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Lewis scores 3 TDS, Pats advance to AFC title game 34-16

KYLE HIGHTOWER, AP Sports Writer br /> FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (AP) — The New England Patriots are headed back to a familiar spot: the AFC championship game. Dion Lewis had a 13-yard touchdown reception, a 98-yard kickoff return for a score, and a late 1-yard touchdown to help the Patriots hold off the Houston Texans 34-16 on Saturday night and advance to an NFL-record sixth straight conference title game. Lewis became the fifth Patriots player to score three touchdowns in a playoff game. He's also the first player in the Super Bowl era to score on a rush, a catch and a kick return in a postseason game. The Patriots survived a gritty effort by the Texans' top-ranked defense, which intercepted Brady twice. Houston's special teams also forced a third turnover. But the Texans couldn't find enough traction on offense to take full advantage of the Patriots' mistakes, settling for field goals on both of Brady's picks. New England led just 17-13 at the half, but pushed its lead to 24-13 early in the third quarter on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Brady to James White. Houston's Brock Osweiler was intercepted three times after that, and the Texans managed only a field goal the rest of game. It was the first breakout game of the season for Lewis, who spent the first eight games of the season on injured reserve recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee. Brady finished 18 of 38 for 287 yards and two touchdowns and was showered with chants of 'MVP! MVP!' and 'Brady! Brady!' late in the game. Julian Edelman was Brady's most dependable target, catching eight passes for 137 yards. Osweiler was just 23 of 40 for 198 yards with the two turnovers. When New England did have the ball in the first half, it gave Houston a steady diet of Lewis early with LeGarrette Blount coming off an illness that limited him during practice this week. Without Blount to contend with, the Texans applied pressure to Brady. A.J. Bouye intercepted a slightly overthrown ball by Brady late in the first quarter on a pass that bounced out of the hands of receiver Michael Floyd. That led to a 27-yard field goal that cut New England's lead to 14-6. On the ensuing kickoff, Lewis coughed up the ball on a hit from Akeem Dent. Eddie Pleasant fell on it at the Patriots 12, and two plays later, Brock Osweiler hit C.J. Fiedorowicz from 8 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-13. Brady only threw two interceptions during the regular season. With his 28 touchdown passes, that was the lowest touchdown to interception ratio in NFL history. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 15th, 2017Related News

Packers confident facing Cowboys without injured Nelson

The Associated Press br /> The Green Bay Packers were better prepared to play without Jordy Nelson after the star receiver was ruled out of the NFL divisional playoff against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. br /> Nelson had an NFL-high 14 touchdown catches in the regular season as quarterback Aaron Rodgers' top target in the Packers' prolific passing attack. But he suffered broken ribs in a tackle as the Packers beat the New York Giants 38-13 in the wild-card round last weekend, and still wasn't right on Friday. br /> The offense struggled to hit big plays in 2015 while Nelson was sidelined for the entire season with a knee injury, but Green Bay proved last week that it can win without him, scoring all their points after he left. br /> With Rodgers, the league's best quarterback over the past two months, connecting regularly even on desperation passes, the Packers have won seven straight games. br /> And in Nelson's absence, Rodgers still has Randall Cobb, who caught three touchdown passes against the Giants, Davante Adams emerging as a playmaker, and Jared Cook as an athletic target at tight end. The Packers should do their share of scoring against a Dallas defense that ranked 26th against the pass. br /> Then again, sensational Cowboys rookies Zeke Elliott and Dak Prescott, operating behind the best offensive line in the NFL and complemented by Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, also should supply points. br /> Elliott and Precott are the third rookie running back-quarterback starting tandem in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era. Of note, the other two pairs lost their playoff debuts. br /> The Cowboys and Packers share an NFL postseason history that dates back five decades. Dallas holds a 4-3 edge, but since they beat the Packers three years in a row in the 1990s, they haven't been back to the NFC Championship game in 21 years. br /> All four home teams this weekend are tipped to win, especially the New England Patriots, who are 15 1/2-point favorites over the visiting Houston Texans, just the sixth time in 50 years that a team has been favored by at least 15 points in a playoff game. br /> New England has won its past four meetings with Houston at Gillette Stadium by a combined 150-49, but the Patriots say they aren't taking anything for granted against the NFL's top-ranked defense. But how does Houston, which lost 27-0 in September to a Patriots team without Tom Brady, go about beating a team that the odds-makers say is one of the most unbeatable in playoff history? br /> Running back LeGarrette Blount has taken a lot of pressure off Brady's arm this season, rushing for a New England single-season record 18 touchdowns and career-high 1,161 yards. And the defense has been creating turnovers at a high rate during their ongoing seven-game win streak. br /> That walking boot being worn by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after Pittsburgh's win against Miami last weekend is very worrisome to the Steelers. But Roethlisberger tends to always show up in the playoffs, and he's expected to perform against the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday. br /> The Steelers eased past the Chiefs 43-14 on Oct. 2, but that was in Pittsburgh. Kansas City is better now than it was back then, although so are the Steelers. br /> If the Chiefs can get pressure on Big Ben and somewhat control Antonio Brown, the league's most dangerous receiver (and non-quarterback), and running back Le'Veon Bell, it can use its relatively conservative offense to its advantage. But will coach Andy Reid turn the reins loose a bit when the Chiefs have the ball? br /> The Chiefs haven't won a playoff game in 23 years. br /> Then again, the Atlanta Falcons are the only team among the eight left who have not won a Super Bowl. br /> Facing the Seattle Seahawks at home on Saturday is one of those prove-it games for Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and wideout Julio Jones. Which opponent to better prove that your offense, and an improving defense, are capable of a long postseason run than against the big kid on the NFC block? br /> The Seahawks bring superior experience, coaching, and swagger. br /> Seattle is as accomplished as any NFC playoff team, and many of the key contributors to its recent success remain on the scene: Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin. And now that Thomas Rawls seems healthy, there's a running game to complement Wilson, Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham. br />   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 13th, 2017Related News

2-time Ryder Cup captain John Jacobs dies at 91

div>VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) — John Jacobs, the captain of the first European Ryder Cup team and a tour official on the continent, has died. He was 91. /div> div>  /div> div>The European Tour announced the death of its 'founding father' on Friday. A cause was not provided. /div> div>  /div> div>Jacobs played for Britain at the 1955 Ryder Cup in California and was instrumental in later bringing together Europe and Britain. /div> div>  /div> div>In 1979, Jacobs was captain of the first Ryder Cup team that included players from continental Europe, including Seve Ballesteros. /div> div>  /div> div>Jacobs championed the expansion of golf, and the first European Tour event was staged in 1972. /div> div>  /div> div>Jacobs was also one of the most popular golf teachers. The tour said Jacobs revolutionized coaching 'through his innovative philosophies based on ball flight, club face alignment and swing path.' /div>.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 13th, 2017Related News

Man United says Lyon bid for Memphis Depay not reasonable

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United has rejected a bid from Lyon for winger Memphis Depay, saying Friday it was 'far from being reasonable.' br /> The 22-year-old Depay has been unable to secure a regular spot in the team since joining United from PSV Eindhoven in June 2015 for 31 million pounds (then $48 million). Since United manager Jose Mourinho took charge this season, the Netherlands international has only started one game in the League Cup. br /> 'The offer that we had is far from being reasonable for us,' Mourinho said. 'So in this moment he is our player and if in the end of the month nothing happens he is one more option for us.' br /> Both United and Lyon are pushing to break into the Champions League places in their respective domestic competitions. Lyon is fourth in its standings, five points behind Paris Saint-Germain, and determined to push through the deal for Depay. br /> 'It takes time, discussions, because buying a player now isn't easy,' Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. 'I have made Memphis Depay my priority. He is a powerful player, strong, who is capable of scoring and making goals and good at free kicks.' br />   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 13th, 2017Related News

Guardiola: Kompany could return, Jesus transfer not complete

span style="font-size: 13px;">MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany could return at Everton in the English Premier League on Sunday but Gabriel Jesus may have to wait for his debut. /span> Jesus, the Brazil striker signed from Palmeiras in the summer transfer window, officially joined City this month but his registration is yet to go through. br /> 'When Palmeiras and the FA solve the problems he will be able to play,' City manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday. br /> Most of the paperwork has been done and the club is hopeful it will be completed soon, meaning Jesus could be available to face Tottenham next weekend. br /> One player who is in contention to face Everton is Kompany, who has been declared fit after two months out with a knee injury. br /> 'He has trained,' Guardiola said. 'The last two or three days he was a full part of the training sessions, so he is back.' br /> The 30-year-old Kompany has not played a full match since April, and has been hampered by problems in recent seasons, with his latest injury being his 35th since joining City in 2008. br /> The Belgium defender could need a run of games to prove he has a long-term future at the club, which is fourth in the Premier League. br /> 'Hopefully, he can play and be used for the second part of the season,' Guardiola said. br />   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 13th, 2017Related News

AC Milan beats Torino to set up Cup meeting with Juventus

MILAN (AP) — AC Milan came back from a goal down to beat Torino 2-1 on Thursday and set up a meeting with Juventus in the Italian Cup quarterfinals. After Andrea Belotti put Torino ahead, Juraj Kucka and Giacomo Bonaventura responded for Milan in a three-minute span of the second half. 'We were slow in the first half. In the second we accelerated and the pace of the match slowed down, enabling our quality to emerge,' Bonaventura said. Milan has beaten Juventus twice this season, once in Serie A and more recently on penalties in the Italian Super Cup last month, while Juventus defeated Milan in last season's Italian Cup final. Juventus eliminated Atalanta 3-2 on Wednesday. It was a tale of two halves at San Siro Stadium. Torino dominated the opening period and Belotti finished off a swift counterattack, beating Milan's 17-year-old goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, with one touch. It was a measure of revenge for Belotti, who had a penalty saved in stoppage time of a 3-2 loss on the Serie A opening weekend in August. Shortly after the hour mark, Kucka equalized by redirecting in a cross near the far post and then Bonaventura connected on a volley from the center of the area to beat England goalkeeper Joe Hart. Hart was playing with his head in a bandage by that point, having taken a boot to the face from Milan forward Gianluca Lapadula. Donnarumma restored order with Belotti by denying the Italy forward of a potential equalizer with his boot in the 69th, and Torino ended with 10 men when Antonio Barreca picked up his second yellow. Lapadula dribbled past Hart in added time but had his shot cleared off the line by Torino defender Emiliano Moretti. On Monday, Milan visits Torino in Serie A. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 12th, 2017Related News

Schneiderlin leaves Man United for Everton

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — France midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin ended an underwhelming 18-month spell at Manchester United by sealing a move to English Premier League rival Everton for an initial fee of 20 million pounds ($24.5 million) on Thursday. Schneiderlin has signed a 4 1/2-year contract with Everton, where he will be reunited with manager Ronald Koeman. They were together at Southampton for two years, before Schneiderlin left for United in July 2015. 'There is a manager in place here that I know,' the 27-year-old Schneiderlin said. 'I know he can get the best out of me, I know his style and how he likes to play football.' Schneiderlin was told he could leave United after failing to establish himself in the team under Jose Mourinho this season, playing only 11 minutes in the Premier League. He was in and out of the team under Mourinho's predecessor, Louis van Gaal. 'Morgan is really hungry to show his qualities and to play because that is the best thing for a football player,' Koeman said. 'You are born as a football player to play games, not to sit on the bench or not be part of the team. But this is a new step, it's a new future.' The fee for Schneiderlin could rise to 24 million pounds ($29.3 million). Swansea signed Netherlands winger Luciano Narsingh from PSV Eindhoven for 4 million pounds ($4.9 million) as Paul Clement made his first move in the transfer market since taking over as manager from Bob Bradley. Narsingh penned a 2 1/2-year deal. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 12th, 2017Related News

Former England coach Graham Taylor dies at 72

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — Graham Taylor, the England coach derided for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup after flourishing as a club manager working for pop star Elton John, has died. He was 72. Taylor, who won admiration by leading Aston Villa and Watford into the top-flight in the 1980s, died early Thursday of a suspected heart attack, his family said. 'The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss,' a family statement said. Taylor is one of only four managers to have taken the same team from the fourth to the top division in English soccer, and he achieved it within five years at Watford. Elton John, who owned Watford during Taylor's two stints in charge, said it was a 'sad and dark day' for the club. 'He was like a brother to me,' John wrote on an Instagram post . 'We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. 'He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to uncharted territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.' Taylor reached the pinnacle of English management when he was hired by the national team in 1990, inheriting a side that reached the World Cup semifinals. 'His enthusiasm for life and football was incredible,' former England player Paul Gascoigne said. Taylor guided England to the 1992 European Championship, but the team was eliminated at the first stage, setting the tone for the rest of his time with the national team. After England lost 2-1 to Sweden in its final game at Euro 92, The Sun tabloid trashed Taylor with the headline: 'Swedes 2 Turnips 1.' Taylor's head was superimposed on a turnip, a caricature that led to the manager becoming known harshly as 'Turnip Taylor.' 'It hurts and that's what really, really annoys me,' Taylor recalled in a 2012 BBC documentary. 'They have no recognition about how much it hurts you. They think you don't care. 'And those people that know it hurts you, they put the knife into you so it hurts you even more.' Taylor's decision to grant behind-the-scenes access to a television crew for the qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup backfired when the extent of the strain of the job was exposed. In 'The Impossible Job,' Taylor was filmed complaining about a refereeing decision during a qualifier against the Netherlands, telling the linesman: 'Tell your mate he's just cost me my job.' Reflecting later on his shortcomings in the England job, Taylor said: 'I am not bitter. I am just disappointed in myself.' The failure to reach the 1994 World Cup in the United States was a blot on Taylor's accomplishments in management after a modest playing career ended at age 28 due to a hip injury. Having already become the youngest person to attain a full Football Association coaching badge, Taylor was able to move straight into management with Lincoln after playing for the team. After winning the fourth tier, Taylor moved south to Watford. With the boardroom backing of John, Taylor guided Watford from the fourth division to the first division (then the top tier), an FA Cup final and European competition in five years from 1978. John then allowed Taylor to move to Aston Villa, where he secured promotion to the top-flight and a second-place finish in 1990. He returned as club management after his England management, taking Watford back into the Premier League and enjoying one final spell at Villa before leaving the dugout for good in 2003. He was a regular commentator on matches in recent years for BBC radio. He is survived by wife Rita and daughters Joanne and Karen. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 12th, 2017Related News

McIlroy gets strong start to 2017 with opening 67 at SA Open

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Rory McIlroy made an impressive start to 2017 with a new set of clubs, shooting a 5-under 67 Thursday in the first round of the SA Open to put himself a stroke off the lead. Making his first appearance at the tournament since 2008, McIlroy rolled in seven birdies — including four straight from Nos. 14-17 after starting at the 10th at Glendower Golf Club. South African players Trevor Fisher Jr. and Keith Horne shared the lead after rounds of 66. With Nike announcing last year it would no longer be making golf clubs and balls, the second-ranked McIlroy has been testing out new woods, irons and a putter from other manufacturers and said his new bag 'is working pretty well.' 'I'm sure as I get accustomed to them — I mean, it's nice to play my first competitive round and play like this — I'll get even more dialed in, and chop and change a little bit,' McIlroy said. The Northern Irishman is the standout player in Johannesburg this week, making an earlier-than-usual start to his golfing year as a favor to Ernie Els, the South African great and the host of the SA Open. The galleries were drawn to McIlroy despite his early tee time of 7:10 a.m. local time and he responded with an adventurous round that included a 392-yard drive on the first hole, drawing gasps from spectators. A 20-foot putt on No. 17 completed his four-hole run of birdies before McIlroy rolled in an 8-footer on No. 2 to move to 5 under. Poor approach shots led to bogeys on the fourth and fifth, but he replied with a tee shot on the par-3 sixth that stopped on the slope in the middle of the green and rolled back down to two feet, for a tap-in birdie. He was in the rough on his final three holes but scrambled to par Nos. 7 and 9 and made a birdie on No. 8. 'I gave myself chances, felt I missed a few but I played well,' McIlroy said. 'It was a bit adventurous on the back nine, scrambled a bit and did my bit to salvage a few holes.' South African players have won 13 of the last 19 editions of the SA Open, and five of the top seven on Thursday were home players. Fisher Jr., also starting at No. 10 in the morning, made seven birdies in eight holes from the 12th to the first and parred his way home. Horne joined his compatriot in the lead with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 coming home, continuing his good form from the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December where he finished tied for 11th. Three more South Africans, Thomas Aiken, Dean Burmester and Jbe Kruger, were tied with McIlroy after 67s, along with European Tour rookie Jordan Smith of England. Els and defending champion Brandon Stone started with 74s. Six-time major champion Nick Faldo was at 2-under 70. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 12th, 2017Related News

Bank of England: Brexit risks to UK stability now lower

LONDON — The governor of the Bank of England says Britain's exit from the European Union is no longer the single biggest risk to financial stability in the U.....»»

Source: Philstar PhilstarCategory: WorldJan 11th, 2017Related News

Technical chief of F1 team Mercedes quits

BRACKLEY, England (AP) — One of the architects behind Mercedes' recent success in Formula One is leaving the team after 3 1/2 years. Paddy Lowe, who was the technical brains of Mercedes in his role as executive director, has begun a period of gardening leave and said Tuesday he was 'looking forward to a new challenge.' In the 54-year-old Lowe's time at Mercedes, the British-based team won both the drivers' and constructors' titles every year from 2014 to 2016. Toto Wolff, head of motorsport at Mercedes, thanked Lowe for his 'contribution to this significant chapter in Mercedes' motorsport history' and said there was 'talent in place to continue our success of recent years.' It has been reported in the British media that Lowe is set to join Williams, one of Mercedes' rivals in F1. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 10th, 2017Related News

Tacagni brace saves Red Booters

strong>Games Thursday: /strong> (Rizal Football Field) 8:00 a.m.- AU vs SBC (jrs) 10:00 a.m.- Letran vs CSB (jrs) 12:00 nn.- AU vs SBC (srs) 2:00 p.m.- LPU vs CSB (srs)   Filipino-British Connor Tacagni scored two goals to lift San Beda College to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over upset-conscious Lyceum of the Philippines University Tuesday that boosted its sweep bid in the 92nd NCAA football tournament at the Rizal Football Field. Down by a goal after LPU's striker Riel Mark Subebe came through on a set piece on the 15th minute, Tacagni, a 24-year-old native of Manchester, England, came to the rescue and unloaded a pair of rockets--one coming on the 41st minute and the other on the 81st. 'I just focused on helping my team win,' said Tacagni. It was a win that pushed the Red Booters closer to sweeping their way to the championship after winning all their matches in the first round to win the opening round pennant. San Beda faces off with defending champion Arellano U tomorrow and St. Benilde next week and if it could hurdle both teams, it will clinch a league-best 22 seniors titles. And San Beda nearly blew it. 'I have to commend LPU, they prepared against us well,' said San Beda coach Michael Pediamonte. In juniors' action, Arellano U shocked reigning titlist La Salle-Greenhills, 1-0, on a 64th minute goal by Kent Talam to stay in the title hunt. The Junior Chiefs will need to beat the Junior Red Booters, who ruled the first round, tomorrow and top the Final Four for it forge a one-game title duel against the latter.  San Beda routed Letran, 5-0, on a hat-trick by Christopher Villanueva, to close in on its 17th juniors crown. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 10th, 2017Related News

Jaguars hire Marrone, bring back Coughlin, extend Caldwell

MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer br /> Jacksonville's coaching search landed someone from its past and present. The Jaguars can only hope the old-school combination leads to better results in the future. Owner Shad Khan hired Doug Marrone as head coach Monday and brought back Tom Coughlin to oversee football operations. Marrone replaces Gus Bradley, who was fired in late November after going 14-48 in three-plus seasons. The Jaguars (3-13) also gave general manager Dave Caldwell a two-year contract extension. So Marrone, Coughlin and Caldwell are now signed through 2019, giving the new regime a three-year window to, at the very least, make Jacksonville relevant in the AFC South. 'I have confidence that one day soon we'll look back on today's news as the moment that inspired and ultimately established the Jacksonville Jaguars as a football team that wins, week to week and season to season,' Khan said in a statement. 'The results will speak for themselves in time, but with Tom coming in to join Dave and Doug, there is no question the Jacksonville Jaguars are a stronger football team today.' Marrone and Caldwell will report to Coughlin, meaning Jacksonville's first coach is now in charge and will have final say in personnel decisions. Marrone is the fifth head coach in franchise history, following Coughlin (1995-2002), Jack Del Rio (2003-11), Mike Mularkey (2012) and Bradley (2013-16). 'I think Doug has earned the respect of the offensive players, and I'm excited for him to get this opportunity and the direction of this team,' quarterback Blake Bortles told AP in a text message. Coughlin, a winner of two Super Bowls in 12 seasons with the New York Giants, will serve as executive vice president of football operations. Coughlin, who led the Jaguars to four playoff appearances in his first five years, will have final say in the NFL draft and in free agency. Caldwell has been the primary decision maker in all personnel moves the last four years. 'I am honored to welcome Tom Coughlin back to Jacksonville, where winning was customary under his leadership,' Khan said. 'I know he expects the same in his return to head our football operations, and that's good news for us and Jaguars fans everywhere. The extension of Dave Caldwell's contract speaks to his excellent work thus far and the continued importance of complementing our talented and promising roster.' Khan, who hired Jed Hughes of Korn Ferry International to help with the search, also interviewed Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Arizona offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin for the head coaching job. He ended up keeping Marrone, who served as Jacksonville's interim coach for the final two games. The Jaguars won one and blew a late lead in the season finale at Indianapolis. Players seemed to rally around him, but after the loss to the Colts, rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey said a 'complete flip will serve us good.' Marrone and Coughlin could provide that. They surely will bring a different vibe, a much more disciplined approach that will put more emphasis on winning games than Bradley did. 'I can see what they're doing,' veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis told AP. 'These are good moves for a young team, a team that needs to be held to a certain standard. Marrone's a good man. He's good for the culture. 'It's not like we're bringing in a brand new coach and he's going to wipe the face of the earth of everything we've built.' Marrone likely will keep offensive coordinator Nate Hackett, providing some stability for the inconsistent Bortles. The 2014 first-round draft pick has had three play callers in three seasons. Marrone has been Jacksonville's assistant head coach/offensive line coach since January 2015. He joined the team after two seasons as Buffalo's head coach. He guided the Bills to a 15-17 record before opting out of his contract because of uncertainty over potential organizational changes. The Bills went 9-7 in Marrone's second season in 2014, the franchise's only winning record since 2004. The 70-year-old Coughlin led the Jaguars to a 68-60 record in eight seasons. Coughlin resigned last January after a dozen years with the Giants, but made it clear he wanted to return to the NFL. He served as a senior adviser to the league's football operations department this season. 'He's got so much experience on myself or on any coach that we have in this building and he's a great individual, so I think you can always learn from people,' Caldwell said after Bradley was fired. 'There's always a place for knowledge.' .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 9th, 2017Related News

Texans look for improvement ahead of rematch with Patriots

KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer br /> HOUSTON (AP) — Despite a decisive win over the Raiders in the wild-card round, the Houston Texans know improvement is necessary if they hope to get the first divisional playoff win in franchise history on Saturday against New England. 'There's always room for improvement,' coach Bill O'Brien said. 'That's what the league is all about — who can improve the fastest to get to where you want to go?' Brock Osweiler returned to the starting lineup on Saturday after being benched two weeks ago after inconsistent play and multiple turnovers. He looked better than he had before he was pulled, throwing a touchdown pass and running for another score. He also took care of the ball in just his fourth start this season where he didn't throw an interception. But he only finished with 168 yards passing, leaving the Texans looking for more from him this week. 'We were more consistent than we have been,' O'Brien said of the offense. 'I think we can still be better. There's always improvement to make.' A key to Osweiler's success on Saturday was his ability to get DeAndre Hopkins involved in the game after struggling to get him the ball this season. 'There's certainly been some ups and downs as far as getting him the football throughout the course of the year,' Osweiler said. 'But I think the one thing that you were really able to see (Saturday) was that Hop and I were on the same page ... (and) anytime I can get the ball to Hop, I'm going to do it.' Hopkins finished with 67 yards receiving and a touchdown, giving the Texans something to build on this week against the Patriots. The offense got a boost by the return of running back Lamar Miller, who missed the last two regular-season games with an ankle injury. He ran for 73 yards and a touchdown, but was disappointed that he averaged just 2.4 yards a carry after averaging 4 per run in the regular season. Despite those numbers, O'Brien was happy with his work. 'I think he looked good ... it was good to have him back in there,' O'Brien said. 'I thought it was the right move for his health, for our football team to do what we did. 'I don't think he was totally 100 percent for the last two weeks of the season and I think he feels better now. He's meant a lot to our team.' The Texans had often been settling for field goals instead of touchdowns when they got in the red zone in recent weeks. But on Saturday they solved that problem when they scored touchdowns in all three trips to the red zone. They know doing that again must be a focus this week. This will be Houston's second game against the Patriots this season after New England got a 27-0 win in Week 3 with third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett running the offense. As the Texans work to improve this week they'll have to listen to chatter about their underdog status entering this game. The Patriots are heavy favorites but O'Brien insists that they aren't worried about the odds against them. 'What does that matter? The only thing that matters is what takes place in between the lines on Saturday night,' he said. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 9th, 2017Related News

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — Capping what he called the best year of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth FIFA best player award on Monday. The double European champion with Portugal and Real Madrid beat great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. 'It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,' the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming 'Wow, wow, wow.' Ronaldo's fourth career FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, who has been the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory. His 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot was clearly better than Messi's 26.42 percent. Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online. Messi did not attend after being pulled out hours before the ceremony by his club Barcelona to prepare for a cup match on Wednesday. 'Of course, I wish that they (Barcelona players) had been here tonight like in the other years. We have to respect the decision,' Ronaldo said. Yet again, Ronaldo and Messi snubbed each other on ballot papers they got as captains of Portugal and Argentina. Ronaldo selected three Real Madrid teammates headed by Gareth Bale, and Messi picked Luis Suarez atop an all-Barcelona ballot. Ronaldo's 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine. 'I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,' said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira. Messi's Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double in 2016, though Argentina lost another Copa America final. Griezmann's France and Atletico Madrid lost their finals to Ronaldo's teams. Ronaldo's mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title. 'What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,' said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation. Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid's Zinedine Zidane and Portugal's Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters. Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second straight year, despite a quarterfinals exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd said. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.' Germany did win the women's coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist. The Puskas Award for best goal was won in an online poll by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang. A players' vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo. The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord. FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30. After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 9th, 2017Related News

Higuain helps Juventus to record 26th straight home win

ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer   ROME (AP) — It's no coincidence that Juventus has won Serie A every season since the Juventus Stadium opened in September 2011. The Bianconeri have been virtually unbeatable in the Italian league's only major club-owned stadium and improved on their own Serie A record with a 26th consecutive home win Sunday. Gonzalo Higuain scored his fourth brace of the season as Juventus beat Bologna 3-0. Juventus held the previous record of 25 straight home wins, established at the stadium between 2013 and 2015. The current streak began against Bologna on Oct. 24, 2015, and Bologna never really had a chance to prevent the latest record. Higuain opened the scoring with a volley from a lobbed pass from Miralem Pjanic seven minutes in, Paulo Dybala added a penalty before the break and then Higuain headed in another early in the second half. Juventus, which still has a game in hand, restored its four-point lead over Roma, which beat Genoa 1-0 earlier. ___ ROMAN VICTORIES Roma finally found a way to win away from home — with an own goal. Armando Izzo redirected a cross from Bruno Peres into his own net in the first half as Roma won 1-0 at Genoa for its first victory away from the Stadio Olimpico since October. Roma has won all nine of its home matches, while its away record now reads four wins, two draws and four losses. 'It's a big win. This is a tough league and we've faced some difficult opponents,' Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi said. 'If we had won all of our away matches, too, we would be champions of Italy by now.' Roma's last win outside the capital had been a 3-1 victory over Sassuolo on Oct. 26 in Reggio Emilia. The Giallorossi also beat Lazio 2-0 in the Rome derby early last month when they were technically the visitors. Roma forward Edin Dzeko hit the post near the hour mark, the fourth time the Bosnia and Herzegovina striker has found the woodwork this season — more than any other player in the league. Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny preserved the win with a difficult save on a shot from beyond the area by Lucas Ocampos in stoppage time. 'For Genoa, I think in 38 matches they won't play one that's not physical. Because that's the type of football they play — very aggressive, man against man,' De Rossi said. 'We needed to put our work boots on and we did.' Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin tore his ACL early on and will miss the rest of the season. Lazio also won 1-0, over struggling Crotone with a last-minute goal from Ciro Immobile after Lucas Biglia hit the crossbar with a penalty in the first half. Lazio is fourth, one point behind third-placed Napoli, which beat Sampdoria 2-1 on Saturday. ___ MILAN CLUBS WIN Fresh off its Italian Super Cup win over Juventus, fifth-placed AC Milan needed a late goal to beat visiting Cagliari 1-0. Carlos Bacca scored from close range two minutes from the end after being set up by Gianluca Lapadula. Cagliari ended with 10 men when Bruno Alves was sent off for pulling down Bacca just outside the area to prevent a clear scoring opportunity in added time. Earlier, Ivan Perisic scored twice and seventh-placed Inter Milan came from a goal down to beat Udinese 2-1 and win its fourth straight game. Perisic equalized in first-half added time, slotting a shot inside the near post after receiving a pass from Mauro Icardi, then headed in from a free kick three minutes from the end. It was the first brace in Serie A for Perisic, a Croatia international who joined Inter from Wolfsburg in 2015. Jakub Jankto, a 20-year-old Czech midfielder, had put Udinese ahead early in the first half after being set up by French talent Seko Fofana. ___ OTHER MATCHES: Atalanta revived its chances of finishing in the Europa League spots with a convincing 4-1 win at Chievo Verona. Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez scored twice for Atalanta, with Andrea Conti and Remo Freuler also finding the target for the Bergamo club. Sergio Pellissier's goal for Chievo temporarily made it 3-1. Domenico Berardi returned from a long injury layoff for Sassuolo in a 0-0 draw with Torino. The Pescara-Fiorentina match was postponed due to too much snow and ice inside and around the Stadio Adriatico. ___ Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 8th, 2017Related News

Klopp's decision to field youngest ever side backfires

br /> JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer   Juergen Klopp's decision to field Liverpool's youngest ever team backfired Sunday as the Premier League title contender was held 0-0 at home by fourth-tier Plymouth in the third round of the FA Cup. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino also made sweeping changes, and was made to sweat as his side left it late to beat second-tier Aston Villa 2-0. Chelsea had an easier time, sweeping aside third-tier Peterborough 4-1, with Spanish forward Pedro scoring twice. With games coming thick and fast during the festive season and a midweek trip to Southampton looming in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals, Klopp made 10 changes from the team that drew 2-2 with Sunderland on Monday. But instead of keeping players rested for other competitions, the Liverpool manager now faces an unwanted replay at Plymouth. 'It's my responsibility, the whole thing, the lineup and performance. We could have done better,' Klopp said. 'If you want to see it (the result) in a bad way then I am 100 percent responsible, I have no problem with that.' Liverpool is in second place in the Premier League and well positioned to challenge for the title. Plymouth is second, too, but in the far less glamorous League Two. Despite this it still seemed a risky move by Klopp to select a team with an average age of 21 years, 296 days. 'There is a long season still to go and we need to change,' Klopp said. 'If you make that many changes, it doesn't make it easier for the boys.' The 17-year-old Ben Woodburn — Liverpool's youngest-ever scorer — made his full debut alongside 19-year-olds Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo in a three-man attacking midfield supporting lone striker Divock Origi. Trent Alexander-Arnold made only his second Liverpool start. Attacking midfielder Adam Lallana, forward Roberto Firmino and England striker Daniel Sturridge were on the bench. Woodburn and Ojo went close early on as Liverpool dominated. But for all of its possession, Liverpool struggled to create further chances. 'We started well but then we lost patience too early,' Klopp said. Klopp brought on Sturridge shortly after the hour mark, and he went close almost immediately with a low shot past the right post. Sturridge then clipped another shot narrowly wide as Liverpool continued to push forward. But even with the introduction of Lallana and Firmino late on — and six minutes of injury time — the winner never came. There were no such frustrations at Stamford Bridge, with Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi and Brazil midfielder Willian getting the other goals. Defender Ben Davies put Tottenham ahead and South Korea forward Son Heung-min scored for Tottenham in the last 20 minutes, while Middlesbrough eased past second-tier Sheffield Wednesday 3-0. Also, 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon scored Fulham's winner in a 2-1 win at Cardiff — a match pitting teams from the second-tier Championship. Defending champion Manchester United crushed Championship side Reading 4-0 on Saturday, but Premier League Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke lost to lower-league opponents, while Arsenal needed a late winner against Preston to reach the fourth round. ___ CHELSEA 4, PETERBOROUGH 1 Striker Michy Batshuayi got a rare start and welcome goal for his club while Spanish forward Pedro made it three in three games. After Pedro put Chelsea ahead in the 18th minute, Batshuayi made it 2-0 shortly before halftime. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek expertly cushioned a cross from the right into Batshuayi's path, and he drilled in a low shot into the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the season. Since joining from French club Marseille for a reported fee of 33 million pounds (around $40 million), Batshuayi has struggled to get games and he had not scored since netting twice in the League Cup on Aug. 23. Pedro set up Willian's goal in the 53rd for 3-0 and — after John Terry was shown a straight red card for hauling back Lee Angol — forward Tom Nichols scored for the visitors. With 15 minutes left, Pedro's curling shot completed a comfortable win. ___ TOTTENHAM 2, ASTON VILLA 0 Defender Ben Davies' first goal for the club was a timely one after second-tier Aston Villa frustrated the home side. Mauricio Pochettino made nine changes from the Tottenham side that beat Chelsea 2-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday and fans at White Hart Lane had to wait until Davies headed home in the 71st minute. South Korea forward Son Heung-min turned in a cross from France midfielder Moussa Sissoko with 10 minutes left. ___ MIDDLESBROUGH 3, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 0 Central midfielder Grant Leadbitter put the Premier League side ahead with a free kick in the 58th minute, and Spanish forward Alvaro Negredo showed his alertness to make it 2-0 shortly after. Negredo charged down goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith's attempted clearance, and the ball went off Negredo and into the net. Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon wrapped up the win against the Championship side in injury time. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 8th, 2017Related News

A guide to FIFA's options for expanding the 2026 World Cup

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is preparing to decide Tuesday on adding 16 more teams to the 2026 World Cup for a 48-team tournament. President Gianni Infantino's favored format would break with soccer tradition to play in groups of only three teams. Two would advance from each group to a Round of 32 knockout bracket. If agreed by the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council in Zurich, the 2026 hosting contest could formally open in weeks. A co-hosted North American bid is widely seen as the best option. Here are some things to know about overhauling the greatest competition in the world's most popular sport: ___ WHY EXPAND? A bigger World Cup was an Infantino campaign promise before his election last February, when his plan was 40 teams. It might have been key. Infantino's momentum for victory in a second-round poll was a three-vote lead over Sheik Salman of Bahrain in the first. Sheik Salman had promised only to review if more World Cup teams were wanted. Infantino also pledged to give more of FIFA's money to member federations — all 211 are now entitled to $5 million from each World Cup — and send more to continental and regional soccer bodies. So, more teams also had to mean more games, earning more revenue from broadcasters and sponsors. The '16x3' format arguably works better with only group winners advancing. But that would leave total matches unchanged at 64. Infantino also wants to create fervor in the extra countries which would qualify. In the short-term, competing national teams attract more sponsors. The long-term goal is appealing to more young people who are the future players, fans and officials. Expect to hear much FIFA talk of helping the next Costa Rica or Iceland — feelgood stories at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 — by inviting 16 more teams to the party. ___ 48-TEAM OPTIONS A near-consensus is growing around the '16x3' option revealed just one month ago. All 80 games would be played in exclusive time slots. That's more hours of TV exposure for sponsors and sales time for broadcasters in the same 32-day tournament period. By advancing two teams from each group, a Round of 32 ensures most teams still play at least three matches. FIFA's own analysis predicts this format will raise revenue by 20 percent from the equivalent $5.5 billion forecast from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The flaw for purists is planning for penalty shootouts to settle drawn group matches. If each game has a 'winner' that guards against teams colluding on a mutually favorable result in the last group games. Previously, Infantino suggested an opening playoff round of 16 matches to decide who would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group phase. That was unacceptable to many FIFA members federations who said 'one-and-done' teams were not part of a real World Cup. It also would stretch the tournament to 39 days. ___ 40-TEAM OPTIONS Infantino's plan from one year ago is now almost friendless. Either of two options, 10 groups of four teams or eight five-team groups, gives lopsided or weak match schedules, FIFA judged. In '10x4,' only 76 matches are played and only six group runners-up advance from a muddled tiebreaker process to a Round of 16. In '8x5,' the 88 matches include meaningless ones in a flabby group phase ripe for collusion. Also, the four semifinalists would play eight matches and that workload is unacceptable to European clubs releasing employees to national-team duty. ___ PROVEN 32-TEAM FORMAT Why fix something that is not broken? Germany, the defending champion, has publicly asked this question. The 32-team format and perfect 64-match bracket has worked well since being introduced at the 1998 World Cup in France (where Europe had 15 teams). FIFA acknowledged that it produces the best soccer — 'the highest absolute quality' of games pitting high-ranked teams against each other. Recall that former winners Italy, England and Uruguay were drawn in the same 2014 World Cup group — and yet Costa Rica finished top. Still, enough of FIFA's 211 members want change and their chance to play. ___ WHO WILL PLAY? A big question is likely not being resolved Tuesday. FIFA has yet to announce exactly how many entry slots each of six confederations would get for their own qualifying program. Quotas for a 40-team World Cup were proposed in December 2015 by a FIFA advisory group that included Infantino, then UEFA's general secretary. Some saw a cynical move to sweeten skeptical FIFA voters who were being asked to vote through modernizing and anti-corruption reforms on the same day they picked a new president. Then, assuming a single host nation would get automatic entry, the proposal for sharing 39 qualifying slots was: Europe 14; Africa 7; Asia 6; South America 5; North, Central America and Caribbean 5; Oceania 1; plus a final slot awarded 'based on sporting merits using a method yet to be defined.' Going from 40 to 48 can add at least one more from each continent. Who could those new teams be? On current form, maybe Wales and Panama, Congo and Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan and Oman, will bring something new to the 2026 World Cup. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 8th, 2017Related News

Arum wants global drumbeat

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum wants Manny Pacquiao to go on a world tour this year with stops planned in Australia, Russia and England......»»

Source: Tempo TempoCategory: NewsJan 8th, 2017Related News

Rooney equals record as United beats Reading 4-0 in FA Cup

JUSTIN PALMER, Associated Press br /> LONDON (AP) — Wayne Rooney stands one goal away from becoming Manchester United's outright record goal-scorer after equaling club great Bobby Charlton's mark of 249 on Saturday. With the 79-year-old Charlton watching from the stands, Rooney guided in Juan Mata's cross after seven minutes as the defending FA Cup champion swept aside second-tier Reading 4-0 in the third round. English Premier League teams Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City all bowed out to lower-league opponents while Arsenal needed second-half goals from Aaron Ramsey and Oliver Giroud, the Frenchman netting late on, to wipe out Preston North End's halftime lead. Third-tier Millwall, Cup finalist in 2004, caused the biggest shock by thumping a much-changed Bournemouth 3-0, West Brom went down at home to Championship team Derby County 2-1, while Wolverhampton Wanderers, also from the second tier, ensured Stoke lost in the third round for the first time since 2009 by winning at Britannia Stadium 2-0. In all-Premier League matches, Ahmed Musa scored twice as Leicester fought back from a goal down to defeat Everton 2-1, while in the battle of the new managers, Marco Silva saw his Hull side get the better of Paul Clement's Swansea 2-0. Silva, appointed on Tuesday in place of the fired Mike Phelan, would have noted the large number of empty seats at Hull's KCOM Stadium with home fans staying away in protest against the club's owners. Non-league sides Sutton United and Lincoln City earned replays but there was no fairytale for the lowest-ranked team in the competition Stourbridge as it went down at Wycombe 2-1. ___ MANCHESTER UNITED 4, READING 0 Rooney's latest milestone — he is the record scorer for England — came in front of Old Trafford fans who have adored him, on and off, since he joined as a teenage prodigy from Everton in 2004. 'It is a really proud moment for me,' Rooney said. 'It was not something I could have imagined. You don't think that far ahead, but I have been at this club a long time, it is a huge part of my life, and it is an honor to be up there alongside Sir Bobby.' United manager Jose Mourinho, who won the FA Cup when in charge of Chelsea in 2007, was effusive in his praise of Rooney. 'A more special day will arrive,' he said. 'It was great but I want one more goal. He is an amazing guy in the group and we all want him to do that. To have Wayne as the top scorer in a club like this is magnificent for him.' The game will be not be so fondly remembered by former United defender Jaap Stam, whose Reading side he coaches was outclassed. Rooney set up Anthony Martial for 2-0 not long after he scored the opener. United, winning for the eighth consecutive game in all competitions, added two more in quick succession after the break through Marcus Rashford, his second coming after a mistake from goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. PRESTON NORTH END 1, ARSENAL 2 Arsenal preserved manager Arsene Wenger's feat of never having lost a third-round match, but the Gunners did it the hard way. After their dramatic comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Bournemouth in midweek, Arsenal started slow again as second-tier Preston fully deserved its halftime lead. But whatever words Wenger barked during the break, they had an immediate effect with Ramsey rifling in an equalizer 50 seconds after the restart. Arsenal, 11-times FA Cup winners, six of which have come under Wenger's long reign, dominated after that but had to wait until two minutes from time to seal victory through Giroud. EVERTON 1, LEICESTER 2 A turgid first half at Goodison Park was followed by an entertaining second as Leicester showed the mettle that made it English champion last season. It fell behind to Romelu Lukaku's goal on 53 minutes but Musa's equalizer was a rebound after he struck the post, and his second goal five minutes later was a fine finish after he played a one-two with Danny Drinkwater. WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1, DERBY COUNTY 2 Tom Ince, son of former England midfielder Paul Ince, struck a fine winner to upset top-flight West Brom. The hosts led through a Matt Phillips long-range strike but Derby hit back in the second half as Darren Bent levelled and Ince curled home a superb free kick. MILLWALL 3, BOURNEMOUTH 0 Bournemouth made 11 changes from its last game and suffered an embarrassing defeat against a side in ninth place in League One. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 7th, 2017Related News