14-12-2018 Alexandre Lacazette points the way in Arsenal’s Europa League run-out against Qarabag

A contest of limited consequence given Arsenal’s pre-match status as group winners might not have meant a great deal to many but to Laurent Koscielny the experience of feeling like a footballer out on the pitch again and under the floodlights appeared to mean everything.His individual performance passed without major incident – ideal under the circumstances – and when his number was up after 72 minutes he stopped for a moment and raised his fist to the air, before breaking into an elated smile. The crowd responded with a warm ovation. The substitutes all shook his hand when he got back to the bench, obviously delighted for him. This was a significant moment for the Arsenal captain. He described it later as “much more than a game”. Continue reading...

14-12-2018 New sponsor must match Sky’s budget or team will not win, says Vaughters

• ‘Brailsford doesn’t know how to run a team on lower budget’• American says Sky’s decision to end backing can boost cyclingJonathan Vaughters, the general manager of Team Sky’s world tour rivals, EF Education First-Drapac, believes Sir Dave Brailsford must find a sponsor able to match his team’s current budget if they are to continue to dominate the Tour de France. Related: Geraint Thomas has no regrets over new deal before Sky pulled team backing Continue reading...

14-12-2018 What is the smallest football ground a European champion has lost at? | The Knowledge

Plus: the longest delay for any new stadium in history and the worst goal difference you can get away with and still qualify in the Champions League. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“Real Madrid recently lost 3-0 to Eibar in a stadium that holds just 7,000 people,” begins Robin Tucker. “That got me thinking: have any former European champions lost a competitive match in a smaller stadium? This would be only counting results after their first European success, so games such as Liverpool’s 1959 defeat to Worcester City would not count.”A fine question, but it’s not even the smallest stadium a former European champion has lost in this season. The 1986 winners Steaua Bucharest, now snappily known as FCSB, have suffered plenty of turmoil recently, including a defeat earlier this month to Sepsi OSK. That was in front of an estimated 2,500 at the 5,200-capacity Stadionul Municipal. Continue reading...

14-12-2018 Chelsea draw 2-2 with MOL Vidi as Alvaro Morata injured

Chelsea lose striker Alvaro Morata to a knee injury as they draw with MOL Vidi in a Europa League dead rubber.

14-12-2018 Rangers crash out after Dejan Ljubicic fires late winner for Rapid Vienna

Steven Gerrard said Rangers will need January reinforcements after watching his side miss out on the Europa League last 32.Rangers needed to beat Rapid Vienna in their final Group G match if they were to follow Villarreal through to the knockout rounds. Their remarkable journey that started on 12 July as they were forced to battle through four qualifiers came to an end after Dejan Ljubicic’s late winner sealed victory for Rapid. Continue reading...

14-12-2018 The Anti-Sports Personality of the Year awards 2018 | Simon Burnton

While the more deserving await the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award verdict on Sunday night, here is our list of sporting anti-heroes from 2018 Related: BBC Sports Personality shortlist to no longer be revealed in advance Continue reading...

14-12-2018 Danny Cipriani: ‘It’s been the same story for six years, hasn’t it?’

Fly-half remains philosophical about his England exile and is enjoying his new leadership role at GloucesterIf Danny Cipriani feels messed around by England he hides it well. You might expect confusion, resentment, even betrayal at how he again finds himself on the outside looking in after the briefest of comebacks over the summer but on a chilly afternoon in Gloucestershire there is nothing but positivity from the exiled fly-half.To recap, Cipriani made his first England start in 10 years in their first win in six matches in June but was discarded again for the autumn campaign. It followed his arrest in Jersey but Eddie Jones insisted his latest omission was based on form, all while Cipriani was tearing up trees with his new club, Gloucester. Continue reading...

14-12-2018 Team Sky’s legacy: titles and ambition tarnished by coldness and allegations | Richard Williams

The cycling team, who will lose Sky as a sponsor next year, raised the sport’s profile in Britain but took it away from the humanity treasured by puristsEvery now and then a new force enters a sport with an impact so crushing it reshapes and even deforms the whole competition. So it was with the state-sponsored German grand prix teams in the 1930s, with East African distance runners over the past two decades and with football clubs benefiting today from the sovereign wealth of Arab states. Team Sky’s recent dominance of cycling’s major events can be measured on that scale.Many will mourn the passing of a name that helped bring British riders to the forefront of the sport: first Bradley Wiggins, then Chris Froome and most recently Geraint Thomas. When Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012 it was the fulfilment of what had long appeared an impossible dream. By the time of Thomas’s recent Tour victory – a sixth for Sky in seven years – it seemed almost commonplace. Froome’s victories in the Vuelta a España in 2017 and this year’s Giro d’Italia meant he and the team held all three grand tour jerseys simultaneously. Continue reading...

14-12-2018 'Solari the stopgap with bigger name to come' - what is going on at Real Madrid?

The relatively unknown Santiago Solari has been placed in charge of Real Madrid - but he is not likely to be in the role for long, writes Andy West.

14-12-2018 Jose Mourinho: Champions League qualification 'is a success' for Man Utd

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League "is a success".

14-12-2018 Celtic 1-2 Salzburg: Scottish champions squeeze into Europa League last 32

Celtic scrape into the last 32 of the Europa League on a night of astonishing drama thanks to a late Rosenborg goal in Leipzig.

14-12-2018 David Squires on … the mistreatment of Raheem Sterling

Our cartoonist on why it’s hard to exaggerate the vilification Raheem Sterling has been subjected to in recent yearsIf you like David’s cartoons, buy his book Goalless Draws Continue reading...

14-12-2018 The Fiver | The Modern Pantheon of Memorable Anfield Saves (est. Dec 2018)

Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!Liverpool fans can be forgiven for floating on air right now, feeling a little woozy, spaced out, positively trippy. Partly because they’re currently top of the league, unbeaten, with half a chance of … well, OK, a quarter of a chance of the title. Partly because they’re somehow through to the knockout stage of Big Cup having played the sum total of one decent 45 against notoriously flaky travellers PSG. But mainly because they appear to have a proper, fully functioning, dependable, diligent, decent, grown-up goalkeeper. By our reckoning they haven’t signed one of those since landing Ray Clemence from Firewall FC in 1967, so this abrupt reality shift is bound to scramble a few heads. But relax. Open up your mind. Continue reading...

14-12-2018 Sri Lanka v England: Pick your England team for first Test

Who do you think should be in the England side for the first Test against Sri Lanka? Choose your XI and share it with your friends.

14-12-2018 The 100 best footballers in the world 2017

Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017. Click on an individual to read more about their year.• Messi edges Ronaldo to No1 | The data behind our 100 | Watch: our top 10• Meet our panel of judges for 2017 | 2016 edition | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 Continue reading...

14-12-2018 Tottenham’s manager Pochettino tips his hat to ‘hard-working’ chairman Levy

• ‘Fantastic recognition’ deserved for work on stadium project• He needs to feel the love from fans and the club, manager addsMauricio Pochettino has told Tottenham fans that Daniel Levy deserves “fantastic recognition” for the club’s new stadium rather than being made a scapegoat for the delays, as he talked up the chairman’s other side and how badly he was suffering.Spurs hope to be playing in the ground by early February, although the timings look tight. They confirmed the latest delay on Wednesday when they said the Manchester United game scheduled for 13 January will be played at Wembley, their temporary home. Continue reading...