Sacking of coach works for Thailand as they beat Bahrain

Thailand claimed only their second ever win at the Asian Cup. (AFP)
Updated 10 January 2019
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Sacking of coach works for Thailand as they beat Bahrain

In terms of ideal preparation for a group game at the Asian Cup, sacking the manager after a poor 90 minutes, barely 48 hours before your second, must-win, match would not be at the top of most people’s lists.
But, bizarrely, that is what worked for Thailand who having axed Milovan Rajevac after their opening 4-1 loss to India registered only their second ever win at the Asian Cup with a 1-0 victory over Bahrain.
Blond talisman Chanathip “Messi Jay” Songkrasin was the hero for the War Elephants — the Consadole Sapporo midfielder’s second-half strike enough to get the points and reignite their campaign.
Early on it seemed as if only one result was possible with Thailand having no shots on target as Bahrain controlled the first half. Mohamed Jasim Marhoon and Sayed Dhiya Saeed came closest to firing the Gulf side in front as they forced goalkeeper Chatchai Bootprom into a sharp double save.
It was a miss they would end up regretting as bleach-blond Chanathip, whose fans compare him to Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi, put the Thais in the driving seat near the hour-mark with a superbly struck first-time shot that rocketed past Sayed Shubbar Alawi in the Bahrain goal.
Chatchai then saved brilliantly from Ali Jaafar Madan’s snap-shot as Bahrain hunted for the equalizer, while Adisak Kraisorn, fed by Chanathip, belted one off the post at the other end.


Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

Updated 20 January 2019
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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

HUDDERSFIELD: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was far from satisfied despite a 3-0 win away to Huddersfield Town on Sunday that saw his side cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to four points.
Liverpool’s compelling 4-3 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday heaped huge pressure back onto reigning champions City but they were rarely troubled by a Town side that look a certain bet for relegation this season.
City’s first goal, a deflected strike for Danilo in the 18th minute, brought up their 100th goal of the season in all competitions before Raheem Sterling scored a diving header from Leroy Sane’s cross in the 54th minute and Sane himself made it 3-0 with a calm finish just two minutes later.
For Guardiola, it should have been an afternoon of enjoyment as his side again proved their willingness to push Liverpool all the way this season.
The City manager, however, has forged a footballing reputation based on sublime performances as well as ruthless goalscoring and, on that basis, his team’s showing in West Yorkshire was not a success as the visitors never really clicked into gear on a day against a Huddersfield side who had parted company with manager David Wagner on Monday.
“During the season you have these kind of games,” Guardiola said. “It is important to win. We have scored many goals in all competitions.
“(But) the way we played, we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future.
“We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult.
“Today we are happy we have won but after immediately we have to analyze. During the season you have games when maybe you are not in the top level and it is important to win these games.”
Although City’s fans were happier than their manager following this result, Guardiola could at least take some heart from the fact his side again refused to blink first in the race for the title.
For the second consecutive week, City kicked off knowing Liverpool had already won their weekend fixture and that, consequently, the onus was back on his players to secure three points as well.
Once again, Guardiola’s side managed to do that following up the 3-0 victory over Wolves with this showing and the City manager was more than happy to remind everybody that silverware is not handed out for another four months.
“One team has been better but we’re in January and there’s many more games to play,” he added.
“You don’t win or lose the Premier League in January. We have to focus on what we have to do. If Liverpool win, we have to win. And if Liverpool lose then we also have to win.”
This match was a baptism of fire for Huddersfield’s caretaker boss Mark Hudson and while the Terriers showed impressive fight to inspire some hope this season, this defeat still left them 10 points adrift of safety.
If, as expected, the Borussia Dortmund Under-23 coach Jan Siewert is appointed as Wagner’s permanent replacement, nobody would blame him if he spent his first day in the job preparing for a return to the second-tier Championship next season.
“It’s been a long week,” admitted Hudson.