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Celtic’s Shane Duffy seals rout of wasteful Ross County on debut | Football

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Shane Duffy delivered a delightful debut goal as Celtic routed Ross County 5-0 in the Scottish Premiership clash at the Global Energy stadium. In front of 300 socially distanced home fans allowed in as a test event for supporters returning to football, Odsonne Édouard scored from the spot in the fourth minute to put the champions on their way.

Albian Ajeti, making his first start for the visitors, added a second soon afterwards and though County had created more than their fair share of openings in the first half they were left with no chance just before the hour mark when Duffy, the loan signing from Brighton, powered a header in from a corner.

Kristoffer Ajer tapped in a fourth before the substitute Patryk Klimala added a fifth to leave Neil Lennon’s side six points behind Rangers, the leaders, with two games in hand.

Rangers maintained their three-point lead at the top, and beat a 114-year-old defensive record in the process. Their seventh clean sheet since the season began, in a 4-0 over Dundee United, meant they bettered Celtic’s 1906 record of six. However, the win at Ibrox – thanks to goals from Ryan Kent, James Tavernier, Kemar Roofe and Scott Arfield – came at a cost, with four players suffering injuries. Leon Balogun, Ryan Jack, Brandon Barker and Alfredo Morelos all had to be replaced – Balogan before kick-off when he was injured in the warm-up. 

Hibernian kept up the pressure with a comfortable 3-0 victory away to St Mirren. Goals from Kevin Nisbet, Joe Newell and Martin Boyle proved too good for Saints. Aberdeen made it five straight wins in all competitions as Ross McCrorie’s goal earned them a 1-0 win at home to Kilmarnock. Allan Campbell hit the winner as Motherwell won their first three points of the season, beating St Johnstone 1-0. Kyle Munro, 18,  marked his first start for Hamilton with a first senior goal to secure a 2-1 victory over Livingston. PA Media

Lennon said: “Shane had the two games for Ireland which will have done him the world of good. He hadn’t played that much football. Same with Ajeti, he needed a run-out and today he’s produced a great striker’s goal. Shane, we all know what the club means to him, but to score on his debut was just great. I think after the goal he just looked peerless, just outstanding.”

Lennon opted for a back three of Duffy, Ajer and Christopher Jullien but it was the home defence who were tested – and found wanting – early on. The small band of Staggies fans sat in silence when Andrew Dallas pointed to the spot after Ajeti tumbled to the ground inside the penalty area after what looked like a tug by the defender Jordan Tillson, back in the side with Josh Reid and Harry Paton. Édouard – back from a thigh injury – rolled the spot-kick into the corner of the net.

County’s response was positive. Their captain, Iain Vigurs, had a couple of dangerous free-kicks from distance, the first saved by Vasilis Barkas, the second rebounding off a post, perhaps with the Celtic goalkeeper getting a touch. The home defender Connor Randall then came close with a drive that went narrowly wide.

But then Celtic doubled their lead. The Staggies defence failed to clear Callum McGregor’s free-kick from wide on the left and Ajeti pounced to fire past Ross Laidlaw from eight yards for his third Celtic goal since signing from West Ham.

Still, the home side kept finding gaps. Billy Mckay’s whipped-in cross from the left on the half-hour was met at the back post by Ross Stewart and his header back across goal looked in until Barkas stretched to claw the ball away.

County, who had replaced the injured Mckay with Oli Shaw in the first half, had yet another chance to score soon after the break when McGregor’s effort from distance was saved. Stewart then found himself with time and space inside the box but his shot was just too close to Barkas.

However, the most basic of goals in the 59th minute – a powerful Duffy header from a McGregor corner – in effect sealed the points for Celtic. Five minutes later Ajer added a fourth with a tap-in from an Olivier Ntcham pass and it became a stroll.

Klimala, on for Ajeti, should have made it five but his shot was blocked on the line by Alex Iacovitti, but the Polish striker got his goal in the 76th minute when he smashed the ball in after being set up by his fellow substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi.

Before that Dallas ignored a handball penalty claim for County after Barkas had made another good save amid a goalmouth melee.

There were late substitutions and one of the new arrivals, David Turnbull, recently signed from Motherwell, replaced Scott Brown to make his Celtic debut before Shaw hammered a free-kick off a Celtic post, summing up County’s day.

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Champions League: Own goal hands Liverpool away win at Ajax | Football News

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AMSTERDAM: Liverpool beat Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 away with a fortunate own goal in their Champions League group-stage opener on Wednesday, riding their luck at times but still showing their title credentials.
Ajax fullback Nicolas Tagliafico turned the ball into his own net in the 35th minute to ensure a winning start in Group D for the English champions, who looked the stronger of the two teams despite Ajax creating several good chances at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Davy Klaassen struck the post with a powerful shot and Quincy Promes had a point-blank effort stopped by the legs of Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian as the Dutch club created a handful of excellent opportunities.

Yet Liverpool, who won their sixth Champions League title in 2019, still proved value for their victory, dominating possession and counter attacking at pace while keeping a clean sheet despite missing defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk, who suffered a serious injury at the weekend.
Fabinho moved from midfield to centre defence to replace Van Dijk and had an outstanding game, notably hooking a clearance off the line to deny Dusan Tadic just before halftime.

It was one of several chances for Ajax in the first half, as Lisandro Martinez had a header saved by Adrian and Ryan Gravenberch shot narrowly wide, much to the annoyance of Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, who spent the early part of the game berating and shouting instructions to his players.
But his agitation was quelled when Sadio Mane turned the Ajax defence with a swift body movement to set up the goal. He miskicked his own effort, but it caught Tagliafico as he clumsily tried to clear, but instead deflected it into the Ajax net.
Klopp took off Mane and his strike partners Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah with 30 minutes still left, but replacements Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino kept up the pressure on the home team.
Ajax should have equalised, however, four minutes into stoppage time when Adrian did not properly deal with a cross into the area but substitute Jurgen Ekkelenkamp missed the target.



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Champions League: Kingsley Coman dazzles in Bayern Munich’s 4-0 demolition of Atletico Madrid | Football News

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MUNICH: Winger Kingsley Coman scored twice and set up another goal as holders Bayern Munich crushed Atletico Madrid 4-0 in the Champions League Group A opener on Wednesday to stretch their winning run in the competition to 12 games.
The France international put the hosts ahead with a fine effort in the 28th minute and then set up Leon Goretzka to fire in their second in the 41st.
Fellow France international Corentin Tolisso killed off any Spanish hopes of a comeback with a sensational shot in the 66th minute before Coman twice shook off defender Felipe to bag his second goal of the evening six minutes later.
Bayern, who had won all 11 of their games en route to the Champions League title last season, are top on three points in group, with Lokomotiv Moscow and Salzburg on one following their 2-2 draw.


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Kings XI Punjab: KXIP showing why they were deemed ‘dangerous’ at the start of IPL 2020: Harsha Bhogle | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: A hat-trick of wins from a sorry position at the halfway stage of IPL 2020 has taken Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to a position where they are looking a good bet to finish in the top four for a place in the playoffs.
POINTS TABLE | FIXTURES
Languishing at the bottom of the table a week ago, the Punjab unit, led by KL Rahul and his inspired batting, has shown teeth lately in all departments to come back into reckoning.
In his column for The Times of India on Thursday, noted cricket expert and commentator Harsha Bhogle listed the reasons that have made Punjab the “dangerous” team they always promised to be.
“You can see now why they were deemed a dangerous team at the start of the tournament,” Bhogle wrote. “Chris Gayle has led the revival by offering a robust follow-up to the outstanding opening combination and letting the ridiculously gifted (Nicholas) Pooran play freely.
“When you have those two, the opposition is always concerned, especially if Pooran is free to play the match-winner’s role with the bat.”

Gayle hit a half-century to announce his late arrival to the IPL following an illness and Pooran’s fifty against Delhi in KXIP’s last match completed the team’s three wins on the bounce to storm up to their current fifth position in the points table.
Punjab have eight points from four wins in their 10 matches, with four more to play.
Bhogle went on to add two more “areas of note”, which have helped Punjab churn out those wins they narrowly missed in the first half of the season.
“There are two other areas of note: one they have handled well and one they have benefited from. Let us look at the second first: Mohammed Shami.
“Some of his end-overs bowling has been at par with the very best in the world, and defending five in a Super Over (against Mumbai Indians) is the stuff of a legend. (Jasprit) Bumrah and Shami in that Super Over will be one of the highlights of this tournament,” Bhogle reckoned, before mentioning the second reason.

“They have also handled (Glenn) Maxwell wonderfully. We are talking of an extraordinary T20 cricketer who just slips into Russian Roulette sometimes. You don’t know if he is going to fire a bullet or a blank. Most teams would have dropped him by now,” he added.
Maxwell had a forgettable tournament until his four-over spell of 1/31 followed by a 24-ball 32 against Delhi.
“(KXIP) Offered him a Powerplay bowling option (against Delhi). I have always rated his ability to bowl fast off-breaks from round the wicket and with that string to his bow working, the confidence has started returning. I won’t be surprised if he delivers a match-winning performance with the bat soon,” Bhogle further wrote.
He then rounded off his opinion by highlighting one last missing link in the Punjab armoury.
“If they can find a balanced line-up that allows them to play another fast bowler with Shami, I think it would complete the team. They are struggling with that and hence are choosing to bolster the batting with Jimmy Neesham, an exquisite striker, but more a batsman than a bowler.
“This Punjab revival has been excellent for the tournament which ran the risk of the top four teams separating themselves from the rest,” Bhogle concluded.


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