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England reaches World Cup semifinals, beats Sweden 2-0

By STEVE DOUGLAS,  AP Sports Writer SAMARA, Russia (AP) — England achieved something David Beckham's generation never managed: It reached the semifinals of the World Cup. Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored with headers in a 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday, earning England a match against either Croatia or host nation Russia for a place in the final. England has advanced further than was widely expected. Not even the England side from the early 21st century, containing stars like Beckham, Steven Gerrard and a young Wayne Rooney, ever got this far at a major tournament. England, the 1966 World Cup champion, last reached the semifinals in 1990. In 2014, the team didn't even make it out of the group stage. The surprising run in Russia is being fuelled by goals from set pieces, and there was another against Sweden when Maguire headed in a corner from Ashley Young in the 30th minute. Alli added the second goal by meeting a far-post cross from Jesse Lingard with a powerful header in the 59th. The Swedes were playing in the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1994, when they reached the semifinals......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 7th, 2018

England advances to World Cup semifinals, beats Sweden 2-0

England's Harry Maguire, right above, scores his side's opening goal during the quarterfinal match between Sweden and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara,.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

Forsberg delivers, Sweden reaches World Cup quarterfinals

By STEVE DOUGLAS,  AP Sports Writer ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The heir to Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally delivered for Sweden at the World Cup. Emil Forsberg scored a deflected goal in the 66th minute to give the Swedes a 1-0 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday and a place in the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 24 years. Shy and understated, the 26-year-old Forsberg couldn't be more different than the larger-than-life Ibrahimovic, who ruled the Sweden team for more than a decade and was the greatest player the country ever produced. But Forsberg arrived in Russia shouldering the creative burden left by Ibrahimovic following his retirement two years ago, and the attacking midfielder's skills and slick movement stood out at St. Petersburg Stadium. His goal was scruffy, though. After getting past Granit Xhaka, Forsberg didn't get much power behind his shot from the edge of the area and it was likely heading straight for Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer. However, it took a deflection off the foot of center back Manuel Akanji and bounced up and into the net. It was enough to make Sweden the fifth European team to reach the quarterfinals. The Swedes will next play either England or Colombia on Saturday in Samara. The last time Sweden made it this far at the World Cup was in 1994, when the team reached the semifinals. This was another opportunity spurned by the Swiss, who have reached the last 16 in four of the last five World Cups only to be eliminated without scoring a goal. They haven't scored in a knockout game in soccer's biggest tournament in 64 years, when they last reached in the quarterfinals at home in 1954. They finished the game with 10 men after right back Michael Lang was sent off in stoppage time for a professional foul on Sweden substitute Martin Olsson. The referee initially awarded a penalty kick but later gave a free kick on the edge of the area after a video review. Switzerland was fortunate to still be alive at that point. Ibrahimovic, 36 and now playing out his illustrious career in the United States, would surely have put away some of the first-half chances created by his countrymen against a fragile Switzerland defense which was missing the suspended Fabian Schaer and Stephan Lichtsteiner. Striker Marcus Berg was the biggest culprit, spurning two openings in quick succession, while Albin Ekdal volleyed over with the goal at his mercy. The Swedes were limited but played to the strengths that got them past Italy in the two-leg World Cup playoff and to the top of a group containing defending champion Germany, Mexico and South Korea. Their long balls forward caused panic and they were more bullish in their tackling in midfield. The Swiss certainly weren't playing like a team ranked No. 6 in the world and with only one loss in their previous 25 games. Their build-up play was sloppy, with the best effort falling to Remo Freuler with a late header that was saved by Robin Olsen. SUSPENDED Sweden right back Mikael Lustig will miss the quarterfinals after collecting his second yellow card of the tournament for a tug on Josip Drmic in the first half. The team will have Sebastian Larsson back from a ban, however, and the holding midfielder should go straight back into the starting lineup. BIG BLUNDERS A low-quality match featured some of the worst finishing seen so far at the World Cup, and two efforts stood out. Lustig dragged a long-range attempt in the first half sideways and it went out for a throw-in. Then, in the second half, Xhaka lined up a shot from outside the area and very nearly whiffed. VAR WATCH There was another success for the video assistant referee. Referee Damir Skomina's decision to award the late penalty against Lang looked correct at the time, but a review showed Olsson was just outside the box when he was tripped. It didn't matter, though. Switzerland didn't have a chance to get to the other end after the resulting free kick was saved......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 3rd, 2018

Croatia reaches World Cup final for 1st time, beats England 2-1

MOSCOW --- When the final whistle blew and they knew they were going to their first World Cup final, the Croatians ran to their exuberant fans, jumping in their iconic red-and-white checkered jerseys. Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute and Croatia shocked England 2-1 Wednesday. Croatia, the first team in 28 years to come from behind to win a World Cup semifinal match, will play France for the title on Sunday in its biggest sporting moment since becoming an independent nation in 1991. France, which won its only title at home in 1998, will have an extra day of rest after beating Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday. Croatia will be coming off its third straight extr...Keep on reading: Croatia reaches World Cup final for 1st time, beats England 2-1.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

Coach of England wins the nation s heart by being a nice guy

By Danica Kirka, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — In an age of tattoos, tongue piercings and tensions over Brexit, a soft-spoken man in a dark blue waistcoat and striped tie is uniting England amid dreams of victory in soccer's World Cup. Coach Gareth Southgate is the buttoned-down leader of a new generation of players who speak softly and let their victories silence critics. And England supporters have found that refreshing after years of underperforming teams led by stars such as David Beckham, who became as much a celebrity as an athlete. "He's very much about a team spirit. It's more about the collective — you can see it in the way he deals with the squad," said Paul Willis, who was in the stands last Saturday in Samara, Russia, when England reached the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Sweden. "We had superstars, but we didn't have a team." Southgate's focus on teamwork and civility has made him an unlikely icon in a country that is deeply divided by bitter arguments over plans to leave the European Union and a widening gap between rich and poor. England Captain Harry Kane may be the tournament's leading scorer, but fans are donning waistcoats and ties — even as the country enjoys an unusually hot summer — in homage to Southgate as pundits extol the 47-year-old coach's calm leadership. "He has shown us the value of courtesy, kindness, hard work and that most derided of virtues, niceness," columnist India Knight wrote in the Sunday Times. "He has redefined not just how to be a manager, but how to be a man." Southgate displayed his character after England's July 3 victory over Colombia, offering a supportive hug to Colombian player Mateus Uribe after his miss in a penalty shootout helped England advance. The England coach understood Uribe's agony, having missed a similar shot at the 1996 European championships. The moment of empathy also reminded the country how Southgate once lampooned his own failure with a Pizza Hut commercial in which he wore a bag over his head to shield his identity from angry fans. Southgate's compassion sparked a hashtag for the coach's real and imagined acts of kindness such as "#GarethSouthgateWould stop and help you put the chain back on your bike even if he was all dressed in his waistcoat and late for the game." Southgate became manager less than two years ago after the Football Association's first choice was forced out after unguarded comments to undercover reporters. Since then he has quietly ushered out the last of the old stars and brought together a group of youngsters who modestly shrug off compliments and give kudos to their teammates. Perhaps more importantly, he recognized the contribution of the fans, something that had been eroded during the superstar era. After every game, Southgate and his players walk across the field to applaud the supporters who have traveled to Russia to cheer for the team. "We had lost a bit of connection," Willis, a 57-year-old fan from Birmingham, said of past regimes. "That is now back. All the team and the back room applaud our input to the game." That has also translated into huge support back home in football-mad England. At least 20 million people, 38 percent of England's population, watched Saturday's victory over Sweden, according to figures from the BBC. Commentators say the actual number was much higher because so many people watched the game on huge screens in parks and shopping centers. London authorities are inviting 30,000 fans to the city's Hyde Park for a screening of Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia. Fearing demand will far exceed that, authorities stressed that only those with tickets should come to the park. Ticket services reported hundreds of people were trying to dump theater tickets for Wednesday because they had more pressing business elsewhere. Social media sites are urging fans to wear waistcoats — please don't call them vests — to the office ahead of the big match — a "Waistcoat Wednesday" if you will. Marks & Spencer, the official tailor to the England team, says sales of the grandfatherly garments have doubled during the World Cup. Rio Ferdinand, one of the previous "golden generation" of players who is now a commentator for the BBC, has been leading the cheers for this year's team, asking fans to post video of their beer-throwing, chest-bearing, flag-waving celebrations after the win over Sweden. On Sunday, Ferdinand tweeted his own mea culpa for past failures, while also highlighting Southgate's unique contribution. "Why weren't the golden generation... the golden generation???" he tweeted. "We as players look at ourselves first...we never performed....but sometimes you have to be allowed to perform! Gareth is allowing this current @England to do this." That's paying off. Kane, who turns 25 later this month, has scored six goals in the tournament. Dele Alli, 22, came back from injury to score the team's second goal against Sweden. Fabian Delph, 28, played the last 15 minutes of Saturday's game after missing the previous game against Colombia because Southgate allowed him to go home for the birth of his third child. Southgate himself recognizes the contributions of everyone, from the physiotherapists to the players who push their teammates in practice but rarely get into a game, even to fans back home. "Our country has been through some difficult moments recently in terms of its unity, and I think sport has the power to do that and football in particular has the power to do that," he said. "So for us, we can feel the energy and we can feel the support from home, and that's, that's a very special feeling. It's a privilege." Barring that, it does help to have a snappy waistcoat. "Quite frankly, I don't care what he wears," Willis said. "He can wear a tutu if we carry on winning.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

England, Croatia complete World Cup semifinals cast

SAMARA, RUSSIA -- England reached their first World Cup semifinal since 1990 on Saturday, comfortably beating Sweden to set up a last-four clash against Croatia, who ended Russia’s fairytale run in a nail-biting penalty shootout......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

England sinks Sweden to clinch World Cup semis berth

  SAMARA, Russia – Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored as England comfortably defeated Sweden 2-0 on Saturday, July 7, to reach the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990.  Leicester defender Maguire headed in the opening goal from a corner on 30 minutes, with Alli adding a second just ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

Croatia ends Russia s run, advances to World Cup semifinals

By TALES AZZONI,  AP Sports Writer SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Croatia ended Russia's surprising World Cup run with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Ivan Rakitic scored the deciding penalty after a 2-2 draw. The overachieving hosts, the lowest ranked nation in the tournament, were trying to make it to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since the Soviet Union team finished fourth at the 1966 tournament in England. Croatia hadn't advanced this far at the World Cup since the 1998 World Cup, which was its first appearance. Croatia will next play England in the semifinals on Wednesday in Moscow. The English team defeated Sweden 2-0. Russia defender Mario Fernandes scored the equalizing goal in extra time, but then sent his penalty wide of the net in the shootout. Croatia defender Domagoj Vida also scored in extra time with a header in the 101st minute. Denis Cheryshev gave Russia the lead with a shot into the upper corner in the 31st minute and Croatia equalized with Andrej Kramaric's header near halftime......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2018

France reaches World Cup semifinals, beats Uruguay 2-0

By STEPHEN WADE,  AP Sports Writer NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Antoine Griezmann's fluke goal helped France earn a place in the World Cup semifinals. Griezmann scored with a shot that bounced off the hands of the opposing goalkeeper and into the net, giving France a 2-0 victory over Uruguay on Friday. The 1998 champions will next face either Brazil or Belgium on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. Griezmann's shot in the 61st minute went right into the hands of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. But the ball popped off his palms and looped over his head and into the net. Raphael Varane scored for France with a header in the 40th minute. Griezmann sent in a free kick from the right side and Varane raced across the area. He got his head to the ball and sent it into the far corner behind Muslera. France went on to reach the World Cup final the last two times it advanced to the semifinals. It won its only World Cup in 1998 on home soil, and in 2006 lost to Italy on penalties......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 6th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Germany gets reality check before defense

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — Germany coasted through World Cup qualifying with 10 wins out of 10 and a European record 43 goals before getting a reality check. The World Cup holders haven't won any matches since qualifying for Russia. After drawing friendlies against England, France and Spain, Joachim Loew's team lost 1-0 to Brazil to end a 22-game unbeaten run. Becoming the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend their World Cup title now looks even trickier for the Germans. "We're not as good as we're made out to be, or as some think we are," midfielder Toni Kroos said. "There's huge room for improvement." The recent slump in friendly matches could be a blessing in disguise if it eradicates any complacency going into the World Cup. "I'm not worried. In 2014 and 2010 we also lost in March," Loew said. "You can be sure that we'll improve." The first task for Loew's side will be to top Group F to avoid a likely second-round clash against Brazil. Here's a closer look at the Germany team: COACH Loew was assistant coach to Juergen Klinsmann during Germany's "summer fairytale" hosting of the 2006 World Cup and was promoted to the top job after its third-place finish. Loew favors a fast-paced possession-based game, pressing opponents to recover the ball and switching quickly from defense to attack. He has overseen steady progress since taking over, reaching the final of the 2008 European Championship, claiming third place at the 2010 World Cup and reaching the semifinals at Euro 2012 before finally winning a title in convincing fashion at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A disappointing semifinal exit to France at Euro 2016 followed, but Loew laid the groundwork for a successful World Cup title defense by winning the Confederations Cup with a young team of promising talent last year in Russia. Loew hasn't been afraid to test young talent, and Germany's strength in depth means one of his hardest tasks is leaving players out of the 23-man squad. Loew also has the unfortunate tendency to find himself in the headlines for other reasons. The 58-year-old has previously apologized after being caught on camera picking his nose or in other compromising positions during games. GOALKEEPERS The biggest concern is captain Manuel Neuer's fitness. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper sustained a repeat of the hairline metatarsal fracture in his left foot while training last September and hasn't played since. Marc-Andre ter Stegen could well establish himself as the No. 1 with doubts over Neuer's fitness. The Barcelona goalkeeper has overcome a shaky start to his international career and helped Germany win the Confederations Cup. Bernd Leno of Bayer Leverkusen and Kevin Trapp of Paris Saint-Germain are also options, while Sven Ulreich has been filling in impressively for Neuer at Bayern. DEFENDERS Bayern defender Jerome Boateng faces a race to be fit with a thigh injury sustained in the Champions League semifinals against Real Madrid in April. Bayern teammate Niklas Suele would be an able replacement to partner Mats Hummels in the center. Another Bayern player, Joshua Kimmich, has emerged to soften the blow of Philipp Lahm's retirement at right back. The modest Jonas Hector will likely keep his place on the left despite Cologne's relegation. MIDFIELDERS Toni Kroos will be among the first names on Loew's team sheet. The Real Madrid midfielder is the driving force behind the side. He will likely be partnered by Juventus' Sami Khedira, who provides more of a defensive presence, with Mesut Ozil in front, flanked on either side by Thomas Mueller and Marco Reus — if the latter proves his fitness. Reus has been unlucky with injuries and has only recently returned to shine again for Dortmund. But Germany has a wealth of options in midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler, Julian Weigl and Julian Brandt all providing ample backup options. FORWARDS Timo Werner seems sure of his place after another good season for Leipzig, albeit with most of his goals in the first half of the campaign. The 22-year-old Werner has seven goals in 12 international appearances, but it's his runs into space and the problems he causes defenders that benefit the team. Loew will likely bring one of Mario Gomez or Sandro Wagner as a more experienced option for Werner, while Mario Goetze is another option to play up front if he gets recalled following a disappointing season for Dortmund. Goetze scored the winning goal for Germany to beat Argentina in the 2014 final. GROUP GAMES Germany kicks off its title defense near its tournament base in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium against Mexico on June 17. The side then faces a long trip south to Sochi for its second game against Sweden on June 23, before wrapping up Group F against South Korea in Kazan four days later......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

LOOK: Six must-see matches at 2018 World Cup

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Next year's World Cup sees an old rivalry revived as Spain and Portugal meet in the group stage. Defeat for either 2010 World Cup winner Spain or reigning European champion Portugal means they would need to be careful against fellow Group B nations Morocco and Iran to avoid early elimination. Meanwhile, reigning champion Germany starts its defense against Mexico at Moscow's vast Luzhniki stadium in another centerpiece game. Here are six World Cup group stage games to watch: ___ RUSSIA vs. SAUDI ARABIA June 14, Moscow It may look more like a friendly than a show-stopping World Cup opener, but the first game of the tournament is always special. Ranked 63rd and 65th in the world respectively, the Saudis and Russians are the worst teams in the tournament according to FIFA. At least they're evenly matched, which could make for an exciting spectacle. Saudi Arabia won their only previous meeting 4-2 in a 1993 friendly. ___ PORTUGAL vs. SPAIN June 15, Sochi For many, this will be the game that really kicks off the World Cup in style — Cristiano Ronaldo against Andres Iniesta, the reigning European champion against the 2010 World Cup winner. Spain beat Portugal at the 2010 World Cup, and again in the semifinals of the 2012 European Championship, going on to win the tournament both times. Their World Cup meeting on the Black Sea coast may not be a thriller, though — the 2010 games finished 1-0, and the second was a goalless draw decided on penalties. ___ ICELAND vs. ARGENTINA June 16, Moscow The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup has a huge reward. Lionel Messi's Argentina risks becoming the latest victim of the Icelanders, who beat England and drew with Portugal at last year's European Championship, winning the hearts of neutral fans across the continent along the way. If Argentina drops points, it will be under more pressure to beat tenacious Croatia and Nigeria in its next games. The stadium in Moscow has a capacity of 45,000 — or more than 10 percent of Iceland's population of around 330,000. If last year is anything to go by, there will be a huge exodus of Icelanders heading to Russia. ___ GERMANY vs. MEXICO June 17, Moscow The title defense begins here for Joachim Loew and Germany. The venue — Moscow's 81,000-capacity Luzhniki — befits a world champion, while Mexico brings quality opponents like forward Javier Hernandez and midfielder Giovani dos Santos. Anything less than a win will be a disappointment for Germany, which beat Mexico 4-1 in the Confederations Cup semifinals in June. Germany showed its immense strength in depth by winning that tournament with an experimental team lacking some of its biggest stars. Sweden and South Korea are on hand in Group F to take advantage of any dropped points. ___ SERBIA vs. SWITZERLAND June 22, Kaliningrad Switzerland is a long way from the Balkans, but there could be a Yugoslavian rivalry in Group E. The Swiss have several players of Kosovan and Albanian heritage in their squad, such as midfielders Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, while the coach is Vladimir Petkovic, who comes from a Bosnian Croat background. That won't escape the attention of the Serbian fans, whose games against other Balkan nations routinely require heavy security because of the region's long-running rivalries between ethnic groups. With Brazil the heavyweight in Group E, both teams will likely fight for second place, with Costa Rica also in the mix. ___ ENGLAND vs. BELGIUM June 28, Kaliningrad It's almost an English Premier League game when England meets Belgium in their final group stage game. England coach Gareth Southgate predicts "banter" at various Premier League clubs, thanks to Belgium's Premier League stars like Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku. Belgium's coach Roberto Martinez is a Premier League fixture too from his time with Everton and Wigan. If both England and Belgium have won their preceding games against Panama and Tunisia, the meeting could lose its edge — but if either team risks elimination it will be a crucial fixture......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2017

Eriksson: Azkals semis stint feels like World Cup

  MANILA, Philippines – Having called the shots for England in two World Cups, Philippine team coach Sven-Göran Eriksson shared that steering the Azkals to the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals felt familiar.  "No two games are ever the same but the feeling certainly [the same], whether you go ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2018

Rejuvenated Dutch strike late, into Nations League s Final 4

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The Netherlands' recovery from one of the lowest ebbs in its history continued with a last-gasp qualification for the Final Four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League on Monday. Virgil van Dijk volleyed home a 90th-minute equalizer to seal a dramatic Dutch comeback in a 2-2 draw in Germany, allowing Ronald Koeman's rejuvenated side to top its qualifying group on goal difference ahead of France, and join fellow group winners Portugal, England and Switzerland in a five-day finals competition in June. So instead of seeing Kylian Mbappe, France's new wonderkid and star of the team's World Cup triumph in Russia in July, vying for another piece of international silverware, soccer fans will get to see if the Netherlands truly has turned the corner. The slump of the Dutch has been profound since they finished third at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. They failed to qualify for an enlarged European Championship in 2016 and also didn't make it to the World Cup this year. Three coaches — Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind, and Dick Advocaat — came and went. And with Dutch soccer at club level also in strife, debate swirled as to how one of the long-time heavyweights of the world game could recover. Under Koeman, though, the future of the Oranje looks bright. Youngsters like center midfielder Frenkie de Jong and center back Matthijs de Ligt are regarded as two of the most promising players in the world; Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum have returned to their best form over the last 18 months; and, in Van Dijk, the Netherlands has one of the best defenders around. A rock for Liverpool this season and last, Van Dijk — soccer's most expensive defender following his $99 million move from Southampton in January — sidefooted in a cross from the left to follow up an 84th-minute goal from Quincy Promes that gave the Dutch a glimmer of hope in Gelsenkirchen. The Germans had gone 2-0 up after 19 minutes thanks to Timo Werner's dipping shot from 25 meters and Leroy Sane's deflected effort from just inside the area. They couldn't hold on, though, and finished group play with no wins, just two points, and in something of a crisis. They didn't get out of their group in Russia in a dismal defense of their World Cup title, while relegation to League B of the Nations League — featuring Europe's second-tier teams — had already been confirmed after failing to win any of their first three group games. Germany coach Joachim Loew opted to stay in the job after the World Cup, but is now under mounting pressure. The Nations League, a new competition devised by UEFA to replace unpopular international friendlies with competitive matches between teams of a similar level, appears to have won over the skeptics, and the lineup for the Final Four is intriguing if hardly a marketer's dream. Portugal, which will be playing on home soil, has a superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo who should be back in the team after an extended absence from international soccer since the World Cup. England has Harry Kane, the top scorer at the World Cup, and a talented, dynamic group of young players under forward-thinking coach Gareth Southgate. Switzerland, which hasn't reached a quarterfinal of an international tournament since 1954, will be the outsider. The Netherlands, at No. 15, will be the lowest-ranked team in the competition but should not be discounted. This victory came three days after the team produced one of its best performances in years to beat France 2-0, while it beat Portugal 3-0 in March and Germany by the same score at home in the Nations League. The draw for the Final Four, which comprises of two semifinals and then a third-place playoff and final, will take place in Dublin on Dec. 3. Some other loose ends were tied up in the Nations League, which offers teams a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the Nations League playoffs and compete for the last four qualifying places for Euro 2020. NORWAY, MACEDONIA PROMOTED Norway was promoted to the second-tier League B after finishing top of Group C3 with a 2-0 win at Cyprus. The Norwegians started the final round of group play tied for points with Bulgaria, which could only draw at home to Slovenia 1-1. Macedonia went up to League C after beating Gibraltar 4-0 to top Group D4. Armenia, the only team that could have finished above Macedonia, ended up second after drawing at Liechtenstein 2-2. SLOVAKIA RELEGATED Slovakia was relegated to League C after losing at neighbor Czech Republic 1-0, with Patrik Schick scoring the winner in the first half with a deft lob over the goalkeeper on a counterattack. Denmark was already guaranteed promotion to the top tier and Ireland was sure of being relegated before they drew 0-0 in Aarhus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018

England avenges Croatia WCup loss to get shot at new trophy

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Harry Kane's goalless streak was only five minutes from extending to eight games when the captain finally found the net again for England. As Ben Chilwell floated a free kick into the penalty area, Kane slid in, stretched out his right foot and nudged the ball into the Croatia net. It came four months too late to secure a place for England in the World Cup final. But the World Cup Golden Boot winner ensured England went some way to avenging the Moscow semifinal loss to Croatia by turning the tables with a 2-1 victory at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. While England advanced to the final four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, Croatia was relegated to the second tier. Any doubts about what soccer's newest international competition means to England were dispelled in the relief and glee on Kane's face as he darted toward the crowd in celebration before being leapt on by Jesse Lingard as the Wembley crowd roared. Rarely in the 11 years since English soccer's national stadium was rebuilt has there been such tension for an international game. Not, perhaps, since the opening months when England was beaten by Croatia and denied a place at the 2008 European Championship. "I've never seen (Wembley) like this in an England shirt," the 25-year-old Kane said. "We are going to enjoy it so I hope the fans do too." For a competition that only debuted in September — to replace some largely meaningless friendlies — it has been quickly embraced in soccer's often-cynical heartland. The comeback from such a young side demonstrated a fortitude so often missing from a country that hasn't won a major title since the 1966 World Cup. "The most important thing is the connection with the fans," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "The energy that came back to the team in those difficult moments helped us get over the line." Now England has seven months to contemplate just how meaningful winning the Nations League would be in June. Portugal secured the hosting by winning its group on Saturday. Switzerland sealed the third spot on Sunday night by beating Belgium 5-2, before France or the Netherlands complete the lineup on Monday. "It's another semifinal, two wins away from winning a trophy," Kane said. "We showed that we can beat the big teams. Croatia and Spain are two of the very best in the world. So this is kind of our next step after the summer." Croatian players have said since July that they were inspired in the semifinal by what they perceived as arrogant undertones in the "Football's Coming Home" lyric in the "Three Lions" team anthem. Croatia went on to lose to France in the World Cup final. The song was played immediately after the final whistle on Sunday and even cited by Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic to congratulate England. "It's coming home," Dalic said in his only post-match comments in English. "Very soon." Fatigued after going the distance to beat Spain on Thursday, Croatia was unsettled throughout the first half by England's pace. But Croatia found its stride in the second half, taking the lead after 12 minutes after cutting through England down the right. Josip Brekalo played in Nikola Vlasic, who cut the ball across to Andrej Kramaric. Switching the ball between his feet, the midfielder twisted unchallenged before raising a shot into the roof of the net, via a deflection off Eric Dier's thigh. "We let a soft goal in," Southgate said, "and it is a real test of resilience and patience." The game turned on Southgate's double substitution in the 73rd minute that saw Jadon Sancho and Lingard enter. The impact was felt within five minutes and the set pieces that served England so well on the run to its first World Cup semifinal in 28 years proved decisive again. Joe Gomez's long throw-in was headed down by Kane through the legs of Hrvoje Millic and Lingard tapped in from close range for his second goal in two games after scoring in a 3-0 friendly win against the Unites States on Thursday. At the other end, Lingard came to England's rescue. Domagoj Vida's header had beaten goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but Lingard cleared off line. Parity was maintained but England was still facing relegation from Group A4. Only a win would secure top-tier status and with it a place in the semifinals. For the first time since the last-16 World Cup game against Colombia, and after 747 frustrating minutes, Kane found the target in an England shirt again. "Harry is the best goalscorer in the world," Southgate said. "We have huge belief in him. He is so hungry to lead the team on and further.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Portugal qualifies for finals, Italy earn positives in draw

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press MILAN (AP) — No Cristiano Ronaldo, no problem. Portugal drew with Italy 0-0 on Saturday to pick up the point it needed to qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals and confirm it as host of the first Final Four in June. Ronaldo is taking a break from the national team and wasn't present at San Siro, just as he wasn't in Portugal's first two Nations League matches — both of which they won. "There's a lot of satisfaction at having reached the final phase," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "It was a difficult match, much more than we thought it would be. When we had the ball it was difficult to build and that was merit to Italy and demerit to us. Italy had a great game." Poland has already been assured of finishing last in Group A3 and will be relegated to League B, and Italy will finish second. However, a year after Italian football's darkest moment, there are positive signs for the Azzurri. Italy dominated and had the better of the chances in front of a packed crowd in Milan but ended with a sixth successive home draw. The Azzurri have also scored only twice in four matches in the competition — but only conceded as many. "I don't think there's so many problems up front, it's a question of five centimeters here, 10 there," Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. The Azzurri almost took the lead as early as the fifth minute. Lorenzo Insigne unleashed a scorcher from distance which Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio did well to bat away, and Ciro Immobile fired the rebound over from point-blank range. There was a lot of good interplay from the hosts with crisp, efficient passing in the best performance seen by an Italy side in a long time. It was a far cry from Italy's last match at San Siro, when it drew with Sweden 0-0 last November and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. "Little by little we'll manage to sort out the attack, too," Mancini said. "Having so much possession in their half is something very significant. We're a step further ahead than we thought we'd be. We have to resolve this small problem (of scoring) but we will." The fans are also starting to fall back in love with the Azzurri, with 73,000 spectators at San Siro. LEAGUE B Sweden kept alive its hopes of promotion with a 1-0 victory at Turkey, which was relegated to League C. Andreas Granqvist netted the only goal with a second-half penalty after Okay Yokuslu brought down Marcus Berg. Sweden will be promoted on Tuesday if it beats Russia, which leads Group B2. LEAGUE C Scotland will win Group C1 if it beats Israel on Tuesday following a 4-0 victory over 10-man Albania in Tirana. Ryan Fraser scored his first international goal shortly before Albania captain Mergim Mavraj was sent off. Steven Fletcher doubled Scotland's tally from the penalty spot, and James Forrest netted a second-half double. Serbia beat Montenegro 2-1 despite Aleksandar Mitrovic missing a penalty and will win Group C4 if it beats Lithuania on Tuesday. Mitrovic scored Serbia's second, two minutes after Adem Ljajic opened the scoring, before chipping over from the spot. Lithuania lost 3-0 at Romania, which will go up if it beats Montenegro and Serbia fails to win. LEAGUE D Kosovo beat Malta 5-0 and Azerbaijan beat the Faroe Islands 2-0. The teams set up a winner-takes-all clash when they meet on Tuesday in Group D3, although a draw would be enough for Kosovo. The Nations League also offers a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the playoffs to compete for the last four qualifying places......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

Croatia beats Spain 3-2 to throw open Nations League group

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Defender Tin Jedvaj scored his second goal of the game in injury time to earn Croatia a 3-2 win over Spain on Thursday, a result that left both teams and group rival England still in the running to reach the UEFA Nations League finals. Croatia's win came two months after it was crushed 6-0 by Spain, its worst ever loss, in Seville. Spain is top of League A, Group 4 with six points. England and Croatia have four points before they meet at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. The group winner advances to the Final Four tournament in June. With Croatia needing a victory to keep its hopes alive, the World Cup runner-up pinned Spain in its area in the final moments and Jedvaj scored on the rebound after goalkeeper David de Gea had blocked a shot. Earlier, Andrej Kramaric opened the scoring for the home team in the 54th minute, only for Dani Ceballos to equalize two minutes later. Croatia went back ahead in the 69th when Jedvaj headed in a cross from Luka Modric, but Sergio Ramos leveled for Spain with a penalty eight minutes later after Sime Vrsaljko handled. The team that finishes bottom of the group will be relegated to League B......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2018

Former England manager set to coach Philippine Azkals in Suzuki Cup

The Philippine Azkals make a major adjustment with just a couple of weeks to go before the start of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.  Team Manager Dan Palami announced during Saturday's  AFF Suzuki Cup Trophy Tour in Manila that legendary coach and manager Sven-Goran Eriksson will be coming on board as the Philippine Men's National Football team as coach.  "He will be a great addition to the team and I'm sure that the players will learn a lot from him," said Palami. "He will be working together with interim coach Scott Cooper." The announcement comes months after the surprising exit of former English football great Terry Butcher, who was initially tapped to take over the head coaching duties.  Eriksson's tenure will last at least six months. "This is one of the moves that we've done in order for us to do better in this edition of the Suzuki Cup," Palami continued.  A native of Sunne, Sweden, the 70-year old Eriksson began his managerial career back in 1977 and has handled club teams such as Roma, Manchester City, and Leicester City, as well as national squads such as England, Mexico, and the Ivory Coast.  Eriksson is best known for leading England to the two World Cup stints in 2002 and 2006.  He is coming off a stint with Chinese football club Shenzen FC.  "Fortunately, I was able to sell to Sven the dream of Philippine football," Palami said further, "He’s been there, he’s done it. I think it's beyond any financial relation, he’s not about that." "He believes in the legacy the can leave behind in the Philippines and in Asia. The Philippines is a very good bed for his time and effort. I’m glad that he agreed after several exchanges of emails. We also met in Qatar. We’re looking forward to him coming over to the team," Palami added.  Eriksson is expected to join the team when they begin training camp on November 3rd.  The Azkals fly to Bacolod on November0 7th, six days before they begin their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign on November 13th against Singapore at the Panaad Park and Stadium......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 27th, 2018

ASIAN GAMES BY THE NUMBERS: Hello darkness, my old friend

The dreaded Korean curse continues to live on. Gilas Pilipinas suffered another demoralizing defeat at the hands of its greatest basketball rivals, this time in the 2018 Asian Games. This latest showdown pretty much followed the script we're all familiar with as South Korea's hot shooting from deep ended up being our downfall in the end. [Related: ASIAN GAMES: The curse lives as Korea beats Gilas Pilipinas again] But of course, there's more to our loss than just Korea shooting an insane amount of three-point shots. We'll try to break all of that down here before the Philippines tries to salvage 5th place in the Jakarta games.   56 Total years the Korean curse in the Asian Games has been going on. With today's loss, that number will stretch to 60 as our next chance will be in the 2022 Games. The last time the Philippines beat South Korea in the Asian Games was in 1962. Don't believe anyone who tells you the Korean curse is not real.   1 Total number of wins by the Philippines against South Korea in their last 10 games in a major tournament. The game we won was that memorable home stand in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships to advance to the 2014 FIBA World Cup. That was five years ago. Last 10 Philippines-Korea games in major tournaments: Advantage Korea #AsianGames | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/Emf8Td5MhY — Paul Kennedy Lintag (@paullintag8) August 27, 2018   25 Total points for Jordan Clarkson for Gilas Pilipinas against South Korea. Safe to say, Clarkson has delivered in his intial stint for Team Philippines. The Fil-am combo guard has delivered everything except a win. Jordan is currently 0-2 for Gilas, losing to China and South Korea.     15 Total points for Jordan Clarkson in the third quarter against South Korea. Just like the China game, Clarkson struggled in the first half before exploding in the third, giving the Philippines a lead as hig as eight against the Koreans. But just like the China game, Clarkson and the rest of Gilas faltered in the fourth and the Koreans take this win on to the semifinals of the Asian Games. No medal for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games. The Philippines needs one win to surpass its finish from 2014 and two wins to take 5th place. Jordan Clarkson (25 pts vs. KOR) is still looking for his first win with Gilas 📸 Associated Press #AsianGames | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/XoDrvSzYHb — Paul Kennedy Lintag (@paullintag8) August 27, 2018 18 Total offensive rebounds for South Korea against Gilas Pilipinas. The Philippines actually didn't do that bad in the rebounding department, losing the entire battle by a total of five rebounds. However, the Koreans had possessions in the second half where they had anywhere from 3-5 attempts at the basket. That certainly helped with their rhythm a little bit and the reigning Asian Games champions started to hit shots in the fourth period, leading to another win over the Philippines.   24 Total number of three-point shots made for both teams. Gilas and Korea each hit 12 treys and the Philippines actually shot better at 41 percent compared to 35 percent for the Koreans. Three-point story South Korea: 12/34 Gilas Pilipinas: 12/29 #AsianGames | @abscbnsports — Paul Kennedy Lintag (@paullintag8) August 27, 2018 Does that count as a win?   3 Total number of three-pointers for Korean reserve Jeon Junbeom, all in the fourth quarter. Jeon didn't play meaningful minutes until the second half and he ended up being the dagger that broke the heart of Gilas. The Korean shooter first drilled a transition three to start the fourth quarter before a corner strike gave the Koreans a 77-70 lead with 5:16 left. The final shot came with exactly two minutes to go as a booming straightaway three pushed Korea up, 89-76.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

Japan beats Spain 3-1 to win Women s Under-20 World Cup

VANNES, France (AP) — Japan upset Spain 3-1 in the final to win the Women's Under-20 World Cup for the first time on Friday. Hinata Miyazawa, Saori Takarada and Fuka Nagano put their side in a commanding position before Candela Andujar claimed a consolation goal for the Spaniards in the 71st minute. Spain, who beat Japan 1-0 in the group stages on Aug. 9, was without suspended Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati after she was sent off in the semifinal victory over host France. Earlier on Friday, France lost 4-2 on penalties to England in the third-place decider after their game finished 1-1 following extra time. France will also host the Women's World Cup next June......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

Atletico beats Real Madrid 4-2 after extra time in Super Cup

By Frank Griffiths, Associated Press TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Atletico Madrid finally got the better of Real Madrid on the European stage, scoring twice in extra time to win 4-2 in the UEFA Super Cup final on Wednesday in its rival's first game without Cristiano Ronaldo. Atletico got off to a flying start with Diego Costa scoring the competition's fastest goal just 50 seconds in, but Madrid came back to take a 2-1 lead as Los Blancos tried to prove they can still win trophies without Ronaldo and with a new coach. But Costa equalized late in the match with his second goal before Saul Niguez and Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion sealed the victory in extra time on a cool night in Estonia's capital. Atletico's victory over its crosstown rival had added significance after it lost two Champions League finals to Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Diego Simeone's team was also eliminated by Madrid in the 2017 semifinals. "I'm elated," Costa said. "Real Madrid has always beaten us in these finals. It was our turn to win a final." The loss leaves new Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui still having to prove that there is life after Ronaldo, who scored 450 goals in 438 matches before joining Juventus this summer and helped lead the club to three straight Champions League titles. "I'm sad. I'm frustrated. It's a final that we lost," Lopetegui said. "But I also know that we will have to wake up and prepare ourselves for our first league match and start the season on the right foot." Gareth Bale showed glimpses of his pace and skill, but couldn't mimic Ronaldo's ability to decide a game on his own. Instead, Costa was the one who dominated at the Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn. He overpowered Madrid's center backs in the first minute after a long ball from Stefan Savic, first winning a header against Sergio Ramos and then muscling past Raphael Varane to cut into the area where he beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas at the near post. Karim Benzema equalized in the 27th minute, heading in a pinpoint cross from Bale, who was able to break away from Lucas Hernandez on the right and curl the ball into his fellow forward's path. Bale, who was given a freer role than he's used to, caused trouble for Atletico's defense in the first half as he switched between wings. He was Madrid's main creative spark at that point, with his teammates constantly trying to feed him the ball. He faded in the second half, but Lopetegui was pleased with Bale's performance. "Gareth has played very good. In this moment of the season, all the players are not in the best physical way," the coach said. "We are happy with his performance and we hope he's going to put in deserved performances in the next matches." Sergio Ramos scored a penalty in the 63rd minute after Juanfran Torres handled in the area as the ball flew over him from a corner. Juanfran made up for it in the 79th by taking the ball off Marcelo near the touchline and then passing to Angel Correa. The substitute then skipped past a couple of Madrid defenders and cut the ball back from the byline to Costa, who poked the ball into the roof of the net. In extra time, substitute Thomas Partey set up the decisive goal when he stripped the ball off Varane and played a one-two with Costa before dribbling toward the byline. Partey then cut the ball back to Saul Niguez, who volleyed the ball first-time to send the ball past Navas to make it 3-2 in the 98th. Koke finished Madrid off with a cool finish in the 104th. Lopetegui, who joined Madrid in controversial fashion and was fired as Spain coach just before the World Cup, will need to show that he can build on the success of predecessor Zidedane Zidane and can win with new tactics. At times, Madrid looked uncomfortable playing under the new possession-based system and seemed to miss Ronaldo's flair and proficiency. "We need to improve on the all the phases of the team," Lopetegui said. "We don't like to make mistakes." Madrid had to play without new goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, as the former Atletico player didn't even dress for the match. Spanish media reports said the team didn't register him in time with UEFA following his transfer from Chelsea. For Atletico, the victory gives the team a boost before the season starts, Simeone said. "The club is growing. We have a new stadium," he said. "We have players who want to join us, players who don't want to leave us. I think this speaks volumes.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

Sloane Stephens reaches Rogers Cup semifinals

MONTREAL (AP) — U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens romped into the Rogers Cup semifinals Friday, beating Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-2. The 25-year-old Stephens, ranked No. 3 in the world, won a hard-court title in Miami in March and lost the French Open final to top-ranked Simona Halep. In the semifinals, the American will face fifth-seeded defending champion Elina Svitolina or 14th-seeded Elise Mertens. Preparing for the U.S. Open, Stephens also reached the event semifinals last year in Toronto. "When you're playing good matches in big tournaments like this, I don't think it's peaking too soon. It's just getting confidence and playing good tennis," Stephens said. "Leading up to the U.S. Open, obviously last year it worked pretty well." The top-seeded Halep advanced with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over sixth-seeded Caroline Garcia. Halep will face 15th-seeded Ashleigh Barty, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Kiki Bertens. Sevastova, ranked 19th, won last month in Bucharest......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2018