Daily Briefing

Today’s back pages: Mako Vunipola virus shock for England rugby and a howler by ‘Adriaaaan’ gifts Chelsea FA Cup win

A round-up of the sport headlines from UK newspapers on 4 March

Vunipola virus confusion

“Mako virus shock” is the headline on the back page of today’s Daily Express, which is one of several newspapers to relay the latest misfortune to befall England rugby player Mako Vunipola. 

The Saracens star has been stood down from the England squad for this Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales and is self-isolating after he travelled through Hong Kong last weekend, which is considered a hotspot for coronavirus

Vunipola was on his way back from his native Tonga, where he had gone for personal reasons, an enforced absence that caused him to miss England’s game against Ireland last month. 

An eye injury forced him out of the Six Nations opener against France, and this latest episode is another blow in a disrupted international campaign for the prop. 

The Times also covers the story but says that “in a bizarre twist”, Vunipola will be considered for selection for Saracens in their Premiership match against Leicester this Saturday.

The paper says that “their medical team assessed the prop and decided that he was fit enough to join them after showing no symptoms of the virus”.

The Guardian also uses the “bizarre” word in describing the situation, adding that his presence at Saracens is “starkly at odds over governmental guidelines for anyone who may have been exposed to coronavirus sufferers”. 

The NHS recommends that anyone who could be infected self-isolates for 14 days.

Coronavirus: Six Nations matches to go ahead as scheduled

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Reds feeling the Blues

Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat of Liverpool in the fifth round of the FA Cup dominates the back pages and they won’t make pleasant reading for Adrian. 

The Reds goalkeeper gifted Chelsea an early goal when he failed to deal with an innocuous long-range strike from Willian. 

“Adriaaaan” screams the Daily Mirror, above a picture of the Brazilian fumbling the ball into his own net. The Mirror describes the mistake as a “calamity”, while the Daily Star goes for “howler”. 

The Times is more focused on the Reds’s sudden slump in form. “Liverpool losing it”, the paper proclaims, pointing out that Jurgen Klopp’s boys have lost three of their last four matches, including the 3-0 hammering at the hands of Watford on Saturday that ended their unbeaten Premier League season.

Toon hit the high notes

The Guardian finds space on its back page to laud Newcastle United’s 3-2 victory against West Bromwich Albion, a win that takes the Magpies into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2006. 

Under the headline, “Top of Toon”, the paper says the two goals from Miguel Almiron were crucial in Newcastle’s win.

The Daily Express also name checks the Magpies’s victory on its back page, as it does Sheffield United’s 2-1 victory at Reading under the headline “Sharp sticks knife into Royals”, a reference to the extra-time winner from Blades striker Billy Sharp.

FA Cup fifth round results and fixtures 
  • Monday: Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 2  
  • Last night: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0; Reading 1 Sheffield United 2 (AET); West Bromwich Albion 2 Newcastle United 3 
  • Tonight: Leicester City vs. Birmingham City (7.45pm, live on Facebook); Sheffield Wednesday vs. Manchester City (7.45pm, live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer); Tottenham Hotspur vs. Norwich City (7.45pm, live on BBC iPlayer)  
  • Tomorrow: Derby County vs. Manchester United (7.45pm, live on BT Sport)

Today’s sport headlines

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