Sports- Arab Today sports arab today Thu, 16 Jan 2014 05:15:51 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev ( Noriaki Kasai: 30 years of World Cup ski-jumping noriaki kasai 30 years of world cup skijumping

Ski jumping World Cup leader Ryoyu Kobayashi was still eight years from being born when fellow Japanese Noriaki Kasai made his World Cup debut in the sport in December 1988.

The Berlin Wall was still standing, Ronald Reagan the United States president and first commercial use of an infant internet half a year away.

Now the world has changed dramatically but the eternal Kasai is still leaping from the ski jumping hills at age 46, with the 30th anniversary of his first World Cup event in Sapporo on Monday.

Before that, the veteran will be jumping in Engelberg, Switzerland, at the weekend, hoping to make the top 30 for the first time this season.

Kasai has competed against stars like Matti Nykanen, Janne Ahonen, Dieter Thoma and Jens Weissflog, gone through the transition from the parallel to the v-style, and numerous other technical changes in the daredevil sport.

"What drives me is simple: I love ski jumping," he once said.

Sven Hannawald, the German who famously became the first to win all four stops at one Four Hills Tour, said: "You can see that he is just enjoying it and that he knows he is the grandfather."

Kasai has become a cult figure in the sport and is also an idol for many other jumpers.

"He is my hero, I try to learn from him," ski flying world champion Daniel Andre Tande of Norway said at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February.

The ski-flying world title, from 1992, is the only major success for Kasai who also has four silver medals and six bronze from worlds and Olympics, including a large hill silver and team bronze at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi when he was 42.

He also has 17 World Cup wins between March 1992 and November 2014. The latest one in Kuusamo, Finland, made him the oldest winner at age 42 and his third place on the flying hill in Planica in March 2017 also made him the oldest podium finisher at 44.

"He broke through a barrier with his World Cup win older than 40. It was like climbing Mount Everest without oxygen: that also had to be proven to be possible," German coach Werner Schuster said.

Kasai reckons he has spent enough time in the air during his jumps in more than 550 World Cup events (including 105 at the Four Hills) and the championships to have flown "around the whole world."

Kasai has written a book about jumping beyond age 40 and credits "a strong heart" and eating Japanese food for his longevity.

"I feel like a 20-year-old. I do the same training as the young jumpers, I haven't changed my training regime since I started," he once said.

Kasai was Japan's flag bearer at the Pyeongchang Games and Hannawald says "he is a leader in the Japanese team" but it remains to be seen how much longer he will be competing.

In his search for the elusive Olympic gold he toyed with the idea of competing until 2026 if his home town of Sapporo would host the Olympics that year.

But the city has since withdrawn its bid and is rather pondering another attempt for 2030. Kasai would then be 57.

Fri, 14 Dec 2018 12:30:12 GMT
Russian swimmer Prigoda takes gold in China with new WR in men’s 200m breaststroke russian swimmer prigoda takes gold in china with new wr in men’s 200m breaststroke

Russian swimmer Kirill Prigoda won gold on Thursday in men’s 200m breaststroke event of the 2018 FINA (International Swimming Federation) World Swimming Championships, which is held in China’s Hangzhou between December 11 and 16.

Prigoda, 22, covered the distance in 2 minutes 0.16 seconds and set a new World Record in men’s 200m breaststroke event.

China’s Haiyang Qin clinched the silver medal finishing just 0.99 seconds behind Prigoda and German swimmer Marco Koch took the bronze with the result of 2 minutes 1.42 seconds.

Prigoda’s win on Thursday brought the Russian national team of swimmers its first gold medal at the championship in China. The Russian swimmers earlier brought the silver in men’s 4x100m freestyle event, the bronze in 4x50 mixed freestyle event and the bronze in 100m backstroke, won by Kliment Kolesnikov.

Prigoda, who comes from Russia’s second largest city of Saint Petersburg, is the two-time bronze medalist of the 2017 FINA World Championship as well as the three-time gold medalist of the 2016 FINA World Championships (25 meters).


Thu, 13 Dec 2018 22:27:14 GMT
Liverpool, Manchester City seek neighbours' help in title chase liverpool manchester city seek neighbours help in title chase

Liverpool and Manchester City will be looking for a little help from their not-so-friendly neighbours this weekend.

The Premier League front-runners face each other's local rivals when City host Everton and Liverpool take on Manchester United.

Liverpool jumped above City at the top of the table last week after the defending champions suffered their first league loss at Chelsea.

The Reds are now the league's lone unbeaten side after making their best-ever start with 13 wins from 16 games.

But that still doesn't make them a shoo-in for their first league title since 1990, according to Georginio Wijnaldum

“We know we have to do a lot to not lose games and even more to win it,” the midfielder told the Liverpool Echo.

“We know we have to give a good performance every week to continue the run we are in.

"I don't really think we are invincible and if we think that we have a manager who would put both feet on the ground.”

And though Manchester United are just sixth, albeit 16 points behind Liverpool, they are unbeaten in their last four league visits to Anfield with three consecutive clean sheets. 

City's unbeaten dreams were dashed last weekend but manager Pep Guardiola praised his team's performance, saying they played with “great personality.”

Wednesday's Champions League victory over Hoffenheim got them back on the winning track and now they shift focus to Everton, who have drawn their last three visits to the Etihad Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur will look to build on the euphoria of a late 1-1 draw at Barcelona midweek that qualified them for the Champions League knockout stages when they host relegation-threatened Burnley. 

Spurs are six points off the top in third but have been overshadowed by Liverpool and Man City.

“Not many people have been talking about Tottenham in the Premier League but we get on with our job, tick over until the new year and then give it a push,” striker Harry Kane said.

Two teams going in opposite directions face off when Southampton host Arsenal.

The Gunners are 14 league matches without loss, and 21 overall heading into Thursday's Europa League game against Qarabag, while the Saints are winless in 12 in the league.

West Ham look to continue their resurgence by visiting last-placed Fulham.

After opening the season with four straight losses, the Hammers have climbed to 11th place. 

“If you start the table after those first four games, we could be in sixth position, just one point behind Chelsea [in fourth],” manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side has won four of six, said.

“But those four games exist, so we need to use these next games to recover our bad start."

Chelsea look to carry the momentum of their Man City victory with them to Brighton, Crystal Palace host Leicester, Newcastle visit Huddersfield, Watford face Cardiff and Bournemouth are away to Wolverhampton in the other matches.

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:00:34 GMT
WADA views International Sambo Federation as one of best in fight against doping abuse wada views international sambo federation as one of best in fight against doping abuse

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recognized the International Sambo Federation (FIAS) as one of the most efficient world sports federations in terms of the fight against doping abuse, FIAS President Vasily Shestakov said on Tuesday.

"We are in constant work on the fight against doping abuse," Shestakov said speaking at a news conference, hosted by TASS on Tuesday. "We have a letter from WADA, which acknowledges that FIAS is one of the best sports federations in terms of the fight against doping abuse."

"We constantly hold lectures for athletes, help WADA to negotiate with other federations and this fact speaks for their [WADA’s] great trust in us," the FIAS president stated.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued on November 30 its provisional recognition for Sambo as an Olympic sport, which can help the Russia-originated wrestling to officially enter the Olympic program in the future and to secure a financial assistance on behalf of the global Olympic body.

"There is still a lot of work to be done for us and we need to finalize the Sambo development’s strategy, which we must submit with the IOC," Shestakov said adding that "the IOC had proved once again that sports is beyond the politics."

"They [the IOC] have a sound view on the modern world developments," the FIAS chief said. "It helped us to be recognized."

Sambo wrestling originated in Russia in the 1920s, when soldiers of the then-Soviet Army developed their own hand-to-hand combat technique. The word Sambo is a Russian acronym, which stands for "self-defense without weapons."

According to most recent statistics, provided by the All-Russia Sambo Federation, over 500,000 Russians practiced Sambo as of today and the figure includes over 230,000 children.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in 2016, speaking about Sambo wrestling and its global perspectives, that the Russia-originated wrestling should be included in the Olympic program, but it would require a lengthy and labor-consuming period.

Shestakov also said that the FIAS had been always enjoying support from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is also the president emeritus of the FIAS, as the organization sought the recognition on behalf of the global Olympic body.

"I would like to particularly thank FIAS President Emeritus Vladimir Putin, as we have enjoyed his care and assistance in the promotion of the sport of Sambo and in the obtainment of our current status," Shestakov added.


Wed, 12 Dec 2018 13:38:01 GMT
Tottenham, PSG, Liverpool reach Champions League last 16 tottenham psg liverpool reach champions league last 16

Lucas Moura's late equalizer to earn a 1-1 draw at Barcelona sent Tottenham into the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday after Inter Milan drew 1-1 with PSV Eindhoven.

Spurs needed to match or better the Italians' result to follow Group B winners Barcelona into the next round, with Moura cancelling out Ousmane Dembele's brilliant opener to level the scores after 85 minutes.

Paris Saint-Germain qualified top of Group C with a 3-1 win at Red Star Belgrade while Liverpool eliminated Napoli with a narrow 1-0 win at Anfield to progress in second place.

Borussia Dortmund topped Group A with a 2-0 win at Monaco while Atletico Madrid finish second after tying 0-0 at Club Brugge.

With qualification as group winners already assured, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde made seven changes from the team that beat Espanyol on Saturday, leaving Lionel Messi and other star players on the bench.

That gave Spurs hope but Dembele put the hosts ahead at Camp Nou with a brilliant solo goal in the seventh minute, sprinting through and slotting coolly past Hugo Lloris. 

Heung-Min Son should have equalized for Spurs, sliding in to miss a cross by inches and then firing at Jasper Cillessen when sent through on goal.

Philippe Coutinho hit the post for Barcelona at the end of the first half when he might have doubled their lead.

Harry Kane drilled over early in the second half when he should have tested Dutch goalkeeper Cillessen, while Munir El Haddadi had a goal ruled out at the other end.

After a brilliant Cillessen save from substitute Moura the Brazilian eventually scored from Kane's cross in the final stages to send Tottenham through second, beating Inter on head-to-head away goals with both sides level on eight points.

"We had quite a few chances, it just wasn't going in but we carried on and got the goal back," said Spurs striker Kane. 

"We still carried on trying to score more, we weren't sure what the other score was.

"We're just buzzing that we're through. A draw away to Barcelona's not a bad result."

Tension was high at Anfield too, with Liverpool progressing on goals scored, as they tied on nine points with Napoli, each with identical head-to-head records and goal difference.

Salah missed an early chance for Liverpool, controlling Andy Robertson's ball poorly when he should have sent the Reds ahead.

However he made amends in the 34th minute with an exquisite finish from a tight angle, beating Mario Rui and Kalidou Koulibaly before squeezing the ball through goalkeeper David Ospina's legs.

Liverpool dominated the game but Napoli could have gone through in the final stages had goalkeeper Alisson Becker not kept out Arkadiusz Milik's effort brilliantly. Instead the Italians move into the Europa League.

"I thought it was a really good performance, we knew we had to defend well and we defended really well from front to back,” said Liverpool midfielder James Milner.

"Mo's goal too, he's a match-winner, a world-class player and he's done it for us again."

PSG strolled past Red Star in Belgrade to secure the top spot.

Kylian Mbappe did brilliantly to set up Edinson Cavani for the opening goal after 10 minutes, with Neymar adding an impressive second before half-time.

Marko Gobeljic's excellent volley pulled a goal back for Red Star but Marquinhos and Mbappe made the game save for the Ligue 1 side.

There was little to resolve in Group A with Atletico and Borussia Dortmund already through, but the German side sealed top spot with a win in Monaco.

Dortmund rotated heavily but still impressed, with Raphael Guerrero finishing a neat team move to send the visitors ahead against Thierry Henry's struggling hosts, before netting another in the final stages.

Galatasaray lost 3-2 against Porto in Group D but still qualified for the Europa League in third place as Lokomotiv Moscow lost 1-0 at Schalke.

Already qualified group winners Porto triumphed in Istanbul thanks to goals from Felipe, Marega and Sergio Oliveira in an entertaining game.

Lokomotiv Moscow just needed to win to assure their place in the Europa League against runners-up Schalke, but Alessandro Schopf's stoppage-time strike earned the Bundesliga side victory.

The draw for the Champions League last 16 will be held on December 17.

Wed, 12 Dec 2018 10:02:43 GMT
Ajax and Bayern in tasty Champions League duel for first place ajax and bayern in tasty champions league duel for first place

The heirs of Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer meet on Wednesday when Ajax Amsterdam host Bayern Munich in a showdown for first place in their Champions League group.

The match in the Johan Cruyff Arena brings together two of only five sides who have lifted all three European trophies and won the Champions event three times each in the 1970s - led by Cruyff and Beckenbauer, respectively.

While Bayern have the coveted trophy again in 2001 and 2013, and also reached the final several times, Ajax' last success in the elite event dates back to 1995 and their last final to the following year.

The Bosman ruling which ended foreign player restrictions at the same time helped trigger a steady exodus of Ajax talents who learnt the game in their famous youth academy - ranging from 1995 match winner Patrick Kluivert to the current generation led by midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

More money and more competitive leagues than the Eredivisie (which Ajax won for the last time in 2014) elsewhere are seen as key motives for the departures.

As a result, their success on the continent has stalled. Ajax reached the Europa League final in 2016 but failed to qualify for the Champions League on several occasions and are now in the last 16 for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

Coach Erik ten Hag, formerly a Bayern reserve team trainer, has named reaching the knock-outs "a new frontier" and a turning point in their European fortunes.

But with the midfielder de Jong heavily linked with the likes of Barcelona and Manchester City, and others like defender Matthijs de Ligt also sought by top clubs, the latest generation could also be on its way out.

“It will be impossible to keep this team together in the summer,” director Marc Overmars has said.

Officials hope that Ajax can become regulars in the later stages of the Champions League again but for now Ajax are happy to be in the last 16 again.

"we can be very proud of ourselves," Moroccan midfielder Noussair Mazraoui said, adding that he and the others have learnt a lot by playing in the elite event.

Like Bayern, Ajax qualified in the penultimate round, by winning 2-0 at Greek side AEK, and they won't be afraid of the Germans as they were the better team in a 1-1 draw in Munich where Lasse Schoene was denied a late winner by the crossbar.

Both teams have conceded only two goals in the group for which Munich were qualified directly while Ajax had to go through two qualifying rounds and a play-off tie against Dynamo Kiev.

There series is evenly balanced at three wins each and three draws, and neither side has managed a win away from home against each other.

Bayern are two points ahead of Ajax and require only a draw to finish top while Ajax need a win to be first which would make them avoid some heavyweights like holders Real Madrid and Barcelona in the last 16.

"We want to finish first ... and must be ready for the match," Serbian forward Dusan Tadic said.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 11:54:33 GMT
Kiev the latest home away from home for Shakhtar in crunch match kiev the latest home away from home for shakhtar in crunch match

Shakhtar Donetsk have not played a proper home match in more than four years, but holding their must-win final Champions League group game against Olympique Lyon in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev is something new even for them.

The 2009 UEFA Cup champions were forced to leave their Donbass Arena, one of the Euro 2012 venues, in 2014 in connection with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with Donetsk controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

They first played more than 1,000 kilometres away in Lviv, drawing only small crowds, before relocating in early 2017 to Kharkiv, around 300km away from Donetsk, where the atmosphere improved.

But with martial law now imposed in several regions of Ukraine over the ongoing conflict, including Kharkiv, the ruling body UEFA took no chances and switched their final Group F game to the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.

Coach Paulo Fonseca said after Friday's 3-0 league win at Mariupol that daily life hasn't changed under martial law and that he has mixed feelings about the latest switch - more for the fans than the team which is used to playing elsewhere and covering large distances.

"We felt very good there [Kharkiv], especially in the Champions League matches, when the fans filled the stadium and supported us enthusiastically, which is absolutely important," he said.

"They decided to hold the match in Kiev. Most likely, we won’t have as many fans there as in Kharkiv, but this will by no means be an excuse for the future."

Midfielder Taras Stepanenko said: "We hope that if the fans have the possibility, they will support us in the decisive match of the Champions League season. We would like to see the maximum number of people there."

It remains to be seen how many fans will follow the national champions and league leaders over more than 700km from Donetsk to Kiev with its 70,000-seat stadium for the match Shakhtar have declared "more than the final."

Shakhtar rank third, two points behind the French, and must win in order to advance to the last 16 along with Manchester City. They drew 2-2 (after leading 2-0) against Lyon in France but are yet to win at home, drawing with bottom side Hoffenheim and losing against City.

Lyon only require a draw to progress, and are unbeaten away from home, surprisingly winning at City and drawing at Hoffenheim.

Shakhtar aim to reach the knock-outs for the third time, being quarter-finalists in 2011 and in the last 16 in the past campaign.

"We will meet with a very strong team featuring some excellent players. We know perfectly well that we are facing an extremely difficult task," he said.

"We must produce a perfect performance to make it further."

The best news for Fonseca is that his most influential Brazilian, midfielder and captain Taison, who scored a vital injury-time winner in Hoffenheim, should be fit to play.

"He had some minor back problems, but he will have enough time to recover," Fonseca said.

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 10:16:08 GMT
Aduriz leaves it late to give Garitano a winning start at Athletic aduriz leaves it late to give garitano a winning start at athletic

 Aritz Aduriz scored a 92nd minute winner against Girona to give Gaizka Garitano a 1-0 winning start as Athletic Bilbao coach.

The veteran striker scored a late penalty after Iker Muniain had been brought down by Jonas Ramalho to give his team only their second win of the season.

It was the best possible end to Garitano’s first home league game in charge and moved Athletic level on points with Villarreal who are in 17th place in La Liga, one place out of the bottom three.

Girona had the ball in the net in the first half but Cristhian Stuani’s goal was ruled out when the video assistant referee spotted that he had handled the ball.

Aduriz' late match-winning kick was scored against Girona keeper Gorka Iraizoz , the striker's former team-mate at Athletic Bilbao.

Of his lobbed spot-kick past his old friend, Aduriz said: "I must have taken a thousand penalties against him so I had to come up with something different."

Tue, 11 Dec 2018 10:07:53 GMT
Gladbach win to go second, Mainz grab controversial draw gladbach win to go second mainz grab controversial draw

Borussia Moenchengladbach rose back into second spot in the Bundesliga on Sunday after Raffael woke the hosts from their slumber to help seal a 3-0 win over Stuttgart.

The Brazilian forwarded netted his first goal of the campaign when he headed in fellow substitute Florian Neuhaus' cross on 69 minutes.

Neuhaus then calmly netted a second eight minutes later before France World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard prodded in an own goal, moments after team-mate Erik Thommy had been dismissed for a second booking.

Gladbach's seventh win from seven home league games this term sent them above Bayern Munich and they again trail Borussia Dortmund by seven points after the unbeaten leaders won 2-1 at derby rivals Schalke on Saturday.

"We have self confidence at home," Gladbach coach Dieter Hecking told Sky Sport.

"In the second half I took a bit of a gamble in the hope of upping the tempo. Impact off the bench is something we didn't have last season."

The Foals, perhaps still haunted by last weekend's insipid away defeat at RB Leipzig, initially put in a lacklustre performance against a largely toothless Stuttgart.

Striker Alassane Plea was adjudged just to be offside when he tapped in Michael Lang's effort but Lang berated him because the ball would probably have crossed the line anyway.

Ron-Robert Zieler then expertly tipped Tobias Strobl's powerful shot over the bar.

Struggling Mario Gomez wasted Stuttgart's clearest opportunity when he shot straight at Yann Sommer when clean through.

The game then suddenly came to life in the second half with Hecking's double substitution working wonders.

To make matters worse for Stuttgart, defender Pavard was injured when he stretched and inadvertently scored the own goal. They also slipped into the relegation play-off spot on goal difference.

In the early game, Mainz grabbed a late 1-1 draw at home to second-bottom Hanover after a highly debatable penalty award was upheld by the video assistant referee.

Daniel Brosinski converted the 86th minute spotkick after officials on and off the field decided Hanover's Matthias Ostrzolek had fouled Jean-Philippe Mateta despite replays suggesting minimal contact.

"I don't know if whoever is sat in Cologne (where video assistants are based) has ever played the game or been a referee because that is a clear mistake," Ostrzolek said, accusing Frenchman Mateta of diving.

"We are bitter that we've had two points stolen like that."

Tenth-placed Mainz, who earlier hit the post through Danny Latza, thought they had won it in stoppage time when Anthony Ujah headed in but this time the video assistant decided he was just offside.

Hanover's unmarked Hendrik Weydandt, 23 and playing in the fourth division just over half a year ago, had opened the scoring when he turned in Genki Haraguchi's cross after 12 minutes.

A win would have nudged Hanover out of the relegation spots but instead they left Mainz with just a point and a very late red card for Oliver Sorg.

Flares from the away end meant so much smoke covered the pitch that players had to go off for around five minutes early in the second half.

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 09:27:37 GMT
River Plate beat rivals Boca Juniors to win Copa Libertadores river plate beat rivals boca juniors to win copa libertadores

River Plate won the Copa Libertadores by beating arch-rivals Boca Juniors 3-1 after extra-time (5-3 on aggregate) in Madrid in the second leg of the final Sunday.

The game between the two Argentine sides was controversially moved to the Spanish capital after being twice-postponed a fortnight ago in Buenos Aires when River Plate fans attacked Boca's team bus and injured two players.

Boca took the lead just before half-time through Dario Benedetto, but River won the trophy for a fourth time by mounting an impressive comeback.

Lucas Pratto sent the game into extra-time and Wilmar Barrios was sent off for Boca, allowing River substitute Juan Quintero to score from the edge of the area and Piti Martinez to grab a late third while Boca goalkeeper Esteban Andrada was in the opposition's half.

"We are fair winners of the trophy and now we have to celebrate," River hero Quintero said.

"I didn't think, I [just] got the ball... looked for space, controlled it and shot. Yesterday I worked on that shot and I scored a goal I have to celebrate.

"We knew Boca is a very tactical and physical team, but we worked until the end and that's where the difference lay."

The first leg at Boca's Bombonera stadium finished 2-2 on November 11, and with no away goals rule in the final everything was left to play for Sunday at the Santiago Bernabeu.

After the trouble that stopped the second leg being played at River's Monumental, a heavy Spanish police presence ensured there was no violence before the game in the Spanish capital.

Benedetto sent Boca ahead at the end of a brilliant counter-attack, reaching Nahitan Nandez's sublime through-ball to finish well.

River should have had a penalty when goalkeeper Andrada fouled Pratto in the second half, but the forward scored anyway a few minutes later after good work from Nacho Fernandez.

Two minutes into extra-time Barrios was dismissed for his second yellow card after an ugly challenge on Exequiel Palacios, which handed River a huge advantage.

Substitute Quintero took advantage with a brilliant goal from distance after 109 minutes to send River ahead and force Boca into desperation mode.

Goalkeeper Andrada was in River's half for a corner in stoppage time when Martinez broke downfield to run the ball into an empty net with the final kick of the game to spark wild celebrations.

"We were the only team who played in the opponent's half, now it's time to celebrate with the fans and our team-mates," Martinez said.

Boca coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said he was hurt by the defeat.

"We feel a great sadness. Not just for the fans who accompanied us here but all of those who supported us," he said.

"After Barrios was sent off River started to use the ball better. In extra-time the extra man helped them control the game.

"I feel an enormous pain for myself, but more for the people." 

Mon, 10 Dec 2018 09:19:09 GMT
Leaders Dortmund edge Schalke in derby, Bayern win leaders dortmund edge schalke in derby bayern win

Borussia Dortmund extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga after outmuscling Ruhr rivals Schalke 2-1 away on Saturday, with Bayern Munich also notching up a win to move second.

Jadon Sancho grabbed a superb winner on 74 minutes to put unbeaten Dortmund on 36 points from 14 games, nine ahead of Bayern who overcame struggling Nuremberg 3-0 at home thanks to Robert Lewandowski's double.

Third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach could yet leap back into second spot and cut Dortmund's advantage back to seven points if they win their Sunday home clash with VfB Stuttgart.

Eintracht Frankfurt missed the chance to go third after Hertha Berlin inflicted their second straight defeat following Marko Grujic's header from a corner in a 1-0 win in the German capital.

In Saturday's other results, Freiburg beat RB Leipzig 3-0 at home, Wolfsburg drew 2-2 with visitors Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen won 1-0 at home to Augsburg after Lucas Alario's lucky finish.

The Ruhr derby had a very different feel to last term when Schalke ended up finishing second and Dortmund limped home in fourth. This term Dortmund are blazing a trail at the top while the Royal Blues are languishing in the bottom half.

Dortmund handed a start to "super sub" Paco Alcacer, who has scored nine of his 10 league goals from the bench this term. Mario Goetze made way but the Spain striker failed to shine from the off.

Schalke also had problems up front with Breel Embolo, Mark Uth and Franco Di Santo all ruled out.

With the Arena AufSchalke roof closed, the atmosphere was especially electric but Dortmund quickly gained the upper hand.

Achraf Hakimi blasted over with a half chance early on before Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney, one of the close-season signings who have helped turn Dortmund into title contenders, expertly headed in a Marco Reus free-kick on 7 minutes.

Schalke, unbeaten in their previous five league meetings with Dortmund, fought back through Daniel Caligiuri's penalty on the hour after Reus got in a tangle with Amine Harit and the video assistant intervened.

But Dortmund had the last laugh with England winger Sancho being allowed to dance into the area and fashion a fine finish before Raphael Guerreiro almost scored a third when he hit the post.

"I am tired but it is a great feeling after not a brilliant game. There was a lot of intensity and a lot of battles out there," Delaney told Sky Sport.

Bayern coasted to victory against third-bottom Nuremberg, who have now shipped a league high 33 goals so far.

Goalkeeper Fabian Bredlow were badly exposed by Lewandowski being able to head in Joshua Kimmich's corner almost unchallenged.

The Poland striker doubled the lead on 27 minutes when he tapped in after Leon Goretzka's clever effort came back off the bar. Franck Ribery got the third after more hapless defending.

The win further eases the pressure on Bayern coach Niko Kovac, who has now won three in a row in all competitions following a sticky spell.

"Obviously what we have shown in the last three matches is the right way to go and we just have to keep doing it," Kovac said.

Nils Petersen became Freiburg's joint top Bundesliga scorer on 37 goals along with Papiss Cisse after netting in their win over fourth-placed Leipzig.

Luca Waldschmidt added a second from the spot on the stroke of half-time after help from the video assistant and Mike Frantz later made it three with a good header.

In a topsy turvy clash in Wolfsburg, Ishak Belfodil put Hoffenheim ahead with a controlled volley from Andrej Kramaric's cross after 4 minutes.

But the Wolves stormed back thanks to Ermin Bicakcic's own goal and Daniel Ginczek's goal on the half hour. Hoffenheim though levelled through Kramaric on 71 minutes following another video review.


Sun, 09 Dec 2018 08:04:49 GMT
Messi's free-kick double keeps Barcelona clear at the top of La Liga messis freekick double keeps barcelona clear at the top of la liga

Lionel Messi scored two direct free-kicks as Barcelona won the Catalan derby at Espanyol 4-0 on Saturday.

It was the first time Messi had scored two direct free-kicks in La Liga. Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele also scored as Barcelona went three points clear at the top of La Liga.

“Leo unblocks any game,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde of his talisman, who had broken the deadlock on 17 minutes with a free-kick after he had been brought down by Marc Roca.

Messi then set up Dembele on 26 minutes and Dembele assisted Luis Suarez for the third goal just before half time.

Messi scored his second direct free-kick on 65 minutes to make it 4-0. Asked if he thought Messi could have ended up with a hat-trick of free-kicks Valverde said: “If anyone is capable of doing it then it’s him.”

Espanyol thought they had narrowed the margin in the second half but Oscar Duarte’s goal was ruled out for offside by VAR.

Espanyol coach Rubi said: “It’s very hard to stop Messi score free-kicks. He was the difference today.”

Asked if he tried to stop his side giving away free-kicks on the edge of the area he said: “No, because if you don’t make the challenges then they have a free pass into your area.”

Earlier Atletico Madrid beat Alaves 3-0 at the Metropolitano on Saturday.

Sevilla later drew with Valencia meaning they joined Atletico on 28 points in second and third behind Barcelona.

Atletico's Nicola Kalinic broke the deadlock on 25 minutes from Arias’ cross, scoring his first league goal for the club.

Alaves’ substitute Borja Baston had chances to get his team back in the game after the break but the visitors could not beat Jan Oblak.

And on 82 minutes Antoine Griezmann raced clear to make it 2-0. Rodrigo Hernandez scored the third from close range with three minutes remaining.

"The scoreline flattered us a bit, Alaves played very well," said Atletico defender Jose Gimenez.

It then seemed Sevilla would go temporarily clear at the top with a win over Valencia. Pablo Sarabia put them ahead on 55 minutes turning in on Wissam Ben Yedder's shot.

But Mouctar Diakhaby headed in Dani Parejo's free-kick on 92 minutes to draw Valencia level.

Sarabia reflected on the last attack costing his team two points. The scorer of Sevilla’s goal said: "We were focused except in the very last piece of play."

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 07:27:21 GMT
Liverpool go top as Man City lose unbeaten record at Chelsea liverpool go top as man city lose unbeaten record at chelsea

Liverpool took over the top spot in the Premier League on Saturday thanks to a 4-0 win at Bournemouth, as champions Manchester City lost their unbeaten league record in a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea.

Mohamed Salah took his Premier League goal tally to 10 this season with his second Liverpool hat-trick, leaving his side one point ahead of City, who were undone by goals from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said Liverpool were happy to be on top but were focused only on themselves.

"We are not really interested in other teams," he said. "We only have three days until Napoli [in the Champions League], which is a big one. It is Bournemouth celebrating day. Let's go home, have food and go again."

Tottenham are third after a 2-0 win at Leicester in the day's late match, with fourth-placed Chelsea still level on points with Arsenal, who edged out Huddersfield 1-0.

Salah was back to his best as Liverpool matched their 4-0 win at Bournemouth from last season in the lunchtime kickoff.

The first goal had a touch of fortune about it as Salah followed up Roberto Firmino's dipping shot to fire in the rebound, though TV replays suggested he was marginally offside.

There was no controversy about the second, though, as he shrugged off a foul to slip the ball into the corner, three minutes into the second half.

Steve Cook turned in Andy Robertson's cross to make it 3-0 on 68 minutes and Salah then added his third, twice rounding the goalkeeper before poking the ball home.

"Top of the table and [to] score three goals, fantastic win today and a clean sheet," Salah said.

"The last one was good, I was calm. I know everyone has high expectations for me but ... the most important thing is being top of the table and to win each game."

Liverpool are now the only unbeaten team in the English league after City were beaten at Chelsea.

City dominated possession and had more shots but were beaten by Chelsea's first shot, through Kante on the stroke of half-time.

Beaten by Wolves last time out, Chelsea were a different team altogether and from their first corner, on 78 minutes, Luiz headed home the second goal.

"In general, we were fantastic," City manager Pep Guardiola said. 

"I don't have any regrets. We came and showed we wanted to win. We created chances. They had one in 44 minutes and we conceded a goal. Sometimes that happens.

"It is emotional for me to see these players do what they do every three days. We were outstanding except for five to eight minutes."

Goals from Son Heung-min and Dele Alli gave Tottenham victory at Leicester, keeping them two points ahead of their fellow London sides.

Arsenal needed a stunning bicycle kick by Lucas Torreira after 83 minutes to seal the win against a valiant Huddersfield team.

"These goals help the team to keep winning, keep improving and keep building confidence," Torreira said. 

"We have a fantastic team and a great group and we enjoy playing together."

Manchester United shrugged off a poor recent run as they beat bottom side Fulham 4-1, Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford scoring the goals.

United manager Jose Mourinho said Fulham's improved performance in the second half denied his side a bigger margin of victory.

"I understand clearly there were reasons for the second half not being as good as the first, but still a good result, an important result," he said.

Burnley moved out of the bottom three after a 1-0 victory over Brighton.

Cardiff edged further from danger with their own 1-0 win over struggling Southampton in Ralph Hasenhuettl's first game in charge of the Saints while West Ham beat Crystal Palace 3-2.

Sun, 09 Dec 2018 07:14:10 GMT
Boca Juniors and River Plate prepare to settle Copa Libertadores boca juniors and river plate prepare to settle copa libertadores

The Copa Libertadores is due to be settled on Sunday when River Plate and Boca Juniors play the second leg of the final - two weeks later than planned and more than 10,000 kilometres away from Buenos Aires.

Never before had the arch-rivals from the Argentine capital met in the final of the South American championship but the two-legged contest has not been a positive advert for the country.

Before the first leg, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri described the meeting as a historic event but also "an opportunity to show maturity, that you can play in peace."

It did not work out as Macri, a former Boca president, had hoped.

Following a 2-2 opening draw at Boca's Bombonera Stadium, the November 24 return at River's Monumental was postponed after home fans attacked the Boca team bus and injured several players.

South American confederation CONMEBOL initially tried to play the game 24 hours later but with Boca not recovered from the attack, they eventually moved the match to December 9 at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu.

Boca Juniors forward Carlos Tevez said the players would now concentrate on the game in the strange situation.

"It is a bit weird to play here but it is important for us to focus on how the game will be in Madrid," the 32-year-old told the BBC.

"I think it is embarrassing for the people, not so much for the players.

"They took away our dream of playing the final in our country."

As with many compromises, the solution is one which left both sides unhappy for different reasons.

River are protesting against losing home advantage while Boca do not want to play at all, believing they should have been awarded a walkover victory.

Tickets have been in high demand for the 81,000-capacity Bernabeu and playing abroad means supporters of both teams can attend - unlike in Argentina.

Violence over several years led to away fans being banned in the country but now both sides will be cheered on, albeit with supporters strictly segregated inside and outside the ground.

Many fans are making the long journey to Madrid from Buenos Aires while Argentines living in Spain have also had the chance to buy tickets.

Nearly 5,000 police and stewards will be in action to maintain order.

“I have no doubts that fans of River and Boca can get along together. This is a game," River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio told Spanish radio.

"The troublemakers cannot be allowed to get into the stadium. As I understand it the authorities in Argentina have taken preventative measures and that in Spain they will put behind bars anyone that deserves it.”

Whoever wins will have some time to celebrate before representing South America at the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates later in the month.

That is likely to be of second consideration, however, to the joy of lifting the trophy against their greatest rival.

"Whoever loses will need 20 years to recover," Macri said.

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 14:54:30 GMT
Schalke aim to dampen Dortmund's title charge in derby schalke aim to dampen dortmunds title charge in derby

Borussia Dortmund are flying high at the top of the Bundesliga but local rivals Schalke would love nothing more than to dent their title ambitions in Saturday's Ruhr derby.

Schalke were runners-up last term but are struggling in 12th this season and in desperate need of a boost.

Dortmund in contrast have built rapidly under new coach Lucien Favre from their fourth-place finish last season and are unbeaten, seven points clear of Borussia Moenchengladbach in second.

"Dortmund have got a good team this year, who are very dangerous going forward. Marco Reus, Paco Alcacer and Jadon Sancho, to name a few, are delivering week in week out and it is quite impressive," Austrian midfielder Alessandro Schoepf told the Schalke homepage.

"Despite this, we still have a chance. If we put our all into the game, we can win the derby.

"Dortmund have not lost a game so far but it is about time they did."

Schalke beat Dortmund at home last season and a remarkable comeback from four goals down secured a draw at their rivals to ensure local honours.

Coach Domenico Tedesco has been given time to turn things round and Champions League progress, along with a solid point at Hoffenheim last time, shows all is not yet lost.

A win over Dortmund would undo a lot of the damage from previous months.

"We now want to give everything we have to prepare for the derby – we’ll give it 100 per cent," he promised.

Dortmund have had some lucky escapes to maintain their unbeaten domestic record, rescuing a late draw at Hoffenheim and coming from behind to defeat Bayer Leverkusen, Augsburg and champions Bayern Munich.

Accordingly they have their sights set higher than mere local disputes, even if the title is still being talked down.

"That's not the goal but it's the dream," midfielder Thomas Delaney told a Ruhr Nachrichten show.

"Hopefully it'll continue this way until the end. What I can promise is that we're very hungry."

Gladbach lost ground in the title race with a loss to RB Leipzig last weekend and must wait until Sunday to try to bounce back against relegation-threatened VfB Stuttgart.

They too, however, as trying to keep their feet on the ground.

“We’ve been playing really well for a while now, but that doesn’t mean we are a Dortmund hunter," coach Dieter Hecking said.

"We don’t want to be considered title candidates, but instead a team that wants to play successful football week-in week-out.”

Third-place Leipzig travel to Freiburg on Saturday at the same time Munich, fourth, host lowly Nuremberg in a Bavarian derby.

Unlike the two Borussias, Bayern are unabashed in the chase for titles despite their poor form.

They have't won a Bundesliga game in front of their own fans since mid-September and currently trail Dortmund by nine points.

"We’re already talking about saying goodbye but the team has plenty of ambition and I do as well," veteran winger Arjen Robben told the club homepage after saying this season would be his last with the team.

"My goal is to leave with at least one trophy in the summer."

Weekend action begins with Werder Bremen trying to end a five-game winless run at home to bottom club Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday, Saturday also includes Leverkusen v Augsburg and Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim, and Sunday opens with Mainz v Hanover.

Thu, 06 Dec 2018 12:54:59 GMT
Messi primed for Catalan derby after Ballon d'Or snub messi primed for catalan derby after ballon dor snub

After overtaking Sevilla last week to return to the top of La Liga, Barcelona are looking to build momentum against local rivals Espanyol in a Catalan derby on Saturday.

Although Barcelona have suffered a recent injury crisis with Samuel Umtiti, Sergi Roberto and others out of action, Lionel Messi's good form has helped them come through it unscathed.

The Argentine forward has three goals and three assists in his last four games across all competitions.

Messi was ranked fifth in the Ballon d’Or vote standings on Monday as Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric ended Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s decade-long hegemony on the trophy.

After being rested for Barca’s comprehensive 4-1 Copa del Rey round of 32 win over Cultural Leonesa on Wednesday, Messi is fresh and has a point to prove.

"We congratulate Modric for winning the Ballon d'Or but Messi being in fifth place is absurd," Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said. "I will not get into discussing the inconsistencies of the prize."

Messi has nine goals in La Liga, trailing top scorer Cristhian Stuani, who has 11 strikes for Girona, and Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas on 10.

Team-mate Suarez has nine as well and the duo are expected to link up again on Saturday, with Suarez returning after taking stem cell treatment on a knee problem.

The Uruguayan hitman is expected to feature against Espanyol and then return to the treatment table, missing the Champions League match against Tottenham on Tuesday.

The top of the table is tightly packed and just seven points separate the league leaders from their crosstown opponents.

Espanyol started the season brilliantly and despite a recent dip in form saw them fall to seventh, confidence is high in Cornella.

Even though traditional nemesis Real Madrid have struggled this season, champions Barcelona have not been able to move clear at the top, struggling to maintain a string of good results.

Second place Sevilla travel to Valencia, while Atletico Madrid, third, host Alaves, fourth, both earlier on Saturday in a pair of exciting fixtures.

On Sunday, Santiago Solari's Real travel to minnows Huesca, bottom of La Liga, and will look to build on their record of six wins from seven games since the coach took charge.

Solari has made some big decisions since taking over, including installing Thibaut Courtois as the first choice goalkeeper and treating Isco as a reserve instead of a key player.

It appears his work is paying off, with Madrid keeping clean sheets in five matches since his appointment, having been notably leaky under predecessor Julen Lopetegui.

One player on the way back to his best is Ballon d’Or winner Modric, who looked tired at the start of the season after leading Croatia to the World Cup final in Russia.

"He’s had a wonderful year and he’s given everything to Real Madrid and his national team," Solari said. "[The award] comes at a time of maturity in his career. 

"It seems to me that at that age it's more beautiful because he can truly value it. We’re all very happy with his prize."

The weekend’s other fixtures are Leganes v Getafe, Villarreal v Celta Vigo, Espanyol v Barcelona, Eibar v Levante, Real Sociedad v Real Valladolid, Real Betis v Rayo Vallecano and Athletic Club v Girona.


Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:56:33 GMT
All-conquering Shiffrin set for more success as WC returns to Europe allconquering shiffrin set for more success as wc returns to europe

The women's alpine skiing World Cup continues on the weekend at the famous Swiss venue of St Moritz where American Mikaela Shiffrin can further work on her greatness.

The 23-year-old is coming off her first career super-g race in Lake Louise, Canada, which made her the first skier to win a race in all six disciplines in the sport.

Shffrin's 46 top spots overall (34 in slalom, six in giant slalom, three in parallel races and one each in downhill, super-g and combined) put her joint-fourth in the all-time list.

Saturday's super-g and Sunday's parallel slalom give her the chance to move ahead of Austrian Renate Goetschl and further close in on Swiss Vreni Schneider (55 wins), Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell (62) and team-mate Lindsey Vonn (82).

Given her young age and the fact that she has topped more than 10 races in each of the past two seasons (12 in 2017-18 and and 11 in 2016-17), Shiffrin is also serious contender for the all-time mark of 86 from Swedish icon Ingemar Stenmark, which however Vonn could better in her final full season.

"A lot more can happen, many more records can tumble," German rival Viktoria Rebensburg said.

While the slalom remains the pet discipline for Shiffrin who got her first three wins before the age of 18, she has expanded to the speed events, winning her first downhill last year in Lake Louise and then also conquering a super-g Sunday in what was only her 10th start in the discipline.

"When I was a little girl, I wanted to win every discipline, so this is just a dream come true," Shiffrin said Sunday.

"I figured that at some point in my career I'd be able to win a super-g, but I definitely didn't expect for it to happen this quickly, because there are a lot of things I still need to learn about speed.

"For that to happen at this point in my career, I'm really over the moon about it."

Shiffrin once famously said there are no limits but for now she at least doesn't plan to compete in every speed race.

"This season I’m still going to race just some super-gs ... I have to be in the right mindset, so I plan to ski the super-g in St Moritz, but then it’s up in the air," she said.

Shiffrin competed in only seven speed races in the past season and in three so far in this campaign.

But she has nonetheless claimed the last two overall World Cups, to go with Olympic gold in the 2014 slalom and 2018 giant slalom, plus three straight world titles in the slalom between 2013 and 2017.

Shiffrin - who has by now learnt to deal with pre-race nerves which even prompted her to vomit on several occasions - eyes more silverware this season, in the World Cup and the worlds in February in Are, Sweden, as she is as determined as ever.

"I still have the same motivation that I did seven years ago when I started, and it doesn't really matter how much success I have...I still feel this motivation, like, I'm not finished," she told CNN ahead of the season.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 14:47:42 GMT
Serena Williams and Andy Murray return to Australian Open serena williams and andy murray return to australian open

Serena Williams and Andy Murray will return to the Australian Open next month, the tournament confirmed on Wednesday as it announced that the world's top 102 women and top 101 men are set to compete.

Britain's Murray has been struggling to recover from a hip injury and skipped this year's contest, but has entered using his protected ranking. 

Williams also missed the 2018 tournament after giving birth to her first child. The seven-time champion, who last won the Grand Slam while eight-weeks pregnant in 2017, has had a rocky return to the game this year.

World number ones Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep head up the men's and women's fields respectively while Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki will return to defend their titles. 

Wednesday's announcement came after British media reported that the Australian Open plans to follow Wimbledon's lead and introduce a tie-break in the final set in a bid to reduce the length of matches.

However, rather than playing it at 12-12 and with the first-to-seven rule as Wimbledon plans to do next year, the Australians will play a tie-break at 6-6 and use a first-to-ten-points version, according to the Telegraph.

The British paper said Tennis Australia had applied to the Grand Slam Board for permission to use the scoring system and had received permission on a year-by-year trial basis.

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 14:37:15 GMT
Germany's Dressen undergoes knee surgery germanys dressen undergoes knee surgery

German alpine skier Thomas Dressen was on Tuesday operated on a season-ending ruptured right knee cruciate ligament, the nation's ski federation said.

Team doctor Manuel Koehne conducted the arthroscopy in a Munich clinic after the 25-year-old Dressen suffered the injury at the Beaver Creek downhill in Colorado on Friday.

"The operation was very positive," Koehne said. "Thomas can resume snow training in six to eight months, depending on a positive healing process."

Dressen is Germany's best downhill skier. He was third last year in Beaver Creek and and in January 2018 famously won the Kitzbuehel downhill, the most famous and difficult race on the calendar.

"I am happy that the operation went well and the first step has been taken towards a return to racing. I will take my time for a thorough rehabilitation. I am optimistic and will start within the next days," Dressen said.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 16:18:28 GMT
Russia's athletics federation remains suspended by IAAF russias athletics federation remains suspended by iaaf

The ruling athletics body IAAF on Tuesday extended the suspension of the Russian federation RUSAF until important conditions are met in the wake of wide-ranging doping practices in the country.

The IAAF council decided at a meeting in Monaco that Russia must grant access to data and samples in its Moscow laboratory, and pay the bills for the work of an IAAF task force on the case.

The IAAF maintained its strict policy on the matter even after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in September lifted its suspension of the Russian body RUSADA, as long as Russia allowed Moscow lab access by December 31 and suspicious samples were tested by June 30.

"The task force hopes that RUSAF and the Russian authorities will now take all steps necessary to meet these conditions as soon as possible," the IAAF said in a statement.

The task force stands ready to meet as soon as these conditions have been met in order to make a recommendation to Council for the reinstatement of RUSAF."

The next council meeting is in March but IAAF president Sebastian Coe suggested it could make an earlier decision in the case of an according recommendation from the task force.

Russia's athletics federation was suspended in November 2015 by the IAAF and Russian athletes can only compete as neutrals, after proving they undergo regular doping tests outside of Russia.

RUSAF in September lodged an appeal against the ongoing suspension by the IAAF at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A WADA delegation meanwhile visited the Moscow lab last week and hopes to receive the data by the end-of-year deadline.

"We will see how the events unfold," Coe said Tuesday.

Task force chief Rune Andersen said that a reinstatement can only be considered once its athletics' integrity unit has received the data from WADA and looked into samples for possible tampering or positive tests.

German ARD network alleged systematic doping, the cover-up of positive tests and corruption in Russian sport in December 2014 with secret recordings and witness statements to back up the allegations.

Two reports from WADA investigator Richard McLaren spoke of wide-ranging and state-sponsored doping practices in Russia, including the tampering of samples at the Russia's Sochi 2014 home Olympics.

Russia's biathlon federation was provisionally suspended in 2017, the country stripped of the 2021 world championships, while its athletes can continue to compete as Russians.

"It is very hard to speculate on the timeframe for Russia to be fully reinstated. If they do not comply with the conditions, it will take a long time to be a full member," biathlon ruling body IBU chief Olle Dahlin said two weeks ago.

The International Paralympic Committee barred all Russian athletes from the 2016 Games in Rio and 2018 winter edition in Pyeongchang while the International Olympic Committee reinstated Russia after Pyeongchang, where some 170 Russians competed as neutrals.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 16:10:08 GMT
Berizzo addresses stepping down as struggling Athletic lose again berizzo addresses stepping down as struggling athletic lose again

Athletic Bilbao coach Eduardo Berizzo spoke about standing down from his position after his team were beaten 3-0 by Levante in Spain's La Liga on Monday.

Chema Rodriguez opened the scoring for Levante on 49 minutes. Jose Campana made it two 10 minutes later, with Roger Marti completing the rout in the 69th.

The victory saw Levante move up to sixth in the table. Athletic, who also had Peru Nolaskoain sent off, remain third from bottom.

"I feel responsible. I think we work hard but we find ourselves in an unfortunate situation, Berizzo said. "If the best thing for the team is that I stand down then I would contemplate that."

Asked if he had already considered quitting, he replied: "So far I have only thought about the game. If my resignation serves some purpose then that is what will be."

Athletic have only won one game all season.

"I would like to tell my players to be positive and that will have its reward. Together we can turn the situation around," Berizzo added.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 09:58:40 GMT
Leverkusen frustrated in sodden Nuremberg leverkusen frustrated in sodden nuremberg

Bayer Leverkusen were left to rue missed chances as Nuremberg snatched a barely deserved 1-1 Bundesliga home draw on Monday.

Teenager Kai Havertz opened the scoring for Leverkusen before the break in a game played in torrential rain with water on the pitch making passing difficult.

The guests could have secured the points but paid for their misses and Georg Margreitter, with a second half deflection, grabbed a crucial equalizer for Nuremberg.

Leverkusen still edge up to 11th in a poor season while promoted Nuremberg climb out of the relegation play-off place on goal difference.

A muted atmosphere greeted the players as fans continued protests against the first of five Monday games this season.

The Bundesliga introduced the kick-off slot to ease the load on teams playing in the Europa League but Leverkusen - in action last Thursday - got round this problem themselves by recalling nine players to their starting eleven.

They immediately took advantage of the weather as an apparently overhit pass held up in the box for Karim Bellarabi to shoot though Fabian Bredlow, deputizing for the injured Christian Mathenia, saved well.

Sven Bender hit the bar with a looping mishit and Kevin Volland turned into the side-netting as Leverkusen turned the screw before finally taking the lead in the 30th minute.

Bredlow could only punch a cross under pressure and Havertz calmly guided a chip inside the post to break the deadlock.

"You just have to hammer the ball into the box. In such weather it's not about carrying the ball in their nicely," Leverkusen captain Lars Bender told Eurosport.

Havertz described the conditions as "catastrophic" and complained: "You could see there wasn't a football game here today rather simply a battle."

Early in the second half Volland and Brandt spurned good chances to double the lead and Nuremberg made the most of their good fortune.

A cross wasn't properly cleared by Leverkusen and though Margreitter's shot did not look dangerous, a deflection completely deceived keeper Lukas Hradecky to level in the 56th minute.

"Difficult pitch, difficult to play," said Nuremberg's Hanno Behrens. "It was very good that we came back from the first goal."

The match became increasingly comical late on in the soaking conditions but no winner could be found despite slips from both sides.

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 09:41:49 GMT
Man City, Liverpool keep things simple as battle at top intensifies man city liverpool keep things simple as battle at top intensifies

Manchester City and Liverpool, the last two unbeaten sides in the entire English league system, will look to keep pace with each other again this week as the Premier League adds a midweek programme.

Leaders City, two points ahead at the top, travel to Watford while Liverpool are away to second-bottom Burnley.

While others have looked for the superlatives to describe City and Liverpool this season, the top two continue to go about their business, simply taking it, as the cliche goes, one game at a time.

It is a philosophy that has served them well and even though Watford have lost three of their past four games, City manager Pep Guardiola is interested only in his own team.

"Our success in the last 15 months has come because we don't care too much about what our opponents do," Guardiola told reporters on Saturday.

"To become a good club, you have to win titles again and again. We have a lot of points in the league and we qualified in the Champions League with one game left."

Guardiola will wait on the fitness of striker Sergio Aguero, who missed the weekend win over Bournemouth with a muscular injury.

"There are a lot of games and we don’t want to take risks of injuries," Guardiola said. "One month or a month-and-a-half loss with nine or 10 games is too much.

"I don't know if Aguero will be fit. We will see."

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp will have to bring his squad back down to solid ground after their last-minute win over Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

Like Guardiola, Klopp is likely to make some changes, with captain Jordan Henderson available after suspension and midfielders Naby Keita and James Milner having started the Everton game on the bench.

"We will see how we line up in the next (game)," said Klopp, who may also rest Sadio Mane after the forward cut his foot on Sunday.

"We only have to think about Burnley, not Bournemouth or Naples or (Manchester) United or Wolves (in the four games following Burnley).

Burnley manager Sean Dyche saw his side drop into the bottom three at the weekend but believes a good result is just around the corner.

"Sometimes there's a bottoming out period and I am hoping we've got to that stage," Dyche said.

"It's hard to explain because there's no measurement, but subliminally everyone says: 'we've got more than that' and we've got way more than that, I am sure of it."

Third-placed Chelsea, five points behind Liverpool, welcome Wolves to Stamford Bridge while Arsenal will take the confidence of a win over Tottenham in the north London derby on Sunday into their trip to a Manchester United side struggling for confidence.

"It is a very big victory," Arsenal manager Unai Emery said on Sunday.

"But above all it is three points, like against Bournemouth last weekend. We need to continue our process, creating our way. I want to do more."

Tottenham, meanwhile, have to pick themselves up quickly when they host third-bottom Southampton, who will be coached by Kelvin Davis after the departure of manager Mark Hughes, on Wednesday.

Toby Alderweireld could come back into the defence as manager Mauricio Pochettino juggles his options.

"It's crazy the fixtures we have until January and it's very important to manage all the players in the best way and trying to avoid risk."

Everton host Newcastle, while bottom side Fulham travel to Leicester and Bournemouth take on Huddersfield.

Brighton & Hove Albion meet Crystal Palace and West Ham face Cardiff in the other matches.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 15:58:30 GMT
Swiss test for hosts Portugal, England meet Dutch in Nations League swiss test for hosts portugal england meet dutch in nations league

Hosts Portugal will meet Switzerland in the 2019 Nations League finals last four with England taking on the Netherlands.

European champions Portugal were first out of the hat in Monday's Dublin draw and will not be unhappy to meet the Swiss in the first semi-final on June 5 next year.

Two improving sides meet on June 6 when Gareth Southgate's World Cup semi-finalists England face the Dutch, who knocked out world champions France and Germany in the group stage.

The final and third-place games both take place on June 9. Porto will host Portugal's semi and the final while Guimaeres has the England v Netherlands semi and third-place tie.

"It's a great opportunity, I think that we have a chance to create great moments, great emotions," Fernando Gomes, the Portuguese Football Federation president said.

A senior finals is returning to Portugal for the first time since 2004 when Portugal reached the European Championship final only to lose to underdogs Greece.

"A fantastic environment, as we saw in 2004, and I'm quite sure that it will be a fantastic tournament, with a fantastic atmosphere," Gomes added.

Coach Fernando Santos led the team to the historic Euro 2016 triumph in France and is now hoping to replicate that success in front of their own fans.

"We have that dream of reaching the final and winning the trophy in our country, but we will have to work hard for it as we are going to face a great opponent in the semi-finals," Santos said.

They start with a rematch against Switzerland, whom they faced in 2018 World Cup qualifying. Both sides won their home games.

"Switzerland are a good team, we know them well, having played them in the qualifiers," Santos said. "It's important to recognise their qualities."

The Swiss are ranked eighth in the world to Portugal's sixth but are hopeful of causing an upset.

"It's an interesting competition with some interesting matches," Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic said. "We have to go to win.

"We will have to prepare well and be ready in June – and be ready to create a surprise."

England survived an incredibly tough group by beating Croatia, who knocked them out of the World Cup semi-finals, and Spain.

"We've really enjoyed the competition already - the Nations League has been a great success," manager Gareth Southgate said.

"We're now looking forward to the semi-finals. We play a team similar to us, developing with lots of young players. It's a very exciting game to look forward to."

The Netherlands, who missed the 2016 Euros and last World Cup, are on the up under coach Ronaldo Koeman having enjoyed famous victories over France and arch-rivals Germany.

"We have a lot of respect for the English team," Koeman said. "The way Gareth is managing the England side - he is giving opportunities to young players - is the same as we like to do. It's a great opportunity."

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 15:53:34 GMT
Robben confirms this season is his last at Bayern robben confirms this season is his last at bayern

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben expects this season to be his last at Bayern Munich.

"I can already say very clearly and honestly, it is, I think, my last year. I think it was a good, 10 years at Bayern," the 34-year-old Dutchman said in a video to a Bayern fan club, Omnisport reported on Sunday.
"The club keeps going, maybe I'll go on and not stop altogether."

The injury-prone Robben signed a new one-year deal at Bayern for this season alongside fellow veteran Franck Ribery, 35.

Club president Uli Hoeness told another fan club that the duo "are very probably playing their final season" for Bayern.

Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:57:12 GMT
Syria’s wheelchair basketball team ranks 2nd in Lebanon Int’l Championship syria’s wheelchair basketball team ranks 2nd in lebanon int’l championship

Syria’s wheelchair basketball team ranked 2nd in Lebanon International Championship, which wrapped up activities on Sunday under the supervision of the International Red Cross.

Syria’s wheelchair basketball team won the first match with India, 40/48 points and the second one against Lebanon 45/19.

The Indian team ranked third, Lebanon fourth and Iraq came in the fifth place.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 12:32:29 GMT
Wilder knocks down Fury twice in controversial heavyweight draw wilder knocks down fury twice in controversial heavyweight draw

Deontay Wilder retained his WBC heavyweight title against Tyson Fury after two knockdowns awarded him a controversial split decision draw in Los Angeles on Saturday. 

The judges scorecards read 115-111 in favour of Wilder, 114-112 in favour of Fury and a 113-113 draw.

Fury fell in the ninth and 12th rounds but climbed off the canvas both times in a spirited performance in which he clearly out-boxed the champion in most of the rounds. 

"We’re on away soil, I got knocked down twice, but I still believe I won that fight," said Fury

"I'm being a total professional here. I went to Germany to fight Klitschko and I went to America to fight Deontay Wilder. God bless America. The ‘Gypsy King’ has returned." 

With the draw, Wilder and Fury are still undefeated and the nature of the result could prompt a rematch in 2019. 

"I would love for it to be my next fight. Why not?," said Wilder. 

"Let’s give the fans what they want to see. It was a a great fight and let’s do it again. It doesn’t matter to me where we do it. 

"We’re the two best in the world and we proved it tonight. When you get two warriors you get a great fight. That’s what we proved tonight and I’m ready to do it again."

It was a sensational display from Fury who was only competing in his second world title fight since beating Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA, WBO and IBF titles in 2015. 

The 30-year-old Briton, who remains unbeaten in 28 fights, took almost three years out of the sport after mental health issues and excessive weight gain, where he weighed over 180 kilograms. 

"I hope I did you all proud after nearly three years out of the ring," said Fury. 

"I was never going to be knocked down tonight. I showed good heart to get up. I came here tonight and I fought my heart out."

Wilder, who weighed in for the fight at his career-lightest of 96 kilograms (212lbs), entered the ring wearing a golden mask and crown.

The first minute of the fight was cautious between the heavyweight pair but then the fight exploded into life at the Staples Center. 

Wilder, a known knockout artist with 39 knockouts in 41 contests,  made the first move with a swinging right. 

He followed his intent by landing the first clean blow of the fight, clipping Fury with a left hook.

Reminiscent of the Fury that dethroned Klitschko three years ago in Duesseldorf, Fury gave Wilder a sign that the champion of old returned by putting his hands behind his back and mocking the man they call the "Bronze Bomber." 

And in the third, Fury boxed well behind his jab and the former champion won the round on the bell with a short left hook. 

Fury unleashed more combinations at the start of the fifth round but with no telling effect as Wilder kept his head wrapped tight in a shell and pushed Fury back with a straight arm. 

The self-proclaimed "Gypsy King" pressed forward at the half-way stage, knocking Wilder back with another lighting quick combination and continued to bounce around the ring, poking his jab. 

The arena crowd sprung from their seats in the seventh after Fury caught Wilder with a stinging right hook. Fury continued to dodge Wilder whenever he came forward trying to win the fight by detonating one big bomb. 

But the Alabama fighter finally set one off in the ninth round, as Wilder pummelled Fury into the canvas with a chopping right on the top of the head. 

Fury rose to his feet and began to taunt his opponent by raising his arms and sticking out his tongue, asking Wilder to come forward. 

But Wilder’s gas tank was running near empty after the last tiring eight rounds he spent chasing Fury around the ring. He looked drained swinging for a finisher. 

Fury finished the 11th round comfortably in charge - and he knew it as he raised his fist to the crowd. 

However, Wilder’s chance to try and steal a win came in the final round when he stunned Fury with a thudding right and dropped him with  a vicious left hook. 

Fury laid flat and looked unconscious but he opened his eyes and rose to his feet to hear the final bell. 

A chorus of boos echoed throughout the arena as the judges returned mixed scorecards and indecision once again marred a spectacular fight. 

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 10:21:19 GMT
Man City extend Premier League lead; rivals United fall further back man city extend premier league lead rivals united fall further back

Manchester City extended their Premier League lead on Saturday while another lacklustre performance dropped Manchester United further behind their neighbours.

City beat Bournemouth 3-1 to go five points clear of Liverpool, who host Everton on Sunday.

Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Guendogan scored for the champions, who had to work for their sixth straight league win.

"People think it's easy for us but that is not the truth so I like to win in this way," manager Pep Guardiola told the BBC.

"Sometimes it happens. It is a lesson we have to learn, how to win when we are tired."

United, meanwhile, had to fight back to draw 2-2 at relegation-threatened Southampton.

Despite overcoming an early two-goal deficit, United now find themselves 16 points behind City after 14 games and six points off a Champions League spot.

"I think it was not the result we wanted," manager Jose Mourinho told BT Sport, though he did have some praise for his side. 

"Good spirit, good fight, good comeback to 2-2. A great example of players fighting."

Silva put champions City in front at the Etihad Stadium but Bournemouth equalized through Callum Wilson's header just before half-time.

Sterling then restored the lead in the 57th minute and Guendogan added a late third to send Bournemouth to a fourth straight loss.

Seeking their first home win, Southampton made a dream start with goals from Stuart Armstrong and Cedric in the first 20 minutes.

But United fought back to level before half-time through Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera.

Neither side mounted much pressure after the break, leaving Southampton third-bottom of the table with just one win.

"At 2-0 up we had a foothold," Saints winger Nathan Redmond said. "We're kicking ourselves that we couldn’t manage the game better."

Leicester City's good form continued with a 2-0 home win over Watford, who had Etienne Capoue sent off late.

Jamie Vardy and James Maddison scored as the Foxes made it five games unbeaten to sit eighth.

Crystal Palace beat Burnley 2-0 for their first home win this term.

Goals from James McArthur and Andros Townsend gave Palace their first victory in nine games and extended Burnley's winless run to eight.

Javier Hernandez's brace led West Ham to a convincing 3-0 win at Newcastle, who had won three straight, while Brighton came from behind to beat 10-man Huddersfield 2-1.

Mathias Jorgenson scored after 55 seconds, the fastest goal in the league this season, to give Huddersfield an early lead.

Steve Mounie was then sent off and Brighton took advantage as Shane Duffy levelled in first-half stoppage time and Florin Andone won it with a 69th minute header.

"When they went down to 10 men you have to try to capitalize on that," Brighton boss Chris Hughton said.

"It is difficult when you are the team with 11 men but we made the extra man show and Florin Andone's goal was excellent."

A pair of London derbies are also on Sunday's schedule with Chelsea hosting Fulham and Tottenham visiting Arsenal. 

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 07:07:21 GMT
Gnabry boosts Kovac and Bayern, leaders Dortmund win again gnabry boosts kovac and bayern leaders dortmund win again

Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry scored twice against his former club Werder Bremen to seal a 2-1 Bundesliga away win on Saturday and help ease the pressure on coach Niko Kovac.

Bayern moved up to third after 13 games but remain nine points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund after they fashioned a 2-0 home win over Freiburg thanks to a Marco Reus penalty and another Paco Alcacer goal from the bench.

Dortmund have a seven-point cushion over second-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, who travel to RB Leipzig on Sunday before fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt host Wolfsburg.

In Saturday's other matches, VfB Stuttgart jumped three places off the bottom following a 1-0 home win over Augsburg and Hertha Berlin prevailed 2-0 at Hanover.

Hosts Hoffenheim drew 1-1 with Schalke in a late game peppered with controversial penalty calls involving the video assistant.

Fans across the Bundesliga protested over Monday matches during the first half of games by refusing to sing and by holding up banners.

Winger Gnabry, starting for Bayern because Arjen Robben was only fit enough for the bench, first pounced on 20 minutes after his first attempt had been saved.

The video assistant deemed the winger to have been onside from Joshua Kimmich's clever pass.

Bremen then hit back on 33 minutes when Max Kruse was allowed to cross for Yuya Osako to nod home.

The ball struck Manuel Neuer on the way in and the Germany goalkeeper could arguably have done better, with defender Jerome Boateng also looking at fault.

Gnabry spared their blushes with a lucky strike early in the second half. Bremen defender Niklas Moisander deflected Thomas Mueller's cross onto Gnabry's leg and the ball dribbled into the corner. Moisander was sent off late on for a second booking.

"I liked a lot about our performance and I only have to complain about the missed chances. And in the 10 minutes after we took the lead we defended too passively, otherwise we worked well," said Kovac, who welcomed back Kingsley Coman and Thiago from injury.

Kovac's position as Bayern coach came under scrutiny following last weekend's 3-3 home draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf, the latest in a series of disappointing results which even led club president Uli Hoeness to say "internal discussions" would take place.

The Croatian, in his first season as Bayern coach, boosted his prospects with a 5-1 win over Benfica in the Champions League in midweek which sealed last 16 qualification. But the nervous win in Bremen and more defensive frailty leaves doubts about his future.

Bayern have now not lost to Bremen in 23 outings.

A lethargic Dortmund broke the deadlock at home to Freiburg five minutes before the break after Jadon Sancho had his toes stood on by Dominique Heintz. Reus blasted the spot-kick down the middle and most Dortmund fans cheered for the first time given the protest.

Alcacer then netted late on to become the Bundesliga's top scorer with 10 goals from eight matches played.

"I totally understand people are protesting. I would ban all games on Monday. But I regret the situation because the fans bring us a lot, we need their support," said Favre, whose side are enjoying their best season start in eight years in his first campaign in charge.

Stuttgart recorded only their third win this season thanks to a 39th-minute goal from Anastasios Donis against a toothless Augsburg.

Hertha moved up to seventh after Jordan Torunarigha headed in a corner and Vedad Ibisevic nodded home, leaving Hanover second-bottom.

Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric converted from the spot when Bastian Oczipka's questionable handball was ruled a penalty after Schalke had an earlier spotkick for handball chalked off by the referee when he viewed a replay.

Schalke gained some revenge when Ermin Bicakcic was debatably adjudged to have tripped Daniel Caligiuri in the box and Nabil Bentaleb did the rest.

Mainz won 1-0 at now bottom Dusseldorf in Friday's game. Nuremberg play Bayer Leverkusen on Monday.

Sun, 02 Dec 2018 06:58:46 GMT
Record winners Sevilla among three Spanish sides seeking EL progress record winners sevilla among three spanish sides seeking el progress

Record winners Sevilla, crosstown rivals Real Betis and Villarreal aim to keep the Spanish flag flying in the Europa League by reaching the knock-out stages on the penultimate matchday Thursday.

Sevilla require only a draw at Standard Liege to reach the last 32, so do Betis against Olympiacos depending on the result of the other game in their group while Villarreal are through if they win in Scotland at Rangers.

Six of the last nine titles in Europe's second-tier event have gone to Spain, with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla winning three each - giving Sevilla a total of five overall as they also lifted the trophy in 2005 and 2006.

Seven clubs have already qualified for the knock-outs, including the English duo of Arsenal and Chelsea and Germany's Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen.

Sevilla go to Liege with the confidence of Spanish league leaders and joint leaders in Group J on nine points with Russia's Krasnodar. Liege have six and need a victory to stay alive while Turkey's Akhishat are out on zero ahead of their trip to Krasnodar.

Sevilla coach Pablo Machin has remained modest throughout the successful run, saying after the latest league win against Valladolid: "Let's enjoy being top and appreciate what we are achieving."

Villarreal meanwhile langiush in 14th place in La Liga ahead of their Rangers date but hope that a weekend 2-1 over Betis to end a run of five games without success is a sign of better times to come.

“We hope the win against Betis is a turning point for our season. The important thing now is to keep the momentum going with a win in Glasgow," midfielder Santi Cazerlo said.

Villarreal can not afford to drop points in tight group G where all four teams are still alive. They top the group on six points but Rangers and Spartak Moscow have five each and Rapid Vienna, who go to to Moscow in the other game, four.

Betis are also top of their group F on eight points, with AC Milan - who host eliminated Dudelange in the other game - and Olympiacos on seven each.

They have scored stunning away victories at Barcelona in La Liga and at AC Milan in the Europa League but now want to finally win at home again for the first time in all events since a 3-0 over Dudelange in early October.

But coach Quique Setien said: "We are a team in the making, we still lack some things. I have a lot of confidence in this team, they are growing, we have a good performance rate."

Milan will be hoping for a draw in Seville while they are big favourites against Dudelange, with coach Gennaro Gattuso planning a two-man strike force of Gonzalo Higuain and Patrick Cutrone.

"Gonzalo will play and I hope that Patrick recovers as we will try to play with two hitters bacause it is a game we must win at all costs," gattuso said.

Things are a complicated in Group I where all four teams are still alive. Leaders Genk (seven) are at Malmo (five) who are joint second with Sarpsborg who host Besiktas (four).

Other clubs who can clinch their place in the last 16 include former champions Zenit St Petersburg, last season's semi-finalists Salzburg and Dynamo Kiev.

Topping a group is also important because winners will avoid the four best teams dropping down from the Champions League in the last 32 draw, and have the return leg of that stage at home.

No wonder Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who guided Sevilla to their title treble 2014-2016, is unlikely to bring out reserves only at Ukraine's Vorskla even though the Gunners then face Tottenham in the league on Sunday.

"For us the Europa League is very important. We want to finish first in the group," Emery said.

Wed, 28 Nov 2018 20:37:11 GMT
Mourinho again takes aim at critics as Man United progress in Europe mourinho again takes aim at critics as man united progress in europe

As he's done for most the the season, a defiant Jose Mourinho once again took aim at his critics after Manchester United trudged their way to knockout stages of the Champions League. 

Marouane Fellaini's 91st-minute goal gave United a 1-0 win over Young Boys Bern on Tuesday night that qualified them for the last 16. 

It was another laborious effort by United, whose dull play in both the Champions League and Premier League has gotten plenty of criticism. 

But Mourinho felt the best way to back his side's progression was to point out his successful record in Europe. 

“For some of my lovers I just want to say for the ones that like stats: 14 seasons in the Champions League, 14 times qualified through the group phase,” the Portuguese, no stranger to barbs from the media and critics, said in his post-match news conference.

“Never one of my teams stay behind in the group phase.

“The season I didn't play Champions League, I won the Europa League.”

The goal was United's first in three games at Old Trafford in this season's Champions League.

And it drew an odd reaction from Mourinho, who picked up a carrier full of water bottles and slammed it to the ground.

That immediately brought more criticism from ex-United players Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, both working as pundits for BT Sport's match broadcast.

“All eyes on me that is,” Ferdinand said.

“We’ve scored a goal and Manchester United have won but we’re here talking about Jose Mourinho’s reaction.”

Scholes, a frequent Mourinho critic, agreed with his former team-mate. 

“It’s always 'I' with Jose," he said. "'I won the Champions League, I won the Europa League'.

"Last time I looked football was a team game.

"Why does he think he needs to remind us what he has won? We all know what he has won, or what his teams have won.

"I’m hoping [the celebration] was a bit of anger and he is thinking ‘I am going to get in that dressing room and I don’t want everybody smiling, because that was not good enough.'"

As expected, Mourinho saw things differently.

“The ones who comment on football, not a lot of them have been on the touchline,” he said.

"For those who speak about expressing frustration on the bench I would invite them to come and sit there as a manager.

"Maybe they prefer lots of holidays in Barbados and they can go to the TV and use their electric dummies.

"That is much more comfortable than being on the bench."

Wed, 28 Nov 2018 20:27:49 GMT
Syria’s national basketball team meets its Chinese counterpart syria’s national basketball team meets its chinese counterpart

Syria’s national basketball team will face its Chinese counterpart tomorrow at 2:00 pm at the Shanghai Baoshan Indoor Stadium within the fifth window competitions of the 2019 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

On Tuesday, the Syrian team met the Chinese Jiangsu Dragons team in a friendly match at Nantong city. It ended with China’s team win over Syria 76 -66.

Wed, 28 Nov 2018 20:20:43 GMT
Celta slip-up on Cardoso debut as Real Sociedad claim first home win celta slipup on cardoso debut as real sociedad claim first home win

Real Sociedad moved up to 8th in La Liga with a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo on Monday.

It was their first home win of the season and it meant Miguel Cardoso’s reign as Celta Vigo coach started with a defeat.

Mikel Oyarzabal scored the opener on 37 minutes from just inside the area after both Willian Jose and Juanmi Jimenez had missed from close range.

David Zurutuza powered the second in with a header from Adnan Januzaj’s cross two minutes into the second half.

Cardoso had surprised everyone by leaving top scorer Maxi Gomez on the bench. He came on in the second half to head Celta Vigo back into the game but they could not find the equalizer.

Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas was upset after the game about the state of the pitch. He slipped when clean through with the score at 0-0.

“We had the chance to take the lead but the pitch let us down. That goal would have lifted our morale," Aspas said.

“The state of the pitch for our first-touch football did not help. The pitch was not the best for the best league in the world.”

Tue, 27 Nov 2018 10:51:57 GMT
Newcastle beat Burnley 2-1 for third straight Premier League win newcastle beat burnley 21 for third straight premier league win

Newcastle United continued their resurgence on Monday by beating Burnley 2-1 for their third straight Premier League win. 

Ben Mee's own goal and Ciaran Clark's header put Newcastle 2-0 up at Turf Moor before Sam Vokes pulled one back for the hosts before half-time.

Newcastle then had two chances to kill the game off in the second half but Matt Richey somehow missed an open goal and Joselu fired a shot off the post.

After starting the season winless in 10 games, the Magpies have now climbed up to 13th with their run.

"Every game for us is like a final," manager Rafael Benitez told the BBC.

"Winning is massive because it gives us more confidence.

"There is still a long race ahead but we are doing well and hopefully we can continue that."

The start of the match was delayed 30 minutes by a medical emergency after a referees' assessor collapsed in the tunnel and was taken to hospital.

Newcastle then took just four minutes to go in front as Federico Fernandez's shot hit Mee's outstretched and looped over keeper Joe Hart.

Clark's header made it 2-0 before Vokes struck with a header of his own in the 40th minute.

Richey then wasted a golden chance after the re-start by shooting into the outside of a gaping goal from just two yards away.

Joselu was later denied by the post and Vokes headed Burnley's final chance over goal in the closing seconds. 

Burnley are now winless in six in the league and remain one point above the relegation places in 17th. 

"We're still wondering how we didn't get something," Vokes said.

"We can take heart from the performance but not the result."

Tue, 27 Nov 2018 10:41:35 GMT
Euro giants facing Champions League crunch matches euro giants facing champions league crunch matches

Several of Europe's big hitters will be hoping to join Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League, while others will be hoping to avoid missing out.

European champions Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Roma, Juventus, Inter Milan and Porto all need a point in the penultimate group-stage matches to go through.

Others will be hoping to seal their places with victories, while teams like Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham Hotspur and Valencia are battling for survival.

Group C is one of the tightest groups where Napoli will be through if they beat Red Star Belgrade and PSG fail to beat Liverpool.

Juergen Klopp's Liverpool side are also aiming to seal progress with a victory in Paris if Napoli avoid defeat, but PSG, who could see the return from injury of strikers Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, will be fighting for their lives.

"We're aware this game with Liverpool is crucial for us," coach Thomas Tuchel said on the club's website.

"We're going to have to find the right balance between the aggression required to win while also keeping our cool. We'll have to have a certain faith in our ability, stay focused and keep our aim in mind."

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are also under pressure after recent poor form has increased speculation over the future of coach Niko Kovac.

Bayern will be looking to the Champions League to provide the antidote to their present malaise, knowing a draw at home to Benfica in Group E on Tuesday will be enough to progress.

After a 3-3 draw at home to lowly Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday, club president Uli Hoeness said the team were "playing really bad football, uninspired football, and most of all football without confidence."

Kovac, he said, would be in charge on Tuesday but "we will use the next days to find out what's going on" - comments interpreted as but a short reprieve for the Croatian coach.

Ajax will also be through with a win at AEK Athens, or if Benfica fail to get a point in Munich. The Portuguese side must win to have a chance of a top-two finish.

Premier League champions Manchester City control their own fate and need to avoid defeat at second-placed Lyon to go through from Group F on Tuesday. The French side are also looking to advance with a win, and a draw might also be enough.

Hoffenheim meanwhile take on Shakhtar Donetsk in the group needing a win to stay in contention.

Roma and Real Madrid come together in Group G knowing a draw will put both through at the expense of CSKA Moscow, who greet Viktoria Plzen.

Real coach Santiago Solari has Keylor Navas back fit but the Costa Rica keeper has not been named in the squad and Thibaut Courtois is likely to stay in goal.

Serie A champions Juventus need a draw at home to Valencia in Group H, where Manchester United are at home to Young Boys and could also advance with a victory if Valencia do not win in Turin.

"If we play with the same philosophy against Young Boys then we won't win," United manager Jose Mourinho said after a goalless draw with Crystal Palace in the league.

Both Bundesliga leaders Dortmund, at home to Club Brugge, and Atletico Madrid, hosting Monaco, know victories in Group A on Wednesday will be enough to reach the knock-out phase. Brugge must win to keep their hopes alive.

Barcelona are already assured of progress from Group B ahead of the visit to PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, while Tottenham meet Inter Milan in a crunch match. Spurs must win at Wembley while Inter need a draw.

Portuguese champions Porto are out to clinch top spot in Group D on Wednesday when they take on Schalke, who know a win will also be enough - and both sides could afford a defeat if Galatasaray fail to win at Lokomotiv Moscow.

Mon, 26 Nov 2018 12:02:33 GMT
Alonso bids farewell from F1 - for now - as thoughts turn to 2019 alonso bids farewell from f1for nowas thoughts turn to 2019

The 2018 Formula One season ended with victory for world champion Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday and a refreshed grid, without Spanish great Fernando Alonso, awaits in 2019.

The two-time champion Alonso is widely regarded as one of the best drivers around but brought a frustrating few years with McLaren to an end with an 11th placed finish.

“It’s going to be a good memory, the whole package in Formula 1,” said Alonso. “A fantastic journey from a very young age until now, fighting always in any circumstances, in any car and I think achieving a lot of success that I never expected."

His talent could have brought even more success but bad decisions and bad luck cost him dearly over the years.

Alonso will now turn his attention to winning the Indy500, to go with victories in the Monaco GP and 24 hours of Le Mans to become just the second man to complete the motorsport 'triple crown'.

If he achieves that goal, a return to F1 - in some form - is not ruled out.

“Right now I’m not thinking to come back, that’s for sure,” said Alonso, “but I don’t know how I will feel next year.

"But for 2020, maybe I feel the need to do a full calendar in something, maybe full IndyCar, maybe full Formula 1, I don’t know, and maybe that’s the time to come back."

In his absence, the superb Hamilton will start as favourite for a third straight title and sixth overall.

"I've been able to be a better me all year long and I will continue to try to work on that and try to work on the energy that I'm projecting to people," the Briton said.

"I had a lot of fun in the car today - I love driving, I loved driving every minute today and I hope I have many more days to go."

A renewed challenge is expected from Ferrari who had the fastest car earlier in the season and their driver Sebastian Vettel - who fought Hamilton until a late slump ended his hopes of a fifth title. He was second in Abu Dhabi.

"It has been a very intense year and I think we have to look at ourselves, as there are many things that we can do better and the potential this team has is still huge," Vettel said.

The form driver of the last few races has arguably been young Dutchman Max Verstappen, who could push into the title battle for Red Bull.

"Everyone is ready for a bit of a break now, so we will take some time off once testing is complete, and come back refreshed and ready for a new challenge in 2019," he said after finishing third.

It was the final appearance, for now, for McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne, Sauber's Macrus Ericsson, Sergey Sorotkin of Williams and Force India's Esteban Ocon as they don't have race seats for 2019. Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley is also likely to bid farewell.

Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and likely Lance Stroll will all be back with different teams next year - Sauber, Renault, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Force India respectively.

Robert Kubica, Daniil Kvyat and Antonio Giovinazzi will return to F1 with Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber, and there will be debuts for Lando Norris (McLaren) and George Russell (Williams).

Mon, 26 Nov 2018 11:50:29 GMT
Barcelona salvage late draw with Atletico, Eibar shock Real Madrid barcelona salvage late draw with atletico eibar shock real madrid

A last minute equalizer earned Barcelona a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid on Saturday to keep them top of La Liga, one point ahead of their hosts.

Atletico were set for victory and the top spot when they took the lead on 77 minutes from Diego Costa’s header from Koke's corner.

But substitute Ousmane Dembele struck in the 90th minute from Leo Messi’s pass to rescue a share of the spoils.

It was an at times ill-tempered affair with no shots on goal in the first half.

"It was not an outstanding game. They sat back in defended and allowed us to dominate," said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.

“There were not many chances and we had to have patience. We also had to watch carefully for their counter-attacks.

“We knew they would be strong from set-pieces and that is how their goal came but we were able to get back into the game.”

Asked about Dembele he said: “He is a great player. That is not in doubt. He can do many things well and one of those is to score.”

A disappointed Diego Simeone said: “It was a hard fought draw. They did not have too many clear-cut chances. Our commitment was superb."

Asked about Costa he said: “Costa was like an animal out there. He got a knock at the end nothing more. That is why we had to take him off."

The draw keeps Barcelona a point clear and gives both teams another point advantage over faltering Real Madrid, though Sevilla could leapfrog the pair go top of the table with a win over Valladolid on Sunday.

Earlier, minnows Eibar picked up their first ever victory over the Madrid giants by winning 3-0 at Ipurua.

The rout started on 11 minutes when Marc Cucurella crossed from the left and when Thibaut Courtois saved Sergi Enrich's shot Dani Ceballos cleared straight to Gonzalo Escalante who bundled the ball over the line.

On 53 minutes Enrich made it 2-0 by converting Cucurella's cross after the Barcelona loanee dispossessed Alvaro Odriozola. 

And it was 3-0 five minutes later when Kike Garcia turned in another cross from Cucurella. 

“People don’t know too much about Cucurella maybe he surprised people with his performance and his position,” said Eibar coach Jose Luis Mendilibar.

“We had to hold on in the second half but we never dropped too deep. We had the chance to score more goals.”

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari was taking charge of his first game since being given them the job on a permanent basis. He had excelled as a caretaker with four straight wins.

Solari said: “We have to correct our mistakes. We obviously wanted the win here but I'm sure we can put these things right.”

Sixth-placed Real are five points behind Barcelona and two ahead of Eibar who are eighth.

Also on Saturday, Valencia beat Rayo Vallecano 3-0 and Huesca and Levante played out a 2-2 draw.

Sun, 25 Nov 2018 10:33:54 GMT
'Most epic match ever' sees Fiji claim first rugby win over France most epic match ever sees fiji claim first rugby win over france

Fiji has shocked rugby fans after securing its first win against France in what it described as the "most epic match ever."

The Pacific nation's rugby union team made the claim on Twitter after the gutsy 21-14 victory at Paris's Stade de France on Saturday.

"The defensive effort and the heart showing across this enormous match was simply sensational," Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) added online, noting that the upset came in the side's 10th match against the French.

Fiji has experienced stunning success in recent years in the Sevens version of the code, including its men's side winning the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

But the 15-a-side version of the code has struggled, not least because so many of its players play for wealthy European clubs and cannot train together regularly.

The chance for change, however, must have been on the Fijians' minds on Saturday at half-time as they headed to the sheds down just 14-12.

They embraced the challenge and kept the French scoreless after the break, with the reliable boot of flyhalf Ben Volavola adding three penalties including one in the 81st minute.

The win, which World Rugby described on Twitter as "historic," saw Fiji claim its biggest scalp, with France having been runner-up at three Rugby World Cups.

Following the win, FRU retweeted an unverified account's claim that Fiji had jumped from 10th to 8th in the world rankings while France slipped from 8th to 10th.

World Rugby will officially update its rankings Monday.

Sun, 25 Nov 2018 10:27:29 GMT
Gold, bronze medals for Damascus team in 3rd Arab tournament of special sports gold bronze medals for damascus team in 3rd arab tournament of special sports

Damascus team for special sports of the wheelchair basketball game won the bronze medal in the third Arab tournament currently held in the Lebanese city of Byblos.

The Damascus team beat its Lebanese counterpart  34/32, while the Iraqi team won the gold medal after defeating  Jordan 56/18 points.

Damascus team included players  Yazan Safia, Rami Mubarak, Laith Al-Mubaid, Ali Karem, Majed Al-Munajjid, Samer Sawan, Abdul-Aziz Sawan and Adel Al-Masri.

In the ping pong game Player of our team Khaled Mohieddin won the gold medal and the bronze one went to Ammar Kholousi .

Wheelchair basketball is a sport played primarily by people with physical disabilities.

Fri, 23 Nov 2018 21:30:23 GMT
River Plate and Boca Juniors meet again to settle Copa derby river plate and boca juniors meet again to settle copa derby

That football stands above politics in Argentina was rarely in doubt but has been proved once more with interest in Saturday's Copa Libertadores final second leg dwarfing that in the G20 conference a week later in Buenos Aires.

But it is no ordinary Copa final. It is the decisive clash between River Plate and Boca Juniors, the arch-rivals in the Argentine capital, concluding their first meeting in the South American showpiece.

All 66,000 tickets for River's Monumental Stadium are sold with some home fans - away supporters are not permitted - paying 4,800 euros (5,400 dollars) a ticket.

The tie is finely balanced after a 2-2 draw in the first leg two weeks ago in a game delayed by a day due to heavy storms.

Away goals don't count so another draw would lead to extra-time and then possibly penalties.

Even with the long-standing ban on visiting fans in place, some 2,100 police will be mobilised for the match. Over 150 people have lost their lives in football related violence in the last 10 years with 53 of them coming since the away fan ban.

But the police will also be responsible for preventing a rush of fans clutching fake tickets trying to access the stadium.

On Thursday, Boca were given an astonishing send-off by their supporters as 50,000 people crammed into the Bombonera Stadium just to watch them train. And it would have been more had stewards not closed the doors.

That is twice the crowd that attended the anti-G20 demo on Monday with ex Argentine president Cristina Kirchner and former Brazil president Dilma Rousseff.

According to the Clarin newspaper, the training crowd was a world record. "This has energized us," said Boca coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

However, the remarkable display has had consequences with city authorities temporarily closing the stadium due to more people than the official capacity being allowed in.

Should Boca lift the Copa, president Daniel Angelici told broadcaster TyC Sports he would apply for the suspension to be lifted so fans could celebrate in the ground.

The winners of the Copa Libertadores will enter the Club World Cup next month to test themselves against the best the rest of the world can offer, including European champions Real Madrid.

Few involved on Saturday are likely to be thinking that far ahead though. Boca have won the Copa on six previous occasions, River three times - but never like this.

Fri, 23 Nov 2018 16:27:53 GMT