Benitez Earns First Win To Move Newcastle Closer To Safety

Rafael BenitezRafael Benitez earned his first win as Newcastle United manager and boosted their hopes of staying in the Barclays Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Swansea City on Saturday.

Benitez made five changes to the starting XI in response to last weekend’s defeat by Southampton and the Spaniard’s team selection was vindicated on his birthday, with Newcastle earning their reward for a much-improved showing.

Jamaal Lascelles, who came in for Steven Taylor in the back four, opened the scoring in the 40th minute, heading in only his second goal for the club from Andros Townsend’s corner.

Jefferson Montero and Bafetimbi Gomis both spurned big chances for Swansea before Moussa Sissoko’s first goal of the campaign and Townsend’s late third sealed a result that, combined with Sunderland’s 3-0 win at Norwich City, moves Newcastle within three points of safety with five matches to play.

Newcastle United boss, Rafael Benitez, praised the “passion and commitment” shown by his players in their victory over Swansea City.

“I have to say congratulations to the players,” Benitez told BBC Sport. “They showed passion and commitment. Thank you to the fans. If we stick together then it’s easier for us to approach the game and gives us the chance to win. The players that started were really good. And the other players who came on helped the team.

“Striker Papiss Cisse was fantastic up front and Aleksandar Mitrovic was good too when he came on. When you win games everybody is happy. Today we saw what we expect from this team.

“We have to show the same in the other games. We were not thinking about the earlier win for Sunderland over Norwich. Now we can see the table but before the game it was about focusing on the game.”

The North-East outfit are now three points within safety with five games left to play.

Townsend Scores As England Draw With Italy

EnglandTottenham winger, Andros Townsend, came off the bench to produce a late equaliser for England in a 1-1 draw against Italy in Turin on Tuesday.

Southampton striker, Graziano Pelle’s header looked to have put Italy on course for victory in the first-half of the friendly against England.

The English side on the other hand, struggled to get to grips with the changes made by manager, Roy Hodgson, after Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier win against Lithuania.

By the introduction of several substitutes, the Tottenham winger’s rising 20-yard drive 11 minutes from time, gave England a draw in the second-half.

Hodgson’s side then ended the game on top and only a fine save from Buffon stopped England captain, Wayne Rooney – who had earlier hit the bar – from adding to his total of 47 goals for his country and closing even further on Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record of 49.

The experiment of using Phil Jones in midfield failed miserably and he reverted to defence when Chris Smalling went off ill just before half-time.

Correspondingly, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, was also misused in a forward role rather than on the wing.

Hodgson said after the match, “I’m really happy with our second half, I thought we were the better team. That’s pleasing in the sense that under (Antonio) Conte, Italy are a strong team.

“We’re missing a few players and when they’re available, we have a few more options.”

Idris Elba, International Footballers Launch Campaign Against Ebola

Idris ElbaA public awareness campaign was launched on Wednesday, December 3, by international football stars and the British actor, Idris Elba.

It’s focus is to put an end to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic and to show to the health workers fighting the disease, that they are being recognized.

Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia are countries that have been most affected by the Ebola epidemic with a record of more than 6,000 people dead.

The British Actor, Idris Elba, whose parents hail from Sierra Leone and Ghana, said ”For me, the battle against Ebola is a personal one. To see those amazing countries in West Africa where my father grew up and my parents married being ravaged by this disease is painful and horrific.”

The Africa United campaign, unveiled ahead of the African Cup of Nations draw in Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo on Wednesday, broadcasts information on the disease and how to stop it spreading in French, English, Krio and other local languages.

Messages would be sent out to the three countries and their neighbours via television, radio, billboards and phone text messages, said organizers.

The campaign was backed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation.

In one of the campaign’s spots, Elba plays a football coach giving a half-time talk during West Africa’s “life or death” match against Ebola and passing on tips on how to spot the disease and prevent new infections.

Footballers Yaya Touré, Carlton Cole, Fabrice Muamba, Andros Townsend, Kei Kamara and Patrick Vieira pay homage to the work of frontline healthcare workers by wearing their names on the backs of their jerseys.

Manchester City midfielder, Touré hails from Ivory Coast, which shares borders with three countries hit by the disease but has so far been spared.

Touré said, “I could not sit back without doing something to help fight Ebola, the campaign pays tribute to the many African heroes who are in the villages, towns and cities using their skills, resourcefulness and intelligence to battle Ebola.”