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Umtiti header sends streetwise France into World Cup final

ST PETERSBURG – Samuel Umtiti’s 51st-minute header sent France into the World Cup final with a ruthless 1-0 win over Belgium in an absorbing first semi-final on Tuesday. Didier Deschamps’ side will face England or Croatia in Moscow on Sunday as the French look to lift the trophy for the second time following their triumph on home soil […].....»»

Category: newsSource: interaksyon interaksyonJul 11th, 2018

World Cup™ Final: France v Croatia to air live on S+A, Liga on Sunday

Filipinos will watch with the entire world as France and Croatia battle for football supremacy in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with the live broadcast of the competition’s final match this Sunday (July 15) at 11 pm on ABS-CBN S+A on free TV and LIGA on cable, with livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com. The Battle for Third between England and Belgium will also be aired and streamed live this Saturday (July 14) at 10 pm. Both matches will be shown on high definition on S+A HD and LIGA HD. France took the first spot in the final after beating Belgium last Wednesday (July 11) with the score of 1-0 courtesy of Samuel Umtiti’s second-half header. Croatia followed suit on Thursday (July 12) with Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic leading them to a comeback victory in extra time over England, which scored early in the match off Kieran Trippier’s free kick. Local football fans and Philippine-based football aficionados have been able to watch and follow the action in the biggest single-event sporting event in the world through official broadcasters S+A and LIGA, sports channels of ABS-CBN, the country’s leading media and entertainment company. ABS-CBN Sports head Dino Laurena said offering this world-class tournament to the Filipino audience is part of the organization’s advocacy to promote sports development in the country. “Football is the most popular sport in the world where some of the greatest athletes in history have played and are currently playing. We believe that Filipinos have the talent to make a mark in this sport and we hope that through exposing our viewers to topnotch football action, we also encourage them to learn to love what is known all over the globe as the beautiful game,” he said. Don’t miss the Battle for Third between Belgium and England at this Saturday (July 14) at 10 pm and the World Cup Final between France and Croatia followed by the Awarding Ceremony on Sunday (July 15) at 11 pm LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and via livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/2018FIFAWorldCup. 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 NewsJul 13th, 2018

France advances to World Cup final, beats Belgium 1-0

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia --- France has reached the World Cup final for the first time since 2006 with a 1-0 win over Belgium in a semifinal match that attracted presidents, royalty and a rock star. Samuel Umtiti's header in the 51st minute was the only goal in a tense match at St. Petersburg. France, the 1998 champions and runners-up in '06, will play either Croatia or England in Sunday's final at Moscow. England and Croatia will meet Wednesday in Moscow in the second semifinal. France President Emmanuel Macron and King Philippe of Belgium shook hands in the VIP section before the match. Mick Jagger was also on the official list of guests....Keep on reading: France advances to World Cup final, beats Belgium 1-0.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 10th, 2018

England avenges Croatia WCup loss to get shot at new trophy

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Harry Kane's goalless streak was only five minutes from extending to eight games when the captain finally found the net again for England. As Ben Chilwell floated a free kick into the penalty area, Kane slid in, stretched out his right foot and nudged the ball into the Croatia net. It came four months too late to secure a place for England in the World Cup final. But the World Cup Golden Boot winner ensured England went some way to avenging the Moscow semifinal loss to Croatia by turning the tables with a 2-1 victory at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. While England advanced to the final four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, Croatia was relegated to the second tier. Any doubts about what soccer's newest international competition means to England were dispelled in the relief and glee on Kane's face as he darted toward the crowd in celebration before being leapt on by Jesse Lingard as the Wembley crowd roared. Rarely in the 11 years since English soccer's national stadium was rebuilt has there been such tension for an international game. Not, perhaps, since the opening months when England was beaten by Croatia and denied a place at the 2008 European Championship. "I've never seen (Wembley) like this in an England shirt," the 25-year-old Kane said. "We are going to enjoy it so I hope the fans do too." For a competition that only debuted in September — to replace some largely meaningless friendlies — it has been quickly embraced in soccer's often-cynical heartland. The comeback from such a young side demonstrated a fortitude so often missing from a country that hasn't won a major title since the 1966 World Cup. "The most important thing is the connection with the fans," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "The energy that came back to the team in those difficult moments helped us get over the line." Now England has seven months to contemplate just how meaningful winning the Nations League would be in June. Portugal secured the hosting by winning its group on Saturday. Switzerland sealed the third spot on Sunday night by beating Belgium 5-2, before France or the Netherlands complete the lineup on Monday. "It's another semifinal, two wins away from winning a trophy," Kane said. "We showed that we can beat the big teams. Croatia and Spain are two of the very best in the world. So this is kind of our next step after the summer." Croatian players have said since July that they were inspired in the semifinal by what they perceived as arrogant undertones in the "Football's Coming Home" lyric in the "Three Lions" team anthem. Croatia went on to lose to France in the World Cup final. The song was played immediately after the final whistle on Sunday and even cited by Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic to congratulate England. "It's coming home," Dalic said in his only post-match comments in English. "Very soon." Fatigued after going the distance to beat Spain on Thursday, Croatia was unsettled throughout the first half by England's pace. But Croatia found its stride in the second half, taking the lead after 12 minutes after cutting through England down the right. Josip Brekalo played in Nikola Vlasic, who cut the ball across to Andrej Kramaric. Switching the ball between his feet, the midfielder twisted unchallenged before raising a shot into the roof of the net, via a deflection off Eric Dier's thigh. "We let a soft goal in," Southgate said, "and it is a real test of resilience and patience." The game turned on Southgate's double substitution in the 73rd minute that saw Jadon Sancho and Lingard enter. The impact was felt within five minutes and the set pieces that served England so well on the run to its first World Cup semifinal in 28 years proved decisive again. Joe Gomez's long throw-in was headed down by Kane through the legs of Hrvoje Millic and Lingard tapped in from close range for his second goal in two games after scoring in a 3-0 friendly win against the Unites States on Thursday. At the other end, Lingard came to England's rescue. Domagoj Vida's header had beaten goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but Lingard cleared off line. Parity was maintained but England was still facing relegation from Group A4. Only a win would secure top-tier status and with it a place in the semifinals. For the first time since the last-16 World Cup game against Colombia, and after 747 frustrating minutes, Kane found the target in an England shirt again. "Harry is the best goalscorer in the world," Southgate said. "We have huge belief in him. He is so hungry to lead the team on and further.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Germany s struggles continue with loss to France

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press GENEVA (AP) — Germany is out of contention for another international trophy after France handed Joachim Loew's struggling team its latest loss on Tuesday. The balance of power in European soccer is swinging even further away from the 2014 World Cup champion since its poor title defense in Russia. World Cup winner France rallied for a 2-1 win in the UEFA Nations League against Germany, which fell to a fourth loss in its last six competitive games. The result means Germany, eliminated in the World Cup group stage in Russia, cannot advance to the Final Four tournament in June for the Nations League top-tier group winners. Germany wasted its first-half dominance at Stade de France, having led via a 14th-minute penalty from Toni Kroos. Antoine Griezmann struck twice in the second half — a precisely guided header in the 62nd and a penalty in the 80th — to take France's unbeaten streak to 15 games and extend its lead in Group 1 of League A. Germany also risks an embarrassing relegation to the second-tier League B when it finishes the group program against the Netherlands on Nov. 19. Elsewhere in the Nations League, Ukraine won promotion to League A by beating the Czech Republic 1-0 in Group 1 of the second tier. Ukraine, coached by former star forward Andriy Shevchenko, also improved its chances of qualifying for the 2020 European Championship. Nations League group winners are assured of a place in the playoffs for the Euros, if they don't qualify directly. UEFA created the Nations League to replace most international friendly games, though Belgium's schedule was free Tuesday to host the neighboring Netherlands in a 1-1 draw in Brussels. France was overrun for a period in the first half after Germany converted a penalty that followed midfielder Paul Pogba being dispossessed too easily in his own half. German winger Leroy Sane was sent clear and his low cross hit the arm of defender Presnel Kimpembe. France drew level when left-back Lucas Hernandez crossed for his Atletico Madrid teammate Griezmann to guide a rising header beyond goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's dive. Griezmann later wrong-footed Neuer from the penalty spot after a foul was called on defender Mats Hummels against midfielder Blaise Matuidi. Television replays showed Matuidi appeared to stand on Hummels' ankle sliding into the challenge, but UEFA is not using video review in its competitions this season. UKRAINE UP A third straight win for Ukraine ensured it became the first League B team promoted into the top tier for the next edition of the Nations League. Ruslan Malinovskyi's long-distance shot in the first half was enough to beat the Czechs in Kharkiv. Wales now leads Group 4 in League B after beating Ireland 1-0 in Dublin through Harry Wilson's second-half free kick. Wales hosts Denmark on Nov. 16. In League C, Norway now leads Bulgaria in the four-team Group 4 after beating the Bulgarians 1-0 in Oslo. Slovenia staved off relegation by drawing 1-1 with Cyprus in a game featuring three red cards. GEORGIA PROMOTED Georgia ensured promotion from League De with its fourth straight win, 3-0 at Latvia, ensuring it will win Group 1. The No. 93-ranked Georgians will also have a chance to advance to Euro 2020. One of the fourth-tier League D teams is sure to reach the Euro through the playoff route for Nations League group winners. Gibraltar earned just its second ever competitive victory, beating visiting Liechtenstein 2-1. Gibraltar also closed to within three points of Group 4 leader Macedonia which lost its perfect record in a 4-0 loss at Armenia. The final rounds of Nations League games are played Nov. 15-20. The Euro 2020 qualifying draw, seeded by Nations League standings, will be held Dec. 2 in Dublin......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2018

Vive la France! And a lot of other nations, too

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Antoine Griezmann's father emigrated from Germany, and the France forward's mother is of Portuguese decent. Paul Pogba's parents arrived from Guinea. Kylian Mbappe's dad is from Cameroon, his mom Algerian. Immigrants, sons of immigrants and grandsons of immigrants bonded together with scions of families that have been French for generations, all for the rouge, blanc et bleu. And for only the second time, France is the World Cup champion. About two-thirds of Les Bleus' roster included players with immigrant backgrounds, a mini-United Nations of soccer talent. "That is the France that we love," Griezmann said through a translator after Sunday's 4-2 victory over Croatia ended the most exciting World Cup final in decades. "It's beautiful to see it." Griezmann's free kick was headed in by Mario Manduzkic for the opening own-goal in the 18th minute, and then he converted a penalty kick for a 2-1 lead in the 38th after video review spotted a handball by Ivan Perisic. Mbappe's speed led to the third goal in the 59th . He added a goal of his own in the 65th , at 19 becoming the second-youngest scorer in a World Cup final behind 17-year-old Pele in 1958. Vive la diversite! A day after Bastille Day, the party was on. "The diversity of the squad is in the image of this beautiful country that is France," midfielder Blaise Matuidi, whose parents are from Angola and Congo, said through a translator ahead of the match. France won on a humid night in Russia, with thunderclaps during play and a downpour during the trophy presentation. Quite different from that indelible summer evening at Stade de France in 1998, when fans in the arena and throughout Paris sang "La Marseillaise" until dawn and young teenagers drove cars while their intoxicated parents sat in passenger seats. People called that team "Black, Blanc, Beur," noting how white, black and North African players came together. Zinedine Zidane, a son of Algerians, headed in a pair of first-half corner kicks against heavily favored Brazil. Patrick Vieira, born in Senegal, fed Normand-born Emmanuel Petit for the third in the 3-0 win. This year's team was perhaps even more diverse. Defender Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon and backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in Zaire. Others descended from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Mococco and Senegal, plus Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. "There may be players who come from different origins, but we do have the same state of mind," Griezmann said. "We all play for the same jersey, the cockerel. For our country, we give everything we have. As soon as you wear the jersey, we do everything for each other." He scored the go-ahead goal after the first video review-created penalty kick in a World Cup final. During a delay of about four minutes that might have unnerved less-composed players. Griezmann told himself to pretend it was a league match. "Carry on and do the same thing as I normally do," he remembered thinking. At 27, he in his prime but in the penumbra of Spanish soccer at Atletico Madrid, toiling in a league that Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate. He led the 2016 European Championship with six goals and tied for second with four at the World Cup, three on penalty kicks, earning the Bronze Ball as third-best player behind Croatia midfielder Luka Modric and Belgium forward Eden Hazard. Griezmann kissed the trophy, knowing his generation will be revered in the same way Zidane, Petit, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez remain renowned from Calais to Cannes. "From tonight on, I'm sorry for them, but they are going to be different," coach Didier Deschamps said. "Those 23 players will be linked forever, forever. Whatever happens — they might follow different paths, but they will be marked forever and they will be together thanks to this event." Griezmann, man of the match in a World Cup final, will be on posters throughout the republic, asked for endorsements, a mainstay of commercials. He will asked for autographs for the rest of his life. "I'm going to be in the history of French football with my team," Griezmann said. "We don't quite realize it yet. Our children will very proud to have our names.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

France reaches World Cup semifinals, beats Uruguay 2-0

By STEPHEN WADE,  AP Sports Writer NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Antoine Griezmann's fluke goal helped France earn a place in the World Cup semifinals. Griezmann scored with a shot that bounced off the hands of the opposing goalkeeper and into the net, giving France a 2-0 victory over Uruguay on Friday. The 1998 champions will next face either Brazil or Belgium on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. Griezmann's shot in the 61st minute went right into the hands of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. But the ball popped off his palms and looped over his head and into the net. Raphael Varane scored for France with a header in the 40th minute. Griezmann sent in a free kick from the right side and Varane raced across the area. He got his head to the ball and sent it into the far corner behind Muslera. France went on to reach the World Cup final the last two times it advanced to the semifinals. It won its only World Cup in 1998 on home soil, and in 2006 lost to Italy on penalties......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 6th, 2018

Portugal beats Algeria 3-0 in final warmup before World Cup

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — With Cristiano Ronaldo back in action, Portugal cruised to a 3-0 win over Algeria in its final warmup match before traveling to Russia for the World Cup. Ronaldo, who hadn't played since leading Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League title last month, set up one of Portugal's goals at the Stadium of Light. He also had one disallowed for offside before being substituted in the 75th minute. Ronaldo joined Portugal's squad on Monday, later than the rest of the squad, because of the Champions League final. Portugal opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a shot from inside the area by Goncalo Guedes after a nice head-pass by Bernardo Silva. Bruno Fernandes added to the lead in the 37th with a close-range header after a well-placed left-footed cross by Ronaldo, and Guedes netted his second goal early in the second half with a header after a cross by Raphael Guerreiro from the left side. Portugal scored another goal near the end but it was called off by video review because of a hand-ball by Guedes. "We played well, but there's still a lot to improve," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "We are not where we want to be but we will be improving during the tournament." Portugal, which will travel to Russia on Saturday, had already played two other warm-up matches, drawing Tunisia 2-2 and Belgium 0-0. Santos will take 13 players to Russia who helped the team win its first major title at the European Championship two years ago in France. Portugal will begin its World Cup campaign against Iberian rival Spain on June 15 in Sochi. Its other Group B matches will be against Morocco and Iran. Algeria did not qualify for the World Cup......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: With Mane, Senegal expects to match 2002 run

By Ken Maguire, Associated Press DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — When the World Cup trophy tour reached Senegal, President Macky Sall got the taste of being a champion. It's an experience he hopes to feel for real one day. Turning to coach Aliou Cisse, Sall said optimistically, "It won't be long." That's some pressure for a team making only its second World Cup appearance. Back in 2002, a team of relative unknowns led Senegal to the quarterfinals in a run that began with a 1-0 victory over defending champion France. The 2018 team boasts more recognizable players, led by Liverpool forward Sadio Mane. There's also Monaco winger Keita Balde and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. It's a cosmopolitan crew who play all over Europe, whereas the 2002 squad was almost entirely France-based. For a country with so much talent, Senegal should qualify for the World Cup more often. Certainly, the Senegalese thought that would be the case after a wildly successful debut 16 years ago that came with a freewheeling style of play and memorable celebrations. A national holiday was declared after the victory over France. It's still among the best performances by an African team. Cameroon (1990) and Ghana (2010), neither of whom qualified for the tournament in Russia, are the only other African teams to reach the quarterfinals. Senegal's preparations for the World Cup have not been perfect. Two recent friendlies ended in draws with Cisse experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation instead of the 4-4-2 used during the qualifying campaign. Fasting during Ramadan could present training challenges for the Senegalese, many of whom are Muslims, including Mane. The holy month ends several days before their first match at the World Cup. Here's a closer look at the Senegal team: COACH Cisse was the captain of the 2002 team and he has now led Senegal to a second World Cup from the sidelines. On returning to Dakar following a 2-0 win over South Africa to clinch the spot, supporters at the airport picked up Cisse and threw him in the air while singing songs in his honor. So much more awaits Cisse, potentially. Bruno Metsu, the Frenchman who coached Senegal in 2002, is so revered in the country that his image is on a wall of fame in the "Place du Souvenir African" in Dakar. The exhibit highlights achievements of Africans, including Nelson Mandela. Metsu died of cancer in 2013 and is buried in Dakar. Cisse, though, has done his best to downplay the high expectations. GOALKEEPERS Khadim Ndiaye was Cisse's top choice by the end of qualifying. He is one of the few squad members who play in Africa — starting for Horoya AC in Guinea — and at 33 is the most experienced of the goalkeepers. Playing regularly might also give him an edge over others who play in Europe, but as backups. French-born Abdoulaye Diallo was No. 1 at the start of World Cup qualifying but an injury sidelined him and opened the door for Ndiaye. Diallo plays for French club Rennes, but usually as a backup. Don't count out 24-year-old Alfred Gomis. Raised in Italy, he has seen plenty of action this season for Spal in Serie A. DEFENDERS At 6-foot-5, center back Kalidou Koulibaly is Senegal's defensive titan. He plays for Napoli but has been linked to a move to clubs including Barcelona and Chelsea. As the France-born Koulibaly evolved into one of Europe's top defenders, French fans wondered how they let him slip into the national colors of his parents. After a header for Napoli secured a Serie A win over Juventus in April, even Diego Maradona was buzzing about him and posted a photo holding a Koulibaly jersey. The right side seems set with Lamine Gassama and Youssouf Sabaly. On the left, Senegal would love to have Kara Mbodji, but he injured his knee and hasn't played for his club, Anderlecht, since late last year. In his place, Senegal could turn to Papy Djilobodji. Also on the left side, Armand Traore's ability to play defense or midfield provides flexibility. Another option is Pape Ndiaye Souare of Crystal Palace. MIDFIELDERS There's a Premier League look to the midfield. The captain is Cheikhou Kouyate of West Ham, who has drawn comparisons to Patrick Vieira. Another stalwart is Idrissa Gana Gueye of Everton. Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham) and Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Stoke) were called up by Cisse in qualifying and should play important roles in Russia. FORWARDS Mane, who recently became the highest-scoring Senegalese player in Premier League history, is the key to success up front. He's been overshadowed by the spectacular Mohamed Salah this season for Liverpool, but Mane has been no slouch with his goals and assists. The trick will be who else to plays up front to get the best out of Mane. Keita Balde, Diafra Sakho and Ismaila Sarr are expected to make the final squad. If Cisse wants experience, he could look to the likes of Moussa Sow or Demba Ba. Both are 32 and play in Turkey. GROUP GAMES Senegal starts in Group H against Poland on June 19 in Moscow, then plays Japan on June 24 and Colombia on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

France s poor defending exposed again as Colombia wins 3-2

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — France's casual defending was exposed again as ruthless Colombia rallied from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in a World Cup warmup on Friday. European Championship runner-up France scored twice inside 26 minutes through striker Olivier Giroud and wide midfielder Thomas Lemar. But poor concentration from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris let Colombia back in two minutes later, when Luis Muriel's cross eluded him and went in. Roared on by huge swathes of yellow-shirted fans at Stade de France, Colombia leveled in the 62nd when striker Radamel Falcao swept in James Rodriguez's perfect cross from the right for his 29th international goal. A clumsy foul just inside the penalty area from Samuel Umtiti gifted Colombia a chance to win, and substitute Juan Quintero slammed the spot-kick past Lloris in the 85th. "Colombia really showed the character of a World Cup side. Not only did we turn the match around, we won it," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said through a translator. "The players really understood what they needed to do. They switched positions on the pitch and things changed." Colombia's fans, seemingly filling half the stadium, celebrated wildly at the final whistle. France coach Didier Deschamps, meanwhile, has plenty of thinking to do prior to Tuesday's game away to World Cup host Russia in St. Petersburg. It must have felt like deja vu for Deschamps. His side twice led away to World Cup winner Germany in November, only to draw 2-2. Against a spirited and tough-tackling Colombia, France often gave the ball away too easily, particularly in midfield. Colombia caused panic with every attack, particularly down the flanks. "Our first half hour was of the highest quality. It seemed easy at 2-0 but it never is," Deschamps said. "Colombia knows how to hurt you. We made a few mistakes and they really taught us a lesson, we'll have to learn from it." Deschamps further underlined his players' shortcomings. "There's a lot of quality in this team but it's not enough. The highest level requires much more determination," he said. "We had the same amount of possession in the first and second half without the same result. It's happened before, when we've alternated between good and less good, and the second half really wasn't good." Giroud's 30th international goal moved him level with Jean-Pierre Papin and France great Just Fontaine, who holds the single-tournament scoring record for a World Cup with 13 goals in 1958. It has been a frustrating season for Giroud, who became No. 3 striker at Arsenal following the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. He moved to Chelsea in January, but he has managed only one goal so far for the Blues. But back with France, Giroud shook off his club woes. He swiveled and slammed a shot into the roof of the net in the 11th minute after a handling error from goalkeeper David Ospina — his former Arsenal teammate — from left back Lucas Digne's cross. France's second goal owed nothing to luck. Antoine Griezmann's backheel found Kylian Mbappe, who dummied a defender and passed left to Lemar. He steadied himself before smacking a powerful shot past Ospina and into the right corner. Ospina denied the lively Griezmann shortly before the break, but for all of its flair France leaves holes at the back. Muriel volleyed wide in the 50th and, shortly after, Lloris saved his angled shot. France also has friendlies against Ireland, Italy and the United States before its World Cup opener against Australia on June 16. Les Bleus then face Peru and Denmark in the group stage......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 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

Alonso turns focus to final leg of motorsports Triple Crown

By Jenna Fryer, Associated Press DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Fernando Alonso raced into retirement from Formula One dedicated to winning the final leg of motorsports' version of the Triple Crown. The Indianapolis 500 is the missing piece on his resume, one he intends to add in May. But Alonso has been considering his future for quite some time, and his November retirement from F1 has opened his schedule to race in anything he wants. After anchoring Wayne Taylor Racing to a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Spaniard was coy about his future. "The aim is to do something unprecedented in motorsport," Alonso said Sunday after picking up his new Rolex watch. Not very specific, but a clue that Alonso is open to any and all ideas in this new chapter of his career. "Right now full focus is on the Indy 500," he said. "But yeah, I'm thinking I'm trying to do something more, maybe in different disciplines. I need to think, I need to plan, I need to make sure that I'm competitive, to have the right people, the right teams, and the right preparations. "Whatever adventure is next, I will not do it if I'm not competitive or I don't have a shot for winning. I need to be very calm and clever with the decisions for the future." The plan was put in motion two years ago when the two-time F1 champion persuaded his McLaren team to let him skip the Monaco Grand Prix and instead race the Indianapolis 500. Alonso had twice won in Monte Carlo — perhaps the toughest leg of the Triple Crown — and now he wanted to kiss the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had never driven an Indy car before and had never raced on an oval, yet he was in contention to win his inaugural Indy 500 until a late engine failure. His sights next turned to 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a sports car racing debut in last year's Rolex 24 as the warmup. Alonso announced he would race at Le Mans the morning after he finished his first Rolex, and six months later he won in France to move closer to the Triple Crown. His attention turns now toward the Indy 500, but with the freedom to pick and choose what he wants to do, Alonso is studying every opportunity. A five-year losing streak in F1 had pushed him to the fringes of that series, and although he remains one of the most popular drivers in the world, some began to wonder if his skills had slipped at the tail of his 17-year F1 career. What he has done moonlighting in different disciplines has proven his talent has not wavered and that as he prepares to turn 38, Alonso still rates among the best drivers on the planet. "Whenever you put a guy in a different car on a different track, normally it takes four or five laps for them to get (comfortable)," said Rolex winning team owner Wayne Taylor. "I remember his first split on the first turn was as quick as everybody. I thought, 'How are we going to manage this?' He was just terrific." Alonso did the heavy lifting for Taylor at Daytona, a race stopped twice for the first time in history for rain, then called shy of the 24-hour mark because conditions were too treacherous for drivers to be on the track. Two of Alonso's three stints in the car were during the rain, in part because F1 had made him the most experienced driver on the Taylor lineup in wet conditions, and because he had the control and steadiness to manage the risks versus reward in a torrential rainstorm. Alonso found the limited visibility and standing water on the track to be the most dangerous conditions of his career, and he had had more than enough when he saw the pace car driver hydroplane and nearly crash when he was following under caution. But he didn't turn a single wheel wrong and drove the Cadillac DPi to the lead every time he was on the track to win the Rolex in his second try. He noted after that that his sports car career was exactly a year old and continued to hint at his future. Although he did a car swap with seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson in November and ran exhibition laps in a stock car, Alonso said at Daytona that NASCAR events are not currently on his radar. He is competing this year in the World Endurance Challenge — he won in his series debut last season in the Six Hours of Spa — and quipped he has so many plans he may need to return to F1 to lessen his load. There are plenty of opportunities for Alonso all over the world, and his next big announcement could be next year's Dakar Rally in Paris. Alonso's win in Daytona made him the third F1 champion to win the Rolex, joining Phil Hill and Mario Andretti. He seemed envious of the drivers before his time who could race all over the world in any sort of formula, and proving that it can still be done might be what Alonso does next. "I think to win in different series, in different disciplines of motorsport which are quite specific, you need to probably be born with that talent and grow up with that knowledge of that series," he said. "Like oval racing, like IndyCar and things like that — to come there and try to be competitive or winning is something that I think in motorsport is quite difficult. "I think in the past it was a little bit more open, motorsport in general. But now every series became very, very professional, and you need to take full dedication to each series, each driving style and things like that. I think hopefully soon I can tell you more of the plans.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 28th, 2019

Novak, Naomi, other things we learned at Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The way things went at the Australian Open didn't exactly teach the world that Novak Djokovic is the best there is in men's tennis right now. Certainly confirmed it, though. And while those within the game knew all about Naomi Osaka, she made sure her talent is more obvious to more people. Djokovic, a 31-year-old already ranked No. 1, now has won the past three men's Grand Slam titles. Osaka, who earned her debut at No. 1 at age 21, has won the last two women's trophies at majors. When it's time for the next Grand Slam tournament — the French Open, four months from now — all eyes should be on them. "Obviously, it's just the beginning of the season. I know there's a lot of tournaments to play before Roland Garros, so I have plenty of time to build my form slowly," Djokovic said. "I have to work on my game, my clay-court game, a bit more." After his impressive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the final at Melbourne Park on Sunday, Djokovic can pursue a fourth consecutive major championship, something he already accomplished from 2015-16. But the possibility also exists for him to aim for a calendar-year Grand Slam, something last done 50 years ago by Rod Laver. It's the kind of thing that could get everyone talking about tennis. As for Osaka — a 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 winner over Petra Kvitova in Saturday's final — what makes her sudden surge to the top particularly noteworthy is that it comes right after a period of apparent depth but no dominance. Until this Australian Open, eight women had divided the previous eight major titles. Not since Serena Williams took four in a row from 2014-15 had one woman won consecutive Slam tournaments. And you have to go all the way back to Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to find a woman who won her first major championship and followed it up at the very next Slam with a second title. "I always hear stories that the best players win matches even when they're not playing their best. And I've always wondered how they did that," Osaka said. "So I feel like this tournament, for me, was that." Djokovic is at the height of his powers. Osaka is only getting better. Who will challenge them? Here is what else we learned at the 2019 Australian Open: SERENA AND ROGER Serena Williams and Roger Federer are both 37. No one has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than Williams' 23. No man in history has won more than Federer's 20. Williams owns seven Australian Open trophies, Federer six. But she lost in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park this time, and he exited in the fourth round. Maybe age is catching up to them. Maybe not. The idea that either is done contending for big titles seems far-fetched, though. One key thing moving forward: Federer is planning to play the European clay-court circuit and at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. HEALTHY NADAL Nadal was not up to slowing down Djokovic, but he otherwise sure looked terrific — and, most importantly, healthy. There's little doubt who the favorite will be on the clay courts in France. "The positive things that happened these couple of weeks make us very optimistic regarding his future and his level," said Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya. "We know there is room to keep improving and we are going to be working on that a lot." UP-AND-COMING If there are those who fret about what will happen when the players who ruled tennis for the past 15 years or so move on, there were several new faces who made statements in Australia. Stefanos Tsitstipas, a 20-year-old from Greece, upset Federer on the way to the semifinals. Lucas Pouille, a 24-year-old from France, arrived with a 0-5 record at Melbourne but was guided to his first major semifinal by coach Amelie Mauresmo. American Frances Tiafoe, a son of immigrants from Sierra Leone who turned 21 during the tournament, pulled off a couple of upsets on the way to the quarterfinals. Danielle Collins, a 25-year-old from Florida, beat three-time major champion Angelique Kerber and made her semifinal debut. Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, showed she has a bright future......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2019

Fabregas almost creates winner as Monaco draws at Marseille

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Cesc Fabregas almost had a dream debut for Monaco in the French league only for teammate Youri Tielemans to waste a late golden chance in a 1-1 draw at Marseille on Sunday. Despite only signing from Premier League Chelsea on Friday, Fabregas went straight into the team and added poise and assurance to Monaco's midfield. In the first minute of injury time, Fabregas cleverly chipped the ball over the Marseille defense, only for Tielemans to drag his shot wide. Watching from the sideline, Monaco coach Thierry Henry could barely contain his frustration. Still, it was an important point for 19th-placed Monaco in its relegation fight. Next up for Henry's Monaco is eighth-placed Nice at home on Wednesday, a match which pits Henry against his former Arsenal and France teammate Patrick Vieira, who is now coach of Nice. Both Henry and Vieira were also teammates of Fabregas when he started his Arsenal career late in 2003. The 31-year-old Fabregas went on to become one of the finest midfielders in the Premier League with Arsenal and Chelsea. He won league titles with Chelsea and with Barcelona, as well as winning the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain. He could prove a vital signing for Henry. It was another midfielder, Maxime Lopez, who put Marseille ahead with a low strike in the 13th minute. Marseille sat back waiting for halftime and was punished in the 38th when Belgium midfielder Tielemans swept home his fifth goal of the league season, following good work down the left by midfielder Aleksandr Golovin. Golovin was one of Russia's World Cup stars last year and should have put Monaco ahead in the 51st, but he sliced his shot wide after latching onto new signing Fode Ballo-Toure's excellent pass from the left. Monaco appeared to pay for that miss when Marseille winger Florian Thauvin pounced from close range in the 70th after goalkeeper Diego Benaglio saved a shot from Lucas Ocampos. But referee Mikael Lesage ruled out the goal following a video review for an apparent foul by Ocampos on Benaglio as they challenged for the ball, even though it looked accidental. Henry is still finding his feet in his first managerial role, and this was evident when he took off Ballo-Toure midway through the second half when he was one of Monaco's best players. Thauvin headed over seconds from the end as ninth-placed Marseille almost snatched a win. MONTPELLIER MISSES OUT Montpellier missed the chance to move up to third place after drawing 1-1 at relegation-threatened Dijon. Defender Damien Le Tallec earned a point for Montpellier with a 61st-minute equalizer, shortly after striker Wesley Said put 18th-placed Dijon ahead in new coach Antoine Kombouare's first game in charge. Montpellier's draw leaves it fifth and two points ahead of sixth-placed Strasbourg, which has played a game more. Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain is 13 points clear of second-placed Lille, having played two games less, with Lyon 17 points behind PSG in third place. Strasbourg kept its consistent start to the season with a 2-1 win at Toulouse. Midfielder Ibrahima Sissoko grabbed the winner midway through the second half. RENNES WINS AGAIN Defender Damien Da Silva was involved at both ends of the field as seventh-placed Rennes won 1-0 at Nantes. He put Rennes ahead with a glancing header from forward Hatem Ben Arfa's free kick after 13 minutes. Ben Arfa has set up both his goals this season. With Nantes pushing for an equalizer during a frantic second half, Da Silva appeared to block a goal-bound shot with his arm. Claims for a penalty were dismissed by referee Ruddy Buquet, whose video assistants either did not spot the infraction or deemed it an accidental handball. Then, in the closing stages, Da Silva made a legitimate block to keep Nantes at bay. Earlier, Buquet had consulted VAR to rule out a sixth-minute Nantes goal from defender Diego Carlos for a handball. Rennes coach Julien Stephan — who is the son of France's World Cup-winning assistant coach Guy Stephan — has made a great start to his fledgling managerial career with four straight league wins. This hard-fought victory ensured continued bragging rights for Rennes over 11th-placed Nantes, which has not beaten Rennes at home in 14 years......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Referee criticized for protocol lapse in Koulibaly incident

By The Associated Press FIFPro and UEFA have criticized referee Paolo Mazzoleni for "failing to respect anti-racism protocol" after monkey noises were directed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly throughout his team's 1-0 Serie A loss at Inter Milan. FIFPro, the world players' union, and European soccer's ruling body UEFA also said the racial abuse aimed at the player, who was born in France to Senegalese parents, on Wednesday was "unacceptable" and had "no place in football." The two organizations backed the prompt action taken by the Italian league judge, who has decided Inter's next two home matches should be played behind closed doors, and included a partial closure for the club's third home game. "FIFPro and UEFA are very concerned by this unacceptable racist incident and by what appears on the surface to be a failure to respect the widely-recognized three-step anti-racism protocol," they said in a joint statement on Friday. "Koulibaly was subject to racist chanting and, despite announcements made by the stadium speaker, the chants did not stop. Moreover, it seems Napoli's coaching staff had already informed the referee several times of racist chants. FIFPro and UEFA support the Italian football authorities on any additional measure that will be taken to tackle racism in stadia for which FIFPro and UEFA have a zero-tolerance policy." Koulibaly was sent off in the 81st minute after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession, the second for sarcastically applauding Mazzoleni after being shown the first. The league judge's punishment was handed out for the racism aimed at Koulibaly and for anti-territorial chants aimed at Napoli. Also, Koulibaly was suspended for two matches — one for the red card and one for applauding the referee. After the game, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti threatened to lead his team off the field the next time one of his players was subjected to continued racist abuse. He asked several times for the match against Inter to be halted after the chants, and announcements warning fans this would happen were made but no further action was taken. The first step of UEFA's anti-racism protocol says "if the referee becomes aware of serious racist behavior, or is informed of it by the fourth official, he shall, as a first step, halt the game and ask for an announcement to be made requesting the public to immediately desist from such racist behavior." The second step explains that "if the racist behavior does not cease once the game has restarted, the referee shall suspend the match for a reasonable period of time, and ask the teams to go to the dressing rooms." The final step says "if the racist conduct does not end after the game has then resumed, the referee shall definitively abandon the match as a last resort. The UEFA delegate will assist the referee, through the fourth official, in determining whether the racist behavior has stopped, and any decision to abandon the fixture will only be taken after all other possible measures have been implemented and the impact of abandoning the match on the security of the players and public has been assessed.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Southgate, Kane on Queen s list for honors after WCup run

LONDON (AP) — England coach Gareth Southgate and his captain Harry Kane have been rewarded in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year honors list on the back of the team's surprise run to the World Cup semifinals. Away from soccer, Geraint Thomas, who won cycling's Tour de France in July and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year earlier this month, gets an OBE, while former England cricket captain Alastair Cook and ex-England rugby skipper Bill Beaumont received knighthoods. After decades of disappointment at major tournaments, England's soccer team matched its best overseas World Cup performance earlier this year. The 48-year-old Southgate was key to the surprise display in Russia, changing the culture of the team, with their run followed by progress to the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals. He received an OBE — Officer of the Order of the British Empire. "I hope everybody that has supported me throughout my career feels pride in the fact I've received this honor because I wouldn't be in this position without that help and guidance," former England defender Southgate said. Kane, honored with an MBE — Member of the Order of the British Empire, won the Golden Boot after finishing top scorer at the World Cup. The 25-year-old striker netted six goals as Southgate's side reached the final four and he has also shone throughout the year for high-flying Tottenham. "It's quite surreal," Kane said. "It's been a great year for club and country. It's hard to put into words. I'm very passionate about our country, very patriotic." England, which hosted and won the World Cup in 1966, previously reached the semifinals in Italy in 1990. Outgoing Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore becomes a CBE — Commander of the Order of the British Empire — for services to football, and former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg gets an OBE. The 86-year-old Gregg survived the Munich air disaster in 1958. Four-time Ashes winner Cook, 34, becomes the first England cricketer to be given a 'Sir' prefix since Ian Botham in 2007. He retired from internationals this year, scoring a 33rd test century on his final appearance against India at The Oval. Cook has compiled more test centuries and runs — 12,472 — than any other England player during a record 161 tests. The 66-year-old Beaumont is recognized for services to rugby. He led England to a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1980 and also captained the British and Irish Lions. He is a former Rugby Football Union chairman and was elected chairman of World Rugby in 2016. Irish rugby great Willie John McBride — the most decorated player in British and Irish Lions history — was "absolutely thrilled" to receive a CBE. There is also an OBE for ex-Scotland rugby international Doddie Weir, who is fighting motor neurone disease, for services to rugby, motor neurone disease research and to the Scottish Borders community. World Curling Federation president Kate Caithness gets a CBE for services to sport, and fellow Scot — Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin — is made a Dame. British honors are awarded twice each year, at New Year and on the Queen's official birthday in June. The winners are chosen by committees based on nominations from the government and the public......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

End of the Messi-Ronaldo era? Football rings changes in 2018

PARIS, France – One of the enduring images from 2018 will remain Kylian Mbappe consoling Lionel Messi in the Russian city of Kazan, just after the final whistle in France's 4-3 win over Argentina in the last 16 of the World Cup. This was to a large extent Mbappe's year, ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 25th, 2018

Kylian Mbappe stars, ball-tampering scandal, Serena Williams outburst: 2018 sporting highlights

It was a memorable year for sports in 2018, with the World Cup in Russia, a cricketing controversy and Serena Williams' bizarre outburst grabbing the headlines. Here, AFP Sport takes a look at 10 sporting highlights from the last 12 months: FRANCE WIN WORLD CUP France won the World Cup on July 15 in Moscow, beating Croatia 4-2 in the highest-scoring final for 52 years. Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann all hit the target. Mbappe was not even born when France claimed the World Cup on home soil in 1998, their only previous win. THOMAS TAKES TOUR DE FRANCE Welshman Geraint Thomas savoured the sweetest of Tour de France victories on July 29, eclipsing all challengers inc...Keep on reading: Kylian Mbappe stars, ball-tampering scandal, Serena Williams outburst: 2018 sporting highlights.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018

The end of the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo era? Football rings the changes in 2018

Paris,France|AFP|Monday 12/24/2018 - 19:42 UTC+8|668 words by Andy SCOTT One of the enduring images from 2018 will remain Kylian Mbappe consoling Lionel Messi in the Russian city of Kazan, just after the final whistle in France's 4-3 win over Argentina in the last 16 of the World Cup. This was to a large extent Mbappe's year, as the teenage superstar exploded on the world stage by scoring twice in that game, the first World Cup brace by a teenager since Pele in 1958. Still just 19 at the time, Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe also became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele as France won the trophy for the second time by beating Lu...Keep on reading: The end of the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo era? Football rings the changes in 2018.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018

FIFA research says 3.5 billion people viewed some World Cup action

GENEVA --- More than 3.5 billion people viewed some of the 2018 World Cup action, with 1.12 billion watching at least one minute of France beating Croatia 4-2 in the final, according to FIFA. AFIFA-commissioned review of World Cup viewingpublished Friday said the television audience for the final was 516.6 million by the traditional measure of "global average in-home audience." More watched on digital devices and out-of-home screenings in public spaces, bars and restaurants. Changing viewing habits --- and no South American team in the final --- help explain a drop from the 545-million average TV audience for the Germany-Argentina final in 2014. In comparison, the 2016 Eur...Keep on reading: FIFA research says 3.5 billion people viewed some World Cup action.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2018