The Garmin-Sharp rider beat Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang to the line in Bagneres-de-Bigorre after the pair had attacked off the front, five kilometres from the top of the final climb of the day, and then stayed ahead down the long descent into town. Martin became only the fifth Irishman to win a Tour stage, and the first since his uncle’s victory on stage 16 of the 1992 Tour in La Bourboule. “Every win is important and special in its own way,” the 26-year-old said. “It was such an incredible day today because this team Garmin-Sharp shows such a team spirit. “Everyone gave 100 per cent today and some of the guys nearly missed the time limit because they gave so much for my victory. We decided this morning on the bus that I was going to try and win the stage and we’ve succeeded so it’s incredible.” Martin and Fuglsang made their move as the main contenders at the front of the race were engaged in an absorbing game of cat and mouse, with Chris Froome anxiously – and successfully – defending his yellow jersey against the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador, with his Team Sky team-mates nowhere to be found. Although Fuglsang led the pair into town and towards the finish line, Martin was close behind and, after some nervous glances between the pair, he kicked out 250 metres from the line and Fuglsang could not answer. “It’s hard to describe how it feels; it’s more relief actually because I knew I was the favourite coming into the sprint and I was quite confident, but I still had to do it,” Martin added. “To come across the line knowing that I’ve won a stage of the Tour de France is amazing. In the end, the scale of the event wasn’t on my mind – it was just another bike race. “I was so focused on his wheel and beating that guy in the sprint that I didn’t even look behind once to see where the peloton was. It was just a case of focus on the finish line and get there first.” Press Association Dan Martin followed in his uncle’s footsteps as he became the first Irish winner of a Tour de France stage since Stephen Roche in 1992.
The same scoreline at home to relative minnows Azerbaijan and Luxembourg sapped some of the positivity created by that performance and O’Neill has told his side that their opponents on Wednesday are an even sterner test than Cristiano Ronaldo and company. “Russia may not have the individual players that Portugal do but they are stronger as a team and it will be massive for us to take three points,” he said. “It would be great for us to take three points off Russia, I think Russia is the strongest team in the group. “We’re under no illusions how tough a game it will be and the quality of opposition ahead of us. But I think the important thing is what we expect of ourselves, not things outside of our control.” One of the elements O’Neill has no influence over is the absence of key duo Chris Brunt and Kyle Lafferty. Brunt is suspended for the match and Palermo striker Lafferty was deemed unfit to travel from Italy after picking up an Achilles tendon injury on Sunday. With Chris Baird, David Healy and Paddy McCourt also absent from the squad as they look to find new clubs, O’Neill will have to cast his net a little wider and to less experienced individuals this time and he has challenged them to make their mark. “To be without Kyle, Bairdy, Chris Brunt… that’s a blow. They are big players for us and in terms of our starting line-up but it gives opportunities to players who have been patient,” he said. “It will be a younger team on the pitch, no doubt about that, and there’s a lot of younger ones coming to play international football. “We need the fans to create a fantastic atmosphere at home and stay with us. It will be a key opportunity for everyone and the younger ones particularly.” Huddersfield forward Martin Paterson is most likely to inherit Lafferty’s lone striker role, but Will Grigg and Josh Magennis are also on hand should O’Neill fancy someone with a more greater physical presence. Russia, meanwhile, have the chance to go top of Group F with victory, leaving Capello to remind his players not to take their opponents lightly. “The crucial moment has come. I think that everyone realises the significance of the upcoming match, its result will really have a great impact on the final group standing,” said the former England boss. “Northern Ireland tend to play in a very compact way in defence with a great number of players. They are a physically strong, athletic team and can be very dangerous in counter attacks. That is why it is important not to lose concentration.” O’Neill’s nine matches at the helm have hardly been an unequivocal success, with five draws, four defeats and no victories to date. But there is one standout result O’Neill can draw optimism from – a gutsy 1-1 away draw against a star-studded Portugal in October in the third match of the World Cup qualifying campaign. Press Association Michael O’Neill believes Northern Ireland will have to produce the best display of his reign to get a result against Russia at Windsor Park.
Nathan Redmond inspired Norwich to their first league win of the campaign as Southampton were left frustrated after being denied a clear first-half penalty in the 1-0 defeat. In a frenetic, end-to-end clash at a sold-out Carrow Road, the hosts’ 19-year-old winger proved the difference as he capped a fine performance with the winner. Redmond’s pace often had Southampton on the back foot and saw him score the decisive goal in the second half, cutting in from the left to unleash a fierce drive from the edge of the box. Southampton were looking sloppy and were almost punished when Danny Fox, in at left-back for Luke Shaw, gave away a second free-kick in a matter of minutes. Snodgrass’ free-kick was nodded goalwards by Ricky van Wolfswinkel and into the path of fellow Holland international Leroy Fer, who was unable to find a way past Artur Boruc from close range. The close call appeared to act as a wake-up call for Southampton. After Victor Wanyama dragged a long-range strike harmlessly wide, the visitors went on the attack again and should have had a 19th-minute penalty. Lallana wriggled free of City’s defenders, only for his strike goalwards to be batted away by Johnson in the box. Southampton appealed but Webb dismissed the appeals, despite being well placed to see the incident. Norwich soon had a handball shout of their own after a Van Wolfswinkel header hit Chambers, but Webb again waved play on. Steven Whittaker struck a fizzing effort across goal as Norwich pushed for an opener, which was close to going the other way as half-time approached. Ward-Prowse’s floated free-kick was only cleared as far as Lallana and the Southampton captain’s venomous left-footed volley struck the post. Mauricio Pochettino’s side returned for the second half strongly and Ruddy had to be at his best to deny Osvaldo. An excellent, flowing team move down the right saw the ball fed to the 27-year-old, whose fine turn and strike forced the England squad goalkeeper into a fine save. Osvaldo was denied by Ruddy again soon after, before Norwich had chances of their own through Fer and Snodgrass. However, it was Redmond proving the Canaries’ biggest threat and he crossed for Johan Elmander, only for the Sweden international to head wide. Southampton were pushing at the other end but were being too easily caught out down the flanks when the ball came back their way. It was a vulnerability exposed by Norwich in the 68th minute, when Redmond cut inside and lashed home low from the edge of the box, out of Boruc’s reach. The goal led Pochettino to ring the changes, with substitute Jay Rodriguez causing the City backline problems before fellow replacement Steven Davis lashed over. There was to be no comeback, though, as Norwich stuck to their task to secure victory – with Redmond again going close and Webb waving away another penalty appeal as Snodgrass went down under pressure from Jose Fonte in stoppage time. Press Association It was a goal the England Under-21 international more than deserved, although the match could have ended quite differently had it not been for the earlier contentious call from referee Howard Webb. Bradley Johnson clearly handled an Adam Lallana strike in front of Webb, but the referee waved away those claims and then less vociferous calls from the hosts after Calum Chambers also appeared to handle. Southampton captain Lallana also saw a volley smash against the post and record signing Dani Osvaldo had a close-range effort saved by John Ruddy – missed opportunities the visitors were made to pay for. Despite Robert Snodgrass being refused a stoppage-time penalty, Redmond’s solo effort proved enough to secure Norwich a first league win of the season, ending the visitors’ unbeaten start to the campaign. Both sides reverted to their first choice line-ups after fielding heavily-rotated sides in their respective midweek Capital One Cup victories. One of those returning to the starting line-up for Norwich went close to grabbing the opener inside four minutes. Summer signing Redmond dispossessed fellow teenager James Ward-Prowse and burst down the left, cutting inside and unleashing a drive that went just wide. The Canaries, perhaps buoyed by their 6-3 win against Bury, continued in the ascendancy during the early stages, with Johnson dragging an attempt wide in the 10th minute.
Press Association Palace paid Huddersfield a reported £2million for Hunt on transfer deadline day, but the 22-year-old right-back faces up to four months on the sidelines after sustaining the injury only seven days after joining the south London club. Hunt wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely devastated to have broken my ankle in training (on Monday). Crystal Palace’s recent signing Jack Hunt, yet to kick a ball for his new club, has been ruled out for the rest of the year after breaking his ankle in training. “Got to take the positives, clean break and no op needed.” Hunt, a product of the Huddersfield academy, added: “Massive thanks to everyone at CPFC. Chairman, manager, coaching staff, physios and the lads have been unreal.”
Press Association Wayne Rooney and, more recently, Ross Barkley are salient examples of young English players that have come through the ranks at Everton and made an impact in the first team, leading to involvement with the senior national side. And Martinez feels it is important for that to continue, albeit with the focus being on what it means for the Toffees themselves. The Spaniard said: “Our football club has always had terrific young talent. “We need to make sure we use that talent in the first team. To do that we need to help them and have a structure where they can be given an opportunity to show what they have got. “Ross Barkley is a great example. We have got similar cases now, deeper down. “I do feel if you want to be successful at any club, you need to have good young talent, and a good young generation that can be guided, representing the values of the football club, on the football pitch. “That can help the foreign additions, (in terms of) how to play and how to represent the club.” Dyke last week said the “frightening trend” of the reduction in the number of England-qualified players in the top flight needed addressing, and pledged to set up a commission to find a solution to the problem with a view to boosting the prospects of the national team. The 66-year-old wants the FA and the Premier League to work together on the issue, but asked about Dyke’s speech on Thursday morning, Martinez said: “The responsibility is – you don’t do something for someone else. We do it for Everton.” Everton boss Roberto Martinez has stressed in the wake of Football Association chairman Greg Dyke’s speech on the state of the English game that Barclays Premier League clubs must prioritise their own individual needs.
The Fulham manager admitted feeling “very lonely” after his side slumped to a 3-1 home defeat against Manchester United on Saturday. Jol’s side lie 16th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone, but he said: “I don’t think you are under pressure against Liverpool or Manchester United. You are under pressure in your home games against teams who should lose points against us, for example Crystal Palace. Martin Jol will feel no pressure when he sends his Fulham side out against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday despite being booed off the field last weekend. “If they (the fans) are disappointed I can understand that,” Jol said. “The only disappointing thing was with Ruiz. As long as we don’t have the results they can do it (boo) with me, but hopefully they will support the team. We are not in the best of situations, but we are not in the worst.” As for pressure, Jol admitted there is no room for sentiment: “It is part of our profession. I look at my mates such as Chris Hughton (Norwich) and in the past with Roberto Martinez at Wigan. If you go out of the league at the end like Wigan did that is disastrous. “But I feel we are good enough and better than other clubs. With the spirit we have I think we will be fine.” Asked if he shared problems with such as Hughton, he added: “No, the difficult thing is that we are in the same boat and I would rather win myself than these other teams, even though they are my friends. I can’t be a hypocrite and say I would love Hull City (to win) with Steve (Bruce), one of my good colleagues.” “The main thing is that I am positive. I remain positive because I think we are good enough to get results against teams who are a bit better or worse than us and we will have points on the board. “We did that against Stoke and Everton and Crystal Palace and Sunderland away from home. “There will be four or five teams not as good as we are and I really believe that which is why I am positive.” Against Liverpool Jol will be missing right-back Sascha Riether who was banned for three matches after being charged by the Football Association for stamping on United’s Adnan Januzaj towards the end of Saturday’s defeat at Craven Cottage. Fulham initially asked the FA for clarification on its retrospective action rule after Riether was charged with violent conduct but have now accepted the punishment. Jol said: “If he did do it deliberately it is fair enough to get three games. The referee didn’t see it. I didn’t see it, but they decided to give him that punishment and people around me said it was probably something deliberate. “He said it was not deliberate but he apologised to the club, to the fans and to us. It is not what you need, but we move on.” Defender Brede Hangeland and striker Bryan Ruiz, the latter having suffered the venom of the Fulham crowd when he was substituted on Saturday, face late fitness tests and Jol is sure Ruiz will shrug off the abuse. Press Association
Winters said: “We all said this time last year that he was a small bit off, but he got a bit healthier as the year moved on. Hopefully we’ll see the real horse this year. “It will be another two or three weeks before he hits his peak and his second run is normally his best run. “He’ll have a crack at the Powers Gold Cup now and after that there is a Grade One novice chase over two miles at Punchestown for him. “We’ll school him over fences now before Fairyhouse. “We’ve had no winners since Christmas and the horses haven’t been quite right, but a good horse will always pull you out of a ruck.” The 2012 Galway Hurdle hero was returning to the smaller obstacles for the first time in almost a year having won five of his seven starts during a novice campaign over fences, with his final appearance being a narrow defeat at Cheltenham in October. Mick Winters’ charge suffered an odds-on reverse at the hands of the talented Tarla in this event 12 months ago and the Willie Mullins-trained mare was a well supported 15-8 favourite to confirm the placings this time around. Press Association Rebel Fitz made a winning return to action with a smooth display in the www.racinghomeforeaster.com Hurdle at Cork. Tarla bowled along at the head of affairs for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey in the hands of Paul Townend, closely pursued by Jennies Jewel and Rebel Fitz under Barry Geraghty. Jennies Jewel dropped away from the home turn, leaving the main two protagonists to fight it out. Tarla looked to be travelling the better of the two after jumping the third-last flight, but was a spent force after the following obstacle and 9-4 chance Rebel Fitz quickly asserted to seal a comfortable victory. Geraghty was delighted to see Rebel Fitz handle the testing conditions so well. He said: “He was very good. “We were worried about the ground as he has struggled on soft ground in the past, but he felt better today on that ground than he has done before. “He went to sleep, but I gave him a squeeze. “I wasn’t intending on challenging for the lead at the second last, but I was happy enough to put the race to bed at that stage.”
Press Association “We had to do something to ensure we have the best possible chance of staying in this league. As a football club we are very supportive of our mangers, we give them time to get the job done and do things right. “Clearly it is a results business and four points from the last six games, particularly against peer-group clubs, hasn’t been good enough. We believe that with Neil in charge for the next five games we have got a greater chance of improving our position. “If you read the reaction over the past 24 hours, the national media have said we are bonkers but a lot of Norwich supporters have been encouraging us to make this decision. “We are only here for two things, we are here for the football club and for the supporters, we have to do everything we can as often as we can.” Adams himself takes the job having led Norwich to the FA Youth Cup last season and, having played for the Norfolk side for five years before moving into a coaching role, he jumped at the chance to prove himself at senior level. When asked how long it took him to accept McNally’s offer of replacing Hughton, the 48-year-old replied: “Two seconds. It was an absolute no-brainer of course. “I have been here almost 20 years as a player and a coach and to be offered the opportunity to manager the club is an honour.” Hughton’s last game saw the Norwich supporters turn on him at full-time, jeering the result and throwing a number of paper clappers – aimed at improving the atmosphere at Carrow Road – in his direction. Adams admits witnessing that spectacle was not a pleasant experience but thinks he can do enough to avoid facing a similar demise. “It is never nice,” he said. “It was unsavoury and it was a disappointing time for everybody and that disappointment has obviously come from the result which is the primary thing we are addressing, I am confident I can get the results to keep us in this division.” Norwich chief executive David McNally has charged new manager Neil Adams with keeping the club in the Barclays Premier League to land the job on a long-term basis. Norwich now face a trip to Fulham, the team directly below them in the table, before a final run of four fixtures that sees them play Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. But McNally wants Adams to pick up enough points in those daunting fixtures to both keep the club in the top flight and seal his position on the bench beyond the end of the campaign. “We will have to wait until the end of the season but it is all in Neil’s hands, if he wants the big job here it is entirely up to him,” he said. Having won just once in their last six games Norwich have slowly slipped into the relegation dogfight and McNally believes the decision to change was not as ‘bonkers’ as the likes of Gary Lineker have suggested. Lineker, Hughton’s former Tottenham team-mate, Tweeted on Sunday evening: “Chris Hughton has been sacked by Norwich. Now? With 5 games to go? Utterly bonkers!” But McNally said the decision was taken with the club’s supporters in mind. “We felt we were left with no choice,” he said. “Recent form and performances have been disappointing, We have lost four of the last six games and have lost seven away games consecutively. Adams was appointed on Sunday night following the decision to end Chris Hughton’s 20-month reign after a string of disappointing results left the Canaries 17th in the table and five points clear of the relegation zone. Hughton had been under pressure at different periods of a season in which a summer spending spree never truly inspired his side to build on an 11th-placed finish last year, but the final straw was a home defeat to fellow strugglers West Brom on Saturday.
Press Association “I am the manager. I will take the blame,” Solskjaer said. “I didn’t make the impact on the results I hoped for. I came in hoping to make a difference and we could move up the table, but it didn’t happen. “We haven’t performed very well to stay up, and that’s the reality. We have not been good enough. “We have got to give the fans a good last game, and then we will look towards next season.” Keeping Cardiff’s leading players – the likes of England defender Steven Caulker, midfielder Gary Medel and goalkeeper David Marshall – could prove Solskjaer’s toughest challenge during the summer. Caulker and Medal are thought to hold contractual release clauses in the event of relegation, although Marshall recently penned a new long-term deal with the Bluebirds. Solskjaer would not comment on any contract situations in his final pre-match press conference of the season on Friday. “There will be changes,” Solskjaer added. “I will do my best to keep hold of the most important players. That job has already started. “The ones who will be here will have to have the character, as in that league (Championship) you cannot turn up and just go through the motions. “You have to come back with a hunger to do well, but the majority of the squad here has that experience of the Championship.” Solskjaer revealed he had spoken with Tan in the wake of events last weekend. There are no indications that the Norwegian will not still be in charge, come the start of next season. “I have got no other signals than planning for next season,” Solskjaer said. “The key is to start the season well. “You have to learn from your mistakes as a player and coach. I am a better manager now than when I came here. We came into the unknown this season, and the majority of the players didn’t know much about the Premier League. “The experience of playing in the Premier League will give everyone a taste. “Everyone wants to be back there next year, but it is not going to be easy. The Championship is a very tough league, and you have to be right, mentally. “The longer you go before you manage to bounce back, the more difficult it proves to be. “The whole club is disappointed, but there is only one thing to do and that is come back stronger. “We were very low and disappointed, but we have to go out on Sunday and give ourselves a good last game. “It’s been four months’ hard work. We have enjoyed it, but the results haven’t been what we wanted. “There are loads of things I have learnt, and there are things I would have done different, but that is hindsight. “Nobody wants to end up last (in the Premier League). There is that pride of your own performance on Sunday, but also to show the fans your appreciation of them.” The Bluebirds’ quickfire Championship return was confirmed by a 3-0 defeat against Newcastle last weekend, making Sunday’s final game at home to Chelsea an irrelevance in terms of survival. Solskjaer took over as manager in January after Cardiff chairman Vincent Tan dispensed with Malky Mackay’s services, but he was unable to inspire a climb out of the bottom three, and Cardiff face Chelsea as the league’s bottom team. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the buck stops with him following Cardiff’s relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
However, he fell out of favour with former boss Paolo Di Canio and seemed destined to leave the club last summer, when only a foot injury scuppered a proposed move to Fulham. Di Canio took a dim view of the player being pictured lying on the floor of a casino covered in £50 notes, and was even less impressed with an ill-advised tweet after the club’s 1-0 home defeat by Fulham on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season. Bardsley joined Sunderland from home-town club Manchester United in a £2million switch in January 2008 after loan moves to Royal Antwerp, Burnley, Rangers, Aston Villa and Sheffield United and established himself as first-choice right-back. However, he was handed a clean slate by new manager Gus Poyet after he replaced the controversial Italian in October last year, and rehabilitated himself to such an extent that he started the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City in March. Manager Mark Hughes believes Bardsley will be a valuable addition to his squad. He told stokecityfc.com: “I’m really pleased to bring Phil in to the club. “He’s a player of great Premier League experience who I think will bring added quality to the squad. “He has plenty of qualities that will improve us and help move the Football Club forward to where we want to be. “Phil was genuinely excited to join and I’m delighted to bring him in as his personality and desire will shine in the dressing room.” Press Association