Bale brace boosts Spurs; Chelsea, Arsenal win

Updated 10 February 2013
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Bale brace boosts Spurs; Chelsea, Arsenal win

LONDON: The unstoppable Gareth Bale scored twice in Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 victory over Newcastle United in the Premier League yesterday while rivals Chelsea and Arsenal also won to add spice to the race for the Champions League spots.
Chelsea stayed third in the standings, a point ahead of Spurs, after a 4-1 home success over third-bottom Wigan Athletic while 10-man Arsenal lost Jack Wilshere to injury but still beat Sunderland 1-0 away thanks to Santi Cazorla’s strike.
Arsenal leapfrogged Everton into fifth with David Moyes’ side visiting leaders Manchester United today. Second-placed Manchester City can cut United’s advantage to six points if they win at Southampton in a late Saturday night match.
Basement side Queens Park Rangers suffered a big blow in a 4-1 defeat at Swansea City but fourth-bottom Reading failed to increase the six-point gap with a 2-1 loss at Stoke City. Mid-table Norwich City and Fulham managed a goalless stalemate.
Spurs’ Wales midfielder Bale netted his fourth and fifth goals in four games for club and country to again almost single-handedly inspire the north Londoners in the fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot.
“Newcastle were on a good run of form, so it was always going to be a hard game,” Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas told the BBC.
“We stepped it up in the second half and showed team spirit to get three points. Both sides had chances. We showed more determination in the second half and took control.” Bale struck first with a dipping free kick after five minutes with James Perch failing to jump in the visitors’ wall before Lewis Holtby wasted three chances to increase the lead.
Newcastle’s French forward Yoan Gouffran then grabbed his first Premier League goal since signing last month when his effort was deflected in midway through the first half but he later needed oxygen for a shin injury and was substituted.
Spurs lost their way slightly and introduced Emmanuel Adebayor with the Togo striker only having returned from the African Nations Cup on Friday despite his team being knocked out last Sunday.
The home side’s pressure eventually paid off against a side who had won their last two games when Bale ran through and finished with aplomb after 78 minutes before missing an easy chance for a hat-trick in stoppage time.

Arsenal duo Wilshere and Theo Walcott, instrumental in England’s 2-1 friendly win over Brazil on Wednesday, again combined to set up Cazorla for the 35th-minute winner at Sunderland.
The Londoners were utterly dominant in the first half but the situation changed after the break with midfielder Wilshere limping off and defender Carl Jenkinson being sent off for two bookings after 62 minutes.
Arsene Wenger’s side held on in the face of late pressure but Rafael Benitez’s Chelsea avoided any home nerves against plucky Wigan.
Ramires finished off in style after a good pass by Fernando Torres for the 23rd-minute opener and Eden Hazard doubled the lead 11 minutes into the second half.
Shaun Maloney pulled one back after 58 minutes but England’s midweek goal hero Frank Lampard again underlined why most Chelsea supporters want him to be offered another contract when he made it 3-1. Marko Marin added a fourth in injury time.
QPR, four points adrift at the bottom, were never in the game at Swansea with striker Loic Remy missing through injury and fans will be aghast at their weak display.
Cut-price Spanish striker Michu continued his sensational debut Premier League season with two more goals in the 4-1 thumping to take his season’s tally to 15.


Naomi Osaka throws down gauntlet to star-studded Dubai field

Updated 17 February 2019
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Naomi Osaka throws down gauntlet to star-studded Dubai field

Tennis fans in Dubai are in for a treat this week as nine of the world’s top 10 women players do battle in the city to claim the Duty Free Championship crown, which starts today. Arab News picks out likely winners and glamor ties to keep an eye on during the tournament.

NAOMI OSAKA

The Japanese superstar, fresh from winning her second Grand Slam at the Australian Open last month, is playing her first event as world No. 1 and her first since her shock split with her coach Sascha Bajin.

The German had helped guide Osaka to back-to-back Grand Slam triumphs, with her win at the US Open last year. Osaka is yet to reveal why she decided to part ways with Bajin.

Regardless of events off-court, the Japanese will be the woman to beat and she will be playing the winner of the first-round tie between Kristina Mladenovic and Omani wildcard Fatma Al-Nabhani.

The last 12 months have seen a meteoric rise for Osaka. She started 2018 at number 68 in the WTA rankings. Going into the first Grand Slam of 2019, she was ranked 4th in the world, and thanks to Indian Wells now finds herself at the summit of women’s tennis. Expect her to go deep into the tournament in Dubai.

SIMONA HALEP

The Romanian could well face Osaka if she makes it to the semifinals, but will fancy her chances of reaching her first final in Dubai since she claimed the trophy in 2015. 

She will also be delighted that Serena Williams is not in Dubai, having been stopped in her tracks in Melbourne earlier this year by the American, her ninth defeat in 10 games to her nemesis.

She will also be buoyed by the fact that by virtue of reaching yesterday’s final in Doha, she is guaranteed to move up to world No. 2 before even serving a ball.

Halep will open her tournament against either a resurgent Eugenie Bouchard or Vera Lapko, with a tricky potential Doha rematch against Elize Mertens to come by the third round, which should she win would set up a blockbuster showdown against either Aryna Sabalenka or Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals. She comes into Dubai with the weight of expectation on her shoulders, but Halep should cope.

ELINA SVITOLINA

The two-time defending champion is part of an exclusive club as one of only three women to win back-to-back Dubai titles (Justine Henin and Venus Williams also accomplished the feat), and this week the No. 7 seed will be looking to go one better and win a third straight Dubai crown.

Svitolina will be disappointed she could not turn a commanding 4-1 lead over Halep in her Doha semifinal into a win, but will have put that loss behind her.

The Ukrainian will have to be at her best as she has been given a tough route to a potential final in Dubai. She opens against either Donna Vekic or Tunisian Ons Jabeur, the best-ranked Arab on the tour. A third-round battle with Garbine Muguruza looks likely, while Halep and Osaka could be waiting for her in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. It would be a remarkable achievement if Svitolina made it three in a row in Dubai.

PETRA KVITOVA

Having made the Australian Open final, Kvitova had to take a short break from the game to testify against the man who attacked her in 2016, reliving the traumatic life-threatening ordeal that left her with nerve damage in all five fingers of her left hand. Her courageous comeback on the tour was hailed by both players and fans.

“I’m not sure any day that I’ll be completely over that. I’m glad that this one’s over,” she said in Dubai on Saturday, referring to her testimony in court.

Kvitova knows what it takes to win in Dubai, having claimed the trophy in 2013, and opens her campaign against either Petra Martic or Katerina Siniakova in the second round.