Advertisements


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: abscbn abscbnFeb 18th, 2018

Draw of another title lights postseason path of Warriors

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst One of the Golden State Warriors’ people, walking out of Smoothie King Center Sunday (Monday, PHL time), summarized the team’s season so far in detailing Kevin Durant’s 38-point performance against the Pelicans in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. “Sometimes, people forget,” he said, a wry smile on his face -- and, yes, they do. With all that has gone on around the league this season, the Warriors’ storyline hasn’t been quite as eyeballed nationally this season compared with previous years. (Not that they should care. It’s just an observation.) The Cleveland Cavaliers blew things up last summer and reformed in the fall, blew it up again in the winter and reformed again in the spring. The Boston Celtics are displaying amazing resilience through seemingly devastating injuries to put themselves on the brink of another conference finals. The Philadelphia 76ers have their Fun Bunch. There was Paul George’s trade to Oklahoma City (and all that entailed, now and later) and the Toronto Raptors’ dramatic and successful changes throughout the year. And, at the forefront, there was the Houston Rockets’ rise as a legit and serious challenger to the Warriors in the Western Conference. During the regular season, the Warriors’ energy and productivity dropped off ever so slightly, like the planet killer in “The Doomsday Machine,” one of the all-time best original “Star Trek” episodes, after the doomed Commodore Decker drove a Shuttlecraft right down its throat. (Of course, Captain Kirk figured out to destroy it. Dude, come on. This is James Tiberius Kirk we’re talking about.) And at the end of the regular season, they were hit with a series of body shot injuries: Stephen Curry’s MCL strain, Durant’s ribs, Klay Thompson’s thumb injury, Draymond Green’s hip, and on and on. Those all sapped their continuity and made them look mortal down the stretch of the 2017-18 season, and the Warriors went 7-10 as the season waned. But, after dispatching the Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs in five games in the first round, and taking a 3-1 lead on the Pelicans now, they’re again on the precipice of the Western Conference finals. A date with Houston is looming and a chance at a third title in four seasons is still on their racket. “I think as the playoffs go on, every series requires a different intensity level,” Green said last week. “I think we met that standard that it takes to win playoff games at the level we’re at right now, which is the second round. It’s not our first rodeo. We’ve been here a lot of times and we know what it takes.” Steve Kerr rolled the “Hamptons Five” lineup out Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the Lineup Formally Known as Death -- Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Green and Durant. It’s been their trump card for almost two years, the lineup that can’t be solved by the opposition, even as it’s chipped away at most of Golden State’s other conventional units. Durant went for 38, and the Warriors rolled to a 118-92 win and a 3-1 series lead. They didn’t use it much this season -- that quintet only played 127 minutes together this season, after logging 224 minutes last season -- because of all the injuries, because they tried to limit their biggest players’ minutes and because using Iguodala as a starter thins out Golden State’s bench. The Warriors’ most frequently used five-man unit this season featured Zaza Pachulia at center; among five-man units leaguewide that played 200 minutes or more together this season, per NBA.com/Stats, that quintet was third in the league in Offensive Rating, at 118.6. But Pachulia hasn’t played a minute in the playoffs, and if the Rockets are the Warriors’ next opponent, he may not play much then, either, against Clint Capela. Kerr often points out that the Warriors have six centers on the current roster, and most of them have gotten at least a little run at various points. But after JaVale McGee was ineffective in Game 3 against New Orleans Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Kerr pulled his trump card. It’s still a game-changer, and when a season comes down to a best-of-seven series, one game can be the difference. “We all bring the best of each other,” Curry said of the Hamptons unit. “We increase the pace of the game, but the versatility [is] at the defensive end -- Andre, Draymond, KD shoring up the paint, switching a lot of the screens and the action from the offense and Klay doing what he does on the perimeter. I think the biggest thing offensively is that we’re all playmakers, try to look for the best shot, stay within ourselves and just make the right play.” Going back to the old playlist may give the Warriors comfort in what has been another drama-filled season, with the contretemps about being disinvited from the White House by President Trump in September getting things off to a rollicking start. But the end of the season was what raised eyebrows around the league. Curry’s absence down the stretch combined with a teamwide ennui -- “I really don’t like talking about it,” Thompson said -- that gave potential playoff opponents hope they might be able to catch Golden State napping. The Warriors’ boredom showed up most at the defensive end. After being in the top seven in both unadjusted and adjusted Defensive Rating in each of the last four seasons -- including first in the league in both categories in the first championship season of 2014-15 -- Golden State fell to 11th and 12th, respectively, in the regular season. They came out of the All-Star break focused -- they were fifth in the league in Defensive Rating on March 1. But all the injuries blunted their momentum, and the scariest of all -- a serious injury to second-year guard Patrick McCaw in Sacramento March 31 (April 1, PHL time) -- shook the team more than people on the outside realized. “Throughout that time, we had spurts,” Durant said. “We played a great OKC team. We went in there and won. Then we lost to Indiana by 20, and then it’s like, when you’re riding just on emotion a lot, you tend to go up and down. It’s like a roller coaster. I think that’s what it was. We had those spurts where we played well and played a focused game, but then Patty goes out, boom, and there was just so much that went on with that. Then Steph goes out with a freak injury. So much went on with that. I think we were just so up and down emotionally it kind of blinded us from our goal, which was to be good every single night as basketball players.” McCaw’s injury -- a bone bruise suffered when he fell after a dunk attempt against the Kings, which required him to be carried off the court in Sacramento on a stretcher -- hit everyone hard. “When Pat got injured, I think that took a little bit out of us,” Durant said. “It took a little bit out of Steve as well. You could just feel it, when Steph went out, then I went out, then Draymond, then Klay. Our emotions were so up and down. When your emotions are, you have too many emotions in the game of basketball, it can kind of blind you from what you really have to do. This is a technical game. So when you put too many emotions into it, it kind of took us away from what we wanted to do.” McCaw, who played in 57 games this season, was not only a part of Kerr’s rotation. He is also a well-liked person who was getting better on the floor. He was re-evaluated last week and will be checked out again in a month. Though he’s been traveling with the team during the playoffs, his season is almost certainly over. And as his injury came during the Warriors’ many injuries down the stretch, its chilling effect was multiplied. “It definitely got to everybody,” Green said. “Kind of the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going on with him. The rotations. Everybody’s like, ahh, kind of tiptoeing around, trying to make sure you get to the playoffs healthy. A lot of that makes a difference. I mean, that’s our brother. To see him down like that, not be able to walk off the court under his own power, him not being around us for two or three weeks, it was kind of like the unknown. It sucked. And I think it definitely had an effect on everything.” But Durant doesn’t like the metaphor of the proverbial switch being turned on at playoff time explaining the team’s improvement the last couple of weeks. “I don’t like when you call it a switch,” he said. “Because guys come in and get extra work in every single day. They work on their bodies every day, they get treatment. You come in here any time, you see guys in here working on their games. I think when you say ‘a switch turned on,’ if guys went cold turkey on everything as professionals during the season, and just tried to pick it up in the playoffs, I think that’s turning on a switch. Mentally, focus-wise, game plan-wise, I think you can turn on a switch, because you can lock in on an opponent, you know their tendencies, you can just focus in on one group of players instead of one day it’s San Antonio, the next day it’s Phoenix, next day it’s Sacramento. You’re going so up and down. If that makes sense. “So I think everybody’s putting in that work individually all year, and as a team, you know, stuff has to come together. We have to focus in on what we need to do, game plan wise, tendency wise, just try to take away things. I think that’s where you kind of turn it up just a bit.” Golden State has performed in fits and starts in the first two rounds. The Spurs didn’t have enough firepower to be a serious threat, but they played hard and were increasingly effectively on defense as the series went on. The Warriors didn’t really have an answer for LaMarcus Aldridge after Game 1. New Orleans had, until Sunday (Monday, PHL time), been more and more successful at making the Warriors shoot contested shots. That certainly gibes with Curry’s return after five weeks. He’s healthy, but rusty. After his adrenaline-filled return last Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in Game 2 against the Pelicans, he made just 14-of-33 from the floor in the two games in New Orleans. There was talk afterward about breakthroughs for Curry cardiovascularly. The next few games will tell whether Curry is truly recovered and ready to be two-time Kia MVP Steph … or will he just be on the floor (as he was for long and important stretches in the 2016 playoffs after returning from a Grade 1 knee sprain). The Warriors still made The Finals, but Curry wasn’t Curry against Cleveland, and everyone, starting and ending with LeBron James, knew it. No one in NBA history has changed the geometry of basketball more than Curry, and when he’s on the floor, the ball starts flying around. “Our formula is simple: if we out-pass people, we win,” Warriors forward David West said. “Ball movement. With guys going in and out of the lineup, it causes moments where guys try to carry the load, maybe try to shoulder the load individually. But the strength of the group is the group.” But the Warriors can still throw so many different things and people at you. Iguodala shot a career-worst 28.2 percent on three-pointers in the regular season. He’s at 39.3 percent in the 2018 playoffs. Does anyone doubt he was biding his time until the postseason? No one wearing an NBA uniform is in better shape than the 34-year-old Iguodala, no one is smarter about the game or matchups, and no one is a prouder, fiercer competitor. The 2015 Finals MVP brings his bag of intangibles with him on the road even more than at home, as he did Sunday. In that game, he was making life miserable for the Pelicans’ Nikola Mirotic, creating deflections, making the right reads and impacting the game despite scoring just six points. Kerr likened him to Scottie Pippen after Game 4, but Iggy wasn’t buying it -- “Steve just does that to make sure I don’t get mad ‘cause I don’t shots,” Iguodala quipped. He may be right. But Iguodala and Green have a mind meld defensively that’s at the heart of the Hamptons’ effectiveness. “Andre and I, we’re usually on the same page,” Green said. “Two guys who really think the game, especially on that side of the ball. Sometimes we can talk things out and it works perfect and not say a word, and know what each other’s going to do. It definitely helps our team out defensively kind of having two coaches out there on the floor on that side of the ball.” Whether it’s switching to guard each other’s man, running at an open shooter to close before the ball gets there with the other man rotating, they know what the other guy is going to do. And that second or so the Warriors save defensively keeps them from being broken down. “How fast can you make that decision?,” Green says. “How demonstrative are you going to be about that decision? Are you going to second guess that decision? That’s usually when it doesn’t work; if you’re going to go, just go. That’s kind of the motto that Andre and I go by. If you’re going to go, just go; everybody else fall in line and rotate, and we’ll work it out from there.” And while Green and Rajon Rondo have been exchanging pleasantries throughout this series, Green didn’t pick up his first postseason technical foul until Sunday (Monday, PHL time). He’s been under control, coming up to the edge without going over. Someone without access to the internet asked Kerr if he’d ever played with anyone who instigated or tried to get under the skin of opponents. It’s a testament to Kerr’s comic timing that he actually did wait a beat before answering. “I did play with Dennis Rodman,” he said. Never be fooled by Kerr’s overall pleasant disposition and quick-with-a-quip acuity, though. He is a fierce competitor that wants to win big, the same as his current point guard, who is similarly underrated on the competition scale. Kerr has seven rings as a player and coach, and it’s not a coincidence he’s frequently been around teams that got it done in June. But the Warriors are playing for even bigger stakes than just winning the 2018 title. Legacies are created this time of year. A third title in four seasons, with four straight Finals appearances, would put Golden State in very rarified air in the modern game. San Antonio won three titles from 2002-07. But the Spurs, famously, never have won back-to-back titles. The Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal-led Lakers, which won three straight from 2000-02, are the closest modern-day team to pulling off what the Warriors are trying to accomplish. Before then, you’re talking about the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, with six titles in eight seasons -- the two non-title seasons coinciding with Jordan’s sojourn to the minor leagues of baseball. Moreover, the Warriors are the hub around which the modern NBA now spins. And that is an even bigger legacy. Almost everyone (hi, Thibs!) tries to play the way Golden State does now -- the quick hitters, ball movement, pace. Teams do it in different ways. The 76ers look very different than the Warriors, with Joel Embiid their centerpiece of operations, and with 6'10" Ben Simmons taking up so much space with the ball in the halfcourt. The Rockets look different still as there’s not a ton of ball movement. There’s just an unending series of screen and rolls with Chris Paul and James Harden with the rock, looking for the inevitable open man in the corner or way, way behind the three-point line. A lot of things have happened the last 15 years to lead us where we are now. The league changed almost all the rules regarding zone defense, and got rid of almost all defensive contact on the perimeter. Rockets GM Daryl Morey and others led the burgeoning analytics movement, which championed shooting more and more three-pointers as a primary means of scoring, not as a novelty. Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns went with Amar’e Stoudemire at center, surrounding him with four smalls that could all shoot it from deep, and scoring came out of its coma leaguewide. Kerr and Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry have always been quick to credit D’Antoni’s influence on the modern game, starting in Phoenix and working through his current team in Houston. “He’s the guy that just eliminated the center position -- let’s just go small and fast and shoot more threes,” Kerr said of D’Antoni. “I was inspired by Mike, but I was also inspired by Pop (the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich) and Phil Jackson in terms of basic ball movement, screening. But pace is the name of the game these days, and people go about it in different ways. Ironically, Mike’s team (in Houston) is the slowest team in the league now. I didn’t see that coming.” But no one has put all of it together -- pace, small ball, shooting and defense -- like the Warriors have the last four seasons. The Rockets are the closest thing we’ve seen to Golden State, and they’re hungry, and they’re coming. And the Warriors and Rockets are just a win apiece away from seeing the clash of the Western Conference titans. They are in the middle of it, so they can’t stop and think about what it all means. We get that. But everyone wants to put a marker out there that’s hard to catch. LeBron is chasing a ghost. The Warriors have already made their mark on the game. They’re almost in position to do more. History is forever. “It’s important, because it’s what’s right in front of us,” Curry said Sunday. “We don’t think about the historical context of anything. For us, we have an amazing group of guys, amazing coaches sitting behind us. We’re appreciating the moment. That’s really all it is. You have tunnel vision for Game 5 at home, then a new series, hopefully (after that). The historic context doesn’t really seep into the locker room when it comes to what that means. It’s just about this year.” Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. 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 NewsMay 8th, 2018

US leagues are on the verge of going international

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press An NFL team in London? Count on it. An NBA franchise in Mexico City? Yep, that's coming too. What was once a pipe dream — major-league teams based in cities outside the United States and Canada — is now just a matter of time. The aforementioned cities are the ones most likely to break through first, but others will surely follow when everyone sees how much potential revenue is there for the taking. "The market is saturated in the U.S.," said Gil Fried, a professor and chair of sports management at the University of New Haven. "They need to find new markets." The NFL has been trying for years to make inroads in Europe — especially London — and those efforts were turned up to full blast by revelations that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is attempting to buy Wembley Stadium, a 90,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue known the world over. Khan brushed off the obvious speculation that this is the first step toward moving the Jaguars to London — where they already have been playing "home" games since 2013 — but didn't exactly provide a resounding vote of confidence for Jacksonville, one of the smallest markets in the NFL. "The first thing you want with certainty is you want a venue," he said. "And this gives us a stadium solution, for us or anyone else." In other words, better get used to calling his team the London Jaguars. "Shad Khan's purchase of Wembley Stadium portends that a substantive NFL presence in London, and ultimately a franchise, is inevitable," said Vince Benigni, a professor of sports communication at the College of Charleston. The NBA, which last expanded in 2004, is looking to get the jump on Mexico City, a sprawling metropolis of more than 20 million people that opened an NBA-ready arena in 2012. That facility hosted a pair of NBA regular-season games each of the last two seasons , drawing an average of more than 20,000 fans. "You can feel it, you can smell it, you can breathe it in the streets." said Gilberto Hernández, president of the Mexican Basketball Federation. "They're just craving basketball." Of course, there are a number of challenges that must be addressed before international expansion becomes a reality — especially so for Mexico City, which is 7,350 feet above sea level (more than 2,000 feet higher than Denver), is plagued by crime and economic-disparity issues, and might have trouble signing top players who are reluctant to step outside their cultural comfort zone. But the appeal is enormous. "It's the largest city in the Western Hemisphere," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "It's part of a 130 million-person country. There's a very strong, passionate Mexican-American fan base in the United States. This is also a potential gateway for all of Latin America." The NHL first floated the prospect of a European division in the late 1960s. Detroit Red Wings owner Bruce Norris was so fixated on the idea that he launched his own team, the London Lions, who played a 72-game schedule against top European teams in 1973-74. Unfortunately, the Lions never had a league of their own, so the team quietly disbanded after that single season, leaving behind nothing more than a cool logo . Over the last two decades, the NHL has scheduled regular-season contests in Europe and Japan, including two games in Stockholm this past November. The Asian market also remains a top priority, especially heading into the 2022 Olympics in Beijing — though the league sent mixed signals by refusing to send its players to this year's Winter Games in South Korea. For the NHL and the NBA, the enormous travel times between North America and either Europe or Asia remain the biggest obstacle to adding teams in those markets. Unless some sort of supersonic transportation becomes available, it would simply be too difficult to incorporate such faraway cities as London and Tokyo into an 82-game schedule, which requires teams to play games all through the week and sometimes on back-to-back days. Also working against European expansion: the lack on U.S.-quality arenas (even the most modern facilities generally lack the size and amenities to generate as much revenue as their American counterparts) and established basketball and hockey leagues in many countries would surely object to the NBA or NHL coming in to steal their limelight. For the NFL, the challenges aren't nearly so daunting, and the potential rewards could be even greater for a league that has faced declining TV ratings and lots of bad publicity about the devastating physical toll on its players. There are no major pro football leagues in Europe. Teams play only once a week, generally on Sunday, and the entire regular-season schedule is just 16 games. A team in London would have to make the cross-Atlantic trek no more than eight times a year, and the demands could be lessened by scheduling back-to-back road games, halving the number of long-range roundtrips. A London team could even maintain its base of operations in the U.S., essentially playing all its games on the road but perhaps making it easier to sign players in free agency and cope with legal issues and currency fluctuations. Travel would not be a concern for a Mexican team. The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball have all played regular-season games south of the border — next weekend, in fact, the Los Angeles Dodgers will meet the San Diego Padres in a three-game series at Monterrey . MLB seems the most logical candidate to launch a Mexican team, given baseball's popularity and the large number of Latin American players in the majors, but the NBA is leading the way. Silver wants to put a G League development team in Mexico City, testing the waters for a possible NBA franchise. "As we look down the road, frankly, to see whether there can be an opportunity to even dream about an NBA franchise here in Mexico City, we believe it makes sense as a first step to have a development league team here to work out some of the issues, to better understand what it would mean to have a team in Mexico," Silver said. There are still plenty of questions to answer, that's for sure. But one is crystal clear. Are U.S. leagues going international? No doubt about it......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Referee takes retribution on player as PSG wins 1-0

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — A bizarre foul committed by the referee overshadowed Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win on Sunday at Nantes which moved the leaders 11 points clear at the top of the French league. In a highly unusual end to the game, referee Tony Chapron sent off Nantes center half Diego Carlos in the last minute — although the official was the culprit. Carlos was running behind Chapron near the halfway line and trying to catch up with play when he inadvertently clipped the referee's heels as their paths crossed. Chapron tumbled forward onto the turf and then, in what appeared to be a blatant act of retribution, swiped his right leg at Carlos. An irate Chapron got up and brandished a second yellow card for Carlos. "I know it's a difficult job to referee, but they must also have to ask questions of themselves," Nantes midfielder Valentin Rongier said on Canal Plus television. "If we do that it goes before a (disciplinary) commission and we get 10 games (suspension)." There is little suspense in the league with PSG dropping only seven points from a possible 60. Defending champion Monaco is in second place, level on points with Lyon, but neither seemingly has the caliber to pressure PSG by going on a lengthy winning run. Even without playing its usual scintillating football, PSG was able to scrape past a lackluster Nantes side coached by Claudio Ranieri. He guided Leicester City to the 2015-16 English Premier League title in one of the biggest upsets in soccer history, but Nantes remains in fifth place and does not seem to have enough flair to go higher. Angel Di Maria scored in the 12th minute with the home defense slow to react. Kylian Mbappe left striker Edinson Cavani's probing pass go through his legs and the unmarked Di Maria toe-poked the ball into the left corner. It was his third league goal of the season and followed his brace last Sunday in the French Cup. PSG carved Nantes open with a swift counterattacking move late in the first half, but Di Maria blazed over an open goal after midfielder Adrien Rabiot set him up perfectly. Nantes striker Emiliano Sala thought he had equalized in the 60th when he headed powerfully home from a free-kick but it was harshly ruled out for offside. There was no VAR to validate the goal, even though television replays showed Sala was level with Cavani when he made his run into the area. Cavani needed just one more goal to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's all-time leading scorer on 156. He could get the record at home to Dijon on Wednesday. ___ LYON STUMBLES Lyon wasted a chance to move up to second place after being held 1-1 at home by relegation-threatened Angers. Lyon equalizer through top scorer Nabil Fekir. But Angers was hanging on after having midfielder Flavien Tait sent off in the 84th minute. Third-place Lyon is one point ahead of Marseille in fourth. It was a precious point for Angers, moving it up to 18th — the relegation playoff spot. Lyon fell behind to striker Karl Toko Ekambi's penalty kick in the 14th minute. He jogged up casually with a staggered run-up, and stroked the ball to the left as goalkeeper Anthony Lopes guessed the wrong way. Toko Ekambi has 10 league goals and his performances have caught the eye. He has been linked with a move to the Premier League in this month's transfer window, which could damage Angers' chances of staying up. Two minutes after the break, Fekir opened up the defense with a superb piece of skill — dragging the ball back and then flicking it through the legs of a defender. The ball rolled toward forward Maxwell Cornet but Fekir sprinted alongside him and drilled it into the bottom corner. It was Fekir's 14th league goal of the season in a career-best tally. He is expected to make a big-money move to a top club in the summer. ___ MOVING CLEAR Saint-Etienne moved away from the relegation zone after beating fellow struggler Toulouse 2-0. Slovenia striker Robert Beric scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot moments before halftime. Senegalese midfielder Assane Diousse got his first for the club when he sealed the win in the 86th minute. Saint-Etienne moved up to 14th place. Toulouse is 19th and the pressure is increasing on coach Pascal Dupraz......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Atlanta s Matt Ryan aims for happy homecoming in Philly

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Quarterback Matt Ryan has another shot at a happy homecoming. A berth in the NFC championship game is at stake when Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) against the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) in a divisional playoff Saturday. Ryan, who grew up rooting for the Eagles and went to Philadelphia's William Penn Charter School, is 1-3 at the Linc. "I'm used to it now," Ryan said about returning home. "Playing as long as I have, I understand regardless of where we play you have to be at your best every week. The one nice part is there will be a lot of familiar faces, friendly faces after the game, which is always nice." Ryan had his worst game of his MVP season last year in Atlanta's 24-15 loss in Philly on Nov. 13, 2016. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception. "Obviously, there will be some scheme from that game that we'll take, what went well and what didn't go well and try to improve on that," Ryan said. "We're a different team than we were last year when we played them and they're a different team. It will be some carry over, but it will be a little bit different." Here's some things to watch for when the teams meet in the playoffs for the first time since Philadelphia's win over Michael Vick's Falcons in the 2005 NFC championship game: NICK'S UP: Nick Foles makes his fourth start since replacing Carson Wentz after the MVP candidate tore his ACL in Week 14. Foles played well in his first five quarters and struggled in the next five. He's certainly a dropoff from Wentz, but he's also capable of spectacular performances. Wentz once tossed seven TDs in a game in 2013. He had four TDs in his first start in Week 15. "There's enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence," Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. 'NORTHEAST' NOISE: There's crowd noise, and then there's the noise generated by Philadelphia fans known for their intensity. Falcons coach Dan Quinn seemed to search for a polite term to compare Eagles fans with the fans the team heard in last week's wild-card win at the Los Angeles Rams. "I'm not going to say more passionate, but I would say more Northeast," Quinn said with a smile. The Falcons have pumped in artificial noise in practice this week but will lean heavily on Ryan and center Alex Mack to use their experience with silent counts and hand signals. "That's huge," said tight end Levine Toilolo. "That's where it all starts, coming off the ball, the cadence and stuff like that. We definitely work on that every week. Their fans, we're expecting a loud crowd in a big playoff game." Mack said he expects Philadelphia's fans "to be really dedicated, really loud, really involved. So it's going to be a challenge just in terms of crowd noise." COMFORT ZONE: After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons finished the regular season 15th with first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Atlanta averaged 22.1 points per game, down from 33.8 last season. Ryan says he has become more comfortable with Sarkisian, especially the last two weeks in wins over Carolina and the Rams. "I think Sark has done a great job of finding who we are week to week, specifically the last two weeks I think he's done a great job," Ryan said. STOPPING JULIO: The Eagles had some success against Julio Jones in their win last year, keeping him out of the end zone but allowing 10 catches for 135 yards. Jalen Mills held him to four catches for 48 yards when he was matched up against Jones. The second-year pro is confident he can contain Jones again. Ronald Darby will have to cover Jones when he's on his side. "You have to think the ball is coming to him each and every play," Mills said. "Whether they're having a run or a pass play, you've just got to think the ball is coming to him." MULTIPLE BACKS: Both teams have options in the backfield. The Falcons are led by Devonta Freeman, who had 865 yards rushing and seven TDs. Tevin Coleman had 628 yards rushing and five TDs. LeGarrette Blount led the Eagles with 766 yards rushing and scored two TDs. Jay Ajayi had 873 yards rushing and one TD combined with the Dolphins and Eagles. He ran for 130 yards against Atlanta in Miami's win on Oct. 15. ___ AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

Neymar, Mbappe score as leader PSG wins 4-1 at Rennes

PARIS (AP) — The world's two most expensive soccer stars both scored as Paris Saint-Germain restored its nine-point lead in the French league with a 4-1 win at Rennes on Saturday. Brazil forward Neymar scored twice and turned provider for Kylian Mbappe and striker Edinson Cavani, while Mbappe set up both of Neymar's goals. Neymar put PSG ahead in the fourth minute, turning in Mbappe's cross from the right. Roles were reversed when teenage star Mbappe then netted from Neymar's cross in the 17th. Neymar and Mbappe joined in the summer transfer window, with PSG paying Barcelona a world record 222 million euros ($262 million). Mbappe, who turns 19 next Wednesday, joined from defending champion Monaco in a deal worth 180 million euros ($216 million). Rennes pulled a goal back early in the second half through striker Firmin Mubele, but then had influential midfielder Benjamin Andre sent off in the 63rd minute for a second yellow card following a late challenge on center back Presnel Kimpembe, who was also sent off late on. Andre's red card prompted an angry reaction from Rennes coach Sabri Lamouchi, who argued with referee Antony Gautier. PSG profited from the extra man to make it 3-1 when Cavani ran onto Neymar's pass to brilliantly flick the ball over goalkeeper Tomas Koubek in the 75th for his league-leading 18th goal of the season. A minute later Cavani released Mbappe down the right, he crossed quickly, and Neymar slid in at the back post to grab his 11th of the season. PSG was ruthless in attack but its poor defending — which had also been seen in a recent 2-1 loss at Strasbourg — let Rennes back into the game in the 53rd. From a corner, midfielder Morgan Amalfitano was left unmarked and his header hit the front post. The ball rolled across the goal and presented Mubele with a tap-in. Kimpembe was sent off in the 89th. He was beaten by a pass played behind him and clumsily chopped down midfielder James Lea Siliki. But winger Wahbi Khazri blazed the penalty over the top. Second-place Monaco won 4-0 at Saint-Etienne on Friday night. ___ OTHER MATCHES Despite having one of the smallest budgets in Ligue 1, Strasbourg is up to seventh place after beating Toulouse 2-1 at home. Midfielder Jonas Martin and center half Kader Mangane scored either side of an equalizer from winger Max-Alain Gradel. Striker Wesley Said netted twice as Dijon climbed up to eighth place by beating 18th-place Lille 3-0, with all the goals in the first half. Mid-table Caen and Guingamp drew 0-0. Troyes moved further away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 home win against Amiens. Last-place Metz secured a rare success by winning 3-1 at Montpellier. ___ SUNDAY'S GAMES Third-place Lyon plays at fourth-place Marseille on Sunday night, with both sides three points behind Monaco. Also, fifth-place Nantes takes on Angers, and Nice hosts Bordeaux......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 17th, 2017

49ers earn first win of the season, top Giants

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — C.J. Beathard threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score to lead the San Francisco 49ers to their first win of the season, 31-21 over the New York Giants on Sunday. Beathard connected on an 83-yard TD to Marquise Goodwin and a 47-yarder to Garrett Celek in the second quarter as the 49ers (1-9) took advantage of another listless effort by the Giants (1-8) to win for the first time under coach Kyle Shanahan. Beathard's time as starting quarterback in San Francisco figures to be numbered after the team acquired Jimmy Garoppolo two weeks ago in trade from New England. Garoppolo has been learning the offense and could take over when the team returns from the bye in two weeks. While the Niners could be making a quarterback change soon, this performance will only heighten the questions about whether the Giants will need to change coaches. Ben McAdoo has been under fire after a report this past week from ESPN that quoted an anonymous player as saying the players have given up on the season and don't view McAdoo as a leader. The Giants have not fired a coach during the season since 1976 when Bill Arnsparger was let go after a 0-7 start and replaced by John McVay. FALCONS 27, COWBOYS 7 ATLANTA (AP) — Adrian Clayborn set an Atlanta record with six sacks, Matt Ryan threw a pair of short touchdown passes and the Falcons romped to victory over Dallas. The Cowboys looked anemic offensively in their first game without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott. Ryan hooked up with Justin Hardy on a 3-yard pass for Atlanta's first offensive touchdown in the third quarter this season. Early in the fourth, Ryan put the game away for the Falcons (5-4) by tossing one to Austin Hooper for a 1-yard score. While the Cowboys (5-4) sure missed Elliott, who finally began serving a six-game suspension for allegations of domestic abuse after three legal reprieves, they really noticed the absence of left tackle Tyron Smith. He sat out the game with back and groin injuries, leaving third-year player Chaz Green to protect Dak Prescott's blind side. It didn't go well for Dallas. Beating Green time after time, Clayborn forced two fumbles, recovered one of them and surpassed the team record of five sacks, held by Chuck Smith and Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey. Even more impressively, Clayborn's performance matched the second-most sacks in NFL history. RAMS 33, TEXANS 7 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert Woods caught two of Jared Goff's three touchdown passes during a dominant third quarter, and surging Los Angeles returned after a month away from home for their fourth straight victory, 33-7 over depleted Houston. After struggling to a 9-7 lead during a quiet first half for the NFL's highest-scoring team, the Rams (7-2) ran away with a series of big throws by Goff, who passed for a career-high 355 yards. Woods caught a 94-yard TD pass to break it open before Sammy Watkins and Woods made TD catches 19 seconds apart late in the third quarter. The Rams defense shut out Houston in the second half and won at the Coliseum for just the third time in 11 games since returning to Los Angeles last season. Woods finished with eight catches for 171 yards, making the longest catch of his NFL career before following it up with a 12-yard TD. Bruce Ellington caught a 26-yard TD pass for the Texans (3-6), who have lost three straight and four of five. Tom Savage passed for 221 yards with two interceptions for Houston, which lost its second straight since losing rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season with a knee injury. SAINTS 47, BILLS 10 ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Mark Ingram scored a career-best three touchdowns and New Orleans won its seventh straight game by plowing through a porous Buffalo defense. Alvin Kamara also had a 3-yard touchdown rushing as the Saints blew the game open by scoring five times on their first six possessions, not including a one-play series to close the first half. Ingram finished with 131 yards rushing. He scored twice from 3 yards and again on a 1-yard plunge. The Saints finished with 298 yards rushing and 32 first downs. Their defense was just as dominating in limiting Buffalo to 198 yards and 10 first downs. And five of those first downs came on Buffalo's meaningless final drive that ended with backup quarterback Nathan Peterman hitting Nick O'Leary on a 7-yard touchdown pass. New Orleans set a franchise record by scoring six touchdowns rushing, and it marked the most allowed by Buffalo in team history. Even Saints quarterback Drew Brees got involved in the run of rushing touchdowns by scrambling in from 6 yards in the final minute of the third quarter. Trey Edmunds capped the scoring with a 41-yard touchdown run. The Saints never punted, the only thing to stop them was tight end Josh Hill losing a fumble at the Buffalo 9 in the first quarter. The Saints (7-2) haven't lost since dropping their first two games and matched their longest winning streak since closing the 2011 season 8-0. New Orleans has already matched its win total from each of the past three seasons. The Bills (5-4) simply unraveled in losing their second straight and dropping to 4-1 at home. STEELERS 20, COLTS 17 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger's 32-yard completion to Antonio Brown with 35 seconds set up a 33-yard field goal from Chris Boswell as time expired. The Steelers (7-2) have won four straight overall and five in a row in the series. But it sure wasn't easy as the Colts (3-7) held Roethlisberger, Brown and Le'Veon Bell in check. Pittsburgh needed two second-half TD passes from Roethlisberger to fight its way out of a 17-3 third-quarter deficit. And Roethlisberger reverted to his traditional form on the Steelers' final possession. The two -time Super Bowl champion methodically marched the Steelers 70 yards in the final 3 minutes, 10 seconds to give Pittsburgh its only lead. Roethlisberger was 19 of 31 for 236 yards with one interception. Bell had 26 carries for 80 yards and Brown, the league's leading receiver, caught three passes for 47 yards. VIKINGS 38, REDSKINS 30 LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Case Keenum threw touchdowns to four different receivers to build a big lead, and the NFC North-leading Vikings won their fifth in a row. With Teddy Bridgewater active for the first time since January 2016 after a devastating knee injury, Keenum was 21 of 29 for 304 yards and TD passes to Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, David Morgan and Jarius Wright. He was picked off on consecutive throws by D.J. Swearinger. Thielen had eight catches for a season-high 166 yards. Latavius Murray also ran for a score as five players got into the end zone for Minnesota (7-2), which was 8 of 12 on third downs. The Vikings won their first game out of the bye week for the second time in eight seasons as they try to avoid a repeat of the swoon that cost them a playoff spot last season. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins had three TDs — two rushing and one passing — and was 26 of 45 for 327 yards with an interception. The Redskins (4-5) failed to build off an upset victory at Seattle and now find themselves on an uphill climb in the wild-card race. PACKERS 23, BEARS 16 CHICAGO (AP) — Brett Hundley threw for 212 yards and a touchdown, Nick Perry had three sacks and the Packers snapped a three-game losing streak. Hundley, starting his third game for an injured Aaron Rodgers, threw a 17-yard touchdown to Davante Adams to make it 23-13 with 5:29 to play, and the Packers (5-4) hung on to beat the Bears (3-6) for the eighth time in nine games. It was the first victory for a Packers QB not named Rodgers or Brett Favre since 1989. Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky threw for a career-high 297 yards. The rookie hit Josh Bellamy for a 46-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, but the Bears dropped their second in a row after winning back-to-back games. The win was Green Bay's first since a narrow victory at Dallas on Oct. 8. A week later, Rodgers got driven to the turf by the Vikings' Anthony Barr in a loss at Minnesota week and the Packers haven't been the same since then. Hundley completed 18 of 25 passes to help the Packers win their eighth straight at Soldier Field counting the playoffs. TITANS 24, BENGALS 20 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Marcus Mariota tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray with 36 seconds left , and the Titans rallied for their fourth consecutive victory. It's the longest winning streak for the Titans (6-3) since takin five straight in 2009, and it's their best start to a season since 2008 when the Titans last reached the playoffs as the AFC's No. 1 seed. Murray ran for two touchdowns, and Mariota finished with 264 yards passing. The Bengals (3-6) lost for the third time in four games despite sacking Mariota four times. They started with three defensive starters scratched and lost a fourth when linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected in the second quarter after pushing the arm of an official. Cincinnati took its only lead at 20-17 on a 70-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green with 5:03 left, but the Bengals couldn't stop the Titans, who drove 73 yards for the winning TD. JAGUARS 20, CHARGERS 17, OT JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Josh Lambo kicked a 30-yard field goal with 3:12 remaining in overtime, lifting the Jaguars in a wild game. Lambo's kick got tipped at the line of scrimmage and still cleared the crossbar. The former soccer player and one-time Charger ran the other way and slid on both knees near midfield before getting mobbed by teammates. It gave Jacksonville its first three-game winning streak since 2013. The game ended up in overtime after a wacky final two minutes of regulation that included a fumble, two interceptions, a taunting penalty and a costly flag for roughing the passer. At times, it looked as if neither team wanted to win. After all the chaos, Lambo drilled a 34-yard field goal to send it to the extra period. After Jacksonville punted, A.J. Bouye intercepted a pass from Philip Rivers on third down and returned it to the 2-yard line. But a taunting call on cornerback Aaron Colvin pushed the Jaguars (6-3) back 15 yards. Lambo hit the winner a few plays later. The Chargers are 3-6. LIONS 38, BROWNS 24 ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Matthew Stafford lofted a 29-yard, tiebreaking touchdown to Eric Ebron early in the fourth quarter and the Lions went on to beat the winless Browns. The Lions (5-4) rallied from first- and second-half deficits to earn consecutive victories for the first time since winning the first two games this season. The Browns, who fell to 0-9 on the season, led 10-0 early in the game for their first double-digit lead of the season, and were up 24-17 in the third after Deshone Kizer led two consecutive touchdown drives. Detroit is the only franchise to have a 0-16 season in 2008. Cleveland's chances to finally win this season were hurt when Kizer took a shot to the ribs by blitzing defensive back Quandre Diggs late in the third period. The rookie quarterback, who came back to play late in the fourth, had perhaps his best game. He completed 21 of 37 passes for 232 yards with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt in the first quarter. Kizer ran seven times for 57 yards, including a go-ahead, 1-yard sneak with 6:01 left in the third. BUCCANEERS 15, JETS 10 TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick led two long scoring drives and Tampa Bay limited the Jets to less than 200 yards of offense until late in the fourth quarter to snap a five-game losing streak. With Fitzpatrick filling in for injured quarterback Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers (3-6) used three field goals to build a 9-3 lead. Charles Sims put the game out of reach with a 6-yard touchdown reception with just over six minutes remaining. Fitzpatrick, facing the team he played for the past two seasons, completed 17 of 34 passes for 187 yards and was intercepted once. The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick, one of just four players in NFL history to throw TD passes for seven different teams, led a seven-minute drive that produced a field goal in the first quarter. He finished a 15-play, 81-yard march, also lasting more than seven minutes, with his TD pass to Sims to make it 15-3. Josh McCown, also facing one of his former teams, was 23 of 39 for 263 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Robby Anderson caught a 38-yard TD pass in the final minute for the Jets (4-6), scoring for the fourth straight game to give New York one last chance......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2017

Liverpool wins at West Ham to close gap on EPL top five

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — The only member of the English Premier League's top six in action on Saturday, Liverpool took full advantage. Juergen Klopp's side won at West Ham 4-1 to secure successive league victories for the first time since August. Mohamed Salah scored twice, while Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also found the net as Liverpool made light work of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium. The victory took Liverpool level on points with Chelsea and Arsenal, which both face tough challenges on Sunday against top two Manchester United and City, respectively. Third-placed Tottenham meets Crystal Palace. "Two weeks ago I felt quite different. We knew after that game at Tottenham (4-1 defeat) that we were bad," Klopp said. "We wanted to strike back and the boys did with three really nice results." After an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Brighton in its last home league game, West Ham's display did little to relieve the increasing pressure on manager Slaven Bilic. "I definitely don't feel a broken man. I'm very, very strong," Bilic said. "On the other hand, the situation for West Ham is not good." The Hammers dropped to 17th, with just a point separating them from the relegation zone. Here's a look at the action: MANE RETURNS Almost as important as the victory for Liverpool, was the return of Sadio Mane. The Senegal winger missed the last five games after injuring a hamstring on international duty. Mane didn't score, but coming through 77 minutes unscathed with assists for both of Salah's goals vindicated Klopp's decision to start him. "(Playing) Sadio Mane from the beginning after his injury, after yesterday his second session with the team. I never did it before," Klopp said. "Sadio is a naturally fit player, a little machine." The first set-up came as Mane and Salah performed a two-man counterattack, with the latter putting the ball in the net just 13 seconds after West Ham took a corner at the other end. The second was equally impressive as Mane beat two defenders before switching the ball to Salah, who arrowed his finish into the bottom corner. DEBUTANTS EXCELLING Brighton and Huddersfield both won to move into the top half of the standings in their debut league seasons. Brighton extended its unbeaten run to four games by defeating Swansea 1-0 with Glenn Murray scoring for a third consecutive league game. "Eighth has surpassed our expectation, most newly promoted teams would say the same, but we've got to be guarded against any type of complacency," Brighton manager Chris Hughton said. Huddersfield held on for a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion despite playing the final third of the game with 10 men. Christopher Schindler was sent off after receiving a second yellow card, but Rajiv van La Parra's first-half strike was enough. The other promoted team, Newcastle, conceded a last-minute goal to Bournemouth in a 1-0 loss. Steve Cook's injury-time header left Rafael Benitez's side with just one win in its last six. DYCHE STOCK RISES Another overachieving club is Burnley. Sam Vokes scored in the 80th minute to beat Southampton 1-0. Everton is reportedly interested in hiring Sean Dyche away from Burnley after firing manager Ronald Koeman in October. "I've had numerous times when I've been linked with situations and I just continue to see it clearly and that is to work hard at what I do," Dyche said. "There's not a story there. My story is the Burnley story; five years here, another win today, which is a fantastic win, a clean sheet, Southampton away, a place that's been historically very, very tough for us to come and get results - both me as a manager and the club - and we've won 1-0, that's the story." Earlier, Leicester stayed unbeaten under manager Claude Puel while twice wasting the lead in a 2-2 draw with Stoke......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2017

As calendar flips to October, the MLB postseason from A to Z

em>By Ben Walker, Associated Press /em> All those home runs by Aaron Judge, all those wins by the Los Angeles Dodgers, nicely done. Except none of that matters now — a sinker that bounces to the backstop, a liner that hooks barely foul, the whole script flips. October has a way of doing that. The Major League Baseball playoffs start Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium when New York hosts the Minnesota Twins in the AL wild-card game. A look at the 2017 postseason, from A to Z: strong>A: ALTUVE'S ASTROS — /strong>Generously listed at 5-foot-6, Jose Altuve is baseball's little big man. The do-everything second baseman won his third AL batting title and aims to lead the Astros to their first World Series crown. With the Houston area recovering from Hurricane Harvey, they're the sentimental favorites. strong>B: BULLPENS — /strong> Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman going long, Andrew Miller entering early, Clayton Kershaw as a closer. The old rules were out last October when it came to relief roles. We'll see what pops up in the 'pens this year. strong>C: CUBS VS. CLEVELAND — /strong>Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Corey Kluber & Crew, once more? It's been a while since a World Series rematch, when Reggie Jackson led the Yanks over the Dodgers in 1977-78. But, it's already been a ripe year for repeats — Warriors vs. Cavaliers, Alabama vs. Clemson. strong>D: DEBUTS — /strong>Strikeout king Chris Sale makes his first playoff appearance when Boston starts at Houston on Thursday in the best-of-five AL Division Series. Rockies bopper Nolan Arenado and Twins slugger Brian Dozier are postseason newbies, too. So is Nationals backup Adam Lind, after 12 years and more than 1,300 games. strong>E: EXTRA — /strong>Hmmm, anyone remember the last time a postseason game went to extra innings? Hard to top the Cubs' 10-inning, rain-delayed, 8-7 thriller over Cleveland in Game 7. The Red Sox are the experts of extras this year — they're 15-3, including seven straight wins. strong>F: FREE AGENTS — /strong>Sure, 20 teams are done. But their fans can always dream. Cubs righty Jake Arrieta, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Rays thumper Logan Morrison are on the list of who'll soon be available. The most intriguing possibility might be Shohei Otani, a star pitcher and hitter in Japan. strong>G: GOOD TO SEE YA — /strong> Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, when he was 10 for 17. Twins star Joe Mauer has been absent since 2010. And Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg has pitched just once in Washington's three trips, heading into this matchup with the Cubs. strong>H: HOME FIELD — /strong>World Series home-field advantages go to the team with the best record. Thankfully, it's no longer based on who wins the All-Star Game. That means the Dodgers (104 wins) get first dibs, followed by Cleveland (102), Houston (101), Washington (97), Boston (93) and the Cubs (92). strong>I: INJURIES — /strong>Nationals ace Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring, teammate Bryce Harper is getting over a bad knee. Banged-up All-Stars Miguel Sano of the Twins and Michael Brantley of the Indians might be able contribute this week. Might not. strong>J: JOE MADDON — /strong>A cool cat, he keeps his Cubs loose. He reveled in last year's rallying cry: 'Try Not to Suck.' The skipper became the toast of Chicago, ending that century-old drought. Funny, all those warm-and-fuzzy Wrigley Field feelings are gone now, at least beyond the Friendly Confines. strong>K: KERSHAW — /strong>He tied for the major league lead in wins and won his fifth ERA title. He's a three-time Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star. But will anyone get more scrutiny in the postseason than Clayton Kershaw? Probably not, because the LA lefty is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in the postseason. strong>L: LOUSY WEATHER — /strong>Too bad, the temperature is often better suited for snowballs than baseballs. It was in the low 40s at Wrigley last year, and just imagine how it might feel in Denver or Minneapolis. If you want clear conditions, root for Arizona vs. Houston and their retractable roofs. strong>M: MANAGERS — /strong> Twin Cities native Paul Molitor, Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks and Bud Black of the Rockies are first-time skippers in the playoffs. Washington's Dusty Baker is back for his ninth try, still seeking that elusive first World Series championship. strong>N: NETTING — /strong>Fan safety has drawn special focus ever since a 1-year-old girl was recently hit by Todd Frazier's 105 mph foul ball at Yankee Stadium. Of the teams in these playoffs, three already had extended the netting to screen spectators: Houston, Washington and Minnesota. The Yankees say they'll have it next year. strong>O: OCTOBER — /strong>Of course. But if the World Series goes to Game 7, they'll go beyond Halloween and play on Nov. 1. strong>P: PUERTO RICO — /strong> Carlos Beltran, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa are among the many players from Puerto Rico trying to raise money and awareness for the damage done to their island by Hurricane Maria. Look for messages on caps and shoes over the next few weeks. strong>Q: QUICK? — /strong>Extra mound conferences, longer TV commercials, more pitching changes, they all contribute to slowing down the pace in the playoffs. MLB wants to speed up the action and avoid a repeat from last year, when postseason games averaged almost 3 1/2 hours. Not a good sign that regular-season games this year took more than 3 hours, 5 minutes on average, the longest ever. strong>R: ROOKIES — /strong>Yankees behemoth Aaron Judge broke the major league record with 52 home runs by a rookie, Dodgers surprise Cody Bellinger set the NL mark with 39. Other newcomers who could make an impact: Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, Cubs outfielder/infielder Ian Happ and 33-year-old Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel. strong>S: STREAKS — /strong> Jose Ramirez and the Indians set an AL record by winning 22 straight, the Dodgers dropped 11 in a row for their worst skid since moving from Brooklyn. A year after winning its first six postseason games, and in this season of streaks, Cleveland hopes to do it again. strong>T: TRADES — /strong>Justin Verlander (5-0, 1.06 ERA for Houston), J.D. Martinez (29 homers in 62 games for Arizona) and Jose Quintana (7-3, 3.74 for the Cubs) are some of the stars who were acquired in midseason trades. Yu Darvish, David Robertson and Eduardo Nunez also gave their new teams a boost. strong>U: UMPIRES — /strong>It won't be long before some team is hollering about an ump's strike zone. Those calls can't be contested, but others can. Some teams are very good at getting them overturned (Joe Girardi and the Yankees won 72 percent of their challenges). Others, not so much (the Nationals were right only 36 percent). strong>V: VOTING — /strong>All ballots for MVP, Cy Young and other major awards must be sent before the playoffs begin. These honors will generate plenty of debate before the winners are announced in November. Altuve or Judge, Kluber or Sale? strong>W: WILD CARDS — /strong> Madison Bumgarner and the 2014 Giants are the only wild-card team to win the World Series since MLB went to a one-and-done format in 2012. Before that, five wild cards took the title: Cardinals (2011), Red Sox (2004), Marlins (2003, 1997) and Angels (2002). strong>X: XANDER BOGAERTS — /strong> Perhaps the Boston shortstop might be the next infielder to really break out in postseason. Think Javier Baez, Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist and Alcides Escobar in recent years. strong>Y: YANKEE STADIUM — /strong> The playoffs begin the Bronx, with Yankees youngster Luis Severino starting the AL wild-card game, taking on Ervin Santana and the Twins. strong>Z: ZACK GREINKE — /strong>The Arizona ace is set to throw the first pitch in Wednesday's NL wild-card game at home against a familiar opponent. He's 2-1 in five starts vs. Colorado this year. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2017

Monaco rebounds by beating Strasbourg 3-0 in French league

em>By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press /em> PARIS (AP) — Despite the departure of many key players, Monaco's strike force remains intact. Monaco, which had Europe's most potent attack last season when it dethroned Paris Saint-Germain in the French league and made it to the Champions League semifinals, already has 17 goals in six league matches. Monaco's display on Saturday in a 3-0 win over promoted Strasbourg was not as flamboyant as last season, but Leonardo Jardim's side recovered from a shock 4-0 loss at Riviera neighbor Nice last weekend with remarkable efficiency. 'It was not easy for us after the loss in the derby and this match really mattered,' Monaco defender Kamil Glik said. 'We're still in the mix.' Monaco moved level on points with leader PSG, which hosts Lyon on Sunday. Radamel Falcao, the league top scorer, added two goals to his tally to make it nine in six matches after Rony Lopes opened the scoring in the 44th minute from Falcao's assist. Monaco has sold more than 350 million euros worth of players this summer and let burgeoning star Kylian Mbappe join PSG, but it recruited Stevan Jovetic and Keita Balde as attacking reinforcements. Jovetic, who came from Inter Milan having spent the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla, has already developed an interesting partnership with Falcao. Jovetic had the first chance of the match in the 8th when he hit the crossbar after being fed by the Colombia forward. Falcao made it 2-0 after halftime from an offside position that was not spotted by the officials, and sealed the hosts' win by making the most of a defensive mistake from Strasbourg captain Kader Mangane. strong>BAMBA SCORES AGAIN /strong> Forward Jonathan Bamba scored from the penalty spot to help Saint-Etienne win at Dijon 1-0 and lift the 10-time champion to third place. Bamba has been involved in more than half of Saint-Etienne's goals so far. Saint-Etienne 'keeper Stephane Ruffier was also a factor in the visitor's fourth league win with three decisive saves. Saint-Etienne is two points behind PSG. strong>FIRST AWAY WIN /strong> Montpellier secured a first away win, 1-0 at Troyes with a goal from Pedro Mendes, who bagged his first goal in 47 matches in the topflight. Mendes, who joined from Rennes this summer, headed home the winner at the half-hour mark to help his club move three points away from the danger zone. strong>LAST-MINUTE GOAL /strong> Lille went through another tough evening and lost at Guingamp 1-0 after substitute Etienne Didot slotted home the winner in injury time with a long-range shot that took a deflection. At the helm of the youngest side in the French league, Lille coach Marcelo Bielsa has been struggling to find the right formula and won just one out of six matches. strong>ROCK-SOLID DEFENSE /strong> Nantes produced a fourth consecutive clean sheet and moved to sixth place in the standings with a 1-0 win against Caen. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2017

With flags, song, pride, French celebrate unifying victory

By Elaine Ganley, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — It was a victory for all of France and the home crowd did it justice, pouring into Paris' Champs-Elysees Avenue by the tens of thousands to celebrate in an explosion of joy. France's 4-2 win over Croatia in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday marked the second time in 20 years that France has won the World Cup, and came at a time when the people feel needy. "It represents enormous things," said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a rooster — the French national symbol — and a shirt with the No. 10 for Kylian Mpappe, the 19-year-old breakout star who hails from the Paris suburb of Bondy. "We've had lots of problems in France these past years," he said, recalling deadly terror attacks. "This is good for the morale ... Here, we are all united. We mix. There is no religion, there is nothing, and that's what feels good." Troublemakers marred some of the festivities at the top of the Champs-Elysees, breaking the window of a major store, throwing bottles, temporary barriers and even a bicycle at riot police as the celebrations wound down close to midnight. Police responded with water cannon and tear gas. BFM-TV reported that the store was pillaged. Earlier, people wrapped in flags and dressed in crazy hats, and one man spotted totally nude except for the Tricolor, marched down the avenue where France displayed its military might a day earlier for Bastille Day. Revelers set off smoke bombs in the national colors — blue, white and red — obscuring Napoleon's triumphal arch. People climbed atop every newspaper kiosk and bus stop in the area to wave flags and lead the crowds below in cheers. The national anthem, the Marseillaise, rang out, cars honked horns and cherry bombs cracks. A young man sprayed a fire extinguisher on the crowd on a late hot afternoon. Hundreds of police in riot gear were discretely lined up on side streets to monitor revelers. Typically, celebrations in France end up with some broken shop windows and other destruction, and Sunday was no exception. Tear gas was lobbed at one point on the Champs-Elysees. About 4,000 police watched over the fan zone — packed to its 90,000 capacity — during the match, then moved to the Champs-Elysees and neighboring streets. As night fell, The Eiffel Tower flashed 1998-2018 to mark France's two World Cup titles. The Arc de Triomph was awash in the national colors, lit with the rooster, the faces of the winning team and the words "Proud to be Blue," or French. The celebrations were spread across the nation. For all the crazy antics — and some revelers who got out of control — a sense of patriotism and unity was almost visceral. Antoine Griezmann, the France striker who scored one of the goal's Sunday, told a news conference two days before the final, televised on BFM TV, that pride in country is in short supply. "We say it so little ... We should be proud to be French," Griezmann said. Mahmoud Bourassi was among those taking a longer-term view and he had some sobering thoughts about France's run to the title and the festivities it has sparked. Bourassi runs a youth center in Bondy — Mbappe's home that was among those scarred by riots in 2005 that exposed the fissures of France that have yet to heal — and he knows the teenage star of the tournament. "All this euphoria and effervescence, it's positive but it's emotional and ephemeral," he said ahead of France's win. Bourassi said sports is a "catalyst to bring people and nations together." But, he added, it must be built on. "What we're seeing is magic, exceptional. But what are we going to do with it tomorrow?" That is a question for President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Moscow celebrating with the team on victory night, and will receive the squad more formally on Monday at the presidential Elysee Palace. Revelers celebrated the moment. "We're happy. It took 20 years ... It's the pride of the nation. It unites everyone. It federates," Frederique Pourquet said as she and her friend left the Champs-Elysees. The win "shows that the French people are consolidated and the work of all France," said Omar Bzi. Hajar Maghnaoui, of Asnieres, north of Paris, said "It's a way to bring the French people together, and also the world." ___ John Leicester in Moscow contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

PVL: Not a bad loss -- Valdez

Top spiker Alyssa Valdez and the whole Creamline crew kept their hopes high despite suffering a straight sets beating at the hands of the defending champion Pocari Sweat-Air Force in Game 1 of the best-of-three Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference Final Four. Rust from a three-week layoff and difficulty in adjusting with their new import were obvious from the Cool Smashers, a weak point that the Lady Warriors took advantage. Valdez was the only Creamline player in double figures with 16 points in the Cool Smashers’ 23-25, 12-25, 23-25, loss Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Creamline was taken out of their comfort zone the whole match but the Tai Bundit-mentored squad remained optimistic of their chances to advance in the championship round. “Natalo, pero it's really not a bad loss for the team. We really have to have and look for that motivation going into Game Two,” said Valdez, who added nine digs. Creamline came off an almost one-month break after claiming the outright Final Four seat. A long layoff that took its toll on the Cool Smashers momentum. “Ang tagal din naming nawala and kailangan din namin ng magfa-fire and magfu-fuel sa amin para makuha 'yung momentum na kailangan naming,” said Valdez. “Sabi nga nila, mas marami kaming matututunan sa mga talo. Hopefully, 'yun 'yung makukuha namin sa talo na 'to.” It also didn’t help that the Cool Smashers had to a adjust with returning American import Laura Schaudt, who replaced Serbian Nina Asceric. Schaudt only had one point in three sets of play. “Laura was there naman last year,” Valdez said. “She knows 'yung goal ng team namin. More than anything, we're gonna accept all the changes and adjustments na needed para maka-survive 'yung team namin.” The Cool Smashers will have their backs against the wall on Wednesday when they try to extend the series and avoid another semis meltdown – a problem that haunted Creamline since last year.           --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

LOOK: Complete 2018 MPBL Datu Cup rosters

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) has grown nearly three-fold since its first conference. From nine founding teams in the Anta Rajah Cup, the league has now increased to 25 squads all looking to bring pride to its home town. A tougher challenge is now posed for defending champion Batangas, who will not only ward off more opponents, but also better ones as each team has been hard at work recruiting eager players. Check out the complete MPBL rosters to get to know each squad beforet the league returns on June 12 at the Araneta Coliseum.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Spieth headlines as hometown Byron Nelson changes venues

By Schuyler Dixon, Associated Press DALLAS (AP) — Jordan Spieth didn't try to sell his peers on joining him at a new links-style course for the 50th anniversary of his hometown AT&T Byron Nelson tournament. The three-time major winner says he was honest when asked over the past year about the undulating layout, with no trees or water hazards, on what used to be a landfill a few miles south of downtown Dallas. The fields weren't great the past decade at the TPC Four Seasons resort in suburban Irving, the tournament's home for 35 years. The return to Dallas at Trinity Forest Golf Club, named for the 6,000 acres of thick trees surrounding the course, didn't do much to change that, at least for now. "The most common question is, 'What's it like?'" Spieth said. "Pretty vague question but, you know, I say it's very different. These are my words: It's really fun as a member, as a change-of-pace kind of golf club." Spieth (No. 3) and ninth-ranked Hideki Matsuyama, making his Nelson debut Thursday, are the only players from the world top 10 in the field. Sergio Garcia, the Nelson winner two years ago and 2017 Masters champ, is next at 14th. Whether it's scheduling, losing the amenities of a resort or facing an unfamiliar brand of PGA Tour golf, most of the big names are staying away. Billy Horschel admitted he probably wouldn't be at the course co-designed by Ben Crenshaw if he weren't the defending champion. "Look, most people just don't like different, do they?" asked Adam Scott, the 2008 Nelson champ playing the event for the first time in six years. "This is just different than what we normally roll out and play." Wind will determine the difficulty on the par-71 layout. Thursday is supposed to be calm, with winds expected to pick up Friday and Saturday into the 20 mph range — a number Geoff Ogilvy used a threshold for things getting "interesting." "You have to ask Jordan or the members who play out here into crazy winds because I haven't seen it yet," Ogilvy said. "Nothing to stop the wind. Pretty exposed place." Spieth is talking up the par-3 No. 17 because of a green with a large mound through the middle that Crenshaw says was the natural part of the landscape. A double green for the third and 11th holes is billed as the largest on an 18-hole course in North America. The short par-4 fifth will be one to watch because it's easily reachable off the tee — especially with a prevailing south wind — and easily could be a big source of trouble. The finishing hole on each nine is a par-4 of more than 500 yards. "Like everything here in the U.S., the greens are bigger, the fairways are bigger, but it's the closest thing you can get to a links course," said Garcia, who is from Spain. "It's an American links course." A day after Horschel won the last Nelson at the Four Seasons, his wife went public on social media with her struggles with alcoholism. Horschel had made a vague reference to personal issues after winning. A year later, he raves about the response he and his wife received. He is coming off a win last month in New Orleans and is dealing with not having the data he would prefer to create a game plan for Trinity Forest. "I've been saying it may be a touch easier to defend at a new course because except for maybe a handful, two handfuls of players that play this course a little bit, everyone is on an even level playing ground," Horschel said. "We're all trying to figure it out." Spieth's first splash in pro golf came as a 16-year-old amateur at the Nelson in 2010, when he tied for 16th. That remains his best finish, which is another reason he's excited about the venue change. He believes his peers will come around. Ogilvy, who showed an interest in the project from its earliest stages, agrees. "I think this course will stand the test of time," he said. "People will enjoy it every year they play it more and more. Getting guys out of their comfort zone I think is a good thing." If Spieth ever decides to make a sales pitch, he might have a partner......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 17th, 2018

Recovering Neymar confirmed in Brazil s World Cup squad

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Neymar back in France to continue recovery from injury

PARIS--- Two months after undergoing surgery on a fractured foot, Neymar has arrived back in France to continue his rehabilitation. After landing at the small airport of Le Bourget at about noon Friday, the Brazil star went to his home on the outskirts of Paris. The Paris Saint-Germain striker had been recovering in Brazil after having surgery in March on a cracked fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He is hoping to be ready for the World Cup in Russia and it's unlikely he will play again with PSG before the end of the season. PSG's next league game is due to be played on Friday night at Amiens. The French champions then take on third-division side Les Herbiers in the French...Keep on reading: Neymar back in France to continue recovery from injury.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 5th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Lewandowski powers Poland revival

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press Poland's hopes at the World Cup depend on Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich forward scored 16 goals in 10 games — a European qualifying record — to propel Poland to its first World Cup in 12 years. Lewandowski offers hope of a return to the fruitful period during the golden era in the 1970s and 1980s when Grzegorz Lato and Zbigniew Boniek were on the team and Poland played in four straight World Cups, finishing third in 1974 and 1982. Former international Adam Nawalka has crafted a hard-working cohesive unit since taking over as coach from Waldemar Fornalik in 2013. Poland was 69th in the FIFA rankings when Nawalka took over. After qualifying for the 2016 European Championship, where the team lost on penalties to eventual champion Portugal in the quarterfinals, and a strong qualifying campaign for Russia, Poland is now 10th. Here's a closer look at the Poland team: COACH Nawalka, who has never worked outside of Poland, was handed the job after the country failed to qualify for the last World Cup. He ensured qualification was never really in doubt this time, a 4-0 loss in Denmark notwithstanding, as Poland won every home game. Nawalka, who played at the 1978 World Cup for Poland, coached several Polish teams, including three stints at hometown club Wisla Krakow before leading Gornik Zabrze to promotion six months after taking over in 2010. Gornik was at the top of the Polish league standings when he took over the national team. Nawalka was also briefly an assistant to former Poland coach Leo Beenhakker during qualification for Euro 2008. GOALKEEPERS Wojciech Szczesny, now playing for Juventus as an understudy to Gianluigi Buffon, started Euro 2016 but missed the rest of the tournament after picking up an injury in the opening game against Northern Ireland. Former Arsenal teammate Lukasz Fabianski, now with Swansea, filled in and helped the team reach the quarterfinals. Fabianski played most of the qualifiers but Szczesny returned for the final two. Roma goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski should provide additional backup. DEFENDERS The 190-centimeter (6-foot-3) Kamil Glik marshals Poland's defensive line and provides a commanding presence at center back. Tough-tackling and hard-working, Glik also excels in organizational skills, and is adept at quickly switching play to wingers Kamil Grosicki or Jakub Blaszczykowski. Glik, formerly Torino's captain, played a big part in helping Monaco win the French title in 2017. Borussia Dortmund right back Lukasz Piszczek will be another who ensures Poland gets forward quickly from defense. MIDFIELDERS Apart from the tireless Blaszczykowski and Grosicki, Poland has a new creative force in 23-year-old Piotr Zielinski. The Napoli midfielder played in every qualification game and is among the first on Nawalka's teamsheet. Grzegorz Krychowiak is another vital cog for Nawalka. A move from Sevilla, where he had excelled, to Paris Saint-Germain in 2016 didn't work out as well as he hoped, and the 28-year-old defensive midfielder has been playing this season on loan at Premier League club West Bromwich Albion. Krychowiak epitomizes the team's hard working ethic and is already a veteran for Poland after making his senior debut in 2008. FORWARDS While Lewandowski is undoubtedly the star, Poland does have another option in attack in Arkadiusz Milik, a teammate of Zielinski's at Napoli. Milik had little success for Bayer Leverkusen or Augsburg in Germany, but excelled in a loan spell at Ajax, which consequently made his loan permanent. Napoli signed the 24-year-old Milik as a replacement for the Juventus-bound Gonzalo Higuain in 2016. Two serious knee injuries have blighted his time in Italy. Milik made five appearances for Poland in qualifying. Even with Milik at his best, however, Lewandowski is irreplaceable for Poland. The 29-year-old Lewandowski provided more than half of the team's goals in qualifying alone. Clinical in front of goal, strong and skillful, Lewandowski is the key to success. GROUP GAMES Poland will be based in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and will begin its campaign against Senegal in Moscow on June 19. The team then faces Colombia in Kazan on June 24 before wrapping up Group H play against Japan in Volgograd four days later......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Tunisia reorganizes after loss of Msakni

By Bouazza Ben Bouazza, Associated Press TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — With creative forward Youssef Msakni sidelined, Tunisia will be fielding a team at the World Cup that includes several foreign-born players. Msakni carried the team to its fifth World Cup, capped by a hat trick in the penultimate qualifier in Guinea, but he picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury while playing for his Qatari club. Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul is expected to use a group of foreign-born players, mainly from France. The move that could unsettle a team already in robust shape after being unbeaten in qualifying. Tunisia's squad is a mix of players mainly from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, France and domestic leagues. Here's a closer look at the Tunisia team: COACH A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into World Cup qualifying for his second spell as coach after a brief tenure in 2013. Maaloul played for Tunisia for a decade from 1985-95. One of very few African coaches in charge of a national team, he has transformed Tunisia from a fairly dour, defensive outfit to one more willing to attack since he took over after the African Cup of Nations in early 2017. He needs to ensure the decision to bring in new players at the expense of some of the men who got Tunisia to the World Cup doesn't upset the team balance or alienate squad members. GOALKEEPERS Maaloul's biggest decision may be the first name on the sheet after saying he was yet to decide. Aymen Mathlouthi, who is beginning to show frailties at 33 and after 11 years in the team, can no longer be certain of his starting spot. Maaloul must figure out whether to drop the captain and sacrifice experience for 28-year-old Farouk Ben Mustapha, who has been highly-praised in the Saudi league. DEFENDERS Maaloul said he was leaning toward starting the World Cup with the formation used in friendly wins over Iran and Costa Rica in March. That would see 22-year-old French-born Ellyes Skhiri, who made his debut against Iran after a late call-up, start in central defense. Other contenders are 24-year-old home-based player Yassine Meriah, the experienced Syam Ben Youssef and Mohamed Amine Ben Amor. If it's a four-man back line, expect to see right back Dylan Bronn, another French-born newcomer. Ali Maaloul has been a regular on the left. Both can also operate as wingers in a five-man midfield if Tunisia goes with a three-man defense of big, strong center backs. MIDFIELDERS The challenge of filling the void left by Msakni will likely fall on France-born attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri. He played for the Tunisia and France youth teams before committing to Tunisia. Khazri was partnered in the center of midfield by Anice Badri in Tunisia's last match — forming a potent attacking threat. They are all versatile, operating as attacking midfielders or in a more advanced position in the forward line. Saif-Eddine Khaoui is a similar attack-minded midfielder who has forced himself into the team's plans. Ferjani Sassi has the role of shoring up the middle of the field as the holding midfielder. FORWARDS Depending on whether Khazri, Badri, Sliti and newcomer Khaoui are deployed, there may be room for one or perhaps no out-and-out strikers. Ahmed Akaichi and Taha Yassine Khenissi have experience of operating alone up front but recent formations could mean Tunisia's forward line will be based on the versatility of the four attacking midfielders. GROUP GAMES Tunisia plays England on June 18 and then face Belgium on June 23 before finishing Group G against Panama on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

Champions League back in Chelsea s sights as rivals stumble

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Depay scores again as Lyon beats Nantes to go 2nd in Ligue 1

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Memphis Depay scored for a sixth straight game and created the other goal as Lyon beat Nantes 2-0 to move up to second place in the French league on Saturday. He netted a superb strike in the 40th minute and helped set up Bertrand Traore in the 68th. Depay has scored or created 14 of Lyon's 18 last goals. In the chase for an automatic place in next season's Champion League, Lyon is one point ahead of Monaco, which again dropped points after drawing at home to Amiens 0-0. Monaco will drop down to fourth if Marseille wins at Angers on Sunday. A Marseille victory will move it level with Lyon, which has a vastly better goal difference. The team finishing third has to go through the playoffs - unless Atletico Madrid wins the Europa League in Lyon - but Depay is doing his best to help Lyon take the direct route to Europe. He is finishing the season in the kind of form which saw the Netherlands forward once hailed as a future star . Receiving a pass from Nabil Fekir on the edge of the penalty area, he flicked the ball behind his standing leg with his right foot and then whipped a fierce strike with his left into the bottom corner for his 16th league goal. Midway through the second half, Depay cut inside from the left and beat two defenders. He was about to shoot but the ball ran to Traore, who slotted in from a better position. "Of course I'm important to the team and I try to continue to the end of the season. But it's not only me, it's a collective," Depay said. "We have to win the last three games." Depay, who joined from Manchester United midway through last season, would not say if he will stay if Lyon qualifies for the Champions League. "That's a question I cannot answer," he told Canal Plus television. "I don't look at the future." French champion Paris Saint-Germain hosts Guingamp on Sunday. PSG coach Unai Emery is leaving the club at the end of the season. MONACO'S SLUMP Having lost its French title, Monaco is doing its best to throw away second place. The draw with Amiens means Monaco has only five points from the last five games, opening the door for Lyon and Marseille in the race for second place. Monaco and Amiens each had a player sent off late. OTHER MATCHES Lille picked up a vital win by beating last-place Metz 3-1 in a relegation scrap. Lille remains in 19th place, however, because fellow struggler Troyes beat Caen 3-1 to stay in 18th — the relegation playoff place. Troyes is still counting on the aging legs of 41-year-old midfielder Benjamin Nivet, who was among the scorers. Nice is chasing a Europa League place but is one point behind fifth-place Saint-Etienne after drawing 1-1 at Strasbourg. Mario Balotelli scored from the penalty spot in the second half — his 15th goal of the season — to earn a point for Nice. Also, Bordeaux beat Dijon 3-1......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Madrid wins with Ronaldo rested for Champions League semis

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid rested Cristiano Ronaldo and other regulars for the Champions League and still got the win it needed to stay in contention for second place in the Spanish league. Gareth Bale and Borja Mayoral scored first-half goals as Madrid defeated Leganes 2-1 on Saturday to move within a point of second-place Atletico Madrid, which plays at Alaves on Sunday. Ronaldo and captain Sergio Ramos weren't included for the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, while Marcelo, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez stayed on the bench. Madrid defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 in Germany last week to take the edge going into Tuesday's second leg of the Champions League semifinals at the Bernabeu. Madrid is trying to return to the European final for the fourth time in five seasons. Bale and Karim Benzema, who didn't start in the first leg against Bayern, were in the lineup against Leganes. Casemiro was the only player to start in both matches. "I'm happy with the attitude of my players, it was exemplary," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "The first half was phenomenal." Darko Brasanac scored midway through the second half for Leganes, which earlier this season eliminated Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. The southern Madrid club dropped to 16th in the 20-team standings and is not fully clear of relegation with three matches left. Leganes midfielder Gabriel Pires was sent off in injury time. Barcelona needs a draw at relegation-threatened Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday to win its third La Liga in four seasons. "We can't be happy with how things unfolded in La Liga," Zidane said. "We lost too many points in the beginning." Madrid has a game in hand, at Sevilla. Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella was fired on Saturday because of poor results, and replaced by Joaquin Caparros, who coached the team in the early 2000s. VILLARREAL WINS Villarreal strengthened its grip on sixth place and a Europa League spot by defeating Celta Vigo 4-1 at home thanks to a first-half hat trick by Carlos Bacca. The win gave Villarreal a six-point gap to seventh-place Sevilla, which holds the final Europa berth. Villarreal is two points behind fifth-place Real Betis, which hosts last-place Malaga on Monday. Villarreal has a game in hand, at Barcelona. BASQUE DERBY Real Sociedad defeated Basque Country rival Athletic Bilbao 3-1 to keep alive its chances of earning a Europa League spot. The host took advantage of two own-goals by Athletic defender Mikel San Jose. Mikel Oyarzabal also scored for Sociedad, while Raul Garcia put Athletic on the board by converting a second-half penalty kick when his team already trailed by three goals. Sociedad midfielder Ruben Pardo was sent off near the end only a few minutes after being substituted in. Sociedad moved to 10th place, two points from Sevilla in the Europa League qualification zone. ESPANYOL DRAWS Espanyol was unable to secure its salvation after being held at home by already relegated Las Palmas 1-1. A victory would have been enough for Espanyol to stay in the first division, but it needs to hope Deportivo La Coruna loses points against leader Barcelona at home on Sunday to be able to guarantee its salvation this weekend. Espanyol is 12 points in front of Clarence Seedorf's Deportivo, the first team inside the relegation zone. There will be three rounds left after this weekend. Espanyol is winless in seven games and had lost four in a row entering the weekend......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018