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Arsenal sign Uruguay s Lucas Torreira

LONDON (AP) — Arsenal signed Uruguay defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria on Tuesday. The 22-year-old Torreira is the fourth acquisition by Arsenal since Unai Emery was appointed as coach in May. The cost and length of his contract were not disclosed. Torreira played a part in all of Uruguay's World Cup matches and started their quarterfinal defeat to France last Friday. "A midfielder with great quality, I have enjoyed watching his performances for Sampdoria in the past two seasons, and we all saw him do very well for Uruguay in the World Cup," Emery said. Torreira follows Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos this offseason to the north London club......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 11th, 2018

Ligue 1 2018-19: 5 new signings to watch out for

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Although the transfer window in the French league doesn't close until the end of August, here is the pick of the signings so far ahead of the season starting this weekend: ALEKSANDR GOLOVIN (Monaco) One of the best players at the World Cup was signed by Monaco from CSKA Moscow despite strong interest from Chelsea. With his excellent technique and dribbling skills, 22-year-old Aleksandr Golovin set the tone for a strong showing at the World Cup by setting up two goals and curling in a free kick in Russia's 5-0 opening victory over Saudi Arabia. The midfielder also held his nerve to convert a penalty in the shootout against Spain that sent Russia to the quarterfinals. LUCAS EVANGELISTA (Nantes) Nantes reportedly paid 4 million euros ($4.6 million) to sign Brazilian midfielder Lucas Evangelista from Udinese. It represents good value for the unsung player who was scouted by Manchester United a few years ago when he played for Desportivo Brasil in his home country. Evangelista has struggled to establish himself in Europe but finally came to prominence in Portugal with Estoril, with four goals and four assists last season. After starting his career further up on the field as a forward, the 23-year-old Evangelista is a versatile player who can also play on the wings and has shown some excellent attacking qualities on set pieces. JOSE FONTE (Lille) Portugal defender Jose Fonte will continue his much-traveled career in northern France after signing a two-year deal with Lille. The 34-year-old Fonte started all four games at the World Cup in Russia as Portugal was eliminated by Uruguay in the round of 16. Two years ago, he was a member of the squad which won the European Championship in France. The former Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Ham center back played only a few matches with Chinese club Dalian Yifang this year before terminating his contract. DUJE CALETA-CAR (Marseille) Nine-time champion Marseille bolstered its defense by signing Duje Caleta-Car from Red Bull Salzburg. The 21-year-old Caleta-Car, who played a group game at the World Cup with Croatia, won four Austrian league titles and three national cups with Salzburg. "He is a clever player, who understands football," Marseille sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said. "His very physical skills make him very good in the air, and he has good passing abilities." THEOSON-JORDAN SIEBATCHEU (Rennes) American-born striker Theoson-Jordan Siebatcheu is back among the elite with Rennes after joining from Reims. The 22-year-old center forward was born in Washington but grew up in France, honing his skills at the Reims academy. He moved to the Brittany club on the back of an excellent season, helping his former team back to the top division with 17 goals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 2018

Mourinho enters calm spell as Man United wins 2-0 at Burnley

LONDON (AP) — After the furor that followed straight Premier League defeats for Manchester United, Jose Mourinho's team produced a routine 2-0 victory over Burnley on Sunday. Romelu Lukaku's first-half double put United in control before the second half briefly took a dramatic turn when Burnley goalkeeper Joe Hart saved Paul Pogba's penalty kick and substitute Marcus Rashford was sent off for violent conduct only 11 minutes after coming on. "Even with 10 men for 15 minutes the team was the team that had the chances to score," Mourinho said. "We are all very happy that the boys can go for their international week with the feeling (of winning)." Tottenham, which set alarm bells ringing at Old Trafford by winning 3-0 there six days ago, was unable to carry that momentum to Watford, which came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road. Watford has won all four of its Premier League games and joins Liverpool and Chelsea with a maximum total of 12 points at the top of the table. Arsenal, meanwhile, joined United on six points as it secured a first away victory under Unai Emery with an entertaining 3-2 win at newly promoted Cardiff. After storming out of his news conference following United's defeat to Tottenham, demanding "respect, respect" from the media, Mourinho was much calmer ahead of his side's trip to Burnley, and the approach may have brought rewards on the field. Mourinho will have been especially pleased by United's improved defensive performance as it claimed a first clean sheet of the league season. Both the Portuguese and his squad will enter the international break with confidence that United's worst Premier League start for 26 years is firmly behind them. SMALL DRAMAS The only dramas for United this time concerned Pogba's penalty miss and Rashford's red card, but Mourinho wasn't critical of either. After Rashford was fouled in the box, Pogba — who has already scored two penalties this season — had his spot kick saved by Hart. "I never blame a player for missing penalties," Mourinho told BBC Sport. "I blame the ones who refuse to go up there. Paul's scored some good ones for us." The frustration of the penalty miss appeared to affect Rashford more than Pogba and within a minute of the miss the England striker had been sent off. Burnley defender Phil Bardsley tackled Rashford before kicking him in the aftermath of the challenge. Rashford attempted to take matters into his own hands, pushing his forehead into Bardsley's face, and was sent off. "I would say it was naive," Mourinho said. "It was a kid and a very experienced man. Bardsley's been in the game for 20 years and Marcus is a naive boy." SPURS STUNNED With Tottenham having taken the headlines last round with a statement victory over Manchester United, some seemed to forget that both teams held perfect records as Spurs made the short trip to face Watford on Sunday. By the end, there was only one perfect record to talk about — Watford's. The win for Javi Gracia's team was made all the more impressive by the fact Spurs took the lead shortly after halftime, as Abdoulaye Doucoure found his own net as he attempted to clear Lucas Moura's cross. The usually reliable Spurs defense would have been confident of seeing out victory from there, but was undone in the simplest fashion. Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart both headed in set pieces in the space of seven minutes to turn the match around and keep Watford level with Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the table. GUNNERS DUO STRIKE It's still early days in Emery's reign as Arsenal manager, but Sunday's win at Cardiff may prove a pivotal moment for the Spaniard. For the first time this season he opted to include both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in his starting lineup and was rewarded with a first away victory in the Premier League. While there are still major defensive concerns for Arsenal, the play of the strike duo suggests Emery has a combination that will cause problems for any defense. Shkodran Mustafi gave Arsenal an early lead before Victor Camarasa leveled with Cardiff's first goal of the season in first-half stoppage time. Aubameyang struck after the break as Lacazette flicked the ball into his path, allowing the Gabon forward to find the bottom corner from outside the box. However, Arsenal was pegged back once more as Danny Ward headed the home side level with 20 minutes remaining. Not to be denied, the inspired Lacazette hit an unstoppable effort in at the near post with nine minutes remaining to finally see off Cardiff, which is still looking for a first win of the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018

Chelsea tops Arsenal in EPL thriller, Kane ends August curse

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Chelsea and Arsenal served up a feast of goals in a thrilling London derby in the Premier League. Across the capital, Harry Kane was happy with just the one goal to end his August hoodoo in England's top division. Chelsea scored twice in the opening 20 minutes, conceded twice before halftime and had a late winner through Marcos Alonso in a 3-2 victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. In a game between teams with newly hired managers, Maurizio Sarri will be delighted with the attacking spark his Chelsea team has shown in the opening two games of the Premier League. It also scored three times in a win against Huddersfield last week. But it's two straight losses for Arsenal manager Unai Emery, whose side is showing the same defensive frailties as it did in the final seasons of predecessor Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign. After 15 games and more than 1,000 minutes, Kane finally scored a top-flight goal in August to seal Tottenham's 3-1 win over Fulham at Wembley Stadium. Spurs have also won their first two games after an offseason when they didn't buy a single player. ___ SARRI-BALL Sarri arrived at Chelsea promising to bring some fun after a difficult end to the tenure of previous manager, Antonio Conte. He is doing just that. Leaving gaps at the back but attacking in waves, Chelsea has been a thrill to watch in the opening two weekends — much different to the often cagey approach of fellow Italian Conte. Pedro Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata exploited Arsenal's high line to put Chelsea 2-0 up against Arsenal, which wasted a string of great chances at the other end before scoring twice in a five-minute span through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi. Alonso swept in a cut-back from substitute Eden Hazard for the winner. KANE CURSE OVER Kane was fully aware of his August woes — he made reference to it in a Twitter post last season after scoring in his first game in September — and the England international failed to score in the 2-1 win at Newcastle last week in Tottenham's opening game. With only one more game left this August, at Manchester United, it looked like the curse might continue after Kane volleyed a shot against the post in the 71st minute against Fulham. His goal came six minutes later when he took a pass from Erik Lamela on the left of the penalty area, cut inside, and bent a low shot into the corner. Brazilian winger Lucas Moura and Kieran Trippier, off a shot from a free kick, had already scored for Tottenham, with Aleksandar Mitrovic making it 1-1 for Fulham just after halftime while sitting on the ground. ___ VARDY RED CARD Jamie Vardy was sent off on his first start of the season for Leicester but the team still eased early-season pressure on manager Claude Puel with a 2-0 victory over newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers. The England striker was handed a straight red card for a strong tackle on Wolves right back Matt Doherty, who had earlier scored an own-goal to give Leicester the lead. Leicester doubled the lead through James Maddison, leaving Wolves without a win so far. RAMPANT RICHARLISON Paying up to $65 million for a 21-year-old Brazilian with one inconsistent season in the Premier League behind him seemed a gamble by Everton. Two games in, however, and Richarlison is looking a bargain. He scored his third goal of the season to help Everton beat Southampton 2-1 for its first win of the season. Richarlison netted twice against Wolves on the opening weekend. Theo Walcott set up Richarlison for his headed goal and also scored himself for Everton at Goodison Park. Offseason signing Danny Ings pulled a goal back for Southampton. OTHER GAMES An offseason of heavy spending and the recruitment of Premier League-winning manager Manuel Pellegrini hasn't done much to improve West Ham's fortunes. The London club lost for the second straight game, beaten 2-1 by Bournemouth after taking the lead through Marko Arnautovic's penalty. Callum Wilson, after a mazy dribble, and Steve Cook replied for Bournemouth, which has maximum points after defeating promoted side Cardiff last week. Kenedy missed an injury-time penalty for Newcastle in a 0-0 draw at Cardiff in the other game Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2018

Serie A deadline day: Milan signs Laxalt, Marchisio exits Juve

MILAN (AP) — AC Milan signed midfielder Diego Laxalt from Genoa on the last day of the Italian transfer window Friday, while forward Gervinho returned to Europe with Parma and Juventus released veteran midfielder Claudio Marchisio. Laxalt won plaudits for his play on the left side of midfield as he helped Uruguay to reach the World Cup quarterfinals and scored four goals in 34 games for Genoa last season in all competitions. Spanish winger Samu Castillejo is also headed to Milan. Castillejo arrives from Villarreal, where he scored six goals in the Spanish league last season. Two Milan players moved in the opposite direction. Colombia forward Carlos Bacca went to Villarreal and Italian forward Gianluca Lapadula to Genoa. Both Bacca and Lapadula spent last season at those clubs on loan. Following a takeover last month by American hedge fund Elliott Management, Milan previously signed forward Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus and also brought in midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko on loan from Chelsea. The former Roma and Arsenal forward Gervinho ended a two-year spell playing in China by signing for Parma on Friday. Parma said the 31-year-old Ivory Coast international signed a three-year contract. Juventus pulled off the biggest transfer of the summer in Europe by signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. But a popular Juventus player left on deadline-day. Marchisio, who joined 25 years ago as a seven-year-old, departed after what the club called "the agreed termination of his contract." The industrious Marchisio played nearly 400 games for the club, scoring 37 goals and winning seven Serie A titles, but has been less prominent since a cruciate ligament injury in 2016. He played 15 times in Serie A last season. Napoli brought goalkeeper David Ospina from Arsenal on a season-long loan. The Colombia international — who played at the World Cup — fell down the pecking order at behind Peter Cech and Bernd Leno at Arsenal. Another player left the London club for Italy, with Joel Campbell joining newly-promoted Frosinone. The Costa Rica forward had been an Arsenal player since 2011 but spent most of his time on various loan deals, including with Real Betis last season, and hadn't played a competitive game for the Premier League club since the 2015-16 season. Atalanta added to its midfield options by signing Argentine player Emiliano Rigoni from Zenit St. Petersburg on loan. The Russian team said the loan deal includes an option to buy Rigoni......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2018

Ancajas stakes IBF belt against Mexican Sept. 29

Jerwin Ancajas will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight crown against dangerous Mexican Alejandro Santiago Barrios on Sept. 29 in California. According to his manager Joven Jimenez, the tentative venue is in Oakland, instead of Fresno, and will be shown on ESPN+ which also carried Manny Pacquiao's July 15 fight against Lucas Matthysse. It will be the sixth title defense for the 26-year-old Ancajas, whose latest conquest was compatriot Jonas Sultan last May, the first time in nearly a century that Filipinos vied for a world title. Jimenez said they have yet to sign the dotted line, although it was already confirmed by international match maker Sean Gi...Keep on reading: Ancajas stakes IBF belt against Mexican Sept. 29.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 13th, 2018

Publicist: Pacquiao rushed to hospital days before Matthysse fight

Sunday morning in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Manny Pacquiao put on a dominant performance to stop Argentinian Lucas Matthysse to capture the WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship. Pacquiao finished Matthysse off in seven rounds to earn his first knockout win since 2009, and it got everyone talking again, calling it a vintage Manny Pacquiao performance. As it turns out, the lead up to the fight didn’t go as swimmingly as the fight itself did. In an article by Pacquiao’s publicist Aquiles Zonio on PhilBoxing.com, the eight division boxing world champion was rushed to the Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital on the afternoon of July 8 - seven days prior to the Matthysse fight - after he complained of difficulty breathing on multiple occasions. Zonio noted that Pacquiao underwent an angiogram to see if there was anything wrong with his heart. “An angiogram is a test used to detect heart problems.  During the procedure, a long and thin flexible tube called a catheter was inserted into Pacquiao’s wrist all the way up to his heart. A dye was injected and x-ray pictures were taken.  Based on medical information, the special dye allows the X-rays to capture pictures of coronary arteries and highlights where the clogs or narrowed spots may be located.  Pacquiao together with about four or five members of his inner circle accompanied him to Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital in Manila around 3:00 p.m. on July 8 to undergo an angiogram.” According to Zonio, Pacquiao’s family and training team were unaware of this incident. The boxer-slash-senator kept it to himself so as to keep anyone from worrying.” What’s more is that Pacquiao was advised to call of his upcoming bout against Matthysse after it was revealed that he was suffering from an inborn heart ailment. Pacquiao of course protested, and was made to sign a waiver. In the end, the fight pushed through, as we all witnessed, and Pacquiao put on an all-time great performance to make him an eleven-time world champion. The pre-fight drama certainly made Pacquiao's success all the more sweet.  Watching Pacquiao’s domination of the Argentinian former champion, would you have guessed that his week leading up to the fight was this turbulent?    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 19th, 2018

Guide to 2018 contract options, qualifying offers

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com Before free agency officially tips off at midnight ET on Sunday morning (Sunday afternoon, PHL time), players and teams had to make decisions on contract options, qualifying offers, and contracts that were either partially or non-guaranteed. Here's the low down on who's staying and who could be going. Player options These players had an option in the final year of their contract. If they exercised it, they were in for one more year. If they declined it, they become free agents Saturday.. Exercised (under contract for one more year) Darrell Arthur (DEN) Ron Baker (NYK) Wilson Chandler (DEN) Dewayne Dedmon (ATL) Danny Green (SAS) Wesley Johnson (LAC) Cory Joseph (IND) Enes Kanter (NYK) Kosta Koufos (SAC) Wesley Matthews (DAL) Jodie Meeks (WAS) Mike Muscala (ATL) Austin Rivers (WAS) - Exercised option prior to trade to Washington Iman Shumpert (SAC) Jason Smith (WAS) Milos Teodosic (LAC) Garrett Temple (SAC) Thaddeus Young (IND) Declined (free agents) Jamal Crawford (MIN) Kevin Durant (GSW) Rudy Gay (SAS) Paul George (OKC) LeBron James (CLE) DeAndre Jordan (LAC) Joffrey Lauvergne (SAS) Kyle O'Quinn (NYK) Early termination options Early termination options are the opposite of a player option, where you have to exercise the option to become a free agent. Declined (under contract for one more year) Carmelo Anthony (OKC) Team options Here, the decision lies with the team. If they exercised the team option, they keep the player for another year. If they declined it, they allowed him to become a free agent. Exercised (under contract for one more year) Richaun Holmes (PHI) Aaron Jackson (HOU) T.J. McConnell (PHI) Nikola Mirotic (NOP) Note: Mirotic's option was picked up as part of the trade that sent him from Chicago to New Orleans. Declined (free agents) Nikola Jokic (DEN) - Restricted Jordan Mickey (MIA) Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) Lance Stephenson (IND) Joe Young (IND) Note: The Nuggets declined their team option on Jokic, but because he has played just three seasons, they had the ability to issue him a qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent (see below). That's what they did. The Heat and Pacers could have done the same with Mickey and Young, but did not, so they're each unrestricted free agents. Qualifying offers Some players were eligible for restricted free agency. This group includes 2014 first round draft picks who had their third and fourth-year options picked up and just completed their rookie contract, as well as other players who have played three or fewer seasons in the league. Restricted free agency allows the team to match any offer the player receives from another team. But in order to have that right, the team must have issued the player a qualifying offer by Saturday night (Saturday afternoon, PHL time). If a qualifying offer wasn't issued, that player is an unrestricted free agent instead. The qualifying offer is binding as a one-year contract. If the player signs it, he's under contract for next season. He could also sign an offer sheet from another team (which his team would have the ability to match), and he and his team could agree on a new, multi-year contract. The team also has the ability to rescind the qualifying offer going forward (the list below is as of July 1, PHL time) Issued (restricted free agents) Kyle Anderson (SAS) Davis Bertans (SAS) Nemanja Bjelica (MIN) Clint Capela (HOU) Dante Exum (UTA) Yogi Ferrell (DAL) Bryn Forbes (SAS) Aaron Gordon (ORL) Montrezl Harrell (LAC) Rodney Hood (CLE) Zach LaVine (CHI) Patrick McCaw (GSW) Raul Neto (UTA) Jusuf Nurkic (POR) David Nwaba (CHI) Jabari Parker (MIL) Julius Randle (LAL) Marcus Smart (BOS) Fred VanVleet (TOR) Not issued (unrestricted free agents) Bruno Caboclo (SAC) Pat Connaughton (POR) Malcolm Delaney (ATL) Marcus Georges-Hunt (MIN) Jonathan Gibson (BOS) Traveon Graham (CHA) Aaron Harrison (DAL) Andre Ingram (LAL) Amile Jefferson (MIN) Damion Lee (ATL) Doug McDermott (DAL) Salah Mejri (DAL) Shabazz Napier (POR) Lucas Nogueira (TOR) Elfrid Payton (PHX) Nik Stauskas (BKN) Noah Vonleh (CHI) Travis Wear (LAL) Waived The following players have been waived so that their contracts didn't become guaranteed (or fully guaranteed) and have been added to the free agent list (or will be added once they've cleared waivers)... Cole Aldrich (MIN) Thomas Bryant (LAL) Tyler Ennis (LAL) Omari Johnson (MEM) Shelvin Mack (ORL) Tyler Ulis (PHX) Two-way free agents This past season was the first with two-way players that can go between the NBA roster and the G League. Some two-way players are still under contract for next season. Those that aren't can be restricted free agents if they were on the NBA team's active or inactive list for 15 or more days of the NBA regular season and if their team issued a qualifying offer. Here's a rundown of two-way free agents... Restricted Ryan Arcidiacono (CHI) Jabari Bird (BOS) Markel Brown (HOU) Torrey Craig (DEN) Milton Doyle (BKN) Isaiah Hicks (NYK) Darrun Hilliard (SAS) Derrick Jones Jr. (MIA) Luke Kornet (NYK) Malcolm Miller (TOR) Xavier Munford (MIL) Georges Niang (UTA) Marshall Plumlee (MIL) JaKarr Sampson (SAC) Tyrone Wallace (LAC) Derrick Walton Jr. (MIA) Unrestricted Jamel Artis (ORL) Anthony Brown (MIN) Charles Cooke (NOP) Jack Cooley (SAC) Matt Costello (SAS) P.J. Dozier (OKC) Kay Felder (DET) Daniel Hamilton (OKC) Danuel House (PHX) Demetrius Jackson (PHI) Josh Magette (ATL) Erik McCree (UTA) Ben Moore (IND) Marcus Paige (CHA) Gary Payton II (LAL) Alec Peters (PHX) James Webb III (BKN) Andrew White III (ATL) C.J. Wilcox (POR) John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Manny Pacquiao 85 percent ready as Matthysse fight draws near

GENERAL SANTOS CITY--With just less than three weeks left before his defining fight with WBA  champion Lucas Matthysse, Manny Pacquiao's handlers were pleased with the work ethic shown by the 39-year-old legend. Just moments after Pacquiao displayed his old and fiery form on Tuesday, staggering sparring partner Gherich Chavez with a single solid straight to the jaw, chief trainer Buboy Fernandez and strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune gave high marks for their champion. Pacquiao had to pause for ten seconds to give Chavez a respite, as old timers recalled memories of the Filipino's single knockout punch that took the lights out of Emmanuel Lucero in 2003 in Los Angeles. "I would say he is 85 already percent ready and we don't want him to peak too soon," said Fernandez, who is leaving no stone unturned in their preparation for "Fight of Champions," the biggest boxing event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia slated on July 15 at the Axiata Arena. Fortune concurred with Fernandez. "He is right there where we want him to be right now," said the Australian coach who is seeing a resurgent spirit of the only boxer in history who has won eight world titles in eight different divisions. Pacquiao challenged himself Monday morning, testing himself to the limit by climbing the steepest route in Maasim, Sarangani province. "It's a sign that Manny is trying to ask himself questions whether he still has it or not. That talks a lot about his warrior spirit," said Fortune. Meanwhile, Matthysse is also doing all he can to match whatever firepower Pacquiao will be bringing to battle. Under the tutelage of Joel Diaz in Indio, California, Matthysse promised to keep his belt at all costs. Matthysse's promoter Oscar Dela Hoya also dispelled rumors that the fight might be cancelled due to financial problems as alleged by Pacquiao's long-time and former promoter Bob Arum of rival Top Rank Promotions. "I feel very, very confident the fight is going to happen, let's put it that way," said Dela Hoya in an interview with boxing scribe Steve Kim. Matthysse is planning to arrive in Kuala Lumpur ahead of everyone to acclimatize for 10 days prior to the match. "I might be there for about ten days, I want to go out there and help Manny promote and do my rounds in Malaysia. I have my plane tickets already. So we're set to go, we have a fight," De La Hoya insisted. - RELEASE.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 26th, 2018

Lukaku, Hazard on target as Belgium beats Egypt 3-0

By Mike Corder, Associated Press BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium showed flashes of its attacking prowess Wednesday, beating Egypt 3-0 in a World Cup warmup with the help of goals from Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard in a dominant first half. Substitute Marouane Fellaini swept home from close range in injury time to complete the scoring. Egypt, held goalless for the second time in three matches, showed how much it misses the injured Mohamed Salah. Driven forward by the speed and insight of Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium was up 2-0 at halftime before losing some fluency amid a flurry of substitutions after the break. "I don't think our performance was perfect, far from it," said Belgium coach Roberto Martinez. "There are many aspects that we need to improve. But what I like is that when we make mistakes we've got the togetherness to try to overcome them and I don't think we had that before and that's very pleasing." Salah, Egypt's great scoring hope for the World Cup, is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final as Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid. The Premier League's top scorer has been named in Egypt's squad for the tournament in Russia and coach Hector Cuper badly needs him. "Mo Salah is not just a good player, he's an outstanding footballer, he's a world class footballer after what he's done this season," Martinez said. "So any team is going to miss the goal scoring threat of Mo Salah. We all wish him a speedy recovery and we want to see him in the World Cup." Egypt should have taken the lead in the 23rd minute when Mohamed Abdelshafy swung in an enticing cross from the left, but Marwan Mohsen, unmarked in the middle, headed wide a chance Salah likely would have scored. The move didn't only highlight the Liverpool forward's absence for Egypt; the space Mohsen found also underscored how Belgium could miss center back Vincent Kompany if he is not fit to play in Russia. Kompany injured his groin on Saturday during Belgium's lackluster 0-0 draw with Portugal. Coach Roberto Martinez named Los Angeles FC defender Laurent Ciman as a replacement if Kompany is not fit to play in Russia. If Lukaku and Hazard are in top form in Russia, Belgium might not miss Kompany too badly. Hazard drove a low shot in the 27th minute that Egypt goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary couldn't hold and Lukaku pounced on the rebound to fire in from close range. Hazard added his name to the score sheet in the 38th minute, blasting a shot high and hard past el-Hadary after Yannick Carrasco had cut back the ball from the left. Martinez rested Lukaku and Hazard for the second half, giving Michy Batshuayi and Adnan Januzaj a chance to play themselves into favor. Batshuayi set up Fellaini's goal by beating an Egypt defender and cutting back the ball. The defeat was Egypt's final warmup before Russia, while Belgium plays Costa Rica on Monday. One positive for Egypt coach Cuper was that Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny returned from injury and lasted the full 90 minutes. Martinez said his team needs the final tune-up. "I don't think we are physically, tactically and mentally ready ... and that's why the Costa Rica game will be important," he said. Egypt opens its World Cup campaign in Russia against Uruguay on June 15, Belgium's first Group G match is against Panama on June 18......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Zidane s successor faces high bar, doubts about stars

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Zinedine Zidane had barely finished announcing that he was leaving Real Madrid when speculation began about who would succeed him. Twenty-four hours later, both Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Germany coach Joachim Loew — two of the top names rumored to be on Madrid's list of candidates — have said they are staying put. Pochettino said Friday that his "commitment is total" to Tottenham. He signed a five-year contract extension last week. Loew, who is preparing Germany to defend its World Cup title in Russia, said "it's not an issue for me. I'm at the World Cup now. I can completely rule it out now." Other coaches that Madrid president Florentino Perez supposedly is considering include Chelsea's Antonio Conte, exiting Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former Madrid player Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez. While the Madrid job is one of soccer's most coveted posts, its next coach will have some hurdles to tackle. STARS IN DOUBT The biggest worry for any coach coming to the Spanish capital will be the uncertain future of the team's top stars. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale appear to be mulling an exit, at least according to statements they made just moments after Madrid beat Liverpool in last weekend's Champions League final. Ronaldo put a huge damper on Madrid's celebrations by appearing to speak of his time at Madrid as having reached its end. "In the next few days I'll give the fans an answer because they are the ones who have always been by my side," Ronaldo said. "It was very beautiful to be with Madrid." Ronaldo said he would clear up his future once he joins the Portuguese national team next week as it prepares for the World Cup. Bale, who scored twice as a substitute to beat Liverpool 3-1, was more explicit in stating his desire to get more playing time after a season during which he lost his spot in the starting 11. Midfielder Francisco "Isco" Alarcon has also complained about not enjoying the same untoucbable status as Ronaldo, defender Sergio Ramos or midfielder Luka Modric. COMMITMENT Zidane could hardly have set the bar any higher with three straight European Cups. Still, the Frenchman leaves a Madrid team that woefully underperformed in both the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey this season. It is likely that only his status as fan favorite from his playing days at Madrid and his titles from the previous two seasons kept Zidane in his job through the first six months of last season, until the team finally found its form in the Champions League. Madrid finished in third place in the league, a whopping 17 points adrift champion Barcelona. In the Copa del Rey, the team was eliminated at home by a modest Leganes in the quarterfinals, a moment which Zidane said was the worst of his coaching stint with the club. Whoever inherits the team will have to improve its work ethic to face the weekly grind of games in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey if it hopes to dethrone Barcelona from both domestic competitions. BENZEMA Zidane has been the biggest public defender of Karim Benzema, fending off calls from fans and the local sports media to bench the struggling striker. Benzema scored only five times in 32 league appearances this season, his lowest mark since arriving at Madrid in 2009. If the club doesn't sign a replacement for Benzema this offseason, then its next coach will have to help him recover his best form. YOUNG PLAYERS Madrid tried to rejuvenate its squad last year by bringing in a group of young Spanish players, including defenders Theo Hernandez and Jesus Vallejo, midfielders Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente, and forward Borja Mayoral. But none earned a spot in Zidane's starting lineup or his group of preferred backups. Madrid's in-coming coach will have to bring those players into the fold so their careers don't stagnate any further......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 2nd, 2018

Madrid draws at Villarreal 2-2 before Champions League final

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid showed Liverpool its strengths and weaknesses a week before their Champions League final. Madrid squandered first-half goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in drawing at Villarreal 2-2 on Saturday in its last match before attempting to win Europe's most coveted trophy for a third year in a row. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane aligned what could be his starting 11 for the final against Liverpool, except for giving 20-year-old son Luca Zidane his competitive debut in goal. Zidane left striker Karim Benzema on his bench in favor of starting Ronaldo and Bale alone up front and playing Francisco "Isco" Alarcon along with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos as playmakers in front of holding midfielder Casemiro. Madrid showed the same dominant form that has taken it to another Champions League final in the first half at Villarreal. But after Ronaldo and Modric were replaced by Benzema and Lucas Vazquez with half an hour remaining, Zidane's bunch displayed the same complacency and faulty defending that scuttled its Liga title defense months ago. The draw in the final round meant Madrid finished the Spanish league in third place behind Atletico Madrid and champion Barcelona. Bale opened the scoring with a solo effort in the 11th minute, and Ronaldo headed in a superb cross by Marcelo just after the half-hour mark. Fifth-place Villarreal outplayed the visitors in the second half and leveled through goals by substitutes Roger Martinez in the 70th and Samuel Castillejo in the 85th. "We played a very, very good first half, with determination, scoring goals, but the second half was the exact opposite," Zidane said. "The important thing is that we didn't have any injuries and can now rest well for next weekend. We are only thinking about winning the final." Bale, who struggled for most of the season to make Zidane's first-choice 11, has finished the season strong and appears to have earned a spot in the Champions League final. His opener against Villarreal, created when he let Modric's pass run through as he spun around his marker, was his 14th goal in the last 10 rounds. "Gareth has never given up," Zidane said. "He has trained well. Nothing has changed. The only difference is that now he is scoring." Ronaldo's goal was his 26th in the league. Barcelona's Lionel Messi leads the competition with 34. Castillejo snatched the draw after he raced behind Marcelo to receive a lobbed pass from Rodrigo Hernandez. Luca Zidane, who normally plays for Madrid's reserve team in the third divison, stopped his initial chipped shot but Castillejo slotted the rebound into the open net. Saudi Arabia midfielder Salem Al Dawsari made his Liga debut as a second-half substitute for Villarreal. ASPAS MAKES HIS CASE Iago Aspas made the most of his last chance to show Spain coach Julen Lopetegui that he deserves a spot on his World Cup squad. The striker scored twice to lead Celta Vigo's 4-2 win over Levante, taking his season tally for the league to 22, the most by a Spanish player. Aspas was regularly chosen by Lopetegui during World Cup qualifying. Celta announced after the match that coach Juan Carlos Unzue will leave the club and break his contract by mutual agreement. OTHER RESULTS Uruguay striker Christian Stuani scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season to lead Girona's 2-1 win at Las Palmas. Leganes fought back while playing with 10 men for over an hour to beat Real Betis 3-2 in a farewell of coach Asier Garitano, who won't stay on after a good season for the modest Madrid club. Wissam Ben Yedder gave Sevilla a 1-0 win over Alaves, and Loic Remy converted a penalty for Getafe to beat Malaga 1-0......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

Postponement reports untrue, says Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao reported for training yesterday afternoon, and by flashing the thumbs-up sign dispelled rumors of the postponement of his title fight against Lucas Matthysse on July 15......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

Fabregas says Chelsea must banish regret in our head

By Tony Jimenez, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Chelsea produced a lackluster Premier League title defense this season and the last thing the players want is to sign off the campaign, and in all probability Antonio Conte's reign as manager, with a second consecutive FA Cup final defeat. Motivation will be sky high, for more reasons than one, when Chelsea takes on the most successful coach in its history, Jose Mourinho, and his Manchester United side at Wembley on Saturday. "You don't want to be on the back of losing two FA Cup finals in a row," midfield playmaker Cesc Fabregas said. "Last year we didn't play well. Arsenal were on top of us and I think they deserved to win. "It would've been a fantastic season winning the double. We have this regret in our head and we want to make it right this time for sure." Media speculation has been rife for several months that Conte will leave Chelsea at the end of the campaign. The former Italy coach has appeared to be at odds with the club's board all season and a disappointing fifth-place finish in the league has done little to appease him or his employers. Conte was also involved in a much-publicized spat with Mourinho, who won the league three times in two spells with Chelsea, earlier this season although the pair now seem to have resolved their differences. The Chelsea hierarchy will be desperate to avoid the embarrassment of being on the receiving end of a defeat by Mourinho in Saturday's showpiece occasion after having fired the charismatic Portuguese coach for the second time in December 2015. Mourinho guided United to a second-place finish in the league this season, his second term in charge, and will be intent on putting one over his old club by adding the FA Cup to last year's League Cup and Europa League title triumphs. Young midfielder Scott McTominay said United's players are also driven by the desire to win the FA Cup for their former manager Alex Ferguson, who is recovering from a brain haemorrhage. 'We really want to do it for Sir Alex Ferguson as he's obviously not so well," McTominay said. "It's so important to bring home the silverware for him. "It's so important after a long season. It hasn't quite gone to plan in the league and other cup competitions." McTominay, who only broke into the team a year ago, was not involved when United beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in the 2016 final. "To see Jesse Lingard score that (winning) goal was incredible and it was obviously a moment that him and all of the fans will never forget," McTominay said. "As a player you have to take as much in as possible and see how the players prepare for the game, particularly the players in your position, just to see how the team chemistry gets going because it's such a big day. "Wembley is such an amazing stadium, it's the home of English football. It's a place where you want to showcase your skills and go out to do your best for the team.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Since 2014 highs, a struggle for Colombia, James

By Jairo Anchique, Associated Press BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia has a lot to live up to in Russia after providing one of the standout moments of the last World Cup. James Rodriguez was catapulted to football stardom when he took the ball on his chest and swiveled before smashing a volley in off the underside of the bar in the Maracana against Uruguay. It helped to secure Colombia's spot in the quarterfinals in 2014 — and ultimately a move to Real Madrid. But James has struggled to live up to the highs of Brazil, where he scored a tournament-leading six goals. He struggled to make an impact in Spain and has been trying to regain form ahead of this World Cup at Bayern Munich. It was a struggle, too, for Colombia to even qualify for a second straight World Cup with a spot only sealed in the last match. It enables Radamel Falcao to finally appear at football's biggest event after missing the trip to Brazil with a left knee injury. Here's a closer look at the Colombia team: COACH Jose Pekerman has spent six years in charge of Colombia, following successes with his native Argentina. He guided Argentina to under-20 world titles in 1995, 1997 and 2001 and then guided the senior squad to the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals, where it lost to host Germany in a penalty shootout. Pekerman has long had close ties to Colombia: He played with Independiente Medellin in the 1970s and Vanessa, his eldest daughter, was born in the capital in 1975. GOALKEEPERS David Ospina is the undisputed choice to top the team sheet, despite being restricted to playing in cup competitions for Arsenal while Petr Cech starts English Premier League matches. Camilo Vargas, who plays for Deportivo Cali in Colombia, is Ospina's understudy, just like at the 2014 World Cup. Jose Fernando Cuadrado, who also plays at home for Once Caldas, is also set to make the cut. DEFENDERS Pekerman has been forced to reshape the defense due to the retirement of Mario Alberto Yepes and the trio of Pablo Armero, Camilo Zuniga and Carlos Valdes losing form and fitness. But quality center backs have broken through: Yerry Mina of Barcelona, Oscar Murillo of Mexican side Pachuca and Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham. Cristian Zapata is set for a second World Cup, along with right back Santiago Arias. Frank Fabra has taken the place of Armero on the left. MIDFIELD James, Juan Cuadrado of Juventus and Carlos Sanchez of Fiorentina are set for a second World Cup. Edwin Cardona, Mateus Uribe, Wilmar Barrios, Giovanni Moreno and Juan Fernando Quintero are other options. The goals of the flyers were vital when the attackers spent about a year without converting. FOWARDS Falcao is the only striker who looks certain of a starting spot while Duvan Zapata, Luis Fernando Muriel, Carlos Bacca, Miguel Angel Borja, Duvan Zapata and Yimmi Chara are competing for the remaining places. Pekerman tends to go for a lone strike either in 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 formations. GROUP GAMES Colombia opens Group H on June 19 against Japan, plays the second game near its Kazan base against Poland on June 24, and concludes against Senegal on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

Europa League offers last chance for Wenger to sign off a winner

LONDON: Arsenal have little time to digest Arsene Wenger’s long-awaited decision to end his 22-year reign as a Europa League semifinal with Atletico Madrid offers the outgoing manager a chance to salvage some of his lost credit with the club’s fans. Wenger admitted he stepped aside to unite a fanbase fed up with years of [...] The post Europa League offers last chance for Wenger to sign off a winner appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

Wenger to leave Arsenal after more than 21 years in charge

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Arsene Wenger is leaving Arsenal after more than 21 years, ending a revolutionary reign that saw him introduce new methods to the Premier League and become the club's most successful manager. While the 68-year-old Frenchman was able to announce his own departure plans on Friday, the tenure of English soccer's longest-serving manager will finish at the end of the season against a backdrop of mounting dissent as the London club's competitiveness in the Premier League has waned. Arsenal has failed to win the Premier League since 2004, but that feat represented the highpoint of Wenger's career as he became only the second manager to go through an English league season unbeaten. The "Invincibles" season, his third Premier League title, helped shield Wenger against the critics. But Wenger's power appeared to drain over the last year as executives trying to shape the future direction of the team were brought in. The new two-year contract that Wenger signed after winning the FA Cup for a record seventh time last May will now not be completed. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season," Wenger said. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever." Even though Arsenal is sixth in the Premier League, there can still be a successful conclusion to the season with the team in contention for the Europa League. Arsenal's appearance in the competition, though, is a sign of the recent demise under Wenger. Arsenal became accustomed to qualifying for the Champions League before missing out for the first time in two decades after finishing fifth last season. Winning the Europa League is now Arsenal's only realistic way of Wenger bequeathing his successor a place next season in the more illustrious Champions League. With Wenger's footprints all over the Emirates Stadium, finding a coach to step into the dugout after a dynastic reign is a challenge. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke only has to look at the problems that have afflicted Manchester United since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 after more than 26 years in charge. United is on its third manger since Ferguson left after winning a record-extending 20th English title and has not finished higher than fourth. Among the early contenders to succeed Wenger are two Germans: Thomas Tuchel, who left Borussia Dortmund last year, and Germany coach Joachim Loew. A popular appointment among Arsenal fans could be Patrick Vieira, who has been gaining coaching experience in Major League Soccer at New York City FC. The midfielder was one of Wenger's first signings in 1996 and featured in all three Premier League title-winning sides. Wenger took over in October 1996 as Arsenal's first foreign manager on the back of successes at Monaco and a stint in charge of Japanese club Grampus Eight. He was a relative unknown but quickly gained respect for helping to modernize English soccer in the early years of the Premier League, eradicating Arsenal's drinking culture and introducing new sports science methods. Adding Vieira and French players Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Petit and Thierry Henry helped to establish Arsenal as an English soccer power until Wenger was shackled by the financial constraints of the move from Highbury into the new Emirates Stadium in 2006. It coincided with the rise of foreign investment in rival clubs, with Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich transforming Chelsea and Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour raising the stakes by lavishing even more cash on players at Manchester City. While Arsenal was taken over by Kroenke in 2011, the American sports tycoon operated in a parsimonious financial environment that irritated many supporters. Now Kroenke, who told The Associated Press in 2016 that he was "very high on Arsene," has the tough task of replacing Wenger. "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport," Kroenke said. "One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude." Arsenal said it will make an appointment "as soon as possible." "We have high ambitions to build on Arsene's remarkable tenure and to honor his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game," Kroenke said. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game."  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

Glue guys EJ Agbong, Jason Celis complete Letran’s retooling

Colegio de San Juan de Letran is now stepping outside the Walls of Intramuros to get new weapons for its arsenal. Chiang Kai Shek standouts EJ Agbong and Jason Celis are set to be the newest Knights, providing much more firepower for a crew that is nothing but ready to do battle in the looming NCAA 94 Men’s Basketball Tournament. The two players were key cogs in the Blue Dragons’ championship run in the 2018 Metro Manila Basketball League. There, alongside John Galinato, they bested powerhouse San Beda High School. Agbong is a 6-foot-2 forward who is the ultimate glue guy, doing whatever it is his team needs from him. He has also proven to be a terrific leader, never failing to vocal with his troops. Meanwhile, Celis is a 5-foot-9 guard who is more known for his scoring, but is also more than capable of doing the little things. Both of them will be given much-needed time to grow with the former backing up Bong Quinto and the latter backing up JP Calvo. Looking at the big picture, Agbong and Celis’ commitment is a welcome sign for Letran, a school which has traditionally not recruited talents fresh out of high school unless they come from its Juniors program. The Knights’ most recent prized prospects from high school were all once Squires – from Mark Cruz to Rey Nambatac and from Quinto to Jerrick Balanza. Now with the San Miguel Corporation behind their backs, though, change has seemingly come. Aside from solid recruits in Agbong and Celis, also already in Intramuros are talented transferees Bonbon Batiller, Christian Fajarito, Larry Muyang, and Fran Yu. They will round out a raring and ready core of Quinto, Balanza, Jeo Ambohot, and JP Calvo. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 19th, 2018

Behind the glitz, France has problems to solve before WCup

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — France's attacking soccer can be compared to an All-Star basketball game: showy moves, flashy individual skill and outstanding finishing. Up front France boasts Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, two of the world's three most expensive players, and the 2016 European Championship's top scorer in Antoine Griezmann. When everything comes together, it's a joy to watch but, behind the glitz, France has significant problems to resolve before its World Cup campaign begins on June 16. As Euro 2016 runner-up, France will rightly be considered among the favorites in Russia. But rivals will marvel at the ease with which Colombia pierced France's feeble defense and overran its tentative midfield on Friday. Trailing 2-0, Colombia rallied to win 3-2 in a tactical master class of positional switches and pressing which flummoxed France coach Didier Deschamps. France showed similar frailties against World Cup winner Germany in November, twice squandering the lead in a 2-2 draw. Both times, France fluffed chances because of some complacent finishing — trying to score highlight-reel goals — and was then ruthlessly punished. It is particularly worrying for Deschamps, who places high importance on tactical discipline, commitment, leadership and risk-free defending. Those were hallmarks of France's triumphant teams at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 tournaments — with the combative midfielder Deschamps as captain — but they were missing against Colombia on Friday. "We have to do more in terms of attitude, energy and playing with more heart," France captain Hugo Lloris said. "We have to give more." In adding that Colombia "maybe has less talent but is a real team" Lloris highlighted the glossy veneer and soft underbelly of his side. Striker Olivier Giroud criticized a lack of "aggression and determination," adding it was important to understand why France was missing such "crucial values." Deschamps has another friendly, away to Russia on Tuesday, before he names his 23-man World Cup squad. He will then have three matches left to iron out evident flaws in his side, including a lack of leadership, lapses of concentration in defense, and a misplaced sense of superiority when dominating games. "When things are going well, we're capable of doing very good things. When things get tense we're a lot more vulnerable," Deschamps said. "It's also a question of character, perhaps we are too self-satisfied and the highest level doesn't forgive that." ___ LACK OF LEADERSHIP France's second-half capitulation against Colombia was not just tactical; it was also because Les Bleus had no leader to spark a response. France's long-standing captain is goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. While there is no doubt over Lloris' position as No. 1 — the Tottenham goalie is among the most consistent in the Premier League and has nearly 100 international caps — his position on the field works against him in communicating with his team. Lloris has long been considered too soft-spoken and lacking enough of a vocal presence. Deschamps complained his side lacked aggression against Colombia, and he may question why he's sticking with Lloris as captain when he is anything but aggressive, both in his body language and communication. ___ DEFENSE WEAKNESSES France plays such scintillating attacking football that its defenders must sometimes be tempted to put their feet up and admire it. Unfortunately, at times they seem to do just that. Deschamps is still trying to decide on his best center back pairing: Real Madrid's Raphael Varane alongside either Barcelona's Samuel Umiti or Arsenal's 50-cap veteran Laurent Koscielny. He went with Varane and Umtiti against Colombia and it was thoroughly unconvincing. Forward Luis Muriel regularly got behind Varane, and Umtiti clumsily gave away a late penalty, from which Colombia made it 3-2. But bringing Koscielny back in won't solve everything, either. While he is a fine reader of the game, and one of the best ball-playing center halves around, Koscielny has a habit of giving away penalties and his man-marking can be poor. Right backs Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Pavard are attack-minded but so are left backs Layvin Kurzawa and Lucas Digne. Against Colombia, Sidibe and Digne raced forward almost at will, leaving gaping holes behind them for Colombia to exploit. ___ MIDFIELD CONUNDRUM With N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi, the last position Deschamps should worry about is midfield. However, Pogba has fallen out of favor at Manchester United and looks out of form. Against Colombia, Deschamps paired Kante and Matuidi as holding midfielders in a 4-4-2 formation, but they were at times completely overrun when Colombia countered on the break. A 4-3-3 formation — Kante holding with Pogba and Matuidi either side — appears to offer more protection. But Pogba's tactical indiscipline means he often drifts out of position and, while he's among the world's most expensive players, Deschamps may be better off using him as a substitute. Instead, Deschamps could opt for a 4-3-3 with Bayern Munich's Corentin Tolisso, who is far more disciplined and a crisp passer with a good eye for goal. He scored 14 for Lyon last season, including long-range strikes, and has found the net several times for Bayern. Tuesday's match against Russia could prove important for Pogba's chances of starting France's World Cup opener against Australia......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018

France s poor defending exposed again as Colombia wins 3-2

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — France's casual defending was exposed again as ruthless Colombia rallied from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in a World Cup warmup on Friday. European Championship runner-up France scored twice inside 26 minutes through striker Olivier Giroud and wide midfielder Thomas Lemar. But poor concentration from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris let Colombia back in two minutes later, when Luis Muriel's cross eluded him and went in. Roared on by huge swathes of yellow-shirted fans at Stade de France, Colombia leveled in the 62nd when striker Radamel Falcao swept in James Rodriguez's perfect cross from the right for his 29th international goal. A clumsy foul just inside the penalty area from Samuel Umtiti gifted Colombia a chance to win, and substitute Juan Quintero slammed the spot-kick past Lloris in the 85th. "Colombia really showed the character of a World Cup side. Not only did we turn the match around, we won it," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said through a translator. "The players really understood what they needed to do. They switched positions on the pitch and things changed." Colombia's fans, seemingly filling half the stadium, celebrated wildly at the final whistle. France coach Didier Deschamps, meanwhile, has plenty of thinking to do prior to Tuesday's game away to World Cup host Russia in St. Petersburg. It must have felt like deja vu for Deschamps. His side twice led away to World Cup winner Germany in November, only to draw 2-2. Against a spirited and tough-tackling Colombia, France often gave the ball away too easily, particularly in midfield. Colombia caused panic with every attack, particularly down the flanks. "Our first half hour was of the highest quality. It seemed easy at 2-0 but it never is," Deschamps said. "Colombia knows how to hurt you. We made a few mistakes and they really taught us a lesson, we'll have to learn from it." Deschamps further underlined his players' shortcomings. "There's a lot of quality in this team but it's not enough. The highest level requires much more determination," he said. "We had the same amount of possession in the first and second half without the same result. It's happened before, when we've alternated between good and less good, and the second half really wasn't good." Giroud's 30th international goal moved him level with Jean-Pierre Papin and France great Just Fontaine, who holds the single-tournament scoring record for a World Cup with 13 goals in 1958. It has been a frustrating season for Giroud, who became No. 3 striker at Arsenal following the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. He moved to Chelsea in January, but he has managed only one goal so far for the Blues. But back with France, Giroud shook off his club woes. He swiveled and slammed a shot into the roof of the net in the 11th minute after a handling error from goalkeeper David Ospina — his former Arsenal teammate — from left back Lucas Digne's cross. France's second goal owed nothing to luck. Antoine Griezmann's backheel found Kylian Mbappe, who dummied a defender and passed left to Lemar. He steadied himself before smacking a powerful shot past Ospina and into the right corner. Ospina denied the lively Griezmann shortly before the break, but for all of its flair France leaves holes at the back. Muriel volleyed wide in the 50th and, shortly after, Lloris saved his angled shot. France also has friendlies against Ireland, Italy and the United States before its World Cup opener against Australia on June 16. Les Bleus then face Peru and Denmark in the group stage......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2018

Real Madrid beats PSG 2-1 to reach Champions League quarters

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain's dream of joining Europe's elite with a Champions League trophy will have to wait another season, as Real Madrid delivered a brutal reality check by cruising through to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win on Tuesday night. Cristiano Ronaldo's powerful header — his 12th goal of the competition — and a deflected effort from midfielder Casemiro either side of a close-range finish from PSG's Edinson Cavani sent Madrid through 5-2 on aggregate. Peaking at the right time, Madrid can be confident of challenging for a third straight title and 13th overall. PSG still has not reached the semifinals since its lone appearance in 1995. PSG's ambitious club motto of "Dream Bigger" should perhaps now be revised. On this evidence, and last season's humiliation at the hands of Barcelona, PSG remains a club more hopeful than convincing. Despite huge investment from cash-rich Qatari owners QSI since 2011, PSG has not been past the quarterfinals in that time. "We needed our heads and our hearts today. But we didn't have both, we didn't play as well as Real Madrid," dejected PSG coach Unai Emery said. "Madrid deserved to go through. I think they controlled 60 percent of the game and we didn't do enough with the 40 percent we had. Losing to Real Madrid itself isn't a disappointment, but being knocked out in the last 16 is." Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, PSG's fragile defense crumbled and its attack offered little threat without the injured Neymar. The biggest bang from this PSG side was from the fireworks constantly let off by a section of fans behind one goal. Cavani's goal gave PSG some hope with 20 minutes left. But with midfielder Marco Verratti already sent off, scoring two more to force extra time was beyond a lackluster PSG side. Instead, midfielder Casemiro's deflected shot looped past stranded goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 80th. He was gifted the ball after midfielder Adrien Rabiot dealt poorly with Lucas Vazquez's cross. To compound a miserable night for PSG fans, who so badly want to believe this side can conquer Europe, Verratti showed terrible composure to in getting sent off midway through the second half. He got a second yellow card, having protested vehemently with referee Felix Brych after not getting a free kick. "Our fans got behind us, I apologize to them," Rabiot said. "We tried but we couldn't do it." Ronaldo had already done his usual damage. The Champions League's all-time leading scorer was given far too much space and leapt triumphantly to beat Areola with a downward header in the 51st minute. He had netted twice in the first leg. Ronaldo is hitting top form at a crucial time and has scored in nine Champions League games in a row, matching Ruud van Nistelrooy's record. This was a huge test for a PSG side desperate to prove it belongs among Europe's elite, especially after spectacularly failing last year — becoming the first team eliminated after winning the first leg 4-0. Barcelona won the return 6-1. "Maybe tonight they weren't so good, but it's also because we played very well," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "Obviously it became harder for them when we scored the second goal." In the night's other match, five-time champion Liverpool eased into the last eight, drawing 0-0 at home to two-time winner Porto after winning the away leg 5-0. The atmosphere was electric at Parc des Princes in Paris, with thick smoke engulfing the stadium a pre-match pyrotechnics were set off. PSG's exuberant fans were asked to "stop letting off flares" over the stadium loud speaker just after the interval. This was all part of a concerted effort to motivate the players. The club's communications department had released a video, urging fans to rally behind the team seemingly as a matter of urgency for the city itself. Neymar also posted a video on Twitter, with the words "Vous allez le Faire" (You will do it). Banners around the ground encouraged the team and some fans had already taken matters into their own hands. Late into the night before the game, a small group of PSG Ultras let off bangers, chanted "Paris" and banged a drum outside the Real Madrid team hotel. But all this bluster seemed more like bluff. After a fairly even first half, Ronaldo headed wide early in the second half — a warning sign. Moments later he headed home Vazquez's pinpoint cross from the left after a quick break down the left from the impressive Marco Asensio, astutely selected ahead of Gareth Bale by Zidane. "Tactically we played the right way, we believe in what we're doing," Zidane said. "We closed them down high up the pitch." Madrid could have had further goals breaking forward on counterattacks, with Asensio and Ronaldo hitting the post......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 7th, 2018