Cardiff City and Swansea City shared the spoils in a cagey goalless draw in Sunday's south Wales derby.

In a match that produced few moments of quality, it was Swansea who went closest to opening the scoring in the first half at the Cardiff City Stadium when Bersant Celina bent a low effort against the left post.

Tempers briefly boiled over between the fierce rivals when Cardiff striker Robert Glatzel took exception to a late challenge from Ben Cabango, with each man booked.

Cardiff also hit the woodwork when Callum Paterson headed Josh Murphy's delivery against the crossbar in the only chance of note in the second half.

A draw means Swansea stay seventh and only outside the play-off places on goal difference, while Cardiff are 12th but just four points adrift of sixth-place Sheffield Wednesday.

West Brom edged above Leeds United to the top of the Championship on Saturday after Marcelo Bielsa's men were beaten at home by Sheffield Wednesday.

Two late goals saw Leeds fall to a 2-0 Yorkshire derby defeat at Elland Road, which meant West Brom moved to the summit despite dropping points in a dramatic 2-2 draw at Charlton Athletic.

Brentford and Fulham are third and fourth respectively after wins over QPR and Hull City, with Nottingham Forest dropping to fifth after they were held to a last-gasp 1-1 draw at Reading.

Bristol City, Birmingham City and Barnsley were the other winners, while there were draws when Blackburn Rovers hosted Preston North End, Middlesbrough took on Derby County and Stoke City faced Millwall.


MISFIRING LEEDS SLIP UP AGAIN

Leeds have only won one of their last seven games in all competitions and now trail West Brom by a point, with Brentford only six points adrift in third.

Bielsa's side looked like they would have to settle for a goalless draw but it got worse when Jacob Murphy scored a goal that goalkeeper Kiko Casilla will not remember fondly with three minutes left.

Atdhe Nuhiu, who had set up the opener, then made the points safe in stoppage time as Wednesday moved up to sixth.

Patrick Bamford had earlier missed a good chance as well as having a strike disallowed for offside, while Jack Harrison was also guilty of not converting a clear opening.

West Brom twice led against Charlton at The Valley but had to settle for a draw courtesy of Josh Davison's first career strike and an own goal from keeper Sam Johnstone, who was trying to keep out Tom Lockyer's header. 

Albion's goals came from a superb Kenneth Zohore effort and a deflected strike from Hal Robson-Kanu.

The two teams also drew 2-2 in the reverse fixture in October, Charlton coming from behind on that occasion too.


BRENTFORD AND FULHAM KEEP UP PRESSURE

Brentford raced into a three-goal lead after 33 minutes at home to QPR, Ollie Watkins heading in his 18th league goal of the season in a 3-1 derby victory at Griffin Park.

An excellent long-range strike from Ivan Cavaleiro, who joined Fulham permanently from Wolves this week, put Scott Parker's men in front against after 29 minutes and that proved to be the only goal of the game.

Forest are a point and a place behind Fulham after a dramatic conclusion to their game at Reading. 

Ben Watson appeared to have given Forest an away victory six minutes into stoppage time but Reading went straight up the other end and Jordan Obita's cross resulted in a costly own goal from Tobias Figueiredo.

Luton Town remain bottom of the table after Gary Gardner's strike earned Birmingham a 2-1 away win. Wigan Athletic lost 2-0 at home to Bristol City and remain in the bottom three along with Barnsley, who won 2-1 at home to Huddersfield Town to move within a point of safety.

One story is dominating the sporting agenda in Spain on Saturday: Xavi's potential return to Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have reportedly earmarked the club great to take over from the under-pressure Ernesto Valverde at the end of the season, and held informal discussions with him on Friday in Doha.

Xavi, 39, is currently coach at Al Sadd but would likely relish a return to Camp Nou, where he won eight LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies during a glittering playing career.

A strong affinity with a club is not a guarantee of success, however, and we have taken a look at eight other examples of players returning to manage teams they starred for.

 

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job. He is now back in Serie A and thriving with the Old Lady's bitter rivals Inter.

Roberto Di Matteo

Like Lampard, Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for AC Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league finish in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has joined Swansea City on loan for the rest of the season.

The 19-year-old reunites with Swansea boss Steve Cooper, under whom he won the Golden Boot with England at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Brewster has made only three appearances for Liverpool in 2019-20, most recently as a substitute in the 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Everton at Anfield last Sunday.

The forward will be available to make his debut in the all-Welsh clash with Cardiff City on January 12.

Swansea sit sixth in the Championship after 26 matches.

Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has joined Swansea City on loan for the rest of the season.

The 19-year-old reunites with Swansea boss Steve Cooper, under whom he won the Golden Boot with England at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Brewster has made only three appearances for Liverpool in 2019-20, most recently as a substitute in the 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Everton at Anfield last Sunday.

The forward will be available to make his debut in the all-Welsh clash with Cardiff City on January 12.

Swansea sit sixth in the Championship after 26 matches.

Ezgjan Alioski rekindled the rivalry between Leeds United and Manchester United by claiming the Championship leaders could beat Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's under-achieving side.

As Leeds prepare to face Arsenal in the FA Cup third round on Monday, Alioski was asked whether they could announce themselves to the Premier League by beating a team who triumphed over the Red Devils 2-0 on New Year's Day.

The Macedonia international's response would have been music to the ears of the Leeds faithful, and it came 10 years and a day after the club - then in League One - claimed a famous 1-0 FA Cup victory at Old Trafford.

Alioski told reporters that Arteta's achievement in beating Solskjaer's men left him undaunted, saying: "Of course, I saw the result against Manchester United.

"But this Manchester United from this year, even we can beat them."

Alioski said a return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence would restore Leeds' status as one of England's top clubs and underlined his team-mates' commitment to the philosophy of head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

The former Argentina, Chile and Marseille boss has delivered the most attractive football Elland Road has enjoyed since the club was in the Champions League, and Alioski attributed the transformation to the 64-year-old.

"If we were in the Premier League, Leeds would be one of the biggest clubs," Alioski opined. "The only difference is they [Arsenal] are in the Premier League and we are in the Championship.

"We are going to go there to play this football that Marcelo Bielsa wants. Since he has arrived, Marcelo Bielsa has let Leeds dream again.

"I arrived two-and-a-half years ago. Mostly the same team is here, Marcelo Bielsa kept the same team and everyone can see what Leeds changed and how we improved with him."

Manchester City have cut short Lukas Nmecha's season-long loan to Wolfsburg, instead sending the striker to Middlesbrough after he failed to score in Germany.

The 21-year-old, who has played for both England and Germany at youth level, joined Wolfsburg at the start of the season but struggled to make an impact.

Nmecha made 12 appearances for his loan club in all competitions but started only once and did not find the net.

City recalled the striker on Friday and loaned him back out to Championship side Boro, where he joins Patrick Roberts - a team-mate in Manchester who endured a similarly tough stretch at Norwich City.

Nmecha spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Preston North End, having appeared three times for City in the previous campaign.

"We're delighted to bring Lukas to the club," said Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate. "He is a terrific young player who has the benefit of a year's experience of Championship football.

"He is another young, hungry player of real quality, and it's great that we've been able to get him.

"In Lukas and Patrick, we have signed two very good players, and we've been able to bring them in early in the transfer window, which is a real bonus."

Wayne Rooney inspired Derby County to a 2-1 win over Barnsley on his debut for the Championship club.

The 34-year-old, who is England and Manchester United's record goalscorer, made his long-awaited maiden outing for the Rams having agreed to join as a player-coach back in August.

Phillip Cocu's side were evidently buoyed by Rooney's presence as the five-time Premier League winner pulled the strings at Pride Park.

Rooney laid on the opener for Jack Marriott on the stroke of half-time, delivering a fine free-kick from the left that only needed a helping touch in the right direction.

Substitute Elliot Simoes levelled for struggling Barnsley five minutes into the second half but Rooney was involved again as Derby reclaimed the lead.

His cross-field pass found Andre Wisdom, who then picked out Martyn Waghorn to sweep home the winner.

It was Derby's second win on the bounce, with Cocu's men having overcome a Charlton Athletic side who endured mixed fortunes on Thursday.

Having earlier been taken over by East Street Investments, bringing an end to the controversial reign of Roland Duchatelet, the Addicks fell to a 1-0 loss against Swansea City.

Yan Dhanda's 14th-minute goal settled matters as the Swans climbed to sixth in a fiercely competitive table.

Wayne Rooney will captain Derby County on his Rams debut after being named in their starting XI for Thursday's Championship clash at home to Barnsley.

Rooney's return to English football comes after the former Three Lions skipper ended his spell playing for MLS side DC United.

Manchester United and England's all-time leading goalscorer has been handed the armband after being included in the Derby team by his new boss Phillip Cocu.

Ex-Everton forward Rooney signed for Derby last August and has been training with the Rams since his contract with DC came to an end when they missed out on the 2019 play-offs.

Derby beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 at Pride Park on Monday to end a poor run of seven Championship games without a win.

The Rams are 17th in the table and will be hoping Rooney, who is also a coach on Cocu's backroom staff, can inspire a rise up the league.

Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts has joined Championship side Middlesbrough on loan after having his Norwich City stay cut short.

Roberts, 22, joined the promoted Canaries ahead of the 2019-20 season after signing a new Man City contract and was expected to see plenty of first-team football given Daniel Farke's faith in young players.

However, the former England youth international has made just three substitute appearances in the Premier League, amounting to 23 minutes.

Boro will be Roberts' fourth loan destination following his spells with Norwich, Girona and Celtic.

The winger had been highly rated as a teenager, bursting on to the scene as a 16-year-old with Fulham and earning a move to City in 2015.

However, since then he has generally struggled to live up to his early billing, bar the first 18 months of his two-and-a-half-year period with Celtic.

He joins Boro until the end of the season, with Jonathan Woodgate's side – who are 16th in the Championship – hoping to eventually challenge for a play-off place having strung together four successive wins following a difficult start to the season.

Roberts has two-and-a-half years left on his City contract.

The takeover of Charlton Athletic by East Street Investments has been completed, ending Roland Duchatelet's reign at The Valley.

Duchatelet took control of Charlton in 2014 and much of his tenure was defined by friction with supporters.

The sale of the Addicks, which the Belgian had been seeking since 2017, was agreed in November and it was confirmed on Thursday the deal had been finalised.

"It was vital for the long-term health of Charlton Athletic that this deal was completed at the very start of the January transfer window," said Duchatelet in a club statement.

"It allows the new owners to commit resources to the football side in order to bring in new players who will help secure the club's position in the Championship.

"This is a hugely exciting time for everybody involved with Charlton Athletic and I believe the club is in safe hands with His Excellency Tahnoon Nimer, Matt Southall and Jonathan Heller."

Lee Bowyer guided Charlton to promotion from League One last season and they sit 19th in the Championship.

New chairman Matt Southall said: "This is a great opportunity for ESI and we are thankful to Roland Duchatelet and his team for giving us the chance to build on such strong foundations.

"Now, for us, the hard work begins. We already have plans in place to support Lee and his staff over the next month.

"But most importantly is strengthening our links with both the fans and the Charlton community so they may understand our short and long-term plans for the club and how we intend to build on the amazing support and goodwill already shown to ESI."

New Charlton directors Nimer and Heller are respectively the chairman and chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Business Development – the private office of Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahoon Al Nahyan.

Eddie Nketiah's loan spell at Leeds United has been cut short, with the forward to return to Arsenal in January.

Nketiah, 20, joined Leeds on a season-long loan in August last year, but only made two Championship starts, with 15 appearances coming off the bench.

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa confirmed on Wednesday that Nketiah would be returning to Arsenal this month.

"Arsenal have informed he will not continue with us and we are sorry for that," he said.

"Eddie arrived at Leeds when the Championship had started and had to spend time adapting to our style.

"He wasn't part of the 11 starting and it wasn't something easy for him because he deserved to be there, but was on the bench for [Patrick] Bamford.

"After he played against Fulham, he became one of the starting 11 players for Birmingham. We know that Bamford was injured in this match, but he was going to play anyway and today he played again because he played well against Birmingham and did a great physical effort.

"He didn't take this decision, but he's a great player, excellent professional and had very good behaviour – a gentleman in every sense.

"We are grateful with him, also to his family and his club. They developed Eddie with a very good education and for this reason it's a pity he leaves us because we were happy with him."

Nketiah's two Championship starts for Leeds came in his two most recent appearances.

He scored three Championship goals and netted twice in the EFL Cup for the league leaders.

Leeds United remain top of the Championship after a 1-1 draw with West Brom at The Hawthorns on Wednesday.

Semi Ajayi put the Baggies ahead in only the second minute but was unfortunate in deflecting Patrick Bamford's header into his own net to bring Leeds level.

The result means Marcelo Bielsa's side stay above West Brom on goal difference after 26 matches.

The earlier fixtures were largely a feast of goals as 2020 started in enthralling fashion, with Stoke City winning 5-2 at Huddersfield Town and QPR thrashing Cardiff City 6-1.

Brentford were big winners away to Bristol City, Nottingham Forest edged out Blackburn Rovers in a five-goal thriller and Wigan Athletic held on to win 3-2 at Birmingham City.

Fulham's promotion bid suffered another setback with a 2-1 loss to Reading, Middlesbrough made it back-to-back away victories and Hull City snatched three points at Sheffield Wednesday.

In the first game of the new decade, Millwall came from behind to beat Luton Town 3-1 and climb into the top six.

BAGGIES MISS CHANCE TO GO TOP

Ajayi poked home after a penalty-box scramble to give West Brom an early lead against Leeds and Slaven Bilic's side were good value for their advantage in the first half.

Kiko Casilla did superbly to keep out Matheus Pereira's free-kick and then saved with his legs from Matt Phillips, who had been through on goal.

Leeds introduced Bamford at the break and it proved a crucial move, as the striker's header from Jack Harrison's cross deflected off Ajayi's shoulder and into the net.

Neither side could find a winner in the end-to-end closing minutes, meaning each are on 52 points, nine clear of the chasing pack.

 

SIX-GOAL SHOWDOWNS

Stoke dominated the first half at John Smith's Stadium but Sam Vokes' opener was forgotten when Steve Mounie and a Danny Batth own goal put the hosts ahead.

However, Stoke struck a further four times through Nick Powell, Lee Gregory and a Tyrese Campbell double in a game otherwise marred when a stadium announcement was required to warn against further alleged discriminatory chants aimed at James McClean.

QPR's victory was a more straightforward affair, as a Nahki Wells hat-trick inspired them to a 6-1 thrashing of Cardiff, who got a late consolation through Will Vaulks.

Cardiff stay 12th, though, given Bristol City were dispatched 4-0 at home by Brentford, Ollie Watkins making the points safe with a late double to send his side third.

MILLWALL INTO PLAY-OFF SPOTS

Sheffield Wednesday's loss at home to Hull meant Millwall's earlier 3-1 win over Luton, in which they trailed until the 69th minute, was enough to see them into the top six.

Nottingham Forest are up to fourth thanks to Lewis Grabban's two goals securing a 3-2 defeat of Blackburn Rovers, with Fulham slipping to fifth after John Swift and Charlie Adam consigned them to a fourth defeat in seven league games.

Preston's top-six chase was dealt a blow, though, as Rudy Gestede and a Ben Davies own goal gave Middlesbrough a fourth win in a row.

At the other end of the table, Wigan gave their survival bid a boost after they held onto a 3-2 win at Birmingham, Cedric Kipre's 73rd-minute goal proving the difference.

Teenager Jason Knight scored twice to end 10-man Derby County's seven-game winless run with a 2-1 victory over Charlton Athletic in the final match before the start of Wayne Rooney's Rams playing career.

Player-coach Rooney is in line to debut against Barnsley this week, formally completing a January transfer from DC United, but his new side had largely struggled in the Championship in his absence until Monday's improved display at Pride Park.

It was a player 16 years Rooney's junior who made the difference with his first senior goals, the opener a brave, stooping header after just 10 minutes.

The hosts were dealt a blow when ex-Charlton loanee Krystian Bielik was shown a straight red card for an awful, late lunge on Conor Gallagher, but the 10 men remained in control and Knight steered in a clinical left-footed finish with 13 minutes remaining.

Although Lyle Taylor coolly dispatched a penalty for Charlton to set up a nervy finish, Derby held on through eight minutes of stoppage time for a precious win.

Leeds United overcame Birmingham City in a nine-goal thriller to move top of the Championship table as previous leaders West Brom suffered a shock home defeat to Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds benefited from an injury time own goal at St Andrew's, Wes Harding turning Luke Ayling's low cross into the net to settle a post-Christmas cracker.

The visitors had previously let slip a lead on three occasions during a see-saw contest, though by finding a late winner they leapfrog West Brom, who lost for just the second time in the league this season.

Fulham are up to third after a 1-0 triumph over Stoke City, with Brentford slipping back a spot in the standings after going down to Aiden O'Brien's eighth-minute goal at in-form Millwall.

Nottingham Forest moved up to fifth by beating bottom club Wigan Athletic, overtaking Sheffield Wednesday after the Owls went down 2-1 at home to Cardiff City. Preston North End also slipped up, beaten 2-0 at home by Reading. 

Elsewhere, Bristol City eased past Luton Town, Steve Mounie was the hero for Huddersfield Town in a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers and Hull City won by the same scoreline at QPR. Swansea City's meeting with Barnsley, meanwhile, ended in stalemate, the only goalless draw on a busy day in England's second tier.

 

LEEDS LEAVE IT LATE

There was no sign of the drama to come when Leeds moved into a 2-0 first-half lead, Helder Costa and Jack Harrison getting the goals.

However, Birmingham would continuously peg their high-flying opponents back. Lukas Jutkiewicz was on target twice for the hosts in the second half, including netting a stoppage-time equaliser that seemed certain to see the game finish at 4-4.

Yet full-back Ayling – who had put his team 3-2 up with a sensational long-range strike – made one final, telling contribution to proceedings, his run and cross from the right resulting in Harding's own goal.

 

FLETCHER FLATTENS BAGGIES

Middlesbrough recorded their first away win under Jonathan Woodgate as they upset the odds against promotion-chasing West Brom.

Centre-back Daniel Ayala put the visitors in front in the 17th minute and they defended stoutly until doubling their advantage in stunning fashion deep into stoppage time.

Ashley Fletcher opted to take aim from distance when a throw-in reached him midway inside the West Brom half, the forward smashing the ball over the head of Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to wrap up all three points and end Woodgate's wait for success on the road.

 

TOUGH FINISH TO 2019 FOR STRUGGLERS

It was a good day for Derby County – and they did not even play. The lowly Rams face Charlton Athletic on Monday but only one team – Barnsley, who kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at Swansea – managed to close the gap on them at the foot of the table.

Wigan could have climbed off the bottom had they avoided defeat at Nottingham Forest, who took the lead through Tobias Figueiredo on the hour.

However, Forest needed a fine penalty save from Brice Samba – who guessed correctly to turn away Josh Windass' spot kick – to preserve their narrow advantage through to the final whistle, meaning Wigan will welcome in 2020 at the foot of the standings.

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