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From unused sub to scorer, Saul redefines Spanish midfielder

Spain's Saul Niguez, front left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's opening goal during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Spain and Croatia at the Manuel Martin.....»»

Category: newsSource: philippinetimes philippinetimesSep 14th, 2018

Messi has injury scare after scoring 2 goals in Barca draw

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Nothing can silence the Camp Nou crowd like the thought of an injury to Lionel Messi — especially four days before a clash against Real Madrid. So a chill ran through Barcelona's supporters during the Spanish league match against Valencia on Saturday when Messi sat down on the sideline, his right leg stretched before him, and received a massage from a team trainer. Little did it matter that the team's all-time leading scorer had just struck two goals to lead Barcelona back from a two-goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw. Any hint of Messi being sidelined with the season entering its critical phase with titles on the line immediately overshadowed yet another outstanding performance by the Argentine. Messi may have been hurt when Valencia defender Antonio Lato ran into him. The scare comes before Barcelona hosts Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. "Please don't let it be anything serious," Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena said. "We hope he will be back in full form on Wednesday." Coach Ernesto Valverde said Messi was undergoing medical exams. "He is bothered by something, but we will have to wait to see what the doctors say," Valverde said. "I imagine that it is not that bad." Messi missed Barcelona's first clasico against Madrid in October due to a broken right arm. His teammates did fine without him, routing their fierce rival 5-1 and sealing the fate of coach Julen Lopetegui. Madrid, however, is playing much better now. It has won four straight before hosting Alaves on Sunday. Before his fitness put a damper on a thrilling match, Messi extended his scoring run to nine straight games across all competitions. His double took his league-leading tally to 21 goals in 22 rounds. Barcelona's winning streak in la Liga ended at eight matches in a row. It leads second-placed Atletico Madrid by six points before its closest title rival visits Real Betis on Sunday. TRADING BLOWS Valencia took advantage of Sergi Roberto playing out of position as a fill-in left back for Jordi Alba. Daniel Wass led several attacks from Roberto's side, starting with a pass for Dani Parejo to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Denis Chershev put the rebound off the post. Parejo started a move that produced Kevin Gameiro's opener in the 24th minute when he tackled Messi. That sprung a counterattack led by Rodrigo Moreno, who slipped a pass forward to set up Gameiro. Parejo doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Roberto knocked down Wass trying to dispute a cross. Valencia lost Gameiro to injury shortly after when the striker asked to be substituted after being shaken up when he knocked heads with Gerard Pique. Messi got his first goal from the penalty spot in the 39th after Nelson Semedo was fouled by Lato. Messi struck again in the 64th when Arturo Vidal laid the ball off for him on the edge of the area. Messi quickly unleashed a curling, left-foot strike around two defenders, who impeded goalie Neto from seeing the ball until it was too late to react. "We played at a good pace, counterattacked well, scored twice and could have scored more," Parejo said. "The team's performance was magnificent." SEVILLE SLIDE Celta Vigo broke a five-match losing streak and escaped the relegation zone by beating Sevilla 1-0 at home thanks to Okay Yokuslu's second-half goal. Fourth-place Sevilla has won only one of its last six league games. BASQUE DERBY Real Sociedad defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 to deal its northern Basque Country rival its first defeat since the arrival of coach Gaizka Garitano. Garitano had kept Bilbao unbeaten through seven league games since replacing Eduardo Berizzo in December. FAN VIOLENCE Getafe's 0-0 draw at Levante was marred by 11 Getafe fans being arrested for provoking a clash with rival supporters outside the stadium in Valencia. Getafe, which condemned the violence, rose to fifth as the small Madrid-based club continued its impressive season on the field......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 3rd, 2019

Left alone: Alba proving perfect sidekick for Lionel Messi

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — With Lionel Messi wowing fans game after game, it's easy to overlook Jordi Alba, the player who often puts him in position to score so many impressive goals. Alba has become the indispensable sidekick for Barcelona's all-time leading scorer. "Leo and Jordi understand one another perfectly," coach Ernesto Valverde said after Saturday's 2-0 win over Celta Vigo when Alba helped set up both of Barcelona's goals. Alba first passed for Messi to shoot, with a rebound of a save falling to Ousmane Dembele to finish off. Alba then assisted Messi for his league-leading 15th goal of the season. "Their relationship clicks," Valverde said. "Sometimes rivals try to block their passing angles, but Jordi has a great sense of timing. And even though adversaries know it's coming, it continues to work." Alba has been running up and down Barcelona's left flank for seven seasons now, but his importance to his team's attack used to be secondary to the sparkling play of former stars Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. Neymar's exit two summers ago marked a turning point for Alba. With the Brazil forward no longer soaking up all the weight of the attack on Barcelona's left side, Alba was free to fully exploit his speed and passing ability. As Alba told Spanish sports daily Sport in 2017, "now I have the entire left side to myself, and that is much better." Messi often starts his attacks from the right or center of the field to have his preferred left boot set to shoot. That leaves Alba in an ideal position to stretch the defense with carefully timed bursts of speed to break into the area behind the opposition's backline, often after exchanging passes with Messi. The 29-year-old Alba has developed the knack of knowing where Messi will dart to in the box, often behind a dummy run by Luis Suarez, where he can receive Alba's passes in a scoring position. "They are very quick moves against defenses that really close down the open spaces," Alba said after Saturday's strong performance. "But Messi always waits for the opportune moment to find space, and I connect with him." Alba has done his part in ensuring Barcelona went into the Spanish league's winter break with a three-point lead atop the standings. "Most of the passes that I give Messi end up in goal," Alba said. "Leo never misses." ADIOS ATLETICO? Second-placed Atletico Madrid heads toward the winter transfer window with big questions about two of its top young players: France defender Lucas Hernandez and midfielder Thomas Partey. Hernandez has been linked to interest by Bayern Munich in triggering the 80 million euro ($91 million) buyout clause that would free him from his contract. While Atletico has denied that Hernandez wants to leave, coach Diego Simeone appears to accept that he could lose the 22-year-old defender. "Lucas knows what I told him. I love him a lot, we have watched him grow up," Simeone said after Saturday's 1-0 victory over Espanyol. "Let him decide what he thinks is best and I will support him." Thomas, who can play either as a holding midfielder or further up in the formation, has also made it publicly known that he wants to play more. "I have a deep affection for Atletico and I am grateful for all that it has done, as well as for the fans, but sometimes I feel unhappy at Atletico," Thomas said Saturday. LLORENTE'S MOMENT Ignored by previous managers, 23-year-old Marcos Llorente is playing well enough to threaten Casemiro's spot in the starting 11 as Real Madrid's holding midfielder. Llorente has started nine matches since Santiago Solari took over from the fired Julen Lopetegui two months ago, benefiting from Casemiro twisting an ankle. Llorente scored his first goal for Madrid on Saturday when he struck a powerful shot from outside the area to help beat Al Ain 4-1 in Abu Dhabi. Madrid won its third straight Club World Cup. "Life, like football, can change just like that," Llorente said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 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

Messi nets 4 goals to keep Barcelona with perfect record

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi added to his impressive start to the season by scoring four goals and helping Barcelona rout Eibar 6-1 to extend its perfect record in the Spanish league on Tuesday. Messi converted a penalty in the first half and scored three more goals in the second to give Barcelona its fifth straight victory in the league. The Argentina playmaker took his tally to 12 goals in eight matches this season, including nine in the five league games. Messi had already scored a hat trick in Barcelona's 5-0 rout of Espanyol in the Catalan derby two rounds ago. The result gave Barcelona a five-point lead over Sevilla, which hosts Las Palmas on Wednesday. Real Sociedad, six points back, is at Levante on Thursday. Defending champion Real Madrid, seven points behind Barcelona, hosts Real Betis on Wednesday. It has been a rather unexpectedly good start to the season for Barcelona, which began the league amid turmoil after seeing Neymar leave for Paris Saint-Germain and losing the Spanish Super Cup match to Real Madrid. It is the best start to the league for Messi, who in 2011-12 had scored eight goals after five matches. He is the league's leading scorer, with four goals more than Simone Zaza of Valencia, who had a hat trick in a 5-0 rout of Malaga earlier Tuesday. 'He is one of the smartest players I've ever seen on a field,' Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said of Messi. 'You don't really know how, but he is always in good position. He is extraordinary.' It was the fourth time Messi has scored four goals or more with Barcelona. Brazil midfielder Paulinho and Denis Suarez also scored for the Catalan club, while Sergi Enrich netted Eibar's goal. Barcelona was without Ousmane Dembele, who injured his left thigh at the weekend and is expected to be sidelined for up to four months. The young France forward, Barcelona's top signing during the transfer window, traveled to Finland to undergo surgery on a ruptured tendon. He made only three appearances after arriving to replace Neymar. Valverde left Luis Suarez on the bench and started with Gerard Deulofeu, Denis Suarez and Messi as a false '9'' in the attack. Paulinho, the Brazil midfielder who came off the bench to score the winner against Getafe on Saturday, also made it to the starting lineup. 'Today we have been able to rest certain players and give playing time to others who needed to play and it turned out well,' Valverde said. ___ strong>LOSING AGAIN /strong> Valencia won 5-0 with a hat trick by Simone Zaza to hand Malaga its fifth straight loss to start the season. Zaza scored his three goals eight minutes apart early in the second half to give Valencia its first victory after three straight draws and move the club into third place. Forward Santi Mina and Rodrigo also scored for the hosts at Mestalla Stadium.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2017

Red-hot Benzema leads Real Madrid back to Copa semifinals

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — With another great performance by Karim Benzema, Real Madrid secured a comfortable 3-1 win in its visit to Girona on Thursday to reach the Copa del Rey semifinals for the first time in five years. Madrid advanced 7-3 on aggregate having won the first leg 4-2 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium last week. Benzema continued his scoring form by finding the net twice in the first half at Montilivi Stadium. The Frenchman has five goals in his last three matches, with one of the goals coming in the match against Girona in Madrid. He had also scored twice in the team's 4-2 win over Espanyol in the Spanish league on Sunday. Benzema on Thursday reached 209 career goals with Real Madrid, surpassing Hugo Sanchez for sixth-place all-time in the club's list of scoring leaders. Benzema had been among the players targeted by some Madrid fans as the team struggled not long ago, but his recent performances have quieted the critics. "I feel bad for those who only found out about Benzema last week," Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said. "But there is still time to enjoy him. There's no doubt that he is going through a great phase." Benzema scored his first goal on Thursday in the 27th minute with a left-foot shot from inside the area after a pass by Dani Carvajal, then added his second in the 43rd with a curling low shot from close range after being set up by Vinicius Junior. Girona pulled one back through Pedro Porro in the 71st, but midfielder Marcos Llorente sealed Madrid's victory with a shot from outside the area five minutes later. Madrid had been eliminated in the Copa quarterfinals the last two seasons. The last time it had made it to the semifinals was in 2014, when it won its 19th title. "We hadn't made it to this stage in a few years, so we have to enjoy this," Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas said. Girona, in its third season in the first division, was playing in the Copa quarterfinals for the first time. The Catalan club has lost four games in row in all competitions and hasn't won in 11 straight matches. With the comfortable win, Solari was able to rest some of his players, with Benzema among those replaced in the second half. On Wednesday, four-time defending Copa champion Barcelona routed Sevilla 6-1 at home to advance to the semifinals 6-3 on aggregate, while Real Betis defeated visiting Espanyol 3-1 in extra time to reach the last four. On Tuesday, Valencia scored twice in stoppage time to defeat Getafe 3-1 and advance to the semifinals 3-2 on aggregate. The draw for the semifinals will be on Friday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 1st, 2019

Messi scores record 400th goal in Spanish league

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — That's 400 and counting. Lionel Messi took his all-time Spanish league scoring record to 400 goals on Sunday after contributing to a 3-0 win over Eibar to keep defending champion Barcelona comfortably at the top of the Spanish league. Messi scored Barcelona's second goal shortly after halftime to reach a milestone in the competition after 435 league matches. Former Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo is second all-time in La Liga with 311 goals. In all competitions, Barcelona says the 31-year-old Messi has scored an astonishing 575 goals in 658 appearances. "He is from another galaxy," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "They are incredible numbers. But he does much more than score goals, he also does so much to generate scoring chances for others." Barcelona's all-time top scorer got the landmark goal in the 53rd minute after Luis Suarez passed to him inside Eibar's area. The Argentine did the rest by opening an angle around a defender and driving in a low left-footed shot. It was also Messi's league-leading 17th league goal and his 23rd goal overall this season. "He should be proud," said Suarez, who scored Barcelona's other two goals. "Game after game he shows what a great player he is. I am happy for him and for the history that he is writing for this club." Barcelona stayed five points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, which edged Levante 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Antoine Griezmann, as the league reached its midway point. Real Madrid lost Karim Benzema to a right-hand injury in a 2-1 win at Real Betis to stay 10 points back in fourth place. HAPPY SIMEONE After 90-plus minutes of prowling the sideline, yelling at his players and stoking his fans, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone normally hurries off the pitch when the final whistle sounds. But after the victory over Levante, Simeone took time to embrace each of his players — a show of appreciation for their efforts that kept Atletico in the title chase. "I felt the need to hug them," Simeone said. "I congratulated them because they maintained the same level of play throughout the entire match." Despite only scoring one goal, Simeone called it "one of, if not our best, performances of the season." True to Simeone's defense-first approach, Atletico stifled a Levante attack that is among the best in the league. Griezmann did the rest, scoring his team-leading ninth league goal of the season when he fired a spot kick over Levante goalkeeper Oier Olazabal in the 57th minute following a handball by defender Nikola Vukcevic. CEBALLOS TO THE RESCUE Dani Ceballos was greeted with jeers when he went on as a late Real Madrid substitute to face his former club, Real Betis. But he silenced the crowd, and saved his current club from another setback, when he sent a free kick through a gap in the defensive wall to grab the win with two minutes remaining. "I was eager to show what I can do," Ceballos said. Luka Modric struck from distance to open the scoring for Madrid, only for Sergio Canales to equalize in the second half. SEVILLA SLIPS Sevilla lost 2-0 at Athletic Bilbao, ending its unbeaten run in nine rounds. Bilbao forward Inaki Williams scored both goals for the hosts to help lift them out of the relegation zone. Sevilla remained in third place, level on points with Madrid. Sevilla had won 3-1 at Bilbao's San Mames Stadium in the Copa del Rey on Thursday. They will meet again on Wednesday in Seville in the return leg of their round-of-16 game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Fernandinho s absence hurting slumping Man City

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — From a 15-match unbeaten start to three losses in 18 days, Manchester City's title defense in the Premier League has unexpectedly hit a wall. That the slump has coincided with the absence of Fernandinho is surely no coincidence. The defensive midfielder from Brazil has been one of the unsung heroes in Pep Guardiola's remarkable team, providing protection for the defense and a robust platform for its dynamic attacking play. A former box-to-box midfielder, Fernandinho chips in with the odd goal, too. It's only when he's not around that he is really appreciated. City slipped to its first defeat of the season — a 2-0 loss at Chelsea on Dec. 8 — with Fernandinho in the starting lineup, but that was regarded as an anomaly. City dominated the first half at Stamford Bridge, wasting chances before being hit by two second-half goals. He was missing, injured with a thigh injury, when City lost 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace and 2-1 away to Leicester either side of Christmas, when Guardiola's team put in almost unrecognizable displays. And there's a good chance he won't be playing on Sunday when City looks to revive its title challenge at Southampton amid the 20th round of fixtures. City has dropped to third place, seven points behind unbeaten Liverpool and one adrift of Tottenham. Defensively, City has looked fragile in Fernandinho's absence, with his replacements — John Stones, a center back briefly converted to center midfield, and Ilkay Gundogan — not in the Brazilian player's class as a shield for the back four. Whether it's his positioning, his reading of the game or his astutely timed fouls that stop opposition breakaways, Fernandinho is key to the way City balances attack and defense and has been previously described by Guardiola as "a fundamental player for us" and one of the best midfield anchormen. Guardiola wanted a back-up for the 33-year-old in the offseason but failed in a bid to sign Italy international Jorginho, who snubbed City's offer in favor of following Maurizio Sarri from Napoli to Chelsea. City didn't have enough time to land any of its other potential targets — Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers was linked — so went into the season with just one proper holding midfielder. It has proved to be the team's big weakness, relying too much on Fernandinho being fit. Guardiola could turn to Ajax youngster Frenkie De Jong in the next offseason but, more immediately, he will hope Fernandinho returns quickly. The Spanish coach has already reiterated he won't be buying anyone in the January window. Even if Fernandinho has a chance to return for the Southampton game, Guardiola would be wise to make sure he is fully fit for the home match against Liverpool on Thursday, given the significance of that fixture to the title race. One thing going in Guardiola's favor in his most testing spell this season is the return of creative midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva, who could both start at St. Mary's Stadium alongside Gundogan. Fabian Delph, who has been filling in at left back in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy, is suspended after his red card at Leicester, so Oleksandr Zinchenko should start there......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Lionel Messi receives 5th Golden Shoe award for Europe’s top scorer

BARCELONA, Spain --- Lionel Messi received his record fifth Golden Shoe award on Tuesday for leading all of Europe's soccer leagues in scoring last season. Messi's fifth win breaks the tie he had with Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi scored 34 goals in the Spanish league last season to lead Barcelona to the title. Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was the second leading scorer of Europe's domestic leagues with 32 goals in England. Messi also won the award in 2009-10 (34 goals), 2011-12 (50), 2012-13 (46) and 2016-17 (37). The Argentina forward currently leads Europe's top leagues with 14 goals this season. "I love football, but when I started I didn't expect all this. My dream w...Keep on reading: Lionel Messi receives 5th Golden Shoe award for Europe’s top scorer.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 18th, 2018

Atletico, Barcelona, Sevilla power through in Copa

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid was so poor in the first half against fourth-division visitor Sant Andreu that a shock Copa del Rey elimination wasn't a far-fetched possibility on Wednesday. But three goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second period guided Atletico's second-string team to a 4-0 victory at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Barcelona and Sevilla also beat lower division clubs, while Villarreal recorded an 8-0 rout of second tier Almeria with four goals by Cameroon striker Karl Toko-Ekambi. Thomas Lemar scored for Atletico in the 48th minute, Nikola Kalinic in the 53rd, Angel Correa in the 55th and Victor "Vitolo" Machin in the 81st to secure Diego Simeone's team a place in the last 16 following a 5-0 aggregate victory. "We struggled in the first half. We weren't able to play with quick transitions," said Simeone after his 400th Atletico match. "Everything changed in the second half. After the first goal the team played more freely." Atletico was without Diego Costa because of injury, while Antoine Griezmann and several other regular starters were rested by Simeone, who was banned from the bench as he served the second of a three-game suspension following a rant in a Copa match against Sevilla last season. Substitute Lemar went on at halftime and was key for Atletico, opening the scoring with a right-footed shot from outside the area. Kalinic added a header and Correa produced a fine finish with the outside of his right foot. Vitolo's goal from close range came after a pass by Saul Niguez. BARCELONA BOOST Barcelona advanced 5-1 on aggregate after its reserves cruised past third division Cultural Leonesa 4-1 at Camp Nou Stadium. Denis Suarez scored a goal in each half while Munir El Haddadi and Malcom were on target before halftime. Josep Sene netted in the second period for Cultural, the club owned by the Qatari state. Barcelona midfielder Ricard "Riqui" Puig, 19, set up one of Suarez's goals on his debut. "It was a dream come true," Puig said. "I used to come to this stadium when I was three." Malcom went off in the final minutes with an apparent knee injury. TOKO-EKAMBI'S NIGHT Toko-Ekambi became the first Villarreal player to score four goals in a match this century, leading the club to an 11-3 aggregate win. He netted three times in the first half and once in the second. Carlos Bacca scored twice, while Gerard Moreno and Dani Raba added a goal each. TOP-TIER CLASHES In all first-division ties, Girona came from behind to defeat Alaves 2-1 and advance 4-3 on aggregate, while Real Sociedad beat Celta Vigo 2-0 to go through 3-1 overall. Alaves struck first at Montilivi Stadium in Catalonia with an own-goal by Pedro Alcala in the 62nd minute, but the hosts rallied through Alex Granell in the 74th and Cristian "Portu" Portugues in the 79th to reach the last 16 for the first time. Sociedad sunk Celta with two superb goals by Mikel Oyarzabal and Adnan Januzaj. Oyarzabal netted in the 10th with a booming long-range shot into the top corner, and Januzaj scored in the 27th with a curling strike. OTHER RESULTS Sevilla edged third division Villanovense 1-0 to advance following a 0-0 first-leg draw. Andre Silva scored the winner early in the second half, converting the rebound after missing a penalty. Valladolid came from behind to defeat second tier Mallorca 2-1 and progress 4-2 on aggregate......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 6th, 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

Real Madrid fires coach Lopetegui after big loss to Barca

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — In just months, Julen Lopetegui has lost two of the most high-profile coaching jobs in the world. Lopetegui was finally fired by Real Madrid on Monday, less than five months after he was sacked by Spain before the World Cup for not telling federation officials he accepted the Madrid job. The latest firing followed a meeting by the club's board of directors on Monday, a day after the team was crushed by Barcelona 5-1 at Camp Nou Stadium. Santiago Solari, coach of Real Madrid B, will take charge for the Copa del Rey match against third-division club Melilla on Wednesday. Spanish media speculated Solari, a former Madrid player, was in the running for the permanent job along with former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Belgium manager Roberto Martinez. The firing caps a horrible few months for Lopetegui and is likely to deal a significant setback to his career. After doing well with Spain's youth teams, he had a lackluster stint with Portuguese club Porto, but gained prominence after revamping Spain and turning it into a contender entering the World Cup. "I want to thank the club for the opportunity it gave me and the players for their effort," Lopetegui told the local news agency EFE. "I wish the team the best for the rest of the season." Madrid said in a statement it sacked 52-year-old Lopetegui to "change the team's dynamic while all of its objectives for the season were still reachable." The board of directors believed there was a huge difference between the quality of the squad and the results it was achieving. The board noted the team has eight players nominated for the Ballon d'Or award, something unprecedented in the club's history. They have lost five of their last seven matches. "We know that results are important for a coach," Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said after the Barcelona match. Lopetegui, who led the team practice on Monday morning, was hired by Madrid to replace Zinedine Zidane, who quit after leading the club to the last three Champions League titles. Losing the clasico left Madrid ninth in the Spanish league, seven points behind leader Barcelona after 10 rounds. It hasn't won in five straight league matches, with four losses, and recently reached its worst scoring drought ever. The club had a decent start to the season but things went sour as the squad struggled to produce goals in its first season without Cristiano Ronaldo in nearly a decade. Madrid didn't replace the superstar; its only high-profile signing was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. In 14 matches with Lopetegui, Madrid won six, lost six, and drew two. After the Copa match on Wednesday, Madrid hosts Valladolid in the Spanish league, and visits Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League. "We have to move on as soon as possible because there is a lot of season left," Ramos said. To make things worse, veteran left back Marcelo is expected to be out for a few weeks because of a muscle injury. Forward Mariano Diaz is also injured and is likely to be out for at least a week. Solari, aged 42, is a former Argentina midfielder who played for Real Madrid in the early 2000s and helped the team win the 2002 Champions League. He also played for Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan. He has been coaching Real Madrid B since 2016, taking over not long after Zidane left to coach the main squad. Lopetegui is the second La Liga coach to be fired. The first was Leo Franco of promoted club Huesca, currently last in the 20-team standings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

With Messi out, Suarez takes leadership role for Barcelona

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Even though it ended up a blowout, there was a moment in Barcelona's 5-1 win over Real Madrid on Sunday when the result seemed in the balance. Madrid had just pulled a goal back after overcoming the control Barcelona had imposed to take a 2-0 lead into halftime, and the hosts didn't have Lionel Messi to come to the rescue. That was when Luis Suarez stepped up to add two more goals to his first-half penalty to complete a hat trick that has placed Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui's job in serious peril. "Almost every season I score against Madrid," Suarez said. "They came out of the restart going for the match. They pressured us a lot and had chances to draw level. We scored the third goal and took advantage of our speed and the open space to wrap it up." His second goal was a superb header, as he powered a soft lob from Sergi Roberto past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. That goal came when his teammates were under pressure after Marcelo had scored and Luka Modric hit the post. Suarez also showed quality marksmanship on his penalty, driving it just inside the post and the diving Courtois, as well as fine finishing to chip in his third goal. "He scored three goals today, but the work of Luis is always there," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. As work goes, Suarez multitasks. The Uruguayan bumps and battles with opposing defenders, makes runs to free up teammates, offers an outlet up front, and helps form part of Barcelona's intricate passing attack. Suarez dedicated his first goal to his family by lifting his shirt up to reveal a T-shirt with a image of this three children on it. "This week my third child was born and her siblings wanted to come with me today, since mommy and Lauti are watching from home," Suarez said. The 31-year-old Suarez has scored nine times in 11 matches against Madrid since joining the Spanish champions after he left Liverpool following his biting of an Italy defender in the 2014 World Cup. Since then, Suarez has been on his best behavior, and become one of the club's veteran leaders. Suarez scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Madrid that helped Barcelona secure the league title late in the 2014-15 season. The next season he scored twice in a 4-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu that Messi also missed. He netted in a 1-1 draw with Madrid in 2016-17, and also in a 3-0 win at Madrid and a 2-2 draw at home last season. But the Uruguay striker has been especially important recently with Messi on the sidelines. Since Messi broke his arm in the first half against Sevilla on Oct. 20, Barcelona has outscored its opponents 9-3, including four goals by Suarez. Messi went down while Barcelona was leading Sevilla 2-0. Suarez immediately stepped up by scoring a third goal in an eventual 4-2 victory. He set the tone against Inter Milan in the Champions League last week, assisting Rafinha for the opening goal of a 2-0 win. But Suarez had saved his best for Sunday night, when he fueled a lopsided win that Barcelona's fans will savor. THE RIGHT MOVES Madrid's comeback attempt was triggered by Lopetegui sending on Lucas Vazquez as a right back at the start of the second half. Lethargic until then, Madrid surged forward in waves and Vazquez helped start the move that led to Marcelo's goal. Valverde then made three moves that all contributed directly to goals by catching Madrid off-balance in defense. Valverde swapped Rafinha for right back Nelson Semedo, which allowed him to move Roberto into attack. The versatile Roberto created three scoring chances for Suarez. Valverde also sent on forward Ousmane Dembele and midfielder Arturo Vidal. Dembele dribbled free in the area and crossed for Vidal to head in the fifth goal to complete Madrid's humiliation. "I thought we needed players who could use their speed because we no longer had the control we had in the first half," Valverde said. "The back-and-forth was risky. Sergi helped us get out on the attack.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Paco Alcacer making most of 2nd chance with Spain

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Close to seeing his career stagnate, Paco Alcacer is making the most of a second chance to become Spain's top striker. Alcacer scored twice in his first appearance for Spain in two-and-a-half years to lead a 4-1 away win at Wales in a friendly last week. On Monday, the former Barcelona player will likely feature again when Spain hosts England in Seville seeking a second win over Gareth Southgate's team in the incipient Nations League. "I'm happy that I was able to help the team by doing what we strikers are supposed to, which is provide goals," Alcacer said after Thursday's match in Cardiff. "I just have to keep this good dynamic going." The 25-year-old Alcacer has been rejuvenated since leaving Barcelona on loan for Borussia Dortmund in August, a turnaround that has ended a hiatus from Spain's national team that was in danger of becoming a permanent adios. Previous to his two goals for Spain against Wales, Alcacer had scored seven times in a four-match scoring run for Dortmund. That streak included netting a spectacular hat trick that he completed on the last kick of the game for a 4-3 win over Augsburg. Ironically, Alcacer's slide toward oblivion at Barcelona began under current Spain coach Luis Enrique when he was condemned to a reserve role behind the superstar trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in 2016-17. Not even Neymar's departure at the start of last season changed the situation at Camp Nou for Alcacer. Favoring other players, new coach Ernesto Valverde gave him fewer appearances than Luis Enrique. So Alcacer decided that his best option was to leave Spain and try his luck in Germany. And it turned out that Alcacer just needed a chance to play. With his brace against Wales, Alcacer showed his leading quality as a striker. He is not the fastest, the strongest, nor the slickest passer; he is a pure goal scorer who excels at putting one-touch shots in-between the posts. Against Wales, Alcacer fired a rising right-footed shot into the near corner for the lead— and his first goal with Spain since Oct. 2015. He then put the win beyond doubt by poaching a clearance in the area to make it 3-0. "Alcacer is playing superbly because he is on a scoring streak, but overall his attitude has been marvelous," said Luis Enrique, who called Alcacer up to fill the void left by the injured Diego Costa. Alcacer was not supposed to need a comeback story. Four years ago, former Spain manager Vicente del Bosque considered Alcacer, along with Alvaro Morata, as his strikers of the future. The then Valencia player led Spain in qualifying for the 2016 European championship with five goals, but when he struggled to score for his club in the run-up to the tournament Del Bosque dropped him from his squad. Banished to the bench following his move to Barcelona from Valencia, Alcacer was also ignored by Julen Lopetegui in his two-year tenure that took Spain to last summer's World Cup. Circumstances, however, have put Alcacer in good position to now succeed for "La Roja." While competition remains fierce in the positions of midfielder and playmaker for Spain, the striker job is up for grabs. Long gone are the days when David Villa and Fernando Torres flourished up front for the 2010 world champions, as both Costa and Morata have failed to show they can be counted on for goals. Alcacer said that he had been preparing for this return to his best form. "It's about several things," he said, "about getting on a hot streak, about self-confidence, about having playing time, and, above all, about working each day when you are not playing so you can be ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2018

Madrid and Atletico draw in derby, Barcelona stays ahead

Real Madrid's Raphael Varane, top right, goes for a header with Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez, top left, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at t.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsOct 1st, 2018

Liz Cambage emotional after win over Spain

By Doug Feinberg, Associated Press SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA LAGUNA, Spain (AP) — Liz Cambage teared up as the final seconds ran off the clock and Australia was set to advance to the gold medal game of the Women's Basketball World Cup for the first time since 2006. Getting this far, she finally feels validated. "This is the furthest I've been at this level. I've never played a gold medal game at this level," Cambage said choking up. "I've also carried a little bit of a weight on my shoulders for eight years. My first world, we didn't even medal. It was the worst the Opals had done. The next Olympics we got bronze, the girls had never done it before. I felt I was bad luck for the Australia team. It's not a nice feeling. This is the furthest I've been at this level. I'm proud of myself and proud of these girls." Cambage was the biggest reason why they've reached the gold medal game. She had 33 points and 15 rebounds to lead Australia to a 72-66 win over Spain on Saturday. Trailing 58-50 to start the fourth quarter, Australia scored the first nine points of the period, including six by Cambage to take a 59-58 lead. The teams went back and forth over the next few minutes. Spain led 64-61 with 4:01 left before Cambage converted a three-point play to tie the game. That started an 11-2 run to close the game. As the clock wound down, Australia was celebrating. Australia will play the U.S. trying to win its second gold medal ever. The Opals won the gold in 2006 — the last time the Americans didn't win. "What we're chasing, you dream of as little girls," Cambage said. "I watched Penny Taylor and Lauren Jackson win that medal (in 2006). It's been a battle for all these years. We have such a strong group. Anyone can win on any given day." It will take a tremendous effort by the Australians to knock off the U.S. Australia is 0-17 against the U.S. in the World Cup and Olympics, including going 0-10 in the worlds. "It is a big challenge, one we're looking forward to," Australia coach Sandy Brondello said. "I believe in this team. One game, anyone can beat anyone. We have to play at our best. We need all 12 players playing at our best. USA is the favorites and we'll give it our best shot, hopefully that's good enough." The Australians will need another huge game from Cambage, who is the leading scorer in the tournament. She might not have the Spanish crowd to fire her up in the gold medal game. The 6-foot-8 center was enemy No. 1 of the Spanish fans in their semifinal on Saturday night — a role she relished. After getting a foul in the first half, she cupped her hand to her ear to get them to jeer louder. When she blocked a shot in the fourth quarter, Cambage pounded her chest to the fans on the baseline which drew an unsportsmanlike foul call from the officials. "I got to do my thing. I got to play the bad guy tonight," Cambage said smiling. "I always said Kanye's line 'scream from the haters' has a nice ring to it. I loved being booed I don't know if I need to see a psychologist about that. Having the crowd against me is something that has always picked me up. I don't know what it is. I've been getting it since I was a kid.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2018

Madrid and Atletico draw in derby, Barcelona stays ahead

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Barcelona is getting some help from its rivals to stay ahead in the Spanish league despite falling into its worst slump in two years. The defending champion failed to win for the third straight game on Saturday, being held by Athletic Bilbao to 1-1 at home. But it was enough to retain its lead after Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid couldn't manage more than 0-0 in the derby at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Real Madrid hasn't won in two consecutive games, being unable to take advantage of Barcelona's struggles. Atletico has won two in a row, but hasn't reached the top because of a poor start. Real Madrid and Barcelona are tied on points, one more than Sevilla, and two more than Atletico, which extended its unbeaten streak in league matches at the Bernabeu to six. Sevilla moved up after defeating Eibar 3-1 in a match marked by the collapse of a railing that left a few fans injured as they fell onto the pitch while celebrating a goal. DERBY DRAW The Madrid derby ended with goalkeepers Jan Oblak and Thibaut Courtois getting the better of the attackers in the few times the teams got near the goal. "I'm not satisfied with the result because we deserved the victory," Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui said. "We created some clear scoring chances." The loudest celebration by Real Madrid fans came when Brazilian teenage sensation Vinicius Junior made his first-team debut, but he entered in the final minutes and didn't do much. Lopetegui couldn't count on left back Marcelo and midfielder Francisco "Isco" Alarcon because of injuries. Gareth Bale was replaced at halftime with an apparent injury. "It was a difficult match, as it always is when we play here," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "We were better in the first half but in the end it was a fair result." Atletico beat Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup final in the beginning of the season. BARCELONA'S STRUGGLES Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde put Messi in the game early in the second half, but the playmaker couldn't rally the team to victory. He did set up an 84th-minute equalizer by Munir El Haddadi, but it was already too late. Athletic, winless since the first round, opened the scoring before halftime through Oscar De Marco. Sergio Busquets also was rested ahead of Barcelona's Champions League match at Tottenham on Wednesday. He entered the match early in the second half to replace the injured Sergi Roberto. "We have the squad and players to remain strong without depending on only one player," Messi said. "We have to improve on many things, but this is just the beginning, the league is very long." Messi said Barcelona has to stop "conceding goals in every match." The team has conceded five goals in its last three matches, and eight in total in the league this season. RAILING COLLAPSE Sevilla followed its 3-0 rout of Real Madrid with a 3-1 win at Eibar, a match that had to be stopped for a few minutes in the second half because fans fell onto the pitch when a railing collapsed. Some fans were carried away on stretchers, although local media said no serious injuries were immediately reported. WINLESS NO MORE Valencia's winless streak is finally over. A first-half goal by Kevin Gameiro — and a second-half penalty kick save by goalkeeper Neto — gave Valencia its first win in eight matches in all competitions. It was the fifth winless game for Sociedad in the last six league rounds, keeping the Basque Country club near the middle of the table. Sociedad has yet to win at its renovated Anoeta Stadium this season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2018

Hertha hands Bayern a 2-0 defeat on Niko Kovac s return

By CIARAN FAHEY,  Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — Hertha Berlin defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 in the Bundesliga on Friday, dealing its former player Niko Kovac his first loss as coach of the German champion. Kovac was part of Hertha's midfield with Pal Dardai - who is now Hertha's coach - from 2003 to 2006. Dardai outwitted him this time, as veteran forward Vedad Ibisevic and league top-scorer Ondrej Duda struck in the first half to hand Bayern its first defeat in all competitions this season. "We deserved to win," a beaming Dardai said after securing Hertha's first win over Bayern since 2009. "We scored nice goals at important times." It was also the second consecutive league game that Bayern dropped points, after Augsburg struck late to snatch a 1-1 draw on Tuesday. "We don't have to start making everything bad now," Kovac said defiantly. "We'll see that we're successful again in the next games." The win moved Hertha level on 13 points with Bayern, which leads on goal difference but can be overtaken after this weekend's games. The 34-year-old Ibisevic rewarded the home side's promising start when he converted a penalty in the 23rd minute. Defender Jerome Boateng - also back at his former club - conceded it by bringing down Salomon Kalou with a careless challenge, after Manuel Neuer made a brilliant save to deny Ibisevic's initial header. Bayern responded with more pressure. Joshua Kimmich did brilliantly to elude defender Karim Rekik with a flick, only for teammate Franck Ribery to block his goal-bound shot. Just before the break, Kalou played in Valentino Lazaro, who cut the ball back for Duda to rifle in under the bar. It was the Slovakia midfielder's fifth goal of the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2018

Montreal making a (big) move as MLS season winds down

By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer   The North is making noise in the East. And no, it's not Toronto FC. The Montreal Impact are unexpectedly in the MLS playoff picture after a steady climb up the standings. The Impact plummeted to second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference in the 12th week of the season. But they currently sit in sixth — and just above the line for postseason contention. They're five points in front of seventh-place D.C. United, their opponent on Saturday at Audi Field. "I think the confidence in the guys is only growing, and we're really coming together over what we know we're capable of," said forward Quincy Amarikwa, who was acquired in August. After failing to make the playoffs last season — a year after reaching the Eastern Conference finals — the Impact dismissed coach Mauro Biello. Additionally, four players retired, including fan favorite Patrice Bernier and Andres Romero. Laurent Ciman was traded to LAFC. Former Aston Villa manager Remi Garde was hired as head coach and first team director of player personnel to restart the club. The Impact also added central midfielder Saphir Taider, who played for three seasons with Bologna. The results came slowly and the Impact lost 11 of their first 15 games. The team was overly dependent on veteran midfielder Ignacio Piatti. The turnaround has included eight wins and four draws in the last 15 matches, including last week's 1-1 draw against NYCFC that denied New York City a chance to clinch a spot in the playoffs. The team started September with a decisive 3-0 victory at home over the Red Bulls followed by a 4-1 road victory over the Philadelphia Union. Garde, however, spent last week warning that Montreal should not be complacent. "Right now we're getting a lot of praise. Probably too much. Yes, the team has improved a lot this year," Garde said. "But in this league, praise is useless when a couple of bad results can change everything." The Impact have four matches left — two home and two away — to secure their postseason spot. For comparison's sake, Toronto FC won the MLS Cup last season and currently sit in ninth place in the East, out of the current playoff picture. The Vancouver Whitecaps are in the eighth spot in the West, and on Tuesday dismissed coach Carl Robinson.   GAME OF THE WEEK: Kind of a no-brainer, but the top two teams in the East, Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls, meet Sunday at Red Bull Arena. An Atlanta victory would cement the Union's spot in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. And it's always fun to watch Josef Martinez, who already broken the league's single-season goal record and now has 30 and counting. Atlanta is also closing in on the single-season points record. With 63 points and four games to go, the United are within reach of Toronto FC's record of 69 set last season. The Red Bulls won't have top goal-scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips because of yellow card accumulation.   PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Philadelphia Union forward Jay Simpson earned Player of the Week honors after scoring both goals in Philadelphia's 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City last Sunday. It was Simpson's first start of the season.   ROBINSON OUT: The Whitecaps surprised many with the dismissal of coach Robinson before the season had wrapped up. Vancouver is outside playoff contention with five games left. The move came Tuesday following Sunday's 2-1 loss at home to FC Dallas. The Whitecaps players were told before practice. Kendall Waston told reporters afterward he was unhappy with the decision. "I was thinking five games to go, if it was the right moment. Personally, I don't think it was the right moment, but I'm not in charge of the club. I'm just a player, I'm just an employee," the team captain said. "I don't agree, but it's my personal opinion." Forward Kei Kamara called the decision shocking, adding that players should have won games. "We should feel responsible as players because they gave us the chance to prove them right, day in and day out, and in games," Kamara said. Craig Dalrymple, the technical director of the Whitecaps FC Academy, will serve as interim coach......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 27th, 2018

Wolfsburg is on the rise again in the Bundesliga

By CIARAN FAHEY,  Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — From champions to relegation survivors, Wolfsburg's recent woes on the field have coincided with those of Volkswagen, the German club's main backer. However, the car manufacturer is on the rise again after its emissions scandal, and so is the soccer team after back-to-back seasons in the relegation playoffs. Wolfsburg opened its Bundesliga campaign with wins over highly rated Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen. The 2009 champions, now under coach Bruno Labbadia, are well-organized and playing with a commitment and hunger that had been lacking since 2015. That was the year Wolfsburg finished second behind Bayern Munich and won the German Cup before the breaking of the Volkswagen scandal. Results, coincidentally, suffered thereafter. The win over Leverkusen was unexpected, and the first time in 13 tries that Labbadia won against his former side. "We drew a lot of strength from the relegation playoff (against second-division club Holstein Kiel) and on top of that the team worked really hard in pre-season," Labbadia said Saturday after his team's sixth consecutive win across seasons and including the German Cup. Wolfsburg even had to come from behind after Leon Bailey put Leverkusen ahead. The players didn't panic, but combined well and fought for the equalizer, which came through an own-goal by goalkeeper Ramazan Ozcan. New signing Wout Weghorst then got his first Bundesliga goal and Renato Steffen sealed it with another. "It was really pleasing to see how much of a unit we were and how the team got the deserved reward for the performance," Labbadia said. "We hurt them with our shape. It was a good day for us." Wolfsburg also needed a bit of luck to defeat Schalke, with Daniel Ginczek getting the winner in injury time. The signing of Weghorst has added some much-needed bite to the team's attack. The 25-year-old Dutchman scored 27 goals across all competitions for AZ Alkmaar last season. Wolfsburg also appointed Joerg Schmadtke as sporting director in the offseason. The 54-year-old Schmadtke, a former goalkeeper, enjoyed notable success as sporting director with Cologne, Hannover and Alemannia Aachen. Wolfsburg fans chanted "league leaders, league leaders" after the win propelled it to the top for the afternoon, but Schmadtke said he wasn't interested in the standings "but the fact we stayed stable after conceding a goal is comforting." Wolfsburg was without injured captain Josuha Guilavogui, and goalkeeper Koen Casteels was missing to attend the birth of his daughter. Casteels is the sixth Wolfsburg player to become a father in a little over a month after Marvin Stefaniak, Yunus Malli, Paul-Georges Ntep, Weghorst and Steffen. "That can give you a push," Steffen said. "But I can't get a child every week now." BAYERN'S ADVICE Compared to previous years, Bayern Munich kept transfer activity to a minimum in the offseason, with just Serge Gnabry and Renato Sanches returning from loan spells, while Leon Goretzka's free transfer from Schalke was already announced in January. Spanish defender Juan Bernat departed for Paris Saint-Germain but it looked at one stage as though there would be more business between the sides. PSG made a reported offer for Germany defender Jerome Boateng and was also interested in taking Sanches. Neither deal came to fruition, and Bayern has hit out at the French club for not following through. Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic had already criticized PSG's "strange tactics," and now president Uli Hoeness has said the side should fire its sporting director, Antero Henrique. "I would advise Paris Saint-Germain to change its sporting director," Hoeness told Monday's Kicker magazine. "This man is not a figurehead for the club. If PSG wants to be a world club, it can't put up with such a sports director." DORTMUND'S WUNDERKIND Borussia Dortmund has developed a reputation for bringing in young players thanks to success with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho and Mario Goetze, while Aleksander Isak and Dan-Axel Zagadou are waiting to follow suit. The next prospect could be 13-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, a Cameroon-born forward who has been scoring at leisure since he joined Dortmund's youth setup from St. Pauli in 2016. Strong and direct with a clear eye for goal, Moukoko was the leading scorer for Dortmund's under-15 team - while still 12 - to help the side win the Regionalliga West title and earn a call-up for Germany's under-16 team last year. He scored the decisive goal at Bayern Munich in the final, finishing the season with 40 goals in 28 games. This season, with the under-17s, has begun as the last continued. Moukoko already has six goals from four games. "We're going to give him all the time in the world for his development," Dortmund youth coordinator Lars Ricken told Kicker. "He can't play with the professionals until he's 17. So nobody needs to start gasping because of him.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 4th, 2018

No Ronaldo, no Zidane, no problem for Real Madrid

Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale celebrates with Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Marco Asensio (R) after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Madri.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsAug 20th, 2018