Klopp fumes at the referee; Botha and Stander put differences aside
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Paris Saint-Germain players celebrate after beating Liverpool 2-1 to reach the Champions League last 16. Photo: Yoan Valat/EPA
Liverpool’s Champions League hopes hang by a thread while Spurs grab a lifeline. On an eventful night of action Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool slumped to their third consecutive away defeat in the competition thanks to Paris Saint-Germain goals from Juan Bernat and Neymar. James Milner did pull one back from the penalty spot right on half-time but the French side did enough in the second half to see themselves into the last 16 and leave Liverpool needing either a 1-0 win or a win by two clear goals against Napoli in Anfield to advance. Afterwards, Klopp was unhappy with the referee for allowing PSG – and Neymar in particular – to get away with their play-acting antics. Meanwhile, at Wembley, Spurs needed nothing less than a win against Inter Milan to stay alive and they got just that on a tense night when Christian Eriksen netted in the second half to seal a 1-0 victory and leave Mauricio Pochettino’s side needing to beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp in two weeks if they are to progress. Back to domestic matters and FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter says that the succession plan Ireland have in place for Stephen Kenny to replace Mick McCarthy as manager in two years is the result of a major overhaul in the organisation which has been going on for years. Speaking to Emmet Malone the Dutchman says: “this is a unique project. You can’t say we’ll do this every time but it fits at this time”.
Moving on and former Ireland outhalf Ronan O’Gara has said he would be interested in making a return to these shores in the near future to work with Andy Farrell in the new Ireland set-up. Farrell will take over from Joe Schmidt after next year’s World Cup and O’Gara – who is currently working as the attack coach for the Crusaders in New Zealand – says he is regularly in contact with the IRFU and would be open to a role at some stage down the line. This week it’s Pro14 action that takes centre stage with Munster facing off against Edinburgh on Friday night. Speaking yesterday, Springbok Arno Botha has said that, even though he and CJ Stander were not the best of friends during their time coming through the ranks together at the Bulls, they have now laid their differences aside for the good of Munster and are enjoying being alongside each other again. “I don’t know if you can say he was unlucky [to leave the Bulls], because obviously it’s not really that unlucky to play for Ireland now, but it worked out well for him,” Botha said.