Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hailed his players’ composure and spirit following their dramatic late victory over Motherwell.

The cinch Premiership leaders looked to have won it when substitute Luis Palma whipped the ball just inside the far post to open the scoring in the 87th minute at Fir Park.

Motherwell levelled five minutes into stoppage time when Blair Spittal slotted home but Matt O’Riley converted Greg Taylor’s deep cross two minutes later to spark wild celebrations and seal a 2-1 win.

Rodgers said: “It was a great response by the players, incredible mentality. I said to them afterwards, this club’s history is built on many late goals, that’s what Celtic does, but you have to have that will and desire to keep going.

“I thought we dominated the game. Credit to Motherwell because they were tight and compact. You are not going to have it all your own way so you have to be patient and work the ball at speed. Probably our only thing was lacking a wee bit of quality in and around the box.

“But once they equalised we stayed clam, kept working the ball and waiting for that moment. We didn’t start lumping it into the box. We worked our way up the pitch, one side to the other, and it was a great cross by Greg Taylor, who showed immense resilience to stay on because he has taken a bad whack on his calf.

“Matty finished and it was brilliant for the supporters, they are starting to see how this team will keep fighting right to the end.”

Motherwell have now lost by one goal against each of the top three in successive weeks and manager Stuart Kettlewell again felt they deserved more from the game.

“It’s probably as sore a defeat as I have had,” he said.

“We have had a real tough run of games, going to Ibrox and playing against a high-flying St Mirren and then Celtic. But all I can comment on is how my players are acquitting themselves and I hope you see how well they have played again.

“I accept at times Celtic dominate the ball and carve out probably more chances than there have been in the last two games we have had but nobody can deny there was a real identity to our team again.

“We created some real good chances ourselves and showed that character to get back in the game. It’s a bitter pill to swallow yet again.”

Celtic fans spilled on to the track after Palma’s goal with one or two bursting on to the pitch and Motherwell supporters responded by coming on to the park after their equaliser. Celtic’s winner sparked an even bigger invasion and missiles were exchanged between the two sets of fans.

Kettlewell said: “I don’t want to see those scenes, nobody will, but I also think by the emotion of the game and Celtic knowing they were properly in one again, scoring so late, I understand the emotion of the football supporter.

“But that doesn’t vindicate the fact we have got fans streaming on to the park. It does a look a bit ugly.

“You are always concerned about your own players’ safety but Celtic supporters were on to cheer their goal and celebrate with their team so there was no situation where our players were accosted or anything.”

Rodgers added: “I saw people on the pitch and, listen, that is not what we would want. You understand a little bit the lateness of the goals and what that brings to it and you have to think of the context, but I didn’t see anything else.”

Matt O’Riley celebrated his new contract with a winner seven minutes into stoppage time as Celtic edged a 2-1 win over Motherwell after a dramatic finale at Fir Park.

Blair Spittal had levelled for Motherwell two minutes earlier after substitute Luis Palma grabbed his first Celtic goal in the 87th minute.

Fans were on the pitch after each of the late goals and missiles flew between the two sets of supporters after O’Riley’s winner.

The game had been on a knife edge throughout and Scott Bain, deputising for the suspended Joe Hart, made two good saves while the game was goalless.

O’Riley’s new four-year deal was announced on the morning of the game and he showed his worth by converting a cushioned volley at the back post following Greg Taylor’s cross.

The victory set Celtic up for the visit of Lazio in the Champions League on Wednesday and delivered another blow to Motherwell, who have now suffered narrow defeats against the top three in successive weeks.

Celtic had the bulk of the early possession but the only chances in the first quarter came from set-pieces. Spittal came close with an overhead kick and Liam Scales headed wide at the other end.

Motherwell were looking solid and Kyogo Furuhashi curled wide from 22 yards when Celtic did manage to pass the ball through the lines.

The home side had the best chance of the half when Spittal’s quick free-kick found Harry Paton’s run. Bain came out to block Paton’s shot with his foot and Celtic cleared the midfielder’s driven cross on the rebound.

Liam Kelly made his only save of the first half from O’Riley after quick feet from Yang Hyun-jun before Spittal got Motherwell in behind again. However, Brodie Spencer could not find a final ball to capitalise.

James Forrest replaced Yang at half-time and Celtic began to show more urgency in the final third. Taylor and Gustaf Lagerbielke could not make the most of half chances.

Motherwell raised their own tempo in possession and had the ball in the net after Bevis Mugabi challenged Bain at a high ball. Stephen O’Donnell hit the ball off Mugabi on the lone before knocking home the rebound and the offside flag went up. Mugabi’s challenge might have been penalised anyway if the wing-back had netted first time.

Taylor created Celtic’s best chance so far when he won the ball on the edge of the box and set up Daizen Maeda but the Japanese attacker shot over with only Kelly to beat.

Motherwell responded and Theo Bair volleyed straight at Bain before the goalkeeper’s feet again came to Celtic’s rescue when he blocked Spittal’s effort following Callum Slattery’s through ball.

The home side looked tired as the game entered the final 10 minutes and Kelly saved Forrest’s header after Palma’s cross.

Then came the drama. Palma curled just inside the far post from just outside the corner of the box as the ball whipped in between defender Dan Casey and Kelly. Fans spilled on to the track from behind the goal in the Tommy McLean Stand.

Motherwell found some energy and with plenty of players in the Spittal slotted into the far corner. Dozens of Motherwell fans were suddenly on the pitch and they were barely back in their seats when O’Riley struck and sparked an even bigger pitch invasion.

Juventus will have to deal with a depleted attack when they travel to Atalanta on Sunday as both Dusan Vlahovic and Arkadiusz Milik have been ruled out by injury.

Vlahovic, who has scored four times in Juve’s opening six Serie A games, has a back issue, while Milik, who got the winner against Lecce last time out, has a calf problem.

“Unfortunately both Dusan Vlahovic and Arek Milik won’t be available tomorrow,” boss Massimiliano Allegri told a press conference.

“Dusan has a back problem. This week he trained, but then yesterday he was in too much pain and had to stop. He tried to grit his teeth to be there, but it’s better to give him time off to recover.

“Arek, however, felt pain in his calf after Lecce and since then it’s been a delicate situation, so we preferred to rest him so that he can return to the team on Tuesday.”

Allegri, whose side’s last away game resulted in a 4-2 defeat at Sassuolo, warned his players to expect a hard-fought encounter against Atalanta, who are on a three-match winning run in all competitions.

The hosts trail third-placed Juve by just a single point, while the last three meetings between the sides have ended in draws.

Allegri said: “Usually the matches against Atalanta are all very tight.

“Atalanta are in good form, they haven’t lost or conceded a goal at home yet. You have to prepare for the match in the best possible way, with great attention to detail while keeping up a good rhythm.

“We won a direct clash against Lazio, now we have another one against a team that play in a completely different way and are more physical and more aggressive.”

And Allegri wants nothing less than total commitment from his side.

He added: “Clearly the championship doesn’t end tomorrow, but tomorrow is one of those matches where you have to give everything if you want to bring home a result.

“We don’t have to look at the rankings now, even if staying in the top four would help us have greater self-esteem and allow us to work with more peace of mind.

“We must continue to work, knowing that our goal is to get into the top four so we can play in the Champions League next year. There is enthusiasm in the group and, above all, a desire to improve.”

Outgoing senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson stopped just short of saying he is the victim of a personal vendetta waged against him by Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) General Secretary Dennis Chung, as he refuted claims about how discussions to cut ties, transpired.

Donaldson in response to a widely circulated release by the JFF, pointed out that the decision not to renew his contract was by no means mutual, as the meeting with Chung and JFF’s Human Resource Manager Suzie George-Gayle, lasted a mere five minutes.

The JFF in its statement said, “after an extended discussion, both parties came to an agreement that the contract would not be renewed.”

But Donaldson in an interview with Sportsmax.tv, rubbished the claims.

 “He [Chung] said they are terminating me. There was no discussion. In a five-minute meeting, he just said congrats on everything and the next thing was, ‘we will not renew your contract.’ There was no reason why, or anything, he just said, we will not renew your contract,” he shared.

Donaldson, along with former Head coach Hue Menzies, was first introduced to the Reggae Girlz programme by women’s football ambassador Cedella Marley in 2015 and led the country to an historic first FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance in France in 2019.

However, after departing the programme in 2020, following the steps of Menzies, who left earlier in 2019, Donaldson was reappointed in June 2022, to replace Vinimore “Vin” Blaine, who was forced to resign a few months into his tenure, after the Girlz expressed their displeasure with his leadership in a scathing letter.

Like he did in 2019, Donaldson again led the Reggae Girlz to the World Cup, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, where they had an historic run to the round of 16, after drawing with France and Brazil and defeating Panama in the group stage.

The Reggae Girlz eventually bowed out following a 0-1 loss to Colombia.

In their most recent fixtures, the Reggae Girlz suffered back-to-back losses to Canada in a failed bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, but the progress the team has made under Donaldson’s leadership is without question.

The tactician doesn’t believe he was judged on that basis.

“Another thing he said is that if they had done well with the Olympic qualifiers, we (the coaching staff) would have carried on. You don’t want to work in a condition where you are being judged based on one game and not your body of work. So, I guess what happened at the World Cup didn’t matter and it never really had anything to do with football,” Donaldson opined.

“It’s because I disagreed with the way they want to treat players and coaches, and I defended the Girlz. They have been waiting for the opportunity to do this (get rid of me) because they have been trying to do this from June,” he added.

The outspoken coach recalled a conversation in which he and Chung didn’t see eye-to-eye and he believes it was from that point that their relationship spiralled.

“From day one when he said women’s football will never catch on in Jamaica and people will never support women’s football, and I told him he is wrong, I realised the relationship has been topsy-turvy since then,” Donaldson revealed.

He continued: “He said nobody cares about women’s football in Jamaica and it doesn’t matter how bad the men’s team is, the men will get more support than the women. That was when we were trying to go to Australia for the (Cup of Nations) tournament and from that day I knew we are always going to be fighting for these Girlz because it revealed to me that they really don’t care about the Girlz.

“He was trying to justify why we shouldn’t have gone to the tournament in Australia, all because they were spending a little money, even though Australia was spending some money as well. And then he came up with these ridiculous flight prices and I said no, it is way less than that. And from February on, he was total against everything that we were doing.”

Despite sensing Chung’s perceived dislike, Donaldson explained that it was his duty as Head coach to remain resolute in his fight for the players, who sometimes felt disheartened by the show of support, or lack thereof, from the country’s governing football body in particular.

“We had to stand up for the Girlz and I stick to that. When they are right, we fought for them and when they were wrong, I told them. And then we had to make sure they had the resources that we can have them perform,” Donaldson said.

“It showed the other day when we didn’t have the proper equipment for them to train. There was no equipment on the first day of camp and stuff like that affected the Girlz because they didn’t feel the love. They kept saying people didn’t care.

“They just went to a World Cup and see all around the world how everybody (other countries) is speaking glowingly of their team, and they come to Jamaica and can’t even get the proper equipment,” he reasoned.

That said, Donaldson wished the JFF and Reggae Girlz well on their future endeavours, starting with the upcoming Concacaf Women's Gold Cup qualifying matches against Panama and Guatemala, next month.

“The JFF, whatever they have planned for the Girlz, I hope they are successful with it, and I wish them all the best from the bottom of my heart. They made a decision, and I am fine with that,” he declared.

“We have a great group of players that are going to come in, and what we have achieved is basically a scratch on the surface because the sky is the limit with this group of Girlz,” Donaldson ended.

Meanwhile, Chung when contacted about the allegations, was reluctant to address what transpired during the meeting.

“I don’t want to comment on those decisions (made during the meeting), I don’t know where those comments are coming from, but from an ethical point of view, I’m just not going to comment on it. We issued a release, and the release speaks for itself,” Chung told Sportsmax.tv.

However, he admitted to an extent that the February conversation in Montego Bay did happen, but not exactly how it was stated by Donaldson.

“I never said that people don’t care about women’s football, I don’t know where that is coming from. What I have said in the past is that no matter how well the women do, it seems like people tend to support the men more in terms of attendance at matches and that is something that has been said internationally. So, I was just echoing it because someone said it on a sports programme I was listening to,” Chung explained.

 “It is an unfortunate comment that he made, but I didn’t listen to it, because the fact is that the JFF has spent a lot more money on the women’s programme than the men’s programme and in terms of resourcing it, has given it equal footing, if not more.

“So, it’s a very unfortunate comment if that was said because when you talk about sponsorship, most of the sponsors have come in for the women’s programme, so that was very unfortunate,” he argued.

When asked about the possible timeline for Donaldson’s replacement given the significance of the upcoming fixtures, Chung said information should be forthcoming by Monday.

 “We are working to ensure that a team is in place so I’m sure that by Monday we will have that sorted in terms of what we are doing. So, something is being worked on and the JFF will communicate that,” Chung noted.

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray said he wants Sky Bet Championship teams to feel his side’s attacking threat after they beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 at Hillsborough to move up to fourth in the table.

A Dan Ballard header and two goals from Jack Clarke, the second a penalty,  ensured the Black Cats’ victory in a little more than half an hour.

Mowbray said: “We needed to start fast, we were mindful of our last away game at Blackburn. Tonight we started fast and gave ourselves a great platform to go on.

“To get three goals before half-time was great. The only thing, and I said it in the dressing room, I was a little disappointed we didn’t go on and score more.

“They are a young group of lads and they have to learn. I can’t really complain; to come away and score three goals is good.

“But you always feel in this stadium that one goal goes in and you never know, so we talked about not giving them chances and it wasn’t until the last few minutes that they had any.

“If anything, we had to let them feel our threat more in the second half and be more clinical; score some more goals. I want every team to fear us and sit players behind the ball as a result.

“We were happy to keep the ball but moving forward, I would like other teams in this league to feel our threat – that if they get it wrong we are going to score.

“Of course, it’s about winning but the bigger picture is I want us to be an even better team and when teams aren’t quite right, we can really damage them.

“But it’s another three goals away from home for the third time on the bounce, so we just have to keep rolling.”

Wednesday boss Xisco Munoz apologised to supporters, with his side making the joint-worst start after nine games in Championship history.

Munoz said: “We started so badly and everyone is disappointed. This is the level we are at and after the second goal the game was done. In the second half we had some better moments but not enough.

“In the first half an hour we have three shots and they have three shots but they score the goals. We need to change the dynamic and be better in the final third.

“We changed systems and we changed players. We continued to try to find solutions and we tried to take risks after the second goal but it’s very hard to react the way we want to.

“We need to try to change a lot of things and my way is to try to find solutions. To get results you need to earn them but it was impossible after the first half.

“The results are very poor, that’s clear. But if you ask me if we have improved since I arrived, then yes. It’s not easy and we need to manage the pressure.”

Wednesday are in disarray off the field, with chairman Dejphon Chansiri releasing a statement earlier in the day stating he would be putting no additional money into the club.

Munoz added: “I can’t speak about the chairman; my job is the football side of things and the focus is on the players.

“To the fans, I’m so sorry. I’ve been under pressure since the first day. It’s a big challenge but I will continue to fight every day.”

Former Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos put through his own net to hand Barcelona a 1-0 win against Sevilla.

Xavi’s side looked set for a second LaLiga draw in succession following their midweek 2-2 clash at Mallorca before Ramos’ own goal with 14 minutes remaining.

The win takes Barcelona top of the table, one point ahead of Girona and two clear of Real Madrid, who travel to Girona on Saturday.

Following the draw at Mallorca on Tuesday, Xavi made four changes with Robert Lewandowski returning to the starting line-up. Jules Kounde partnered Andreas Christensen in defence, while 16-year-old Lamine Yamal was also handed a start.

For Sevilla, Ramos, 37, who returned to his boyhood club last month following 16 years at the Bernabeu and two seasons with Paris St Germain, was among five changes for his side’s trip to Barcelona’s temporary home at the Montjuic Olympic Stadium.

Sevilla arrived for Friday night’s fixture unbeaten in their last four outings and fresh from a 5-1 midweek demolition job of Almeria, but it was the hosts who enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges with Joao Felix involved.

First the Portuguese forward, on loan from Atletico Madrid, forced Orjan Nyland into a fine save following a low drive. And then midway through the opening period, Felix rattled the woodwork from six yards out after neat build-up play by Joao Cancelo.

Substitute Fermin Lopez then wasted a good chance just minutes before the interval when his shot from Yamal’s cross was straight at a thankful Nyland.

After the break, the chances continued to fall the way of the hosts, with Lewandowski’s close-range shot saved by the legs of Nyland on the hour mark before the impressive Yamal then dragged an effort wide. Moments later, Lewandowski’s shot was headed clear by Loic Bade.

Barcelona might have been wondering if it was going to be one of those nights but with 75 minutes gone, they were handed a lifeline.

Yamal’s header back across goal from Ferran Torres’ cross dropped into Ramos’ path and the ex-Real defender, who netted five times in 33 appearances against Barcelona, inadvertently scored past Nyland.

From there, a shell-shocked Sevilla never looked like getting back in the match as Barcelona saw out the game, including five additional minutes, to claim top spot in LaLiga.

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou has acknowledged Liverpool’s trophy-laden era during the 1970s’ and 1980s’ planted the seeds for him to become a manager.

Postecoglou has made no secret of his childhood love for Liverpool and recalled on several occasions how he used to watch matches in the early hours of the morning in Australia with his dad Jim.

Kenny Dalglish was an early hero for the 58-year-old and he believes watching the teams of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley win European Cups helped shape his pathway to a coaching career that has seen him manage across the globe.

“I was just consumed by football,” Postecoglou reflected ahead of Saturday’s visit of Liverpool.

“I’ve said before, it wasn’t just playing the game. My infatuation was with all the game, I wanted to read about it all and yeah I was fascinated by the culture at a club like Liverpool.

“The Boot Room, Shankly, Paisley, and Ronnie Moran, all those guys because I just loved reading about it. Just as I was interested reading about Sir Alex (Ferguson) or Jock Stein.

“It seemed that even at a young age I had a real fascination with managers and people of influence within the game because I loved the game.

“We all as kids have something we love and takes us away from the world we were in and that was my world. I just loved reading about the history of football clubs and the great people within them.

“Certainly Liverpool at the time there was always a unique story there about this mythical boot room where all the magic happened. For me it was almost like reading fairytales all the time.

“Obviously that has an influence, yeah it does because that’s where all the seeds are planted, my love for the game.”

Dalglish would have been the Liverpool player on Postecoglou’s wall as a child, but he was quick to point out that is no longer the case.

He added: “I was mad about Kenny Dalglish. Everything was about Dalglish for me, whether that was Celtic or Liverpool. I was a mad Kenny fan.

“It was just about that time when I was what 12, 13 and you know we look for heroes in our lives. He was it for me, scoring in European Cup finals and the way he played.

“Like any kid, I had the posters up on my wall, so Liverpool was my team, but you grow up, things change. I used to love Happy Days back then too, but I don’t have pictures of the Fonz on my wall today either!”

Postecoglou has plenty of respect for this current Liverpool team and their manager Jurgen Klopp, who will pose a huge test to the Australian’s lengthy unbeaten home record in league matches.

You have to go back to 2020, when Postecoglou was in charge of Yokohama, for the last time he lost a home league fixture – when Kashima won in the J1 League.

A dramatic stoppage-time turnaround against Sheffield United a fortnight ago made it 50 home league matches without defeat for the former Celtic boss, but he knows Liverpool will test that run.

“Over those 50 games I’ve had some big tests, I’ve had some good teams, to be fair,” Postecoglou admitted.

“I put a lot of stock in home form because that’s the time where you can give your supporters, who you know are going to be the majority in the stadium, that feeling you want to give them, of experiencing their team winning a game of football.

“I put a lot of stock in that. It’s 50 games against all types of opposition, different types of circumstances.

“There would have been games in there where we were down to 10 men, there would have been games where we would have been down. Well, two weeks ago in the 95th minute.

“There are always tests to go for that long. I’ve probably been lucky along the way too.”

Pep Guardiola believes changes to gruelling playing schedules will only happen when players themselves take action.

The Manchester City boss pointed to the example of the Spain’s women’s team and the changes that have occurred at the country’s football federation after its now-former president Luis Rubiales kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony after they won the World Cup in August.

At his press conference ahead of City’s Premier League trip to Wolves on Saturday, Guardiola was asked about comments made by Burnley manager Vincent Kompany, his former captain, who said appearances within a season should be capped for top players.

Guardiola said: “I would say every idea that you reduce a little bit the amount of games for the players would be nice. But there’s not going to be change.

“There is only one solution to change something – the players decide for themselves, (to say), ‘Stop, we have to change something’. And after, FIFA and UEFA will maybe react a little bit.

“This business, the show must go on. Without Pep? Keep going. But without the players, the show will not go on, that’s for sure. So it depends on them, they decide if they accept.

“Look what happened in Spain with the women’s team. The players decided they had to change something and they changed it. They did it. The best legacy they have done is that.

“The women’s team in Spain did it. I don’t know (if), in world football, the men’s, they are able to do it.”

He added: “When we have a break it has to be a proper break. This is my point of view.

“I always use the example of the NBA. They play 80 games in a few months but then have three or four months off. You can regenerate. Then after, full (on).

“The problem here is it is full (on) and after we have three weeks off. For me it’s a lot. But it’s my personal opinion.

“I don’t want to influence, because I’m not going to influence anyone. I think it has to be the players. If the players want to change something, they are the only ones who can do it.”

Saturday’s match at Molineux could see Matheus Nunes face his old club after leaving Wolves to join City last month.

It was reported at the time that Nunes had stopped training with the midlands outfit ahead of the move, but Guardiola said on Friday: “When I spoke to him…he said to me, ‘I never, never, ever said I’m not going to train’.”

On the reception Nunes might receive from the crowd on Saturday, Guardiola added: “Hopefully he is strong to accept the situation.”

Guardiola was also asked for his thoughts on the allegations surrounding his old club Barcelona.

In March, Spanish prosecutors filed a complaint and UEFA announced it was opening an investigation into Barca after it was reported the club had made payments to companies owned by Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira, the former vice-president of Spain’s referees committee, between 2001 and 2018.

Police on Thursday searched the headquarters of the committee in relation to the case. Barcelona deny any wrongdoing.

Guardiola, who was Barcelona boss from 2008 to 2012, said: “Wait and see…let the justice, the process (run).

“So far what I heard…I didn’t see or read, because I’m out of that, but I didn’t see Barcelona really, really, really, really pay a referee to take a benefit. I didn’t see that, I didn’t read it.

“That’s why I want to wait before have an opinion, because Barcelona is going to defend what they have to do, and we will see.

“What I’m pretty sure is when Barcelona won, it was because they were better than the opponents. That I’m pretty convinced about right now – in our day.

“We won because we were far better than our rivals. And when they were not, they don’t win, they lose. But justice will decide what really happened.”

Mikel Arteta believes Basque food is the secret behind the success of a string of managers from the region.

The Arsenal manager is one of a number of coaches born in the area of northern Spain to make a name for himself on the touchline.

He will come up against another on Saturday in the shape of Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola, a former childhood team-mate of Arteta.

Aston Villa’s Unai Emery was also born in the Basque Country – as were Bayer Leverkusen’s Xabi Alonso and former Wolves, Spain and Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui.

Now Arteta has discussed why he feels such a small area is responsible for creating such success.

“The food! We have the best food in the world. The best restaurants by square metre, the most beautiful city,” he said.

“It has to be linked to that — what we eat, the way we live. The quality of life in our city is incredible. I think it is related to our roots. The education, the passion about the game. You breathe it within the city. You breathe it everywhere you go.

“We played on the beach. You go there on a Saturday or Sunday and there are 300 kids playing on the beach.

“You sense that in the city. It is not just about now, because in the past they always produced coaches and good players. Somebody is doing the right thing.

“When I said the food I was not joking. It is the way they look after the city. The education, the people.

“Finding the quality and I am really really proud that I see a lot of people — not only in sport, in other industries as well — that manage to get out and promote our city in the right way.

“I think it’s the education that we get. It’s the level of coaching that we get, they really take care of the academy.

“You have seen Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Eibar all those teams do great work to raise talent and it’s not a coincidence that a lot of players have come through there.”

While Arteta and Iraola go way back, the Arsenal boss insists there will be no room for niceties come 3pm on Saturday.

“Very easy. You are in winning mode,” he replied when asked how easy it will be to put aside their friendship at the Vitality Stadium.

“Get the best for your team and get in the battle. Before and after is a different story, especially after, but during there is nothing there.

“He was really excited to come. He was really complimentary about the club and the support he was getting with players and staff. He was happy to be part of the league.

“We know each other really well. We played together, we had fantastic times together. We played together in Antiguoko, which is a team in San Sebastian – that’s the beauty of football that 30 years later we are here together in the Premier League as managers. I’m really happy for that.”

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz 2-1 loss to Canada on Tuesday, was Head Coach Lorne Donaldson’s last match in charge of the Jamaica Senior Women’s Football squad as according to the Jamaica Football Federation, his contract will not be renewed.

Donaldson was appointed Reggae Girlz head coach in June 2022 and led the national women’s team to their second consecutive qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. At the World Cup, he took Jamaica to a historic round of 16 after drawing with France and Brazil and defeating Panama in the group stage.

The Reggae Girlz eventually bowed out following a 1-0 loss to Colombia.

The Reggae Girlz suffered back-to-back losses to Canada in a failed bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris but the progress the team has made under his leadership is without question. However, according to the JFF, following a meet with the coach, whose contract comes to an end on September 30, they will be looking for a new head coach.

“The Jamaica Football Federation and Coach Lorne Donaldson had a meeting to discuss his contract as the Senior Women's Team coach. After an extended discussion, both parties came to an agreement that the contract would not be renewed,” the JFF said in a statement Friday.

“The JFF wishes to place on record, our thanks to Lorne for his services to Jamaica's football over the years, and specially making us proud at the recent Women’s World Cup, held in Australia and New Zealand, and we are confident that he will have unlimited success in his future endeavors and wish him the very best.”

The development means the Reggae Girlz will be without a head coach for the upcoming CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup qualifying matches in less than a month. However, the JFF states, “We will immediately put the machinery in place to have competent staff in place for this important competition.”

Celtic have received a major boost after Japan midfielder Reo Hatate signed a new five-year contract.

The 25-year-old has scored 14 goals in 71 appearances since joining in January 2022.

Manager Brendan Rodgers told Celtic’s website he was delighted with Hatate’s decision to extend his stay.

“I have had some great discussions with him in recent weeks, I know he loves the club and our supporters and how ambitious he is to bring more success to the club,” Rodgers added.

“Reo has already shown us what a talent he is, making a great contribution to the team since he has joined Celtic.

“He is a huge talent, an exciting young player with great attributes and someone who can change a game.

“I know he is the type of man and player, though, who doesn’t want to rest. He is hungry to improve every day and achieve more and more to be the very best he can be – and Celtic is a great place for him to do this.

“We go forward now together with real confidence and I really look forward to continuing our work with him and the rest of the squad as we face all our challenges ahead.”

Hatate added: “I have had the best welcome ever since I joined the club and I want to thank all our fans for the great support they continue to give to us all.”

Kylian Mbappe is available for Paris St Germain’s Ligue 1 clash with Clermont on Saturday but could be rested ahead of the Champions League trip to Newcastle.

The France forward was forced off early in last weekend’s 4-0 hammering of Marseille with an ankle injury and boss Luis Enrique must decide whether to risk him in the meeting against the league’s bottom side.

Mbappe trained away from the rest of the squad on Thursday but was back with his team-mates on Friday.

“Kylian Mbappe trained with the squad today, he’s available,” said Enrique on PSG TV. “He has had some treatment and done some specific sessions, but he’s in shape to play.”

The defending champions made a shaky start to the season, drawing with Lorient and Toulouse and losing to Nice, and sit third in the table behind Brest and Nice heading into the weekend.

But the result against big rivals Marseille coupled with a Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund has put a different complexion on things.

“Confidence comes with good results,” said Enrique. “We had some difficult results early in the season but, when you win, everything is great, and confidence builds with victories.

“There’s a lot of things to improve. In a learning process, there is always a phase at the start where you have to learn a lot.

“We’re still in that phase. I’ve been very happy with the players since I took over but we’re still far from the level we want to achieve in attack and defence.”

Clermont have taken only one point from their first six matches, conceding 12 goals in the process, but Enrique believes that belies their quality.

“They don’t deserve to be bottom of the table,” he said. “They play good football, work well, and last season had a very solid base. They’re one of the best teams defensively.

“It’s an important game because it comes a few days before a Champions League away game. We mustn’t drop off and underestimate our opponents. It won’t be an easy game.”

PSG, meanwhile, announced on Friday that left-back Nuno Mendes is expected to be out for a further four months after undergoing surgery on his hamstring in Finland.

The 21-year-old Portugal international suffered the injury in July and an operation has now been deemed the best option in his recovery.

Enrique said: “For Nuno Mendes, we have to be careful with all of that.

“We’ve got enough strength in depth but we have to find solutions because the season is long.”

Lecce manager Roberto D’Aversa will prepare his squad to face the “complete team” when Napoli come to the Stadio Via del Mare.

Napoli eased the pressure on under-fire boss Rudi Garcia with a 4-1 win over Udinese on Wednesday night, which puts the Serie A champions fifth in the table heading into the next round of fixtures.

Speculation over Garcia’s future, though, continues, with the French coach having ducked recent media duties amid reports of unrest within the camp and a bizarre video on TikTok which seemingly mocked striker Victor Osimhen following his penalty miss against Bologna.

 

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D’Aversa, though, is expecting nothing less than the sternest of tests from the Partenopei in Saturday’s afternoon kick-off.

“If I have to list them all (Napoli’s strengths), we would never end,” the Lecce boss told a press conference.

“They are Italian champions, they have a complete team with capable and quality players – Osimhen attacks from deep and is one of the best in Europe.

“On our part, there must be the will to put in a great performance.”

Lecce sit just a place behind Napoli, level on points, after losing their first Serie A game this season 1-0 at Juventus on Tuesday night.

D’Aversa will be without midfielder Mohamed Kaba through suspension after his late sending off and is set to rotate the squad.

“When there are three games a week you have to look for the player’s performance,” he said.

“In Turin, we didn’t have any turnover. We need to pay more attention to certain situations.

“(Lorenzo) Venuti and (Remi) Oudin are starters for me. It is clear that, where possible, there will be some changes tomorrow.”

Reports in Italy suggest Osimhen will not not pursue legal action against Napoli following the TikTok video.

After they face Lecce, Napoli host Real Madrid in the Champions League next week.

Forward Giovanni Simeone was on the scoresheet against Udinese and feels the squad can reset and push on into the season.

“Let’s start again from this victory,” the Argentinian said, quoted on the club’s official website. “We have worked a lot and collected little so far, but we know our value.

“We are a strong and united group. We are aware that two seasons cannot be repeated the same, but we are also sure that we have the spirit, mentality and quality to continue to be protagonists.”

Mauricio Pochettino said it would impossible for the club to replace injured pair Reece James and Ben Chilwell in the transfer market as they are “the best full-backs in the world”.

Chilwell underwent a scan on Thursday on the hamstring problem that forced him off in the closing stages of the EFL Cup win over Brighton, with the manager confirming it “looks a bad injury” though he was unable to put a timescale to it.

New club captain James has not played since the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, and will not be fit to return before the next international break.

Both players missed significant portions of last season through injury, Chilwell playing 23 times in the league and James only 16, a contributing factor to Chelsea’s worst finish in 30 years.

Malo Gusto has deputised for James but will miss Monday’s game at Fulham after being red-carded against Aston Villa.

Marc Cucurella, Levi Colwill and Axel Disasi are all able to play at full-back but the manager said no deputy can be expected to bring what James and Chilwell do to the side.

“At all clubs, important players are missed when they don’t play,” he said. “If the question is ‘do we miss them?’ Of course. Reece is a top player and (Chilwell) also. When they’re at their best, they are the best full-backs in the world.

“But all teams when they miss important players are affected (in their) performance. Why did we not sign another Ben Chilwell and another Reece James? Because there’s only one Reece James and one Ben Chilwell.

“If you have in the squad one top player in one position, it’s difficult to bring in another one in the same position to sit on the bench. It’s about balance.”

Pochettino could be without as many as 11 players for the trip to Craven Cottage, with a lengthy injury list exacerbated by suspensions for Gusto and striker Nicolas Jackson.

Jackson is unavailable after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season against Villa, though there could be returns for Carney Chukwuemeka, who has not played since undergoing knee surgery in August, and Noni Madueke.

The manager was asked what he thought about Burnley boss Vincent Kompany’s proposal that players should be limited in the number of games they can play in a season in order to guard against injury.

“Maybe there are players that cannot cope with 70 games during the season, but another player can cope with that,” said Pochettino. “Another player only can cope with a limited percentage, because the risk is massive to get injured again.

“It’s difficult to generalise. We cannot put some limit on the players. The players want to play every single game. When it’s a top player who wants to play, how do you say no?”

Pochettino added that he may opt to play without a striker in the absence of Jackson, with Armando Broja not yet ready to start and Christopher Nkunku not available until December.

“The most important (thing) is to adapt to the players that are available, to try to find a way to perform,” he said. “Maybe different characteristics we can use, like we can play with one striker or without a striker.

“I need to asses all the squad and take that decision.”

Manchester City will again be without John Stones and Bernardo Silva for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Wolves, although Pep Guardiola has said the former is “much better”.

England defender Stones has not played since City’s Community Shield clash with Arsenal on August 6 due to a thigh issue.

The treble winners also have Silva sidelined after he came off against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League last week having sustained what Guardiola described as a “little injury”, while Kevin De Bruyne is recovering from hamstring surgery.

Boss Guardiola told a press conference on Friday: “We have training this afternoon.

“I think John is still not ready. Kevin is still not ready. Bernardo Silva also is not OK. I think the rest are fine.

“He (Stones) is better, much better. I spoke with him, he feels really good. He is training alone, but maybe next week, or after RB Leipzig (next Wednesday) he will restart.”

City, who lead the Premier League table with maximum points from six outings, also have Rodri out at the moment – the midfielder serves the second game of his three-match ban after being sent off in last Saturday’s 2-0 league win over Nottingham Forest.

Guardiola brought on Kalvin Phillips after Rodri’s dismissal, and he then came into the starting line-up for the 1-0 Carabao Cup loss at Newcastle four days later. Other available midfield options are summer signings Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes, who City bought from Wolves last month.

Guardiola said: “Just for the amount he (Rodri) has played, the consistency – of course, it is not easy to replace.

“But he’s out, we’re are going to find another quality, skills that Rodri maybe hasn’t. We are going to use it for the benefit of the team.

“(Phillips) has a chance (of being selected) like the other ones. He’s part of the group, he made incredible contributions playing not regularly. I don’t have any complaints about that.

“Sometimes we are looking for something specific for some positions. When the game is a little bit (moves hands about and scrunches up face) Kalvin is the perfect one. When the game has to be everything in the details, maybe he struggles a little bit more. The game against Newcastle was a tough game, he helped us a lot to win against Nottingham Forest. He has specific qualities, and in some moments we will need him.”

In the last couple of games, Jack Grealish has returned after injury, coming off the bench against Forest, then starting the Newcastle cup tie.

Guardiola was asked about competition in attack between Grealish and Jeremy Doku, another of City’s summer signings, being a talking point, and said: “Jeremy can play on the right as well. So who is going to play more, who is going to perform better?

“Phil Foden can play on the left too. So they compete with Phil Foden as well.

“The guy who performs well and feels better than the other one is going to have more chances to play. Always it has been like that.”

When it was put to Guardiola that that people may regard Wolves – who are 16th with four points – as an easy fixture for City, he said: “Normally all the games we play are ‘easy’ – and if we don’t win the Premier League, 10 points in front, in November, it’s a disaster! I know exactly what it is.

“(Wolves boss Gary) O’Neil did an incredible job at Bournemouth and I have the feeling they will do it too. It is a team where the quality is there. Hopefully we can respond with these next three games before before the international break.”

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