Ighalo Double Powers United Past Rooney’s Derby Into FA Cup Quarters

Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo (25) scores his team’s third goal during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Derby County and Manchester United on March 5, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Odion Ighalo ruined Wayne Rooney’s hopes of leading Derby to an FA Cup upset against Manchester United as the Nigeria striker’s double sealed a 3-0 win in the fifth round on Thursday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were always in control at Pride Park and Luke Shaw opened the scoring before Ighalo took over to dash Rooney’s bid to knock out his former club.

United will travel to Premier League strugglers Norwich in their sixth successive quarter-final appearance in a competition they have won 12 times.

Ighalo has only been at United for a few weeks after arriving from China, but his second and third goals for the club stole the spotlight from Old Trafford icon Rooney.

Rooney left United in 2017 after 13 glittering years including five Premier League titles, Champions League glory and a club record 253 goals.

The 34-year-old had spells at Everton and DC United before joining second-tier Derby in a player-coach role alongside boss Phillip Cocu in January.

It was the first time Rooney had faced United since playing for Everton in January 2018 and he remains without a goal in seven appearances against them.

Eighteen years after he burst onto the scene as a teenager with a brilliant goal for Everton against Arsenal, Rooney remains one of English football’s most fascinating figures and he was the centre of attention as fans from both teams chanted his name before kick-off.

But, no longer the effervescent menace who terrorised defenders with his power and poise, Rooney is playing in a deep-lying role these days and he couldn’t quite roll back the years in the face of a composed United display.

It was a Derby player 16 years younger than Rooney who almost gave the hosts a shock lead when Louis Sibley fired just wide from long-range.

Rooney went even closer with a curling free-kick that forced Sergio Romeo to make a sprawling save at his near post.

There are six changes for United as Romero started in goal for David De Gea after his howler in the draw at Everton last weekend, while Harry Maguire was ruled out with an ankle injury.

Bruno Fernandes, the new idol for United fans, was in the team and the Portugal midfielder was starting to pull the strings.

United looked more dangerous once Fernandes heated up and Derby keeper Kelle Roos made a superb save to repel Ighalo’s shot from just six yards.

United’s pressure paid off with a fortunate opener in the 33rd minute.

Fernandes’ shot was deflected high into the air and Shaw met it with a half-volley from the edge of the area, the ball taking a wicked bounce off Jesse Lingard and looping over Roos into the net.

Shaw turned provider as United doubled their lead eight minutes later.

Advancing with intent towards the Derby area, the left-back squeezed a pass into Ighalo, who turned away from two defenders before poking his shot past Roos from six yards.

Rooney was unable to stem the tide and his response was a frustrated foul on Scott McTominay that earned him a booking.

Choosing a more palatable approach to leading the Derby fightback early in the second half, Rooney unfurled a sumptuous pass to Jayden Bogle, whose cross was headed just wide by Martyn Waghorn.

Ighalo ended any hopes of a Rooney-inspired revival in the 70th minute.

Juan Mata picked out Ighalo in the area and when the 30-year-old’s initial shot was blocked, he kept his composure to guide the rebound into the net.

In what would have been an emotional finale for Rooney, his free-kick almost crept in until Romero made a brilliant tip-over.

AFP

Liverpool Suffer Second Defeat As Chelsea Advance To FA Cup Quarter-Finals

Referee Chris Kavanagh (C) shows a yellow card to Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (2R) during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on March 3, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

 

Chelsea inflicted a third defeat in four games on Liverpool to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals as goals from Willian and Ross Barkley gave Frank Lampard’s men a much-needed lift at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Liverpool remain well on course for a first league title in 30 years with a 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League, but run the risk of their competitive campaign coming to an early end once the title is sewn up unless they can overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League next week.

Jurgen Klopp made seven changes to the Liverpool side beaten for the first time in 45 Premier League games at Watford on Saturday, but still named a far stronger side than the youthful teams that had seen off Everton and Shrewsbury to reach the fifth round.

The European champions seemed keen to make amends and keep their chances of a treble alive early on, but were denied by the returning Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal as the first of a string of saves from the Spaniard denied Sadio Mane.

The return of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper was one of six Lampard made from a 2-2 weekend draw at Bournemouth with Willian also coming back into the team.

A run of five wins in 16 league games and a 3-0 thrashing at home by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie last week meant the pressure was on Chelsea to keep their hopes of silverware this season alive.

And they got the lift they needed from the opening goal as Liverpool’s understudy goalkeeper Adrian undid the good work of a brilliant save from Willian within a minute.

The Brazilian was gifted possession again just outside the Liverpool box and this time Adrian could only turn his powerful drive into the bottom corner.

The hosts needed Kepa to show why they spent £72 million ($92 million) on him just over 18 months ago as he made three reaction saves in a matter of seconds to deny Mane, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino what seemed a certain equaliser.

Chelsea then lost Mateo Kovacic and Willian to injury either side of half-time to further deplete Lampard’s midfield options.

But that may provide the opportunity Barkley needs to kickstart his flagging career at the Bridge.

The England international doubled Chelsea’s lead in spectacular style midway through the second half as he galloped forward from inside his own half, leaving Fabinho in his wake, before smashing past Adrian from outside the area.

Moments later Chelsea should have been out of sight as a mix-up in the Liverpool defence allowed Pedro Rodriguez to run clean through on goal. The 32-year-old does not have the pace of his prime at Barcelona, though, and with Gomez closing in, he fired too close to Adrian.

Klopp threw on Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and James Milner in the final 20 minutes, but the German is yet to win a domestic cup competition in his five seasons at Anfield and that wait will go on.

Despite the changes, it was Chelsea who continued to look the more likely team to score again as Adrian produced a brilliant save to turn Olivier Giroud’s strike onto the bar.

AFP

Klopp Defends Stance On FA Cup Replays

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures from the sidelines during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Shrewsbury Town and Liverpool at the Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium in Shrewsbury, north-west of Birmingham in England on January 26, 2020.  AFP

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is adamant he has to take a stand over the clash between the midwinter break and FA Cup replays or nothing will ever change.

The German boss has drawn criticism for announcing that neither he nor his first-team players will be present for the fourth-round replay at home to Shrewsbury next week as it falls within their scheduled Premier League break.

Instead, the club will send out a youth team led by Under-23s coach Neil Critchley.

“If we react how we always react and find a way to do it, then nothing will change,” Klopp said. “I have to make decisions that aren’t popular, based on the situation we are in.

“Because we plan long-term I cannot plan when there is a real decisive period coming up. I decided three weeks ago we would have a mid-season break based on a letter we got in April 2019.

“The FA tried to move games to midweek to decrease the intense period. Whoever was involved in that — may be from us — they forgot to say no.”

Liverpool, who play West Ham in the Premier League on Wednesday, are closing in on their first English top-flight title for 30 years and are also through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

A Liverpool side led by Critchley lost 5-0 to Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-final in December while the first team competed in the Club World Cup in Qatar, a competition they went on to win.

 Fixture frustration 

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he could understand Klopp’s frustration and still regrets United’s decision to pull out of the competition 20 years ago.

Solskjaer, whose side beat Tranmere 6-0 on Sunday to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup, was part of the United squad that pulled out of the tournament in 2000 to play in the FIFA Club World Championship.

“I think we all regret maybe not going for it in 2000 when we went to the World Club tournament in Brazil and it’s never nice not to be participating,” said the United boss.

“It’s supposed to be a break and if we’re going to help the English clubs, they need a break.

“But that’s up to Jurgen and Liverpool to make decisions. Jose (Mourinho) and Tottenham, they’ve got a replay. We’re just happy we didn’t get a replay ourselves because it was playing on our mind.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola supported Klopp’s stance, saying: “We accept the schedules and the competitions, games every two or three days, but don’t tell the managers which players to pick.”

Klopp said forward Sadio Mane would likely only miss another two matches after tearing a muscle in last week’s match against Wolves.

“Sadio will not be involved for West Ham and probably not Southampton,” said the Liverpool boss.

“After that, he will be back on track. He has a small muscle tear which is serious enough. We were lucky with it, though, it wasn’t too serious.”

AFP

FA Cup: Liverpool To Face Chelsea In Fifth Round

FIFA Hands Chelsea Two Transfer Windows Ban
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 24, 2015 Chelsea supporters wave flags before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 24, 2015. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Premier League leaders Liverpool will face Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round if Jurgen Klopp’s understudies win their replay against Shrewsbury.

Third-tier Shrewsbury fought back to draw 2-2 with Liverpool on Sunday, earning a replay at Anfield that falls during the Premier League winter break.

Reds boss Klopp insists he will not use his senior stars for that match because he doesn’t want to deny them a much-needed rest.

To earn a trip to Stamford Bridge, Liverpool may play the youngsters who were beaten by Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-finals while the Reds were at the Club World Cup.

FA Cup holders Manchester City have been given a trip to second-tier Sheffield Wednesday.

Manchester United will visit the winners of the replay between Northampton and Derby, who feature former United star Wayne Rooney in their squad.

Oxford’s reward for a replay victory over top-flight Newcastle would be a trip to Championship leaders West Brom.

League One side Portsmouth will face Premier League opposition at Fratton Park after being drawn against Bournemouth or Arsenal.

Southampton or Tottenham will play host to struggling Norwich, while either Coventry or Birmingham face a short trip to Leicester.

Championship sides Reading and Cardiff will battle it out in a replay for the chance to host Sheffield United.

FA Cup fifth-round draw:

Sheffield Wednesday v Manchester City

Reading/Cardiff v Sheffield United

Chelsea v Shrewsbury/Liverpool

West Brom v Newcastle/Oxford

Leicester v Coventry/Birmingham

Northampton/Derby v Man Utd

Southampton/Tottenham v Norwich

Portsmouth v Bournemouth/Arsenal

AFP

Liverpool Held At Shrewsbury As Man Utd, Man City Cruise In FA Cup

 

 

Liverpool let a 2-0 lead slip as League One Shrewsbury earned an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Anfield thanks to a 2-2 draw, whilst Manchester United and Manchester City cruised into the fifth round on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp showed his focus is very much on a first Premier League title for 30 years as he made 11 changes to the side that won at Wolves on Thursday.

However, unlike against Everton in the third round, the German’s gamble did not pay off.

“Well deserved for Shrewsbury, it was the minimum they deserved. Congratulations to them,” said Klopp, who was forced to throw on Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in the final stages in the search for a winner.

“We don’t have enough time to say all the things which weren’t right today.”

Despite a calm finish from 18-year-old Curtis Jones to open the scoring on 15 minutes, Liverpool never settled as Shrewsbury missed a host of chances to level before the break.

A freak own goal from Donald Love then doubled the visitors’ lead a minute into the second half, but the Shrews did not give up on their shot at shocking the European champions and were given a lifeline when substitute Jason Cummings converted a penalty.

Cummings then sent New Meadow into raptures by slotting low under Adrian 15 minutes from time.

“It was a dream come true against the best team in the world. Going to Anfield is what it’s all about,” said Cummings.

Relief for Solskjaer

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was badly in need of a convincing performance after 2-0 defeats to Liverpool and Burnley over the past seven days and got a response with a 6-0 thrashing of third-tier Tranmere.

Many tipped the Red Devils to get bogged down on a sandy surface at Prenton Park, but a flying start thanks to a host of unlikely goalscorers ensured there was no chance of an upset.

“This game was one where everyone apart from Man United fans wanted us to lose,” said Solskjaer.

“It’s been a bit of pressure on them but they’ve enjoyed it.

“It was a difficult pitch but we went about it the right way; just worked hard, played simple but effective and played the right way.”

Captain Harry Maguire led by example by striding forward to smash home his first goal for the club before Diogo Dalot also grabbed his first United goal and Jesse Lingard curled home to make it three goals in a six-minute spell.

Phil Jones then nodded home his first United effort since 2014 and Anthony Martial’s deflected strike made it five before the break.

Solskjaer could then afford the luxury of resting Martial, Maguire and Nemanja Matic for most of the second half ahead of Wednesday’s attempt to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit against City in the League Cup semi-finals.

Tahith Chong was one of those introduced and he was brought down by Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies, allowing Mason Greenwood to score United’s sixth from the penalty spot.

Empty stands annoy Guardiola

City manager Pep Guardiola hopes more fans show up at the Etihad Stadium for the derby in midweek after questioning why there were 15,000 empty seats for his side’s 4-0 stroll past Fulham.

Nearly 40,000 were in attendance to see Tim Ream’s sixth-minute red card give the Championship side a mountain to climb after he hauled down Gabriel Jesus inside the box.

Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty before Bernardo Silva’s smart turn and shot quickly doubled City’s advantage.

The visitors then held out for nearly an hour but two headers in three minutes from Jesus gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the English champions’ dominance.

“Hopefully more people can come than today, hopefully (they) can support us more,” said Guardiola.

“I don’t know the reason why, but it was not full.”

Man City Thrash Fulham 4-0 In FA Cup Thriller

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus heads past Fulham’s Slovakian goalkeeper Marek Rodak to score their fourth goal during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Manchester City and Fulham at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on January 26, 2020. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Holders Manchester City cruised into the FA Cup fifth round with a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Fulham at the Etihad on Sunday.

Tim Ream’s sixth-minute red card gave the Championship side a mountain to climb after he hauled down Gabriel Jesus inside the box.

Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty before Bernardo Silva’s smart turn and shot quickly doubled City’s advantage.

The visitors then held out for nearly an hour but two headers in three minutes from Jesus gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the English champions’ dominance.

Pep Guardiola’s men have now won 17 domestic cup ties in a row.

The Catalan is relying on more cup success for silverware this season after conceding the Premier League title is beyond his side with Liverpool 16 points clear at the top of the table.

Guardiola made eight changes to the team that won 1-0 at Sheffield United in midweek but still named a strong side with both David and Bernardo Silva and Gundogan among those coming into the team.

Fulham boss Scott Parker also rotated with his priority securing a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Any hope of an upset was quashed within minutes by a rash challenge from Ream.

City have had problems from the spot this season with Guardiola even claiming goalkeeper Ederson is his best taker after Jesus’ latest miss at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

However, with the Brazilian on the bench with Claudio Bravo keeping his starting spot in goal for the cups, it was Gundogan who took responsibility to dispatch the spot-kick.

A moment of magic from Bernardo then gave the hosts breathing space as the Portuguese international fired into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Only a lack of killer instinct prevented City from further running up the score as Raheem Sterling came off the bench to hit the crossbar.

Jesus, though, bagged a confidence-boosting double by heading home Joao Cancelo’s cross before nodding in the rebound after Marek Rodak had saved Phil Foden’s initial effort.

AFP

Guardiola Calls For Scrap Of FA Cup Replays

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 7, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola wants FA Cup replays to be scrapped as the Manchester City manager prepares for Sunday’s fourth-round tie against Fulham.

Guardiola is one of several Premier League bosses concerned about the damage being done to his players by the gruelling demands of the English fixture list.

The Spaniard has already admitted he would be happy to see the League Cup cancelled as a way to ease congestion, even though City have won the competition for the last two seasons and face Manchester United in the semi-final second leg next Wednesday.

Aware that a busy period for City would be even more packed if second tier Fulham get a draw at the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola has proposed getting rid of all remaining FA Cup replays.

The Football Association abolished them from the fifth round onwards last term and Guardiola, having seen Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford injured on FA Cup duty earlier in January, said: “I’m not saying what the FA has to do. When I said my comment I never expected the League Cup or FA Cup was going to go.

“What is nice about this country is how you maintain the traditions. In traditions you can involve some new things to make the competitions nicer, but all the traditions are there, not just in sport but in culture and society and that is top. I admire that.

“The League Cup and FA Cup will be played. But maybe we could cancel the replays, have fewer teams in the Championship or Premier League.

“I tried to be honest and answer the question but I don’t think about what they have to do, it’s not my business. My business is to prepare my team better every day.

“When they decide to play these games, and the other games, we do it.”

City won the FA Cup and League Cup last season and will target them again with the Premier League title looking out of reach.

City are second in the table but trail Liverpool by 16 points, with the runaway leaders in with a chance of breaking City’s record 100-point tally.

“It can happen. The records are always there to be broken. We broke it when someone thought it couldn’t be broken,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

“Sooner or later it is going to happen, this season or in the future. History speaks clearly about that.”

City defender Aymeric Laporte returned to action in Tuesday’s victory at Sheffield United after almost five months out with a knee injury.

Laporte was badly missed, but Guardiola has warned against expecting too much of the French centre-back.

“He played a little bit more than 70 minutes for the first game. He played well but, as I said, he’s not going to solve all the problems we have,” Guardiola said.

AFP

FA Cup: West Ham Suffer Defeat As Southampton Relish Draw Against Tottenham

West Ham United’s French striker Sebastien Haller (L) controls the ball during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion at The London Stadium, in east London on January 25, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

West Ham crashed out of the FA Cup as their former manager Slaven Bilic led West Bromwich Albion to a surprise 1-0 win, while Tottenham were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton in Saturday’s fourth-round action.

Albion boss Bilic, sacked by the Hammers in 2017, made eight changes as he prioritised the Championship leaders’ push to return to the Premier League.

But Albion took a shock lead at the London Stadium when Conor Townsend drilled in his first goal for the club after nine minutes.

West Ham, struggling in the top-flight under new boss David Moyes and now without a win in four games, were given a lifeline when West Brom’s Semi Ajayi was sent off in the 72nd minute after his push earned a second yellow card.

Sebastien Haller should have equalised with a headed chance and Manuel Lanzini then dragged his shot wide, but Albion held on.

West Ham were jeered off by their furious fans, while Croatian Bilic, who also played for the east Londoners, celebrated a sweet success with his Albion players.

At St Mary’s, Christian Eriksen was left out amid reports in Italy suggesting the Tottenham midfielder has agreed to a move to Inter Milan, while Gedson Fernandes made his full debut for Jose Mourinho’s men.

Tottenham’s last visit to Southampton was a painful one, with Harry Kane suffering a torn hamstring in a Premier League defeat on New Year’s Day, a clash that saw Mourinho embroiled in a touchline row with a member of the Saints’ coaching staff.

Mourinho’s side struck in the 58th minute on their return to the south coast.

South Korea forward Son Heung-min fired home from Erik Lamela’s pass for his 12th goal of the season.

But Southampton hit back to equalise through Sofiane Boufal’s powerful strike from Danny Ings’ cross in the 87th minute.

 Newcastle frustrated 

Newcastle had to settle for an embarrassing 0-0 draw with third tier Oxford at St James’ Park as their wretched FA Cup form haunted them again.

Steve Bruce’s side are looking to make the fifth round for the first time since 2006, but they needed a replay to beat minnows Rochdale in the previous round and they will have to go the distance again after this limp display.

Burnley and Norwich made a combined total of 12 changes at Turf Moor, with the Canaries running out 2-1 winners.

Grant Hanley’s 53rd-minute goal and a 57th-minute strike from Josip Drmic put Norwich in control before Erik Pieters reduced the deficit in the 74th minute.

Cardiff fans were warned not to sing “racist or homophobic songs” after two incidents were reported during their 1-1 draw at fellow Championship side Reading.

Sheffield United won 2-0 at second-tier Millwall through Muhamed Besic’s 62nd-minute goal and Oliver Norwood’s 84th-minute strike.

Kelechi Iheanacho’s early goal sealed a 1-0 win for Leicester at Championship side Brentford.

Brendan Rodgers’ team are chasing a trip to Wembley on two fronts and they took the next step in the FA Cup after surviving a hard-fought fourth-round clash in west London.

Leicester, who have never won the FA Cup, are hoping to reach the final for the first time since 1969.

In the League Cup, they are through to the semi-finals and head to Aston Villa in the second leg on Tuesday after being held to a 1-1 draw in the first match at the King Power Stadium.

Despite Jamie Vardy’s absence with a glute injury, it took Leicester just four minutes to go ahead when Nigerian striker Iheanacho met James Justin’s cross with a clinical close-range finish.

Chelsea travel to second-tier Hull in Saturday’s late game.

AFP

FA Cup: Iheanacho Fires Leicester Into Next Round

Brentford's English goalkeeper Luke Daniels (R) saves at the feet of Leicester City's Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (2nd L) during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Brentford and Leicester City at Griffin Park in west London on January 25, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
Brentford’s English goalkeeper Luke Daniels (R) saves at the feet of Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (2nd L) during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Brentford and Leicester City at Griffin Park in west London on January 25, 2020.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Leicester edged into the FA Cup fifth round as Kelechi Iheanacho’s early goal sealed a 1-0 win at second-tier Brentford on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are chasing a trip to Wembley on two fronts and they took the next step in the FA Cup after surviving a hard-fought fourth-round clash in west London.

Flying high in the Premier League, third-placed Leicester could be set for a memorable end to the season.

Leicester, who have never won the FA Cup, are hoping to reach the final for the first time since 1969.

In the League Cup, they are through to the semi-finals and head to Aston Villa in the second leg on Tuesday after being held to a 1-1 draw in the first match at the King Power Stadium.

Rodgers made nine changes from Wednesday’s Premier League win over West Ham, with only Caglar Soyuncu and Ayoze Perez remaining in the starting line-up for Leicester’s first meeting with Brentford since 1993.

Kasper Schmeichel, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison were on the bench, while Jamie Vardy was sidelined by a glute injury suffered against West Ham.

Despite Vardy’s absence, it took Leicester just four minutes to go ahead when Nigerian striker Iheanacho met James Justin’s cross with a clinical close-range finish.

It was Iheanacho’s seventh goal in 12 appearances this season — and his ninth in nine FA Cup starts — proving he can be an able deputy for Vardy while the 17-goal star is sidelined.

Dennis Praet and Hamza Choudhury had shots blocked as Leicester pushed for killer second, while Demarai Gray almost caught out Bees keeper Luke Daniels with a low free-kick.

Brentford, chasing promotion from the Championship, were looking to reach the FA Cup fifth round in successive seasons and they pushed hard for an equaliser.

Emiliano Marcondes fired just wide before Dominic Thompson forced a finger-tip save from Danny Ward.

Ward preserved Leicester’s lead in the closing stages with a superb save to keep out Luka Racic’s overhead kick from the edge of the area.

In a tense finish, Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo had a goal correctly ruled out for offside as Leicester held on.

 

AFP

I’m Not Expecting Rashford In Next Few Weeks, Says Solskjaer

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not believe top scorer Marcus Rashford will be fit to return from a back injury for a number of weeks.

Rashford was forced off less than 15 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute in an FA Cup third-round replay win over Wolves on Wednesday and was absent for United’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday.

However, Solskjaer revealed the England international is unlikely to return before United’s mid-season break at the start of February.

“He’s got a couple of knocks, jolts against Wolves,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“He aggravated his back (and) had trouble before. (We need to) give him time to recover and rest before we put him back on the pitch.

“I wouldn’t expect him to be back in the next few weeks. We have a mid-season break and I’m not sure are going to see him before then, no.”

United face either Watford or Tranmere in the FA Cup fourth round, travel to Manchester City for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final — trailing 3-1 from the first leg — and host Wolves in the Premier League in the next two weeks.

Solskjaer’s men then have a 16-day period to rest and recuperate thanks to the Premier League’s first-ever winter break before travelling to Chelsea on February 17.

AFP

FA Cup: Watford Vs Tranmere Tie Postponed

 

Watford’s FA Cup third-round replay against Tranmere has been postponed following heavy rainfall at Prenton Park, the League One club announced on Tuesday.

The tie was scheduled for Tuesday evening but the pitch has become unplayable.

“Tonight’s @EmiratesFACup game against @WatfordFC has been postponed,” Tranmere confirmed on Twitter. “A new date for the fixture will be announced in due course.”

The first match between the clubs finished 3-3 after third-tier Tranmere recovered from a 3-0 deficit.

Among the other third-round replays on Tuesday, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham take on Middlesbrough while Manchester United host Wolves on Wednesday.

AFP

Villa, Brighton Crash To Shock FA Cup Exits

Aston Villa’s Ivorian striker Jonathan Kodjia (R) has an unsuccessful shot during the English FA Cup third round football match between Fulham and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage in Fulham, west London on January 4, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Aston Villa and Brighton suffered FA Cup embarrassment as the Premier League clubs paid the price for making a raft of team changes in their shock third round exits on Saturday.

Villa are languishing just above the relegation zone after a difficult first season back in the top-flight and boss Dean Smith prioritised that survival battle with nine changes against second tier Fulham.

Anthony Knockaert gave Fulham the lead at Craven Cottage with a 54th minute curler as the former Brighton forward grabbed his first goal since September.

Anwar El Ghazi equalised for Villa in the 63rd minute, but the understudies couldn’t hold on as Harry Arter won it with a 30-yard thunderbolt with 16 minutes left.

Midfielder Arter had only been on the pitch for one minute and 45 seconds before scoring his first goal since November 2017.

Brighton endured the same fate as Villa as Albion boss Graham Potter made seven changes from their New Year’s Day draw against Chelsea and second tier Sheffield Wednesday took advantage with a 1-0 win at the Amex Stadium.

Adam Reach blasted Wednesday into the fourth round with a deflected long-range strike in the 65th minute.

Watford blew a three-goal lead in a dramatic 3-3 draw against third tier strugglers Tranmere.

Last season’s FA Cup runners-up were three up by half-time at Vicarage Road as Tom Dele-Bashiru, Nathaniel Chalobah and Roberto Pereyra netted.

But they lost the recent momentum from new boss Nigel Pearson’s arrival as Connor Jennings and Emmanuel Monthe scored in the second half before Paul Mullin’s 87th minute penalty equaliser was followed by a red card for Pereyra.

Newcastle’s wretched FA Cup record suffered a fresh blemish as 40-year-old Aaron Wilbraham gave minnows Rochdale a 1-1 draw at Spotland.

Magpies boss Steve Bruce had declared his determination not to lose to “bloody Rochdale” as he eyed a sustained Cup run for a club that hasn’t won the competition since 1955 and last reached the final in 1999.

 Newcastle stumble 

But Newcastle’s FA Cup form is so bad that they have not gone beyond the fourth round for 13 years.

Once again they endured embarrassment as Rochdale, who took Tottenham to a fifth round replay in 2018, recovered from Miguel Almiron’s opener to earn a replay at St James’ Park later in January thanks to a late leveller from old stager Wilbraham.

“Credit to Aaron Wilbraham, he’s been around longer then I have!” Bruce said. “We could’ve been out, so it’s a positive we are still in with a shout.”

Paraguayan midfielder Almiron opened the scoring with a fierce drive into the top corner from Christian Atsu’s 17th minute pass.

In need of a lift, Rochdale, sitting 18th in League One, opted for experience over the promise of youth at half-time when they sent on Wilbraham to replace 16-year-old Kwadwo Baah.

In the 674th game of his journeyman career, Wilbraham bagged only his second goal in the FA Cup with a close-range finish from Luke Matheson’s cross in the 79th minute.

Rochdale boss Brian Barry-Murphy revealed Wilbraham had overcome heartbreak to emerge as the hero.

“Aaron’s mum passed away recently so he’s been playing with that memory for the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“He’s an amazing guy and he had a huge impact on the second half.”

Norwich’s teenage striker Adam Idah scored a hat-trick — his first goals for the club — in their 4-2 win at Championship side Preston.

Will Smallbone marked his Southampton debut with a second half goal in their 2-0 victory over Huddersfield, while much-changed Burnley beat Peterborough 4-2.

FA Cup holders Manchester City host Port Vale later on Saturday, while troubled Manchester United travel to Wolves looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s quarter-final exit at Molineux.

AFP