brody, 8-1 Tudors Treasure, 10-1 Ruby Yeats, Take Em Out, 16-1 Corzeam, Hillary View OPEN HUNTERS’ CHASE £2,870: 3M 110Y (7) Carole’s Vigilante 61 (D,S) N Mulholland7-11-7 .............................. N Fehily Baby Ted 37 2 33 N Twiston-Davies5-11-1............S Twiston-Davies Big Fred 28 3 5053 B Llewellyn7-11-1 ............................... D Crosse Garran City 22 (S) 4 1/3 D Pipe7-11-1 ................................ T Scudamore Lapford Lad 23 5 40P00 S Gardner6-11-1..........................S Houlihan (5) Mon Eldorado 74 6 63-630 P Bowen6-11-1...............................J Bowen (3) Pacofilha 36 7 650 J Flint4-10-0......................................B Powell Betting: 4-7 Garran City, 3-1 Carole’s Vigilante, 8-1 Mon Eldorado, 12-1 Baby Ted, 33-1 Big Fred, 50-1 Pacofilha, 100-1 Lapford Lad 1 3/1P2- The British Horseracing Authority will carry out a review after six horses died at the Cheltenham Festival. Jamie Stier, chief regulatory officer for the BHA, said: ‘We will examine the evidence from the past week before deciding how we will pursue the review.’ Moment of glory: Harriet Tucker enjoys Cheltenham win on Pacha Du Polder ranks and give out a message to other girls, ‘Hey, you can do this’. “Maybe it is time that we stopped talking about lady riders and talked about riders in general. Not every girl is going to make it, just as not every lad is going to make it. But the more winners they have the less of an issue it becomes. Fewer people are coming into racing now with aspirations to become a jockey and a few more girls are sensing that there may be some opportunities. Fair play, crack on.” Josephine Gordon was the second woman after Hayley Turner to ride 100 winners in a year on the Flat but the fact that she was a retained jockey for Hugo Palmer, one of the main stables in Newmarket, and attracted a host of outside rides was a breakthrough in perception. While Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, who also won at the festival this year, have shown what a survey by the University of Liverpool confirmed — that women riders are as effective as men — the stum- bling block for jump jockeys is getting enough rides to earn a decent living. With the gender balance at least 50:50 in most yards, it is only a matter of time before the number of professional licences held by women — it stands at 11% — is reflected on the track. “Understanding why there are fewer female jockeys than men and why they get fewer rides [just 5%] is something we are determined to address,” said Nick Rust, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority. Trainers just have to be sensible, says Skelton. “More female riders will come through,” he says. “Taking Bridget as an example, I discuss things with her. I say, ‘I don’t think this is a horse for you to ride, some 17-hands horse round Chepstow in the mud.’ It’s not fair on her, the horse or the owners. But it would be the same with the young amateur lad I have in the yard.” Tucker, 22, was thrilled to be part of the festival. Not long ago, she was persuaded to stay with Nicholls by the promise of the ride on Pacha Du Polder. “We are just as good as the men,” she says. “As long as you put in the hard work, it will pay off in the end.” l Forget Ladies Day — that was Ladies Week, David Walsh, page 16 RACING RESULTS TODAY’S RACING Carlisle (8am inspection) BHA REVIEW HORSE DEATHS 1 2/31 HANDICAP CHASE £4,614: 2M 4F 199Y (5) Alf ‘N’ Dor 44 (V,T,C,D,BF,S) 1 3U33P3 P Bowen7-12-0..............................J Bowen (3) Nansaroy 28 (V,C,S) 2 4U0634 E Williams8-11-12...............................A Wedge 1 631-1F HANDICAP HURDLE £3,119: 2M 5F 192Y (7) Abbeygrey 112 (P,D,G,S) 1 514PP0 E Williams9-11-13 .................. Miss I Williams (7) Steel Native 28 (C,G,S) 2 151PF5 D Rees7-11-12 .................................... S Bowen Royal Claret 82 3 45-44P T Symonds6-11-12................................B Poste Howaboutnever 29 (P,G,S) 4 -051P0 R Teal10-11-11 ................................... H Teal (7) Fraser Canyon 58 (V,T,G) 5 3-5P12 T Vaughan6-11-9 ................................. A Johns Snazz Man 58 6 00P5 S Gardner8-10-10...................Lucy Gardner (3) Filatore 13 (B,C,S) 7 304505 B Llewellyn9-10-5 ...................... S Houlihan (5) Betting: 7-4 Fraser Canyon, 3-1 Filatore, 5-1 Steel Native, 7-1 Royal Claret, 8-1 Abbeygrey, 16-1 Howaboutnever, 20-1 Snazz Man 5.00 HANDICAP CHASE £8,058: 2M 7F 177Y (8) Souriyan 44 (V,D,G,S) P Bowen7-11-12..............................J Bowen (3) Misty Mai 8 (C,G,S) 2 521651 D Rees8-11-5.....................................S Bowen Bassarabad 54 (T,D,S) 3 45-P41 T Vaughan7-11-4..................................A Johns Firebird Flyer 28 (P,CD,G,S) 4 P-3F00 E Williams11-11-4..............................C Ring (3) Saint John Henry 27 (B,D,S) 5 1P3PPP D Pipe8-11-4 ...............................T Scudamore Ceann Sibheal 32 (B,T,D,G,S) 6 -44313 W Greatrex9-11-1............................H Bannister Pink Gin 87 (T,D,S) 7 35-22F N Twiston-Davies10-10-12..................M D Grant Lac Sacre 28 (B,T,C,D,S) 8 P66322 J Flint9-10-7.......................................R Dunne Betting: 3-1 Bassarabad, 7-2 Ceann Sibheal, 5-1 Misty Mai, 6-1 Lac Sacre, Pink Gin, 8-1 Saint John Henry, 14-1 Souriyan, 20-1 Firebird Flyer 1 110425 5.30 STANDARD OPEN NATIONAL HUNT FLAT RACE £2,274: 1M 7F 182Y (3) Al Dancer 114 (BF) N Twiston-Davies5-11-0...........S Twiston-Davies 22 Gwalia 71 E Williams5-11-0.................A Wedge Landofsmiles 70P 3 53 P Bowen5-11-0...................................S Bowen Betting: Evens Al Dancer, 6-4 Gwalia, 5-1 Landofsmiles 1 23 2 Kempton Park Going: Good to soft (soft in places) 1.30 (2m hdle) 1 Distingo (Joshua Moore, 6-1); 2 Lord Duveen (11-4); 3 Going Gold (91). Also ran: Grapevine 7-4 fav. 8 ran. NR: Mere Ironmonger. 3¾l, 3l. G L Moore. Tote: £7.70; £1.90, £1.20, £2.70. Exacta: £26.40. CSF: £23.24. Trifecta: £208.40 2.05 (2m ch) 1 Vocaliser (C Poste, 7-1); 2 Kayf Blanco (15-8); 3 Free Stone Hill (16-1). Also ran: Copain De Classe 11-10 fav. 5 ran. 2¼l, 2¾l. R Dickin. Tote: £6.90; £2.00, £1.20. Exacta: £20.10. CSF: £21.17. Trifecta: £89.60 2.40 (2m 5f hdle) 1 Kildisart (D A Jacob, 5-1); 2 Zubayr (17-2); 3 Monbeg Theatre (141). Also ran: Just A Sting 9-2 fav. 11 ran. 2¼l, 3½l. B Pauling. Tote: £6.30; £1.70, £3.00, £4.90. Exacta: £50.90. CSF: £46.34. Tricast: £557.83. Trifecta: £803.10 3.15 (2m 4f 110yd ch) 1 Cepage (Charlie Deutsch, 14-1); 2 Cobra De Mai (14-1); 3 Bun Doran (11-2). Also ran: Kilcrea Vale 3-1 fav. 10 ran. 1½l, 2¼l. Miss V Williams. Tote: £13.30; £4.00, £3.10, £2.00. Exacta: £163.90. CSF: £180.79. Tricast: £1,210.43. Trifecta: £1,151.10 3.50 (2m 5f hdle) 1 Chosen Path (Wayne Hutchinson, 4-6 fav); 2 Champagne Champ (5-2); 3 Gosheven (25-1). 8 ran. 5l, 2¼l. A King. Tote: £1.70; £1.02, £1.20, £6.20. Exacta: £3.60. CSF: £3.28. Trifecta: £37.30 4.25 (3m ch) 1 Abracadabra Sivola (David Noonan, 7-2); 2 Invicta Lake (7-1); 3 Ckalco Des Loges (8-1). Also ran: Allee Bleue 11-4 fav. 9 ran. NR: Royale Django. 2l, 6l. D Pipe. Tote: £5.00; £2.00, £1.80, £2.00. Exacta: £27.50. CSF: £28.32. Tricast: £182.53. Trifecta: £181.50 5.00 (2m) 1 Mister Fisher (Ned Curtis, 5-4 fav); 2 Manvers House (25-1); 3 Oakley (101). 11 ran. NR: Sebastopol. 1¼l, 3¼. N J Henderson. Tote: £2.20; £1.10, £7.80, £2.50. Exacta: £39.40. CSF: £47.61. Trifecta: £740.20 Placepot: £153.30 Fontwell Park Going: Heavy 1.40 (2m 5f 164yd hdle) 1 Belle Empress (Nick Scholfield, 7-2); 2 Illtellmema (13-2); 3 Big Robin (13-8 fav). 10 ran. 12l, 2¾l. Miss E C Lavelle. Tote: £4.40; £1.40, £1.90, £1.10. Exacta: £28.50. CSF: £24.81. Trifecta: £50.20 2.15 (2m 1f 165yd ch) 1 Clondaw Westie (David Bass, 6-4 fav); 2 Rothman (2-1); 3 Bredon Hill Lad (9-2). 5 ran. 1½l, 11l. Mrs L Hill. Tote: £2.70; £1.40, £1.50. Exacta: £5.30. CSF: £5.23. Trifecta: £10.30 2.50 (2m 1f 162yd hdle) 1 Banjo Girl (Maxime Tissier, 11-8 fav); 2 Coillte Lass (16-1); 3 Naranja (9-4). 6 ran. 11l, 17l. Mrs L Wadham. Tote: £2.20; £1.50, £5.10. Exacta: £11.20. CSF: £19.99. Trifecta: £36.70 3.25 (3m 1f 166yd hdle) 1 Kris Spin (Mitchell Bastyan, 9-2); 2 Oh Land Abloom (16-1); 3 King Uther (11-10 fav). 6 ran. 14l, 1½l. Kerry Lee. Tote: £5.70; £3.70, £6.20. Exacta: £81.70. CSF: £59.06. Trifecta: £151.80 4.00 (3m 1f 210yd ch) 1 Canyouhearmenow (M Goldstein, 14-1); 2 What Larks (3-1). Also ran: Itoldyou 15-8 fav. 5 ran. 3l, Mrs D Grissell. Tote: £12.90; £3.10, £2.10. Exacta: £54.90. CSF: £55.62. Trifecta: £52.10 4.35 (2m 3f 49yd hdle) 1 Magoo (Alexander Thorne, 5-1); 2 Duke Of Kilcorral (11-1); 3 Miss Adventure (4-1). 8 ran. NR: Burst Ya Bubble. Sh hd, 6l. P F Nicholls. Tote: £3.80; £2.00, £3.60, £1.80. Exacta: £64.10. CSF: £56.39. Tricast: £241.75. Trifecta: £756.70 MOTORS Porsche Wanted Registration Numbers COL 7N 45,000 07533 411 322 Book your advertisement now Use our self-service website and follow the simple steps. thesundaytimes.co.uk/advertise Open 7 days a week MKE 1 £39,000 07452 920990 MKE1@mail.com Mercedes NEW MERCEDES Save up to £25,000 Burlington Motor Co. firstname.lastname@example.org General Wanted Quadpot: £34.50 020 8500 5588 Bernie Bloom 07831 161 666 RUGBY RESULTS 5.10 (3m 1f 166yd hdle) 1 Fizzlestix (Harry Reed, evens fav); 2 Point N Shoot (5-2); 3 Shoofly Milly (5-2). NR: Good News. 3l, 62l. C Gordon. Tote: £1.70. Exacta: £3.00. CSF: £3.62. Trifecta: £4.30 Placepot: £685.50 Quadpot: £236.50 Uttoxeter Going: Heavy 1.50 (2m 7f 70yd hdle) 1 Agent Louise (Ryan Day, 11-1); 2 Tara Well (9-2); 3 Hollow Park (10-1). Also ran: Mozo 15-8 fav. 7 ran. 11l, 16l. M E Sowersby. Tote: £11.80; £4.60, £2.30. Exacta: £61.50. CSF: £57.09. Trifecta: £481.20 2.25 (3m 2yd ch) 1 Behind Time (N P Madden, 3-1); 2 Big River (2-1 fav); 3 Big Meadow (6-1). 5 ran. NR: Looksnowtlikebrian. 4l, 7l. H Fry. Tote: £3.80; £1.70, £1.60. Exacta: £9.70. CSF: £9.93. Trifecta: £42.70 3.00 (2m 3f 207yd hdle) 1 Clyne (Adam Wedge, 10-1); 2 Hitherjacques Lady (5-1); 3 Applesandpierres (8-1). 11 ran. NR: Solstice Star. 2l, 4½l. Evan Williams. Tote: £10.10; £3.10, £2.30, £2.10. Exacta: £75.90. CSF: £60.92. Tricast: £428.95. Trifecta: £570.60 3.35 (4m 2f 8yd ch) 1 Regal Flow (Sean Houlihan, 16-1); 2 Milansbar (16-1); 3 Ballymalin (14-1); 4 Silsol (10-1). Also ran: The Artful Cobbler 7-1 fav. 18 ran. 10l, 4½l. R H Buckler. Tote: £18.30; £3.80, £5.00, £3.90, £3.20. Exacta: £258.10. CSF: £252.22. Tricast: £3,684.30. Trifecta: £5,147.90 4.10 (2m 7f 70yd hdle) 1 Cadeyrn (T Scudamore, 100-30); 2 I Just Know (11-8 fav); 3 Piri Massini (7-2). 4 ran. 3l, 6l. M Scudamore. Tote: £3.80. Exacta: £8.60. CSF: £8.41. Trifecta: £14.60 4.45 (2m 4f ch) 1 Jaune Et Bleue (B Hughes, 8-1); 2 Alf ‘n’ Dor (5-2); 3 Wings Of Smoke (16-1). 5 ran. NR: Maguire’s Glen. 7l, 2¼l. David Dennis. Tote: £9.60; £3.30, £1.70. Exacta: £30.70. CSF: £28.69. Trifecta: £106.40. Jackpot: Not won - pool of £287,446.75 c/f to Ffos Las today 5.20 (2m 3f 207yd hdle) 1 Just Don’t Ask (B Hughes, 7-4); 2 Whiskey In The Jar (4-6 fav); 3 Iron Horse (25-1). 7 ran. 2¾l, 11l. C E Longsdon. Tote: £3.10; £1.40, £1.10. Exacta: £3.30. CSF: £3.37. Trifecta: £17.10 5.55 (1m 7f 168yd) 1 Smiths Cross (T Scudamore, 5-2); 2 Champagnendiamonds (5-1); 3 Lechlade Magician (8-11 fav). 4 ran. 21l, 25l. M Scudamore. Tote: £3.40. Exacta: £11.60. CSF: £13.56. Trifecta: £24.50 Placepot: £3,280.20 Quadpot: £296.00 7 ran. Nk, 1¼l. K R Burke. Tote: £3.30; £2.10, £6.20. Exacta: £47.40. CSF: £49.58. Trifecta: £201.90 8.15 (1m 142yd) 1 The King’s Steed (Kieran Shoemark, 15-2); 2 Joys Delight (6-1); 3 Lesanti (20-1). 9 ran. 1½l, nk. S Lycett. Tote: £7.70; £2.50, £1.90, £4.20. Exacta: £52.90. CSF: £51.22. Tricast: £863.97. Trifecta: £568.00 8.45 (1m 142yd) 1 Emigrated (P Mathers, 10-1); 2 Lord Murphy ( 2-1 fav); 3 Multiviz (94). 9 ran. 1l, ½l. D Shaw. Tote: £13.90; £3.00, £1.30, £1.40. Exacta: £33.10. CSF: £31.57. Tricast: £64.20. Trifecta: £145.60 Placepot: £3,191.70 Quadpot: £59.40 Wexford Going: Heavy 1.55 (2m hdle) 1 Msassa (P Townend, 1-4 fav); 2 Park Paddocks (13-2); 3 Freedom Chimes (33-1). 9 ran. 2¾l, 5l. W P Mullins. Tote: €1.20; €1.10, €1.60, €5.60. Exacta: €3.80. CSF: €3.84. Trio: €45.10 2.30 (2m hdle) 1 Speaker Connolly (D F O’Regan, 5-1); 2 Play At Midnight (8-1); 3 Teddy’s Acre (50-1). Also ran: Plouios 5-6 fav. 10 ran. NR: Murder Mile. 2¾l, 4l. Alan Fleming. Tote: €6.50; €1.50, €2.10, €14.30. Exacta: €39.60. CSF: €44.36. Trio: €832.70 3.05 (2m hdle) 1 Quamino (B J Cooper, 141); 2 Soul Season (7-1); 3 Pound A Stroke (81). Also ran: Thereisnodoubt 4-1 fav. 12 ran. ½l, 8l. P Nolan. Tote: €17.70; €4.70, €3.20, €2.50. Exacta: €222.60. CSF: €112.70. Tricast: €857.28. Trio: €626.80 3.40 (2m 4f 60yd hdle) 1 Brave Out (D F O’Regan, 5-1); 2 Admiral Brian (7-1); 3 Seskinane (12-1). Also ran: Cerealice 3-1 fav. 10 ran. Sh hd, 1¼l. J E Kiely. Tote: €6.10; €1.90, €2.30, €2.90. Exacta: €47.80. CSF: €41.23. Tricast: €405.36. Trio: €395.80 4.15 (2m 6f ch) 1 Sumos Novios (R M Power, 3-1 jt-fav); 2 Undressed (7-1); 3 Toushan (9-2). Also ran: Toubaloo 3-1 jt-fav. 9 ran. ¾l, 2¼l. W J Burke. Tote: €3.90; €1.30, €2.20, €1.30. Exacta: €21.70. CSF: €23.26. Tricast: €92.34. Trio: €87.60 4.50 (2m ch) 1 Crosshue Boy (H D Dunne, 6-4 fav); 2 Consharon Boy (9-2); 3 Getoutwhenyoucan (100-30). 5 ran. 2¾l, 1½l. Sean Thomas Doyle. Tote: €1.90; €1.30, €2.30. Exacta: €10.10. CSF: €8.18. Trio: €20.70 5.25 (2m 4f) 1 Thosedaysaregone (R Deegan, 9-2); 2 Moratorium (9-1); 3 The Shunter (13-2). Also ran: Small Farm, evens fav. 9 ran. 1¼l, 2¾l. C Byrnes. Tote: €5.30; €1.90, €3.90, €1.70. Exacta: €85.70. CSF: €47.19. Trio: €366.10 Wolverhampton This week Going: Standard 5.45 (1m 1f 104yd) 1 C Note (L Morris, 10-1); 2 Mythical Madness (10-1); 3 Abe Lincoln (10-11 fav). 7 ran. Hd, nk. Mrs H Main. Tote: £10.10; £3.90, £3.60. Exacta: £116.30. CSF: £98.22. Trifecta: £326.70 6.15 (1m 4f 51yd) 1 Cape Banjo (A Kirby, 101); 2 Tidal Watch (6-1); 3 Theglasgowwarrior (5-2 fav). 10 ran. Nk, 3½l. N P Mulholland. Tote: £11.40; £3.30, £1.90, £1.30. Exacta: £54.60. CSF: £69.57. Tricast: £200.51. Trifecta: £583.70 6.45 (1m 5f 219yd) 1 Leoro (S W Kelly, 3-1); 2 Dance Rock (11-4 fav); 3 Captain Swift (161). 12 ran. NR: Volturnus. ½l, hd. C J Mann. Tote: £3.40; £1.90, £1.50, £5.30. Exacta: £18.70. CSF: £12.00. Tricast: £117.03. Trifecta: £192.00 7.15 (6f 20yd) 1 Breathless Times (Adam J McNamara, 4-6 fav); 2 Kion (11-8); 3 Jack Taylor (10-1). 4 ran. 2¼l, 2¾l. R Charlton. Tote: £1.40. Exacta: £1.70. CSF: £1.97. Trifecta: £2.60 7.45 (7f 36yd) 1 Made Of Honour (Ben Curtis, 100-30); 2 Pattie (16-1); 3 Rose Berry (9-2). Today: Carlisle (2.05pm, 8am inspection); Ffos Las (2.15pm); Limerick (2pm); Navan (1.50pm, 8am inspection) Tomorrow: Kelso (2.10pm); Lingfield Park (A/W, 2.20pm); Southwell (2pm); Limerick (2.15pm); Down Royal (2.25pm) Tuesday: Exeter (2.20pm); Newcastle (A/W, 5.35pm); Wetherby (2pm); Clonmel (2.10pm) Wednesday: Chepstow (2.20pm); Haydock Park (2.10pm); Kempton Park (A/W, 5.45pm); Southwell (A/W, 2pm) Thursday: Chepstow (2.20pm); Ludlow (2.30pm); Wolverhampton (A/W, 2.10pm); Chelmsford City (A/W, 5.45pm); Cork (2pm) Friday: Kempton Park (A/W, 5.45pm); Lingfield Park, A/W, 2.10pm); Newbury (2pm); Sedgefield (1.50pm); Dundalk (5.30pm) Rugby union Natwest Six Nations England Italy Wales 15 27 14 Ireland Scotland France 24 29 13 Aviva Premiership Exeter Wasps Saracens Newcastle Leicester Gloucester Bath Sale Harlequins Northampton Worcester London Irish P 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 W 12 11 11 11 10 9 9 8 7 6 5 2 D 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 L F 5 432 5 468 6 490 6 335 7 408 7 378 8 423 9 408 10 424 11 386 12 297 15 283 A B 285 13 391 8 294 9 365 6 373 7 408 8 397 9 375 11 459 8 476 7 455 7 454 7 Pts 61 54 53 50 47 46 45 43 36 31 27 15 Green King IPA Championship Hartpury RFC 20 Doncaster 12 Rotherham Titans 3 Cornish Pirates Richmond Bristol 45 22 24 National League One: Caldy 12 Coventry 55; Cambridge 15 Darlington Mowden Park 25; Plymouth Albion 17 Bishop’s Stortford 10. League Two: North: Blaydon 15 Huddersfield 26; Macclesfield 28 Luctonians 12; Sedgley Park 24 Otley 21; Stourbridge 26 Sheffield Tigers 28; Wharfedale 14 Tynedale 33. South: Chinnor 41 Barnstaple 10; Cinderford 40 Old Redcliffians 12; Clifton 29 Bury St Edmunds 7; London Irish Wild Geese 39 Redruth 32; Tonbridge Juddians 22 Broadstreet 14; Worthing 22 Canterbury 17 Principality Building Society Welsh Premiership Carmarthen Quins 10 Llandovery 17 Merthyr 44 Cardiff Rugby Ebbw Vale Llanelli 34 6 43 Swalec Welsh National Championship: Cardiff Met 42 Beddau 15. Swalec Welsh National League: Division One: North: Bro Ffestiniog 89 Colwyn Bay 12; Dolgellau 3 Bethesda 12 BT Scottish Premiership Glasgow Hawks Harwick Marr 0 38 27 Boroughmuir Melrose Stirling County 27 3 17 BT Scottish National League: Division One: Cartha Q P 42 Falkirk 12; GHA 45 Aberdeen Grammar 12; Jed-Forest 22 Edinburgh Acads 6; Selkirk 28 Stewart’s Melville 5. Division Two: Kirkcaldy 15 Peebles 8; Preston Lodge FP 12 Dumfries 50. Division Three: Dalziel 24 Hillhead/Jordanhill 3; Glasgow Acads 38 Perthshire 12; Gordonians 7 Highland 45; Murrayfield Wanderers 61 Haddington 10 Rugby league Betfred Super League Catalans Dragons Wakefield St Helens Wigan Wakefield Leeds Castleford Warrington Widnes Hull K R Hull Salford Huddersfield Catalans Dragons 0 A P 6 5 5 5 4 7 6 6 6 6 6 6 Warrington Widnes W 5 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 1 D 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 L 1 1 1 1 1 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 F 177 136 98 90 69 102 117 106 111 94 82 60 26 A A Pts 72 10 72 8 66 8 82 8 84 6 107 6 109 4 112 4 120 4 130 4 146 4 142 2 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup: Round four Normanton Knights 8 Rochdale Hornets 20 Saturday: Bangor-on-Dee (1.40pm); Doncaster (1.50pm); Lingfield Park (A/W, 2pm); Newbury (2.05pm); Wolverhampton (A/W, 5.45pm); Thurles (2.10pm) National Conference: Premier Division: Hunslet Club Parkside 14 Thatto Heath Crusaders 10; Siddal 16 Rochdale Mayfield 14; Wath Brow Hornets 28 Underbank Rangers 14; Wigan St Patricks 16 Egremont Rangers 44. Division One: Thornhill Trojans 18 Milford Marlins 18; Lock Lane 8 Featherstone Lions 18 Flat meetings in bold 0 All other matches postponed 16 The Sunday Times March 18, 2018 SPORT COMMENT David Walsh MIKE EHRMANN The disaster for Jose Mourinho and everyone at Old Trafford is that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have become the new Manchester United O GETTY IMAGES n Friday a film reviewer in The Times used the French word “jouissance”, meaning “an eruption of the real”. That same day at Manchester United’s training ground, Jose Mourinho was being questioned about his team’s timid exit from the Champions League three nights before. The manager decided the moment was right for a little jouissance. He listed the details of Manchester United’s experience of the Champions League since they last won it 10 years ago. They told a largely grim story. A journalist tried to intervene. “Jose,” he said, “those stats . . .” But before he could ask the question Mourinho rolled on, carrying all before him. “They are real, they are real. Do you want other real? I’ll give you a couple more real. In the past seven years, the worst position of Manchester City in the Premier League was fourth. In the past seven years, Manchester City was champions twice and if you want to say three times because they will be in one more week, two, three or four [weeks].” This eruption followed on from Mourinho’s descent into pathos on Tuesday evening. Then he said he did not want to make a drama out of the 2-1 defeat by Sevilla because it was now customary for Manchester United to exit the Champions League at the point when Europe’s top clubs begin to take it seriously. The pathos came in his recalling the 2004 and 2013 exits, as United were beaten by teams managed by Mourinho in those years. Manchester United may no longer have the performance pedigree of a top European club but their manager is a serial winner, even if he says so himself. Last time you heard a man so reluctant to face up to the significance of a defeat, Greg Norman was talking about the $30m he had in the bank after a crushing loss to Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters. Norman led Faldo by six shots at the start of the final day’s play but lost the tournament by five strokes to his rival. Expectation shackled Norman, as it did United on Tuesday. The feeling persists that Mourinho stifles the players. He sets up the team in a way that says: “At this level, we’re not very good.” Then the team play with a lack of belief and the manager says: “See, I told you so, but let me remind you of how good I am.” Mourinho will make United stronger. That is not the concern. Pep Guardiola is. The United fear is that City may be on their way to somewhere unreachable for Mourinho’s team. Had Mourinho watched Guardiola’s team ease to victory against Stoke on Monday evening? Had he admired that beautiful first goal? Ederson well outside his area, passing to Vincent Kompany, who rolls it wide to Kyle Walker, and all at a snail’s pace. Then Walker plays a ball down the right-hand touchline to Raheem Sterling, and suddenly the tempo changes. Sterling quickly plays the ball infield to Fernandinho, who fizzes it forward to On the charge: Rory McIlroy on the way to a round of 67 McIlroy finds his touch to outshine Woods GOLF Late burst puts brilliant Northern Irishman back in the hunt for title Nick Pitt Work in progress: Leroy Sane is still developing under Guardiola Gabriel Jesus. With his back to goal, Jesus knows Sterling is already sprinting and plays the ball into his path. The winger’s only touch is a wonderfully accurate pass to David Silva, who flashes the ball into the corner of the net. With the Premier League already over, there is no reason to watch Manchester City other than to be enthralled by moves as exquisite as the one that delivered Silva’s goal. Had he watched on Monday evening, Mourinho would have noticed the cameo involving Guardiola and Leroy Sane at the end of the game. After shaking the hand of Stoke’s manager Paul Lambert, Guardiola went straight to Sane and though the exchange was brief, it was passionate. The probability was that Guardiola was unhappy with something in Sane’s performance and could not wait for the sanctuary of the changing room. Three weeks before, on another Monday evening, this one in Wigan, the manager replaced Sane at half-time. “I don’t have doubts about how important he [Sane] is to us,” the manager said. “He has a special talent but he has a lot of things to improve. Simple things.” Sane is the most exciting dribbler of the ball in the Premier League and Guardiola cherishes that gift above all others. At the time he was thinking of signing for Manchester City, Sane spoke to his friend in the German national team, Joshua Kimmich, who had worked with Guardiola at Bayern Munich. “Leroy, if Guardiola calls you and tells you that he wants you on his team, do it,” Kimmich said. Sane is not like Kimmich, who is a straightforward and narrow-focused central defender. “To play with freedom, I mainly need fun,” Sane said in January. “I don’t think and I don’t set specific goals for a game. I just let things happen. If I clear my mind, everything else just happens.” At times Sane can seem disconnected from the team, as though he is half there, half somewhere else. Then there are the moments, irresistible, when he is the most exhilarating attacker in the league. Guardiola tells him what he must do when the other team have the ball, gives him pictures of the position he must take Mourinho can rediscover his younger self but it needs to happen soon on the pitch and the need for tactical discipline. Sane likes to dribble from out to in, to make a beeline for the goal, but Guardiola does not like his wingers coming infield as it brings them into traffic. He loves Sane but knows it must be tough love. Getting the best out of him is what makes the manager get out of bed. Mourinho will understand the relationships Guardiola is forging with his players. He enjoyed the same thing with Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and others when he first came to Chelsea. Does he look at Guardiola now and see reflections of his younger self? The battles then were on the training ground, not in the postmatch press conference. Too often now it is about what Jose says, not what he’s doing. He can rediscover his younger self but it needs to happen soon. The insurmountable bit relates to the football his team play. It is Mourinho’s game, not Manchester United’s, and for the most part it is unexciting. This is the cross that United’s supporters will not silently carry. Especially as they look across at their City neighbours and find themselves admiring the speed and skill and attacking flair of Guardiola’s team. The killer for Mourinho and everyone at Old Trafford is that Manchester City have become the new Manchester United. Forget Ladies’ Day — this was Ladies’ Week At virtually all of the bigger horse racing festivals they have a “ladies’ day”, a harmless little pageant to determine the most elegantly dressed lady present. It wouldn’t work in football or rugby but in the sport of kings, someone decided it would be a way of getting women more involved. Another way for men to pigeonhole women. Wednesday was Ladies’ Day at Cheltenham but, famously, what happened inside the white railings was a vastly superior way of LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Send your letters to: The Sports Editor, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge St London SE1 9GF email: sportletters @sunday-times.co.uk allowing women to feel part of the week. There were 28 races at Cheltenham and four of the winners were ridden by women. Not women competing in races for women, but women against men; no quarter given, none asked. And how the four women contributed to the tapestry of the Cheltenham story. Lizzie Kelly’s victory on Coo Star Sivola in the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day may have been the most important because the six-year-old gelding was Eddie Jones may have apologised for his unsavoury remarks about Ireland and Wales but the fact remains that he was stupid enough to make them and to goad Rhys Patchell, the young stand-in Welsh fly-half, before the England v Wales match. Maybe his tenure as England coach is drawing to a close. Paul Barker, Shrewsbury Eddie Jones’ disgraceful jests show his true nature. Let all proposals for him to manage the 2021 Lions now end — a Lions manager has to exhibit class, not crass. Phillip Griffiths, Guildford RFC the 5-1 favourite. Trainers give women riders opportunities but are slow to put them up on their wellfancied charges. Coo Star Sivola’s trainer, Nick Williams, is Kelly’s stepfather. Would she have been given the ride without the connection? Maybe not. As the trainer Paul Nicholls says: “These aren’t good women riders, they’re just good riders.” Katie Walsh rode the coolest race imaginable on Relegate in the Weatherbys Bumper, coming from last to first while making it seem routine. It was Walsh’s third winner at the festival. Relegate was 25-1, ranked Clearly Stephen Jones watched a different game to everyone else. Awarding Chris Robshaw 5/10 in the game against France was an insult. He was the most consistent player in the squad. Stafford Ford, via email suggests something is awry with the coaching at the moment. Alex Petschi, London Eddie Jones is not a genius, he is a good international coach who has achieved what he should have done given the wealth of talent available to him. But for probably the fastest back three England has ever put on a rugby pitch to get only the merest sniff of the ball in the match against France Kelly: festival success The West Ham ‘fans’ must be fit to invade the pitch — they have done nothing but moan about how far away the seats are since they moved to the London stadium. After shouting abuse they still managed to run all that way. Richard Reddicliffe, Bournemouth The memory of West Ham hero and World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore was soured by the action of a few boneheads. Moore’s class fourth of trainer Willie Mullins’ five in the race. Then there was Harriet Tucker hunting around on Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunter Chase, improving her position only when the moment was right and then getting the most brilliant leap from her partner at the final fence. Somewhere in those closing stages she felt her dodgy shoulder slipping from its socket but yanked it back into place. The weaker sex, did you say? The greatest moment was the prolonged kiss bestowed on Bridget Andrews by her boyfriend, the jockey Harry Skelton. Skelton could have ridden Mohaayed in the County Hurdle but chose a more fancied stablemate, leaving Andrews to ride the 33-1 shot. Skelton was punching the air in triumph as he crossed the line in a dead-heat for fifth, more pleased for Bridget than he could have been for himself. The glory of Cheltenham was that their Ladies’ Day was overwhelmed by what you could call Ladies’ Week. adorned the beautiful game but his old club have serious problems. They must act swiftly and give a minimum of 20-year bans to the morons who invaded the pitch in their match against Burnley. And those who chanted abuse at David Sullivan and co-owner David Gold deserve five-year bans. David Rimmer, Hertford Heath alone actually doing so. Bob Watson, Baildon It’s all very well, following his revolting spitting incident, for Jamie Carragher to say it’s not something he will do again. Surely most people, even if provoked, would not even consider spitting, let Can anybody explain why footballers appear to spit incessantly while rugby players and cricketers do not? Roger Foord, via email How can Joe Crowley (letters, last week) say ‘a true football fan knows history counts for nothing’? For some of us it counts for everything. As a Sunderland supporter, our six league championships are the only thing we can cling to these days. Sandy Phillips, via email Rory McIlroy produced a burst of late brilliance in his third round to put himself in firm contention yesterday at the Arnold Palmer International at Bay Hill. Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau, who began the day jointly in the lead, maintained their challenge, but the threats to them were obvious as McIlroy, Justin Rose and several others surged to almost join them. As dusk fell at Bay Hill, Stenson held the advantage at 12 under par, with DeChambeau one behind, and McIlroy two behind. A thrilling finish is all but guaranteed today. Stenson, with a 71, was steady, but can be an iron-willed competitor and he is never afraid of holding and extending a lead. A week ago, McIlroy was out of sorts and missed the cut at the Valspar championship. He also had a faltering start at Bay Hill but has grown stronger as his ball-striking has improved round by round. A steady opening half of 34, with two birdies, was somewhat tarnished when McIlroy made a bogey on the 11th hole. At that point the leaders, Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau, seemed to be out of range. But McIlroy made a fine eagle on the 12th, a birdie on the 16th and another on the final hole to reach 10 under par and complete his charge up the leaderboard. The highlight was his soaring approach to the 18th, which left him with a tap-in for his birdie. McIlroy was understandably thrilled to have found his form, including his putting, after a wretched few weeks. Not far behind, at seven under par after a round of 69, was Tiger Woods. After Woods finished joint second at the Valspar last week and strode into contention in the first round at Bay Hill, some observers took it for granted that he would challenge for a victory that would be his ninth at the event, in 18 appearances. But even for Woods, the ultimate competitor, great expectations can be a burden. He was at pains to stress before the first round If sportsmen and women are so ill that they have to take medication to help them perform, would they not be better off in bed recuperating rather than competing? AD Scofield, Glastonbury On the subject of the slowness of golf and what could be done to speed up play, may I make what I consider three obvious suggestions. First, allow the use of GPS to determine the distance from the ball to the hole. This should avoid all the pacing from the ball to the various distance markers scattered about the course that he was making steady but incremental progress, with a long way to go. As if to prove the point, Woods had a moderate round on Friday, when he laboured to a round of 72, and was not quite firing on all cylinders in his third round yesterday. As ever, though, with a combination of tenacity and superb putting and chipping, Woods was able to hold his score together. His 69 left him at seven under par, on the edge of contention. Woods made regular mistakes and regular amends, most typically when he made a bogey on the parthree 17th after a wayward tee shot saw his ball plugged in a greenside bunker — and he followed that up by holing a sliding 12-footer for a birdie on the final hole. As usual, Woods could not resist playing to the gallery. With two of the hardest holes on the course to begin with, Bay Hill presents a tricky opening and Woods fell foul of it with a bogey on the second hole. His response was to bring out his marvellous, restored short game. His first birdie came on the third hole when he drained a putt from 38 feet. On the parfive fourth, his long-iron approach leaked to the right and ended in a deep greenside hollow. Getting the next shot close to the hole seemed well nigh impossible, but of course Woods managed to find a way by chipping the ball hard into the bank in front of him so that it bounced softly to finish six feet past the hole. Having holed that one for his second birdie, he produced a wonderful bunker shot to save par on the par-three fifth. Wayward shots from the tee halted his momentum but Woods reached the turn in 35 strokes, one under par. Woods’ playing companion, Rose, was more solid and less adventurous, as you would expect, but he more than matched his scoring early on with birdies on the first and fifth and no dropped shots to the turn. Rose outplayed Woods throughout the day in every area except putting. As a result, the Englishman was only two strokes better with a 67 and a nine-under-par total for three rounds. “That’s the best I’ve played this year,” Rose said. “I felt it could have been a lot better than a 67.” ON TV TODAY Arnold Palmer Invitational, final day 4.30pm Sky Sports Golf and should be least controversial. Second, and probably too controversial, increase the diameter of the holes to revert to the ratio of golf ball diameter to hole diameter which existed when the smaller ‘British’ ball, 1.62in, was used. The ’American’ ball used now is 1.6in. Third would be to use some form of ‘within the leather’ to save time for holing the very near-misses. Wilf Anderson, via email Oh dear Nick Pitt (last week), ‘Casey will not be winning today after a miserable run on the back nine . . . ’ Jacques Paul, via email © TIMES NEWSPAPERS LIMITED, 2018. Published and licensed for distribution in electronic and all other derivative forms by Times Newspapers Ltd, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF. Printed by Newsprinters (Broxbourne) Ltd, Great Cambridge Road, Waltham Cross, EN8 8DY, Kitling Rd, Prescot, Merseyside L34 9HN, Newsprinters (Eurocentral) Ltd, Byramsmuir Road, Holytown, Motherwell, ML1 4WH and TF Print SA, Edificio Multiusos, Poligono Industrial Los Majuelos, 38108 La Laguna Sta. 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