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AYEW'S LATE STRIKE SAVE THE HAMMERS FROM LOSS


Substitute Andre Ayew scored a second-half equaliser to earn West Ham a Premier League point against Watford. The hosts went ahead on three minutes through Troy Deeney's penalty after Mauro Zarate was brought down in the box by Cheikhou Kouyate. Just three minutes later they could have doubled their advantage but M'Baye Niang's powerful drive flew narrowly over the crossbar. The game was held up for a lengthy period just before half-time when Watford's Zarate went down with a knee injury. He was taken to hospital for a scan to determine the extent of the problem. Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes brilliantly kept out Jose Fonte's header with a full-stretch save, before Michail Antonio's low shot struck both posts and Ayew was on hand to tuck in the rebound.

Hammers midfielder Antonio was dismissed with five minutes to go after receiving a second yellow card for deliberate handball. The result moved both sides up a place in the table. The Hornets climbed to 12th, while the Hammers go ninth. Slaven Bilic's side had fallen behind early in the game, but showed their fight by continuing to push forward and getting their reward in the second half to gain a point. Striker Ayew came off the bench to claim just his second goal in a Hammers shirt as the ball kindly fell to him inside the box following Antonio's effort. It was Ayew's 14th Premier League goal and the the Ghanaian has now netted against 13 different teams in the division.

Having hit the woodwork, former Nottingham Forest man Antonio should have got on the scoresheet but headed narrowly wide from close range after Aaron Cresswell's cross. His unfortunate match got worse late on when he was given the first red card of his professional career and West Ham also had Argentine Zarate - who won the penalty - taken off on a stretcher after appearing to twist his knee in the first half. Deeney's spot-kick was his fourth goal in his past five games and Watford's only shot on target in the entire match. Since the start of last season, Deeney has scored nine penalties, the joint highest tally with Tottenham's Harry Kane. If they failed to trouble West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph after the penalty, it looked like the Hornets might at least hold out at the other end, but Walter Mazzarri's side now have just just one clean sheet in their past 16 games.

They could even have snatched a win in injury time, but substitute Isaac Success was not able to get any contact on Deeney's knock-down in the box. West Ham manager Slaven Bilic speaking to BBC Sport: "Considering we were in good form and how well we played today, especially in second half, it's two points dropped. "On the other hand, considering we are playing away against a good team and we conceded an early goal, there's always a danger you will concede a second then you can lose the game. "If you ask me which team today showed more quality in every department, especially on the ball, that was [us], especially in the second half. I told the guys we have to give them some credit."

Watford manager Walter Mazzarri speaking to BBC Sport: "I saw Mauro Zarate in a lot of pain. Unfortunately it is not a good sign. He was also making a lot of difference on the pitch. Hopefully it is not too bad. He was making a difference on the pitch. "If we speak about the game, I didn't like how we went down in the second half.

"We also commit some silly mistakes that we can avoid. It's not acceptable to allow them a goal on counter-attack when you are winning 1-0. The injury didn't allow me to make all the substitutions I wanted. "This is our first season and this season is to grow, to prepare and to grow. Year by year the objective is to make the next step forward."

MONACO GRAB WIN AGAINST GUINGAMP TO MOVE THREE POINTS CLEAR


Ligue 1 leaders Monaco moved three points clear with victory at Guingamp. Monaco defender Kamil Glik stabbed in the opener from Thomas Lemar's first-half free-kick, helped on by Guingamp winger Jimmy Briand's poor clearance. Falcao saw a bicycle kick diverted just over the bar, before 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe was fouled in the box by keeper Karl-Johan Johnsson. Fabinho's chipped penalty put Monaco 2-0 up, before Etienne Didot fired home a late consolation from outside the box. Second-placed Nice had moved level on points with Leonardo Jardim's side with a 2-1 home victory over Montpellier on Friday.

Defending champions Paris St-Germain, in third, are now six points behind Monaco but can narrow the gap when they play at Marseille on Sunday (20:00 GMT). Monaco were beaten 5-3 by Manchester City in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday. They host City for the second leg on Wednesday, 15 March. Elsewhere, Bordeaux moved up to fifth with a 3-2 win away to a Lille side that had two players sent off in the final 10 minutes. Bottom side Lorient lost 1-0 at Rennes, who move up to eighth, Angers beat Bastia 3-0, and Nancy and Toulouse played out a goalless draw.

25 February, 2017  tobi   Sport News |

JUVENTUS CONTINUE THEIR UNBEATEN RUN, CLAIM WIN AGAINST EMPOLI


Juventus went 10 points clear at the top of Serie A with a 30th consecutive home win as stubborn 17th-placed Empoli were eventually brushed aside. Massimiliano Allegri's side, going for a sixth consecutive title, went ahead when Lukasz Skorupski bundled into his own net after Mario Mandzukic's header struck the bar shortly after half-time. Juve had spurned several first-half chances, but Alex Sandro's tight finish into the corner settled the points. Roma can narrow Juve's lead on Sunday. Second-placed Roma play at fifth-placed Inter Milan in a 19:45 GMT kick-off. Leonardo Bonucci was restored to the Juve line-up after being left out of Wednesday's Champions League victory at Porto because of a touchline spat with Allegri in the previous Friday's league game.

Bonucci watched the last-16 first leg in Portugal from an executive box, but the Italy centre-back started in Turin in one of six changes, perhaps made with Wednesday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg with Napoli in mind. Juve, who are on track to win a third consecutive league and cup double, last dropped points at home in the league in a 1-1 draw with Frosinone in September 2015. They were last beaten at home in the league on the opening day of the 2015-16 season, by Udinese, and this 30th straight home win adds to the Serie A record they already hold.

Earlier on Saturday, Atalanta beat Napoli 2-0 to move up to fourth, despite having midfielder Frank Kessie sent off for picking up two yellow cards in three minutes with over half an hour still to play. Atalanta's Bergamo-born 22-year-old defender Mattia Caldara scored both goals, the first bundled in at the far post from a corner, the second on the counter attack after Kessie's red card. The defeat leaves Napoli in third, 12 points behind Juve, and now three points above Atalanta, who finished 13th last season.

BURNLEY GRAB LATE DRAW TO DENY HULL CITY


Hull City missed the chance to move out of the Premier League bottom three as they drew with a Burnley side who remain without an away league win this season. After a quiet first half, the hosts went ahead through Tom Huddlestone's penalty after Burnley defender Michael Keane handled in the penalty area. However, the lead only lasted four minutes before Keane blasted in an equaliser following a corner. Burnley ended the game with 10 men as Ashley Barnes was sent off in injury time for two bookable offences, but the hosts could not find a winner. It means Burnley have now only picked up two points from 12 away Premier League matches this season, the worst record in the top-flight. A win for Hull would have taken them out of the bottom three for the first time since Marco Silva became the club's manager in January. For a brief spell they looked on course for the victory that would have taken them up to 16th, but Burnley's equaliser dropped the Tigers back down to 19th.

The hosts had been wasteful in the first half with Dieumerci Mbokani, who remains without a goal in 11 appearances since joining the club on loan from Dynamo Kiev in August, heading over from close range. Kamil Grosicki also misjudged a lobbed attempt when Tom Heaton was out of position and put his shot too high. Huddlestone's penalty put Hull ahead, but Silva was angry with what he called "a lack of focus" when they left Keane unmarked at the back post, and he had enough time to take the ball down on his chest and blast in the equaliser. Burnley were unhappy with the awarding of Hull's penalty, which came when Keane handled as the players jostled for position in the penalty area as a left-wing corner came across. The away side argued that Hull's Harry Maguire had pushed Keane towards the ball, causing the handball. Barnes led the protests and was booked for dissent, before he was shown a second yellow in injury time when he left a flailing arm into the face of Andrea Ranocchia.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Keane expressed his disbelief that the penalty had been awarded. He said: "There is no way it was deliberate. The lad pushed me in the back and it moved me towards the ball. "Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't and we didn't. If we had lost it would've been very harsh." Like Hull, Burnley had also been wasteful in front of the goal when the game was goalless. Barnes and Andre Gray shot just wide and Ben Mee's close-range header was fumbled on to the top of the crossbar by home goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic. Nevertheless, Burnley, who move up to 11th, battled well to earn only their second away point of the season. They have chances to earn more in their next three league games as they only play away from home in March - at Swansea, Liverpool and fellow strugglers Sunderland.

BRIGHTON BEAT READING TO STAY TOP OF THE TABLE


Brighton took advantage of a slip-up by Newcastle as they beat Reading at home to go top of the Championship. Newcastle's 2-2 draw with Bristol City gave the Seagulls an opportunity to go one point clear at the summit. After a quiet opening, Brighton's Sam Baldock hit the post with a curling 20-yard shot before latching onto Bruno's lofted pass to fire past Ali Al-Habsi. Dale Stephens set up Jamie Murphy to chip in the second and French winger Anthony Knockaert slid in a late third. As well as leapfrogging Newcastle, who Brighton host on Tuesday, Chris Hughton's side created a six-point gap to third-placed Huddersfield.

Reading have taken only five points from their five games in February and Leeds' win over Sheffield Wednesday in Saturday's early kick-off meant the Royals dropped to fifth position, 10 points from the top two. Chances were rare in the first 30 minutes but the game sparked into life with Baldock's superb shot against the upright. Al-Habsi kept out Knockaert's low attempt before Baldock's opening goal, while Reading's Danny Williams had a header saved by home goalkeeper David Stockdale, who also denied Roy Beerens from close range.

The victory was secured in a frantic passage of play early in the second half, when Brighton defender Shane Duffy reacted quickly to clear a Williams header off the line, and then the hosts broke swiftly from the resulting corner to make it 2-0. Knockaert's 11th league goal of the season, an angled shot from 15 yards, extended the Seagulls' unbeaten Championship run at home to 14 games.

25 February, 2017  tobi   Sport News |


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