Jordan tame Syria to reach Asian Cup knockouts

Jordan’s Tareq Khattab celebrates scoring their second goal against Syria with Yousef Al-Rawashdeh and Khalil Bani Ateyah. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2019
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Jordan tame Syria to reach Asian Cup knockouts

  • First-half goals from Mousa Mohammad Suleiman and Tareq Khattab gave Jordan a maximum six points in Group B
  • Vital Borkelmans’ team, who stunned defending champions Australia in their first game, advanced to the last 16

AL-AIN, United Arab Emirates: Jordan won a bruising derby with Syria 2-0 to become the first team to reach the Asian Cup knockout stages on Thursday, while talisman Chanathip “Messi Jay” Songkrasin hauled crisis-hit Thailand back on track.
In a rowdy atmosphere at a packed Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, first-half goals from Mousa Mohammad Suleiman and Tareq Khattab gave Jordan a maximum six points in Group B with one game to go against Palestine.
Vital Borkelmans’ team, who stunned defending champions Australia in their first game, could soon be joined in the last 16 by surprise package India, who face hosts UAE later in Group A.
“We know where we are coming from — from very low. And we changed a lot of things,” said Borkelmans, a former Belgium assistant coach who joined Jordan last year.
“Before, nobody believed in these players but now at this moment I think all the media and the Jordan people believe that they have a good team,” he added.
At a raucous Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, Jordan slowly asserted dominance and could have scored when Suleiman’s mazy run prised open Syria’s defense, but Yousef Rawshdeh’s shot sailed over.
But on 26 minutes, after a break down the left, the two combined again when Suleiman stabbed home Rawshdeh’s shot from close range, triggering deafening celebrations.
Tareq Khattab doubled Jordan’s lead two minutes from half-time, when he bundled past Syrian captain Omar Al-Soma to nod in a corner in at the near post.
Syria’s Omar Khrbin came close twice after the break, once when his free header cleared the bar and again when he unleashed a shot which went just wide.
Tempers flared when Jehad Al-Baour pulled back Suleiman during a break and a shoving match developed on the touchline, egged on by the crowd.
Saeed Al-Murjan’s lunge to get on the end of a free kick was somehow kept out by Syrian ‘keeper Ibrahim Alma but the job was already done for Jordan, who celebrated joyously with their fans at the final whistle.
Earlier, bleach-blond Chanathip fired Thailand to only the second Asian Cup win in their history as they beat Bahrain 1-0 to reignite their campaign in Group A.
The Consadole Sapporo midfielder’s second-half strike was enough for the Thais, who sacked their coach Milovan Rajevac after opening with a shock 4-1 loss to India.
Thailand had no shots on target as Bahrain controlled the first half, with Mohamed Jasim Marhoon and Sayed Dhiya Saeed coming closest as they forced goalkeeper Chatchai Bootprom into a sharp double save.
But Chanathip, whose fans compare him to Lionel Messi, seized victory for the War Elephants near the hour-mark with a superbly struck first-time shot that rocketed past Sayed Shubbar Alawi in the Bahrain goal.


Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

Updated 20 January 2019
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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

HUDDERSFIELD: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was far from satisfied despite a 3-0 win away to Huddersfield Town on Sunday that saw his side cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to four points.
Liverpool’s compelling 4-3 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday heaped huge pressure back onto reigning champions City but they were rarely troubled by a Town side that look a certain bet for relegation this season.
City’s first goal, a deflected strike for Danilo in the 18th minute, brought up their 100th goal of the season in all competitions before Raheem Sterling scored a diving header from Leroy Sane’s cross in the 54th minute and Sane himself made it 3-0 with a calm finish just two minutes later.
For Guardiola, it should have been an afternoon of enjoyment as his side again proved their willingness to push Liverpool all the way this season.
The City manager, however, has forged a footballing reputation based on sublime performances as well as ruthless goalscoring and, on that basis, his team’s showing in West Yorkshire was not a success as the visitors never really clicked into gear on a day against a Huddersfield side who had parted company with manager David Wagner on Monday.
“During the season you have these kind of games,” Guardiola said. “It is important to win. We have scored many goals in all competitions.
“(But) the way we played, we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future.
“We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult.
“Today we are happy we have won but after immediately we have to analyze. During the season you have games when maybe you are not in the top level and it is important to win these games.”
Although City’s fans were happier than their manager following this result, Guardiola could at least take some heart from the fact his side again refused to blink first in the race for the title.
For the second consecutive week, City kicked off knowing Liverpool had already won their weekend fixture and that, consequently, the onus was back on his players to secure three points as well.
Once again, Guardiola’s side managed to do that following up the 3-0 victory over Wolves with this showing and the City manager was more than happy to remind everybody that silverware is not handed out for another four months.
“One team has been better but we’re in January and there’s many more games to play,” he added.
“You don’t win or lose the Premier League in January. We have to focus on what we have to do. If Liverpool win, we have to win. And if Liverpool lose then we also have to win.”
This match was a baptism of fire for Huddersfield’s caretaker boss Mark Hudson and while the Terriers showed impressive fight to inspire some hope this season, this defeat still left them 10 points adrift of safety.
If, as expected, the Borussia Dortmund Under-23 coach Jan Siewert is appointed as Wagner’s permanent replacement, nobody would blame him if he spent his first day in the job preparing for a return to the second-tier Championship next season.
“It’s been a long week,” admitted Hudson.