Sessegnon proves he can handle pressure after assist takes Fulham to Premier League

He washed his own kit in one charming moment and in the short space of another he took Aston Villa to the cleaners. For good measure, he might just have smeared a handful of mud into Tottenham’s transfer plans as well.

A time will inevitably come when Ryan Sessegnon cannot keep up with the escalating expectations thrown his way, but for now it truly is a case of so far, so, so good.

Not that this was his best game. Far from it. It wasn’t Sheffield United away and a Tuesday night hat-trick. And it wasn’t Derby at home in the play-off semi-final second leg, when he scored one and made another to set up this £170million game of snakes and ladders.

Ryan Sessegnon stepped up to deliver a game-winning, promotion-clinching assist for Fulham

Ryan Sessegnon stepped up to deliver a game-winning, promotion-clinching assist for Fulham

Ryan Sessegnon stepped up to deliver a game-winning, promotion-clinching assist for Fulham

In fact there was only one moment that gave validation to the ranting and raving. But it was the strength of the moment and the scale of the match, given he made the gut-punching contribution of the richest game in football. 

Big game player? It was a big game and he was the player who set up its single defining act when he made the goal for Tom Cairney 23 minutes in.

The context was there, so now consider the content. Stefan Johansen got the move going with what was a lashed pass across the field from just inside Villa’s half. It came at a horrible height and a horrible pace – not a great pass, all told. 

But Sessegnon met it coming the other way, cutting in from the left flank and taking a touch to control. He evaded a wild lunge at speed from Conor Hourihane, caught sight of Tom Cairney on the right and pulled off a quite exceptional delivery.

Sessegnon did not have his best game but a moment of brilliance put in Tom Cairney to score

Sessegnon did not have his best game but a moment of brilliance put in Tom Cairney to score

Sessegnon did not have his best game but a moment of brilliance put in Tom Cairney to score

The 18-year-old was involved in all three goals that Fulham scored in their three play-off games

The 18-year-old was involved in all three goals that Fulham scored in their three play-off games

The 18-year-old was involved in all three goals that Fulham scored in their three play-off games

Sessegnon placed it right to find the space between John Terry and Alan Hutton; he paced it even better to meet the run of Cairney. An excellent finish, for sure, but one that was only possible because of the brilliance of the assist. Touch, awareness, execution, speed of foot, speed of thought – a lovely little package wrapped into one flurry.

With it, the statistics and the hype can just keep ticking. Of Fulham’s three goals in the play-offs, Sessegnon was involved in all three. That’s a nice look.

But crunching the numbers into such a small scale undersells him – 16 league goals this season. Eight assists. So, he has been immense, good with the data and a flying colours pass on the eye test – a scorer from wide positions, a regular provider, a frequent wrecking ball with his speed, a wonderful attacker. At barely 18, he has so much to offer beyond the obvious.

Take the fifth minute as an example. He tracked back and played a fine tackle on Robert Snodgrass. Later in the match he switched from the left flank to the right and then back again – a tactical weapon.

He has demonstrated he can live with the pressure and promotion could help Fulham keep him

He has demonstrated he can live with the pressure and promotion could help Fulham keep him

He has demonstrated he can live with the pressure and promotion could help Fulham keep him

Tottenham had shown interest but promotion means he will likely stay at Fulham next year

Tottenham had shown interest but promotion means he will likely stay at Fulham next year

Tottenham had shown interest but promotion means he will likely stay at Fulham next year

Of course, in these moments it is possible to eulogise too much. The whole tale told on Tuesday by the club’s CEO, Alistair Mackintosh, is a case in point. 

If anyone hasn’t heard it by now, it goes along the lines that Sessegnon had a doping test after a night game and by the time he was done everyone had left, including the kit man. Sessegnon took his kit home, washed it and ironed it before returning it.

Nice, obviously. Over-played in its use as an antidote to football’s rotten culture of greed and self-interest? That too.

But he is a fine player, a very fine player, and one born two years after John Terry made his debut. With any luck, he will keep getting better for a while yet.

Tottenham already want him and they would have had him quite easily had this game gone south. For 170million reasons, and a few more besides, Fulham can be glad it did not.

Aston Villa star Jack Grealish will be a wanted man after Wembley performance

The expressions of those of claret and blue hue told the story. Pain, fret, sadness was etched across the faces of Steve Bruce, Tony Xia, and even the Duke of Cambridge as the realisation dawned that another season in the Championship beckons. 

They know what failure to reach the Premier League means. This is the £170million game but the effect is more than money to Aston Villa. A ‘Sliding Doors’ moment was Mile Jedinak’s appraisal and Villa missed the train. Quite simply, this result could define a considerable amount of a grand club’s future. 

This Villa team will look a lot different next season. John Terry is expected to depart because Villa cannot afford his £60,000 per week wages in the second tier again, and uncertainty surrounds the four loans signings who featured in this fixture. Robert Snodgrass, Sam Johnstone, Lewis Grabban, and Josh Onomah may go.

John Terry, right, is one of a number of players that could leave Aston Villa after play-off loss

John Terry, right, is one of a number of players that could leave Aston Villa after play-off loss

John Terry, right, is one of a number of players that could leave Aston Villa after play-off loss

Loanees such as Robert Snodgrass may also depart as Villa look to cut costs due to FFP

Loanees such as Robert Snodgrass may also depart as Villa look to cut costs due to FFP

Loanees such as Robert Snodgrass may also depart as Villa look to cut costs due to FFP

Star man Grealish will have suitors this summer after impressing again for Villa at Wembley

Star man Grealish will have suitors this summer after impressing again for Villa at Wembley

Star man Grealish will have suitors this summer after impressing again for Villa at Wembley

After previous largesse, Financial Fair Play regulations mean Villa must take a scalpel to the balance sheet and the pressure is set to be immense. After getting Villa this close, Bruce should be given another go. He has shown he is a fine manager and inspirational man.

Jack Grealish, the unquestionable star of this side, might examine his options though. Grealish is Villa to his core but again at Wembley he proved his talent deserves to be seen on the top table. At 22, he will have suitors.   

Bruce’s side gave it a hell of a go in the second half but the damage had been done in the first, where Villa looked every inch the elder team by an average of more than four years per player.

Grealish was effervescent throughout and one Villa positive from the game is the evidence that he would not look out of place with England. When Villa were starved of possession in the first half, Grealish offered an outlet and drew foul after foul.

Steve Bruce should be given another chance to return Aston Villa to the Premier League

Steve Bruce should be given another chance to return Aston Villa to the Premier League

Steve Bruce should be given another chance to return Aston Villa to the Premier League

Tom Cairney, Stefan Johansen, Kevin McDonald and Denis Odoi all fell victim to his deftness of touch and speed of movement to give Villa chances from set pieces.

From one, a clever free-kick by Robert Snodgrass, Grealish ran on and turned to drive a shot that flew over the bar.

Grealish was also on the end of a more sinister tackle seven minutes before the break when Ryan Fredericks drove his studs into his knee. The Fulham player should have avoided contact and Anthony Taylor ought to have produced the red.

Grealish was even better in the second half, at the centre of Villa’s stirring attempt at a revival.

Sitting in a Club Wembley box, Prince William wore an expression of agony when Grealish sent his header from Albert Adomah over the bar.

Grealish played in Grabban with a disguised pass only for Marcus Bettinelli to stand firm.

Grealish led Villa's second-half fightback on Saturday, but his efforts proved to be in vain

Grealish led Villa's second-half fightback on Saturday, but his efforts proved to be in vain

Grealish led Villa’s second-half fightback on Saturday, but his efforts proved to be in vain

He often proved too much for Fulham to handle, with Denis Odoi sent off for fouling the player

He often proved too much for Fulham to handle, with Denis Odoi sent off for fouling the player

He often proved too much for Fulham to handle, with Denis Odoi sent off for fouling the player

Bettinelli saved again moments later when Grealish summoned the spirit of Ricky Villa to dance through Fulham’s defence in a quite astonishing example of close control. Grealish slalomed past four opponents but his shot took a telling deflection off Tim Ream to take the ball closer to Fulham’s goalkeeper. 

Villa made great claim for a penalty when Grealish’s half-volley struck Odoi’s arm. In the seconds after Grealish’s exuberance spilled over into a lunge on Cairney that earned a yellow.

It was Grealish once again on the receiving end moments later. Odoi this time was too slow and landed a kick to his hip, receiving a second booking and giving Villa hope. But try as they might, they could not score. And now all hangs in the balance.

Man City close in on £75m move for Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez

Manchester City close in on £75m move for Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez as Pep Guardiola moves for top summer transfer target

  • Manchester City edge closer to a £75million move for Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez 
  • The Algerian was linked with a move to Manchester in the January window
  • Leicester want City’s Patrick Roberts but those negotiations are separate 

Simon Jones for MailOnline

Manchester City are closing in on the £75million transfer of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City.

Talks are ongoing with terms to be finalised but all parties are hopeful of a positive conclusion over the next week.

Leicester also want to sign Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts with negotiations running separately.

Manchester City are closing in on a £75million deal to bring Riyad Mahrez to the Etihad

Manchester City are closing in on a £75million deal to bring Riyad Mahrez to the Etihad

Manchester City are closing in on a £75million deal to bring Riyad Mahrez to the Etihad

The Leicester City winger has been a top target for the Premier League champions for months

The Leicester City winger has been a top target for the Premier League champions for months

The Leicester City winger has been a top target for the Premier League champions for months

Sportsmail reported earlier this month how City have focused their attention on Mahrez and Napoli midfielder Jorginho, however the asking price for both has escalated.

City have offered £40m for Italy international Jorginho but Napoli want closer to £60m while City midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko has also been discussed as a possible makeweight in the deal.

City hope to capitalise on the fact both players are not involved in the World Cup so can join up with Pep Guardiola’s squad without any distractions or fatigue issues. 

City have offered £40m for Italy international Jorginho but Napoli want closer to £60m

City have offered £40m for Italy international Jorginho but Napoli want closer to £60m

Oleksandr Zinchenko has been discussed as a possible makeweight in the deal

Oleksandr Zinchenko has been discussed as a possible makeweight in the deal

Pep Guardiola also wants Napoli’s Jorginho (left) and is willing to offer Oleksandr Zinchenko

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Aston Villa 0-1 Fulham PLAYER RATINGS

Fulham are back in the big time after winning a thrilling Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Aston Villa, with Tom Cairney ending their four-year Premier League absence in a pulsating encounter.

Saturday may be the day of the Champions League final but the financial implications of the second-tier showpiece – worth at least £160million of additional revenue to the victor – dwarfs the Kiev showpiece.

Fulham were favourites with the bookmakers – and perhaps the neutrals – on their first trip to Wembley since 1975, and emerged 1-0 winners against Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa after clinging onto Cairney’s first-half strike.

Tom Cairney scored the winner as Fulham secured promotion to the Premier League

Tom Cairney scored the winner as Fulham secured promotion to the Premier League

Tom Cairney scored the winner as Fulham secured promotion to the Premier League

ASTON VILLA

Sam Johnstone 

The Villa man, on loan from Manchester United, was the busier of the two keepers in the first and had little chance with Cairney’s goal. 7

Ahmed Elmohamady 

The Egypt international had missed the second leg of the semi-final with injury but looked solid enough on his return. Replaced by Josh Onomah in the 76th minute. 6

John Terry 

The former Chelsea and England captain was booed relentlessly by Fulham’s fans. Played his usual solid game, but caught out when Cairney ran through to score. 6

James Chester 

The Wales defender was kept busy for the first hour in particular when Fulham ran the game, and he and Terry were responsible for allowing Cairney in to score. Booked 6

Alan Hutton 

The former Spurs and Rangers full-back was given a hard time at left-back, andn showed his age when Fulham’s youngsters ran at him. Booked for a late foul on Mitrovic 6

Mile Jedinak 

The Australia captain who led Crystal Palace to play-off success in 2013, looked off the pace and was replaced in the 76th minute. Booked for hauling down Kamara. 5

Robert Snodgrass 

The Scotland midfielder, on loan from West Ham, hardly got into the game in the first half but was more involved as Villa fought back. Put free kick wide in final minutes. 6

Jack Grealish 

The young England prospect was Villa’s best player and unlucky not to score after a mazy run on the hour, but should have seen red minutes later when he dived in on Cairney. 8

Conor Hourihane 

The Irish midfielder failed to support Grealish enough as Fulham took control of midfield from the start, and was replaced in the 80th minute. 6

Albert Adomah 

The former Barnet and Middlesbrough winger hardly got forward in a one-sided first half but got more involved and put in some decent crosses as the game wore on. 6

Lewis Grabban 

The much-travelled striker hardly touched the ball in the first half, and didn’t fare much better after the break. Never looked like scoring 6

Subs: Josh Onomah (for Elmohamady 76)

Jonathan Kodija (for Mile Jedinak 76)

Scott Hogan (for Hourihane 80)

FULHAM

Marcus Bettinelli 

The Londoner had little to do in the first half as Villa were mostly on the backfoot, but busier after the break. Made big save from Grealish midway through the second half. 7

Ryan Fredericks 

The right-back got forward well and gave fellow former Spurs defender Alan Hutton a torrid time. Mostly solid in defence too. Replaced in 83rd minute 7

Denis Odoi 

The Belgian international wsa playing well in the heart of Fulham’s defence until he was sent off in the 70th minute for a second yellow card, both for fouls on Jack Grealish. 6

Tim Ream 

The former Bolton man is a firm favourite with Fulham’s fans and showed why with a composed performance. The USA international led from the back, especially after Odoi’s red card 7

Matt Targett 

The left-back, on loan from Southampton, kept Robert Snodgrass quiet for the firsth our or so and then stepped up whenFulham were reduced to ten men for the final 20 minutes. 6

Kevin McDonald 

The big Scot was the quiet man of Fulham’;s midfield, but had a couple of chances to score, but shot too high. Vital block in closing minutes to prevent a goal 6

Tom Cairney 

Man of the match by a mile. Fulham’s captain ran the show from midfield and won the battle of the No 10s with Jack Grealish. The Scotland international took his goal superbly. 9

Stefan Johansen 

The Norway international helped Tom Cairney control midfield for the first hour, but went off injured in the 70th minute. Played a big part in Cairney’s goal. 7

Aboubakar Kamara 

The French winger burst forward a few times but failed to make the most of his chances and went down clumsily looking for a penalty. Booked as he was subbed by Tomas Kalas 6

Ryan Sessegnon 

The teen sensation showed why Spurs and a host of top clubs want him. Lively, quick, a great touch and big part in Cairney’s goal. Went close twice as well. 8

Alexandar Mitrovic

 The big Serbian striker, on loan from Newcastle, put himself about well and was a great target man, but chances were rare. Volleyed over the bar, and headed wide from 12 yards. 7 

Subs: Oliver Norwood (for Johansen 71)

Tomas Kalas (for Kamara 76)

Cyrus Christie (for Fredericks 83)

 

Max Verstappen will start last in the Monaco Grand Prix after missing qualifying due to crash

Max Verstappen will start last in the Monaco Grand Prix after crash in final practice saw him miss qualifying

  • Max Verstappen will start from the back of the grid in Sunday’s race in Monaco 
  • Dutchman lost control of his car and smashed both sides of the narrow track 
  • Red Bull were looking quickest but the mechanics could not repair his car in time

Philip Duncan, Press Association Sport F1 Correspondent

Max Verstappen looks to have destroyed his chances of winning the Monaco Grand Prix after crashing out of final practice.

Verstappen lit up the time sheets with a super-quick lap of the Monte Carlo track, but then ended the one-hour session in the barriers.

The Dutchman lost control of his Red Bull at the high-speed swimming pool section, hitting the wall on entry before smashing into the opposing barrier and sustaining serious damage to the front and right-hand side of his car.

Max Verstappen hits his Red Bull off one barrier into another through swimming pool section

Max Verstappen hits his Red Bull off one barrier into another through swimming pool section

Max Verstappen hits his Red Bull off one barrier into another through swimming pool section

His mechanics were unable to fix his car in time for qualifying and as Verstappen failed to post a lap he will start from the back of the grid for Sunday’s race.

Red Bull’s pace over the weekend had appeared to put them on course to lock out the front row at a circuit where overtaking is virtually impossible.

But their hopes now hang in the balance following Verstappen’s crash in the closing minutes of practice.

Verstappen’s mistake marked his fourth crash in as many seasons at the principality.

Red Bull were setting fastest times of the morning but mechanics couldn't repair his car in time

Red Bull were setting fastest times of the morning but mechanics couldn't repair his car in time

Red Bull were setting fastest times of the morning but mechanics couldn’t repair his car in time

He had posted the fastest time of the morning running only to be usurped by his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who set a record-breaking lap of the Monte Carlo track in the final moments.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton’s difficulties continued as he could manage only fifth, the best part of half-a-second down on Ricciardo, with Valtteri Bottas sixth in the other Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel, who trails Hamilton by 17 points was third, a quarter of a second off the pace. His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth.

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Marseille interested in signing Yaya Toure and Fellaini on free transfers

Marseille have expressed an interest in signing free agent Yaya Toure, though wages are expected to be an obstacle for the 35-year-old.

The French side have also spoken to Marouane Fellaini though the Belgian is awaiting a final contract offer from Manchester United and is leaning towards a move to AC Milan.

Toure will officially leave Manchester City when his contract expires at the end of June having spent eight years at the club.

Marseille have expressed an interested in signing free agent midfielder Yaya Toure

Marseille have expressed an interested in signing free agent midfielder Yaya Toure

Marseille have expressed an interested in signing free agent midfielder Yaya Toure

The 35-year-old was used sparingly in his final campaign at City but his spell at the Etihad Stadium was a trophy laden one as he won three Premier League titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups.

Fellaini, meanwhile, is also out of contract at the end of June and is assessing the options that are available to him.

Marouane Fellaini is also out of contract this summer and has been targeted by Marseille

Marouane Fellaini is also out of contract this summer and has been targeted by Marseille

Marouane Fellaini is also out of contract this summer and has been targeted by Marseille

MAROUANE FELLAINI’S MANCHESTER UNITED CAREER 

2013/14 – 21 appearances

2014/15 – 31 appearances, 7 goals

2015/16 – 34 appearances, 4 goals

2016/17 – 47 appearances, 4 goals

2017/18 – 22 appearances, 5 goals 

Total – 155 appearances, 20 goals 

However, there is still a possibility that he could sign a new deal with United.

Part of Belgium’s squad at the World Cup this summer, Fellaini has been a United player since he joined from Everton in 2013.

Marseille finished in fourth place in Ligue 1, securing a place in the group stages of the Europa League, and they are determined to strengthen their squad this summer. 

Neymar was the leader at PSG, not me: Unai Emery

Newly-appointed Arsenal boss Unai Emery has claimed Neymar was the ‘leader’ at Paris Saint Germain and not him.

The Spanish boss believes Neymar only left Barcelona for Paris last summer to assume such a role because Lionel Messi was in charge at the Nou Camp.

‘I know when I’m the main person responsible, and when I’m not,’ Emery told France Football News.

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery has said Neymar was the 'leader' and not him

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery has said Neymar was the 'leader' and not him

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery has said Neymar was the ‘leader’ and not him

The Brazilian star was given the freedom to choose when he wanted to play league games

The Brazilian star was given the freedom to choose when he wanted to play league games

The Brazilian star was given the freedom to choose when he wanted to play league games

‘It’s a process that a coach has to live with and internalise, and that he assimilates with time and experience. In every club, you have to know what your role is and what role you have vis-a-vis the rest of the group.

‘I am of the opinion that PSG’s leader is Neymar. Or that he is currently becoming it. Neymar came to PSG to be the leader, to go through this process to someday become the best in the world. At Manchester City, Pep is in charge. At PSG, Neymar has to be.’

Emery, who has previously managed Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Valencia, had never been faced with handling a real superstar until Neymar walked through the door at the Parc des Princes.

The Spaniard will be the first to admit he was out of his comfort zone. Emery has a history of overbearing man-management and the player-coach relationship between the pair was never going to run smoothly. 

Neymar was made the kingmaker at PSG after making his world-record move last summer

Neymar was made the kingmaker at PSG after making his world-record move last summer

Neymar was made the kingmaker at PSG after making his world-record move last summer

Emery and Neymar (right) clashed over the penalty duties argument with Edinson Cavani (L)

Emery and Neymar (right) clashed over the penalty duties argument with Edinson Cavani (L)

Emery and Neymar (right) clashed over the penalty duties argument with Edinson Cavani (L)

They got into a training ground altercation last year after Neymar had stolen penalty duties off of Edinson Cavani – something Emery privately felt went against all he embodied.

But Neymar was made the kingmaker and even picked his games in the domestic calendar so he could rest before Champions League football and Brazil internationals. 

He was above Emery in the pecking order and beyond his reproach. It went against Emery’s morality, but the 46-year-old admitted it forced him to alter  – something that did not go unnoticed.

Emery claimed Neymar left Barcelona to be the leader as Lionel Messi was at the Nou Camp

Emery claimed Neymar left Barcelona to be the leader as Lionel Messi was at the Nou Camp

Emery claimed Neymar left Barcelona to be the leader as Lionel Messi was at the Nou Camp

‘A few months ago, a PSG player said to me, “Mister, this year you have changed.”‘ Emery added. ‘It was obvious. I couldn’t be the same coach with and without Neymar. We went through a period of adaptation with the player.

‘It was not instinctive, because we have to really get to know one another. Coaching Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar is not easy.

‘They are the best in the world so that is a lot to take in. You have to adapt yourself to them. Look at Guardiola at City. He is lucky because he doesn’t have a major figure like that to be faced with. 

He said Pep Guardiola is lucky as he doesn't have a major figure like Neymar to be deal with

He said Pep Guardiola is lucky as he doesn't have a major figure like Neymar to be deal with

He said Pep Guardiola is lucky as he doesn’t have a major figure like Neymar to be deal with

‘There are big players who become one when it really matters. And when it comes to taking radical decisions, Pep took them. For example, by getting rid of Deco, Ronaldinho, or Ibrahimovic when the latter had issues with Messi. By doing this, he avoided serious problems.’

Despite Emery’s efforts, his PSG tenure – as it was always going to after he had challenged Neymar – came to a sudden conclusion at the end of the season, even though he had delivered the domestic treble.

Now with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil to contend with at Arsenal, Emery may look back at his experience at PSG as a blessing in disguise.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner calls for Max Verstappen to stamp out errors following Monaco crash

Christian Horner has increased the pressure on Max Verstappen by calling on him to stop making mistakes following his Monaco crash.

Verstappen will start Sunday’s race on motor racing’s most famous streets from the back of the field after he lost control of his Red Bull in practice, and failed to take part in qualifying because of the resulting damage to his car.

The 20-year-old Dutchman should have been in contention for the victory, but that will instead be left to his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian scored his first pole in two years.

Max Verstappen crashed in practice and will start from the back of the field in Monaco

Max Verstappen crashed in practice and will start from the back of the field in Monaco

Max Verstappen crashed in practice and will start from the back of the field in Monaco

The Dutchman's crash was his fifth major error in six rounds already this year

The Dutchman's crash was his fifth major error in six rounds already this year

The Dutchman’s crash was his fifth major error in six rounds already this year

Ricciardo delivered a crushing performance to qualify more than two tenths of a second clear of Sebastian Vettel, with Lewis Hamilton third. 

Hamilton, who holds a 17-point lead over Vettel, will be quietly content with splitting the Ferrari drivers – Kimi Raikkonen lines up in fourth – given that the principality is among Mercedes’ bogey tracks.

Verstappen’s speed and gung-ho style have seen him earmarked as a future world champion, but his accident at the high-speed swimming pool section was his fifth major error in six rounds this year, and his fifth crash in four appearances in Monte Carlo.

‘Max needs to learn from it and stop making these errors,’ Red Bull team principal Horner said. ‘He is in a car that is capable of winning this grand prix and that will hurt him even more because you don’t get that many opportunities to win a Monaco Grand Prix.’

Verstappen's speed and gung-ho style has seen him identified as a future world champion

Verstappen's speed and gung-ho style has seen him identified as a future world champion

Verstappen’s speed and gung-ho style has seen him identified as a future world champion

Verstappen’s mechanics worked furiously to repair the damage on his Red Bull, but they failed to turn his car around in the two-hour gap between practice and qualifying.

Verstappen sheepishly attempted to console his crestfallen crew before watching his team-mate post the fastest lap ever recorded in 76 visits to Monaco.

‘I would imagine that was a pretty painful qualifying for him watching what could have been,’ Horner added. ‘We’ve got a great car and a phenomenally fast driver and would have been able to compete for the pole today. For the whole team to be running one-legged with such a strong car is frustrating.’

Verstappen’s mistake, however, aided Hamilton’s cause.

MAX VERSTAPPEN’S RECORD IN FORMULA ONE 2018 

Australia – 6th

Bahrain – Retired

China – 5th

Azerbaijan – Retired

Spain – 3rd 

Last year, he qualified a lowly 14th before crossing the line in seventh, but after posting the third fastest time on Saturday, the Englishman believes he is still in contention for his third win in as many rounds.

‘I won my first grand prix here from third,’ Hamilton said. ‘There’s going to be lots going on throughout the race. I really can’t tell you what Monaco is going to bring tomorrow, but I am going to give it everything and keep my head down.

‘My goal is to switch places with Daniel, so that’s what I am going for.’

For Ricciardo, he has not put a foot wrong, topping every practice and qualifying session – the first driver to do so this season – with his Red Bull car ideally suited to the slow-speed Monte Carlo streets.

His performance here will also have done little to harm his contract dealings at Red Bull, while both Mercedes and Ferrari continue to keep a watching brief.

‘We sent a statement in practice on Thursday and we have been quickest in every session,’ Ricciardo said. ‘There is still a lot of fire in this belly.

‘I’ve done everything I can so far, so let’s finish the job tomorrow. I’m pumped.’

‘Ryan Fredericks got away with murder’ after escaping red card for stamp on Jack Grealish: Hendrie

‘Ryan Fredericks got away with murder’: Aston Villa icon Lee Hendrie fuming Fulham defender escaped punishment for stamp on Jack Grealish

  • Lee Hendrie claimed Ryan Fredericks should have been sent off in the first half
  • Fredericks appeared to deliberately stamp on Jack Grealish after losing the ball
  • The incident happened right on the touchline but the referee did not take action
  • Hendrie said: ‘Something has to be done. He has got away with absolute murder’

Jordan Seward For Mailonline

Aston Villa icon Lee Hendrie has claimed Fulham defender Ryan Fredericks ‘got away with absolute murder’ after he escaped a red card for a stamp on Jack Grealish during the first half of their play-off final.

Fredericks was dispossessed by the Villa midfielder right next to the touchline after 28 minutes and appeared to deliberately stamp on him as he tried to win the ball back.

Grealish was left rolling around on the floor in pain after. The incident happened in front of the fourth official and Villa manager Steve Bruce, who waved his arms in appeal, but the referee opted not to take any action with Fredericks even avoiding a caution.

Lee Hendrie claimed Ryan Fredericks should have been sent off for stamping on Jack Grealish

Lee Hendrie claimed Ryan Fredericks should have been sent off for stamping on Jack Grealish

Lee Hendrie claimed Ryan Fredericks should have been sent off for stamping on Jack Grealish

The Aston Villa icon said Fredericks 'got away with absolute murder' after evading punishment

The Aston Villa icon said Fredericks 'got away with absolute murder' after evading punishment

The Aston Villa icon said Fredericks ‘got away with absolute murder’ after evading punishment

Hendrie, however, was left incensed by the decision and insisted he should have been given his marching orders. ‘The more it is slowed down the more it is a red card,’ he told Sky Sports.

‘It is as simple as that and it is right in front of the fourth official on the byline, something has got to be done there surely. He has got away with absolute murder.’

Former Fulham midfielder and team-mate of Fredericks, Sone Aluko, reluctantly agreed with Hendrie’s evaluation.

‘When I first saw it I didn’t think so, but every time I watch it, it gets worse,’ he conceded. 

‘It does look bad and it is a bad place to do it as well so he is very lucky to get away with that.’

Grealish was left squelling in pain on the floor but the referee opted not to take any action

Grealish was left squelling in pain on the floor but the referee opted not to take any action

Grealish was left squelling in pain on the floor but the referee opted not to take any action

Ex-Fulham midfielder Sone Aluko admitted it looked bad and he was lucky to be on the pitch

Ex-Fulham midfielder Sone Aluko admitted it looked bad and he was lucky to be on the pitch

Ex-Fulham midfielder Sone Aluko admitted it looked bad and he was lucky to be on the pitch

Later on in the match Grealish himself almost earned a red card for a brash sliding challenge on Tom Cairney – who scored the only goal of the game in the first half.

This time it happened right in front of the referee and he brandished a yellow card to the Villa man despite heated protests from the Fulham players for a red.

Instead it was Fulham who were reduced to 10 men in the second half, with Grealish again involved. Denis Odoi went flying into the Villa midfielder and received his second yellow card.

Villa, sensing their numerical advantage, went on the hunt for an equaliser but their search became increasingly desperate and Fulham managed to hold on to earn promotion back to the Premier League.

Fulham appealed for Grealish to be sent off later for challenging Tom Cairney - he was booked

Fulham appealed for Grealish to be sent off later for challenging Tom Cairney - he was booked

Fulham appealed for Grealish to be sent off later for challenging Tom Cairney – he was booked

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Aston Villa 0-1 Fulham: Cottagers captain Tom Cairney the hero

Fulham booked their place back in the Premier League after much-vaunted English teenager Ryan Sessegnon set up the winning goal in a thrilling play-off final at Wembley.

Sessegnon, 18, produced a sublime pass for Tom Cairney to score midway through the first half and was enough for the Londoners despite the dismissal of Denis Odio after 70 minutes.

But while flamboyant owner Shad Khan celebrated a return to the top flight four years after relegation, Villa’s most famous supporter, the Duke of Cambridge, was left devastated behind his shades.  

Captain Tom Cairney got the crucial goal at Wembley that fires Fulham back to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season

Captain Tom Cairney got the crucial goal at Wembley that fires Fulham back to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season

Captain Tom Cairney got the crucial goal at Wembley that fires Fulham back to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season

The Fulham skipper was mobbed by his overjoyed team-mates after they put Villa under threat during a blistering encounter

The Fulham skipper was mobbed by his overjoyed team-mates after they put Villa under threat during a blistering encounter

The Fulham skipper was mobbed by his overjoyed team-mates after they put Villa under threat during a blistering encounter

Cairney was well picked out by Ryan Sessegnon with a perfectly weighted through ball and he took his time to slot home

Cairney was well picked out by Ryan Sessegnon with a perfectly weighted through ball and he took his time to slot home

Cairney was well picked out by Ryan Sessegnon with a perfectly weighted through ball and he took his time to slot home

But Fulham's afternoon took a sour turn when the hero of the semi-finals, Denis Odoi, was shown a red card for a rash foul

But Fulham's afternoon took a sour turn when the hero of the semi-finals, Denis Odoi, was shown a red card for a rash foul

But Fulham’s afternoon took a sour turn when the hero of the semi-finals, Denis Odoi, was shown a red card for a rash foul

The defender caught Grealish with a high boot and was swiftly shown his second yellow of the game to leave Fulham with 10

The defender caught Grealish with a high boot and was swiftly shown his second yellow of the game to leave Fulham with 10

The defender caught Grealish with a high boot and was swiftly shown his second yellow of the game to leave Fulham with 10

The Midlands club will also feel they didn’t get the rub of the green from referee Anthony Taylor who seemed to miss a first-half stamp by Ryan Fredericks on the outstanding Jack Grealish.

Grealish was never far from the action, repeatedly kicked by Fulham defenders, and denied one of Wembley’s great goals by Marcus Bettinelli. He was also booked himself when he slid in recklessly on Cairney out of frustration.

Fulham, whose only previous visit to Wembley had been as beaten finalists in the 1975 FA Cup Final, dominated the first half as Villa’s older players including 37-year-old John Terry struggled in the heat.

James Chester was booked for kicking Aleksandr Mitrovic and Conor Hourihane painfully caught Cairney on the toe. Fulham also dished out rough treatment on the Villa danger-man Grealish. 

Villa looked at their most threatening when Jack Grealish got the ball as he drove fearlessly at the Fulham defensive line

Villa looked at their most threatening when Jack Grealish got the ball as he drove fearlessly at the Fulham defensive line

Villa looked at their most threatening when Jack Grealish got the ball as he drove fearlessly at the Fulham defensive line

He took aim from longe range before a weaving run past five players saw his effort saved which had him frustrated

He took aim from longe range before a weaving run past five players saw his effort saved which had him frustrated

He took aim from longe range before a weaving run past five players saw his effort saved which had him frustrated

With his eyes closed, Grealish was close to finding an equaliser when he nipped in front of Marcus Bettinelli for a header

With his eyes closed, Grealish was close to finding an equaliser when he nipped in front of Marcus Bettinelli for a header

With his eyes closed, Grealish was close to finding an equaliser when he nipped in front of Marcus Bettinelli for a header

MATCH FACTS 

Aston Villa (4-1-4-1): Johnstone; Elmohamady (Kodjia 77), Chester, Terry, Hutton; Jedinak (Onomah 77); Snodgrass, Hourihane (Hogan 82), Grealish, Adomah; Grabban

Subs not used: Bunn, Bree, Whelan, Bjarnason

Booked: Chester, Grealish, Jedinak, Hutton

Fulham (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Fredericks (Christie 83), Odoi, Ream, Targett; Cairney, McDonald, Johansen (Norwood 72); Kamara (Kalas 77), Sessegnon, Mitrovic

Subs not used: Button, Ayite, Piazon, Fonte

Booked: Odoi, Kamara

Sent off: Odoi 

Goals: Cairney (23) 

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Attendance: 85,243

Bruce had won four previous promotions to the Premier League and two Villa players, Robert Snodgrass and Ahmed Elmohamady, were part of his Hull side that won the play-off final 1-0 against Shefffield Wednesday two years ago.

This time however, it was Bruce’s side who fell behind after 23 minutes. England under=21 international Sessegnon had been wide on the left in a 4-3-3 but it’s when he cut infield that he caused maximum damage.

He was allowed to turn as he stood centrally ten yards outside the Villa box and produced a sublime pass that took four defenders out the game and allowed Cairney a clear run on goal.

The Scotland midfielder had enough time to look up at goalkeeper Sam Johnstone before picking his spot low in the left-hand corner.

With Villa behind, the onus was on their main creator Grealish to conjure up some magic. Fulham knew it too and Fredericks was looked lucky to get away with a stamp on the young midfieler right in front of the dug-outs.

As Grealish fell following a tangle, the Fulham right-back allowed his momentum to continue and came down hard on Grealish’s right leg. The Villa player screamed in agony and Bruce appealed voiceferoulsy but referee Anthony Taylor took no action.

Replays suggested Fredericks could have stopped himself landing on Grealish and Fulham could count themselves fortunate at the absence of VAR. 

Fulham were left incensed that Grealish remained on the pitch after he flew into a challenge with studs dangerously raised

Fulham were left incensed that Grealish remained on the pitch after he flew into a challenge with studs dangerously raised

Fulham were left incensed that Grealish remained on the pitch after he flew into a challenge with studs dangerously raised

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic showed off his best moves as he looked to get his tactical message across to his players

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic showed off his best moves as he looked to get his tactical message across to his players

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic showed off his best moves as he looked to get his tactical message across to his players

Steve Bruce was exasperated as his side struggled to cope with Fulham's intensity during a closely-fought first half 

Steve Bruce was exasperated as his side struggled to cope with Fulham's intensity during a closely-fought first half 

Steve Bruce was exasperated as his side struggled to cope with Fulham’s intensity during a closely-fought first half 

Villa were then sinners when Alan Hutton scraped his studs down the back of the calf of Aboubakar Kamara. Sessegnon then proved he is human by missing a great headed opportunity to make it 2-0 after Terry’s errant clearance had fallen nicely to him eight yards from goal.

The billionaire Khan has tabled an £800million bid for Wembley Stadium and his interest won’t have dampened given the way his team settled on the hallowed turf as he watched intently.

However The Cottagers did get a let off approaching half-time when Odoi was booked for fouling Grealish in a dangerous area. Snodgrass cleverly dinked a free-kick over the wall into Grealish’s path but Odoi redeemed himself by running across to challenge and hurrying the England under-21 international to fire over with a half-volley.

As the temperatures dropped and shadows lengthened, Villa’s energy levels rose after the interval and their second big opening again fell to Grealish.

Albert Adomah, previously anonymous, sent a wicked curved cross from the left in no-man’s land between Bettinelli and his defenders. 

Ryan Sessegnon showed great composure and desire as he used his youthful energy to breeze through the Villa midfield

Ryan Sessegnon showed great composure and desire as he used his youthful energy to breeze through the Villa midfield

Ryan Sessegnon showed great composure and desire as he used his youthful energy to breeze through the Villa midfield

Lewis Grabban had little service leading the line for Villa as he was well marshalled by Fulham's American defender Tim Ream

Lewis Grabban had little service leading the line for Villa as he was well marshalled by Fulham's American defender Tim Ream

Lewis Grabban had little service leading the line for Villa as he was well marshalled by Fulham’s American defender Tim Ream

Two two captains - Cairney and John Terry - had their game faces on as referee Anthony Taylor did the coin flip before kick-off

Two two captains - Cairney and John Terry - had their game faces on as referee Anthony Taylor did the coin flip before kick-off

Two two captains – Cairney and John Terry – had their game faces on as referee Anthony Taylor did the coin flip before kick-off

Grealish got into the right area but was unable to ckeep his header down from six yards producing lots of anguished oohs and aahs from the claret-and-blue section of the Royal Box.

At least, Villa were going for it for the first time. Centre-forward Lewis Grabban got his first real sniff of goal after 57 minutes when played in by Grealish, but took too many touches and failed to get his shot away.

Grealish then tried to do it on his own, brilliantly slaloming his way past three defenders in a tight area. Had he beaten Bettinelli with his final shot, it would have been one of Wembley’s great goals but the ‘keeper just managed to spread himself wide enough to block, Kevin McDonald’s last-ditch challenge having taken some of the pace off the ball.

The Villa star was then incensed as his bouncing shot on the edge of the box struck Odoi on the hand but was ruled accidental by referee Anthony Taylor.

Frustrated beond belief, Grealish then slid in recklessly and studs up on Cairney. He was mightily fortunate to get away with a yellow card rather than red as Aleksandr Mitrovic and other Fulham players rushed over the remonstrate. 

Duke of Cambridge and Villa fan Prince William was in attendance to watch his side aim to return to the Premier League

Duke of Cambridge and Villa fan Prince William was in attendance to watch his side aim to return to the Premier League

Duke of Cambridge and Villa fan Prince William was in attendance to watch his side aim to return to the Premier League

A wry smile from Fulham owner Shahid Khan - who looks set to wrap up a deal to buy Wembley - as he also watched on

A wry smile from Fulham owner Shahid Khan - who looks set to wrap up a deal to buy Wembley - as he also watched on

A wry smile from Fulham owner Shahid Khan – who looks set to wrap up a deal to buy Wembley – as he also watched on

Villa owner Tony Xia looked much more sombre in the stands than Khan as he watched promotion hopes go up in smoke

Villa owner Tony Xia looked much more sombre in the stands than Khan as he watched promotion hopes go up in smoke

Villa owner Tony Xia looked much more sombre in the stands than Khan as he watched promotion hopes go up in smoke

There was no way Mr Taylor could afford to give Fulham a penalty given Villa’s grievances and so it proved as Kamara was upended by Hutton and Mile Jedinak in the same move.

Sessegnon set up McDonald to put the game to bed but he blazed over and Fulham were left facing a nervy final 20 minutes when Odoi was dismissed for one foul too many on Grealish.

Bruce quickly sent on fresh attackers Josh Onomah and Jonathan Kodjia to take advantage. Kodjia was presented with a chance within seconds but failed to connect properly inside the box. Bruce responded by throwing on a third attacking substitute, Scott Hogan for a final throw of the dice.

Their last chance came when Grealish burst into the box and fell as he tussled with Matt Targett. Referee Mr Taylor waved the appeal away and moments later Fulham players were in a joyous heap, celebrating in front of their ecstatic fans.

For Bruce, who has lost both his parents this year, defeat will be kept in perspective. But from a football point of view, it will still hurt.