Manchester United fight back again but Arsenal extend unbeaten run in four-goal thriller

Manchester United's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (C) tries to hold off Arsenal's Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos (L) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, UK, on December 5, 2018. (AFP / Oli Scarff)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Manchester United fight back again but Arsenal extend unbeaten run in four-goal thriller

  • Manchester United settles for a draw with Arsenal, avoiding damaging defeat

MANCHESTER, UK: Manchester United avoided another damaging defeat as Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard twice quickly levelled at Old Trafford to earn a 2-2 draw with Arsenal and offer some rest bite to beleaguered manager Jose Mourinho.
Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to 20 games and went ahead through Shkodran Mustafi and Alexandre Lacazette in each half only for United to respond almost instantly.
But Mourinho’s men remain eight points off the top four in eighth place after a fourth straight league game without a win.
Mourinho had opted to leave out-of-form big name stars Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku on his bench and when United conceded first, for the 11th time in 21 games this season, his supporters might have feared the worst.
Indeed, Arsenal’s opening goal featured that rarest of collector’s items, a mistake by United’s Spanish international goalkeeper David de Gea.
Chris Smalling slipped at Lucas Torreira’s 26th minute corner, allowing Mustafi the space to send a free header bouncing into the ground and goalwards.
It looked a routine save for United’s number one but he succeeded only in pushing the ball into the air, two-handed, over his own head and over the goalline, despite Ander Herrera’s desperation clearance.
Yet, as so often has been the case this season, United responded to going behind.
Rojo, playing for the first time this season after a long-term knee injury, unleashed a terrific shot which Bernd Leno kept out at the foot of his left-hand post.
Herrera responded quickly, although replays suggested he may have been fractionally offside, reaching the loose ball on the by-line and turning it into the six-yard area where Martial was able to convert.
That dramatic pattern would be repeated after 68 minutes when Arsenal regained a lead they could only hold, on this occasion, for 74 seconds.
Lacazette played a one-two with fellow substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan and advanced into the area where Rojo tackled him from behind and succeeded only in turning the ball off the French international and into the net.
But there could be no faulting United’s response as Arsenal panicked at a long ball punted forward, almost directly from kick-off.
Lukaku caused uncertainty in the visitors’ area and as Sead Kolasinac tried to turn the ball back to his goalkeeper, he allowed Lingard to ghost in and complete a simple finish past Leno.
Error-strewn as it might have been, there could be no faulting the entertainment in the first Manchester United-Arsenal fixture since 1986 to take place without either Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger in one of the dug-outs.
De Gea made amends for his first-half error with two fine saves to deny in-form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with Mkhitaryan also wasting a good close-range chance in between.
Neither Mkhitaryan nor the injured Alexis Sanchez have shone since a January swap deal between the clubs, but only the offside flag denied the Armenian coming back to haunt United in stoppage time when he rifled home after another decent De Gea stop from Torreira.


David Warner on fire in IPL return after ball-tampering ban but epic knock not enough to stop Kolkata

Updated 24 March 2019
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David Warner on fire in IPL return after ball-tampering ban but epic knock not enough to stop Kolkata

  • Warner did not play in the 2018 edition of the IPL tournament
  • During his ban, he played T20 franchise cricket in Canada, Bangladesh and the Caribbean

KOLKATA: Australia’s David Warner smashed 85 from 53 balls on his Indian Premier League comeback Sunday but his knock went in vain as Sunrisers Hyderabad lost to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Warner, who along with compatriot Steve Smith returns to the Twenty20 tournament after missing the previous edition due to a ball-tampering controversy, steered Sunrisers to 181 for three after being put into bat.
Warner did not play in the 2018 edition of the IPL tournament after organizers stopped him for his part in the scandal.
His one-year ban from international cricket ends later this month and the 32-year-old opener is expected to make Australia’s World Cup squad and play in this summer’s Ashes series in England.
During his ban, he played T20 franchise cricket in Canada, Bangladesh and the Caribbean, and grade cricket in Australia.
His efforts though were not enough, with Andre Russell hitting an unbeaten 49 off 19 balls as the Knight Riders won by six wickets with two balls to spare at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
A pause for a floodlight failure in the 16th over re-charged Knight Riders’ chase as Russell put together an unbeaten 65-run stand with Shubman Gill, who hit 18 runs including the winning six.
Russell struck four fours and four sixes
Earlier Warner stood out during a 118-run opening stand with England’s Jonny Bairstow, who made 39, to lay the platform for their big total.
“It is good to get out there and contribute. It looked a nice wicket to bat on but it slowed down a bit which made us reassess after six overs,” Warner said after his knock.
The Australian admitted some anxiety before his big return to IPL — and an unusual solution.
“I was a bit nervous in the dressing room and kept drinking pickle juice,” he said.
Opener Warner survived a reprieve on 38 after Knight Riders captain and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik dropped him off left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Warner, who captained Sunrisers to their only IPL title in 2016, made the most of the spill and raced to his 37th IPL fifty with a six off Russell to signal his aggressive intent.
Bairstow was bowled by leg-spinner Piyush Chawla but Warner took the attack to the opposition, hitting nine fours and three sixes during his blitz.
Warner, who recently recovered from an elbow injury he picked in the Bangladesh Premier League, finally fell to Russell after driving the ball to cover.
Warner said his elbow “wasn’t all too bad” after doing a lot of work with his trainer back home.
Year-long bans from state and international cricket for Warner and Smith end on March 28 but the duo are keen to get among the runs in the IPL, ahead of the 50-over World Cup starting in May.
The suspension did not include club games but IPL’s governing council decided not to allow the disgraced duo in the 11th edition of the T20 league last year in a bid to avoid controversy.
The pair were banned for cheating in a Cape Town Test in March last year along with teammate Cameron Bancroft, whose nine-month ban has already finished.
Smith is expected to appear for his team Rajasthan Royals in their opening match against Kings XI Punjab in Jaipur on Monday.