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Coutinho is back but problems run deeper at Liverpool

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Philippe Coutinho's belated return to the Liverpool team adds an extra layer of ingenuity to a forward line that promises to be one of the most thrilling in European soccer this season. Entertainment is unlikely to be in short supply at Anfield now that the front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah will be prompted from midfield by Coutinho, who has been reintegrated after his unsettling offseason when he was wooed by Barcelona. However many goals they score, though, Liverpool seems destined to be debilitated by its frailty at the back. Whether it's a collective problem — as manager Juergen Klopp is suggesting — or individuals simply making bad decisions or mistakes, Liverpool doesn't have the defense to make a realistic challenge for major honors this season. This past week, Liverpool has lost 5-0 at Manchester City, albeit after being down to 10 men for more than half the game, and then ruined a dominant performance against Sevilla in the Champions League by giving away two sloppy goals in a 2-2 draw. There are legitimate concerns starting with the goalkeepers and going right across the defensive line, and they have been there from the moment Klopp took over in October 2015. It was odd, then, that he chose to sign only one defender during the transfer window, left back Andrew Robertson from relegated Premier League team Hull for 8 million pounds ($10.7 million). Robertson has played only one game so far this season. Would things have been different had Liverpool managed to sign Southampton center back Virgil van Dijk, its much-publicized top defensive target? Klopp doubts it. 'I know here you're always looking for this thing about the defense ... that these problems will have been sorted with one player — it was mentioned we put all our money together and do this,' Klopp said after the Sevilla game. 'It's not about this. It's about being dominant and losing a little bit of concentration, the grip of the game that you do not have in all defensive moments.' The issues are clear to see. Klopp has rotated his two goalkeepers, Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, in the last four matches, continuing the long-held uncertainty in that position. At center back, Joel Matip is good on the ball but not a commanding presence at set pieces or under the high ball, while Dejan Lovren can be clumsy and error-prone, as shown against Sevilla when he completely missed an attempted clearance to allow a tap-in goal in the fifth minute. At left back, Alberto Moreno can be an attacking threat but a defensive liability, and Robertson is inexperienced on this stage. At right back, youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold (18) and Joe Gomez (20) have bright futures but can be caught out in behind them. Of the so-called 'Big 6' in the Premier League in Klopp's time in England, Liverpool had the leakiest defense in the 2015-16 season and only Arsenal conceded more goals last season. The neutral will want Klopp to keep things as they are, starting with the home match against Burnley in the league on Saturday. Liverpool is arguably the most exciting team to watch in the Premier League, with opportunities popping up regularly at both ends. The team's first-half performance in the Sevilla game was so exhilarating that Liverpool's fans gave the players a standing ovation as they went off for halftime. Throw the returning Coutinho into the mix, and Adam Lallana when he is back from a thigh injury maybe next month, and Liverpool's attacking options are seemingly limitless. It's what happens at the other end, however, that could decide the Reds' fate this season. Here's what else to watch out for this weekend in the Premier League: ___ strong>ROONEY'S RETURN /strong> On Sunday, Wayne Rooney makes his first return to Old Trafford since leaving Manchester United to rejoin boyhood club Everton. Rooney spent 13 trophy-filled years at United and is the club's record scorer with 253 goals, yet seemingly isn't held in the same regard as United's great names of the past like Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs. United midfielder Jesse Lingard predicted Rooney will receive a good reception, saying: 'He's a legend at the club and we will always welcome him back.' United leads on goal difference after collecting 10 points from a possible 12. Everton has scored only two goals in four games this season, Rooney grabbing both of them. ___ strong>HODGSON'S FIRST GAME /strong> Fifteen months after leaving the England job, Roy Hodgson is back in management after taking over at Crystal Palace. Palace fired Frank de Boer after only four league games, with the team in last place and yet to score a goal in four straight losses. Hodgson's first game in charge is at home to Southampton on Saturday.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnSep 15th, 2017

Rampant Manchester City looking more like a Guardiola team

em>By Sam Johnston, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — Although it's taken a year longer than many expected, Manchester City is finally beginning to resemble a Pep Guardiola-coached team. City remained in rampant form as it ended Watford's unbeaten start to the English Premier League with a resounding 6-0 victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Guardiola's side has scored 15 goals in three matches since the international break, following 5-0 and 4-0 wins over Liverpool and Feyernood respectively. City stuttered to a third-place finish in Guardiola's debut season while failing to produce the stylish play of its manager's former sides, but a second straight offseason of significant personnel changes appears to be paying dividends. 'It was so good, especially after an away game in the Champions League,' Guardiola said. 'I was lucky to manage Barcelona with many outstanding performances but this week has been a lot of goals. We have found our game, we can make short passes, and we have a lot of energy from our full backs.' Sergio Aguero scored a predatory hat trick and laid on an assist for Gabriel Jesus, while Nicolas Otamendi headed in, and Raheem Sterling added a late penalty. The victory took City to the top of the table, but Manchester United can join it on Sunday with a win over Everton. Elsewhere, Liverpool failed to shake off the effects of last week's thrashing by City, letting Burnley leave Anfield with a 1-1 draw. Crystal Palace became the first club in league history to lose its opening five games without scoring. Swansea brought Tottenham back to earth in a scoreless draw at Wembley, three days after Spurs tore apart Borussia Dortmund. Newcastle made it three league wins a row by beating Stoke 3-1, Leicester and Huddersfield drew 1-1, and West Brom and West Ham played out a goalless draw. strong>AGUERO CLOSING IN /strong> Having struggled at times last season, Aguero appears to have been revitalized by his partnership with Jesus and was at his predatory best as he completed the sixth Premier League hat trick of his career. The Argentine forward is just three goals away from breaking Eric Brook's 177-goal record at Man City. 'I am very happy,' Aguero said. 'I am focused on scoring the next goal but what matters is that we won.' strong>NO MANE, MORE PROBLEMS /strong> Philippe Coutinho made his first start of the season for Liverpool after failing to force a summer move to Barcelona, but his return wasn't enough to fill the void left by the suspended Sadio Mane. Liverpool struggled at times last season without Mane and it appears little has changed. Summer recruit Mohamed Salah's tying goal secured a point for the Reds but even he can't match the brilliance of Mane, who is serving a three-match suspension after being sent off against Manchester City last weekend. Burnley has picked up away points at three of last season's top-six teams, beating Chelsea on opening day and drawing against Tottenham at Wembley. strong>ROY'S RETURN /strong> Roy Hodgson's first match in charge of Crystal Palace looked like the team's previous four matches. In a 1-0 loss to Southampton, Steven Davis' early goal proved decisive. Hodgson has been out of management since Euro 2016, where his England side was eliminated by minnows Iceland. Having become the first Premier League manager to be appointed in his 70s, Hodgson went for a return to a traditional four-man defense, but it took Southampton just six minutes to breach it. strong>WEMBLEY CURSE REMAINS /strong> Tottenham is still looking for a first domestic victory of the season at its temporary Wembley Stadium home. Harry Kane struck the crossbar in the second half but Swansea displayed great resilience to hold on for 0-0. Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs have failed to win all three league games at Wembley, where it's playing while White Hart Lane is redeveloped this season. strong>DEFENDER SCORES AGAIN /strong> Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles was an unlikely star for a second straight game as the defender headed home the winner against Stoke after Xherdan Shaqiri cancelled out Christian Atsu's opener. Newcastle beat Stoke 3-1 at St. James' Park. Also, West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry equaled Ryan Giggs' Premier League appearance record in his 632nd game.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2017

Arsenal facing make-or-break 6 days

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press It's a six-day stretch that could make or break Arsenal's season and prompt renewed scrutiny into the machinations of a club that appears to have issues at every level. A home game against Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, soon followed by the visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup. Lose both matches and Arsenal's bid for domestic silverware will be over for another season. Finishing in the top four of the league, and thereby qualifying for the Champions League, would also be highly unrealistic. And it won't even be February. It wasn't so long ago that Unai Emery was making a mockery of any fears he would struggle to oversee a smooth transition from Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign. The team was on a 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Emery's high-energy pressing game was working and the goals were flowing, even if there were some slight concerns about the defense. Tottenham, Arsenal's big rival, was trounced 4-2 in the North London derby. "We've got out Arsenal back," chanted gleeful Arsenal fans. Then came the slide. The first worrying signs came in a 3-2 loss at lowly Southampton on Dec. 16 that ended Arsenal's four-month unbeaten run. Then there was the elimination at the hands of Tottenham in the English League Cup quarterfinals, before a 5-1 mauling by Liverpool in the league at Anfield on Dec. 29 which revived memories of the defensive horror shows from the darkest days in the final years of the Wenger era. More recently, there was the timid 1-0 loss at West Ham on Saturday when Arsenal had two shots on target. If Arsenal loses to Chelsea, it will drop nine points adrift of the top four and probably into sixth place — the position it finished in Wenger's last year. Arsenal will be left relying on winning a cup competition — the FA Cup or, perhaps more likely, the Europa League — to salvage anything from its season. The problems won't end there. Mesut Ozil is the club's marquee and highest-earning player — reportedly getting 350,000 pounds a week ($450,000) — yet is regularly left out by Emery, just as he was against West Ham on Saturday. Ozil, a mercurial player with a languid approach, doesn't fit Emery's preferred style and so is proving to be a very expensive commodity. Another midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, has also been in and out of the team this season and is reportedly close to signing for Juventus. "At certain times, you have to provoke friction with footballers," Emery said this week, perhaps with a nod to his relationship with Ozil. "From that friction, you can get something more out of them, something from inside." Without its two most creative attacking midfielders, and with Henrikh Mkhitaryan currently injured, Arsenal lacks any playmaking ability or balance behind the two strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Meanwhile, Emery's team has kept only three clean sheets in 22 league games. "There are times," Emery said, "when defensively we have not been very solid but we have still won because offensively we have created a lot of chances. So, at the moment, I am still leaning toward making sure the team doesn't lose what it has." Emery doesn't have the option of buying his way out of trouble. He said last week that there is no money available for permanent signings, only loans, with Arsenal having spent 70 million pounds on four players in the offseason and a club-record 56 million pounds on Aubameyang last January. In an attempt to formalize a structure to the technical staff above the manager, Arsenal created the positions of head of football relations (Raul Sanllehi joined from Barcelona) and head of recruitment (Sven Mislintat joined from Borussia Dortmund) in 2017. No way was Emery going to have the same power as Wenger. Yet sections of the British media are reporting this week that Mislintat is on his way out as part of a power struggle in the wake of the departure of chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who left for AC Milan in October. So, potential upheaval behind the scenes. No money to spend. Apparent rifts with key players. And a defensively suspect team that has lost four of its last eight games. It's a huge week coming up for Arsenal and Emery, for whom the enormity of the task in replacing Wenger might finally be sinking in......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

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

Salah sets up 2 goals, Liverpool beats Palace 2-0 in EPL

LONDON (AP) — Mohamed Salah won a first-half penalty converted by James Milner and also played in Sadio Mane for a late goal as Liverpool beat 10-man Crystal Palace 2-0 on Monday for its second straight win to open the Premier League season. In a typical all-action display by Salah, the Egypt forward was also the player fouled by Aaron Wan-Bissaka that earned the Palace right back a straight red card in the 75th minute because he was the last man. The score was 1-0 at the time, Milner having slotted in the penalty on the stroke of halftime after Salah tumbled under a challenge from Mamadou Sakho. Mane secured victory in the third minute of stoppage time when he ran onto a pass from his own half by Salah, advanced half the length of the field, and rounded the goalkeeper to shoot into an empty net at Selhurst Park. "It was a very tough game. We knew before the game it would be," Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said. "I don't think the big teams ever win here comfortably. I think a well-deserved three points." Liverpool started the season with a 4-0 thrashing of West Ham and is living up to its billing as a potential threat to title favorite Manchester City, the defending champion. "I'm not interested in sending a statement to Manchester City or anyone else," manager Juergen Klopp said. "I want to win football game and that's what we did tonight." Liverpool has yet to concede a goal and carries a constant threat with its front three of Salah — last season's top scorer in the Premier League — Mane and Roberto Firmino. Mane already has three goals this season. The closest Palace came to scoring was when Andros Townsend curled a long-rage shot against the crossbar in the first half. "I thought we pushed them very hard. We should have come in at 0-0 at halftime and the second half would have been even tougher," Palace manager Roy Hodgson said. "We gave them enough problems and we can consider ourselves unlucky to lose 2-0." Liverpool and City are two of six teams with the maximum six points......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2018

Neymar makes spectacular return as Brazil beats Croatia 2-0

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Only three months ago, Brazil striker Neymar was on an operating table and in danger of missing the World Cup in Russia. Those fears largely disappeared Sunday when Neymar returned to action with smart dribbling, fluent passing and an impressive individual goal, which he celebrated with his surgeon. Playing for the first time since February, Neymar scored the opener in Brazil's 2-0 friendly win against Croatia in Liverpool after coming on for the second half. He then ran to hug Brazilian soccer confederation doctor Rodrigo Lasmar on the sidelines at Anfield. "I am so happy to play football again. I have waited and worked a lot for this. I suffered, these were very tough three months," Neymar said. "When I saw the ball hit the net I only thought of those that helped me, Dr. Lasmar, my family, friends." Neymar, who also withstood a few challenges in the game, received the ball from midfielder Philippe Coutinho in the 68th and dribbled past Croatia defenders Sime Vrsaljko and Duje Caleta-Car. He smashed the ball into the net from around five meters (yards) with his right foot. The Brazilian injured the same foot playing for Paris Saint-Germain and underwent surgery in Brazil in early March. He did not warm up with the Brazilian team on Sunday, which had again raised concerns among supporters. Neymar said he was 80 percent at his best for the Croatia game. Brazil coach Tite said Neymar's return was "above the expected standard." "Neymar is only human, but he came back above my expectations too," Tite said. "I was expecting much less." Neymar had replaced midfielder Fernandinho at halftime with the score at 0-0. He quickly made his mark and raised the hopes of Brazilian fans for the World Cup, which starts June 14. Tite wasn't getting carried away, though. "Neymar is going to have ups and downs like he had in training until the third, fourth game (on his return). Then he will have his normal standard," Tite said. Croatia captain Luka Modric was among many impressed with Neymar. "It is beautiful to watch him play again, he is special, one of the best in the world," Modric said. Brazil "improved in the second half after Neymar made the difference." Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scored Brazil's second goal in the 90th. After Casemiro put the ball in the penalty box, Firmino controlled with his chest and sent the ball over Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to step up his challenge for a starting position in the team. Brazil captain and No. 9 Gabriel Jesus was replaced by Firmino after an hour. "I am here to help Brazil. I respect Tite's opinion (in starting with Jesus) 100 percent," Firmino said. The striker also thanked local fans for their support, saying "it is good to play at home." The same Liverpool supporters who cheered Firmino went out of their way to jeer Coutinho, who left the Reds for Barcelona earlier this year. Until Neymar stepped onto the pitch it was Croatia which had the best opportunities in a match that seemed headed for a dull draw. Defender Dejan Lovren had the best chance to open with a header that grazed Brazil goalkeeper Alisson's right post after a corner. When Fernandinho went off, Coutinho played a greater role and Brazil's game improved. The five-time World Cup champions play their last pre-World Cup friendly against Austria on June 10. Monday will be a rest day for the team and Brazilian media claimed midfielder Fred will be traveling to Manchester for medical tests before signing a deal with Manchester United. Tite did not confirm the move but said: "Our orientation is for them (players) to solve (transfers) as quickly as possible so they keep their head and effort focused on Brazil. If I were the manager there, I would try to sign him too." Brazil's World Cup opener is on June 17 against Switzerland......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Recovering Neymar confirmed in Brazil s World Cup squad

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — A recovering Neymar was confirmed and injured leader Dani Alves was replaced by Danilo and Fagner in a Brazil World Cup squad of few surprises on Monday. The only surprises were among the likely reserves for the tournament in Russia, with the inclusion of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred and winger Taison. Neymar has been recovering from right foot surgery in March, and Brazil Football Confederation doctors believe he will be fit to train next week in Teresopolis, where preparations will begin, and play on June 3 in a friendly against Croatia in Liverpool. Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro he examined Neymar on the weekend and the results were positive. "This is the final stage of his recovery, he will be able to go to training sessions soon, and will play the friendlies," Lasmar said. Coach Tite said Neymar was one of the top three players in the world, but insisted his team didn't depend on him alone. "We will be much stronger with Neymar doing well, but for him to do well the rest of the team has to be well, too," he said. All but one of Tite's starting lineup in World Cup qualifiers was confirmed in the squad: Alisson; Miranda, Marquinhos and Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Philippe Coutinho; Neymar and Gabriel Jesus. Defender Alves, a veteran of two World Cups, sprained his right ACL last week in the French Cup final and was replaced in the 23-man Brazil squad by Manchester City's Danilo and Corinthians' Fagner. Tite decided not to inform who are the players that could replace one of those until June 4 in case of injury. Tite also summoned goalkeepers Ederson (Manchester City) and Cassio (Corinthians); defenders Thiago Silva, (Paris Saint-Germain) Pedro Geromel (Gremio) and Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid); midfielders Fernandinho (Man City) and Willian (Chelsea); and strikers Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) and Douglas Costa (Juventus). The coach said several positions in his starting lineup were open, including up front. "At first, Gabriel Jesus is our starter. But Roberto Firmino will fight for that position in top form," Tite said. "The challenge is open on the right back, but Danilo has some advantage now because he has performed well recently." Tite also hinted in his hour-long news conference he could change one of his central defenders for Thiago Silva. The inclusion of Taison, the coach admitted, suggested Coutinho could be taking a role in central midfield and leaving his spot for Willian. Tite said he needs "a pacemaker" in the team, which he has not received from Beijing Guoan's Renato Augusto. "Coutinho can play in the middle and in the flanks, he is versatile," Tite said. "Sometimes preparation gives you elements that you didn't have, and force you to change your mind." Tite said Brazil was one of the favorites for the title, but refused to name other candidates. The coach's final list includes 15 out of the 23 players he called for his first game with Brazil, against Ecuador in World Cup qualifiers in September 2016. There are only four survivors from the 7-1 hammering by Gerrmany four years ago at the home World Cup: Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho and Willian. Thiago Silva and Neymar did not play that semifinal, one due to suspension and the other because of injury. Marcelo, Casemiro and Firmino will join Brazil for preparations in London only after Real Madrid and Liverpool play the Champions League final on May 26. Brazil starts its World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 17, followed by Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Barcelona unable to find its stride in Champions League

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Suddenly, the Champions League has become a tough challenge for Barcelona. The Spanish club thrived in nearly every competition it played over the last few years but has failed to succeed recently in the top European club competition. Lionel Messi and his teammates lost to Roma 3-0 on Tuesday in Italy, relinquishing a 4-1 first-leg win and getting eliminated in the quarterfinals for the third straight season. "All we can do is apologize to our fans for the way we lost," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "This is the toughest loss since I've been with Barcelona, because of the way it happened. I'd be lying if I said that this could help us in some way in the future, because last year we lost in a similar manner." Barcelona was eliminated by eventual runner-up Juventus last season, losing 3-0 in Turin and being held to a scoreless draw at home in the second leg. In 2016, Barcelona fell to Spanish rival Atletico Madrid 3-1 on aggregate, winning 2-1 at home and losing 2-0 in Madrid. "We want to be contending for the Champions League title year after year," Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. "We were hopeful of advancing to the semifinals after having played a great first leg. Now we have to carefully analyze what happened and try to move on." Since 2015, when it won its last Champions League title, Barcelona was dominant in other competitions, winning two Spanish leagues, three Copa del Reys, one Club World Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and one Spanish Super Cup. Messi was a crucial component in nearly all of those triumphs for Barcelona, but the playmaker performed below expectations in the team's recent Champions League failures. He didn't score in the six quarterfinal games that led to Barcelona's recent eliminations. The team's other players couldn't do enough help Barcelona advance then, and this time Messi had even less support. Neymar left in the offseason, and the players who joined the club after his departure were not able to play up to the same level. Ousmane Dembele, touted as the main replacement for the Brazil forward, was marred by injuries and wasn't able to establish himself as a reliable attacking partner for Messi and Luis Suarez. Dembele was on the bench Tuesday, entering the match in the final minutes as a substitute. Philippe Coutinho also arrived to help fill Neymar's absence, but he was ineligible to play in the Champions League because he had already played for Liverpool earlier in the tournament. Right back Nelson Semedo, another offseason signing for Barcelona, was the player unsuccessfully trying to stop Roma defender Kostas Manolas when he scored the 82nd-minute decisive goal for the hosts on Tuesday. This was Barcelona's first Champions League loss under coach Ernesto Valverde, who replaced Luis Enrique at the end of last season. "We have a very competitive team and it will recover from this," Bartomeu said. "We still have other tournaments to play and we have to focus on them." Although the loss in Rome ended Barcelona's chances of winning the treble, the team remains in good position to win the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey. Barcelona has an 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid with seven matches left, and it will face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on April 21 trying to win its fourth straight Copa title. "It will be very difficult to recover," said veteran Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who most likely played in his last Champions League match. "But we don't have any other option. On Saturday we have another match to play and we have to give our best to try to win the titles that are still achievable." Barcelona hosts third-place Valencia on Saturday looking to achieve a Spanish league record of 39 consecutive games unbeaten. It shares the record that Real Sociedad set in 1979-80......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

Coutinho must live up to cost, legacy of Barca s Brazilians

JOSEPH WILSON, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Philippe Coutinho arrives at Barcelona bearing both his huge price tag and the legacy of the long line of Brazilian stars who have dazzled at Camp Nou. The comparisons will be constant with Neymar, whose world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain in August provided Barcelona with the 160 million euros ($192 million) it needed to acquire Coutinho at a cost that would have seemed ludicrous just six months before. Only Neymar and PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe surpass it. But while Neymar, as before him Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Romario, all became fan favorites by staring in Barcelona's attack, Coutinho will have to measure up to the Spanish club's long line of top-notch_and largely homegrown— midfielders. The 25-year-old Coutinho will come to Spain charged with the daunting task of one day taking over as its midfield leader with Andres Iniesta entering the twilight of his career at age 33. Coutinho can count on the big advantage of setting up Lionel Messi for goals as he strives to justify the club-record fee Barcelona agreed to pay on Saturday, when it finally pried him away from Liverpool after the English club had refused to let him go in the summer. Even though coach Ernesto Valverde has successfully kept Barcelona winning after predictions of decline abounded following the unwanted departure of Neymar, Coutinho will greatly increase his options in a midfield that is still heavily reliant on Iniesta for its playmaking spark. His signing signals Barcelona's intention to refocus on the patch of the pitch that has defined its passing style for decades, an emphasis that had slipped somewhat in recent years with Neymar, Messi and Luis Suarez forming a powerful attack, albeit sometimes at the expense of its ability to dominate possession. Since the exit of Xavi Hernandez two and a half years ago, and those of Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara, Barcelona was in danger of seeing its lineage of great midfielders broken. Coutinho showed at Liverpool that he can play anywhere in the midfield: in a more attacking role, as a wide player in a four-man line, or deeper to help start the attack. That versatility will help ensure him a place in a Barcelona midfield that has a set group of first-choice players in Iniesta on the left, Ivan Rakitic on the right, and Sergio Busquets in a defensive role, but little else. Coutinho, who has the vision and quick passing skills that Barcelona needs, can also provide goals with his accurate strike from distance. He scored 41 times in 152 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, including seven in 14 matches in the first half of this campaign. With Coutinho set to feature, Barcelona will likely part ways with one or more of midfielders Andre Gomes, Arda Turan, Rafinha and Denis Suarez. Barcelona has also recently seen the return of summer signing Ousmane Dembele, which cost it a then-club record fee of 105 million euros plus add-ons that could take the total to 147 million euros, from a tendon injury that had sidelined him since September. Dembele would likely need to play in a 4-3-3 alongside Messi and Suarez, while Coutinho could play on the right side of a midfield line with Iniesta and Busquets. But Valverde has also gotten good results this year— including a 3-0 victory at Real Madrid last month— with just Messi and Suarez in attack and a four-man midfield including Paulinho, who has given the team goals and added muscle since his arrival in the offseason. Valverde will have to use different lineups regardless, because Coutinho will be limited to playing in the Spanish league, which Barcelona leads, and the Copa del Rey for the remainder of this season since he cannot play for another team in the Champions League after participating in the group phase with Liverpool. He will then have five more seasons under the contract he has agreed to sign to help Barcelona win a sixth European Cup......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

Matter of when Man City wins title and how many records fall

By Steve Douglas and Rob Harris, Associated Press English soccer has never seen a team so utterly dominant as Manchester City entering the packed Christmas program. There seems little doubt Pep Guardiola will be raising the Premier League trophy for the first time in May. It is just a question of when City will wrap up its third title since 2014, and how many records will tumble on the way. City has already reeled off the most consecutive English top-flight wins — a record extended at the weekend to 17 games. Manchester United's record Premier League title-winning margin of 18 points from 2000 could also be under threat. And England could be looking at its third unbeaten "Invincibles" team after Preston in 1888-89 and Arsenal in 2003-04. So it doesn't bode well for a compelling second half of the Premier League season? Think again. The chase for the other three Champions League spots should be fierce with eight points separating second-place Manchester United and Arsenal in sixth. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are in the mix among them. Two leading sides will fall by the wayside and be denied a place among the European elite. The battle to stay in the world's richest soccer league is also intense. No team is stranded at the bottom, with Swansea in 20th place only six points behind Southampton in 13th. A closer look at the first half of the season: ___ TITLE RACE City leads by 13 points at the halfway stage after winning 18 of its 19 games and drawing one in the best ever start to a Premier League season. The only dropped points came at home to Everton in the second game on Aug. 21, when City played more than a half with 10 men following Kyle Walker's sending-off. Guardiola won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in late March in 2014 — aided by a winning streak of 19 games never before seen in a major European league. It will be tough for Guardiola to win the title that early in England as he chases a quadruple after finishing his first season at the club without a trophy. City is already through to the League Cup semifinals, into the Champions League last 16 and begins its FA Cup campaign in two weeks. Man United is in second place, with defending champion Chelsea three points further back in third. United manager Jose Mourinho says the title race is still on, but the rest of his peers among the chasing pack don't see City faltering now. It will be intriguing how Mourinho reacts to be seeing his title ambitions further fade in his second season at United, having already opted to publicly call out his "childish" players after a draw at Leicester on Saturday. ___ PICK OF THE PLAYERS Kevin De Bruyne is playing in a deeper role for City this season, virtually as a center midfielder, and it is bringing the best of out the Belgium midfielder. He has provided many of this season's wow moments, from scoring the winning goal at former club Chelsea in September with a fierce left-footed strike from outside the area to the assists for goals by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in the 7-2 win over Stoke in October Dovetailing perfectly with fellow playmaker David Silva, De Bruyne has six goals and eight assists but it's more than just his statistics. His prodigious work rate, range of passing and crossing ability — arguably the best in the Premier League since the days of David Beckham — that make him a strong contender for the player of the season awards. No wonder City is determined to nail down the 26-year-old De Bruyne to an improved, longer contract. ___ EMERGING TALENT Amid an offseason of record spending in English soccer, little was made of Watford signing Richarlison from Brazilian team Fluminense for 13 million pounds ($17 million). Yet the 20-year-old forward is proving a bargain, settling in quickly to the pace and intensity of the Premier League and being one of the key factors in Watford's impressive start to the season that, at one stage, saw them challenging around the top four. Direct, skilful and quick, Richarlison already has five goals and keeps getting himself in great positions to score more, with his finishing sometimes letting him down. Opponents have cottoned on to his impact, with Richarlison telling ESPN Brazil this month: "Teams are already marking me individually, they are putting two players there on my side." Chelsea and Tottenham have been linked with the Brazil under-20s player, who has yet to earn a call-up to the senior squad. That appears only a matter of time. Other players to break through this season are Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, the Danish center back who has ousted David Luiz, and Liverpool's Joe Gomez, the right back who has ensured long-term injury absentee Nathaniel Clyne hasn't been missed. ___ SURPRISE TEAM An unfashionable club is mixing it with the heavyweights of the Premier League against all the odds. We've heard this before, right? Two years ago, it was Leicester delivering a soccer fairy tale by somehow winning the league. Now it's Burnley's turn to provide the feel-good story of the season. Widely regarded as a relegation candidate at the start of the season, Burnley is currently seventh. Don't rule Burnley out of staying in the tussle for the Champions League qualification places, with Liverpool only three points better off in fourth. The northwest team hasn't finished a season higher than sixth place in the top flight since 1974. Burnley, which has conceded just 15 goals in 19 games, has already beaten Chelsea away and drawn at Tottenham and Liverpool. Not bad for a team that returned a profit of about $20 million in summer player sales when most of the rest of the Premier League was spending freely. ___ POINTS TO PROVE Alexis Sanchez is a superstar performing well below expectations this season, perhaps as a result of failing to secure a move to Man City from Arsenal during the summer. That transfer could be revived in January — Guardiola cut an awkward figure recently when asked about making a new bid for the Chile forward — to potentially leave City with an even greater wealth of attacking riches. Sanchez has five league goals. By this stage last season, he had already scored 12 on his way to career-high haul of 24 for a single league campaign. In the dugout, these are testing times for two British managers: Alan Pardew and Mark Hughes. Pardew succeeded Tony Pulis a month ago with a mission to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. Then the Baggies were two points above the bottom three. Now they are next-from-bottom after collecting only two points from Pardew's first five games. Hughes' future appears on a knife-edge at Stoke despite a pressure-relieving victory over West Brom on Saturday that hauled the team three points from the danger zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

Four sperm whales die in Indonesia beach rescue

Four sperm whales stranded on a beach in Indonesia have died, a local official said Tuesday, despite frantic efforts to save the massive mammals. The whales were among a pod of 10 spotted by locals stranded along Ujong Krueng beach in Aceh province Monday, with one seen farther out in the water. Rescuers tried to push the nine beached whales back out to sea as hundreds of curious locals looked on, some snapping pictures. Five were pushed back and survived but four died, some with their mouth agape as small waves crashed over their giant bodies. Rescuers tied ropes to the tails of some of the mammals to pull them to deeper water. "We had problems evacuating th...Keep on reading: Four sperm whales die in Indonesia beach rescue.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 14th, 2017

Morata hat trick keeps Chelsea near top of EPL

SAM JOHNSTON, Associated Press br /> LONDON (AP) — Despite having been Chelsea's second choice in the transfer window, Alvaro Morata is quickly proving his doubters wrong in the English Premier League. The former Real Madrid forward showcased his skills with a hat trick as Chelsea defeated Stoke 4-0 on Saturday, drawing him level with Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero with six league goals. 'Alvaro took his goals very well, which for a striker is very important,' Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said. 'I am pleased with the team also because it means we are creating chances for our strikers.' Aguero and Lukaku were on the scoresheet, too, as Manchester City and Manchester United won but stayed unbeaten by different paths. City's latest victim was winless Crystal Palace by 5-0, while United ground down Southampton 1-0 thanks to Lukaku's first-half strike. Liverpool overcame its leaky defense to secure a first win in September as Philippe Coutinho starred in a 3-2 win at Leicester. Tottenham and Watford also maintained perfect away records. Spurs withstood a late West Ham comeback to win at the London Stadium 3-2, Watford won at Swansea 2-1, Everton came from behind to defeat Bournemouth 2-1, and Burnley and Huddersfield played out a goalless draw. MORATA, MORATA, MORATA Morata's first three Premier League goals came via his head, but a cool side-footed finish after just two minutes gave Chelsea the lead at Britannia Stadium. His second was even better as he picked up the ball on the left, drove past two Stoke defenders and curled his shot past Jack Butland. His third was simple, but the Spain striker's movement was on display as he slipped his marker to find space to tap in Cesar Azpilicueta's knockdown. If there was any remaining sadness over Diego Costa's exit from Chelsea, which was finally resolved this week, Morata ensured his compatriot was forgotten on Saturday. Pedro scored Chelsea's other goal as Antonio Conte's side maintained its perfect away record in the league, keeping it within three points of United and City at the top of the table. CITY CAN'T STOP SCORING City scored five or more goals for a third consecutive league game as the impressive Leroy Sane opened the scoring before Raheem Sterling added a double against Palace. Aguero maintained his goal-a-game record and substitute Fabian Delph rounded off the scoring, to leave Roy Hodgson's Palace pointless and goalless after six games. LUKAKU: GOALS, CHANTS CONTINUE Lukaku scored the only goal but United's win in Southampton was overshadowed by the continued use of a racist chant in support of Lukaku by United fans. The club said it will review CCTV footage to identify supporters who sang the lyrics despite Lukaku's pre-match request for it to stop. SWEET REVENGE Days after being knocked out of the League Cup by Leicester, Liverpool went to King Power Stadium and beat Leicester in an action-packed encounter. Coutinho laid on an assist for Mohamed Salah before curling a stunning free kick into the top corner to put Juergen Klopp's side in control. However, Liverpool's fragile defense was once more exposed as Shinji Okazaki pulled a goal back. Jordan Henderson restored the Reds' two-goal advantage but Jamie Vardy got Leicester back into contention just a minute later. Vardy then squandered a chance to secure the Foxes a draw when his penalty was saved by Simon Mignolet. PERFECT ON THE ROAD Harry Kane's double and Christian Eriksen's goal appeared to give Spurs an unassailable lead, but a Javier Hernandez header quickly followed by Serge Aurier's sending off made for a tense finale. Cheikhou Kouyate headed West Ham within touching distance but Tottenham held on to make it three wins from three away from home. Watford matched that record with an equally dramatic 2-1 victory over Swansea as Richarlison struck a 90th-minute winner. Andre Gray earlier scored his first goal for Watford before Tammy Abraham came off the bench to level the game. IN FROM THE COLD Oumar Niasse came off the bench to score twice as Everton came from behind to defeat Bournemouth and end a run of three successive defeats. Niasse was deemed surplus to requirements by Ronald Koeman last summer, but with Everton struggling for goals, the Senegal forward was given a chance. He grabbed it with both hands, ending the Toffees' run of 6 1/2 hours without a league goal, before notching the winner five minutes later. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2017

Klopp angry as Liverpool eliminated from League Cup

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> Liverpool failed to finish off a slew of chances and conceded a sloppy goal in a 2-0 loss at Leicester in the English League Cup, arousing the ire of its frustrated manager Juergen Klopp on Tuesday. It is becoming a familiar narrative for the Reds in a disappointing month when they haven't won any of their four matches. Questions are now being asked the team's efficiency at both ends of the field. Liverpool over-ran Leicester in a dominant first-half display, with Philippe Coutinho orchestrating the attacks from midfield. But the visitors struggled after the Brazil playmaker was substituted at halftime of the third-round match in a pre-planned move from Klopp. In another game-changing substitution, Shinji Okazaki came on in the 53rd minute for Leicester, scored 12 minutes later with a deflected shot after Liverpool's defense was beaten to two headers, and then laid the ball on for Islam Slimani to drive home a stunning second goal at King Power stadium. 'Second ball from a corner and a goal from a throw-in — I'm sick of goals like this, to be honest. Unbelievable,' Klopp said. Referring to the first goal, Klopp added: 'We didn't push up together — I say it one time, I say it a thousand times. It's not nice to concede these goals.' Since beating Arsenal 4-0 in the Premier League before the international break, Liverpool has been thrashed 5-0 by Manchester City and drawn 1-1 at home to Burnley in the league, conceded late to draw 2-2 with Sevilla in the Champions League, and has now been eliminated from the League Cup. Klopp is easing Coutinho back to full match sharpness after the midfielder missed Liverpool's first six games of the season — officially because of injury and illness — while he was the subject of three transfer bids from Barcelona. Leicester couldn't handle Coutinho's passing and movement in the first half, and only came into the game when he was off the field. 'They've got a world-class player in Coutinho,' Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare said. 'I was very relieved when he went off.' Liverpool finished the game having had 21 shots, but only three on target. Against Burnley on Saturday, the Reds only scored once from 35 shots. Tottenham was among the other Premier League teams to win on a night when top-flight sides mostly fielded fringe players for what is regarded as the inferior cup competition on the English calendar, compared to the FA Cup. ___ strong>SPURS EDGE THROUGH /strong> In another unconvincing domestic display at its temporary home of Wembley Stadium, Tottenham beat second-tier Barnsley 1-0 thanks to Dele Alli's close-range goal in the 65th minute. Tottenham hasn't won any of its three Premier League games at Wembley this season, but has beaten Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. ___ strong>HODGSON'S FIRST WIN /strong> Crystal Palace scored its first goal since Aug. 22 to earn a 1-0 win over Huddersfield and a first victory under new manager Roy Hodgson. Bakary Sako was the scorer from a corner. Palace has started the Premier League season with five straight losses and no goals, the first time that has happened in the history of England's top flight. Hodgson replaced the fired Frank de Boer last week. Defender Pape Souare came on as a substitute for Palace for his first appearance since breaking his jaw and thigh, and picking up other injuries, in a car crash a year ago. ___ strong>STOKE, BURNLEY ELIMINATED /strong> Stoke lost 2-0 at Bristol City and Burnley was eliminated on penalties by Leeds after a 2-2 draw, as two second-tier League Championship teams got the better of Premier League sides. Bristol City also knocked out a Premier League team in Watford in the second round. Bournemouth, West Ham and Swansea were Premier League teams to advance to Round 4.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2017

Halep edges young American at Australian Open; Venus next

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Push Simona Halep to the brink, and she summons her best. The Australian Open's top-seeded woman got all she could handle from 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin in the second round before taking the last four games to emerge with a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 victory that took 2½ hours Thursday. "Well, I have no idea how I won this tonight," said Halep, the reigning French Open champion. "It's so tough to explain what happened on court." A year ago at Melbourne Park, Halep was a point from being eliminated in two matches but came back each time en route to reaching the final. In the first round this year, she was down a set and a break before turning things around. And this time, against a hard-hitting Kenin, Halep trailed 4-2 in the third set and managed to not cede another game. And that was despite getting what she described as "a little bit injured" in the second set, something that seemed clear from the way she wasn't always able to run with her usual verve. "Hopefully," said Halep, whose No. 1 ranking is up for grabs during the Australian Open, "next round I play better." That third-round matchup will be quite intriguing, because it'll be against seven-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Venus Williams. And the winner of that could face Williams' younger sister, 23-time major champ Serena, in the fourth round. Venus won a three-setter that finished a little before Halep's did — and in much more emphatic fashion. Pushed to that deciding set by getting broken to end the second, Venus ran away with the win down the stretch, defeating Alize Cornet 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. So what was the difference in the lopsided third set? "She was just putting more intensity than me. She was hitting harder, deeper," Cornet said. "I had a little less energy than in the second set and she took advantage of it and really raised her level." The 38-year-old Venus, unseeded at a major for the first time in five years, was the runner-up in Australia to Serena in 2003 and 2017. Serena advanced to the third round by beating 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday night, reeling off the last five games and 16 of the final 20 points. That match was to be followed in Rod Laver Arena by No. 1 Novak Djokovic against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a rematch of the 2008 final at Melbourne Park. Other winners in the women's draw Thursday included reigning U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka, past U.S. Open runners-up Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys, No. 27-seeded Camila Giorgi and No. 28 Hsieh Su-Wei. In men's action, Stan Wawrinka was up a set and was just two points away from taking the second against Milos Raonic. Couldn't do it. About an hour later, 2014 champion Wawrinka was a single point from grabbing the third set. Denied again. And another hour after that, Wawrinka was two points from seizing the fourth to force a fifth. Nope, not on this afternoon. Wawrinka kept coming oh-so-close, and Raonic kept hanging in there and toughing out the most important moments along the way to a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (11), 7-6 (5) victory that put the 16th-seeded Canadian into the third round. "I missed a few little points," Wawrinka said, "that could have changed the match." So true. "It feels like 4 hours passed by in about 15 minutes. ... The adrenaline takes over," said Raonic, the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016. "I was very fortunate to stay alive in that fourth set." They were interrupted for about a half-hour while the roof at Rod Laver Arena was shut because of rain at 4-all in the third set. Raonic thought that helped him quite a bit. "I do a little bit better indoors than outdoors," he said, "so thank you for raining up there." In other men's action on Day 4, 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori withstood 59 aces from 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic en route to a 6-3, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (7) victory, but No. 7 Dominic Thiem retired from his match in the third set after dropping the first two, and 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4. Raonic delivered 39 aces, part of an impressive ratio of 84 total winners to only 44 unforced errors. This was a matchup probably better suited to the second week than the second round of a Grand Slam tournament, given both men's credentials. But Wawrinka, a three-time major champion once ranked as high as No. 3, dropped out of the top 250 last season, when he had surgery on his left knee. His signature one-handed backhand is as dangerous as ever — he had a 16-2 edge in winners on that shot Thursday — and he hit 28 aces of his own. But as even as the match was in many respects — Raonic only won two more points overall, 163-161 — Wawrinka couldn't come through when he really needed to. Raonic had plenty to do with that, of course, including in the third-set tiebreaker, when he served his way out of trouble. Wawrinka's three set points there came at 6-5, when Raonic delivered a serve at 129 mph (208 kph) followed by a forehand volley winner; at 8-7, when Raonic's 125 mph (201 kph) serve drew a missed return; and at 10-9, when an ace at 132 mph (213 kph) did the trick. A 123 mph (198 kph) service winner gave Raonic that set. In the last tiebreaker, Wawrinka was up 5-4 before Raonic closed with three consecutive points to avoid heading to a fifth set. "Today, I'm sad and frustrated," Wawrinka said. "But in general, if I take some distance with it, I'm happy to see that I'm able to play again with this level, able to move that well.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Pacquiao back in site of biggest victories

LAS VEGAS---Manny Pacquiao's eyes glistened as he disembarked from his shiny black Mercedes Benz van right in front of the MGM Grand lobby. On a cold and rainy Monday evening, Pacquiao stepped right back to the site of some of his spectacular conquests after fighting elsewhere the past two years due to tax problems. And no one is more excited than the eight-division champion, whose face once again adorned the gigantic, bright billboards that greeted Team Pacquiao as it descended into The Strip. "I'm very excited," exclaimed Pacquiao. "It feels good to be back." He will fight Adrien Broner on Saturday (Sunday morning in Manila) to defend his WBA welterweight crown. The odds...Keep on reading: Pacquiao back in site of biggest victories.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 16th, 2019

Jesus keeps up scoring spree as Manchester City dump Wolves

MANCHESTER, England --- Gabriel Jesus kept up his scoring spree for Manchester City with two goals in a 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League on Monday, moving the champion back to within four points of Liverpool. The Brazil striker has seven goals across three competitions in the past nine days for City. His opening goal against Wolves was a 10th-minute tap-in following a left-wing cross from Leroy Sane, who was sent free by a searching ball forward from center back Aymeric Laporte. When Wolves defender Willy Boly was sent off in the 19th minute for a dangerous tackle on Bernardo Silva, it quickly became a damage-limitation exercise for the vi...Keep on reading: Jesus keeps up scoring spree as Manchester City dump Wolves.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 15th, 2019

Jesus keeps up scoring spree, Man City beats Wolves 3-0

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is keeping a close eye on Gabriel Jesus now the young striker's family are no longer with him in England. Maintaining his hot streak in front of goal should keep the Brazilian's spirits high. The 21-year-old Jesus scored twice in City's 3-0 win over 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Monday, extending his spree to seven goals across three different competitions in the past nine days. Whether he can retain City's sole striker spot ahead of club great Sergio Aguero, who started on the bench after a recent illness, remains to be seen but Jesus cannot be doing any more to impress his manager, Pep Guardiola. "I know Sergio Aguero is an amazing player and helps me a lot," Jesus said. "When Sergio plays he helps the team, and when I play I want to help as well. "I play better now and to score goals is important to me." And having two in-form strikers can only boost City's chances of reeling in Liverpool in the Premier League title race. Liverpool's lead was trimmed to four points by City's win over Wolves, for whom the match was a damage-limitation exercise from the moment center back Willy Boly was handed a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Bernardo Silva in the 19th minute. By then, Jesus had tapped in a left-wing cross from Leroy Sane, who was found by a searching ball forward from center back Aymeric Laporte, to put City in front in the 10th minute. Jesus added his second goal from the penalty spot in the 39th after Raheem Sterling was fouled by Ryan Bennett. City piled on the pressure in the second half — it finished the game with 76 percent possession — but had only one more goal to show for it, with Conor Coady glancing a header into his own net from substitute Kevin De Bruyne's cross. Since losing back-to-back league games around the Christmas holiday to drop out of the lead and, at one point, be seven points behind Liverpool, City has been in relentless form — winning five straight matches in all competitions and scoring 24 goals in the process. Among them was a 9-0 win over third-tier Burton in the English League Cup, when Jesus scored four times. Guardiola spoke ahead of the game about the club needing to rally around the striker because he might start to find life difficult after his mother, two older brothers and nephew returned to Brazil following an extended stay in Manchester to help Jesus acclimatize. And teammates Sane and Sterling could not have handed him easier opportunities to continue his scoring run. Wolves were potentially tricky opponents for City, given their strong record against the top six in the league. Nuno Espirito Santo's team drew against City at home in August and recently beat Tottenham. Boly's straight red card put paid to any chance of an upset at Etihad Stadium and Wolves failed to have a shot on target. And neither Boly nor Espirito Santo had any complaints about the decision, with the defender having got the ball in a challenge with Silva only to catch him with the follow-through. "The game 11 vs. 11 was the same as 11 vs. 10," Guardiola said. It was the 16th time this season that City has scored three or more goals. This latest victory moved the champion five points clear of third-placed Tottenham, which lost at home to Manchester United on Sunday. Liverpool will also be wary of City's improved form. "All we can do is win our own games," Guardiola said. "We spoke many times in the last hours about this to our players. We cannot control what they do. We can control what we do. The only way to do that is by being there. Maybe one day they fail and we try to be there. "But you can be sure if we don't win, they will be champions.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2019

PBA: Rookie Trevis Jackson credits teammate Chris Newsome for smooth transition into Meralco

When asked which of the veterans on the Meralco Bolts team has assumed somewhat a mentor role to him, fifth-overall pick Trevis Jackson grinned and looked over to the person on his right, Chris Newsome.  "The one who took my number," Jackson said before bursting into laughter.  "I didn't take it if it was already mine!" Newsome snapped back playfully, as if taking offense to what the rookie had said.  "He didn’t want to play me one on one for it, you know?" Jackson continued, still trying to keep from laughing.  "I don’t need to, that’s why!" Newsome again responded, before falling into laughter as well.  The playful exchange between the two frontcourt figures for the Bolts showed just how well Jackson was fitting in with the team, with Newsome of course being considered one of the leaders of the squad.  Jackson then went deeper into how he and Newsome have formed quite the bond.  "After my first workout here, Chris just took me under his wing and showed me the ropes and helped me relax. With the draft, there’s a lot of anxiety and you feel the pressure, but he helped me realize that hey, you’ve been doing this, just believe in it," Jackson shared with ABS-CBN Sports. "So I was able to relax and once I got here, it’s was just like ‘see, I told you, just trust it’ and every day, he’s always giving me little pointers, just helping me stay within my game. I don’t have to do too much, I don’t move too fast, he’s been reminding me like hey, you’ve been doing this, do what you do. Don’t do too much, never too little, just give everyone confidence and be there for your teammates and play the game you always play," he continued.  If this bond can translate on the court, then expect Newsome and Jackson to be quite the formidable frontline force for Meralco once the new PBA season begins. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2019

Poy Erram hopes to help NLEX become a top-tier team in the PBA

Newly-acquired NLEX center Poy Erram knows just how much the Road Warriors needed to give up just to be able to bring him in.  Erram was the focal point of a three-team trade between NLEX, Talk N' Text, and Blackwater that saw the Road Warriors part ways with draft picks Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter, as well as rotation big men Dave Marcelo and Mike Miranda in order to land Erram from the Elite, along with Philip Paredes from the KaTropa.  In Erram, NLEX finally gets a star bigman that they've always wanted to pair with their loaded back court that includes playmakers Kevin Alas and Kiefer Ravena among others.  Already, Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao is happy with what he's seeing with his new star center.  "We’re very happy. It gives us a deeper front line, our system is well-fitted to his style, he can step out and shoot the outside shots, he’s also not a slow big. Big siya pero may speed and quickness for a big, then he can post-up, he can use his length there," shared Guiao. "He’s going to be an impact player, he’s going to make an immediate impact on our team, and I think yung complementary yung game niya to Asi [Taulava], to JR [Quiñahan], and to our other bigs, so we’re hoping that we’re proven right with the decision that we made," he added.  #PBA2019 | New NLEX big man Poy Erram getting shots up. Erram was sent to NLEX via a three-team trade in exchange for first round picks Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter. | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/Vyt2HJd4ef — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) January 7, 2019 For the 29-year old former Ateneo de Manila standout, knowing how much NLEX was willing to deal for him is part of the motivation to do well and make an immediate impact with the Road Warriors.  "Yung pressure, hindi naman mawawala yun, andiyan lang naman talaga yan. Number one motivation ko siya kasi yun nga, marami silan binitawan na players para sa akin, and then, ayoko din isipin na andito ako para naka-center sa akin yung [attention], hindi naman ganun eh, siyempre matagal na silang magkakasama, kailangan ko mag-adjust sa sistema ni Coach Yeng, siyempre kailangan ko mag-adjust sa players, sa mga characters ng mga players," Erram shared with ABS-CBN Sports.  Erram adds that he also relishes the opportunity to be able to play with veterans, the likes of Taulava, Larry Fonacier, and Quiñahan, among others, a luxury that he didn't necessarily have during his time with Blackwater.  "Motivation din kasi kailangan ko pang mag-improve, kasi marami pa akong i-improve eh, and I think this is the best team for me, kasi I have Asi Taulava, I have JR Quiñahan, I have Kuya Larry, Kuya Cyrus [Baguio], veterans na sadly wala dun sa team namin noon sa Blackwater before. For me ito yung best chance ko mag-improve and mag-grow pa yung skills ko and yung talent ko and yung attitude ko towards the game." Having already played for Coach Guiao before with Gilas, Erram says that the transition period wasn't as difficult.  "In terms of transition, hindi naman ako nahirapan kasi naging coach ko din si Coach Yeng sa Gilas, so most of the system na tinatakbo dito sa NLEX, tinakbo niya sa Gilas, so when it comes to mga set plays, defense, hindi naman na ako nahirapan. May mga kaunti lang kasi siyempre hindi naman niya masyado dinetalye nung sa Gilas. Dito mas detalye talaga eh, so mas kaunting adjustment, kaunting-kaunti lang, madali ko lang din naman na ma-gamay dahil yung teammates ko nga, tinutulungan din nila ako, and then yung iba naging teammates ko nung college."  Plus, it also helps, Erram added, being able to play with fellow former Blue Eagles, especially guys like Emman Monfort and Juami Tiongson, whom he got to play with back in the UAAP.  "Laking tulong kasi sila Emman, sila Juami, nakakasama ko yan sa labas eh, kahit magkakalaban kami, lumalabas kami, so pagdating dito, ang laking tulong kasi alam na nila kung paano ako maglaro, alam na nila ugali ko, kung paano yung work ethic ko sa game, alam na nila and then when it comes to adjustment naman, ang dali din kasi sobrang approachable ng mga tao kasi same school kami, so mas madali na may mag-ga-guide sa akin na same school ko tapos nakalaro ko pa." "Ang laking tulong, and excited ako kasi for the first time, makakasama ko si Emman ulit after college, and si Kuya Larry, never ko pa nakasama, so ang laking bagay nun para sa akin," Erram added. Obviously, the Road Warriors expect Erram to become an integral part of their team starting this season, otherwise they would not have pulled the trigger on the deal.  The six-foot-eight slotman, however, doesn't want to overestimate what he brings to the table for NLEX. Instead, he maintains that he's here to do what he's asked for.  "[Kung anong madadala ko for NLEX], hindi ko pa masasabi for now, kasi hindi pa ako naglalaro eh, hindi pa nakikita ng tao na naglalaro ako with NLEX, so ang mindset ko is every game, every practice, gagawin ko yung mga pinapagawa ni Coach, kung anong kailangan gawin, and kung ano man yung kailangan kong i-improve na aspect ng game ko, yun yung i-improve ko para mas makatulong ako sa team," With the arrival of Erram as well as the return of play maker Kevin Alas, Guiao is confident that NLEX has a chance at once again being a contender in the Philippine Cup, much like they were a season ago, when they made it all the way to the semifinals.  If Erram does help NLEX to a similar deep run in the season-opening conference or if he gets to help them over the hump, then well and good, he expressed.  "If ever man na malampasan namin and magawa namin yun, makatulong ako sa team na magawa namin yun, maganda yung nilalaro ko, for me it’s a plus na eh, kasi siyempre hindi naman ito naka-center sa akin. We have Larry, we have the veterans, tsaka si Kiefer darating pa, si Kevin andiyan na, itong team na ‘to contender na sila bago pa ako dumating. Para madagdag ako, hindi ko alam, titignan natin kung anong maitutulong ko sa team." Being a definite presence inside the paint, his defense is the one thing that Erram is sure of, as far as what he brings to the table is concerned.  "Matangkad ako eh, siguro ang maibibigay ko sa team ay yung defense ko, yun talaga yung calling card ko every time I play, so for now yun lang muna siguro ang alam ko na mabibigay ko sa kanila, kasi when it comes to offense, maraming offensive player dito eh, mabibigat yung pangalan nila, yung kalibre ng player," he stated. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2019

Man City snap Liverpool s unbeaten run to reignite title race

MANCHESTER, UK – Manchester City won a "final" according to manager Pep Guardiola to remain in the title race by inflicting Liverpool's first Premier League defeat of the season with a 2-1 victory at the Etihad on Thursday, January 3.  City's recent shock back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester had ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 4th, 2019

Pulisic to join Chelsea as most expensive American player

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Christian Pulisic became the most expensive American soccer player in history after completing a transfer to English club Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. Chelsea paid 64 million euros ($73 million) for the 20-year-old United States winger, who will be loaned back to Dortmund for the rest of this season. The German club won't have to pay Chelsea for the loan. The fee is easily the biggest paid for an American player, surpassing the reported 20 million euros ($22.5 million) spent by German team Wolfsburg for John Brooks in 2017. "It was always Christian's big dream to play in the Premier League," Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said. "That certainly has to do with his American origins, and so it wasn't possible for us to extend his contract." Pulisic's contract with Dortmund was due to expire at the end of next season. "It is a privilege to have signed for such a legendary club," Pulisic said of the London team that has won five Premier League titles since 2005. It is the most high-profile move secured by an American outfield player, with goalkeepers Tim Howard having previously played for Manchester United and Brad Friedel for Liverpool. Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said the club has signed "one of Europe's most sought-after young players." "At just 20, we believe he has the potential to become an important Chelsea player for many years to come," she said. Pulisic, who can play on either wing or behind the striker, has recently lost his place in Dortmund's team to English youngster Jadon Sancho, signed from Manchester City for 8 million pounds ($10 million) in the offseason of 2017. In a message posted on his Twitter account, Pulisic urged Dortmund fans to "not doubt my passion, determination and my 110 percent commitment to the team right until the last ball is kicked this season." Dortmund leads the German league by six points heading into the second half of the season and is through to the last 16 of the Champions League, where it plays Tottenham. Chelsea is fourth in the Premier League, 11 points behind first-place Liverpool after 20 games......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019