London, April 28
After scoring 10 goals in four days, Newcastle are closing in on Champions League qualification in some style — and quicker than the club’s Saudi ownership might have expected.
A finish in the Premier League’s top-four looks increasingly likely for Newcastle following a 4-1 win at Everton on Thursday. It wasn’t quite as emphatic as the 6-1 rout of Tottenham on Sunday, but it wasn’t far off.
In third place and with an eight-point cushion to the teams battling to keep in touch with the top-four, surely Newcastle will be joining Manchester City and Arsenal in Europe’s top competition next season — less than two years since the game-changing takeover by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Manchester United are the favourites to be the fourth English team to reach the Champions League but a second-half collapse at Tottenham on Thursday gave the chasing teams — including Spurs — some hope.
Jeered by their fans at 2-0 down at halftime, Tottenham’s players recovered to draw 2-2 and regain some pride from that dismal performance at Newcastle that marked one of the darkest days in the London club’s recent history.
It was so bad — Newcastle scored five times in the first 21 minutes — that the team offered refunds to fans who travelled to the game, and interim manager Cristian Stellini was fired. Tottenham, now under another caretaker manager in Ryan Mason, is up to the fifth place on goal difference. — AP
Napoli fans ready to erupt
Naples: Napoli fans preparing to celebrate the club’s first Italian league title since 1990 have been told to steer clear of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that overlooks the southern city of Naples. Park authorities became concerned at reports that Napoli’s fanatical fans planned to set off flares to light up Vesuvius in the Italian national colours should the team clinch the title on Sunday, branding the stunt dangerous. Runaway leaders Napoli will secure the club’s third Serie A crown if they beat visitors Salernitana and second-placed Lazio drop points against Inter Milan at San Siro. “We are all pleased for Napoli’s success which will bring honour to our region and great joy for people,” said Vesuvius park commissioner Raffaele De Luca. “But the celebrations must remain within the limits of civil behaviour,” he added. Vesuvius famously erupted in AD79 when it destroyed the nearby Roman city of Pompeii but it remains active. Reuters