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Jimmy Shan challenges West Bromwich Albion to build momentum ahead of playoffs

West Brom caretaker manager Jimmy Shan has urged his players to concentrate on their final two Sky Bet Championship matches before considering the play-offs. Albion clinched a top-six spot with a 0-0 draw at lowly Reading. They had the better of the first half but Hal Robson-Kanu and Jacob Murphy were denied by home goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Although Reading dominated after the interval, they had to ride their luck as both Rekeem Harper and Jay Rodriguez struck the woodwork for West Brom. Albion are now likely to face Midlands rivals Aston Villa in their play-off semi-final. “We have to first look at ourselves and it’s all about creating momentum now,” Shan said. “You can build that in many ways. You can have a winning momentum, you can have a performance moment...

Five talking points ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action

Manchester City and Tottenham provided a spectacle for the ages in their midweek Champions League clash and the two teams will meet again at the Etihad Stadium – this time with both needing Premier League points. Here, Press Association Sport looks at the fixture and four other talking points ahead of this weekend: Can City and Tottenham go again? Mauricio Pochettino’s side reached the Champions League semi-finals in midweek (Mike Egerton/PA) Even before these teams provided an instant classic on Wednesday night, the Saturday lunchtime kick-off looked to be the defining fixture of the weekend. But the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final has amped that up several notches, not least because of its dramatic denouement. The question now is: are both teams physically and ment...

Amir Khan talks up trainer Virgil Hunter ahead of Terence Crawford bout

Amir Khan believes his trainer Virgil Hunter holds the key to his hopes of securing victory in what could prove his defining fight against Terence Crawford. The 32-year-old challenges WBO welterweight champion Crawford at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday. American Crawford is at the peak of his powers, to the extent that alongside Vasyl Lomachenko he is considered one of the two finest fighters in the world. Hunter oversaw Khan’s most convincing, disciplined performances when, after successive defeats, the Brit joined him and excelled in overcoming Luis Collazo, Chris Algieri and Devon Alexander. But Hunter’s ill health meant Khan was then being trained by Joe Goosen until the Crawford fight was signed. Khan’s victories over Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas un...

Liverpool vs. Barcelona: How they compare ahead of Champions League semi-finals

Liverpool will face Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League after beating Porto. Here, Press Association Sport looks ahead to the clash with the Catalan giants. Key Players Lionel Messi will be looking to torment another English side in the semis (Nick Potts/PA) You have probably heard of Lionel Messi. We can leave the debate about whether he is the greatest player to ever play the game for another time, but the Barcelona forward is certainly in the conversation. His double against Manchester United in the quarter-finals took him to 24 Champions League goals against English opposition – twice as many as any other player, so we can only wish the Liverpool defence the best of luck. The problem for opponents is that the Argentinian forms only part of an intimidating Barca attack,...

Jurgen Klopp looks ahead to “really tough job” in Porto

Jurgen Klopp laughed off Sergio Conceicao‘s suggestion that his Liverpool side can sometimes play like the best team in the world before the two resume battle on Wednesday night. Liverpool are aiming to dump Porto out of the Champions League for a second year running and go into the second leg of their quarter-final at the Estadio do Dragao leading 2-0 from last week’s first leg at Anfield. Porto boss Conceicao paid the Reds just about the ultimate compliment in the build-up to the match, saying this season they have often played like “the best team in the world”, but Klopp took it with a pinch of salt. “Sometimes we are really good, it’s true,” Klopp said. “Hopefully we can show it again. Sergio Conceicao has been hugely impressed by Liverpo...

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer not thinking about 1999 treble ahead of Barcelona return

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the 1999 Champions League final proved anything is possible in football but the Manchester United manager attempted to tone down its significance ahead of Tuesday night. Solskjaer claimed a special place in the hearts of United supporters 20 years ago when his last-gasp strike against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp sealed an unforgettable treble. The Norwegian returned to the ground on Monday as his side bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona. Yet Solskjaer refused to dwell too much on the past and is fully focused on the task at hand, urging his side to believe they can prevail against the Spanish champions on Tuesday night. He said: “Of course it’s a fantastic memory for me. ItR...

Alexis Sanchez back fit for United ahead of trip to Barcelona

The Chilean forward has been sidelined for the last six weeks because of a knee injury. Alexis Sanchez was among Manchester United‘s travelling contingent as they bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona. The Chilean has been sidelined for the last six weeks because of a knee injury but could return to bolster an attack that failed to register a shot on target in last week’s defeat at Old Trafford. Midfielder Nemanja Matic and full-back Matteo Darmian were also part of the 22-man squad heading out to Barcelona on Monday morning but Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly miss out. Ole has named a 22-man travelling squad to face Barcelona… #MUFC #UCL — Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 15, 2019 But it is the inclusion ...

Eden Hazard insists Chelsea “can beat anyone” ahead of Liverpool clash

Eden Hazard insists Chelsea are not interested in influencing the Premier League title race. Chelsea face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday where they can spoil the Reds’ title ambitions for the second time in five years. Cesar Azpilicueta has already conceded he is keen for a repeat of 2014, where Steven Gerrard’s slip and Chelsea’s 2-0 April win at Anfield scuppered Liverpool’s Premier League bid. Maurizio Sarri‘s men could again dent Liverpool’s fight for that elusive first top-flight title since 1990 on Sunday, but Belgium playmaker Hazard is focused only on advancing the Blues’ bid for a top-four league finish. “We don’t care about who can win the title, we’ll go there and try to win the game,” Hazard told the BBC. “...

Rory McIlroy feeling “comfortable” ahead of Masters

Rory McIlroy believes juggling and meditation can help him win the Masters and complete the career grand slam. McIlroy needs a victory at Augusta National to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having claimed all four major titles. The 29-year-old has finished inside the top 10 on each of his last four starts and was in the last group in the final round 12 months ago, only to struggle to a closing 74 and end up six shots behind playing partner Patrick Reed. That means his best chance to win also remains his worst memory of Augusta, namely when he squandered a four-shot lead in 2011 with a final-round collapse. Everyone always picks the Butler Cabin picture when they think about Rory’s 2011 collapse, but this from 13 tee is the one I think about...

Barcelona in focus ahead of Manchester United Champions League tie

Barcelona are the visitors as Manchester United line up in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in five years. Ahead of Wednesday’s eagerly-anticipated clash at Old Trafford, Press Association Sport takes a look at the LaLiga side. European experience Then captain Eric Abidal, right, lifted the Champions League trophy after Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley in 2011. (Nick Potts/PA) Barcelona are giants of the European game – as Manchester United know all too well. The previous two occasions these sides met were the Champions League finals of 2009 and 2011, with Barca running out 2-0 victors in Rome before overcoming Sir Alex Ferguson’s side 3-1 at Wembley two years later. The Catalan side have been crowned European champions on five occasions in ...

Chris Woakes feeling fit ahead of World Cup

Chris Woakes is optimistic his prospects of featuring in the World Cup and Ashes will not be jeopardised by a long-standing knee problem following a couple of injections to the area. The Warwickshire seamer feels his fitness has “turned a corner” ahead of a bumper summer on home soil in which England are targeting a first ever global 50-over crown as well as regaining the urn they lost in Australia. Woakes, a key pillar for England’s one-day side and certainly in the Test reckoning at the very least, had his winter disrupted by an injury that has consistently troubled him in recent times. Memories of his Champions Trophy campaign being curtailed by a side strain after England’s opening match two years ago are still fresh in the memory. Chris Woakes, centre, could be...

Tommy Fleetwood in “good shape” ahead of Masters

Tommy Fleetwood has pledged to maintain his aggressive approach as he aims to go from first to last at the Masters. Ryder Cup star Fleetwood was the first player to hold a press conference at Augusta National on Monday afternoon. The last player to hold one on Sunday evening will do so wearing the champion’s green jacket. There is, of course, the small matter of beating the other 86 players in the field, but Fleetwood carded a third round of 66 on his way to finishing 17th in the Masters last year and was third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and fifth in the Players Championship. It’s Masters Monday! pic.twitter.com/uXzLs6Zpg7 — The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 8, 2019 “The Arnold Palmer in particular I built a lot of confidence that week and then the following ...

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