Spurs end Newport’s Cup run at the second attempt

Tottenham Hotspur ended Newport County’s brave FA Cup run with a 2-0 win. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Spurs end Newport’s Cup run at the second attempt

LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur finally ended lowly Newport County’s brave FA Cup run with a 2-0 win in a fourth-round replay at Wembley on Wednesday.
Eight-time winners Spurs were just eight minutes away from a humiliating exit when England striker Harry Kane scored to salvage a 1-1 draw away to fourth-tier Newport last month.
But it was a different story at Wembley where, with South Korea’s Son Heung-Min impressing for Tottenham, Dan Butler’s 26th-minute own goal and an Erik Lamela strike eight minutes later put Spurs 2-0 up before half-time.
Tottenham will now travel to third-tier strugglers Rochdale for a last-16 tie on the weekend of February 17-18.
“It’s the FA Cup and it’s difficult,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told the BBC. “But I am happy because we wanted to be in the next round.
“Son Heung-Min is doing fantastic this season and he feels important.
“It is important to keep going and winning games. We are going to be very busy in the Premier League, Champions League and the FA Cup but we want to keep this run.”
Meanwhile Newport manager Michael Flynn praised the visitors’ performance.
“It was a good start in the first 25 minutes, but the manner of the goal, the way it went in, it took it out of the boys and deflated them,” he said.
“I am very proud of the players. They put in a huge amount of work and they have done themselves and the club proud.”
But not even the lure of a fixture at Wembley, Spurs’s temporary home while a new ground that will replace White Hart Lane is constructed, could stop Newport midfielder Sean Rigg quitting between the two ties to become a tattoo artist.
The FA Cup has been a huge financial boost for Newport, with their run to this stage earning them at least £700,000 ($972,000, 792,000 euros).
But the concern for the Welsh club was that the chance of an upset had come and gone at their Rodney Parade ground, where a goal from Irish striker Padraig Amond put them on course for a famous giant-killing.
Newport were far from overawed in the replay and they were unlucky when a cross from Moussa Sissoko deflected off Butler and past stranded goalkeeper Joe Day to put Spurs ahead.
It was not long before Spurs had their second goal, when Lamela, getting on the end of a well-weighted through ball from Son, scored for the first time since finding the net against Gillingham in September 2016.
Spurs were comfortable in the second half but late in the game Amond had a chance to add a Wembley goal to his one at Rodney Parade in the original tie only to shoot at Michel Vorm.


Late heartache for Saudi Arabia in ‘crucial’ Asian Games handball draw with Japan

Updated 20 August 2018
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Late heartache for Saudi Arabia in ‘crucial’ Asian Games handball draw with Japan

  • Saudi Arabia are drawn with Japan, Iraq and reigning champions Qatar
  • With only the top two progressing to the semifinals, the result of the opening match with Japan was vital

JAKARTA: The Saudi Arabian handball team conceded twice in the final 96 seconds against Japan on Monday night to tie a match that coach Muhanna Al-Qamous had billed as crucial to their hopes of progressing to the Asian Games semifinals. Downcast, he said afterwards it felt more like a defeat.
Saudi Arabia, having coasted through the preliminary group stage, were drawn with Japan, Iraq and reigning champions Qatar in the secondary group stage.
With only the top two progressing to the semifinals, the result of the opening match with Japan was vital ahead of Wednesday’s clash with neighbors Qatar.
After an hour of play inside the GOR Popki Cibubur sports complex, it should have ended with Saudi smiles. Instead, with the final whistle blown at 26-26, there were shaking heads and disappointment.
“For us, we lost,” Al-Qamous told Arab News. “We led for the majority of the game, but we made some mistakes and paid the price. This is handball, these things happen and we still have a valuable point, but we are disappointed. We should have won. Our route to the semifinals now requires more work.”
Saudi trailed narrowly until the 18th minute, when left-wing Abdullah Alabbas scored from the 7-meter penalty line to draw his side level at 9-9. From that moment on, it only looked like there would be one winner, with Alabbas giving his side a three-point lead even after Hassan Al-Janabi had been dismissed. They finished the opening period with a 15-11 advantage.
“As I said before, this was the most important match for both sides,” said Al-Qamous. “We played very, very well during the match and were fighting all the time. We deserved to win, but some players got ahead of themselves, took risks in the hope of killing the game off, and it didn’t work. What can we do?”
The second period was equally as balanced, with both sides taking points in succession and the gap never growing greater than five.
Yet with just 15 minutes left and Saudi leading 21-16, Japan rallied, pulling it back quickly with three points in the space of three minutes. Center-back Yuto Agarie, pivotal in his side getting within two of a tie at 21-19, was instrumental again as his side eventually stole a 24-23 lead with just six minutes remaining.
Saudi soon regained their composure and took what appeared to be an unassailable 26-24 lead with a little under two minutes left on the clock. However 11 seconds later, and following a Japanese time-out, Agarie pulled one back before Testsuya Kadoyama converted a fast break opportunity to tie the game with 38 seconds left to play.
“The way we fought and led will stand us in good stead going forward,’ said Al-Qamous, who watched Qatar beat Iraq earlier in the day, although not by as comfortable a margin as many had predicted. They triumphed 26-20 to take control of the group.
“A place in the semifinals is still in our hands,” added Al-Qamous, who will lead Saudi at the World Championships next January in Germany and Denmark. “Iraq only lost to Qatar by six, so we know they are a good team. Maybe they will draw with Japan; that would definitely be the best result for us. But in this life, you must fight your own battles, not rely on others. That is what we will do, starting against Qatar.”


RESULTS
Group 1
Qatar 26-20 Iraq
Saudi Arabia 26-26 Japan

Group 2
Bahrain 29-23 Iran
Hong Kong 15-40 South Korea