Lennon targets better finishing

Rafael Benitez admitted Chelsea were outclassed by Corinthians
who won their Club World Cup final 1-0 in Yokohama.

The Blues’ interim boss insisted his side only had themselves to
blame as Corinthians dominated the match and Benitez admitted it
seemed to mean more to the Brazilians, whose physical pressing game
gave Chelsea very little room for manoeuvre.

“This is the final of the World Cup for the South American
teams. You could see this from the first minute,” Benitez said.

“Our players have some quality but, physically, some of them
aren’t so strong.”

Some of Corinthians’ players also tried every trick in the book
to get the referee on side, forward Emerson repeatedly rolling
around the floor under contact.

Benitez added: “You could see they have experience and, every
second, they were around the referee and doing well – and wasting
[time] round near the end.

“I don’t say that as a negative. They were ‘managing’ the game
quite well.”

Emerson was also at the centre of Gary Cahill’s late sending
off, which Benitez admitted may have been the correct decision.

“He lost his temper,” Benitez said. “I didn’t see it in the
game, but I’ve seen it on the replay and it could be a red

Fernando Torres missed a sitter for the Blues five minutes from
time and when he did find the net with a header he was ruled

Benitez tried to remain upbeat: “Try to find the positives in
the situation. He was there. He had the chances. He scored the goal
that was disallowed.

“He has to take these chances in a final because it’s not easy
to create too many. If you have two or three, you have to

Corinthians boss Tite questioned Benitez’s team changes
following Chelsea’s semi-final win over Monterrey.

“I was surprised by Benitez,” he said. “They were a light team
when the previous side was physical.”

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The visitors led when Brown was deceived by Iain Davidson’s
37th-minute wonder strike but they responded strongly to level
through substitute Gary Glen.

County could have even won it when skipper Richard Brittain was
put through clean on goal late on only for his shot to clip the
outside of the post.

Brown was not complaining afterwards though as his side had to
be content with maintaining their six-point gap over Dundee in the
relegation place.

“It was a great move but when he (Brittain) hit the post from
what I could see I thought Rab Douglas had saved it,” the former
Celtic goalkeeper said.

“It is just one of those things Richard has had some great
performances this season. On another day it would have crept inside
the post.

“We had a few chances at the end and we could maybe have sneaked
it. But the gap is still the same.

“We have a busy Christmas period – it’s just a case of getting
the heads down and picking up as many points as we can.”

Brown admitted he had been deceived by the flight of the ball
for Davidson’s opener.

“New modern balls tend to swing in the air and as soon as it
left his foot I thought it was going to my right but it swung the
other way,” he said.

“When it changes direction there is nothing you can do.

“In the first half we played as well as we could but in the
second half we lifted the tempo. In the second half we created the
better chances.”

County confirmed before the match that Brown had signed a new
deal to remain at the club until the end of the season.

“I actually signed it earlier in the week, that takes me up to
the summer,” said Brown, whose initial deal ran to January.

“Nobody likes to be on the sidelines, but as I’ve said we have a
good squad and we have are a lot of boys on the sidelines who are
pushing for starting places. I just think that is healthy for

County travel to Brown’s former club Celtic next weekend, and he
admitted he was looking forward to his return.

“Everybody expects Celtic to win but shocks can happen,” he

“We will try not to concede early goals – we will try to
frustrate them a bit but you never know what will happen.”

Dundee striker Colin Nish, who also missed a chance near the
end, said: “Ross County could have won it in the last minute when
they hit the post but I think they we could have gone 2-0 up.

“It is not a bad result coming here but I think the boys going
back in the bus will be disappointed.”

He added: “We’ve done all right recently and I can’t see us
going on a losing run again. The boys are defending brilliantly we
just need to put the ball in the back of the net.

“Myself and the other strikers haven’t been doing that in the
last few games – hopefully we can get that back.

“I don’t think anyone could complain with a draw but as I said
if we got that goal to go 2-0 up I think that would have been good
enough for us.”

Footage from the Premier League encounter at the Britannia
Stadium is set to be examined closely by the FA, with the focus on
several moments where Toffees midfielder Marouane Fellaini came
together with Potters skipper Ryan Shawcross in the hosts’ box.

In one incident – seemingly missed by referee Mark Halsey at the
time – defender Shawcross was floored by an apparent headbutt from
Fellaini, who appears likely to face retrospective action from the

After the game, Everton manager David Moyes condemned his
player’s actions and said the club would accept any punishment that
came their way, while Fellaini apologised to Shawcross, his
team-mates and Toffees fans.

Although he said he had “no excuses”, the Belgium international
did make reference in his apology to “a lot of pushing and pulling
going on inside the Stoke penalty area”, adding that he did not
feel he was getting any protection from the officials.

Distin compared yesterday’s events to a penalty Fellaini gave
away in the recent 1-1 draw at Manchester City – which Everton
thought had been harshly awarded – to higlight what he sees as an
inconsistency relating to incidents in the area.

Reflecting on the Stoke match, Distin told evertontv: “It’s
wrestling, it was tough.

“It was difficult to run through, they just catch you all the
time and grab you.

“I think the ref could have a better look at it. But that is
football and it’s going to happen when you come to a place like

“There is just no consistency. That is the problem as a

“Sometimes you get grabbed or blocked and it is not a penalty.
Then you see what happened against City when the ref gave them a
penalty, and you think ‘there should be a penalty every week’.

“There is no consistency so it’s a bit frustrating when it’s not
going your way.”

The series of episodes involving Fellaini and Shawcross came
after Kenwyne Jones’ 52nd-minute headed equaliser for a Stoke side
who were much improved in the second period from their first-half

Everton, handed the lead in the 36th minute by Shawcross’
own-goal, had shaded the contest up to the interval but had
squandered some decent opportunities and Moyes was fairly damning
in his assessment of team’s performance.

The Scot, whose side remained in fourth place after the result,
said: “I would probably say that, in my mind, it might have been
the poorest we have played this year, although it tells a story
that I am disappointed that I am coming to Stoke and drawing

“I think if you are talking about how we played football and the
style we played in, it was probably the least effective we have
been this season.”

Stoke boss Tony Pulis, whose team stayed in ninth spot, praised
his players’ efforts and expressed his delight for striker Jones,
selected to start once again ahead of Peter Crouch.

Jones’ goal was his first in the top flight since August 2011
and he nearly added another moments later, hitting the post.

Pulis said: “Kenwyne has done smashing. He has had to wait his
time and it was a good goal.

“I thought after he scored his goal, the confidence really
flowed through him and he caused them lots of trouble.

“He got tired towards the end, but he hasn’t played many games
and you are going to be like that.

“But it is lovely for him to have scored, I am very pleased for

“I’m pleased for the group as well – I thought their attitude in
the second half was absolutely fantastic again.”

The result means Stoke are unbeaten in seven matches, and have
now gone 15 home league fixtures without defeat, stretching back to

Pulis said: “It is so vibrant here at the Britannia – the crowd
get going and it is almost like a pulse that runs through the

“It is a special ground in lots of respects. When we need their
help, they have always been there for us.”

The Royals continue to value financial stability over

Owner Anton Zingarevich is under pressure to finance a
recruitment drive that will enable the Royals, who are second from
bottom and six points adrift of safety, to evade relegation from
the Premier League.

But McDermott insists Reading’s caution – an approach shared by
Monday’s opponents Arsenal – must be protected to guarantee their

“We have been a sensible club punching above our weight for a
long time and there is a lot to be said for that,” he said.

“We are trying to be as sensible as we can to make sure this
club is still here in the future.

“Look at what happened at Portsmouth and Leeds, clubs nearly
going out of business.

“Portsmouth won the FA Cup after spending a load of money, but
are in real trouble now.

“I have absolutely no doubt other clubs will go the same way as
Portsmouth and I won’t let it happen here because the club’s too

“This club has been here since 1871. Our fans are seeing Premier
League football and they wouldn’t have thought that was possible
three years ago.”

QPR spent ?23million on new players under Mark Hughes, who paid
for the club’s poor performances by being sacked last month.

Rangers remained anchored to the foot of the Premier League
heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures and McDermott cites
them as an example of the uncertainty overshadowing a spending

“Splashing out a lot of money does not guarantee anything. You
guarantee nothing by spending ?25-30million,” he said.

“If I was sat here having spent ?25million pounds in the
summer….. I haven’t, I spent ?2-3million. QPR have splashed a lot
of money already – as a lot of clubs have.”

McDermott is 7/4 favourite to be the third Premier League
manager to be sacked this season, despite his modest outlay during
the summer.

The 51-year-old suggests that the club’s position in the table
is the result of their lack of business, but hopes to strengthen
next month with seasoned top flight campaigners.

“In the summer we didn’t really invest, possibly we should have
done more. The club sets the budget and I work to it, that’s how it
works,” he said.

“January is never an easy window. I will have a chat with the
owner when he comes across and see who is available.

“I don’t know what the budget is, he will have to let me know.
But we have to find players who know the level.

“My feel is the same – if you can find two or three players with
Premier League experience then we need to do that.

“That’s never cheap. You see those targets, but whether you can
get them is a different story. It’s whether players want to come
and we can afford them.”

The Hoops cruised to a 2-0 SPL win over St Mirren at Parkhead on
Saturday, but the scoreline in no way reflected the home side’s

Midfielder Victor Wanyama opened the scoring in the 15th minute
at the second attempt from Charlie Mulgrew’s corner and it was just
reward for their impressive start to the game.

However, despite monopolising possession playing in a 3-5-2
formation, Celtic struggled in front of goal until seven minutes
from time, when striker Gary Hooper scored from close range to seal
their fourth victory in succession and take the champions four
points clear of Motherwell at the top of the table with a game in

The Parkhead boss, who hopes to be present at the Champions
League last-16 draw in Nyon on Thursday – “If I can I will” –
praised his side’s play but would like, when they are so much in
control, to secure the points more quickly.

“I would like to see us put teams away a little bit earlier,”
said Lennon.

“If that comes then I think we will be rampant.

“There was a good focus and intensity to our play and I am glad
to see Hooper scoring again.

“He is looking a lot sharper and trimmer and looks like he has
the bit between his teeth so I was delighted he got his goal.

“Some of our play was very good.

“The formation seems to work with us, there was nothing stodgy
about our play, we created good, clear-cut chances and with better
finishing could have won the game more handsomely.”

St Mirren defended well for the most part but, despite Buddies
boss Danny Lennon saying in the build-up that clubs were no longer
afraid to go to Parkhead these days, the visitors offered almost
nothing in attack and even as the minutes ticked away with the game
still at 1-0, there was no suggestion they might nick a goal.

The former Cowdenbeath boss, still looking for his first goal
far less his first point against Celtic since taking over at St
Mirren in 2010, and having watched his side beaten 5-0 at home by
the Hoops earlier in the season, will try to take some positives
from the game.

He said: “To go there and get a little bit closer was

“We can take a little bit of heart from it.

“We were four games unbeaten so we have to go on a run