Bellerin rescues point for Arsenal in EPL derby against Chelsea

Arsenal's Hector Bellerin after equalizing against London rivals Chelsea. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 04 January 2018
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Bellerin rescues point for Arsenal in EPL derby against Chelsea

LONDON: Hector Bellerin’s fantastic strike earned Arsenal a deserved point against London rivals Chelsea in an exciting game at the Emirates on Wednesday.
The Spaniard made amends for conceding a controversial penalty, in which Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard  appeared to go down too easily, with a controlled shot to level the score.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger called the decision to award Chelsea a penalty farcical, “at some stage in football you have to stand up to the referee’s decisions,” Wenger said.
“Maybe I would have gone home and committed suicide,” he joked. “I was so close to that.”
The pace set in the first-half was electric as both teams sought to gain the advantage.
Alvaro Morata should have put Chelsea ahead when he was clear through on goal but shot harmlessly wide. At the other end, Alexis Sanchez managed to hit both posts with one shot after a fine save from Thibaut Courtois, who also did fantastically well to deny Alexandre Lacazette as the sides went into half-time level.
Belgian goalkeeper Courtois was called into action once more early in the second half — producing a stunning save from Lacazette again.
The deadlock was finally broken midway through the second interval when Jack Wilshere powered home with an unstoppable shot to give the home side the lead.
Almost immediately, however, Chelsea were back level after Eden Hazard was fouled by Bellerin in the box and the midfielder dusted himself down to take the spot-kick and cooly slot past Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal.
And with six minutes left, the Blues turned the game on its head when Marcos Alonso got in front of Shkodran Mustafi and steered the ball into the net to put Antonio Conte’s side ahead.
The Bellerin equalizer makes no difference to either team’s league position as Chelsea remain in third, a point behind Manchester United and 16 points behind leaders Manchester City. Meanwhile, Arsenal remain sixth and some five points off Liverpool in the final Champions League spot.


Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."