Daily Archives: February 4, 2016

EuroBeat: Barcelona humiliate Valencia, Gonzalo Higuain scores again, Paris Saint-Germain cruise


LUIS Suarez scored four goals and Lionel Messi a hat trick as Barcelona defeated 10-man Valencia 7-0 on Wednesday to move into position to reach the Copa del Rey final for the third straight season.

Suarez scored in the seventh and 12th minutes, and Messi got on the board in the 29th, 58th and 74th before Suarez closed the scoring in the 83rd and 88th minutes.

Messi also hit the post once, and Neymar missed a penalty kick just before halftime of the semifinal at the Camp Nou. The second leg is next week at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia.

“It was one of the more complete games we’ve played,” said Suarez, who has 35 goals in 33 games this season. “We know we have a good advantage now, but in football you never know.”

Valencia, struggling since coach Gary Neville took over less than two months ago, played the entire second half a man down after defender Shkodran Mustafi was sent off for fouling Messi in the play that prompted the penalty wasted by Neymar with a shot into the post.

“Valencia fans didn’t deserve a result like this one,” Neville said. “This is one of the worst experiences I’ve been through in football. We made bad mistakes during the entire match.”

Barcelona’s ninth win in a row kept alive the team’s 27-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, one shy of its all-time record. It hasn’t lost a game since a 2-1 result at Sevilla in October in the Spanish league. The Catalan club went 28 games without a loss in the 2010-11 season.

Barcelona has outscored opponents 30-3 in its last seven games at the Camp Nou.

The hosts opened the scoring after Neymar helped steal a ball near midfield and set up Suarez’s low cross shot from inside the area. Suarez added his second from near the penalty spot after assists by Sergio Busquets and Aleix Vidal.

Neymar’s superb back-flick pass left Messi in great position to score the third from close range.

It was Suarez who set up Messi with a back-flick pass for the fourth goal, and Messi cleared two defenders inside the area before finding the net. He got his hat trick with a left-footed shot after Valencia defenders failed to clear a ball in front of the goal.

Suarez capped his spectacular night with a right-footed shot from inside the box, and a late header.

Suarez and Messi spent the final part of the match trying to set up Neymar, but he wasn’t able to find the target.

“We kept looking for him after he missed the penalty,” Suarez said. “We know that in the end he is happy for the team.”

Valencia complained about the penalty kick call, claiming Mustafi caught the ball before touching Messi’s leg inside the area.

Newly signed Valencia striker Denis Cheryshev had a goal disallowed for offside after coming off the bench in the second half. Cheryshev was ineligible when he played for Real Madrid earlier in the competition, leading to the team’s disqualification.

Valencia players said before the match that their main goal coming into the Camp Nou was to avoid a rout and stay alive for the second leg at Mestalla. The Copa del Rey is the only competition Valencia has a chance of winning in what has been a dismal season. The team hasn’t won in 11 league games, eight of them under the command of former England player Neville.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid left-back Filipe Luis has been handed a three-game ban for his dangerous challenge on Messi on the weekend.


Racist chanting halted play at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday as hosts Lazio suffered a 2-0 defeat that kept visitors’ Napoli’s sterling Serie A season on track.

Goals by Gonzalo Higuain, the Argentine’s 23rd in as many league games, and Jose Callejon combined to keep Maurizio Sarri’s men top of the table with a two-point lead on champions Juventus.

But the game was marred by a three-minute suspension in the second half on the orders of match officials for racist and insulting chanting aimed at Napoli’s Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

“I’m glad they stopped the game, it was beginning to become embarrassing,” said Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri.

Higuain is bidding to beat Gunnar Nordahl’s all-time Serie A record of 35 goals in a single, 20-team season (1950) and after spurning an early chance was soon into his stride, thanks to a slice of fortune.

The Argentine ran on to Callejon’s through ball on 24 minutes only to see Federico Marchetti come out to block, but as the ball bounced up Higuain chested it home.

Callejon, who hit a brace in a 5-1 thumping of Empoli last weekend, doubled Napoli’s lead three minutes later.

Napoli’s seventh consecutive win equalled a club record from 1988.

Juventus had a Sebastian De Maio own-goal, from Juan Cuadrado’s angled strike, to thank for a 1-0 win over Genoa and a 16th win of the campaign amid what is set to be a tough month of competition on three fronts.

But despite setting a new club record of 13 consecutive wins, coach Massimiliano Allegri looked furious when second-half substitute Simone Zaza saw red for a rash, studs-up challenge that left the Turin giants exposed for the final minutes.

Inter Milan looked to be heading up to third place after hanging on to Mauro Icardi’s strike early after the restart to secure a 1-0 San Siro win over Chievo.

But Fiorentina striker Mauro Zarate, who joined the club last week from West Ham, came off the bench to hit an injury-time winner and secure a last-gasp 2-1 win for Paulo Sousa’s men over Carpi after Kevin Lasagna had levelled Borja Valero’s early opener for the hosts.

AC Milan’s recent revival continued three days after their spectacular 3-0 derby win over Inter with a precious 2-0 win at Palermo thanks to Carlos Bacca’s strike and a 33rd minute penalty from M’Baye Niang.

Roma, 2-0 winners at Sassuolo on Tuesday, are fifth at 12 points behind with Milan just two points adrift in sixth.


Paris Saint-Germain established a new Ligue 1 record on Wednesday as they stretched their unbeaten streak to 33 matches by easing past Lorient 3-1 at the Parc des Princes.

Edinson Cavani was given a rare start by Laurent Blanc and justified his manager’s decision by opening the scoring in only the sixth minute.

Lorient struck back midway through the first half with a well-worked equaliser from Raphael Guerreiro.

The defending champions forged ahead again though with a Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal 10 minutes after half-time.

PSG were not at their fluent best, but Layvin Kurzawa made it three with an excellent strike.

Earlier, Alexandre Lacazette struck twice as Lyon secured a welcome 3-0 win over Bordeaux for just their second victory in 11 matches.

Lacazette struck four minutes prior to half-time at Parc OL before quick-fire goals from Lacazette and Aldo Kalulu late on ensured Bruno Genesio’s side put an end to Bordeaux’s seven-game unbeaten run.

France international Mathieu Debuchy made his Bordeaux debut following his loan move from Arsenal, while Uruguayan striker Diego Rolan was twice denied by fine saves from Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Lyon climbed back into the top half of the table, above 10th-place Bordeaux on goal difference, and are six points adrift of the Champions League spots.

Nice leapfrogged Angers into third as Hatem Ben Arfa grabbed his 11th goal of the campaign in a 1-0 win over Toulouse, while 10-man Angers were beaten 2-1 at Reims.

Nantes extended their unbeaten streak to 10 matches following a 3-1 victory over Gazelec Ajaccio, Guingamp condemned lowly Troyes to a 4-0 defeat and Lille earned a 1-0 win over Caen.


Across The Lake moved off Nine Mile Beach because of increased Lake Macquarie shark activity


THE iconic Across The Lake Swim, an annual 3.8km-long splash from Coal Point to Belmont to raise funds for local lifesavers since the 1950s, has become the latest shark victim.

PLENTIFUL: A great white shark snapped breaching near Marmong Point last September. Lake Macquarie’s shark population continues to improve. Picture: Jeff Adams.

For the second year running, organisers have decided to cancel the event because the improving health of Lake Macquarie is attracting an ever-increasing shark population.

Swansea-Belmont Surf Life Saving Club president Graham Burge said his club was there to protect people from danger, not place them in it.

“It is just not worth the calculated risk anymore,’’ Mr Burge said.

“The sharks have always been in the lake, but there is a lot more of them now, and a lot more bigger ones now too.’’

Almost daily dorsel fin sightings, including around the route the swimmers take, as well as advice from authorities, was enough for organisers to change tack.

Instead of the lake swim, they will have an ocean classic off Nine Mile Beach to continue to raise funds for the club.

“You can’t risk it, with the number of people in the water and how spread out they get. If there was a sighting then there would be no way we could get everyone out,’’ Mr Burge said.


Newcastle East looks back on 200 years of memories


BRONWYN Agnew considers Newcastle East Public School as so much more than just her alma mater.

It is a common, ongoing thread between four passionate learners – her grandmother Winifred Winning, mother Betty Agnew, herself and her daughter Winifred Agnew-Pauley – who traversed the same streets to their much-loved school.

“I feel an enormous sense of pride to have been part of that tradition,” she said.

“I feel a great sense of ownership of the school and that comes with the connection of all four of us being part of it. But I also feel a sense of being offered a great gift in being able to start my learning life here.”

Ms Agnew has chronicled her family’s experiences at the school in a new book, To Climb The Hill: A People’s History of Newcastle East Public School 1816-2016.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard will launch the book on Saturday as part of Australia’s oldest continually running school’s bicentenary celebrations, which will span three days.

Principal John Beach has been at the school of 250 students since 2002 and said the community was “very excited” about celebrating the milestone after years of preparation.

“It’s very significant in the history of education in Australia,” he said.

“This is the country’s oldest school – there are no other schools going back as far as 1816 – and we believe it has national significance.

“Public education took a nation of people who were all illiterate to a country that’s got 99 per cent literacy and that’s virtually all through public schooling.”

The school was known as Newcastle Public Charity School when it opened in February 1816, in a slab hut near the corner of Watt and Bolton streets. Convict teacher Henry Wrensford delivered Bible-based lessons to 17 students, the children of convicts, free settlers, military officers and seamen.

The school went through a series of both name and location changes before opening at its current Tyrrell Street address in 1982.

Mr Beach said while the school was grateful that Edwin Braggett researched and wrote his PHD thesis about the first 150 years of the school in 1966, the time had come to compile a people’s history of the school from students and teachers perspectives.

“The experiences of the children reflect Australia’s social and economic history,” he said.

Betty Agnew, 86, attended the school from 1934 to 1941 and remembers classmates without shoes, sitting on the floor with slates and falling ill with whooping cough.


The title race analysed: Will Leicester, Man City, Tottenham or Arsenal come out on top?


Leicester continue to defy the odds and, after beating Liverpool 2-0 on Tuesday night, remain top of the Premier League, three points clear of the chasing pack.

Can Manchester City, Tottenham or Arsenal catch them? There are just five points separating the top four and, with key contests between the quartet to come, plus more twists and turns yet to unfold, the title race appears tough to call.

We take a closer look at the key factors which will decide the outcome…

Premier League table



Goal difference
Leicester 50 18
Man City 47 23
Tottenham 45 25
Arsenal 45 15


There are some blockbuster, potentially title-deciding fixtures to come in the final stage of the season between the Premier League’s leading teams. Leicester travel to Manchester City on Saturday and then face Arsenal at the Emirates live on Sky Sports the following Sunday, in a double header which will put their title credentials to the ultimate test.

Like Leicester, Man City also follow their Etihad showdown with Claudio Ranieri’s side with a tough test against a title challenger; they host Tottenham on the same Sunday, again live on Sky Sports. Another key fixture for Manuel Pellegrini’s men will be their clash at home to Arsenal on the penultimate weekend of the season. The meeting has been earmarked as a potential title-decider since the fixture list was announced last summer. But will both teams still be in touching distance of Leicester by that point?

As well as City and Leicester, Arsenal must travel to White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham on March 5. The Gunners have already won once there this season in the Capital One Cup. They may need to do so again to keep their title hopes on track.

Top four remaining fixtures


Man City


Man City (a) Leicester (h) Watford (h) Bournemouth (a)
Arsenal (a) Tottenham (h) Man City (a) Leicester (h)
Norwich (h) Newcastle (a) Swansea (h) Man Utd (a)
West Brom (h) Liverpool (a) West Ham (a) Swansea (h)
Watford (a) Aston Villa (h) Arsenal (h) Tottenham (a)
Newcastle (h) Norwich (a) Aston Villa (a) West Brom (h)
Crystal Palace (a) Man Utd (h) Bournemouth (h) Everton (a)
Southampton (h) Bournemouth (a) Liverpool (a) Watford (h)
Sunderland (a) West Brom (h) Man Utd (h) West Ham (a)
West Ham (h) Chelsea (a) Stoke (a) Crystal Palace (h)
Swansea (h) Stoke (h) West Brom (h) Sunderland (a)
Man Utd (a) Southampton (a) Chelsea (a) Norwich (h)
Everton (h) Arsenal (h) Southampton (h) Man City (a)
Chelsea (a) Swansea (a) Newcastle (a) Aston Villa (h)

Toughest run-in

When it comes to tough run-ins, they don’t get much harder than Leicester’s. If the Foxes haven’t wrapped up the title by then, they’ll need to take points from a trip to Manchester United, a home game with Everton and a final-day visit to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

In contrast, Arsenal, as well as their trip to Man City, face home games with Norwich and Aston Villa. City’s final three games include away games at Southampton and Swansea, while Spurs also play two of their final three on the road, with trips to Chelsea and Newcastle sandwiching their home clash with Southampton.

Other commitments

Leicester hold a potentially crucial advantage over their title rivals: they have just 14 games left to concentrate on this season. Out of the FA Cup and League Cup and with no European commitments, Ranieri and his coaching staff are free to focus solely on Leicester’s weekly Premier League test.

In contrast, Man City have a potential 26 games remaining, with their Capital One Cup final, Champions League knockout phase and FA Cup run keeping them occupied. Tottenham have one more than that, with their potential nine Europa League ties and four FA Cup contests taking their tally to 27.

Arsenal could also have up to 25 games to consider, should their FA Cup and Champions League involvement continue. All of which, plays into the hands of Leicester.

Injury problems

When it comes to injuries, Manchester City have cause for concern. According to physioroom.com, City have the joint-highest number of injuries at present in the Premier League. Seven City players are in the treatment room: Vincent Kompany, Kevin de Bruyne, Jesus Navas, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri, Fabian Delph and Eliaquim Mangala.

Arsenal – who are recovering from a difficult period with key players sidelined – and Tottenham are currently in better shape, with four players out injured each. However, it is Leicester who are faring best in this category. At this point, Ranieri has virtually a full squad of players to choose from; only Matty James and Jeff Schlupp are in the treatment room.

Title-winning experience

With just five points separating the top four, title-winning experience could prove decisive. Man City have plenty of that. Champions just two seasons ago, many of the City squad have formed the foundations of a team which have won the Premier League twice in the past four seasons. Manuel Pellegrini, a title winner in his first season in England by just two points, knows what it takes to get over the line.

Arsene Wenger is of course a three-time Premier League winner, but such has been the gap since Arsenal’s 2003/04 title win, of the current squad, only Petr Cech and Danny Welbeck have experience of lifting the trophy (with Chelsea and Manchester United, respectively).

A Premier League win would be a first for Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and his squad, while Leicester will be leaning on the experience of two-time winner Robert Huth, who was a champion during his Chelsea days. Foxes boss Ranieri has never won a top flight league during his long management career.


Tottenham, Leicester and Man City occupy three of the top four spots in the Premier League table – but the other place isn’t occupied by Arsenal.

The Gunners have failed to score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since February 2009. In contrast, the other title chasers – and their key men – are on fire.

After netting three times in his past two games, Leicester’s Jamie Vardy has 18 league goals this season – just one fewer than Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Luis Suarez.

Tottenham’s Dele Alli has had a hand in 10 goals in his last 13 Premier League games (six goals, four assists), while his team-mate Harry Kane has scored 14 goals in his last 15 Premier League appearances – after managing just three in his 17 league appearances prior to this run.

Sergio Aguero, meanwhile, remains as prolific as ever for Man City. The striker has 12 goals in his last 10 Premier League games.

Can Arsenal’s main men rediscover the scoring touch? And which of Leicester, Man City and Tottenham will be able to sustain their current streaks long enough to clinch the crown?


Going into the final straight Leicester – incredibly and against all the odds – are in prime position, three points clear of their challengers and with a significantly lighter workload. However, Ranieri’s side face tough consecutive away days at Man City and Arsenal and their run-in, on paper, is harder than the rest.

Man City are well-placed, though, with the experience of clinching tight title races. The fitness of Aguero will remain central to their hopes – and their other injury concerns to key figures such as Kompany and De Bruyne cannot be ignored.

As for Tottenham, could their young team – on average the youngest in the division – pull off a Premier League title win? To all those who say it is a step too far too soon for 19-year-old Alli and co, will point to their remarkable form, which has seen them defeated just three times in 24 outings this season. A goal difference of +25 – the highest of all four – is in their advantage, too.

Arsenal, though, were not so long ago top of the table and seemingly on course to end their title wait. With FA Cup and Champions League commitments resurfacing, can Wenger’s side re-find their rhythm which saw them win 10 out of 14 Premier League games from September?

Much like this Premier League season as a whole, the title race remains unpredictable.

All four teams will be in action live on Sky Sports on Sunday, February 14, when Arsenal host Leicester and Tottenham travel to Man City. Ahead of the huge weekend, Thierry Henry and Jamie Redknapp will be on Sky Sports News’ The Morning View between 10am and 12pm on Friday, February 12 to preview the games.