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Ronaldo, Portugal unable to continue great run at World Cup

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't carry the team by himself this time. The five-time player of the year, who scored four goals in his opening two matches at the World Cup, was eliminated from the tournament on Saturday after Portugal lost to Uruguay 2-1 in the round of 16. "We gave our best," Ronaldo said. "The team played well. As the team captain I am proud of this group." Portugal won the 2016 European Championship and came to Russia with high expectations following the surprise title in France two years ago, its first in a major tournament. Ronaldo started off this year's tournament with a hat trick against Spain and then added another goal against Morocco. But on Saturday, it was Edinson Cavani who scored twice to earn victory for the Uruguayans. "No team can win with one player alone," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "He tried. The team didn't win because Uruguay scored twice." Portugal hasn't reached the World Cup quarterfinals since 2006, when a young Ronaldo led the team to the semifinals. Back then, Portugal lost to France and eventually finished fourth after losing to Germany in the consolation game. Ronaldo, now 33 and still playing some of the best soccer of his life, failed to provide the spark Portugal needed against Uruguay. Ronaldo's great start in Russia allowed him to surpass the combined total of three goals he had scored in his previous three World Cups. He also joined Pele, Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler as the only players to score in four World Cups. The four early goals in this year's tournament had put him in position to contend for the "Golden Boot" trophy, but he was surpassed by England striker Harry Kane's five goals in the group stage. Despite his fast start in Russia, Ronaldo missed a penalty in the 1-1 draw against Iran in the third game. He also was nearly given a red card when his elbowing of an opponent was reviewed on video. Prior to the World Cup, Ronaldo led Real Madrid to its third straight Champions League title, but he arrived in Russia surrounded by distractions about his club future and a tax fraud accusation back in Madrid. He had said he would talk about his club future after joining the national team, but avoided the subject from the start. He only spoke briefly with the media in Russia. "Now it's not the time to talk about the future," Ronaldo said. "I'm sure that the national team will remain as one of the best in the world. We have great players, a fantastic group.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 1st, 2018

Portugal qualifies for finals, Italy earn positives in draw

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press MILAN (AP) — No Cristiano Ronaldo, no problem. Portugal drew with Italy 0-0 on Saturday to pick up the point it needed to qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals and confirm it as host of the first Final Four in June. Ronaldo is taking a break from the national team and wasn't present at San Siro, just as he wasn't in Portugal's first two Nations League matches — both of which they won. "There's a lot of satisfaction at having reached the final phase," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "It was a difficult match, much more than we thought it would be. When we had the ball it was difficult to build and that was merit to Italy and demerit to us. Italy had a great game." Poland has already been assured of finishing last in Group A3 and will be relegated to League B, and Italy will finish second. However, a year after Italian football's darkest moment, there are positive signs for the Azzurri. Italy dominated and had the better of the chances in front of a packed crowd in Milan but ended with a sixth successive home draw. The Azzurri have also scored only twice in four matches in the competition — but only conceded as many. "I don't think there's so many problems up front, it's a question of five centimeters here, 10 there," Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. The Azzurri almost took the lead as early as the fifth minute. Lorenzo Insigne unleashed a scorcher from distance which Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio did well to bat away, and Ciro Immobile fired the rebound over from point-blank range. There was a lot of good interplay from the hosts with crisp, efficient passing in the best performance seen by an Italy side in a long time. It was a far cry from Italy's last match at San Siro, when it drew with Sweden 0-0 last November and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. "Little by little we'll manage to sort out the attack, too," Mancini said. "Having so much possession in their half is something very significant. We're a step further ahead than we thought we'd be. We have to resolve this small problem (of scoring) but we will." The fans are also starting to fall back in love with the Azzurri, with 73,000 spectators at San Siro. LEAGUE B Sweden kept alive its hopes of promotion with a 1-0 victory at Turkey, which was relegated to League C. Andreas Granqvist netted the only goal with a second-half penalty after Okay Yokuslu brought down Marcus Berg. Sweden will be promoted on Tuesday if it beats Russia, which leads Group B2. LEAGUE C Scotland will win Group C1 if it beats Israel on Tuesday following a 4-0 victory over 10-man Albania in Tirana. Ryan Fraser scored his first international goal shortly before Albania captain Mergim Mavraj was sent off. Steven Fletcher doubled Scotland's tally from the penalty spot, and James Forrest netted a second-half double. Serbia beat Montenegro 2-1 despite Aleksandar Mitrovic missing a penalty and will win Group C4 if it beats Lithuania on Tuesday. Mitrovic scored Serbia's second, two minutes after Adem Ljajic opened the scoring, before chipping over from the spot. Lithuania lost 3-0 at Romania, which will go up if it beats Montenegro and Serbia fails to win. LEAGUE D Kosovo beat Malta 5-0 and Azerbaijan beat the Faroe Islands 2-0. The teams set up a winner-takes-all clash when they meet on Tuesday in Group D3, although a draw would be enough for Kosovo. The Nations League also offers a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the playoffs to compete for the last four qualifying places......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

Napoli keeping pressure on Ronaldo-dependent Juventus

By Daniella Mata and Andrew Dampf, Associated Press MILAN (AP) — Last season Napoli pushed Juventus all the way in the Italian league before ultimately finishing second as the Bianconeri clinched a record-extending seventh Serie A title. This campaign, second-place Napoli is already six points behind Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Juventus. But the destination of the title is far from a foregone conclusion. Juventus proved it is not infallible when it dropped its first points of the season against Genoa last week. It also appeared lethargic in the first half at relegation-threatened Empoli on Saturday before rallying to win 2-1 — with two goals from Ronaldo. And the Bianconeri are arguably becoming too reliant on the Portugal superstar to rescue them when things aren't going their way. The 33-year-old Ronaldo has scored Juve's past four league goals as he shows little sign of being affected by a rape allegation in the United States. Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada last month claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo denies any wrongdoing. Ronaldo's two goals at Empoli — one a penalty and the other a 20-yard strike — maintained Juve's unbeaten start to the season. Napoli dropped vital points on Saturday as it needed a last-minute goal from Dries Mertens to snatch a 1-1 draw against Roma. However, coach Carlo Ancelotti believes his Napoli team is showing increasing signs of maturity. "I'm happy and proud," Ancelotti said. "We had a constant pressure despite conceding early, we created so many opportunities." FULLY FIT Just a few months after he thought he might have to quit football, Josip Ilicic is back to his best. Ilicic netted a hat trick in his first start of the season for Atalanta last week and did everything but score in his team's 3-0 victory over Parma on Saturday. The 30-year-old Ilicic spent most of the summer in and out of hospital with a bacterial infection. "As a man, the illness changed me a great deal," Ilicic said. "I want to thank everyone who stood by me during this difficult time. I look at the world differently now. I thought many times that I might have to give up football." SERIE B CHAOS A stay of execution has again upended a verdict in the lengthy saga over deciding which clubs belong in Serie B. On Wednesday, a regional appeals court overturned an Italian football federation decision from August that had reduced Serie B from 22 to 19 clubs. The earlier decision by the federation's emergency commissioner Roberto Fabbricini was made following the bankruptcies of Avellino, Bari and Cesena. Virtus Entella, Novara, Pro Vercelli and Ternana — the four clubs relegated at the end of last season — plus Catania and Siena, which lost in the Serie C playoffs, are all arguing for a place in the second division. However, on Saturday an appeal by the Serie B league temporarily overturned the decision from the regional appeals court. A final decision could be made at an Italian football federation board meeting on Tuesday. ___ Dampf reported from Rome......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Portugal keeps winning in Nations League without Ronaldo

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — No Cristiano Ronaldo, no problem. European champion Portugal sparkled on Thursday despite the absence of its star forward, defeating Poland to move a step closer to the last four of the UEFA Nations League. In two friendly games, Kylian Mbappe scored late to salvage a 2-2 draw for the world champions at home to Iceland, while two-goal Paco Alcacer helped Spain rout Wales 4-1 in Cardiff as the team claimed a third win in a row under new coach Luis Enrique. With young Sevilla striker Andre Silva scoring again, Portugal won 3-2 in Chorzow to take control of Group 3 of the top-tier League A in Europe's newest competition. Portugal now has six points from two games, five points ahead of Poland and Italy. Only the group winner advances to June's last four. A draw between Poland and Italy in Chorzow on Sunday will guarantee Portugal as the group winner. Portugal plays a friendly in Scotland the same day. "Overall we dominated," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "Poland started well and scored, but we were able to take control and were deserved winners." It was Portugal's third straight game without Ronaldo, who hasn't played an international since his transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus in the summer. Ronaldo has also been the recent subject of rape allegations. The 33-year-old forward denies any wrongdoing. Genoa striker Krzysztof Piatek, Serie A's leading scorer, gave Poland an 18th-minute lead with his first international goal. The visitors equalized with a close-range effort from Silva after a pass from Pizzi Fernandes in the 32nd. It was his seventh goal in Portugal's last six competitive away games. Portugal made it 2-1 just before halftime with an own goal from defender Kamil Glik. "The two goals we conceded in the first half damaged our confidence and heavily influenced the game," Poland coach Jerzy Brzeczek said. Bernardo Silva added the third goal with a long-range shot in the 52nd minute before Jakub Blaszczykowski marked his record 103rd cap for Poland by pulling one back with a low volley in the 77th. Blaszczykowski has now eclipsed Michal Zewlakow on the all-time list of Poland appearances. Robert Lewandowski made his 100th appearance but was unable to add to his tally of 55 Poland goals. "It's not the result we were looking for," Poland defender Jan Bednarek said. "We wanted to make our fans proud. We had good moments in the game but bad ones too." RUSSIA STAYS TOP In the only game of the night in the second-tier League B, Russia drew 0-0 with Sweden in Kaliningrad. Russia, unbeaten against the Swedes since 1994, stayed ahead in Group 2 with four points, one more than Turkey and three ahead of Sweden. All the teams have played two matches. Russia hosts Turkey on Sunday in Sochi. ALL EVEN Israel's 2-1 home win against Scotland left all three teams in Group 1 of the third-tier League C tied on three points after two matches. Scotland is ahead on goal difference, followed by Israel and Albania. Israel hosts Albania on Sunday. In Group 4, Serbia stayed ahead with a 2-0 win in Montenegro, while Romania remained second with a 2-1 victory in Lithuania. LOWER LEAGUE In Group 3 of League D, Kosovo is top after a 3-1 home win against Malta, while Azerbaijan jumped to second with a 3-0 victory in the Faroe Islands......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2018

Ronaldo tight-lipped on future

Cristiano Ronaldo saw his World Cup dreams slip away once again on Saturday but gave no hint as to whether he plans to continue playing for Portugal. Ronaldo tight-lipped on future SOCHI, Russia (AFP) — Cristiano Ronaldo saw his World Cup dreams slip away once again on Saturday but gave no hint as to whether… link: Ronaldo tight-lipped on future.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Cristiano Ronaldo tight-lipped on future after World Cup KO

SOCHI, Russia – Cristiano Ronaldo saw his World Cup dreams slip away once again on Saturday, June 30, but gave no hint as to whether he plans to continue playing for Portugal. The reigning European champions were undone by two Edinson Cavani goals for Uruguay in their last 16 tie in Sochi, despite Pepe bringing them ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Quaresma gets some playing time, and a goal for Portugal

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press SARANSK, Russia (AP) — Criticized back home and spurned by many of Portugal's fans, Ricardo Quaresma sat on the bench for his team's opening two World Cup matches. He finally got some playing time in the third on Monday, and he scored in the 1-1 draw against Iran that earned Portugal a spot in the round of 16. "Yes, this goal is an answer," Quaresma said, referring to the flak he has been taking in Portugal. "It was a great goal. I was lucky to hit it where I had to." The veteran striker scored a spectacular goal with the outside of his foot at the Mordovia Arena — a shot likely to be remembered by all those who had wanted him to stay home. The 34-year-old Quaresma was picked by coach Fernando Santos to replace Goncalo Guedes. He was applauded by the fans in Saransk when he left the field in the middle of the second half. Quaresma said the same critics didn't want him to play at the 2016 European Championship in France. But Portugal came back from that tournament as champions and Quaresma was seen as a key leader of that squad. "I still have a lot to offer," said Quaresma, who plays for Turkish club Besiktas. "People can say whatever they want." Portugal finished second in Group B and will next face Uruguay in Sochi on Saturday. Quaresma said he didn't know if he would play in that match, but he still had praise for Santos. "Our coach has the power to take the best of us," Quaresma said. "We had a very tough group in the World Cup and now a different tournament begins. He will be even more important now." Quaresma also praised teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed a penalty in the match against Iran but has scored four goals at this year's World Cup. "I don't know what else Cristiano has to do for Portugal," Quaresma said. "He is the key to our success.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 26th, 2018

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

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

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

Ronaldo scores in Portugal’s 1-0 win, Morocco eliminated

  MOSCOW --- Cristiano Ronaldo made European soccer history by scoring in Portugal's 1-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday, a result that makes the North African team the first to be eliminated from the World Cup. Ronaldo's header in the fourth minute was his fourth goal at this year's tournament, and his 85th for his country. That moved him ahead of Hungary great Ferenc Puskas and alone in second place worldwide behind Ali Daei's 109 goals for Iran. The Portugal forward celebrated his goal with a trademark run and soaring leap toward the corner flag at the Luzhniki Stadium. Morocco lost 1-0 for the second straight Group B match and is out of contention for a spot in the...Keep on reading: Ronaldo scores in Portugal’s 1-0 win, Morocco eliminated.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 20th, 2018

ABS-CBN S+A, Liga to broadcast the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

Filipino football fans are in for the biggest treat of their lives as they can watch the much-anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ LIVE on TV and online through ABS-CBN Integrated Sports’ channels and website starting June 14 at 11 pm, when Russia takes on Saudi Arabia in the opener. All 64 matches of the tournament will be aired, with 56 matches shown LIVE and 8 matches shown on Delay on cable TV via LIGA and LIGA HD, while ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD will carry over 30 matches including the Semifinal and Final matches. All matches will also be available via livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com/2018FIFAWorldCup. Check out the full telecast schedule:  Those who will miss the games can watch updates and highlights in the special edition of “The Score” that will air daily for the duration of the competition. Respected football analysts, former and current pro and collegiate football players, and celebrity football enthusiasts will join anchors Mico Halili and Anton Roxas in the show. Everyone is looking forward to see if the German national squad, which demolished Brazil in the semifinal of the 2014 World Cup 7-1, and claimed the title with a 1-nil victory over Argentina in the Final, can dominate the competition once more given how loaded the squad is for the 2018 edition. However, fans can also expect stiff competition from teams such as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, Leo Messi’s Argentina, Harry Kane’s England, Eden Hazard’s Belgium and Antoine Griezmann’s France. As the official broadcasters of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, S+A and LIGA continue the mission of ABS-CBN Integrated Sports in giving Filipinos the best in sports entertainment. Ahead of the June 14 kick-off, fans have been enjoying World Cup qualifiers on LIGA and S+A and a special “Road to Russia” coverage airing every Friday on “The Score.” Viewers have also seen some of the world’s top players in S+A’s live airings of English Premier League, La Liga, and UEFA Champions League matches. With the telecast of the grandest tournament of the “beautiful game,” ABS-CBN’s sports arm hopes to further strengthen Filipinos’ passion for the number one sport in the world. Don’t miss top-notch world football action as the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia final fires off on June 14, LIVE from Russia on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and via livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com at 11 pm. For more information and stories, visit ABS-CBN’s sports hub sports.abs-cbn.com and follow ABS-CBN Sports on Facebook and Twitter......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

Atletico holds Real Madrid 1-1 in fight for 2nd place

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the 650th time in his career on Sunday but Antoine Griezmann responded with a goal of his own to leave Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid even in a city derby that allowed Barcelona to move closer to the Spanish league title. Atletico held Madrid 1-1 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to keep a four-point lead over its city rival in the fight for second place. Valencia later defeated Espanyol 1-0 to move past Madrid for third place, and within three points of Atletico. The draw at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium benefited league leader Barcelona, which defeated Leganes 3-1 on Saturday with a hat trick by Lionel Messi to stay 11 points in front of Atletico at the top with seven matches left. Atletico won La Liga in 2013-14 but has finished third behind either Barcelona or Madrid in all other years since 2012-13, which was the team's first full season under coach Diego Simeone. "I'm not happy because we wanted to win, we wanted the three points to try to stay close to Barcelona," Simeone said. "We needed more. Our goal is always to try to do the best we can against the powerhouses of Real Madrid and Barcelona. As an Atletico fan I would have been proud of how we have been competing against them." Madrid hasn't finished worse than second since 2014, when it trailed Atletico and Barcelona. Before then, the last time it failed to finish in the top two was in 2003-04, when it was fourth behind Valencia, Barcelona and Deportivo La Coruna. Ronaldo opened the scoring with his 650th career goal — for clubs and country — early in the second half with a shot from near the far post after a long cross by Gareth Bale from the left flank. Griezmann equalized less than five minutes later with a strike from near the penalty spot after a move started by Vitolo inside the area. "We deserved more, it's a shame," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "But in the end we also could have lost the match. This is how it goes in football." Of Ronaldo's 650 goals, 446 came with Madrid, 118 with Manchester United, 81 with Portugal and five with Sporting Lisbon. Ronaldo has scored 20 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions, including his acclaimed bicycle kick in the 3-0 first-leg win at Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinals midweek. Zidane rested some of his regular starters ahead of the return leg against Juventus on Wednesday at Bernabeu, including midfielders Luka Modric and Casemiro. Striker Karim Benzema also started from the bench, replacing Ronaldo in the 64th. Atletico hasn't lost at Bernabeu in five seasons now in the Spanish league. Madrid, which had won six in a row, had the most dangerous scoring chances throughout. But the hosts brought out a great performance by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who made one of his best saves on a last-minute free kick taken by Sergio Ramos. "Oblak is a great player, he has been showing it game after game," Zidane said. ___ VALENCIA MOVES UP Rodrigo scored with a close-range header in the seventh minute against Espanyol and Valencia held on for its fifth straight victory. It was the sixth goal in the last five matches for Rodrigo, the Brazilian-born striker who is among Spain's attacking options for the World Cup in Russia. Espanyol, winless in three matches, stayed 14th. ___ HUGE WIN FOR LEVANTE Levante took a big step toward avoiding demotion by defeating Las Palmas 2-1 with an injury-time winner by Jose Campana, opening an eight-point gap to the relegation zone with seven matches left. Las Palmas is in second-to-last place and two points behind Deportivo La Coruna, which on Friday earned its first win in nine matches under coach Clarence Seedorf by defeating last-place Malaga 3-2 at home. Levante opened the scoring at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium with a goal by Jorge "Koke" Andujar in the 35th, but David Garcia equalized in the 50th before Campana calmly found the far corner for the winner in a late breakaway for the hosts. Levante's winner came while the team played with 10 men as Koke was sent off for a hard foul in the 86th. Levante also had Ruben Rochina ejected in the fourth minute of injury time. ___ SOCIEDAD THRASHES GIRONA Mikel Oyarzabal scored twice as Real Sociedad routed Girona 5-0 at home for its first win in four matches. The result moved Sociedad to 12th place. Girona, winless in three matches, is eighth......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2018

Best in history Ronaldo put to test by Messi in clasico

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo has made his claim. Now he has to live up to it. Ronaldo will face Lionel Messi on Saturday for the first time since the Portugal forward declared himself “the best player in the history” of soccer after equaling the Argentine’s five Ballon d’Or awards this month. Basking in the spotlight of a glitzy ceremony under the Eiffel Tower, Ronaldo felt confident enough to put himself at the pinnacle of the sport, ahead of Messi and other greats like Pele and Diego Maradona. “You will go and say that I have a big head, but when you’re at the top, it’s normal that you’re criticized,” he told France Football. “I am the best player in history, in both good and bad times.” Personalities aside, Ronaldo has a tough case to make. He and Messi both have four Champions League titles, but Messi’s eight Spanish league titles double Ronaldo’s tally for Madrid and Manchester United. Messi also has the edge in their head-to-head duels. Messi has outscored Ronaldo 19-17 since Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009. Prior to that, Messi scored in a 2-0 win over Ronaldo’s Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final. The Barcelona-led Messi has also had a clear advantage over Ronaldo’s Madrid. Messi has helped Barcelona beat Ronaldo’s side 13 times, to eight wins for Madrid and seven draws. Overall, Messi holds the “clasico” record with 24 goals in 36 matches. Ronaldo is one goal shy of matching Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano’s 18 goals against Barcelona. The camera-shy Messi insisted again on Monday when he was recognized for leading the Spanish league in goals last campaign that he put more value on team titles than individual honors. “Titles are our goal,” Messi said. “If individual statistics are there also, that’s even better, but they are not the objective.” Ronaldo has no doubt closed the gap with Messi after he led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles in the last two seasons. But for Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, this past decade is still set to bear Messi’s mark. “If it wasn’t for (Ronaldo), Messi would have won twice as much,” Torres said Wednesday. “What Ronaldo has done in the age of Messi says a lot about him.” Ronaldo will need to be at his best on Saturday because anything other than a victory will deal a huge blow to Madrid’s title defense before the season reaches its midway point. Madrid enters the match in fourth place and trailing Barcelona by 11 with a match in hand. Atletico Madrid and Valencia are in second and third. “Given the situation we are in we are obligated to win,” Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. Messi had one of his most memorable performances at Madrid last season when he scored his second of two brilliant goals in stoppage time to silence the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid got revenge with wins of 3-1 and 2-0 in the Spanish Super Cup in August, when Barcelona was reeling from the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, however, quickly rallied his team and the Catalan club has not lost since, a run of 24 matches. With Neymar gone, Valverde has succeeded in tightening up Barcelona’s defense. “It would be important to win for everything that would represent, since the match is so special, and we are playing at their ground,” Messi said. “There would still be a long way to go for the league title, but a victory would be a nice before the Christmas break.” Here are some other potential keys to the “clasico.” ___ SUAREZ Striker Luis Suarez has rediscovered his scoring touch at just the right time for Barcelona. After only scoring three times in the first 11 matches, Suarez has six goals in his last five league games. They will need him even more with backup forwards Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu injured. ___ BENZEMA Karim Benzema has only scored two goals in 11 league appearances for Madrid this season. The drop in production has contributed to Madrid’s stumbles, leading many fans to lament the exit of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea. ___ ALBA Jordi Alba has flourished going forward into the hole that Neymar used to occupy. The Spain left back is a favorite of Messi to weave together short-passing combinations that unlock packed defenses. His matchup against Madrid right back Dani Carvajal should be key. ___ BALE Gareth Bale is playing for his future. Recurrent injuries have cost the Wales winger his spot in Madrid’s starting lineup, with coach Zinedine Zidane preferring the playmaking — and sturdier legs — of Francisco “Isco” Alarcon. Bale returned after his latest injury layoff to help Madrid win the Club World Cup, but as a second-half substitute. He is likely to have that role against Barcelona and will need to make the most of the minutes he gets. ___ VERMAELEN Thomas Vermaelen was considered a lost cause. That was until defenders Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano got injured, giving the Belgian another chance to find his spot in Barcelona’s rotation. Vermaelen has played six consecutive matches, a personal record for him at Barcelona. Injuries limited him to 11 league appearances in two seasons before he was loaned out to Roma last year. Now that he is back, the former Arsenal player will be critical to Barcelona’s chances of stopping Ronaldo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Suarez scores late as Barcelona draws Atletico Madrid 1-1

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2017

Atletico puts new stadium to the test in Champions League

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2017

Ronaldo held scoreless in Madrid as Atletico beats Juventus

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid's vaunted center-back pairing finally got the better of Cristiano Ronaldo on Wednesday, even providing the goals after holding their long-time rival scoreless for once. In a match where Atletico had more trouble with video review than Ronaldo, the Spanish team kept the Portugal star in check but had to overcome two key VAR decisions to defeat Juventus 2-0 in the first leg of the Champions League's round of 16. Central defenders Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin scored late to give Atletico the win, after the hosts had a penalty kick taken away and a goal disallowed by VAR. Ronaldo, jeered nearly every time he touched the ball, had a quiet performance in his first match in the Spanish capital since leaving Real Madrid last summer. He came close to scoring with a booming shot from a free kick less than 10 minutes into the match, but had few opportunities after that. Heavily marked from the start, Ronaldo wasn't able to add to his good record against the old rival, which he helped eliminate in four straight seasons in the Champions League while playing for Real Madrid. Atletico had a first-half penalty reversed by VAR after it determined that Diego Costa was fouled outside the area, and the referee also consulted video replays on the pitchside monitor before disallowing a second-half goal by Alvaro Morata for a push on Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini. "We hope the VAR keeps improving and helping make things right, but do you really believe that a person who is 1.87-meters tall can fall that way in a game action like the one with Morata?" said Simeone, who celebrated his team's first goal with an obscene gesture and could face UEFA sanctions. The hosts dominated after an even first half at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, and both Costa and Antoine Griezmann missed clear scoring chances before Gimenez found the net after getting to a loose ball inside the area in the 78th and Godin added to the lead with an angled volley in the 83rd after defenders failed to fully clear a free kick cross by Griezmann. The shot seemed to take a slight deflection off Ronaldo, who was the closest player to Godin but wasn't able to block the effort. "Luckily we were able to overcome the calls that went against us with the VAR," Godin said. "It was a great result, scoring twice and not conceding, but we will have to be prepared for the final 90 minutes in Turin." Ronaldo was loudly booed when his name was announced before the match, and he drew even louder jeers from the Atletico crowd when he prompted the game to be interrupted because he remained on the ground after getting his foot stepped on later in the first half. Ronaldo almost scored when his long-range free kick forced Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak to make a difficult save in the ninth minute. He had another attempt with a deflected shot a few minutes later, but didn't come close to the Atletico goal again until a late header sailed over the crossbar. "Ronaldo played a good match, he is used to this type of match," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "The entire team had a letdown in the second half. It's a lesson we need to learn going into the return match." Ronaldo had not played in Madrid since joining Juventus in a blockbuster transfer at the end of last season. He had played with Real Madrid for nearly a decade, leading the Spanish powerhouse to four Champions League titles in five seasons, including in the last three. Entering Wednesday's match, Ronaldo had scored 22 goals in 31 matches against Atletico in all competitions. In the Champions League, he helped Madrid beat Atletico in two finals (2014 and 2016), one quarterfinal (2015) and one semifinal (2017). He had scored four goals in six Champions League games against the city rival. Atletico Madrid is back in the round of 16 after failing to make it out of the group stage last season. Juventus was runner-up in the Champions League in 2015 and 2017. Last year, it was eliminated by Ronaldo's Real Madrid in the quarterfinals. This year's Champions League final will be played at Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 21st, 2019

To take on Ronaldo, Atletico could unleash attacking trio

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid could unleash an attacking trio in an effort to finally outdo Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League. Atletico coach Diego Simeone will be able to call on Antoine Griezmann, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata when his team hosts Juventus in the first leg of the last 16 on Wednesday, in what will be Ronaldo's first match in Madrid since leaving Real Madrid last year. Ronaldo faced Atletico four straight seasons in the Champions League while wearing Real Madrid's jersey, succeeding every time — in two finals (2014 and 2016), one quarterfinal (2015) and one semifinal (2017). He has scored 22 goals in 31 matches against Atletico in his career, including a hat trick in the first leg of the 2017 semifinals. Simeone, known for his great defensive squads, may look for his attack to try to neutralize Ronaldo this time. He used Griezmann, Costa and Morata together on Saturday in the team's 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish league. Griezmann and Morata started the match, and Costa — coming off a long injury layoff — entered in the second half. It was the first time Simeone could use all three players together, as Morata signed from Chelsea in the recent transfer window and Costa hadn't played in nearly two months because of a foot injury that required surgery. "I like it," Simeone said after seeing them against Vallecano. He will have all three players available again for Wednesday's first leg against Juventus at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, but he didn't say whether he will use them all from the start. "Obviously it takes time, it takes work, and an extraordinary physical condition from all three players," Simeone said. "Hopefully at some point we will give them more playing time together." Costa would likely be left off the team if Simeone doesn't go with the trio, considering he was sidelined for a long time. If Costa plays, he would take over the central striker position, with Morata moving to one of the sides, opposite Griezmann. "Costa allows Morata to play more freely, in a more comfortable position for him," Simeone said. "And Griezmann will remain an important player for us, taking advantage of every chance he has in front of him." Atletico was already playing with the three forwards when Morata set up Griezmann's winner on Saturday, although Morata was playing closer to the goal at the time, with Costa a bit further back. "Diego and Griezmann are two of the best forwards in the world, they have shown that already," said Morata, the former Real Madrid striker who joined Atletico after a disappointing stint with Chelsea. "It's easy to play with them, it's easy to adapt. I'm the last one to arrive, so I'm the one who has to adapt." Having all three available could be key for Atletico the rest of the season. In addition to the Champions League, Atletico remains in the title race for the Spanish league title, trailing leader Barcelona by seven points after 24 matches. This year's Champions League final will be held at Atletico's home stadium......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2019

ONE Championship: Edward Kelly gets stopped by Christian Lee in Jakarta

Filipino mixed martial artist Edward "The Ferocious" Kelly had no answer for the aggressiveness of Singaporean star Christian Lee, as he fell via TKO in the second round of their featherweight rematch at ONE: Eternal Glory, Saturday evening at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Lee was the aggressor from the get-go as he immediatley looked to take Kelly down to the ground.  Kelly found himself trapped in a head in arm choke, and Lee used the lock to bring the fight to the ground.  Once there, it was all Lee, as the 20-year old former world title challenger transitioned into mount and eventually stopped Kelly via ground and pound in the first round.  A much different result from their first meeting wherein Lee was disqualified after a slam that left Kelly unable to continue was ruled illegal.  After the match, Lee called for another shot at Martin Nguyen and the ONE Featherweight World Championship.  The 34-year old Kelly drops to 11-6 in his career.  Lee meanwhile, improves to 11-3. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2019

ONE Championship: Honorio Banario looks to showcase skills in ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix

Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio "The Rock" Banario is ready to make a huge splash in ONE Championship's stacked lightweight division this 2019.   Banario went on a five-bout unbeaten streak for two years before it was snapped by Singaporean sensation Amir Khan at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON last September when he lost by way of first-round submission.   "The Rock" ultimately concluded 2018 on a winning note, picking up a unanimous decision win over Rahul Raju at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS this past November.   Banario aims to muster all the lessons and experiences that he has had thus far and utilize it in his upcoming bouts.   "I learned a lot in 2018, and I’m hoping to learn a lot more and grow more this 2019. I think the biggest lesson for me is to continue to stay hungry to learn, and to achieve more," he said.   "The loss to Amir once again humbled me, and I was sent back on a path of learning. Improving my skills and getting in prime condition, as well as staying active and on my toes, is important to keep my edge.   "You can’t relax in this game, because things change rapidly all the time. It’s always evolving."   Banario is also keen on proving his worth in the highly-anticipated ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix, which will be participated by the best athletes that the world and his division have to offer.   With the eagerness to test his mettle in the eight-man tourney, the 29-year-old native of Mankayan, Benguet is confident that he will leave a lasting impression.   "I plan to show that I am one of the best lightweights in the promotion. There is a lot of buzz surrounding our division because of the tournament, and because of the new crop of athletes who joined ONE. There is a lot of pressure to perform," Banario stated.   "I would be happy to put on a show for the fans against anyone ONE puts me in the cage with. It doesn’t matter to me. I am confident in myself and in my team. Through hard work, we will achieve great things."   The tournament winner would a guarantee a shot at the intricately-crafted ONE Lightweight World Title that is currently held by Banario's teammate Eduard Folayang.   However, Banario cites that the goal is not to come after Folayang's gold-plated strap, but to challenge himself and find out who's the second best in the talent-filled lightweight division.   "It is a great way to really see who is the best in the division, apart from my brother Eduard Folayang, who is the world champion," he stressed. "I am definitely aiming to be the Grand Prix tournament champion. That’s my number one goal next year.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

Reasons to watch 2018 slate of NBA X mas day games

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Bucks vs. Knicks (1am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Two words; Giannis Antetokounmpo. The most dominant force in the league this season resides in Milwaukee. That’s right, the Greek Freak sits atop the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder heading into the Christmas Day showcase games. And with good reason. The Bucks are riding the wave their dynamic superstar forward has created in his first season in Mike Budenholzer’s system. Open it up and enjoy because … The Bucks are more than a one-man show. Antetokounmpo should be joined on the All-Star team this season by Khris Middleton, who is playing at that level, and point guard Eric Bledsoe is shooting better than he ever has in Budenolzer’s aggressive, shooter-friendly system. Watching the Bucks try and set a record for three-pointers taken and made should be entertaining enough. But the Knicks will offer some entertainment value of their own as they attempt to match the Bucks shot-for-shot with Tim Hardaway Jr. leading the way. The gift we’re hoping for is … The Knicks could use a statement win before a global audience to jump start the post-Christmas portion of their season-long grind. The Bucks have spent most of this season frightening the competition, both in the Eastern Conference and beyond. They’ve got the gift that’ll keep on giving for years in Antetokounmpo, who’ll get another chance to show the basketball public that what they’ve hard about a contender rising in the Central Division is real. Thunder vs. Rockets (4am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Do we really need anyone to remind us to tune in for every Russell Westbrook-James Harden matchup for the foreseeable future? Didn’t think so. The matchup of the last two Kia MVPs winners is enough of an incentive to lock in on this one. And the fact that the Thunder occupy the space in the standings most thought was reserved for the Rockets only adds to the intrigue. Open it up and enjoy because … The real showstopper in this one isn’t either one of the MVP winners. Thunder swingman Paul George is the player you need to lock in on as he continues his dark horse MVP campaign for a much-improved team (the Thunder are light years away from the group that started the season 0-4). There are few soap operas better right now than the Rockets, who are dealing with yet another injury to All-Star point guard Chris Paul (hamstring) and a failure to play up to expectations that threatens to swallow up their season before Santa’s finished off his cookies and milk. The gift we’re hoping for is … What Westbrook and Harden wear into the building is worth a few moments of your time as these two fashion-forward superstars never fail to make an impression. But it’s the competitive fervor on the court that should provide the ultimate viewing pleasure. The Thunder would love to take over the position the Rockets held last season, as the legitimate threat to the Golden State Warriors’ stranglehold on the Western Conference throne. In the absence of a Christmas tilt against the two-time defending champs, the Rockets make an ideal fill in. Sixers vs. Celtics (6:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: The Eastern Conference version of Thunder-Rockets, the schedule makers look pretty good slotting the Sixers and Celtics in this spot. No one relishes an opportunity to take down a projected heavyweight the way the Sixers do (what else would you expect with Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid leading the charge?). The suddenly chummy Celtics, however, appear to be the team most eager to prove that they are indeed who we all thought they were in the summer, when they were the consensus pick to ascend to the top of the heap in place of Cleveland. Open it up and enjoy because … Kyrie Irving has embraced his role as the leader of this disjointed Celtics bunch in ways that fans in Cleveland have to be enjoying with an eyebrow raised. Kyrie trying to convince his young teammates to follow his lead is rich, given his reluctance to do exactly that when he was in their shoes. As far as rivalries go, this is perhaps the day’s deepest and most volatile. The Sixers are still smarting from that playoff ouster at the hands of the Celtics. And they won’t have ant sympathy for the Celtics as they continue their search for good health and better chemistry. The gift we’re hoping for is … A Ben Simmons-Kyrie point guard duel will make this game shine even brighter than usual. And they’re both more than capable of going off on the big stage. But the real treat here is going to be watching Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum match wits in what could be a preview of fireworks to come in a potential playoff matchup. Tatum’s sophomore season has been a bit choppier than expected. And Butler, whose shown a penchant for schooling youngsters (teammates and opponents) is surely betting on himself in this game within the game. Lakers vs. Warriors (9am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: With all of the recent history dripping off of this LeBron James-Warriors rivalry, the inclusion of the Los Angeles Lakers into the mix only serves to take this spectacle to the next level. LeBron insists this isn’t a measuring stick game for the upstart Lakers, not against a Warriors juggernaut that has won three of the last four Larry O’Brien trophies. Yeah, whatever you say big fella. Folks who haven’t watched a minute of NBA basketball season will be tuned into this one. Count on it. Open it up and enjoy because … Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have moved into that cosmic zone that only the all-time greats are capable of locating (see their work in their Monday, PHL time win over the Los Angeles Clippers for proof). We already know how the superstars respond in a matchup of this nature. The great unknown is how the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will react to the marquee spotlight at Oracle Arena. The Lakers’ youngsters have thrived at times and struggled at others in their first season inside the LeBron bubble. But they haven’t seen anything like what they’ll experience in Oakland on this night. The gift we’re hoping for is … Draymond Green hasn’t had a true breakout game since returning from his extended injury absence. With Lance Stephenson in uniform on the other side, the opportunity for fireworks would appear to be extremely high. We’d settle for some Finals-level intensity from both of the world class agitators in the building. That and vintage performances from LeBron, Steph, KD and Klay Thompson are expected. Anything else beyond that is really gravy on the best basketball meal of the day. Trail Blazers vs. Jazz (11:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: We’re dubbing the nightcap of the Christmas Day showcase the “Respect Bowl.” The Trail Blazers are always on the hunt for more respect and the Jazz, one of the trendy summer picks as a team poised to become a contender in the Western Conference this season, could stand to show a little self-respect in the way they tackle the remainder of this season. Open it up and enjoy because … Second-year Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is suffering from the same sophomore spell that has plagued Jayson Tatum in Boston. It’s one thing to surprise the basketball world as a rookie and another to come back better and even more dangerous the second time around. We’re betting on Spider showing up and showing out for the Christmas Day crowd. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Damian Lillard will not allow someone else to steal the spotlight from him. He warmed up for Mitchell and the Jazz by finishing off Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night. You know his swagger travels, so expect to see his competitive best against Mitchell and the Jazz. The gift we’re hoping for is … Joe Ingles stealing the show would make for an ideal end to a day full of some the league’s biggest and brightest superstars. And the sweet-shooting Jazz swingman is one of the league’s criminally underrated stars. It would also be nice to see the rest of that Jazz team we expected to make things interesting this season make an appearance. Christmas Day games have always served as a launching pad/turning point for teams willing to dive in. And the Blazers and Jazz both seem like prime candidates to take advantage of the opportunity. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsDec 25th, 2018

Juventus beats Inter 1-0 to open up 11-point lead in Serie A

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Mario Mandzukic often scores important goals and he did so again as he helped Juventus to a 1-0 win over title rival Inter Milan in the Derby d'Italia on Friday. The imposing Croatia striker headed home in the 66th minute after Inter had missed a couple of golden opportunities as Juventus continued its seemingly unstoppable march to an eighth successive Serie A title. Juventus has an 11-point lead over second-placed Napoli, which hosts lowly Frosinone on Saturday. Third-place Inter is now 14 points behind Juventus. Paulo Dybala had the first chance of the match but headed Cristano Ronaldo's cross over the bar after drifting into the penalty area. Inter had two great chances in quick succession. Mauro Icardi did well to hold the ball up and pick out a good run from an unmarked Roberto Gagliardini, but his scuffed finish came off the inside of the right post. Moments later Icardi and Ivan Perisic both went for a Matteo Politano cross and ended up colliding with each other. Juventus began to take control and Marcelo Brozovic had to desperately slide in to block Rodrigo Bentancur's effort. Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini scored his first goal in two years in last week's 3-0 win at Fiorentina and he almost got another one but he headed the resulting corner narrowly over. Juventus finally broke the deadlock when former Inter midfielder Joao Cancelo put in a delightful cross from the left for Mandzukic — who netted in the World Cup final defeat to France — to nod in at the far post. There was more positive news for Juventus as midfielder Emre Can came on late on for his first appearance for the Bianconeri since Oct. 6, having undergone surgery to have a thyroid nodule removed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 2018

Rejuvenated Dutch strike late, into Nations League s Final 4

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The Netherlands' recovery from one of the lowest ebbs in its history continued with a last-gasp qualification for the Final Four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League on Monday. Virgil van Dijk volleyed home a 90th-minute equalizer to seal a dramatic Dutch comeback in a 2-2 draw in Germany, allowing Ronald Koeman's rejuvenated side to top its qualifying group on goal difference ahead of France, and join fellow group winners Portugal, England and Switzerland in a five-day finals competition in June. So instead of seeing Kylian Mbappe, France's new wonderkid and star of the team's World Cup triumph in Russia in July, vying for another piece of international silverware, soccer fans will get to see if the Netherlands truly has turned the corner. The slump of the Dutch has been profound since they finished third at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. They failed to qualify for an enlarged European Championship in 2016 and also didn't make it to the World Cup this year. Three coaches — Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind, and Dick Advocaat — came and went. And with Dutch soccer at club level also in strife, debate swirled as to how one of the long-time heavyweights of the world game could recover. Under Koeman, though, the future of the Oranje looks bright. Youngsters like center midfielder Frenkie de Jong and center back Matthijs de Ligt are regarded as two of the most promising players in the world; Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum have returned to their best form over the last 18 months; and, in Van Dijk, the Netherlands has one of the best defenders around. A rock for Liverpool this season and last, Van Dijk — soccer's most expensive defender following his $99 million move from Southampton in January — sidefooted in a cross from the left to follow up an 84th-minute goal from Quincy Promes that gave the Dutch a glimmer of hope in Gelsenkirchen. The Germans had gone 2-0 up after 19 minutes thanks to Timo Werner's dipping shot from 25 meters and Leroy Sane's deflected effort from just inside the area. They couldn't hold on, though, and finished group play with no wins, just two points, and in something of a crisis. They didn't get out of their group in Russia in a dismal defense of their World Cup title, while relegation to League B of the Nations League — featuring Europe's second-tier teams — had already been confirmed after failing to win any of their first three group games. Germany coach Joachim Loew opted to stay in the job after the World Cup, but is now under mounting pressure. The Nations League, a new competition devised by UEFA to replace unpopular international friendlies with competitive matches between teams of a similar level, appears to have won over the skeptics, and the lineup for the Final Four is intriguing if hardly a marketer's dream. Portugal, which will be playing on home soil, has a superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo who should be back in the team after an extended absence from international soccer since the World Cup. England has Harry Kane, the top scorer at the World Cup, and a talented, dynamic group of young players under forward-thinking coach Gareth Southgate. Switzerland, which hasn't reached a quarterfinal of an international tournament since 1954, will be the outsider. The Netherlands, at No. 15, will be the lowest-ranked team in the competition but should not be discounted. This victory came three days after the team produced one of its best performances in years to beat France 2-0, while it beat Portugal 3-0 in March and Germany by the same score at home in the Nations League. The draw for the Final Four, which comprises of two semifinals and then a third-place playoff and final, will take place in Dublin on Dec. 3. Some other loose ends were tied up in the Nations League, which offers teams a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the Nations League playoffs and compete for the last four qualifying places for Euro 2020. NORWAY, MACEDONIA PROMOTED Norway was promoted to the second-tier League B after finishing top of Group C3 with a 2-0 win at Cyprus. The Norwegians started the final round of group play tied for points with Bulgaria, which could only draw at home to Slovenia 1-1. Macedonia went up to League C after beating Gibraltar 4-0 to top Group D4. Armenia, the only team that could have finished above Macedonia, ended up second after drawing at Liechtenstein 2-2. SLOVAKIA RELEGATED Slovakia was relegated to League C after losing at neighbor Czech Republic 1-0, with Patrik Schick scoring the winner in the first half with a deft lob over the goalkeeper on a counterattack. Denmark was already guaranteed promotion to the top tier and Ireland was sure of being relegated before they drew 0-0 in Aarhus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018