The Morning Sports Briefing

Manchester City give Southampton a rude awakening, Soldado finally scores, Leinster’s injury crisis deepens and Slaughtneil win their first title

Tottenham Hotspur’s Roberto Soldado scored his first goal for the club since March as his side beat Everton 2-1 at White Hart Lane

Tottenham Hotspur’s Roberto Soldado scored his first goal for the club since March as his side beat Everton 2-1 at White Hart Lane

 

Saints back with a bump

With Chelsea’s seemingly unstoppable march to the Premier league title stalling slightly on Saturday evening after a 0-0 draw away to Sunderland, with Gus Poyet’s side rendering Jose Mourinho’s impressive attacking ensemble goalless for the first time this season, Manchester City moved to within six points of the league leaders after a 3-0 win at Southampton yesterday.

The result saw Manuel Pellegrini’s team leapfrog Saints into second place and brought the high-flying home side crashing back down to earth.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Champions League hero Sergio Aguero didn’t continue his rich vein of form but Yaya Toure got on the score sheet and was joined by the surprising duo of Frank Lampard and Gael Clichhy.

It wasn’t all easy going for City, though, who had Eliaquim Mangala red carded and watched captain Vincent Kompany limp off with a hamstring injury, meaning Pellegrini may have to opt for a centre half pairing of Martin Demichhelis and Dedryck Boyata for the champions' trip to the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

A decision will be made this month on whether or not goalscorer Frank Lampard will be retained beyond the end of his loan spell in January, Pellegrini said: “No one can be surprised to see the way Frank Lampard plays his football.

“He’s a great professional and person, and very happy here in our team. He also enjoys the way we play and always makes a difference in the last 25 or 30 minutes.”

Soldado surprise

In yesterdays other game Tottenham welcomed Everton to White Hart Lane with both teams looking to avoid any Europa league hangover after their excursions midweek.

Both teams won last Thursday night, but while Spurs’ game against Partizan Belgrade was fairly hectic having been postponed due to pitch invaders they didn’t have to do the air miles Everton did with their trip to Wolfsburg, and it showed.

Spurs outplayed Roberton Martinez’s side and came from behind to win 2-1. Roberto Soldado proved pigs can fly by scoring a smart second and tweeted after the game about the reception he received from the home support. He said: “The moment the ref blew up for half time everybody sang my name and I welled up a little bit, I had a tear in my eye. It was very special.” Aww.

Away from England it was a dark day in La Liga yesterday as a Deportivo La Coruna fan was killed after a confrontation with Atletico Madrid fans before the champions' 2-0 win at the Vicente Calderon yesterday.

The 43-year-old had to be fished from the Manzanares river and had suffered head injuries, hypothermia and cardiac arrest following clashes between dozens of supporters.

Don’t blame Gerrard

Liverpool’s decline this season has been well documented, but they managed to get back to winning ways on Saturday, just, after scraping past Stoke City 1-0 at Anfield.

The game marked Steven Gerrard’s 16-year anniversary at the club, and the club captain watched most of the proceedings from the bench. For the first time in his career, people are starting to question the 34-year-old’s value to Brendan Rodger’s side.

But Stevie G isn’t to blame for Liverpool’s malaise and it’s not his fault Liverpool are still so reliant on him, writes Ken Early.

Shortage of premier talent

Those of you who avidly collected Panini football stickers as a youngster will probably look back quite fondly on the 1990s and the wave of foreigh ’talent’ which swept into the brand spanking new Carling Premiership - we’re talking Fernando Nelson, Eric Tinkler and Karel Poborsky.

Fast forward to 2014 and the Premier League is a global behemoth, and its sides have more money than ever before.

So why is it, then, that all 20 teams can’t find a goalkeeper competent enough to lump the ball upfield with his weaker foot? Malachy Clerkin disects a league which is far from ’premier’.

Walking wounded

Matt O’Connor’s Leinster had a good win on Saturday night, turning over Opsreys at the RDS, but the win came at a cost with the home dressing room resembling a field hospital afterwards.

Leinster’s injury count is akin to Manchester United’s, with Ian Madigan limping off at half time joining a growing list of casualties. Australian international Kane Douglas was escorted from the pitch in the second half after suffering a blow to the head, compounding Mike McCarthy’s withdrawal earlier last week after he presented with a recurrence of concussion symptoms.

Another second row, Tom Denton, was also forced off with an injury, while Isaac Boss had withdrawn from the squad late on after failing to shake off the flu.

Kevin McLaughlin, Richardt Strauss and Luke Fitzgerald are also struggling for fitness, and O’Connor will be paying his medical staff over time in a bid to get his troops fit for the weekend’s trip to The Stoop to play Harlequins in the European Champions Cup.

Lam’s men march on

Over in Galway Connacht marched on with victory over the Scarlets, making it six wins for the season and matching their win tally of last term after just nine games.

Pat Lam’s men were still half asleep when the visitors clocked up eight points in the opening three minutes but didn’t concede again, with Matt Healy getting the decisive score as they ran out 14-8 winners and clung on to sixth place in the Pro12 table.

Munster win marred

On Friday evening, Munster moved to the top of the table with a riveting 22-21 win over Ulster at Thomond Park, but their victory has been marred by news Donncha O’Callaghan is to be cited for an incident with Ireland international Stuart Olding.

Veteran O’Callaghan caught Olding with his boot, leaving the full-back needing a Head Injury Assessment, and a faces a disciplinary panel this week.

Austin Stacks grind it out

In the GAA yesterday Austin Stacks sealed the Munster football title for the first time in 38 years with a 3-5 2-4 win over The Nire. The Kerry side did it the hard way - It wasn’t pretty, it was attritional - but they stopped The Nire from becoming the first provincial champions to come from Waterford. Malachy Clerkin was there to watch The Nire throw their golden opportunity away.

Bradley at the death

In the Ulster Club SFC final Derry champions Slaughtneil saw off Omagh 1-10 1-9 in a tense affair. With the last kick of the game, Chris Bradley sent over a winning point to secure his side’s first ever Ulster title. Ian O’Riordan watched the drama unfold at the Athletic Grounds.

Horan reflects

James Horan, leading the All Stars in America, speaks to Sean Moran and reflects on his departure as Mayo boss after four years at the helm.

Emotion at Fairyhouse

Nearly 35 years after her father the late Dessie Hughes trained his first career win at Fairyhouse, Sandra Hughes secured an emotional win at the same County Meath track as Lieutenant Colonel won a dramatic Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.

Just 24-hours after Hughes registered her first success with a license she had her second as Bryan Cooper brought Lieutenant home to win by four lengths from Jetson.

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