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Messi is running out of time to save Argentina’s World Cup

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia --- For Lionel Messi, the time is now. Time to score at the World Cup. Time to save Argentina from another crushing disappointment. Time to live up to his reputation as one of the world's best players. Time to end questions about his performance in the biggest games. One thing there isn't time for is celebration. Messi turned 31 on Sunday, two days before Tuesday's must-win game against Nigeria. Nigeria would advance with a win, and a draw might be enough for the Super Eagles depending on group leader Croatia's result against Iceland. Other stars have come through at this World Cup. Messi's great rival, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, has scored four ...Keep on reading: Messi is running out of time to save Argentina’s World Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerJun 24th, 2018

Messi is running out of time to save Argentina’s World Cup

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia --- For Lionel Messi, the time is now. Time to score at the World Cup. Time to save Argentina from another crushing disappointment. Time to live up to his reputation as one of the world's best players. Time to end questions about his performance in the biggest games. One thing there isn't time for is celebration. Messi turned 31 on Sunday, two days before Tuesday's must-win game against Nigeria. Nigeria would advance with a win, and a draw might be enough for the Super Eagles depending on group leader Croatia's result against Iceland. Other stars have come through at this World Cup. Messi's great rival, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, has scored four ...Keep on reading: Messi is running out of time to save Argentina’s World Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

Messi, Argentina come alive, beat Nigeria 2-1 at World Cup

PETERSBURG, Russia --- Lionel Messi and Argentina finally came alive at the World Cup.   Messi scored an exquisite 14th-minute goal to give the two-time champions the lead Tuesday, but it wasn't until Marcos Rojo's 86th-minute strike that Argentina was assured of a place in the round of 16.   Victor Moses scored a penalty in the 51st minute for Nigeria, putting Argentina in danger of being eliminated without winning a match in Russia.   It took an unlikely goal by Rojo to save Argentina and give it second place in Group D.   Diego Maradona, in the stands at the St. Petersburg Stadium, celebrated both goals wildly.   Argentina wil...Keep on reading: Messi, Argentina come alive, beat Nigeria 2-1 at World Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 26th, 2018

Tick, Tock: Time running out for Messi to deliver World Cup

Time is running out for Lionel Messi to bring Argentina a World Cup, which would give him the one thing that’s missing from a career that ranks among the greatest......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 20th, 2018

LOOK: Six must-see matches at 2018 World Cup

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2017

Romero: Argentina has to beat Brazil even without Messi

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Argentina may be without superstar Lionel Messi but the two-time world champions simply must beat Brazil in a friendly in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, October 16, Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero says. According to FIFA, this will be the 105th time the South American archrivals have faced ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018

Lionel Messi to star in Cirque du Soleil show

Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi's stellar career will be the subject of a new Cirque du Soleil show next year, the five-time world player of the year said Wednesday. "I am proud to announce the creation of a new Cirque du Soleil show in 2019 based on the story of my life and passion for football," said Messi, whose Instagram feed showed him clad in a T-shirt of the Canadian troupe famed for their extravagant shows. Messi had Monday posted a video of himself wearing the shirt and juggling what appeared to be a red clown nose. Cirque du Soleil said on their website that they were thrilled to confirm the link-up with Messi, 31. "The show will draw its inspiration f...Keep on reading: Lionel Messi to star in Cirque du Soleil show.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 11th, 2018

Messi to star in Cirque du Soleil show

    BARCELONA, Spain – Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi's stellar career will be the subject of a new Cirque du Soleil show next year, the five-time world player of the year said Wednesday, October 10. "I am proud to announce the creation of a new Cirque du Soleil ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 11th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 24th, 2018

Palestinian soccer head banned for inciting Messi hatred

By Rob Harris, Associated Press FIFA has banned the head of Palestinian soccer from attending matches for a year for inciting hatred and violence toward Lionel Messi as part of a campaign to stop Argentina's national team playing in Israel. The FIFA disciplinary case against Palestinian soccer federation head Jibril Rajoub centered on statements he made to the media before Argentina abruptly abandoned the trip to Jerusalem for a game against Israel in June. Rajoub "incited hatred and violence" by calling on "football fans to target the Argentinian Football Association and burn jerseys and pictures of Lionel Messi," soccer's governing body said. Justifying canceling the game, Argentina Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said the players felt "totally attacked, violated" after images emerged of the team's white and sky-blue striped jerseys stained with red paint that resembled blood following Rajoub's comments. FIFA imposed the minimum ban allowed in its disciplinary code for inciting hatred or violence. It prevents Rajoub from attending matches or engaging with the media at or near stadiums on matchdays for a year from Friday. Rajoub, who is also head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, was fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,300). The Palestinian Football Association said FIFA "rushed to condemn" Rajoub based on "non-neutral media reports." He was filmed in June, saying in Arabic "we will target Messi and we will ask everyone to burn his t-shirt, his picture and to abandon him." Rajoub was not granted a hearing and his testimony was not considered by the disciplinary committee, the PFA said. The ban will apply for the 2019 Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates, which kicks off in January, and likely include the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifying program. But Rajoub is able to continue running the federation and attend FIFA meetings. He has been a constant thorn in the side of soccer's governing body as he tries to get sanctions imposed on Israel. At the annual FIFA Congress, Rajoub regularly addresses soccer nations to demand Israel be punished for restricting movement of Palestinian players, and for forming teams in West Bank settlements. Israel has rejected the Palestinian campaign as an attempt to politicize sports and has cited security concerns as the reason behind the occasional restrictions placed on Palestinian players, particularly in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Rajoub repeatedly used "threats and incitement" to advance a political agenda, said Gilad Erdan, Israel's minister for strategic affairs and public security. "International sports should be about bringing people together, not driving them apart," Erdan said. "I call on the International Olympic Committee to suspend Rajoub as well." Israel's plan to stage the Argentina game in Jerusalem also incensed Rajoub because the stadium that was to host the match is situated in a neighborhood built on the site of a former Palestinian village destroyed during the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948. Palestinians claim the eastern sector of Jerusalem as their capital. Israel considers the entire city to be its capital after capturing east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

Messi to skip Argentina friendlies – reports

CaptainLionelMessiwill missArgentina's next four friendly matches, according to local press reports on Tuesday. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner previously retired from the national side after their 2016 Copa America final defeat by Chile before returning to help them qualify for this year's World Cup. The two-time world champions will face Guatemala in Los Angeles on September 7 and Colombia in New York four days later, before two friendlies later in the year against as-yet unnamed opponents. "Messiwill not return this year and there are doubts about his future," proclaimed Argentinian daily Clarin. News website Infobae said: "He will take a rest period, but that doesn't mean he's...Keep on reading: Messi to skip Argentina friendlies – reports.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

A look at the road out of the World Cup’s round of 16

MOSCOW --- No more ties, or tiebreakers. The World Cup is into the knockout stage, and every match will end with someone going home. On Saturday, that meant two of the greatest players of the era followed each other out of the tournament. Lionel Messi and Argentina lost 4-3 to France, which got two goals from teenager Kylian Mbappe. Four hours later, Cristian Ronaldo and his European champion Portugal team lost 2-1 to Uruguay. France and Uruguay were the first teams to reach the quarterfinals, and they'll meet on July 6. On Sunday, for the first time at a World Cup since 1986, two games were decided on penalty shootouts. The net result: Russia and Croatia will meet in a July 7 quart...Keep on reading: A look at the road out of the World Cup’s round of 16.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

Messi’s international heartbreaks

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia — Five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi suffered more World Cup heartbreak as Argentina was unable to match France’s firepower in a sorry 3-4 World Cup Last 16 setback on Saturday. Messi scored only once in Russia and is still yet to net in the knockout stages of a World […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

France beats Argentina 4-3, into quarterfinals

Teenager Kylian Mbappe struck twice inside five second-half minutes to ensure France beat Argentina 4-3 and became the first team to qualify for the World Cup quarterfinals. Following an exhilarating display between two former champions, France came from behind to defeat Lionel Messi's Argentina. And Les Bleus owed their triumph to the 19-year-old Mbappe. Always a threat to Argentina with his speed and power, Mbappe was at the heart of France's performance. France took an early lead after Antoine Griezmann broke the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 13th — after Mbappe drew the penalty — with Angel Di Maria leveling the score with a thunder strike just before the interval. Messi set-up a goal for Gabriel Mercado to give Argentina a 2-1 lead just after halftime but Argentina's defense cracked to concede three goals in the space of 11 minutes. Defender Benjamin Pavard equalized with his first international goal, Mbappe then scored with a cool finish from a tight angle and netted again in the 68th with some help from Olivier Giroud. Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero pulled one back in the third minute of added time with a header from Messi's pass......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 2018

Argentina has big weaknesses to address before facing France

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press ST. PETERSBURG, France (AP) — After the euphoria of scraping through to the last 16 of the World Cup, Argentina now must address its glaring weaknesses. Argentina has little time to prepare for Saturday's match against France, which is considered among the tournament favorites, yet has much to work on. Particularly on defense. Argentina's feeble defense was exposed in 3-0 defeat to Croatia last week and once again in Tuesday's 2-1 must-win game against Nigeria. Argentina won with an 86th-minute goal from defender Marcos Rojo, but during the second half the team looked on the verge of another capitulation at the back. Here is a look at some of the key issues facing Jorge Sampaoli's team before taking on France in Kazan: MASCHERANO MISERY If Javier Mascherano is supposed to be protecting the defense, he's not doing a very good job. With 146 international appearances, the 34-year-old Mascherano should be a rock for Sampaoli's team. But instead of offering the protective screen in front of the back four, Mascherano is often proving to be a weak link. As his bloodied face on Tuesday showed, there is no doubting his commitment. But his judgment, especially for someone with so much experience, is lacking. Two horribly misplaced passes gave Nigeria dangerous positions to attack from, while it was Mascherano's clumsy challenge that led to Nigeria's equalizing goal from the penalty spot. In his defense, there may be mitigating circumstances. Although a holding midfielder by trade, Mascherano dropped deeper when deployed as a center half for Barcelona over the past few years. Now back in his traditional position, he often appears caught in two minds as to whether to push up as a midfielder does, or stay back more sensibly like a defender. While it does not excuse his poor passing, it may explain some of his confused judgment. FALLEN STARS Angel Di Maria's failure to control a simple pass during a promising counterattack against Nigeria was a sad sight for such a fine talent. As the ball flew off his foot and went out of play, a helpless look formed on Di Maria's face. Long considered one of the world's best wingers, the 30-year-old Paris Saint-Germain player is not living up to his reputation in Russia. He looked despondent when he was taken off against Nigeria with 20 minutes left, his self-confidence glaringly absent. But it is feasible he is still affected by what happened during the season with PSG. Di Maria was PSG's most in-form player heading into the first leg of its Champions League last-16 game against Real Madrid on Feb. 14, but was surprisingly left out entirely by PSG coach Unai Emery. "I was boiling (inside) because I felt I should have played, or at least have come on," Di Maria said. Perhaps his fragile confidence has not been repaired. But Mascherano and Di Maria are not the only big-name players performing well below their best. So is Gonzalo Higuain. The burly striker looked nervous and heavy-legged against Nigeria, blazing a great chance high and wide with the score 1-1 with 10 minutes left. In the end, he was reprieved by Rojo's late winner, but it was not the finish expected of a forward with a combined 267 goals for Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus. He has 31 for Argentina, too, but tellingly he has not scored in his past eight games for his country. WHERE IS DYBALA? Fans hoping to see Paulo Dybala, one of the brightest attacking talents in soccer, playing in Russia may not get their wish. The 24-year-old forward regularly impresses Juventus fans with his trickery and spectacular goals — scoring 26 times in 46 appearances last season — but for whatever reason, Sampaoli does not seem to need him. With time running out against Nigeria, the coach still did not bring him on, even though Dybala has the skill and imagination to unlock defenses. He has only played once for Argentina all year, and with Sampaoli in charge this does not look like it will change. FRENCH THREAT Although France has yet to find its top form , Argentina's creaking defense will be under threat from its highly rated forwards. Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele are two of the fastest players in the world, while Antoine Griezmann was top scorer at the European Championship two years ago. Imposing striker Olivier Giroud is one of the best headers of the ball around, which gives Sampaoli's back four even more to worry about from crosses, corners and free kicks......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2018

Argentina saves World Cup hopes with dramatic goal

‘GOD WAS WITH US’ SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia — Argentina rescued its World Cup hopes in dramatic fashion on Tuesday as defender Marcos Rojo scored a stunning volley to snatch a late 2-1 win over Nigeria and set up a last-16 match against France. Lionel Messi set the two-time winners on their way with his first […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 27th, 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

Messi misses penalty, Iceland holds Argentina to 1-1 draw

By GRAHAM DUNBAR,  AP Sports Writer MOSCOW (AP) — Lionel Messi missed yet another penalty kick and Iceland held on for a 1-1 draw against Argentina in an impressive World Cup debut on Saturday. Messi failed to give his team the lead when his 64th-minute penalty was stopped by Hannes Halldorsson. The Iceland goalkeeper dived to his right and got two hands behind the ball. It was Messi's fourth missed penalty in his last seven attempts for Argentina and Barcelona. The Argentines took the lead in the 19th minute when Sergio Aguero scored with a rising left-footed shot. Alfred Finnbogason equalized for Iceland four minutes later after Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero pushed a low cross into the forward's path. The penalty was awarded after Aguero was pushed in the back by Hordur Magnusson as both chased Messi's floated cross in the 63rd. The small Nordic island nation's team created several first-half chances despite having only 22 percent possession, and pushed back Argentina's waves of second-half attacks. Messi had a final chance to redeem his team with the final kick of the game, but his free kick from 25 yards failed to clear a solid Iceland defensive wall. At the end, Messi retreated alone into the center circle with his head bowed and hands on his knees. Iceland played its debut on soccer's biggest stage like it belonged alongside the 2014 runners-up. Before trailing, Iceland could have taken the lead but Birkir Bjarnason side-footed a shot wide of goal when Caballero was exposed. That chance came in a nervous ninth minute for Argentina's defense, which seemed unsettled by Iceland's strength and their own unease with loose balls in the penalty area. No Iceland defender was at fault for failing to stop Aguero's goal. The forward executed a classy spin move to create his chance when a miscued shot by Marcos Rojo arrived at his feet near the penalty spot. It was a finish worthy of Argentina great Diego Maradona, who was watching in the VIP section at Spartak Stadium. The FIFA ambassador was puffing a large cigar despite smoking being banned in all World Cup venues. KEY TO SUCCESS Argentina fans booed and whistled when the giant stadium screen showed that Halldorsson was man of the match. But his faultless handling and excellent shot-stopping was deserving of the accolade. In contrast, Caballero caused uneasy moments for his defense in the first half. Iceland also protected Halldorsson well with swarming running and tackling to shut down Messi and Argentina's attacking lanes. Messi has missed more than 20 penalty kicks in his career, showing there is perhaps one flaw in his genius. GROUP DYNAMICS This was the first game in Group D, which looks even more evenly balanced now than it did at kickoff. Croatia and Nigeria are also in the group. Argentina will next play Croatia on Thursday in Nizhny Novgorod, while Iceland plays Nigeria on Friday in Volgograd......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 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

Legacies at stake for Rockets, Warriors in Game 7

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com HOUSTON — So much riding on one game, which goes beyond which team reaches The Finals and which one reaches for the golf clubs. Reputations and images and legacies also can and will be determined in this winner-take-all battle between the Warriors and Rockets. Such is the way of professional sports and instant analysis and fortunes, both teams and players and coaches. That said, here’s what’s on the line for the main figures in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals: * James Harden. He can make a solid case for being the second-best player in the NBA over the past three seasons, having finished top three in Kia MVP voting twice and will perhaps take home the award this season. But LeBron James went to The Finals three times in that span and won once. Harden, on the other hand, doesn’t know what June basketball feels like since he joined the Rockets. He’ll have his best chance Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). He’ll be on his court, playing before his crowd, 48 minutes away from facing LeBron and the Cavaliers for a championship. If he loses against the Warriors, then Harden will keep the crown as Best Active Player Without A Championship, which isn’t an honor he embraces. With the possibility of playing this game without Chris Paul, Harden might need to explode for 40 points or more. And that still might not be enough. He’s still in his prime, but reaching The Finals, much less winning, isn’t guaranteed to happen. Remember how Oklahoma City was “destined” to return to The Finals when Harden played there? * Kevin Durant. His championship demons were destroyed last summer when he joined a loaded team and did exactly what everyone expected. Yet Durant didn’t sign up for a one-and-done. The only way to justify leaving OKC is by winning multiple titles. His performance in this series has gone hot and cold. This isn’t the same Durant who tore through everyone last spring and summer; he seems bewildered at times by the Houston defense. If he comes up flat and the Warriors lose, the sensitive Durant might want to stay off social media. * Chris Paul. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said what everyone feels about Paul and his hamstring injury: It stinks. Paul deserves so much more, especially after such a solid run through the playoffs in every round, including outplaying Steph Curry until the injury. Paul never reached the conference finals until now and at 33 is running out of chances to play for the championship. He’ll become an instant hero in Houston if he pulls a Willis Reed and inspires the Rockets in Game 7, then again if he beats his pal LeBron in The Finals. If not? Then he’ll wonder why the Basketball Gods are against him. * Steph Curry. A fourth straight trip to The Finals would make Curry the LeBron of the West. He shook himself free from a shooting slump to recover nicely in this series and save the Warriors from elimination in six games. * Mike D’Antoni. Validation would come finally for D’Antoni should he mastermind a victory over the four All-Star Warriors, especially so should he do it without Paul in Game 7. D’Antoni heard too often about how his offenses weren’t built to last in the postseason but nobody’s saying that now. Anyway, the Rockets employ a far different system than the one he used in Phoenix. Translated: Give him credit for adjusting and cooking up an offense to suit the talents of his players and not vice versa. Also, with the help of lead assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik, the Rockets’ defense is causing plenty of issues for the Warriors this series. Overall, D’Antoni has pushed all the right buttons. * Steve Kerr. Has he already done enough for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach just off two championships alone? If not, then a fourth straight trip to The Finals might be the trick. But Kerr hasn’t always convinced his players to remain calm in fourth quarters. Why did the Warriors’ offense suffer costly breakdowns in Games 4 and 5? Yes, Houston’s defense rose up, but adjustments by Golden State were slow to come, if at all. * Andre Iguodala. He isn’t expected to play Game 7 and if the Warriors advance, you wonder if he’ll be ready for another shot at LeBron. The Warriors gave him a nice contract extension here in his twilight because of what he means to them in spring and summer. They could use his on-court leadership. * Draymond Green. The Warriors are still looking for a breakout game in this series from their emotional leader. It’s not that Green has been a ghost; rather, he just hasn’t stood out in the small lineup or made his presence known in a big way, other than with the referees (as usual). It would help if Green began hitting those open three-pointers the Rockets are generously giving him. * Daryl Morey. Often celebrated as one of the top general managers in the game, Morey built this Rockets team with beating the Warriors in mind. He traded for Paul and signed P.J. Tucker last summer, and those two have repaid that faith with solid playoff performances. How many more times must Morey tweak the Rockets here in the Harden era before Houston finally strikes gold. For his sake, hopefully, this was the final time. But again, much depends on Paul’s hamstring. Sometimes, the fate of your team is beyond your control. Sometimes, you need luck. * Houston. This city endured a deadly flood, then lifted itself with the help of ordinary citizens and a handful of local athletes and celebrities, then celebrated its first World Series triumph courtesy of the Astros. For the last several months, therefore, Houston has been in the headlines, and would like to add another late Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2018