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World Cup qualifiers

Hat-trick joy for Snodgrass in Malta

Gordon StrachanFootball – World Cup: Malta 1 Scotland 5

Robert Snodgrass grabbed a hat-trick on 84 minutes to guarantee the perfect start for Gordon Strachan’s team and put them top of Group F.

Steven Fletcher came on as a substitute to make it 4-1 after Snodgrass converted a penalty on the hour to put the Scots into a comfortable lead.

Chris Martin restored Scotland’s lead on 53 minutes after Alfred Effiong had equalised four minutes after Snodgrass’s ninth minute opener.

Malta were reduced to 10 men when Jonathan Caruana was sent off for the incident that led to the penalty.

West Brom midfielder Darren Fletcher took the captain’s armband following Scott Brown’s retirement from international football.

Teenager Oliver Burke, who recently became Scotland’s most expensive player in a £13m move to Leipzig, was in the starting eleven. He was replaced on 66 minutes by James Forrest.

Malta were reduced to nine men at the end when Luke Gambin was dismissed for a reckless tackle on man-of-the-match Snodgrass.

Strachan said: “It’s been a good night; stressful at one point. But it shows they can deal with a crisis and that was a crisis at 1-1.”

Starting XI: Marshal, Paterson, Hanley, Robertson, D Fletcher, Bannan, Snodgrass, O Burke, (Forrest), Ritchie, Martin (S Fletcher)

England break Slovakian resistance

Sam Allardyce celebratesSlovakia 0 England 1

England opened the Sam Allardyce era with a 95th minute winner in this Group F qualifier.

Adam Lallana squeezed the ball through the keeper’s legs to finally break the resistance of a determined Slovakian defence.

Allardyce, who replaced Roy Hodgson as national coach, said before the match he would be happy with a draw, but heads home with a victory against one of the strongest rivals in the group.

Following a dour first half, in which England managed their first shot on target in the 39th minute, the game came to life in the second period with more pressure from the visitors.

England were handed a huge advantage when Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel was sent off in the 57th minute for stamping on Harry Kane’s leg. It was the former Liverpool defender’s second yellow card.

But England were continually frustrated by the hosts who defended stoutly against a forward line that lacked a cutting edge.

The introduction of Alli and Sturridge for Henderson and Kane failed to achieve the breakthrough and after Walcott’s close range tap in was ruled offside the game appeared to be heading for a repeat of the goal-less 90 minutes between these two sides in France.

Adam Lallana’s goal deep into stoppage time was his first for England.

In other games in group F Lithuania and Slovenia drew 2-2.

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Tennis – US Open: Britain’s Kyle Edmund saw his best-ever run at a grand slam tournament run out of steam with defeat to world number one Novak Djokovic.

The Serb had played only four sets prior to this match because of injury to his previous opponents and despatched the world number 84 in straight sets.

Edmund had already claimed the scalps of two seeds – Richard Gasquet and John Isner – to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time.

But he met more than his match when defending champion Djokovic secured a 6-2 6-1 6-4 victory in this fourth-round tie.

Edmund’s defeat leaves Andy Murray as the last Briton left in the singles in what has been a terrific performance at Flushing Meadows by British players.

Djokovic will face France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter final.

 



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