Northern Ireland have appointed Ian Baraclough as their new manager to succeed Michael O'Neill.

Baraclough, 49, has served as the country's Under-21 boss for the last three years.

His promotion to the senior role was confirmed on Saturday by the Irish Football Association.

O'Neill joined Championship side Stoke City in November 2019 after eight years in charge of Northern Ireland.

He initially combined the position with the national team job before stepping down in April this year.

O'Neill had hoped to lead the team into the Euro 2020 play-offs, but decided against carrying on when they were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Baraclough will instead have that task, with Northern Ireland to play Bosnia-Herzegovina in the semi-finals on October 8.

The former Motherwell and Scunthorpe United manager's first game in charge will come before that, though, with an away fixture against Romania in the Nations League on September 4.

Michael O'Neill has permanently left his role as Northern Ireland manager with immediate effect.

O'Neill was appointed Stoke City boss in November but pulled double duty to see out Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

The 50-year-old was also due to oversee their play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina in March, with the winners then facing the Republic of Ireland or Slovakia, but the coronavirus pandemic saw that fixture postponed.

With UEFA suggesting at a teleconference on Tuesday the play-off games will be rescheduled for October, the decision has been taken for O'Neill – who was appointed in December 2011 – to leave now.

"After careful consideration and following discussions with the Irish FA, I feel it is only fair that now is the right time for me to step aside," he told the Irish Football Association's official website.

"I would have loved the opportunity to manage Northern Ireland in the Euro 2020 play-off game versus Bosnia-Herzegovina and the chance to qualify for another major tournament, but the current situation means that this is no longer possible.

"It was important to leave the association and team in the strongest possible shape in order to not only have the best chance of qualifying for Euro 2021, but allow the new manager time to build upon the success that we have had during my eight-year tenure."

Under O'Neill, Northern Ireland qualified for Euro 2016 where they were beaten 1-0 by Wales in the last 16.

"It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to manage my country and I will treasure my time as manager of Northern Ireland forever," he added.

"Throughout my time here, I have been fortunate to have worked with many great coaching, medical and support staff who have all contributed to our successes and shared in some great moments.

"As for my players, past and present, I would like to thank them all for an overwhelming level of commitment and professionalism that has helped to deliver so many unforgettable highs and great experiences for us all."

The play-offs to determine the final spots for the European Championship are likely to take place in October and November, according to Football Association of Ireland (FAI) CEO Gary Owens.

The coronavirus pandemic led to the postponement of Euro 2020 for 12 months, with the play-off fixtures that were scheduled for March having also been called off.

With no confirmed date for when international football will return, it remains to be seen when those matches will be held.

The Republic of Ireland are among the teams waiting for official confirmation, with Slovakia their opponents and either Bosnia-Herzegovina or neighbours Northern Ireland awaiting the victors.

UEFA held an update with its member nations via teleconference on Tuesday, with FAI chief Owens offering an update on when the play-off games will go ahead after that meeting.

Owens told FAI TV: "There has been a slight move on that [play-off dates]. Originally, we thought it may well be November but it now looks like the semi-final is the preferred option in October.

"They don't want to have the semi-final and the final of the play-offs in the one month. It looks like the Nations League matches will be in September and October, with the semi-final play-off in October and the final play-off in November."

Earlier on Tuesday, UEFA announced it is to produce new guidelines outlining qualification criteria for its competitions from domestic leagues that cannot be completed.

However, the governing body once again recommended competitions should be finished if possible.

Stephen Kenny has replaced Mick McCarthy as Republic of Ireland manager, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) announced on Saturday.

The former Dundalk boss was primed to take the helm after Euro 2020, but the postponement of that tournament to next year amid the coronavirus pandemic has forced the FAI's hand.

Ireland face Slovakia in the play-offs for the continental competition, but that tie is also subject to an indefinite delay.

McCarthy, whose contract was due to expire on July 31, has therefore stepped aside early, with Under-21s boss Kenny officially taking on the role earlier than his previous start date of August 1.

"The Football Association of Ireland announces that Mick McCarthy is to be succeeded as national team manager by Stephen Kenny with immediate effect," read a statement from the governing body.

"The handover has been agreed with both men in light of the delay to the European Championship play-offs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Mick McCarthy's contract was due to expire on July 31 after the UEFA Euro 2020 finals, with Stephen initially scheduled to step up from his Under-21 team role on August 1.

"This move allows Stephen Kenny time to plan for the European Championship play-off semi-final against Slovakia later in the year."

UEFA has postponed all national team matches scheduled to be played under its auspices in June, including the play-offs for the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

European football's governing body held a video conference on Wednesday with representatives from all 55 member associations.

Those involved considered recommendations made by the working groups UEFA set up last month to address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After that meeting on March 17, it was confirmed Euro 2020 would be moved to June and July of next year, although play-off games were still slated to take place during the international break at the scheduled end of the 2019-20 season.

However, all UEFA matches are now postponed until further notice, while deadlines relating to the 2020-21 campaign for the organisation's club competitions are similarly on hold, with the prospect of football's shutdown going beyond the June 30 date where player contracts typically expire alluded to as a potential complication.

"The deadlines related to all 2020-21 UEFA club competitions are postponed until further notice, in particular as regards the admission process and the registration of players," a press release read. “UEFA will set new deadlines in due course."

At the initial meeting, UEFA made a commitment to try and complete all European and domestic club competitions by the end of June – a prospect that appears increasingly fanciful as leagues across the continent remain suspended with little sign of a resumption.

UEFA has also stated it will relax Financial Fair Play and club licensing measures related to its 2020-21 competitions as clubs deal with unprecedented times.

"The Executive Committee reiterated its full commitment to club licensing and Financial Fair Play and agreed that the current exceptional circumstances necessitate some specific interventions to facilitate the work of member associations and clubs," the statement read.

"It supports the proposal to give member associations more time to complete the club licensing process, until the admission process for next season’s UEFA club competitions has been redefined.

"As a result of the increasing uncertainty generated by the ongoing extraordinary events, the executive committee also decided to suspend the club licensing provisions that relate to the preparation and assessment of clubs' future financial information. This decision applies exclusively for participation in the 2020-21 UEFA club competitions."

Additionally, UEFA cancelled its European Under-17 Championship and European Women's Under-19 Championship, scheduled for May and July respectively.

The corresponding European Under-19 Championship and European Women's Under-17 Championship are postponed with the aim of rearranging, given they double up as qualifying competitions for FIFA's U-20 World Cup and U-17 Women's World Cup.

Next month's UEFA Futsal Championship League finals have also been postponed until further notice.

Cristiano Ronaldo would have hoped to have scored his 100th Portugal goal against Belgium on Friday.

The Juventus superstar is on 99 international strikes and is set to become just the second male player to reach a century, quickly closing on Ali Daei's record tally of 109 for Iran.

But amid the coronavirus pandemic, Portugal's March internationals have been cancelled.

Ronaldo will have to wait until later in the year at the earliest to bring up another career landmark, unable to take on either Belgium or Croatia.

There are plenty of highlights from his previous 99 Portugal goals, though, and we have selected five of the best.


Denmark v Portugal (October 11, 2011)

Ronaldo could have his own wing in the Hall of Fame for free-kicks and this effort would be at home among them.

Portugal were trailing 2-0 in the Euro 2012 qualifier with the match in injury time, but Ronaldo enjoyed a moment to remember by smashing home an unstoppable 30-yard effort from the left into the far corner with power and dip – a simply glorious strike.


Armenia v Portugal (June 13, 2015)

Nearly three years on and again in a European Championship qualifier, Ronaldo played a star turn as Portugal won a thriller 3-2 in Armenia.

Having already levelled from the penalty spot and put his side ahead with an impudent finish, Ronaldo celebrated his hat-trick by taking a beautiful touch from a dropping ball, turning sharply and lashing into the top-right corner from 25 yards.


Hungary v Portugal (June 22, 2016)

A year later, Portugal fell behind to Hungary in Lyon during Euro 2016 three times and it was Ronaldo who dragged his team level on the second occasion with a display of fine skill.

The captain added a deft flick with his trailing leg to Joao Mario's right-wing cross to make it 2-2, and he cancelled out Balazs Dzsudzsak's second with a double of his own. It was enough to send Portugal into the knockout stages, and from there, they claimed a maiden international title.


Portugal v Spain (June 15, 2018)

Having twice given his side the lead, Ronaldo found Portugal 3-2 down to their Iberian neighbours in their thrilling opener at the 2018 World Cup.

The was a sense of inevitability when he stood over an 88th-minute free-kick, though, and the execution was sheer perfection as he left David de Gea with no chance.


Portugal v Switzerland (June 5, 2019)

Another game, another Ronaldo hat-trick – this time at last year's inaugural Nations League Finals. It was again a trademark free-kick that got the Ronaldo ball rolling, and he swept home a second to restore Portugal's lead. 

But Ronaldo saved the best for the last in the final minute of normal time, picking up the ball wide on the left, adding a couple of trademark silky step overs, jinking inside the defender and rifling home into the bottom-right corner.

Luka Jovic will return to the Serbia squad for their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Norway in March after a "misunderstanding" was resolved, the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) announced on Monday.

The Real Madrid striker was released from international duty in September citing an injury, only to then feature for his club in LaLiga four days later.

Serbia head coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic was reportedly irked, and Jovic has not played for his country since.

However, with a key clash against Norway coming up on March 26, FSS sporting director Vladimir Matijasevic and Tumbakovic have held meetings with Jovic to get one of their star men back on board.

"First FSS sporting director Matijasevic and then coach Tumbakovic have had a meeting with Serbian national team player Luka Jovic over the past few days, after which it is clear the Real Madrid striker is absolutely ready to be available in March matches," the FSS posted on its Twitter page.

"On both sides, everything that needed to be said was said, the misunderstanding was resolved and, most importantly, the conclusion was that everyone agreed that Serbia's interest was above all.

"Qualification for the European Championship was a common goal."

Jovic netted in a qualifying win against Lithuania in June but has scored only once in LaLiga since his €60million move from Eintracht Frankfurt to Madrid ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Gareth Southgate would be "disappointed" if he was not linked to Premier League vacancies but the England boss still has objectives he wants to achieve with the Three Lions.

England reached a first World Cup semi-final since Italia '90 at last year's tournament in Russia, while they also made the last four of the inaugural Nations League.

Southgate then oversaw England's qualification for Euro 2020 and his side are among the favourites for European Championship glory.

In a question and answer session with Sky Sports, Southgate – who was in the past linked with the Manchester United job - was asked if a return to Premier League management is of interest.

For now, though, Southgate's immediate focus remains on the Three Lions.

"I am completely fulfilled in the role, it's a privilege to be the manager of England. Sometimes in life we are always looking at what's coming next and not relishing how fortunate we are to be in the position that we are in," he said.

"I feel like our team can still get better, there are objectives that we still want to achieve. In the future? I know realistically that I'm not going to be England manager in 10 years' time - I hope to be in six months' time. 

"Somewhere in between that, there is going to be something else. I'd be disappointed if I wasn't linked with some of those jobs if I'm honest. 

"I don't worry about it because my phone has not been ringing. I think that is because people know that I am committed to the job that I am in."

Being national team manager throws up plenty of challenges and Southgate had to deal with an internal bust-up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez during the last international break, with the duo having clashed in Manchester City's defeat to Liverpool prior to the squad meeting up.

Southgate opted to drop Sterling for the clash against Montenegro before restoring the City forward for their final Euro 2020 qualifier with Kosovo.

The decision to publicly confirm Sterling was dropped drew criticism in some quarters but Southgate feels the squad is more united for having dealt with the incident as a group.

"I think there are situations as a leader, where whatever decision you make will be criticised. There are some situations where there isn't a perfect solution and you all have to just work things out as a group," he added.

"Time needs to pass. I have to make a decision that is right for the team first and foremost, and also support both of the players. There are so many people involved in a situation like that - everybody is going to have an opinion. Those that have managed or coached before understand the complexities of any situation like that.

"The most important thing is the team and the performance of the team. We were able to focus internally on the football very quickly and we got the results we needed and both boys got back on the pitch.

"They definitely came closer together and Raheem's message when Joe got an adverse reaction at Wembley was a really powerful one. I think that bought some closure on the episode.

"We are dealing with young men who are going to be emotional at times. Part of the strength of some of our players is that edge that they have. Through that adversity we are stronger for it."

Scotland midfielder John McGinn suffered an ankle fracture in Premier League action against Southampton on Saturday, his club Aston Villa have confirmed.

McGinn went down injured after just five minutes of Villa's 3-1 defeat at Villa Park, having caught his studs in the turf, and had to be helped off the pitch to be replaced by Marvelous Nakamba.

Manager Dean Smith later revealed the player had gone for an X-ray, and the club revealed the extent of the injury on Sunday.

It is reported McGinn - linked with Manchester United - is expected to miss three months following initial fears his season would be over.

The news still comes as a sizeable blow to both Villa, who are 18th in the Premier League, and Scotland, as Steve Clarke's men aim to reach Euro 2020.

McGinn has three league goals this term but netted an outstanding seven times in Euros qualifying for Scotland, with a play-off semi-final still to come against Israel on March 26.

Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman dismissed speculation linking him to LaLiga champions Barcelona.

Koeman has emerged as a possible option for Barca should Ernesto Valverde leave, with the Dutchman's Netherlands contract containing a clause that would allow him to depart for Camp Nou following Euro 2020.

The 56-year-old spent six years at Barca as a player before later having a spell as Louis van Gaal's assistant from 1998 to 2000.

Koeman, however, is focused on his job with the Netherlands ahead of next year's European Championship.

"I have two more years left on my contract with the [Dutch] national team and I do not like to talk about Barcelona," Koeman said at an event in Barcelona.

"It's uncomfortable for a lot of reasons; I currently have a job and it's not fair to talk about this.

"If they come, they come; and if they don't, they don't. There are more important things [to worry about] in life."

The Netherlands are in Group C for Euro 2020, alongside Ukraine, Austria and a play-off winner.

Koeman's side will open their campaign at home to Ukraine in Amsterdam on June 14.

Former Spain coach Robert Moreno said Luis Enrique's "ugly" claims that he was "disloyal" and "ambitious" are unfair.

Moreno served as Luis Enrique's assistant for the national team until the latter stepped down in June to care for his young daughter, Xana, who died in August following a battle with bone cancer.

The former became coach at that point and oversaw Spain's qualification for Euro 2020 before he was informed Luis Enrique would be coming back as head coach.

Moreno was not appointed to Luis Enrique's staff a second time following an apparent fall out, as the former Barcelona boss questioned his former deputy's motives.

But the departed coach hit back as the feud continued on Thursday, suggesting he was always "faithful" to Luis Enrique.

Moreno also pointed out an alternative replacement when Luis Enrique initially departed would not have been so accommodating in granting him a return.

"I don't want to go into reproaches, but I have been personally attacked and labelled with something that I am not," he told a news conference. "In this puzzle, my pieces are missing.

"Nine years ago, I started working with Luis Enrique. We have always followed him, being faithful, until he reached the national team.

"Nobody knew for how long he would be out, but what we all did know was, if there was a possibility for him to return to the national team, our staff would have to stay.

"So, I stepped up and took charge of the team. If I had not done so, now Luis Enrique would not be coach of the national team. It would be another coach."

Moreno said he was left "in a state of shock for a week" after learning Luis Enrique did not intend to make him assistant again.

He added: "To this date, I honestly don't know why Luis Enrique doesn't want me to be with him. I don't know as he was not clear in his news conference.

"He labelled me with two adjectives ["disloyal" and "ambitious"] that are very ugly and that I don't deserve. I have proved over the whole time I worked with him that I am not like that.

"The years will pass and I will still not know. He could not explain it - or I could not understand it according to what my people have told me, as I did not watch the news conference myself."

Preferring to look forward, Moreno reiterated his desire to continue a career as a head coach despite a testing first high-profile experience.

"I have just started," he said. "I am really excited to be back on the pitch, to handle training sessions, to manage a team, to make decisions, to attend news conferences. I'm really looking forward to it.

"It has always been my passion to become a head coach. I am someone who started from the very bottom but was able to reach the top level."

Luis Enrique accused his ex-assistant Robert Moreno of being "disloyal" as the fallout from Spain's shock coaching change continued on Wednesday.

The former Barcelona boss faced the media for the first time since returning to the role on November 19 and took aim at Moreno's character.

Moreno served as Luis Enrique's assistant until the latter stepped down from the top job in June to care for his young daughter, Xana, who died in August following a battle with bone cancer.

Spain qualified for Euro 2020 under Moreno but he will not be part of Luis Enrique's backroom team moving forward after a falling out between the pair.

"The only person responsible for Robert Moreno not being on my staff is me," Luis Enrique said.

"On September 12, I met him at my house and he told me that he wanted to coach at the European Championship and then, if I wanted, he would be my assistant.

"I understand that he is ambitious, that it is his dream to be a coach, but for me it is disloyal, I would not do it. For me it is a big flaw. I understand his position but I do not share it.

"I told him I no longer see him as my assistant and that I don't know when I will be back, but that I feel like working. He finished the meeting in a cordial way and I called the people on my staff to let them know my opinion and that of the other side, so that no one misrepresents my words.

"From there, I must say that I never approached the federation. I never called them. 

"Professionally I have no reason to criticise Robert Moreno. He is very prepared and is a very good coach. His words said one thing and the facts were very different.

"I am not the good one in the movie, but neither am I the bad one."

Romania have appointed Mirel Radoi as their coach ahead of next year's Euro 2020 play-off with Iceland, the Romanian Football Federation (RFF) has announced.

His appointment was ratified by members of the RFF's executive committee on Tuesday and he will succeed Cosmin Contra after he resigned from the role last week. 

Radoi moves up to the senior squad after impressing as the coach of Romania's Under-21 side, who reached the semi-finals of this year's UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

That performance meant Romania qualified for the Olympics for the first time in 56 years, earning promotion for Radoi.

He will lead Romania into a play-off in Reykjavik in March with the winners of that tie taking on either Bulgaria or Hungary for a place at Euro 2020.

Zinedine Zidane has called for the Real Madrid fans to get behind Gareth Bale despite his well-publicised Wales celebrations this week.

Bale was pictured behind a banner that read 'WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER' following his country's 2-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday that secured them qualification to Euro 2020.

The slogan originates from a chant by Wales supporters that pokes fun at perceptions among the Spanish media, who have accused Bale of bumping Madrid down his list of priorities and spending too much time on the golf course.

Bale's celebration drew the ire of Madrid fans and many in the national media with Marca leading with the headline 'DISRESPECTFUL. WRONG. UNGRATEFUL. IN THAT ORDER'.

But Madrid head coach Zidane defended Bale, who almost left for China in the close-season, and urged the club's supporters to get behind the former Tottenham man.

"Those who really support the club, those who come to the stadium, know he's a Real Madrid player," he said.

"You shouldn't look at what goes on elsewhere, you have to support the team, the players, have to get behind the side.

"I will always support my players. Things might go on outside the Real Madrid environment but we're in this together."

Zidane was quizzed repeatedly about Bale ahead of Saturday's home game with Real Sociedad and was quick to highlight the player's achievements in Spain.

He added: "I think sometimes people go over the top with this topic, everyone has their point of view, we're here to focus on football. 

"I think now it's almost the snowball effect. I mean he was fit and could play with the national team, he's here, available and we're delighted. 

"He's done a lot for this club. I'm only concerned with the sporting side. I'm not here to speak about the rest, I'm not interested. I know a lot of people are but not me."

Gareth Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett said the Real Madrid star's "WALES. GOLF. MADRID… IN THAT ORDER" flag celebration was "meant for the media" amid backlash.

Bale caused a stir in Cardiff on Tuesday, when he was pictured laughing and celebrating in front of a fan-made banner after Wales qualified for Euro 2020.

Tipped to leave Madrid and criticised for his priorities amid his love for golf, Wales fans have adopted the chant, "Wales, golf, Madrid", which was heard during the international break.

Spanish newspaper Marca's frontpage on Thursday read: "DISRESPECTFUL. WRONG. UNGRATEFUL. IN THAT ORDER".

But speaking to ESPN, Barnett insisted there were "no worries" for Bale ahead of his return to Madrid.

Bale, who has not featured for Madrid since October, is set to appear for the club's LaLiga meeting against Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

The 30-year-old has scored two goals in seven appearances across all competitions this season.

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