The Football Association have confirmed they will be investigating a gesture made by Nicolas Anelka during West Brom’s 3-3 draw at West Ham.
Anelka scored twice as West Brom came from behind to earn a point at Upton Park, but a gesture made by the 34-year-old after his first goal could land him in trouble.
The action – known in France as the ‘quenelle’ – is said to have anti-Semitic connotations and a spokesperson from FA has told Perform that an investigation into the incident is forthcoming.
Speaking after the game, West Brom’s caretaker manager Keith Downing said he did not expect the player to receive any punishment, and Anelka looked to pre-empt any charge by explaining the issue on his official Twitter page.
He wrote: “This gesture was just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonne (M’Bala M’Bala).”
However, he may face punishment and the FA will have the full support of the Kick It Out campaign, as they released a statement following the incident.
It read: “Kick It Out has been made aware of West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka making an alleged gesture, known as the ‘quenelle’, which carries anti-Semitic connotations during today’s (28 December) fixture against West Ham United at Upton Park.
“The campaign is in contact with partners in England and France regarding this matter and has offered its support to The Football Association in any forthcoming investigation.”
Jack Colback’s 95th-minute equaliser piled more misery on Cardiff City as Sunderland came from behind to claim a 2-2 draw on Saturday.
The Welsh side looked to be in complete control in their first game following the sacking of boss Malky Mackay by controversial club owner Vincent Tan, after Jordon Mutch had opened the scoring with a deflected strike after just six minutes.
Three points appeared to be a formality when former Sunderland man Fraizer Campbell struck in the early stages of the second half.
But Sunderland refused to lie down, and they gave themselves hope when Steven Fletcher pulled a goal back with seven minutes left to set up a frantic finish.
There was still time for even more late drama and the comeback was completed with the last meaningful kick of the game when Colback found the net with a deflected effort to spark jubilant scenes in the away end and leave the Premier League’s bottom side just two points adrift of safety.
There was worrying news for Sunderland, though, after reports that Fabio Borini had been taken to hospital after collapsing at half-time.
Gary Medel was restored to the Cardiff midfield as one of three changes made by interim coaches David Kerslake and Joe McBride, while Sunderland boss Poyet – without Adam Johnson through illness – selected Jozy Altidore to lead the line in place of Fletcher.
Cardiff made a bright start and they were denied a penalty in the first minute as referee Chris Foy ruled that Mutch had dived after a challenge with Valentin Roberge.
The 22-year-old was instead booked for simulation, and Mutch was again involved in the game’s first real chance shortly afterwards, the midfielder meeting Craig Noone’s cross with a powerful header that flew over the crossbar.
He was finally rewarded for his initiative after six minutes when he capitalised on ponderous defending from the visitors to burst forward and fire a shot that deflected off Modibo Diakite and into the bottom corner.
Sunderland struggled to gain a foothold in the contest and owed much to their goalkeeper, Vito Mannone, who produced an excellent fingertip save to keep out Kim Bo-Kyung’s fierce long-range drive.
The chances continued to flow for the hosts as Steven Caulker, Peter Whittingham and Campbell all went close to adding to their lead.
However, it was Sunderland who perhaps should have scored the game’s second goal just after the half-hour mark when Altidore somehow shot wide with the goal at his mercy after David Marshall had failed to deal with an effort from Ki Sung-Yueng.
Sunderland brought Fletcher on in place of Borini at the break – the Liverpool loanee apparently suffering an illness – and their task was made even harder 12 minutes into the second period when Campbell converted Mutch’s pull back.
Lee Cattermole went close to finding a reply soon after but then Fletcher frayed the home nerves as he turned home an Emanuele Giaccherini cross seven minutes from time.
That set up a late Sunderland onslaught, with Fletcher and Roberge both going close, but it was Colback who proved to be the hero in the fifth minute of injury time as his effort from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection past a despairing Marshall.
Bayer Leverkusen are eager to tie Sidney Sam down to a new contract and avoid losing the Germany international on the cheap.
Sam has scored 11 goals in 19 games for Leverkusen so far this season, with Sam Hyypia’s side second in the Bundesliga during the mid-season break and safely into the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.
The 25-year-old’s fine form has caught the eye of potential suitors, who will be encouraged by a clause in Sam’s contract that could reportedly see him available for a mere
Imoh Ezekiel was named Man of the Match after bagging a brace in Standard Liege’s 5-1 away thumping of Kortrijk in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League.
The 21-year-old first struck in the 13th minute to extend Standard’s lead, after left-back Van Damme had opened the scoring seven minutes earlier off an assist from Ezekiel at the Guldensporenstadion.
Ezekiel netted again for the league leaders deep in first-half injury time, sliding in a pass from strike partner Micky Batsshuayi.
Senegalese veteran Elimane Coulibaly pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 55th minute, but Batshuayi restored Standard’s three-goal cushion on the hour-mark before Igor Rinck de Camargo headed in a cross from Ezekiel in the 77th minute.
Ezekiel, who has collected eight goals in 21 appearances for his club this season, earned 82% of the votes cast to decide the best performer of Friday’s tie.
Eagles star revives botched move, doubtful for CHAN
Super Eagles 2013 Nations Cup hero, Sunday Mba, who is one of the players being relied upon to pull the strings at the forthcoming African Nations Championship, may after all not be available for the tournament, according to Head Coach Stephen Keshi.
Keshi said on Thursday that Mba was on his way to France to join Bastia, the French side that first indicated interest in the player after the Nations Cup triumph. Assistant coach Daniel Amokachi was to add that the player could leave camp as early as Friday, as he was not one of the players listed for the friendly game in Port Harcourt on Saturday against a Rivers selected side.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has claimed his side’s profligacy in front of goal so far this season is “killing” him.
The Stamford Bridge outfit have struggled to return goals from their strikers, with Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba managing to strike just five times between them this term.
It was a similar story in Chelsea’s 1-0 triumph over Swansea City on Boxing Day, with Eden Hazard’s strike settling the game, while Eto’o had opportunities either side of half-time to get on the scoresheet.
On both occasions he was foiled by goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel, the German making a particularly fine stop just after the break.
Mourinho does not fault his forwards for their efforts, but has challenged his frontline to improve their goal return in the second half of the campaign.
“They kill me. Every game I’m tired in the end,” he said.
“If in the second period (of the season) instead of five, they score 10, we have more chances (to win the title).
“They always give something to the team. Every one of them that plays. No goals, no winning goals. Okay, but they give what they can.”
Chelsea – who occupy third in the Premier League table – continue their assault on the title in Sunday’s showdown with fellow high-flyers Liverpool.