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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Odegaard hails ‘brilliant’ Rice after Lens rout –

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He’s a Rice guy

Martin Odegaard praised Declan Rice’s impact at Arsenal this season after the Gunners’ 6-0 win over Lens.

Mikel Arteta’s side scored five times in the first half at the Emirates, with captain Odegaard netting the fifth with a wonderful volley.

The victory means Arsenal have secured top spot in their Champions League group with a game to spare, while influential midfielder Rice was afforded a rest against Lens when he was replaced by Jorginho in the second half.

Odegaard said: “It’s brilliant — I think he’s [Rice] been amazing since he came here.

“Every game he’s showing his qualities. He’s a great player, a great guy, so a great addition to the squad.”

A new era

United States forward Trinity Rodman says Emma Hayes’ arrival as manager at the end of the season is “perfect timing” ahead of next summer’s Olympics in Paris.

Vlatko Andonovski stepped down as head coach after the US were eliminated from this year’s Women’s World Cup in the last 16 by Sweden.

But Rodman believes the appointment of six-time Women’s Super League winner Hayes can help the team turn a corner.

Ahead of Saturday’s friendly against China, she said: “Failures bring us to succeed. For the US team, we always talk about how we’ve been the best forever. But at the World Cup, we did not show that.

“So it’s a weird moment for her to come in but it’s almost perfect timing because the World Cup was such a huge learning experience for the new players, veterans and everybody in between. 

“She wants us to be the players that we came into these camps as, she doesn’t want us moulded into something else. She wants our personalities to show through our game.”

Take responsibility

Bruno Fernandes took over the Manchester United captaincy from Harry Maguire

Paul Scholes was critical of Bruno Fernandes’ performance after Manchester United’s 3-3 draw with Galatasaray — a result which leaves their Champions League last 16 qualification hopes in the balance.

Fernandes scored a stunner to put United 2-0 ahead in the first half but also gave away two silly fouls for the free-kicks scored by Hakim Ziyech, each assisted by an error from goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Red Devils skipper Fernandes questioned the “mistakes” made by his team after the game — but Scholes thinks the Portugal international needs to take more responsibility.

The TNT Sports pundit said: “I know in his interview he [Fernandes] is talking about mistakes but he made two big mistakes tonight by giving two stupid fouls away that lead to two goals.

“The full team, including himself as the captain, have to take responsibility — it’s a game they should win.

“They just cannot keep clean sheets — the defence is all over the place, the keeper is making mistakes, Bruno giving away cheap free-kicks.”

No3 Lions

England have moved up to third in the FIFA men’s world rankings — ahead of Brazil after the South American nation suffered three consecutive defeats in 2026 World Cup qualifying.

World champions Argentina retain top spot and France, runners-up in last winter’s Qatar showpiece, sit second.

Elsewhere, Belgium have moved up one position to fourth, while the Netherlands have overtaken Portugal to reach sixth place in the rankings.

And despite automatically qualifying for Euro 2024, Scotland have slipped down three spots to 34th, while Wales — who could only make the play-offs — have risen five places to 28th, 30 ahead of the Republic of Ireland in 58th.

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