Daily Archives: February 12, 2018

Matt Ritchie goal earns shock win for Newcastle over Manchester United

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Matt Ritchie scored the only goal for Newcastle in the second half to secure a shock victory over second-placed Manchester United at St. James Park.

The Magpies climbed out of the relegation zone and left the visitors 16 points adrift of leaders Manchester City after the Red Devils missed a string of chances to take something from a ground at which manager Jose Mourinho is yet to win a league match.

Debutant Martin Dubravka was excellent in the Newcastle goal, denying Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Ashley Young and Michael Carrick, with the hosts having a first-half penalty denied when Chris Smalling tripped Dwight Gayle.

Smalling escaped reprieve on that occasion, but was rightly booked for a ridiculous dive in the second half in the build-up to Newcastle’s goal.

The ensuing free-kick from Jonjo Shelvey was headed down by Florian Lejeune and cleverly backheeled into Ritchie’s path by Dwight Gayle, and with a left-foot shot was dispatched low into a corner of the net.

“Hopefully I’ll have bigger wins than this one with Newcastle,” says Newcastle coach Rafael Benitez. “But it was a really great game against a top side. The way we were playing, with everybody giving everything, was absolutely fantastic.”

“We have been so close in so many games and not won but, although, we were a little bit lucky at the end today I still think we deserved three points. It keeps us believing we can win against anyone.”

“Newcastle United’s players and, of course, their staff gave what they have and what they don’t have and I think that’s a beautiful thing in football,” said United coach Jose Mourinho.

“I think they came to fight for a point but found themselves 1-0 up and, from that point, went beyond all the limits. They showed everything a manager likes to see in this game. I can imagine that Benítez is more than pleased with the effort.”

Their win also raises the chances of Manchester City being crowned champions when the teams meet at Etihad Stadium on 7 April; should both teams win all of their league matches prior to that, City would only need to draw with their fierce neigbouring rivals to secure the title that day.

Tottenham Hotspurs: Toby Alderweireld left out of Champions League squad

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Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld will not travel to Turin on Monday for the first leg of Spurs’ Champions League game against Juventus as Mauricio Pochettino wants the Belgium international to work on fitness instead.

However, his absence from the last‑16 tie against Juventus on Tuesday night is a move that will raise questions about his future at the London club as Alderweireld contract talks with Spurs have gone on for over a year without reaching a breakthrough.

The defender was returning from three-month absence due to a hamstring injury, and played the full 90 minutes in the FA Cup replay win against Newport County. He played the 90 minutes and, having declared himself fit, hoped to be in the lineup for the derby against Arsenal on Saturday.

However, Pochettino chose excluded him from the match-day squad and has now decided to leave him in London for a second time to work on his fitness, rather than take him to Italy for what is amongst Tottenham’s biggest game of the season.

It also raises further questions as Pochettino also reacted badly when questioned after the 1-0 win against Arsenal about why he had preferred Davinson Sanchez to Alderweireld in central defence.

While Alderweireld’s £50,000-a-week deal contains a one-year extension option scheduled to activate in the summer of 2019, it also features a £25m release clause.

It permits, should it comes to pass, that at the summer of 2019 he would be permitted to leave if a rival club were to pay £25m and complete the transfer at least 14 days before the closure of the window.

Prediction:

Juventus 2 — 0 Tottenham Hotspurs

Barca held to goalless draw at home by Getafe

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Barcelona failed to score for the first time in La Liga this season as mid-table Getafe picked up a hard-fought point at the Nou Camp.

It was also the first time since the April 2012 Clasico against Real Madrid that Barca failed to register a shot on target during the first half of a home game in La Liga, although Luis Suarez did have a brilliant volley ruled out for offside.

Ernesto Valverde’s side belatedly shifted through the gears after half-time but it was not enough to breach some stubborn resistance from Pepe Bordalas’ visitors.

Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi both forced saves from Getafe keeper Vicente Guaita, while Yerry Mina headed a chance just wide.

Mina was making his first starting appearance after being handed a full debut at the heart of a makeshift Barcelona defence, with full-back Lucas Digne partnering the Colombia international at centre-half.

Although Mina’s playmaking capabilities from deep appeared attuned to Barca’s famed style, his appearance along with several other players including Coutinho may be the reason Barca had a less-than-glamourous start to the game.

However, Valverde insisted that it was another factor — fatigue — that was to be blame for Barca’s weak start.

“We were lacking some freshness and rhythm, especially in the first half,” Valverde said.”Getafe are a team who stop you from playing so you don’t get close to their box. As the game went on we attacked more and more and despite our best efforts it wasn’t to be. They defended their box well and we lacked a bit of spark.”

“We have had a busy month and have just reached a final. We can’t win every game we play or be 100 percent all the time and this is why the coming week without a game comes at a great time for us to recover.”

Getafe, who move into the top half, almost scored a winner with the last kick of the game as Vitorino Antunes’ 30-yard free-kick was tipped over the bar by Marc-Andre ter Stegen — with no time for the corner to be taken.

However, although the hosts remain unbeaten in the league Atletico Madrid — their closest rivals at the summit — trimmed Barca’s advantage at the summit to seven points after having picked up a third consecutive victory at Malaga on Saturday.