Fan punches Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in the face during derby

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A fan invades the pitch and attacks Aston Villa's Jack Grealish during the match. (Reuters)
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The attacker is restrained by a steward and Aston Villa's Glenn Whelan. (Reuters)
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Grealish then went on to score the winning goal. (Reuters)
Updated 10 March 2019

Fan punches Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in the face during derby

  • Fan ran on to the pitch during clash withe Birmingham City and punched the Villa captain from behind
  • Attacker was arrested and Grealish went on to score the winning goal

BIRMINGHAM, England: A spectator ran onto the field and threw a punch at Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish's face during a derby game at Birmingham City on Sunday.
The incident happened less than 10 minutes into the second-tier Championship game in central England when Grealish was in the Birmingham penalty area. The fan ran from behind Grealish and swung his right arm at the midfielder, striking the side of his head.

“I was walking into position and then just felt a whack around the side of the face,” Grealish said. “Obviously there’s rivalry and stuff in football but I don’t think there’s any place for that.”
The intruder was quickly restrained by a stadium security official as several other Villa players rushed in to confront him. He was led away by police, blowing kisses to the crowd as he left before being arrested.

“We apologize to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club,” Birmingham said in a statement. “What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this. There are no excuses.”

Grealish produced the ideal response by scoring the goal in the second half that secured a 1-0 victory for Villa. But he was booked for jumping into the stands to celebrate with visiting Villa fans.
“I just tried to get on with my job,” Grealish said. “To score the winner was unbelievable, after what happened in the first half I think it was set up for it.”


The English Football League said it “condemns the mindless actions” of the man who attacked Grealish.
“It’s a situation no player should ever be faced with,” it said in a statement. “In all circumstances the playing surface is for players, not supporters and those playing in the game must be able to do so safe in the knowledge they will not be subjected to this type of behavior.
“Whilst this incident falls within the remit of the Football Association, we will work with all the relevant parties to address the issue of player and match officials safety on the pitch and ensure the appropriate action is taken.”
Precautionary measures were already taken in an attempt to reduce the risk of violence.
“We kick off on Sunday at 12 o’clock for a reason, to keep the people out of the pubs,” Villa manager Dean Smith said. “Security’s got to be ready for people coming on to the pitch but then some lunatic goes on trying to make a name for himself.”
Birmingham said it would assist the authorities in their investigations and review stadium safety procedures.
“We deplore the behavior of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life,” the club said. “The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.”
The attack followed a number of recent high-profile incidents of crowd trouble north of the border in Scottish football.
In Friday night’s 1-1 draw between Rangers and Hibernian, Rangers captain James Tavernier found himself face to face with a Hibernian fan who had jumped out of the home support stand during a game on Friday night. The previous weekend a glass bottle was thrown from the same section of the stadium as Celtic winger Scott Sinclair prepared to take a corner during a game at Hibernian.

 

 


Tiger Woods-led US golfers deny Els’ dream to win Presidents Cup

Updated 15 December 2019

Tiger Woods-led US golfers deny Els’ dream to win Presidents Cup

  • Crushing loss for Ernie Els’ young Internationals who led for the first three days
  • Tiger Woods becomes the most successful Presidents Cup golfer in history

MELBOURNE: Tiger Woods’ United States produced a stunning turnaround to deny the Internationals a first Presidents Cup in 21 years Sunday, dominating the singles on a tense final day that went to the wire at Royal Melbourne.
Veteran Matt Kuchar was the hero, with his winning putt on the 17th in the penultimate match enough to ensure victory, sparking wild celebrations from playing-captain Woods, who set the tone by getting the first point on the board.
It was a crushing loss for Ernie Els’ young Internationals who led for the first three days of the biennial match play event but failed to deliver the killer blow against a more experienced and accomplished US team.
They went into the 12 singles matches with a 10-8 lead but the tide began quickly turning with Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson among those racing to big early leads with the scoreboard swathed in US red.
When Webb Simpson beat South Korea’s An Byeong-hun, the US went 15-12 in front and needed just half a point with the Internationals leading in two of three matches still in play.
Australian Cameron Smith grabbed one more point by beating Justin Thomas, ensuring a nailbiting finale with Kuchar’s heroics on 17 ensuring there was no way back Els’ team.
“I trusted all my 11 guys. I trusted them implicitly. I told them from the very get go. They went out there and got the points we needed. We fought,” said Woods.
“Even the points we lost, we were making them earn every one of them, and this Cup wasn’t going to be given to us. We had to go earn it, and we did.”
It was a remarkable comeback. No side before had rallied to win on the last day after trailing for three days, further cementing the reputation of Woods, who went undefeated in his three matches.
US President Donald Trump, an avid golf fan, immediately paid tribute on social media.
“Congratulations to Tiger and the entire US Team on a great comeback and tremendous WIN. True Champions!” he tweeted.
The playing-captain, in his ninth Presidents Cup, set the tone from the front, going out first in the singles and winning 3 and 2 against battling Mexican Abraham Ancer.
In doing so he passed Phil Mickelson to become the most successful Presidents Cup golfer in history with a 27-win, 15-loss and 1-tied record to his countryman’s 26-16-13.
It was the United States’ 11th victory in 13 editions of the event. One was drawn with the lone International win coming in 1998, also at Royal Melbourne.
Woods nailed a birdie on the second after a stunning approach shot to take an early lead and although Ancer fought back, Woods’ putter was running hot and he was two up through 10.
The 15-time major winner was striding around Royal Melbourne on a mission and nailed a monster putt on the 16th for the 3 and 2 win.
At one stage the Americans were ahead in nine matches, and world number five Johnson ensured a second point, crushing Li Haotong 4 and 3.
It ended a difficult first Presidents Cup for a Chinese player who was overlooked for the opening two days and never looked at ease.
Patrick Reed’s caddie was banned after shoving a fan on Saturday as tensions boiled over after the controversial American’s penalty for improving his lie in the Bahamas last week.
The former Masters champion turned to his swing coach to carry his bag and it worked wonders as raced six up through seven against Taiwan’s CT Pan in a scintillating display in front of taunting fans.
Pan woke up and won three in a row but it was in vain with the American winning 4 and 2.
The US were on a roll with Tony Finau earning a valuable half point against Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who looked to be on track for a win after going four clear through 10.
South Korea’s Im Sung-jae was a bright spot. Despite being just 21, the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year again showed his huge potential by comfortably beating US Open champion Gary Woodland.