Liverpool sweep past Southampton for sixth straight Premier League win

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Liverpool sweep past Southampton for sixth straight Premier League win

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool kept up their perfect record in the Premier League with a sixth straight victory on Saturday after beating Southampton 3-0 at Anfield.
Switzerland international Xherdhan Shaqiri marked his first start for the club with a role in two first-half goals.
His deflected cross was turned in by Wesley Hoedt for the opener and a brilliant curling free-kick against the crossbar presented Mohamed Salah with a simple close-range effort for the third.
Either side of those goals, Joel Matip scored his first at Anfield as Southampton were pulled apart by a Liverpool side still nowhere near top gear.
Juergen Klopp’s team are top with 18 points though Chelsea can go level on points if they win at West Ham on Sunday.
Liverpool still have some way to go to match the club’s best start to a campaign, though, as the 1990-91 side won 10 successive competitive matches.
Klopp changed his system to accommodate Shaqiri, switching to 4-2-3-1 with Salah moved to the center and Shaqiri playing behind.
In the 10th minute Shaqiri cut in from the left to race onto Sadio Mane’s perfectly-weighted throughball, hitting a right-footed shot off Shane Long onto Hoedt with scrambling goalkeeper Alex McCarthy unable to keep it out.
Salah was denied by a superbly timed block from Cedric Soares after combining with Roberto Firmino but that led to the second goal as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner was powerfully headed home by Matip, making his first start since March 31.
Salah avoided the worst drought of his short Liverpool career in first-half added time thanks to his anticipation and no shortage of Shaqiri brilliance, netting his 30th goal in his last 31 Anfield appearances.
He was denied a second for offside in the 89th minute after Mario Lamina had cleared James Milner’s shot off the line.
The only downside to the afternoon was the departure of Virgil van Dijk with a bruised rib.
For Southampton it was a third loss in six league matches.


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.