Sports shorts: Dylan Hartley retires, Saracens owner comes out fighting
Ten things from the world of sport on Thursday 7 November
Son on target as Spurs win away
Spurs striker Son Heung-min scored twice as Tottenham recorded their first away win of the season in Belgrade, beating Red Star 4-0.
The South Korean had been a doubt for the game over concerns about his mental state following the freak injury to Everton midfielder Andre Gomes on Sunday. Son committed the foul that resulted in the player’s dislocation fracture of the ankle and was in tears afterwards. But having scored his first goal in Belgrade he approached a TV camera and said “sorry” into the lens.
“Son, who is understood to have sent Gomes a personal message this week, clasped his hands to together to make a praying gesture - a celebration he admitted was out of respect for the Toffees star,” reports the Daily Mail. “His manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted it was important for Son to return back to action as quickly as possible following Sunday’s unfortunate scenes at Goodison Park.”
The player’s red card, issued in the mayhem after the incident, has now been rescinded by the Premier League.
Gomes thanks fans for support
Injured Everton star Gomes, meanwhile, has released an Instagram thanking fans for their support after his injury. The player underwent surgery on Monday, which the club said had gone well, and he is now back at home.
In the video the 26-year-old Portugal international said: “As you already know everything went well. I am already at home with my family. I would like to thank you all for the supportive messages.”
Although the surgery was a success the player faces a long road to back to fitness. “Gomes is not expected to play again this season and will almost certainly miss Portugal’s Euro 2020 campaign, while his recovery will now be overseen by Everton’s medical staff,” reports Metro.
Walker keeps a clean sheet
Kyle Walker became the latest outfield player to achieve cult status by donning the goalkeeper’s gloves as Manchester City drew 1-1 with Atalanta in the Champions League. The defender came off the bench to go in goal after Claudio Bravo was sent off with nine minutes left in the match. Bravo was only on the field because of an injury to first choice City keeper Edison.
The England player made a decent save from a free kick and “there were huge cheers from the travelling support when Walker began to look the part. Bossing his defence around, coming to make a routine catch and then falling on the ball for no reason to eat up the clock,” says the BBC.
Despite the fun and games with Walker, Pep Guardiola will be sweating on the fitness of Ederson, who came off with a thigh problem, for the game against Liverpool on Sunday, especially as understudy Bravo only added to his reputation as a loose cannon with his red card for a tackle outside the box.
Pressure builds after Arsenal draw
Under fire Arsenal boss Unai Emery saw his side’s 100 per cent record in the Europa League ended by an injury time equaliser for Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes.
“Shkodran Mustafi had provided the Gunners with the breakthrough with an unmarked header from a Nicolas Pepe free-kick with 10 minutes to go,” reports the BBC.
“But Vitoria came to life in the closing stages and former Spurs man Marcus Edwards’ cross from the right caused confusion in the Arsenal defence, allowing Bruno Duarte to equalise with a scissor-kick.
“The result was Arsenal's fourth consecutive draw in all competitions in a turbulent week that saw Granit Xhaka stripped of the captaincy.”
Arsenal will still qualify for the next round if Standard Liege lose to Frankfurt tonight, but discontent with Emery is growing. Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown told BT Sport: “We are in danger of losing some of the identity of the team built under Arsene Wenger. We cannot defend and have lost that attacking flavour.”
Wenger linked to Bayern job
Talking of Arsene Wenger, the former Gunners boss is being tipped to take over at German side Bayern Munich.
“Wenger, 70, was last night described in Germany as a leading contender to take charge of the Bundesliga champions until the end of the season,” reports The Times.
“If the former Arsenal manager is appointed he would be in the home dugout for the Champions League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur in December. Spurs may need to pick up points in that final group B match to qualify for the knockout stage.”
Saracens owner defends club over breach
Saracens owner Nigel Wray has come out fighting after the club was hit with a 35 point deduction and a £5.36m fine for salary breaches over a three-season period.
“In a video posted on social media, Wray admitted culpability for administrative oversights, but remained adamant that his investments in property partnerships with England stars Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola and Mako Vunipola should not count towards the salary cap,” reports the Daily Telegraph.
And the paper adds that club insiders fear Wray, who has invested more than £40m in the club since taking it over in 1995, could even decide to walk away.
Meanwhile, amid widespread criticism from figures in the game, Sarries now “face a £50,000 fine after failing to turn up for the launch of the European Champions Cup in Cardiff where, as holders, they would have had prime billing”, says The Guardian.
“The day after they were docked 35 points and fined £5m for breaching the Premiership’s salary-cap regulations, sympathy was in short supply, with the former England captain Chris Robshaw saying the club had stained the sport’s image."
Mane rejects diver tag
Liverpool striker Sadio Mane has rejected claims from Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola that he is a diver, while adding that if he will go to ground in the box if he believes it would earn his side a penalty.
“The City manager’s comments have added extra spice to a meeting between the Premier League leaders and the reigning champions at Anfield, and Mane laughed when Guardiola’s view was put to him after Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Genk,” reports The Times.
The Liverpool star said: “I will be ready for sure, for the team, to give everything possible and to help my team. If it could be a penalty for sure I will ‘dive’ again. If the ‘dive’ will give me a penalty then I will do it. Why not? But what Jürgen said is correct. I do not dive.”
Dylan Hartley hangs up his boots
Former England rugby captain Dylan Hartley has also announced his retirement at the age of 33 after 11 months out with a knee injury. The most-capped hooker in English rugby history with 97 Test appearances had been training with his club Northampton last week, but has now given up on a return to the game. “The last few months have been difficult for me both mentally and physically as I’ve come to terms with the fact I am no longer able to compete but I have to thank all the staff at Saints who have all invested so much time in helping with my rehabilitation,” he said.
Premier League launches wellbeing app
The Premier League is hoping to help players with a new wellbeing app, reports the Daily Mail. “Top-flight stars can now access information via their mobile phones on a wide range of issues including doping regulations and plans for a life after football, as part of an attempt to promote better lifestyle choices,” says the paper.
“The app, which is backed by the FA and the PFA, has been trialled by 40 per cent of top-flight players this season and will now be rolled out to the rest of the league. Insiders say it provides a ‘pathway to support’ and is a place where all information can be stored for easy access.
“The app has been launched amid grave concerns for the psychological welfare of footballers in this country.”
Diamond League scraps 200m
The 200m has been axed from athletics’ showpiece competition the Diamond League for 2020. Other events to get the chop include triple jump, discus and 3,000m steeplechase. IAAF president Seb Coe defended the move saying: “Our objective is to create a faster-paced, more exciting league that will be the showcase for our sport.” But the decision, particularly in relation to the 200m, which features high profile performers including British world champion Dina Asher-Smith, Dafne Schippers and US sprinter Noah Lyles, has been met with criticism.