EPL

Solskjaer silent on Kane speculation after Man Utd flop against Fulham

By Sports Desk May 18, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to talk about the possibility of Manchester United signing Harry Kane despite a disappointing performance in their 1-1 draw with Fulham.

Edinson Cavani's stunning 10th-minute lob seemingly had United on course for a routine win against relegated opposition that would have secured second place in the Premier League.

But a failure to make their dominance count saw them pegged back late on by Joe Bryan's header, meaning United are three games without a win.

United have now conceded 28 home goals in the Premier League this season – they last conceded more at Old Trafford in a single campaign back in 1962-63 (38).

Solskjaer's men have also dropped 10 points from winning positions at home, their highest total at Old Trafford in a Premier League season.

But United were arguably fortunate to claim a share of the spoils, Fulham finishing the game with a minor edge in expected goals of 1.0 to 0.8

Kane reportedly wants to leave Tottenham and has scored 22 league goals this season, outperforming an xG of 19.8.

But asked about the potential availability of the Spurs star, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "I can't talk about players that are on other teams. I don't think that's respectful of any team, any players. I can't talk about that."

On United's display in front of 10,000 returning fans, he said: "I don't think we put on the performance that they wanted and maybe deserved. We had some good spells but not enough.

"We were too loose, giving the ball away too often, maybe it's because the crowd came in and we wanted to entertain them, maybe it would be more entertaining if we played properly and scored goals.

"We've lost eight points in a period where we should be bouncing going into the next game, looking forward to it, looking forward to the [Europa League] final, going into that confident, but we need to sort a few things out."

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  • Giroud makes France history with 100th cap under Deschamps in Euro 2020 clash with Hungary Giroud makes France history with 100th cap under Deschamps in Euro 2020 clash with Hungary

    Olivier Giroud has made history by winning 100 caps for France while playing under coach Didier Deschamps.

    No other player for Les Bleus has ever recorded a century of senior international appearances with the same man in charge.

    The Chelsea striker, who made his France debut back in November 2011, won his first eight caps under Laurent Blanc, who resigned following the Euro 2012 finals.

    Deschamps took over in July 2012 and has since made Giroud a mainstay of his plans. The 34-year-old's 100th game under the former midfielder came in Saturday's Euro 2020 clash with Hungary.

    The closest players to Giroud's tally under Deschamps are Antoine Griezmann (93 appearances), Hugo Lloris (90), Paul Pogba (82) and Blaise Matuidi (80).

    Giroud scored 45 goals in his first 99 games under Deschamps, including nine in 16 European Championship matches, taking qualifiers into account.

    He netted just once in 12 World Cup finals games, although he played in every single game of France's triumph at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

    Giroud's first goal of the Deschamps era came against Spain in a World Cup qualifier in October 2012, while his one hat-trick was scored in a friendly with Paraguay in June 2017.

    The former Arsenal forward, who scored once in Blanc's time at the helm, needs only five more goals to match Thierry Henry's all-time France record of 51.

  • Italy v Wales: Azzurri out to equal all-time unbeaten run and finish top of Group A Italy v Wales: Azzurri out to equal all-time unbeaten run and finish top of Group A

    Italy will aim to equal their all-time unbeaten record of 30 matches and finish top of Euro 2020 Group A when they face Wales at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

    The Azzurri have won their opening two matches by the same 3-0 scoreline against Turkey and Switzerland, making it 10 wins in a row in all competitions without conceding.

    Roberto Mancini's side are already assured of a place in the last 16, but they require a point against second-placed Wales to make certain of top spot.

    However, victory will be the target for Italy on home soil as they look to match their previous record for games without defeat, set between November 1935 and July 1939.

    Mancini has indicated he will rotate his side with the knockout stages in mind, but experienced defender Giorgio Chiellini has warned Italy cannot take Wales lightly.

     

    "They are a great team," said Chiellini, who is not expected to play any part in the match. "Wales have been playing together for many years and we know them well. 

    "There have been many small changes but never revolutions, so they are tough opponents."

    Wales are practically through to the last 16 after drawing with Switzerland and beating Turkey in their two games, but need a point in the Italian capital to seal the deal.

    The Euro 2016 semi-finalists do not have the best of records against Italy, though, losing seven of their previous nine meetings and failing to score in three attempts on Italian soul.

    But winger Daniel James is relishing the chance to end Italy's long-running unbeaten run, which spans back to September 2018.

    "Italy are a great team, but we have to go in believing we can win. We will do our analysis, and we will go there with our heads held high," he said.

    "They've had a great run going into this tournament, but we want to win every game and we fully believe that we can do that."


    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Italy – Marco Verratti

    Verratti was not even named in Italy's squad for their opening two games as he continues to recover from an injury sustained with Paris Saint-Germain, but Mancini has hinted he will play a part on Sunday.

    Manuel Locatelli has starred in Verratti's absence, becoming the third youngest Italy player to score a brace at a major tournament with his double against Switzerland.

    But PSG midfielder Verratti has been one of the key men in Italy's remarkable turnaround after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and Mancini will be eager to get him back to full fitness.

    Wales – Gareth Bale

    Gareth Bale skied a penalty in Wales' 2-0 win against Turkey, becoming the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a spot-kick at the Euros since Raul for Spain against France in 2000.

    The Real Madrid forward more than made amends for that, however, by assisting goals for Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts in a well-earned win for the Dragons.

    He created five big chances across the 90 minutes in Baku – the most by a player at the Euros since such records were recorded in 1980.

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - Italy and Wales' latest encounter was 18 years ago, in a European Championship qualifier back in September 2003. On that day, Filippo Inzaghi scored his one and only hat-trick with the Italian national team (4-0).

    - Wales have made it out of the group stages in their previous two appearances at a major tournament (1958 World Cup, Euro 2016). If they avoid defeat in this game, they are guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages.

    - Italy are looking to win all three of their group-stage matches for the fourth time at a major tournament, previously doing so at the 1978 and 1990 World Cups, and at Euro 2000.

    - The Azzurri have gone 965 minutes without conceding, scoring 31 goals without reply in that run.

    - If he keeps a clean sheet, Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma would be the youngest keeper to earn shutouts in three consecutive games at the Euros (22y 115d on the day of the game).

  • Kane is the best striker in the world – Shaw has no concerns over England team-mate's form Kane is the best striker in the world – Shaw has no concerns over England team-mate's form

    Luke Shaw has declared Harry Kane "the best striker in the world" and says his team-mate's goalless start to Euro 2020 is no concern to England.

    Kane fired a blank in England's 1-0 win over Croatia in last week's Group D opener and was again off the pace as the Three Lions were held 0-0 by Scotland on Friday.

    The Tottenham man managed just 19 touches before being substituted in the 74th minute – the fewest he has ever had in an England game when playing more than 45 minutes.

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    But despite Kane failing to register a shot on target in two successive games for club or country for the first time since November, Shaw insists the England skipper's pedigree cannot be questioned.

    "There's no concern at all. Personally, I think he's the best striker in the world," Shaw said of the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner and three-time Premier League top scorer.

    "He is a very important part of the team, in fact the most important part. I think whether he has not been at his best or not he is a massive part and a crucial player for us.

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    England were frustrated by spirited rivals Scotland on Friday in the first goalless match between the sides at Wembley in 33 meetings.

    Gareth Southgate's men could have confirmed a place in the knockout stages with victory, but they now have work to do in their final group match against the Czech Republic.

    The Three Lions are behind the Czechs on goal difference ahead of Tuesday's match, meaning a win is required if they are to finish top.

    Following criticism on the back of the toothless display against Scotland, Shaw has put the stalemate into perspective with England as good as assured of a last-16 spot.

    "There is no denying that there is a lot of disappointment," he said.

    "We would have liked to win the game but you have to look at it in the way of another point in the right direction.

    "If it was the other way round, we drew with Croatia and won today, it would have been four points still so we have to keep positive.

    "I think there should always be expectation, the team we have, the talent is very strong. 

    "Of course we can take the expectation but maybe this result brought us back down to earth to make us realise it is not going to be easy."

     

    England, who have never made it beyond the semi-finals of the European Championships, are on course to meet either Portugal, France, Germany or Hungary in the next round.

    Taking positives from a 14th clean sheet in 18 matches for England in all competitions, Shaw added: "Our aim is to be here for seven games. 

    "We will sit down and watch the game back and analyse what we want to do better because there are things we could have done better as a team.

    "Maybe in this game we weren't at our best and that shows, but it is another clean sheet. 

    "We still have another big game on Tuesday and we have to forget about this one and be ready."

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