Jay Rodriguez Southampton squandered several gilt-edged opportunities as they were held at home by FC Midtjylland in their Europa League third qualifying round first leg at St Mary’s.In a tame first half, debutant Oriol Romeu came closest for the hosts from range before former Saints academy player Tim Sparv broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time.Steven Caulker had a goal contentiously disallowed before Jay Rodriguez equalised from the penalty spot with his first goal in nearly 17 months.Caulker and Maya Yoshida were both denied by miraculous saves as the Danish side held on to gain the advantage ahead of next week’s return leg.Ronald Koeman handed full debuts to Romeu and Caulker after a resounding 3-0 defeat to Everton at the weekend, and the former fired narrowly over in a first half of few chances.Martin Stekelenburg in the Saints’ goal then reacted well to palm away after some head tennis in the penalty area, before Sparv, who was in the same youth side as Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott, struck a brilliant sucker punch from 20 yards as the visitors went ahead with the last kick of the first half.After the break, Caulker thought he’d equalised only to be penalised for supposedly fouling his marker, before Saints were handed a lifeline after James Ward-Prowse was felled in the box.Rodriguez, who hadn’t scored since he netted a brace against Newcastle the game before he ruptured knee ligaments in March 2014, confidently sent the Midtjylland goalkeeper Johan Dahlin the wrong way from the subsequent spotkick.Dahlin may have been well beaten by the penalty, but he was equal to everything else thrown at him as Saints pushed for a winner, including two sublime reaction saves from Caulker and then Yoshida at the death. 1
8. Scott Brown (midfield) 11 Celtic are just one game away from reaching the Champions League group stage.They just have to navigate their way past Malmo where they take a 3-2 first leg lead to Sweden.VIDEO: CELTIC FANS DOING THE HUDDLE V MALMODefender Mikael Lustig is a doubt, so 19-year-old Saidy Janko may start if the Swede is unfit.“We’ll give [Lustig] right up to the last minute to see if he can make it. I think it’s safe to say he’s 50-50,” Celtic assistant manager John Collins said.Considering Celtic need to be defensively sound, Charlie Mulgrew, rather than the attacking Emilio Izaguirre, may begin on the left after the latter played the full 90 minutes in the 3-1 Scottish Premiership win against Dundee United where a number of key players were rested.Scotland international Mulgrew has been talking about how the group stage of the Champions League is what the team been pushing towards.“The mood is positive,” he said. “The game at home didn’t end how we wanted it in the last 10 minutes but at the end of the day we won the game and we need to stay positive.”However, Mulgrew could just as easily slot into the centre of defence, with Dedryck Boyata moving to the right as Janko also played the entire game on the weekend.Up front, Celtic will fancy themselves to score and Leigh Griffiths is likely to lead the line following his two goals at Celtic Park last week and one against United on Saturday where he played 68 minutes. 11 11 11 11 20. Dedryck Boyata (centre back) 14. Stuart Armstrong (left side of attack) 1. Craig Gordon (goalkeeper) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Celtic line-up against Malmo in number order and let us know how your XI would look in the comments below 11 11 22. Saidy Janko (right back) 11 6. Nir Biton (midfield) 11 5. Virgil van Dijk (centre back) 11 49. James Forrest (right side of attack) 9. Leigh Griffiths (striker) 25. Stefan Johansen (central attacker) 21. Charlie Mulgrew (left back) 11
This interview appears in the current edition of Sport magazine. Download the free iPad app here, and follow on Twitter @sportmagukHow do you feel qualification has gone for Scotland so far?“It’s gone well. We’ve played well and managed to get results to match the performances. We tend to play well, but we’ve been a hard-luck story at times. We’ve put ourselves in a good place at the minute; we’ve got four massive games still to play, and we want to keep momentum and results coming. It’s the closest we’ve come for a while. I would be lovely for the nation, the players and everyone involved to reach a championship. We’re confident at the minute – we’re playing well, but there are still jobs to be done.”Your improved fortunes have largely been credited to the manager, Gordon Strachan. What has he changed?“He came in and believed in the players. We’ve also done a lot of tactical stuff on the training ground; everyone knows their jobs, and we work from a solid base. It’s a good environment to come away and spend a week to ten days with the boys – everyone’s enjoying it. His enthusiasm for the game has been passed on. We play with pace up front now, as well, with Ikechi Anya, Steven Fletcher, Shaun Maloney. We’ve maybe been a bit scared in the past, but now we’re going into games with confidence to play well and win.”Your next game is away to Georgia. After beating them 1-0 last October, what are you expecting?“It was a tough game – they work hard and get men behind the ball. We managed to break them down eventually; there were still little scares, but we managed to see it out. We know they’re capable, so we need to be at our best. We need to look to take three points.”Then it’s Germany, the world champions. What kind of atmosphere are you hoping for at Hampden?“It will be great. Whenever the big nations come to Hampden it’s a special game – and this is one we’ve been looking forward to ever since the draw was made. The crowd being behind you gives you a big push, so they can be a major factor. We knew we’d come under pressure [away to Germany, when losing 2-1], but we managed to keep them out as much as we could and were a threat on the break. You need high concentration levels throughout, though – they have some of the best players in the world. Thomas Muller got the goals against us that day. He finds great positions and he’s very clever.”Are you allowing yourselves to think about reaching Euro 2016 yet?“I’ve never been to a major tournament, so it’s hard to think you’re going to get there. We know how hard it is to reach. We’re in a good position, but there are still four matches to go and I think it’s important we don’t get carried away.”What will the atmosphere be like in Scotland – and France – if you do qualify? You could finish the group in third and still qualify automatically…Immense. The fans travel in their numbers, as they always do. Supporting us through the qualifiers, they go all over and always create an atmosphere for us. It would be a fantastic occasion for the whole country.”You, Norwich teammate Russell Martin, Watford’s Ikechi Anya and Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie are in the Premier League after being in the Championship last year. How much can that help the national side?“It’s definitely going to help. The jump from Championship to Premier League is massive – you’re playing against guys you might come up against in international football. I’m glad we’ve made that jump.”At club level, you work with Alex Neil, another highly respected Scottish manager. Do you enjoy that?“It’’s been great for me. He’s selected me in most games and I’ve managed to get a bit of momentum and lots of games under my belt [Whittaker has started each of Norwich’s four Premier League games so far]. He’s straight talking. He demands a lot from his players, and rightly so. He sets us up great, the way we play our football and try to press high up the park. That suits my game – I’m enjoying my football at the minute, and a lot of the guys are really enjoying what we’re doing. I think that’s showing in the performances.”Finally, who would you say is your footballing hero?“I used to admire Zinedine Zidane as a youngster. I played in midfield, so I used to love watching him. His all-round qualities – his technique on the ball, his composure, he had a bit of swagger when he played. I loved watching him.” Steven Whittaker 1
1 Daniel Bachmann Stoke City goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann has joined Bury on loan for a month.The 21-year-old is yet to make his senior debut for Stoke since arriving at the club in July 2011 but has spent time on loan at Wrexham and Ross County.And now the Austria Under-21 international is set for more first-team action during a spell at Bury.The League One side needed cover after an injury to Aaron McCarey earlier this week and moved quickly to land Bachmann until November.
Listen to Max Rushden and guest presenter/Barry replacement Iain Macintosh discuss the world of sport, give away bags of crisps and find out if listeners have ever beaten footballers at anything.Plus, former Ireland international Stephen Hunt joins the show for the Footballers Are Nice feature, in which he categorically dismisses the number of toilets (nine) Leicester City goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has in his house as ‘ridiculous’.To get the Warm Up with Max Rushden podcast every week, click here and download from the iTunes store for free
Alexis Sanchez will not return for Arsenal until around mid-January after suffering a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury.Sanchez has been sidelined since late November and, having been pencilled in for his comeback in Monday night’s 2-1 Premier League victory over Manchester City, he will now be absent for the entire Christmas schedule.The trip to Liverpool on January 13 is the likely date for his return, forcing him to miss fixtures against Southampton, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Sunderland.“Sanchez will be back around January 10. We can’t count on him around the Christmas period. He’s had a very slight setback,” manager Arsene Wenger said.“It was planned for him to be on the bench for City. He’s so keen, but he got a little pain in training two days ago and we haven’t taken a gamble.”The loss of Sanchez has been offset by the ongoing brilliance of Mesut Ozil, who defied a chest infection to mastermind victory over title rivals City.Ozil was the Gunners’ ringmaster, setting up first-half goals for Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud and presenting Aaron Ramsey with a superb chance after the interval.“Ozil had a chest infection this weekend and he was in bed, basically. He had only one training session,” Wenger said.“For a guy who could not prepare well, he has done extremely well physically. I’m a bit cautious because we lost three or four players recently.”In the past, Ozil has frustrated Arsenal fans for floating in and out of matches, but he was given a standing ovation when replaced against City. Wenger hailed his vision.“In football you need one guy who gives the ball to the one who scores the goal,” the Frenchman said.“In our team, most of the time, Ozil is this player. The guys who sees makes you win, and he is that.“Ozil is much more mature now, much more keen to take responsibility. I believe he’s developed his physical attributes and commitment. You can see his desire to win. He plays to win the game.“His talent is exceptional and he realise he can help us in every single game.” 1 Alexis Sanchez
Southampton boss Ronald Koeman will have words with Victor Wanyama after the midfielder saw red yet again.Wanyama was sent off for the third time this season when he chopped down West Ham’s Dimitri Payet during the Saints’ 1-0 win – which was live on talkSPORT.The sending-off may have looked harsh, but it left Southampton to play the remaining 36 minutes with 10 men as they clung onto Maya Yoshida’s early goal.“From the referee’s position it’s a red card,” said Saints boss Koeman.“I was in front of it, and maybe it was harsh, but from his position maybe the tackle looked harder.“But it was a hard tackle and it gives the referee the possibility to give a red card.“It’s not his first red card, it’s his third, and that’s not good. You have to learn from your mistakes so I will speak to him about it.”Saints were leading through Yoshida’s ninth-minute strike after West Ham failed to deal with a corner and Wanyama teed up the Japan defender to sweep home from close range.But nine minutes after the break Payet skipped away from Wanyama and was crudely brought down by Saints’ midfield enforcer.The challenge annoyed Hammers boss Slaven Bilic, who had seen his key playmaker sidelined for three months by a similar tackle by Everton’s James McCarthy earlier in the season.Bilic said: “It’s a red card. When the second leg comes around it is dangerous.“I don’t mind sliding in. It was a big part of my game when I played. But for me as soon as the second leg comes round – scissors – it is unacceptable.” 1 Southampton boss Ronald Koeman to speak to Victor Wanyama following third red card of the season
By late Monday, the three fires had burned more than 58,900 acres; damaged or destroyed 46 homes, businesses and churches; and injured five people, including two firefighters. More than 15,000 people were evacuated in the Santa Clarita Valley. “This has the potential to be one of the largest fires we’ve experienced in years,” said Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Ron Haralson. “And this is some of the driest conditions we’ve experienced in our history with record-low rainfalls. “We have resources coming in from all over, but we’re stretched thin. If these fires continue to grow or we get other starts, that will further stretch the resources we have ordered and have in reserve now.” Based out of the Emergency Operations Center in Monterey Park, county officials are coordinating the massive deployment of firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, and public works, animal control and mental health workers. Sheriff’s personnel across the county were placed on 12-hour shifts and sent to help evacuate people and provide security in evacuated areas. About 213 deputies were deployed to the Malibu area and 161 near Agua Dulce. “Many have been going door to door evacuating people,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. “We are also managing the traffic flow in and out of these areas.” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city is providing personnel and equipment to control the blazes in Malibu, Agua Dulce and Canyon Country. “The city has activated its Emergency Operations Center and will closely monitor the fires around-the-clock to manage resources and prepare for any fires that may threaten the city,” Villaraigosa said. The county Fire Department set up command posts at the Malibu Civic Center and Agua Dulce Airport to coordinate strategies to contain the fires and deploy engine companies, strike teams, camp crews, airplanes and helicopters. “This is government at its best,” county Fire Department Chief P. Michael Freeman said. “It’s a cooperative effort from the state down to the local government.” Staff Writer Lisa Friedman contributed to this report. [email protected] (213) 974-8985160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given the state fire-management-assistance grants to cover the costs of equipment replacement and repair as well as mobilizing firefighters. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has deployed fire crews, engines, air tankers and helicopters. Sen. Barbara Boxer spoke on the Senate floor Monday evening, urging a federal state of emergency in California. “California can’t fight this battle alone,” Boxer said. “I know President Bush will act swiftly on this. There are certain areas where we have to work together, where there cannot be an inch of distance between us.” Calling in help from Nevada, Arizona and throughout the state, more than 2,600 firefighters in Los Angeles County sought to contain the Ranch, Buckweed and Canyon fires. Thousands of firefighters fanned out across Southern California on Monday, battling nearly 20 blazes that had burned more than 100,000 acres in seven counties and forced thousands of people to flee their homes. With state fire resources stretched thin, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked other states for help and directed 1,500 California National Guard troops to help firefighters. About 200 troops will come from the California-Mexico border and four National Guard helicopters will be used to help douse the blazes. Schwarzenegger said President George W. Bush, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other federal officials offered additional assistance.