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.


Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

Updated 25 March 2019
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Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

  • Five-year old bidding to become first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups.
  • $12 million race takes place at Meydan on Saturday.

LONDON: Thunder Snow is preparing well as he bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups, according to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
The five-year-old memorably won the showcase $12 million race at Meydan by five and three-quarter lengths, winning in a track record time last year. He returned to the track on Super Saturday two weeks ago, finishing second in the Group 1 Al-Maktoum Challenge Round Three.
And Godolphin are expecting big things from him in the famous race. Bin Suroor, the most successful handler in the history of the 2000m dirt feature with eight winners to his name, is feeling confident.
“He did his final serious piece of work on Saturday and went very well indeed,” the Godolphin trainer said. “He needed his Super Saturday outing — his first run since November — badly and has come on a lot for it. We expect him to run a big race under conditions we know suit him, but obviously it is a good race.”
Thunder Snow has already made history as the only horse to win both the Group 2 UAE Derby and Group 1 Dubai World Cup, but if he is to win this Saturday then he will be revered for years to come.
One of his big rivals in the race will be Yoshida. Trained by Bill Mott he arrived in Dubai on March 19 in preparation for the cash-rich race. The Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry landed in the Emirate off a sixth-place finish in the inaugural Group 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
He won the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, as well as the prestigious Woodward at Saratoga last year and Riley Mott, assistant to his father Bob, said Yoshida is looking good ahead of the big race.
“He’s settled in really well,” he said. “He traveled great and we’re very happy with him. The facilities here are top class. This is my seventh time over here and we’re treated very well.”
Yoshida went out just after 7:00 a.m. in Monday to stretch his legs over the famous dirt track.
“He just had a routine gallop this morning and we let him stand in the gate. Nothing too serious,” Mott said.
Jose Ortiz, who has piloted Yoshida though his last two starts and was aboard for the Grade 1 score at Churchill Downs, will make his first appearance in Dubai. Mott said he expects Ortiz, who guided Yoshida to a closing fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will have plenty of options in the 2000m race.
“It sounds like there’s a lot of pace from the local horses, but we have a horse that’s pretty versatile in the way he runs,” Mott said. “He’s able to adapt to the pace scenario. It’s just a matter of how the race develops in front of him.”