Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Aberdeen 1-1 Rangers: Hosts hit back for deserved point

Frustrated Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass says a wrong penalty decision cost his side victory over Rangers after a controversial draw at home with the Scottish Premiership leaders.Within seconds of avoiding punishment when goalkeeper Allan McGregor caught Ryan Hedges inside the box, Rangers took the lead through Ianis Hagi.Aberdeen hit back with a Lewis Ferguson spot-kick, ending Rangers' nine-match league winning run to leave them four points clear of Celtic. The Ibrox side had Ryan Kent harshly sent off late on."It's a penalty kick," Glass said of the McGregor incident. "Goalkeeper comes out, doesn't get near the ball, hits our forward player. "The linesman said there wasn't enough contact then the referee told me at half-time there was no contact. It's an incident that has cost us probably winning the game."Aberdeen stay sixth, now a point behind Hibernian. The Pittodrie men have not beaten Rangers in the league in more than three years, but were the better side in this full-blooded encounter and will feel aggrieved not to have ended that barren run.The fuse was lit on a combustible fixture in the 20th minute. Hedges found himself with just McGregor in his path after racing on to a launched Jonny Hayes pass out of defence. McGregor rushed out to the edge of his box, got nothing on the ball as it was knocked past him, and caught Hedges with a flailing leg.Referee Kevin Clancy ignored the vociferous Aberdeen appeals and Rangers quickly countered to compound the hosts' angst. Former Aberdeen winger Scott Wright switched play to Kent on the left and his sublime delivery left Hagi with a tap-in.It was harsh on Glass' men, who had started strongly, with Teddy Jenks rattling the outside of the post and forcing McGregor into a fingertip save.Buoyed by the goal, Rangers almost added a second when Alfredo Morelos chased down a woefully-short Funso Ojo backpass. Goalkeeper Joe Lewis got there in the nick of time, then scrambled across to punch off his line when James Tavernier's cross threatened to sneak in at the near post.However, the champions were unable to build on that momentum as they dropped points for the first time under Giovanni van Bronckhorst who had steered them to seven straight Premiership wins.Aberdeen captain Scott Brown blazed over a volley shortly after the restart, but his side were struggling to seriously test McGregor in the second half until the penalty. Ferguson, whose header hit the arm of Morelos at close range, marked his 150th club appearance by sending McGregor the wrong way with a low spot-kick.There was still more drama and controversy to come. Lewis brilliantly tipped a Morelos volley away from the top corner, then Kent was harshly shown a second yellow for a challenge on Brown, who gleefully clapped his former Old Firm adversary off the pitch.Connor McLennan was inches away from connecting with a Christian Ramirez cross as Aberdeen pushed a late winner, with Hedges then stabbing wide, as a frenetic contest ended with a point apiece.Man of the match - Scott BrownWhat did we learn?Aberdeen need no extra motivation for a meeting with Rangers and have now bookended the Ibrox club's winning run with two draws that could have yielded more.The return of Brown was key as Glass' men played with aggression and never allowed the visitors to settle. Fellow midfielder Jenks had his best game for the club and was unlucky not to score.One defeat and four wins in Aberdeen's last six games shows Glass is overseeing steady progress.For Rangers, this was as poorly as they have played under Van Bronckhorst. The absence of talisman Joe Aribo - away with Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations - was telling in a disjointed performance.Rangers didn't get to grips with Aberdeen's midfield three and paid the price for inviting pressure in the second half.What did they say?Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass: "Frustrated that we didn't get the three points. We looked the dominant team even after going a goal behind."I am disappointed for the players that they don't get what they really deserve."Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst told Sky Sports: "In the end, especially with 10 men, we were happy with 1-1."Sometimes you have games like this. It's not like every place we go, we dominate and create chances. We knew it was going to be hard here. Of course we wanted to be better, especially on the ball, but we weren't so we go back with a point."What's next?Aberdeen welcome Edinburgh City to Pittodrie in the Scottish Cup fourth round on Saturday (15:00) before facing St Mirren on Premiership duty in Paisley next Wednesday (19:45).Rangers have two home games looming - Stirling Albion in the cup on Friday (19:45) then a league meeting with Livingston next Wednesday (19:45).Player of the matchBrownScott Brownwith an average of 8.49AberdeenSquad number8Player nameBrownAverage rating8.49Squad number17Player nameHayesAverage rating7.55Squad number19Player nameFergusonAverage rating7.38Squad number22Player nameRamsayAverage rating7.08Squad number11Player nameHedgesAverage rating6.90Squad number2Player nameMcCrorieAverage rating6.87Squad number20Player nameJenksAverage rating6.87Squad number27Player nameBatesAverage rating6.86Squad number9Player nameRamírezAverage rating6.84Squad number18Player nameMcLennanAverage rating6.84Squad number24Player nameCampbellAverage rating6.69Squad number16Player nameOjoAverage rating6.67Squad number1Player nameLewisAverage rating6.42RangersSquad number1Player nameMcGregorAverage rating4.35Squad number6Player nameGoldsonAverage rating4.22Squad number2Player nameTavernierAverage rating4.21Squad number14Player nameKentAverage rating4.11Squad number31Player nameBarisicAverage rating4.07Squad number20Player nameMorelosAverage rating3.99Squad number23Player nameWrightAverage rating3.85Squad number19Player nameSandsAverage rating3.84Squad number7Player nameHagiAverage rating3.79Squad number3Player nameBasseyAverage rating3.33Squad number18Player nameKamaraAverage rating3.24Squad number4Player nameLundstramAverage rating3.18Squad number30Player nameSakalaAverage rating3.06Squad number11Player nameIttenAverage rating2.95Line-upsAberdeenFormation 4-4-1-11Lewis22Ramsay2McCrorie27Bates17Hayes11Hedges19Ferguson8Brown16Ojo20Jenks9Ramírez1Lewis22RamsaySubstituted forCampbellat 74'minutes2McCrorieBooked at 58mins27Bates17HayesBooked at 76mins11Hedges19Ferguson8BrownBooked at 39mins16OjoSubstituted forMcLennanat 68'minutesBooked at 81mins20Jenks9RamírezSubstitutes5Gallagher10McGinn14Emmanuel-Thomas15McGeouch18McLennan24Campbell25Woods29Barron33KennedyRangersFormation 4-3-31McGregor2Tavernier6Goldson3Bassey31Barisic7Hagi18Kamara19Sands23Wright20Morelos14Kent1McGregor2TavernierBooked at 40mins6Goldson3Bassey31Barisic7HagiBooked at 6minsSubstituted forSakalaat 78'minutes18Kamara19Sands23WrightSubstituted forLundstramat 64'minutes20MorelosBooked at 72minsSubstituted forIttenat 89'minutes14KentBooked at 83minsSubstitutes4Lundstram11Itten15Simpson22Bacuna26Balogun30Sakala33McLaughlin43King61McCannReferee:Kevin ClancyAttendance:16,731Match StatsLive TextPost updateMatch ends, Aberdeen 1, Rangers 1.

Ross County 3-1 Motherwell: Red card 'galvanised' 10-man hosts to vital victory, says Mackay

Manager Malky Mackay says his 10-man Ross County side were "galvanised" by Jordan Tillson's red card as they beat Motherwell to move five points clear of the Scottish Premiership's bottom two.County took the lead when Sondre Solholm swiped into his own net before the visitors deservedly levelled with Jordan Roberts' fine 20-yard strike.The game turned on Tillson's dismissal just before the hour, but the hosts rallied and regained the lead through Regan Charles-Cook, who then added a third from the spot."I'm delighted for them," Mackay said. "It was a tough first half. Getting the goal to go into half-time was terrific. The sending off galvanised us. Off the back of that, every time we broke we looked a real threat. "I thought we defended really well. As a whole, the lads pulled together to make sure we went on to get a terrific win against a team flying high in the league."The victory keeps Mackay's side 10th, but they are now seven points clear of the foot of the table.County have been guilty of getting themselves involved in basketball-like encounters this season, but Mackay's side started this one in cagey fashion as Motherwell dominated the ball.The visitors created little with it, though, but began to show more threat when Kevin van Veen had a near-post effort blocked before Solholm's header looped over. County were dealt two blows when winger Joseph Hungbo and midfielder David Cancola had to come off injured. And they almost found themselves behind to go along with that bad fortune when Barry Maguire and Van Veen both had strikes from outside the area drift just wide of the right-hand post.But out of nowhere, the home side gained the lead in first-half stoppage time when the influential Charles-Cook beat Bevis Mugabi on the left before cutting inside and seeing an effort swiped in by Solholm.In a similar theme to the first half, the away side enjoyed the majority of the ball as they searched for a route back into the game, but were struggling to create until Roberts' stunner.Van Veen broke up the left and fed a ball across, allowing Roberts to take a touch and rifle a strike into the top-right corner.The game looked to have turned when Tillson saw red for a two-footed challenge on Liam Donnelly, but the 10 men of County found another gear.The hosts capitalised on cheap Motherwell defending as Dominic Samuel's cross could only be cleared as far as Charles-Cook, who finished low past Liam Kelly.And the County winger sealed an unlikely three points when a cross off Mugabi's hand allowed the Grenada international to slot a penalty home.Man of the match - Regan Charles-CookWhat did we learn?To survive in this unforgiving league you need players to stand tall when the chips are down, and Mackay has that in abundance.After Roberts' equaliser and Tillson's red card, it looked like the game would only go one way. But County dug in and showed immense bravery to take the game to the 11 men of the visitors.Motherwell have had days like this with Tony Watt in the side, but Alexander's men were wasteful in their first game following the departure of their former attacking talisman.But a lot of that poor attacking play was in the Fir Park side's approach, with hopeful high balls a constant route to goal.More slack defending will also concern Alexander, an issue that will have to be addressed if the Lanarkshire club have any hope of remaining in the league's top four.What did they say?Motherwell manager Graham Alexander: "We threw the game away. We were completely dominant right up to half-time. We had good opportunities to score and started the second half in same fashion."The red card for them softened us up mentally. We played worse when they went down to 10 men and allowed them to play better. That's what happens when you take it easy."What's next?Both sides are in Scottish Cup action on Saturday (15:00 GMT) as Motherwell host Championship side Morton and Ross County go to fellow Premiership club Livingston.Player of the matchRandallConnor Randallwith an average of 8.78Ross CountySquad number2Player nameRandallAverage rating8.78Squad number17Player nameCharles-CookAverage rating8.06Squad number20Player nameDrysdaleAverage rating7.71Squad number16Player nameIacovittiAverage rating7.44Squad number3Player nameVokinsAverage rating7.40Squad number26Player nameWhiteAverage rating7.38Squad number18Player nameBurroughsAverage rating7.26Squad number8Player nameCallachanAverage rating7.13Squad number10Player nameSamuelAverage rating7.06Squad number19Player nameRamsayAverage rating6.92Squad number7Player nameSpittalAverage rating6.84Squad number23Player nameHungboAverage rating6.60Squad number31Player nameMaynard-BrewerAverage rating6.57Squad number4Player nameCancolaAverage rating6.51Squad number22Player nameTillsonAverage rating6.22MotherwellSquad number27Player nameGossAverage rating5.81Squad number28Player nameRobertsAverage rating5.49Squad number9Player namevan VeenAverage rating5.47Squad number5Player nameMugabiAverage rating5.32Squad number22Player nameDonnellyAverage rating5.31Squad number7Player nameWooleryAverage rating5.22Squad number2Player nameO'DonnellAverage rating5.18Squad number1Player nameKellyAverage rating4.97Squad number6Player nameMaguireAverage rating4.92Squad number19Player nameMcGinleyAverage rating4.77Squad number21Player nameSolholm JohansenAverage rating4.68Squad number17Player nameAmaluzorAverage rating3.70Squad number29Player nameShieldsAverage rating2.48Line-upsRoss CountyFormation 4-2-3-131Maynard-Brewer2Randall20Drysdale16Iacovitti3Vokins4Cancola7Spittal23Hungbo8Callachan17Charles-Cook26White31Maynard-Brewer2Randall20Drysdale16Iacovitti3Vokins4CancolaSubstituted forTillsonat 29'minutesBooked at 59mins7Spittal23HungboSubstituted forSamuelat 19'minutes8Callachan17Charles-CookBooked at 60minsSubstituted forRamsayat 82'minutes26WhiteSubstituted forBurroughsat 83'minutesSubstitutes1Laidlaw9Samuel10Samuel18Burroughs19Ramsay22Tillson24Paton30Wright32MackinnonMotherwellFormation 4-3-31Kelly2O'Donnell5Mugabi21Solholm Johansen19McGinley22Donnelly6Maguire27Goss7Woolery9van Veen28Roberts1Kelly2O'DonnellBooked at 63mins5Mugabi21Solholm Johansen19McGinley22Donnelly6MaguireSubstituted forShieldsat 78'minutes27Goss7WoolerySubstituted forAmaluzorat 87'minutes9van Veen28RobertsBooked at 60minsSubstitutes3Carroll12Fox15O'Connor16Slattery17Amaluzor18Cornelius23Grimshaw29Shields31MorrisonReferee:John BeatonMatch StatsLive TextPost updateMatch ends, Ross County 3, Motherwell 1.

Hearts 2-0 St Johnstone: Josh Ginnelly double leaves visitors in 'crisis'

St Johnstone are in "crisis", admitted manager Callum Davidson, after Josh Ginnelly's double consigned his side to an eighth straight league loss and moved Hearts clear in third in the Scottish Premiership.Ginnelly latched on to Barrie McKay's superb pass to slot coolly past Zander Clark 19 seconds after the break, and then took advantage of another McKay run and assist to seal victory.St Johnstone - who have scored just 11 goals in 21 league games - are seven points adrift of automatic safety."I think it's a crisis just now to be honest with you," Davidson told BBC Scotland. "You can't go on a run like this. "We need to work hard. Tonight I thought we did it and then chucked a goal away. The players are giving me everything and trying hard to get better at certain things. But we need to get results."If we don't we're going to be in a position that'll be hard to get out of."Hearts, meanwhile, are eight points clear in the race for the first Europa Conference League spot after Motherwell, Hibernian and Aberdeen all failed to win this week. However, there was plenty of frustration directed at John Souttar, who has agreed to join Rangers in the summer when his Tynecastle deal expires.The Scotland defender was booed nearly every time he touched the ball by a section of Hearts fans, but head coach Robbie Neilson said pre-match he will continue to play Souttar unless Rangers make a suitable offer to bring him in this month."John's a guy that's recovered from three Achilles ruptures," the Hearts manager said. "There's not many people who recover from one. He's recovered from three and got back to international level. There's never a question of John's mental strength."The worry for Neilson was how the negative reaction would affect the rest of the side, but they recovered from a slow first half to take command of proceedings within seconds of the restart.A missed header in midfield by St Johnstone allowed McKay to pick up Alex Cochrane's lash forward, and the influential Hearts forward slipped in Ginnelly, who raced away from Callum Booth to slide the ball past visiting goalkeeper Clark.The same combination bore fruit 15 minutes from full-time as the visitors were again punished for their slackness. Debutant Nadir Ciftci gave away possession and McKay surged down the left before teeing up Ginnelly to sweep the ball into the top corner to kill the game.St Johnstone, who also had new signing Daniel Cleary making his debut in defence, were effective enough in the first half, as Ciftci forced two saves from Craig Gordon but once they fell behind they never looked like salvaging a result.Both sides had first-half penalty claims waved away by referee Nick Walsh too. But Hearts showed superior quality and saw out the game comfortably despite the unpleasant sound of fans booing their own player.Man of the match - Barrie McKayWhat did we learn?With Liam Boyce on the bench due to an ongoing calf injury, it was left to Ginnelly to lead the line for Hearts. The first half indicated why they could do with another striker to replace the Northern Irishman as they lacked a focal point for the outstanding McKay to work with.However, the second period showed the fluidity that's possible without natural a centre forward when given space to work in, and Ginnelly's pace in behind proved lethal for the first goal. He also showed good awareness to get on the end of McKay's cross for the second. Nevertheless, they will surely look to add up front before the month is out.For all Hearts' good play, the chorus of boos that greeted Souttar whenever he touched the ball was jarring and the centre-back looked ashen-faced when leaving the pitch. It may be that the brutal reception fades with time, but if it doesn't, it could become an issue.St Johnstone are in serious trouble. The first half was encouraging, with Ciftci looking lively and Cammy MacPherson a bright spark in midfield. But their lack of firepower is worrying, and they look utterly incapable of chasing a game.They seem to find it difficult to shift through the gears when starting in their conservative set-up, which was so effective last season. Manager Callum Davidson wants more signings, but the key question is whether they will be good enough to come in and make the 3-4-3 system work again, or whether he needs to change things up.Either way, time is running out and they now only have Dundee for close company down the bottom.What they saidHearts head coach Robbie Neilson: "They set up really well and it took a bit of time to break them down. Pleased to get the three points and it puts us in a good position in third place. "Barrie [McKay] stole the show with two great assists. We just need to keep him fit and get some goals into his game as well."St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: "There were a lot of signs of improvement and I was pleased with how we performed first half. "Second half, from our kick-off we concede. The game changes, they have three quick players up front and it played into their hands second half."What's next?Hearts are away to sixth-tier side Auchinleck Talbot in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday (12:30 GMT), while St Johnstone are also on the road at Kelty Hearts of League 2 (15:00).Player of the matchMcKayBarrie McKaywith an average of 8.08Heart of MidlothianSquad number18Player nameMcKayAverage rating8.08Squad number30Player nameGinnellyAverage rating7.87Squad number14Player nameDevlinAverage rating7.41Squad number3Player nameKingsleyAverage rating7.36Squad number19Player nameHalkettAverage rating7.34Squad number5Player nameHaringAverage rating7.22Squad number2Player nameSmithAverage rating7.06Squad number15Player nameMooreAverage rating7.06Squad number17Player nameCochraneAverage rating7.04Squad number1Player nameGordonAverage rating7.02Squad number8Player nameMcEneffAverage rating6.90Squad number11Player nameMackay-StevenAverage rating6.44Squad number16Player nameHallidayAverage rating6.22Squad number4Player nameSouttarAverage rating5.98St JohnstoneSquad number8Player nameDavidsonAverage rating5.60Squad number23Player nameÇiftçiAverage rating5.57Squad number6Player nameGordonAverage rating5.54Squad number1Player nameClarkAverage rating5.52Squad number11Player nameO'HalloranAverage rating5.45Squad number5Player nameClearyAverage rating5.37Squad number4Player nameMcCartAverage rating5.36Squad number18Player nameMacPhersonAverage rating5.32Squad number7Player nameMayAverage rating5.24Squad number24Player nameBoothAverage rating5.15Squad number34Player nameButterfieldAverage rating5.12Squad number21Player nameCrawfordAverage rating4.29Squad number9Player nameKaneAverage rating4.04Squad number14Player nameMiddletonAverage rating3.54Squad number15Player nameGilmourAverage rating3.43Line-upsHeartsFormation 3-4-31Gordon4Souttar19Halkett3Kingsley2Smith14Devlin5Haring17Cochrane18McKay30Ginnelly11Mackay-Steven1Gordon4SouttarBooked at 73mins19HalkettSubstituted forMooreat 71'minutes3Kingsley2SmithBooked at 89mins14Devlin5Haring17Cochrane18McKaySubstituted forHallidayat 83'minutes30Ginnelly11Mackay-StevenSubstituted forMcEneffat 71'minutesSubstitutes8McEneff10Boyce12Atkinson13Stewart15Moore16Halliday22Henderson38PollockSt JohnstoneFormation 3-5-21Clark5Cleary6Gordon4McCart11O'Halloran8Davidson34Butterfield18MacPherson24Booth23Çiftçi7May1Clark5ClearyBooked at 60mins6GordonBooked at 90mins4McCart11O'Halloran8DavidsonBooked at 70minsSubstituted forCrawfordat 80'minutes34ButterfieldSubstituted forGilmourat 65'minutes18MacPherson24Booth23ÇiftçiSubstituted forMiddletonat 80'minutes7MaySubstituted forKaneat 64'minutesSubstitutes2Brown3Gallacher9Kane12Parish14Middleton15Gilmour21Crawford25Ambrose26CraigReferee:Nick WalshAttendance:16,589Match StatsLive TextPost updateMatch ends, Heart of Midlothian 2, St. Johnstone 0.

Preston North End 2-2 Sheffield United: Preston come back to draw with 10 men

Emil Riis' 89th-minute goal saw Preston North End come from 2-0 down with 10 men to draw with Sheffield United.Jayden Bogle gave the Blades an early lead with a low shot through a crowded penalty area after John Egan's header from a corner had been beaten away by Daniel Iversen. The Blades doubled the lead through a Billy Sharp penalty after Andrew Hughes was controversially sent off for a foul on Rhian Brewster.Alan Browne pulled a goal back from close range before Riis popped up at the far post to slot in Ched Evans' cross. Despite dropping two points, Sheffield United move up to 11th and into the top half of the table on 33 points, ahead of 13th-placed Preston on goal difference.Preston should have gone ahead after 12 minutes when Riis broke through and fed the recalled Scott Sinclair, but the winger blasted against the legs of Wes Foderingham. The Blades broke immediately from Foderingham's save as Iliman Ndiaye forced Iversen to push his low shot past the far post, and it was not long before Bogle put the visitors ahead with an effort that beat the unsighted Preston keeper. The visitors began to up the pressure, but Preston coped well until conceding the penalty late in the first half.Bogle's pass was flicked to Brewster by Sharp and the former Liverpool forward broke through before going down under a tangle of legs with Hughes. Referee David Webb pointed to the spot and sent the defender off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.Sharp's penalty saw the 35-year-old equal former Preston forward David Nugent's record of 121 goals in the Championship since the second tier was renamed in 2004. The striker got his first at this level in March 2008 in a 2-1 win over Coventry City.Iversen made a good save from Ndiaye soon after the restart before Foderingham made an even better one two minutes later when he tipped over Browne's header.Brewster should have had the game out of sight after missing three good chances in the opening 20 minutes of the second half - his third saw the club's record signing drag a shot inches wide of the far post from six yards out. Daniel Johnson and Riis had chances in quick succession before Browne's powerful side-footed finish got Preston back into it after Johnson had cut the ball back.And those earlier misses came back to haunt Paul Heckingbottom's side as Riis sealed the win before Sepp van den Berg did well to block a stoppage-time effort from United's Conor Hourihane.Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe told BBC Radio Lancashire:"I'm more pleased with the character and the resilience and the desire of the boys."It's a tough scoreline for you to go in 2-0 down, but it's also a tough scoreline for the opposition - it's happened to me on many occasions. "I just asked the lads to give it everything they've got. We changed one or two bodies at half-time, changed a couple of things around and when we got that goal back we felt we'd get another couple of chances because they were always on the ascendency wanting to kill the game off."I always felt we'd get an opportunity to go down the other end, so it's that never-say-die attitude in terms of what we're trying to do and what we're trying to build."It is a penalty, it is a foul, but I was a bit disappointed in terms of the sending off because I felt the two of them had arms together, but what a fantastic reaction from the group.". Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom told BBC Radio Sheffield: "We threw it away. We've undone so much good work at both ends of the pitch."It could have, would have, should have been three, four or five. There were some good chances from some good play and then two killer blows at the end."While there's one goal in it, it doesn't matter if there's 10, nine or eight men, they're going to take risks and take chances."We had more than enough experience on the pitch at the end to see it out, so it's a sucker punch, a tough one to take and undone in terms of performance exactly what we're talking about and what we want to see."Line-upsPrestonFormation 3-4-1-212Iversen2van den Berg5Bauer16Hughes44Potts4Whiteman8Browne29Barkhuizen11Johnson19Riis Jakobsen31Sinclair12Iversen2van den Berg5Bauer16HughesBooked at 38mins44PottsSubstituted forRaffertyat 45'minutes4Whiteman8Browne29BarkhuizenSubstituted forEvansat 65'minutes11Johnson19Riis Jakobsen31SinclairSubstituted forCunninghamat 40'minutesBooked at 82minsSubstitutes3Cunningham6Lindsay9Evans13McCann15Rafferty24Maguire25RipleySheff UtdFormation 3-4-1-218Foderingham6Basham12Egan19Robinson20Bogle16Norwood24Hourihane3Stevens29Ndiaye7Brewster10Sharp18Foderingham6Basham12Egan19Robinson20BogleBooked at 80mins16Norwood24HourihaneBooked at 60mins3StevensSubstituted forNorrington-Daviesat 84'minutes29NdiayeSubstituted forBergeat 84'minutes7BrewsterSubstituted forMcGoldrickat 70'minutes10SharpSubstitutes8Berge14Burke17McGoldrick28Slater31Eastwood33Norrington-Davies34GordonReferee:David WebbAttendance:12,954Match StatsLive TextPost updateMatch ends, Preston North End 2, Sheffield United 2.

Zak Brown: McLaren boss says no sprint events in 2022 a possibility

Formula 1 is in danger of not having any sprint events this year as a result of a stand-off over money, says McLaren boss Zak Brown.F1 had an agreement in principle from the teams to increase the number of sprints from three to six in 2022.But eight out of 10 teams need to agree on details to secure the sprints, and some are holding out for more money.Brown said F1 "might not" find a way out of the impasse, adding: "That would be unfortunate."In a wide-ranging news conference Brown also:Addressed the controversy of the Abu Dhabi Grand PrixDiscussed Lewis Hamilton's futureSaid he had heard the VW Group would enter F1 with Red BullWhat is the problem over the sprint races?The sprint events were new last year. Held at the British, Italian and Brazilian Grands Prix, they introduced a short race on Saturdays in place of qualifying, which set the grid for the main event on Sunday.F1 has shown the teams data that proves the sprint events increased audience figures and sponsorship income.Last year a financial deal was agreed to provide the teams with a small payment to offset potential damage from more racing.But Brown said the big teams were trying to take advantage of this by pushing for a larger than necessary increase in the budget cap, which is set at $140m (£103m) this year."A couple of teams, and one team in particular, wanted a $5m budget cap increase, which was just ridiculous," Brown said."And no rational facts behind it. When you challenged them, they go to what if and could and you've got to anticipate. You sit there and go 'This is just nonsense.'"F1 rules dictate that for a change in the rules to be instigated in the calendar year of the championship, eight teams need to agree to it. So teams can hold F1 to ransom if they can get others to agree.To agree to the sprint events for the 2023 season requires only five teams to agree, and Brown said F1 should vote that through first and then try to agree on this season."Maybe there can be a compromise raised and we raise it a little bit, and we start in 2022 or we skip 2022, and a couple of these teams should have to explain to the fans why there is no sprint races," he said.Brown said the row over sprint races was one example of a problem with F1 governance where the voting protocols are exploited by the big teams pressuring smaller outfits with whom they have links to vote in their favour.Abu Dhabi 'felt like a pantomime audition'Brown said he had "a lot of confidence" in new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to resolve the controversy over the Abu Dhabi GP.The FIA is conducting an inquiry into the events at the season finale, where race director Michael Masi failed to apply the rules correctly in a late safety-car period, resulting in the destiny of the world title changing hands from Hamilton to Max Verstappen.Brown said: "We can be focused on Abu Dhabi but if we look at the last couple of years at the variety of incidents, Abu Dhabi is just one of them, and let's not forget that the teams had a big say in how the sport is policed."He said Abu Dhabi "felt like a pantomime audition" as the Mercedes and Red Bull team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner lobbied Masi for decisions to be made in their favour in conversations that were broadcast on television."It was probably good for TV that the mic was open," Brown said. "But we see it created some habits that have created some decisions that maybe weren't the right decisions."Brown said the FIA needs to be seen to have conducted a thorough inquiry that explained what happened and why, what went wrong and what it is doing to make sure it does not happen again."For those that might have a view of 'the sport's corrupt etc', I don't agree with that," he said."Do I think potentially a different decision could have been made? Yes, probably. I want to wait to see what the FIA comes out with but I don't think it was malicious and therefore I don't think it's corrupt."Hamilton's futureHamilton is waiting to see how the FIA responds to the Abu Dhabi controversy before making a decision on whether to return to F1 this season, but Brown said he expects the seven-time champion to be on the grid."I'm sure he's very angry," Brown said. "But I think race-car drivers want to race and he's a fighter and he will want to come back and win an eighth world title. I don't think he's ready to retire."But he said: "I don't know Lewis that well. I wouldn't be shocked if he stopped. I don't think anyone should take for granted he's coming back. "We shouldn't discount or not recognise his frustration and anger. And maybe he hasn't made a decision and maybe what he's doing is taking time to make his decision, because once it's made, it's made."So I don't think we should rule it out or make light of it. I just think he still has a burning desire to race and that will ultimately drive his decision.Will VW come to F1?The Volkswagen Group is considering whether to make an F1 entry but Brown rejected claims that McLaren had agreed a deal with the German giant.Instead, he said he believed VW's Porsche brand would enter F1 in partnership with Red Bull."I'm hearing they are going to do something with Red Bull on the Porsche front," Brown said. He said McLaren had spoken to VAG about F1 but said the team were committed to engine supplier Mercedes until the end of the current power-unit regulations in 2025."They've spoken with a handful of people on the grid, and we had conversations," Brown said. "But in the short term and medium term we are very happy where we are. "So we are just going to wait and see are they going to come into the sport, because that's not been definitively decided."If they do, we have a contract through this term and naturally we're going to evaluate where we are and take a decision on what we do in 2026 in due course."

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