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Czechs stun England in Euro qualifying; France, Portugal win

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press It was a night of European soccer to forget for England, and one to remember for Andorra. England conceded a late goal against the Czech Republic on Friday and paid the price with its first defeat in a qualifying game in 10 years, while France and Portugal made progress in their bids for places at next year's European Championship. As for Andorra, it ended a 56-match losing streak. A goal five minutes from the end halted England's unbeaten streak in qualifying for a major competition with the Czechs beating Gareth Southgate's team 2-1. A victory in Prague would have secured a spot for England at the finals with three games to go. Instead, England squandered a one-goal lead and lost its first match in European or World Cup qualifying since falling to Ukraine in 2009. That loss came with England already qualified for the 2010 World Cup. Its last meaningful defeat in qualifying was against Croatia in 2007. "We didn't play well enough, simple as that," said Southgate. Captain Harry Kane gave England the lead in the fifth minute from the penalty spot. But Jakub Brabec leveled for the Czechs four minutes later and substitute Zdenek Ondrasek completed the comeback late with his first international goal. He scored with a low right-foot shot from inside the area. "I just wanted to hit the ball right and put it in the net," said Ondrasek, who plays for FC Dallas. "I saw tears in the eyes of my father probably for the first time in my life. It's a great win and great feeling." England had won all four of its previous games in Group A. It is tied atop the standings with the Czechs on 12 points but has one more game to play. Group strugglers Bulgaria and Montenegro drew 0-0. Top-ranked Belgium became the first team to qualify for next year's tournament on Thursday. The top two teams of each group advance automatically. The other four qualifiers will come through four tiers of playoffs in March. PORTUGAL ROLLS ON Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 94th goal for Portugal to help the defending European champions brush aside Luxembourg 3-0 in Lisbon. Ronaldo pounced on a bad pass near the area and chipped the goalkeeper in the 65th. Bernardo Silva put Portugal in control from the 16th. With Portugal 2-0 ahead, substitute Goncalo Guedes added a third goal. Ukraine kept its lead of Group B after midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi scored twice in a 2-0 victory over Lithuania. Unbeaten Ukraine has 16 points. Portugal has 11, ahead of Serbia with seven. Both Portugal and Serbia have one more game to play than Ukraine. Portugal plays at Ukraine on Monday. FRANCE ON PACE World champion France and Turkey both took big steps in qualifying with wins which consolidated their Group H lead. Olivier Giroud scored to help France earn a hard-fought 1-0 win at Iceland, while Turkey needed a 90th-minute goal from Cenk Tosun to push it past Albania 1-0 in Istanbul. Both France and Turkey have 18 points. Iceland, the revelation of Euro 2016, is in third place with 12 points and at risk of missing the 2020 edition. France hosts Turkey at Stade de France on Monday. Giroud converted a penalty in the 66th after a foul earned by Antoine Griezmann. Giroud set up Griezmann by heading down a long ball for his fellow forward, who was then fouled by Iceland's Ari Freyr Skulason. France midfielder N'Golo Kanté was ruled out of the match reportedly for a hamstring problem. It was game No. 200 for Didier Deschamps as player and now coach of France. He played 103 games for France and has directed 97 from the dugout. Steve Mandanda played in goal for France in place of Hugo Lloris, who is out with a broken elbow. FIRST WIN Andorra made history of its own in Group H with a 1-0 win over Moldova, the first time the tiny mountainous nation had avoided defeat in 57 European qualifiers. Midfielder Marc Vales headed in the Andorran goal in the 63rd after Moldova had been reduced to 10 men. Andorra, with fewer than 80,000 residents nestled in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, had lost all 56 of its previous games in European qualifying......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnOct 12th, 2019

Spain, Poland stay perfect in Euro 2020 qualifying

By Karel Janicek, Associated Press PRAGUE (AP) — Spain and Poland maintained perfect records in qualifying for the 2020 European Championship by winning their third straight games on Friday. Spain took a 4-1 victory home from Faeroe Islands while Poland also won away, 1-0 at North Macedonia. Israel beat Latvia 3-0, thanks to Eran Zahavi's hat trick, to surprisingly stay in contention for a spot in the final tournament and Ukraine routed Serbia 5-0. In the last rounds of qualifiers before the summer break, world champion France and powerhouses Croatia, Germany and Italy will be in action on Saturday while the Netherlands, Portugal, England and Switzerland wrap up play in UEFA's inaugural Nations League final four on Sunday. SPAIN SHINES Sergio Ramos put Spain in front after six minutes with his 19th international goal and Jesus Navas followed with his first score for "La Roja" since 2013. Klaemint Olsen beat goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to reduce the lead, but an own goal by goalkeeper Teitur Gestsson made it 3-1 before halftime and Jose Gaya closed things out in the 71st minute. Assistant coach Robert Moreno once again took charge of Spain with Luis Enrique absent due to personal reasons. Enrique continues to do most of the planning for Spain's training and receives also video of the sessions at his home in Barcelona. It's unclear when he might return. Spain tops Group F with nine points, two more than Sweden, which beat Malta 3-0. The two leaders face off on Monday. SCHICK ON TARGET England had taken command of Group A with big wins over the Czech Republic (5-0) and Montenegro (5-1), but its participation in the Nations League gave the others a chance to catch up. In Prague, the Czech Republic came from a goal down to spoil the coaching debut of Bulgaria's 1994 World Cup star Krasimir Balakov. Ismail Isa headed home from close range to put Bulgaria in front after just three minutes. But Patrik Schick slotted home a first-half equalizer and scored the winner early in the second half. The Czechs, who have qualified for each European championship since the 1993 breakup of Czechoslovakia, are three points behind England in second. Bulgaria has two points, the same as Montenegro and Kosovo, which drew 1-1 in Podgorica. SERBIA SUFFERS Ukraine moved to the top of Group B with seven points by routing Serbia. Viktor Tsygankov scored twice in a three-minute span of the first half and Yevhen Konoplyanka sandwiched a pair of goals around one from Roman Yaremchuk after the break. Luxembourg drew 1-1 at Lithuania to stay second in the group with four points. It will face a more serious test on Monday when it plays at Ukraine. Portugal has two points after a slow start, one more than Serbia. ZAHAVI UNSTOPPABLE Krzysztof Piatek's overhead kick goal early in the second half may have proved Poland's favorite status, but it was again Israeli's Zahavi who stole the show in Group G. Zahavi curled in a free kick in the ninth minute and added two more goals in the second half, giving him seven in three qualifiers. Poland's nine points are two more than Israel, while Austria registered its first points with a 1-0 win over Slovenia. DUFFY THE RESCUER Shane Duffy scored with five minutes remaining to give Ireland a 1-1 draw with Denmark that kept it at the top of Group D. Substitute Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg put Denmark in front in the 76th minute, only for Duffy to equalize late with a header. Ireland has seven points, three more Switzerland. Georgia is third with three points after beating Gibraltar 3-0, and Denmark has two points......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

England, Ronaldo keep up scoring form in Euro qualifying

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — England's scoring form was on display again in European Championships qualifying on Tuesday. So was Cristiano Ronaldo's. England made it four wins out of four in Group A with a 5-3 win over Kosovo and Ronaldo netted four goals in European champion Portugal's 5-1 away win at Lithuania. On a night of heavy scoring, it took the five-time Golden Ball winner's international tally to a whopping 93. Ronaldo might well hit the century mark before next year's tournament, considering Portugal still faces Lithuania at home and twice plays lowly Luxembourg. "I'm going through a good phase, but the team has been playing well too," Ronaldo said. "I'm enjoying this moment not only because of my goals, but also because of the team's performances in recent years. I just have to keep helping the team." Striker Harry Kane moved onto a more modest 26 for England, whose fans got a jolt when midfielder Valon Berisha put the visiting side ahead after just 35 seconds. They were soon reassured by Raheem Sterling's equalizer and Kane's latest goal for England, both inside the opening 20 minutes at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton on a rare occasion England wasn't playing at Wembley Stadium. By halftime fans had been treated to five home goals, including 19-year-old winger Jadon Sancho scoring his first two for England. But the second half proved more inspiring for Kosovo's fans as they witnessed a mini-comeback, with Berisha enjoying a memorable night with a fine second goal curled into the top corner. Kane could have netted a brace, too, but saw his penalty saved by Arijanet Muric. World Cup winner France labored at times against a well-organized Andorra side in a 3-0 home win, with Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann missing a penalty for the second straight qualifier. After Kingsley Coman found a way through in the first half, center half Clément Lenglet and substitute Wissam Ben Yedder added goals after the break. DEFENSE IN QUESTION England's attack is purring with 19 goals in four games, but alarming questions will be asked of the defense. From a commanding position of 5-1 up, England leaked two goals after the break — one of those a penalty conceded by the expensively-acquired Manchester United center back Harry Maguire. Kosovo's opening goal was the result of a careless pass from defender Michael Keane. England still hasn't lost a qualifier for either the World Cup or European Championship in 10 years. But coach Gareth Southgate knows his defense has to eradicate such sloppy errors if his side wants to win Euro 2020. "The outstanding play was obvious," Southgate said, "and the errors were obvious." The Czech Republic overtook Kosovo to move into second place in Group A with nine points after a 3-0 win at Montenegro and hosts England on Oct. 11. RAMPAGING RONALDO Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot in the seventh minute, before Lithuania hit back through Vytautas Andriuskevicius' header. Portugal's second goal was given to Ronaldo before being changed to an own goal, and then given back to him on UEFA's website. The bizarre-looking 62nd-minute effort was a low shot from outside the area. It was saved by Lithuania goalkeeper Ernestas Setkus, before the ball bounced off the goalkeeper's back and went in. Three minutes later, Ronaldo tapped in from Bernardo Silva's pass, and the attacking midfielder set him up again in the 76th. William Carvalho completed the scoring in stoppage time against last-place Lithuania. Portugal is second in Group B with eight points and five behind Ukraine, which has 13 points having played one game more. Powerful striker Aleksandar Mitrovic netted twice as third-place Serbia won 3-1 away to Luxembourg. PENALTY FLOP Griezmann remains stuck on 29 international goals after hitting his spot kick too close to goalkeeper Josep Gomes in a one-sided first half where France largely struggled to turn possession into chances. Coman pounced in the 18th after latching onto Jonathan Ikone's pass behind the defense for his third goal in two France games. Griezmann's curling free kick from the left was headed in by Clément Lenglet soon after the break. Substitute Wissam Ben Yedder added the third during injury time, steering the ball in from close range after Nabil Fekir's free kick was spilled by Gomes. Turkey and France top Group H with 15 points and meet at Stade de France on Oct. 14. Striker Cenk Tosun netted twice in Turkey's 4-0 win at Moldova. Third-place Iceland slipped three points behind the top two after losing 4-2 away to Albania. Andorra has scored no goals and conceded 14 in six defeats......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 11th, 2019

Nations League: Ronaldo s Portugal looks for another title

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press PORTO, Portugal (AP) — The inaugural UEFA's Nations League reaches its conclusion this week with the competition's Final Four in Portugal, when Cristiano Ronaldo will try to lead the hosts to another European title. For England, it's a chance to lift an international trophy for the first time since the 1966 World Cup, while a revamped Netherlands squad and Switzerland will also be fighting for the title. Portugal meets Switzerland in the first semifinal on Wednesday in Porto, while England takes on the Dutch on Thursday in the nearby city of Guimaraes in northwestern Portugal. The winners play the final on Sunday in Porto, with the losers meeting in the third-place match in Guimaraes. Ronaldo, who led Portugal to its first major title at the 2016 European Championship, took some time off from the national team after its elimination in the round of 16 of the World Cup last summer, but he is back at full strength for the inaugural Nations League at home. He didn't play in any of the team's matches in the competition last year, though he was back for the European qualifiers earlier this year. "We want to win it not only because we are playing at home, but because we want to win titles," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "And winning the first edition of the Nations League would be great." UEFA launched the Nations League to try to give national teams more meaningful games and reduce the number of friendlies. The creation of yet another UEFA competition attracted a lot of criticism at first but eventually it produced some exciting games. With a format in which only the group winners advanced, and which included relegation between leagues, there were several matches with high stakes involved, especially in the final rounds. England needed a late winner by Harry Kane against World Cup runner-up Croatia to eliminate Spain and seal the team's spot in the Final Four. "Some people were skeptical against the Nations League, especially the clubs. They didn't think this could be an interesting competition," Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said, through a translator. "But it's the contrary. Every single team in every single league wanted to win. We are happy to be here, and I think in the future we will see that this competition might become even more interesting." The tournament also gave smaller nations a better chance of qualifying for the 2020 European Championship, as all group winners in the four leagues were guaranteed a place in a qualifying playoff. For a team like England, though, the competition is mainly another opportunity to win an official title, something it hasn't done it in more than five decades since that World Cup at home. The Englishmen have been on a roll recently, having made it to the semifinals of the World Cup last year. They followed that up with convincing wins over Spain and Croatia in the Nations League, and began the year with a 5-0 rout of the Czech Republic and a 5-1 victory over Montenegro in European qualifying. Switzerland is yet to win an international trophy, and the Netherlands hasn't won a title since the 1988 European Championship when current coach Ronald Koeman still played for the national team. The Dutch eliminated World Cup-winner France and Germany in its Nations League group. "You are playing for a trophy," Dutch forward Memphis Depay told UEFA's website. "That's very important for us. We need to try to get used to winning trophies if we want to be a successful team, because that's what successful teams do. And when you're this close, two games away from the prize, then that's a great goal." The Nations League winner will be taking home a prize of 10.5 million euros ($11.7 million), with 9 million euros ($10 million) going to the runner-up......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

Ronaldo nets 600th club goal as goalscoring race heats up

By Daniella Matar and Andrew Dampf, Associated Press MILAN (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo's unrelenting hunger for goals is plain to see. The Juventus forward netted his 600th club goal on Saturday and celebrated with typical joy. But his desire to score was far more evident in the first half against Inter Milan when he fired over the bar and showed anguish and frustration. That appeared to spur Ronaldo to the equalizer after the break as Juventus came back to draw with bitter rival Inter 1-1 in Serie A. "Ronaldo is lethal, I have him, and I'm happy," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "It's important to have a player like him. After he missed a chance he got very angry, then he played a different game." Ronaldo already plays a different game to most. And after alreading clinching a record-extending eighth successive Serie A title, Ronaldo could become the first player to win the top goalscorer award and the Serie A title in his first season in Italy. The 34-year-old Ronaldo has 20 league goals for Juventus, three less than league leader and Sampdoria forward Fabio Quagliarella. He could also become the first player to win the top goalscorer award in three of Europe's top five leagues, having claimed the prize in Spain (three times) and England. There are four rounds remaining. Ronaldo has been playing and scoring regularly, even while being accused of raping a woman in 2009 in the United States — something the Portugal star denies. The strike against Inter Milan was his 27th for Juventus in all competitions. Ronaldo scored 450 for Real Madrid, 118 for Manchester United and five for Sporting Lisbon. "With him you always start in front, we are lucky to have him with us," Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini said. "He will help Juventus win more." Earlier in the season, Ronaldo became the first player to net 400 goals across Europe's top five leagues. CONTE CRAZINESS Roma fans are starting to believe the reports that Antonio Conte could become the club's next coach. With Claudio Ranieri in a caretaker role following Eusebio Di Francesco's firing, speculation is rampant that Roma is in talks with Conte about taking over the team for next season. When Conte, the former Juventus, Italy, and Chelsea coach, was spotted at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci Airport on Sunday, Roma fans stopped him for selfies and spread the word on social media — even though it appeared Conte was merely traveling to his home in Turin. While the Roman-born Ranieri has said he would like to remain with Roma, even he acknowledged the club would do well to hire Conte. "I would love to see him on the Roma bench, but I don't know anything: I would be the last to know," Ranieri said with a smile following Roma's 3-0 win over Cagliari on Saturday. "I would be super happy if Conte came in. I would go and collect him from the airport." Retired Roma captain Francesco Totti, who has a position in Roma's management, called Conte "one of the best coaches in Europe." "Wherever he's gone he's won. Any squad would do something crazy to get him," Totti said, adding that there are also reports that Inter Milan and Bayern Munich are interested in Conte. "There are a lot of squads chasing him." ATALANTA STADIUM Fresh off qualifying for the Italian Cup final, Atalanta has announced plans for a complete overhaul of its Atleti Azzurri d'Italia stadium. Work on the 40 million euro ($45 million) project will begin following Atalanta's game against Udinese on Monday, meaning the team will play its final two home matches of the season in Reggio Emilia at Mapei Stadium, Sassuolo's ground. The three-phase project should be completed in time for the 2021-22 season, at which time the stadium will be renamed Gewiss Arena. Atalanta beat Fiorentina on Thursday to advance to the May 15 Cup final against Lazio. ___ Dampf reported from Rome......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2019

A guide to FIFA's options for expanding the 2026 World Cup

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is preparing to decide Tuesday on adding 16 more teams to the 2026 World Cup for a 48-team tournament. President Gianni Infantino's favored format would break with soccer tradition to play in groups of only three teams. Two would advance from each group to a Round of 32 knockout bracket. If agreed by the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council in Zurich, the 2026 hosting contest could formally open in weeks. A co-hosted North American bid is widely seen as the best option. Here are some things to know about overhauling the greatest competition in the world's most popular sport: ___ WHY EXPAND? A bigger World Cup was an Infantino campaign promise before his election last February, when his plan was 40 teams. It might have been key. Infantino's momentum for victory in a second-round poll was a three-vote lead over Sheik Salman of Bahrain in the first. Sheik Salman had promised only to review if more World Cup teams were wanted. Infantino also pledged to give more of FIFA's money to member federations — all 211 are now entitled to $5 million from each World Cup — and send more to continental and regional soccer bodies. So, more teams also had to mean more games, earning more revenue from broadcasters and sponsors. The '16x3' format arguably works better with only group winners advancing. But that would leave total matches unchanged at 64. Infantino also wants to create fervor in the extra countries which would qualify. In the short-term, competing national teams attract more sponsors. The long-term goal is appealing to more young people who are the future players, fans and officials. Expect to hear much FIFA talk of helping the next Costa Rica or Iceland — feelgood stories at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 — by inviting 16 more teams to the party. ___ 48-TEAM OPTIONS A near-consensus is growing around the '16x3' option revealed just one month ago. All 80 games would be played in exclusive time slots. That's more hours of TV exposure for sponsors and sales time for broadcasters in the same 32-day tournament period. By advancing two teams from each group, a Round of 32 ensures most teams still play at least three matches. FIFA's own analysis predicts this format will raise revenue by 20 percent from the equivalent $5.5 billion forecast from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The flaw for purists is planning for penalty shootouts to settle drawn group matches. If each game has a 'winner' that guards against teams colluding on a mutually favorable result in the last group games. Previously, Infantino suggested an opening playoff round of 16 matches to decide who would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group phase. That was unacceptable to many FIFA members federations who said 'one-and-done' teams were not part of a real World Cup. It also would stretch the tournament to 39 days. ___ 40-TEAM OPTIONS Infantino's plan from one year ago is now almost friendless. Either of two options, 10 groups of four teams or eight five-team groups, gives lopsided or weak match schedules, FIFA judged. In '10x4,' only 76 matches are played and only six group runners-up advance from a muddled tiebreaker process to a Round of 16. In '8x5,' the 88 matches include meaningless ones in a flabby group phase ripe for collusion. Also, the four semifinalists would play eight matches and that workload is unacceptable to European clubs releasing employees to national-team duty. ___ PROVEN 32-TEAM FORMAT Why fix something that is not broken? Germany, the defending champion, has publicly asked this question. The 32-team format and perfect 64-match bracket has worked well since being introduced at the 1998 World Cup in France (where Europe had 15 teams). FIFA acknowledged that it produces the best soccer — 'the highest absolute quality' of games pitting high-ranked teams against each other. Recall that former winners Italy, England and Uruguay were drawn in the same 2014 World Cup group — and yet Costa Rica finished top. Still, enough of FIFA's 211 members want change and their chance to play. ___ WHO WILL PLAY? A big question is likely not being resolved Tuesday. FIFA has yet to announce exactly how many entry slots each of six confederations would get for their own qualifying program. Quotas for a 40-team World Cup were proposed in December 2015 by a FIFA advisory group that included Infantino, then UEFA's general secretary. Some saw a cynical move to sweeten skeptical FIFA voters who were being asked to vote through modernizing and anti-corruption reforms on the same day they picked a new president. Then, assuming a single host nation would get automatic entry, the proposal for sharing 39 qualifying slots was: Europe 14; Africa 7; Asia 6; South America 5; North, Central America and Caribbean 5; Oceania 1; plus a final slot awarded 'based on sporting merits using a method yet to be defined.' Going from 40 to 48 can add at least one more from each continent. Who could those new teams be? On current form, maybe Wales and Panama, Congo and Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan and Oman, will bring something new to the 2026 World Cup. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Euro 2016 finalists Portugal, France open World Cup tamely

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> GENEVA (AP) — European Championship finalists Portugal and France came down from their summer highs with tame starts to World Cup qualifying on Tuesday. Without Cristiano Ronaldo again, s.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 7th, 2016

Ronaldo and Van Dijk face off in Nations League final

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press PORTO, Portugal (AP) — The final of UEFA's newest competition will feature another clash between Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk, two players likely to be competing for the world player of the year award this year. The inaugural Nations League will come to an end on Sunday in Porto with Ronaldo's Portugal taking on the Netherlands of Van Dijk. The Portuguese superstar and the thriving Dutch defender haven't met since last year's Champions League final, when Ronaldo's former team Real Madrid came out on top of Van Dijk's Liverpool. Ronaldo will try to lead Portugal to its first title since the 2016 European Championship, while Van Dijk will look to help the Netherlands lift its first international trophy since the 1988 European Championship. Victory at Estadio do Dragao will give the Dutch some redemption after failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments, the 2018 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship. Van Dijk, touted as one of the best central defenders in the world, called Ronaldo "a fantastic player" but downplayed their matchup. "We play Portugal, we are not playing Cristiano Ronaldo," he said. "They have a very good team. It's going to be tough. We need to be ready." Van Dijk, who hasn't allowed anyone to dribble past him in more than 60 consecutive matches, lifted the Champions League trophy last week with Liverpool, being voted the man of the match in the final against Tottenham in Madrid. He is expected to be in the running for the world player of the year award for the first time. He has already been named player of the year in the English Premier League. Ronaldo has won the world player of the year award five times. "He's already had a really good season," Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum said of his teammate. "I think he's been trying to stop everyone he plays against. But it's not up to us to decide if he wins the Ballon d'Or. For us, he's the best defender in the world, and if you look at his season, he definitely deserves the Ballon d'Or, but it's not up to us, it's up to other people to decide." Van Dijk also was voted man of the match in the Netherlands' 3-1 win over England on Thursday in the Nations League semifinals. Ronaldo was man of the match for Portugal when it defeated Switzerland 3-1 on Wednesday in the other semifinal. Ronaldo scored a hat trick, with two of his goals coming in the final minutes. "The Netherlands are an excellent team," Ronaldo told UEFA's website. "They have been playing pretty well. I've been watching them in recent matches and they have an excellent squad with great players — young players and more experienced players, which makes their team even stronger." Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman said he is not planning to change his defense plans to adapt to Ronaldo's threat. "We know he's one of the best," Koeman said. "And the nicest thing in football is that you cannot stop (a player like him) 100 percent (of the time) because sometimes he's too good. We know the qualities of that player, and of course we need to defend well when we have the ball, we need good defensive organization, but it's not a special marking (system), one on one, because we don't like that." The Netherlands eliminated the last two World Cup winners in the qualification round of the Nations League, Germany and France. Portugal reached the semis by getting past Italy and Poland. On Sunday, the hosts will be without veteran central defender Pepe, who broke his right shoulder against Switzerland. Koeman, who played at the 1988 Euros, said he should have all of his players available even though the Netherlands had one less day to rest for the final. The winner on Sunday will be crowned the first champion of the competition UEFA created to give national teams more meaningful games and reduce the number of friendlies. The winner receives 10.5 million euros ($11.8 million). The runner-up will get 9 million euros. The amounts include the 4.5 million euros all four semifinalists have already secured. The final marks the swansong of 45-year-old Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco. England and Switzerland will play the third-place match in Guimaraes earlier on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2019

Former England coach Graham Taylor dies at 72

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — Graham Taylor, the England coach derided for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup after flourishing as a club manager working for pop star Elton John, has died. He was 72. Taylor, who won admiration by leading Aston Villa and Watford into the top-flight in the 1980s, died early Thursday of a suspected heart attack, his family said. 'The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss,' a family statement said. Taylor is one of only four managers to have taken the same team from the fourth to the top division in English soccer, and he achieved it within five years at Watford. Elton John, who owned Watford during Taylor's two stints in charge, said it was a 'sad and dark day' for the club. 'He was like a brother to me,' John wrote on an Instagram post . 'We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. 'He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to uncharted territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.' Taylor reached the pinnacle of English management when he was hired by the national team in 1990, inheriting a side that reached the World Cup semifinals. 'His enthusiasm for life and football was incredible,' former England player Paul Gascoigne said. Taylor guided England to the 1992 European Championship, but the team was eliminated at the first stage, setting the tone for the rest of his time with the national team. After England lost 2-1 to Sweden in its final game at Euro 92, The Sun tabloid trashed Taylor with the headline: 'Swedes 2 Turnips 1.' Taylor's head was superimposed on a turnip, a caricature that led to the manager becoming known harshly as 'Turnip Taylor.' 'It hurts and that's what really, really annoys me,' Taylor recalled in a 2012 BBC documentary. 'They have no recognition about how much it hurts you. They think you don't care. 'And those people that know it hurts you, they put the knife into you so it hurts you even more.' Taylor's decision to grant behind-the-scenes access to a television crew for the qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup backfired when the extent of the strain of the job was exposed. In 'The Impossible Job,' Taylor was filmed complaining about a refereeing decision during a qualifier against the Netherlands, telling the linesman: 'Tell your mate he's just cost me my job.' Reflecting later on his shortcomings in the England job, Taylor said: 'I am not bitter. I am just disappointed in myself.' The failure to reach the 1994 World Cup in the United States was a blot on Taylor's accomplishments in management after a modest playing career ended at age 28 due to a hip injury. Having already become the youngest person to attain a full Football Association coaching badge, Taylor was able to move straight into management with Lincoln after playing for the team. After winning the fourth tier, Taylor moved south to Watford. With the boardroom backing of John, Taylor guided Watford from the fourth division to the first division (then the top tier), an FA Cup final and European competition in five years from 1978. John then allowed Taylor to move to Aston Villa, where he secured promotion to the top-flight and a second-place finish in 1990. He returned as club management after his England management, taking Watford back into the Premier League and enjoying one final spell at Villa before leaving the dugout for good in 2003. He was a regular commentator on matches in recent years for BBC radio. He is survived by wife Rita and daughters Joanne and Karen. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — Capping what he called the best year of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth FIFA best player award on Monday. The double European champion with Portugal and Real Madrid beat great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. 'It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,' the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming 'Wow, wow, wow.' Ronaldo's fourth career FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, who has been the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory. His 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot was clearly better than Messi's 26.42 percent. Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online. Messi did not attend after being pulled out hours before the ceremony by his club Barcelona to prepare for a cup match on Wednesday. 'Of course, I wish that they (Barcelona players) had been here tonight like in the other years. We have to respect the decision,' Ronaldo said. Yet again, Ronaldo and Messi snubbed each other on ballot papers they got as captains of Portugal and Argentina. Ronaldo selected three Real Madrid teammates headed by Gareth Bale, and Messi picked Luis Suarez atop an all-Barcelona ballot. Ronaldo's 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine. 'I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,' said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira. Messi's Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double in 2016, though Argentina lost another Copa America final. Griezmann's France and Atletico Madrid lost their finals to Ronaldo's teams. Ronaldo's mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title. 'What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,' said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation. Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid's Zinedine Zidane and Portugal's Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters. Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second straight year, despite a quarterfinals exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd said. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.' Germany did win the women's coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist. The Puskas Award for best goal was won in an online poll by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang. A players' vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo. The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord. FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30. After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Ronaldo favored to win his 4th FIFA award as world's best

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable run of success can continue with a fourth FIFA award as the world's best player on Monday. A European champion with club and country last year, the Real Madrid and Portugal forward is favored to beat great rival Lionel Messi and France forward Antoine Griezmann when winners of the rebranded Best FIFA Football Awards are presented in Zurich. Messi leads Ronaldo 5-3 in their career-long duel for FIFA's top individual prize. However, Ronaldo is set to complete a hat-trick of major awards for 2016 after taking home trophies presented by UEFA and France Football magazine's prestiguous Golden Ball. FIFA will also name the best women's player, and the best coaches in men's and women's soccer. Voting is by national team captains and coaches, selected journalists and — for the first time — an online poll of fans. Each category counts for 25 percent of the points. Here is a look ahead to the awards ceremony: ___ CRISTIANO RONALDO After Messi in 2015, it was Ronaldo's turn to win the Champions League in 2016 as the prolific scorer netted 16 goals in the competition. He also got the decisive penalty in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with Griezmann's Atletico Madrid. But where he really dominated Messi was on the national-team stage. Ronaldo captained Portugal to a long-awaited first title at the European Championship — two weeks after Messi's Argentina again lost the Copa America final to Chile. Portugal seemed a long way from glory, and faced a humiliating group-stage exit, before Ronaldo's two goals helped salvage a 3-3 draw with Hungary. He also netted in the 2-0 semifinal win against Wales. In the final against host France, Ronaldo went off injured in the first half, then returned to the bench for extra time as — with his knee strapped — he passionately urged teammates on to a 1-0 win. For good measure, Ronaldo scored a Club World Cup final hat trick against Kashima Antlers in December, but that was after FIFA voting had closed. ___ LIONEL MESSI Messi looks to extend a streak of being winner or runner-up in nine straight seasons since placing second behind Kaka of Brazil in 2007. Last year, Messi and won a Spanish league and Cup double with Barcelona. Yet there was another painful Copa America final loss — a third straight year Argentina lost a major final without scoring — and a Champions League quarterfinal exit against Atletico. Nearing his 30th birthday, Messi's prolific scoring rate has not slowed, and 10 goals in the Champions League group stage means that Ronaldo's season record of 17 — set in 2013-14 — is within his sight this year. ___ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN Griezmann's goals helped get France and Atletico Madrid into major finals in 2016. In the Champions League final in Milan, Atletico trailed 1-0 to its city rival when Griezmann missed with a penalty kick that struck the crossbar. Still, he confidently converted his kick in the penalty shootout. Griezmann's six goals at Euro 2016 made him the tournament top scorer. In a tricky round of 16 match, his two goals overturned an early Ireland lead, and he also struck twice — including a coolly taken penalty — against favored Germany in the semifinals. However, he missed two good chances in the final against Portugal as France 1-0 in extra time. ___ COACHING AWARD Could the coach of a provincial club side beat the men who coached European champions Real Madrid and Portugal? Yes, when that coach is Italian Claudio Ranieri and his team, unheralded Leicester City, won an English Premier League title that delighted and stunned fans worldwide. Zinedine Zidane started 2016 having never coached a senior match. The newly appointed Madrid coach won a Champions League title within five months and started 2017 riding a 37-match unbeaten run. Fernando Santos marshalled one of the less obviously talented Portugal teams of recent years to win Euro 2016 despite winning only one of its seven matches during the 90 minutes. ___ WOMEN'S AWARDS Germany's Olympic gold medal-winning team is favored to sweep the awards. Midfielder Melanie Behringer is challenging two past FIFA award winners: defending champion Carli Lloyd of the United States and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. All three coaching candidates are previous FIFA award winners: Silvia Neid of Germany, last year's winner Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia Sundhage of Sweden. ___ FIFA AWARDS FIFA has added a Fan Award to its annual ceremony, and all three candidates from an online poll are European. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, whose fans sang You'll Never Walk Alone before a Europa League match at Anfield; Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord; and the Iceland fans at Euro 2016 for their inspirational clapping salute to players after games. A fans' vote will also decide the Puskas Award for best goal. The candidates are: Marlone of Corinthians, Daniuska Rodriguez of the Venezuela women's Under-17 team, and Mohd Faiz Subri of Malaysian side Penang. FIFA will also present a Fair Play award, and members of the players' union FIFPro worldwide have voted to select a World XI team. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Croatia qualify for Euro 2020

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Croatia qualified for the 2020 European Championship on Saturday. Germany advanced with a 4-0 win over Belarus on Saturday, with Toni Kroos scoring twice and steering the side top of Group C. Second-place Netherlands also qualified despite a 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland in Belfast. Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis missed a penalty in the first half. Austria joined already qualified Poland from Group G with a 2-1 win over visiting North Macedonia. Poland won 2-1 for its first win in Israel since 1988. Croatia booked its place as Group E winner with a 3-1 win at home over Slovakia. IMPRESSIVE GERMANY Injury-hit Germany started with an unfamiliar central defensive pair of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Matthias Ginter and Freiburg’s Robin Koch, the latter making only his second appearance and his first in a competitive game for Germany. There was little sign of inexperience against defensively minded Belarus, however, with Joachim Löw’s team dominating with good chances early on for Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry and Kroos. Manuel Neuer pulled off a brilliant flying save to deny Igor Stasevich with the visitors’ first chance, just before Matthias Ginter made the breakthrough in the 41st minute. Leon Goretzka scored four minutes after the break, and Ginter set up Kroos to mark his 95th game for Germany with the third goal in the 55th. That set off fans’ celebrations with Mexican waves going around the stadium. Stasevich had a chance to pull one back from the penalty spot after a clumsy challenge from Koch, but Neuer guessed the right way. Kroos wrapped up the scoring with a fine second goal in the 83rd, turning with a left-right combination to elude two defenders before shooting with his left boot inside the post. WALES HAILS BALE Gareth Bale returned from injury and helped Wales keep its automatic qualification hopes alive with a 2-0 win at Azerbaijan in Group E. Kieffer Moore and Harry Wilson scored in the first half to give Wales its first away win in more than a year. Third in Group E with 11 points, Wales can secure automatic qualification with a win in its final game on Tuesday over second-place Hungary on 12 points. Bale hadn’t played for a month due to a calf injury, but the Real Madrid winger played just under an hour in Baku before being taken off by coach Ryan Giggs to safeguard his availability for the Hungary showdown in Cardiff. Bale was a booking away from suspension. BELGIUM PERFECT Eden Hazard scored twice and younger brother Thorgan Hazard also grabbed a goal as already qualified Belgium beat already qualified Russia 4-1 in St. Petersburg. The Belgians’ ninth win from nine qualifying games ensure they top Group I and join Italy as one of the six seeded teams in the finals’ draw on Nov. 30. Scotland defeated Cyprus 2-1 in Nicosia to move third in the group, and Kazakhstan won 3-1 at San Marino. Also, Slovenia beat Latvia 1-0 in Group G......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News16 hr. 27 min. ago

Pasaol, Munzon eyed to lead Philippines in FIBA 3X3 OQT

Alvin Pasaol and Joshua Munzon are said-to-be shoo-ins for the Philippines' national 3x3 team which will see action in the 2020 FIBA 3X3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT). "Obviously, we need to have the top players in the country - especially the top two," Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league commissioner and program director Eric Altamirano said. "Joshua and Alvin are most likely going to be part of the team." Pasaol (420, 940) and Munzon (475, 860) are no. 2 and no. 1, respectively, in the Philippines in terms of ranking points. That is exactly why the two are being tipped to lead the Filipinos in the world meet in March of next year in Delhi, India. Other players being considered for the national team are Santi Santillan, Karl Dehesa, Troy Rike, Dylan Ababou, Chris De Chavez, Franky Johnson, Roosevelt Adams, and Leo De Vera. Last Friday, the Philippines officially entered the 20-team OQT. There, three tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are up for grabs. With only four months to prepare before they wage war with fellow Pool C teams no. 6 Slovenia, no. 10 France, no. 17 Qatar, and no. 33 Dominican Republic, Altamirano bared that overseas training is underway for the country's representatives. "We already have a plan and we just have to finalize it with boss Ronald [Mascarinas]," he said, referring to 3x3 patron Ronald Mascarinas. As per the well-respected mentor, the national team pool is mulling traveling to and then training in Eastern Europe or China. The new season of Chooks Pilipinas 3x3 tipping off on January of next year will also be a big boost for preparations. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2019

PH men s 3x3 clinches Olympic qualifier berth

MANILA, Philippines – After a year of hard work, Philippine 3x3 is one step closer to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after qualifying for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in India on Friday, November 1. The Philippine men's team now joins Slovenia, France, Qatar, and the Dominican Republic in Pool C ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2019

PHL makes 3×3 qualifier

The Philippines picked  a seat in Group C of the men’s division of the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament to be held in India, March next year. The Filipinos were pooled with opponents from Slovenia, France, Qatar, and Dominican Republic in the seeding held in Utsonomiya, Japan on Friday. Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al […] The post PHL makes 3×3 qualifier appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2019

Philippines named as one of the 20 nations that will compete in the 2020 FIBA 3X3 Men s Olympic Qualifying Tournament

The Philippines was named as one of the 20 nations that will compete in the 2020 FIBA 3X3 Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament that will take place on March 2020 in India. The announcement was made Friday evening in Utsunomiya, Japan. "We’re very happy that the Philippines will be competing in the upcoming Olympic Qualifying Tournament for a shot at making it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio. "3x3 is an area where Filipino basketball players can really excel and we’re delighted that a Filipino basketball team will get to test their skills against the world’s best. "The SBP thanks all the private promoters that held 3x3 events especially Chooks-To-Go led by Ronald Mascariñas." "We are extremely happy with this development," added Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league owner Mascariñas. "But we could not have done it without the combined efforts of everyone. "We would like to thank the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas headed by chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and president Al, the numerous private promoters, all the players from Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, and, of course, the Filipino people who supported us for the last nine months." The Philippines will be slotted in Pool C in the OQT that will has three tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at stake. It will be joined by Slovenia, France, Qatar, and the Dominican Republic. Composing Pool A are Mongolia, Poland, Brazil, Turkey, and Spain while Pool B will have USA, Lithuania, Belgium, South Korea, and New Zealand. Pool D, on the other hand, has the Netherlands, Latvia, Canada, Croatia, and host India. Gaining automatic berths in the Olympics are Serbia, Russia, China, and Japan. And it was a long road to India for the country. Back in February, the men’s side of the Philippines was ranked at a lowly 59. But ever since the league opened its curtains last February 16, the country’s rankings have steadily risen. The first-ever season of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 had three conferences, namely the President’s Cup, the Patriot’s Cup, and the Magiting Cup. All had level-seven tournament ratings, with level-10 as the highest possible rating. The country also hosted the world’s first-ever Super Quest last April, a level eight tourney; and the country’s first-ever Challenger tournament last September 7, a level nine event. Moreover, the club teams from the league competed in a World Tour Masters and multiple Challenger tourneys — including the Doha and Jeddah Masters and Challenger tournaments in Moscow, Haining, Poitiers, Xiongan, Sukhbaatar, and Kaohsiung. To sustain the country's push to the OQT, the league put up a 14-leg invitational tourney, the MelMac Cup to close out the season. The national team will be composed of twp players from the top 10 and two players within the top 50 or have the minimum number of ranking points. As a tune-up for the national team, the 2020 season of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 will open this January. "The journey is far from over as the goal is to not just make it to the OQT. The endgame is to make it to Tokyo. We are going all out to prepare our national team for this and we hope that everyone joins us in this journey to Tokyo," bared Mascariñas......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 1st, 2019

Addressing growing fan behavior problem top priority for NBA

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press About a dozen NBA players gathered for a teleconference with officials in the league office this summer, making their case about what they believe is one of the biggest problems in the game. Fan behavior, they said, is getting worse. The numbers show they’re right, and if that isn’t troubling enough race only adds to the complexity of the issue: Most NBA players are black, and it seems like most of those in the closest seats are white. Not every incident is racially motivated, though some clearly are. After high-profile incidents involving Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, Kyle Lowry and others last season — including ones involving racist taunts — zero tolerance for abusive or hateful behavior is now to become the NBA’s policy going forward. The league is changing and toughening its code of conduct for fans, especially putting those in closest proximity to the players and the court on alert that anything over the line will lead to ejections and possibly more. “We’ve added any sexist language or LGBTQ language, any denigrating language in that way, anything that is non-basketball related,” said Jerome Pickett, the NBA’s executive vice president and chief security officer. “So ‘your mother’ comments, talking about your family, talking about test scores, anything non-basketball related, we’ve added that in as well as being something that we will go and pull a fan out of the seat and investigate what happened.” Westbrook and Cousins were subjected to racist taunts in Salt Lake City and Boston and the fans involved in those incidents were banned by the Jazz and Celtics. Lowry was shoved by a minority partner of the Golden State Warriors’ ownership group, seated courtside during the NBA Finals, and that person was banned from team business for a year by the league. There were more. Those were just the highest-profile ones. The NBA would not release exact numbers — and the totals are believed to be very low — but Pickett said the ejections of fans in the courtside area still more than doubled last season. Westbrook declined comment for this story, saying through a Rockets official that he was not comfortable discussing the matter. But the players’ union insists that the problem is getting bigger and bigger. “Last season, I began to sense even at the games I was attending that there was a certain, I’ll call it absence of civility, that permeated the games,” said Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. “I was seeing more bad-mouthing opposing teams that were not simply ‘you suck,’ which every one of us will tolerate, but really nasty, nasty comments being directed at players.” The Celtics banned a fan for two years for directing racist chants at Cousins. Westbrook was involved in a pair of incidents in Utah that came to light last season; was offended by a fan during the 2018 playoffs by a fan calling him “boy” before a playoff game, and then last season was involved in a back-and-forth shouting match with another fan. The Jazz banned both fans for life, and Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA for threatening the fan involved in last season’s incident. “I try very hard not to have my default answer be, ‘It’s racism.’ I really do because I don’t think that necessarily advances the argument,” Roberts said. “If it’s undoubtedly that, then I’m happy to say it.” It’s not always racism, either — Roberts also said she’s received complaints from many white players about being the subject of nastiness from fans. Amira Davis is an assistant professor at Penn State specializing in 20th Century American History with an emphasis on race, gender, sports and politics. She believes fans feel more emboldened now to say whatever they like, without fear of repercussions. “There have been plenty of sober fans yelling slurs and attacking players in the worst way,” Davis said. “I think it’s a mix of all of those things and when looking at predominantly white spaces like Utah and a largely black labor force, it ratchets it up a little bit more and makes it a lot more intense. Particularly in this political climate in which it’s very easy to project onto high-profile black athletes and pathologies and misconceptions about the black community.” Fan behavior is not just a concern in the NBA. It is being noted everywhere. Racist chants and taunts are a major issue in European soccer, including at a Euro 2020 qualifier between Bulgaria and England last week. Green Bay and Philadelphia fans fought in the stands at Lambeau Field last month. The Atlanta Braves had fans stop doing their “tomahawk chop” during the playoffs earlier this month. During the AL Championship Series between Houston and New York, Astros manager A.J. Hinch told umpires that he felt the behavior of fans at Yankee Stadium had crossed the line and that it “was becoming a dangerous situation.” “There’s no place for that,” Hinch said, referencing matters like debris being thrown from the stands toward players and taunts directed toward some of the Astros. “Both teams will agree. And it’s really hard to stop fans from doing that. But it’s also very dangerous.” And the athletes are not always just victims, either. Golfer Bio Kim was suspended by the Korean PGA for three years for making an obscene gesture at the crowd during the final round of a tournament that he won, angry because of noise from a cellphone camera. In the NBA, the league is expanding the area in arenas most closely monitored when it comes to player-fan interaction. The top-priority area used to be just those seated with feet on the court itself or maybe the first couple rows of courtside seats; now, that area goes several rows deep in every building, plus the areas where teams and referees enter and exit the court. The fan code of conduct, a standard announcement at every NBA arena for years, is now being shown and promoted more times in each game. Season-ticket holders have been put on notice by teams that they may lose their seats even if they give their tickets to someone who goes over the line and harasses players or officials too vociferously. Fans believed to have been involved in incidents will be removed from seats while officials investigate; many times, when a security guard asks those in a certain area what just happened, no one would volunteer information with the suspected heckler present. “I think players are definitely vulnerable,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said after the Lowry incident. “Any time you’re in a situation where you can do no right, like in defending yourself, you’re vulnerable.” ___ AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Boston contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 21st, 2019

Poland, Russia qualify for Euro 2020; Croatia must wait

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press Poland and Russia qualified for the 2020 European Championship on Sunday, while Gareth Bale's goal forced Croatia to wait after a 1-1 draw with Wales. Germany beat Estonia 3-0 despite playing with 10 men from the 14th minute. Robert Lewandowski set up both goals for Poland as Chicago Fire midfielder Przemyslaw Frankowski and fellow substitute Arkadiusz Milik scored late in a hard-fought 2-0 win over North Macedonia. Poland is assured of finishing in the top two of Group G, where second-place Austria boosted its hopes of qualifying with a 1-0 win at Slovenia. Russia earlier routed Cyprus 5-0 to join group winner Belgium in securing a place at next year's tournament. Valencia forward Denis Cheryshev scored twice and set up two more goals for the Russians - who only needed a draw to be sure of qualification - to take their tally to 21 points after seven wins from eight games in Group I. With two games remaining, Russia has 11 points more than third-place Cyprus and 12 more than fourth-place Scotland, which thrashed San Marino 6-0 at a poorly attended Hampden Park in Glasgow. Belgium already had secured its place at the finals, but Roberto Martínez's team stayed perfect in qualifying with a 2-0 win over Kazakhstan in Astana. Michy Batshuayi scored in the first half and Thomas Meunier wrapped up the win in the second, giving Belgium its eighth win from eight games. The Belgians have scored 30 goals and conceded just one. BALE THWARTS CROATIA Nikola Vlasic scored early to put Croatia on course for a win that would have secured qualification from Group E. Bale's equalizer in first-half injury time denied the visitors - including Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric - and kept Welsh hopes of qualifying alive. Croatia leads the group by two points from Hungary, which defeated Azerbaijan 1-0 in Budapest thanks to Mihály Korhut's early strike. The top three in the group are Croatia (14 points), Hungary (12) and Slovakia (10). Wales is fourth on eight points with a game in hand over the top two. GÜNDOGAN SHINES Ilkay Gündogan scored twice and set up another for 10-man Germany to beat Estonia with three second-half goals in Tallinn. "The whole week hasn't been easy," said Germany coach Joachim Löw, whose side was hit by injuries. "But we didn't complain. The decisive thing was that we upped the pace in the second half. In the end it was satisfactory." Emre Can, filling in at center back, was shown an early red card for bringing down Frank Liivak, who would have been through on goal. Germany had never had a player sent off so early in a game before, with Can beating the mark set by Robert Huth's 15th-minute ejection in a friendly game against Northern Ireland in 2005. Gündogan finally broke the deadlock in the 51st when his effort from outside the penalty box took a slight deflection off Marco Reus' heel. His second goal six minutes later also took a deflection, this time off a defender. Gündogan's long pass over the top allowed substitute Timo Werner to wrap up the win in the 71st. Germany and the Netherlands are level on 15 points and well-placed to qualify from Group C. Northern Ireland is third on 12 points. The Dutch earlier claimed a 2-1 win over Belarus in Minsk, thanks to first-half goals from Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. The top two teams of each group advance. The other four qualifiers will come through four tiers of playoffs in March......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 14th, 2019

Simone Biles wins 5th all-around title at gymnastics worlds

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — There was only one way for Simone Biles to finish off yet another dominant world championship performance. She dropped the mic. Biles marked her fifth all-around world title by ending her floor routine with a mic-drop gesture — a nod to her social-media following. Biles said the idea came from Twitter, and it was certainly fitting on a day when no rival came close. "It wasn't my best routine but we just thought it would be fun," she said. It may not have been her best, but the routine still earned her the highest floor score of the day. One of the few blemishes was skidding out of bounds on the landing of a triple-double, a skill no other female gymnast performs. Biles' fifth world all-around title, two more than any other female gymnast has ever managed, was won by a full 2.1 points. The margin of victory was bigger than any of her four previous victories at worlds and matched her 2016 Olympic win. With another Olympic Games less than a year away, Biles feels on top of the world. "I feel like right now actually I'm pretty confident in my gymnastics and myself and the performances I put out there, so I feel like I'm probably more confident going in today than I was at the Olympics," she said. Biles' score of 58.999 was far out of reach for China's Tang Xijing, a late stand-in for a teammate who ended up in second after other medal contenders stumbled. Angelina Melnikova of Russia was third on 56.399. Biles now has a total 22 world championship medals across all events, the most by any woman and one shy of Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo's men's record. Biles' victory makes it seven wins in a row for the United States in the women's all-around, matching the Soviet Union's record streak at world championships in the 1970s and 1980s. Tang wasn't even meant to be competing Thursday but became China's first all-around medalist in eight years. She'd qualified third-best of China's gymnasts, with only two per country allowed in the final. However, Tang was drafted in to replace teammate Liu Tingting, who fell on two routines in Tuesday's team final. Tang said she didn't know she was contending for a medal until after finishing her final routine. "I hoped to do what I'm like in training, and didn't really think too much about the results," she said through a translator. "I didn't even watch the results myself, so it was really surprising." Bronze medalist Melnikova said she was "really happy" with making the podium after missing out last year by 0.034 points. It was her first medal in an individual event after team silver at the 2016 Olympics and the last two world championships. Biles' U.S. teammate Sunisa Lee placed second in qualifying, but her hopes of a medal were dashed when she came off the uneven bars. She finished eighth. "I feel like I kind of let the nerves get to me a little bit, but it's all part of the learning experience," Lee said. "There's going to be a lot more meets to come before the Olympics, so hopefully I can kind of get myself back together for that." France's Melanie de Jesus dos Santos had qualified third-best but fell twice on uneven bars and placed 20th. Ellie Black of Canada was on crutches after a painful landing on the vault, and the 2017 all-around silver medalist faces a race to recover for Saturday's vault and Sunday's beam finals. Biles has won the all-around title at every world championships she's competed in, starting in 2013. She skipped the 2017 season, when Morgan Hurd won the gold. In a sign of the U.S. team's depth, Hurd wasn't named to the team for this year's worlds despite also winning bronze last year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2019

Spurs in Champions League capitulation as Bayern wins 7-2

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press A Champions League finalist for the first time just four months ago, Tottenham is making history again in Europe's top club competition this season. The wrong kind of history. Tottenham was picked off repeatedly by Bayern Munich in a humiliating 7-2 loss on Tuesday, the first time the English team has conceded seven goals in a home match in any competition in its 137-year history. Another team in trouble is Real Madrid, which has failed to win at least one of its first two games in the group stage for the first time in Champions League history. To avoid defeat against Club Brugge on Tuesday, the 13-time European champions had to fight back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. Tottenham slumped to the biggest margin of defeat by a team from England playing at home in any European competition. Adding insult for Tottenham was the sight of Serge Gnabry, a former player at fierce rival Arsenal, scoring four of the goals for Bayern with clinical finishing. All of them came in a wild second half in the Group B game featuring six goals in total. "Every single touch went in," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. While it was a statement win for Bayern, which hasn't been widely regarded as one of the Champions League favorites amid something of a transitional season for the German club, the manner of the defeat exacerbates the concerns surrounding Tottenham and Pochettino. Tottenham has been far from its best in the Premier League, squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Olympiakos in its opening Champions League game, and was eliminated from the English League Cup by fourth-tier Colchester last week. Pochettino is in his sixth year as manager, leading to fears that Tottenham has gone as far as it can under the Argentine, who has spoken publicly about tensions in the squad since the loss to Liverpool in last season's Champions League final. "We are very disappointed and very upset," Pochettino said, "but we have to stay together." MADRID COMEBACK Barely 40 minutes had elapsed, Real Madrid was losing 2-0 at home to one of the Champions League's supposedly weaker teams, and Club Brugge scorer Emmanuel Bonaventure was taunting fans inside the Santiago Bernabeu by imitating the famous "Si!" goal celebration of Cristiano Ronaldo. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane would soon be substituting his goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, at halftime. Success in European soccer's biggest club competition has come so easy for Zidane as Madrid coach — he won the Champions League an unprecedented three straight seasons in his first spell at the Spanish club — but he's not finding it so easy early in his second stint in charge. Madrid's players roused themselves and recovered to draw 2-2 against their visitors from Belgium, thanks to headers by Sergio Ramos and Casemiro. But qualification for the last 16 is far from the certainty it seemed when the group-stage draw was made. Having opened the group by being outplayed in a 3-0 loss at Paris Saint-Germain, Madrid — like Tottenham — is in last place on one point. The Spanish team hasn't failed to advance past the group stage since the 1989-90 season, which was so long ago the competition was called the European Cup. A loss away to Galatasaray in the third round of games would make things extremely tough for the record 13-time European champions. PSG didn't find its trip to Turkey straightforward on Tuesday, only winning 1-0 win thanks to Mauro Icardi's first goal for the French club. RONALDO SCORES AGAIN It's now a record-extending 127 goals for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League. The Portugal forward scored the third goal in Juventus' 3-0 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen, adding to strikes by Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Bernardeschi. Juventus opened Group D with a 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid, which also responded with a win — 2-0 at Lokomotiv Moscow through goals by João Félix and Thomas Partey. STERLING SPARKS CITY A lively substitute's appearance by Raheem Sterling sparked Manchester City to a 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb and a second straight win to open Group C. City's finishing had been wasteful at Etihad Stadium before Sterling came on as a 56th-minute sub and met a cross from Riyad Mahrez with a side-footed finish from close range 10 minutes later. Phil Foden, also on as a substitute but only in the 90th minute, made the points safe by running onto Sterling's pass on a counterattack and shooting low into the corner with virtually the last touch of the game. The English champions are well on their way to qualification, having started with a 3-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk two weeks ago. In its second match, Shakhtar scored with practically the last kick before the final whistle to beat Atalanta 2-1 as the Italian side's first home game in the Champions League ended in disappointment. Manor Solomon scored sin the fifth minute of stoppage time after Junior Moraes canceled out Duvan Zapata's opener for Atalanta in the first half......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2019

Murray loses to De Minaur in 2nd round in Zhuhai

ZHUHAI, China (AP) — Andy Murray's singles comeback hit another roadblock as he lost 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Alex de Minaur of Australia in the second round of the Zhuhai Championships on Thursday. Murray won his first tour-level match since having hip surgery in January when he beat Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday but couldn't follow that up despite winning the first set, as he only converted two of his nine break points. Top-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas also exited the tournament as he was forced to retire before the third set against Adrian Mannarino of France. He had called for a trainer twice during the match. Andreas Seppi of Italy advanced after saving five match points in the deciding tiebreaker before beating local favorite Zhang Zhizhen 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (8). Also, Croatia's Borna Coric, who beat Wu Di of China 6-3, 6-3. In another marathon match at the Chengdu Open, unseeded Belarusian Egor Gerasimov upset top-seeded John Isner 6-7 (11), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) to reach the quarterfinals. Gerasimov will face Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who dispatched America's Bradley Klahn 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3). In another upset, Portugal's Joao Sousa ousted second-seeded Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4. He will play Lloyd Harris, who beat Serbia's Dujan Lajovic 6-3, 6-3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 27th, 2019