Jos Buttler hailed as ‘the difference’ between England and Australia in tourists’ win

England's Jos Buttler celebrates after scoring a century during the one-day international match against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 January 2018
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Jos Buttler hailed as ‘the difference’ between England and Australia in tourists’ win

SYDNEY: The explosive Jos Buttler was hailed as “the difference between the sides” as England defeated Australia by 16 runs in the third one-day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground Sunday to clinch their five-game series with two games to spare and hand the world champions their first ODI series defeat at home since 2010.
The tourists had looked to be in trouble after slumping to 189-6 in the 39th over but rebounded in spectacular fashion with Buttler belting six boundaries and four sixes to finish 100 not out from just 83 balls, while Chris Woakes chipped in with five fours and cleared the rope twice to remain unbeaten on 53 off only 36 deliveries.
The Australians did not help themselves in the field, bowling 13 wides and dropping three catches, including one off Buttler when he was on 70.
The Englishman had another scare on 97 when he was given out leg before wicket on the first ball of the last over but the decision was correctly overturned on review after replays showed the ball hit the edge of his bat.
Buttler took a single off the next ball and did not get back on strike until the final delivery, but managed to squeeze Starc’s attempted yorker into the legside field and scramble through to reach his hundred, leaping into the air with excitement. England made 302-6 and Australia fell short on 28
“Jos was probably the difference between the sides,” said England captain Eoin Morgan. “On a two-paced wicket, he paced it to perfection, played the anchor until about five or six overs out.
“This is one of the best wins from this group. With our bowling efforts, everybody was required to give a bit extra and everyone did. With the ball we were outstanding.”
The century was his first against Australia but the slowest of his five ODIs, clocking in at 83 balls.
“Great win, probably the best we’ve had,” said Buttler. “We’ve championed this way of playing, even if you lose wickets. Chris and I tried to push on, we were looking at 270 but we had a couple of good overs. Against Cummins, Starc, etc it was very special.”
After being thumped 4-0 in the Ashes Test series, England’s limited-overs players have now produced a stunning turnaround to beat the Australians three times in a week, outplaying the home team both when chasing and defending big totals.
Needing to win Sunday’s match to keep the series alive, Australia brought their best fast bowlers together for the first time since the Ashes but it was to no avail as England’s middle-order pounded Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins at the death to post an imposing total of 302 for six.
Australia’s reply began poorly when Dave Warner and Cameron White both went cheaply but Steve Smith’s men were thrown an unexpected lifeline when England paceman Liam Plunkett pulled a hamstring in his second over and was forced off the field, leaving the tourists a bowler short.
Most of the Australians made starts but none was able to go on and post a big number to match Buttler’s electrifying rate and they finished on 286-6.
Aaron Finch, who made centuries in each of the first two matches, top scored with 62, while Marcus Stoinis (56) and Mitchell Marsh (55) also made half-centuries after Smith was controversially given out for 45 when caught behind by Buttler although replays were inconclusive as to whether the ball had carried through.
“Disappointing tonight,” a rueful Smith said. “I thought the way we bowled in the first 45 overs was good, but Jos played exceptionally well, Woakesy too, but we bowled poorly at the end, can’t do that to a guy like Jos.
“We were chasing probably 30 too many, batted well but not enough to get over the line. Our one-day cricket hasn’t been up to scratch, we’ve got to find ways to win against quality opposition.”


Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

‘I’m very happy to have won my first title with Juventus,’ Cristiano Ronaldo said. (Photo/General Sports Authority)
Updated 17 January 2019
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Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

  • Ronaldo’s glancing header sinks AC Milan 1-0 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City Stadium

JEDDAH: A historic Wednesday evening at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium saw Italian champions Juventus beat AC Milan in the final of the 31st annual Supercoppa Italiana.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal as Juventus lifted the Supercoppa Italiana for the first time since 2015 with a 1-0 victory in front of a sold-out 61,235-capacity crowd.

As only one should expect when two of the most successful Italian clubs go head to head, a tactical and elegant, albeit very physical, display of football was at hand. 

Cheerful roars from the Jeddah crowd resonated throughout the night, in the kind of buzzing atmosphere that only a cup final brings.

Juventus, the Serie A champions, began brightly and were the first side to settle into the game, threatening with frequent sweeping moves.

Juventus and Portuguese international Joao Cancelo could have opened the scoring in the 16th minute after being played through on goal, but the defender’s zooming effort lacked the necessary precision and whisked past the far post with the Milan keeper rooted in his spot.

A maddening crescendo of noise erupted when Juventus and French international Blaise Matuidi thought he had opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after being played through by Costa before being flagged offside. 

Juventus did not have too much longer for another opportunity though, with Ronaldo’s acrobatic half volley from just outside the six-yard box bouncing and nestling agonizingly just over the bar and sparing Donnarumma’s blushes in the process.

Christiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in his last seven finals. (Reuters)

Milan, who qualified for the final as runners-up to Juventus in last season’s Coppa Italia, had struggled throughout the first half to settle into the game. They gradually grew into their own though, and nearly broke the deadlock at the stroke of halftime with a stinging drive from Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu.

After a slew of opportunities had Juventus failing to build a halftime lead, Milan nearly made them pay for their squandered chances by starting the second half like bats out of hell. 

Milan’s confident pressing start to the half was almost rewarded in the 47th minute when a Ronaldo tackle inadvertently set up Cutrone with a clear sight on goal.  The striker turned and blasted an effort that rattled off the crossbar — the closest either team had come thus far.

And just when the tide seemed to have turned for Milan in the second half, their confidence building with every minute, a perfectly floating cross from Pjanic found Ronaldo with yards of space, and he made no mistake directing a swift header into the back of the net in the 61st minute and sending Juve supporters into a frenzy.


• AS IT HAPPENED: Cristiano Ronaldo's goal gives Juventus Supercoppa Italiana victory over AC Milan in Jeddah >>

• Arab News Matchday gallery >>


Things went from bad to worse for Milan in the 73rd minute. Franck Kessie came rushing in with a recklessly timed tackle, crunching his studs into the shins of Emre Can, which resulted in him seeing a straight red and leaving Milan with 10 men and a subsequent insurmountable uphill battle.

The final whistle came soon after, and with it brought Juventus a record eighth Supercoppa. It goes without saying that there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a cup final, but this was a historic and monumental occasion for Jeddah. 

The first major European cup final match being held in Saudi Arabia is now in the books, and with it brought an added sense of passion and excitement. 

Thousands of men, women and children showed up enthusiastically, were highly supportive of both teams, and were thoroughly entertained. It was a successful and memorable night that will surely pave the way for many more.

Addressing a prematch press conference on Tuesday night, Juventus Captain Giorgio Chiellini had defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.

“We (footballers) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.”

Juventus had been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they had lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European Cup finals. 

Chiellini, however, firmly believed that his team would change the trend and the team did make their captain proud. 

Juventus now holds the outright record of most Italian Super Cups with eight titles. (Arab News photo by Ali Khamg)