The Ashes: England clutching at straws

Updated 08 December 2017
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The Ashes: England clutching at straws

LONDON: Hope is one of those double-edged emotions, on one level it’s positive, hinting at what is possible, and on another it can mask reality and delude people. But such is modern-day sport that positivity is all that is really allowed, no negative talk can contaminate the dressing room.
That’s where England are at the moment — talking a good game while seemingly ignoring the bigger picture.
It’s all well and good claiming the side has left “scars” on Australia, as Trevor Bayliss did, while forgetting the hosts once again inflicted the much bigger wound of a 120-run defeat.
It’s also understandable that you would highlight your belief that the side has ”out-performed Australia” during periods of the two Tests “but just not over five days”, as Joe Root did, while forgetting that the ability to perform for all five days of a Test is pretty key to winning them.
Talk can only do so much and England head into the third Test in Perth seemingly clutching on to it as a panacea for the side’s many problems — the lack of runs from Alastair Cook; the inability to convert 30s into 50s, and 50s into 100s; the lack of an effective spinner; the inability of the left-handers to combat Nathan Lyon, to name only four of many.
It’s one thing to say Australia are “beatable” having lost both Tests by some margin, it’s completely another to then back up those words by actually going out and beating them.
In Perth — where they have not won since 1978 and where the pitch should be a godsend for the Australian pace attack — England are likely to find out that hope over expectation can only get you so far.
 


France overpower Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup final

Updated 15 July 2018
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France overpower Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup final

  • France overwhelmed Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup final at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium
  • Croatia fought hard for an hour but gradually ran out of steam after playing extra time in their three previous matches

MOSCOW: France overwhelmed Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup final at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on Sunday to lift the trophy for the second time in 20 years.
The French, playing their third World Cup final, were made to sweat initially and were lucky to go ahead when Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic headed an Antoine Griezmann free kick into his own net in the 18th minute, the first own goal in a World Cup final.
Ivan Perisic levelled with a powerful shot 10 minutes later but the Croatia midfielder was then penalized for handball following a VAR review and Griezmann stepped up coolly to convert the 38th-minute penalty and put France 2-1 up.
Croatia fought hard for an hour but gradually ran out of steam after playing extra time in their three previous matches, and goals from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe gave France a three-goal cushion.
Mandzukic pounced on a mistake by France keeper Hugo Lloris to cut the deficit in the 69th minute, making it the highest-scoring final over 90 minutes in 60 years, but Croatia could not find the net again in their first World Cup final.