EPL

Senegal coach eases Mane concerns after Liverpool star goes off early against Togo

By Sports Desk November 12, 2021

Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse eased concerns over Liverpool star Sadio Mane following his early withdrawal against Togo, describing his injury as "nothing serious".

The Reds forward was substituted after just 28 minutes on Thursday, with Villarreal striker Boulaye Dia replacing him, and Senegal needed a 93rd-minute equaliser from Habib Diallo to cancel out Pape Abou Cisse's first-half own goal and salvage a draw.

The result ended Senegal's four-game winning streak in World Cup qualifying, although they have already advanced to the next stage as Group H winners.

Mane's enforced substitution sparked worries the 29-year-old could be set for a spell on the sidelines, but his national team boss insisted the move was precautionary.

"The [injury] is nothing serious," Cisse said after the game. "We replaced him only as a precaution, not for anything important."

Mane has been crucial to Liverpool this term, netting eight goals across all competitions for the Reds in 15 appearances, behind only Mohamed Salah, who has 15 strikes to his name.

The Senegal winger has also taken the second-most shots in all competitions for Liverpool (42), with 35 of them coming inside the box – again, only Salah betters both tallies at the club.

Liverpool suffered their first league defeat of the season against West Ham before the international break and slipped to fourth in the Premier League table as a result, but Jurgen Klopp's men are only four points behind leaders Chelsea and still very much in the title race.

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    A referee welfare charity fears Mark Clattenburg could be used as a “puppet” by Nottingham Forest.

    Former Premier League official Clattenburg is working as a referee analyst for Forest on a consultancy basis, and spoke out at the weekend after Paul Tierney’s dropped-ball error in the home defeat to Liverpool.

    Martin Cassidy, the chief executive of Ref Support, believes referee analysts at clubs could in principle be a positive move, and hugely admires Clattenburg, who has now also found fame with a new audience as a referee on the reboot of the television programme Gladiators.

    However, he fears such appointments could become “a partisan tool to justify ref abuse”.

    “I genuinely fear that Clatts may be used like a puppet to give illegitimate behaviour credibility and by proxy justify ref abuse,” Cassidy told the PA news agency.

    “I feel more clubs should call upon referees’ experience to explain law, etc, at every level of football.

    “Football is a sport where the majority of those who play it don’t know the laws of the game they play. This is particularly relevant at pro level, which has always been a concern of mine, so I welcome such a role.

    “The worry for me is if this role is then used as a partisan tool to justify ref abuse, and if the referee (analyst) has the freedom to say the referee was correct and the players were wrong.

    “There is no doubt that Clattenburg has huge credibility in this field and is someone I hugely admire, but the question that needs to be asked is: Has Clattenburg got the freedom to question publicly the behaviour of Forest as a club for their unacceptable response to this incident?

    “Would anyone be expected to believe that Clatts has a free rein to say that, or would it be fair to presume that he must deliver the message that the club wants him to deliver, whether the club’s opinion is right or wrong? Only time will tell.”

    Clattenburg is believed to be the only referee analyst working with an English club that Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) is aware of.

    Forest have been contacted for a response to Cassidy’s comments.

    Tierney failed to award a dropped ball to Forest in an attacking position after stopping play for a head injury to Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate.

    Forest did regain possession after Tierney’s error but conceded a 99th-minute goal which cost them a valuable point in the race for Premier League survival.

    Tierney will not referee a match this weekend but will be the VAR for Arsenal’s match against Brentford on Saturday evening. Sources close to PGMOL insist Tierney has not been dropped, and say he regularly alternates between being a referee and a VAR.

    Clattenburg told BBC Radio 5 Live after last Saturday’s match: “(Forest) should have had the ball back. If the referee stops the game, he has to give the ball back to the team in possession. That was Forest.

    “When (the ball was) given to the keeper, with Liverpool scoring afterwards, you can see why (Forest) are aggrieved.

    “I haven’t spoken to the referee – I’ll leave that to the club. I went to go into the referee’s dressing room (after the game) but he (Tierney) wouldn’t allow it.”

    PGMOL is understood to be unaware of any further contact from the club over the incident beyond Clattenburg’s comments. Forest have not commented on whether there has been further contact.

  • Girona lose further ground in LaLiga title race with narrow defeat at Mallorca Girona lose further ground in LaLiga title race with narrow defeat at Mallorca

    Girona lost further ground in the LaLiga title race as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Mallorca.

    Girona were looking to close the gap on league leaders Real Madrid – who drew 2-2 with Valencia on Saturday – but missed their chance to do so when Jose Copete smashed the home side in front just after the half-hour mark.

    Fewer chances fell in the second period but the visitors were kept at bay by a Mallorca side who threw bodies on the line for a result – chances for Portu and Savio went begging as the hosts held on to climb further away from the drop zone.

    The first chance of the match fell to Girona when Miguel Gutierrez’s cross found the head of Ivan Martinez inside the area but his header went straight to home goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

    Mallorca’s first meaningful attack came when Giovanni Gonzalez picked the ball up outside the area and fired from range but his shot kept rising above the crossbar.

    Mallorca were knocking on the door for an opener and got their reward on the half-hour mark after a corner fell to Copete inside the box and he slammed the ball into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season.

    Girona were looking to respond instantly and had a chance three minutes later – Savio looked to equalise in spectacular style but saw his effort go high and wide from outside the box.

    Mallorca went into the break with a narrow one-goal lead and almost had a second four minutes after the interval but Antonio Raillo’s header from a Dani Rodriguez corner floated over the crossbar.

    Chances were few and far between in the second period and while Girona shared most of the possession, their opponents looked to catch a second on the counter attack, this time Abdon Prats’ drilled effort whistled just wide of the far post.

    Girona were beginning to look a lot more threatening and had a couple of openings when Portu’s goal-bound effort deflected over the crossbar before Savio saw one blocked behind in similar fashion, a couple of minutes later.

    The away side continued to probe in the final minutes as Yan Couto opened up a chance inside the box and fired towards goal but Rajkovic had to be alert to tip the ball over the woodwork to condemn Girona to a third defeat in four.

  • Now he is winning games – Pep Guardiola talks up Phil Foden’s impact on Man City Now he is winning games – Pep Guardiola talks up Phil Foden’s impact on Man City

    Pep Guardiola praised fantastic Phil Foden and said the Manchester City midfielder is developing into a world-class player after his wonderful, derby-winning display against Manchester United.

    Nobody expected anything other than embarrassment at the Etihad Stadium for Erik ten Hag’s stumbling Red Devils, yet Marcus Rashford’s scorcher gave them a shock half-time lead.

    United were under the cosh for large periods before and after the break, finally buckling as 23-year-old Foden scored a superb leveller in the 56th minute before then firing City ahead 10 minutes from time.

    Erling Haaland added gloss in stoppage time but there was no doubt who the star of the show was in Sunday’s important 3-1 victory for Guardiola’s title-chasing team.

    “He is right now this season (one of the best players in the Premier League),” the City boss said of man-of-the-match Foden.

    “He’s been the best so far. I always had the feeling he would score goals, in training sessions, always I had the feeling but now he is winning games.

    “To become a world-class player at that age you have to win games and he always played good, always had an incredible work ethic. Doesn’t matter what position, he doesn’t complain.

    “He lives to play football but now he is winning games. He played a false nine at Bournemouth and was unbelievable. Today after he missed the first chance against (Andre) Onana he became a little bit anxious. That is for his age, he will learn on that.

    “But Rashford scored an unbelievable goal and Phil scored an unbelievable goal too.”

    Foden helped the treble winners get out of a hole on Sunday after City fell behind for the 12th time in the league this season.

    It was their first-ever Premier League comeback win against United and means they have recovered 21 points from losing positions this term.

    The result put them back within one point of leaders Liverpool ahead of next weekend’s mouth-watering battle between the sides at Anfield.

    “We have Copenhagen on our mind and we will have time after to talk about Liverpool,” Guardiola said ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

    “We have a lot of points still to play for and different places to go.”

    United bowed out of Europe before Christmas so there are no distractions before Saturday lunchtime’s return to Premier League action at home to embattled Everton.

    The injury-hit Red Devils have regressed during Ten Hag’s second season and sit an eye-watering 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, who they face in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

    Similarly concerning is the fact that sixth-placed United are 11 points off Aston Villa in fourth and six behind fifth-placed Tottenham, which could yet be enough for Champions League qualification.

    But Ten Hag does not believe United are that far behind City when not beset by injuries and felt key decisions hurt his battling side on Sunday.

    “On defining moments, we didn’t have it on our side because just before the 1-1, I think Rashford was on another break,” Ten Hag said.

    “And just before 2-1, there was (Alejandro) Garnacho in a breakthrough. I think we were really close to win or at least get a draw here.

    “I will not say it was a tackle (on Rashford) from Kyle Walker. They both run, but Rashy confirmed to me it was contact.

    “I saw it back, it was very soft, but you will understand when you are on a full-speed run, if you get a little touch then you are out of control and I think that is what happened.”

    Asked if this match highlighted a chasm between the teams, under-fire Ten Hag said: “No, I don’t think so. Absolutely not. We have many problems in injuries and, still, we had an opportunity because it was really small margins.

    “We could have scored a second goal in a debatable moment and in the second debatable moment, so you see it’s not that big. Especially when we have everyone on board we can be competitive.

    “I think also we showed, for instance, in the cup final against them when it’s really close but don’t forget City, in this moment, are the best team in the world.”

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