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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

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

Pogba has no regrets about United move ahead of Turin return

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Paul Pogba insists he has no regrets about leaving Juventus to rejoin Manchester United. Pogba was signed by United for a then-world record fee of $116 million from Juventus in 2016, ending a four-year spell at the Italian club during which he won four Serie A titles and two Italian Cup trophies. Since then, Pogba has won the Europa League and League Cup with Manchester United, while Juventus went on to secure two more league and cup doubles and reached the final of the Champions League. "Choosing to come back to United, first of all, was my choice. Juve were playing Champions League and Manchester were playing Europa. I don't regret my choice," Pogba said at Tuesday's news conference ahead of United's Champions League match against Juventus. "I know Manchester in the last few years haven't been at the top, but I came back to help the team and get them back to the top. We have a lot of goals. For me, it's not changed, I don't regret it at all. I'm very happy to come back to United and I'm sure we will come back to the best." Pogba was stripped of vice captaincy duties by United coach Jose Mourinho at the end of September for speaking out about his team's style of play. The France World Cup winner's relationship with Mourinho has appeared strained at times — last season as well as this campaign. "One thing is what the press says, and another thing is what Paul says and of course another thing is what I say," said Mourinho, who was sat next to Pogba at the news conference. "The press says we have a terrible relationship, Paul some weeks ago said we had a typical coach-player relationship, I think we have a good relationship. I would classify it as a good relationship between a coach and a football player." There have been question marks over Pogba's future at United but when the 25-year-old was asked if he is happy at the club, he responded with a smile: "Why? Do I look sad?" "I'm really happy, I'm happy to wear this shirt. It's a big club and at a big club there is always talk.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2018

Mbappe stars again as PSG wins 2-0 at Marseille for 11th win

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Left out by his coach for disciplinary reasons, Kylian Mbappe watched his teammates struggle in the first half and then came off the bench to score as French league leader Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 at rival Marseille on Sunday. Angel Di Maria, who grabbed PSG's injury-time equalizer on Wednesday in a 2-2 home draw with Napoli in the Champions League, set up Mbappe with a threaded pass behind the defense in the 65th minute. The France World Cup star sprinted clear before drilling a low shot into the bottom left corner for his 10th league goal in seven games. He found the net just four minutes after coming on, justifying his importance in an attack which has plundered 39 goals in 11 games. "A big team needs leaders and they need to make the difference," said Mbappe defiantly, after being dropped by coach Thomas Tuchel because he was late for the pre-match team talk. "I think I can fulfill that role." Tuchel stood by his decision to bench Mbappe and midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who was also late for the talk. "(It was) a disciplinary situation," the German coach said on Canal Plus television, confirming what happened. "We needed to do that." Mbappe helped create the second goal by finding Neymar with a pass behind the defense, and the Brazil forward's scuffed shot landed perfectly for Julian Draxler to slide home at the back post five minutes into injury time. It was defending champion PSG's 11th straight league win — matching English side Tottenham's run from the start of the 1960-61 season — and kept the team eight points ahead of second-place Lille. Marseille is 14 points behind in fifth spot. Marseille strangely played without a recognized center forward, yet had the better of the first-half chances at Stade Velodrome as PSG looked tame in attack without Mbappe. "They are very strong at home and they had several phases of play where we were in trouble," Mbappe said. "Credit to them. But we were able to respond." Still, PSG almost scored just before halftime when Di Maria's shot was cleared off the line by midfielder Kevin Strootman. At the start of the second half, some Marseille fans threw objects at Neymar when he took a corner from the left, but he did not seem worried and took it anyway as some stewards formed a shield around him. PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola made a good save to keep out midfielder Dimitri Payet's free kick early in the second half, and saved again from left back Jordan Amavi's dipping shot from the edge of the penalty area shortly after Mbappe's goal. ___ OTHER MATCHES Midfielder Wylan Cyprien's first goal of the season helped Patrick Vieira's Nice to a much-needed 1-0 win at Bordeaux. Cyprien scored in the 54th minute after being set up by pacey winger Allan Saint-Maximin. Bordeaux then hit the crossbar and Nice goalkeeper Walter Benitez made a brilliant injury-time save to keep out a header from forward Andreas Cornelius. Vieira, a standout midfielder for France and Arsenal during his playing days, took charge this summer. His team has been inconsistent, with striker Mario Balotelli lacking match fitness and yet to find the net this season after scoring 18 league goals last season and 15 the season before. The win moved Nice up to 10th place after 11 matches, behind Reims on goal difference. Forward Remi Oudin also netted his first goal of the campaign as Reims won 2-0 at Rennes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2018

Megan Rapinoe sees disparity as World Cup approaches

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press FRISCO, Texas (AP) — With the Women's World Cup less than eight months away, U.S. national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe is dismayed by what she sees as ongoing issues of inequality in soccer. From uncertainty about the use of video review and the amount of prize money, to scheduling other tournament finals on the same day as the championship game, equity issues are getting more attention as the World Cup looms. From Rapinoe's standpoint, that's symptomatic of the short shrift paid to the women's game by FIFA, soccer's governing body. "And that's not to say they (FIFA) don't do anything. They obviously do things for the women's game. But in the way that they truly care about the men's game, they don't truly care about the women's game," she said. The United States qualified for the World Cup on Sunday night with a victory over Jamaica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF women's championship tournament. The top three finishers earn spots in the World Cup, so the U.S. and Canada secured berths with semifinal victories. The two teams will play each other in the championship match Wednesday night. Rapinoe has always been one of the most vocal players on the team. She was among a chorus of voices that criticized FIFA in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup in Canada because the tournament was played on artificial turf, which was considered a slight to the women. So it's understandable the 33-year-old national team vet would call out FIFA for more recent issues. FIFA has been criticized for scheduling the Women's World Cup final on the same day as the men's Copa America final and the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. There have been calls for FIFA to use VAR, or Video Assistant Referees, at the tournament in France. VAR was used at the men's World Cup for the first time in Russia. Prize money has been an issue since 2015, when the U.S. women's team received $2 million for winning the World Cup, out of a pool of $15 million. By comparison, the prize pool for the men's World Cup in Russia was $400 million. FIFA's Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman responded to some of the criticism last week when the organization released its first-ever global strategy for women's soccer. The wide-ranging policy seeks to grow the women's game overall — and one aim is to get more women involved in the decision-making processes at all levels. "We have to keep pushing," Bareman said. "Because it's proven that having more women in these decision-making bodies creates a more diverse decision-making process, and also a more robust and I would say — how do I put this diplomatically — a more honest and integral process as well." The strategy shows that FIFA is committed to the women's game, she said. As for VAR, a decision has not been announced. FIFA did not announce its intention to use VAR for the men's World Cup until just a few months before the tournament. Bareman also confirmed that World Cup prize money would be increased but did not reveal a figure. An announcement is expected later this month at the FIFA Council meeting in Rwanda. She said the prize structure would include "new elements that haven't existed before in the women's game" including money to help qualified teams prepare. Sports Illustrated reported last week that the prize pool would be doubled, to $30 million. Rapinoe wanted to know what metric was used in determining the amount — especially in light of the disparity with the men's. "I mean, I think that they're probably looking for pats on the back for the increase. They're not getting any from here. I mean, until they're really going to take meaningful steps to truly show that they're caring about the women's game in a sort of deeper way, I don't know. $15 million is nothing to them. ... If they wanted to just sort of arbitrarily do it, they could increase it by $100 million," she said. Rapinoe is not alone. Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn have also publicly addressed some of the controversies. Coach Jill Ellis first called for VAR at the Women's World Cup when she visited Russia for the men's tournament, and during qualifying she has questioned the scheduling decisions. The U.S. team is uniquely positioned to speak to contentious issues. The players fought for and received an improved collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer in 2017 that brings player compensation more in line with the men's team. And as the No. 1 team in the world, the players' voices carry weight. "I think they themselves are an incredible mouthpiece for our game, for the women's game. Not just because of their popularity, but also their investment. This is a group that wants the game to grow," Ellis said. "So I think them speaking their minds, honestly, and being open about how they feel about issues — as in bonuses for winning, dates of competition, VAR, all those things that you want to be on the same level and same platform as the men's game. And that's the expectation, and anything less that that is not acceptable.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 24th, 2018

PHI rowers pocket four golds in ICF World Championships

GAINESVILLE, Georgia—The Philippines claimed two more gold medals in the 2018 ICF World Dragon Boat Championships here by winning the 10-seater and 20-seater senior mixed 200-meter races held at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park. Led by veteran paddlers Hermie Macaranas and Mark Jhon Frias, the Filipinos sprinted to the finish with a sudden burst of speed in the final 50 meters for a 50.46-second clocking in the small boat that drew admiration from their world-class rivals. France settled for the silver medal in 53.056 seconds and towed third-placer Hungary (53.158), host United States (53.463), Italy (53.9) and Germany (54.437). "On a shorter course such as the 200m, you need produce faster and powerful strokes to become successful,’’ said coach Diomedes Manalo after the Philippine Canoe Kayak Dragonboat Federation paddlers surpassed their medal tally in 2016 Moscow, Russia. The Pinoy paddlers followed exactly the game plan in capturing their fourth gold in the big boat, clocking 43.481 seconds to subdue Czech Republic (46.082) and United States (46.146).  Hungary placed fourth (46.791) followed by Germany (48.040) and Canada (50.242). Besides the four gold medals, the national team supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and Go For Gold has also pocketed two silvers in the small boat senior men’s 500m and big boat senior mixed 2000m race, respectively. "Congratulations to our dragon boat athletes for improving on their medal tally from their last world championship,’’ said Go For Gold top honcho Jeremy Go. "Despite all the struggle and adversity, our team has come out on top and continues to impress.’’ They defended the 20-seater senior mixed 500m title with aplomb after kicking off their world championship campaign with a convincing win in the 10-seater senior mixed 500m event. The Pinoy paddlers remain on track to secure another gold medal in the 10-seater senior men 200m on Sunday (Monday in Manila). Jordan De Guia, John Paul Selencio, Lee Robin Santos, Jonathan Ruz, Daniel Ortega, Reymart Nevado, John Lester Delos Santos will join hands with Christine Mae Talledo, Sharmaine Mangilit, Apple Jane Abitona, Raquel Almencion and Lealyn Baligasa in the big boat senior mixed 200m. Maribeth Caranto has been designated steersman and Patricia Ann Bustamante as drummer. During their world championship campaign two years ago, the Filipinos brought home three gold medals, one silver and a pair of bronzes. In the master division, the Philippines pocketed a pair of bronze medals in the small boat men’s and mixed 200m races.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 16th, 2018

Two months after World Cup final, Russia police no longer relaxed

FILE - In this Sunday, July 15, 2018 file photo, Pyotr Verzilov invading the pitch, runs away as a steward tries to stop him during the France and Croatia 2018 World Cup final match in the Luzhniki.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsSep 16th, 2018

Two months after World Cup final, Russia police no longer relaxed

MOSCOW--- Of the four people who protested on the field during the World Cup football final in Moscow, one is now in intensive care and another spent part of the week in a jail cell. Two months since the tournament ended with France beating Croatia, the tolerant image presented by Russian law enforcement to the outside world appears to be over. Pyotr Verzilov told The Associated Press last week how he and three other activists from the Russian protest group Pussy Riot used police uniforms to trick their way past security during the final. "In Russia, definitely, the uniform of any law enforcement official carries a certain magical role," he said in an interview. "Although ...Keep on reading: Two months after World Cup final, Russia police no longer relaxed.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 15th, 2018

World Cup winner Lloris fined $65,000 for drunk driving

LONDON --- World Cup-winning France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been fined 50,000 pounds ($65,000) and banned from driving for 20 months for drunk driving. The Tottenham goalkeeper was pulled by over by police in central London last month when his Porsche was veering toward parked vehicles before going through a red light. Police discovered vomit in the car and Lloris had to be helped out. Lloris, who was in goal when France beat Croatia in the World Cup final, admitted to the charge of drunk driving during a London court appearance on Wednesday. David Sonn, the lawyer representing the player in court, says "the spectacular fall from grace is not lost on Mr. Lloris." ...Keep on reading: World Cup winner Lloris fined $65,000 for drunk driving.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 12th, 2018

Top women s college players practicing with Team USA

By PETE IACOBELLI, AP Sports Writer   COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dawn Staley told the U.S. national team players, many returning to college soon, to keep working and improving no matter who is on the court.   Staley, the women's national team coach, held a three-day training camp as players began preparations for the FIBA World Cup in the Canary Islands this month. Many of America's best players are tied up with the WNBA playoffs and Staley brought in several of country's top college players to beef up practice and gain valuable experience before vying for a spot on the Olympic roster.   "We just have to keep moving forward. We can't worry about who we have, who we don't have," Staley said this week. "We have to implement the style of play we want on both sides of the ball and just fill players in."   Some of those fill-ins won't start playing for another two months when the college season tips off. The young camp roster includes guard Sabrina Ionescu and forward Ruthy Hebard of Oregon, Final Four hero guard Arike Ogunbowale and forward Jessica Shepard of Notre Dame and guard Tyasha Harris of Staley's South Carolina Gamecocks.   New York Liberty center Tina Charles is the most accomplished veteran in camp — and the only one with Olympic gold from 2012 and 2016.   Charles, 29, said part of her mission this week is to make the younger players feel as welcome by the veterans as fellow UConn alums Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird did when Charles first played with the national team in 2009.   "I'm trying to do the same thing here, make them feel comfortable, allow them to play their game, talk to them," Charles said. The WNBA playoffs have kept veterans like Elena Delle Donne, Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd, among others, tied up. Staley said some of those players may join when their pro teams get eliminated.   For Staley, its full speed ahead, no matter how young and wide-eyed some of the faces.   Ionescu was winded after her first practice Monday, trying to pick up the increased pace of the game.   "I think at every level, it just gets harder and harder," said Ionescu, reigning Pac 12 women's player of the year. "They were just definitely a lot stronger, quicker and had a better understanding of the game and adjustments."   Ionescu believes this experience will help when she's older and competing for a national team spot.   Ogunbowale, who hit back-to-back game winners against Connecticut in the national semifinals and Mississippi State in the title game, spent her offseason as somewhat of a celebrity. She was a guest on Ellen DeGeneres' show and on "Dancing With The Stars." At camp, she's simply a rookie trying to soak up lessons.   Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike spoke to the team before the first practice, urging them to ramp it up early and don't be afraid to compete. "We're all here for the same reason," Ogunbowale said. "We're all here to get better."   Camp ends with a split-squad scrimmage at South Carolina's Colonial Life Arena before they head north for a game with Canada in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Saturday and another with Japan at in Washington, D.C., on Monday.   The first practice overseas is in France on Sept. 13. The Americans will play three exhibitions in France and head to Tenerife, Canary Islands. World Cup pool play starts on Sept. 22 against Senegal.   Staley's not certain who'll be on the bench when that game starts, but isn't worried about it.   "We have to move forward to the ones that are committed," Staley said. "And that are going to help us compete for another World Cup gold medal."  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 6th, 2018

Lloris out of France squad with thigh injury

By SAMUEL PETREQUIN,  AP Sports Writer PARIS (AP) — France captain Hugo Lloris will miss upcoming matches against Germany and the Netherlands because of a muscle injury. The Tottenham goalkeeper, who did not play in his team's 2-1 loss at Watford over the weekend in the Premier League, has been ruled out of the two UEFA Nations League games this week. France coach Didier Deschamps called the uncapped Benjamin Lecomte as a replacement on Monday. The 27-year-old Lecomte, who plays for Montpellier, is regarded as one of the most promising goalkeepers in the French league. With Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda also out injured, Paris Saint-Germain keeper Alphonse Areola is expected to make his first appearance on Thursday in Munich. France then hosts the Netherlands at the Stade de France on Sunday for its first home game since winning the World Cup in July. Areola has been regularly called up by Deschamps over the past three years and was part of the World Cup squad in Russia. "He has been improving constantly with PSG," Deschamps said Monday. "He had a very, very good season and is now experiencing a new situation following the arrival of Buffon." Areola established himself as PSG's No. 1 keeper last season but the arrival of Gianluigi Buffon has revived competition for the top spot. With the exception of Mandanda and Lloris, Deschamps will be able to count on all the other players who won the tournament in Russia, including Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Raphael Varane. The trio failed to make the FIFA world player of the year shortlist on Monday. "A Frenchman would have deserved to be there, not only because of the world title, but also because of their whole season," Deschamps said. "I'm disappointed for them. They deserved to be among the three." Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah made the final three while Lionel Messi was left off the list for the first time since 2006......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 4th, 2018

World Cup winner Lloris charged with drunken driving

FILE - In this Sunday, July 15, 2018 file photo, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris lifts the trophy after France won 4-2 during the final match between France and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup i.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018