Rumour Mill: Celtic eye Leke James | Scotland Euro exit | Jurgen Klopp

Celtic linked with Aalesunds ace Leke James; Scotland’s Euro 2016 hopes extinguished by Lewandowski late show and Jurgen Klopp appointed Liverpool boss
Leke James, left, in action for Aalesunds against APOEL. Picture: GettyLeke James, left, in action for Aalesunds against APOEL. Picture: Getty
Leke James, left, in action for Aalesunds against APOEL. Picture: Getty

Northern Ireland reach first major tournament in 30 years

A 3-1 win over Greece capped a wonderful qualifying campaign for Northern Ireland, who reached a major tournament for the first time since 1986 last night - and the fans were just a bit pleased.

Celtic linked with Aalesunds striker Leke James

AALESUNDS boss Trond Fredriksen has suggested that Celtic signing star striker Leke James could be good for all parties.

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The 22-year-old Nigerian ace has claimed Celtic are keeping tabs on him ahead of the January transfer window, as Ronny Deila seeks to bolster his attacking options.

But Fredriksen said that, although he was keen to hang on to James, a big money move could benefit Aalesunds as well as the Hoops.

James has netted 29 goals in 78 games for Aalesund. (Various)

Strachan silent on Scotland future

GORDON Strachan last night refused to commit himself to another qualifying campaign with Scotland after seeing his bid to reach the Euro 2016 finals dramatically ended by a stoppage-time goal from Polish striker Robert Lewandowski at Hampden.

The sickening blow for Strachan and his players forced them to settle for a 2-2 draw against the Poles which, coupled with a 1-0 win by Republic of Ireland against Germany in Dublin, consigned them to a fourth-place finish in Group D.

But Strachan was unwilling to shed any light on his intentions as he tried to come to terms with a bitterly disappointing end to a Euro 2016 campaign which has promised so much. (The Scotsman)

Late Lewandowski goal breaks Scotland’s heart

ROBERT Lewandowski scored his 20th goal in 8 matches to render Scotland’s match with Gibraltar meaningless, with the striker snatching a draw for the Poles that, coupled with Ireland’s win over Germany in Dublin, meant Scotland could no longer make the finals next year.

A 3rd-minute goal by the Bayern Munich striker was cancelled out by Matt Ritchie’s stunning equaliser, before an equally impressive goal from Steven Fletcher put Scotland in front.

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And even with Shane Long firing the Irish into the lead at the Aviva Stadium, a glimmer of hope remained until Lewandowski bundled the ball over the line in the 94th minute. (The Scotsman)

Ireland stun Germany in Dublin

SHANE Long’s 14th international goal handed the Republic of Ireland a priceless win over world champions Germany and blew the race for Euro 2016 qualification wide open.

The Southampton striker came off the bench to thump a 70th-minute thunderbolt past the helpless Manuel Neuer to hand the Republic their biggest competitive victory since they defeated the Netherlands in a World Cup play-off in 2001.

Ireland’s success, coupled with Poland’s 2-2 draw with Scotland, means that Martin O’Neill’s men are guaranteed a top-three finish and a play-off place at worst, but they will head for Warsaw on Sunday knowing they could still top Group D. (Various)

Northern Ireland reach first major tournament for 30 years

NORTHERN Ireland are heading to their first ever European Championship after captain Steven Davis and Josh Magennis kicked off celebrations 30 years in the making at Windsor Park.

Michael O’Neill’s men knew three points would be enough to make history and, when former Rangers midfielder Davis stabbed home Stuart Dallas’ 35th-minute cross, the promised land moved a mighty step closer.

Kilmarnock forward Magennis – a converted goalkeeper who had never scored an international goal before – made it two with a deft header and the inspirational Davis nodded in his second just before the hour. (The Scotsman)

Celtic slammed over Ireland ‘good luck’ message

CELTIC have been criticised after tweeting a ‘good luck’ message to the Republic of Ireland ahead of their win over Germany.

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The Hoops Twitter account sent best wishes to Celtic quintet Leigh Griffiths, James Forrest, Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew and Craig Gordon - three of whom played no part in Scotland’s 2-2 draw with Poland - but also backed Ireland against Germany.

Despite two messages supporting the Scottish national side, people were quick to latch onto the tweet, with one Tartan Army fan tweeting: “Who the hell from Celtic Football Club wrote that. Scotland would be out then, jeezo” while another added: “Don’t care what anyone says, our roots are Irish, we are both Scottish and Irish, support both or go learn your history.” (Various)

Johansen blames poor spell on back injury

STEFAN Johansen has blamed a dip in form on a troublesome back injury that has hampered him all season.

The midfielder is facing a sweat to make Norway’s squad for their match against Malta at the weekend, and revealed his back has been causing him problems, and his thigh and hamstring have also been affected. (Evening Times)

Klopp on the Kop: Ex-Dortmund boss takes charge at Liverpool

LIVERPOOL will unveil Jurgen Klopp as their new manager later this morning after confirming the appointment of the former Borussia Dortmund coach late last night.

Klopp was among the frontrunners to take the reins at Anfield following Brendan Rodgers’ sacking last weekend, and the Reds revealed they had their man after a day of intense speculation. (Various)