Daily Archives: September 8, 2016

Rashford hat-trick ‘food for thought’ for Sam Allardyce

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Marcus Rashford’s England Under-21 debut which culminated with a hat-trick has given manager Sam Allardyce “food for thought”, according to U-21 coach Gareth Southgate.

The Manchester United striker, 18, has scored on his debuts in the Premier League, Europa League, England’s senior international side and now the U-21s.

However, Rashford had been excluded from the England senior squad in their World Cup qualifying match against Slovakia.

“I wasn’t surprised in any way,” said Southgate after Rashford’s three goals in the 6-1 win against Norway.

“What we saw all week from him, we saw tonight. I couldn’t have been happier with the way he approached everything.”

“I’ll speak to Sam in the next couple of days, I’m sure it’s given him food for thought.”

Rashford was the youngest debutant, and also the quickest to score on his full international debut against Australia in May this year. He also scored the winner for United against Hull City in his only Premier League appearance this season after being excluded from United’s first two games.

Chelsea trio Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Lewis Baker also scored for England, in an impressive display at Colchester.

The comfortable win means Gareth Southgate’s men are now two points clear of Switzerland at the top of their U-21 World Cup qualifying group, with two games left to play and a game in hand against their nearest opponents.

Kei Nishikori ousts Andy Murray to reach US Open semi-finals

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Japan’s Kei Nishikori fought back to defeat world No.2 Andy Murray in the quarter-finals of the US Open.

Murray had claimed two sets to one but eventually lost 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the space of three hours 57 minutes.

Nishikori will now face either Juan Martin Del Portro or No.3 Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals.

“It was too exciting on the court, but I tried to stay calm,” said Nishikori, whose best finish in New York was as the runner-up in 2014.

“In the beginning I didn’t start well – he has a great return – but I finished well. The rain delay helped me to change tactics. I tried to hit a few more drop-shots than usual today and it worked really well.”

He began with a near-bagel as he overpowered Nishikori in just 35 minutes, but Nishikori managed to level the game soon after with a number of drop shots.

The third set featured five breaks of serve, and the most crucial came at 4-all to Nishikori.

The 26 year old was serving 30/40, 4-4, when he tried another drop shot but floated it wide to give Murray the break.

After a hold to start the fourth, it looked like Murray would, at last, seize control of the quarter-final contest and continue his stellar stretch into the semi-finals. Since losing in the Roland Garros final, the Brit had gone 26-1 and reached seven consecutive finals.

But Nishikori held on. At 1-0, during a break-point opportunity for Murray, a loud noise in Arthur Ashe Stadium caused a halt to a point.

Murray emerged flustered after the disturbance, and Nishikori took advantage, firing off six straight games to even the match and force a deciding fifth set.

In the decider, “Clutch Kei” showed how he has achieved a higher winning percentage in matches that go to a decider than anyone in the Open Era.

Calm even after he broke Murray for a 6-5 lead in the fifth, he merely walked to his chair and prepared to hold, and reach the semi-finals at the US Open.

La Liga matches could be delayed due to heatwave

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Rising temperatures in Spain could impact this weekend’s La Liga schedule, causing delays.

Games featuring Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are among those at risk of being called off, as a late summer heatwave has seen temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius over recent days.

Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s Celsius throughout the weekend across much of Spain, and had already reached almost 40 degrees Celsius this week.

Atletico visits Celta de Vigo on Saturday, while Real host Osasuna. Both games will be played in mid-afternoon, where temperatures could peak for the day.

Spanish Football League (LFP) president Javier Tebas says some games could be postponed if the hot weather persists, with players’ heath at stake.

“If the temperature reaches 40 degrees we could postpone some La Liga games,” he said. “You cannot play a game of football with temperatures of 36, 37 or 38 degrees.”

“We have discussed the heat issue, not just because of this weekend but because of the previous rounds.”

“Real Madrid played their last game against Celta with a temperature of 32 degrees,” added Tebas, who expects little respite for Real Sociedad and Espanyol when they kick off the third round of fixtures on Friday night in San Sebastian.

“The problem has been that, in the evenings, the temperature hasn’t dropped much.”

“We have spoken to the referees’ committee to make sure the players can drink water to cope with the conditions.”