India, Pakistan in Champions Trophy semis

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Updated 07 December 2012
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India, Pakistan in Champions Trophy semis

MELBOURNE: Arch rivals India and Pakistan marched into the semifinals of the Champions Trophy while Australia’s hopes of a fifth straight title remain on target after beating England 2-0 in Melbourne yesterday.
The Netherlands also progressed to the final four after easily disposing of New Zealand 2-0.
India, chasing their first Trophy medal for 30 years, edged out Belgium 1-0, while Pakistan upset Olympic champions Germany 2-1.
While making the semifinal is an achievement for India, they now face the much tougher task of playing Australia before a capacity home crowd.
Pakistan will also be underdogs again when they take on the Dutch in Saturday’s semifinals.
India, a bronze medalist at the 1982 event at Amstelveen, are bidding to play in their first Trophy final.
Unlike their other wins at the tournament, India’s win over Belgium was hard fought, with Indian coach Michael Nobbs praising his team’s defense.
“It’s an amazing feeling, they have worked really hard. I didn’t think we played that well today but our defense was amazing,” Nobbs said.
“It’s something I haven’t seen from an Indian defense in years, but I thought they played their hearts out.” The win came despite the Belgians controlling much of the match, however they were unable to convert their many opportunities.
The Indians made them pay, scoring a goal against the run of play through Nithin Thimmaiah in the 13th minute.
Pakistan are one win away from their first Champions Trophy final since 1998 after upsetting the Germans.
Pakistan’s win was due largely to Shakeel Abbasi, who dominated and scored both of his team’s goals.
Abbasi said he believed his team could continue to do well in the tournament.
“In the last three matches I didn’t score and I am a mentor for my side so I realized I had to score,” he said.
“If we have confidence and play hard and have dedication, we have the potential to win against every team.” Pakistan’s second and decisive goal was full of controversy.
The goal was scored by Abbasi, however Germany referred the decision claiming it should not have been awarded as the ball initially came off the back of the stick of a Pakistani player before making its way to Abbasi.
The video proved inconclusive with the goal standing despite the German protests.
Australia saw off the English threat with a first half goal to Jamie Dwyer and a final goal to Chris Ciriello sealing the match.
“We were hoping to work into the tournament and tonight was probably our best game,” Dwyer said.
“In saying that we haven’t let a goal in in three games so defensively we are doing well, it’s just about creating opportunities up the front.” The Dutch were pleased to progress to the last four, yet coach Paul van Ass said he didn’t feel his team played their best.
“It wasn’t the best game from us here. It wasn’t a fun game to watch, but maybe this weekend we will see a lot of nice matches,” he said.
“The test will come this weekend when we play against high pressure. That is what we are here for so I’m looking forward to that.” After scoring first through Jeroen Hertzberger, Netherlands struggled to find a way through until a brilliant run into the circle by Sander de Wijn for Billy Bakker to convert for a two-goal cushion and passage into the semifinals.


Sublime Mohamed Salah leads Liverpool to stunning 5-2 win over Roma

Updated 3 min 47 sec ago
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Sublime Mohamed Salah leads Liverpool to stunning 5-2 win over Roma

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah put his former side Roma to the sword on Tuesday night with a scintillating performance as the Reds ran riot at Anfield, taking a commading 5-2 lead into next week’s second leg in Rome.
The Italian side had no answer to the Egyptian superstar’s sublime skill as he scored two world-class goals and set up another two for Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Firmino added the fifth as the Merseyside club romped into a 5-0 lead to put the English side within touching distance of the Champions League final.
Salah’s display was as exquisite as Roma’s defending was naive, with Liverpool scoring all of its goals in a breathtaking 33-minute spell either side of halftime amid a cauldron of noise at Anfield.
But two consolation goals in the final nine minutes from Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti has given Roma hope of recreating their heroics from the previous leg against Barcelona.
In the latest virtuoso performance of his stunning first season at Liverpool, Salah curled a shot into the top corner in the 36th minute and doubled the lead in the 45th with a dinked finish that is fast becoming his trademark. He is now on 43 goals for the season in all competitions with potentially five games left.
The Egypt forward wasn’t finished there, taking advantage of Roma’s high defensive line to provide crosses for Mane and Firmino to score almost identical goals in the 56th and 61st minutes, respectively.
Firmino glanced home a header from James Millner’s corner in the 69th to leave Roma’s players on the floor — literally in the case of its distressed goalkeeper, Alisson.
Liverpool moved onto 38 goals for this season’s competition — 11 more than any other team — but cannot begin preparing for the final in Kiev on May 26 quite yet.
Dzeko chested down a long pass to make it 5-1 in the 81st and when Milner handled a shot from Radja Nainggolan, Perotti converted the penalty in the 89th.
Bayern Munich plays Real Madrid in the other semifinal, with the first leg in Germany on Wednesday.
Roma knows all about Salah, who scored 15 goals and set up 11 more in the second of his two seasons at the Italian club before joining Liverpool for 42 million euros (then $47 million) in June.
He’s obliterating those figures at Anfield this season. His double saw him surge past Cristiano Ronaldo’s 42 goals for Manchester United in the 2007-08 season, for example.
Salah won English soccer’s Player of the Year award on Sunday. At this rate, the Ballon D’Or could be his next year.