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MU beat Leicester City 1-0 on Marcus Rashford’s 100th EPL appearance

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London: Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford celebrated his 100th Premier League appearance with a fine goal to secure a 1-0 win over Leicester City that kept interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer`s dream start going.

Having missed a simple header early on, 21-year-old Rashford compensated in the ninth minute, skilfully latching on to a lovely dink from Paul Pogba over Leicester`s defence to smash the ball past Kasper Schmeichel from close range.

“It was a great finish. The kid has improved and improved,” said a delighted Solskjaer, who has enjoyed nine wins and a draw in all competitions since taking over as caretaker manager from the sacked Jose Mourinho in December.

 

Rashford is the youngest player to reach a century of top-flight appearances for the Red Devils since Ryan Giggs in 1993.

Struggling under Mourinho, he and Pogba have been in superb form since the moment former Manchester United favourite Solskjaer walked in. Yet Sunday`s win lacked the fluency and joie de vivre of other performances.

Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez was disappointing again, looking miserable when substituted in the second half.

“They won`t be too happy. They know they can do better,” Solskjaer said of his team, smiling at the win even so.

The victory moved United on to 48 points, two adrift of Chelsea in fourth place. Solskjaer`s men have dropped points only once under him – a 2-2 draw with Burnley on Tuesday – and are now firmly aiming for the top-four spot that would give them Champions League football next season.

Inconsistent Leicester stayed 11th on 32 points after losing their third home game in a row.

Second best throughout the first half, Leicester pressed better in the second and should have equalised.

Jamie Vardy`s 61st-minute overhead volley was clawed away by David de Gea, and Rachid Ghezzal`s 77th-minute free-kick was flying in before the Spanish goalkeeper tipped it over.

Leicester manager Claude Puel was disappointed with his whole team – not only the poor clearance from Ricardo Pereira that led to Rashford`s goal.

“It was not just the fault of the player, it was the fault of the team that did not play well,” he said, criticising his team for playing too many sideways and backwards passes.

“We hesitated to put this team under pressure … It`s a big shame and a big disappointment.”

It was Leicester`s third home defeat in a row. Though comfortably mid-table, fans – who enjoyed an astonishing Premier League win in the 2015-16 season – were notably disgruntled on Sunday.

Some booed and chanted “you don`t know what you`re doing” at Puel`s second-half substitution of midfielder James Maddison.


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I will always be there for development of football : Chhetri

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New Delhi: Sunil Chhetri, the all-time leading scorer for India in international football, says he is always there to help develop the sport in the national capital, where he was brought up.

The 34-year-old Padma Shri was conferred the first ever Football Ratna honour by Football Delhi, the association governing the sport in the city.

“I am honoured by the kind gesture of Football Delhi and recognising me with the Football Ratna award. My support will always be there for the development of football in Delhi and I am sure the current management is working hard to develop football in Delhi and make Delhi a model football state in India,” Chhetri said.

 

Football Delhi president Shaji Prabhakaran, himself a former player of repute and administrator at the All India Football Federation and FIFA, presented the award to Chhetri.

“We are inspired by the spectacular achievements of Sunil. His professionalism, dedication, discipline and passion, on and off the field, is an example not only for the football fraternity but also for every Indian to dream big and achieve something spectacular in life,” Prabhakaran said.

“It is a great honour for us to confer the first ever Football Ratna to Sunil Chhetri and we express our gratitude and thanks to Sunil for his time and inspiration to develop football in Delhi.” On the occasion, Football Delhi also honoured Shubham Sarangi, youth player from Delhi who is currently the player of Delhi Dynamos squad for ISL. Shubham was part of AIFF Youth Academy since the age of 12 years and represented India in U-14 and U-17 youth national teams.

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Lacazette sent off in Arsenal loss; Chelsea, Napoli win

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London: Arsenal suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at BATE Borisov on a night forward Alexandre Lacazette will want to forget after being sent off late on, while Chelsea, Inter Milan and Napoli all won away in Europa League last 32 first-leg ties.

Spanish sides Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal also tasted victory on the road, while Benfica, Club Brugge and Plzen have the upper hand heading into next week’s second legs.

Arsenal had scored 10 goals in two matches against BATE Borisov in the same competition in 2017 but never looked like being as prolific in the freezing temperatures of Belarus.

 

BATE took the lead when Stanislav Dragun nodded a free kick past Arsenal goalkeeper Peter Cech seconds before halftime after Lacazette put a header wide midway through the first half.

To compound his misery Lacazette was shown a red card five minutes from time for felling Aleksandar Filipovic with an elbow after the defender held him back and was also booked.

Arsenal’s London neighbours Chelsea did much better in similar temperatures, overcoming Malmo 2-1 in Sweden.

Ross Barkley gave the 2013 winners the lead when he stabbed home from close range on the half-hour and Oliver Giroud got his fifth goal in four Europa League matches with a slick back heel from a Willian cross 14 minutes into the second half.

Malmo’s Anders Christiansen scored a lovely goal on the break to make it 2-1 but the Swedes could not level the tie.

Italian clubs also enjoyed success with Napoli beating Zurich 3-1 in Switzerland, while Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez netted a 39th minute penalty for a 1-0 win at Rapid Vienna.

Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne put the visitors ahead after 12 minutes as he capitalised on a dreadful mistake by keeper Yanick Brecher and Jose Callejon doubled their lead in the 21st when he slotted home from Kevin Malcuit’s low cross.

Piotr Zielinski got the third 13 minutes from time before Benjamin Kololli grabbed a consolation from the penalty spot.

In the only tie featuring two teams who dropped down from the Champions League, visitors Benfica beat Galatasaray 2-1 after taking the lead in the 27th minute when Salvio converted a penalty given for handball.

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Never thought India call-up would come so early: Markande

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Mumbai: Mayank Markande had just demolished the England Lions with an impressive 5/31 to help India A register a comprehensive win by an innings-and-68-run win inside three days in the second and final unofficial Test, in Mysore. But moments just got better for the 21-year-old after being included in the Indian T20I side which will face Australia in the two-match series from February 24.

But the India call-up is a bolt from the blue for the youngster who has been in impressive form over the past few months. “Get a national call-up is the biggest achievement in a player’s career. To be honest I was not expecting this. I did not think I would get included the national set-up this early. I consider myself really lucky,” said Markande.

The last one year has been “amazing” for Markande where he played 7 first-class matches and picked up 34 wickets at an average of 21.26 (including three five-wicket hauls.) But he attributes his India call-up to years of hard work.

 

“My performances in the Ranji Trophy along with meaningful performances for India A must have been noticed by the selectors. and I am really happy that they have given me a chance to prove myself,” he said.

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