Spain punches World Cup ticket, Serbia made to wait

Spain players celebrate at the end of the World Cup Group G qualifying soccer match between Spain and Albania at the Rico Perez stadium in Alicante, Spain, Friday. Spain won 3-0 and qualified for the 2018 tournament finals. (AP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Spain punches World Cup ticket, Serbia made to wait

PARIS: Heavyweights Spain qualified for the 2018 World Cup with a routine 3-0 home win over Albania, but Serbia must wait to seal to their place following a 3-2 loss in Austria.
Rodrigo, Isco and Thiago Alcantara all scored inside the first 30 minutes in Alicante as the 2010 world champions locked up top spot in Group G as Italy were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw by Macedonia in Turin.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was greeted with a mixture of jeers and applause on his 92nd international appearance just days after voting in a referendum on Catalan independence deemed illegal by the Spanish government and blighted by police violence.
“We had to concentrate solely on football,” coach Julen Lopetegui told Spanish TV station Teledeporte.
“It has been a difficult, complicated week and fortunately we managed to do that in a very, very good first 30 minutes.”
Four-time World Cup winners Italy are destined for the November play-offs after Macedonian substitute Aleksandar Trajkovski’s 77th-minute equalizer canceled out a first-half goal by veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini.
“There’s still one match left and then we’ll think about the play-offs. We hope to get some players back,” said Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura, whose squad has been depleted by a raft of injuries.
Serbia missed out on a chance to wrap up qualification from Group D with a match to spare as Louis Schaub struck a minute from time to give Austria victory in Vienna.
Serbia, who could have sealed a spot in Russia with victory, led through an early Luka Milivojevic goal but fell behind as Austria replied through efforts from Guido Burgstaller and Marko Arnautovic.
Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic had levelled on 83 minutes before Schaub’s winner, but Serbia can still advance by defeating Georgia in their final qualifier in Belgrade on Monday.
Tom Lawrence scored his first international goal to earn Wales a vital 1-0 victory in Georgia and keep them firmly in the hunt for a finals berth.
The Derby County forward rifled in the winner four minutes after halftime in Tbilisi as Chris Coleman’s team stayed a point clear of third-placed Republic of Ireland.
The Irish brushed Moldova aside 2-0 in Dublin through a first half brace from Daryl Murphy and now face Wales at home in a final-round showdown with first place in the group still in play.
“All we can do is work hard and take care of our business. We have a huge test on Monday night against the Republic of Ireland. We have a game plan and we will see where it takes us,” Coleman told Sky Sports.
Serbia head the section on 18 points with Wales, aiming to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958, second on 17 and Ireland another point further back.
Iceland took a huge step toward a maiden World Cup appearance with an impressive 3-0 win over Turkey in Eskisehir that leaves the hosts all but out of the running.
Johann Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason and Kari Arnason scored as Iceland pulled two points clear of Croatia at the top of Group I after the latter were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to eliminated Finland.
Ukraine are level on 17 points with Croatia following a 2-0 win away to Kosovo and host the Croats in Kiev on Monday.


Five memorable India vs, Pakistan clashes

Updated 18 September 2018
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Five memorable India vs, Pakistan clashes

  • Arch-rivals to meet in Dubai on Wednesday.
  • Cricket's biggest rivalry is one of the biggest in sport.

LONDON: Sparks generally fly when India take on Pakistan at cricket, and Wednesday’s Asia Cup clash in Dubai will be an emotionally charged fixture as always.

Here are five of the most memorable clashes between the two cricketing powerhouses.

DARK DAY

On the same day the teams were playing a one-day match at Sialkot in Pakistan on Oct. 31, 1984, the Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her bodyguards in New Delhi.
Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri were piling on runs for India when the news came. Pakistan’s president Zia ul Haq ordered the match stopped, and India’s captain Sunil Gavaskar wanted the same.
“Obviously, we weren’t in any frame of mind to carry on and, sure enough, the ODI had to be abandoned,” Vengsarkar told India’s Telegraph later.
“Thirty years have gone by, but it’s a day one can’t forget,” he said.

IMRAN KHAN’S CLASH

Imran Khan’s best bowling figures of six for 14 were in a one-day international against India March 22, 1985, but for the swashbuckling Pakistan fast bowler it was all in vain.
Khan ripped apart the Indian batting line-up in Sharjah in the UAE to send the opposition packing for 125. But Pakistan’s own batting imploded, skittled for just 87.
Khan — now Pakistani prime minister — was still man of the match, however.

SIX WINS IT

The match that will always evoke the bitterest memories for India, and the sweetest ones for Pakistan, was on April 18, 1986, again an ODI in Sharjah.
With Pakistan needing four off the last ball to win, India’s Chetan Sharma ran in and bowled a full toss — which Javed Miandad swatted for six.
Miandad, who was presented with a golden sword, became a national hero, while Sharma faced barbs and insults on his return home.

TENDULKAR’S TEARS

A century from Sachin Tendulkar, India’s most celebrated batsman, was usually a recipe for success in the 1990s and 2000s but not in the 1999 Test match against Pakistan in Chennai.
Chasing 271 for victory, Tendulkar brought India close with a sparkling 136, but Pakistani off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq got him out and India eventually lost by 12 runs.
A sporting Indian home crowd gave the Wasim Akram-led side a standing ovation, but Tendulkar was heartbroken.
Weeping in the dressing room, according to then-coach Anshuman Gaekwad, the “little master” refused to come out of the dressing room to receive his man-of-the-match award.

MISBAH’S MISHIT

An India-Pakistan final in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup and a sell-out crowd in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2007 was a perfect setting for cricket’s newest format.
Pakistan’s Misbah ul-Haq was on the cusp of taking his team to a memorable win with his gritty batting in a chase of 158.
But then came a moment of madness as Misbah tried to play an audacious paddle shot to seal victory against paceman Joginder Sharma in the final over.
The ball went high into the waiting hands of Shanthakumaran Sreesanth. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s India celebrated like never before as Misbah missed a chance of a lifetime.