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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

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

Megan Rapinoe sees disparity as World Cup approaches

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press FRISCO, Texas (AP) — With the Women's World Cup less than eight months away, U.S. national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe is dismayed by what she sees as ongoing issues of inequality in soccer. From uncertainty about the use of video review and the amount of prize money, to scheduling other tournament finals on the same day as the championship game, equity issues are getting more attention as the World Cup looms. From Rapinoe's standpoint, that's symptomatic of the short shrift paid to the women's game by FIFA, soccer's governing body. "And that's not to say they (FIFA) don't do anything. They obviously do things for the women's game. But in the way that they truly care about the men's game, they don't truly care about the women's game," she said. The United States qualified for the World Cup on Sunday night with a victory over Jamaica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF women's championship tournament. The top three finishers earn spots in the World Cup, so the U.S. and Canada secured berths with semifinal victories. The two teams will play each other in the championship match Wednesday night. Rapinoe has always been one of the most vocal players on the team. She was among a chorus of voices that criticized FIFA in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup in Canada because the tournament was played on artificial turf, which was considered a slight to the women. So it's understandable the 33-year-old national team vet would call out FIFA for more recent issues. FIFA has been criticized for scheduling the Women's World Cup final on the same day as the men's Copa America final and the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. There have been calls for FIFA to use VAR, or Video Assistant Referees, at the tournament in France. VAR was used at the men's World Cup for the first time in Russia. Prize money has been an issue since 2015, when the U.S. women's team received $2 million for winning the World Cup, out of a pool of $15 million. By comparison, the prize pool for the men's World Cup in Russia was $400 million. FIFA's Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman responded to some of the criticism last week when the organization released its first-ever global strategy for women's soccer. The wide-ranging policy seeks to grow the women's game overall — and one aim is to get more women involved in the decision-making processes at all levels. "We have to keep pushing," Bareman said. "Because it's proven that having more women in these decision-making bodies creates a more diverse decision-making process, and also a more robust and I would say — how do I put this diplomatically — a more honest and integral process as well." The strategy shows that FIFA is committed to the women's game, she said. As for VAR, a decision has not been announced. FIFA did not announce its intention to use VAR for the men's World Cup until just a few months before the tournament. Bareman also confirmed that World Cup prize money would be increased but did not reveal a figure. An announcement is expected later this month at the FIFA Council meeting in Rwanda. She said the prize structure would include "new elements that haven't existed before in the women's game" including money to help qualified teams prepare. Sports Illustrated reported last week that the prize pool would be doubled, to $30 million. Rapinoe wanted to know what metric was used in determining the amount — especially in light of the disparity with the men's. "I mean, I think that they're probably looking for pats on the back for the increase. They're not getting any from here. I mean, until they're really going to take meaningful steps to truly show that they're caring about the women's game in a sort of deeper way, I don't know. $15 million is nothing to them. ... If they wanted to just sort of arbitrarily do it, they could increase it by $100 million," she said. Rapinoe is not alone. Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn have also publicly addressed some of the controversies. Coach Jill Ellis first called for VAR at the Women's World Cup when she visited Russia for the men's tournament, and during qualifying she has questioned the scheduling decisions. The U.S. team is uniquely positioned to speak to contentious issues. The players fought for and received an improved collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer in 2017 that brings player compensation more in line with the men's team. And as the No. 1 team in the world, the players' voices carry weight. "I think they themselves are an incredible mouthpiece for our game, for the women's game. Not just because of their popularity, but also their investment. This is a group that wants the game to grow," Ellis said. "So I think them speaking their minds, honestly, and being open about how they feel about issues — as in bonuses for winning, dates of competition, VAR, all those things that you want to be on the same level and same platform as the men's game. And that's the expectation, and anything less that that is not acceptable.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News3 hr. 43 min. ago

With LeBron gone, Eastern Conference set for a new champion

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press The roadblock has been removed. With LeBron James gone, the path to the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference is open again. Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto and more are hoping to win the race to it. James ruled over the East for eight years, making four straight trips to the finals from Miami and then moving back to Cleveland in 2014 and getting there every year since. From Boston to Indiana, up north in Toronto all the way down to Atlanta, teams would emerge with what they thought was a title contender only to see James send them home for the summer. Now King James has abdicated his throne and moved to Los Angeles, and there should be rejoicing in the land he left behind. “It’s a new lease on life in the Eastern Conference,” said Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Reggie Miller, who faced a similar situation when he played in the East during the era of Michael Jordan’s Bulls. “It’s great that LeBron has taken his talents out West because it opens up the doors for not only a lot of these young players, but these organizations now. Fresh blood, something new to kind of see who can compete for that Eastern crown.” The Celtics nearly won it last year, falling to the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. They were without the injured Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and now that the two stars are healthy and have rejoined Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and the rest of a deep team that made a valiant run without them, Boston is probably the favorite in the East. But there’s intrigue beyond that, which rarely existed during James’ reign. Philadelphia finished strong in its first season with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons playing together, and now might get a full one with 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz joining them after his shoulder problems last season. Toronto shook up a 59-win team by firing coach Dwane Casey and shipping DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio in the trade for Kawhi Leonard, and Indiana bolstered a team that took Cleveland to seven games in the first round. Any of them have a chance to get to the place that James wouldn’t let them. “An appearance in the finals is going to be sweet,” Embiid said. A look at the East, in predicted order of finish: PLAYOFF BOUND 1. Boston — Depth of talent is not only tops in the East, but comes closest in the NBA to rivaling Golden State’s. 2. Philadelphia — If either Simmons or Fultz develops a jump shot to open things up more for Embiid, look out. 3. Indiana — Victor Oladipo has emerged as an All-Star and the Pacers are balanced behind him. 4. Toronto — If Leonard is fully healthy and motivated, Raptors added a top-five player to a 59-win team. 5. Milwaukee — Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to make the Bucks fun to watch in their new arena. 6. Washington — John Wall and Bradley Beal will give the Wizards plenty on the perimeter, but they need Dwight Howard provide a boost on the interior. 7. Miami — Heat won’t want to send Dwyane Wade into retirement without one final playoff appearance. 8. Detroit — A full season with Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin together should be enough to get the Pistons back into the postseason. ___ IN THE MIX 9. Cleveland — Kevin Love and the remainder of the Cavaliers that James left behind should still be good enough to fight for a spot in the top eight. 10. Charlotte — The Hornets will host an All-Star Game in February. They’ll try to host playoff games in April. ___ FACING LONG ODDS 11. Orlando — Steve Clifford is the latest coach to try to mix a collection of young players into one that can defend enough to be a decent team. 12. Brooklyn — Nets made a seven-win improvement last season even while being dismal at defending and rebounding. Do either better and they can take another leap. 13. New York — Kristaps Porzingis remains out indefinitely while rehabbing a torn ACL, so new coach David Fizdale will give rookie Kevin Knox an early green light. 14. Atlanta — Trae Young may be exciting to watch, but he won’t be able to stop another long season of losing in Atlanta. 15. Chicago — The Bulls of Tom Thibodeau were veterans who always defended hard. The Bulls of Fred Hoiberg have been none of the above. ___ WHAT TO KNOW CANADA’S CHANCE: The Raptors gambled on acquiring Leonard from San Antonio, and now Toronto has a year to show him it’s worth sticking around when he becomes a free agent next summer. BEST MAN: A popular question after James left was who is the best player now in the East? Irving, Embiid, Antetokounmpo and Leonard are among those who can make compelling cases. HOWARD’S HEALTH: Dwight Howard has sat out his first preseason with the Wizards because of a balky back, the kind of injury that can sometimes linger, and Washington needs a presence in the middle no matter how good its backcourt is. OPENING NIGHT PREVIEW? Cleveland and Boston met in the opening game in the East last season and ended up squaring off in the conference finals. This time, it’s Boston and Philadelphia to open things in the East and they’ll be good candidates to close them......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2018

Dwight Howard s back problems delaying his Wizards debut

Dwight Howard's first preseason with the Washington Wizards is apparently over before it started......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 9th, 2018

Share prices sink on inflation concerns

The stock market was back in turmoil yesterday, sinking deeper into bear territory and hitting the 7,000 level again, a day before the government is set to announce the inflation in September which is expected to hit a new peak once more......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 4th, 2018

WADA report: Kenya doping serious, not institutionalized

By GERALD IMRAY,  AP Sports Writer Kenyan athletes are the target of nearly a quarter of out-of-competition doping tests in track and field, a statistic that underlines how much suspicion there is over the world's most successful distance-running nation. Figures were revealed Thursday by the head of the Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles anti-doping for the world track and field organization, the IAAF. Brett Clothier said Kenyans made up 22% of the AIU's out-of-competition testing program, and the country's athletes took up "at least the equivalent amount of time in our investigations and intelligence team." "Kenya is a great and justly proud athletics nation, but it now has a serious doping problem," Clothier said in comments accompanying the release of a report following a near two-year investigation in the East African nation by the AIU and the World Anti-Doping Agency's intelligence and investigations department. The joint report concluded there was "widespread doping" in Kenya but "the doping practices of Kenyan athletes are unsophisticated, opportunistic and uncoordinated and there is no evidence of an institutionalized system." It didn't need a two-year investigation to discover a problem, with a clear spike in cases involving athletes from the African country since around the time of the 2012 London Olympics. What the report did do, however, was dig deeper into some of the reasons behind the mess in Kenya. It appeared to separate Kenya's doping problems from that of Russia and that country's organized, state-sponsored scheme. Doping in Kenya "is different from other doping structures discovered elsewhere in the world and, as such, it requires a different approach," WADA director of intelligence and investigations Gunter Younger said. In Kenya, athletes are "insufficiently educated on doping and/or wilfully blind as to the consequences of doping," the report said. The investigation also stressed the need for better control over medical practitioners and "quasi-medical practitioners" who are "highly relevant" to the doping problem and often the source of banned substances. Overall, the report pointed to a weak and at times non-existent anti-doping effort in Kenya exacerbated by the unwillingness of athletes to help. WADA and AIU investigators said they reached out for information to 31 Kenyan athletes serving doping bans. Only seven attended interviews and none of them said they had used prohibited substances despite being found guilty at doping hearings. None of them provided any information that was helpful to the investigators. There were other findings in the report: — A total of 131 Kenyan athletes failed doping tests between 2004 and this year. Track and field was by far the worst sport in the country for failed tests. In the same period, all other sports in Kenya produced seven failed tests. — The anabolic steroid Nandrolone was the most prevalent banned substance for Kenyan athletes. The corticosteroids group, anti-inflammatories that can improve athletic performance, were the next most used. The blood-booster EPO was third most prevalent. — The AIU's focus on out-of-competition doping tests on Kenyans was prompted after only 13% of their athletes caught for doping were caught through out-of-competition tests. — Two elite Kenyan athletes, Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong and Rita Jeptoo, provided falsified medical records in an attempt to avoid doping bans. Sumgong made up a story about having to attend hospital for an emergency blood transfusion to explain testing positive for EPO. Jeptoo, the leading marathon runner in the world when she was caught in 2014, claimed she was given EPO by a doctor to treat malaria and typhoid. Both athletes were found to be lying and banned for four years......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 28th, 2018

Familiar issues, but no panic for Patriots after 1-2 start

By KYLE HIGHTOWER,  AP Sports Writer BOSTON (AP) — Two weeks, two head-shaking losses by the New England Patriots. In Week 2, the Patriots' defense was deficient in a 31-20 loss to Jacksonville in which the Patriots were victimized on third down. There were problems all over the field in Sunday's stunning 26-10 loss at Detroit, though it was Tom Brady and the Patriots offense that struggled the most against a defense coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator and new Lions head coach Matt Patricia. It's left New England at 1-2 for the first time since 2012. Things won't get any easier as the Patriots prepare to open their division schedule against 3-0 Miami. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he sees problems everywhere on the field right now. "We're not making enough plays in any phase of the game, so we've just got to perform better," he said. "I think the energy and the effort and all of that — we're trying. Everybody's trying hard. We're just not getting it done, which is all that matters." One of the most surprising things in Sunday's loss to the Lions was how ineffective Detroit managed to render quarterback Tom Brady. The reigning regular-season MVP completed just 14 of 26 passes for 133 yards with one touchdown. He also had a costly interception midway through the fourth quarter that helped the Lions seal the victory. The 133 passing yards for Brady were his fewest in a game since he went 8 of 16 for 80 yards against Buffalo on Dec. 28, 2014. What's more troubling, though, is an offense that over the past two weeks has gone 6 of 21 on third down. "We're not scoring enough points. We're not executing well enough on a down-by-down basis. Certainly, at a high level, we should have our expectations set in," Brady said. "The process has been the same, there's been a lot of talk about it in practice, and we're going through it and watching the film and correcting stuff, it's just not getting done on the field. And we have to get it corrected soon." One common theme in the way the Jaguars and Lions succeeded in limiting the Patriots offensively, was keying on tight end Rob Gronkowski. One of Brady's favorite options, Gronk has just 13 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown this season. He hasn't scored in either of the two losses, hauling in only six total receptions. But Gronkowski said no one inside the Patriots' locker room is panicking about starting 1-2. "I mean, it's early, it's football and it's the NFL," he said. "Some crazy things happen every single week and we've just got to bounce back. We can't put our heads down, we have to keep them up. We've got to keep on fighting and there's another week next week." "We've got a big division game next week versus Miami. We've just got to keep on fighting. It's a long season, I know we're 1-2 right now, but we've got to keep on fighting and keep on going. There's no other way to do it.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2018

Kings looking to De’Aaron Fox to lead faster paced offense

By MICHAEL WAGAMAN, Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger wants his team to run more this season and plans to give speedy point guard De’Aaron Fox all the room he needs. Fox was one of the fastest players in the NBA last year as a rookie, but the Kings offense was uneven most of the season and frequently bogged down in the half-court. With an influx of young, quick players added to an already youthful roster, the hope is that Fox can get Sacramento out and running and, possibly, back into the postseason. “The best thing you can do for him is play fast and give him as much room as possible,” Joerger said Monday at the Kings practice facility during media day. “To play small and try to do that is best for De’Aaron. He’s our franchise guy. I think he is and I think everybody kind of agrees on that.” The fifth overall pick in 2017, Fox started 60 games and averaged 11.6 points with 4.4 assists, but shot only 41.2 percent while struggling with an inconsistent mid-range jumpshot. The Kings were 20th in the NBA with 10.4 fastbreak points. Those are numbers Fox hopes to improve in his second season. “That’s the way I’ve always played,” Fox said. “I’ve always played for a team that gets up and down, high school college, AAU, all of that. That’s what (Joerger is) emphasizing this year. I’m excited to see what happens.” The Kings drafted Fox with the first of their three first-round picks a year ago, but used him sparingly early while George Hill ran the point. Hill was eventually dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a multi-team trade. Fox flourished at times, but Sacramento struggled with its half-court offense and finished 27-55. Correcting the problems the Kings had there, as well as getting better in the fastbreak, are Fox’s main goals. “When we did do it, it was pretty effective but you don’t see too many young teams really executing at a veteran level in the halfcourt,” Fox said. “That’s something that I definitely need to work on as a point guard myself and us as a team.” Sacramento used the second overall pick this year on 6-foot-11-inch power forward Marvin Bagley III of Duke. Harry Giles, the 20th overall selection in 2017 who sat out his entire rookie season injured, is also back to add speed and size to the frontcourt. They also signed 6-10, 240-pound forward Nemanja Bjelica to play the stretch-four when the Kings want to go small. “Last year, our fastest lineup was playing Justin Jackson at power forward next to Bogdanovich and Buddy Hield,” Joerger said. “That group analytically would have been the fastest-paced team in the NBA. That serves to De’Aaron’s strength.” Better rebounding will also help, Joerger said. “It’s not easy to run when you’re always taking the ball out of bounds after a made shot,” Joerger said. “We have to try, try to get some stops. It’s fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. It’s a commitment. DeAaron’s going to have to push it, but it takes all five guys.” Fox will be without his backcourt mate, Bogdan Bogdanovic, for the start of training camp. Bogdanovic underwent minor surgery Monday on his left knee after having a similar procedure done in April to repair a slight tear of the medial meniscus. No timetable has been given for his return. “It puts us behind a little bit,” Joerger said. “I was hoping to play he and Buddy Hield, either of them or play them together, at backup point guard. I wanted to see how that looks and put more scoring, shooting on the floor. So that will be a little behind.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2018

Peterson runs for 120 yards, 2 TDs, Skins top Packers 31-17

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — A week removed from what he called "an embarrassment," Adrian Peterson turned in his first 100-yard game in more than 10 months. Peterson ran for 120 yards and a pair of 2-yard scores, Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes and the Washington Redskins held on Sunday for a 31-17 victory over a gimpy Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who again had complaints about a roughing-the-passer penalty on Clay Matthews. On a rainy afternoon, the Redskins (2-1) went up 14-0 and were ahead 28-10 at halftime, thanks to putting together TD drives of 74, 75, 79 and 98 yards. Smith connected for TDs of 46 yards to Paul Richardson on the game's fourth play and of 9 to Jamison Crowder in the second quarter, and Peterson's two short trips to the end zone also both came in the first half. After gaining only 20 yards on 11 carries during a 21-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, Peterson ran 19 times Sunday and raised his career total to 102 rushing touchdowns. That broke a tie at 100 with Marshall Faulk and Shaun Alexander and moved him alone into seventh place in NFL history behind Emmitt Smith's record of 164. Next up at No. 6 is former Redskins star John Riggins, at 104. "It felt good to get into 'The 100 Club.' I have a little time off now. Maybe I can look and see who I'm approaching," said the 33-year-old Peterson, referring to Washington's Week 4 bye. "Riggins, he's a guy that I do remember seeing up there on the list and thinking, 'God willing, I'll be able to pass him eventually.'" This was Peterson's 52nd game with at least 100 yards on the ground, and first since Nov. 5, 2017, for Arizona against San Francisco. Peterson left the game late after getting kicked in the ankle, but coach Jay Gruden dismissed that as nothing to worry about. Before that, Peterson had a 41-yard run, part of a group of big plays allowed by the Packers that included Smith's TD toss to Richardson, a 50-yard completion to Vernon Davis and a 34-yard completion to Jordan Reed. "We just came out and laid an egg in the first half. ... Missed tackles. Missed assignments," said Matthews, who was whistled for the way he sacked Smith late in the third quarter, then complained about the way NFL games are officiated nowadays. Smith went 12 for 20 for 220 yards. He also had his streak of 156 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest active run in the league, end in the second quarter. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made the pick when Reed went one way and Smith threw another. Playing with a bulky brace on his left knee, which he hurt in Week 1, Rodgers hobbled and limped around, and couldn't do enough to get the Packers (1-1-1) back into the game. He finished 27 for 44 for 265 yards with two TDs — of 64 yards to Geronimo Allison and 2 yards to Davante Adams — and was sacked four times. "I got a little banged up, but finished the game and I expect to start next week," Rodgers said. "It can be painful at times moving around, especially lateral movement. But I'm going to be out there if I'm up to it and try and get this thing back turned the right direction with a win next week." Green Bay's receivers had problems with drops, plus Randall Cobb was stripped of the ball by Fabian Moreau — Josh Norman recovered the fumble — after a completion with about 5½ minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. "I didn't give us an opportunity to win. Third-down drop on the first drive. Fourth-down drop. Fumble," Cobb said. "I played terrible." Right after that, Peterson helped seal the outcome, with three runs in a row for a total of 26 yards — a greater output than he managed in the entire game against the Colts. "In the fourth quarter there, when we needed it the most," Gruden said, "Adrian was able to make a big impact." INJURIES Packers: DL Muhammad Wilkerson was carted off in the second quarter with an ankle injury. ... RT Bryan Bulaga (back) and RG Justin McCray (shoulder) went out. ... LB Nick Perry was evaluated for a concussion. Redskins: RT Morgan Moses exited in the first quarter with a concussion. He was replaced by Ty Nsekhe. ... Gruden said Norman had "a little bit of a hamstring issue." GO, PACK, GO! There were several times when loud cheers of "Go, Pack, go!" rang out in the Redskins' stadium, a week after there were boos and Washington's home sellout streak ended. "It's crazy. They brought their fans to the hotel we're staying in," Norman said. "Then you saw them in the stands." UP NEXT Packers: Host the Buffalo Bills. Redskins: Bye week, play Oct. 8 at New Orleans......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 24th, 2018

Too much screen time is no. 1 reason for teenage sleep problems, says new survey

According to a new poll, nearly half of United States parents say their teens experience regular sleep problems, with many believing that too much screen time is to blame. The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan questioned 1,018 parents with at least one child aged 13 to 18 years old on their child's sleep habits, asking what they think may be causing sleep disturbances. Nearly half of the parents (43 percent) reported that their teens have problems falling asleep at night or wake up in the night and struggle to get back to sleep. Of these parents, around 25 percent said their teens experienced these sleep problems o...Keep on reading: Too much screen time is no. 1 reason for teenage sleep problems, says new survey.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 17th, 2018