Dunne’s angled pass out of defence was chested down by skipper Zamora perfectly into the path of Austin, whose drive flashed past the despairing hand of Guzan to give the Rs a valuable lead. Benteke had a chance to level matters with a header shortly afterwards but could only flick Westwood’s cross wide of Green’s post as Villa searched for an immediate riposte. Republic of Ireland defender Dunne, who spent four years at Villa Park, was again the man to put his body on the line as he blocked Benteke’s next effort as Agbonlahor and Weimann combined on the break to open up the Rangers defence. Sandro came closest to extending the QPR lead before the interval but his cute chip was too high to catch Guzan off his line and drifted behind for a goal kick as Rangers reached half-time in front. The second half started in much the same vein but Villa should have equalised on 55 minutes when Clark could only poke wide from close range after being picked out by Benteke’s downward header from Westwood’s deep free-kick. Zamora, who had spent the night hassling and harrying the Villa defence and proved he could still be a thorn in the side of an opposing team, was withdrawn just after the hour as Redknapp introduced Junior Hoilett from the bench. The Canadian winger almost made an immediate impact but saw a clever shot hit the far post, but it was not long until Austin’s second goal killed off the game as the former Burnley frontman did well to beat Ron Vlaar to Eduardo Vargas’ low cross to steer the ball past Guzan with just over 20 minutes remaining. Lambert responded by bringing on Darren Bent and Joe Cole but it was Vargas who should have made it three for QPR as he broke the offside trap before his tame effort was kept out by Guzan. Villa’s luck in front of goal continued to desert them as Tom Cleverley’s strike was palmed back into the middle of the box by Green, who then recovered well to prevent Clark from tapping home. That proved to be the last meaningful chance at a consolation for Villa, who will be hoping to halt their slide when they welcome similarly out-of-form Tottenham to Villa Park on Sunday. Having proved the architects of their own downfall with two own goals in the recent defeat to Liverpool, Rangers came out on top at Loftus Road in a game against an Aston Villa outfit bereft of confidence. When Austin struck a sweet half-volley in the first half the writing was already on the wall for Paul Lambert’s visitors, who have now gone over eight hours since scoring a goal, and another predatory finish the other side of the interval secured what could be a vital 2-0 win. They may have faced Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton in recent weeks – with an 11-0 aggregate reverse scoreline – but these sorts of evenings need to produce results if Villa are to stay clear of the pack squabbling at the foot of the table. But, for Redknapp and QPR, this was a much-needed second win of the campaign which lifts them above fellow newly-promoted side Burnley and to within two points of 17th-placed Leicester as the 67-year-old continues to face questions about his future. As well as Austin’s two efforts, Redknapp would have been pleased with the developing link-up play his goalscorer is enjoying with the industrious Bobby Zamora – whilst the league’s worst defence kept just their second clean sheet of the campaign with Rio Ferdinand again an unused substitute. Ciaran Clark was brought back into the Villans’ defence but he wasted their best chance to grab just their fifth league goal of the season, with five defeats in succession leaving Villa only three points clear of their Monday night hosts. The recalled Villa duo of Carlos Sanchez and Andreas Weimann combined well in the early stages, with the latter’s cross headed to Ashley Westwood who could only arrow his shot into the chest of fit-again Rob Green. Gabriel Agbonlahor, who scored Villa’s last league goal back in mid-September, saw a low effort bravely blocked by former team-mate Richard Dunne as Lambert’s side began to dominant possession. Green was again called into action moments later as Sanchez thrashed a shot towards goal from distance but, fortunately for the former England goalkeeper, the effort flew straight into his grasp. Brad Guzan was not as lucky at the other end as Redknapp’s men broke the deadlock from the next attack following a simple long ball forward. A brace from Charlie Austin lit up an otherwise forgettable game as QPR moved off the bottom of the Premier League and eased the mounting pressure on manager Harry Redknapp. Press Association
Van Persie scored his first goal for over a month to put United ahead and Radamel Falcao got on the scoresheet before Wes Morgan’s own goal sealed the win, which moves Louis van Gaal’s men up to third in the Barclays Premier League. Marcin Wasilewski scored in the second half, but the Foxes were unable to pull off another great comeback like they did in the reverse fixture last September, which ended 5-3 to Leicester. Press Association The tempo was slightly quicker, but Leicester goalkeeper Schwarzer remained untested in the opening exchanges. The home fans became annoyed at their team for not going on the attack against the bottom team in the division. Too often they passed the ball sideways or backwards. Nothing seemed to be going for the hosts. Rooney’s attempted cross-field pass ended up in the East Stand. Angel di Maria showed his class by chesting down a Leicester clearance, but he followed it up by putting his volley into the crowd too. Van Persie spurned an opportunity moments later, scooping a shot high and wide from the edge of the area. The home supporters needed a goal to lift their spirits and Van Persie delivered it in spectacular fashion just before the half hour. Blind pinched the ball off Andrej Kramaric and chipped a clever ball over the Leicester back four towards Van Persie. The striker showed true class by watching the ball over his shoulder before stabbing past Schwarzer first time for his ninth of the campaign. Five minutes later, United doubled their lead. Van Persie started the move, brushing his man off the ball to find Di Maria. Schwarzer spilled the Argentinian’s shot and Falcao scrambled home his fourth goal of the season just before Ritchie De Laet and Wasilewski could intercept. United were now playing at their free-flowing best. Falcao and Di Maria exchanged passes in a quick counter, but they could not test Schwarzer. With Leonardo Ulloa isolated up front, Leicester could offer little on the attack and two minutes before the break they found themselves 3-0 down. Rooney’s corner skidded off the head of Blind and Morgan, who was caught out by the flick-on, accidentally diverted the ball into his own net. Leicester’s supporters, rather optimistically, insisted they were going to win 5-3 again. Just after introducing Esteban Cambiasso at the break, the Foxes hit United on the counter, but Kramaric’s attempted bicycle kick failed spectacularly. United remained by far the superior team though. Adnan Januzaj, making his first league start in almost three months, wanted in on the act, but his swirling 25-yard shot dipped just over Schwarzer’s bar. Ulloa had a pretty desperate penalty appeal turned down when he slipped in the box on the hour. A brief moment of panic followed when substitute David Nugent nudged last man Phil Jones off the ball, but David de Gea came out to stop the former England striker. Van Persie earned a standing ovation when he came off with 22 minutes to go. Leicester grabbed one back when Wasilewski headed in at the far post, but there was not enough time to mount another comeback and United coasted to victory. Robin van Persie ended his dry spell with a spectacular finish that propelled Manchester United to a comfortable 3-1 win over Leicester. Van Persie spoke candidly this week about how disappointed he was with his form this season. The Dutchman said his performances had not been up to scratch and conceded he did not know if he had done enough to earn a contract extension. But on Saturday he looked something like the Van Persie who scored 30 goals in his debut season at the club. The Dutchman watched Daley Blind’s chip pass over his left shoulder before expertly stabbing the ball past Mark Schwarzer with his right boot. Replays showed the 31-year-old may have been slightly offside, but he did not care. Falcao rounded off a move which Van Persie started five minutes later and the three points were in the bag at half-time after Morgan turned Wayne Rooney’s corner into his own net The win – and the fact that they scored three goals – will give confidence to Van Gaal’s team, who had scored just five goals in their previous six matches. For the first 20 minutes, United looked just as flat as they did in their last home match – the 1-0 defeat to Southampton.
Chelsea hope either Diego Costa or Loic Remy will be fit for Sunday’s match at Arsenal after Didier Drogba suffered an ankle injury. He wrote on Twitter: “Disappointed not to be able to play the #MAP2015 because of an ankle injury but still supporting #EbolaResponse.” It is not the first time Drogba has had an ankle problem this season. He has made five Premier League starts this campaign, but could be displaced in Chelsea’s starting line-up at the Emirates Stadium anyway if Costa or Remy is fit. “Our target was for Diego to play the last four matches and Arsenal is the sixth match from the end,” Mourinho said last Friday. “He starts training with rest of the squad next week.” Mourinho also reported Remy had a better than 50 per cent chance to play against United, although teenager Dominic Solanke was on the substitutes’ bench, with the France striker ruled out. Chelsea are 10 points clear of the second-placed Gunners and victory against Arsene Wenger’s men will mean the Blues can wrap up the title at Leicester three days later. The 37-year-old Ivory Coast striker has led the Premier League leaders’ attack in wins over QPR and Manchester United in recent weeks due to Costa’s hamstring injury and Remy’s calf problem. Drogba, a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, on Monday withdrew from featuring in the Match Against Poverty in St Etienne. Press Association
Trainer Ted Walsh has been cleared of any wrongdoing and will face no penalty over the Foxrock case, the Turf Club has announced. The statement continued: “Penalty will be considered at a separate and subsequent hearing, which will take into account the penalty imposed in relation to the original finding of the stewards. “The committee took no further action against the trainer or horse, having regard to the dissatisfaction expressed by Mr Walsh in evidence in relation to Mr Heskin’s riding in the latter part of the race, which could no longer be justified by reference to the absence of two front shoes, or any other valid excuse.” The referrals committee cited Foxrock’s shoes were most likely to have become dislodged during the wash-down period. If the shoes were deliberately removed, said the committee, it would have been impossible for whoever removed them to have not soiled their clothes from close contact with a wet animal. Terry Smith, Turf Club senior veterinary officer, noted there was nothing unusual about the clothing of Walsh nor his assistants. The statement said Walsh would have had a “limited window of opportunity to determine on this course of action, obtain the necessary implements and remove the two shoes from the horse, all in the context of a stable yard on a race-day”. It added: “Although it was clearly possible that the Turf Club case could be correct, the committee was not satisfied that the evidence in support of a guilty inference carried the degree of cogency necessary to find that it was more probable than the alternative innocent scenario.” However, footage emerged that was not available on the day, prompting the inquiry to be reopened. The new video evidence appeared to show Foxrock returning to the parade ring after the race with his front shoes visible. Evidence was heard from various expert witnesses, including trainers Aidan O’Brien and Willie Mullins. Leading vets, farriers, stable security officers and stewards also gave evidence at the lengthy referral hearing on April 18. Having taken on board all the relevant facts, the Turf Club referrals committee could not “reach any firm conclusion as to the security with which the front shoes were attached to Foxrock from the post-race footage, save to (say) that they were not obviously or apparently loose”. A Turf Club statement added that that the committee “was satisfied on the evidence of Mr Walsh and on the footage of the race that Foxrock showed no signs of being lame as he passed the post at the end of the race, or at any time thereafter”. Although Walsh was cleared, the referrals committee said it was “probable” Foxrock could have finished second in the place and found Heskin in breach of failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures to achieve the “best possible placing”. The jockey was, however, not found in breach of any other rule. Press Association Walsh and jockey Adrian Heskin attracted the attention of the stewards when the horse finished third at Punchestown on December 7. Officials on the day accepted explanations that the seven-year-old had finished slightly lame and lost both front shoes during the course of the race, although they banned Heskin for not reporting the issues in the first instance.
Press Association The 27-year-old midfielder, who had 12 months remaining on his existing deal, has now been tied up until the summer of 2021. Head coach Dick Advocaat said: “Lee is the controller of the side. He is a motivator, a leader and central to the success of our team. To know that he will be with us for many years to come is very important to the club.” Cattermole, who started his senior career at Middlesbrough after graduating from their academy, joined the Black Cats from Wigan in a £6million switch during the summer of 2009. He is approaching 150 appearances for Sunderland, but might have left Wearside two summers ago when he was deemed surplus to requirements by then head coach Paolo di Canio and left to train with the youth team. However, the Italian’s successor Gus Poyet restored him to the senior ranks and he played a key role in the club’s so-called “great escape” at the end of the 2013-14 season before being linked with a move to Stoke. He proved a central figure in Advocaat’s team as he dragged the club back from the brink of relegation once again at the end of last season, earning the Dutchman’s admiration and ultimately, an extended stay with the club. Sporting director Lee Congerton said: “Lee is a hugely important part of our team, both on and off the field. “He has 10 years of experience playing in the Premier League, which is incredible when you consider he is still only 27 years old, and we are delighted that he has committed his long-term future to Sunderland.” News of Cattermole’s contract was announced just a day after Advocaat landed his first summer signing, clinching a permanent deal for Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates. Lee Cattermole has committed his long-term future to Sunderland by signing a five-year contract extension.
“At the end of the day we have to look if they have players who can improve you. That’s what it’s all about.” Hasselbaink is preparing for Burton’s first ever campaign in Sky Bet League One this season with the club training at St George’s Park after renewing their deal with Perform and believes it gives them perfect preparation. “It helps magnificently, the pitches, the gym, all the stuff which Perform gives us is very helpful and needed,” he added. “It’s a magnificent facility. Not a lot of clubs in League One have what we have.” Perform, the official healthcare provider for St. George’s Park, will continue their recovery specific research programme as part of the deal with The Brewers. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has backed Claudio Ranieri to be a hit at Leicester – and build bridges with the Foxes’ fans. Pearson was sacked last month – despite keeping the club in the Barclays Premier League – after a breakdown in relations with the board during a season where he told a fan to “f*** off and die”, launched a bizarre ostrich rant at a journalist and grappled with Crystal Palace’s James McArthur. Pearson’s exit came after his son James, along with team-mates Tom Hopper and Adam Smith, were sacked for their part in a sexually-explicit video in which racist language was used during a post-season trip to Thailand. But Hasselbaink, who also worked with Ranieri at Atletico Madrid between 1999 and 2000, thinks his former manager will help to smooth things over at the Foxes. He said: “Claudio is someone who has experience all over the world – France, Italy, Greece. Why would he not be successful? He knows the English culture and that is what he has got ahead of others who come over. “As exciting it is for him it will also be for the club but you always have something to prove in football, every time you wake up you have to prove yourself. “He is someone who communicates very well with people around him – he is very good at that – and he has that charisma. They like him for it and, with the fans, I think he will be a success.” Burton boss Hasselbaink would also not rule out a link-up with Ranieri which could see some Foxes players move to the Pirelli Stadium. “Maybe, we have to have a look at what they have. I have always kept in contact with my old manager and it’s a contact I’ll be able to have in the future,” he said. The former Chelsea striker played under the Italian at Stamford Bridge and believes Ranieri can be the perfect fit for Leicester. Ranieri was a shock choice to replace the axed Nigel Pearson last week and signed a three-year deal at the King Power Stadium. Press Association
The first prize of £500,000 will certainly fund a replacement for his current four-year-old Mondeo, with Fitzpatrick’s dream car – an Ascari A10 – costing around £425,000. The victory also lifts Fitzpatrick from 111th in the world rankings to within sight of his goal of a place in the top 50 to secure a return to the Masters in April. After winning the US Amateur title in 2013, Fitzpatrick played alongside defending champion Adam Scott and US PGA winner Jason Dufner at Augusta in 2014, missing the halfway cut by a shot. “If you’re in the top 50 it opens so many doors and my dad says it’s self-perpetuating,” Fitzpatrick added. “The money is bigger, ranking points are bigger and your card is easier to keep.” Kjeldsen, Zanotti and Lowry were all left to rue missed opportunities on the greens, with Zanotti three-putting the 13th and Kjeldsen and Lowry missing numerous birdie chances. “I played great today, I really did. But I struggled on the greens,” said Kjeldsen, who won the Irish Open in May. “As well as I played the long game, that’s how much I struggled on the greens.” In his second tournament since winning the Bridgestone Invitational, Lowry added: “I t was another day of playing good golf and holing nothing. Woeful putting is the only term I can use. It’s just frustrating and it’s hard. I lost confidence on the greens. But my golf is good enough to finish in the top three putting bad, so there a lot of positives to take.” Fitzpatrick carded a closing 68 at Woburn to finish 15 under par, two shots ahead of Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti, Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Ireland’s Shane Lowry. The 21-year-old from Sheffield, who was the youngest player in the field, said: ” It’s unbelievable. It’s not going to sink in for a long time. A first professional win, British Masters, in England, with my family here; it does not get any better. “W inning wire to wire is something most players dream of. Jordan Spieth did so when he won the Masters and for me to be in the same category as him is pretty special. I have spent a little time with him (they share apparel sponsors) and I would love to get a (congratulatory) text from him.” Fitzpatrick insisted he did not feel he had his ‘A’ game this week, revealing he had phoned coach Mike Walker after each of the first three rounds, despite leading after an opening 64 and sharing the lead on Friday and Saturday. “We were just trying to fix a couple of things and today I probably hit it the best I have all week,” added Fitzpatrick, who moves to 12th in the Race to Dubai and top of the early Ryder Cup qualifying standings. After starting the final round tied with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, a level-par front nine left Fitzpatrick two shots adrift of Zanotti and Kjeldsen, but birdies on the 11th and 12th drew him level before a massive turning point on the par-five 15th. Kjeldsen looked set to gain the upper hand when he found the putting surface in two, only to run his eagle putt off the green and narrowly miss the birdie attempt. In the group behind, Fitzpatrick holed from 20 feet to take the outright lead for the first time and things went from bad to worse for Kjeldsen when his pushed drive on the 16th finished at the base of a narrow tree. From there the 40-year-old could only advance his ball to within 50 yards of the green and when he failed to get up and down, Fitzpatrick had a two-shot lead which he maintained in brilliant fashion with a birdie from four feet on the 17th after Zanotti had holed from outside. “This year my goal was to keep my card and I was not 100 per cent sure I was going to be able to do that after the start I had, but I managed to start to play well and the past two months have really got going and made a lot of money,” Fitzpatrick added. England’s Matt Fitzpatrick admitted life could not get any better after claiming his first European Tour title with a wire-to-wire victory in the British Masters on Sunday, taking his season’s earnings to more than £1million. Press Association
Pulis has until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge. He confirmed he would look to speak to referees’ chief Mike Riley following the defeat which left Albion with just one home win in the Barclays Premier League this season. He said after the game: “We are disappointed with the penalty decisions. Everyone in the crowd would have said Fletcher’s was a penalty. “With Jonny Evans the referee is only two yards away and he gets pulled back. You have to do well to miss it. Why he has not given those two I don’t know. “I will speak to Mike Riley. At this level the referee should be getting those decisions correct. They say for the second goal the lad (Riyad Mahrez) is offside. We have a linesman over the far side who can see it clearly and can see it across the line. “Decisions which could have helped us didn’t go with us.” Tony Pulis has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association following West Brom’s defeat to Leicester. The head coach is alleged to “have used language and/or behaviour in or around the tunnel area after the fixture which amounts to improper conduct,” an FA statement said. West Brom lost the match 3-2. Pulis was angry with referee Anthony Taylor after the game and admitted he had confronted the official, before apologising, as he felt Albion should have been awarded two penalties for fouls on Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher. Press Association
Arsene Wenger is ready to enter the January transfer market to avoid an injury crisis at the Emirates Stadium. Asked if the likely returns of Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain would give him the opportunity to rest Sanchez at Norwich, Wenger said: ” I will have to assess that a bit later. “Spontaneously it might not be the best moment to rest Alexis but I don’t know. He had a little hamstring alarm but we will see how he recovers from that. Joel Campbell had a little calf problem so I will assess all that Friday, latest Saturday.” On the face of it, a trip to newly-promoted Norwich will be seen by many as a good place to collect three points in Arsenal’s quest to maintain a title challenge. But Wenger knows it will not always be as straightforward as that after he saw his side humbled at the Hawthorns by Tony Pulis’ West Brom. “For us, it was a bad result,” he said. “But on the day everything went against us, they had one shot on target and scored two goals. That will not always happen. “On top of that we missed a penalty and scored an own goal, so we had a nightmare. It was an unlucky day, that can happen in a season but after it is how you respond to that and we did that well on Tuesday.” Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could return at Carrow Road while fellow England international Theo Walcott is back in training and is close to a comeback. But the likes of Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta all in the treatment room alongside Coquelin, with a lack of central midfielders the main issue Wenger is likely to address if he buys in the transfer window. Despite always suggesting there is no good business to be done in the new year, the Arsenal boss admits he could be tempted for the second year in a row having signed defender Gabriel last January. “We are in a position where we want to do something,” he said. “If I find the right quality I will do something. (The injury to) Arteta is short term but Coquelin as I told you is much longer but the scans are positive because he does not need any surgery, but it will be 12 weeks. “Walcott goes through a few tests and steps but the first one was successful. He started running again on Tuesday morning and had no reaction. He has no big hurdle to get across today and hopefully he will be successful.” The injury list means Wenger will continue to play Alexis Sanchez despite his recent exertions for both club and country. The Chile forward played 90 minutes against Dinamo and scored his first goals since mid-October and sustained a minor hamstring problem. The Gunners are still missing a host of first-team players heading into Sunday’s Barclays Premier League clash at Norwich and were hit with the news that midfielder Francis Coquelin faces three months on the sidelines after injuring his knee in the defeat at West Brom last weekend. Wenger’s side kept their Champions League last 16 hopes alive with victory over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night and also welcomed back Aaron Ramsey from a hamstring problem as a late substitute. Press Association
“LIVE from the White House: National Security Adviser Bolton briefs the media with the White House’s latest response to the coup being staged in Venezuela to remove President Nicolas Maduro.”