A lot on the line at season-ending Brazilian GP

Updated 22 November 2012
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A lot on the line at season-ending Brazilian GP

SAO PAULO: The Brazilian Grand Prix will do more than crown a Formula One champion on Sunday.
Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso will be lifting the drivers’ championship trophy when the season-ending race is over, but they won’t be the only ones attracting the attention in Sao Paulo.
Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher is retiring again, while 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton will be driving his last race for McLaren before moving to Mercedes in 2013.
Vettel will bring a 13-point lead into Brazil, meaning a fourth-place finish will be enough to give the 25-year-old Red Bull driver his third straight title. If that happens, Vettel will join Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as the only drivers to win three championships in a row.
If Vettel is fourth and Alonso wins the race at the Interlagos track, both drivers will finish with 285 points, but the German will secure the title because he has more wins than Alonso — five to three. Vettel has finished fourth or better in 13 of the 19 races so far, including the last six.
Alonso and Ferrari have not been able to match the recent success of Vettel, who earned four of his victories in the second half of the season, but the Spaniard has been consistent in the last races, finishing on the podium in six of the final seven races.
“We know it will be difficult for us, but we are confident,” Alonso said. “We must do our utmost, concentrating on ourselves and making no mistakes and then we can see what Vettel has done. It’s been a championship of highs and lows for everyone, but now we can only be perfect.”
Alonso, trying to add to his titles in 2005 and 2006, is hoping for a reversal of roles from the 2010 season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, when he was the one with a lead but came out empty-handed in the end.
“In 2010 the situation was reversed so I hope that once again the outcome goes in favor of the one who is behind at the moment,” he said. “I think we can sleep more easily than our rivals. We have a lot to gain and little to lose and for them it’s the opposite.”
Schumacher will be putting an end to his career again after three struggling years with Mercedes following his return from retirement. He is only 15th in the drivers’ championship this season.
Schumacher left F1 in 2006 after losing the title to Alonso at the finale in Interlagos, then returned to action in 2010 without managing more than a third-place finish, which was achieved at the European GP earlier this season.
“My departure from Formula One will probably be less emotional for me this time than in 2006, when we were still fighting for the championship and everything was much more intense,” Schumacher said. “I will be able to pay more attention to my farewell and hopefully savor it too. I have had fantastic years in Formula One and a lot of support from fans around the world.”
The driver replacing Schumacher at Mercedes next season will be Hamilton, who stunned F1 with two great seasons in 2007 and ‘08 but was not able to stay competitive and meet expectations after that.
“As my final race behind the wheel of a McLaren, I vow to the whole team that I’ll give it my all on every single lap,” he said. “My win in Austin last week was one of the races of my life, and I’d love to take victory in Brazil this weekend to give the team the perfect farewell present.”
Hamilton said “Brazil has been the scene of some epic races” for him during his time at McLaren, but Interlagos remains a track where he has never won.
“For many reasons, this weekend will be a very big race for me. I nearly won the title here in 2007, clinched it on the final turn in ‘08 and drove like crazy to finish on the podium in ‘09,” he said. “But I’ve never won, and that’s what I’ll be aiming to do this time around.”
Mexican Sergio Perez, currently with Sauber, will take over Hamilton’s seat at McLaren next season.
It will be the sixth time since 2005 that the F1 season will be decided at the Brazilian GP. Alonso hopes to be the one celebrating in Sao Paulo again this time.
“There are 71 laps to go (to) decide the final outcome,” Alonso said. “The efforts of several months will all come down to a very short space of time.”


‘Captain fantastic’ Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

Updated 19 June 2018
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‘Captain fantastic’ Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

  • Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner
  • England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes

VOLGOGRAD, Russia: Captain Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner, as England began their World Cup Group G campaign with a stuttering 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday.
Gareth Southgate’s men almost paid a heavy price for missing a slew of first-half chances when Tunisia’s Ferjani Sassi slotted home a softly-awarded penalty 20 minutes before half-time.
And the north Africans were still level as the game went past the 90-minute mark.
But Harry Maguire won a header from a corner and Kane was on hand at the far post to nod in the winner before being mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.
“I’m so proud of the lads,” Kane said. “They kept going, kept going to the last second.
“I am absolutely buzzing, everyone on the staff is. It shows good character to get the job done.”
England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes.
First Jordan Henderson’s lofted first-time pass released Dele Alli and when the ball eventually broke to Jesse Lingard he saw his shot from six yards saved by the outstretched left boot of Mouez Hassen in the Tunisia goal.
Kane had been kept quiet in the opening salvos but he exploded into action in the 11th minute when he cut inside from the left and saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide for a corner.
Ashley Young delivered the set piece for John Stones to rise highest and meet with a powerful header. Hassen saved acrobatically but Kane was on hand to tap home the rebound with his right foot and open his World Cup account.
Hassen, who had injured his left shoulder making an earlier save, could not continue and left the field in tears as he was replaced in goal by Farouk Ben Mustapha.
England continued to press and were made to pay for not converting a succession of chances when they conceded a soft penalty.
Kyle Walker swung a lazy arm across Fakhreddine Ben Youssef who fell as if poleaxed and Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot, with his decision being upheld by the VAR.
Ferjani Sassi took one step and fired home confidently past the hitherto unemployed Jordan Pickford and Tunisia who had been outplayed for the first half-hour were somehow level 10 minutes before half-time.
Still there was time for Lingard to come close again twice, first from a goalbound shot and then a dink over the keeper which agonizingly struck the post.
Alli too hit the woodwork with a header and England went into half-time wondering how they had not sealed victory already.
England still enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but could not find the same zip and penetration they had enjoyed at the start of the first half.
The ineffective Sterling gave way to Marcus Rashford with just over 20 minutes to go and the Manchester United man almost fashioned a chance straight away with a jinking run into the box.