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US star Pulisic confident in form despite Chelsea benching

By Ben Nuckols, Associated Press FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Christian Pulisic said he won't let his benching with Chelsea affect his play for the U.S. national team as it prepares for a match against Cuba, pronouncing himself in peak form despite scant playing time of late. "I feel the best I ever have. I feel very confident in my game. I'm not going to let any of that affect me," Pulisic said Wednesday before training with the national team at George Mason University. "I feel very strong, and I'm really looking forward to this game Friday." The 21-year-old midfielder has been mostly a spectator in his first season in the Premier League, playing in just one league match since August — a 10-minute stint Sunday during which he contributed an assist. Pulisic arrived at Chelsea in the offseason for $73 million from Borussia Dortmund. Pulisic has previously voiced frustration with his playing time under Chelsea manager Frank Lampard but declined to elaborate on those feelings. "I'm here now to be focused with the U.S. national team, so that's really all that's on my mind right now," Pulisic said. The United States will play Cuba on Friday in Washington and then visit Canada in Toronto on Tuesday, its opening two matches of the CONCACAF Nations League. While he's been a role player with Chelsea, Pulisic is the undisputed star of the rebuilding U.S. team, which is trying to recover from its failure to qualify for last year's World Cup in Russia. He said he's looking forward to seeing what 18-year-old midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who was added to the roster last week, can bring to the squad. "It's fun to play with these younger guys," Pulisic said. "He's younger than me, right? Yeah, he's much younger. ... I don't see myself as young anymore, but whatever.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnOct 9th, 2019

Vardy fires Leicester to 2nd in EPL, Chelsea extends run

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press Could Leicester do it again? Even if another shock Premier League title isn't on the cards, the outsider which won in 2016 is firmly a part of English soccer's top four this season. Beating Arsenal 2-0 on Saturday leaves Leicester second, five points off leader Liverpool, and with a nine-point cushion to the fifth spot. It also deepens the gloom at Arsenal, where Unai Emery is dealing with a five-game winless run as well as the now former captain Granit Xhaka's rift with fans. Chelsea is third, level on points with Leicester, after winning its sixth league game in a row — a 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace. Tottenham drew 1-1 with Sheffield United in a game full of video-review controversy and hasn't won consecutive games since April. Liverpool and fourth-place Manchester City play Sunday. VARDY'S PARTY Jamie Vardy remains the Premier League's top scorer after another dominant game against Arsenal. Vardy opened the scoring in the 68th minute with his 11th league goal of the season off a square ball from Youri Tielemans, finishing off a slick team move. Vardy set up the second for James Maddison in the 75th, holding up the ball in the penalty area before feeding it for the onrushing Maddison to hit a powerful low shot from outside the penalty area. Arsenal had chances to score in the first half, with Alexandre Lacazette in particular wasting good opportunities. After scoring two, Leicester came close to a third. Arsenal sits sixth and is dropping away from the race for Champions League spots. Xhaka was out of the squad again for the Leicester game as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remained captain. PULISIC SCORES Abraham has been on strong scoring form all season, and now American midfielder Christian Pulisic has joined him. After Palace kept the game goalless in the first half with solid defending and more than a little luck, Chelsea did its job in the second to win 2-0. Abraham scored his 10th Premier League goal of the season in the 52nd off a neat backheel pass from Willian, and Pulisic made sure of the win in the 79th, heading in a looping, deflected shot from Michy Batshuayi. Pulisic scored his fifth goal in three league games "In the first half we started well, then allowed our tempo to drop, but when we came out in the second half with the intent that we did, we won the game relatively comfortably - a nice, solid win with a clean sheet," Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said. Man City is the next opponent for Lampard's Chelsea on Nov. 23. SON BOUNCES BACK Son Heung-min scored for Spurs, but he wasn't originally meant to be playing at all. Son was due to be suspended after a red card in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Everton for a challenge which led to Andre Gomes suffering a broken and dislocated ankle. Son left the field in tears after that incident, but his red card was overturned a day later on appeal. He followed up by scoring twice in the 4-0 win over Red Star. Sheffield was frustrated when John Lundstram hit the post and the video assistant referee ruled out a goal for David McGoldrick because of an offside in the build-up. VAR was kinder to Sheffield when George Baldock's cross ended up in the net at the far post in the 78th. A video review found Chris Basham hadn't been offside as the ball flew past his head. Spurs' inconsistent form is one reason for the pressure on manager Mauricio Pochettino, but the league table is damning for last season's Champions League finalist. Tottenham is 17 points off leader Liverpool, but just seven ahead of last-place Norwich. SAINTS IN TROUBLE Everton traveled to struggling Southampton on the verge of the relegation zone but eased the pressure with a 2-1 win. Everton now enjoys a six-point cushion over 18th-place Watford, while Southampton is 19th and winless in its last seven league games. Newcastle beat Bournemouth 2-1, while Burnley turned around a run of three defeats with a 3-0 win at home to West Ham......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 10th, 2019

Pulisic scores 3 for Chelsea; City wins in Premier League

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press Christian Pulisic seemed to surprise himself with his hat trick for Chelsea. As he left the field after the 4-2 defeat of Burnley on Saturday, the young American needed reminding by his teammates that scoring three goals means you get to keep the ball. "I didn't realize that was the tradition," he said. "My teammates helped me out." Pulisic hadn't scored for Chelsea before but seized his chance on his first English Premier League start since August, extending Chelsea's unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions. Manchester City took back second place with rather less flair. Just closing to within three points of leader Liverpool, which plays on Sunday, wasn't good enough for manager Pep Guardiola, though, who accused his team of playing "just 45" minutes in its 3-0 win over Aston Villa. Brighton beat Everton 3-2 in stoppage time, while Bournemouth lost more of its early momentum in a draw with Watford. THE PULISIC SHOW There have been U.S. stars in the Premier League before, but none quite like Pulisic. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder arrived in the summer with his star status already confirmed with dazzling performances for Germany's Borussia Dortmund. Still, it took him months to make his mark in the Premier League. There were some slightly hesitant substitute appearances and intense competition for places with other young players such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount. On Saturday, none of that seemed to matter. Pulisic showed off his versatility with his first goal in the 21st minute, stealing the ball from defender Matt Lowton, sprinting forward, beating the experienced James Tarkowski, and shooting precisely inside the far post. The second goal saw Pulisic beat Tarkowski again before hitting a deflected shot, and the third was a fine header off Mount's cross, again showcasing Pulisic's versatility. Scoring a Premier League hat trick was something only one American had done before, Clint Dempsey in 2012. Even with Pulisic's standout play in attack, Chelsea looked fragile. Burnley had good chances to score in the first half, and briefly looked capable of a shock comeback following goals in the 86th and 89th minutes. PART-TIME MAN CITY Guardiola was left unimpressed with his team despite their three-goal winning margin. Villa put up stern resistance in the first half, but City seized control of the game when Raheem Sterling scored on a rapid, direct move 20 seconds into the second half. "The second (half) we play in the way we normally are but we have to try and play 90 minutes," Guardiola said. "We played just 45." Guardiola was full of praise for Sterling, who scored his fourth goal this week after a hat trick against Atalanta on Tuesday. "Normally the next game you play a bit like, 'How good I am,' and he was completely opposite," he said. Sterling's role in City's second goal was more controversial. Officially, the goal was direct from a cross-shot by Kevin de Bruyne, but Villa manager Dean Smith said he believed David Silva touched the ball when Sterling was obstructing the goalkeeper. Ilkay Gundogan added City's third off a corner. OWN GOAL DRAMA Brighton staged the comeback of the day, winning 3-2 thanks to a stoppage-time own goal from Everton's Lucas Digne. Everton had been leading 2-1 before a hotly disputed penalty call against Michael Keane, who trod on the foot of Brighton's Aaron Connolly. The spot kick was awarded after a video assistant referee check and converted by Neal Maupay. Four minutes into added time, Digne knocked a cross into his own net to hand Brighton the three points. Lys Mousset was the key man again for Sheffield United. On Monday, the Frenchman scored the winning goal against Arsenal, and on Saturday he scored to salvage a 1-1 draw against rival West Ham. It was the first time the teams met in the league since the 2006-07 season left bad blood between them. That year, West Ham signed Argentine stars Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano on third-party ownership deals which broke Premier League rules. Tevez's goals helped West Ham avoid relegation while Sheffield went down. Bournemouth and Watford played out a 0-0 draw which disappointed both teams. Bournemouth had been seeking to cement its place in the top half, while Watford was desperate to end its winless start to the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 27th, 2019

Lionel Messi and Liverpool shine in the Champions League

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Lionel Messi and titleholder Liverpool were in top form in the Champions League on Wednesday. Messi scored one goal and set up another as Barcelona beat Slavia Prague 2-1 to take control of Group F at the group stage's midpoint. Liverpool overwhelmed Genk 4-1 to end a four-game losing streak away from home in the group phase. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made the most of a rare start to score twice and Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah also got on the scoresheet for last season's champion. Still, Liverpool remained one point behind Napoli in Group E after the Italian club won 3-2 at Salzburg with a brace from Dries Mertens, who surpassed Diego Maradona for second spot on the team's all-time scoring list. Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund trail Barcelona by three points in a group where three heavyweights are vying for two spots in the knockout stage. Inter beat Dortmund 2-0 in the other Group F game with goals from Lautaro Martinez and Antonio Candreva. Messi floated a free kick to Luis Suárez at the far post and the Uruguayan's shot was deflected in by Slavia forward Peter Olayinka for Barcelona's winner. Earlier, Messi finished off a fast move he had started. It was the first goal for the Argentine in the campaign, taking his overall tally in Europe's top club competition to 113. TREMENDOUS TEENAGER Salzburg's 19-year-old forward Erling Haaland scored twice in the loss to Napoli, giving him six goals in three matches. That makes him only the second teenager in Champions League history to score in each of his first three appearances in the competition, after current Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema achieved the feat with Lyon. And he's the first player to score six goals in his first three Champions League appearances. Haaland now has 20 goals in all competitions for the Austrian club this season. Haaland's first goal came with a penalty, then he made it 2-2 by taking advantage of his 6-foot-4 (1.94 meter) frame for a precise header. He also had a score disallowed early on by the VAR for offside. SUPER SUBS Michy Batshuayi came off the bench and scored a late winner as Chelsea rode its luck to beat Ajax 1-0 and throw Group H wide open. The Belgium striker fired in off the underside of the bar from close range in the 86th, 15 minutes after coming on. United States international Christian Pulisic, another of coach Frank Lampard's subs, provided the cross. "It's what you want from subs," Lampard said. "Sometimes the toughest part of management is leaving out players that really want to play week in, week out, and you rely on them being positive, coming on and making an impact and they both did. Delighted for them both." The result left both teams on six points after three matches. Valencia, which drew 1-1 with Lille, is next with four points. It was another late Champions League stinger at the hands of a London team for Ajax, which lost the semifinal last season to Tottenham thanks to a Lucas Moura goal deep in stoppage time. LEIPZIG LEADS Leipzig leads Group G following a 2-1 comeback win over Zenit St. Petersburg and is in position to advance to the knockout rounds for the first time. Marcel Sabitzer scored with a sublime volley for the winner near the hour mark "It's without doubt one of the best goals of my career," Sabitzer said. Sabitzer also set up the equalizer for Konrad Laimer after Ukrainian defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy opened the scoring for Zenit. Leipzig has six points, two more than Zenit and Lyon, which lost 2-1 at last-place Benfica......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2019

Mbappé returns, sets up Neymar as PSG beats Bordeaux 1-0

PARIS (AP) — Kylian Mbappé made his return from injury as a substitute and set up Neymar's goal as Paris Saint-Germain beat Bordeaux 1-0 away in the French league on Saturday. Mbappé, who had been out for a month with a thigh injury, came on with half an hour remaining and the France star gave Neymar a simple finish from close range in the 70th. Idrissa Gueye had capitalized on a mistake from Bordeaux defender Pablo to send Mbappé through. The 20-year-old Mbappé missed a great chance shortly after coming on but failed to get the better of Bordeaux keeper Benoit Costil in their one-on-one. Costil had an outstanding game. It was a game of missed chances for the defending champions, who wanted to bounce back from Wednesday's surprise 2-0 loss to Reims, the side's first league defeat at home for 16 months. PSG coach Thomas Tuchel responded with six changes for Bordeaux, which only threatened Keylor Navas' goal after Neymar scored. After eight games, PSG leads by two points from Nantes and Angers, which was held to a 1-1 draw by Amiens. PSG next faces a trip to Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday before hosting Angers four days later. LYON MISERY CONTINUES Lyon's miserable form continued with a 1-0 defeat at home to Nantes, an own-goal from Brazilian defender Marcal being enough for the visitors. It left Lyon seven games without a win across all competitions, including the 1-1 draw at home to Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League. It is the side's worst streak since it went eight games without a victory in 1996. OTHER MATCHES Lille prepared for Wednesday's home Champions League game against Chelsea with a 1-1 draw at Nice. It was Lille's eighth successive away match without a win and left the side fourth, four points behind PSG. Monaco hadn't won a match until Tuesday but crushed Brest 4-1 on Saturday to record a second straight win. Islam Slimani scored a penalty and set up the other three goals. Metz drew 2-2 with Toulouse and Dijon won 2-1 at Reims to claim its first victory of the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2019

Davis confident Lakers roster can go up against anybody

    LOS ANGELES, USA – Anthony Davis said the Los Angeles Lakers will be capable of challenging for the NBA championship immediately next season as the six-time All-Star was formally unveiled by the organization on Saturday, July 13 (Sunday, July 14, Philippine time). The 26-year-old superstar is set to form a potent ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

UP, UE share 2019 s king of recruiting crown

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. --- Last season, the University of the Philippines, at long last, broke through in the UAAP. Behind the leadership of Paul Desiderio and key contributions from Season MVP Bright Akhuetie and Mythical selection Juan Gomez de Liano, the Fighting Maroons made their first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals in 32 years. Now, even without the iconic Desiderio, State U is nothing but confident it could build on its breakthrough. The reason? Well, because two of the brightest young stars in Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero are now orbiting Diliman. Paras has all the physical tools to take any league by storm and now in maroon and green, he is out to continue the legacy of his father Benjie who delivered the school’s first and only championship. Meanwhile, the Euro-stepping Rivero already knows a thing or two about taking the UAAP by storm, having been chosen for the Mythical Team when he was still playing for De La Salle University in 2017. Add big man J-Boy Gob, another transferee, to that and, indeed, UP is only equipped to keep contending. On the strength of the transfers of Paras and Rivero alone, the Fighting Maroons would have been worthy of the title of 2019 King of Recruiting. Right up there with them, though, in terms of getting a big boost in the offseason is University of the East. Absent from the Final Four in the last decade, the Red Warriors will be heading into the upcoming season with a fully stocked arsenal. Now up front for them – alongside stalwart Philip Manalang, of course – will be 6-foot-9 Senegalese Adama Diakhite, three-time champion and two-time MVP in the CESAFI Rey Suerte, and college-ready Harvey Pagsanjan, the no. 7 high school player in the 2019 NBTC 24. Diakhite is a hulking presence who will prove to be a tough matchup even for the likes of reigning MVP Akhuetie and last year’s Rookie of the year Ange Kouame. Suerte, a gifted scorer from anywhere on the court, fills right into the hole left behind by scoring dynamo Alvin Pasaol while Pagsanjan can continue making all the right plays he had been doing as the longtime beacon of hope for Hope Christian High School. Also flanking them are former Ateneo de Manila University forward John Apacible, defensive stopper Neil Tolentino, Filipino-Kiwi swingman Richie Rodger, and Filipino-Australian point guard Jasper Rentoy. And with that, UP and UE will have joint custody of the crown of the 2019 King of Recruiting. They dethrone National University which claimed the crown a year ago behind a big-time recruiting class that included Ildefonso brothers Dave and Shaun, John Lloyd Clemente, and John Galinato. Just like last year, there remains no doubt that the new Fighting Maroons and Red Warriors will make their respective sides forces to reckon with come UAAP 82. Still, several squads also made it a point to be better in the offseason. In fact, the graduating players in the 2019 NBTC 24 have been spread out among eight different teams. From the 2019 NBTC 24, the annual ranking of the best high school players in the country, 14 are moving on up to the Seniors. Adamson University is the biggest winner in terms of recruits from that ranking, with three of the top 15 players now in San Marcelino. Ninth-ranked Aaron Fermin is a double-double machine in the NCAA Jrs. and is nothing but determined to realize his potential as a two-way force under multi-titled mentor Franz Pumaren. In CESAFI standout Joshua Yerro and UAAP Jrs. Mythical selection Joem Sabandal, coach Franz also has young blood to bolster the backcourt that will no longer have Koko Pingoy. The Soaring Falcons also scored four other former Baby Falcons in big man Lorenz Capulong and wings Adam and Andrey Doria and AP Manlapaz. When it comes to reaping the rewards of its high school program, though, nobody could still touch Mapua University which again got two keep its Jrs. studs in Clint Escamis and Dan Arches, both of whom made it into the top two-thirds of the 2019 NBTC 24. Escamis and Arches are offensive guards who will give much-needed firepower to a promising core comprised of fellow Mapua HS products Warren Bonifacio, Eric Jabel, Noah Lugo, and Laurenz Victoria. Also, the Cardinals are the favorites to land NCAA 94 Jrs. Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez, another Red Robin. Also bagging two prized prospects from the 2019 NBTC 24 is La Salle which is now the place where the talented tandem of Joel Cagulangan and Joshua David get to work. Cagulangan has long been a star in the making and the NCAA 94 Jrs. MVP is, without question, Taft Avenue’s point guard of the future. The even better news is that he will still have wingman David, a tried and tested glue guy, to grow with. Also set to debut for the Green Archers are Filipino-Americans Jordan Bartlett, a speedster guard; Tyrus Hill, a high-flying forward; and Kurt Lojera, a big-bodied swingman. In all, there are six graduates from the top 10 of the 2019 NBTC 24. All of them would be on different teams in the Srs. Two players from 2019 NBTC 24 are yet to commit to any school, but there is no doubt that Red Robin Hernandez and Greenie Inand Fornilos will be able additions to any collegiate team. For the second straight year, Aldin Ayo will be adding a top three recruit out of high school as incoming sophomore CJ Cansino will now join forces with another triple-doubling talent in Mark Nonoy, a rookie who plays way beyond his years. But wait, there’s more as UST also welcomes with open arms its newest foreign student-athlete in Beninese Soulemane Chabi Yo whose speed and skill will make him a problem for the other foreign student-athletes more used to being powerhouses. Sprinkle in stretch four Sherwin Concepcion as well as versatile forwards Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso and there’s a reason why the Growling Tigers are now very much a darkhorse contender. L-Jay Gonzales and RJ Abarrientos remain FEU’s backcourt for tomorrow, but in the meantime, the former is poised for a breakout just as the latter is poised to wrap up his K-12 schooling. Yes, Abarrientos is not yet good to go come UAAP 82, but his steady hand is still the perfect pairing for the burst of energy that is Gonzales. Make no mistake, however, the Tamaraws have gotten help in the form of 6-foot-10 Cameroonian Patrick Tchuente as well as former Baby Tams Daniel Celzo and Jack Gloria. Letran is already the biggest it has ever been up front with NCAA 94 Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang alongside Jeo Ambohot, Christian Balagasay, and Christian Fajarito. Now, the Knights have also beefed up at the wings with Allen Mina and Mark Sangalang as well as former Red Warrior and Growling Tiger Jordan Sta. Ana. LPU will have to prove it could continue contending even without NCAA 93 MVP CJ Perez, but the good news is that now backtopping Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee are former San Sebastian College-Recoletos key cogs Alvin Baetiong, Jayson David, and Renzo Navarro. That’s still a pretty solid lineup in our books. Just like last year, the now two-time UAAP champions are mostly intact, only losing team captain Anton Asistio as well as reserve guard Aaron Black. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are no new faces in Ateneo. Geo Chiu, Kai Sotto’s twin tower, decided to stay in Katipunan just as fellow ex-Blue Eaglets RV Berjay and Jason Credo are now seeing minutes in head coach Tab Baldwin’s rotation. And oh, there is a possibility that double-double machine Fornilos, who placed no. 13 in the 2019 NBTC 24, is bound to be a Blue Eaglet. Perps is nothing but determined to build on the triumphant return to the NCAA of head coach Frankie Lim and to do that, they will be leaning on former San Beda University pillar Ben Adamos as well as ex-Adamson HS workhorse Jefner Egan. Count out the Altas at your own risk. JRU is just on the first phase of a grand rebuild, but there is no doubt that things are looking up for Kalentong. In John Amores, they now have an end-to-end force who is all set to make an immediate impact as a rookie. These are the new names to watch for the teams: Baste CSB National U San Beda --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

ONE Championship: Honorio Banario motivated to maintain Team Lakay s hot start

After witnessing his teammates nearly sweep their assignments at ONE: FIRE & FURY, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario is inspired to keep up.  The Team Lakay star returns to the featherweight division when he takes on Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai of Thailand at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 28 February. “After the Manila card, I even got more motivated with the way the team performed. I want to follow it up with [more] good news – continue our winning ways this 2020,” Banario said.  “But aside from the win, I also want to maximize all the lessons that the team gained in Manila. I watched them closely, and I know that will help me achieve my goal in Singapore.” The outstanding result in Manila was a stark contrast to their team’s start in 2019, where they lost four World Titles in a span of three months.  Banario thinks the results in Manila is proof there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel, no matter the struggles.  “On that card, it proved that with focus and determination, good results will come. We are all training hard every day to reach our dreams as an athlete and as a person, and I know that it’s never too late to reach that,” Banario said. “I also understand that we won’t be winning all the time, but the most important thing is growth in each match.” Growth is something Banario needs to show to end his three-match skid.  The Mankayan, Benguet native is confident he has learned from all his previous setbacks, and with momentum on his team’s side, he has no plans of letting up.  “I am even more eager now to win because I want to continue the team’s winning ways. I also want to show how dedicated I am even during my struggles in the past,” Banario said. “It will be far from easy against Shannon, but I believe that if you are confident and prepared, a win is attainable.” Will Banario carry on his team’s winning ways? Find out at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE on 28 February at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2020

MPBL: Team Pacquiao beats Team Kobe in 3x3 basketball

Team Pacquiao headlines the first-ever winners of the MPBL All-Star 3x3 tournaments. Now partnered with Chooks-to-Go, the Maharlika ng Pilipinas Basketball League added 3x3 games to its annual All-Star festivies and Team Pacquiao got the honor of getting the first win Thursday at the MOA Arena. Team Pacquiao, with Thirdy Ravena, Troy Rike, and Alvin Pasaol, beat Team Kobe in the celebrity 3x3 game, 21-15. "Sobrang sarap to play 3x3 game again," said Ravena who scored eight points in the win. "I haven't played this game for a long time," Thirdy added. Team Pacquiao also P100,000 on top of the victory. Team Kobe, coached by Kobe Paras, had Joshua Munzon, Gerald Anderson, Marco Alcaraz, and Juan Gomez de Liano. In the other 3x3 game, the North All-Stars got a close 21-19 over the South All-Stars. Making up the North All-Stars are Pasay's Jaypee Belencion, Bulacan's JR Alabanza, Valenzuela's Paulo Hubalde, and Manila's Aris Dionisio. Hubalde connected on two straight hits from deep to turn a 17-19 deficit into a two-point win. Zamboanga's Leo De Vera, Bacoor's Nick Demusis, Mindoro's Rodel Vaygan, and Imus' Jayjay Helterbrand form the South. — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: FEU Lady Tamaraws keeping the faith alive

Far Eastern University faces a tall order of maintaining its status as one of the perennial title contenders this UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament. Head coach George Pascua acknowledges the weight of the departure of seasoned veterans after their campaign last year and the unexpected exodus of some key pieces during the offseason. FEU, which closed the elims last year with a 9-5 slate, saw the exit of skipper Jerrili Malabanan, Heather Guino-o and setter Kyle Negrito. Also leaving the Lady Tams were Celine Domingo, France Ronquillo, libero Angelica Bautista and Carly Hernandez because of personal reasons.    It will be an uphill climb but Pascua remains in high spirits with the current crop of the Lady Tamaraws, who are looking to improve from their fourth place finish last year. “Maraming nawala sa team namin pero ang difference nu’n experience lang siguro kasi mas beterano,” said Pascua, whose squad came a win away from a second straight Finals appearance. “Pero skills-wise nandoon naman, naa-achieve naman namin.” But Pascua admits that it’s not easy to prepare a rebuilding team heading into a very competitive season.  “Hindi siya ganun kadali,” said Pascua. “’Yung chemistry ng team, though maraming new players, ang dami mong kino-consider diyan na pinag-aaralan like ‘yung skills, character and siyempre kailangan motivated sila sa ginagawa nila.” “Then ‘yung system kailangan ma-adapt nila,” he added. “Ngayon naa-achieve na namin, 85 percent, konti na lang meron pang ii-improve.” The Lady Tams will rely heavily on graduating players Gel Cayuna and libero Buding Duremdes to lead the team together with key returnees Jeanette Villareal, Czarina Carandang and Ivana Agudo. “Of course ‘yung mga seniors namin like si Buding kailangan yung last playing year n’ya ibibigay namin sa kanya yung opportunity,” said Pascua. “’Yung goal ng bawat isa is ma-achieve namin. Of course, si Angel din malaking bagay yung tandem nu’ng dalawa.” But what keeps a rebuilding FEU squad still a team to watch for is the return of sophomore Lycha Ebon and the introduction to the UAAP of rookie Shiela Kiseo.  Ebon is back after recovering from a right knee injury that abruptly ended her debut season while Kiseo had a promising stint in the PVL Collegiate Conference. Pascua right now wants the Lady Tams to focus on a modest goal of reaching the Final Four first.   “This season yung top four muna importante ma-achieve muna namin yun,” he said. Then let’s see kung ano ‘yung mangyayari pagdating doon. Looking forward kami sa goal namin.”   EYES ON YOU: There are still doubts if Lycha Ebon will return this season with the same explosiveness she had during her rookie year after recovering from a knee injury. Considering that Ebon just joined FEU’s training just last month, the sophomore may need a little more time to get back in her old form. In fact, Ebon accepts the decision of the coaching staff to limit her minutes at least in the first round. “Ang sa akin lang po, simula dati gusto ko lang tumulong sa team ko, gan'un,” she said. “Ngayon na hindi naman ako starting six, ang akin lang ay quality. Hindi naman po sila nage-expect na mag boom ako kaagad, ang sinasabi lang nila na 'Gusto lang namin na makatulong ka sa team'.” But for sure, it won't take long for the FEU faithful to once again see the future Lady Tams star rise.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 10th, 2020

John Riel Casimero meets Naoya Inoue in Las Vegas this April

Reigning WBO Bantamweight World Champion John Riel "Quadro Alas" Casimero plans to go 'Monster Hunting' this year, as he's set to face reigning WBA (Super) and IBF Bantamweight World Champion Naoya "The Monster" Inoue of Japan in a unification bout on April 25th in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The bout was officially announced in a press conference, Wednesday afternoon at the Amelie Hotel in Manila.  "This fight here, brings together the two best bantamweights in the world," said MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons. "You have the WBO Champion [in Casimero] and the WBA (Super) Champion, IBF Champion, and The Ring Magazine Champion in Mr. Inoue."  The 29-year old Casmiero (29-4, 20 KO) is a three-division world champion, having previously held the IBF Light Flyweight World Championship as well as the IBF Flyweight World Championship. In December of 2019, Casimero recorded arguably the biggest win of his career, needing just three rounds to finish off the heavily-favored Zolani Tete of South Africa and capture the WBO's 118-pound title.  Inoue, meanwhile, is one of the most feared boxers in the division, possessing a spotless 19-0 professional record with 16 wins coming via KO.  The 26-year old Japanese superstar is also a three-division tileholder, with reigns as the WBC Light Flyweight World Champion and the the WBO Super Flyweight World Champion. "The Monster" is coming off a stellar run in the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Tournament, defeating Juan Carlos Payano and Emmanuel Rodriguez to set up a finals date against Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire back in November.  While many expected Inoue to steamroll Donaire, the fight instead turned into a 12-round classic, with the Filipino star giving the Japanese juggernaut all that he could handle.  In the end, Inoue still prevailed via Unanimous Decision, but his aura of invincibility was no longer there.  Casimero is confident that he can push Inoue to the limit and hand the Japanese champion his first loss. "Magaling siya, may knockout punch, may lakas din siya, kailangan pag-handaan talaga."  "Tignan natin yung tibay nitong si Inoue," he added.  Casimero is scheduled to fly to Miami, Florida on Thursday to begin training camp before heading to Las Vegas a month before the fight. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2020

John Riel Casimero eyeing undisputed champion status after Inoue bout

Reigning WBO Bantamweight World Champion John Riel Casimero has a daunting challenge ahead of him in the form of Japanese knockout artist and reigning WBA (Super) and IBF Bantamweight World Champion Naoya "The Monster" Inoue.  The two 118-pound titleholders are set to face off with all three belts on the line this coming April 25th in Las Vegas, Nevada.  While Inoue is arguably the toughest opponent for Casimero to date, the Pinoy already knows what his next move will be, if he can get past the undefeated Japanese star.  "Itong kay Inoue, pag-tapos nito, ang next fight kukunin ko yung WBC kay [Nordine] Oubaali," Casimero boldly stated during a press conference in Manila, Wednesday. "Kapag nakuha ko na yung apat na belt, kung ano yung plano [ng promoter ko], kung magdedepensa o aakyat ng timbang, kung ano yung para sa kanila na maganda na laban, hinihintay ko lang yung [sasabihin nila], ng promoter ko."  Should Casimero be able to defeat Inoue, he will have in his possession the WBO, WBA, and IBF World Championships. Currently, the WBC Bantamweight World Championship belongs to France's Nordine Oubaali.  Oubaali however, is expected to defend his title against mandatory challenger Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire.  If everything falls into place, we could be looking at an all-Filipino bantamweight unification title bout.  For Casimero, he has no qualms in facing a fellow Filipino for all the marbles.  "Wala namang problema kung mag-haharap talaga kami, kasi trabaho lang naman yung ginagawa namin."  "Magandang laban kung makarating yung puro Pilipino," he added.  Sean Gibbons, President of MP Promotions, who currently promotes Casimero, went into a bit more detail as to what they have planned for "Quadro Alas" moving forward.  "When he beats Inoue, we're going to look at, of course, a rematch. Inoue's giving us the opportunity first to fight, so if he wants a rematch, great, If not, then as John Riel said, it hasn't been done in a long, long time, I can't even remember the last time a unified title was done in bantamweight, all the belts plus The Ring Magazine belt, it would be a monster fight, no pun intended."  "And then after that, I think Casimero has, with the right fights and the right style, he could go up one more division. He's a very thick and strong, he's shown good power, he's kept his power from 108 to 112 to 115, to now, 118. After we unify, we put the belts all together at 118, we'll see what he feels like doing, if he wants to take a shot at 122," Gibbons added.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Wong on the right track on road to recovery

Deanna Wong accepts the fact she will be just on the sidelines cheering for the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles in their back-to-back title bid in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament. The setter is taking her time on her road to recovery from a stress fracture on her right shin.   “It’s hard, its rough, its difficult pero ganoon talaga ang sports. Injury really happens,” said Wong. “Patiently waiting [to recover]. Be patient lang siguro for my time siguro to comeback to play. Full recovery lang [muna] siguro.” The playmaker is currently working on getting back in top form.   “I’m getting there. Kaka-start ko lang ulit mag-training pero more to improve pa rin,” said the Season 80 Best Setter. “OK na siya [shin] pero minsan sumasakit lang. I think kasi hindi nagagamit siya for ilang months ang shin ko kaya sumasakit now na ginagamit ko na siya,” added Wong, who is already back in training. “Pero if ilang beses na ako magti-training feeling ko magiging OK naman siya.” But the setter admits that she misses playing for the blue and white, competing against the best collegiate squads in the country and feeling the electric atmosphere inside the arena.   “Sobra namang (miss ko ang UAAP). What I like most is playing talaga and yung UAAP naman is sort of nandoon ang intensity, nandoon ang goosebumps,” she said. It also pains her to see her good friend Ponggay Gaston playing her swan song in what could have been their last dance together as Lady Eagles. “I’ll be missing playing but not only that but playing alongside my teammates lalo na si Ponggay na my one and only batchmate left na lang,” she said. Wong believes that even without her, Ateneo has the experience and arsenal to extend its reign for another year. The Lady Eagles eye to duplicate the back-to-back championships of the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo squad back in Season 76 and 77.   “Back-to-back yan,” said a very confident Wong. “Tiwala lang siguro. I think they have to jell as one as a team kasi iba’t iba nanggaling eh. Sina Ate Kat (Tolentino), Ate Jho (Maraguinot) parang how many years hindi naglaro together. Teamwork lang siguro ang kailangan.” Talking about the setters that will fill her spot, Wong is confident that sophomore Jaja Maraguinot and returning veteran Jamie Lavitoria can take the Lady Eagles back to the Promised Land. “Kaya na nila yun,” she said. “Kaya ni Jaja yun, kaya na nila Ate Jamie yun. They know what to do naman.” As for her return on Season 83, Wong wants to think about it first. “Di ko pa alam,” said Wong. “Possible but no promises.”       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 4th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Tigresses dedicate season to injured Alessandrini

The University of Sto. Tomas Tigresses are using the absence of Fil-Italian Milena Alessandrini as fuel for their burning desire to finish the job of reclaiming the throne. Instead of treating the loss of a reliable scorer in 6-foot-2 Alessandrini as a setback, the Tigresses see it as a challenge for those who will see action in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament to step up.  The hitter is still recovering from a partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and grade 3 sprain of the MCL (medial collateral ligament) and LCL (lateral collateral ligament) she sustained March last year. “Since nu’ng training camp pa lang nu’ng nalaman namin na di na makakalaro si Ate Amiga sobrang nagdo-double time lahat ng outside namin, kaming mga outside, para punan ang slot na naiwan ni Ate Amiga,” said incoming sophomore Eya Laure. Alessandrini, who averaged 15.6 points per game last year, remains very positive as she takes her time to fully recover and get back in tiptop shape according to Laure. “Si Ate Amiga naman nu’ng nakausap ko siya, positive naman siya na makakabalik siya,” she said. “Nandoon pa rin naman siya sa progress ng pag-recover niya and sabi ko naman sa kanya hihintayin ko siya, wag lang siya ma-frustrate or something na negative na ikahihila niya pababa.” “Nandito pa rin kaming team and UST to help her and support her na makabalik ulit siya sa playing form niya for next season,” added Laure. Laure, last season’s Rookie of the Year, compares this unexpected setback to UST’s situation last year when they lost middle Tin Francisco to a knee injury while building up for Season 81. “Actually parang similar lang last year. Si Ate Tin, nu’ng na-ACL [injury] din siya unexpected din yun,” she recalled. “Sobra kaming nalungkot pero more on mas na-motivate kami kung paano pupunan ang naiwan niyang slot dun.”  Aside from missing the services of Francisco, the Tigresses last year also suffered a huge setback with Alessandrini down with a knee injury but UST behind Laure and then senior Sisi Rondina rallied to a runner-up finish in the Espana-based squad's first Finals appearance after eight years.    “Kahit papaano naman nag-step up ang lahat. Gumawa ng paraan ang lahat kumbaga team effort kasi ‘yung nangyari last year din and hopefully ngayong year team effort pa rin,” said Laure. The Tigresses are confident that their holdovers from last year, key recruits and the much-awaited return of Season 77 Rookie of the Year EJ Laure will be enough to fill the void left by Alessandrini, now graduate Rondina and Dimdim Pacres, who decided to forego her last playing year.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 30th, 2020

Joshua Pacio and Alex Silva face off at ONE: FIRE & FURY Open Workouts

ONE Championship returns to the Philippines for the first time in 2020 with ONE: FIRE & FURY this coming Friday, January 31st at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Before 'The Home of Martial Arts' puts on yet another exciting show for its loyal Pinoy fans however, some of the athletes seeing action on Friday's must-see card gave the media a taste of what to expect on fight night during the official ONE: FIRE & FURY Open Workouts, Tuesday afternoon at One Esplanade.  Headlining Friday's card will be an intriguing ONE Strawweight World Championship bout between the Philippines' very own reigning titlist Joshua "The Passion" Pacio and former champion Alex "Little Rock" Silva of Brazil.  The champ is here! ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio will be defending his title against Alex Silva this Friday. Pacio will look for his second successful title defense | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/9IPuy5IVlk — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 The 24-year old Pacio, a member of the famed Team Lakay stable up in Benguet, will be looking to defend his ONE Strawweight World Championship for a second time, as he's coming off a successful title defense against compatriot Rene "D' Challenger" Catalan also in Manila last November.  Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex Silva of Brazil will try to regain his title against reigning champ Joshua Pacio this Friday | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/ZZ9AjY7hHk — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 Standing opposite Pacio will be a dangerous test in former ONE Strawweight World Champion Silva, who captured the title back in 2017 with a decision win over Yoshitaka Naito. Silva's reign would not be a long one however, as Naito would reclaim the title the following year. Silva has managed to bounce back successfully and has racked off two straight wins over Stefer Rahardian and Peng Xuewen to earn another shot at gold.    Two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion @efolayang returns to action against Pietr Buist. He’s looking to kick off another run to the top of the division | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/3pT963fEbi — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 In the co-main event, Filipino mixed martial arts icon and two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard "Landslide" Folayang of Team Lakay returns to action to face Dutch up-and-comer Pietr "The Archangel" Buist.  Coming off his technical decision win over Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu in Manila back in Noveber, Folayang looks to score back-to-back wins and work his way back to the top of the ONE Championship lightweight title picture. Buist on the other hand, is looking to make a big impact on short notice, as he meets a big name in the Pinoy star. The Dutchman is currently 2-0 under the ONE banner.    ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix finalist Danny Kingad of Team Lakay returns to action against Xie Wei. He’s coming off a great performance in a loss against Demetrious Johnson | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/qSVTtg2Igq — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 Fresh off his ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix finals bout against Demetrious Johnson, Danny "The King" Kingad steps back into the circle to face China's "The Hunter" Xie Wei. In spite of falling to Johnson in the flyweight tournament finale, the young Kingad, also a member of Team Lakay, drew praise from the American MMA star, and now looks to use his experience as fuel to return to the upper echelon of the flyweight division. With a five-fight winning streak in tow, Xie will look to score the biggest win of his career against a proven contender in Kingad.    ONE Warrior Series contract winner Lito Adiwang of Team Lakay does some shadow boxing before hitting the mitts. He faces Pongsiri Mitsatit on Friday. | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/hPwePNnOAt — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 Looking to build off his explosive debut, strawweight Lito "Thunder Kid" Adiwang makes his way back to the Circle to face Thai veteran Pongsiri "The Smiling Assassin" Mitsatit.  Team Lakay's Adiwang, a ONE Warrior Series contract winner, announced his arrival with quick submission win over Senzo Ikeda in Tokyo back in October. He hopes to keep the momentum going as he faces another tough test in the form of Mitsatit.  With four losses in his last five bouts, Mitsatit is definitely hungry for a victory, and he hopes to finally return to the winners column at the expense of Team Lakay's newest soldier in the ONE ranks.    Women’s Atomweight contender and #SEAGames2019 Kickboxing Gold Medalist Gina Iniong of Team Lakay out next. She faces Asha Roka on Friday | #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/X5hVVAUOzt — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 After dominating the field in kickboxing during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, gold medalist Gina "Conviction" Iniong returns to MMA and the ONE Circle to face India's Asha "Knockout Queen" Roka.  Team Lakay's Iniong is coming off an impressive split decision win over Jihin Radzuan back in 2019, and look to keep her momentum going as she faces one of the division's newest faces.  Losing to Stamp Fairtex in her maiden ONE appearance, Roka finds herself against an even more experienced opponent in perennial contender Iniong.    Filipina Jomary Torres of Catalan Fighting System first out. She trains with former title contender Rene Catalan. She faces Jenny Huang on Friday | #ONEChampionship #FireAndFury pic.twitter.com/hJTCNemV1J — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) January 28, 2020 Kicking things off on Friday will be Jomary "The Zamboanginian Fighter" Torres of Catalan Fighting System taking on former title contender Jenny "Lady GoGo" Huang of Chinese Taipei.  After a scorching start in ONE which saw her win her first three outings, Torres has cooled down drastically, losing her last four bouts. She hopes to finally arrest her losing skid against someone on the same boat in Huang.  Much like Torres, Huang was impressive to begin her ONE career, winning her first four assignments to earn a shot at Angela Lee and the ONE Women's Atomweight World Championship. Huang would lose to Lee and then drop her next four bouts to make it an excruciating five-fight losing streak.    Catch ONE: FIRE & FURY on Friday, January 31st at 8:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 28th, 2020

Tiu expects Blatche to be in fighting Dubai form

Andray Blatche arrived a bit over his fighting weight last week, but Mighty Sports owner Alex Wongchuking and coach Charles Tiu are confident the naturalized Filipino can shed the unwanted pounds before the club leaves on Jan. 21 for the Dubai International Basketball Tournament......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 12th, 2020

Arsenal beats Man United; Chelsea denied by overhead kick

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Having finally ended a goal drought, Alireza Jahanbakhsh is now celebrating the greatest strike of his career. With an acrobatic overhead kick, the Brighton forward stunned not just Chelsea but his own team, too. The south-coast club's record signing had endured 18 months without a goal until scoring in Saturday's victory over Bournemouth. Now the Iranian has two goals in two games, coming off the bench to deny Chelsea a victory by sealing the 1-1 Premier League draw. "When (Lewis Dunk) gave me that ball, I tried to hit it as hard as possible," Jahanbakhsh said. "The only way to connect with it was just to bicycle kick it, and it went in the right direction. It’s a great feeling to be involved in such important games and I’ve been working hard to get my chance. "It’s been a very tough time for me, but I’m very glad to turn it around in a great game." The 84th-minute bicycle kick lifted Brighton four points clear of the relegation zone. It was a setback for an erratic Chelsea side, with Christian Pulisic wasting chances to extend the lead secured by captain Cesar Azpilicueta in the 10th minute. Chelsea still strengthened its grip on fourth place to five points thanks to Manchester United losing 2-0 at Arsenal but it could have been a greater cushion. Tottenham's top-four chase also had a setback with a 1-0 loss at Southampton. Runaway leader Liverpool is not in action until Thursday against Sheffield United. Leicester is 10 points behind, having played two games more, after Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury scored in a 3-0 win at Newcastle. Manchester City is a point further adrift after beating Everton 2-1 through Garbriel Jesus' two goals. Completing the nine games on New Year's Day, West Ham beat Bournemouth 4-0, Aston Villa won 2-1 at Burnley, Watford overcame Wolverhampton by the same score and Norwich held Crystal Palace 1-1. ARTETA CELEBRATES Mikel Arteta earned his first win as Arsenal manager at his third attempt through first-half goals from Nicolas Pépé and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. After collecting one point from his first two games since replacing Unai Emery, Arteta secured Arsenal's first win at home in the league in three months to guide the north London club up to 10th place. MOYES' WINNING RETURN David Moyes received a lukewarm reception from West Ham fans as he returned to the dugout he vacated in May 2018. They were soon celebrating as Mark Noble scored twice, and Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson also netted as the east London club cruised to a victory over Bournemouth in the first game since Manuel Pellegrini's firing. West Ham is two points and two places above the relegation zone. MOURINHO MOANS Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho grumbled about a Southampton coach and VAR after Danny Ings' goal handed Spurs a 1-0 loss. There was also the blow of losing striker Harry Kane to a hamstring injury after he had a possible equalizer ruled out for an offside that riled Mourinho. The Portuguese was booked by referee Mike Dean for going over to the Southampton bench after arguing with goalkeeping coach Andrew Sparkes over apparent time-wasting. “I think the yellow card is fair because I was rude but I was rude to an idiot and for some reason, for some reason I was rude," Mourinho said. "But I was and because I was rude I deserve the yellow card.” VAR FRUSTRATION Villa midfielder Jack Grealish's early header was ruled out at Burnley after a lengthy VAR review determined that striker Wesley's heel was offside in the buildup. But the goal did count when Grealish set up Wesley in the 27th minute before striking powerfully in the top corner himself before halftime. Burnley pulled one back through Chris Wood's header in the 80th but Villa held on to move a point above the relegation zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2020

Runaway leader Liverpool already has soundtrack of champions

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Liverpool fans ended 2019 by chanting “Champions of the world” for the first time at Anfield. “Champions of England" will surely be sung by the Kop in 2020. Sadio Mane ensured Liverpool reached the halfway point with a 13-point lead — with a game in hand — that seems unassailable after clinching a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton on Sunday. And all Wolverhampton fans could forlornly chant was: “Is this football anymore?" That reflected more frustration with the application of VAR in the technology's first Premier League campaign, of course. Even if the calls were ultimately correct by on-field referee Anthony Taylor. Mane's goal was initially ruled out by Taylor for handball but it was actually helped on by teammate Adam Lallana's shoulder. There was a handball by Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk in the buildup but that didn't appear to be factored into the decision. “I just heard there was complaints of handball, I thought it was for Adam," Van Dijk said. "What can we do? They made a decision and the goal stood.” The naked eye would have struggled to see a reason to deny Pedro Neto an equalizer but once the hazy footage had lines inserted over it, offside was the decision from VAR HQ in London. “VAR is killing us," Wolves captain Conor Coady said. “It is constantly against us. I don't know where we are going wrong. It is affecting games. No one likes it.” Liverpool has built a lead more than double the six-point advantage surrendered at this point last season before being overhauled by Manchester City. Pep Guardiola's side is certainly less of a threat this season, still 14 points back after beating Sheffield United 2-0 on Sunday night. Leicester is a point better off to sit as Liverpool's closest but very distant challenger. The cushion looks unassailable for a club that has endured three decades of anguish and near-misses since last winning the English championship in 1990 - three years before the new Premier League trophy was handed out for the first time. Liverpool certainly has the winning habit, bringing the Club World Cup back from Qatar last weekend to join the European titles — the Champions League and Super Cup — collected earlier in 2019. CHELSEA FIGHTS BACK Chelsea was the other English side to lift a European trophy this year, and there was a rematch of the Europa League final at Arsenal on Sunday with a very different complexion. Both teams have brought in former players as managers and neither club is in title contention. In his first home game in charge, Mikel Arteta's Arsenal threw away the lead to lose 2-1 to Frank Lampard's Chelsea. Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno missed an attempt to punch Mason Mount's free kick clear, allowing Jorginho to net in the 83rd minute and cancel out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's first-half opener. Jorginho had been fortunate to still be on the field after avoiding a second yellow card for pulling down Matteo Guendouzi. The winner came after Chelsea launched a counterattack from the edge of its own penalty area, with Tammy Abraham then allowed to race through unchallenged and playing a one-two with Willian before putting the ball through Leno's legs from close range. It leaves Arteta with a point from his first two games since being hired as Unai Emery's full-time successor. But the problems are more deep-set with Arsenal losing four consecutive games in all competitions at home for the first time in 60 years, a spell that covers Freddie Ljungberg's ill-fated interim reign. “I am really disappointed with the result and the way we conceded the goals and the timing of it as well," Arteta said. "I'm pleased with a lot of things that we've trained, and they actually happened in the game and how they are buying into this. But I am disappointed to lose the game obviously. We had to sustain that level for longer periods against a very, very physical team like Chelsea. And yes, we have to move on.” While Arsenal is 12th in the standings, Chelsea is 11 points ahead in the fourth Champions League place after Lampard's side quickly recovered from a home loss to Southampton. “I don't want to sit here and declare we're full of spirit but it's a great sign for us that we won the game, to see the difference in the second half," Lampard said. "Fight, desire. We kept pushing and controlled that second half. Our problem at home has been control. It took a mistake from them to get the goal and then we had the belief.” Lampard took no risks on Christian Pulisic, resting the American due to a slight hamstring issue that isn't a longer-term injury concern. CITY RECOVERY After a damaging 3-2 loss to Wolverhampton on Friday, City took until the second half against Sheffield United to find a breakthrough. Kevin De Bruyne was the creator, picking out Sergio Aguero for a fine finish seven minutes into the second half. De Bruyne was powerfully on target himself in the 82nd after combining with Riyad Mahrez. Sheffield United dropped to eighth over the weekend......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2019

Liverpool goes 13 points clear of Leicester with 4-0 win

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LEICESTER, England (AP) — First came the Champions League title, then the Club World Cup last week. Now, with a 13-point lead, Liverpool will surely be champions of England again by May. Leicester, the closest challenger, was blown away in a 4-0 victory that pushes Liverpool closer to ending a three-decade title drought. There is half of the season still to play but the gulf was vast on Thursday night, exposed by Trent Alexander-Arnold's repertoire of assists and a goal from the right back. Alexander-Arnold's crosses set up both of Roberto Firmino's goals and another was handled by Leicester Ça?lar Söyüncü which led to James Milner scoring a penalty. Manchester City's title challenge faded long ago, as the defending champion sits a further point back in third. Below that, inconsistent form is rife. Chelsea remains fourth despite losing a seventh game of the season earlier in the day, beaten 2-0 by a struggling Southampton side that lost 9-0 to Leicester two months ago. Tottenham is three points behind Chelsea after recovering from losing to its west London rival by beating Brighton 2-1 on Boxing Day. Sheffield United was behind Tottenham only on goal difference, riding high on its return to the topflight, but it was still held by relegation-threatened Watford to 1-1. After losing to Watford in the previous round, Manchester United came from behind to beat Newcastle 4-1. UNITED COMEBACK It looked like being another miserable day for United against Newcastle when Matty Longstaff netted the opener, having scored the winner when the sides met in October. But Anthony Martial's double, Mason Greenwood's strike, and Marcus Rashford's header turned the match around for the hosts. NEW MANAGERS It was a bleak start as a head coach for Mikel Arteta when Dan Gosling put Bournemouth ahead in the first half, But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rescued a point for the north London club in the second half with his 12th goal of the league campaign. Carlo Ancelotti, a Premier League title winner with Chelsea, is vastly more experienced than Arteta. And the Italian began his bid to steer Everton away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory over Burnley clinched by Dominic Calvert-Lewin's diving header. TOTTENHAM RECOVERY Harry Kane has scored on Boxing Day in each of the last six years apart from 2016, when he did not play. The Tottenham striker canceled out Adam Webster's opener for Brighton then Dele Alli clinched the win to make it five goals in eight games under Jose Mourinho. RELEGATION SCRAP Aston Villa is a point from safety after a 1-0 victory over Norwich, which slumped to last place. Substitute Conor Hourihane swept a shot into the top corner in the 82nd minute after being picked out by Jack Grealish. West Ham is a point above Villa after losing 2-1 at Crystal Palace, which sealed the victory through Jordan Ayew's strike in the 90th. Watford is off the foot of the standings thanks to goalkeeper Ben Foster protecting a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United. Foster made a point-blank range, clawing away John Fleck's shot in the second half at Bramall Lane where Oliver Norwood's penalty canceled out Gerard Deulofeu's opener for Watford......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2019

Woods comeback at Masters named AP Sports Story of the Year

By Eddie Pells, Associated Press A green jacket. A heart-melting embrace. A stirring return to the top of golf by one of the sport’s all-time greats. In choosing Tiger Woods’ victory at the Masters as The Associated Press sports story of the year, voters went with the uplifting escape of a great comeback over options that were as much about sports as the issues that enveloped them in 2019: politics, money and the growing push for equal pay and equal rights for women. The balloters, a mix of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, elevated Woods’ rousing victory at Augusta National over the runner-up entry: the U.S. women’s soccer team’s victory at the World Cup. That monthlong competition was punctuated by star Megan Rapinoe’s push for pay equality for the women’s team and an ongoing war of words with President Donald Trump. Rapinoe’s efforts to use sports as a platform to discuss bigger issues was hardly a one-off in 2019. Of the top 12 stories in the balloting, only three — titles won by the Toronto Raptors, Washington Nationals and University of Virginia basketball team — stuck mainly to what happened between the lines. All the rest — including the blown call that cost the Saints a chance at the Super Bowl, a California law that threatens to upend the NCAA and Simone Biles’ dominance at gymnastics' world championships, set against the backdrop of the sex-abuse crisis consuming the sport in the U.S. — were long-running sagas that went beyond a single day or event. They painted sports not as an escape from the world’s problems but merely another window into them. It’s no stretch to say that the whole of the Woods saga — namely, the sordid, pain-riddled, decadelong prelude to his victory at Augusta National in April — would fit into that category, as well. His downfall began in the wee hours the day after Thanksgiving in 2009, when he ran over a fire hydrant outside his house in Florida, triggering an avalanche of stories about infidelity that would lead to the breakup of his marriage and play into the near-destruction of his career. Part 2 was the injuries. Woods came close but did not return to his dominant form after his return to golf following his breakup with his wife. And as time went on, his physical condition deteriorated. He didn’t play in 2016 or 2017, and at the end of '17, he conceded his back was so bad that his days of competitive golf might be behind him. There were four risky back surgeries. Woods also required a good deal of inner healing after a mortifying DUI arrest in 2017 that exposed his reliance on painkillers. Through it all, Woods somehow kept nurturing his love for golf. And eventually, he found his game again. He climbed his way back to the top. He had close calls at two majors in 2018 — the British Open and PGA Championship — and then won the season-ending Tour Championship, as good a sign as any that, at 43, he could take on the best and win. But regular tournaments are not the majors, and no major is the Masters. It was on those hallowed grounds at Augusta National where Woods set the marker, starting a decade of dominance that would redefine the game. He blew away the field by 12 strokes in 1997 to win the first of what has become five green jackets and 15 major titles. On that day, Woods came off the 18th green and wrapped himself in a warm embrace with his father, Earl, whose death in 2006 left an undeniable void in the player's life. Though there had been a handful of close calls between his U.S. Open victory in 2008 and the start of 2019, it was clear that if there was a single course where Woods could conjure the old magic and end a major drought, it would be Augusta National. As a four-time champion, Woods built a career on studying every inch of the layout, knowing every fault line and every sneaky twist and turn of the slickest greens on earth. But where, at one time, he might have overpowered the course and intimidated the competition, in 2019, he simply outlasted them both. He avoided mistakes while everyone else was making them. Instead of taking a lead into the last day, then never giving anyone a whiff of hope, this was a comeback. He started the day two shots behind. As AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson wrote in his wrapup of the final day: “Woods never missed a shot that mattered over the final seven holes, taking the lead with a 5-iron to the fat of the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, delivering the knockout with an 8-iron that rode down the ridge by the cup and settled 2 feet away for birdie on the par-3 16th.” When it was over, Woods came to the same spot where he’d met Earl 22 years before. He scooped up his son, Charlie, and held him in a long embrace, then did the same with his 11-year-old daughter, Sam, and mother, Tilda. “For them to see what it’s like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that’s something they will never forget,” Woods said. Very few golf fans will. And in a sports year dominated by weightier topics, Woods at the Masters stood out — a comeback story that left people smiling at the end......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2019

Leipzig top in Germany at halfway stage, but Bayern revived

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press Is this the season when Bayern Munich's seven-year hold on the German title ends? A poor start and a humiliating 5-1 loss to Frankfurt cost Niko Kovac his job as Bayern coach and gave teams like Leipzig and surprise title contender Borussia Mönchengladbach hope of victory. Bayern has bounced back under interim coach Hansi Flick, though, and is third in the table, four points behind leader Leipzig. That's earned Flick an extension until at least the end of the season. It's been a tale of dueling goalscorers, with Robert Lewandowski having scored 19 goals in 17 games for Bayern, and Timo Werner one goal behind for Leipzig. For Gladbach, goalkeeper Yann Sommer has been crucial to their title challenge. Borussia Dortmund has been powerful on its day, but the team is also inconsistent and brittle. Losing to Bayern 4-0 last month was a big dent to Dortmund's title belief. Last Sunday's games were the last of 2019 and the Bundesliga returns from its winter break on Jan. 17. PLAYER OF THE SEASON SO FAR He turned 31 in August and Lewandowski shows no sign of slowing down. The Polish forward scored in Bayern's first 11 Bundesliga games and has racked up 30 goals across all competitions. He's taking time off during the winter break to have groin surgery. Werner has been almost as prolific, including a remarkable performance with three goals and three assists in an 8-0 thrashing of Mainz last month. For Dortmund, Jadon Sancho's in hot form with eight goals in his last six Bundesliga games. But perhaps no one's been as vital to their team as Rouwen Hennings. The 32-year-old Hennings doesn't have the star status of Lewandowski or Sancho but his 11 goals for struggling Fortuna are four more than the rest of the team put together. SURPRISE OF THE SEASON Gladbach's golden age was the 1970s, when it won five Bundesligas in eight years. With its run to second, Gladbach has been a feelgood story for German fans of other clubs who dislike Bayern's wealth and see Leipzig as less a soccer club than an advertising board for energy drinks giant Red Bull. Gladbach has nothing like the budget of Bayern or Leipzig, but has built a solid team with attacking firepower from Marcus Thuram, son of former French defender Lilian Thuram, and Swiss forward Breel Embolo. A comeback 2-1 win over Bayern this month showed its a serious contender. Kai Havertz experienced the season's most unwelcome surprise when fans of his own team, Bayer Leverkusen, booed him this month. The attacking midfielder started the season rated as one of Germany's most promising young players, but he's looked listless in recent games and last scored in September. GOAL OF THE SEASON Bayern's 46 goals in the Bundesliga have included some gems. Philippe Coutinho scored with an outrageous flick from the outside of his foot against Werder Bremen last week. Lewandowski's hit some long-range free kicks and shrugged off four defenders to score against Frankfurt, the only bright spot in a heavy loss for Bayern. The highlight of Leipzig's title charge might just be Christopher Nkunku juggling the ball through the Bayer Leverkusen defense and past the goalkeeper in October. For sheer fireworks, no one beats Hertha Berlin's Javairo Dilrosun. The Dutch winger picked up the ball on the left wing and cut inside past four defenders — beating one of them twice — before scoring against Paderborn. WHO'LL BE CHAMPION? If Bayern's recovery under Flick continues, an eighth straight title is definitely possible, if only because of the depth in its squad. The Munich team was packed with individual talent, even if Kovac was defeated by the puzzle of how to make them all play well together. There's also a bench filled with hungry young players such as New Zealand midfielder Sarpreet Singh and the Dutch forward Joshua Zirkzee, who's scored in each of his first two Bundesliga appearances. Leipzig takes a four-point lead into 2020, but depends heavily on core players such as Werner and the in-form Marcel Sabitzer and Patrik Schick. Losing any of them to injury could be a fatal blow. Gladbach has less depth than either of them, but unlike them, it won't be balancing the Bundesliga with any European competitions in the spring. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION The fight for the four Champions League spots is wide open, with at least eight teams making a strong claim. Behind the leading trio of Leipzig, Gladbach, and Bayern, there's a chasing pack of Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, and Freiburg. All have played Champions League football in recent years, with the exception of Freiburg, but they have all been inconsistent this season. WHO'S GOING DOWN? The relegation fight is just as close as the scrap for European places. Promoted Paderborn is last but showed it has claws by beating Frankfurt 2-1 last weekend. The other automatic relegation spot is occupied by Werder Bremen, which is in danger of its first relegation since 1981. Werder ended 2019 with four straight defeats, two of them by five-goal margins, and with club management embroiled in conflict with fans over the sale of their stadium's naming rights. If Werder can climb out of danger, it would likely be at the expense of one of two Rhineland rivals, Cologne or Fortuna Düsseldorf, or else Mainz......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2019