Europe on the mind of Southampton boss Ronald Koeman after Sunderland win

first_imgSouthampton boss Ronald Koeman is targetting a return to European football after seeing his team extend its unbeaten run to eight games at lowly Sunderland. Press Association Dusan Tadic’s second-half penalty was enough to secure a 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light to maintain their bid for another lofty finish after an all too brief Europa League adventure earlier this season. Koeman said: “I think if we reach European football, it would be like we had won the title.” He said: “He [M’Vila] didn’t need to go to ground. He’d done the job, he’d covered around DeAndre [Yedlin]. Just jockey the player out of the box. “The player sees the tackle and goes, ‘That’s me, I’m going down now’, and he can’t argue with the penalty decision because if he’d just stayed on his feet, the lad was going nowhere.” The defeat was the third in four games since Allardyce took over on Wearside, and he is desperate to rid his players of a fear factor he believes is hindering performances. He said: “In training, I see a lot of good stuff, I see a lot of good things, but I ain’t seeing it when we get on the field, that’s my problem, so there’s got to be a bit of fear in the players who are frightened to express themselves. “They’ve got to really get rid of that fear and show on the pitch what they can do on the training ground. “They seem to find it from somewhere at the end of the season, don’t they, for some bizarre reason? The last thing I want to do is to have to try to find it at the end of the season again because you might not find it then. “When the games go into single figures, that’s it. Now we have got a lot of games to try to make sure we get out of being in that position.” Asked if that was possible, he replied: “Of course it’s possible. Why not? Why not? Do you think it’s possible? We have the experience from last year. “We know it’s difficult because it’s not easy to beat big teams, big clubs after 38 games in the Premier League. But we have potential, we have qualities, in my opinion, we have a squad now to fight for that. “That’s very good, that’s positive and we will see what happens at the end of the season.” However, Koeman admitted a top-four finish is beyond the Saints. He said: “No, no, no. Top four? It’s maybe too difficult. Qualifying for Europe means maybe seventh place – like last season – is possible, six, five, four… “It’s too early in the season to have an opinion on things about that. We like to enjoy football – that’s one of the best qualities, how we like to play, and then you will win a lot of games, we know.” Southampton had the better of the 90 minutes, but were repeatedly thwarted by keeper Costel Pantilimon until Yann M’Vila’s ill-judged challenge on Ryan Bertrand prompted referee Mike Jones to point to the spot and Tadic obliged to give the visitors a decisive 69th-minute lead. Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce had no complaints about the decision, but plenty about the tackle. last_img read more

Wales Out to Inflict More Pain on Portugal

first_imgIt will be virgin territory for Wales when they face Portugal in the Euro 2016 semifinals yet their opponents could be forgiven a sense of deja vu as they step on to the pitch in Lyon this evening.This will be Portugal’s fourth semifinal in the last five editions of the competition stretching back to 2000, but for all their success in reaching the latter stages of the tournament, there has been little glory along the way.Only once have they overcome the last-four hurdle and then they were beaten in the final by Greece as hosts at Euro 2004. If you include their defeat in the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup and a loss at the Euros in 1984, they are becoming all too familiar with the pitfalls of this stage of major tournaments.Portugal’s conquerors in their recent last-four clashes have included football powerhouses France, at Euro 2000 and the World Cup in 2006, and Spain at Euro 2012.Should they lose to Wales, playing their first major tournament in 58 years and their first ever semifinal, it would be a devastating blow.Yet Wales are arguably the form team coming into the match.Chris Coleman’s side have revelled in their underdog status to win their group, which also included England, Russia and Slovakia, ease out British rivals Northern Ireland in the last 16 and sweep past heavy favourites Belgium in the quarters.Portugal is yet to win a match at the tournament inside 90 minutes, having drawn all three group games, beaten Croatia in extra time and squeezed past Poland on penalties.Things are yet to click for Portugal, and by extension for captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who has at times looked exasperated by his teammates’ attacking shortcomings.Yet Portugal is unbeaten in 12 competitive internationals since Fernando Santos took over as coach at the start of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.With Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammate Pepe marshalling an increasingly assured defence, they will be tough to break down.Especially for a Wales side deprived of one of their most talented creative influences in midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who is suspended after picking up a booking in the win over Belgium.While Gareth Bale has been Wales’s attacking talisman, scoring three times to lift them out of their group, Ramsey has been arguably their most influential player, scoring one and producing four assists in the run to the last four.The match is likely to be billed as a contest between the two most expensive players in the world – Ronaldo, who will play a record third European Championship semifinal, and his Real Madrid teammate Bale.Perhaps ominously for Wales, Ronaldo has netted twice in each of his last two games in Lyon for club and country.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Devonte Graham’s 35 points too much for Syracuse to overcome in 76-60 loss to No. 2 Kansas

first_imgMIAMI — Kansas needed an answer. For much of the night, the Jayhawks defense stymied Syracuse. The Jayhawks raced out to a 14-point advantage at halftime.But now, to start the second half, the Orange was back. Tyus Battle and Frank Howard, as they’ve done all year, were leading the offense. Battle made his first 3-pointer of the game. Then he drove in and got the and-1.Next it was Howard’s turn. A steal and a layup, followed up by an and-1 for himself. Then he hit a 3-pointer. The clunky Syracuse offense of the first half was gone. The Kansas fans, who’d been the louder supporters before the tip, ceded way to a raucous Orange crowd. A 20-point lead was down to seven.The Jayhawks’ next possession was falling apart, too. The ball was handed off to Devonte’ Graham with the shot clock winding down. Graham stepped back from Tyus Battle and shot an NBA-range 3-pointer with Frank Howard charging at him. It hit nothing but net.“On a night where basically we didn’t have much going on, he needed to do that,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “He picked his spots well.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse (6-1) was playing the toughest team it had all season on Saturday, and as a result, was seeing one of the best individual players in the country. Graham led the No. 2 Jayhawks (7-0) with a career-high 35 points, including seven 3-pointers. The performance was too much for the Orange to overcome in its 76-60 loss.The senior point guard missed his first three shots from deep in the game. It was part of a back-and-forth first 15 minutes, in which both teams struggled to hit anything from the field.Late in the first half, Graham knocked down a tough midrange jumper with Howard guarding him closely. On the next KU possession, Howard picked up his third foul trying to aggressively go over a screen and stay with Graham. Howard was sent to the bench and Graham hit two free throws.Then, in a blur, Graham knocked down three-straight 3-pointers. He smacked his chest and walked back with a swagger after the last one, culminating the stretch in which he scored the Jayhawks’ last 14 points of the half.Many of his 3-pointers, in both halves, came from the top of the key. Graham knew he’d find success there from his own experiences playing in a zone.“When we run our 2-3 zone, when the ball goes to the middle, we fan out,” Graham said. “You’ve got to leave somebody open, it’s usually the guy at the top.”Graham, who started the season in the conversation for the National Player of the Year award, struggled with his shot early this season. Through four games, he was shooting just 34 percent and averaging only 11.5 points.Then, in KU’s last matchup against Toledo, he exploded for 35 points. He matched that total again in Saturday’s contest.Graham, who came into the game averaging 8.5 per game, said that he balances his scoring and passing based on game flow. His shot wasn’t falling over the first four games. When it was tonight, he made sure to take advantage of it.Boeheim said that he felt the defense wasn’t the issue on Saturday, instead pinning the brunt of the loss on offensive ineffectiveness. Still, he wasn’t pleased with the defense played on Graham.He helped the Jayhawks pull away from the Orange late in the first half. When the Orange started creeping back in the second half, he made sure to keep it at bay for good.“Graham was really good today,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He kept making a shot every time we needed something.” Comments Published on December 2, 2017 at 10:59 pm Contact Tomer: tdlanger@syr.edu | @tomer_langer Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more