Chelsea keen on Darlow deal

Chelsea are readying a bid for Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Karl Darlow, according to the Mirror.

The 23 year old has been an ever present for the Reds this season, keeping eleven clean sheets in thirty-nine Championship appearances for the club.

His form has gain attention from a number of Premier League heavyweights including Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, though it is Jose Mourinho’s side who appear to be leading the race to secure his services.

The Blues are keen to bring in back-up for first choice shot-stopper Petr Cech, with Belgium international Thibaut Courtois, who is currently enjoying a third season on loan with Atletico Madrid, set to remain away from Stamford Bridge next year.

Chelsea’s defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend saw them slip to second place, with Liverpool replacing them in pole position with just six games remaining.

They are now third favourites to finish first behind Liverpool and Manchester City, and can be backed at odds of 7/1.

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Allardyce delighted with away win

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce hailed his side after their hard-fought 2-1 win at Sunderland took them 11 points clear of the relegation zone.

The club’s sixth win in their last nine Premier League matches was sealed thanks to goals from Andy Carroll and Mohamed Diame on Monday.

Adam Johnson’s 65th-minute strike ensured a nervy ending for the visitors, but they stood firm.

Sunderland remain deep in relegation danger but Allardyce feels his side are now essentially safe – something that was far from a certainty earlier this year.

“It’s a fantastic result for us,” Allardyce told Sky Sports.

“It’s going to be very difficult for the bottom three sides to catch us now.

“Every game in the Barclays Premier League is a tough one, every away game particularly. I thought the lads handled it really well.

“It got a little nerve-wracking towards the end when they got the goal. I think it was a really good finish from Johnson.

“Andy Carroll, particularly in the early stages, really settled us down and then Mo Diame … really made life difficult for Sunderland (with his goal).

“(It is) a fantastic win at this stage of the season for us.”

Allardyce was quick to sing the praises of Carroll, who deservedly won the man-of-the-match award for a typically powerful display.

“Andy gives you an alternative. As a player, he is unique in many ways,” he added.

“There’s not too many who can receive a ball or head a ball as good as he does. You saw the headed goal from the corner – there was nobody going to stop him.

“(And) there’s a lot more about him on the deck than people gave him credit for.”

West Ham captain Kevin Nolan rejected claims he was lucky not to concede a penalty when he elbowed a loose ball during the first half and was proud of his side’s ability to adapt to a game plan.

“I said at half-time that it’s definitely not a penalty,” Nolan said.

“I haven’t thrown my arm up. I would have been devastated if it was a penalty.

“We knew obviously it was going to be tough tonight. I thought we dealt with them well. We came here with a game plan, the game plan worked a treat and we take the three points.”

Goalscorer Carroll – who came through the ranks at Sunderland’s arch-rivals Newcastle United – said his goal was extra special given the opponents.

“Scoring against Sunderland is a great feeling,” Carroll said.

“But three points is more important.”

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Turkish Super Lig Wrap: Fener extend lead at top as Gala, Besiktas drop points

Fenerbahce extended their lead at the top of the Turkish Super Lig to 10 points with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Bursaspor on Monday.

Dirk Kuyt opened the scoring for Ersun Yanal’s men in the 17th minute before Moussa Sow and Pierre Webo made sure of the points with second-half goals.

Fener’s lead at the summit is looking insurmountable after title rivals Galatasaray and Besiktas both suffered slip-ups this weekend.

Champions Gala were held to a 0-0 draw at Konyaspor on Saturday, while Besiktas fell to a dramatic 1-0 defeat at Karabukspor 24 hours earlier.

A 90th-minute strike from Nigerian attacker Michael Eneramo handed the points to the hosts as Besiktas were dealt their first defeat in five league matches.

John Utaka scored a double to help Sivasspor move up to fourth with a 3-2 home triumph over Gaziantepspor.

The former Montpellier man netted his second and the winning goal in the second minute of injury time after Marek Sapara had seemingly earned a point for the visitors with an 86th minute strike.

That win leapfrogged Sivasspor above Trabzonspor following their 0-0 draw at Elazigspor.

Kasimpasa also took advantage of Trabzonspor’s setback, surging up to fifth place with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Kayseri Erciyesspor.

At the other end of the table, a Mert Nobre brace gave bottom club Kayserispor a third straight win as they beat fellow strugglers Antalyaspor 3-1.

Elsewhere, Rizespor boosted their survival hopes with a 3-2 win at Akhisar Belediyespor and Genclerbirligi claimed a 1-0 success over Eskisehirspor.

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Serie A: Livorno 2 Inter 2

Innocent Emeghara scored a dramatic late equaliser as relegation-threatened Livorno came from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw with Inter.

Inter appeared to be in complete command after taking a commanding 2-0 lead at the Stadio Armando Picchi on Monday, but Livorno stormed back with Emeghara the hero as he found the net five minutes from time.

Hernanes gave Walter Mazzarri’s visitors the lead with his first goal for the club since joining from Serie A rivals Lazio in January.

Argentine striker Rodrigo Palacio then seemingly put the game beyond doubt shortly before the interval, only for Paulinho to start the fightback for Livorno.

Livorno’s top scorer struck with his 12th league goal of the campaign early in the second half, and there was to be a final twist in the tale as Emeghara capitalised on an error from Inter midfielder Fredy Guarin to earn a draw that moves them to within a point of safety.

Inter, meanwhile, remain fifth.

Both sides struggled to create opportunities early on, although Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was forced to tip Emerson’s cross-cum shot free-kick over the crossbar after 15 minutes.

Inter were frustrated for much of the first half despite controlling possession, but Hernanes went close to opening the scoring for the visitors when he curled narrowly wide from the edge of the area.

And the Brazilian playmaker did then break the deadlock in the 37th minute, slamming home from close range after Mauro Icardi had failed to make contact with a header back across goal from Palacio.

That goal appeared to boost Inter’s confidence and only the fingertips of Livorno keeper Francesco Bardi prevented them from doubling their advantage as he turned a fierce long-range strike from Zdravko Kuzmanovic over the bar.

However, Bardi could do nothing as Mazzarri’s side did extend their lead in first-half injury time, Palacio meeting Jonathan’s right-wing cross with a clever half-volley into the bottom corner.

Inter carried that momentum into the second period and almost immediately added a third following the restart as Palacio forced Bardi into another fine save.

But the hosts got back into the game after 53 minutes when Paulinho rattled an effort in off the crossbar from Leandro Greco’s well executed corner.

Former Siena striker Emeghara was thrown on in place of Ishak Belfodil – on loan from Inter – shortly after as Livorno pressed for a share of the spoils.

And the Switzerland international made no mistake late on as he raced on to a poor backpass from Guarin to slot past Handanovic and make it an unhappy return to his former club for Mazzarri.

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Premier League: Sunderland 1 West Ham 2

Sunderland suffered a significant blow to their Premier League survival hopes as West Ham won 2-1 at the Stadium of Light on Monday.

That West Ham’s triumph was masterminded by manager Sam Allardyce and greatly influenced by striker Andy Carroll, both former employees of Sunderland’s arch-rivals Newcastle United, added further misery for the home side following a lacklustre performance.

The pair’s efforts may mean Newcastle are the only club from the north-east of England in the Premier League next season, with a powerful Carroll header giving West Ham the lead inside the first 10 minutes.

And Mohamed Diame’s deflected strike just after the break ensured Sunderland remained 19th in the table, four points adrift of safety, despite Adam Johnson’s 65th-minute effort.

Sunderland have at least one game in hand on all of their relegation rivals, but with Tottenham, Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea – all in the top six – awaiting Gus Poyet’s men in their next four matches, the Wearside outfit face an uphill battle to remain in the top flight.

West Ham, who have now won six of their last nine Premier League fixtures, are 11 points adrift of the bottom three.

Carroll – who was booed immediately due to his St James’ Park connections – gave West Ham the lead in the ninth minute with a trademark header, rising above John O’Shea to nod in Mark Noble’s corner at the back post.

The sloppy manner in which Sunderland conceded will have infuriated Poyet and his mood will not have brightened when Lee Cattermole spurned two chances to quickly level proceedings from close range, first shooting at Adrian before blazing over.

Carroll headed a George McCartney cross at Vito Mannone, while at the other end, Sunderland felt aggrieved not to win a penalty after Kevin Nolan clearly knocked the ball away with an elbow.

West Ham compounded their woes five minutes after the interval when Diame shot past Mannone.

Just like the opener, the goal was basic but effective, as Carroll chested a long punt down into the path of Diame, and the midfielder met the ball on the edge of the area, firing into the back of the net via Santiago Vergini’s deflection.

West Ham should have wrapped up the game on the hour mark, when Stewart Downing was sent through on goal, but Mannone superbly tipped wide, and his excellence allowed Sunderland a lifeline – one taken by Johnson.

The winger, who surprisingly started from the bench despite being Sunderland’s top league scorer, netted his eighth Premier League goal of the campaign when he fired into the top-left corner with a fizzing 20-yard effort.

The goal buoyed Sunderland, who ramped up the pressure as Adrian produced a double save to keep out Ki Sung-Yueng and Connor Wickham, while Fabio Borini fired into the side netting.

West Ham were able to stem Sunderland’s flow, though, and although the hosts rallied late, Ignacio Scocco’s wasted header was the closest they got to a dramatic leveller.

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Russian Premier League Wrap: Zenit close gap as Lokomotiv draw derby

Zenit closed the gap on Lokomotiv Moscow at the top of the Russian Premier League to just a point with a 2-1 win at Amkar Perm.

Andre Villas-Boas’ men had to come from behind after Maxim Kanunnikov had given the home side a 10th-minute lead on Saturday, but two goals in five minutes just after the break from Domenico Criscito and Aleksandr Kerzhakov saw them take all three points.

That victory, combined with leaders Lokomotiv Moscow’s 0-0 draw with city rivals Spartak on Saturday, means the 2012 champions sit just one point of the summit.

Dinamo Moscow are now third following their 3-1 victory at Tom Tomsk on Saturday.

They too had to come from behind as Vladimir Rykov gave Tomsk a 48th-minute lead, but the visitors roared back through Aleksandr Kokorin, Kevin Kuranyi and Alexey Ionov to extend their unbeaten run to six matches.

CSKA Moscow level on points with Dinamo after picking up their third straight league win on Monday.

It was a mixed day for CSKA playmaker Alan Dzagoev, who added to Zoran Tosic’s fifth-minute opener before being sent off in the 41st minute.

The hosts made light of their numerical disadvantage, though, Pontus Wernbloom adding a third with 21 minutes to go to consign struggling Volga to their sixth consecutive league defeat.

Monday’s other fixture involving Krylya Sovetov and Terek Grozny was postponed due to heavy snow.

Elsewhere over the weekend, Roman Shirokov scored twice as Krasnodar won 3-1 at city rivals Kuban Krasnodar, bottom club Anzhi’s woes continued as they lost 2-1 at Ural, and Rostov picked up a 2-1 win at Rubin Kazan.

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Vokes injury woe for Burnley

Burnley’s automatic promotion hopes have suffered a crushing blow with the news that striker Sam Vokes’ season is over.

The Wales international frontman has played a major role in firing the Lancashire club to the brink of a Premier League return with 20 goals in 39 Championship games.

But Vokes ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligament in Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat against leaders Leicester City, a result that severely dented Burnley’s title tilt.

Vokes joins fellow striker Danny Ings – who has 19 league goals to his name in 2013-14 – on the sidelines, along with right-back Kieran Trippier – arguably the club’s three best players.

The squad depth at second-placed Burnley – who are nine points clear of QPR in third – will now be tested to the limit over the last seven games of the season.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche told the club’s official website: “Sam has had a great season and I am sure you will join us all in supporting him during his recovery.

“As ever, our team mentality remains focused and this represents another opportunity for someone to come and make a continued contribution in the closing weeks of the season.”

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Guardiola wary of United threat

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola is insistent that Manchester United have the quality to upset his side at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Holders Bayern are firm favourites for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, despite it being played in Manchester.

The Bavarian giants have swept aside all before them this term, with the Bundesliga title already sealed in record time.

They have lost just once in 41 outings this term and face a United side who languish seventh in the Premier League and have lost seven home games in all competitions this season.

Guardiola is wary of David Moyes’ side though, and says the firepower at his counterpart’s disposal – such as Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata – could result in a surprise.

He said: “Manchester United are one of the world’s best teams. It doesn’t matter what situation they’re in right now.

“Manchester United have good players. These two games could be the best two performances of their season. They can beat us.”

Guardiola was also asked
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about the future of midfielder Toni Kroos, who has been linked with a move to United.

The 24-year-old is a regular for both club and country but has not agreed to an extension on his contract, which expires in July next year.

The Spaniard was keen to refute the talk linking Kroos to Old Trafford, though, and said, extension or no extension, that he will play his football for Bayern next season.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer added United’s poor league position does not mean they are ripe for the picking – using the example of Chelsea, who beat the Germans in the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League final despite struggling domestically.

“We know just how well Manchester United can maintain their focus,” Neuer said.

“The name Manchester United deserves a lot of respect alone. They fought back well against Olympiacos (in the round of 16).

“Think of Chelsea who finished sixth and went on to win the Champions League – unfortunately.”

Bastian Schweinsteiger, a key member of Bayern’s midfield, shared a similar view.

“It’s something very special to be able to play at Old Trafford,” he said.

“Everyone knows what to expect tomorrow…it will be an incredibly difficult game.”

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Guardiola wary of United threat

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola is insistent that Manchester United have the quality to upset his side at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Holders Bayern are firm favourites for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, despite it being played in Manchester.

The Bavarian giants have swept aside all before them this term, with the Bundesliga title already sealed in record time.

They have lost just once in 41 outings this term and face a United side who languish seventh in the Premier League and have lost seven home games in all competitions this season.

Guardiola is wary of David Moyes’ side though, and says the firepower at his counterpart’s disposal – such as Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata – could result in a surprise.

He said: “Manchester United are one of the world’s best teams. It doesn’t matter what situation they’re in right now.

“Manchester United have good players. These two games could be the best two performances of their season. They can beat us.”

Guardiola was also asked about the future of midfielder Toni Kroos, who has been linked with a move to United.

The 24-year-old is a regular for both club and country but has not agreed to an extension on his contract, which expires in July next year.

The Spaniard was keen to refute the talk linking Kroos to Old Trafford, though, and said, extension or no extension, that he will play his football for Bayern next season.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer added United’s poor league position does not mean they are ripe for the picking – using the example of Chelsea, who beat the Germans in the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League final despite struggling domestically.

“We know just how well Manchester United can maintain their focus,” Neuer said.

“The name Manchester United deserves a lot of respect alone. They fought back well against Olympiacos (in the round of 16).

“Think of Chelsea who finished sixth and went on to win the Champions League – unfortunately.”

Bastian Schweinsteiger, a key member of Bayern’s midfield, shared a similar view.

“It’s something very special to be able to play at Old Trafford,” he said.

“Everyone knows what to expect tomorrow…it will be an incredibly difficult game.”

Mon 31 March, 2014
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Moore charged with misconduct

The Football Association (FA) have charged Tranmere Rovers manager Ronnie Moore for misconduct in relation to betting.

It is alleged Moore has committed multiple breaches of FA Rule E8 (b), which relates to gambling on competitions in which one is involved or has an influence upon during the season in question.

Tranmere suspended the 61-year-old last month pending the conclusion of the FA’s investigations, and have declined to comment on the latest development.

Moore has until April 8 to respond to the charges.

Newcastle United midfielder Dan Gosling was fined £30,000 for breaches of the same rule last month, while Andros Townsend and Cameron Jerome have also been dealt punishments for similar offences.

The incidents prompted FA chairman Greg Dyke to reveal that the governing body was considering adopting a blanket ban on footballers betting on the sport – a system already in use in Scotland.

And, speaking to Perform last month, William Hill director of security Bill South said: “The FA are obviously now starting to think about going along the lines of a blanket ban for those people that participate in football.

“There have been a number of cases recently, but I think what that’s doing is it’s actually highlighting the issue, which is probably what’s prompted the FA to start talking about it openly in relation to stopping their people from betting on football.”

Mon 31 March, 2014
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