Rashford on target for England, another Ronaldo masterclass and Wales to win crunch clash – football betting tips – The Sun

INTERNATIONAL football is back for a final round of crunch Euro 2020 qualifiers.

All of the Home Nations are in action this week and we've got selections from five crucial matches including England vs Montenegro, Azerbaijan vs Wales and Portugal vs Lithuania.

England vs Montenegro – Thursday, 7.45pm

THE Three Lions already have one foot already at Euro 2020.

Qualification has pretty much being assured since the 5-1 mauling of Montenegro back in March, with Gareth Southgate's side strutting their way to next year's finals.

We'll go as far as saying it's been a walkover, with England hammering 26 goals in just six games and only tasting defeat in that Prague reality Czech.

They're back in the familiar surroundings of Wembley for this one and England just don't lose here in qualifying games.

As such they're a tiny 1/14 to win the game.

Unless you've got a spare grand lying around to chuck on and make yourself 70 quid, playing that market is a complete waste of time.

Watching this fearless young England team isn't the chore of a decade ago and you can be sure that Southgate will have them focused on getting the points they need to secure qualification on home soil.

All the value is in the goals and if you want to have a serious flutter on the game, that's the way to play.

The Three Lions have hit five, four and then five again in their games on English soil during this qualification campaign – and as we mentioned earlier were five-star again in March's reverse fixture.

You can get 17/10 on five or more goals in the game, or for the more ambitious of you 5/2 on England scoring five-plus.

Speaking of that, we wouldn't recommend you chase the both teams to score which is at a tasty looking 7/4 on paper.

Montenegro drew a blank against Kosovo and Czech Republic on the road, although history buffs will remember they did net when last visiting England in 2013.

Despite England's defence looking shaky a few times in this campaign, we're happy to back them to win this one to nil and book their place in Euro 2020 with a resounding victory.

Marcus Rashford is starting to find his groove for both club and country, with five goals in his last seven.

Harry Kane is a small price to net as ever, so place your trust in Rashford at a much tastier 3/1 to open the floodgates at Wembley in the absence of Raheem Sterling.

SunSport's best bets

Over 4.5 goals at Wembley: 7/4

England to win to nil: 1/2

Marcus Rashford to score first: 3/1

Portugal vs Lithuania – Thursday, 7.45pm

QUALIFICATION for the defending Euro champions isn't yet assured.

And this is a must-win game for Portugal, who are just one goal ahead of Serbia in Group B with Ukraine already on the plane for next summer's finals.

It seems unthinkable that the Nations League winners won't make it. Uefa bigwigs must be nervous.

But their campaign has been littered with a number of shocking performances, including a wasteful trip to Ukraine where they piled in 22 shots.

All that effort to lose 2-1.

If they're shot-shy again back on home soil against whipping boys Lithuania then boss Fernando Santos will be sweating over his position.

Whilst there's plenty at stake then for the Portuguese, the visitors are looking to finish a fairly horrendous campaign on a high.

Lithuania have been the Group B whipping boys, conceding 19 in seven games whilst picking up just a solitary point.

In the reverse fixture Cristiano Ronaldo teed off in Vilnius, single-handedly propelling Portugal to a 5-1 win with four goals of his own.

And the only logical path to follow is CR7 to do it again.

When Portugal need a hero, nobody steps up quite like Ronaldo – and you just know he'd love those headlines.

He's got seven in his last four international matches, whilst undergoing a three-game 'drought' for Juventus.

Back him to score two or more at 3/4 and watch the money roll right in.

Portugal haven't done things easily in this qualifying campaign and we're not convinced they will have everything all their own way.

Lithuania have nothing to lose and we like both teams to score at a massive 13/5.

And to capitalise on that, Portugal to win with Lithuania netting a consolation is a massive 3/1. There's your Thursday night money-maker, 40 suds from a tenner.

SunSport's best bets

Cristiano Ronaldo to score two or more: 3/4

Both teams to score: 29/10

Portugal to win and both teams to net: 16/5

Cyprus vs Scotland – Saturday, 2pm

THE Scots just want this qualifying nightmare to end.

Forget that they thrashed San Marino last time out – every professional international team should.

There's a very real possibility that the Tartan Army won't be at Euro 2020 with their only path to the final now through next year's Nations League playoffs.

Momentum isn't really an issue with those games miles away in March, but Steve Clarke will want his side to end the group stages on a high note.

Cyprus go into the game ahead of the Scots in Group I, which is all that needs to be said about the visitors hapless campaign.

The home side have won two of their last three, including an eye-catching 2-1 victory in Kazakhstan.

They're no pushovers and we can't really understand why Scotland go into a dead-rubber as heavy 21/20 favourites.

It's true that they've won on every competitive visit to Cyprus in the past – but the last one was before the Berlin Wall came down.

In other words, look at the current form instead.

Scotland have lost three of their four away matches in this group to nil, failing to net against Belgium, Russia and Kazakhstan.

They've conceded ten goals and barely looked a threat going forward.

Cyprus may have been thrashed by Russia last time out, but that was a game the visitors had to win to secure qualification.

Don't you dare think about putting your hard-earned on a Scottish victory.

With the shackles off we're expecting a fair few goals in this one – and over 2.5 goals at 6/5 is a steal.

That's happened in seven of Scotland's eight qualifying matches, so stay away from the result market at all costs.

Thinking a little bit outside of the box, we also like the evens shot on there to be a goal in each half.

In their four home games in this competition Cyprus have either score or conceded in the opening twenty minutes. Get on.

SunSport's best bets

Over 2.5 goals in Nicosia: 6/5

A goal scored in both halves: 8/11

Azerbaijan vs Wales – Saturday, 5pm

THIS is the big one for Ryan Giggs.

The Euro 2016 surprise-package have made a real hash of qualifying so far.

Dropped points against Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia have left the Dragons four points adrift of that coveted second-spot.

But crucially, they have a game in hand to close the gap and set up a potential showdown with the Hungarians in Cardiff on November 19.

A draw here and a win in that game should still see them through, but Giggs will expect nothing other than three points.

Azerbaijan came to Wales back in September and were mightily unlucky to leave empty handed.

They defended resolutely, attacked with purpose on the counter and found the net after forcing a mistake from the Welsh backline.

A certain Gareth was on hand to Bale his side out of trouble on that occasion.

Bale is suffering with a calf injury – but such is the magnitude of this one Wales are ready to risk Madrid's wrath and play him in Baku.

The hosts have been beaten 5-1 by Slovakia and 3-1 by Hungary earlier in Group E.

On paper, this is Wales' to lose and qualification still being in their own hands has to be their motivation.

We expect them to come back with all three points – but not without a scare along the way.

Azerbaijan have netted in all of their qualifying home matches and they won't simply pack eleven men behind the ball.

As such we love the 11/8 on both teams netting. Honestly, that's huge.

Croatia conceded here and we can't leave alone a price that big. It's a real money maker, turning your tenner in £23.75.

If you're looking for a goalscorer, Harry Wilson is a cracking 13/2 to open the scoring.

The on-loan Liverpool winger got back amongst the goals for Bournemouth against Newcastle and has a habit of netting spectacular goals when it matters most.

SunSport's best bets

Both teams to score in Baku: 11/8

Wales to win: 1/2

Harry Wilson to score first: 6/1

Northern Ireland vs Holland – Saturday, 7.45pm

IT'S the beginning of the end for Michael O'Neill.

Stoke's new boss will continue in the Northern Ireland hot-seat until the end of this qualifying campaign – or any potential play-off games.

He wants to complete the job he started, and who can blame him?

O'Neill has worked wonders with this squad of players and it's a testament to him that they have a chance of qualification from a group containing Germany and Holland.

Two away defeats on the spin to that heavyweight pair has derailed the Euro 2020 bandwagon somewhat, but Northern Irish supporters will be buoyant back at Windsor Park.

They were overawed by Germany here in September before being cruelly denied by a late 90th minute winner for the Dutch in Rotterdam.

As you'd expect, the visitors are huge favourites to make it five wins on the spin and secure their place in next year's finals.

The 2/5 on a Holland victory is very harsh on the home side, even if the Oranje are currently in such sparkling form.

Belarus managed to net against them and even with Virgil Van Dijk marshalling the defence, they're not water-tight.

Northern Ireland of course managed to breach it in that Rotterdam heartbreak.

So why is both teams to net so big at 11/10? Beats us – that's the bet to be on.

We can see this being a tight affair and reckon Northern Ireland will want to hold the visitors until the break before pushing for the win.

There's value on going for a draw at half-time, Holland win on the half time/full time market. That's 27/10.

Man Utd flop Memphis Depay has been in superb nick over the past two months, with the Lyon forward on fire infront of goal with seven in his last five.

He's 16/5 to score first in Belfast and that's where your hard-earned should be going.

SunSport's best bets

Both teams to score in Belfast: 21/20

Draw at half-time, Holland to be winning at FT: 27/10

Memphis Depay to score first: 5/2

*All odds correct at time of publication

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England vs South Africa Free Bets: 30/1 odds for England to win

WILLIAM HILL are offering a sensational 30/1 odds for England to win the World Cup final in 80 minutes.

England are odds on favourites to lift the trophy and can claim their first World Cup since 2003.

England need to replicate last weeks performance to beat South Africa.

After Englands heroic effort last week against the All Blacks, they have a chance of lifting the World Cup for the first time since 2003.

William Hill's stunning 30/1 offer for England to win in normal time, which is 4/9 elsewhere, can be claimed HERE.

If the boys can put in a similar performance to last week which saw them dominate the All Blacks, they will surely lift the trophy to the joy of the whole country.

This 30/1 offer for new customers is a great way for people who don't have a William Hill account to potential arm themselves with free bets heading into the weekends football and racing.

If England do the business, the free bets will be paid out as 6 x £5 free bets meaning that you have six different opportunities to win.

To claim the offer, which is for new customers only, all you have to place a £1 on England to win.

Then if England go ahead and beat South Africa, your account will be topped up in free bets.

Returns will be paid in six separate free £5 bets.

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England CHARGED by Uefa after disgraceful Bulgaria racism for booing national anthem and ‘insufficient stewards’ – The Sun

ENGLAND have also been charged by Uefa after the disgusting racism witnessed in Sofia last night.

The Three Lions face charges of disrupting the national anthem as well as providing 'insufficient stewards' .

Bulgaria have also been charged by Uefa with racist behaviour, throwing objects and disrupting the national anthem.

England's players were subjected to vile racist abuse during last night's Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia and now European football's governing body has taken action on both nations.

The case will be dealt with by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body but the date of the meeting is yet to be confirmed.

Bulgaria are believed to be looking at a potential two-match ground closure and a fine in the region of £70,000.

While England are likely to be given a warning or a small fine over their charges.

Fifa also released a statement in reaction to the charges (below).

Earlier today, Bulgarian Football Association boss Borislav Mikhailov dramatically resigned after his country's night of racist shame.

Just hours after Mikhailov's resignation, police raided the Bulgarian FA's headquarters.

Charges against Bulgarian Football Union

 – Racist behaviour (chants, Nazi salutes) – Art. 14 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR)

– Throwing of objects – Art. 16 (2) (b) DR

– Disruption of national anthem – Art. 16 (2) (g) DR

– Replays on giant screen – Art. 42 of the UEFA Safety and Security Regulations

Bulgaria Prime Minister Boyko Borisov demanded Mikhailov step down this morning after fans racially abused Three Lions stars last night – and Raheem Sterling backed the calls.

The PM got his wish when Mikhailov quit – after a section of home fans performed sick monkey chants and Nazi salutes.

An official statement on the Bulgaria FA website read: "After many years spent in the post and with his many contacts at a high international level, Mr Mikhailov expresses his firm readiness to continue to help the development of Bulgarian football in every way possible."

Earlier in the day, Bulgaria's Minister for Sport, Krasen Kralev, revealed the Bulgarian PM had vowed to cut all ties with national football bosses unless Mikhailov quit.

Charges against the English FA

– Disruption of national anthem – Art. 16 (2) DR

– Insufficient number of travelling stewards – Art. 24 (2) of the UEFA Safety and Security Regulations


  • Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings were targeted with sick racist abuse
  • Sterling hits back at racists with brilliant Ainsley Harriott GIF tweet
  • Marcus Rashford praises captain Ivelin Popov after he begs fans to stop
  • Bulgaria boss sensationally claims he didn’t hear racist abuse 
  • Mings reveals he first heard racial abuse during warm-up 
  • Bulgarian media tell Gareth Southgate to ‘f*** off’ 
  • England fans sing ‘Who put the ball in the racists’ net?’
  • England go on to win crucial Euros qualification tie 6-0
  • Bulgaria PM tells FA chief to quit over race attack.. and gets backed by Sterling
  • Bulgaria player tells England racist abuse they suffered was ‘pre-planned’
  • Goalkeeper Iliev praises home fans and says England stars overreacted

Kralev said: "A little while ago, the Prime Minister called me urgently.

"You know that in the last four years, the government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football.

"But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football, after yesterday's incidents, the Prime Minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the football union, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mikhailov."

And Sterling was quick to praise Borisov, tweeting: "A good move credits to you M. Borissov."

England's Euro 2020 clash with Bulgaria was halted twice by match officials after Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings were racially abused by sections of the Sofia crowd.

Bizarrely, manager Krasimir Balakov said he didn't hear any abuse – with goalkeeper Plamen Iliev adding to the delusional claim.

Horrendously, Iliev said: "If I am honest, I believe they [the fans] behaved well today.

“There wasn’t any abuse [as far as I could hear] and I think they [the England players] overreacted a bit.

"The public was on a good level – I didn’t hear any bad language used towards their or our players.”

Fifa statement following racist incidents in Bulgaria

Following changes made to its Disciplinary Code in June 2019, FIFA may extend worldwide any sanctions that a Confederation or Member Association imposes for racist incidents, such as those which occurred in Sofia during the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier match between Bulgaria and England.

FIFA therefore expects to be informed as soon as practicable regarding the relevant decisions of the UEFA disciplinary bodies in relation to this particular case.

This would allow any sanctions imposed to be extended worldwide.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino: “So many times we say there is no place for racism in football, but nonetheless we still face challenges to tackle this problem in our sport, as we do in society.

"We will need the support of public authorities to help us identify and punish the culprits but we probably also need to think more broadly on what we can do to fix this.

"When we proposed the three step procedure in 2009 when I was at UEFA, and then made the Regulations even tougher a few years later, we could not have imagined that so shortly thereafter we would again be having to think of how to combat this obnoxious disease that seems to be getting even worse in some parts of the world.”

He added: “I call on all football governing bodies to join us and think together of new, stronger and more effective ways to eradicate racism in football.

"As a starting point, I suggest that all competition organizers enact Regulations which envisage life bans from stadiums for those who are found guilty of racist behaviour at a football match.

"FIFA can then enforce such bans at a worldwide level.”

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England fan, 32, dies in Bulgaria

England fan, 32, dies in Bulgaria as he was taken to a police station for ‘threatening behaviour’ ahead of Euro 2020 qualifying match

  • 32-year-old man found near Sofia’s famous Borisova Gardens in city centre  
  • He was moved from the hospital to the police station and died on the way  
  • Authorities said they are working to confirm what happened on the journey
  • Did you see what happened today in Sofia? Please get in touch by email [email protected] or by phone 0203 615 3208 

An England fan has died during a journey to a local police station after he was found ‘behaving aggressively’ ahead of tonight’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria. 

The 32-year-old man had been found in a ‘helpless condition’ in Borisova Gardens, one of the city’s most well-known parks. 

The unidentified fan was then taken to a nearby hospital when staff called police after he started aggressively threatening them. Local sources said the dead England fan had tested positive for both drink and drugs but the claims could not be verified.

Officials revealed that he died while being taken to a police station in Sofia. There are an estimated 3,400 England fans in the city for the Euro 2020 qualifying match against Bulgaria. 

The man, not pictured, was taken to a hospital but began to ‘behave aggressively, threatening staff.’ Police then went to take him to the Sofia police station but he died en route 

A statement from the Bulgarian Interior Ministry said the England fan was aged 32 but did not name him.

It added: ‘He suddenly began to behave aggressively, rampaging and threatening staff and actions were taken to transport him to Sofia police station.

‘The work to clarify the circumstances of the incident continues under the supervision of the prosecutor’s office.’  

‘He is believed to have arrived in Sofia to watch the England v Bulgaria match,

‘At 10am, police received reports of a man in a helpless condition in the area of Ivan Vazov and GS Rakovski Streets.    

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office were unable to verify the man’s death. They said that they were ‘supporting a British man’ who was injured in a separate incident. 

They said they are in contact with the Bulgarian police.  

The news comes just days after police in Prague arrested a group of 18 English fans in the city’s Old Town for football related disorder. 

Stock images do not show the man who died. The news comes just days after 18 English fans were arrested by Czezch police in Prague on Friday 

Officers in riot gear on Friday set off smoke grenades and wrestled troublemakers to the ground in a show of force.

At the time, many England fans said that the police had been too heavy handed in the Czech capital. 

Travelling supporters to the European qualifier games have been advised by UK police and the FA to behave themselves ahead of games. The 8.45pm kick-off on Friday meant that fans had the opportunity to drink heavily before the start of the match.

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Czech Republic vs England: Last time England won in Prague was in 1908, when the locals attacked the referee after 4-0 win – The Sun

ENGLAND have played in Prague four times, but tonight’s game will be the first there since the Czech Republic and Slovakia split into independent nations in 1993.

The Three Lions won in 1908 against what was then Bohemia but failed to beat Czechoslovakia in their three other friendlies in Prague.

1908 v Bohemia W 4-0 (June 13)

ENGLAND’S first visit to Prague was overshadowed by an early case of football hooliganism.

Englishman John Lewis’ decisions angered the crowd and Reuters reported: “After the match, the Czech spectators, who were greatly excited, made a demonstration against the referee and attacked and beat him severely.”

Although that account may have been exaggerated, Lewis said: “It was my unhappy duty to award a penalty kick to England.

“The spectators did not relish this decision and whenever I had to penalise an Englishman their cheering was distinctly ironical.

“Whenever there was any uncertainty in my mind, I gave the home side the preference.

“However, I evidently failed to give satisfaction. For, after the match, a great demonstration was made, owing to the foolish practice of allowing spectators to cross the pitch.

“I was kicked by a person afterwards. On leaving the dressing room I was offered an escort of policemen.”

1934 v Czechoslovakia L 2-1 (May 16)

THE Three Lions’ standing as self-anointed masters of football was rocked to its core as they suffered back-to-back defeats by continental opposition for the first time.

With Hungary winning by the same score six days earlier, a heated debate included calls for the FA to protect England’s reputation by ending summer trips to play continental teams.

Excuses for the defeats included end-of-season fatigue, hot weather, bone-dry pitches and the softer balls used abroad.

But former England captain Charles Wreford-Brown, who was in charge of the touring party, said: “England’s defeats in Budapest and Prague will, I hope, cause the whole football community in Britain to realise the tremendous advance the continent has achieved and the highly impressive challenge it is making to the pioneers of the game.

“It is up to our clubs and our experts to examine our tactics to see where we can improve.”

1973 v Czechoslovakia D 1-1 (May 27)

BOBBY MOORE was in defiant mood as he captained England for the 86th time – ten years after first leading the team against the same nation.

The West Ham star, who became England’s youngest captain at 22 years and 47 days in a 4-2 win in Bratislava in 1963, said: “I never dreamed it was the start of so much for me.

“It hurts a little when I hear whispers that I’m approaching the end.

"The accusations are that I’m too old, too slow, putting on weight and that my game has gone.

“I say let results speak for themselves. I’ve set my standards for myself. Nothing will let me fall below them.”

Ten days after Allan Clarke’s late goal salvaged a draw in Prague, Moore made a shocking error as England crashed 2-0 in Poland in a crunch World Cup clash and he never played another competitive international.

1992 v Czechoslovakia D 2-2 (March 25)

FURIOUS Graham Taylor called for players to be banned from their club’s next match if they were pulled out of internationals without written medical evidence.

Ten players pulled out of England duty and matters came to a head when Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson announced within minutes of his team’s weekend game that six of his internationals, including three from England, were injured.

Taylor's  makeshift team scrambled a draw with goals from Paul Merson and Martin Keown.

After the game, the under-fire manager said: “I’ve been in this job 18 months now and, like my predecessors, I’ve learned you have to do it with one arm tied firmly behind your back.

“As a club manager I never pulled players out. I’ve always accepted what I’ve been told about injuries, but you know and I know there are suspicions.

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England prospect Johnny Williams, 22, reveals he has been battling testicular cancer as Newcastle Falcons team-mates visit him in hospital – The Sun

NEWCASTLE FALCONS centre Johnny Williams revealed he has been receiving treatment for testicular cancer.

The centre finished his last session of chemotherapy yesterday and was paid a special visit in hospital by his team-mates.

England youth international Williams, 22, took to Instagram to share the news to his fans – and vowed to get "back on that pitch asap".

In an emotional post, he wrote: "I’ve recently faced a slight bump in the road after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

"This came as a huge surprise and out of no where but these things always do and there’s no preparing for it.

"Today I have finished my last batch of chemotherapy and the road is about to get easier from here.

"My girlfriend Hannah, family, friends, team mates, coaches have been extremely supportive in these circumstances and I can’t thank any of them enough.

"Lads, please make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did.

"Regularly check your balls and if you find anything out of the ordinary, swelling or firmness be sure to get checked out by your GP straight away.

"Here’s to getting back fit and healthy and back on that pitch asap!"

The Falcons man started his career at London Irish and featured in the 2016 Under-20 World Cup for England before moving to the North East in May 2018.

He was unable to do enough to help Newcastle avoid relegation last season – they get their Championship campaign underway on Saturday at London Scottish.

Williams played at the end of the 2018/19 campaign and was in the senior England side that beat the Barbarians at Twickenham in June.

Nice little run about at HQ. Great way to end what has been a long season 🌹

A post shared byJohnny Williams (@johnnwilliamss) on

6 years with this one! Crazy how time flies. You support me and made the huge move to Newcastle with me! I love you loads. Here’s to many more ❤️

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EXCLUSIVE: England v France is OFF

EXCLUSIVE: England v France is OFF – Rugby World Cup clash is cancelled as ‘violent’ Super Typhoon Hagibis heads for Japan

  • England’s Rugby World Cup Pool C game against France has been called off 
  • It means the game will be recorded as a 0-0 draw, handing each team two points 
  • Organisers had considered staging game 500 miles away due to Super Typhoon 
  • RWC chiefs will call a press briefing on Thursday to clarify their course of action 

England’s World Cup clash with France in Yokohama on Saturday is off – the first time in the 32-year history of the tournament that a fixture will be cancelled.

With super typhoon Hagibis set to rage through Tokyo and surrounding areas this weekend, tournament organisers are due to announce contingency plans on Thursday. However, Sportsmail understands that ‘Le Crunch’ will be abandoned.

The fixture was due to take place at Yokohama Stadium on Saturday evening, at around the time that Hagibis is expected to pass through the area, wreaking havoc. The tropical storm is being classified as ‘violent’ by Japanese meteorologists, with wind speeds likely to exceed 160mph. 

England’s Rugby World Cup Pool C decider against France has been called off  

Typhoon Hagibis is being put on par with a category 5 hurricane with 160mph winds expected

England had been put through their paces on Wednesday morning with a training session

World Rugby were poised to decide in the early hours on Thursday – UK time – if the Pool C fixture would go ahead as planned, or whether there would be an enforced change of time or venue. 

It emerged on Wednesday that the initial contingency plan was to take the England-France fixture to Oita, in the southern island of Kyushu – where both teams will play quarter-finals next week. However, it appears that logistical problems have forced officials to abandon that option.

There was a mounting sense of chaos and confusion on Wednesday night in Japan as teams, supporters and media were left in the dark about what will happen this weekend. Rumours were rife about disruption affecting four countries in particular; England, France, Japan and Scotland.

There was growing speculation that both matches in Yokohama; ‘Le Crunch’ on Saturday and Japan v Scotland the following day, were set to be cancelled. 

Yet, there were contrasting rumours that the latter match may be put back until Monday. However, Sportsmail understands that England v France is certainly being called off. 

Organisers were considering moving the game from Yokohama due to Super Typhoon Hagibis

England currently top Pool C, and would stay there if the game is recorded as a 0-0 draw

If that fixture and Japan v Scotland matches were cancelled at short notice, in theory that would mean both would be classified as scoreless draws, with each team receiving two points. 

While that would not significantly impact England and France, who have both already clinched quarter-final places, it would have a major bearing on the three-way tussle for qualification from Pool A, between Japan, Scotland and Ireland.

World Rugby have emphasised their priority commitment to the safety of participants and spectators, but they will also be desperate to avoid a World Cup match being cancelled for the first time in the 32-year history of the tournament. 

England will now qualify in top spot in their pool, and will likely face Australia in the last eight

While the governing body claim to have insurance which covers such freak occurrences, the loss of two fixtures at the 70,000-capacity Yokohama would lead to losses estimated at approximately £30million.

Last month, typhoon Faxai caused considerable damage and led to transport chaos in and around Tokyo, and that was not on the scale of Hagibis, which means ‘velocity’. 

While Tokyo was preparing for the latest storm – with early indications that the vast, busy rail network would shut down this weekend – there were also two earthquakes under the city, measuring 4.5 and 3.5 on the Richter scale. They could be felt in the Shinjuku district, where the England team are based until Friday.

The Red Rose management and logistical staff are understood to have been in regular contact with tournament officials, to prepare for all eventualities. There was a concerted attempt to play down the threat of what is coming. 

RWC chiefs wanted to try to relocate the game to Oita, 500 miles away from Yokohama

Despite the magnitude of the storm, defence coach John Mitchell said: ‘I think people are making it bigger than what it actually is. It’s just weather. At the end of the day, we’ve got a game of rugby to play and wherever it’s going to be played, we’ll deal with it. Whatever is thrown at us, we’ll deal with it. We’ll look forward to dealing with it.

‘It is important to understand all the permutations and plan for those permutations. Should a decision be made, we can act. We’ve definitely got awareness of the permutations, but we feel that whatever decision is made, we’ll adapt to anything.

‘We’ll just wait and see. Unless we’ve got something definite, we won’t communicate anything otherwise to our players. We’re preparing to play France at the moment in Yokohama and that’s how we see it, so we won’t be giving any information to our players that’s not really definite.’

The cancellation could leave Eddie Jones’s men under-cooked heading into the quarter-finals

Presumably, definitive information has begun to seep through to the England players. While they will finish top of their pool in the event of the cancellation being officially confirmed, this is not an ideal scenario for the Red Rose camp. 

It means that they face the threat of going into a likely quarter-final against Australia in Oita next Saturday under-cooked.

England’s last match – last Saturday – became a procession to victory over 14-man Argentina, once Tomas Lavanini had been sent off for a high tackle on Owen Farrell. 

Following earlier, routine pool victories over Tier 2 sides Tonga and the USA, it means that the national team won’t have been significantly tested at this tournament, and won’t have played for a fortnight before they take on the Wallabies. It is not the way they would have wished to prepare for such a momentous encounter.

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Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka has been likened to Cristiano Ronaldo and starts against Man Utd – The Sun

UNLUCKY to be hooked off for tactical reasons while Arsenal toiled with newly-promoted Aston Villa, Bukayo Saka announced himself on the mainstage in the Europa League.

The 18-year-old Arsenal starlet, who was first called-up to Unai Emery's first-team last season, scored his first senior goal and set up the other two as the Gunners destroyed Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 in Germany.

And it was a performance in waiting for Saka, after he first caught the eye of Michael Owen, working as an analyst for BT Sport when he made his debut against Qarabag.

"Some of the skill… I watched Cristiano Ronaldo doing this the other day for Juventus," the former England man said last December.

"He's just different class and by the end of the game his confidence was oozing."

Since then Saka, who has caught the attention of Bundesliga clubs, has made greater strides in Unai Emery's set-up – keeping Mesut Ozil out of the side in that 3-2 win over Villa.

And he's set for a starring role on the biggest stage of all as he starts against Man Utd at Old Trafford.


Saka joined the Gunners' Hale End academy nine years before his debut.

And despite his success with Freddie Ljungberg who ran Arsenal's youth set-up, the London-born lad had not been expecting to be called-up by Emery.

Sat among team-mates as Emery listed off his squad for the Qarabag clash, Saka was jolted by the sound of his own name.

"He called out the team and I couldn't believe it," the talented teen said.

"I couldn't stop thinking about today, what I'm gonna do, how I'm going to do, and it turned out alright."

As did Saka, who signed his first contract with Arsenal last September.

His rapid rise hasn't been a surprise for Ljungberg, who told the club's official website: "He's just going to get better and better, keep his head down and keep working."


He has been a regular with England's Under-19s, scoring on his debut against Moldova and bagging a double against the Czech Republic.

And his already sharp shooting ability is being honed even more by working with Emery's first-team.

Saka told Arsenal.com: "When we do finishing drills with Lacazette, Aubameyang and Iwobi, you can just see the finishing and the quality that they have.

"I just want to be like them, so every time I'm there I just try to learn from the best, especially in my position because I can take a lot from them."

Saka is emerging from a system with a reputation.

Expectations are lofty when you're following in the footsteps of the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Cole and Hector Bellerin.

But when you're being compared to Ronaldo, the future is inevitably bright.

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Joe Marler gives England boss Eddie Jones injury headache as he misses training ahead of Rugby World Cup opener – The Sun

JOE MARLER handed England a World Cup scare as he missed their crunch training session before the Tonga game.

Boss Eddie Jones is already without crocked first-choice prop Mako Vunipola, so can't afford to be without Marler on Sunday.

But it is understood that the Harlequins star didn't train fully with the rest of his teammates in Sapporo this afternoon, during their biggest session of the week.

Marler also wasn't involved when England's forwards did shuttle runs as they warmed-up for their final hit-out before the team is named.

It is not totally uncommon for players to be put on their own training plans and England will hope to have Marler to name in their 23-man match-day squad.

They should still have no problems dispatching tier two nation Tonga on Sunday night and then take on the USA just four days later for another walk in the park.

And defence coach John Mitchell has urged his side to set the tone and win with style.


The Kiwi said: "What is important for us is to get the right performance and clearly win.

"Getting the right performance is that our strengths come out and we feel good about ourselves at the start of the tournament. We are extremely excited.

"What we are witnessing day by day is the boys are really enjoying everyone’s company, they are getting the right balance in and around training.

"We have prepared strongly for this tournament and prepared strongly for Tonga.

"We recognise our opponent, what they bring and, emotively, what it means to them. We are looking forward to it."

And second-row Joe Launchbury added: "Their pool of players is getting stronger and stronger.

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"The leagues they play in means we’re getting more footage on them, and we get to play against and with them in some cases.

"Our depth of knowledge and understanding of how they play has certainly grown and it’s maybe a bit easier.

"The stuff we’ve managed to watch this week leading up to the game will hopefully give us a good understanding, coupled with the fact that they’ve had a few games, recently so we’ve had a chance to have a really good look at them."

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Cricket: Archer claims six wickets as England take charge of Ashes finale

LONDON (AFP) – Jofra Archer took six wickets as England bowled Australia out for 225 to gain the upper hand on the second day of the fifth Ashes Test on Friday (Sept 13) despite another Steve Smith masterclass.

Joe Root’s team are desperate to level the series at 2-2 to end their historic World Cup-winning season on a high but have been consistently dogged by the peerless Smith.

The former Australian skipper has now amassed 751 runs in just six innings – more than double the tally of the next highest runscorer on either side.

But he was forced to settle for his lowest score of the series – 80 – when Chris Woakes trapped him lbw in the evening session, leaving the sun-drenched Oval crowd dumbfounded.

Australia conceded a first-innings deficit of 69, paceman Archer finishing with figures of 6-62. Sam Curran took three wickets on his return to the side.

England openers Rory Burns and Joe Denly, dropped in the slips in the final over, survived a tricky four overs as the light faded to reach 9-0 by the close – an overall lead of 78.

Barbados-born Archer only made his Test debut last month but already has 22 wickets midway through his fourth Test.

“It was a tough wicket to bowl on to be honest,” said a tired Archer, who touched speeds of 90 miles per hour. “I didn’t feel there was much assistance.”

He said Smith was almost impossible to shift, even though he “didn’t look himself today”.

“It’s weird because every time he bats, I don’t know what it is,” he added.

“He literally cannot get out. The ball just lands, especially if he plays a bad shot, the ball just lands in no-man’s land for the whole series.”


Smith came to the crease with Australia in trouble at 14-2 in reply to England’s first-innings total of 294 after Archer had removed openers David Warner and Marcus Harris.

Smith, who only returned to Test cricket last month following a year-long ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal, was watchful at the start of his innings but soon found his touch.

Marcus Labuschagne fell for 48 but Smith brought up his 10th consecutive Ashes fifty with a six over midwicket off left-arm spinner Jack Leach.

Smith appeared to be playing a completely different game from all the other batsmen but he had a lucky escape after tea when, on 66, he edged a Curran delivery to Root in the slips, only for the England skipper to shell the chance.

Wickets continued to tumble after tea, with Curran removing Australia captain Tim Paine and Pat Cummins in successive balls, but the unruffled Smith eased to his half-century off 91 balls.

Smith’s dismissal left the Australians struggling at 187-8.

Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon added 37 for the ninth wicket before Archer bowled Lyon and Burns took a sensational catch to end Siddle’s knock.

Smith said he had been feeling under the weather during the day.

“I’ve been struggling a bit today. I’ve got a bit of the flu but I was loading up on the cold and flu (medicine) throughout the day and just tried to stay as focused as I could be,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t bat with the tail for as long as I would have liked.”

At the start of the day England added just 23 runs to their overnight score, with Jos Buttler out for 70. Mitchell Marsh took five wickets on his return to the Australian side.

Australia lead the five-Test series 2-1, meaning they will retain the Ashes urn regardless of the result at the Oval.

But they are hungry to wrap up their first series win in England since 2001.

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