NewsCommunityBrooklyn’s horrific death gave Sonia a different purpose to lifeBy David Raleigh – January 16, 2020 22065 Print Advertisement WATCH: “Everyone is fighting so hard to get on” – Pat Ryan on competitive camogie squads Predictions on the future of learning discussed at Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival WhatsApp Previous articleFESTIVAL: Music MindsNext articleShannon set to become top European testing ground for driverless vehicles David Raleigh Limerick’s National Camogie League double header to be streamed live Donal Ryan names Limerick Ladies Football team for League opener Billy Lee names strong Limerick side to take on Wicklow in crucial Division 3 clash Facebook RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Email Linkedin Twitter TAGSCommunitylimerickLimerick City and CountyNewssonia aylmer Sonia Aylmer, mother of Brooklyn Colbert. Photo: Cian ReinhardtLAST November, Limerick was shocked by the killing of 11-year old Brooklyn Colbert.In her first interview since her son’s death, Sonia Aylmer tells David Raleigh of her plans to honour Brooklyn by giving back to those who helped provide a pathway out of homelessness and of her hopes of helping others through the trauma of losing a child.Sonia Aylmer smiles as she recalls how she would playfully tease her son by constantly taking photographs and videos of him on her mobile phone, so she would have a lasting collage of memories recorded of him growing up into the man she knew she would be proud of.“I’m so glad I have all those photos and videos now. Brooklyn was very caring, he was like a protector, he had a great heart, he was very soft,” says Sonia.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up “He loved animals as well; He thought his dog ‘Buddy’ was his brother, he loved the dog, they were always together.”She raises a smile remembering how Brooklyn and Buddy, were thick as thieves, planning their adventures together.Brooklyn was a dedicated Liverpool fan, and after hearing news of his death, the Premier League Club’s Chaplain Bill Bygroves sent Sonia a letter of “sincerest condolences, on behalf of everybody associated with Liverpool Football Club, the directors, manager, players, and staff”.“It was lovely to get, it was a surprise, I didn’t know I was getting that. It just shows the impact that Brooklyn had,” Sonia says.“Brooklyn was ill when he was a baby. He was born with a cleft palate, and so he was up and down to Temple Street Children’s Hospital for assessments, and I got a letter from them as well.“They remembered Brooklyn and his personality, and they wrote me a lovely letter about the memories they had of him, and the things he had said to them. He was a very funny child and very witty.”The letters are nice, she says. They confirm what she already knew, how Brooklyn would have “a great impact” on anyone who met him.“He had such a lovely aura about him, a lovely personality. He’d be delighted with Liverpool now they’re doing so well,” she adds.Sonia says the past ten weeks, following Brooklyn’s death, have obviously been “horrendous”.However, with the help of her friends and family members and the Novas organisation, she has been “taking baby steps”, as she tries to process and cope with such heartbreaking loss.“I just feel Brooklyn is giving me strength from somewhere,” she says.That strength shone out from Sonia’s and Brooklyn’s shared love of running.The 36-year-old has her sights set on participating in the Great Limerick Run next May, an event which the Limerick mother and son have taken part in on a number of occasions together.“The main reason is for Brooklyn, because myself and Brooklyn always took part in it. Brooklyn loved to do the Kids Limerick Run. One year he did it twice, so he got two medals that day. He loved it, he loved training.”“He also loved training with his Dad. They’d go running along the riverbanks. He was a very energetic child, and it was something he loved to do. So this is to keep his memory alive and for me to do something positive for Brooklyn,” she adds.“Himself and his Dad had a great relationship, and they used to always be training together, running together and they’d go for a swim. They were like best friends, so he is heartbroken as well.”“I’m focusing on the Run and training, and, knowing that I have to do it to make Brooklyn proud. It has been good for my mental health as well, I know he’d be very proud of me to do it.”“Brooklyn was into his sports, he played with Pike Rovers and Ballynanty FC, and he did some boxingWe used to box together in the Hub in Thomondgate, and he was better than me with the moves. We’d often partner up together as well. It was lovely.”Sonia also wants to run in order to raise awareness about the Novas charity, which helps people who have become homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.It’s a cause close to her heart.“Myself and Brooklyn were in our home for five years and we became homeless as our landlord wanted to move back in. That was about two years ago. We were fighting to stay in our home as long as we could,” she explains.“I got in touch with Novas and they put me in the right direction, they were very good to us.”Sonia and Brooklyn ended up living in a hotel for about two months, but their “unbreakable bond” ensured they remained resilient in the face of their adversity.Thankfully, Sonia says, Brooklyn took the ordeal mostly in his stride, joking he was like the movie character “Kevin”, played by then child actor Macaulay Culkin who finds himself staying in the five-star Plaza Hotel, New York, in the 1992 adventure comedy “Home Alone 2: Lost In New York”.“Brooklyn was a very easy going child so he never complained about it. We were in the hotel for about eight weeks, and while we were there Novas helped us with our washing and provided tokens for the launderette. You spend a lot of money in a hotel as well, so they gave us vouchers to get our dinner cheaper in Our Lady of Lourdes community centre.“Novas were very helpful with ringing landlords. They were brilliant in every way, and since Brooklyn has passed, they have been a massive help to me.”Sonia singles out Julie McKenna, a senior project executive with Novas, for special praise.“Julie has been helping me, and being there for me, she got me through Christmas, she got me over it,” Sonia says.“At the time we were made homeless, we didn’t know where to turn to. I didn’t know where to go, and we didn’t have anywhere to stay. My family live in England, and so me and Brooklyn…well, Brooklyn had his dad… but in terms of stability for me and Brooklyn, I didn’t have anywhere to go.“It was a blessing that I had Novas to do that for me. That’s why I’m so passionate about giving back to them and to try to do the fundraising for them.”“I know Brooklyn would love to give back, I know he’d love that, that he’d have something to do with giving back to Novas. He wasn’t embarrassed hat he was homeless. He told his friends and his teacher at school, he was very grounded, very happy.”No matter where they lived, as long as they were a pair, Sonia and Brooklyn were “happy”.Their hopes were answered last October when they secured a home with Novas’s help, through Limerick City and County Council.The celebrations were poignantly short-lived with Brooklyn’s untimely death on November 3.Sonia Aylmer with Brooklyn ColbertSonia says: “We got the house in October but I still haven’t moved in yet. I’m finding it kind of difficult to move in and start another chapter without Brooklyn, but I’m in and out of it doing it up.“Last week I took a step forward by going back to work, so maybe in the next few weeks, I’ll take another step forward by moving into the house.”“Brooklyn was in the house and he picked out his bedroom so I will still do up the room up for him and there will still be a part of him in the house.”Sonia’s work as a mentor with Limerick Sports Partnership, helping others move on from trauma and their own individual experiences through exercise, has also helped her own mental health.She continues to battle the “bad days” and greets the good days with a positive smile.Sonia says her “whole world crashed” when she was told Brooklyn had died.“Brooklyn was more than my son, he was my best friend, he was like the other part of me, we were inseparable. It was like my whole world ended.”“I have a good circle of friends and they’re getting me through it, and my uncle who reared me with my nana has been a massive support too.”Prayer has also sustained her faith that Brooklyn’s spirit remains close to her.“I go to the church most days and I talk to Brooklyn and I light a candle. Me and Brooklyn used to light candles in the church, it was a thing that we did. I have his picture in the Augustinians Church, so I go in there and I light a candle and I have a chat with him.”“It only came to me the other day that the Great Limerick Run finishing line is just after we pass that church, so it’ll be nice. It will mean something to have it finished outside the church, where his picture is, it’ll be nice, it’ll be special.”“I feel him with me, I still do. We had so much of a bond. The bond we had can’t just be gone, it can’t just be broken. I believe we still have that bond, and I think he is guiding me stronger than ever.BROOKLYN Colbert wasn’t the only child to benefit from the work of Novas over the last two years with 2018 ranking as the worst year on record for the number of children helped by the Limerick charity.Novas senior project executive Julie McKenna said it was the first time they worked with over a thousand children in Limerick, Tipperary, Dublin, Cork and Kerry.“In Limerick, alone we supported 592 children and these were children who were homeless or at risk of being homeless.”“We really are up against it and we are really humbled that Sonia would consider to give back to Novas despite everything that she is experiencing at the moment, and that she wants Brooklyn’s memory to live on through giving back to Novas.”“We are very thankful for that, and very thankful for everybody that is supporting her, and gathering momentum, and getting involved in the race as well including Limerick Sports Partnership and her friends.”Paying tribute to Sonia and Brooklyn’s courage, she addds: “We are so thankful and very privileged to know Sonia, and to have known Brooklyn and worked with him. He was a kid with a spark about him and he left an impact and a memory wherever he went. So, it’s lovely to be involved in this and keeping his memory alive.”“We will continue to support Sonia, I know her a long time, and I would have went to Sonia on the night Brooklyn passed away, and we would touch in and out with one another, and that will continue as long as she needs it.I’m proud to be part of an organisation that does that, it’s the least we can do,” Ms McKenna added. Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live
The following incidents were reported in the USC Dept. of Public Safety daily incident log between Monday, Jan. 30 and Tuesday, Jan. 31.Crimes against a personAt 9:09 a.m. on Jan. 30, a student reported that he was sexually assaulted near Adams Boulevard and Figueroa Street.At 1:41 a.m. on Jan. 30, a student reported that he was sexually assaulted by another student in the Biegler Hall of Engineering.Crimes against property At 9:44 p.m. on Jan. 30, a suspect smashed the rear windshield of a student’s vehicle near 37th and Flower Streets.Miscellaneous incidentsat 2:01 a.m. on Jan. 31, DPS officers responded to a report of a female screaming near The Row’s North Alley. Upon their arrival, the officers were directed to an intoxicated student in the alley. The student appeared confused and told the officers that she was diabetic, so they transported her to California Hospital for evaluation.at 12:36 a.m. on Jan. 31, DPS officers responded to a report of a non-USC male and a non-USC female involved in a dispute at 1234 37th Dr. and detained them for questioning. The male said the female was in possession of his cell phone, and she returned it while the officers were present. The male also said he no longer wanted the female living in his residence, and she left the scene without further incident.at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 30, DPS officers responded to a student who injured his ankle when he fell off his bicycle after colliding with a parking control arm near Childs and Watt Ways. The officers examined the student and transported him to Student Health Center for medical treatment.At 3:05 p.m. on Jan. 30, DPS officers responded to a non-USC male who became disoriented while having blood drawn in Healthcare Consultation Center II. A Rapid Response team was at the scene treating the male when the officers came. The male was responsive and no longer disoriented. The male was then released to continue having his blood drawn.At 1:31 p.m. on Jan. 30, DPS officers responded to a report of a non-USC female attempting to contact staff at the Eileen & Kenneth T. Norris Dental Science Center after having been repeatedly told she was no longer welcome on the premises because of her behavior. The officers detained the female and reiterated she was no longer welcome at the dental school. The female was given a letter from the school telling her the same thing. She was released after being instructed to read it and abide by the stated restrictions.at 11:04 a.m. on Jan. 30, DPS officers responded to a report of a suspicious item under a chair inside the Norris Medical Library. The officers saw a metal cylinder under the chair and, upon further inspection, determined that it was a weight used to tie down balloons. The officers then cleared the scene.
Eden Hazard hit the post and Cesc Fabregas had a strong penalty appeal turned down as Chelsea had the better of the first half of their Champions League game.The Blues looked bright from the outset, winning the midfield battle through Nemanja Matic and Ramires, and looking dangerous in attack through Willian and the recalled Hazard.Hazard hit the post with a fine curling strike, Willian’s teasing free-kick almost teed up a goal for Diego Costa and Matic sent an effort just wide after a brilliant run.And Fabregas looked like he should have won a penalty when he cut in from the left and seemed to be felled by two Dynamo Kiev defenders.Dynamo threatened at times, most notably when Vitaliy Buyalskiy had a shot deflected just wide by John Terry.But Chelsea remained in control at the end of an impressive first half.Chelsea: Begovic; Zouma, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Hazard; Diego Costa.Subs: Blackman, Baba, Mikel, Oscar, Traore, Kenedy, Falcao.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
SANTA CLARA, CA – DECEMBER 23: San Francisco 49ers’ Dante Pettis (18) bobbles a catch, but holds on to it, against Chicago Bears’ Kyle Fuller (23) in the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) … CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos or video on a mobile deviceSANTA CLARA — Here is how the 49ers (4-11) graded in Sunday’s 14-9, home-finale loss to the Chicago Bears (11-4):PASS OFFENSE: C
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The Opposition BJP members staged a walkout in the Rajasthan Assembly on Friday after raising the issues of illegal mining and transport of ‘bajri’ (riverbed sand), despite the ban imposed by the Supreme Court, and the cancellation of appointment process for 2,500 community health officers in the National Health Mission (NHM).Speaker C.P. Joshi adjourned the proceedings for half an hour after the walkout, when Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal asserted that the State government had a “right to reply” to the Opposition’s allegations.‘No concrete step’Attacking the Congress government through an adjournment motion, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Rajendra Rathore said though the Governor’s address to the House on January 17 had admitted of the ‘bajri’ mafia operating in the State, no concrete step had been taken to stop the illegal activity. People in the State were still waiting for the sandstone policy that the State government had promised, he said.Senior BJP leader and former Medical & Health Minister Kali Charan Saraf raised the issue of NHM appointments during zero hour. He said the entrance exam for vacancies of community health officers, scheduled for June 22, was cancelled and the NHM human resource cell’s officials were suspended hurriedly. He said the reasons behind the government’s action “taken in a haste” were not clear.On the issue of restrictions imposed on journalists’ movements in the Assembly building, Mr. Joshi said the boycott of press gallery would not affect the flow of information from the House as the proceedings were telecast live on YouTube. He said the decision to limit journalists’ access had been taken as per the rules.
Day One at the 2004 Australia Cup was…very testing. An early start compounded by lightning, thunder, hail and driving rain and what I believe were gale-force winds was…interesting. While I normally enjoy a day of good solid winter weather with a bit of storm action, today was not really the ideal day for it. With the wind sending people running to stop team tents from blowing away and the photographer cringing when his camera crashed to the ground, the players took the fields for the first day of matches. A visit from ASDA (Australian Sports Drug Agency) to do some random testing, was a timely reminder for all players about the importance of returning the required ASDA forms and following the ASDA guidelines and requirements that apply to all players. While the weather cleared a little over lunchtime, the afternoon was twice as bad. Our afternoon stroll to the shops for some lunch turned more into a fight for survival against wind and rain threatening to send us flying across the fields and into the ocean. (okay, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic, but credit needs to be given to the players, coaches, selectors and referees braving the conditions.) Markers, jackets, tents, flags and hats were flying left, right and centre, but the competition went on (minus tournament director Jon Pratt who was last seen past the trees, down the creek, looking for those missing field markers.) Last year’s Men’s Champions, the ACT, fought out a tough 6-6 draw with Tasmania, signaling a tight tournament for the Men. They finished strongly with a 6-3 win over SA and an easy win over the Victorian 30’s. Tasmania also finished well after the first day, a 6-5 win The Victorian 23’s laid down the challenge to their Open Men before going down 6-3 in a good match. The SA Men started the tournament well with a 13-2 win over NSW Country and a 10-4 win over the Victorian 23’s. While the Senior teams will play all teams in the round matches, they will have their own finals series and it already looks as though it will be tightly fought between the Victoria, NSW Country and Elwood Park senior sides. In the Women’s division it was last year’s Champions, Victoria, who had a strong round one win, 10-0 over the Elwood Park Seniors (EPTA Seniors). They continued to establish themselves with another 9-2 win over the ACT. The NSW Women look like they will challenge the Victorian Women after a 7-4 win over SA. A bye on the first day meant not a lot was seen of the NSW Country Women. The NSW Country 23’s will no doubt be very tough to beat with their side including several past and present Australia representatives. They started the tournament with two easy wins 11-2 over Vic 23’s and 12-0 over the EPTA Seniors. Tomorrow certainly promises another day of great competition. The SportingPulse draw, results and statistics can be found using the following link: AUSTRALIA CUP DRAW AND RESULTS 2004 All Australia Cup stories can also be found on the ATA Australia Cup homepage. AUSTRALIA CUP HOMEPAGE 2004 By Rachel Moyle, [email protected]
Luka Modric’s wonderful goal helped seal Club World Cup history as Real Madrid beat Al Ain 4-1 to become the first team to win the tournament three years in a row.Santiago Solari’s first silverware since being appointed as Julen Lopetegui’s successor was set up by Modric’s first-half strike as Madrid comfortably triumphed in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, moving past rivals Barcelona with their fourth title in the competition.The Croatia midfielder, who added the Ballon d’Or crown to his World Cup Golden Ball this month, bent the opener into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards, with Marcos Llorente also drilling home from outside the box before a Sergio Ramos header extended Madrid’s lead. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Al Ain had a goal from Caio Fernandes ruled out for offside when they only trailed by one and Zoran Mamic’s side – who replied through an excellent Tsukasa Shiotani header – can be proud of their efforts on home soil as massive underdogs against the European champions, despite Madrid adding a late fourth through Yahia Nader’s own goal.The perfect way to cap off #TheBest year for @lukamodric10? He has @realmadriden in front in the #ClubWC final pic.twitter.com/VmlslWFoxG— #ClubWC (@FIFAcom) December 22, 2018Madrid hit the post in the third minute when Llorente got clear in the left channel, his cutback deflected on to the woodwork by fortunate defender Ismail Ahmed.Al Ain should have taken the lead when Marcelo’s mistake let in Hussein El Shahat but captain Ramos made a miraculous goal-line clearance to deny the winger, then Madrid nudged in front.Neat build-up play from Karim Benzema set up Modric and the Ballon d’Or winner curled home a beauty from 25 yards, Caio then seeing a rapid reply ruled out for offside.Benzema missed a brilliant chance to extend Madrid’s lead before goalkeeper Khalid Eisa made outstanding saves to deny both Gareth Bale and Modric before the break.Madrid effectively clinched the trophy in the 60th minute when a cleared corner fell kindly to Llorente, his thumping half-volley giving Eisa no chance and opening his professional account in some style.Ramos powered home a Modric corner to make certain of Madrid’s victory, celebrating the goal with unused substitute Isco, although Al Ain scored a deserved consolation through Shiotani with four minutes left.Madrid had the final say, though, as a cross from substitute Vinicius Jr was turned into his own goal by Nader in the first minute of stoppage time. WHAT A [email protected] pic.twitter.com/wsel09O91H— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) December 22, 2018What does it mean? Solari up and runningThis was not always completely convincing from Madrid, but they did not need to get out of second gear. Solari’s side left too many gaps at the back and more clinical opponents may have punished them, but the coach will be relieved to collect the first trophy of his reign.Modric the man of the moment There were few arguments about Modric ending Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominance of the Ballon d’Or and he ended 2018 on another high note. His opening goal was superbly struck and the midfielder also forced a scrambling save from Eisa with a stunning volley as well as crossing for Ramos’ goal.Madrid survive Benzema’s baffling missRonaldo’s sale to Juventus meant Benzema would have to hugely increase his meagre goalscoring returns from last season to address the deficit. But the former France striker has struggled to step up, with an atrocious miss from Lucas Vazquez’s cross particularly worrying. Benzema – who has six league goals this season – did set up Modric’s opener, yet he is ultimately in the Madrid team to score goals, not make them.Key Opta Facts- Madrid have won the Club World Cup four times (2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018), surpassing Barcelona (2009, 2011 and 2015) to become the competition’s most successful team.- Solari is the first Argentinian manager to win the Club World Cup. The previous five Argentinians to manage in a Club World Cup final lost the game, all in charge of teams from South America.- Madrid captain Ramos is the third player to score in different Club World Cup finals, after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.What’s next?Madrid can enjoy a brief break before returning to LaLiga action at Villarreal on January 3. read more
Barcelona will seek to tighten their grip on first place in the Primera Division on Saturday when they play host to Celta Vigo.The Catalans go into the fixture fresh from thumping away wins against Espanyol (4-0) and Levante (5-0) and having had the rare luxury of a full week to prepare for the fixture.Thereafter, they will have a couple of weeks off before meeting Getafe in La Liga, but in order to enjoy the festive period as fully as possible, they must overcome midtable Celta. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Game Barcelona vs Celta Date Saturday, December 22 Time 5:30pm GMT / 12:30pm ET Stream (US) fubo TV (7-day free trial) TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) . New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser. US TV channel Online stream beIN Sports fubo TV (7-day free trial) In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be shown on television but can be streamed on Eleven Sports 2. UK TV channel Online stream N/A Eleven Sports 2 Squads & Team News Position Barcelona squad Goalkeepers Ter Stegen, Cillessen Defenders Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Miranda Midfielders Rakitic, Busquets, Roberto, Vidal, Denis Suarez, Arthur, Alena Forwards Messi, Luis Suarez, Coutinho, Dembele, Munir Thomas Vermaelen suffered a fresh injury setback this week while Samuel Umtiti is still sidelined. On the plus side, Nelson Semedo is fit and gets a starting berth.Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, L. Suarez, Dembele.Subs: Cillessen, Alena, Brandariz, Coutinho, Miranda, Arthur, D. Suarez. Position Celta squad Goalkeepers Ruben Blanco, Alvarez Defenders Araujo, Costas, Roncaglia, Cabral, Alonso, Mazan, Mallo, Vazquez Midfielders Lobotka, Yokuslu, Radoja, Beltran, Jensen, Sanchez, Mendez, Boufal Forwards Sisto, Mor, Hjulsager, Gomez, Aspas, Eckert Celta have a full squad available for this encounter with the exception of the suspended left-back David Junca. Celta starting XI: Ruben Blanco; Mallo, Araujo, Costas, Mazan; Mendez, Yokuslu, Jozabed, Boufal; Aspas, Gomez.Subs: Alvarez, Beltran, Cabral, Hjulsager, Lobotka, Sisto, Kevin.Betting & Match Odds Barcelona have been made hot 1/8 favourites with bet365. A draw is priced at 8/1 while a Celta win is a long shot at 20/1.Click here to see more offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more .Match Preview They may have one last outing of 2018, but Barcelona’s thoughts are already drifting towards the future.On Thursday, it was confirmed that they will sign Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia in the January transfer window to reinforce their defence, while the Camp Nou side have also been tipped to pounce for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot.Barca have kept three successive cleansheets in the Primera Division, but the spine of their squad remains paper thin and needs reinforcing.At the other end of the pitch, though, Lionel Messi continues on his merry way, having shone once again last weekend in a 5-0 destruction of Levante. The Argentine’s hat-trick carried him over the 50-goal barrier for 2018 – a figure he has achieved in eight of the last nine years – and means he has won more top-flight matches than any other player in the club’s history.“I don’t know how to label him. I don’t know how to answer the most repeated question,” head coach Ernesto Valverde said, clearly having run out of superlatives for the South American, who finished only fifth in the recent the 2018 Ballon d’Or voting.“He’s the one who makes us play, who gives us amazing goals … we just have to enjoy him.”Indeed, so prolific has Messi been alongside strike partner Luis Suarez, the duo have accumulated more goals than both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid this season.Celta’s task is to somehow find a way of halting this juggernaut, but the Galicians are confident.“The game comes at a good time because we’re in the middle of a good run of results and play, despite the recent draw against Leganes,” midfielder Jozabed Sanchez said. “Additionally, in recent years we’ve been able to make things difficult for them.”Celta may be undefeated in their last three league matches, but the likes of Huesca, Villarreal and Leganes do not measure up to the size and quality of Barca. Indeed, the last time Celta faced one of the league’s big guns, they went down 4-2 to Real Madrid at home. Barcelona, therefore, remain hot favourites – particularly with Messi in such fantastic form.
Watford ended West Ham’s winning streak with a 2-0 victory at London Stadium which saw Javi Gracia’s side climb to sixth in the Premier League.The hosts went into Saturday’s contest on the back of four wins on the bounce, but saw their momentum halted by Troy Deeney’s emphatic first-half penalty and a late Gerard Deulofeu goal.Manuel Pellegrini’s men were left to rue a number of near-misses as their search for a goal proved fruitless, Michail Antonio coming closest as he twice hit the woodwork in the second half. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? It represents the Hammers’ first loss since a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City last month, leaving them 12th in the table.| The skipper opens the scoring #watfordfc #WHUWAT [0-1]Listen live ⤵️https://t.co/mxkU36Cmjo pic.twitter.com/O4xpJMiObF— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) December 22, 2018West Ham threatened first and Christian Kabasele made a vital sliding interception to prevent Antonio’s dangerous delivery from reaching Javier Hernandez, while Fabian Balbuena was pressed into defensive action at the other end to thwart Deulofeu.The Hornets wasted a glorious chance to break the deadlock in the 24th minute as Jose Holebas miscontrolled when he had the freedom of the penalty area after West Ham’s plan to play him offside backfired. It did not take long for the visitors to shrug off that disappointment, Balbuena’s clumsy challenge on Roberto Pereyra allowing Deeney to open the scoring with a powerful finish from the spot.West Ham twice came close to an equaliser either side of the break, Ben Foster making a smart stop to keep out Hernandez’s volley and then Antonio’s header hitting the post. Andy Carroll’s introduction in the place of Mark Noble underlined West Ham’s attacking intent and the hosts continued to press, Hernandez fluffing his lines to shoot tamely at Foster from just eight yards out. It took a fine save from Lukasz Fabianski to push Abdoulaye Doucoure’s stinging drive over the crossbar in the 71st minute as Watford sought to put the game to bed. Doucoure then made a timely intervention to deny the lively Hernandez just as the Mexican was lining up the target. There were chances for both sides late on with Deeney shooting straight at Fabianski and Foster saving from Antonio before watching his follow-up effort hit the bar, but Deulofeu had the final say with a cool finish to settle matters after being played in by Pereyra. What does it mean? Hornets flying highWith back-to-back wins under their belt, Watford now sit in the top six heading into a busy run of fixtures that will shape their season. West Ham arguably deserved at least a point and must quickly pick themselves up from a first defeat of the month.Fostering defensive confidenceIn a game of fine margins, the calm presence of Foster was key in Watford’s triumph, the Englishman making seven saves in a display that frustrated West Ham.Balbuena pays the penaltyIt was a day to forget for Balbuena, who went off after injuring himself in conceding the penalty that ultimately cost West Ham the game. His passing accuracy of 54.4 per cent spoke volumesKey Opta Facts- Watford have won five of their last eight Premier League games against West Ham (D1 L2), winning three away from home in this run (1-0 in February 2007, 4-2 in September 2016 and 2-0 in December 2018).- West Ham have failed to keep a clean sheet in 10 of their last 11 Premier League home games.- Deeney has scored in three of his last four league appearances against West Ham, with two of those goals coming at London Stadium.- Deulofeu scored in consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in his career.- Watford ended a run of seven consecutive Premier League games in which they failed to keep a clean sheet. What’s next? Pellegrini takes his side to a resurgent Southampton on Thursday, while Watford host Chelsea on Boxing Day. read more