Sunday, March 26, 2023



Man City Women 2-0 Chelsea Women: Impressive hosts win WSL title battle

Manchester City leapfrogged defending champions Chelsea to go second in the Women's Super League with an impressive victory over the Blues on Sunday.Filippa Angeldahl's brilliantly lofted 20th-minute strike put City ahead and Lauren Hemp rifled in the second.City's first league win over Chelsea since 2017 means they only trail leaders Manchester United on goal difference at the top of the table.Chelsea are a point back in third but have a game in hand.This was their first WSL defeat since the opening game of the season, while City remain unbeaten in the league since a defeat by Chelsea last September.The meeting of the title contenders, which marked Women's Football Weekend, was watched by 5,222 fans at Academy Stadium, just shy of City's record crowd at their home stadium.City rise to challenge in must-win gameSpeaking in his pre-match news conference, City manager Gareth Taylor said "we need to win this weekend, simple as that".Those words clearly informed City's attitude to this game, as they pressed Chelsea and produced one of their finest performances of the campaign.The high press brought City six corners in the first 20 minutes, while they constantly attacked down the right where Chloe Kelly looked to cut inside with menace - and it was from the right side that the first-half goals came.Angeldahl's opener was a delightful effort from the corner of the box, her chip leaving Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger stranded.Nine minutes later, Kelly's high cross from the right was only half cleared, allowing Hemp to crisply fire the loose ball past Berger on the half volley.This was the 11th time Hemp has both scored and assisted in a WSL game, having set up Angeldahl for the opener. Only Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead have done so more often in English top-flight games than the 22-year-old England international.City looked every inch a side which have not lost in 90 minutes since 25 September, and must now be considered a serious contender for the WSL title.They could even afford for WSL top scorer Khadija Shaw - watched from the stands by fellow Jamaican star Usain Bolt - to have a rare off day.More follows.Line-upsMan City WomenFormation 4-3-31Roebuck14Morgan6Houghton5Greenwood4Aleixandri12Angeldahl25Hasegawa7Coombs9Kelly21Shaw11Hemp1Roebuck14Morgan6Houghton5Greenwood4Aleixandri12Angeldahl25Hasegawa7Coombs9KellyBooked at 84mins21Shaw11HempBooked at 73minsSubstituted forBlakstadat 78'minutesSubstitutes2Casparij3Stokes8Fowler10Castellanos13Raso15Ouahabi22MacIver33Kennedy41BlakstadChelsea WomenFormation 4-2-3-130Berger18Mjelde26Buchanan16Eriksson7Carter8Leupolz5Ingle10James22Cuthbert11Reiten20Kerr30Berger18MjeldeSubstituted forCankovicat 67'minutes26Buchanan16Eriksson7Carter8Leupolz5IngleSubstituted forCharlesat 36'minutes10JamesSubstituted forRytting Kanerydat 36'minutes22CuthbertSubstituted forFlemingat 80'minutes11Reiten20KerrSubstitutes1Musovic15Périsset17Fleming19Rytting Kaneryd21Charles27Abdullina28CankovicReferee:Paul HowardAttendance:5,222Match StatsLive TextPost updateMatch ends, Manchester City Women 2, Chelsea Women 0.

WSL: Lauren Hemp doubles Man City’s lead against Chelsea

Watch as Lauren Hemp's "sumptuous strike" doubles Man City's lead against Chelsea in the Women's Super League.FOLLOW LIVE: WSL - Man City v ChelseaWatch highlights of all Women's Super League matches on the Women's Football Show on BBC iPlayer.Available to UK users only.

Scotland: Clarke enjoys winning start but more is needed to topple new-look Spain

It's not just his capacity to score goals for Scotland that makes John McGinn such an admirable character, it's his candour in cutting through the PR and calling it as he sees it. His assessment of the performance against Cyprus was an exercise in straight-shooting. Not for him a glorification of a 16th goal for his country and a place in the top seven of all-time goalscorers for Scotland. In the aftermath of a 3-0 win that was stodgy but ultimately satisfying, nobody would have mistaken him for a cheerleader.He cited a number of things that could and should have been better before checking himself and admitting that he was being "a bit moany". That, actually, was to his credit. He expected more because this team is capable of more. When you're finding fault with a 3-0 victory then you're in a good place. A few years ago - maybe even a year ago or less - a 3-0 home win against anybody would have been hailed as an unconditional triumph, but Scotland's standards are higher now. The last time they played an opener in a Euros campaign the final score was also 3-0, but to Kazakhstan. The world has turned for this team since then. Back then they were desperate. Now, they're discerning. McGinn can moan all he likes. Some of the greatest players Scotland has ever produced also happened to be world class curmudgeons. Steve Clarke's substitutions turned a 1-0 into a 3-0, Scott McTominay, Ryan Christie and Lyndon Dykes upping the intensity, the threat and the execution. At the fourth attempt, Scotland have won a curtain-raiser in a European qualifying campaign. In their past four competitive games they've won three and drawn one, scoring eight and conceding one. It's fair to say, they've had worse runs. Spain in e La Fuente's imageIt's all about to get tricky now, though. Anything other than three points on Saturday would have meant a doomsday scenario in a group with Dani Olmo of Spain, Erling Haaland of Norway and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, the Kvaradona of Napoli and the footballing god of Georgia.Luis de la Fuente's Spain will be at Hampden on Tuesday night. What Scotland delivered against Cyprus won't cut it against Spain. McGinn knows that. Clarke knows it. Everybody knows it. Spain also won their opener on Saturday, a 3-0 win against a Haaland-free Norway in Malaga. Norway had their chances at 1-0, blew them, then went out like a light at La Rosaleda.This is a dramatically different team than the one we saw pass themselves to death at the World Cup in Qatar. Appointed as Luis Enrique's replacement six days after the loss to Morocco in the last 16, De la Fuente is an interesting character.He won two La Liga titles as a player with Athletic Bilbao in the 1980s but the sum total of his managerial experience at club level was 11 games with Alaves a dozen years ago. His reputation has been forged on the back of his work with a succession of underage national teams. He guided the under-19s and the under-21s to Euros glory in his time and won silver at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.All of Spain's best young players have been coached by him at some point. "No-one knows the present and future of Spanish football better than me," he says. He picked two teenagers in his starting team against Norway - the Barcelona full-back Alejandro Balde and the wide midfielder, Gavi, also of Barcelona. He also brought on the 20-year-old Villarreal attacker Yeremy Pino. Whereas Luis Enrique was deemed tactically rigid and addicted to the sterile possession game that saw his team register one shot on target in 120 minutes against Morocco, De la Fuente is a hybrid. He wants some of what Enrique espoused, but wants more energy and more goal threat. He's also changed the formation from Enriques 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1.He's considered friendly and caring. Real Madrid's Nacho Fernandez started against Norway having played his last game for his country away back in 2018. He calls De la Fuente "very affectionate, very much in the profile of Carlo Ancelotti [his club coach]." There's clearly a hard edge to the man, though.He took a metaphorical blow torch to Enrique's World Cup squad, dropping a host of Enrique's former players. There was no Jordi Alba, no Koke, no Ferran Torres, no Cesar Azpilicueta, no Marco Asensio. "This is a new era," was De la Fuente's message. And it is. When he named his first squad he included 13 players who hadn't made it to the World Cup and seven players from the group he took to Tokyo for the Olympics (and would have been more had it not been for injury). Only four players who started against Morocco were there from the beginning against Norway on Saturday night. As well as bringing Nacho back in from the cold and giving Kepa Arrizabalaga a first cap since October 2020, De la Fuente gave a debut to the Espanyol striker Mato Joselu off the bench. Joselu has had to bide his time. He's 32 and Enrique didn't want to know him. Joselu scored twice in two minutes to seal the game. In analysing Spain, Clarke need only concern himself with Saturday night in Malaga. So much has changed - tactical and personnel - that that's the only footage worth looking at. The final scoreline looks comprehensive but Norway were in the game for large parts and created chances. That will give Clarke hope. Spain were there to be got at before they pulled away. Starting McTominay on the bench against Cyprus and going for Ryan Jack instead had to be a nod to Tuesday night. Christie's fruitful cameo might put him back in the starting line-up ahead of Stuart Armstrong, but Armstrong was decent on Saturday. The point is that Clarke has options. Lewis Ferguson is in fine form in Serie A but saw no minutes against Cyprus. He's a useful customer to have in reserve. It's hard to see Clarke making many changes, beyond Dykes replacing the injured Adams. He'll bank on the quality of the opposition and the night-time atmosphere giving his players more of an edge. The campaign began on Saturday, but it really only begins in earnest on Tuesday when a new Spain arrive and when so much more will be known about them and their hosts.

Scotland call up for Lawrence Shankland as Che Adams & Anthony Ralston drop out

Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Tuesday, 28 March Kick-off: 19:45 BSTCoverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland, live text on the BBC Sport website & app, highlights on BBC One ScotlandScotland call up Lawrence Shankland for Tuesday's Euro 2024 qualifier with Spain after fellow striker Che Adams and right-back Anthony Ralston pulled out of the squad.Shankland, 27, has scored 21 times for Hearts this term and has one international goal from four caps.Southampton's Adams, 26, started Saturday's 3-0 win over Cyprus but came off injured in the second period.Celtic's Ralston, 24, was not in Saturday's squad.Spain also opened Group A with a 3-0 home win, against Norway, on Saturday evening.Scotland squadGoalkeepers: Zander Clark, Angus Gunn, Liam KellyDefenders: Liam Cooper, Grant Hanley, Jack Hendry, Aaron Hickey, Nathan Patterson, Ryan Porteous, Andy Robertson, Kieran TierneyMidfielders: Stuart Armstrong, Lewis Ferguson, Billy Gilmour, Ryan Jack, John McGinn, Callum McGregor, Kenny McLean, Scott McTominayForwards: Jacob Brown, Ryan Christie, Lyndon Dykes, Lawrence ShanklandSelect formationConfirm team

Euro 2024 qualifiers: Michael O’Neill aims to take emotion out of NI homecoming

Venue: Windsor Park, Belfast Date: Sunday, 26 March Kick-off: 19:45 GMTCoverage: Live text commentary and match report on the BBC Sport website; live commentary on BBC Sounds, BBC Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle; Match highlights on BBC Two NI at 22:30 GMT and live and on demand on BBC iPlayerMichael O'Neill has insisted he will remove all personal emotion from the first home game of his second spell as Northern Ireland manager.Northern Ireland host Finland at Windsor Park on Sunday in their second Euro 2024 qualifier, having won 2-0 away to San Marino last Thursday.O'Neill, who led the side to the Euro 2016 finals during his first tenure, was reappointed in December."No, not really," he said when asked if Sunday night will be emotional for him."I'm quite an unemotional person with regard to things like that."Hugely popular with supporters during an eight-year first tenure that ended in 2020 after he had taken over at Stoke City, O'Neill's name was sung loudly and often by the 1,000-strong travelling support in San Marino on Thursday night.He gave them the wave they had asked for and spoke enthusiastically about how important their backing for his team is, but said he cannot afford to let his mind stray from focusing on preparing his side to beat Finland.Indeed, such was the persistence of the question from reporters at Saturday's pre-match media briefing, the 52-year-old joked that the journalists were "determined to see me in tears"."At the end of the day it's a game of football," he continued. "We have to keep everything in perspective. I don't know how it will affect me [on Sunday], I know we have to be focused. My primary objective is to make sure my head is in the game and that's where it's been all week."I'm just looking forward to the game. When Northern Ireland are at their best the stadium has a great atmosphere, there's a real strong bond between the players and the fans. That's something we carried for a number of years, something we developed and something we have to reconnect."We have to make sure that's how fans feel about the players going forward. That's where I'll get the most satisfaction and, who knows, maybe a bit of emotion will come out then."'We'll respond to supporters'An impressive record at their Windsor Park home in south Belfast was a major factor in Northern Ireland's first-ever Euros qualification in 2016, and it continued for O'Neill's next two campaigns which saw them reach the World Cup 2018 play-off and Euro 2021 play-offs - though he had departed before they lost to Slovenia in that final.O'Neill, who revealed that he has a fully-fit squad to choose from for the visit of Finland, has called on the home fans - no doubt keen to welcome the returning boss - to focus their support on his players."The fans have been terrific, but it's about the team, so focus on the team," he said."We'll have some young players on the pitch and they will need to feel they have the support of the crowd, that is vital."I think for any player, particularly in an international shirt, a fanbase that is extremely positive and always gets behind the team is all we can ask for. "They always do and if they can bring an extra decibel to it, we'll respond to that." 'Tempo and energy' key to beating FinlandBeating teams that are close to them in the world rankings was another hallmark of O'Neill's first reign in charge and something he said will be vital if they are to have a chance of qualifying from Group F.Finland are currently 56th in the world, just three places above Northern Ireland, and will be aiming to repeat the success of their previous Euros campaign which saw them qualify for a major tournament for the first time. The second seeds in the group, they came within eight minutes of earning a draw away to top seeds Denmark on Thursday night before the hosts won with two late goals - and O'Neill is well aware of the threat they pose."We have to play with a tempo and energy. We are going to have to defend more than we did in the previous game and retain the good organisation which we demonstrated [against San Marino]."We will probably need to be a little bit more clinical and creative in the final third of the pitch, but we may find that a little bit easier because I believe there will be more space than on Thursday. "We also need someone to step up and stick the ball in the net. Dion [Charles] did that in the previous game and he and Conor [Washington] will be itching to get on the scoresheet again."

Miami Open: Dan Evans and Coco Gauff among seeds to fall

British number two Dan Evans is out of the Miami Open after losing in the second round to Italian Lorenzo Sonego.Evans, seeded 23 and ranked 30 places higher than his opponent at 29th in the world, was beaten 6-4 3-6 2-6.He was one of a number of seeds who went out of the tournament on Saturday in both the men's and women's draws.Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini exited, but the biggest casualty was women's sixth seed Coco Gauff, who lost to Russian Anastasia Potapova.Australian De Minaur, the 15th seed, suffered an agonising 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (10-8) defeat to Quentin Halys, the world number 79 from France.Italian Berrettini, seeded 19, had a similar close encounter, losing 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-5) to American Mackenzie McDonald.Italian Lorenzo Musetti was the third of the men's top 20 seeds to fall as he was beaten 6-4 6-4 by in-form Czech Jiri Lehecka.Canadian fifth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime did progress with victory over Brazil's Thiago Monteiro on two tie-breaks, while women's third seed Jessica Pegula swept aside fellow American Danielle Collins 6-1 7-6 (7-0).Men's second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas progressed courtesy of a walkover as France's Richard Gasquet withdrew with an injury.

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