Jordan checks Japan’s World Cup progress with 2-1 win

Updated 27 March 2013
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Jordan checks Japan’s World Cup progress with 2-1 win

AMMAN: Goalkeeper Amer Sabbah pulled off a heroic late penalty stop yesterday as Jordan stunned Japan 2-1 to reignite their World Cup hopes and foil the Asian champions’ hopes of booking an early ticket to Brazil 2014.
A headed goal on the stroke of halftime and a breakaway effort on the hour-mark put the hosts 2-0 ahead but Japan got one back through Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa, and then earned a penalty just a minute later.
However, Sabbah flung himself at Yasuhito Endo’s well-taken spot-kick to earn Jordan the points that take them from bottom to second in Group B — and deny Japan the draw that would have made them the first country to qualify for the World Cup.
At the final round qualifier inside a cacophonic King Abdullah International Stadium, Ahmad Ibrahim flashed an early warning when he rounded Atsuto Uchida and stung Japan ‘keeper Eiji Kawashima’s hands at his near post on the quarter-hour.
At the other end, Ryoichi Maeda beat the offside trap and headed off the crossbar as Japan, the runaway leaders in Group B, pressed with their customary attacking flair, despite the absence of blond talisman Keisuke Honda.
But it was Jordan who took the lead in first half injury time when Khalil Bani Ateyah stole in unmarked and met Amer Deeb’s corner with a header, which crashed past Kawashima.
And Japan’s defense was also found wanting in the 59th minute when Gotoku Sakai lost the ball near the halfway line and Ibrahim cruised past the last defender, drifted central and poked it past the outstretched Kawashima.
Japan threw on tall striker Mike Havenaar and they got their break on 69 minutes when Hiroshi Kiyotake beat the defense with a cute back-heel to Kagawa, who drilled it into the Jordanian net to make it 2-1.
Just a minute later Japan, needing only a draw to qualify for Brazil after Australia were held 2-2 by Oman earlier, appeared odds-on to book their ticket when Atsuto Uchida was brought down in the box by Jordan’s Abdallah Salim.
Despite green laser flashes from the crowd shining on his face, Endo was calmness personified as he struck a solid penalty to Sabbah’s left — but the goalkeeper stretched full-length to make a brilliant stop.
Yasuyuki Konno flashed a shot narrowly wide but Jordan held on for the win, which boosted their World Cup hopes and delayed the progress of Japan, previously unbeaten in the final qualifying round, to next year’s World Cup.
The top two in both groups of five teams qualify automatically, with the two third-placed sides going into a play-off series. Japan leads Group B on 13 points, six ahead of Jordan.
Son Heung-Min’s toe-poke snatched South Korea’s 2-1 win over Qatar as the former World Cup co-hosts edged a bad-tempered qualifier in Seoul and went provisionally top of Asian Group A.
Earlier, Australia were expected to breeze past unheralded Oman in Sydney. But in the event, it took a long-range strike from Brett Holman five minutes from time to spare their blushes and salvage a 2-2 draw.
Despite the scrambled point, Australia’s position looks perilous with three games to go in the final round. Apart from runaway leaders Japan, the other four teams in Group B are separated by just two points. In Group A South Korea’s win put them on 10 points from five games.
The top two in both of the five-team groups go to Brazil, while the third-placed teams head into a play-off series. Uzbekistan beat Lebanon 1-0, dealing a further blow to a team that lost its captain and was hit by a match fixing scandal.
South Korea famously enjoyed a golden-goal win over Italy on their way to the 2002 World Cup semifinals, and there were shades of that tournament when Son’s injury-time strike sparked wild celebrations in Seoul.

The hosts dominated most of the game but they were frustrated by a negative approach from Qatar, the World Cup hosts in 2022, who appeared set on taking a draw.
Lee Keun-Ho finally put the Koreans ahead on the hour-mark when he superbly glanced Park Won-Jae’s cross into the Qatari goal. But Qatar leveled three minutes later when Khalfan Ibrahim buried a low shot past Korean ‘keeper Jung Sung-Ryong.
The game grew testy in the closing stages, with Son sparking a late melee when he appeared to kick out at Hamed Ismaeil following a heavy challenge.
But despite the fraying tempers, Son kept his wits about him and was on hand to nudge the late, late winner over the line when a speculative effort rebounded off the crossbar and landed at his feet.
In Sydney, Oman took a shock lead through an early Abdulaziz Al-Miqbali strike, and the visitors were pinching themselves at 2-0 up on 49 minutes after Australia’s Mile Jedinak turned the ball into his own net.
Three minutes later, the talismanic Tim Cahill dragged Australia back into it when he leaped to nod home a Luke Wilkshire corner, and the veteran forced a flying save from Oman ‘keeper Ali Al-Habsi with a bullet header with 16 minutes left.
However, it was Holman who rescued the desperate Australians when his fierce drive from outside the area beat Al-Habsi in the 85th minute. Cahill nearly stole it deep in injury time with yet another header but was denied by Al-Habsi.
“They didn’t surprise us. We surprised ourselves. We are a lot better than that and we were trying to make the killer ball all the time, we’ve got to play football,” Cahill said.
“They (Oman) are coming here to waste time and ruin the game and overall we’ve got to look at ourselves instead of what they did.”


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

Updated 18 April 2019
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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

  • Medvedev eliminates 6th seed Tsitsipas in three sets

MONTE CARLO: Top seed Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in dominating wins to power into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.

Djokovic extended his winning streak against US players with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Taylor Fritz.

The two-time tournament champion has now won nine in a row over Americans since losing at Wimbledon in 2016 to Sam Querrey.

“It was very challenging to play in these (windy) conditions,” Djokovic said. “Taylor just flattens the ball.

“We had five, six close games in the first set, I just managed to break his resistance midway through.

“After that, things went on my side and I felt more comfortable.

“This was one of these days where you just have to hang in there and try to put an extra ball back in the court — that was enough.”

Nadal repeated last year’s semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov, beating the Bulgarian for the 12th time, 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m very, very happy, this is an important victory for me,” the second seed said after winning his 23rd consecutive set at the tournament.

“Grigor is a super talent and is very dangerous. It was a positive match for me.

“I had a good day, I can be happy with what I did on court.

“When you don’t play on clay for almost a year, every win is important for the confidence, especially as I’m coming back from injury.”

Spain’s 17-time Grand Slam champion started his clay season this week after missing a month with another knee problem and has title-holder points to defend here plus Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros.

The king of clay is bidding for a 12th trophy in the principality. His record at the event is a staggering 70-4.

Nadal spent almost an hour in securing the first set but picked up the pace in the second as he ran out the winner.

He next faces Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

World No. 1 Djokovic will be playing his ninth quarterfinal here from 13 appearances at his home event.

Djokovic turned in a steady performance with a dozen winners and unforced errors, while his opponent committed nearly 30 unforced errors in 68 minutes.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 as Daniil Medvedev continued his run of form.

The Russian will next line up against Djokovic after losing to him in January in the Australian Open fourth round.

Tsitsipas was caught on the back foot facing three match points as he trailed 0-40 on his serve late in the second set. After saving the first two, the Greek botched the third to seal his exit after an hour and three-quarters.

Medvedev increased his leading total of ATP season match wins to 20 as a result after he beat Tsitsipas for the fourth time in as many attempts.

“This was a great achievement for me,” Medvedev said. “Everything was perfect today.

“Some wind came up in the second set and I could not get used to it. But in the third, I just worked to put every ball in the court.

“I was pleased to fight back after going a break down in the third set.”

The player who stands a career-high 14th credits his rising form to a renewed dedication to the sport.

“I’ve been working hard for the past 18 months —  since before the start of 2018. I’ve dedicated my life to tennis, which I did not do before,” Medvedev said.

“I had my best season last year — hopefully this year will be better.”

The Russian reached his first quarterfinal at the Masters 1000 level after winning his second match against a Top 10 opponent.

Tsitsipas, runner-up last season to Nadal in Toronto, suffered his eighth defeat of the season against 18 wins and will try and lift his game next week on the clay of Barcelona. 

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-2, 7-5.