With QPR near relegation, Redknapp admits “it will take a miracle”

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While most of us have already mentally relegated Queens Park Rangers to the Championship, R’s boss Harry Redknapp now believes his side are in need of a “miracle” following yesterday’s 2-0 home loss to Stoke City.

In 19th place and ten points shy of 17th place Aston Villa, Redknapp was hoping his side could produce 15 points in five matches and save the club from demotion. But it was not to be as his old friend Peter Crouch struck for Stoke late in the first half before a second half Jon Walters penalty sealed the Potters victory.

The loss keeps QPR ten points from safety with only 12 to play and prompted Redknapp to admit: “It will take a miracle now. It looks almost impossible for us now, for sure. It’s a huge disappointment.” While not yet mathematically eliminated, if any results go against the West London club, the relegation axe will fall.

Despite the club’s liberal spending in the summer and winter transfer windows, Redknapp bemoaned his side’s absence of talent. “We had a go, but maybe we are short of that bit of quality needed in this league.” The former Tottenham boss also pointed to the suspension of Bobby Zamora and injuries to Andros Townsend and Adel Taarabt as deciding factors in Saturday’s loss.

The impending relegation raises flags as to Redknapp’s future at the club. “I’m not in a position to say where I manage but this is a good club,” he insisted. “I’ve said many times the owners are genuinely nice people . . . . It’s just a shame, after the money they invested in the summer to try build a team to do well, that it has not worked out. I don’t regret taking the job one bit. I’ve enjoyed it.”

Since Redknapp’s arrival last November, QPR has managed only four victories, two of which have come at Loftus Road ensuring the R’s the worst home record in the country. If the Hoops are relegated they will be returning to the Championship after just two seasons of top flight football.

The drop will force Tony Fernandes’ club to try and sell the majority of its prized assets, including Julio Cesar, Chris Samba, Stephane M’Bia, Loic Remy, Taraabt, David Hoilett and Jose Boswinga. The problem, however, is that QPR will be hard-pressed to find suitors willing to pay the grossly inflated wages of players who, but for Remy and Taraabt, are not highly rated properties.

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

Photo credit: New England Revolution / Twitter: @NERevolution
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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”