Guardiola denied; Spurs close gap on Chelsea

Liverpool players celebrate after scoring the opening goal against Manchester City during the English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Sunday night. (AP)
Updated 20 March 2017
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Guardiola denied; Spurs close gap on Chelsea

LONDON: Pep Guardiola’s problems mounted as Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Liverpool, while Tottenham beat Southampton 2-1 to keep in touch with runaway leaders Chelsea on Sunday.
Manchester United extended their unbeaten league run to 18 games as a 3-1 victory at relegation-threatened Middlesbrough took them up to fifth place.
Guardiola was criticized after his side crashed out of the Champions League against Monaco in midweek and the Spaniard suffered another blow as City’s slender hopes of catching Chelsea were effectively ended at Eastlands.
City defender Gael Clichy gifted Liverpool a 51st minute penalty when he was beaten to a high ball by Roberto Firmino and compounded his mistake by fouling the Liverpool forward in the area.
Former City star James Milner, jeered by his old club’s fans, stepped up to hammer the spot-kick past Willy Caballero.
Guardiola’s side equalized in the 69th minute when Kevin De Bruyne whipped in an excellent cross and Sergio Aguero slotted home for his 25th goal of the season.
But, despite chances aplenty in the closing stages of a thrilling clash, there was no winner for third placed City, who are now 12 points behind Chelsea and stay just one point ahead of fourth placed Liverpool.
“After the Champions League, the last few days at training people were so, so, sad,” Guardiola said.
“Our problem is we don’t score when they are easy goals. At least we showed spirit that we didn’t show in the first half in Monaco.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp added: “To get a point at Manchester City is absolutely OK.
“There were a few situations where we couldn’t defend their quality, but we could have won this game.”
At White Hart Lane, Tottenham proved they can thrive without leading scorer Harry Kane and closed the gap on Chelsea to 10 points.
Kane was ruled out for up to six weeks after suffering an ankle injury in last weekend’s FA cup quarterfinal victory over Millwall.
But Mauricio Pochettino’s men still looked formidable as Danish winger Christian Eriksen drilled home with a fine finish in the 14th minute.
Dele Alli won a 33rd minute penalty after being fouled by Southampton’s Steven Davis and the Tottenham midfielder picked himself up to convert the spot-kick.
Seven minutes after the interval, Ryan Bertrand’s left wing cross should have been cleared by Spurs center-back Toby Alderweireld, but James Ward-Prowse finished well at the far post.
With 10 games remaining, Tottenham’s chances of overhauling Chelsea’s lead are slim, but victory strengthened their position in the fight to guarantee a top four finish by extending the gap to fifth place to seven points.
“It was difficult. In the end we were better and deserved to win,” Pochettino said.
“It is another victory, we keep our position in second and we are happy.”
At the Riverside Stadium, Marouane Fellaini scored his first league goal for 15 months to put United ahead after 30 minutes.
Jesse Lingard added a stunning second in the 62nd minute before Rudy Gestede got one back for Middlesbrough in the 77th minute.
Antonio Valencia grabbed a stoppage-time third after an embarrassing mistake by former United keeper Victor Valdes.
United’s latest victory made them the first club to record 600 Premier League wins and put them within four points of the top four in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
“I am super happy. The attitude of the boys was magnificent. I think I made them feel important and trusted,” United boss Jose Mourinho said.
“The spirit is fantastic. We have two doors still open for Champions League football.”
Middlesbrough remain second-bottom, five points adrift of safety after an 11th league game without victory as caretaker manager Steve Agnew tasted defeat in his first match following the departure of Aitor Karanka.
Gestede initially appeared to bite defender Eric Bailly in a stoppage time melee on the edge of the visitors’ area.
Replays showed there was no contact as the pair engaged in an angry clinch, but punches appeared to be thrown afterwards in the players’ tunnel as both sides left the pitch.


Rockets outlast Warriors 98-94, edge closer to NBA Finals

Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets goes up against Quinn Cook #4 of the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 24, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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Rockets outlast Warriors 98-94, edge closer to NBA Finals

  • The Rockets head into Game 6 on Saturday night in Oakland one win away from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the NBA Finals.
  • After Game 6 on Saturday, the Rockets would host Game 7 on Monday if necessary.

HOUSTON, Texas: Eric Gordon came off the bench to score 24 points and his steal on Golden State’s last possession secured a 98-94 victory Thursday night that gave the Houston Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.
The Rockets head into Game 6 on Saturday night in Oakland one win away from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 1994-95.
Chris Paul scored 20 points and James Harden struggled for his 19, but Paul had to leave the game in the final minute with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Kevin Durant scored 29 points for the Warriors, who lost in Game 5 of a playoff series for just the second time since 2015.
The Rockets won a second straight defensive struggle between the two potent offenses, leaving the Warriors a loss from missing the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
“We had to rely on our defense once again,” Harden said. “Game 4, we weren’t making shots but defensively we were really good. Same thing tonight.”
Draymond Green made a 3-pointer with just over minute left to get Golden State within one. Harden, who was 0 for 11 on 3s, missed his last one with less than 30 seconds left, giving the Warriors the ball back.
Stephen Curry missed a floater and Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 10 seconds left. But he made just one of two free throws to give the Warriors another chance.
But Gordon came up with his steal when Green lost control in the lane and added two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to put it away.
Klay Thompson shook off a knee injury that had his status for this game in question to score 23 points and Curry added 22. A bruised left knee kept Andre Iguodala out for the second straight game, and Kevon Looney started in his place.
After losing Game 1 of the series, the Rockets made the best of home-court advantage this time, thrilling a sellout crowd that included Justin Timberlake, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt and rapper Travis Scott.
It’s Houston’s second straight win in the series after snapping Golden State’s NBA playoff-record, 16-game home winning streak with a 95-92 victory on Tuesday night.
Golden State led by one to start the fourth before Paul got going, scoring seven points to power a 10-5 run that gave the Rockets an 81-77 lead with about 9 1/2 minutes left.
Thompson made a 3-pointer after that and then officials reviewed Paul’s first basket of the quarter and ruled he got it off after the shot clock expired, leaving the Warriors ahead 80-79.
The Rockets were clinging to a one-point lead with about seven minutes left when Durant fouled Gordon on a 3-point attempt, losing one of his shoes in the process. Gordon made all three free throws to start a 7-2 spurt that extended the lead to 88-82 midway through the quarter.
The Rockets honored the 10 people killed in last week’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, before the game, with the school’s choir singing the national anthem and team owner Tilman Fertitta wearing a “Santa Fe Strong” T-shirt, before Houston scored the game’s first six points in a first half where the team led by as many as 11.

TIP-INS
Warriors: Coach Steve Kerr was unsure Thursday if Iguodala would be able to return for Game 6. “He’s dying to play, but he’s not healthy enough,” Kerr said. “We’ll just continue to take it day to day..”.. Curry made four free throws to tie Rick Barry for most free throws made in the playoffs in franchise history with 378. ... Golden State had 18 turnovers.
Rockets: Clint Capela had 12 points and 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double this postseason. ... Houston made 13 of 43 3-pointers, led by four from Gordon.

UP NEXT
After Game 6 on Saturday, the Rockets would host Game 7 on Monday if necessary.