More jeers for Real Madrid after home loss to Villarreal

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Another poor result, another round of jeers for Real Madrid. Madrid's struggles in the Spanish league continued when it lost to Villarreal 1-0 on Saturday, infuriating fans at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and increasing pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane. Pablo Fornals netted Villarreal's winner in the 87th minute, prompting loud boos by the home crowd which three days ago saw their team draw with second-division club Numancia 2-2 in the Copa del Rey. "There is no explanation for this," Zidane said. "We did everything we could, we had plenty of chances, but the ball just didn't go in. It's a difficult moment for us. It's tough for the players, they gave their best. We didn't deserve this result." Madrid also drew at Celta Vigo 2-2 a week ago, and lost to Barcelona 3-0 at the Bernabeu in its last match last year. It has gone four matches without a win. "We have endured negative results recently, but we know that we can change this situation by winning again," Zidane said. "We have to start winning, and winning convincingly, then things will change." The defending champion was 16 points behind league leader Barcelona at the competition's halfway point. The Catalan club can increase the gap when it plays at Real Sociedad on Sunday. Madrid, which has a game in hand, is only fourth in the standings, behind Valencia and Atletico Madrid. Villarreal moved to fifth place with the victory, its first ever at the Bernabeu. "We knew we could make history," Villarreal coach Javier Calleja said. "We played a very smart match." The host had most of the chances under steady rain, but Villarreal also threatened a few times before Fornals found the net. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also jeered, hit the crossbar from a free kick in the first half after the ball deflected off the wall. Ronaldo nearly scored from close range just before halftime, but his shot was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo. Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed for offside early in the first half. Fornals' goal came after a great save by Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas following a counterattack. Fornals picked up the loose ball just outside the area and chipped it over the goalkeeper for the stunning winner. It was Madrid's third home loss this season. It has won only half of its games at the Bernabeu. ATLETICO STAYS CLOSE Second-place Atletico Madrid overcame Diego Costa's absence to beat Eibar 1-0 and move within six points of leader Barcelona. Kevin Gameiro, Costa's substitute, scored in the first half and Jan Oblak played solidly in goal for the rest of the match to secure Atletico its fourth straight win in all competitions. "We played the type of match we needed," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Costa was suspended because of a red card for celebrating too close to the fans in the previous game. GIRONA ROUT Kenyan forward Michael Olunga scored a hat trick to lead promoted Girona to a 6-0 trouncing of last-place Las Palmas. Las Palmas could have left the bottom of the standings with a draw but it never challenged the Catalan host at Montilivi Stadium, seeing its winless streak reach seven matches in all competitions. Las Palmas has only 11 points from 19 matches. Christian Stuani opened the scoring for Girona from a penalty kick midway through the first half, and the other five came in a 22-minute span in the second period. Girona reached ninth place in the 20-team standings......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 13th, 2018

Real Madrid s struggles continue after first home loss to Villarreal

MADRID, Spain - Struggling Real┬áMadrid┬árisk falling further behind in La Liga after a cheeky late chip from Pablo Fornals saw Villarreal escape with a 1-0 win on Saturday, January 13 (Sunday Manila time), their first ever victory at the Santiago Bernabeu. Fornals struck ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Chelsea looks for another good showing at Camp Nou

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Few teams have caused as much trouble for Barcelona as Chelsea since Lionel Messi started playing with the Spanish club almost 15 years ago. Barcelona has been dominant with Messi against nearly every opponent it has faced in Europe. But not against Chelsea. The English club is even used to doing well against Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium, where the teams will meet Wednesday in the second leg of their last-16 series in the Champions League. Chelsea is unbeaten against Barcelona in eight matches, with four straight draws at Camp Nou. Barcelona earned a 1-1 draw in the first match in England thanks to a late away goal by Messi, who had never scored against the Premier League club. "It will be a hard match just like in the away leg," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "They have a strong team that defends well in a block and has a great counterattack. We will struggle." Barcelona has been thriving again this season. Its only loss came against Real Madrid in its first match of the season in the Spanish Super Cup final. It has won 18 of its last 20 home matches since then, with two draws — 2-2 against Celta Vigo and 0-0 against Getafe in the Spanish league. "We have to show great resilience," Chelsea coach Antonio Conte said. "We are playing against one of the best teams in the world. We must pay great attention and have the same focus and concentration of the first leg." This is the first time Chelsea and Barcelona are facing each other in the Champions League since the semifinals in 2012, when the English club advanced 3-2 on aggregate after securing an astonishing 2-2 draw in the second leg at Camp Nou, after trailing 2-0 with 10 men for most of the match. Chelsea also drew at Camp Nou in the Champions League semifinals in 2009, as well as in the group stage of the 2006-07 season and the round of 16 a year earlier. Chelsea is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, when eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the semis. Barcelona is looking to reach the last eight for a record 11th straight time. The Spanish league leaders are coming off a 2-0 win at last-place Malaga on Saturday, when Messi didn't play because of the birth of his third son, Ciro. It remains unclear if Valverde will be able to count on midfielder Andres Iniesta on Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. Here's a look at the other matches this week: ___ MAN UNITED-SEVILLA Jose Mourinho may be faced with a dilemma when Manchester United hosts Sevilla on Tuesday. With Paul Pogba ruled out of United's Premier League victory over Liverpool on Saturday, Mourinho's side finally managed to find the balance it has been lacking in recent weeks. If the France midfielder is available, Mourinho would have to drop Juan Mata or 21-year-old Scott McTominay to make room for him. United, which drew the first leg 0-0 in Seville, is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013-14. "The next game is very important for us, maybe the most important game of the season," United midfielder Nemanja Matic said. Sevilla is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time. ___ ROMA-SHAKHTAR Roma will be hoping it has turned its poor home form around when it hosts Shakhtar Donetsk needing to overturn a 2-1 defeat. Roma beat Torino 3-0 on Friday for what was only its second win at Stadio Olimpico since mid-December. "Mentally, the lads felt a bit of pressure because we hadn't won at the Olimpico for a while — and I could see that," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "Today's win shows that we've cleared the hurdle now." ___ BESIKTAS-BAYERN Besiktas is dreaming of becoming the first team to overturn a five-goal deficit in the UEFA competition when it hosts Bayern Munich on Wednesday, although restoring its pride will likely be enough after a chastening 5-0 first-leg defeat in Munich. The Turkish champion, playing in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time, is hoping to extend its 12-game unbeaten run at home in European competitions. Bayern has made it to the Champions League quarterfinals six years in a row, but hasn't won the title since coach Jupp Heynckes' previous stint in 2013, when he led the side to a treble. It warmed up for its trip to Istanbul with a 6-0 rout of Hamburger SV on Saturday. "You can never hide in football, you can never take it easy," said Heynckes, who has 25 wins and just one defeat in 27 games across all competitions since returning to Bayern. ___ Associated Press writers Ciaran Fahey, Daniella Matar and Sam Johnston contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 12th, 2018

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Barcelona reached the last 16 of the Copa del Rey with a comfortable 5-0 win over Murcia on Wednesday, but Basque Country teams Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao were eliminated by third-division clubs. Atletico Madrid advanced after a 3-0 win against Elche to overcome a first-leg draw. Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer scored in the first half and Gerard Pique, Aleix Vidal, Denis Suarez and Jose Arnaiz each added goals after halftime to give the hosts an 8-0 aggregate win against the third-tier club. "We played with great attitude," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "You don't want to go through any scares in these games, and the best way to do that is to play with good rhythm and dynamism." Barcelona played without most of its regular starters, including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Valverde had also rested the team's top players in the 3-0 first-leg win last month. Pique, who missed the Spanish league game against Valencia at the weekend, started the match at Camp Nou but was substituted right after scoring his 56th-minute goal. Barcelona is trying to become the first team to win four straight Copa del Rey titles since Athletic Bilbao in 1930-33. ___ SOCIEDAD STUNNED Teenager Bojan Radulovic scored an 87th-minute goal that allowed third-division club Lleida to eliminate top-flight club Real Sociedad on away goals. Lleida won 3-2 after trailing by two goals at halftime at Anoeta Stadium. It had lost the first leg 1-0 at home. "This hurts," Sociedad coach Eusebio Sacristan said. "We have to ask for the fans' forgiveness. We are very disappointed." Sociedad, seventh in the Spanish league, went ahead with goals by Diego Llorente and Juanmi, but the Catalan outsiders rallied with goals by Aitor Nunez and Manu Molina early in the second half. The 18-year-old Radulovic stunned Sociedad with a header near the end. "I'm speechless," Radulovic said. "It's my first goal with the first team, in a stadium like this, against a first-division club." ___ ATHLETIC OUSTED Athletic Bilbao was eliminated by Formentera after conceding a goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time at its San Mames Stadium, losing the two-leg series 2-1. "We know that this is a huge loss and that the fans are disappointed," Athletic coach Jose Angel Ziganda said. "This is probably the worst moment I've had to go through as a coach." Substitute Alvaro Muniz netted the winner with a header off a corner kick cross to stun the home crowd in Bilbao. "Tomorrow it will sink in what it means to beat Athletic in its stadium," Formentera coach Jose Angel Garcia Sanjuan said. ___ ATLETICO STAYS ALIVE Fernando Torres scored a goal in each half as Atletico easily defeated third-division club Elche at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, advancing 4-1 on aggregate. The goals ended Torres' scoring drought after 13 matches this season. Jose Gimenez also scored for Atletico, which has won three straight in all competitions. ___ SEVILLA ADVANCES Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice in the first six minutes to lead Sevilla to a 4-0 win over third-division club Cartagena, securing a spot in the last 16 with a 7-0 win on aggregate. Paulo Henrique Ganso added to the lead just before halftime and Joaquin sealed the victory in the second half. It was Sevilla's first match without coach Eduardo "Toto" Berizzo, who underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer on Tuesday. Assistant coach Ernesto Marcucci is in charge until Berizzo returns. ___ LAS PALMAS GOES THROUGH Las Palmas advanced 6-4 on aggregate after a 3-2 home loss to Deportivo La Coruna, but it lost striker Vitolo just before halftime because of a left leg injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2017

Pair of losses enough to leave Real Madrid reeling

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It's only been two losses, but when it comes to Real Madrid, that's enough to put the team on the brink of turmoil. Consecutive defeats to newcomer Girona in the Spanish league and to Tottenham in the Champions League have left the team reeling. Madrid struggled in both matches despite playing with its top players, prompting a wave of criticism. Although Cristiano Ronaldo dismissed talk of a crisis and coach Zinedine Zidane said he is not worried, they both admitted that there's some work to do to get Madrid back on track. "We are not going to play well every time," Ronaldo said after Tuesday's 3-1 loss in England. "We have to change things and admit that we are not where we wanted to be right now." Zidane said it will take some time to restore the team's morale after the consecutive losses. "It's two defeats in a row and we can't be happy about it," Zidane said. "It's a difficult moment but you have to accept it. We have to keep our heads cool because this is soccer and we have a lot of games to play and there's still a lot of time to turn things around, and that's what we will do." Madrid remains in good position to advance from Group H in the Champions League, and it can do it with a victory at APOEL later this month. But the team is already eight points behind leader Barcelona in the Spanish league, a deficit it has never been able to overcome. Madrid had won four in a row in the league before last weekend's loss at Girona, but it got off to a slow start in which it failed to win its first three home games. Madrid is defending both the Spanish league and the Champions League titles this season. "We have to say calm," Ronaldo said. "Things are not as bad as they look. The team is not playing that badly, so we must remain confident. We have to think positively because it's the end of the season that counts, not the beginning." Zidane blamed the team's letdown on its numerous missed opportunities in front of goal. "There are moments in a season when you score goals from very few chances, and others when you struggle to do that," the former France midfielder said. "We have been creating opportunities but we are not being able to capitalize on them." Zidane said he has a group of experienced players who will be able to quickly steer the team back in the right direction. Ronaldo would have liked to see even more experience in the team at a moment like this. He said some of the players that the club let go in the offseason could have been making a difference right now, including Pepe, Alvaro Morata and James Rodriquez. "The new players who came to the squad have a lot of potential and they are the future of Madrid," said Ronaldo, who scored the team's goal on Tuesday at Wembley. "But if you ask me, every great player is always needed by a club, and Pepe was a great player, and Morata, James ... All players who have left used to make us a stronger team, obviously." Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said it's natural for fans to be upset with the team's recent struggles, but warned that nobody should count them out just yet. "When Madrid loses a couple of games there's always talk about a crisis," Ramos said. "But we have to remain calm and united. We are convinced that Madrid will overcome this very soon. Madrid always fights back, and if people think that we are done, time will show them wrong.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2017

Ronaldo and Portugal head to World Cup looking for more

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> Cristiano Ronaldo is headed to the World Cup with Portugal, and some of his teammates are already expecting another title. Ronaldo, as usual, was the country's key player as it won nine straight qualifiers to reach the tournament in Russia. And that came after the Real Madrid forward led the way to winning last year's European Championship, Portugal's first major trophy. 'Portugal always plays to win, and just like we did at Euro 2016, we are going to try to win the World Cup as well,' Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva said after the 2-0 win over Switzerland at the Stadium of Light. Here's a look at some of the reasons why Portugal will be among the favorites at next year's World Cup: ___ strong>DECISIVE RONALDO /strong> Portugal again relied on the talent of Ronaldo, who thrived from the start of qualifying and finished with 15 goals in nine matches. He was one goal short of the qualifying record set by Poland striker Robert Lewandowski this year. Ronaldo scored in every qualifier he played but two — the win over the Swiss on Tuesday and the 1-0 win at Hungary in September, when he earned an assist with a perfect cross for Andre Silva's winning header. He didn't start in the 2-0 win at Andorra last week because he wasn't fully fit, but he came off the bench in the second half and scored the team's first goal and set up Andre Silva's second. Ronaldo didn't play in the team's opening loss at Switzerland because he was still recovering from a knee injury sustained in the Euro 2016 final. ___ strong>BALANCED SQUAD /strong> Portugal cruised after the opening setback at Switzerland, outscoring opponents 32-4 and finishing with the fourth-best qualifying campaign among all teams, behind Germany, Belgium and Spain. Only those three teams scored more goals than Portugal, and Spain and England were the only two nations which conceded fewer, three each. 'Portugal showed that it has a quality squad that can face any team out there,' Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. Among the team's victories were consecutive 6-0 routs of Andorra and the Faeroe Islands. It also defeated third-place Hungary 3-0 at home and 1-0 in Budapest. 'Even after the loss to Switzerland, we never doubted that we were going to finish first in the group,' Portugal midfielder Joao Mario said. 'We just had to do our job.' ___ strong>TIGHT GROUP /strong> Santos said he feels he has a unique group of players in his hands. 'I have a special relationship with the players,' he said. 'I have a lot of faith in my players and they know that. It's not easy to have 25 players with this mentality, generating such a fantastic atmosphere.' Bernardo Silva said they feed off the coach's confidence, and Mario said that all the players are behind him no matter what. ___ strong>KICK-STARTING PREPARATIONS /strong> Portugal is expected to begin its World Cup preparations with a friendly at neighboring Spain in November. The match is expected to be officially confirmed in the coming days. 'We are looking forward to having a good run in the World Cup,' Portugal midfielder William Carvalho said. 'But right now it's time to enjoy what we just did.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Atletico puts new stadium to the test in Champions League

A look at what's happening around the Champions League this week: ___ strong>ATLETICO'S HOME SUCCESS /strong> Atletico Madrid will try to extend its successful home streak when it makes its Champions League debut at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday against Chelsea. It will be Atletico's third match at the venue which replaced the Vicente Calderon Stadium, where Atletico was unbeaten in its last 11 games in the European competition. Atletico has won both of its matches at the Wanda Metropolitano — 1-0 against Malaga and 2-0 against Sevilla, both in the Spanish league 'The Metropolitano has the feel of a Roman circus,' Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Barcelona travels to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday, riding a seven-game winning streak that includes the emphatic 3-0 win over Juventus in its Champions League opener. Sporting, off to a great start in the Portuguese league, can make it two wins in a row to start its Group D campaign. On Tuesday, Sevilla will host Maribor, which is coming off its first loss of the season against Atletico Madrid. ___ strong>MOSCOW CHALLENGE /strong> The Champions League provides Russian authorities with a key test of their World Cup readiness this week, and a glimpse at the welcome fans can expect next year. Two of England's fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester United, play on consecutive nights in Moscow. Liverpool is first up against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, and CSKA Moscow plays United the following night. There isn't typically disorder when the teams — separated by about 30 miles (48 kilometers) in northwest England — meet on home soil. But since England fans were attacked by Russians at the 2016 European Championship in Marseille, concerns have heightened about hooliganism in the 2018 World Cup host nation. United and Liverpool fans have been advised by the British government not to wear club colors on the streets of Moscow and to avoid walking alone. On the pitch, United and CSKA both won their opening games in Group A. Liverpool and Spartak are chasing their first wins after starting Group E with draws. ___ strong>DORTMUND THRIVING BUT FLAWED /strong> Real Madrid heads to Germany to face on Tuesday a Borussia Dortmund side enjoying its best start to the Bundesliga. Dortmund hadn't even conceded a goal in five domestic games until Lars Stindl netted Borussia Moenchengladbach's consolation in a 6-1 rout on Saturday. While Dortmund has scored 19 goals in six league games, there is no perfection in the high pressing game. The team remains prone to lapses at the back and opponents can suddenly find themselves with wide spaces to run into behind the Dortmund defense. That happened three times alone in the first half against 'Gladbach but it didn't prove as costly as when Dortmund visited London earlier this month and lost its Group H opener against Tottenham 3-1. ___ strong>NEEDING NEYMAR /strong> A bust-up between Edinson Cavani and Neymar combined with a goalless draw at Montpellier have generated a sense of trouble at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Bayern Munich's visit on Wednesday. Cavani and Neymar have reportedly made peace after arguing on the pitch, but PSG dropped its first points this season following a dismal performance at Montpellier that raised concerns about the side's dependence on its Brazilian star. Neymar sat out Saturday's game because of a toe injury and his absence was obvious. Facing a very defensive side which closed spaces efficiently, PSG did not find a way to break the deadlock in a 4-3-3 system that lacked rhythm and creativity. 'We need to push more in order to score goals,' PSG coach Unai Emery said. 'This match leaves us with a lot of things to analyze in order to continue our progression.' Neymar is expected to return for the Bayern game in Group B. ___ strong>ROMA'S NEGATIVE STREAK /strong> Roma will be hopeful of ending a woeful away record in the Champions League when it travels to Azerbaijan for the first time, to play Qarabag on Wednesday. Including qualifying, Roma has won only one of its past 13 matches on its travels in Europe's elite competition, with that sole victory coming against Basel in 2009. But coach Eusebio Di Francesco will be hopeful of success against Qarabag, which lost 6-0 at Chelsea in the last round. He will again look to an in-form Edin Dzeko, who netted his fifth goal in three matches in Saturday's 3-1 win over Udinese. Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice in that match and Di Francesco has described him as 'the ideal attacker' for his preferred 4-3-3 formation, which he hopes will boost Roma in Europe as well as domestically. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2017

Madrid stunned by Betis at home, loses ground to Barcelona

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid's faltering start to the Spanish league season continued on Wednesday with a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Real Betis. A day after league leader Barcelona routed Eibar 6-1 with four goals by Lionel Messi for its fifth win in a row, Madrid conceded an injury-time goal to remain winless in its three league games so far at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Paraguayan striker Antoino Sanabria scored the winner with a header from close range to give Betis its first win against Madrid at the Bernabeu since 1998. The result ended Madrid's streak of 73 consecutive games scoring at least one goal, keeping it from surpassing the record scoring run established by Brazilian club Santos starring Pele in 1963. Madrid, which was coming off home draws against Valencia and Levante, is seven points behind Barcelona after five games. It trails Betis by one point. 'This gap to the lead won't change the way we do things,' Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. 'We will keep fighting. It's a long championship.' Second-place Sevilla moved within two points of Barcelona by beating Las Palmas 1-0 for its fourth consecutive league victory. Third-place Atletico won 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao. ___ strong>FRAIL HOME /strong> Real Betis players celebrated as if they had won a title after the stunning win over Madrid at the Bernabeu. 'We knew we were coming to play in a complicated stadium, but the team put in a great effort and got rewarded with the late goal,' Sanabria said. Betis took advantage of a great performance by goalkeeper Antonio Adan and a bad night by Madrid's forwards, including Cristiano Ronaldo, who was making his league debut after serving a five-game suspension for shoving a referee in the Spanish Super Cup final last month. 'It was bad luck after all the chances that we created,' Madrid midfielder Casemiro said. Ronaldo had played only three other matches with Madrid this season, including against APOEL in the team's Champions League debut, when he scored twice. 'This is not the start we wanted after three games at home,' Zidane said. 'We didn't expect this.' ___ strong>KEY WIN /strong> Atletico Madrid moved closer to the lead by earning a hard-fought 2-1 away victory against Athletic Bilbao. Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak stopped Aritz Aduriz's penalty kick before halftime and Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco scored second-half goals to leave the Madrid side within four points of leader Barcelona. It was the second consecutive win for Atletico, which remains unbeaten after five rounds. 'To win in this stadium you need to play a great match and I think we did that,' Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. 'We controlled the game and were very effective. It's a very important triumph for us.' Correa opened the scoring from inside the area after a cross by Jorge 'Koke' Resurreccion in the 55th minute, and Carrasco added to the lead with a low shot into the far corner after a well-placed pass by Antoine Griezmann in the 73rd. Griezmann had also helped set up the first goal with a pass to Koke. 'It was Griezmann's best match so far this season,' Simeone said. Raul Garcia netted an injury-time goal for Athletic, which has now lost two in a row after an unbeaten start. ___ strong>WINNING STREAK /strong> Sevilla kept its momentum thanks to Jesus Navas' 83rd-minute winner at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan. He scored from a difficult angle to give the hosts their fourth consecutive win to start the league. The match marked the return of striker Victor 'Vitolo' Machin, who left Sevilla in the offseason to join Atletico Madrid but is playing on a loan with Las Palmas until January. He was constantly jeered by Sevilla fans. ___ strong>ROUGH START /strong> Deportivo La Coruna handed Alaves its fifth straight loss with a 1-0 victory at the Riazor Stadium. Luisinho scored in first-half injury time to give the hosts their first win after three losses in the first four matches. Malaga is the only other team to have lost all of its matches so far. It was routed 5-0 at Valencia on Tuesday. ___ strong>NO GOALS /strong> Leganes and Girona failed to take their chances in a goalless first meeting in the top flight. Both teams created clear scoring opportunities but Leganes, playing in the Liga for the second season, had to settle for a point with promoted Girona. Leganes stayed in the top half of the standings, in eighth place, while Girona was 14th.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2017

NBA fines Pelicans coach Gentry, Pistons Van Gundy for ref rants

The NBA dropped $15,000 fines on New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry and Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy on Sunday for their bitter criticism of officiating in games on Saturday. Gentry was seething after the Pelicans' 107-101 home loss to the Houston Rockets. He was especially angry about a foul called on New Orleans point guard Jrue Holiday while Houston star James Harden was shooting a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter -- a call that drew jeers from the home crowd and eventually saw Gentry whistled for a technical for arguing it. "All we want is an equal opportunity to win the game, not have a situation where we are guessing on the biggest play of the game," said a...Keep on reading: NBA fines Pelicans coach Gentry, Pistons Van Gundy for ref rants.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMar 19th, 2018

Real Madrid beats PSG 2-1 to reach Champions League quarters

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain's dream of joining Europe's elite with a Champions League trophy will have to wait another season, as Real Madrid delivered a brutal reality check by cruising through to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win on Tuesday night. Cristiano Ronaldo's powerful header — his 12th goal of the competition — and a deflected effort from midfielder Casemiro either side of a close-range finish from PSG's Edinson Cavani sent Madrid through 5-2 on aggregate. Peaking at the right time, Madrid can be confident of challenging for a third straight title and 13th overall. PSG still has not reached the semifinals since its lone appearance in 1995. PSG's ambitious club motto of "Dream Bigger" should perhaps now be revised. On this evidence, and last season's humiliation at the hands of Barcelona, PSG remains a club more hopeful than convincing. Despite huge investment from cash-rich Qatari owners QSI since 2011, PSG has not been past the quarterfinals in that time. "We needed our heads and our hearts today. But we didn't have both, we didn't play as well as Real Madrid," dejected PSG coach Unai Emery said. "Madrid deserved to go through. I think they controlled 60 percent of the game and we didn't do enough with the 40 percent we had. Losing to Real Madrid itself isn't a disappointment, but being knocked out in the last 16 is." Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, PSG's fragile defense crumbled and its attack offered little threat without the injured Neymar. The biggest bang from this PSG side was from the fireworks constantly let off by a section of fans behind one goal. Cavani's goal gave PSG some hope with 20 minutes left. But with midfielder Marco Verratti already sent off, scoring two more to force extra time was beyond a lackluster PSG side. Instead, midfielder Casemiro's deflected shot looped past stranded goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 80th. He was gifted the ball after midfielder Adrien Rabiot dealt poorly with Lucas Vazquez's cross. To compound a miserable night for PSG fans, who so badly want to believe this side can conquer Europe, Verratti showed terrible composure to in getting sent off midway through the second half. He got a second yellow card, having protested vehemently with referee Felix Brych after not getting a free kick. "Our fans got behind us, I apologize to them," Rabiot said. "We tried but we couldn't do it." Ronaldo had already done his usual damage. The Champions League's all-time leading scorer was given far too much space and leapt triumphantly to beat Areola with a downward header in the 51st minute. He had netted twice in the first leg. Ronaldo is hitting top form at a crucial time and has scored in nine Champions League games in a row, matching Ruud van Nistelrooy's record. This was a huge test for a PSG side desperate to prove it belongs among Europe's elite, especially after spectacularly failing last year — becoming the first team eliminated after winning the first leg 4-0. Barcelona won the return 6-1. "Maybe tonight they weren't so good, but it's also because we played very well," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "Obviously it became harder for them when we scored the second goal." In the night's other match, five-time champion Liverpool eased into the last eight, drawing 0-0 at home to two-time winner Porto after winning the away leg 5-0. The atmosphere was electric at Parc des Princes in Paris, with thick smoke engulfing the stadium a pre-match pyrotechnics were set off. PSG's exuberant fans were asked to "stop letting off flares" over the stadium loud speaker just after the interval. This was all part of a concerted effort to motivate the players. The club's communications department had released a video, urging fans to rally behind the team seemingly as a matter of urgency for the city itself. Neymar also posted a video on Twitter, with the words "Vous allez le Faire" (You will do it). Banners around the ground encouraged the team and some fans had already taken matters into their own hands. Late into the night before the game, a small group of PSG Ultras let off bangers, chanted "Paris" and banged a drum outside the Real Madrid team hotel. But all this bluster seemed more like bluff. After a fairly even first half, Ronaldo headed wide early in the second half — a warning sign. Moments later he headed home Vazquez's pinpoint cross from the left after a quick break down the left from the impressive Marco Asensio, astutely selected ahead of Gareth Bale by Zidane. "Tactically we played the right way, we believe in what we're doing," Zidane said. "We closed them down high up the pitch." Madrid could have had further goals breaking forward on counterattacks, with Asensio and Ronaldo hitting the post......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 7th, 2018

PSG returns to French league comfort zone with 5-2 home win

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated PRess PARIS (AP) — After falling short in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain returned to its French league comfort zone and beat Strasbourg 5-2 on Saturday. Edinson Cavani netted twice, and Julian Draxler, Angel Di Maria, and Neymar also scored to ensure PSG stayed 12 points clear of second-place Monaco at the top. But not without a fright. Strasbourg took the lead in the sixth minute and pulled back to 3-2 as PSG continued to show alarming signs of weakness at the back. Strasbourg had a late goal incorrectly ruled out for offside after PSG's defense was again easily breached, although it was already 5-2 by then. PSG lost at Real Madrid 3-1 on Wednesday in the first leg of the last 16. The way PSG capitulated by giving away two late goals heaped pressure on coach Unai Emery over his team selection. "The atmosphere was a bit tense. That's normal," Cavani said. "We have to look forward now. We played well today, although at times we could have been better." Emery was booed by sections of the home crowd when his name was announced over the loudspeaker before the game. Later, Cavani stopped short of giving Emery his personal backing when asked if the under-fire coach has the full support of the players. "We're a team and big teams stick together in the important moments," Cavani said. "That's the only way you can win." Strasbourg beat PSG at home in December, and stunned the crowd at Parc des Princes by taking the lead when midfielder Jean-Eudes Aholou was left completely unmarked near the penalty spot. PSG hit back hard and was 3-1 up after 23 minutes thanks to Draxler, Di Maria and Neymar's 19th in 19 league games. Stephane Bahoken scored against PSG for the second time this season after a quick counterattack. Strasbourg poured forward but the hope didn't last for long. Cavani gave PSG some breathing space with an assured finish in the 72nd, clipping the ball over goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja, then lobbed him for his league-leading 23rd goal. "It was important to win after Wednesday's match. We have to get our fans ready for the games to come against Marseille (next weekend) and Real Madrid," Emery said. "We have to show we can maintain this level of play against better sides, with all due respect to Strasbourg." To celebrate Chinese New Year, PSG players' names were written in Mandarin on the back of their shirts and a Chinese dragon paraded around the pitch. PSG says it has 1.3 million Chinese followers. In order to better serve the soccer market in Asia, the league match between Nice and PSG on March 18 has been moved forward to 1 p.m. local time (1200 GMT). Marseille players will also have their names in Mandarin for Sunday's home game against Bordeaux at Stade Velodrome. Marseille recently launched an account on Chinese social media site Weibo. ___ OTHER MATCHES Striker Giovanni Sio's second-half equalizer gave Montpellier the point it needed to take fifth place after drawing with Guingamp 1-1. Two goals from newly signed striker Diafra Sakho gave Rennes a 2-2 draw at Caen, which missed two penalties. Saint-Etienne won at Angers 1-0, Troyes beat last-place Metz 1-0, and Amiens drew with Toulouse 0-0 in another relegation scrap. In Sunday's other games, fourth-place Lyon goes to Lille, and Nice hosts Nantes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2018

Barcelona wins at Eibar 2-0 before trip to Chelsea in CL

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi looks ready for London. Barcelona's star helped to set up two goals to beat 10-man Eibar 2-0 on Saturday as the Spanish leaders warmed up for their visit to Chelsea in the Champions League. Barcelona broke its mini-slump of back-to-back draws to remain unbeaten through 24 rounds and extend its advantage over second-place Atletico Madrid to 10 points. Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the opening leg of the round of 16. "We will head to the match with confidence," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said about Chelsea. "We are having a good season, but that won't mean anything now. We are facing a tie against a great team that won its league last season. We know it will be difficult and that we have to play smart for 180 minutes." Eibar showed why it is one of the surprises of the season in Spain by taking the initiative first at Barcelona. But a moment of brilliance by Messi was all it took to swing the match Barcelona's way. Messi's weight-perfect pass threaded past three defenders left Luis Suarez all alone in the 16th minute. Suarez used a feint to bring goalkeeper Marco Dmitrovic to the turf before netting his 17th goal in the competition. Only Messi, with 20, has more. Messi played a big part in Jordi Alba's goal in the 88th, when he forced a save from Dmitrovic and Alba was free to finish it off. Suarez's goal came against the flow of the match. Pressing up the pitch and setting a fast pace, Eibar forwards Fabian Orellana, Takashi Inui and midfielder Joan Jordan threatened the visitors. Orellana damaged his team's chances of a comeback when he earned bookings in the 57th and 66th. The first card was for a a needless tackle that cut down Andres Iniesta. Orellana compounded that mistake when he batted a ball into the air with play stopped and the referee waiting for Eibar to return the ball to Barcelona to take a free kick. Eibar coach Jose Luis Mendilibar was also sent off minutes later for protesting when the referee did not book Suarez for lightly kicking the ball after play stopped for an offside call. Despite playing a man down, Eibar still managed to make Barcelona work. Inui had two attempts that required saves from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen until Alba secured the three points. "Losing a player hurt them. It came at a moment when the game was tightly contested," Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said. "It was important to win after the past two matches and knowing how difficult it would be against an Eibar that is having a great season." The loss was only the second for Eibar in its last 13 matches. It remained in seventh place. Atletico hosts Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. ___ SEVILLA AWAITS UNITED Sevilla also won before its Champions League meeting with Manchester United, beating Las Palmas 2-1 in the Canary Islands to move into fifth place. Sevilla hosts United on Wednesday to start their Champions League final-16 tie. ___ LATE TURNAROUND Valencia scored two late goals to snatch a 2-1 win at bottom side Malaga, which was left seven points from safety. Dani Parejo hit the winner with five minutes remaining when he converted a penalty kick after Ignasi Miguel earned a direct red card for pulling down Rodrigo Moreno with only the goalie to beat. Valencia, in third place, moved four points clear of Real Madrid before it visits Real Betis on Sunday. ___ DEPRESSED DEPORTIVO Deportivo lost its second straight match under new coach Clarence Seedorf after falling at Alaves 1-0. Deportivo remained in the relegation zone as its winless streak reached nine rounds......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2018

Barcelona s Pique scores late to silence Espanyol crowd

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Jeered from his first touch of the ball, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique found a way to silence Espanyol fans in Sunday's Catalan derby. Pique scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw as the Spanish league leader narrowly avoided losing to its crosstown rival for the second time in less than three weeks. The outspoken Pique celebrated by putting a finger in front of his mouth as if to tell the crowd to be quite. "We have a responsibility as players, but we are also humans and we react to what happens," Pique said. "Part of the crowd was insulting my family. There is a limit to everything." Pique had previously made comments criticizing Espanyol, and the crowd showed their disapproval by jeering him nearly every time he touched the ball. His 82nd-minute goal helped Barcelona extend its unbeaten streak in the league to 22 matches, surpassing the record set under coach Pep Guardiola in 2009-10. It also left Barcelona nine points in front of Atletico Madrid, which defeated third-placed Valencia 1-0 later Sunday. Gerard Moreno put Espanyol ahead midway through the second half and Pique equalized with a header in a heated match at RCDE Stadium. "These types of situations motivate Pique," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "His gesture comes as part of the rivalry that is natural in a derby." There were shoves and heated discussions throughout the match, which was played under steady rain and on a heavy pitch. Messi, who provided the cross for Pique's goal, came off the bench near the hour-mark after getting some rare rest time from Valverde. Espanyol had ended Barcelona's 29-match unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Jan. 17, when Messi missed a penalty kick. Barcelona eventually eliminated Espanyol by winning the second leg 2-0. After that match, Pique's tone when talking about Espanyol infuriated rival fans and prompted an official complaint by the club. Pique did not back down on Sunday, questioning Espanyol's links to Barcelona because it moved its base to nearby Cornella and has a foreign owner. The Espanyol crowd was furious after Pique's celebration on Sunday. Right after the goal, Moreno fouled the defender, prompting a heated altercation between players from both teams. Moreno had to be contained as he tried to go after Pique. There were also discussions in the tunnel to the changing rooms. "One player won't silence our crowd," Espanyol coach Quique Sanchez Flores said. "His gesture was what it was. Our fans are above that." Pique's only other goal this season was also against Espanyol. ___ CORREA WINNER Atletico Madrid moved nine points clear of third-placed Valencia with Angel Correa's second-half winner at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Correa scored with a superb shot into the top corner from outside the area, giving Atletico its second consecutive victory. "We played against one of the best teams in La Liga and we were superior," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Uruguay defender Diego Godin had to be substituted early in the second half after a hard collision with Valencia goalkeeper Neto, injuring his mouth and apparently losing some teeth. Defender Stefan Savic was replaced in the first half, also because of an injury. ___ ATHLETIC'S RUN ENDS Athletic Bilbao's nine-game unbeaten streak ended with a 2-0 loss at Girona. Cristhian Stuani scored a goal in each half for the hosts, which moved to ninth in the standings. Athletic was debuting defender Inigo Martinez, who was acquired from Basque Country rival Real Sociedad as the club's most expensive signing at nearly 30 million euros ($37 million). Athletic defender Yeray Alvarez returned to action more than eight months after being sidelined for testicular cancer treatment. ___ DRAW IN DERBY Leganes and Getafe could not manage more than a 0-0 draw in the derby between rivals based just south of Madrid. Host Getafe had the best chances, twice hitting the woodwork in a match played under light snow during parts of the second half. It was the fifth straight game without a loss for Leganes, which rested several regular starters ahead of its game at Sevilla in the Copa del Rey semifinals on Wednesday. The teams drew 1-1 in the first leg in Leganes last week......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2018

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

Leader Barcelona loses points again vs Celta Vigo in La Liga

MADRID --- Barcelona stumbled for the second consecutive week in the Spanish league, being held to 2-2 at home by Celta Vigo on Saturday and giving its nearest challengers more hope. Barcelona has a five-point lead over second-place Valencia, which plays at mid-table Getafe on Sunday. Third-place Atletico Madrid moved to within six points by defeating Real Sociedad 2-1 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, and Real Madrid remained eight points back after being held at Athletic Bilbao to 0-0. "It's tough to lose points at home in such an important game," Barcelona midfielder Paulinho said. "We had plenty of chances." Barcelona won 11 of its 13 league matches entering the weeken...Keep on reading: Leader Barcelona loses points again vs Celta Vigo in La Liga.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 3rd, 2017

Madrid draws, loses chance to move closer to Barcelona

MADRID --- Barcelona stumbled again, and Real Madrid wasn't able to capitalize. Madrid missed a chance to move closer to the top of the Spanish league standings after being held by Athletic Bilbao to 1-1 on Sunday. It could have moved within six points of the lead after Barcelona drew at home against Celta Vigo 2-2 for its second consecutive setback, but Zinedine Zidane's team struggled in Bilbao and remained eight points behind the Catalan rival after 14 matches. "We are disappointed," Zidane said. "We are eight points behind because we haven't been able to score more goals. It would have been great to have reduced the gap now, but we will have other opportunities." Mad...Keep on reading: Madrid draws, loses chance to move closer to Barcelona.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 3rd, 2017

Temperature check at 20-game mark of 17-18 NBA season

By Steve Aschburner, Twenty games is not a small sample size. At 20 games, much of what an NBA team is -- and much of what it will become -- is mostly well-established. Fourteen, 16, even 18 games into an 82-game schedule, it might be easy to understate and/or overstate a season. That round number of 20, though -- the closest a team can get in whole games to 25 percent of the regular season (24.39, actually) -- resonates. As our man John Schuhmann notes annually in his Power Rankings, what qualifies as one-fourth of the season carries a certain heft, in terms of who’s good, who’s not and who’s headed where over the remaining 60-62 games. The teams that are likely to be in the playoffs largely are known by now -- 14 of the 16 qualifiers in 2016-17 were above the lottery cutoff by Dec. 5, last season’s quarter mark -- as are those that are racing toward the bottom or merely churning about. Twenty games is no joke, in other words, which is why numerous NBA teams do some serious evaluating at this point each season. Those at or near the top (and those committed to the cellar) may not make course-altering decisions. The teams in the yawning middle might be particularly engaged right about now -- all 30 teams will have played at least 20 games by Friday morning -- in either fishing or cutting bait. The Miami Heat, at 10-9, will hit 20 at Cleveland tonight. They’re especially known for the so-called Rule of 20 owing to team president Pat Riley’s ways dating back to his New York and Los Angeles days. The thinking is, 82 games is too vast and ill-defined, splayed across six months or so, to allow for clear, concise judgments along the way. By the time you get a feel for where your team is headed, you’ve either already gotten there or been sidetracked. At 20 games -- and then again at 40 and 60 -- there’s an opportunity to correct one’s course or adjust one’s objectives. Lock into a starting lineup, pursue a trade, fire a coach, opt for Plan B or hitch up the shorts for a stretch drive, it’s only doable if the right markers are heeded. Some coaches will talk about “continuous improvement” as their overriding mission, but there are so many tiny variables from one game to the next: travel, schedule quirks, minor ailments. Better to go with a block of games. And to know when you can’t. “You have a pretty good idea of your general feel and context of your team,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But that’s not always in cement. Just look at us last year. We didn’t really understand where we were. But you have an idea of what direction, usually, that your team is going in.” The Heat in 2016-17 had one of the most unusual seasons in league annals, going 11-30 after a Jan. 13 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and then 30-11 in to finish the season. They were 7-13 after 20 games, then wound up barely missing a playoff berth on the season’s final night. This time around, the Heat seem to be a blend of last season’s good and bad, and their mediocre mark shows it. Spoelstra has rolled back a lot of the work between games to fundamentals and essentials, with the focus on building good habits. “We’ve got a ways to go,” he said. ‘We’re building habits. We’re building better behavior, all the little things that lead to winning, so hopefully we’ll be a much different team every 20-game block from here on out.” (Some even think 20 games is too many, too diffused and vague for the short attention spans players almost necessarily have to have when uploading mass quantities of opponent research for a homestand’s worth of foes. Hall of Fame coach Hubie Brown preferred to mentally break the season into eight-game chunks. Go 5-3 in enough of those, you’re almost assured of being a playoff team.) Twenty games in is a fragile time for coaches, as far as job security, as the Memphis Grizzlies’ David Fizdale found out Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). At 7-12, he and the Grizzlies had been given enough rope that management obviously felt a determination could be made. Memphis’ quick start, winning five of its first six, didn’t resonate nearly as much as its eight consecutive losses did. Not every franchise hits 20, 40 or 60 games on the nose before doing something dramatic. Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough felt he needed to see only three games to fire coach Earl Watson. In 2015-16, the Houston Rockets pulled the plug on Kevin McHale after 11 games. But the last time Miami made a coaching change in season, Riley sent home Stan Van Gundy at 11-10 in 2005-06 and took over for the final 61 games. The Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt 41 games into the 2015-16 season. And the last time each of these organizations -- Washington, Toronto, San Antonio, Minnesota, Golden State, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Chicago -- made coaching changes during the season, they did so after 17, 17, 18, 19, 23, 23, 24 and 25 games respectively. What have we learned about the league this season, with 20 games coming sooner than usual? * Boston’s acquisition of Kyrie Irving, its young starting forwards and a more tenacious defense than expected have more than made up for Gordon Hayward’s loss. * The day Philadelphia coach Brett Brown longed for finally has arrived. * Detroit, Indiana and New York might manage to overachieve their way into lower-seed possibilities. Washington’s window is closing before its eyes, and Milwaukee has flaws at both ends that won’t be solved if and when Jabari Parker returns. * Houston’s James Harden might snag the Kia MVP trophy many thought he deserved last spring. * Minnesota, Denver and Portland are for real in the West, while it’s getting late early in Oklahoma City. Carmelo Anthony was supposed to have left his sub-.500 records back with the Knicks. * The next man Memphis owner Robert Pera offers a full-time coaching position is going to speed-dial Lionel Hollins, Dave Joerger and Fizdale in some order. * A strong field of Kia Rookie of the Year candidates at least six deep from the Draft class of 2017 all might wind up slotting in behind the Sixers’ Ben Simmons. * The drama of the draft lottery might be greater than that of the playoffs decided several weeks later. * LeBron James still moves the Earth and the league when he firmly puts his foot down. Then there’s the best thing about the NBA season at 20 games: That means 62 more to go. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and 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 NewsNov 29th, 2017

AC Milan replaces Vincenzo Montella with Gennaro Gattuso

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press In the end, Vincenzo Montella became a victim of the heightened expectations at AC Milan. When a club spends more than 200 million euros (nearly $250 million) on new players in the offseason, six wins in 14 matches and seventh place in the standings are simply not enough. Unable to produce inspiring results with a completely revamped squad, Montella was fired as coach of AC Milan on Monday and replaced by Gennaro Gattuso. "We all raised expectations a little too much in the summer but the fault lies only with the coach," Montella said. "These players deserve much more and I'm sure that they'll be able to emerge from this difficult period." Milan has won only two of its past nine matches and has as many losses — six — as wins. The Rossoneri have been beaten by Lazio, Roma, Inter, Juventus and Napoli — the top five teams in the standings. "Coaching Milan was an honor, and working with this team was even better," Montella wrote on Twitter. "I hope Rino can restore Milan to where it belongs." The move came a day after a dispiriting 0-0 draw at home with Torino. Milan announced in a statement that it had "parted ways" with Montella. "We are very grateful to Mr. Montella and his staff for all the work done up to today, their commitment and professionalism," the club said. "Management of the first team is entrusted to Gennaro Gattuso." A seven-time European champion, Milan is also facing financial fair play inquiries from UEFA after an offseason spending spree brought in an entire squad's worth of new players. There have been questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased Milan from Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April. The club needs a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League to acquire more cash flow. Gattuso, a gritty midfielder who had been in charge of the club's youth squad, won the 2003 and 2007 Champions League titles with Milan as a player. The 39-year-old Gattuso also previously coached Sion, Palermo, OFI Crete and Pisa. Gattuso, who also helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup title, was known for his intensity and relentlessness on the field — qualities the current Milan squad has lacked. After the appointment, Berlusconi tweeted that he had a "long and affectionate and cordial phone call with my old warrior Rino Gattuso." Gattuso becomes Milan's seventh coach (including caretakers) since now-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was fired in January 2014. Montella was hired in June 2016 and led Milan to a sixth-place finish and a Europa League spot last season — ending a drought of three years without playing in continental competition. Milan opened the season by winning all four of its Europa League qualifying matches and its first two Serie A games. Then a 4-1 loss at Lazio showed how vulnerable the squad was. Leonardo Bonucci, Italy's top defender who was brought in from Juventus during the offseason, has had a difficult start with his new club and the big group of new players has failed to gel. The other new players brought in were forwards Andre Silva (FC Porto) and Nikola Kalinic (Fiorentina); midfielders Franck Kessie, Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio); and defenders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg) and Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal). Milan's few highlights this season have come in the Europa League, including a 5-1 rout of Austria Vienna last week that ensured a spot in the knockout stage. Montella's biggest achievement with Milan was winning the Italian Super Cup over Juventus in a penalty shootout in December 2016. Gattuso's debut will come at last-place Benevento on Sunday. He will be presented on Tuesday. Also, Cristian Bucchi was fired by Sassuolo on Monday, making it six firings in Serie A this season after changes by Cagliari, Benevento, Genoa and Udinese......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2017

West Ham fires Slaven Bilic with team in relegation zone

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Slaven Bilic was fired as manager of West Ham on Monday after the team dropped into the Premier League's relegation zone following another big loss. Bilic had acknowledged his position was precarious after the 4-1 home loss to Liverpool on Saturday. "Disappointed, but not in the club. I expected it," Bilic said outside the West Ham's training ground after meeting with members of the club's board. "It's a very logical move." West Ham said in a statement that a change in manager was necessary "in order for the club to move forward positively and in line with their ambition." "Sadly, performances and results have not been of the expected standard," West Ham co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan said, "and, in recent weeks, we have not seen enough indication of the required improvement to give us the encouragement that things would change and we would meet our Premier League aspirations this season." Former Manchester United manager David Moyes is reportedly favored to replace Bilic. Moyes quit Sunderland following its relegation from the Premier League last season. West Ham has won only two of its 11 matches in the Premier League and is in third-to-last place heading into the two-week international break. "This season we hoped we would make the step from the start, we just didn't make it," Bilic said. "As with many clubs in Premier League and in Europe, the manager is the one who is paying the price for it." Bilic was hired in June 2015 and guided West Ham, a team he also played for, to a seventh-place finish in his first season with its highest number of points (62) and goals in a Premier League season. The team left its Upton Park home of 112 years to move to the Olympic Stadium the following season and the change has coincided with West Ham's problems. The team has been prone to collapsing after going behind — it has already lost by at least a three-goal margin on four occasions this season — and lacked any real identity. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez joined in the offseason as high-profile signings but haven't improved West Ham. Bilic's assistants, Nikola Jurcevic, Edin Terzic, Julian Dicks and Miljenko Rak, have also left the club with immediate effect but goalkeeping coach Chris Woods appears to have been retained. Woods worked with Moyes at Everton and Man United. "I am interested but at the moment that vacancy has not become available," Moyes said on TV channel Bein Sports on Sunday. "I know what Slaven must be going through." West Ham said an announcement regarding Bilic's successor is expected to be made "over the coming days." "We see this as an exciting opportunity to appoint a quality manager to the position to inject fresh ideas, organization and enthusiasm into a very talented squad," West Ham's co-chairmen said. Bilic is the fourth manager to lose his job in the Premier League after Frank De Boer (Crystal Palace), Craig Shakespeare (Leicester) and Ronald Koeman (Everton)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 6th, 2017

Giroud s overhead kick gives Arsenal 1-0 win at Red Star

The Associated Press - Olivier Giroud scored late in the second half for Arsenal to maintain its perfect Europa League campaign with a 1-0 win over 10-man Red Star Belgrade on Thursday. Five minutes after Milan Rodic was sent off for a second yellow card, Giroud struck with an overhead kick five minutes before the final whistle after Theo Walcott headed the ball to him. "It was a great combination before the goal as well and he finished well," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. Arsenal opened a five-point lead in Group H with nine points. Red Star and BATE Borisov, which beat visiting Cologne 1-0, are on four. Cologne is bottom without a point. Elsewhere, Lazio rallied to take three points at Nice with a 3-1 win in Group K, and Real Sociedad thrashed Macedonia's Vardar 6-0 in Group L with Willian Jose scoring four goals. Milan was held 0-0 at home by Greek team AEK in Group D, and Everton's campaign suffered another blow after a 2-1 loss at home to Lyon in Group E. Arsenal rested nine front-line players who were in the lineup for the English Premier League's match against Watford on Saturday, which Arsenal lost 2-1. But goalkeeper Petr Cech was in the goal as captain and made his presence felt, making several perfect saves. "It's important to have a good goalkeeper in this kind of game, too," Wenger said. "They were dangerous and Petr Cech kept us in the game." Mathieu Debuchy returned to the squad after a year due to injuries. With several young players, including Reiss Nelson, Joseph Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, the Gunners didn't look dangerous until Giroud's goal. "I believe you win when you can, you do not decide when," Wenger said. "What's remarkable is the spirit we have shown. They defended very well, but the goal is a consequence of us wanting to play through them." Richmond Boakye headed the ball onto the crossbar in the biggest chance for Red Star. LAZIO LEADS Boosted by a 2-1 victory over Juventus in Serie A, Lazio took the sole lead in Group K after rallying to a 3-1 away win at Nice in a matchup of two teams that won their previous two games. The fans didn't have to wait long for goals. Mario Balotelli headed home for the hosts four minutes into the game from Wesley Sneijder's cross, but Felipe Caicedo equalized for the hosts just a minute later. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored his first goal for Lazio in the 65th before adding his second a minute from time. Lazio stays perfect atop the group with nine points from three wins. Nice is second, three points back. Zulte Waregem and Vitesse drew 1-1 and have a point each in the group. REAL ON FIRE Willian Jose scored two goals in each half for Real Sociedad on the way to thrashing Macedonia's Vardar 6-0. Mikel Oyarzabal gave the Spaniards a first-half lead. The Brazilian striker then took charge before he was substituted on the hour. Alberto de la Bella added the final goal at the last minute. Despite the victory, Real is second in Group L with six points, trailing leader Zenit St. Petersburg by three after the Russians beat Rosenborg 3-1 to stay perfect. Rosenborg has three points and Vardar remains bottom after three defeats. EVERTON'S MISERY Everton is 16th in the 20-team English Premier League and is still without a win in three Europa League group matches this season. Nabil Fekir converted a penalty kick six minutes into the match for Lyon after Mason Holgate downed Marcal in the area. Players of both teams briefly clashed after a hard push from Everton captain Ashley Williams on Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. Everton could face punishment from UEFA after a fan holding a child appeared to aim a punch at a Lyon player during the second-half melee at Goodison Park which continued off the pitch and in front of the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End. Just minutes later, Williams seemed to come to Everton's rescue with a 69th-minute header. But Lyon needed just six minutes to answer with Bertrand Traore restoring the advantage to 2-1. Under-pressure Everton manager Ronald Koeman has something to think about before league games against Arsenal and Leicester sandwich a League Cup match with Chelsea. Italian side Atalanta leads Group E with seven points after a 3-1 win over Apollon Limassol. Lyon trails by two points in second. Apollon has two points and Everton remains last with one point. NO CHEERS IN BALKANS Partizan Belgrade played without its fans at Skenderbeu in Albania on Thursday with the reverse situation— no Skenderbeu supporters — scheduled to happen in Serbia. Both teams agreed on that measure at UEFA's request to not "create a hot situation." The Group B game ended in a 0-0 draw......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 20th, 2017

Suarez scores late as Barcelona draws Atletico Madrid 1-1

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid was able to contain Lionel Messi and yet still couldn't top Barcelona in the Spanish league on Saturday. Atletico was a few minutes away from ending a seven-year winless streak against Barcelona in the league until Luis Suarez produced an 82nd-minute equalizer for 1-1. Suarez had been ineffective at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium before his late header that extended Barcelona's unbeaten streak against Atletico to 15 league matches. Atletico did a decent job stopping Messi after his starring role to put Argentina in the World Cup. He has 14 goals in 12 matches with Barcelona but was unable to score at the Metropolitano. His best chance was a second-half free kick that hit the post. The playmaker, coming off a long trip from Ecuador for Argentina's qualifier, has 27 goals in 34 matches against Atletico in all competitions. 'He certainly wasn't as tired as most people thought he would be because he played a tremendous match,' Atletico coach Diego Simeone said of Messi. 'We defended well, just couldn't put the game away on the counterattacks.' The result ended Barcelona's perfect league record and cut the club's lead to five points over Real Madrid, which defeated Getafe 2-1 with a late winner by Cristiano Ronaldo. Atletico stayed in third place, six points behind Barcelona, which won its first seven league matches. Sevilla dropped to fourth place, also six points off the lead, after losing at Athletic Bilbao 1-0. strong>BLOWN LEAD /strong> Barcelona, which had outscored opponents 23-2, controlled possession but it was Atletico which was able to create the most significant opportunities. Antoine Griezmann had two clear chances denied by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen early. Saul Niguez gave the hosts the lead with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the first half. Suarez jumped between Atletico defenders to head in a cross by substitute Sergi Roberto. 'Good job from all the team in a complicated game,' Suarez said. Two weeks after playing behind closed doors to protest the Spanish government's moves to halt Catalonia's independence referendum, Barcelona was met with Spanish flags, and outspoken defender Gerard Pique was loudly jeered by the local fans. strong>REAL MADRID RISE /strong> Ronaldo was mostly subdued for Madrid until scoring the 85th-minute winner at Alfonso Perez Coliseum in southern Madrid. After a perfect long pass by Isco, Ronaldo let the ball bounce and fired in for his first league goal of the season. 'We know that when we need Cristiano, he is always there for us,' Madrid left back Marcelo said. Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Madrid with a great run into the area, getting past a defender with a quick touch before sending a low shot into the far corner. It was also his first league goal. The French striker was returning from injury. Striker Jorge Molina equalized for the hosts early in the second half. Replays showed Molina was offside. Getafe also conceded late goals in home losses to Sevilla and Barcelona. It dropped to 14th in the 20-team standings. 'We can't allow this to keep happening,' Molina said of the late goals. 'Maybe we shouldn't have stayed only on defense, maybe we could have pressed a little bit more.' strong>WINNING AGAIN /strong> Athletic edged Sevilla in Bilbao to snap a six-game winless streak in all competitions. Mikel Vesga scored the winner just before halftime at San Mames Stadium, where Sevilla lost for an eighth straight time. strong>RECOVERING REAL SOCIEDAD /strong> Real Sociedad ended its five-game winless streak by beating Alaves with goals by Mikel Oyarzabal in the 77th and Aritz Elustondo in the 81st. Alaves, second-to-last in the standings, was coming off its first win of the season at Levante. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2017