Willian extends Chelsea run; Liverpool downs City

Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta in action with Stoke City's Bruno Martins during their Premier League match at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 31 December 2016
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Willian extends Chelsea run; Liverpool downs City

LONDON: Willian scored twice as Chelsea claimed a record-equalling 13th consecutive Premier League victory by beating Stoke 4-2, while Liverpool kept in touch with the leaders after a 1-0 win over Manchester City.
Stoke twice hit back to level after falling behind at Stamford Bridge, but Willian’s second goal and a late Diego Costa strike saw Chelsea match Arsenal’s run of 13 wins within the same season from 2001-02.
Antonio Conte’s side remain six points clear of second-placed Liverpool heading into 2017.
“Congratulations go to my players. To win 13 games in a row in this league is very difficult,” Conte said.
“Now they are fantastic and we are proud, but we must concentrate on the second part of the season. Numbers are not important if you do not win the title.”
At Anfield, with Jurgen Klopp and City boss Pep Guardiola meeting for the first time in the Premier League, the clash of managerial heavyweights was a tense affair.
Third placed City had star striker Sergio Aguero back from suspension and they dominated possession for long periods.
But it was Klopp’s team who delivered the knockout blow when Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum headed home from Adam Lallana’s cross in the eighth minute to seal Liverpool’s fourth successive win.
Manchester United came perilously close to seeing their own winning streak end, only for late goals by Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba to secure a 2-1 home win over Middlesbrough.
It was sixth-place United’s fifth straight league win and took them to within a point of fourth-place Arsenal, who host Crystal Palace on Sunday.
“My players were phenomenal. We managed to do something I love — bring the fans to the pitch. The last 15 mins were 70,000 on the pitch against 11,” United manager Jose Mourinho said.
Chelsea welcomed back N’Golo Kante and Costa from suspension for the visit of Stoke and took a first-half lead when Gary Cahill headed in a corner from Cesc Fabregas.
Bruno Martins Indi equalized within seconds of kick-off in the second half, slotting in after Peter Crouch nodded down Charlie Adam’s free-kick.
After Willian had restored the hosts’ lead, lashing in from Eden Hazard’s lay-off, Crouch drew Stoke level again in the 64th minute when he tapped in Mame Biram Diouf’s cross.
But Willian put Chelsea back in front a minute later and Costa’s late strike sealed victory.
At Old Trafford United produced a comeback reminiscent of the glory years of the watching Alex Ferguson to continue their recent upturn.
But they had to do it the hard way, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic initially denied an 18th goal of the season in a contentious incident late in the first half.
Leaping to meet Martial’s left wing cross, the Swede jabbed the ball past goalkeeper Victor Valdes at the near post, only for referee Lee Mason to rule it out.
United’s players, and Mourinho, contested the decision, and there was worse to come when Grant Leadbitter drilled Boro in front from Alvaro Negredo’s knock-down in the 67th minute.
But Martial levelled in the 85th minute and barely a minute later Pogba headed in the winner from Juan Mata’s cross.
Champions Leicester City claimed a much-needed win, beating West Ham United 1-0 courtesy of Islam Slimani’s 20th-minute header to climb six points clear of the relegation zone.
Swansea City made a demoralizing start to life without sacked manager Bob Bradley, slumping to a 3-0 home defeat against Bournemouth that kept them at the foot of the table.
Andre Gray became the first Burnley player to score a Premier League hat trick as Sean Dyche’s men beat third-bottom Sunderland 4-1 to climb to 11th place.
Matt Phillips and Wales’s Euro 2016 star Hal-Robson Kanu scored as West Bromwich Albion came from behind to win 2-1 at Southampton, who had center-back Virgil van Dijk sent off.


Unrivaled: India now 7-0 in World Cup games against Pakistan

Updated 17 June 2019
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Unrivaled: India now 7-0 in World Cup games against Pakistan

  • Conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm of a predominantly pro-India crowd 

MANCHESTER, UK: For such an intense rivalry, it is still a lopsided contest when India and Pakistan meet at the Cricket World Cup.

India extended their record to 7-0 against Pakistan at the World Cup with an 89-run victory in a rain-interrupted encounter Sunday that likely will remain the most-watched game of the six-week tournament.

India started ominously with Rohit Sharma scoring 140 from 113 deliveries and skipper Virat Kohli contributing 77 in a total of 336-5, a record for a One-Day International at Old Trafford.

Pakistan were always behind the run-rate required.

Fakhar Zaman (62) and Babar Azam (48) put on 104 for the second wicket but when both were dismissed by left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav within nine balls, Pakistan’s hopes faded with them.

When Hardik Pandya took wickets with consecutive deliveries in the 27th over, Pakistan were 129-5. And with a result in play because both teams had batted more than 20 overs, there was no chance of sharing points if rain prevented any more play. A delay after the 35th with Pakistan at 166-6 just prolonged the inevitable.

Pakistan were  set a revised target of 302 from 40 overs and the last five overs were a non-event with Pakistan finishing 212-6. India remained unbeaten in four games to start the tournament.

The conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm of a predominantly pro-India crowd that filled the 162-year-old venue to its 23,500 capacity. Seats were in excessively high demand, after all, with the International Cricket Council reporting more than 800,000 ticket applications for the game.

There is always extra significance when the nuclear-armed neighboring countries meet at ICC tournaments because India and Pakistan play cricket so infrequently in bilateral series.

This was no different, with a 1 billion-plus TV audience and an almost football-like atmosphere at the ground.

Kohli’s single to get off the mark was met by “Kohli-Kohli-Kohli” chants from the predominantly pro-India crowd.

Sharma set the tone with his second century of the tournament, sharing partnerships of 136 with KL Rahul (57) for the first wicket and 98 with Kohli for the second.

He seemed ready to really unleash when he needlessly paddled a ball from Hasan Ali to Wahab Riaz at short fine leg in the 38th over.

Kohli continued, becoming the third Indian batter to pass 11,000 ODI runs. In doing so in his 222nd innings, he became the fastest to reach the milestone.

Kohli was on 71 and India was 305-4 when rain stopped play for the first time in the 47th over. The India captain was caught behind off Mohammad Amir’s bowling not long after he returned from the 55-minute rain break and, surprisingly, walked off before umpire Marais Erasmus had a chance to signal him out.

There was some speculation Kohli did not edge the ball but it was inconsequential in the end, as India passed Sri Lanka’s 318-7 against England in 2006 to set the highest ODI total in Manchester.

After a batting onslaught at the top, Pakistan pegged back the run-rate slightly as Amir (3-47) dismissed Pandya (26) and then had MS Dhoni (1) and Kohli caught behind — both the ex-captain and captain walking.

Things started going haywire for Pakistan after skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and fielded, going against the advice sent via social media by Prime Minister and 1992 World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan.

Overcast and cool overhead conditions that usually would favor swing and seam bowling didn’t greatly assist the Pakistan attack, with India racing to 52-0 in its most productive opening power play of the tournament.

The Pakistan pacemen had trouble with the umpires, with Amir and Wahab each cautioned twice for running on the protected area in the middle of the pitch. One further warning would have resulted in a suspension.

It also didn’t help that opener Imam-ul-Haq got out in rare circumstances to Vijay Shankar’s very first delivery at a World Cup — it coming on the fifth ball of Pakistan’s fifth over after Shankar was asked to finish it off for injured teammate Bhuveshwar Kumar.

Pakistan’s next game is at Lord’s against South Africa, which also has three points and only remote prospects of reaching the semifinals.