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October | 2017 | informazing

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Monthly Archive:: October 2017

Bath fly flag in Europe after Rhys Priestland puts boot into Scarlets | Sport

Even by the standards of these parts this was a wild, rain-lashed evening but Bath successfully rode the intense Friday night storm. Two wins from their opening two European games have set them up nicely in Pool 5 and their forwards ultimately proved too strong for a winless Scarlets side who now face an uphill struggle to qualify for the knockout stages.

It is not impossible for a team to qualify having lost their first two fixtures but, for the second successive week, Scarlets discovered that Europe is an unforgiving playground. Home defeats are grievous blows and six penalties from their former fly-half Rhys Priestland was enough to deliver Bath a sodden but quietly satisfying outcome. “We couldn’t argue on the day, they were the better side,” admitted the Scarlets’ head coach, Wayne Pivac.

This kind of European occasion is nothing if not character-building and, tactically, Bath made life awkward for their opponents throughout. On a fine, dry day there are few more dangerous or enterprising sides than the Scarlets but the visitors dominated the territorial contest and gave their hosts scant opportunities to use their pace out wide.

Priestland, using his local knowledge to the full, was similarly ruthless off the tee to claim the man of the match award and leave his director of rugby, Todd Blackadder, praying Wales do not call him up for the autumn internationals. “I hope not,” admitted Blackadder. “I really don’t want to be losing him. He’s performing really well.”

It was certainly not the night for silly offloads or foolhardy ambition. Five days earlier the Scarlets had been running around in the balmy Mediterranean sunshine of Toulon but any similarities with west Wales on a filthy, windswept evening were not immediately apparent. There is nothing to match European club rugby for crazy meteorological contrasts from week to week.

Bath’s forceful pack duly stuck to the basics, allowing the in-form Priestland to kick two early penalties either side of a typically accurate effort from Leigh Halfpenny. Kicking out of hand was less straightforward in the gathering monsoon and the inevitable aerial bombardment ensured neither of the two opposing Lions centres, Jonathan Davies and Jonathan Joseph, saw much in the way of useable attacking ball. Sometimes rugby becomes a simple battle of steely resolve and this was one of those occasions.

In Rhys Patchell the Scarlets, too, possessed a man with a siege-gun punt who watches the ball right on to his laces, a useful habit in demanding conditions. What won the Scarlets last season’s Pro12 title, however, was their adventurous handling and their 22nd-minute try defied the logic that everything should be leathered in the wet. A bold sequence of midfield passes put the left wing, Steff Evans, into some rare space and, when the supporting Gareth Davies was collared just short, Evans was there on his shoulder to complete a classic score.

Bath felt the initial pass from Evans to Davies might have been forward but the TMO ruled otherwise; it would have been a stony-hearted official who ruled out the evening’s most electric piece of skill.

Sadly for the home side they were also giving away too many kickable penalties and two further successful Priestland three-pointers restored Bath’s narrow lead before the interval.

Among the visitors’ other conspicuous performers were once again the youthful English pair of Sam Underhill and Zach Mercer, both of whom worked relentlessly hard alongside the Welsh international No8 Toby Faletau. Underhill’s coaches would like him to add more of a carrying element to his game but without the ball he is a persistent menace.

Given Bath were without their suspended Springbok flanker Francois Louw, Blackadder has an enviable number of back-row options and, defensively, they are an increasingly hard side to break down. In Priestland they also have a canny operator who knows the Scarlets inside out and was not about to let Patchell have an easy ride.

When the home No10 slightly delayed his clearance kick Priestland was there to charge it down and came within a hair’s breadth of scoring only for the TMO to spot a slight knock-on as he slithered towards the line.

It mattered not, with the fly-half landing two further penalties to send Bath back across the Severn Bridge in good heart, with only one try conceded in two games. Their back-to-back fixtures against Toulon in December now look set to determine the outcome of the pool and they, too, pose a decent threat in the dry. Not only Saracens are flying the English flag vigorously in Europe this season.

Scarlets Halfpenny; McNicholl, J Davies, Parkes (S Williams, 68), S Evans; Patchell (Asquith, 72) , G Davies (J Evans, 69); W Jones (D Evans, 68), Owens (capt; Elias, 56), Lee (Kruger, 63), Ball (Bulbring, 56), Rawlins, Shingler, Boyde (Macleod, 57), Beirne.

Try S Evans. Con Halfpenny. Pens Halfpenny 2.

Bath Watson; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Clark, Brew (Banahan, 63); Priestland, Fotuali’i; Obano (Catt, 49), Dunn (Walker, 64), Perenise (Andrews, 55), Ewels (capt), Charteris (Stooke, 66), Z Mercer, (Grant, 63), Underhill, Faletau. Pens Priestland 6.

Referee R Poite (France). Att 11,479


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No. 1 Alabama heavy favorite against rival Tennessee


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jonah Williams and his Alabama teammates only get a quick bus ride to soak in the pre-game atmosphere of the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry. It’s still enough to reinforce the significance to fans.

The traditional Third Saturday in October rivalry game hasn’t been much of a rivalry on the field over the past decade, but it’s rich in history.

“In the limited time we have on the bus ride to the stadium — otherwise we’re locked down in the (Hotel) Capstone — when you see all the festivities and all that, it’s like, `Wow, this is bigger than us,’” said Williams, the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s left tackle.

“We’re the team and we’re going to go out and do what we practiced all week, but this means a lot to millions of people from the state, from the South.”

Alabama (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has won all 10 meetings with Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) under coach Nick Saban, eight of them by double digits. Now, embattled coach Butch Jones and the Volunteers are desperately seeking something positive in a frustrating season that’s left him fighting to save his job.

It would be quite an upset since Alabama is a five-touchdown favorite .

They’ll be going against what Jones called “probably the most complete football team I’ve seen in a number of years.”

“All you’ve got to do is look at their body of work through this season already,” Jones said.

The teams’ bodies of work couldn’t be much more different.

Midway through the SEC schedule, Alabama has outscored league opponents by an average of 48-8. The Vols have averaged just 9.7 points against their three SEC opponents, playing Florida and South Carolina close and getting blanked 41-0 by No. 3 Georgia.

Tennessee has gone 10 quarters without a touchdown and lost seven of its last nine SEC games.

The rivalry clearly remains big to both sides. Alabama linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said he had Rocky Top on his mind even as he was running off the field after a win over Arkansas .

“I was singing their fight song,” Hamilton said. “That’s all I was talking about, it was Rocky Top Week.”

——

Here are some things to know about the Tennessee-Alabama game:

TOP RUNNERS: The game will feature two of the SEC’s four leading rushers, Tennessee’s John Kelly (No. 3) and Alabama’s Damien Harris (No. 4). Kelly has 45 more carries in six games than Harris but 73 fewer yards. Kelly has caught a team-best 24 passes for 250 yards.

“I think he’s a really dynamic player,” Saban said. “Probably the best running back we’ve played against all year long and I think he’s one of the best running backs in the SEC.”

GUARANTANO’S CHALLENGE: Alabama’s facing another inexperienced quarterback. Redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano is expected to make his second start after leading the Vols to just three field goals in a loss to South Carolina. The Tide just faced Arkansas’s Cole Kelley in his first career start and sacked him five times. South Carolina sacked Guarantano seven times and held him to 133 passing yards.

HARD TO PASS: Tennessee’s defense is yielding the second-fewest passing yards per game nationally. Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts isn’t among the SEC’s top 10 passers in yards per game but has been efficient and is one of the league’s leading rushers.

CENTURY MARK: This will be the 100th meeting in the rivalry with the Tide leading 54-37-8 (not counting vacated wins). The Vols’ last win came 16-13 in 2006, the year before Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa.

BIGGEST POINT SPREAD: Tennessee hasn’t been this big of an underdog since at least 1980, according to Pregame.com. The biggest point spread since then was in 2011 against Alabama. Favored by 30 points, Alabama barely covered with a 37-6 win.


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NFL on Ezekiel Elliott: ‘We’re not looking to make a deal’

The NFL reportedly isn’t inclined to settle with Ezekiel Elliott.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL isn’t interested in working out a deal with Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had been reportedly open to such an arrangement earlier this week.

Interestingly, it wasn’t long after that initial report emerged that another struck it down as false.

In any case, the NFL isn’t on board with any sort of deal, per spokesman Joe Lockhart. In a conference call with reporters, he said of the Elliott case, “We’re not looking to make a deal. We’re very confident our arguments will prevail in court later this month,” via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

Elliott is currently still able to play this weekend and through Week 8 as he gained a temporary restraining order that will last until Oct. 30 at the latest. Per Florio, “the presiding judge is expected to conduct a hearing on whether the TRO will become a preliminary injunction, which would block the suspension until the litigation ends.”

The NFL has no reason to settle. It won the Tom Brady case and could only lose by backing down in its current case against Elliott. The same can be said for Elliott, who’d be doing himself and his NFL brethren a disservice by caving into the league at this critical junction.

Both parties have pushed their chips into the pile now and are all-in. The only thing left to do at this stage is see who has the best cards at the end of it all.


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José Mourinho: Serial winners will always attract more criticism | Football

José Mourinho believes the teams he has managed receive more criticism than others because they are serial winners and other people have “different standards” to the Manchester United manager.

Following United’s goalless draw at Liverpool Mourinho and his side were viewed as having adopted negative tactics, yet they are second in the Premier League after eight matches, head their Champions League group with maximum points and are unbeaten in all competitions.

Asked if the sides he manages attract a greater level of criticism, Mourinho said: “It’s my fault, because people are used to my teams getting good results and winning titles. Other people have more time than I have [to criticise]. Other people have different standards than I have and that’s not a problem for me at all. We are going to lose matches, that’s obvious, and I can imagine we are going to have even more criticism than we have now. But honestly, that is no problem.” During his 17-year managerial career the Portuguese has claimed eight championships in four different competitions – La Liga, Serie A, Primeira Liga and England’s top flight.

Mourinho has also claimed two Champions Leagues, the Europa League and its predecessor, the Uefa Cup, the FA Cup, four League Cups, plus the domestic cup competitions of Italy, Portugal and Spain once.

Asked if jealousy may be part of the reason for the criticism, the 54-year-old, whose side face Huddersfield on Saturday, said: “I don’t care about what it is. I simply don’t care. No, it’s not a motivation. It doesn’t change my mind or my stability. We work hard, we try to do the best we can and get the best possible results. In relation to the last match, speaking about the Champions League [1-0 win at Benfica] I would like to know – because I don’t know – when United last won two consecutive matches away. I would like to know the last time United won nine points from three matches in the Champions League. We are doing OK.”

Mourinho’s team have conceded only two Premier League goals, the division’s lowest, and one in the Champions League. Despite the negative perception of United, he will continue to deploy a bespoke strategy to gain results in particular games.

“If a team defends badly, concedes five goals but attacks phenomenally well and scores six, then that’s absolutely beautiful and amazing,” the manager said. “I know my team cannot score four, five or six every match. I know that, especially with a certain profile of matches, it is difficult for us to score a lot of goals. We have to try to find balances and I’m really happy with what the team is doing. Critics, critics – no problem.”

After the midweek victory at Benfica, Mourinho criticised managers who use injuries as an excuse. This irritated Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, who believed he was the person being targeted.

But Mourinho said: “I don’t speak about him. I don’t know why he speaks about me. Maybe it’s not his fault – maybe it’s the journalists’ fault when probably they’ve passed him a wrong message. I moan about the fixtures, moan about no time to rest. I moan about why I don’t understand why we play Saturday after Wednesday when we should play Sunday. I moan about this all the time but not about injuries. When managers say I moan about the fixtures then they are right, but nobody can say I moan about injuries because I always try to speak about opportunities for other players.”

Mourinho expects Zlatan Ibrahimovic to return in December but he still does not know when Paul Pogba will recover from a hamstring injury.

“If you ask if he can play next week against Tottenham then I don’t know,” he said, before being asked why Pogba is being treated in Florida. “You will have to ask Dr McNally [the head of the medical department]. He is responsible for that. I’m in control of the players who are available. I’m not happy or unhappy [about Pogba] – it’s not my responsibility.”


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Packers place QB Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve


GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers placed Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve Friday after the quarterback had surgery on his broken collarbone.

Rodgers would be eligible to return from injured reserve after eight weeks and able to return to practice after six weeks. But coach Mike McCarthy has said that there is no timeline for Rodgers’ return, and that the two-time NFL MVP might miss the rest of the season.

“Everything went very well is my understanding talking with (team doctor Pat McKenzie), and he’s recovering,” McCarthy said Friday morning. The Packers did not practice Friday.

The procedure on Rodgers was done Thursday outside of Green Bay. He was hurt in the first quarter in a 23-10 loss last weekend to the Minnesota Vikings.

Rodgers posted an Instagram message early Friday thanking well-wishers for their “love, support, thoughts and prayers” in a photo of himself in a hospital bed.

Rodgers gives a “hang loose” sign with his left hand, with bandages covering the area near his injured shoulder. He added the phrase “comeback starts now” with a hashtag.

For now, backup Brett Hundley has replaced Rodgers. He will make his first NFL start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints .

Other players declared out for the Saints game include starting safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring) and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (back).

Starting left guard Lane Taylor (ankle) is listed as doubtful, while cornerbacks Davon House (quad) and Damarious Randall (hamstring) are questionable. Center Corey Linsley was added to the injury report on Friday as questionable with a back injury.

But the banged-up Packers did get some good medical news with starting offensive tackles David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and Bryan Bulaga dropping off the injury report. Bulaga has cleared the concussion protocol.

Among other key players, running back Ty Montgomery (ribs), linebacker Nick Perry (hand/knee) and cornerback Kevin King are also expected to play. King has also cleared the concussion protocol.


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Bradford ruled out of Week 7, expected to play again in 2017

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford is out for Week 7.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford has once again been ruled out with a knee injury heading into Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens. Case Keenum will start this week in his stead, as he’s been doing since Week 2, minus a short-lived comeback bid in Week 5 by Bradford on Monday night.

Head coach Mike Zimmer relayed the news to reporters on Friday.

Zimmer did say, however, that he expects Bradford to be able to play again, this year.

Bradford recently told reporters himself that he’s not sure he’ll be 100 percent healthy or free of pain at any point this season. He’s dealing with soreness and swelling in his left knee, which has been surgically repaired twice before.

In the meantime, Teddy Bridgewater has been cleared to practice and fully believes he’ll be able to play at some point this season.

While Bradford and Bridgewater work towards a return to action, the team’s offense is the hands of Keenum, who’s been capable, albeit a bit on-and-off from week to week. So far this season, Keenum has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,134 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. The Vikings have gone 2-2 in the four games he’s started.


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Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool are not ‘500 miles’ behind Manchester City | Football

Jürgen Klopp has claimed Liverpool are not “500 miles” behind Manchester City but have yet to show the ruthlessness of Pep Guardiola’s league leaders.

Liverpool recorded the biggest away win in their European history in midweek when they defeated Maribor 7-0 in the Champions League. That demolition was in stark contrast to recent Premier League performances when Klopp’s team, who visit Tottenham Hotspur , have struggled to turn dominant displays into maximum points. They have scored an average of 1.6 goals per Premier League game this season compared with City’s remarkable 3.6 per game.

Five of City’s 29 league goals came against 10-man Liverpool on 9 September, a result that Klopp admits had a lasting impact on his players. But the Liverpool manager insists the team’s overall performances this season demonstrate they are “still in the race”.

Klopp said: “I don’t compare City with us but I think everyone can see we are not 500 miles away. But they fly. It was a very decisive day when we lost 5-0. Dealing with a 5-0 defeat is not the easiest thing. We didn’t lose confidence but we were not that fluent afterwards and it was not like we could close our eyes and finish [thinking about it]. They did exactly the opposite. I saw the Stoke goals, you see the shot from Fernandinho and you think: ‘If it works, it works even like this.’ They are a fantastic team and we don’t have to compare, but it starts so early again with us having to apologise for the season so far because one team is flying.”

The Liverpool manager admits City were “good in the transfer market, they probably did exactly what they had to do”, but believes their outstanding form in front of goal stems from keeping their strike-force intact during the summer.

He added: “Their way of football I would say is not something we are too far away from but to be as clinical as they have been so far? We weren’t.

“That’s the thing. We are still in the race, not with City in the moment because they have I don’t how many points, and I don’t say already that we should only fight for a top-four place. Performance-wise we are a team that should be there but now we have to get the results.

“We can make steps. From a very good season last year, we can make steps this year. Position-wise I think it should be possible but it is difficult with the few points we have given away. It is a long season. If we can bring in consistency and be more ruthless, be more clinical in situations because of confidence and all that stuff, then we can win games. I would say a lot of games. In the end we will see where it leads us but again it could be a good basis to build on for the next year.

Spartak Moscow punished for racist behaviour towards Liverpool player

Spartak Moscow have been hit with a partial stadium closure by Uefa for “racist behaviour” towards Liverpool striker Bobby Adekanye during last month’s Youth League match.

A section of the Russian club’s fans directed monkey chants at the 18-year-old attacker in the 2-1 defeat suffered by Steven Gerrard’s side at Spartak’s academy on 26 September.

Uefa’s control, ethics and disciplinary body (CEDB) upheld Liverpool’s subsequent complaint and a section of Spartak’s stadium will be closed for their next home game in Europe.

A Uefa statement read: “The CEDB has decided to order the partial closure of the FC Spartak Moskva Stadium during the next Uefa competition match in which FC Spartak Moskva would play as the host team. FC Spartak Moskva shall inform at least seven days prior to the match, the sector(s) to be closed, which shall at least comprehend 500 seats.”

Spartak have been directed to “display a banner with the wording ‘EqualGame’, with the Uefa logo on it” in the section closed to supporters. The Russian champions have also been fined 33,000 euros for holding up a ‘Uefa Mafia’ banner, setting off fireworks and blocking stairways during their Champions League clash at home to Liverpool last month.


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Flashback Friday: Bishop Amat, Serra players as kids

Can you believe it’s already Week 8 of the CIF Southern Section football season?

As always, we’ve got you covered for all things CIF-SS this Friday with Prep Zone and our Game of the Week between Bishop Amat and No. 20 Serra.

But as always, since it is a “Flashback Friday,” we’ve got to embarrass some future gridiron stars…


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Draymond Green feels ‘big relief’ that knee injury was minor

Sep 30, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Warriors forward Draymond Green (22) winks at the crowd during a break in the action against the Nuggets.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has admitted that he thought the knee injury he suffered on Tuesday was much more serious than it turned out.

Green said that he feared a meniscus injury as the pain increased Tuesday night before he got an MRI.

“I honestly thought it was my meniscus,” Green said, via Mark Medina of Bay Area News Group, admitting that “it was a big relief” when MRI results turned out negative.

Green said he felt “a lot better” once he received treatment on the knee, and “even better” once it was drained.

The star forward has progressed so quickly that he is likely to play Friday after initially being doubtful. The Warriors and their fans will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that Green’s worst fears were not realized.


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Glenn Murray’s double for Brighton puts West Ham’s Slaven Bilic on the rack | Football

For Slaven Bilic, it was a form of torture. For Brighton & Hove Albion, however, the anger that started to rain down from the home sections as the final whistle approached was music to their ears. They have waited a long time to experience the feeling of winning away in the top flight again – 34 years to be precise – and how they cherished putting that statistic to bed at the London Stadium.

It was March 1983 when Brighton won 2-1 away to Swansea City in the old First Division. The scoreline was far more emphatic here. Brighton executed Chris Hughton’s plan to perfection, with two goals from Glenn Murray and a fine effort from José Izquierdo moving them into the top half, and the taunts from the away end spoke volumes for their dominance over West Ham, who could be back in the bottom three by the end of the weekend. Bilic will be a worried man after this capitulation.

A little over a month since West Ham seemed to be on the verge of civil war the mood has been more measured of late, to the extent that David Sullivan felt comfortable enough to put his continued support for Bilic down to a belief in morality during a interview with Sky Sports before kick-off. They were noble words from the club’s co-owner – “I believe in what’s right,” Sullivan explained – although anyone paying attention to recent events at West Ham might have taken them with a pinch of salt given that it only takes a few adverse results for the grumbling to resume in this corner of east London.

Chairmen are hardly known for worrying about shows of loyalty when they see their team slipping, after all, and it is doubtful Sullivan enjoyed the sloppiness that meant West Ham walked off to a chorus of boos at half-time.

It had seemed as though the onus was on West Ham to seize the initiative in the early stages. Instead it was Brighton who took control, surprising their hosts by pressing high and passing the ball with pleasing crispness and confidence. With Bruno willing to make overlapping runs in support of Anthony Knockaert on the right, Brighton’s adventurous spirit was troubling West Ham, who looked slightly put out by the impertinence of their opponents.

This boldness paid off. West Ham were trying to come to terms with Brighton’s positive approach when Pedro Obiang lazily conceded a free-kick on the left. Pascal Gross’s inswinging delivery carried danger and Obiang, epitomising West Ham’s doziness, failed to track Murray who guided a low header beyond Joe Hart for his first goal of the season.

This was the perfect scenario for Brighton, who were able to drop back, sit deep and stifle West Ham, while it was a stern test of character for Bilic’s players. Brighton were diligent and organised, snapping into the challenge whenever there was a hint of a loose touch and West Ham’s creators toiled in their search for space.

Weighed down by a lack of movement in attack West Ham’s threat was limited to hopeful snapshots from Javier Hernández and the frustration was building even before Izquierdo doubled Brighton’s lead just before half-time. Moments after Hart made a fine save to deny Murray at the end of a flowing counterattack Izquierdo gathered possession on the left, stepped past Obiang and aimed for the far corner from 20 yards. Hart’s inability to get a strong enough hand to the Colombian’s bending effort summed up West Ham’s performance.

The absence of the suspended Andy Carroll meant this was an opportunity for West Ham to show they could flourish without their Geordie battering ram. On paper their attack looked flexible, quick and inventive. Yet they were struggling to turn territorial dominance into clear openings. Manuel Lanzini was finding it hard to shake off Dale Stephens and Davy Pröpper while Hernández was often isolated against Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy, a committed duo who were keeping Mathew Ryan well protected in the Brighton goal.

Bilic responded by tweaking his system at half-time, removing Cheikhou Kouyaté from midfield and adding André Ayew to his attack. It was a substitution with a whiff of desperation about it. As the clock ticked past the hour West Ham had still not forced Ryan to make a serious save. Their approach remained ponderous and reliant on high balls into the middle instead of intricate passing that might have pulled Brighton out of their careful shape.

It was a night when West Ham were left wondering when Marko Arnautovic, jeered off after being replaced by Edimilson Fernandes, is going to repay some of his £24m fee. Not that the Austrian’s departure led to an improvement. Moments later Pablo Zabaleta tripped Murray, who confirmed the inevitable by sending Hart the wrong way from 12 yards.


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