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Derby duck raises ugly head for Alfredo Morelos as he looks for first Old Firm goal at 13th attempt

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derby duck raises ugly head for alfredo morelos as he looks for first old firm goal at 13th attempt

Thirteenth time lucky? For Alfredo Morelos, this chance to reshape an anguished Old Firm record is one few predicted he would receive.

Sent off on each of his last two visits to Celtic Park, the Colombian striker has endured a dozen derby appearances — nine of them starts — without scoring once. 

Despite playing his part in three victories for Steven Gerrard’s side, this has so often been a fixture of torment for Morelos.

Alfredo Morelos can put some bad Old Firm memories to bed against Celtic on Saturday

Alfredo Morelos can put some bad Old Firm memories to bed against Celtic on Saturday

The controversial Colombian striker (left) has been sent off in his last two trips to Celtic Park

The controversial Colombian striker (left) has been sent off in his last two trips to Celtic Park 

It looked as though he would exit carrying those unhappy memories of Scotland’s biggest club game. 

The subject of sustained transfer interest from Lille, Morelos was widely anticipated to end a three-year stay at Ibrox before the transfer window closed earlier this month.

But the French club didn’t meet Rangers’ asking price. Nor did anyone else. And so Morelos — who returned to Scotland on Thursday after international duty with Colombia — is in line for another crack at breaking his often-raised derby duck.

Gerrard is delighted to still have him around — even if he raised the ongoing possibility of a bid from a part of the world where the window remains open.

Morelos has yet to find the net against Celtic in his career despite a solid Rangers goal return

Morelos has yet to find the net against Celtic in his career despite a solid Rangers goal return

The Colombian was on the winning side when Rangers stunned their rivals 2-1 last December

The Colombian was on the winning side when Rangers stunned their rivals 2-1 last December

The Ibrox boss declined to confirm Morelos would start this lunchtime. Anything else would, however, come as a surprise given Kemar Roofe is unlikely to be available.

One obvious question is whether Morelos can better keep his cool at Parkhead without 59,000 opposition fans in his ears?

So far this term, the 24-year-old has picked up three yellow cards in 11 behind-closed-doors appearances.

‘In terms of Alfredo, his discipline of course has improved — but I say that with caution on the eve of an Old Firm,’ said Gerrard yesterday. ‘He needs to continue that from now to the end of the season.

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard (above) has not yet confirm whether Morelos starts on Saturday

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard (above) has not yet confirm whether Morelos starts on Saturday

‘He is looking fitter and sharper now. We have not seen him obviously on the pitch since the international break so we will assess him this morning, we will also have a chat with him and see how he feels and then we will decide what we want to do for tomorrow’s game.’

There is no doubt Morelos has the capacity to cause Celtic serious problems. He has dominated their defence at times, including in last December’s League Cup final when he missed a hatful of chances and saw a penalty saved by Fraser Forster.

The striker’s work in dropping deeper to link play and help release midfield runners may well be one of the keys to a positive outcome for Rangers as they look to preserve their position as Premiership leaders.

Morelos is good in front of goal but also helps his team-mates out by coming deep to midfield

Morelos is good in front of goal but also helps his team-mates out by coming deep to midfield

Gerrard has spoken positively of his mindset in recent weeks. That, too, seemed an unlikely prospect when Morelos was dropped back in August after having his ‘head turned’ by the transfer speculation.

‘On many occasions, it was a thing I had to manage from day to day because I didn’t know myself whether there was going to be a bid for him or whether he was going to be sold,’ admitted Gerrard.

‘He’s a fantastic player and he’s still in the door. So we will use that to our benefit. How long he is going to be here for I don’t know.

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Rangers have done well to hang onto Morelos (right) in this season’s transfer market

Morelos' worst Old Firm moment came when he missed a Hampden Park penalty in 2019

Morelos’ worst Old Firm moment came when he missed a Hampden Park penalty in 2019

‘There are still certain windows open so I don’t think we are totally though the woods just yet. But, from a selfish point of view, I want as many good players available to me from now till the end of the season as I can because it will give me a better chance of being successful. Selfishly, I am happy.

‘Alfredo arrived back yesterday afternoon alongside a few other internationals. It isn’t ideal, them arriving that late, but it is what it is.

‘Alfredo comes from a little bit further (having played for Colombia in Chile), so we will have a chat with him this morning and we will assess how he looks in the session.’

824 MINUTES OF OLD FIRM MORELOS MISERY

Sep 23, 2017: RANGERS 0 CELTIC 2 

Morelos’ Old Firm bow saw him denied a goal after Craig Gordon blocked a header with his chest. 

MINUTES: 90. 

DISCIPLINARY: Yellow card. 

Dec 30, 2017: CELTIC 0 RANGERS 0 

Gordon again denies the Colombian with a save that bounces off his knee from point-blank range. 

MINUTES: 89. 

DISCIPLINARY: No card. 

Mar 11, 2018: RANGERS 2 CELTIC 3 

 With Rangers chasing a late equaliser, Morelos somehow hits the post from a yard out with two minutes left. 

MINUTES: 90. 

DISCIPLINARY: No card. 

Apr 15, 2018: CELTIC 4 RANGERS 0 

A Scottish Cup demolition saw Morelos have two chances — both were saved by Gordon. 

MINUTES: 90. 

DISCIPLINARY: Yellow card. 

Apr 29, 2018: CELTIC 5 RANGERS 0 

Only named as a sub and came on for Josh Windass when Rangers were already five goals behind. 

MINUTES: 33 as a sub. 

DISCIPLINARY: Yellow card. 

Sep 2, 2018: CELTIC 1 RANGERS 0 

Steven Gerrard’s Old Firm bow and Morelos has one chance… which was saved yet again by Gordon. 

MINUTES: 90. 

DISCIPLINARY: Yellow card. 

Dec 29, 2018: RANGERS 1 CELTIC 0 

Morelos finally celebrates a win over Celtic, but has a quiet day despite Rangers dominating. 

MINUTES: 90. DISCIPLINARY: No card. 

March 31, 2019: CELTIC 2 RANGERS 1   

A fifth red card of the season and the first against Celtic as Morelos is dismissed for an elbow on Scott Brown. 

MINUTES: 31. 

DISCIPLINARY: Red card. 

May 12, 2019: RANGERS 2 CELTIC 0 

ermaine Defoe is preferred to Morelos and he has no time to make an impact in another win. 

MINUTES: 11 as a sub. 

DISCIPLINARY: No card. 

Sep 1, 2019: RANGERS 0 CELTIC 2 Again, Morelos was only handed a sub place and replaced by Defoe as Rangers fell to a tame defeat. 

MINUTES: 30 as a sub. 

DISCIPLINARY: No card. 

Dec 8, 2019: CELTIC 1 RANGERS 0 

Fraser Forster not only saves Morelos’ penalty, but denies him on three other occasions as Celtic win the League Cup. 

MINUTES: 90. 

DISCIPLINARY: No card. 

Dec 29, 2019: CELTIC 1 RANGERS 2 Morelos misses a sitter and is shown a second yellow card for diving in stoppage time before making a cut-throat gesture. 

MINUTES: 90. 

DISCIPLINARY: Booked twice — red card. 

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Justin Gaethje reveals moment shared with emotional Khabib Nurmagomedov following UFC 254

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justin gaethje reveals moment shared with emotional khabib nurmagomedov following ufc 254

Justin Gaethje has revealed what he told Khabib Nurmagomedov in the immediate aftermath of his loss at UFC 254 during emotional scenes inside the octagon on Fight Island.

The Highlight entered the lightweight title fight on the back of huge momentum having beaten perennial winner Tony Ferguson to earn his shot at the Dagestani king.

But Nurmagomedov demonstrated why he is one of the greatest fighters to grace the sport with yet another dominant performance, setting a frenetic pace in the first round before securing a triangle submission in the second.

Justin Gaethje has revealed what he told an emotional Khabib Nurmagomedov after UFC 254

Justin Gaethje has revealed what he told an emotional Khabib Nurmagomedov after UFC 254

The Highlight was seen consoling the Dagestani star following his win on Fight Island

The Highlight was seen consoling the Dagestani star following his win on Fight Island

And after earning his 29th career victory, Nurmagomedov let out a flood of emotion in the centre of the octagon, releasing months of built up agony following the untimely death of his father, Abdulmanap.

The 57-year-old died of coronavirus in a Moscow hospital in July, and his death has been agonising for the lightweight champion who idolised the man that nurtured and developed him into a UFC star.

Gaethje was seen consoling the 32-year-old while the pair were alone in the octagon, and the American has revealed the calming words he gave to the champion.

Nurmagomedov has been rocked by the loss of his father Abdulmanap (L) to coronavirus

Nurmagomedov has been rocked by the loss of his father Abdulmanap (L) to coronavirus

‘I said “I haven’t had the chance to tell you that I am so sorry for your dad’s loss, but you have just made your father really proud,”‘ the fan-favourite told BT Sport.

Gaethje’s third career defeat comes as a blow but the 31-year-old is confident that he can bounce back.  

‘Right now it hurts,’ he admitted. ‘There is not a lot of people that can make me feel better. This is on me. I need to go home and I need to deal with this on my own because I stepped in there alone.’

When interviewed by Jon Anik in the octagon after the bout, Gaethje said sharing the stage with Nurmagomedov made him feel ‘alive’. 

Gaethje told Khabib that Abdulmanap would have been proud of his son after the victory

Gaethje told Khabib that Abdulmanap would have been proud of his son after the victory

‘I felt alive. That’s why I step in here. Adrenaline, endorphins released. The only reason I stuck here was to give this main his praises. He is tough, he is so strong, he has made his father so proud.

‘I fight for a living. The best thing about getting choked out is there’s nothing really consequential to your long term health. I’m ready for the next one whenever. I’m in good shape, I don’t want to get too far. So six weeks, eight weeks.’

Following Khabib’s shock retirement from mixed martial arts, it won’t be too long before Gaethje gets another shot at the lightweight title, with The Highlight in the mix alongside Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson and Conor McGregor. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Liverpool fans step up TV boycott for Sheffield United match and raise £81,000 for local foodbanks

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liverpool fans step up tv boycott for sheffield united match and raise 81000 for local foodbanks

Liverpool fans raised tens of thousands for foodbanks on Saturday night by boycotting the pay-per-view match between their club and Sheffield United.

By the time Jurgen Klopp’s team kicked off against the Blades at 8pm, the running total of the donations had risen to £81,000 according to supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly, who organised the protest.

Fans across the country have expressed their opposition to being charged £14.95 by the Premier League to watch games on Box Office in addition to the subscription charges they already pay Sky Sports and BT.

Liverpool fans boycotted Sky Sports' Box Office broadcast of their match with Sheffield United

Liverpool fans boycotted Sky Sports’ Box Office broadcast of their match with Sheffield United

The Premier League is charging fans £14.95 to access the new pay-per-view service

The Premier League is charging fans £14.95 to access the new pay-per-view service

Spirit of Shankly asked Reds supporters to donate to food-banks rather than put extra money into the Premier League coffers, following the work done by Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford.

The group asked Liverpool supporters to sacrifice watching their team live, saying in a statement: ‘Don’t sign up to the profiteering. Boycott. There is a humanitarian crisis in our country which is only going to worsen.’

The success of the boycott puts pressure on the Premier League to reduce prices for the next round of games.

Supporter group Spirit of Shankly donated several £14.95 fees to food-banks in a protest

Supporter group Spirit of Shankly donated several £14.95 fees to food-banks in a protest

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UFC supremo Dana White pays tribute to Khabib Nurmagomedov after his career-ending victory

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ufc supremo dana white pays tribute to khabib nurmagomedov after his career ending victory

UFC president Dana White has heaped praise on Khabib Nurmagomedov after he announced his shock retirement following his UFC 254 win over Justin Gaethje. 

The Russian defeated Gaethje early in the second round of their Saturday night fight but revealed that victory was his last in MMA. 

White also claimed that Khabib broke his foot three weeks ago and nearly did not take part in the UFC 254 contest this weekend, while it has also been revealed the Russian contracted mumps in the fight build-up. 

Dana White has paid tribute to Khabib Nurmagomedov after he retired from MMA on Saturday

Dana White has paid tribute to Khabib Nurmagomedov after he retired from MMA on Saturday

Khabib defeated Justin Gaethje (right) in UFC 254 on Saturday night and then quit MMA

Khabib defeated Justin Gaethje (right) in UFC 254 on Saturday night and then quit MMA

White told the media after Khabib’s final victory: ‘What this guy has been through, we’re all lucky that we got to see him play tonight. Apparently he was in the hospital and broke his foot three weeks ago.’ 

‘He’s got two broken toes and a bone in his foot that’s broken or something like that. That’s what his corner was telling me. He never told anybody and was walking around.

‘He is one of the toughest human beings on the planet. He’s the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world and we seriously need to put him up there as a GOAT status.’

Khabib, who recently lost his father to Covid-19, was emotional when he announced his exit

 Khabib, who recently lost his father to Covid-19, was emotional when he announced his exit

It has been a difficult few months for Khabib, who lost his father at the start of July due to coronavirus. 

‘Today, I want to say, this was my last fight. No way am I going to come here without my father. It was first time, after what happened with my father, when UFC called me about Justin.

‘I talk with my mother three days, she don’t want that I go fight without father. I promised her, it’s going to be my last fight, and if I give my word, I have to follow this. It was my last fight here.

‘I know only one thing I want from UFC, you guys have to be me on No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, because I deserve this.’ 

Khabib was emotional after his win, curling up into a ball and crying on the octagon floor

Khabib was emotional after his win, curling up into a ball and crying on the octagon floor

White claimed he believed something was wrong with the Russian fighter in the build-up to the fight, but was still surprised at his bombshell post-fight news.

Khabib’s coach confirmed after the fighter’s retirement that he had contracted mumps in his training programme which was described as the ‘worst camp’ ever. 

He added: ‘I could tell. The way he acted at the weigh-ins (and) the way that he acted when he was walking out tonight. 

‘He didn’t look like himself, he was breathing heavy and taking deep breaths, but wow.’ 

White was asked whether Khabib could make his way back to MMA later on in his life, in a move that would replicate Conor McGregor highly-anticipated return later this year.

White said he will not force Khabib into a MMA return and said the Russian has a broken foot

White said he will not force Khabib into a MMA return and said the Russian has a broken foot

The UFC president said he will give Khabib the space he needs to mourn his father’s death and will not force him into a decision to return.

White continued: ‘If the guys want to fight, let them fight. If they don’t want to fight they don’t want to fight. 

‘Let him take some time off and heal, not physically but emotionally, with what he’s going through from losing his father.’ 

Khabib ended his career with 29 wins and zero defeats after the victory over Gaethje (right)

Khabib ended his career with 29 wins and zero defeats after the victory over Gaethje (right)

The UFC lightweight champion extended his unblemished record to 29 wins, zero defeats with the victory over Gaethje at Saturday’s UFC 254. 

UFC rival McGregor also paid respect to Khabib and his career following the shock news on Saturday night.

The Irishman tweeted: ‘Good performance @TeamKhabib,’ he wrote. ‘I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors.’ 

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