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Kolarov scores from free kick, Serbia beats Costa Rica 1-0

By ANNE M. PETERSON ,  AP Sports Writer SAMARA, Russia (AP) — Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a left-footed free kick in the 56th minute and Serbia opened its World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on Sunday. After David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov curled the ensuing free kick over the wall. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, couldn't reach it. Serbia, which missed out on the 2014 tournament, had the early advantage in a tough group that includes five-time champion Brazil and Switzerland. After a scoreless first half, Navas fought off a barrage of challenges to open the second with the boisterous Costa Rican fans cheering him on at Samara Arena. The final moments of the match were marked by a squabble on the sidelines as Nemanja Matic got into a tussle with a Costa Rican coach. Players from both teams rushed toward the scrum but it was quickly diffused. The Ticos were the surprise of the last World Cup, sweeping through to the quarterfinals in Brazil before being ousted by the Netherlands on penalties. It was the furthest the small Central American nation had advanced in soccer's premier tournament. But there was some uncertainty surrounding the Ticos after a pair of friendly losses heading into the World Cup, including a 4-1 rout by Belgium a week ago. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic, who replaced Slavoljub Muslin last year, put together a veteran defense with Kolarov, who plays for Roma, and former Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic. Also included were Manchester United midfielder Matic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who had an apparent falling out with Muslin but was brought to Russia by Krstajic. The opening half between Costa Rica and Serbia was back and forth from the start: Aleksandar Mitrovic's header missed the target in the opening minute and moments later Marco Urena's angled shot for Costa Rica was saved in the left corner by Vladimir Stojkovic. Ivanovic made his record 104th appearance for the national team, surpassing Dejan Stankovic's mark. The 34-year-old Ivanovic had matched Stankovic's record last Saturday in a 5-1 friendly win over Bolivia. Stankovic, known as "Deki," played for the national team from 1998-2013, through three different eras: Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro and finally Serbia. Ivanovic currently plays for Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, but he's best known for his time at Chelsea (2008-17). Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita was ruled out of the World Cup earlier this week because of a right hamstring injury. He was replaced on the roster by Kenner Gutierrez. GROUP DYNAMICS Costa Rica advanced out of the group stage in Brazil with victories over Uruguay and Italy and a draw with England, but the country's players insisted in the run-up to Sunday's game that this team should not be judged on the past. "There's always a lot of talk about four years ago, but this is a new World Cup, a new history," Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzales said. "Some of us are repeating, but there are teammates who are playing their first World Cup. We know the eyes of the world are on us." Costa Rica will next face Brazil on Friday in St. Petersburg, while Serbia plays Switzerland on Friday in Kaliningrad. KEYS TO SUCCESS Milinkovic-Savic gave Navas a workout in the first half, and while he didn't score, he is clearly a potent weapon for Serbia. He challenged Navas in the 27th minute from just outside the box, but Navas fell on the ball. Navas also stopped Milinkovic-Savic's bicycle kick in front of goal in the 42nd minute, but it was ruled offside. Currently with Italian club Lazio, rumors have swirled that Manchester United might be interested in the dynamic 23-year-old Milinkovic-Savic......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 17th, 2018

What do Costa Rica, Panama early exits say about US soccer?

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas fails to stop Serbia's Aleksandar Kolarov scoring the opening goal during the group E match between Costa Rica and Serbia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 25th, 2018

Tite uneasy over Mastercard food rewards for Neymar goals

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — There are some things money can't buy. And one of them seems to be Brazil coach Tite's approval of a Mastercard charity food campaign that gets a boost every time Neymar scores. The credit card giant is a sponsor of the five-time World Cup champions and has promised to donate the value of 10,000 meals to a United Nations program for every goal scored by the Brazil striker — and Argentina's Lionel Messi — until 2020. During Saturday's news conference at Anfield, where Brazil will play Croatia in a friendly on Sunday, Tite was asked if Mastercard's campaign put extra pressure on Neymar to score in the World Cup. It was not clear whether the person asking the question was a journalist or not. As the question was being asked, Tite looked down, wrote notes and took a deep breath before answering. "Mastercard, I will tell you something. This donation is very beautiful. It is beautiful and great. And it will still be if you give meals if every Argentina and Brazil player scores," Tite said. "Here we work as a team, and with all these values it can be a little frustrating," the coach said. Mastercard did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Associated Press. Brazil is in Group E at the World Cup with Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. Its first game is against Switzerland on June 17......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

US misses World Cup because of numerous defensive breakdowns

em>By Ronald Blum, Associated Press /em> COUVA, Trinidad (AP) — Standing in the stadium tunnel near the U.S. locker room after the Collapse in Couva, captain Michael Bradley was asked over and over what went wrong. How had the United States, a regional power that had made seven straight World Cup appearances, failed to qualify for next year's tournament? What led to the Americans' stunning, crushing, almost farcical 2-1 loss to already eliminated Trinidad and Tobago that caused them to tumble to fifth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region. A year of defensive breakdowns under two coaching staffs did in the U.S., which finished with three wins, three losses and four ties. 'We like to hang our hat on the fact that we outwork teams and we press teams,' goalkeeper Tim Howard said. 'They won a lot of second balls tonight and put us under pressure.' A relentless work ethic the Americans relied on for years was absent too often. 'You can't go and score four, five goals every game. We have to be able to be hard to play against,' forward Jozy Altidore said. 'We weren't hard enough to play against too many times on these nights.' In this cycle, the Americans not only lost their first home qualifier since the 2002 World Cup qualifying rounds, they lost two home games in a qualifying cycle for the first time since 1957 — during their 40-year absence from soccer's top event. 'When you lose the first two games and you drop points on too many days, your margin for error goes away, and so you know you're at the mercy of a night like this, where everything possible goes against you, both here and in the two other games,' Bradley said. 'When we start the hex poorly, when we don't take the points that we should on some other days, then you leave open the chance on the last day this can happen.' Bradley is 30 and may not play in another World Cup. Howard (38) and Clint Dempsey (34) will never again appear on soccer's biggest stage. 'If I said disappointment, it would be an understatement,' Howard said. A look at what went wrong in qualifying for the United States: strong>NOV. 11, 2016 /strong> The U.S. had been 30-0-2 in qualifying at home since a 3-2 loss to Honduras at Washington's RFK Stadium in September 2001 and scheduled its opener of the hex against Mexico at Columbus, Ohio, where the Americans had won four straight qualifiers against El Tri by 2-0 scores. Miguel Layun put Mexico ahead in the 20th minute with a shot that deflected off defender Timmy Chandler and past Howard. Bobby Wood tied the score in the 49th, but in the 89th minute 37-year-old Rafa Marquez got away from defender John Brooks, who was blocked by Altidore, and Marquez nodded in Layun's corner kick for the go-ahead goal in Mexico's 2-1 win. strong>NOV. 15, 2016 /strong> Costa Rica routed the visiting United States 4-0, the Americans' first four-goal loss in qualifying since 1980. Brooks' giveaway led to an attack culminating in Johan Venegas beating Brooks to a cross for the opening goal. Christian Pulisic's turnover set up Cristian Bolanos' goal, Brooks misplayed a looping pass leading to the third goal and Chandler was late to a cross as Joel Campbell scored his second of the night. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was fired six days later and replaced by Bruce Arena, the U.S. coach from 1998-2006. 'There's going to need to be some urgency,' Bradley said before boarding the team bus. 'We're going to have to look collectively real hard in the mirror at ourselves.' strong>MARCH 28, 2017 /strong> Four days after a 6-0 rout of Honduras at San Jose, California, in the first competitive match of Arena's return, Clint Dempsey's 39th-minute goal gave the U.S. the lead at Panama City. Gabriel Gomez tied the score four minutes later when he beat Tim Ream and Jorge Villafana to a loose ball following a thrown-in for an open 4-yard shot past Howard. The score finished 1-1. strong>JUNE 11, 2017 /strong> Arena changed seven starters with only two off days following a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Commerce City, Colorado. Bradley's 40-yard chip in Mexico City's thin air put the U.S. ahead in the sixth minute at Estadio Azteca, but Carlos Vela equalized in the 23rd minute to finish a field-length move, cutting inside of 35-year-old left back DaMarcus Beasley for a 23-yard shot that beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the near post. The game ended 1-1. strong>SEPT. 1, 2017 /strong> Marco Urena spun around Ream, caught Howard leaning and beat the goalkeeper to the far post in the 30th minute. Urena doubled the lead in the 82nd with an 18-yard shot after David Guzman intercepted a poor pass by Geoff Cameron, giving Costa Rica a 2-0 win at Harrison, New Jersey. strong>SEPT. 5, 2017 /strong> Romell Quioto put Honduras ahead in the 27th minute at San Pedro Sula after defender Omar Gonzalez failed to clear the ball with a slide tackle and left an open shot. Wood's 85th-minute goal salvaged a draw that kept the Americans in fourth place, behind Panama but ahead of Honduras on goal difference. 'He just kind of like fell over the ball a little bit,' Arena said of Gonzalez. strong>OCT. 10, 2017 /strong> A 4-0 rout of Panama days earlier in Orlando, Florida, moved the Americans back into third place and put them in position to qualify with a win over Trinidad and Tobago, almost certainly with a tie (because of goal difference) or even a defeat if Panama failed to beat Costa Rica and Honduras did not defeat Mexico. A loss coupled by either a Costa Rica or Honduras defeat would mean a two-game playoff for the U.S. next month against Australia. But 28 years after the U.S. won at Trinidad and Tobago to return to the World Cup for the first time since 1950, the Soca Warriors went ahead in the 17th minute when Gonzalez tried to clear a cross but sent the ball off his left shin and looping over Howard. Alvin Jones scored on a 35-yard shot in the 37th and while Pulisic cut the gap in the 47th, Dempsey hit a post in the 77th, and both Panama and Costa Rica rallied from halftime deficits to win.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Ronaldo relies on teammates for winning league start at Juve

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press VERONA, Italy (AP) — A smile, a wink and a thumbs-up: Cristiano Ronaldo didn't seem too perturbed at not scoring on his Juventus debut. The 33-year-old forward appeared relaxed after Saturday's 3-2 victory against Chievo Verona and, although Ronaldo did not stop to speak to reporters, he responded with those gestures when asked how he felt his debut had gone. His coach wasn't too troubled either. "Cristiano Ronaldo had a good game. He had several shots on goal. Today he didn't score because clearly it was written somewhere that he wouldn't score," said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri with a smile. For the thousands of fans who descended on the medieval city of Verona, this was one of the rare occasions when the five-time world player of the year couldn't score. Ronaldo had scored in both pre-season friendlies he played for Juventus since his surprise 112 million euro (then $131.5 million) move from Real Madrid but could not find the back of the net on his competitive debut. And it was up to Federico Bernardeschi to rescue Juventus, with a stoppage-time winner as the Bianconeri fought back from a goal down to beat Chievo and get their pursuit of an eighth straight league title off to a winning start. Ronaldo should make his home debut next week against Lazio and there were encouraging signs for Juventus from this game. He linked up well with Douglas Costa, notably in the 18th minute when Ronaldo's effort went just the wrong side of the left post. Ronaldo also fired narrowly over from a tight angle on the half-hour, while he drew several smart saves from Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino, who is still going strong at the age of 39. The Portugal international almost scored the winner at 2-2, but Sorrentino got down quickly to beat away his angled free kick. "(Ronaldo) moved well at times but he wasn't picked out by his teammates," Allegri said. "He's a different footballer, you can see that. He's integrated into the team with ease." BALL TRICKS The excitement had been building in Verona since the fixtures were announced. The match at the Stadio Bentegodi was sold out and long queues to get in formed more than three hours before kickoff. The team bus carrying Ronaldo and his Juventus teammates was greeted by huge cheers, with fans crowding onto the balconies of the stadium. Ronaldo warmed up with crowd-pleasing ball tricks and Juventus fans cheered his every touch. BONUCCI BACK Juventus took the lead after just 162 seconds as Chievo failed to properly clear a free kick and Sami Khedira fired Juventus in front. The Bianconeri wasted chances to double their lead, with Ronaldo going close on several occasions. Mariusz Stepinski headed Chievo level shortly before halftime and Emanuele Giaccherini converted a penalty after being brought down by Juventus debutant Joao Cancelo. But Leonardo Bonucci marked his return to Juventus with a role in the equalizer after the Italy defender spent just one season at AC Milan. Bonucci headed in a corner in the 75th. The goal, which went down later as an own-goal from Chievo defender Mattia Bani, was met with a mix of cheers and jeers by the visiting fans. Mario Mandzukic's goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee shortly before full time following a foul on Sorrentino which led to an anxious few minutes as the goalkeeper received medical treatment on the pitch. ___ LOOK WHO'S BACK Carlo Ancelotti had a winning start to his return to Italian football as his Napoli team fought back to beat Lazio 2-1. Ciro Immobile scored a stunning opener for host Lazio but Arkadiusz Milik leveled in first-half stoppage time and Lorenzo Insigne netted the winner in the 59th. The 59-year-old Ancelotti took over from Maurizio Sarri at Napoli, who finished second last season, four points behind Juventus. Ancelotti has not worked in Italy since leaving AC Milan in 2009 after leading the Rossoneri to a number of trophies, including two Champions League titles......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2018

Messi scores Barcelona s 6,000th league goal

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Barcelona scored its 6,000th goal in the Spanish league after another ingenious strike by Lionel Messi got its title defense off to a winning start. Messi cleverly sent his free kick underneath Alaves' wall to open the scoring in the 64th minute of Barcelona's 3-0 win at Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday. He also closed the scoring in injury time after substitute Philippe Coutinho had added to the lead in the 83rd. Messi's low free kick fooled Alaves' players, who jumped to intercept an expected high shot. Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco couldn't get to the ball in time after it suddenly appeared underneath the barrier. "Messi never fails to surprise you," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. Messi, the league's top scorer last season, had struck the crossbar with a free kick — this time over the wall — in the first half. He also hit the post from inside the area a few minutes after his opening goal. Messi also scored Barcelona's 5,000th league goal back in 2009, and the Argentine provided 338 of the goals taking the total from 5,000 to 6,000. Barcelona's first-ever league goal was scored by Manuel Parera against Racing Santander on Feb. 12, 1929. Barcelona opened its league campaign with a win for the 10th straight season. Messi's second goal came in the second minute of injury time, an easy shot from close range after a breakaway. Barcelona had missed chance after chance in its league debut at Camp Nou, which was far from packed with around 52,000 fans for the 10:15 p.m. start local time. Ousmane Dembele, who started up front with Messi and Luis Suarez, squandered a series of chances, including a one-on-one with goalkeeper Pacheco in the first half. Valverde brought Coutinho off the bench in the second half and the Brazil playmaker added the team's second goal after a nice play that culminated with an easy strike from inside the area. Alaves had stunned Barcelona at Camp Nou in 2016, winning 2-1. FRUSTRATING START Villarreal entered the new season with high hopes after a solid fifth-place finish in 2017-18, but its disappointing home opener dampened fans' expectations. Villarreal couldn't hold on to an early lead at its Ceramica Stadium, losing 2-1 to Real Sociedad. Gerard Moreno, Villarreal's biggest offseason signing, put the hosts ahead in the 16th before Sociedad came back with goals by Willian Jose in the 40th and Juanmi in the 71st. Villarreal just missed a Champions League berth last season, finishing behind Valencia, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. DISAPPOINTING DEBUTS Celta Vigo and Espanyol gave their new coaches a frustrating start in the Spanish league with a 1-1 draw. Celta began its campaign in Vigo with Argentine coach Antonio Mohamed, and Espanyol kicked off its season with newcomer Joan Francesc Ferrer "Rubi." The clubs hired new managers after disappointing campaigns last season, when Espanyol finished 11th and Celta was only 13th, far from qualification for the European competitions. Mario Hermoso put Espanyol ahead at Balaidos Stadium with a shot from inside the area after a corner just before halftime. Celta equalized early in the second half with an own-goal by David Lopez, who tried to intercept a cross and ended up redirecting the ball into his own net. SUNDAY'S GAMES Real Madrid hosts Getafe in a Madrid derby on Sunday, when it's also Eibar vs. Huesca and Rayo Vallecano against Sevilla. Atletico Madrid — last season's runner-up — visits Valencia on Monday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 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

Brazilians heave sigh of relief with World Cup win

By Yesica Fisch, Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilians breathed a sigh of relief Friday after the national team scored two stoppage time goals to beat Costa Rica 2-0 at the World Cup, bringing it closer to a berth in the round of 16. With yellow-and-green T-shirts and Brazilian flags draped over their shoulders, thousands of people across Latin America's biggest country gathered in bars, restaurants, coffee shops and public squares to watch the game on large TV screens. They went wild when Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored Brazil's two goals with only a few minutes left in the game. The narrow streets, homes and storefronts of Rio's Alemao complex of slums, one of the city's largest, were decorated with Brazilian flags and small yellow and green banners. Sipping beer with a group of friends and residents at one bar, Daisy Gouveia shouted and cheered when Brazil scores its first goal. "My heart was beating very quickly during the first half," Gouveia, who is studying for her high school diploma, said. "But in the second half Brazil started playing well and went on to score." At the same bar, motorbike taxi driver Marcio de Souza said he was elated with the result. "The match was wonderful. The Costa Ricans blocked us for a while but Brazil was better and clinched the victory, bringing happiness to all Brazilians." Nearby, a group of friends gathered around a table in front of a flag-decorated house where coffee and cake was being served as they watched the match. For a while several of them complained that Brazil wasn't playing well, but when the first goal was scored the hope of being world champions emerged in their enthusiastic shouts and cheers. "It is difficult to say who will win the World Cup," slum resident Leandro de Castro said. "The other teams are also very good, so it will be difficult. But I think we can get there and win the World Cup.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2018

Brazil scores late goals to beat Costa Rica 2-0 at World Cup

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia --- After more than 90 minutes of aggravation and exasperation, Neymar and Brazil finally broke through Costa Rica's smothering defense. Philippe Coutinho scored in the first minute of stoppage time, and Neymar followed six minutes later to give Brazil a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica on Friday at the World Cup. Unlike Argentina and Lionel Messi, Brazil is still in a good position to advance to the round of 16. Costa Rica has been eliminated. Neymar dropped to his knees after the final whistle, sobbing in his hands as his teammates surrounded him and then lifted him off the ground. A few minutes earlier, Neymar had flopped backward to initially earn a ...Keep on reading: Brazil scores late goals to beat Costa Rica 2-0 at World Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2018

Salah, Neymar, Messi, messy, messy: World Cup stars stifled

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SARANSK, Russia (AP) — With nagging injuries, heavy marking from opponents and some simply uninspired play, the top stars of the 2018 World Cup have struggled to deliver on the impossible expectations they carried into the tournament, with one prominent Portuguese exception. Aside from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has all four of Portugal's goals in its two games, many of the biggest names are off to a shaky start. No one has had rougher treatment from the opposition than the world's priciest player, Neymar. During Brazil's opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland, the 26-year-old was fouled 10 times, the highest number on a single player in a single match since the 1998 World Cup, when England's Alan Shearer took 11 challenges against Tunisia. Overall, Switzerland fouled Brazil 19 times , with little intervention from the referee, and it worked — especially on Neymar. Brazilians suggested their opponents were too violent; Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes thinks Neymar has another problem. "He just falls too much," Fernandes said after the game in Rostov-on-Don. "Out of these 10, only seven or eight were fouls. We have to stop their star, and he is the star." Neymar felt the effects of the Swiss strategy long after Sunday's match ended, limping out of training Tuesday as he continues to recover from a foot injury he picked up before the tournament. He trained Wednesday and was confirmed as a starter for the match against Costa Rica on Friday. Superstar Lionel Messi did face heavy marking too, but he also had two uninspired performances for Argentina, which is now on the verge of early elimination after a 3-0 defeat against Croatia. Throughout the matches against Iceland and Croatia, disciplined defenders and midfielders stopped Messi from making his famous runs and getting one-on-one chances. Against Iceland, Messi saw his penalty spot kick saved by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, and the game ended 1-1. Against Croatia, he crumbled with the rest of the team, which now desperately needs to beat Nigeria in the last round of group stage to have a chance of advancing to the next phase. "Messi is human," Aguero said after the Iceland match. "Sometimes things happen for a reason. We need to be with him. This was a bad day, but he can decide a match at any given moment. Hope he is better against Croatia." Croatia was taking note. "You can't stop him with one player, you have to defend like a team. You saw that with Iceland," defender Dejan Lovren said ahead of the Argentina clash late Thursday. Egypt striker Mohamed Salah set a Premier League scoring record for Liverpool and held all the hopes for a deep run by the Pharaohs in their return to the World Cup, until he injured his shoulder playing for Liverpool in the Champions League final in a clash with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, of Spain. Salah sat out the opening 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Yekaterinburg, with coach Hector Cuper hoping to have him fit for Egypt's second match, against Russia. He made his World Cup debut in St. Petersburg and scored from the penalty spot, but only after the hosts led by three goals, and his mobility was clearly affected. He barely touched the ball in the first half and avoided physical contact with Russian defenders during the entire game, and Egypt was eliminated with one match left to play. Ronaldo isn't entirely alone in starting strong. Diego Costa has three of Spain's four goals, Harry Kane has both of England's, and Luka Modric scored one goal and set up the other in Croatia's 2-0 win over Nigeria. And there's plenty of time for others to turn things around. Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old striker at the center of the second-most expensive transfer in history, managed just one chance in France's 2-1 win over Australia in Kazan, but scored Thursday against Peru in front of an empty net. His famous runs and dribbles, however, were blocked by Australia's physical game. It's early, and the tournament has seen plenty of stellar play from lesser-known players, but many of the star scorers have work to do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Switzerland, Serbia coaches don t want to talk about Kosovo

By Mike Corder, Associated Press KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) — The coaches of Serbia and Switzerland only want to talk about football, not about an entrenched political dispute casting a shadow over their teams' World Cup showdown in Russia. Tensions have been building in Serbia before the Group E match Friday in Kaliningrad. Not between Swiss and Serbian fans, but between Albanian and Serbian supporters. That is because several players in the Swiss squad have Kosovo Albanian roots, including midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo's independence and relations between the two countries remain tense. Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic didn't want to discuss the issue Thursday. When a reporter asked Petkovic him how he would discuss it with his players, he sidestepped the question. "We will tell them we had a great match against Brazil. That's not enough; we have to play better against Serbia," Petkovic said through an interpreter. Switzerland held Brazil to a 1-1 draw in their opening match, while Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0 to top the group after one round. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic was equally reluctant to be drawn into the debate. "I'm not into politics," he said, also speaking through an interpreter. "We have our goals. We're here for sports to represent our country in the best possible way and we're not at all interested in anything else." Shaqiri makes no secret at his pride for his heritage at the World Cup. At training Thursday, he wore football boots with Kosovo's flag on his right heel and the Swiss flag on his left. Midfielder Valon Behrami grew up in what is now Kosovo, moving to Switzerland with his family in 1990 amid rising tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. He has the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo tattooed on his left arm. Such displays have angered some Serbian fans, who often wear T-shirts bearing the map of Kosovo with the Serbian flag on it. The reaction of some Serbian players has also been sharp. "If they are such great patriots, why don't they play for their own countries instead of Switzerland?" Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic asked recently. Friday's match also features two coaches who both come from Bosnia, a country that emerged from the former Yugoslavia after a bitter war in the 1990s. Bosnia finished third in its qualifying group and didn't make it to Russia. "I think that Mr. Petkovic is from Sarajevo. I hail from Zenica," Krstajic said. "So we have two coaches from Bosnia-Herzegovina representing different teams at the World Cup." Zenica is a town about 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Sarajevo, Bosnia's capital. ____ Associated Press writer Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Diego Costa scores again, Spain beats Iran 1-0 at World Cup

By SAMUEL PETREQUIN,  AP Sports Writer KAZAN, Russia (AP) — Diego Costa scored on a deflection to lead Spain to a 1-0 win over Iran on Wednesday at the World Cup. Costa broke the deadlock in the 54th minute after being set up by Andres Iniesta. The powerful striker turned in the area and took a shot but the ball deflected off Ramin Rezeian before bouncing back onto Costa's knee and into the net. Costa, who also scored two goals in the opening match, has three goals at this year's World Cup, trailing Cristiano Ronaldo by one. He also has nine goals in his last nine starts for Spain. Both Spain and Portugal have four points in Group B following their 3-3 draw and subsequent 1-0 victories. Iran has three points but Morocco has been eliminated. Trailing in the second half, Iran nearly equalized when Saeid Ezatolahi had a goal was ruled out on video review......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 20th, 2018

Brazil in an unusual spot after a draw to open World Cup

SOCHI, Russia --- This is unfamiliar territory for five-time World Cup champion Brazil. The last time it didn't win its first game in a World Cup, Pele had just retired from soccer. The "Selecao" had won every one of its opening matches since 1978, a year after "The King's" farewell. Brazil drew Sweden 1-1 back then, the same score of its match against Switzerland in Rostov-on-Don on Sunday, when all the hype surrounding Neymar and his teammates turned into disappointment and concern. The result that ended Brazil's nine-match winning streak in openers left the national team two points behind group leader Serbia, which defeated Costa Rica 1-0 earlier Sunday. One of the main title fa...Keep on reading: Brazil in an unusual spot after a draw to open World Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

Gimenez scores to lift Uruguay over Egypt 1-0 in Group A

By KAREL JANICEK,  AP Sports Writer YEKATERINBURG, Russia (AP) — Jose Gimenez came to Uruguay's rescue by scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Egypt on Friday in Group A of the World Cup. The Uruguay defender jumped in the area and headed home a free kick late in the 89th minute. Russia leads Group A on goal difference after beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 on Thursday in the tournament's opening match. Uruguay is now second, also with three points. Egypt forward Mohamed Salah was on the bench for his country's first World Cup match since 1990 after injuring a shoulder while playing for Liverpool in last month's Champions League final. Salah was the Premier League's player of the season after scoring a league-leading 32 goals, with 44 in all competitions. At the other end, Uruguay strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani missed their chances. Suarez failed to beat Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy in two one-on-one situations and Cavani hit the post from a free kick two minutes from the end. Egypt has yet to win a World Cup game while Uruguay won its opening match at the tournament for the first time since 1970......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Ronaldo 3, Spain 3: Star s hat trick earns draw

MOSCOW (AP) - Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick, capped by a dipping free kick in the 88th minute as Portugal and Spain played to a wild 3-3 draw in the Group B opener for both countries in the World Cup. Ronaldo scored twice in the first half, only to see Spain rally for a 3-2 lead after two goals in three minutes early in the second half. Nacho Fernandez put Spain in front with a weaving half-volley from outside the penalty area in the 58th  that bounced off the inside of the far post and trickled into the net.  Ronaldo had one more brilliant moment to come. Earning a free kick from about 20 yards out, Ronaldo's shot got just high enough over the wall and dipped under the crossbar. Goalkeeper David De Gea never moved and the Iberian neighbors each earned a point.  Ronaldo scored on a penalty kick he earned in the fourth minute and again just before halftime on a left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area that De Gea should have saved.  Diego Costa scored twice for the Spaniards, including a 55th-minute tally off a beautiful set piece set up by Andres Iniesta's chip to the end line and a Sergio Busquets header back into the middle of the penalty area. The draw capped a week of turmoil for Spain after the firing of coach Julen Lopetegui. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

England completes World Cup prep by beating Costa Rica 2-0

LEEDS, England (AP) — Marcus Rashford scored from long range as England beat Costa Rica 2-0 in its final World Cup warm-up match on Thursday. In a rare England match away from Wembley, Danny Welbeck headed in the second after coming off the bench in the second half at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium. The victory came four years after England drew 0-0 with Costa Rica as it slumped out of the World Cup in the group stage. Just five members from Roy Hodgson's squad in Brazil are heading to the World Cup in Russia next year, with Gareth Southgate favoring promise over experience. This is a fresh group bursting with potential and Rashford is among the contenders to star judging by this audition in northern England, where a superb 25 yard (meter) opener in the 13th minute crowned a fine performance. The players were greeted earlier in the day by Prince William, who is president of the English Football Association but won't be traveling to Russia as a fallout from the diplomatic tensions between the countries. England opens its World Cup Group G campaign against Tunisia on June 18. Costa Rica plays Serbia in Group E the previous day......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

Lukaku, Hazard on target as Belgium beats Egypt 3-0

By Mike Corder, Associated Press BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium showed flashes of its attacking prowess Wednesday, beating Egypt 3-0 in a World Cup warmup with the help of goals from Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard in a dominant first half. Substitute Marouane Fellaini swept home from close range in injury time to complete the scoring. Egypt, held goalless for the second time in three matches, showed how much it misses the injured Mohamed Salah. Driven forward by the speed and insight of Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium was up 2-0 at halftime before losing some fluency amid a flurry of substitutions after the break. "I don't think our performance was perfect, far from it," said Belgium coach Roberto Martinez. "There are many aspects that we need to improve. But what I like is that when we make mistakes we've got the togetherness to try to overcome them and I don't think we had that before and that's very pleasing." Salah, Egypt's great scoring hope for the World Cup, is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final as Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid. The Premier League's top scorer has been named in Egypt's squad for the tournament in Russia and coach Hector Cuper badly needs him. "Mo Salah is not just a good player, he's an outstanding footballer, he's a world class footballer after what he's done this season," Martinez said. "So any team is going to miss the goal scoring threat of Mo Salah. We all wish him a speedy recovery and we want to see him in the World Cup." Egypt should have taken the lead in the 23rd minute when Mohamed Abdelshafy swung in an enticing cross from the left, but Marwan Mohsen, unmarked in the middle, headed wide a chance Salah likely would have scored. The move didn't only highlight the Liverpool forward's absence for Egypt; the space Mohsen found also underscored how Belgium could miss center back Vincent Kompany if he is not fit to play in Russia. Kompany injured his groin on Saturday during Belgium's lackluster 0-0 draw with Portugal. Coach Roberto Martinez named Los Angeles FC defender Laurent Ciman as a replacement if Kompany is not fit to play in Russia. If Lukaku and Hazard are in top form in Russia, Belgium might not miss Kompany too badly. Hazard drove a low shot in the 27th minute that Egypt goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary couldn't hold and Lukaku pounced on the rebound to fire in from close range. Hazard added his name to the score sheet in the 38th minute, blasting a shot high and hard past el-Hadary after Yannick Carrasco had cut back the ball from the left. Martinez rested Lukaku and Hazard for the second half, giving Michy Batshuayi and Adnan Januzaj a chance to play themselves into favor. Batshuayi set up Fellaini's goal by beating an Egypt defender and cutting back the ball. The defeat was Egypt's final warmup before Russia, while Belgium plays Costa Rica on Monday. One positive for Egypt coach Cuper was that Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny returned from injury and lasted the full 90 minutes. Martinez said his team needs the final tune-up. "I don't think we are physically, tactically and mentally ready ... and that's why the Costa Rica game will be important," he said. Egypt opens its World Cup campaign in Russia against Uruguay on June 15, Belgium's first Group G match is against Panama on June 18......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Spain held by Switzerland ahead of World Cup

VILLARREAL, Spain (AP) — Spain couldn't manage more than a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in its final match before traveling to Russia for the World Cup. Spain was in control from the start but failed to capitalize on its chances and paid the prize after a second-half blunder by goalkeeper David de Gea. Alvaro Odriozola opened the scoring for the hosts with a neat volley from just outside the area in the 29th minute. Ricardo Rodriguez equalized for the Swiss in the 62nd after De Gea dropped the ball in front of goal while trying to hold on to a weak shot from inside the area. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui was satisfied with his team's performance despite the draw. "I liked that we were able to create many scoring opportunities against a difficult team like Switzerland," Lopetegui said. "We played at a high level. There were a lot of positives." The result kept Spain unbeaten in 19 matches since Lopetegui took over after the 2016 European Championship. "We played well," said Odriozola, who was making only his third appearance with the national team. "It was a good tune-up for the challenge that awaits us. We leave in good spirits." Spain, which will travel to Russia on Thursday, wasn't at full strength as defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets was dropped from the starting lineup after falling ill with gastroenteritis. Real Madrid players also weren't fully available after reporting late to the squad because of the Champions League final. Sergio Ramos, Francisco "Isco" Alarcon and Dani Carvajal didn't even travel for the match in Villarreal, although Nacho Fernandez, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez were second-half substitutes. Fernandez nearly scored Spain's winner with a shot that hit the post in second-half injury time. Lopetegui played with Diego Costa and Iago Aspas up front, while Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta and David Silva were in midfield. Cesar Azpilicueta and Gerard Pique started in central defense. Spain will head to Russia looking to rebound from early eliminations at the 2016 European Championship and the 2014 World Cup. La Roja won Euro 2012, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008. Spain's final warmup match will be against Tunisia on Saturday in Krasnodar, the team's base in Russia. Its first game at the World Cup is against European champion Portugal on June 15. Spain's next Group B matches will be against Iran on June 20 and Morocco on June 25. Switzerland will host Japan on Friday in its final warmup match before its World Cup opener against Brazil on June 17 in Group E. It then faces Serbia on June 22 and Costa Rica on June 27......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Brazil wants to lower Neymar s expectations for World Cup

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil wants to reduce the expectations on Neymar. The world's most expensive footballer is at the end of his recovery from a foot operation, and joined 16 Brazil teammates on Monday for physical and medical tests at their Granja Comary camp in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro. Neymar was also going to receive a private meeting with Brazil coach Tite, who wants to try and reduce the pressure on the striker. "Neymar will hear from Tite that he spent three months off the pitch and will not be the exceptional Neymar after that," Brazilian Football Confederation coordinator Edu Gaspar said at the camp. "We will create some ground for him to get his self-confidence back, and that it goes up without too much pressure on his performances." Neymar hasn't played since late February when he cracked the fifth metatarsal that connects to the little toe in his right foot. On March 3 he underwent surgery in Brazil and returned to training just one week ago in France. "Neymar will keep doing what he is doing at Paris Saint-Germain. There is a physical part, then a technical one. But there will also be the emotional part, so he has the real magnitude of what we are thinking," Gaspar said. "We are not thinking only about Neymar, we will have communication strategies for every athlete." Gaspar said Neymar will be expected to play about 45 minutes of the friendly against Croatia in Liverpool on June 3, the first of two for Brazil before the World Cup. The second is against Austria in Vienna on June 10. "Today, we talked about playing those two games as if they were the World Cup," Gaspar said. "We need total reality then, so we start the tournament well. We studied those two teams tactically and saw they were ideal for those friendlies. For now, they are more important than our (World Cup) opener." Brazil opens in Russia against Switzerland on June 17 in Rostov. Their group also features Costa Rica and Serbia. Left back Marcelo, midfielder Casemiro, and striker Roberto Firmino will only join the squad in London next Monday, after Real Madrid and Liverpool meet in the Champions League final in Kiev. The first actual Brazil training will take place on Wednesday at the camp, which went through a $4 million renovation to host the team until Sunday. Brazil will have six practices in Teresopolis before moving camp to North London until June 8......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Recovering Neymar confirmed in Brazil s World Cup squad

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — A recovering Neymar was confirmed and injured leader Dani Alves was replaced by Danilo and Fagner in a Brazil World Cup squad of few surprises on Monday. The only surprises were among the likely reserves for the tournament in Russia, with the inclusion of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred and winger Taison. Neymar has been recovering from right foot surgery in March, and Brazil Football Confederation doctors believe he will be fit to train next week in Teresopolis, where preparations will begin, and play on June 3 in a friendly against Croatia in Liverpool. Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro he examined Neymar on the weekend and the results were positive. "This is the final stage of his recovery, he will be able to go to training sessions soon, and will play the friendlies," Lasmar said. Coach Tite said Neymar was one of the top three players in the world, but insisted his team didn't depend on him alone. "We will be much stronger with Neymar doing well, but for him to do well the rest of the team has to be well, too," he said. All but one of Tite's starting lineup in World Cup qualifiers was confirmed in the squad: Alisson; Miranda, Marquinhos and Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Philippe Coutinho; Neymar and Gabriel Jesus. Defender Alves, a veteran of two World Cups, sprained his right ACL last week in the French Cup final and was replaced in the 23-man Brazil squad by Manchester City's Danilo and Corinthians' Fagner. Tite decided not to inform who are the players that could replace one of those until June 4 in case of injury. Tite also summoned goalkeepers Ederson (Manchester City) and Cassio (Corinthians); defenders Thiago Silva, (Paris Saint-Germain) Pedro Geromel (Gremio) and Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid); midfielders Fernandinho (Man City) and Willian (Chelsea); and strikers Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) and Douglas Costa (Juventus). The coach said several positions in his starting lineup were open, including up front. "At first, Gabriel Jesus is our starter. But Roberto Firmino will fight for that position in top form," Tite said. "The challenge is open on the right back, but Danilo has some advantage now because he has performed well recently." Tite also hinted in his hour-long news conference he could change one of his central defenders for Thiago Silva. The inclusion of Taison, the coach admitted, suggested Coutinho could be taking a role in central midfield and leaving his spot for Willian. Tite said he needs "a pacemaker" in the team, which he has not received from Beijing Guoan's Renato Augusto. "Coutinho can play in the middle and in the flanks, he is versatile," Tite said. "Sometimes preparation gives you elements that you didn't have, and force you to change your mind." Tite said Brazil was one of the favorites for the title, but refused to name other candidates. The coach's final list includes 15 out of the 23 players he called for his first game with Brazil, against Ecuador in World Cup qualifiers in September 2016. There are only four survivors from the 7-1 hammering by Gerrmany four years ago at the home World Cup: Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho and Willian. Thiago Silva and Neymar did not play that semifinal, one due to suspension and the other because of injury. Marcelo, Casemiro and Firmino will join Brazil for preparations in London only after Real Madrid and Liverpool play the Champions League final on May 26. Brazil starts its World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 17, followed by Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Juventus stays on Serie A title track with wild win at Inter

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Juventus scored two late goals to rescue a 3-2 win over 10-man Inter Milan in a wild Derby d'Italia on Saturday and stay on track for a record-extending seventh straight Serie A title. Juan Cuadrado and Gonzalo Higuain scored in the final four minutes as Juventus moved four points ahead of Napoli, which visits Fiorentina on Sunday in a tense title race. "This is the hunger, pride and thirst for victory that this squad possesses. We will fight to the death to win," Higuain said. After Douglas Costa's early opener for Juventus, Inter equalized after the break with a header from captain Mauro Icardi then went ahead with an own goal from Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli. The victory ended a run of two straight matches in which Juventus dropped points, having drawn with relegation-threatened Crotone and lost to Napoli at home last weekend. Inter remained fifth, one point below the Champions League places. "Inter played well, but got tired in the end, crumbled physically and we took advantage," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "It's another step towards the Scudetto, even if it remains very difficult." Early on, it was all Juventus. Douglas Costa scored with a decisive half-volley, extending the Brazilian's streak of being involved in the last six Juventus goals in Serie A: Two goals and four assists. Inter midfielder Matias Vecino was sent off for a foul on Mario Mandzukic in the 18th. Referee Daniele Orsato originally pulled out a yellow card but changed to red after a video review. Vecino stepped on Mandzukic's ankle and the Croatia international later showed a deep cut. Inter stepped up after the break. Icardi rose above Juve's defense to redirect a free kick into the far corner with a glancing header — his eighth goal in 11 Serie A matches against Juventus. Then in the 65th, Cuadrado couldn't handle Perisic on the left flank and lied down instead to avoid picking up a second yellow card. Perisic then crossed toward Icardi but the ball bounced in off Barzagli. Cuadrado made up for the error by scoring from a tight angle with a shot off Inter defender Milan Skriniar in the 87th. Then Higuain ran past Inter's defense to head in Paulo Dybala's free kick two minutes later to complete the comeback. Allegri was sent off after Higuain's winner for entering the pitch in an attempt to get his players to stop celebrating and refocus for the final minutes. "There were four minutes to go ... I didn't want a repeat of Madrid," Allegri said, referring to the Champions League elimination by Real Madrid. ROMA SHOWS POTENTIAL Displaying the offensive firepower it will need in the Champions League semifinals, 10-man Roma defeated visiting Chievo Verona 4-1 in convincing fashion. Edin Dzeko scored twice, Patrik Schick and Stephan El Shaarawy also found the target, and Roma goalkeeper Alisson saved a penalty. Roma also hit the post twice. Roberto Inglese pulled one back late for Chievo. A similar result on Wednesday would allow the Giallorossi to overturn a 5-2 deficit to Liverpool. "Now we have to recover our physical and mental energy, leave the field on Wednesday knowing we've done all we possibly could," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "We've proved in the past that we can achieve great results in the Champions League, so we must all believe, that is my slogan." Meanwhile, the victory strengthened Roma's chances of returning to the Champions League next season. Third-placed Roma moved three points ahead of Lazio, which visits Torino on Sunday. Chievo remained two points above the relegation zone. EMPOLI PROMOTED Empoli secured promotion into Serie A after only one season in the second division. Empoli moved 14 points ahead of Parma and Palermo after drawing with Novara 1-1 and was assured of winning Serie B with four rounds remaining. The Tuscan squad is coached by former Roma manager Aurelio Andreazzoli......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018