US downs Nicaragua to top Gold Cup Group B

Chris Pontius of the US, front, shoots as Nicaragua players defend during the first half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2017
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US downs Nicaragua to top Gold Cup Group B

LOS ANGELES: The US survived two missed penalties to beat Nicaragua 3-0 in Cleveland on Saturday and reach the Gold Cup quarterfinals as winners of Group B.
Goals from Joe Corona, Kelyn Rowe and Matt Miazga lifted the Americans against a lively Nicaragua side.
Bruce Arena’s men went into the contest needing a three-goal win to top the group after Panama’s 3-0 win over Martinique in the opening match of the day’s doubleheader.
For a time it looked as if they would not get there, but Chelsea defender Miazga’s 88th minute header spared the Americans from a quarterfinal date with dangerous Costa Rica.
“I would think that you could say we wasted some opportunities, and made it pretty difficult on ourselves,” said Arena, who changed all 11 starters from the side that beat minnows Martinique on Wednesday.
“However, in the end I’m pretty proud of our team that they kept battling, and they knew that they needed three goals in the game today and they managed to do it in the end.”
The US threatened early as Rowe fired straight at Nicaragua keeper Justo Lorente in the seventh minute.
Dom Dwyer and Zusi also went close, the latter surging into the box but firing straight at Lorente.
It was Corona who grabbed the opener in the 36th minute.
Alejandro Bedoya’s cross from the right found Corona, whose shot from the top of the area was deflected inside the near post.
They doubled the advantage in the 56th, when Rowe, played through by Bedoya, beat Lorente for his first international goal.
But two second-half chances from the spot went begging.
Dwyer’s penalty attempt, after the English-born striker was brought down in the box, was easily saved by Lorente.
After Rowe’s goal, a Daniel Cadena handball gave the American’s another chance, but Corona’s effort was also saved.
The Americans gained a man advantage in the 85th after Luis Copete picked up a second yellow card, and Miazga’s goal soon followed.
“Give the goalkeeper for Nicaragua credit, two penalty kick saves isn’t bad in a game,” Arena said. “Give them credit there, we didn’t do well with our kicks. At the end of the day we still came out on top, and I’m pleased with that.”
The US and Panama both finished group play on seven points, but the US took the group with seven goals-for to Panama’s six.
The Panamanians struck late in the first half and added two goals in the second in their victory over Martinique, who finished third in the group on three points.
Panama’s New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo opened the scoring in the 44th minute, nodding in a cross from New York City FC’s Miguel Camargo.
Goals in the 60th by Abdiel Arroyo and the 67th by Gabriel Torres sealed the points for Panama.
The top two teams in each of the three groups advance to the quarters, along with the two best third-place teams.


Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

Updated 19 June 2018
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Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

ST. PETERSBURG: Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday, moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup’s knockout stage.
Mohamed Salah won and converted a penalty for a consolation goal on his return from injury but Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years could be over in barely five days following a second straight loss.
Ahmed Fathi poked the ball into his own net — the fifth own-goal of the tournament — to put Russia ahead in the 47th minute. Then Denis Cheryshev and Artyom Dzyuba scored in quick succession to leave Russia on course for a victory that followed up a 5-0 opening-night win over Saudi Arabia.
It was Cheryshev’s third goal of the World Cup, putting him tied with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday. Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt, which started with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
The hopes of 100 million Egyptians were raised when Salah was selected in the starting lineup, the Liverpool forward making his comeback after 3 1/2 weeks out with damaged ligaments in his left shoulder after a tangle with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final.
Salah trotted out for his pre-match warmup to roars from Egypt fans, who at times appeared to outnumber their Russian counterparts. They shouted every time Salah’s face flashed up on the big screen and when his name was announced before kickoff.
Yet from the start, it was clear that Salah was staying out of anything too physical and there was no concerted effort from his Egypt teammates to pick him out each time. He didn’t touch the ball until the seventh minute.
He did win the penalty — confirmed by the video assistant referee after Salah was pulled down by Roman Zobnin. He converted it in the 73rd minute, but it wasn’t enough. Egypt is still without a victory in six World Cup matches.
Russia is nearly assured of advancing from the group stage for the first time since the Soviet era.
Cheryshev, who entered the World Cup as a fringe player, is proving lethal in front of goal, with his latest a side-footed effort from close range from Mario Fernandes’ cross in the 59th. Dzyuba’s goal was more direct, the striker chesting down a long ball from defender Ilya Kutepov, beating his marker and curling home a low finish.