Advertisements


France and Belgium fight it out for World Cup final place

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia – France will unleash the attacking talents of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann against Eden Hazard's gifted Belgium side in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, July 10, with a place in the World Cup final at stake. The semifinal matchup of the European neighbors promises to be full of ........»»

Category: newsSource: rappler rapplerJul 10th, 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

Germany s struggles continue with loss to France

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press GENEVA (AP) — Germany is out of contention for another international trophy after France handed Joachim Loew's struggling team its latest loss on Tuesday. The balance of power in European soccer is swinging even further away from the 2014 World Cup champion since its poor title defense in Russia. World Cup winner France rallied for a 2-1 win in the UEFA Nations League against Germany, which fell to a fourth loss in its last six competitive games. The result means Germany, eliminated in the World Cup group stage in Russia, cannot advance to the Final Four tournament in June for the Nations League top-tier group winners. Germany wasted its first-half dominance at Stade de France, having led via a 14th-minute penalty from Toni Kroos. Antoine Griezmann struck twice in the second half — a precisely guided header in the 62nd and a penalty in the 80th — to take France's unbeaten streak to 15 games and extend its lead in Group 1 of League A. Germany also risks an embarrassing relegation to the second-tier League B when it finishes the group program against the Netherlands on Nov. 19. Elsewhere in the Nations League, Ukraine won promotion to League A by beating the Czech Republic 1-0 in Group 1 of the second tier. Ukraine, coached by former star forward Andriy Shevchenko, also improved its chances of qualifying for the 2020 European Championship. Nations League group winners are assured of a place in the playoffs for the Euros, if they don't qualify directly. UEFA created the Nations League to replace most international friendly games, though Belgium's schedule was free Tuesday to host the neighboring Netherlands in a 1-1 draw in Brussels. France was overrun for a period in the first half after Germany converted a penalty that followed midfielder Paul Pogba being dispossessed too easily in his own half. German winger Leroy Sane was sent clear and his low cross hit the arm of defender Presnel Kimpembe. France drew level when left-back Lucas Hernandez crossed for his Atletico Madrid teammate Griezmann to guide a rising header beyond goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's dive. Griezmann later wrong-footed Neuer from the penalty spot after a foul was called on defender Mats Hummels against midfielder Blaise Matuidi. Television replays showed Matuidi appeared to stand on Hummels' ankle sliding into the challenge, but UEFA is not using video review in its competitions this season. UKRAINE UP A third straight win for Ukraine ensured it became the first League B team promoted into the top tier for the next edition of the Nations League. Ruslan Malinovskyi's long-distance shot in the first half was enough to beat the Czechs in Kharkiv. Wales now leads Group 4 in League B after beating Ireland 1-0 in Dublin through Harry Wilson's second-half free kick. Wales hosts Denmark on Nov. 16. In League C, Norway now leads Bulgaria in the four-team Group 4 after beating the Bulgarians 1-0 in Oslo. Slovenia staved off relegation by drawing 1-1 with Cyprus in a game featuring three red cards. GEORGIA PROMOTED Georgia ensured promotion from League De with its fourth straight win, 3-0 at Latvia, ensuring it will win Group 1. The No. 93-ranked Georgians will also have a chance to advance to Euro 2020. One of the fourth-tier League D teams is sure to reach the Euro through the playoff route for Nations League group winners. Gibraltar earned just its second ever competitive victory, beating visiting Liechtenstein 2-1. Gibraltar also closed to within three points of Group 4 leader Macedonia which lost its perfect record in a 4-0 loss at Armenia. The final rounds of Nations League games are played Nov. 15-20. The Euro 2020 qualifying draw, seeded by Nations League standings, will be held Dec. 2 in Dublin......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2018

Stewart, Wilson propel US to 100-88 win over China

By Doug Feinberg, Associated Press SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Spain (AP) — After a quiet first half, Breanna Stewart felt she needed to be more assertive on both ends of the court. She certainly made her presence felt in the final 20 minutes. Stewart scored 21 of her 23 points in the second half and A'ja Wilson added 20 points to help the United States beat China 100-88 on Sunday in the second day of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup. "I needed to be more aggressive. There were a few things that I could have done better — defense and rebounding. Focus on that and the offense comes," Stewart said. China trailed only 36-35 midway through the second quarter as the U.S. was still trying to figure out a lineup that worked on offense and defense. The Americans then closed the half on a 12-4 burst. Wilson had six points during the run. Layshia Clarendon, who played a few minutes in the first game, also provided a spark off the bench in the spurt. She had two points, two assists and two rebounds. The Chinese team hung around in the third quarter and trailed 60-54 before Stewart, who played in China the past few winters, took over. She scored nine of the next 11 points and China couldn't get within seven the rest of the way. "She was trailing a lot, and obviously the defense sucked down. The post players did a great job rim running," U.S. coach Dawn Staley said. "That left Stewie wide open at the top of key and she took advantage of them time and again. That's what we come to expect, Stewie like things. We needed her to be that way to give us some separation and widen our lead in the third quarter." The Americans were still missing Brittney Griner, who suffered a slight sprain of her right ankle in practice Friday. Griner said after the win over Senegal she would have played if it was an elimination game. China was able to exploit the lack of Griner with its own 6-foot-9 center Han Xu. Han showed an impressive array of post moves as well as a deft touch from 10 feet. The 18-year-old finished with 20 points and left to a warm ovation from the crowd with 20 seconds left. "Coach encouraged us to play with confidence. The U.S. is a very good team. We just went out and enjoyed ourselves," said China guard Shao Ting, who had 10 points. The Chinese team, which is the youngest in the tournament with the average age 23 years, lost to the U.S. by 43 points in the 2016 Olympics. The U.S. (2-0) hasn't lost to China (1-1) in six meetings in the World Cup. The Americans won the first five meetings by an average of 25.8 points. The victory was the Americans' 18th in a row in the tournament and 43rd in the past 44 games in the World Cup. The only blemish over the past 20 years was a loss to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup. Sunday's game came on the 12th anniversary of that loss. CHINA CONNECTION: Many of the U.S. players have competed in China in the offseason. Stewart, Griner, Morgan Tuck, Jewell Loyd and Tina Charles all have spent time there. Wilson will be headed there this year. "You're having some of the top WNBA players going over there to China and showing them the standards of what we put ourselves through," Stewart said. RECOVERING: Elena Delle Donne played only 3 ½ minutes on Sunday. She suffered a bone bruise in the WNBA playoffs and is still recovering. She said that she and Staley would talk before each game to discuss how she was feeling. Delle Donne said after the game the back to back was difficult. SCOREBOARD: It was a great day for Africa with both Senegal and Nigeria winning. It's the first time in the history of the tournament that an African team won a pool play game, let alone two. Senegal beat Latvia 70-69 and Nigeria edged Turkey 74-68. In other games, Canada beat South Korea 82-63; Australia routed Argentina 84-43; Japan edged Belgium 77-75 in OT; France beat Greece 75-71 and Spain topped Puerto Rico 78-53. UP NEXT China: Will face Senegal on Tuesday with second place in the group at stake. U.S.: Will face Latvia on Tuesday looking to continue its dominance......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 24th, 2018

WORLD CUP KICKOFF: A look at the World Cup’s final day

MOSCOW (AP) — Here’s a look at what’s coming up at the World Cup , which is down to its final day, featuring the title match Sunday in Moscow between France and Croatia. PUTIN REAPPEARS The Russian president has kept a fairly low profile at the World Cup considering he’s more or less the man behind the tournament. Vladimir Putin attended the opening match a month ago in Moscow, a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia that kicked off a surprising quarterfinal run for the home team. That’s evidently the only soccer he’s seen in person, though he has hosted a handful of events involving FIFA officials in and around Red Square, including a Saturday evening concert at the Bolshoi Theater. Putin was to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Sunday ahead of the final, then attend the match at Luzhniki Stadium a short drive from the Kremlin before heading off to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Finland on Monday. WORLD CUP-CLASS ENTERTAINMENT If Putin is into Puerto Rican pop, he’s in for a treat. The tournament’s official song, “Live It Up,” has showed up at World Cup stadiums about as often as Putin himself. It will be showcased Sunday when Will Smith joins singers Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi in performing it during the closing ceremony. The song is innocuous enough, but that doesn’t mean some controversy couldn’t crop up. Though the three avoided anything sensitive during their news conference this week, Istrefi has ruffled feathers in the past on a topic that caused problems earlier in the tournament: An ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, she upset some conservative Serbs last year when she shot a music video inside an Orthodox Church. FIFA fined several Swiss players, also ethnic Albanians, who made pro-Albania symbols with their hands in a comeback win over Serbia in the group stage. WHO’LL TAKE HOME THE HARDWARE England’s Harry Kane has six goals to his credit, making him a near lock to win the Golden Boot , awarded to the tournament’s top scorer. The awards based on judgment calls are more up in the air. Croatia midfielder Luka Modric is a good bet to be named player of the tournament if he plays well again and Croatia wins. But the Golden Ball could just as easily go to Kylian Mbappe or Antoine Griezmann if France triumphs. Best goalkeeper? Maybe the toughest call of all. The two playing Sunday — France captain Hugo Lloris and Croatian sensation Danijel Subasic — and England’s Jordan Pickford all have strong cases in a tournament where several ’keepers have excelled. OH, AND THAT OTHER TROPHY Will France win its second World Cup, or Croatia its first? That could come down to the Croats’ stamina. No team has played three extra-time matches in the same World Cup, as Croatia has done in its past three contests. Moreover, France has had one more day to prepare because its semifinal preceded Croatia’s. “An extra 24 hours is a really big thing at this stage of the tournament,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez noted Saturday, allowing for what edge his side might’ve had in its 2-0 win over England in the third-place match. On the other hand, Croatia has defied logic on this once already. It was faced with a fast, younger, relatively rested team in its semifinal against England, just as it is against France. After going down a goal, the Croats steadily grew stronger, controlling the game and beating opponents to the ball as if they were the ones with fresh legs, finally getting the winner in extra time. France will be favored for a lot of other good reasons , but another upset shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been watching Croatia or the rest of this upset-filled World Cup. Catch the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Final between France and Croatia on July 15, Sunday, 11 PM LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD and via livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 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

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

Russia is lowest-ranked team in draw for its home World Cup

ZURICH (AP) — Russia will be the lowest-ranked team in the draw for the World Cup it is hosting after Peru sealed the last qualifying spot. FIFA uses its October rankings for the Dec. 1 draw in Moscow, which means No. 65 Russia is two places below Saudi Arabia, which will be lowest-ranked nation in the pot of fourth-seeded teams. Despite the rankings, Russia will be the top seed in Group A — the status FIFA gives all World Cup host nations. The No. 10-ranked Peru clinched the last place in the 32-team tournament when it beat No. 122 New Zealand in an intercontinental playoff late Wednesday in Lima. Peru's win pushed No. 38 Serbia down into the fourth-seeded pot as a dangerous outlier. Serbia is likely to be drawn in a tough group with Brazil or Argentina, the only top-seeded teams from outside Europe. FIFA limits each of the four-team groups to a maximum of two European teams. No two teams from any other continental confederation can be drawn together Potentially tough draws could group Brazil, Spain, Egypt and Serbia, and Germany with England, Costa Rica and Nigeria. FIFA has changed how it allocates teams in the draw and now uses rankings alone for all four pots. At previous World Cups, only pot 1 was for seeded teams, and the other three pots were decided by a geographical spread. Russia will play the tournament opener on June 14. The 2018 World Cup final will be held on July 15. Both showpiece games are at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. ___ World Cup draw seedings (FIFA ranking in October): Pot 1: Russia (65), Germany (1), Brazil (2), Portugal (3), Argentina (4), Belgium (5), Poland (6), France (7). Pot 2: Spain (8), Peru (10), Switzerland (11), England (12), Colombia (13), Mexico (16), Uruguay (17), Croatia (18). Pot 3: Denmark (19), Iceland (21), Costa Rica (22), Sweden (25), Tunisia (28), Egypt (30), Senegal (32), Iran (34). Pot 4: Serbia (38), Nigeria (41), Australia (43), Japan (44), Morocco (48), Panama (49), South Korea (62), Saudi Arabia (63)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 16th, 2017

Still alive: Teams chasing World Cup spots through playoffs

A look at the lineup of teams in the intercontinental and European playoffs for the 2018 World Cup in Russia: ___ em> strong>EUROPEAN PLAYOFFS (matches to be confirmed) /strong> /em> strong>ITALY /strong> Four-time world champion Italy will be favored to qualify no matter which opponent it faces, yet the Azzurri aren't in top form after four discouraging results — a 3-0 loss to Spain, slim 1-0 wins over Israel and Albania, and a 1-1 draw with Macedonia. However, the expected returns from injury of center forward Andrea Belotti and veteran midfielder Daniele De Rossi could provide a boost. The playoff outcome will likely determine the future of Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura. Milan's San Siro or Palermo's Renzo Barbera stadium are being considered to host the home leg of the playoff. strong>CROATIA /strong> Croatia finds itself in familiar territory. Led by playmaker Luka Modric and other high-profile players in Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, the Croatians faced the same hurdle before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, eliminating Iceland 2-0 on aggregate. In this campaign, Croatia was on course to qualify automatically from the first place before two poor results — a 1-0 loss in Turkey and a 1-1 draw at home to Finland. Those results cost coach Ante Cacic his job. Under new coach Zlatko Dalic, Croatia won a needed 2-0 victory at Ukraine to seal a playoff spot behind Iceland. strong>SWITZERLAND /strong> Switzerland was perfect in World Cup qualifying for more than one year: Nine games, nine wins. Now coach Vladimir Petkovic must lift his players after a 2-0 loss in Portugal on Tuesday sent them to the playoffs, where the best runner-up record counts for little except being seeded. The Swiss have a reputation for being an efficient team in group-stage games that falls just short against good opponents in elimination games. They lost to Argentina at the 2014 World Cup, and Poland at Euro 2016. Their opponents next month are likely to be below that class, and Petkovic can expect that forward Breel Embolo — a substitute in Lisbon — will be fully fit after a one-year injury absence. strong>DENMARK /strong> There's a chance Denmark could face neighbor Sweden, which denied the Danes a spot in the 2016 European Championship by winning their playoff. Christian Eriksen is the undoubted star of the Denmark team, the playmaker having been one of the best players in the English Premier League over the last two years and scoring eight times from midfield in qualifying. Denmark was second to Poland in its group, only missing out on automatic qualification in the final round. strong>GREECE /strong> Reaching the playoffs came as a relief for Greece's players and coach Michael Skibbe following an embarrassing qualification campaign for Euro 2016, when the team was twice beaten by the Faeroe Islands and finished last in the group. An obdurate defense was again the key to earning a runner-up spot, nine points behind Belgium, with Skibbe struggling to find stability in midfield and a strike partner for Kostas Mitroglou. The German coach may look forward to the development of 21-year-old Tassos Donis, who provided some badly needed pace in midfield, as well as the talents of the Portuguese-born Carlos Zeca. strong>SWEDEN /strong> Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist says he'd prefer to not play Italy or Scandinavian archrival Denmark and would rather face Croatia or Switzerland. Sweden, for example, has never beaten Italy in the last 17 years. Sweden finished behind France in its group, but ahead of the Netherlands, in its first qualifying campaign without retired striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Marcus Berg has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's leading striker and scored eight times in the qualifying. strong>IRELAND /strong> This will be Ireland's ninth time in the playoffs for a major tournament. The Irish have progressed on three occasions, with their most high-profile failure coming against France in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup when Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball in the build-up to the crucial goal. In the final round of group play, Ireland beat Wales in Cardiff in a virtual playoff for the playoffs. Coach Martin O'Neill's counterattacking tactics worked perfectly in that 1-0 win and it would be no surprise if he does the same in the playoffs. strong>NORTHERN IRELAND /strong> After reaching the knockout stage at Euro 2016, the Northern Irish continued their rise in international soccer by finishing runner-up behind Germany in their group. They have never been to back-to-back major tournaments. There's no chance of a potentially spicy match against neighbor Ireland, as both are set to be among the non-seeded teams after the seedings are confirmed on Monday. ___ em> strong>INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYOFFS /strong> /em> strong>HONDURAS vs. AUSTRALIA /strong> Both countries have been regulars in recent World Cups, with Honduras looking to make it for a third straight tournament and Australia seeking a fourth in a row. Los Catrachos — as the Honduras national team is nicknamed — were squeezed out of an automatic place in Russia by Panama, which scored a late winner in a dramatic denouement to qualifying in the CONCACAF region. Asian Cup champion Australia had its chances to qualify directly, but failed to capitalize on a glut of scoring chances in the last group game against Thailand and ended up finishing in third spot behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. The Socceroos then beat Syria 2-1 after extra time to clinch the two-legged Asian playoff, but only after Syria hit the post with a free kick in the last moments of the second leg. The Australians were most recently in an inter-confederation playoff in 2006, when they ousted Uruguay over two legs. strong>PERU vs. NEW ZEALAND /strong> On New Zealand's side is a more recent appearance at the World Cup — going through the group stage in 2010 unbeaten but still being eliminated — and a first taste of Russia by qualifying for the Confederations Cup in June. But more than a 100 places separate New Zealand and Peru in the FIFA rankings. While New Zealand is at No. 113, Peru has surged to 12th as it chases a first visit to the World Cup since 1982. Peru claimed fifth place in the tough South American qualifying group to set up the intercontinental play-off that will be played over two legs on Nov. 6 and 14. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Juventus beats Inter 1-0 to open up 11-point lead in Serie A

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Mario Mandzukic often scores important goals and he did so again as he helped Juventus to a 1-0 win over title rival Inter Milan in the Derby d'Italia on Friday. The imposing Croatia striker headed home in the 66th minute after Inter had missed a couple of golden opportunities as Juventus continued its seemingly unstoppable march to an eighth successive Serie A title. Juventus has an 11-point lead over second-placed Napoli, which hosts lowly Frosinone on Saturday. Third-place Inter is now 14 points behind Juventus. Paulo Dybala had the first chance of the match but headed Cristano Ronaldo's cross over the bar after drifting into the penalty area. Inter had two great chances in quick succession. Mauro Icardi did well to hold the ball up and pick out a good run from an unmarked Roberto Gagliardini, but his scuffed finish came off the inside of the right post. Moments later Icardi and Ivan Perisic both went for a Matteo Politano cross and ended up colliding with each other. Juventus began to take control and Marcelo Brozovic had to desperately slide in to block Rodrigo Bentancur's effort. Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini scored his first goal in two years in last week's 3-0 win at Fiorentina and he almost got another one but he headed the resulting corner narrowly over. Juventus finally broke the deadlock when former Inter midfielder Joao Cancelo put in a delightful cross from the left for Mandzukic — who netted in the World Cup final defeat to France — to nod in at the far post. There was more positive news for Juventus as midfielder Emre Can came on late on for his first appearance for the Bianconeri since Oct. 6, having undergone surgery to have a thyroid nodule removed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 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

France lose top spot to Belgium in FIFA rankings

World Cup winners France dropped one place to second in the FIFA rankings on Thursday as Belgium moved up to claim top spot. England and Uruguay were the only other movers in the top 10, Gareth Southgate's men moving up one place to fifth and Uruguay moving the other way, to sixth. Elsewhere, lowly Gibraltar was rewarded for recent wins over Armenia and Liechtenstein by moving up eight places to 190th. FIFA rankings as of October 25: 1. Belgium 2. France (-1 place) 3. Brazil 4. Croatia 5. England (+1) 6. Uruguay (- 1) 7. Portugal 8. Switzerland 9. Spain 10. Denmark...Keep on reading: France lose top spot to Belgium in FIFA rankings.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 25th, 2018

Taurasi scores 26, helps US reach World Cup gold-medal game

By Doug Feinberg, Associated Press SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA LAGUNA, Spain (AP) — Just as it has done for most of the tournament, the U.S. used a big third quarter keyed by Diana Taurarsi and Breanna Stewart to pull away from an opponent. This time, it was Belgium, whose one-point halftime deficit turned into 16 by the end of the third period. Taurasi finished with 26 points, including hitting five 3-pointers, to help the U.S. win 93-77 on Saturday in the semifinals of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup. "We got some stops, they are a really good team. They've been playing together for a long time, you can tell," Taurasi said of the third quarter in which the U.S. outscored Belgium 33-18. "We got a couple more stops, we made a couple more plays on offense, wore them down a little bit." Breanna Stewart added 20 points while Brittney Griner had 16 for the Americans, who will be going for a third straight gold medal at the worlds — something the country has never done. "That's what we're here for," said Elena Delle Donne, who is on her first World Cup team. The U.S. has won 21 consecutive World Cup games and will play Australia for the title Sunday. The U.S. has won all 17 meetings between the teams, including a 10-0 mark in the World Cup. Belgium, making its first appearance in the World Cup, was led by Emma Meesseman's 23 points. The Belgians already had surpassed their goal of reaching the quarterfinals. A bronze medal would be an excellent achievement. "I don't know who is going to play us," Meesseman said. "I know we're going to give all we have left." Belgium hung around for 25 minutes thanks to Meesseman and solid outside shooting. The score was 52-52 midway through the third quarter before the U.S. closed the period with a 21-5 run. Griner, Stewart and Jewell Loyd keyed the spurt. Belgium came no closer than 14 the rest of the way. Meesseman got her team going early, scoring 13 points in the opening quarter as Belgium shot 56 percent to lead 26-21 after one quarter. The U.S. rallied behind Taurasi and Elena Delle Donne, who had seven points in the second quarter to give the Americans a 40-39 halftime lead. HELPER MARK: Sue Bird is now one assist shy of matching Dawn Staley's career mark of 103 for USA Basketball at the World Cup. She had seven against Belgium to match her best-ever in the Worlds. Staley, when hearing that Bird was one assist away, joked that "she's not playing." Bird was honored to have a shot at her coach's mark. "I think anytime you can break a record, it's one of those things later, when it's all said and done, you have a true appreciation. This one is a little different when it is someone like Dawn who's holding it." MILESTONE REACHED: The U.S. scored the 10,000th point in its World Cup history on the first basket of the game by Griner. No other team is close. "If I ever go on jeopardy they will say Brittney Griner scored the 10,000th point," she said laughing. "That's awesome. That's a lot of scoring for the USA. TIP-INS: Taurasi was two points short of matching her World Cup high of 28 set against Brazil in 2006. SKIPPING THE WNBA SEASON: Meesseman decided to train with the Belgium team all year instead of playing for the Washington Mystics in the WNBA this past season. She didn't second-guess her decision when the Mystics made the WNBA Finals for the first time. She was thrilled for her teammates — Delle Donne among them — but was happy with her choice to train. SCOREBOARD: Australia beat Spain 72-66; China topped Canada 62-58 and will meet France for fifth place. France beat Nigeria 84-62. Nigeria and Canada will play for seventh. UP NEXT: Belgium: Bronze-medal game against Spain. U.S.: Gold-medal game against Australia......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2018

Hamilton denies Ferrari a home win at Italian GP

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press MONZA, Italy (AP) — For Ferrari, the wait continues. For Lewis Hamilton, it was a dream race. Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday after starting third on the grid to extend his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel following an opening-lap collision with the German driver that effectively ended his chances of victory. Ferrari had been hopeful of ending an eight-year wait for a win at its home track after taking the front two places on the grid at the Italian GP for the first time since 2000. However, pole-sitter Raikkonen was overtaken by Hamilton eight laps from the end and the Mercedes driver held on, much to the disappointment of the passionate Italian tifosi fans. "Today was so difficult. Whilst the negativity is never great, that's what powered me along. I actually accept it," Hamilton said after getting roundly booed on the podium. Hamilton, who said he rated the win as among the top performances of his career, tied Michael Schumacher's record of five Italian GP victories and extended his overall lead to 30 points over Vettel "Disappointed but there was nothing I could do," said Raikkonen, who struggled with a tire problem in the final few laps. Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, ahead of Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who received a five-second penalty. The 33-year-old Hamilton pinpointed the collision with Vettel as the decisive moment of the race. "That was definitely a very, very key moment, getting past him was the immediate goal ... my race is not really with Kimi, it's with Sebastian. However, I do need to get past Kimi at the same time," Hamilton said. "Getting past Sebastian at the beginning was clearly a massive turning point. That definitely took a lot of pressure off ... I could just focus on Kimi for the whole race. We had a couple of good battles." Vettel had cut the gap at the top of the standings to 17 points with victory at last weekend's Belgium GP. Hamilton put his rival under pressure from the start but Vettel pulled clear and was alongside Raikkonen into the first corner. Hamilton had another go on the outside heading into the second chicane, inching ahead of Vettel when they made contact, causing Vettel to spin and lose part of his front wing. The safety car was deployed and Vettel was forced into the pits for a new wing, coming out 18th. Both drivers complained on team radio but an investigation decided that no further action was necessary. "Obviously I guess Lewis saw his chance but he didn't leave me any room so I got spun around and couldn't avoid what happened," said Vettel. "It could have been the other way, which would have been nicer for us, but wasn't and I was facing the wrong way. "We did well to come back given the damage that we had." There are seven races left on the calendar, including the Singapore GP on Sept. 16 — on a track which suits Ferrari. "There are many points to win back now in the championship, but we still have time to improve and we have the margin to recover," Vettel said. Moments after the safety car came in on lap four, Hamilton swiftly overtook Raikkonen on the straight but gave the lead back almost immediately at the second chicane. Meanwhile, Vettel was powering through the field and had made it back into the top 10 by lap 15 and was up to fifth nine laps later. But the German's hopes of getting onto the podium were diminished when he was forced to make another pit stop and came out 10th. Raikkonen pitted from the lead at the end of lap 20 and came out fourth, behind Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen. Hamilton waited until the end of lap 28 to come in for fresh tires, handing the lead to Bottas who was ahead of a charging Raikkonen. Hamilton emerged third and, with his teammate holding up Raikkonen, the British driver was able to close the gap. When Bottas eventually pitted at the end of lap 36, the fight was on, with Raikkonen holding a one-second advantage over Hamilton. A few laps later Hamilton struck, coming around the outside of Raikkonen on turn one at the end of the straight to overtake the Finn and never looked back. Behind them there was a scrap for third place culminating at the first chicane when Verstappen appeared to move into Bottas, forcing the Finnish driver onto an escape road. Verstappen was furious when told he had been given a five-second penalty for his role in the incident on team radio, swearing and adding: "They're doing a great job of killing racing, honestly.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 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

Vive la France! And a lot of other nations, too

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Antoine Griezmann's father emigrated from Germany, and the France forward's mother is of Portuguese decent. Paul Pogba's parents arrived from Guinea. Kylian Mbappe's dad is from Cameroon, his mom Algerian. Immigrants, sons of immigrants and grandsons of immigrants bonded together with scions of families that have been French for generations, all for the rouge, blanc et bleu. And for only the second time, France is the World Cup champion. About two-thirds of Les Bleus' roster included players with immigrant backgrounds, a mini-United Nations of soccer talent. "That is the France that we love," Griezmann said through a translator after Sunday's 4-2 victory over Croatia ended the most exciting World Cup final in decades. "It's beautiful to see it." Griezmann's free kick was headed in by Mario Manduzkic for the opening own-goal in the 18th minute, and then he converted a penalty kick for a 2-1 lead in the 38th after video review spotted a handball by Ivan Perisic. Mbappe's speed led to the third goal in the 59th . He added a goal of his own in the 65th , at 19 becoming the second-youngest scorer in a World Cup final behind 17-year-old Pele in 1958. Vive la diversite! A day after Bastille Day, the party was on. "The diversity of the squad is in the image of this beautiful country that is France," midfielder Blaise Matuidi, whose parents are from Angola and Congo, said through a translator ahead of the match. France won on a humid night in Russia, with thunderclaps during play and a downpour during the trophy presentation. Quite different from that indelible summer evening at Stade de France in 1998, when fans in the arena and throughout Paris sang "La Marseillaise" until dawn and young teenagers drove cars while their intoxicated parents sat in passenger seats. People called that team "Black, Blanc, Beur," noting how white, black and North African players came together. Zinedine Zidane, a son of Algerians, headed in a pair of first-half corner kicks against heavily favored Brazil. Patrick Vieira, born in Senegal, fed Normand-born Emmanuel Petit for the third in the 3-0 win. This year's team was perhaps even more diverse. Defender Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon and backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in Zaire. Others descended from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Mococco and Senegal, plus Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. "There may be players who come from different origins, but we do have the same state of mind," Griezmann said. "We all play for the same jersey, the cockerel. For our country, we give everything we have. As soon as you wear the jersey, we do everything for each other." He scored the go-ahead goal after the first video review-created penalty kick in a World Cup final. During a delay of about four minutes that might have unnerved less-composed players. Griezmann told himself to pretend it was a league match. "Carry on and do the same thing as I normally do," he remembered thinking. At 27, he in his prime but in the penumbra of Spanish soccer at Atletico Madrid, toiling in a league that Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate. He led the 2016 European Championship with six goals and tied for second with four at the World Cup, three on penalty kicks, earning the Bronze Ball as third-best player behind Croatia midfielder Luka Modric and Belgium forward Eden Hazard. Griezmann kissed the trophy, knowing his generation will be revered in the same way Zidane, Petit, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez remain renowned from Calais to Cannes. "From tonight on, I'm sorry for them, but they are going to be different," coach Didier Deschamps said. "Those 23 players will be linked forever, forever. Whatever happens — they might follow different paths, but they will be marked forever and they will be together thanks to this event." Griezmann, man of the match in a World Cup final, will be on posters throughout the republic, asked for endorsements, a mainstay of commercials. He will asked for autographs for the rest of his life. "I'm going to be in the history of French football with my team," Griezmann said. "We don't quite realize it yet. Our children will very proud to have our names.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

Golden generation completes Belgium s best World Cup finish

  SAINT PERERSBURG, Russia – Belgium achieved its best World Cup finish as goals from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard secured a 2-0 victory over England in the 3rd-place playoff in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, July 14. Meunier, who missed the semifinal loss to France due to suspension, scored after just ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

World Cup™ Final: France v Croatia to air live on S+A, Liga on Sunday

Filipinos will watch with the entire world as France and Croatia battle for football supremacy in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with the live broadcast of the competition’s final match this Sunday (July 15) at 11 pm on ABS-CBN S+A on free TV and LIGA on cable, with livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com. The Battle for Third between England and Belgium will also be aired and streamed live this Saturday (July 14) at 10 pm. Both matches will be shown on high definition on S+A HD and LIGA HD. France took the first spot in the final after beating Belgium last Wednesday (July 11) with the score of 1-0 courtesy of Samuel Umtiti’s second-half header. Croatia followed suit on Thursday (July 12) with Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic leading them to a comeback victory in extra time over England, which scored early in the match off Kieran Trippier’s free kick. Local football fans and Philippine-based football aficionados have been able to watch and follow the action in the biggest single-event sporting event in the world through official broadcasters S+A and LIGA, sports channels of ABS-CBN, the country’s leading media and entertainment company. ABS-CBN Sports head Dino Laurena said offering this world-class tournament to the Filipino audience is part of the organization’s advocacy to promote sports development in the country. “Football is the most popular sport in the world where some of the greatest athletes in history have played and are currently playing. We believe that Filipinos have the talent to make a mark in this sport and we hope that through exposing our viewers to topnotch football action, we also encourage them to learn to love what is known all over the globe as the beautiful game,” he said. Don’t miss the Battle for Third between Belgium and England at this Saturday (July 14) at 10 pm and the World Cup Final between France and Croatia followed by the Awarding Ceremony on Sunday (July 15) at 11 pm LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and via livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/2018FIFAWorldCup. For more information and stories, visit ABS-CBN’s sports hub sports.abs-cbn.com and follow ABS-CBN Sports on Facebook and Twitter. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — A famous song lyric neatly describes the upbeat feeling around England's rejuvenated national soccer team. It's not "football's coming home." Instead, try the old punk rock line: "If the kids are united, they will never be defeated." The positive emotions of England's young players are evident toward coach Gareth Southgate despite the 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time in the World Cup semifinals. "You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," 20-year-old forward Marcus Rashford wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. You’ve brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/2meUAFlIN5 — Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2018 Over-achieving in a first major international test for Southgate and many of the squad has banished the anxiety that harmed too many England teams in recent years. Rashford, a sharp and fast second-half substitute in Moscow on Wednesday, is not even the youngest of Southgate's players in Russia. At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed in the Champions League final for Liverpool in May, and weeks later started his first World Cup game, against Belgium. "It has been an honor to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger," Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter early Thursday. Absolutely devastated that our journey is over! We enjoyed every moment as a nation, I’d like to thank all the staff and fans for being behind us. It has been an honour to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger 💔🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/LErwj4QqZm — Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) July 11, 2018 Alexander-Arnold, a quick, right-sided defender, will need to force his way into the team past Kieran Trippier, perhaps the standout success of England's tournament. Trippier delivered world-class corners, crosses and free kicks, including the fifth-minute goal against Croatia that raised hope of a first World Cup final berth since 1966. The Tottenham player gave an emotional endorsement of Southgate, who seems likely to guide England's team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "It all comes from the manager, unbelievable manager for me personally, the way he handles the team," Trippier said at the Luzhniki Stadium. "He sets the tone, he brought this team together." A relatively late bloomer at 27, Trippier is a rare England player who will turn 30 before kickoff in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. The four attackers who started Wednesday, including 24-year-old captain Harry Kane, are between 22 and 25. The heart of the defense — John Stones, Harry Maguire, plus goalkeeper Jordan Pickford — are in the same age bracket. It's a talent pool setting up England as a serious title contender in the coming years. There is still room for envy if England can bear watching the World Cup final on Sunday. In the midfield duels, France fields the elegance and power of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante against Croatia's precise pair of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. There isn't likely to be a Modric-type player in England's team ahead of the 2020 European Championship to help retain the ball, pace the play, and manage the toughest games. Those are the kinds of qualities England needed after halftime against Croatia. "If we're in the position again, we'll be better off because of the experience of what we've just had," said 28-year-old Jordan Henderson, who was Liverpool's captain in that Champions League final loss to Modric and Real Madrid. The incentives are huge. Euro 2020 is being hosted across 12 countries, but England could qualify and be placed in a group based at Wembley Stadium, travel for two knockout rounds, then come home for the semifinals and final at Wembley. "The aim if we're at the Euros in two years' time is to go again," said Kane, who should be Southgate's chosen captain for years to come. Before qualifying starts next March, England is in a fascinating group for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which starts in September. Spain, under new coach Luis Enrique, visits Wembley on Sept. 8. England then travels to face Croatia on Oct. 12. The return games will be completed by November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Croatia coach Dalic traveled hard path to World Cup final

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — In a coaching journey across Croatia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Zlatko Dalic's belief in his own abilities never dimmed. "I used to say, 'Give me a Barcelona or a Real Madrid and I will win titles,'" Dalic recalled Thursday. Such jobs no longer seem so far out of reach, especially if Dalic collects the biggest prize in soccer on Sunday. Croatia will win the World Cup for the first time if Dalic's team can get the better of France and coach Didier Deschamps. Receiving trophies is nothing new for Deschamps. As a player, the midfielder won titles at clubs in France, Italy and England, as well as the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship with France. As a coach, he led France to the Euro 2016 final, losing to Portugal. But the 51-year-old Dalic had a largely unremarkable playing career before switching to coaching in his native Croatia. "In my life I have always taken the harder path, had to fight for everything myself," Dalic said through a translator at Luzhniki Stadium. "I started at the bottom of the ladder." The climb required a leap into the unknown with a move to the Middle East in 2010. "I did not want to stay in Croatia and be a middling coach and to live off handouts," Dalic said. "I went abroad whenever it was possible to find a job." Dalic eventually landed at Al-Hilal, where he won the Saudi Crown Prince Cup, and then reached the Asian Champions League final with Al-Ain. "We cannot sneeze at that. These are major competitions," Dalic said. "This brought me huge experience ... and I built a name for myself. This was a hard path but I believed in myself. When Croatia called, I never had any doubts." The call that ended Dalic's nomadic seven-year journey came last year, when Croatia had a game remaining to salvage qualification. "He is very dedicated to football," Croatian federation president Davor Suker said, "and we gave him the chance." Dalic led Croatia into the World Cup playoffs, where it beat Ukraine over two matches. Now he has taken his country further than ever before in a major soccer competition, eclipsing Suker's semifinalists in 1998. Brand Dalic is growing after Croatia came from behind to beat England 2-1 in the semifinal in Moscow on Wednesday. "The coach has created a special atmosphere," said Croatia defender Dejan Lovren, who plays for Liverpool. "He knows exactly how to interact with players and does it in a unique way." Dalic also relished interacting with the media on Thursday in the stadium where Croatia plays its biggest-ever game on Sunday. The highly ambitious coach used his moment in the spotlight to advertise his credentials. "Nothing was given to me on a plate, unlike some managers in Europe who can be given jobs to manage a big club because of their names as players," Dalic said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Brussels metro blares French World Cup anthem after defeat

Sleep-deprived Belgians were not having a bad dream Wednesday morning: Brussels metros resounded with a French football anthem after Les Bleus qualified for the final of the World Cup. The STIB transport network in Brussels had lost a bet against its Paris counterpart, the RATP, agreeing to play a 2002 song by French rock hero Johnny Hallyday called "Tous Ensemble", if Belgium lost to France in Tuesday's semi-final. With its chorus "We are champions, we are all together, go the Blues", and the recognizable voice of Hallyday, the anthem was played twice across the metro system during rush hour, said Francoise Ledune, spokeswoman for STIB. Belgium's road to humiliation began M...Keep on reading: Brussels metro blares French World Cup anthem after defeat.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018