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Liverpool into Champions League, Man City reaches 100 points

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Chelsea, Swansea was relegated, and champion Manchester City made it to 100 points as the loose ends were tied up on a typically high-scoring final day of the Premier League season on Sunday. It was also the end of an era in England's top flight, with Arsene Wenger taking charge of his final game as Arsenal manager after 22 seasons. He went out with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield. Liverpool only needed to draw with Brighton to secure another season in the Champions League, but manager Juergen Klopp fielded an attacking team and was rewarded with a 4-0 victory at Anfield. Mohamed Salah scored one of the goals, taking the Egyptian to a league-high 32 goals for the campaign — the most in a 38-game Premier League season. That meant Chelsea will not be playing in Europe's elite competition for the second season in three years. The London club finished fifth after a 3-0 loss at Newcastle, in what could prove to be Antonio Conte's last league game as manager. The final-day "miracle" that Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal required didn't happen, with the Welsh club losing 2-1 to Stoke to end its seven-year stay in the league and ensure Southampton stayed up. Swansea had needed to win and Southampton to lose to Man City, with a 10-goal swing in goal difference. So it didn't matter that Southampton conceded late to lose 1-0 to City, although that did mean Pep Guardiola's side became the first team to post 100 points in a Premier League season. It is the latest milestone reached by City, which has also claimed the most total wins (32), goals (106), victories in a row (18) and away wins (16) in this record-breaking season. The 19-point margin to second place Manchester United is also a record, as is the goal difference of plus 79. Tottenham beat Leicester 5-4 in the highest-scoring game of the day to secure third place above Liverpool. United was already assured of second place before its 1-0 win over Watford, in Michael Carrick's final game for the club. ANOTHER TROPHY FOR SALAH Fittingly, it was Salah who guided Liverpool back into the Champions League and he ended a sun-kissed afternoon at Anfield lifting the Golden Boot for being the Premier League's top scorer this season. His 32-goal haul was two more than Harry Kane, the winner for the past two seasons. There were wonderful scenes soon after as Liverpool's fans cheered Salah's daughter, Makka, as she kicked about a ball on the field. Dejan Lovren added a second before Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson scored their first goals for Liverpool to complete a routine victory in its last match before playing the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26. Liverpool ended up in fourth place for the second straight season. Chelsea ended the season without even a whimper, and in the Europa League. Four days after drawing 1-1 at home, the deposed champions looked bedraggled in losing to Newcastle thanks to goals by Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez, who scored twice in the second half. SWANSEA DOWN Swansea fans channeled their anger toward chairman Huw Jenkins and the club's American majority shareholders, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, after the team's relegation was confirmed with a loss to a team that started the day in last place. Jenkins was conspicuous by his absence from his customary seat in the directors' box but that did not prevent Swansea supporters urging Jenkins to "get out of our club" from the first minute. Andy King's goal gave Swansea hope of an unlikely final-day comeback, but Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch scored to ensure already relegated Stoke would not end the season bottom. That position went to West Bromwich Albion, which lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace. WENGER'S FAREWELL In the 22nd minute, Huddersfield fans joined Arsenal supporters in rising to their feet inside the John Smith's Stadium to applaud Wenger in his 1,235th game in charge of the Gunners. A plane flew over the stadium, carrying the message "Merci Arsene, we will miss you too" in response to Wenger's goodbye speech last week at the Emirates Stadium. "I should have announced every week my goodbye," Wenger said, "because people have been so nice with me." Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the final scorer of the Wenger era, sliding in to convert Aaron Ramsey's cross in the 38th minute for the only goal. Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League — the lowest under Wenger, who will stay working. "Whether that is managing or not... I am addicted and I don't think that can be cured," Wenger said. CITY'S CENTURY City left it to virtually the last kick of its last match to reach the magical 100-point barrier. Gabriel Jesus, on as a substitute, found space to lift the ball over goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in the fourth minute of additional time, prompting wild celebrations among City's players. Pep Guardiola reacted to the team's 106th league goal of the season by leaping out of his seat in the dugout and punching the air. Jesus removed his shirt and twirled it in celebration in front of City's supporters. The players were still on the field 20 minutes after the final whistle. City will celebrate on the streets of Manchester on Monday with an open-top bus parade......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 13th, 2018

Determined Dzeko delivers a Romantada over Barcelona

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Edin Dzeko surprised a lot of people when he turned down a lucrative offer from Premier League champion Chelsea in January to stay with Roma. Pledging his allegiance for Roma then, Dzeko declared that he was determined to accomplish something important with the Italian club. Consider his desire realized. Dzeko's sheer will and brute force were the primary reasons behind Roma's shocking elimination of Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals. The Bosnia and Herzegovina striker scored two goals and drew a penalty to set up another over the two legs as Roma clawed back from a three-goal deficit to advance to the semifinals. "I stayed with Roma to experience matches like these. I'm happy to be with Roma and I think the club should be, too," Dzeko said after Roma's 3-0 win Tuesday overturned a 4-1 first-leg defeat. "I turned down a lot of money by not going to Chelsea but that's not what I'm interested in. If we play like this we can play with anyone. I've never seen Barcelona in so much difficulty." Dzeko should know. He was on the Manchester City team that was eliminated by Barcelona in the last 16 in both 2014 and 2015. Roma suffocated Barcelona with high pressure, prompting the Catalan club to make a series of errant passes and turnovers. Barcelona had no answer for the aerial abilities of Dzeko and fellow forward Patrik Schick, who was the revelation of the night. Sparingly used previously this season due to a series of injuries, the 22-year-old Czech Republic striker had been set to join Juventus during the offseason but the deal collapsed because of a reported heart problem. So Roma picked him up instead from Sampdoria, where Schick scored 11 Serie A goals last season. Cengiz Under, another young attacking player, scored six goals for Roma in February and March and returned from injury by coming off the bench in the second leg. The 20-year-old Turkey winger's corner set up the header from Kostas Manolas that provided Roma's third goal. That came moments before Stephan El Shaarawy, another speedy and talented winger, was denied from close range. In all, Roma is developing a wealth of options in attack that combine velocity and strength, and Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco was hailed for his 3-4-1-2 formation. "We had never tried it before but over just three days he got it into our heads," said Roma captain Daniele De Rossi, who converted a penalty for Roma's second goal. "After the first leg we saw that the gap between us and them wasn't really all that large." Own-goals from De Rossi and Manolas handed Barcelona a 2-0 lead last week but Dzeko's late consolation goal in that match proved decisive when Roma advanced on away goals. Dzeko also scored the key goal when Roma eliminated Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 16. He has six goals in all in this season's competition. "The best is yet to come. The semifinal will be even greater," Dzeko said. "But of course, tonight is unforgettable," Dzeko added. "I don't have an adjective to describe it. Let's just say it was a crazy match — incredible. Nobody believed in us." Roma fans celebrated throughout the night, waving flags and driving scooters around the central Piazza Venezia. "Imperiali!" — Imperials — said the headline in Wednesday's Gazzetta dello Sport. French sports daily L'Equipe labeled it a "Romantada" — a play on the Spanish word "remuntada," which translates as comeback. It's the first time that Roma has reached the last four since it lost the 1984 final to Liverpool on penalties in its own stadium. The semifinal draw is scheduled for Friday and so far the only other club which has advanced is Liverpool, which is spearheaded by former Roma striker Mohamed Salah. While Roma keeps on surprising in the Champions League — see its 3-0 domination of Chelsea in the group stage — the Giallorossi have struggled in Serie A. Roma is fourth in the Italian league, a distant 21 points behind leader Juventus and level on points with Lazio entering Sunday's Rome derby. "Honestly I don't know why we can't transfer the mentality we have in the Champions League to Serie A," said Dzeko, who led Serie A with 29 goals last season. Still, this season already marks a turning point for Roma's American ownership team led by Boston executive James Pallotta. Roma has received preliminary approval to build a long-delayed new stadium with a design inspired by the Colosseum. The Champions League success might help speed up the stadium process — especially if Roma reaches the final in Kiev. "We can't think like we've achieved a miracle," De Rossi said. "We've got to keep playing and try to go all the way.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

Chelsea fires manager Antonio Conte after 2 years in charge

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Antonio Conte's protracted divorce from Chelsea was finalized on Friday when he was fired after a two-year tenure in which he won the English Premier League and FA Cup but failed to gain the power he craved at the London club. Chelsea began a terse, four-sentence statement on its website, "Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company." Leaving Stamford Bridge was always the likely outcome for Conte following a season in which Chelsea missed out on Champions League qualification after a fifth-place league finish, 30 points behind champion Manchester City. The Italian coach regularly grumbled about his failure to exert control, particularly over transfers. Contrast that to the end of his first season at the club, where Conte was feted for leading Chelsea to the league title by seven points after a record-breaking run of 13 straight wins in the middle of the season, sparked by an inspired and bold change of formation. Conte took preseason training this week at Chelsea's practice base in Cobham with players who hadn't featured at the World Cup, but reports emerged in the Italian media on Thursday saying Conte had been fired. That speculation only intensified when Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas and former Chelsea captain John Terry paid tribute to Conte on social media. "Thank you boss," Terry wrote on Twitter. "Great man, Great manager. I wish you every success in the future." The club's 64-word announcement was eventually made on Friday, ending with: "We wish Antonio every success in his future career." Conte still had a year left on a revised deal he signed last summer after delivering the fifth Premier League title since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003. Only the pay was improved, though, with Conte's contract still running for just another two seasons — hardly a show of commitment by either the club or its manager. The Italian's main gripe for the past year was Chelsea's failure to land the signings he really wanted for its Premier League title defense. Chelsea was beaten to the signing of Romelu Lukaku by Manchester United and then Fernando Llorente by Tottenham, for example. "The club decides every player," he moaned last season. Winning the FA Cup by beating Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in May — and getting one over his great managerial rival, Jose Mourinho — proved to be Conte's last hurrah and maintained his record of winning a trophy every season he has been in charge of Juventus — where he won the Serie A for four straight years — and Chelsea. Chelsea seeks a 13th permanent manager under Abramovich's ownership, and at possibly the most turbulent period of the Russian billionaire's trophy-filled reign. It emerged in May that Abramovich had yet to have his British visa renewed amid a crackdown by authorities on associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chelsea also halted plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge, citing an unfavorable climate to invest in the 500 million pound ($665 million) project. Conte leaves amid reports in the British and Italian media that former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri will take over at Chelsea for next season. Sarri's future has been up in the air since Napoli hired Carlo Ancelotti as its new coach in May. Sarri spent three years at the club and led it to two runner-up finishes and a third place, playing an entertaining and high-energy brand of football like that seen at Man City under Pep Guardiola, Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino, and Liverpool under Juergen Klopp. Sarri didn't win a major title at Napoli, however, and that would not be tolerated at Chelsea. As Conte and many of his predecessors have learned, even winning trophies is no guarantee of job security at Chelsea under Abramovich......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Champions League back in Chelsea s sights as rivals stumble

LONDON (AP) — Chelsea could squeeze into the Champions League after all. In the space of 20 days, Antonio Conte's side has reduced Tottenham's hold on fourth place in the English Premier League from 10 to two points. Cesc Fabregas was set up by Eden Hazard to secure a 1-0 victory over Swansea that gave Chelsea a third successive victory to take advantage of Tottenham's stumbles on Saturday. After Tottenham plays Watford on Monday, the north London club and Chelsea will have three games remaining. Adding further intrigue to the hunt for the three places below newly crowned champion Manchester City was Liverpool slipping to a third draw in four matches. With Mohamed Salah failing to score a 44th goal of the season, Liverpool was held by Stoke to 0-0. Juergen Klopp's priority is protecting a 5-2 advantage over Roma in the Champions League semifinals when it travels to Italy for the second leg on Wednesday. But if the five-time European champions aren't careful they might need to lift the cup again to secure a route back into the Champions League next season. Liverpool is only six points ahead of Chelsea having played a game more than the deposed champion it meets next Sunday at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United, which is two points ahead of Liverpool in second place, has four games remaining, starting on Sunday at home to sixth-place Arsenal. RELEGATION SCRAP The three teams in the bottom three staved off relegation, for now. West Bromwich Albion has mounted an improbable recovery under caretaker manager Darren Moore. Matt Phillips sealed a 1-0 victory at Newcastle — Moore's second success in a four-game unbeaten stint — to nudge the last-place team five points from safety. That's where Swansea is, a place and a point above the drop zone. Stoke is sandwiched between Southampton and West Brom, separated by two points from both fellow strugglers. Dusan Tadic scored twice to give Southampton its first home win since November, 2-1 over Bournemouth. Huddersfield isn't out of danger yet, sitting three points above Southampton after being beaten 2-0 by Everton, whose goals came from Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gueye. PALACE MAJESTIC Cyrstal Palace looked doomed after losing its opening seven games without scoring. The south London club climbed to 11th place — six points clear of the bottom three — after beating Leicester 5-0. Wilfried Zaha again excelled and scored the opening goal and James McArthur doubled the lead before gaining a man advantage in the 55th minute. Marc Albrighton was sent off for bringing down Zaha. The goal flurry came in the last 10 minutes when Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Patrick van Aanholt netted and Christian Benteke struck a penalty. Leicester, the surprise 2016 champion, is six points ahead of Palace in ninth place. BURNLEY FOR EUROPE Burnley can start to dream of playing in Europe after a 51-year absence, with seventh place virtual assured after drawing with Brighton 0-0. The northwest England club is six points clear of eighth-place Everton with two games remaining and a superior goal difference. Brighton moved five points clear of the relegation zone with nine points to play for. PROMOTION PUSH Cardiff has the edge to join Wolverhampton in returning to the Premier League. Cardiff beat Hull 2-0 to reclaim second place in the second-tier League Championship, a point ahead of Fulham heading into the final round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Dominant at home, Europe where Bayern & City measure success

By Rob Harris, Associated Press Three of the teams in the Champions League quarterfinals are in a luxurious position, and running away with their domestic competitions allows them to concentrate on European glory. Manchester City and Bayern Munich could even secure trophies between the first and second legs in Europe over the next week or so. City, which travels to Liverpool in an all-northwest England quarterfinal on Wednesday, has a 16-point lead in the Premier League. Bayern, which is a point better off at the Bundesliga summit, visits on Tuesday a Sevilla side that is in the European Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 60 years. Barcelona has a nine-point lead at home as it prepares to host Roma on Wednesday, with defending champion Real Madrid trailing by 13 points in third place. Madrid, though, is a European force. Champions League winners in three of the last four seasons, Zinedine Zidane's side visits Serie A leader Juventus on Tuesday. A closer look at the quarterfinal match-ups: ___ JUVENTUS-REAL MADRID Has Gareth Bale done enough to retain his place in Madrid's starting lineup? Either side of the recent international break, Bale scored three goals in two matches. But he wasn't entrusted with a starting place in the round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain — reflecting the uncertainty surrounding the Wales forward's status in the squad. "I'm pleased with his performance," Madrid coach Zidane said after Bale scored twice in a 3-0 win at relegation-threatened Las Palmas on Saturday. "You'll have to wait and see if he plays on Tuesday." Lucas Vazquez could drop out if Zidane restores the "BBC" front-line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Bale. Bale, though, could miss out again if Madrid decide to add an extra midfielder for the first leg in Turin by including Marco Asensio or Francisco "Isco" Alarcon. Madrid and Juventus are meeting for the first time since last season's final when the Spanish capital club swept to a 12th European title. The only Champions League final Madrid has failed to reach in the last four seasons was in 2014-15 — when it lost to Juventus in the semifinals. Juventus must raise its game after struggling in Serie A recently. After a 0-0 draw at lowly Spal, the team was outplayed by AC Milan for much of Saturday's match before Juan Cuadrado came off the bench to turn things around. On his first appearance after more than three months out with a groin injury, Cuadrado grabbed the crucial second goal in a 3-1 win. "He's come back well and has astounded me," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said, "because often in the past he hasn't done well coming off the bench." Juventus is once again in the hunt for a treble, leading Serie A by four points and through to the Italian Cup final. ___ BARCELONA-ROMA Barcelona can count on Lionel Messi again but how fit is he? After missing recent Argentina games with a muscular problem, he made a scoring return from the bench on Saturday against Sevilla to preserve Barcelona's unbeaten La Liga record this season. Coach Ernesto Valverde, however, said Messi is still bothered by pain heading into the game against Roma. The Italian capital club is awaiting a prognosis on Radja Nainggolan's thigh injury. The Belgium international, who has started all of Roma's Champions League matches, limped off 16 minutes into Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bologna. Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco is doubtful Nainggolan will recover in time "He is the 'Ninja,'" Di Francesco said. "He told me to wait and tried to run it off, but if he had to give up and leave the pitch that means there's really something wrong and the problem is serious." With Roma prioritizing the game against Barcelona, the lack of depth was evident on Saturday when Edin Dzeko had to come off the bench to salvage a draw. __ LIVERPOOL-MAN CITY City makes a return trip to the only stadium where it has lost during an otherwise unbeaten Premier League campaign. With Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane boasting 75 goals between them this season, Liverpool has an impressive attacking armory to take on Pep Guardiola's side. "They are almost unstoppable," Guardiola said. "The way Liverpool play is so complicated for us. We know that. They are so quick, they are so good." The 4-3 loss at Anfield in January was a blip in City's progression to the Premier League title that can be sealed with a win against Manchester United on Saturday. With the European first leg on Wednesday and the return at the Etihad Stadium next Tuesday, Guardiola's predicament will be whether to rest players for the Manchester derby and potentially miss out on winning the Premier League in perhaps the sweetest way. Guardiola is hoping to welcome Sergio Aguero back from a knee injury that has kept the striker out of action for a month. While Liverpool is England's most successful side with five European Cups, City has never won the competition. Guardiola, though, led Barcelona to two Champions League titles. ___ SEVILLA-BAYERN MUNICH Bayern's players must be dreading the sight of Sevilla: Spanish teams have eliminated them in the past four seasons. Before then, Bayern lifted the European Cup in the all-German 2013 final against Borussia Dortmund when Jupp Heynckes completed a treble before stepping down. The 72-year-old coach was brought out of retirement to return in October when Carlo Ancelotti was fired after losing to PSG. Heynckes has overseen a remarkable turnaround, with Bayern on course to repeat the 2013 treble. Sevilla, though, keeps on upsetting more illustrious sides. Not only was Jose Mourinho's Manchester United stunned in the round of 16 but Barcelona was held to a draw on Saturday. Sevilla, which won the Europa League in 2014, 2015 and 2016, is contesting its first European Cup quarterfinal since 1958. ___ Tales Azzoni in Madrid, Daniella Matar in Milan and Ciaran Fahey in Berlin contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 3rd, 2018

Kane reaches 100 Premier League goals in dramatic style

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — There couldn't have been a more dramatic way for Harry Kane to bring up 100 goals in the Premier League. It was the fifth minute of injury time, Liverpool was leading 2-1 in an action-packed game at Anfield, and home fans were seething after Tottenham was awarded a penalty in front of The Kop — courtesy of an intervention by the assistant referee. Kane already had a spot kick saved in the 87th minute, and was seen looking to the skies in disbelief after Mohamed Salah restored Liverpool's lead with a stunning individual goal in the first minute of stoppage time. This was Kane's chance to make amends. He took it. The England striker slotted away the penalty with what was virtually the last kick of the game to rescue a 2-2 draw for Tottenham and reach a significant scoring milestone in just 141 games in England's top division. Only Alan Shearer (124 games) has got there quicker. "I was nervous," Kane said. "It was a big moment, with a lot of pressure. But I stuck to the routine. "It's great to be in that 100 club now, and it's great to get something from the game after that roller-coaster of emotions." It was a big moment in the race for Champions League qualification, too. Liverpool could have moved five points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham with 12 games left, but the gap remains only two points. Chelsea is sandwiched between them, while Arsenal, boosted by two high-profile January signings in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, is four points further back. It looks set to go down to the wire. In the other game Sunday, Newcastle moved a point clear of the relegation zone by drawing 1-1 at Crystal Palace. ___ WONDER GOALS Kane's last-gasp penalty overshadowed two of the best goals seen in the Premier League this season. They couldn't have been more different, either. Victor Wanyama's 80th-minute equalizer, which canceled out Salah's goal in the third minute, was a fierce, first-time drive off his laces that flew into the top corner from 30 meters out. He had only come on as a substitute a minute earlier. Salah's second was also a goal of beauty. The forward wriggled past Ben Davies, cut inside from the right, then nipped between two challenges before poking a rising shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Salah was briefly level with Kane on 21 goals for the season, only for the Tottenham striker to move back in front after Virgil van Dijk was adjudged to have kicked Erik Lamela. The referee didn't initially give the penalty, but was persuaded to change his mind by his assistant after a minute of consultation. "Amazing from both teams," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. "So exciting to watch this type of game." ___ NEWCASTLE HOLDS ON Luka Milivojevic converted a 55th-minute penalty to earn Crystal Palace a point from a game it dominated for long spells. Christian Benteke, who missed great chances in both halves, won the penalty when his jersey was pulled by Newcastle defender Ciaran Clark and Milivojevic scored from the spot for his sixth goal of the season. The Serbia midfielder became Palace's joint-top scorer this season in the process. Mo Diame gave Newcastle the lead when he poked home a finish at the far post in the 23rd after Kenedy's low, inswinging corner went through a mass of bodies. With 12 games left, Newcastle is in 16th place but only a point off the relegation zone. Watford in 11th and Huddersfield in 19th are separated by only three points......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2018

Matter of when Man City wins title and how many records fall

By Steve Douglas and Rob Harris, Associated Press English soccer has never seen a team so utterly dominant as Manchester City entering the packed Christmas program. There seems little doubt Pep Guardiola will be raising the Premier League trophy for the first time in May. It is just a question of when City will wrap up its third title since 2014, and how many records will tumble on the way. City has already reeled off the most consecutive English top-flight wins — a record extended at the weekend to 17 games. Manchester United's record Premier League title-winning margin of 18 points from 2000 could also be under threat. And England could be looking at its third unbeaten "Invincibles" team after Preston in 1888-89 and Arsenal in 2003-04. So it doesn't bode well for a compelling second half of the Premier League season? Think again. The chase for the other three Champions League spots should be fierce with eight points separating second-place Manchester United and Arsenal in sixth. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are in the mix among them. Two leading sides will fall by the wayside and be denied a place among the European elite. The battle to stay in the world's richest soccer league is also intense. No team is stranded at the bottom, with Swansea in 20th place only six points behind Southampton in 13th. A closer look at the first half of the season: ___ TITLE RACE City leads by 13 points at the halfway stage after winning 18 of its 19 games and drawing one in the best ever start to a Premier League season. The only dropped points came at home to Everton in the second game on Aug. 21, when City played more than a half with 10 men following Kyle Walker's sending-off. Guardiola won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in late March in 2014 — aided by a winning streak of 19 games never before seen in a major European league. It will be tough for Guardiola to win the title that early in England as he chases a quadruple after finishing his first season at the club without a trophy. City is already through to the League Cup semifinals, into the Champions League last 16 and begins its FA Cup campaign in two weeks. Man United is in second place, with defending champion Chelsea three points further back in third. United manager Jose Mourinho says the title race is still on, but the rest of his peers among the chasing pack don't see City faltering now. It will be intriguing how Mourinho reacts to be seeing his title ambitions further fade in his second season at United, having already opted to publicly call out his "childish" players after a draw at Leicester on Saturday. ___ PICK OF THE PLAYERS Kevin De Bruyne is playing in a deeper role for City this season, virtually as a center midfielder, and it is bringing the best of out the Belgium midfielder. He has provided many of this season's wow moments, from scoring the winning goal at former club Chelsea in September with a fierce left-footed strike from outside the area to the assists for goals by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in the 7-2 win over Stoke in October Dovetailing perfectly with fellow playmaker David Silva, De Bruyne has six goals and eight assists but it's more than just his statistics. His prodigious work rate, range of passing and crossing ability — arguably the best in the Premier League since the days of David Beckham — that make him a strong contender for the player of the season awards. No wonder City is determined to nail down the 26-year-old De Bruyne to an improved, longer contract. ___ EMERGING TALENT Amid an offseason of record spending in English soccer, little was made of Watford signing Richarlison from Brazilian team Fluminense for 13 million pounds ($17 million). Yet the 20-year-old forward is proving a bargain, settling in quickly to the pace and intensity of the Premier League and being one of the key factors in Watford's impressive start to the season that, at one stage, saw them challenging around the top four. Direct, skilful and quick, Richarlison already has five goals and keeps getting himself in great positions to score more, with his finishing sometimes letting him down. Opponents have cottoned on to his impact, with Richarlison telling ESPN Brazil this month: "Teams are already marking me individually, they are putting two players there on my side." Chelsea and Tottenham have been linked with the Brazil under-20s player, who has yet to earn a call-up to the senior squad. That appears only a matter of time. Other players to break through this season are Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, the Danish center back who has ousted David Luiz, and Liverpool's Joe Gomez, the right back who has ensured long-term injury absentee Nathaniel Clyne hasn't been missed. ___ SURPRISE TEAM An unfashionable club is mixing it with the heavyweights of the Premier League against all the odds. We've heard this before, right? Two years ago, it was Leicester delivering a soccer fairy tale by somehow winning the league. Now it's Burnley's turn to provide the feel-good story of the season. Widely regarded as a relegation candidate at the start of the season, Burnley is currently seventh. Don't rule Burnley out of staying in the tussle for the Champions League qualification places, with Liverpool only three points better off in fourth. The northwest team hasn't finished a season higher than sixth place in the top flight since 1974. Burnley, which has conceded just 15 goals in 19 games, has already beaten Chelsea away and drawn at Tottenham and Liverpool. Not bad for a team that returned a profit of about $20 million in summer player sales when most of the rest of the Premier League was spending freely. ___ POINTS TO PROVE Alexis Sanchez is a superstar performing well below expectations this season, perhaps as a result of failing to secure a move to Man City from Arsenal during the summer. That transfer could be revived in January — Guardiola cut an awkward figure recently when asked about making a new bid for the Chile forward — to potentially leave City with an even greater wealth of attacking riches. Sanchez has five league goals. By this stage last season, he had already scored 12 on his way to career-high haul of 24 for a single league campaign. In the dugout, these are testing times for two British managers: Alan Pardew and Mark Hughes. Pardew succeeded Tony Pulis a month ago with a mission to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. Then the Baggies were two points above the bottom three. Now they are next-from-bottom after collecting only two points from Pardew's first five games. Hughes' future appears on a knife-edge at Stoke despite a pressure-relieving victory over West Brom on Saturday that hauled the team three points from the danger zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

De Bruyne inspires Man City to record-extending win vs Spurs

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Arms wrapped around his head, Kevin De Bruyne was writhing in agony on the turf. A stamp by Dele Alli, the Tottenham dynamo prone to hot-headed eruptions, typified the rough treatment faced by De Bruyne's Manchester City on Saturday. Tottenham just couldn't cope against the exhilarating force of a team which is steamrollering opponents and the English football records. De Bruyne's right ankle was fortunate to escape serious damage being inflicted by the thrust of Alli's boot. Alli was fortunate to avoid a red card, and De Bruyne was seething. Payback came within a couple of minutes when the ball was bulging in the Tottenham net. De Bruyne lashed a shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to net City's second in a 4-1 victory over last season's runners-up. With a record 16th successive English top-flight win, City surged 14 points clear of both Manchester United, which travels to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, and champion Chelsea. The Premier League chasing pack is slipping further into the distance. For many, like Tottenham which slipped to seventh, it is just about finishing in the four Champions League places. Arsenal reignited that challenge by beating Newcastle 1-0, rising to fourth by ending a three-game winless run. Chelsea remains five points ahead of Arsenal after also beating Southampton 1-0 courtesy of Marcos Alonso's free kick in first-half stoppage time. ___ RIVALRY UPENDED For a Tottenham side that finished above City the last two seasons, the decline appears alarming. An eight-point lead over City at the close of business in May last season has been turned into a 21-point deficit, even before this season reaches its midway point in a week. City, chasing its first Premier League title under Pep Guardiola, was gifted an opener in the 14th minute when Ilkay Gundogan was left unmarked to head in Leroy Sane's corner. Even though it took City until the final 20 minutes to extend its lead, this was a game controlled by the hosts with De Bruyne orchestrating the midfield in David Silva's absence. "You cannot imagine how good he plays in terms of the ball, but you also see how he runs," Guardiola said. "Everything is easier for the manager." After De Bruyne fired in City's second, he also won a penalty following Jan Vertonghen's sliding challenge. Gabriel Jesus hit the post and the follow-up was off target from Raheem Sterling. But Sterling still had time to find the net twice in the final 10 minutes. The first was the culmination of a counterattack started by De Bruyne. The second in the 90th owed much to Eric Dier missing the chance to block Bernardo Silva's throughball, allowing Sterling to round goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and tap into the net. Christian Eriksen scored a consolation once the game was far beyond Tottenham's reach. ___ GOAL OF THE DAY Mesut Ozil reminded Arsenal what it could be missing if he leaves at the end of the season on a free transfer. The piece of magic from the German came with a 23rd-minute volley powered into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area, lighting up a labored performance by his north London club against a relegation-threatened Newcastle. "It's important for him that he takes the risk to do what he did," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "Usually he is a guy who, 99 percent of the time in this position, he controls the ball and gives it to somebody else. "So I'm pleased he took the gamble to finish and I'm happy as well that he scored a very important goal." ___ HUGHES PRESSURE A power cut delayed Stoke's home game against West Ham, and the lights could soon be going out on Mark Hughes's tenure as manager after a 3-0 loss to the London club. Stoke slumped to a fifth loss in six games to sit one point above the relegation zone. Marko Arnautovic defied jeers on his return to Stoke to score West Ham's second goal, either side of Mark Noble's penalty and Diafra Sakho's strike. ___ BENTEKE DROUGHT ENDS Christian Benteke ended a 13-game run without a goal for Crystal Palace, stretching into last season, in a 3-0 victory at Leicester. Benteke also set up Wilfried Zaha for Palace's second. Leicester was reduced to 10 men when Wilfried Ndidi was shown a second yellow card for a dive on his 21st birthday. Bakary Sako added a third for Palace, which is enjoying a seven-match unbeaten run that has lifted Roy Hodgson's side two points clear of the drop zone. ___ HUDDERSFIELD ON RISE Huddersfield climbed to 11th in the 20-team standings after winning 4-1 at Watford. Elias Kachunga scored the northern club's first away goal since the opening day of its first top-flight campaign in 45 years. Aaron Mooy doubled Huddersfield's lead midway through the second half. After Watford striker Troy Deeney was sent off for a dangerous tackle, Laurent Depoitre extended the visitors' lead at the start of the second half. It was 10 vs. 10 for the final half-hour after Jonathan Hogg received a second booking. Although Abdoulaye Doucoure pulled one back, Mooy was on target again from the penalty spot in the 89th. ___ MISSED CHANCE Burnley would have gone fourth with a win at Brighton but was held to a 0-0 draw. Brighton striker Glenn Murray missed a penalty......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 17th, 2017

Goals dry up for Man United as Man City delivers masterclass

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — The goals finally dried up for Manchester United in the English Premier League. They are flowing more than ever at title rival Manchester City. Hours after United's cautious approach eked out its latest 0-0 draw at Liverpool on Saturday, City produced an attacking masterclass in a 7-2 home win over Stoke — the biggest victory in the league this season. The standard of opponent was vastly different but it was hard to escape the contrast between the top two teams, who many are tipping to be vying for the title. After eight rounds, the Manchester rivals remain unbeaten but City has taken the outright lead for the first time by two points from its neighbor. City is setting new standards in attacking play: Its goal tally of 29 is the most by a team in the first eight league games of a top-flight season in 123 years, since Everton scored 30 in 1894. Before its trip to Anfield, United had 21 goals from seven games. There was finally something to celebrate for Crystal Palace, which registered its first points and goals of the season in a surprise 2-1 win over Chelsea. With Chelsea losing for the second straight game, third-placed Tottenham leads the chase to the Manchester clubs after beating Bournemouth 1-0 for a first league win at its temporary home of Wembley Stadium in four attempts. Arsenal conceded in injury time to lose 2-1 at Watford. Here's a look at Saturday's action: strong>HISTORY REPEATED /strong> Twelve months after a 0-0 draw in what has traditionally been regarded as the biggest fixture in English soccer, Liverpool and Man United played out another goalless draw at Anfield. Afterward, coaches Juergen Klopp and Jose Mourinho launched a defense of their respective footballing philosophies, aiming little digs at each other and claiming private victories. The loser was a global audience that expects more quality from England's most decorated and illustrious clubs. United defended in numbers and had goalkeeper David De Gea to thank for preserving a point in the game's most significant incident, the Spain goalkeeper sticking out his left boot to keep out Joel Matip's effort from point-blank range. Liverpool controlled possession but couldn't pierce the wall of white United jerseys set up by Mourinho, whose players carried out his game plan to the letter. strong>SLICK CITY /strong> City didn't even need top scorer Sergio Aguero in its latest attacking clinic. The Argentina striker stayed on the bench on his return to the squad after sustaining a broken rib in a car crash. He watched as City's free-scoring attack — a front three of Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne orchestrating behind them — ran amok at Etihad Stadium. On his 100th appearance for City, De Bruyne had a hand in four of the goals — including a no-look pass in one of the build-ups and a threaded ball that took out four Stoke players for Sane to score. Gabriel Jesus scored twice and Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho and Bernardo Silva also netted for City, which has at least five goals in its last three home league games. City has won seven of its eight games. strong>RELIEF FOR PALACE /strong> 'We're Crystal Palace, we score when we want,' sang the fans as the league's bottom club found the net for the first time this season — in its eighth game. Invariably, it was an own goal, by Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, in the 11th minute, but it sparked a surprisingly impressive display by Palace at Selhurst Park. Tiemoue Bakayoko equalized for the champions with a header from a corner in the 18th but Palace responded on the stroke of halftime through winger Wilfried Zaha, who was back in the team for the first time since getting injured on the opening weekend. Chelsea has lost back-to-back games, having been beaten by Manchester City 1-0 before the international break, and has dropped nine points behind first-place City. strong>TOTTENHAM WINS, ARSENAL LOSES /strong> After two draws and a loss at Wembley, Tottenham finally won at its new home thanks to Christian Eriksen's goal just after halftime. Harry Kane had his first game in six without a goal. In contrast to its concerning home form, Spurs have won all four away league games. They stayed five points behind City, and trimmed the gap to United to three points. Tom Cleverley scored Watford's winner against Arsenal in the second minute of injury time, completing his team's comeback from going behind to Per Mertesacaker's goal. Troy Deeney equalized from the penalty spot. In other games, Burnley came back to draw 1-1 against West Ham, which had Andy Carroll was sent off for two bookings, and Swansea beat Huddersfield 2-0. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2017

Rampant Manchester City looking more like a Guardiola team

em>By Sam Johnston, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — Although it's taken a year longer than many expected, Manchester City is finally beginning to resemble a Pep Guardiola-coached team. City remained in rampant form as it ended Watford's unbeaten start to the English Premier League with a resounding 6-0 victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Guardiola's side has scored 15 goals in three matches since the international break, following 5-0 and 4-0 wins over Liverpool and Feyernood respectively. City stuttered to a third-place finish in Guardiola's debut season while failing to produce the stylish play of its manager's former sides, but a second straight offseason of significant personnel changes appears to be paying dividends. 'It was so good, especially after an away game in the Champions League,' Guardiola said. 'I was lucky to manage Barcelona with many outstanding performances but this week has been a lot of goals. We have found our game, we can make short passes, and we have a lot of energy from our full backs.' Sergio Aguero scored a predatory hat trick and laid on an assist for Gabriel Jesus, while Nicolas Otamendi headed in, and Raheem Sterling added a late penalty. The victory took City to the top of the table, but Manchester United can join it on Sunday with a win over Everton. Elsewhere, Liverpool failed to shake off the effects of last week's thrashing by City, letting Burnley leave Anfield with a 1-1 draw. Crystal Palace became the first club in league history to lose its opening five games without scoring. Swansea brought Tottenham back to earth in a scoreless draw at Wembley, three days after Spurs tore apart Borussia Dortmund. Newcastle made it three league wins a row by beating Stoke 3-1, Leicester and Huddersfield drew 1-1, and West Brom and West Ham played out a goalless draw. strong>AGUERO CLOSING IN /strong> Having struggled at times last season, Aguero appears to have been revitalized by his partnership with Jesus and was at his predatory best as he completed the sixth Premier League hat trick of his career. The Argentine forward is just three goals away from breaking Eric Brook's 177-goal record at Man City. 'I am very happy,' Aguero said. 'I am focused on scoring the next goal but what matters is that we won.' strong>NO MANE, MORE PROBLEMS /strong> Philippe Coutinho made his first start of the season for Liverpool after failing to force a summer move to Barcelona, but his return wasn't enough to fill the void left by the suspended Sadio Mane. Liverpool struggled at times last season without Mane and it appears little has changed. Summer recruit Mohamed Salah's tying goal secured a point for the Reds but even he can't match the brilliance of Mane, who is serving a three-match suspension after being sent off against Manchester City last weekend. Burnley has picked up away points at three of last season's top-six teams, beating Chelsea on opening day and drawing against Tottenham at Wembley. strong>ROY'S RETURN /strong> Roy Hodgson's first match in charge of Crystal Palace looked like the team's previous four matches. In a 1-0 loss to Southampton, Steven Davis' early goal proved decisive. Hodgson has been out of management since Euro 2016, where his England side was eliminated by minnows Iceland. Having become the first Premier League manager to be appointed in his 70s, Hodgson went for a return to a traditional four-man defense, but it took Southampton just six minutes to breach it. strong>WEMBLEY CURSE REMAINS /strong> Tottenham is still looking for a first domestic victory of the season at its temporary Wembley Stadium home. Harry Kane struck the crossbar in the second half but Swansea displayed great resilience to hold on for 0-0. Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs have failed to win all three league games at Wembley, where it's playing while White Hart Lane is redeveloped this season. strong>DEFENDER SCORES AGAIN /strong> Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles was an unlikely star for a second straight game as the defender headed home the winner against Stoke after Xherdan Shaqiri cancelled out Christian Atsu's opener. Newcastle beat Stoke 3-1 at St. James' Park. Also, West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry equaled Ryan Giggs' Premier League appearance record in his 632nd game.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2017

Coutinho is back but problems run deeper at Liverpool

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Philippe Coutinho's belated return to the Liverpool team adds an extra layer of ingenuity to a forward line that promises to be one of the most thrilling in European soccer this season. Entertainment is unlikely to be in short supply at Anfield now that the front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah will be prompted from midfield by Coutinho, who has been reintegrated after his unsettling offseason when he was wooed by Barcelona. However many goals they score, though, Liverpool seems destined to be debilitated by its frailty at the back. Whether it's a collective problem — as manager Juergen Klopp is suggesting — or individuals simply making bad decisions or mistakes, Liverpool doesn't have the defense to make a realistic challenge for major honors this season. This past week, Liverpool has lost 5-0 at Manchester City, albeit after being down to 10 men for more than half the game, and then ruined a dominant performance against Sevilla in the Champions League by giving away two sloppy goals in a 2-2 draw. There are legitimate concerns starting with the goalkeepers and going right across the defensive line, and they have been there from the moment Klopp took over in October 2015. It was odd, then, that he chose to sign only one defender during the transfer window, left back Andrew Robertson from relegated Premier League team Hull for 8 million pounds ($10.7 million). Robertson has played only one game so far this season. Would things have been different had Liverpool managed to sign Southampton center back Virgil van Dijk, its much-publicized top defensive target? Klopp doubts it. 'I know here you're always looking for this thing about the defense ... that these problems will have been sorted with one player — it was mentioned we put all our money together and do this,' Klopp said after the Sevilla game. 'It's not about this. It's about being dominant and losing a little bit of concentration, the grip of the game that you do not have in all defensive moments.' The issues are clear to see. Klopp has rotated his two goalkeepers, Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, in the last four matches, continuing the long-held uncertainty in that position. At center back, Joel Matip is good on the ball but not a commanding presence at set pieces or under the high ball, while Dejan Lovren can be clumsy and error-prone, as shown against Sevilla when he completely missed an attempted clearance to allow a tap-in goal in the fifth minute. At left back, Alberto Moreno can be an attacking threat but a defensive liability, and Robertson is inexperienced on this stage. At right back, youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold (18) and Joe Gomez (20) have bright futures but can be caught out in behind them. Of the so-called 'Big 6' in the Premier League in Klopp's time in England, Liverpool had the leakiest defense in the 2015-16 season and only Arsenal conceded more goals last season. The neutral will want Klopp to keep things as they are, starting with the home match against Burnley in the league on Saturday. Liverpool is arguably the most exciting team to watch in the Premier League, with opportunities popping up regularly at both ends. The team's first-half performance in the Sevilla game was so exhilarating that Liverpool's fans gave the players a standing ovation as they went off for halftime. Throw the returning Coutinho into the mix, and Adam Lallana when he is back from a thigh injury maybe next month, and Liverpool's attacking options are seemingly limitless. It's what happens at the other end, however, that could decide the Reds' fate this season. Here's what else to watch out for this weekend in the Premier League: ___ strong>ROONEY'S RETURN /strong> On Sunday, Wayne Rooney makes his first return to Old Trafford since leaving Manchester United to rejoin boyhood club Everton. Rooney spent 13 trophy-filled years at United and is the club's record scorer with 253 goals, yet seemingly isn't held in the same regard as United's great names of the past like Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs. United midfielder Jesse Lingard predicted Rooney will receive a good reception, saying: 'He's a legend at the club and we will always welcome him back.' United leads on goal difference after collecting 10 points from a possible 12. Everton has scored only two goals in four games this season, Rooney grabbing both of them. ___ strong>HODGSON'S FIRST GAME /strong> Fifteen months after leaving the England job, Roy Hodgson is back in management after taking over at Crystal Palace. Palace fired Frank de Boer after only four league games, with the team in last place and yet to score a goal in four straight losses. Hodgson's first game in charge is at home to Southampton on Saturday.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 15th, 2017

Jackson scores 29, outshines Young in Summer League debut

By Steve Reed, Associated Press Jaren Jackson Jr.’s NBA Summer League debut couldn’t have gone much better. The same can’t be said for Trae Young. Jackson, the fourth pick in the NBA draft, outshined No. 5 overall pick Young in their first NBA action. The 6'10" Jackson had 29 points and shot 8-of-13 from three-point range to help Memphis Grizzlies defeat Young’s Atlanta Hawks 103-88 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in Salt Lake City. Jackson came out hot, hitting his first two three-pointers and was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first half, including a buzzer-beater from half court to give his team a 47-41 lead at the break. The 18-year-old Jackson showed the shooting stroke that made him a 40 percent three-point shooter in college and scored 12 straight points during one stretch in the fourth quarter to help the Grizzlies pull away. “I definitely felt hot at different spots during the game. If kind of felt surreal a little bit,” said Jackson, the team’s highest drafted player since Hasheem Thabeet. While Jackson was doing just about everything right, Young was having a miserable debut. Young, who averaged 27.4 points per game last season for Oklahoma, missed all nine shot attempts in the first half, including six three-pointers. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year struggled to recover after air-balling his first two shots and finished with 16 points on 4-of-20 shooting. He was 1-of-11 from beyond the arc. GRIZZLIES 103, HAWKS 88 Kobi Simmons had 19 of his 21 points in the first half and finished 8-of-13 from the field for Grizzlies, while first-round pick Jevon Carter chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds. Tyler Dorsey led the Hawks with 18 points and seven rebounds. Omari Spellman, one of Atlanta’s three first-round draft picks, had a solid showing with 11 points and six rebounds. Their other first-round pick Kevin Huerter did not play because of a wrist injury. JAZZ 92, SPURS 76 Georges Niang scored 17 points, while first-round draft pick Grayson Allen had 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Jazz defeated the Spurs 92-76 in Utah. Tony Bradley had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Spurs were led by Derrick White’s 22 points and seven rebounds. San Antonio’s top draft pick Lonnie Walker struggled in his debut, limited to seven points while shooting 3-of-16 from the field. WARRIORS 79, HEAT 68 Kendrick Nunn had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the world champions Warriors over the Heat 79-68 in a game played in Sacramento. The Warriors’ first-round draft pick Jacob Evans did not play because of a bruised toe he suffered in practice last week. Derrick Jones Jr. had a big game for Miami with 24 points and 11 rebounds, including a monster two-hand dunk after slashing down the lane. Bam Adebayo added 14 points and 14 rebounds. KINGS 98, LAKERS 93 Marvin Bagley III showed why he was the No. 2 pick, turning in a strong debut with 18 points and six rebounds on the Kings' home floor. Harry Giles made a successful debut after being held out of last season with knee injuries. Giles, the 20th overall pick in 2017, was 6 of 10 from the field and finished with 13 points and three rebounds. De'Aaron Fox had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Frank Mason had 16 points, including a key three-pointer late to help seal the win. Josh Hart had 23 points for the Lakers before being ejected from the game with 1:04 left and his team trailing by four after picking up his second technical for disputing a call. Rookie Moritz Wagner had 23 points and seven rebounds......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 3rd, 2018

Belgium, team of tomorrow, hopes to finally win now

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Belgium is the team of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. De Rode Duivels, as the Red Devils are known, have been playing for 114 years and remain in search of their first major title. A polyglot known for waffles, chocolate and beer, the nation of 11 million hopes for soccer to join the national identity, boosted by a golden generation that includes Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bryune. Belief is growing. Philippe, King of the Belgians, was on hand wearing a bright red tie and team scarf. "Belgium is a small country, you know? So we're very happy that we have this kind of talent," defender Toby Alderweireld said after Saturday's 5-2 rout of Tunisia all but clinched a round-of-16 World Cup berth. "Hopefully we can do something special." Lukaku tied Cristiano Ronaldo for the tournament lead with four goals, becoming the first with consecutive two-goal games in the World Cup since Diego Maradona and Gary Lineker in 1986. Hazard also scored twice , and Michy Batshuayi added a 90th-minute goal after failing to convert a trio of prime chances. Belgium opened with a 3-0 victory over Panama and has an 8-2 goal difference. Ranked third in the world behind defending champion Germany and Brazil, the Red Devils have become a chic choice to join the exclusive club of eight World Cup winners: Brazil (five), Germany and Italy (four), Argentina and Uruguay (two), and England, France and Spain (one). "Belgium was not the favorite because of the history of the country — and especially the history of the other countries," said former Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf, now a Fox analyst. "They're growing. Also, they're playing with important team spirit. So for me, it's not really a big surprise what they're doing at the moment." Training is conducted in English under Spanish coach Roberto Martinez, who spent a decade managing in England. Postgame interviews sound like a corridor at European Union headquarters in Brussels, with players alternating among English, French, Dutch and Spanish. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has picked up a Scouse accent after five seasons with Liverpool. Seventeen of the 23 players were on Champions League clubs last season, a glamorous group that includes Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. "That gives them the confidence and the experience to play at the highest level. That is what a World Cup is about," Mignolet said. "For us, it's now the third tournament in a row where we play, which gives you the experience, so nobody's really fussed about the occasion anymore. Maybe the two tournaments were a bit different where we arrived and we were thinking about what was going to happen. Everything was new." After completing the group stage against England on Thursday, Belgium would face Colombia, Poland, Senegal or Japan in the second round, and then could have a possible quarterfinal against Germany, Brazil or Mexico. Since losing their first match under Martinez to Spain two years ago, Belgium is unbeaten in 21 games (16 wins) and has outscored opponents 72-17 during the run. But while outscoring Panama and Tunisia by 8-2, the defense and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois looked like they could be exploited by better opposition. "Today what I saw is a team that it was prepared to suffer, prepared to work for each other, and we look well-balanced in that respect," Martinez said. "So when you've got that, then the individuals can show their talent." Lukaku has 15 goals in his last 10 international matches but left in the 59th minute after injuring an ankle ligament. Hazard came off nine minutes later with a calf problem, and forward Dries Mertens came out in the 86th after an ankle issue. Belgium came closest to a title at the 1980 European Championship, losing 2-1 to a German team that got a pair of goals from Horst Hrubesch. It has reached semifinals twice at major events, losing 2-1 to West Germany at the 1972 Euros and to Maradona's Argentina at the 1986 World Cup. After missing two straight World Cups, the Red Devils returned four years ago, beat the U.S. in extra time in the round of 16, then lost to Argentina in the quarters. At the 2016 Euros, they wasted an early lead in a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to Wales. Given the past and the sound and fury that would follow any misstep, Martinez wants to manage expectations. "To be a favorite in a World Cup, you need to have the know-how of winning a World Cup," he said. "The World Cup is something that probably gives you an advantage psychologically when you've won it before.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 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

Zidane s successor faces high bar, doubts about stars

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Zinedine Zidane had barely finished announcing that he was leaving Real Madrid when speculation began about who would succeed him. Twenty-four hours later, both Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Germany coach Joachim Loew — two of the top names rumored to be on Madrid's list of candidates — have said they are staying put. Pochettino said Friday that his "commitment is total" to Tottenham. He signed a five-year contract extension last week. Loew, who is preparing Germany to defend its World Cup title in Russia, said "it's not an issue for me. I'm at the World Cup now. I can completely rule it out now." Other coaches that Madrid president Florentino Perez supposedly is considering include Chelsea's Antonio Conte, exiting Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former Madrid player Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez. While the Madrid job is one of soccer's most coveted posts, its next coach will have some hurdles to tackle. STARS IN DOUBT The biggest worry for any coach coming to the Spanish capital will be the uncertain future of the team's top stars. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale appear to be mulling an exit, at least according to statements they made just moments after Madrid beat Liverpool in last weekend's Champions League final. Ronaldo put a huge damper on Madrid's celebrations by appearing to speak of his time at Madrid as having reached its end. "In the next few days I'll give the fans an answer because they are the ones who have always been by my side," Ronaldo said. "It was very beautiful to be with Madrid." Ronaldo said he would clear up his future once he joins the Portuguese national team next week as it prepares for the World Cup. Bale, who scored twice as a substitute to beat Liverpool 3-1, was more explicit in stating his desire to get more playing time after a season during which he lost his spot in the starting 11. Midfielder Francisco "Isco" Alarcon has also complained about not enjoying the same untoucbable status as Ronaldo, defender Sergio Ramos or midfielder Luka Modric. COMMITMENT Zidane could hardly have set the bar any higher with three straight European Cups. Still, the Frenchman leaves a Madrid team that woefully underperformed in both the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey this season. It is likely that only his status as fan favorite from his playing days at Madrid and his titles from the previous two seasons kept Zidane in his job through the first six months of last season, until the team finally found its form in the Champions League. Madrid finished in third place in the league, a whopping 17 points adrift champion Barcelona. In the Copa del Rey, the team was eliminated at home by a modest Leganes in the quarterfinals, a moment which Zidane said was the worst of his coaching stint with the club. Whoever inherits the team will have to improve its work ethic to face the weekly grind of games in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey if it hopes to dethrone Barcelona from both domestic competitions. BENZEMA Zidane has been the biggest public defender of Karim Benzema, fending off calls from fans and the local sports media to bench the struggling striker. Benzema scored only five times in 32 league appearances this season, his lowest mark since arriving at Madrid in 2009. If the club doesn't sign a replacement for Benzema this offseason, then its next coach will have to help him recover his best form. YOUNG PLAYERS Madrid tried to rejuvenate its squad last year by bringing in a group of young Spanish players, including defenders Theo Hernandez and Jesus Vallejo, midfielders Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente, and forward Borja Mayoral. But none earned a spot in Zidane's starting lineup or his group of preferred backups. Madrid's in-coming coach will have to bring those players into the fold so their careers don't stagnate any further......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 2nd, 2018

Zidane quits as Real Madrid coach after Champs League treble

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Zinedine Zidane quit as Real Madrid coach on Thursday, less than a week after leading the team to its third straight Champions League title, saying the club needed a change in command. The 45-year-old Zidane, who was coach for two and half seasons, said he felt it was the right moment — for him and for the team — to make the move. "This club needs a change to keep winning," Zidane said. "With me it would have been complicated to keep winning." It was a surprising announcement by Zidane, who won nine titles as Madrid coach, including the three Champions League titles, one Spanish league title, one Spanish Super Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups. "It was a completely unexpected decision," Madrid president Florentino Perez said. "Today is a sad day for me, for the fans and for all the people who work at the club. I wish we could always have Zidane by our side, but we know that when Zizou makes a decision, the only thing we can do is to accept it and respect it." Zidane said there wasn't a specific reason that led him to his decision. "You have to know when to quit," he said. "After three years, (the club) needs a change in speech, a new work methodology." Zidane mentioned the struggles the team faced this season, including in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey. Madrid finished third in the league — 17 points behind champion Barcelona — and was eliminated at home by Leganes in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, a moment which Zidane said was the worst of his coaching career with the club. "We went through good moments but also complicated ones, and I don't forget them," Zidane said. "I want to leave when everything is going well. This is a good moment to end it well." Zidane spoke little about his future but said he is not immediately looking to coach another club. Perez also didn't talk much about the club's search for a new coach. Zidane said his best moment with Madrid was when he was signed to play for the club in 2001. "As a coach, there were a lot things, like winning the Champions League, but if there was one specific moment, it was to win La Liga (in 2017). It was the greatest thing," the Frenchman said. Zidane's decision to quit came after Cristiano Ronaldo hinted he could be leaving the club. The star forward said after the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev that "it was very beautiful" to have played with Madrid. He has yet to make any announcements about his future since then. Zidane was hired in January 2016 for what was his first major head-coaching job. The former star player arrived surrounded by doubts because of his lack of coaching experience but quickly surpassed expectations. Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez after a stint with Madrid's "B'' team. He had been an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti when Madrid won the Champions League in 2014. As a player, Zidane was in two consecutive Champions League finals with Juventus, losing both times, including to Madrid in 1998. He finally won the European title as a Madrid player in 2002, scoring an amazing volley in the final against Bayer Leverkusen. With France, he won the 1998 World Cup. In the 2006 final, he was sent off for headbutting Italy defender Marco Materazzi. "It could be a 'see you soon,' because Madrid has given me everything and I'll be linked to this club my entire life," Zidane said. "The decision may not make a lot of sense to many, but it does to me. It was time to make a change.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2018

Thompson s hot hand carries Warriors into Game 7 with Rockets

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson flashed back to a night he left the arena still in uniform, furious about his forgettable performance against Denver. It used to be he struggled to shake off a bad night, or even a bad start to a game. Now, he just keeps shooting. Whenever he feels like it, from wherever. No conscience. A hand or two in his face, no matter. “I was not always like this. I used to be so hard on myself, especially early in my career,” Thompson said. “... I learned, as I get older, if you play with passion, you play hard, and you leave the game saying I gave everything I have tonight in those 48 minutes, you can live with the result.” The Warriors’ season lives on largely thanks to Thompson’s shooting touch. Golden State is one win from a fourth straight NBA Finals, headed back to Houston for Monday night’s (Tuesday, PHL time) Game 7. He came through with the defending champions’ season on the line in another do-or-die Game 6, just as he did two years ago at Oklahoma City. This time he scored 35 points with nine three-pointers as the Warriors rallied with a huge second half to beat the Rockets 115-86 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) to force a deciding game in the Western Conference finals. His defense shined, too. Oh, and the typically subdued Thompson let his emotions flow for all to see: He flexed his biceps Draymond Green style, pumped his arms like Kevin Durant and yelled out the way Stephen Curry often does at Oracle Arena. Thompson has long been content to be the understated All-Star among the four in Golden State’s starting lineup. “I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could tonight. Probably sounded more vocal than I usually am,” Thompson acknowledged. “When your back’s against the wall, if your shot’s not falling, you can always control your passion and how hard you play. Usually when I do that, it trickles over to other aspects of my game.” Curry’s Splash Brother did it in 2016 when he scored 41 points against Durant’s former Thunder team with the Warriors facing elimination. They went on to win Game 7 before falling to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in a seven-game NBA Finals. Durant had no interest in recollecting, smiling and laughing with Curry as he said, “next question.” As for Curry? “I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory,” the two-time MVP quipped. No arguing they both appreciate Thompson’s no-fear shooting approach and ability to almost single-handedly turn the tide of a game with a timely three-pointer or two — or nine. Once Golden State got going in transition, following clutch defensive stops, Thompson found the looks he so prefers from long range. “I feel like we’re the best team in the world and most fun team in the world to watch when we’re pushing that ball, getting defensive stops and making plays,” he said. “We’ve got too much talent not just to hit singles like Coach always says. Trust the next man ahead of us. It will end up working in our favor most of the time.” Thompson shot 13-for-23 and 9-of-14 from deep as the Warriors responded from an early 17-point deficit to dominate James Harden and Houston the final three quarters, outscoring the Rockets 93-47 after trailing 39-22 at the end of the first. Thompson went a combined 20-of-32 from three-point range in those two impressive Game 6 shows, Saturday and in 2016. “I think Klay doesn’t worry too much about repercussions. He doesn’t worry about judgment and results. I think he just loves to play,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s so comfortable in his own skin. I just think he wants to go out there and hoop, and he doesn’t worry about much else. So the pressure doesn’t seem to bother him much. He just competes and plays. As I said, the two-way ability of this guy hounding the MVP of the league, most likely, all game, and continuing to rain down three-pointers, he’s amazing.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

Mane leads Senegal s 23-man World Cup squad

By Ken Maguire, Associated Press DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal named its final 23-man squad for the World Cup on Thursday, with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane leading a group that includes key defender Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli and midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate of West Ham. Coach Aliou Cisse, captain of the 2002 team that reached the quarterfinals in the country's only previous World Cup appearance, gambled on the fitness of Monaco winger Keita Balde and Anderlecht defender Kara Mbodji. Balde last played on April 7 while Mbodji missed most of this season with a knee problem but has recently returned to training. The 20-year-old Rennes winger Ismaila Sarr also made the squad. The midfield has an English league look with Kouyate, Idrissa Gueye of Everton, Cheikh Ndoye of Birmingham and Pape Alioune Ndiaye of Stoke selected. Cisse, appointed in 2015, is relying on the players who brought Senegal through the qualifying campaign. "This team, this selection above all reflects continuity and coherence," Cisse said at a news conference in Dakar. "For me, it's essential to preserve this positive dynamic." Cisse said he's been monitoring Mbodji's recovery and is confident the defender will be fit. If so, he'll likely form a strong partnership in central defense with Koulibaly. Much of Senegal's hopes rest with the 26-year-old Mane, who has been in sizzling form with 10 goals in 29 appearances in the Premier League. Although it's only Senegal's second World Cup appearance, there is plenty of expectation with the squad having been drawn with Poland, Japan and Colombia in Group H at the finals in Russia. Cisse's men will have training sessions next week at a resort town outside Dakar before moving camp to Vittel, a city in northeast France. Mane will join up late as Liverpool prepare for the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26. Senegal has pre-World Cup friendlies scheduled against Luxembourg (May 31), Croatia (June 8) and South Korea (June 11). ___ Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes, France); Khadim Ndiaye (Horoya, Guinea); Alfred Gomis (Spal 2013, Italy). Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy); Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor, Turkey); Moussa Wague (Kas Eupen, Belgium); Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux, France); Kara Mbodji (Anderlecht, Belgium); Saliou Ciss (Valenciennes, France); Salif Sane (Hanover, Germany). Midfielders: Cheihkou Kouyate (West Ham, England); Alfred Ndiaye (Wolverhampton, England); Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, England); Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham City, England); Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Stoke, England). Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool, England); Diafra Sakho (Rennes, France); Moussa Sow (Bursaspor, Turkey), Moussa Konate (Amiens, France); Ismaila Sarr (Rennes, France); Keita Balde (Monaco, France); Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke, England); Mbaye Niang (Torino, Italy)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Atletico finishes strong after poor start to season

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It all turned out just fine for Atletico Madrid. After enduring a poor start to the season, Atletico ended it on a very high note. Diego Simeone's team is celebrating the Europa League title and still has a chance to finish second in the Spanish league, a feat it hasn't achieved since 2014. "We're very happy. We've been doing well year after year," Simeone said. "We've always said the best way to start winning again was to always keep trying." It was the sixth title for Simeone since he arrived in 2012 to revamp Atletico and make it into perennial title contender. He is now tied with Luis Aragones for the most titles with the club. "It's about more than a trophy," Simeone said. "It represents the value of hard work, a steady hand and consistency, values to be successful in life." Life poured onto the streets of the Spanish capital late Wednesday to celebrate Atletico winning a third Europa League trophy after beating Marseille 3-0 in the final in Lyon. It was a good way to end a season which began with very high expectations for Atletico but mostly disappointed until the last few weeks. The main goal was to make it back to the Champions League final after coming very close to winning the title in recent seasons, But it couldn't even get past the group stage. Atletico easily made it to the knockout stages in the last four seasons, losing the final to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016, and being a semifinalist last season and a quarterfinalist in 2015. "We came very close in two Champions League finals, and in the semifinals last season," Simeone said. "We lost one (final) with two minutes left, and another on penalties. But we got ourselves back up." Atletico lost to Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey to see another title opportunity slip by, and in the Spanish league it stayed near the top throughout the season but was never really able to mount a title challenge against Barcelona. Not helpful was a FIFA transfer ban which wasn't lifted until January, when Atletico could finally sign striker Diego Costa. Atletico needs a draw at home against Eibar on Sunday to hold on to second place ahead of Real Madrid and secure its best finish since it won the league in 2014. Atletico finished third behind either Barcelona or Madrid in all the other years since 2012-13, which was the team's first full season under Simeone. A draw or a loss by Real Madrid at Villarreal on Saturday will also be enough for Atletico, which is three points ahead of the city rival with one match to play. The teams are even in the head-to-head tiebreaker — they drew 0-0 and 1-1 — but Atletico trails on overall goal difference. Sunday's Liga game will also mark the end of Fernando Torres' career with Atletico. The former Spain striker earlier announced he will leave the club at the end of the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 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

PVL: PayMaya soars to 2nd straight win at expense of Pocari

PayMaya put on a strong start in the tournament after quickly dispatching Pocari-Air Force in three sets, 25-20, 25-19, 25-22, in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Saturday at People's Gym in Tuguegarao City. The High Flyers climbed to 2-0 and denied the defending champions of the conference, a victory in their season opener. Nicole Rountree was solid for PayMaya as she finished with 18 points to lead the High Flyers. PayMaya head coach Roger Gorayeb said his team had better movement compared to their last game and facing the defending champion pumped up his imports Rountree and Shellby Sullivan. "As compared to our first game, we committed less mistakes...Keep on reading: PVL: PayMaya soars to 2nd straight win at expense of Pocari.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 12th, 2018