Month: July 2019

Johns urges NSW to be flanked by Roosters

New South Wales great Andrew Johns has urged Blues coach Laurie Daley to select the entire Roosters left flank after their destruction of the Tigers last weekend.

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Winger Daniel Tupou bounced back to form with a hat-trick in the side’s 36-4 beatdown of the Tigers that Johns said left Daley with no choice but to have the club combination in his Game I side when it is named on Tuesday week.

That also means going with James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce as the halves.

“Laurie’s talking about combinations, the left side for NSW will be [Boyd] Cordner, [Michael] Jennings and Tupou,” Johns said.

“And you put Maloney in there because that’s the (Roosters’) left side.

Storm fullback Billy Slater also signalled his immediate return to Origin-level form with a starring effort in Melbourne’s comfortable 28-10 win over Parramatta.

The win pushes the Storm into second spot on the NRL ladder, while the Eels join Manly and Cronulla at the bottom of the table.

The Sea Eagles recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season with a convincing 30-10 win over Newcastle, who have now lost five on the trot.

The streaks also continued up in Townsville, where North Queensland made it six straight, after Michael Morgan rescued his side from an embarrassing defeat with a long-range try at the death.

After leading 12-0 at the break, the Cowboys fell behind before Morgan and Johnathan Thurston came up with a couple of clutch plays to give the Bulldogs their fourth loss in five matches.

Perhaps the biggest winners of the round were Canberra, whose resounding 56-16 victory pushed them into outright fifth.

Five-eighth Blake Austin again starred for the home side with two tries, while centre Jarrod Croker finished with a personal haul of 24 points.

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson carried his sublime Test form into the NRL premiership after coming up with some clutch plays in his side’s 20-16 victory over Cronulla.

The Broncos were also clutch performers; Corey Oates’ try in the 79th minute gave the Broncos a thrilling 8-5 win over Penrith.

Wayne Bennett protege Darius Boyd made his long-awaited return in Broncos colours and should be available to slot straight into the Queensland team to be picked next week.

“It’s good to be back with the boys and enjoying a win,” Boyd said.

“I have been nervous the first eight weeks to be honest.

“But I was really excited as well – I couldn’t wait to get back out on the field.”

Analysis – Strauss faces biggest test as Ashes loom

The highly respected former captain moved quickly to end Peter Moore’s unhappy year in charge of the side and the identity of his replacement will dominate Strauss’s agenda in the coming weeks.

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Whether or not Moores was badly treated by the England and Wales Cricket Board will be debated long and hard but the cold reality is that, having taken over following the humbling 5-0 defeat in the last Ashes series, he failed to improve the team.

A depressing World Cup this year in which England were eliminated at the group stage after playing a turgid and outdated style of cricket was followed by a frustrating drawn test series against a modest West Indies side.

Moores decided to recall Jonathan Trott as an opener and the experiment was an unmitigated failure, the 34-year-old retiring from international cricket after admitting he was no longer up to coping with the demands of test cricket.

Trott followed Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior out of the England fold, leaving captain Alastair Cook with just four other players who have experienced Ashes success.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad should still form a potent opening bowling partnership, particularly in home conditions, and Ian Bell and Joe Root are proven test batsman.

With Gary Ballance established at number three in the order, the batting looks in reasonable shape, but the new coach will have many other decisions to make to find a team capable of mixing it with the powerful Australians.

Strauss may be tempted to appoint an Australian coach with Jason Gillespie and Justin Langer among the favourites for the role.

Former fast bowler Gillespie, 40, has enjoyed success as coach of English county Yorkshire and is reportedly keen to step up to international level.

The 44-year-old Langer formed a prolific opening partnership with Matthew Hayden and knows Strauss well after they played together for Middlesex but he has strong family ties to his native Western Australia.

Langer famously once said that he took his baggy green cap to bed with him because he loved it so much and it is hard to envisage such a proud Australian trying to plot the downfall of his beloved fellow countrymen.

Paul Farbrace will lead England in the two-match series against New Zealand starting on May 21, giving Strauss a short window in which to find the right man for the job long-term.

As captain of two Ashes-winning teams, Strauss knows what it takes to beat the old enemy and he may care to think back to a famous day in Brisbane in November, 2010 to find inspiration.

Having scored a typically compact and stylish 110 in the first test, Strauss watched Cook and Trott share an unbroken second-wicket partnership of 329 to lift the touring side to an extraordinary total of 517 for one declared.

Surveying that surreal scorecard at the close of play, Strauss could little have imagined the situation he finds himself in less than five years later.

(Editing by Toby Davis)

Atletico miss chance to pull away in third

After fourth-placed Valencia drew 2-2 at Real Madrid on Saturday, a win for the champions would have propelled them six points clear in third with two games left but they slipped up against a team fighting for their top-flight status.

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David Barral tapped in at the far post in the 32nd minute to put 14th-placed Levante ahead at their Ciutat de Valencia stadium before Guilherme Siqueira levelled with a smart volley three minutes later.

Atletico fell behind again in the 63rd minute when Kalu Uche bundled the ball over the line and Torres secured a point when he nodded powerfully home following a corner 10 minutes from time.

“We knew what it means to play here, where Levante are very strong,” Siqueira told Spanish television.

“In this final part of the season every point is crucial,” added the Brazilian. “We have two games left to make sure of the third spot that we want.”

Atletico have 77 points from 36 matches, with Valencia on 73 in fourth, which carries a berth in qualifying for Europe’s elite club competition.

Leaders Barcelona (90 points) are on the brink of a fifth title in seven years after they won 2-0 at home to Real Sociedad on Saturday to stretch their advantage over Real Madrid (86) to four points.

This weekend’s matches are being played under the cloud of a possible strike orchestrated by the Spanish football federation (RFEF) and the players’ union (AFE) due to a dispute over a new law on collective bargaining for the sale of television rights.

The two organisations, who complain the law does not take their interests sufficiently into account, have threatened to halt games from May 16, meaning the last two La Liga match days and the King’s Cup final between Barca and Athletic Bilbao are under threat.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

QPR down after City mauling, Liverpool held

Chelsea later effectively ended Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League after the newly-crowned Premier League champions held them to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

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With two games remaining, fifth-placed Liverpool have 62 points from 36 matches, six behind Manchester United who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot and have a better goal difference (+25 to +11).

Chelsea have 84 points from their 36 games, 11 more than second-placed Manchester City, who confirmed their place in next season’s Champions League.

QPR needed to win their remaining three fixtures to stand any chance of survival but a sorry defeat at the Etihad Stadium left them nine points adrift of 17th-placed Newcastle United.

“I don’t think it’s time for any post-mortems because our fate is now what it is,” QPR’s interim manager Chris Ramsey told Sky Sports.

“Everybody is very disappointed we’ve lost our status in the Premier League. We need to make sure we rebuild and give the fans and the people from west London another Premier League club in the next couple of years.”

MISERABLE QPR

It was almost three years to the day since Aguero’s dramatic goal deep into stoppage-time lifted City to a 3-2 win over QPR which secured their first Premier League title.

Rangers survived that day, only to go down the following season, and they arrived in Manchester this time knowing only victory would prevent them from joining Burnley in an immediate return to the Championship.

QPR have collected only seven away points this season and made the worst possible start when Aguero danced through the visitors’ feeble defence before chipping the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Robert Green.

In a rare foray forward, QPR’s Charlie Austin had a header ruled out for offside before Aleksandar Kolarov’s low free kick flew through the porous defensive wall and settled in the bottom corner.

Aguero added his second when he capitalised on Yun Suk-young’s error to race away and slot past Green and he completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Matt Phillips had felled David Silva.

James Milner added a fifth with a simple finish and Silva rounded Green to slot home after a sublime move to complete a miserable day for QPR.

GUARD OF HONOUR

Liverpool welcomed the champions with a guard of honour at Stamford Bridge but the hosts were in no mood to thank them as Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas left his mark on Raheem Sterling with a heavy challenge in the opening minute.

Chelsea could have been forgiven for showing signs of a title hangover but they looked sharp early on and took the lead after five minutes when captain John Terry rose above Rickie Lambert to power a header home from a corner.

But Liverpool had their own captain to thank just before halftime as some slack Chelsea defending from Adam Lallana’s free kick allowed Steven Gerrard to sneak in at the far past and level the scores.

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had to be alert to deny Sterling’s deflected cross in the second half before Jordan Henderson dragged a volley just wide as Liverpool made one final push to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive.

“I think now this team’s got to prepare for next year. We wanted to make a statement with our performance today,” Gerrard, who is leaving for Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the season, told Sky Sports.

“Unfortunately we didn’t win the game but we’ve shown that with a few additions we can compete next year.”

Fourth spot would guarantee United a Champions League playoff with the top three automatically qualifying.

Third-placed Arsenal are two points above United with two games in hand, including Monday’s visit of Swansea City.

(Additional reporting by Michael Hann; Editing by Ed Osmond/Mark Meadows)

Dost scores twice as Wolfsburg book Champions League spot

The Dutchman, who took his Bundesliga tally to 16 goals, 14 of which have come since the start of the year, tapped in twice at the far post after Timm Klose’s header gave the visitors the lead as they ended a three-game league run without a win.

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Paderborn, in 17th place, scored a late goal through Lukas Rupp’s powerful shot.

Wolfsburg, who last played in Europe’s premier club competition after winning the 2009 Bundesliga title, can also clinch the German Cup when they take on Borussia Dortmund in the final later this month.

“Huge congratulations to my team for taking the decisive last step,” coach Dieter Hecking told reporters. “In the last three games we dropped too many points and that was unnecessary.

“We look forward to the last two games of the season as we really want to defend second place.”

The Wolves are second on 65 points, two ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach, and seven ahead of fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

Schalke 04’s slump continued with a 2-0 loss at Cologne, who are guaranteed another season in the Bundesliga.

The Royal Blues, however, have one win from their last eight games with their Europa League hopes dented after they dropped to sixth place on 45, only two behind Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen.

Bayern Munich, who have already secured the title, lost 1-0 to Augsburg on Saturday for their fourth defeat in a row in all competitions.

Pep Guardiola’s team host Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final second leg on Tuesday, trailing 3-0.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Toby Davis/Mark Meadows)

Palestine FA will not drop request to suspend Israel

Rajoub met his Israeli counterpart Ofer Eini and FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the headquarters of football’s governing body in the latest attempt to end the impasse between the two sides.

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The PFA accuses Israel of hampering its activities and restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel cites security concerns for the restrictions it imposes.

“Both member associations agreed to pursue the dialogue,” said FIFA in a statement.

“(FIFA President Blatter) confirmed that he will travel to Israel and Palestine to meet their respective FA Presidents and Heads of State ahead of the FIFA Congress.”

For the Palestinian proposal to pass, it would need the approval of 75 percent of FIFA’s 209 member associations at the annual congress in Zurich on May 29.

As well as restrictions on movement, the PFA has cited issues surrounding the curbs Israel places on the import into the Palestinian territories of sports equipment and visits by foreign teams and individuals.

FIFA has been trying to find a solution to the Palestinian complaints for more than two years.

“The proposal (to suspend Israel) will remain on the agenda,” Rajoub said in a telephone interview.

“A dialogue is not a solution, the solution is that the Israelis have to come and recognise our rights to develop the game according to the statutes of FIFA.

“We told the Israeli FA that they have enough time to come to the Congress with a proposal to end our suffering. We recognise their association and the right of their footballers to enjoy the game and we want to enjoy the same rights.

“I want to end the suffering of Palestine football rather than cause suffering to others,” he said. “I don’t wish the suffering of the Palestine footballers on anybody, including Israel.

“I shook hands with them (the Israeli delegation), they are my neighbours,” added Rajoub. “But I wish they would join me and fight against discrimination.”

If FIFA were to suspend Israel, it would bar all its teams and clubs from competing in international competitions such as the Champions League and Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Israel is a member of UEFA and Palestine is part of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; editing by Toby Davis)

United-bound Depay bids stylish farewell to PSV fans

The 21-year-old, playing his final home match, extended his advantage at the top of the scorers list with an exquisite free kick for his 22nd league goal of the season .

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It served as a perfect example of why United have agreed to pay a reported 30 million euros (21.8 million pounds) for his services from next season.

The victory, which moved PSV to 85 points from 33 matches, was made safe when fullback Jetro Willems doubled the lead mid-way through the second half.

Danish striker Viktor Fischer scored twice as Ajax Amsterdam, who have already secured second place, cruised past SC Cambuur 3-0, with Lasse Shoene grabbing a late third.

AZ Alkmaar kept their hopes of finishing third alive with a 3-2 win over NAC Breda that in turn consigned their opponents to the relegation playoffs.

The home side led early through Steven Berghuis, but two goals in four first-half minutes from Jeffrey Sarpong and Adnane Tighadouini looked like giving the visitors a precious win.

That was until Robert Muehren equalised six minutes from the end and Aron Johannsson grabbed a late winner.

AZ are level on 59 points with third-place Feyenoord, but have now played a game more.

Feyenoord’s fixture against Vitesse Arnhem was moved to Monday after local police engaged in a wage dispute said they could not fully guarantee security on Sunday.

Go Ahead Eagles will also be in the relegation playoffs after they drew 1-1 at home to Heerenveen.

Both goals came in the final two minutes as Lerin Duarte looked to have won it for the visitors, but Wesley Verhoek equalised soon after.

PEC Zwolle ensured they would finish in the Europa League playoff positions with a 1-0 win over rivals Groningen as Czech forward Tomas Necid grabbed the only goal, revenge for losing to the same opposition in the Dutch Cup final last weekend.

Utrecht and Excelsior drew 2-2, while Samuel Armenteros scored the only goal as Willem II triumphed at home against ADO Den Haag.

Twente Enschede beat already relegated Dordrecht 2-0 thanks to second-half strikes from Mexican Jesus Corona and Danish defender Andreas Bjelland.

(Reporting by Nick Said; edititng by Toby Davis)

Pakistan hope to renew India ties with series in UAE

The series in the UAE will feature three tests, five one-dayers and two Twenty20 internationals, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said in Kolkata after meeting Indian board chief Jagmohan Dalmiya.

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“The security situation (in Pakistan) is improving fast but we know that right now India would not be able to come for a full tour,” Khan told Headlines Today news channel.

“We therefore have decided that we’d play in the UAE,” said Khan, adding the boards have signed a memorandum of understanding to play each other five times over eight years.

India cancelled bilateral cricket series with its neighbour after Pakistani militants killed 166 people in Mumbai in 2008 but hosted Pakistan in 2012-13 for a short limited over series.

“It’s not that I’m hopeful, I’m very positive that we should resume our bilateral cricketing ties,” Khan said.

“If the approval of the government is required, fine, but we should make a very clear decision…the world wants to see Pakistan and India playing each other,” he added.

Pakistan have not hosted international cricket since the 2009 attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team which forced them to play home matches in the UAE.

Hosting the world’s most followed cricket team is naturally a lucrative prospect for the PCB but there was no immediate commitment from the Indian board.

“Regarding the resumption of bilateral cricket ties, it was felt that it is desirable to recommence such cricket contact,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Anurag Thakur said in a statement.

“Since there are certain matters that need to be addressed and considered, it was decided to take appropriate steps. The two boards would be in regular touch and review the situation,” Thakur added.

(Editing by Mark Meadows)