MANCHESTER UNITED WINS THE EFL CUP AS UNLUCKY SAINTS WERE BEATENBEATEN 3-2

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late winner secured the EFL Cup and gave Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho his first success since his summer appointment, as brave Southampton were beaten at Wembley.

Southampton were the better side for most of this final but were left heartbroken by a controversial offside decision – and the inspiration provided by the 35-year-old Swede as he took his tally to 26 goals this season.

Saints’ striker Manolo Gabbiadiani saw a goal contentiously ruled out before United took an undeserved two-goal lead through Ibrahimovic’s superb 19th minute free-kick and Jesse Lingard’s measured finish seven minutes before the interval.

Southampton, as their performance merited, were on terms with two predatory strikes from Gabbiadini either side of half-time.

Oriel Romeu hit the woodwork before Ibrahimovic stole in on Ander Herrera’s cross three minutes from time to give United a victory that looked beyond them for long spells.

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CARLO ANCELOTTI MARKS HIS 1000TH MANAGERIAL GAME IN STYLE

Carlo Ancelotti marks his 1000th managerial game with a big win IMG_20170226_113550_157

Bayern Munich manger, Carlo Ancelotti yesterday celebrated his 1000th game as a coach and the German champions, crushed Hamburg 8-0 to mark the day.

Robert Lewandowski scored his third hat-trick of the season as Bayern Munich obliterated Hamburg to stay five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.

The Poland intern-ational’s treble, coupled with goals from Arturo Vidal, David Alaba, Kingsley Coman and Arjen Robben, gave the champions a seventh emphatic win in a row over Hamburg at the Allianz Arena and maintained the gap over second-place RB Leipzig.

The victory was a particularly special one for head coach Carlo Ancelotti, who celebrated his 1,000th game as a head coach with his 591st win.

Vidal’s powerful strike put Bayern ahead before Lewandowski struck twice before half-time, and any hope of a shock comeback from Markus Gisdol’s side was ended when he completed his treble nine minutes after the break.

Alaba added a simple fifth, Coman struck twice within 10 minutes of coming off the bench and Robben fired home in the closing stages, taking a ruthless Bayern’s tally to 44 goals in their last seven home games against HSV, who remain third-from-bottom of the Bundesliga table.

Bayern’s attentions now turn to a run of three games within a week at the start of next month, against Schalke, Cologne and Arsenal.

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CLAUDIO RAINERI SACKED BY LEICESTER CITY

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Claudio Ranieri, the manager who led Leicester City to one of the more implausible success stories in history, has been sacked only nine months after taking a team of 5,000-1 outsiders to the Premier League title and a football miracle.

Ranieri’s dismissal comes barely two weeks after Leicester offered him their “unwavering support” in a statement insisting there was no way his job could be in danger and pointing out that the club’s success had been “based firmly on stability, togetherness and determination to overcome even the greatest of challenges”.

That now turns out to be a deception with Leicester’s Thai owners deciding instead that Ranieri does not warrant any more patience now that a team that won the league last season by 10 points is only one place above the relegation zone.

Leicester could theoretically be in the bottom three by the time they play their next game, at home to Liverpool on Monday, and their FA Cup fifth-round defeat at Millwall has also counted against a man whose success in the Midlands city has led to talk of a statue being erected in his honour.

“This has been the most difficult decision we have had to make in nearly seven years,” a statement from the club’s vice-chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, said. “But we are duty-bound to put the club’s long-term interests above all sense of personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be.

“Claudio has brought outstanding qualities to his office. His skilful management, powers of motivation and measured approach have been reflective of the rich experience we always knew he would bring to Leicester City. His warmth, charm and charisma have helped transform perceptions of the club and develop its profile on a global scale.

“We will forever be grateful to him for what he has helped us to achieve. It was never our expectation that the extraordinary feats of last season should be replicated this season. Indeed, survival in the Premier League was our first and only target at the start of the campaign. But we are now faced with a fight to reach that objective and feel a change is necessary to maximise the opportunity presented by the final 13 games.”

Ranieri was informed of the decision on his return from the club’s Champions League last-16 tie against Sevilla when, to put Leicester’s season into context, the champions of England came back from Spain seemingly happy with a 2-1 defeat in which they were largely outplayed.

It is only six weeks since Ranieri was named as Fifa’s coach of the year but his team’s decline this season has left them in danger of being the first English side since Manchester City in 1938 to be relegated the year after winning the league and the club’s statement makes it clear they think it would happen if he stayed in charge.

Leicester are yet to score a league goal since the turn of the year and have picked up only one point from their last six league matches, leaving them only a point above the bottom three. There have also been stories about him apparently losing his aura in the dressing room, where some of the tactical changes and selection decisions have gone badly with the players, leading to splits in the camp.

“His status as the most successful Leicester City manager of all time is without question,” Leicester said in their statement to announce the decision. “However, domestic results in the current campaign have placed the club’s Premier League status under threat and the board reluctantly feels that a change of leadership, while admittedly painful, is necessary in the club’s greatest interest.

Leicester’s assistant manager, Craig Shakespeare, and the first-team coach, Mike Stowell, will take charge of the squad while the search for a new manager goes on, with two of Ranieri’s other coaches, Paolo Benetti and Andrea Azzalin, also being moved out on a day when one of the more popular managers of the modern era found out the hard way how brutal the business can be.

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PHILIPPE COUTINHO DELIGHTED TO CLAIM THE SAMBA GOLD AWARD

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Liverpool and Brazil attacker Philippe Coutinho is delighted to have won the 2016 Samba Gold Award. It was announced in December that Coutinho had been voted the best Brazilian footballer in Europe by a panel of journalists, current players, ex professionals and supporters.

The award was presented to him at The Reds’ Melwood Training Ground and a delighted Coutinho told Liverpool.com, “It means a lot. I’m very happy to know that this past year I have been recognised by many people. It was an important year for me and I’m very happy to win this award.

“It was a good year. As a team, we played very well and we managed to get to two finals,” he added. “Unfortunately, we did not win the finals, we lost. That was a very difficult time for us to deal with the defeat [to Sevilla] but this certainly made the group stronger.

“We started the season very well, at a high level. We all played very well, so, of course, 2016 was a good year. In the end I got injured, I missed a few games at the end of the year, but it was a positive year.”

Coutinho was voted ahead of last year’s winner Neymar Junior, as well as the likes of Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Willian, João Miranda and Dani Alves.

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SANTI CAZORLA HAS BEEN RULED OUT FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON, ACCORDING TO REPORTS

Santi Cazorla has been ruled out for the rest of the season, according to reports.IMG_20170223_104020_064 Reports claim that the 32-year-old will not play another game this term as he continues his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury.

The Spaniard last featured for Arsenal in their 6-0 victory over Ludogorets Razgrad on October 19 and was initially rested after swelling formed in his ankle.

But after missing a month of action, Cazorla needed surgery to fix the problem at the start of December.

Following his operation, Arsenal estimated that Cazorla would be sidelined for around three months, but Arsene Wenger revealed at the start of January that the midfielder’s recovery was taking longer than expected.

Cazorla deal with Arsenal was due to expire at the end of the season, the Football Association’s official list of contracted players has confirmed that the Gunners have extended his stay for another year.

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MANCHESTER CITY TAKE A TWO-GOAL ADVANTAGE TO MONACO WITH A 5-3 VICTORY AT THE ETHIAD STADIUM

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Manchester City came from behind twice to secure a crucial two-goal advantage after a classic Champions League last-16 tie against Monaco at Etihad Stadium.

On a night of fluctuating fortunes and thrilling football, Pep Guardiola’s side were on the precipice in this tournament before dragging themselves back to ensure they go into the return in Monaco with a priceless lead.

Raheem Sterling gave Manchester City a 26th-minute advantage after fine work by Leroy Sane but Monaco proved their threat to lead before half-time through Radamel Falcao’s header and Kylian Mbappe’s powerful rising drive.

Falcao then saw a penalty saved by Willy Caballero just after the break before Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic’s blunder gave Sergio Aguero his first goal.

Colombian Falcao, back to his best after failed loan spells at Manchester United and Chelsea, then lifted a brilliant chip over Caballero to put Monaco back in front – but this was the signal for City to launch an enthralling attacking salvo.

Aguero – who felt he was denied a first-half penalty after he tumbled under a challenge from Subasic – volleyed in another equaliser before John Stones made amends for poor defending in the build-up to Falcao’s second by putting City ahead on the night with a sliding finish at the far post after 77 minutes.

Man of the match Sane handed City that two-goal cushion with a simple tap-in from Aguero’s pass eight minutes from time – but Monaco’s vibrant attacking ambition means this tie is far from over.

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WAYNE SHAW SACKED BY SUTTON UNITED

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Sutton United have sacked reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw after he ate a pie live on television during the club’s FA Cup defeat by Arsenal on Monday night.

The 46-year-old was pictured live on television eating a pie after the club’s manager, Paul Doswell, made all three substitutions during the 2-0 loss at Gander Green Lane. After the initial comedy wore off though, the incident was revealed to be a publicity stunt for a betting company who offered odds on Shaw eating a pie during the match.

Both the Football Association and the Government’s Gambling Commission have launched investigations into the matter, but a club statement released on Tuesday confirmed that Shaw has accepted the club’s request for him to resign.

The statement read: “Wayne Shaw has resigned from his role at Sutton United following the events of last evening and subsequent publicity. He has said that he ‘fully understands the club’s position regarding this matter’.

“We are naturally disappointed that Wayne’s time with us should end in this manner, and would like to thank him for his contribution to the club and wish him well for the future.”

Doswell appeared on Sky News on Tuesday afternoon to confirm that the non-league club had sacked Shaw.

“It’s been a very sobering day,” Doswell said.

“It’s obviously early days [in the investigation] … but it’s taken the gloss off the performance for my players. It’s very sad that the spotlight has been taken away from them.

“The reality is that what happened last night didn’t make us look particularly good.”

“I think Wayne’s been swept along in the last few weeks and he’s just made a very genuine mistake,” Doswell added.

“He’s obviously going to pay the price for his mistake. The first I knew about it was when I was taken up to see the written press after the game.

“I was asked but wasn’t really aware about it at the time.”

Asked what Shaw will do next, Doswell said he did not know as the decision had only just been taken.

“It’s early days for Wayne and he’s going to have to reflect where he’s at over the coming days … his position is just untenable,” he said.

“Obviously if he’d told me this is what he was going to do then I’d have advised him not to.

“I spoke to him this afternoon and he was absolutely devastated. There’s no joy coming out of this situation for him, a situation that had been such fun.”

As Shaw has severed all ties with Sutton, the club confirmed he will no longer stay at Gander Green Lane, having had a bed at the stadium so he could stay there on nights where he worked late to help prepare for match days. Contrary to what was being reported though, Shaw does have a home on the south coast where he stays the rest of the week.

Shaw appeared to be aware of the betting odds after the match, telling reporters: “A few of the lads said to me earlier on, ‘What is going on with the 8-1 [odds] about eating a pie?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I’ve eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on’.

“As I say, ‘What is that? Sun Bets had us at 8-1 to eat a pie?’ I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down.

“I went and got it at half time from the kitchen, I had it all prepared and ready to go. It was meat and potato.”

Asked if anyone he knew backed the offer, Shaw answered: “I think there were a few people. Obviously we are not allowed to bet. I think a few of the mates and a few of the fans. It was just a bit of banter for them. It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back.”

Shaw could yet face further action, along with Sutton United and Sun Bets, as both the Gambling Commission and the FA are investigating whether any wrongdoing has taken place. Richard Watson, the Gambling Commission’s enforcement and intelligence director, said: “Integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened.

“As part of that we’ll be looking into any irregularity in the betting market and establishing whether the operator has met its licence requirement to conduct its business with integrity.”

The FA soon released a statement of their own to confirm that they after investigating the matter. An FA spokesman said: “We are investigating to establish whether there has been any breach of the FA rules relating to betting.”

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DID SUTTON GOALKEEPER BREAK BETTING RULES?

WAYNE SHAW EXPLAINS PIE-EATING ANTICS.

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The 46-year-old has played down his behaviour on the touchline during the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal at Gander Green Lane.

Sutton United goalkeeper Wayne Shaw has brushed off a debate over whether he broke betting rules to eat a pie in the middle of his side’s FA Cup sixth round clash with Arsenal.

The 23-stone reserve shot-stopper, who is also Sutton’s goalkeeping coach, was pictured chomping into a pie during the second half of Monday’s 2-0 defeat after the hosts had made all three substitutions.

Shaw’s pie-eating did not go down well with his manager Paul Doswell who admitted after the match it did not show the club in the best light.

Sun Bets had offered odds of 8-1 on Shaw to eat a pie “live on air”, with Sutton having already come in for criticism from some quarters for allowing the tabloid to sponsor the match.

The club could now face further scrutiny after Shaw admitted he was well aware of the bet before the game.

“A few of the lads said to me earlier on: ‘What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie? I said: ‘I don’t know, I’ve eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on,’” he told The Independent.

“As I say what is that, Sun Bets had us at 8-1 to eat a pie. I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down.”

There’s debate over whether Shaw could be in breach of FA rules on gambling, but he insists that neither he nor his team-mates had placed a bet.

“I think there were a few people [who placed a bet]. Obviously we [Sutton United] are not allowed to bet. I think a few of the mates and a few of the fans,” he added.

“It was just a bit of banter for them. It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back.”

Goals from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott ended Sutton’s hopes with the Gunners now set to face another non-league club, Lincoln, in the quarter-finals.

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PEP GUARDIOLA HAILS THE BEST COACH IN THE WORLD

‘HE’S THE BEST IN THE WORLD’ – GUARDIOLA LAUDS MARCELO BIELSA.

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The Argentine should be judged on the influence he has had throughout his career and not on the number of titles he has won, says the Catalan.

Pep Guardiola has hailed Marcelo Bielsa as the best coach in the world after it was confirmed the influential tactician will return to football with Ligue 1 side Lille next season.

Former Argentina, Chile and Athletic Bilbao boss Bielsa has agreed a two-year deal from 2017-18 in what will be his first assignment since controversially leaving Lazio after only two days in charge.

Guardiola has long identified Biesla’s intricate and innovative tactical plans as a major influence upon his own approach, and the Manchester City manager was effusive in his praise of the 61-year-old ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match at the Etihad Stadium versus Monaco – the team leading the way in France’s top division.

“My admiration for Marcelo Bielsa is huge because he makes the players much, much better,” said Guardiola.

“Still, I didn’t meet one guy, a former player from Marcelo Biesla who speaks no good about him.

“They are grateful about his influence on their careers in football.

“He helped me a lot with his advice. Whenever I speak with him I always feel like he wants to help me.”

Bielsa’s three league titles in his native Argentina and an Olympic gold medal leading his homeland in 2004 are the sum of his major honours in the game, but serial trophy winner Guardiola believes that is a blunt way in which to measure his mentor’s influence.

“It is important for me to say this about Marcelo because it doesn’t matter how many titles he had in his career,” the Spaniard added. “We are judged by that – how much success we have, how many titles we have won.

“But that is much less influential than how he has influenced football and his football players.

“That is why, for me, he is the best coach in the world. I am looking forward to seeing him in Lille next season.

“I am pretty sure his influence on their team, their club and their players will be huge – amazing. I am pretty sure of that.”

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FA Cup quarter-final draw: Holders Manchester United play Chelsea

IMG_20170219_212929_056 Holders Manchester United play Chelsea, and Millwall, who beat Premier League champions Leicester, play Tottenham.

HLincoln City will play Sutton or Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals as reward for their stunning fifth-round victory over Burnley.

The fifth-tier club became the first non-league team in 103 years to reach the last eight with the biggest shock of the competition so far on Saturday.

Middlesbrough face Manchester City or Huddersfield, who drew 0-0 on Saturday.

“It’s a win-win,” Lincoln manager Danny Cowley said on BT Sport. “We wish Sutton all the best tomorrow, I genuinely hope they can do it.”

Sutton, who are the lowest-ranked team still left in the cup, play at home to the Gunners on Monday.

The replay between Manchester City and Huddersfield is provisionally set for Tuesday, 28 February at Etihad Stadium.

Full FA Cup quarter-final draw:

Chelsea v Manchester United

Middlesbrough v Huddersfield/Manchester City

Tottenham v Millwall

Sutton/Arsenal v Lincoln

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