Stoke improved after the interval and looked unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Leroy Fer had a hand on Kenwyne Jones in the area, before Begovic pulled off a smart save to keep out a Robert Snodgrass shot. With both clubs struggling for goals this season, a tight affair had been expected and Norwich boss Chris Hughton will be delighted to have emerged from the contest with all three points. They take his side – whose victory at Manchester City in May was their only other away league win in 2013 – to a total of seven points from six games this term, and up three places to 14th in the table. They leapfrog Stoke, who are now 15th and also on seven points from six matches. Norwich looked full of purpose from the off, with Pilkington bursting forward early on and unleashing a shot that Ryan Shawcross got in the way of. Bennett struck the woodwork in the ninth minute with a sliding effort at the back post as he got the better of Shawcross from a corner, and the ball came back to the Canaries defender for a second attempt, but Begovic was able to gather. There was a suspect moment for Begovic in the 17th minute as a delivery came across the box, with the goalkeeper failing to get anywhere near the ball as it appeared he was shoved to the ground by Michael Turner. Stoke were unable to make anything of a corner at the other end, and in the 28th minute, Begovic looked unconvincing again as he came to catch a Pilkington cross. He collided with Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who was judged to have committed a foul, and saw the ball go wide of the post. The hosts tried to step things up and Arnautovic sent a shot swerving just over the crossbar, but a minute later Norwich were in front. The Canaries took advantage of sloppy play from their opponents in the 34th minute as Howson collected the ball from Anthony Pilkington and beat Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who might have done better, from outside the box. Norwich had already hit the crossbar through Ryan Bennett and were good value for their lead, with a shot from Marko Arnautovic that whistled just over being the closest a subdued Potters side came in the opening 45 minutes. The Potters lost possession from their own throw-in and then failed to close down as Pilkington teed up Howson, who fired in a shot that seemed to catch the diving Begovic by surprise. Within five minutes Shawcross had a chance to equalise, but he could only head wide from Charlie Adam’s corner and Jones then slipped as he tried to meet a Geoff Cameron cross into the danger zone. Stoke manager Mark Hughes tried to give his side some fresh impetus by bringing on Stephen Ireland and Jermaine Pennant for Adam and Jon Walters at the interval, and shortly after the break the Potters had a strong-looking spot-kick claim turned down when Jones appeared to be pulled back in the box by Fer. Arnautovic then sent an ambitious attempt off-target, before Norwich began to probe again with the lively Pilkington striking wide and Snodgrass looping a shot over the bar. Jones struck weakly towards the near post, with John Ruddy dropping on the ball, and the Stoke frontman was then replaced by Peter Crouch. Steven Nzonzi drilled into Ruddy’s arms and Begovic then pulled off a great diving stop to keep out a curling strike from Snodgrass, the final really close effort of the game. Press Association Jonny Howson’s first-half strike steered Norwich to their second Barclays Premier League win of the season as they defeated Stoke 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
The nature of the offence means Mourinho is most likely to face a fine, rather than a ban. Mourinho went to sit with the fans, making the day of those he sat next to, but his own frustration was clear. Speaking earlier on Monday, prior to the FA’s announcement, Mourinho insisted he did not understand his sending off. “I don’t know the reason why the referee stopped me doing my work,” he said. “Until that moment (when he is informed why) I’m not going to make any comment. “To be with the fans was not funny. It’s frustrating. “You want to communicate with the players and you couldn’t do it.” While he would not comment on his own conduct, Mourinho had plenty to say about that of Cardiff. Press Association Eden Hazard scored the controversial equaliser after Samuel Eto’o dispossessed Cardiff’s David Marshall as the goalkeeper bounced the ball, contrary to FIFA rules. That brought lengthy complaints from the Welsh club, but Mourinho had little sympathy. Speaking on Chelsea’s arrival in Germany at Dusseldorf airport, ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League Group E clash at Schalke in Gelsenkirchen, Mourinho said: “If I was in that game and I was paying my ticket, I would be worried with the fact that every time the ball was out or stopped and our opponent had to put the ball back in the game, it took a median (average) of 21.5 seconds. That is a waste of money. “When you multiply that by the number of times the game was stopped, you pay for 90 minutes but you see 55 or 60. “For me, that’s breaking the rules.” Mourinho insisted Eto’o’s interception was an “intelligent action” and that Marshall’s actions were a warning to aspiring goalkeepers, including his own son. The Portuguese added: “When I arrived home the first thing I told my kids who like to play goalkeeper: ‘See the goal and don’t be silly?’ And he’s 12.” Mourinho disagreed with FIFA’s law 12, governing the incident, which states “the goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball while in the act of bouncing it on the ground or tossing it into the air”. He added: “If, in this moment, FIFA says that it’s a foul, it’s a foul. “But I think Samuel did well. Maybe the referee did wrong. “In my opinion, that should be allowed as it was for years. No contact with the goalkeeper. “The goalkeeper has six seconds to have the ball. They had almost half a minute. That’s breaking the rules.” Mourinho was also asked about another controversial ‘goal’ this weekend, when Stefan Kiessling had one awarded for Bayer Leverkusen when the ball went through a hole in the net. Mourinho said: “If I was the manager of Leverkusen, I would ask to repeat the game. “If I was the manager of Hoffenheim, I would do the same. “If I was working in the German Bundesliga – and you are one of the European countries that is not in economical problems – I don’t understand why you don’t spend a few million (euros) to bring technology on the line. “If it was the Portuguese or the Greek league, I would say no chance. But with the German one, I don’t know why you don’t do it.” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been charged with improper conduct after being sent to the stands during his side’s 4-1 win over Cardiff on Saturday. The Football Association has given the Portuguese until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge. There were a number of controversial incidents in the game, none more so than Chelsea’s disputed equaliser, and Mourinho was sent to the stands by referee Anthony Taylor after losing his cool.
The matches came thick and fast over the festive period, but the niggling strain would not go away. The 22-year-old has been passed fit for Sunday’s game at Swansea though after he came through a 45-minute run-out in the Under-21s on Tuesday. Townsend scored one goal and set up two more in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, and Sherwood was happy with the wide man’s contribution. “Andros had a quiet one on Tuesday,” Sherwood said with an ironic grin. “We all know what he can do. He gives us a different dimension. “He had a flying start to the season and we are happy to have him back in the squad.” Sherwood has had to deploy Christian Eriksen on the left wing in recent weeks because the natural replacements for Townsend – Erik Lamela and Gylfi Sigurdsson – have been struggling with injury. Townsend’s return should therefore give Spurs the natural width in midfield which is key to Sherwood’s attacking philosophy. Injury has decimated the Tottenham squad in recent weeks. As many as 10 first-team players have been out at one time during the festive period. Of all the injuries suffered, the most key have been to Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul. The absence of the tall, quick and powerful centre-backs has meant that Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches have started the last six games at centre-back. At first sight the two might not seem a natural pairing, but they have formed a decent partnership, conceding six goals. “We picked up a lot of injuries in the centre-back position, which was a problem for us but Chiriches and Dawson have been fantastic over that Christmas period,” Sherwood said. “We’ve managed to get positive results with basically just those two to choose from.” In reality Sherwood has Hugo Lloris to thank for the team’s decent defensive record of late. The Frenchman started to lose form towards the end of Andre Villas-Boas’ reign, but he has been back to his best. Lloris’ saves have helped Tottenham move to within two points of the top four, but the goalkeeper knows there is still much work to do if the north London club are to qualify for the Champions League. “Our hopes for the season are still alive because we’re getting points and we are closer to the top four, so we are still in a good way,” Lloris told Spurs TV. “But we have to be careful and if we want to finish where we want to be, we have to do more.” Swansea’s own injury problems mean they have dropped down the table of late, with Michael Laudrup’s men without a win in their last seven. Swansea’s home record is the joint-worst in the division, but Lloris has told his team-mates they cannot afford to underestimate the opposition. He said: “It’s always difficult to play against Swansea and we know they’re capable of getting some good results against big teams. “They play some really good football and if we are not focussed on the game and if we don’t play at 100 per cent, it will be very difficult.” Press Association Sherwood kept a watchful eye over Townsend’s impressive development during his time with the youth squads, but the Spurs boss has been unable to call upon the winger since he was named head coach. Townsend suffered a hamstring injury following Sherwood’s first game as interim boss – the Capital One Cup defeat to West Ham – and he has found the comeback trail hard to negotiate. Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood cannot wait to unleash Andros Townsend on terrified defenders once again.
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is adamant he decides on which players he wants at the club, with owner Vincent Tan simply controlling the purse strings. Controversial Malaysian billionaire Tan pulled no punches in a wide-ranging interview with the BBC which fans’ groups believe will only serve to further divide opinion on the 62-year-old. One aspect saw Tan criticise former boss Malky Mackay and one-time head of recruitment Iain Moody for a considerable overspend on new players last summer. Tan is now keen to have a more hands-on role, although Solskjaer maintains that he chooses the players he believes will strengthen his squad. “I do football matters, the football decisions are mine,” said Solskjaer. “But Vincent Tan has to be a part of the structure that agrees on transfers – ins and outs – and that it’s managed with a budget of x, not x plus y. “He needs to know how much that is, and he needs to know agent fees and everything. “He is very willing to invest and wants us to be successful and wants to know what we do, but it’s got to be transparent, structured, and he is involved in that. “But he doesn’t identify players. We have scouts and I decide on who we go for, and then it’s about whether we have the resources.” With a clash against Tottenham at White Hart Lane looming on Sunday, Tan’s comments – as he criticised fans, the British media and Mackay – have undeniably overshadowed the build up. Despite that, Solskjaer said: “It doesn’t change the focus for the game. He is coming on Sunday to watch, and he will come to see us before it.” Tan believes he should be seen as the hero for saving Cardiff from bankruptcy, rather than being portrayed as “a villain” by the British media he claims have been “a little bit racist and unfair”. Despite the fury over his decision to change the club’s colours from blue to red, Tan is adamant he has no qualms, and instead it is the fans who should apologise to him for some of their criticisms. The Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust suggests such comments will “divide the fan base even more than it is already”. But Solskjaer can understand Tan’s point as he said: “I see that he’s really backing or praising 95 per cent of the supporters. “My glass is always half full, so that statement he made is very pleasing. “Of course there are always going to be people criticising what you do, but we wouldn’t be in the Premier League without his investments.” Solskjaer can, however, appreciate the fans’ outcry over the shirt colour change, but again refused to criticise Tan for his decision. “Yeah, of course I understand fans’ concerns about the shirt change because that’s the identity they’ve been a part of,” added the former Manchester United star. “But that was a decision made before my time. “Was the shirt change a mistake? You know what mistakes I look at… maybe picking this player or picking that game plan.” Press Association
Pat Fahy’s stable star was a Grade One winner over hurdles at the meeting last year and has twice been placed at the highest level over fences this term. He lost little in defeat when third in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last week and Fahy is hoping the ground will be a little slower at Punchestown. “It was maybe just a touch too quick for him,” said Fahy. “Maybe if they’d gone quicker early in the race, he might have been like Lord Windermere in the Gold Cup, a bit outpaced, but then they would have come back to him at the end. “Time will tell, if the ground was slower they might not have got away from him at the finish. His jumping was spot on, though. “We’ll stick to the novice route this year, he won’t go for the Irish National. “He got light coming home so I need to build him back up now and get him ready for Punchestown.” Press Association Morning Assembly will return to the scene of his finest hour for the Growise Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival.
Replacement centre Gareth Maule claimed the bonus-point try a minute from time, squeezing under the posts. But that was after Scarlets saw a 25-11 lead shrink to 25-23 in the space of two minutes following tries by wing Fionn Carr and full-back Robbie Henshaw. Two minutes later Richard Kelly, who had replaced Ball at half-time, went over but the referee said the player was held up. After scoring the opening try Jonathan Davies was involved in the second as scrum-half Gareth Davies went over under the posts for his ninth try of the campaign. Priestland converted to take his side in to a 20-6 advantage. Scarlets followed that with an incredible try started with Liam Williams in his own 22. Priestland and Kristian Phillips continued the counter attack finished off by Josh Turnbull. Scrum-half Kieran Marmion grabbed a try back for Connacht from a quick tapped penalty as the Irishmen reduced the deficit to 14 points at 25-11. Connacht finished strongly and grabbed two tries in the space of three minutes. First Carr latched on to a chip from replacement outside-half Miah Nikora, who also converted to cut the deficit to seven points, and he was followed over by Henshaw. But Nikora could not convert which would have drawn the scores level. In a dramatic finish Maule stretched over for the fourth try, but McKeon scored Connacht’s fourth. And after Maule’s score, Connacht managed to have the final say with a fourth try for Ewen McKeon to secure two bonus points. Scarlets welcomed back Rhys Priestland for the first time since the RBS 6 Nations Championship and also included their other Wales stars Davies, Liam Williams, Ken Owens, Rhodri Jones and Jake Ball. The Scarlets went cruised into a 7-0 lead inside two minutes through Wales centre Jonathan Davies. The move began after a quick tapped penalty in their own half by Priestland. Impressive wing Jordan Williams went on a 40-metre run before putting Davies over. If the home fans thought it was going to be a try-fest in the warm spring sunshine they had to rethink as Connacht replied with two penalties on six and 21 minutes. But Scarlets gave themselves some breathing space three minutes later when Priestland struck a 40-metre penalty from in front of the posts. Priestland struck the post with a second penalty eight minutes from half-time as Scarlets took a 13-6 lead in to the break. Four minutes into the second half Priestland had a chance to further improve his side’s lead only to find the post again with his 35-metre attempt. Scarlets had to endure a Connacht comeback late in the second half before claiming a 32-30 bonus-point victory in a dramatic RaboDirect Pro12 contest at a sun-drenched Parc y Scarlets. Press Association
David Moyes’ days as Manchester United manager appear to be numbered. Moyes has reportedly lost the support of United’s owners – the Glazer family – and his contract is expected to be terminated. United insisted that Moyes was still their manager on Monday, but refused to deny widespread reports the Scot was to be dismissed. In previous weeks, officials behind the scenes have knocked down similar stories, so their refusal to do so this time is perhaps telling. All eyes will be on United’s training ground in Carrington to see if Moyes turns up for work on Tuesday morning. Should the Scot not take training, his position would come under further scrutiny. Former captain Gary Neville, who made over 600 appearances for United, wants the club to clear up the situation. “Usually they don’t comment on anything, but they’re going to have to clarify this position quickly,” Neville told Sky Sports. “They might have to break rank and do what they don’t normally do and make a statement pretty quickly.” If Moyes’ 10-month reign is finally brought to an end on Tuesday, there will be no shortage of takers for the position. Jurgen Klopp, Laurent Blanc and Louis van Gaal have the credentials to succeed, but perhaps a more popular choice would be to install Ryan Giggs, who is part of Moyes’ backroom staff having started taking his coaching badges earlier this season. There is a perception among United fans that Giggs, perhaps along with Paul Scholes or Nicky Butt, could restore some pride and passion to the United dressing room after what has been a truly woeful season under Moyes. The list of unwanted records broken during Moyes’ time at the helm is as embarrassing as it is long. United will end the season with their lowest points total in Premier League history, they have not qualified for the Champions League for the first time in almost two decades and their home record this season is the worst since 1978. The Red Devils, who won the title by 11 points under Sir Alex Ferguson last year, are seventh in the Barclays Premier League with four matches left. In the immediate aftermath of United’s 11th league defeat of the season, Moyes seemed unaware pressure on his shoulders was growing. “We need to end the season on a high,” the 50-year-old told MUTV after the 2-0 loss at Everton. “We want to win all our games. “We’ll do everything we possibly can to make that happen.” Neville urged United not to follow the trend of other clubs who hire and fire every season, and instead allow Moyes the chance to show what he can do. He said: “I genuinely believe when you give a man a six-year contract that he deserves the opportunity and time and professionally the respect. “Football is a world of madness. The average manager gets sacked every 12 months and I’ve always felt Manchester United should be different, hold themselves up as a club that basically stands against what’s happening in the game. “We used to laugh at Italy 20 years ago and say it’s ridiculous what’s happening there. Now we’ve almost become accustomed to it. “I’m hoping the club will come out and clarify it, and maybe it won’t be true.” Press Association
Rose arguably had the shot of the round after he made a 75-foot putt to claim an eagle on the par-five fifth hole. Cabrera parred the first two holes before claiming a birdie on the third, although that was cancelled out on the next hole with a bogey on the fourth. Three more birdies saw the 44-year-old go out in 33 and a further three on the back nine in consecutive holes from 10 to 12 saw him finish on 66. The two-time major winner was pleased with his first round performance and praised the changes made to the course. He told pgatour.com: “It was a really good first round. I played really good on the greens. “The changes are really good and on the 16th hole it is a really good change. “I felt really good putting.” Mickelson had an up and down opening round, going out in 32 with birdies on the first, third, seventh and eighth holes, before bogeys on the 13th and 17th holes cancelled out two of the birdies he carded on his return, on the 10th, 12th and 15th holes. Flores started and ended his round with a bogey, but shot seven birdies to go level with Mickelson, while Cink, who started on the back nine, enjoyed his opening round as he finished a further stroke back. The Argentinian thrived on the new Bermuda grass greens and hit seven birdies, with the only blot on his card a bogey at the par four fourth hole as he finished the round holding a one stroke lead over Americans Phil Mickelson and Martin Flores, who were tied for second. Stewart Cink, Jonathan Byrd and Webb Simpson held a three-way tie for fourth place with a cluster of nine players including Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Scotland’s Martin Laird tied for seventh on three under. Angel Cabrera held the lead after the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte after he carded a six-under-par 66 on Thursday. Cink said: “It was a good round. Up and down a little more up than down. This golf course is not easy. You can play pretty well and still take your lumps out there. I kind of did and overall it was a good round and I am pleased. “I’ve always felt fairly comfortable playing at Quail Hollow. It’s a fun place to play and there are a lot of challenging shots out there but the course will reward good play. “I have a good attitude while I’m here. I feel comfortable and the course forces you into being in a good frame of mind.” Northern Ireland’s McIlroy started on the back nine and came into the clubhouse with 69 after three bogeys and six birdies in his opening round. However, despite not recording as low a score as others on the course, the 24-year-old was boosted by his putting performance. “I felt like I played solid,” he said. “I gave myself plenty of looks for birdies and I felt like I putted a little better today than I have done in the past few weeks. “I was looking to go a couple more under par after the turn but I bogeyed three and four but bounced back nicely on five and six and I was trying to squeeze a couple more but I think anything sub 70 today is a good score because the wind is a little gusty out there.” Press Association
Damien Duff has agreed a one-year deal to join Melbourne City on a free transfer. The 35-year-old , who won the Premier League twice with Chelsea and earned 100 caps for the Republic of Ireland, left Fulham at the end of last season after spending five years at Craven Cottage. Duff joins ahead of the 2014-15 A-League campaign as Melbourne City’s 18th confirmed squad member, with speculation set to continue over further high profile arrivals at the club. Melbourne City have already confirmed that David Villa will join the club on a short-term loan before linking up with sister club New York City for the 2015 MLS campaign. Head coach John van’t Schip said Duff’s vast experience in England would be integral to the team and would assist in the development of the squad’s younger players. “We’re excited to have a player of Damien’s quality and experience for this season,” he said. “We believe he can offer international standard quality on the pitch and will also be a great professional example for our younger players. “His career speaks for itself. He has achieved almost everything at club level and has been a great player at an international level too. “He comes to us straight from the English Premier League with Fulham, so he has been playing at the highest level against top teams and top players. “When we met with Damien, he was excited about the opportunity here and keen to work with us to help make this project a success.” City also announced they have re-signed promising duo Stefan Mauk and Ben Garuccio until 2016 and 2017 respectively. Press Association
The announcement came on the same day the fixture list was released for the new campaign, which starts on the weekend of September 5. Last season’s top two face off in round one as defending champions Leinster travel to Glasgow. New Cardiff Blues head coach Mark Hammett will begin his competitive tenure in charge with a trip to Italy to face Zebre. Elsewhere, Scarlets host Ulster and Munster welcome Edinburgh, while Connacht and Ospreys are also at home to Newport and Treviso respectively. The Christmas and New Year schedule will be expected to draw large crowds again with back-to-back derbies pitching Newport against Cardiff and Scarlets against Ospreys. Guinness has replaced RaboDirect as the sponsor of the PRO12 league ahead of the 2014/15 season. Press Association