Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s up for the Cup, all eyes on Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Presentin Percy (R) made a winning return to action at Gowran Park. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty
Chelsea are through to the final of the League Cup after they beat Tottenham Hotspur on penalties at Stamford Bridge last night. Maurizio Sarri’s under-fire side went into the second leg trailing by a goal but soon turned the tables on Spurs, with goals from N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard giving them the lead on aggregate. Fernando Llorente made it 2-2 on aggregate after 50 minutes and with no away goals rule the tie went straight to penalties. Chelsea held their nerve, slotting four fine spot kicks - with Eric Dier and Lucas Moura’s misses meaning Mauricio Pochettino’s wait for silverware continues. Elsewhere the FA Cup resumes tonight, with Manchester United travelling to play Arsenal in the pick of the fourth round ties. And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking forward to renewing a famous old rivalry with the Gunners - only this time as a manager. He said: “The games against Arsenal were the fiercest battles we had during my time in England. They won the double, we won the treble and the games were just fantastic because they were the two top teams. We had a great team and they had a very good one.”
The Pro14 resumes tonight, with Leinster welcoming the Scarlets to the RDS. The fixture provides Ireland duo Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath with a last chance to prove their match fitness ahead of next weekend’s Six Nations opener against England at the Aviva Stadium. Gavin Cummiskey writes: “Nothing short of the cleanest hour is required to keep Jordan Larmour benched and Dave Kilcoyne out of the Six Nations squad in round one. Kearney and McGrath are, of course, established internationals with a 144 Test matches between them but the present tense is all that matters in camp Schmidt.” James Lowe also returns to the Leinster XV, with the Kiwi wing moving closer to becoming Irish qualified via residency. He said: “It’s an exciting prospect, I’m about 18 months out. Jamison Gibson-Park is a lot closer than me so it will be interesting to see what happens there. I’ve always wanted to test myself on the highest stage.” Elsewhere Ulster take on Benetton in a crunch Conference B clash in Belfast, with Michael Lowry getting another chance to shine from fullback.