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Updated: 31 min 37 sec ago

Hillsborough trial: David Duckenfield 'target of blame'

2 hours 40 min ago

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has been treated as a "target of blame", a jury has heard.

Continuing his closing speech for the defence at Preston Crown Court, Benjamin Myers QC said evidence from the 2015 Hillsborough inquests should be dismissed.

The barrister described Mr Duckenfield as an "excellent police officer".

The retired chief superintendant, 74, denies gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans, on 15 April 1989.

Mr Myers told the jury: "David Duckenfield has not been treated as a normal person, but as a target of blame.

"We suggest the human compulsion to find someone to blame when something goes wrong is very powerful."

He said Mr Duckenfield "went to work that day to help people" and accused the prosecution of relying heavily on evidence from the inquests in Warrington.

'Relentless questioning'

The court heard that, during those hearings, Mr Duckenfield admitted several failures and accepted he froze as the disaster unfolded.

Mr Myers said many of the answers were given in hindsight and taken out of context.

He argued Mr Duckenfield had been subjected to intense scrutiny over seven days in the witness box.

"What you have," he said, "is the relentless questioning of a man struggling to recall what he knows and what he doesn't, until it seems he ends up accepting some of it.

"For the prosecution to use it in this way is very unfair. Ultimately we dismiss this evidence."

On Friday Mr Myer said the prosecution of his client was "breathtakingly unfair" and the jury was being invited to "give him criminal responsibility for a decade of incompetence on the part of others".

On Thursday, prosecutor Richard Matthews QC said Mr Duckenfield had "ultimate responsibility" and should have made "lifesaving decisions".

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after the disaster.

Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, denies failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act.

The trial continues.

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Fulham 1-2 Liverpool: 'Unselfish Firmino needs more chances himself' - Hasselbaink

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 23:44
Match of the Day 2 analysis

Roberto Firmino set up Liverpool's first goal in Sunday's win over Fulham but he has only scored himself in one of his past nine matches for the Reds.

I know what an important and unselfish role the Brazilian has in Jurgen Klopp's side but his team needs to increase their all-round attacking threat and as part of that I would like to see him getting in the box more.

I want to see Firmino demanding more chances from his team-mates, because at the moment he does not get enough.

Roberto Firmino scores his second goal in Liverpool's 4-2 win over Burnley on 10 March

We know what a good finisher he is when he gets an opportunity in front of goal, and what I really like about him is that he is so calm in those situations.

When the chance comes, he sees the picture so he is in the right place - and he can execute it too.

The first bit is the easy part, but then you need composure to find the net. Not a lot of players have it, but Firmino does, and his goals could play a vital part in the title race.

'A link-man who leads Liverpool's press'  Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Lallana; Salah, Firmino, Salah

Whether he is leading the line in a 4-3-3 formation or in a deeper role behind the main striker in a 4-2-3-1 shape, Firmino does so much good work for his team.

While Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are dangerous when they are running at defences, he is more of a link-man - it is through him that Liverpool can start playing in the opposition's half and look for gaps in their defence.

When that doesn't happen, he still does his defensive work off the ball and, if he is up top, he is the player who always starts the press.

When he doesn't play, they miss him significantly because they don't have another player who can carry out those roles for the team.

What they are not getting enough of from him at the moment is goals. As a former striker myself, I want to see him getting in the box more to finish things like I know he can.

The fact he plays deeper, particularly when Salah has been playing as the central striker, obviously makes that more difficult.

It leaves him a greater distance to run to attack the box and it must be tiring too, but he needs to find the right moments to get into those areas more often, and have an even greater effect on matches.

'What strikers need is a selfish streak' Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino celebrates his hat-trick against Arsenal

Earlier this season, Firmino's team-mate Fabinho described him as a number nine who can play as if he is in number eight role, not just as a number 10 - which shows how deep into midfield he goes at times.

I can certainly see him in those different positions. He can play as a number eight because he has got the stamina and aerobic capacity to be an effective central midfielder and cover a lot of ground.

As a number 10, operating behind the main striker, you have to be the most unselfish player in the team. It is probably the most important job in helping the whole attack function correctly, but you have to think of others before yourself.

There are similar aspects of the number nine role too, like holding the ball up and bringing other people into play, and of course Firmino does all of that extremely well too.

But what you also need as a traditional striker is a selfish streak. When I played, I always wanted to score goals and I would love to play in this Liverpool side because they create so many opportunities.

With 13 goals in all competitions this season, Firmino is not doing badly, but he ended up with 27 in 2017-18 and at this stage he already had 23.

Salah is struggling for goals too, but Mane is making up for that with 11 goals from his past 11 games, and he is on fire right now.

At the moment Liverpool do not have a big problem, but if Mane stops scoring they could have because they rely so heavily on their front three.

Their centre-halves do not contribute enough from set-pieces despite being very good in the air, and their midfielders also need to score more goals.

'The Champions League could cost Liverpool the title'  1st Liverpool, 2nd Man City, 3rd Tottenham, 4th Arsenal, 5th Man Utd, 6th Chelsea

With less than two months of the season to go, Liverpool are back above Manchester City following Sunday's win over Fulham.

I thought the gap at the top of the table would be smaller than it was last season when City finished 19 points clear, but I did not expect Liverpool to be in this position. They have done exceptionally well.

After using so much energy in Wednesday's win over Bayern Munich - mentally, not physically because that game was more mentally draining than physically tiring - playing a team like Fulham was perfect for them.

They still had to work to get the three points, though. It was not a perfect performance but they left with the win, and it is a big positive that they found a way to do that even though they did not play well.

I definitely think Liverpool are maturing as a team and getting closer to City, but I still don't see them winning the title.

When I look at City's run-in, I can see them staying unbeaten and even going to Old Trafford and beating Manchester United if they have to.

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The big thing that could cost Liverpool is the Champions League.

The longer they are in Europe, the more I think they are likely to drop Premier League points.

At full strength, when you compare their strongest XI to City's, there is not much between them, but Klopp's bench is simply not as strong as City's.

Liverpool will have injuries or even just fatigue to deal with in the final few weeks of the season and for me, that is when they might just fall short.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

Race for the Premier League titleDateLiverpool fixturesDateMan City fixtures31 MarchTottenham (H)30 MarchFulham (A)5 AprilSouthampton (A)14 AprilChelsea (H)14 AprilCrystal Palace (A)21 AprilCardiff (A)20 AprilTottenham (H)24 AprilManchester United (A)26 AprilHuddersfield (H)28 AprilBurnley (A)4 MayNewcastle (A)4 MayLeicester (H)12 MayWolves (H)12 MayBrighton (A)TBC Cardiff (H)

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Sadio Mane is Liverpool's 'driving force' in title race - Leon Osman

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 23:24

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Match of the Day 2 pundit and former Everton midfielder Leon Osman says Liverpool striker Sadio Mane is a key "driving force" in Liverpool's title challenge.
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Fulham 1-2 Liverpool: Reds nerve 'not in doubt' after scare - Jurgen Klopp

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 18:23

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says his side's nerve is "not in doubt" as they survived a scare to win 2-1 at Fulham and go top of the Premier League.

James Milner scored a late penalty after a mix-up between Alisson and Virgil van Dijk gifted Ryan Babel an equaliser to Sadio Mane's opener.

The Reds are now two points in front of Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

"We started well but lost the rhythm a little bit," Klopp told BBC Sport.

Klopp said his side were "a bit rusty" in the first half, having beaten Bayern Munich away on Wednesday to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

"We could've finished it off in the second half but if you don't kill the game, something like that can happen," he added.

"I'm not in doubt about my players' nerve. I always want perfection but it's really rare that you get it.

"People will say we should be more convincing in games like this but this is us. We are in the middle of a development, not at the end."

'Average game, sensational result'

After Mane neatly exchanged passes with Roberto Firmino to score his 11th goal in as many games in all competitions, Liverpool struggled to create many other chances, allowing Fulham back into the game in the second half.

The hosts had a goal rightly disallowed for offside before Babel snuck in to take advantage of Alisson and Van Dijk's miscommunication, only for Fulham keeper Sergio Rico to foul Mane after dropping Mohamed Salah's shot for Milner's winning penalty.

"We want to stay in the title race and that's what we did," said Klopp.

"First is the best position you can be in. City don't look as if they drop a lot of points, so we have to win, to win and to win.

"I didn't see us panic, I liked how we reacted. The penalty doesn't say we are sensational - 10 minutes before the equaliser, we had so many little mistakes.

"But we had a very intense week, going to Munich, coming back, travelling to London, so I'm completely fine.

"Average game, sensational result."

Race for the Premier League titleDateLiverpool fixturesDateMan City fixtures31 MarchTottenham (H)30 MarchFulham (A)5 AprilSouthampton (A)6 AprilCardiff (H) (could change due to FA Cup)14 AprilChelsea (H)14 AprilCrystal Palace (A)21 AprilCardiff (A)20 AprilTottenham (H)24 AprilManchester United (A)26 AprilHuddersfield (H)28 AprilBurnley (A)4 MayNewcastle (A)4 MayLeicester (H)12 MayWolves (H)12 MayBrighton (A)

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Fulham 1-2 Liverpool: Scott Parker seeing positives despite defeat

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 16:57

Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker is pleased with the way his side played and will focus on the positives despite losing 2-1 at home to Liverpool.

MATCH REPORT:Fulham 1-2 Liverpool

Watch highlights of Sunday's Premier League games on Match of the Day 2 from 22:30 GMT on BBC One and on the BBC Sport website.

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Fulham 1-2 Liverpool: Reds were rusty in first half - Jurgen Klopp

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 16:30

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says they were a "bit rusty" in the first half of their 2-1 win at Fulham but feels they fully deserved to take home all three points.

MATCH REPORT: Fulham 1-2 Liverpool

Watch highlights of Sunday's Premier League games on Match of the Day 2 from 22:30 GMT on BBC One and on the BBC Sport website.

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Premier League - Liverpool looking to reclaim top spot

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 11:29

Scott Parker makes four changes to the Fulham side who lost 3-1 to Leicester in their last Premier League game.

Zambo Anguissa, Jean Michael Seri, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Floyd Ayite are the players to come into the side.

Denis Odoi, Kevin McDonald, Ryan Sessegnon and Havard Nordtveit drop out.

Fulham XI: Rico, Chambers, Mitrovic, Cairney, Ayite, Babel, Ream, Fosu-Mensah, Bryan, Seri, Anguissa

BBC SportCopyright: BBC Sport

There are just two changes to the Liverpool side who beat Bayern Munich 3-1 in the Champions League this week.

Injured skipper Jordan Henderson is left out of the squad, while vice-captain James Milner drops to the bench. That means Virgil van Dijk takes the armband again.

Adam Lallana and Fabinho are the players to come into the midfield.

Liverpool XI: Alisson, Fabinho, van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Firmino, Mane, Salah, Lallana, Robertson, Matip, Alexander-Arnold

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Virgil Van Dijk 'world's best centre-half' - Neil Lennon

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 14:52
Virgil van Dijk celebrates

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk is "probably the best centre half in the world" according to the man who brought him to British football.

Neil Lennon signed the Dutch defender for Celtic in 2013 from Groningen.

Van Dijk, 27, led Liverpool into the last eight of the Champions League, scoring in the victory at Bayern Munich and the Reds will face Porto next.

"He's brilliant. He could walk into any team," said Lennon, who is in his second spell as Celtic manager.

"He's got pace, composure, physicality, technically brilliant. I'm just so surprised none of the real mega clubs didn't take him [from Southampton] before Liverpool did."

"I thought he would be a top, top player but he's made progress very, very quickly. Sometimes they look at the Scottish game and think he's cruising there but can he do it in England? Virgil had all the qualities to do that already.

"One of the best. Value for money, quality, brilliant bit of business by the club."

Van Dijk was spotted by Celtic's former head of talent development John Park, who has been linked with a return to the club amid speculation suggesting current head of recruitment Lee Congerton will take up a similar role at Leicester City alongside former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers.

"He did alright," said Lennon of Park. "He didn't do badly.

"Lee is here, I'm working with Lee and it's business as usual. I know there's a lot of speculation surrounding Lee. We had a meeting 10 days ago, and he was full on.

"It's a case of maybe watching this space. If he does move on I'm sure there will be a lot of candidates the club have in mind to takeover."

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Premier League & FA Cup predictions: Lawro v Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 14:33
Lawro's predictions

Wolves are enjoying an impressive first season back in the Premier League, but can they cap it with a trip to Wembley?

That is the prize on offer in their FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United, which is live on BBC One at 19:55 GMT, with Millwall versus Brighton the other BBC televised tie, at 14:00 GMT on Sunday.

BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson said: "Wolves have had some great results against the top six this season, but United will not just be thinking they can win at Molineux, they will be thinking they can win the whole thing."

Lawro is pitting his wits against a different guest for each round of this season's FA Cup, and his opponent this time is Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard, whose weekly show is part of the station's legendary Friday night dance line-up.

Leeds fan Danny thinks it is "almost impossible" to predict this weekend's scores, but he has given it a go.

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FA Cup quarter-final predictionsResultLawroDannySATURDAYWatford v Crystal Palacex-x2-12-3Swansea v Man Cityx-x0-20-4Wolves v Man Utdx-x0-21-2SUNDAYMillwall v Brightonx-x1-1*0-2

* Away team to win on penalties, after extra-time. There are no replays in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

British cyclist Laura Kenny, who will ride in the Six Day Series in Manchester from 22-24 March, has also predicted this weekend's five Premier League games.

"I did this before and I was terrible," Kenny, who supports Spurs, told BBC Sport. "I got them all completely wrong."

Kenny actually did better than she remembered when she took on Lawro in August 2016. She got five correct results, with no exact scores to end up with 50 points, although Lawro did beat her with 140 points.

Premier League predictions - week 31ResultLawroDannyLauraSATURDAYBournemouth v Newcastlex-x2-01-30-1Burnley v Leicesterx-x1-10-31-2West Ham v Huddersfieldx-x2-04-05-0SUNDAYFulham v Liverpoolx-x0-20-11-4Everton v Chelseax-x1-12-41-1

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.

LAWRO'S PREDICTIONS

All kick-offs 15:00 GMT unless stated.

SATURDAY Watford v Crystal Palace

Watford v Crystal Palace (12:15 GMT, FA Cup quarter-final)

This is a great tie for both teams, because both will fancy themselves to get through to the semi-finals.

Watford rested players at Manchester City last week, which shows how seriously they are taking the FA Cup, and their chance to get to Wembley.

I am thinking it will be an open game because there is no point in Palace playing for the draw - there are no replays - and their away form is very good anyhow.

It is going to be close, but I am going to go with Watford. They are the type of team where, when they really need a win, they seem to be able to get one.

Lawro's prediction: 2-1

Danny's prediction: Watford are flying this season but Palace are one of the most unpredictable teams in the Premier League, and because it is a big occasion I am going to go with Roy Hodgson's men. 2-3

Bournemouth v Newcastle

Bournemouth v Newcastle (Premier League)

Newcastle have taken a lot of pressure off themselves with their great comeback to beat Everton last weekend, because they are now six points clear of the relegation zone.

Bournemouth won too, against Huddersfield, after a run of four defeats and a draw in their previous five games.

Callum Wilson scored for the Cherries after returning from injury, and they are much more dangerous when he is in the team.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Danny's prediction: 1-3

Kenny's prediction: 0-1

Burnley v Leicester

Burnley v Leicester (Premier League)

I was at Anfield to see Burnley's defeat by Liverpool last Sunday - the Clarets made some costly mistakes under pressure but apart from that they were very competitive.

With the teams who were immediately below them - Southampton and Cardiff - both winning. Burnley have been left hovering just above the drop zone.

They have now lost their past three games, which is why they are back in trouble, but I am still confident they will climb away from the bottom three.

Burnley need to get something from this game, obviously, and I think they will. Leicester got their first win under Brendan Rodgers last week, against Fulham, and a point at Turf Moor would be a decent outcome for them.

Lawro's prediction: 1-1

Danny's prediction: 0-3

Kenny's prediction: 1-2

West Ham v Huddersfield

West Ham v Huddersfield (Premier League)

West Ham had been much improved recently before they went to Cardiff last time out, but they were basically nowhere to be seen in Wales. They were awful.

How do you explain that? How can a team look like a really good side for four weeks, and then put in a performance like that?

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It is not the first time this season that the Hammers have been playing well, then chucked in a display like that, but it does seem to happen more when they are on the road.

It won't happen again against Huddersfield at home, surely? I am sure the Terriers will put up a good fight, but Manuel Pellegrini's side should be too good for them.

Lawro's prediction: 2-0

Danny's prediction: 4-0

Kenny's prediction: 5-0

Swansea v Man City

Swansea v Man City (17:20 GMT, FA Cup quarter-final)

This will be a great occasion for Swansea and their fans, because it does not look like they are going to make the Championship play-offs and it has been a disappointing season for them following their relegation.

The chance to play Manchester City, who are arguably the best team in the country, will be a reminder of what it was like when they were a top-flight club, and I would expect a full house and a cracking atmosphere.

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I would not rule out the chance of an upset - because you only have to look at what Wigan did against Pep Guardiola's side in the fifth-round last year - but it does look unlikely because of City's quality.

Lawro's prediction: 0-2

Danny's prediction: Swansea did not do Leeds a favour the other week when they played Norwich. We could have really done with them beating Norwich but they lost 1-0, and I cannot see them getting that close to City. This is not even a contest for me. 0-4

Wolves v Man Utd

Wolves v Man Utd (19:55 GMT, FA Cup quarter-final)

United lost their first league game under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last week but, with the chances they had, they should have beaten Arsenal.

Solskjaer's side actually played really well, and if they can repeat that performance then it should put them in the semi-finals.

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Wolves have already beaten Liverpool under the lights in the FA Cup, in round three, but Jurgen Klopp made a lot of changes for that game, and I don't see Solskjaer doing the same.

Lawro's prediction: 0-2

Danny's prediction: Wolves are having an unbelievable season riding high near the top of the Premier League - who would have thought it? But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men, what a run they have had and what a transformation he has brought to that club. I think they are going to go all the way to the final. 1-2

SUNDAY Millwall v Brighton

Millwall v Brighton (14:00 GMT, FA Cup quarter-final)

Millwall got a very important win at Birmingham in midweek that moves them away from the Championship relegation places.

It was a similar story for Brighton at Crystal Palace last weekend, with the Seagulls getting three points to give themselves some breathing space above the bottom three of the Premier League.

Snapshot of the bottom of the Premier League - 15th Brighton, 16th Southampton, 17th Burnley, 18th Cardiff, 19th Fulham, 20th Huddersfield

Millwall have had a great cup run and they will be full of belief after the way they beat another top-flight team, Everton, in round four.

I think this is the wrong time for them to play Brighton, because Chris Hughton's side have got some form back and they will know they are a game away from Wembley.

But I have got a feeling this one will go the distance and I would not be surprised if it is decided on penalties.

Lawro's prediction: 1-1 - Brighton to win AET and penalties

Danny's prediction: Millwall are towards the bottom of the Championship and Brighton are holding their own in the Premier League. It is a one-off game and anything can happen, but I do think Brighton are going to do it. 0-2

Fulham v Liverpool

Fulham v Liverpool (14:15 GMT, Premier League)

I was in Munich to see Liverpool beat Bayern on Wednesday and the Reds were excellent in the second half. That was as good as they have been all season, in the way they managed the game.

This is the last game before the international break and, if Liverpool win, they go back to the top of the table.

 1st Man City, 2nd Liverpool, 3rd Tottenham, 4th Man Utd, 5th Arsenal, 6th Chelsea

That is a great incentive if they are tired from their efforts in Germany, and the message from the manager will be along the lines of 'I want one last hit from you'.

I just cannot see Fulham getting anything against them, because they are not good enough defensively to keep them out.

Lawro's prediction: 0-2

Danny's prediction: 0-1

Kenny's prediction: 1-4

Everton v Chelsea

Everton v Chelsea (16:30 GMT, Premier League)

Everton boss Marco Silva needs a response from his side here after they made a mess of things against Newcastle, losing 3-2 after being 2-0 up.

What Silva needs is a performance a bit like the one his side put in against Liverpool at the start of March, and he could definitely do with the sort of atmosphere the crowd created at that game.

Chelsea have been in Europa League action this week, which won't help their energy levels but they will be full of confidence after thrashing Dynamo Kiev and I don't see them leaving Goodison Park empty handed.

Lawro's prediction: 1-1

Danny's prediction: 2-4

Kenny's prediction: 1-1

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

How did Lawro do last time?

From the the last round of Premier League games, Lawro got three correct results, with no exact scores, from 10 matches for a total of 30 points.

He was beaten by chef Tom Kerridge and 'The Beast' - aka Wycombe striker Adebayo Akinfenwa. 'The Beast' got five correct results, with one exact score, for a total of 80 points, while Kerridge also got five correct results but with two correct scores, for a total of 110 points.

Total scores after week 30Lawro2,510Guests2,220Lawro v GuestsP30W14D4L12 Lawro's League Table +/- DENOTE POSITION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAWRO'S TABLE AND ACTUAL POSITIONTEAMPWDLPTS+/-1Man City3027308402Man Utd30225371+33Liverpool301911068-14Tottenham301711262-15Chelsea29185659+16Leicester301641052+47Arsenal301551050-38Everton301531248+39Burnley301181141+810Newcastle301171240+311Wolves301231539-412Watford301031733-413West Ham30941731-414Bournemouth30861630-215Fulham30851729+416Crystal Palace30781528-217Southampton30831927-118Brighton29481720-319Cardiff30352214-120Huddersfield303522140GUEST LEADERBOARD 218-19SCOREGUEST LEADERBOARD160David Ginola140The 1975's Ross MacDonald120Joe Thomas110Tom Kerridge, Yatez90Jim Glennie, Mario Hezonja, Karl Pilkington, Chris Stark84Lawro (average after 30 weeks)80Adebayo Akinfenwa, Richard Ashcroft, Dina Asher-Smith, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg James, Mark Wahlberg70Yumgen60Jamie Dornan & Paul Conroy, Idris Elba, Tom McFarland, Dolph Lundgren, Mumford & Sons, Dillian Whyte50Bring Me The Horizon, Theo Ellis, Drew McIntyre, Mohamed Sanu, Dolph Ziggler40Tom Grennan, Josh Warrington30Ryan Fitzpatrick, Oti Mabuse20Yizzy

Lawro's best score: 260 points (week seven v Karl Pilkington)

Lawro's worst score: 20 points (week 24 v Grime star Yizzy and week 25 v Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarter-back Ryan Fitzpatrick and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu)

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Fulham v Liverpool

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 13:45
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Tottenham face Manchester City in Champions League quarter-finals

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:12
Manchester City beat Tottenham 1-0 in the Premier League in October

Tottenham will play Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals, while Manchester United have been drawn against Barcelona.

Last year's beaten finalists Liverpool will play Porto and Ajax will face Juventus in the other ties.

The semi-final draw was also made and Manchester United will meet Liverpool if both win their last-eight ties.

The quarter-final first legs take place on 9 April and 10 April. The semi-finals start on 30 April and 1 May.

City and United were both drawn way in the first leg of their ties, but they are not allowed to play at home on the same day or even consecutive nights.

Therefore, as United finished lower in the Premier League last season, their first leg will now be at Old Trafford, with the second leg at the Nou Camp.

The Champions League final takes place on 1 June at Madrid's 68,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano, home of Atletico Madrid.

Quarter-finalsAjax v JuventusLiverpool v PortoTottenham v Manchester CityBarcelona v Manchester UnitedSemi-finalsTottenham/Manchester City v Ajax/JuventusBarcelona/Manchester United v Liverpool/Porto

Premier League leaders Manchester City will face Spurs three times in 11 days.

Their quarter-final first-leg will likely be one of Spurs' first games at their new stadium on 9/10 April, before the return leg on 16/17 April and then their Premier League encounter at Etihad Stadium on 20 April.

Manchester United's draw sees a return to the Nou Camp for interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 20 years after he scored a dramatic injury-time winner at the stadium in their 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final.

Ajax v Juventus

Ajax are the first Dutch side to reach the Champions League quarter-finals since PSV Eindhoven in 2006-07.

They have the youngest starting XI in the competition and stunned Real Madrid with a 4-1 victory in the Spanish capital to reach the quarter-finals and end Los Blanos' 1,011-day reign as European champions.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the last three Champions League titles with Real, scored a hat-trick as Juventus overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Atletico Madrid.

The Italians are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with Ajax, winning five of the last six matches between the sides.

Liverpool v Porto

Liverpool, who lost the final 3-1 to Real Madrid last May, beat Bayern Munich on Wednesday to reach the last eight, while Portuguese champions Porto beat Roma.

It will be a repeat of last season's last-16 tie, which Jurgen Klopp's side won 5-0 in aggregate.

Porto have lost their last five two-legged knockout ties against English clubs and have not beaten English opposition in a knockout tie since Jose Mourinho's side eliminated Manchester United in the 2003-04 Champions League en route to lifting the trophy.

Tottenham v Manchester City

Spurs reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2011 with a 4-0 aggregate victory over Borussia Dortmund.

City eased into the last eight with a 7-0 home win over Schalke, winning 10-2 on aggregate.

City have lost each of their four games against English opponents in European competition - twice against Chelsea in 1971 and twice against Liverpool in last season's Champions League quarter-finals.

Barcelona v Manchester United

Five-time European champions Barcelona thrashed Lyon 5-1 in midweek to reach the quarter-finals, while United became the first team in Champions League and European Cup history to overcome a 2-0 home first-leg deficit.

Marcus Rashford scored a 94th-minute penalty as they beat Paris St-Germain 3-1.

United have won just one of their eight European Cup/Champions League meetings with Barcelona, losing both of their last two encounters in the 2009 and 2011 finals.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has scored 22 Champions League goals against English clubs; more than any other player in the competition.

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Hillsborough trial: David Duckenfield case 'breathtakingly unfair'

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:58

It was "breathtakingly unfair" to prosecute Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield, a jury has been told.

Ben Myers QC made the claim in his closing speech at Preston Crown Court in defence of Mr Duckenfield.

The 74-year-old denies gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans, on 15 April 1989.

Mr Myers also said "it must be one of the most heartbreaking cases ever to come before a British court".

The trial continues.

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Champions League & Europa League draws: All you need to know

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 23:48
Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Four English teams will find out their potential route to the final of the Champions League when the quarter-final and semi-final draw takes place on Friday at 11:00 GMT.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham could face each other in the knockout stages.

Arsenal and Chelsea are in the Europa League quarter-final draw at 12:00 GMT.

It is the first time in 48 years that England has had six quarter-finalists in major European competitions.

The other four teams in the Champions League draw are Spanish champions Barcelona, Dutch four-time winners Ajax, Italian champions Juventus and Portuguese champions Porto.

It is the first time since 2009 that four English sides are in the last eight of the Champions League.

In Friday's draw, Uefa will also pick the 'home' and 'away' sides for the final at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

The last English side to win the competition was Chelsea in 2012, although Liverpool made the final last season.

Manchester City and Manchester United cannot play at home on the same day or consecutive nights and therefore the team which finished lower in the Premier League last season - in this case United - will be forced to reverse the tie if they both draw home legs first.

The last meeting between two English sides took place last season when Liverpool knocked out Manchester City in the last eight.

The quarter-final first legs take place on 9 April and 10 April. The semi-finals start on 30 April and 1 May before the final on Saturday, 1 June.

'I don't want any of the others' - what they say Liverpool midfielder James Milner

Liverpool midfielder James Milner: "To have four teams in the last eight is great for England. I don't want to play any of the others, to be honest. We want as many teams as possible going forward.

"In previous years, we have always had the belief that the Premier League is the best in the world. But it has been a top league and there haven't been that many teams [in the latter stages].

"Every team left in the competition is a good side. We know that. People will look at Porto and Ajax, but they are young teams and they are flying. They deserve to be there and we know they will be tough teams."

Wales manager Ryan Giggs on why former club Manchester United can win the competition: "I don't see why not when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's gone to Pari St-Germain with the team he's got and won.

"There are worse teams that have done well and got to finals. They have undoubtedly got the quality and the confidence at the moment. But there are still some big teams in there. It will be difficult, but not impossible.

"They are playing brilliantly and the results have been amazing."

The best stats before the draw
  • There are as many English teams in the quarter-finals of this season's Champions League as there were in the previous four campaigns combined (four).
  • This is the first time that Spain will have just one representative in the Champions League quarter-finals since 2009-10.
  • There will be no German side in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2005-06.
  • Ajax are the first Dutch side to reach the Champions League quarter-finals since PSV Eindhoven in 2006-07.
  • Ajax have had a younger starting XI on average (24 years, 202 days) in the Champions League this season than any other side left in the competition.
  • Porto have had more different goalscorers (excluding own goals) than any other team in this season's Champions League (10).
  • Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has now qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals in nine of his 10 campaigns as manager, with 2016-17 the only season he failed to do so.
  • Barcelona have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the 12th successive season, last failing to do so in the 2006-07 campaign.
  • Tottenham have qualified for the quarter-finals of the European Cup/Champions League for the third time in the club's history, last doing so back in 2010-11.
English teams dominating the Champions League

For the first time in 10 seasons, four teams from one country will compete in the last eight of the Champions League.

England are the only country to have had four in the draw.

It evokes memories of the 2000s and the two successive seasons that England provided four quarter-finalists (along with six finalists in five years and two winners - Liverpool in 2005 and Manchester United in 2008).

Teams from each country in last eight of Champions League this centurySpainEnglandGermanyItalyFranceOther2018-191401022017-183212002016-173121102015-163120112014-153011212013-143220102012-13302*1112011-122111122010-112311012009-101211212008-092410012007-081411012006-071312012005-062103112004-050*213112003-042201212002-0331*03012001-023220012000-013310011999-003211*01

*Year country started providing four teams for Champions League

How are English sides expected to get on? Uefa club rankings of Champions League quarter-finalists

Premier League champions Manchester City are the bookmakers' favourites to win the Champions League this season. This is the third time in four seasons they have been to the last eight, and in Pep Guardiola they have a manager who has won it twice with Barcelona.

Liverpool are hoping to go one better than last season when they lost to Real Madrid in the final. They have won the competition five times, more than any other English side.

Manchester United are a team reborn under Solskjaer, picking up a famous 3-1 win at PSG in the last 16 with an injury-ravaged team to go through on away goals.

The 1968, 1999 and 2008 champions became the first team in European Cup history to overcome a 2-0 or greater home first-leg deficit.

Tottenham have shown good progression year on year in Europe, going out in the group stages in 2016-17 and the last 16 last year. But this time around they beat then Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals.

They are expected to finally be in their new stadium when the quarter-finals take place in April.

Who do they want to avoid? Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi graphic

Barcelona, who were inspired by Lionel Messi in their last 16 victory over Lyon, are chasing the treble this season and are unbeaten in their past 30 Champions League home games (W27, D3) - the longest ever run in the competition.

Messi is the joint top scorer in this season's tournament with eight, and the second top scorer in Champions League history's with 108.

The only man who has ever scored more - Cristiano Ronaldo - is aiming to lead Juventus to their first Champions League title since 1996.

With his Juventus side 2-0 down to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their last 16 tie, he scored a hat-trick on Tuesday to send them through. The Portuguese is trying to win the tournament for a fourth consecutive year, having won the past three with Real Madrid, and a sixth time overall - which would be a joint record.

Champions League quarter-finalistsAjax (Netherlands)Barcelona (Spain)Juventus (Italy)Liverpool (England)Manchester City (England)Manchester United (England)Porto (Portugal)Tottenham (England)'No team wants to play Liverpool or City' - analysis

European football expert James Horncastle

I know on the continent, they want the English sides to draw themselves and knock each other out. Liverpool and Manchester City, no team wants to play them. Spurs have progressed every year and learnt more.

You then have lower-profile sides like Ajax. What can they do while they still have this team together? To go to the Bernabeu and do what they did, they are fearless. There was some great coaching in the last 16.

What are the chances of an all-English quarter-final?

Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis, Gracenote

There are 105 possible scenarios for the Champions League draw, which will also determine the semi-final line-ups.

Nine out of those 105 scenarios involve the four English clubs all being drawn against each other - an 8.6% chance.

Out of the total possible draws, 72 scenarios have exactly one all-English tie - that's 68.6%.

Therefore, the chance of all four English clubs avoiding each other in the quarter final draw is 22.9%.

And what about the Europa League? Arsenal's Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Chelsea's Eden Hazard

Arsenal and Chelsea could be each other's biggest competition for a place in the final, which takes place on Wednesday, 29 May at the Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan's capital Baku.

Gunners' boss Unai Emery won three Europa League titles in a row with former club Sevilla - the Spanish side are a record five-time champions but were knocked out in the last 16 by Slavia Prague.

Italian side Napoli, who dropped down from the Champions League, could be a threat after they picked up a 1-0 win over Liverpool in Naples in October.

They could be drawn against their former manager Maurizio Sarri, who is now in charge at Chelsea. The Blues were the last English team to win the competition, under Rafael Benitez in 2013. Arsenal made it through to last season's semi-finals before losing 2-1 on aggregate to Atletico Madrid.

The last time the two English teams met was in the Premier League in January and Arsenal won 2-0. Chelsea won the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge 3-2 in August.

Europa League quarter-finalistsChelsea (Eng)Inter Milan (Ita)Benfica (Por)Eintracht Frankfurt (Ger)Valencia (Spa)Slavia Prague (Cze)Arsenal (Eng)Villarreal (Spa)

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Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool: Liverpool are back - Jurgen Klopp

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 09:20

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says knocking Bayern Munich out of the Champions League is "a big step" for his team, and believes they are back as a European force.
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Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool: win was a mark of Reds' progress - Mark Lawrenson

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 07:38
BBC Radio 5 Live

Liverpool's second-half performance in Munich was the best I have seen them play in the past year, including the exhilarating wins that took them to last season's Champions League final.

Tactically, manager Jurgen Klopp got it absolutely spot on because the Reds were everything they had to be during those 45 minutes at the Allianz Arena.

At half-time, with the score 1-1 on the night, the tie was still in the balance. I was worried at the way the momentum had started to shift just before the break because Bayern were beginning to knock the ball around nicely.

To see their threat off, Klopp needed his side to be tighter defensively but carry more of a threat at the other end, and boy did they do that.

 Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner; Mane, Firmino, Salah

At the back, Virgil van Dijk was pure class again and of course he scored the crucial second goal too. The way he attacked the ball from James Milner's corner, no-one was going to stop him.

Up front, Sadio Mane was impressive too - but he was not the only one.

A lot has been said about the form of the Reds' front three recently, because they were ordinary at Old Trafford and Goodison Park, but here they showed how difficult they are to stop when they get the right supply, and they get given the ball early.

Liverpool display underlined their progress

It was an outstanding performance, but totally different to the type of swashbuckling attacking display that Liverpool were known for last season when Klopp's side needed to have spells in games where they blew teams away because they were vulnerable at the back.

Wednesday's performance was more like the kind you get used to seeing from the leading continental teams in this competition, where they take total control of what could be a difficult tie and progress comfortably.

That is exactly what Liverpool did. I have never been in this stadium and seen it empty so far in advance of the final whistle before, because it was clear for a long time that there was no way back for Bayern.

Klopp was right when he described Liverpool's performance as "mature" afterwards because it was a display that underlined the progress that his team have made, especially when you consider the circumstances.

We know this Bayern side are not the force they were three or four years ago, but in their own stadium they are a real threat and they had a formidable record to protect.

 Neuer; Rafinha, Sule, Hummels, Alaba; Martinez, Alcantara; Gnabry, Rodriguez, Ribery; Lewandowski

The German champions had only lost three of their previous 30 home Champions League games since the end of 2013, all of them at the hands of Real Madrid, who went on to win the competition on each occasion.

Now Liverpool have come away with a result that will make anyone who missed the game say 'wow' when they see it.

Consistency is now one of Liverpool's strengths

Klopp says he wants to avoid another English team in the quarter-finals when the draw is made on Friday, and I can understand why.

He will not be afraid of any of the teams left in the competition but the English sides know so much about each other. Playing Manchester City, Manchester United or Tottenham over two legs would be more like a Premier League meeting than a European tie.

Uefa club rankings

I make City favourites to win the trophy in Madrid in June, because they have got the best squad and an unbelievably driven manager, but Liverpool are not far behind.

They are very dangerous opponents, because of their experience from last year and the improvement they have made since.

They used to be a very up and down side but consistency is now one of their strengths. Part of that is down to their team selection - when I watch them there are a lot of constants.

They don't really chop and change very much, apart from in midfield where they have got a lot of quite similar players to bring in and out of the side.

What next? Liverpool have to keep on winning  1st Man City, 2nd Liverpool, 3rd Tottenham, 4th Man Utd, 5th Arsenal, 6th Chelsea

The one down side of Liverpool's progress in Europe is that I do think it will affect their Premier League title bid.

A lot of the same players have already played a lot of games, and when you get to the last month or two of the season then tiredness does become a factor.

But Klopp will not be complaining because they are going to get to the end of March in an absolutely fabulous position in the two most important competitions. That is the situation he would have wanted at the start of the season.

Now they just have to keep on winning, because that is what City are doing.

Liverpool's next test is to go and win at Fulham on Sunday, which might sound easy after what they have done in Munich, but won't be.

They cannot afford to let their levels dip at all but then Klopp is in charge, so there is no way he will let that happen.

Mark Lawrenson was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp hails 'very mature' Reds performance

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 22:47
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool's 3-1 Champions League win at Bayern Munich proved they are "back at the top level of European football", according to manager Jurgen Klopp.

Last year's finalists eased into the quarter-finals courtesy of two goals from forward Sadio Mane and another from defender Virgil van Dijk.

"The second half was very mature," said German manager Klopp.

"In the moments we did play football we immediately destroyed the organisation of Bayern. It's absolutely deserved."

Liverpool's win means there are now four Premier League sides in the last eight, following victories for Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City.

Barcelona, Juventus, Porto and Ajax make up the rest of the quarter-finalists. The draw takes place on Friday.

Klopp added: "Whoever we get as an opponent we will take. The boys love the competition, they really dig in in these moments.

"The attitude was outstanding. The front three were outstanding, the boys who came on helped a lot.

"We've laid down a marker tonight that LFC is back on the top level of European football."

More to follow.

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Chelcee Away with Yungen: Nutmegs, football lyrics and breaking up with Sterling

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 12:33

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In this episode of Chelcee Away, singer/songwriter/footballer Chelcee Grimes meets up with UK grime star and Liverpool fan Yungen for a kick-about and chat about music.
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Jurgen Klopp says it is 'mad' to think Liverpool Champions League exit would help title bid

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 22:39
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp Bayern Munich v Liverpool (Wednesday, 13 March, 20:00 GMT)
How to follow:
Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Manager Jurgen Klopp said it is "mad" to suggest a Champions League exit could help Liverpool's bid for a first domestic title in 29 years.

The Reds are a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League and face Bayern Munich on Wednesday after a goalless draw in the last 16 first leg.

"I don't think any other coach has to answer this question," said Klopp.

"It only happens if you're Liverpool manager and the pundits come from Manchester United."

Klopp guided Liverpool to the Champions League final last season but former United defender Gary Neville suggested losing in Germany could do them a "favour" in their attempts to win a first title in the Premier League era.

"They [pundits] talk constantly," added Klopp. "It doesn't mean they make more sense because of that. That's the problem.

"It is so easy to sit in an office or a studio and talk about things like that.

"We don't draw up a season and say the best way to go through it is to go out of all the cup competitions early.

"You do that and in that moment the same people go for you like mad.

"Now it is closer to the end of the season and it is allowed to go out of the Champions League without even trying to go through? That's really mad.

"I am not angry about it. It's just so mad that I constantly get confronted by it."

'A money-throwing competition'

Klopp highlighted the Champions League's importance to his plans for building the club, while describing the tournament as a "money-throwing competition".

A run to last year's final earned the Reds about £72m, which contributed to a £106m world record profit.

"We all have to qualify constantly for the Champions League - that's what gives us the money to improve," he said.

"When we qualified [for the knockout phase] by beating Napoli I'm unsure how much we earned - a lot in one game."

The sum was £8.1m in addition to about £23m, excluding additional television revenue, accumulated from their efforts in the group stage.

If Liverpool reach the quarter-finals they will receive an additional £9m, and progression to the final would be worth another £23.6m.

Klopp said: "It is a money… what is it? It is a money-throwing competition and we have to be in it as long as possible because we have to improve the situation for the club.

"I didn't think a second before that game [against Napoil], 'Oh my God, we have to earn this money for the club.'

"We only wanted to go through. After we got through it was like, 'Wow, that's proper.'

"We have to earn most of the money for ourselves with the football that we play. That is exactly what you can do in the Champions League."

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Bayern Munich v Liverpool: Naby Keita to miss Champions League tie

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 16:11
Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita BBC coverage
How to follow:
Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; text commentary on the BBC Sport website

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Champions League - Bayern Munich v Liverpool & Barcelona v Lyon live

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:55

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Bayern Munich host Liverpool and Barcelona face Lyon in the second leg of their last 16 Champions League ties - watch 5 Live Final Score, listen to BBC Radio 5 Live and follow live text commentary.
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