Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 1st 2017 Contents A36 sports
guardian.co.tt Sunday, January 1, 2017
Christian Benteke could
pay the penalty for his spot-
kick blunders this season.
The Crystal Palace striker has
missed twice in four attempts
from 12 yards, the latest a weak
effort in the 1-1 Boxing Day draw
That failure arguably cost Sam
Allardyce a winning start to life
as Eagles manager, and they
head to Arsenal on New Year’s
Day with Allardyce weighing up
his penalty options.
“We need to find someone to
take penalties. I have no idea who
at the moment,” Allardyce said.
“But first I’ve got to decide on
the team, then when we’ve done
that we’ll talk about the penalty
situation. It would be nice if we
“I might just say, ‘Who fan-
cies taking one?’. If they put
their hand up then that’s what
you want to see.
“I’ve not spoken to Christian
about them. Will he put his hand
up? Yes, probably. I don’t know
him well enough yet but he’ll
probably say he wants to put it
“When we’ve made the deci-
sion and if Christian is the one
to take them, then we’ll see what
“But we’re missing too many
penalties and the next one we
get we need to make sure we
Allardyce, sacked as Eng-
land manager in September, is
back in his familiar ‘Red Adair’
fire-fighting role having an-
swered Palace’s call to replace
Alan Pardew before Christmas
and save them from a relegation
He rescued Sunderland from
a far worse position last season,
and the 62-year-old does not see
his latest challenge as the tough-
est of his career.
“No, I hope it’s not,” Allardyce
said. “I will tell you at the end of
the season but I hope not.
“I consider the players to be
more than capable of achieving
results in the position at the mo-
ment, otherwise I don’t think I
would have taken the job.
“For me, the club has got some
ambition. It is not just about sur-
vival this year, it is about the am-
bition the chairman talked about
where the club wants to go.”
Manchester United boss
Jose Mourinho has dismissed
Memphis Depay from his
plans because the winger
wants to leave the club.
The 22-year-old arrived at
Old Trafford in June 2015 when
Louis van Gaal signed the player
for £25m from PSV Eindhoven.
Mourinho’s side has started
to find some consistency after
a stuttering start to the campaign
with the likes of Anthony Mar-
tial, Jesse Lingard and Henrikh
Mkhitaryan coming in.
“I have to say that in the past
couple of months my decisions
in relation to Memphis were in-
fluenced by the feelings and in-
formation that he would like to
leave in January and that we were
going to have a real offer that we
would be willing to accept,” said
“That obviously influences
me. If I know, if I have the feel-
ing that a player is leaving - if I
have to give chances and develop
other players—then I go to Lin-
gard, Mkhitaryan, Martial, the
players I know 100 per cent who
are going to stay with us.
“It is a position where we have
The Netherlands international
also has to compete with other
alternatives including Wayne
Rooney, Juan Mata and Marcus
Rashford, further limiting De-
Depay has started just one
game for United, a 55-minute
appearance in a League Cup tie
at Northampton, and been re-
duced to 20 minutes of Premier
League football, spread over four
“He was not playing last
season,” added Mourinho. “It
was not that last season he was
playing phenomenally and this
season he is not playing at all.
That’s not the situation.
“He’s a very good professional,
is the only thing I can say. I know
the public image is always influ-
enced by some details of their
private lives but the reality is that
he is a very good professional, a
very good boy.
“He has a high level of edu-
cation, super polite, super pro-
fessional and works really hard.
“But it’s a position where I
have Martial, Mkhitaryan, Mata,
Lingard, plus Rooney and Rash-
ford who can also play in this
“So we have six, seven play-
ers. When I have the feeling
and information that the player
probably has a big chance to leave
then I have to care more about
“But if you arrive in January
and nothing happens—and we
have lots of matches—then if
he is going to be my player until
the end of the season I will help
him and he will be useful for us.”
A review of the New Year’s Eve action
in the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership,
as Celtic hit back to beat Rangers 2-1,
yesterdayCeltic hit back to beat bitter
rivals Rangers 2-1 at Ibrox and extend
their overwhelming lead at the top of
the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The visitors, whose win moved them 19
points clear of their opponents, fell behind in
the 12th minute when Josh Windass’ smart
through-ball got James Tavernier in on the
right of the area and he fired a cross across
goal for 37-year-old Kenny Miller to stab
home at the back post.
Celtic have dropped just two points in the
league all season, though, and were level
when Moussa Dembele slammed a bouncing
ball into the top corner in the 33rd minute.
A high-energy, if not always high-quali-
ty, second half provided plenty of chases at
both ends, but Scott Sinclair was the only
man to find the net, tapping home Stuart
Armstrong’s low cross with 20 minutes to go.
It was enough to settle a thrilling Old Firm
derby, although Miller should have made it
2-2 in the 80th minute when Andy Halliday’s
perfectly-weighted low ball in presented the
veteran striker with a simple finish.
He could only scuff his shot against the
inside of a post as Celtic wrapped up a de-
served win. Louis Moult headed a last-gasp
equaliser to earn ten-man Motherwell a 1-1
Lanarkshire derby draw against Hamilton at
the SuperSeal Stadium.
Motherwell were on top in the early stages
but Lee Lucas was sent off for a two-footed
tackle on Massimo Donati in the 27th minute.
Hamilton made their advantage count in
the 54th minute when Alex D’Acol head-
ed home Ali Crawford’s cross but Moult
stunned the hosts in the closing seconds.
Partick Thistle missed the chance to seal
a top-six place before the winter break as
they were held to a frustrating goalless draw
Kris Doolan had two goals disallowed for
offside on the day he made his 300th ap-
pearance for the home side, while he was
also denied by a stunning save from Killie
goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.
Dundee headed into 2017 on a high thanks
to a comfortable 3-0 Tayside derby win over
St Johnstone at Dens Park.
First-half goals from Faissal EL-Bakhtaoui
and Kostadin Gadzhalov before an own goal
from Saints captain Steven Anderson en-
sured St Johnstone’s five-game unbeaten
run came crashing to an end.
Martin O’Neill will head into 2017 confident
that the Republic of Ireland’s dreams are safe in
the hands of a new generation of national heroes.
Ireland end the current year sitting proudly at the
top of World Cup qualification Group D ahead of Ser-
bia and Wales and having enhanced their reputation
with a more than creditable showing at the Euro 2016
finals, where they emerged from the group stage cour-
tesy of a famous victory over Italy.
They will face an almighty battle to hang on to
their lead in the new year and secure a trip to Russia
during the summer of 2018, but manager O’Neill
is confident that, as well as their famed resilience,
there is more substance to his team with the likes of
Seamus Coleman, Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick
having taken up the baton from Shay Given, John
O’Shea and Robbie Keane.
He told FAI TV: “Do you know, it really doesn’t
bother me what people will say about the side. I do
believe that we do have resilience in the team—I think
the number of goals that we have scored late on in
matches in the last couple of years kind of proves it,
that we keep going to the end.
“We lack certain things—it would be common
knowledge to say a natural goalscorer—in our team.
You’re probably fed up of me saying it, but a 27-year-
old Robbie Keane might have made all the difference
in the world out there. Unfortunately I didn’t have
him in his pomp.
“[But] This side here, instead of regressing, it has at
least stabilised itself and I think has grown in confi-
dence. You see Jeff Hendrick’s performances, you see
Robbie [Brady], you see these people, the improvement
at international level. They feel as if they belong there
now and that’s good, that’s great.
“That’s the thing - we don’t have a Gareth Bale in
our team who can turn matches, but we have to find
other ways to win matches and the players, so far,
have come up big when it matters.”
If Brady and Hendrick showed in France that they
have what it takes to perform at the highest level,
Coleman has been no less impressive in his transfor-
mation from studious full-back to Keane’s successor
O’Neill said: “Sometimes when you take over the
captaincy, your own form suffers a little bit because
you are concerned about the effect you are having
on other people.
“I know this myself—I was captain of Northern Ire-
land for half my time as a player. In the early parts, you
are worried about your influence. You are hoping you
are going to be a really good influence and sometimes
your own play can suffer a little bit.
“Seamus’ play has actually been enhanced as cap-
tain, if it’s anything to go by at both club and national
As he looks back on 2016, there is much with which
to be pleased with last month’s 1-0 qualifier victory
in Austria, which was secured by James McClean’s
strike, the most recent cause for celebration.
However, one moment stands out above all, the
85th-minute Brady header which secured a 1-0 win
in the do-or-die clash with the Italians in Lille which
sent Ireland into a last-16 clash with hosts France.
O’Neill said: “I think it would be hard to beat Brady’s
header [against Italy], it would be really hard to beat
that. McClean’s goal in Austria was a nice moment
as well, simply because it’s a different competition.
There have been some good moments, but if you are
asking me overall, that’s as nice a moment as any.”
Has a side full
prospects are bright
Scott Sinclair, second from
right, celebrates after
scoring the winner for Celtic.
Memphis Depay has struggled
for game-time this season.
Benteke could pay penalty
Depay poised for Man United exit
Celtic hit back in Old Firm derby
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