Juan Antonio Pizzi tells Saudi Arabia to improve or forget about beating Japan

Saudi Arabia looked lackluster during their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019

Juan Antonio Pizzi tells Saudi Arabia to improve or forget about beating Japan

  • Green Falcons face tough route to final starting with Japan in the second round on Monday.
  • Coach warns players they have no chance of ultimate glory unless they go up a gear in the UAE.

LONDON: Juan Antonio Pizzi has told his Green Falcons they will have to learn the lessons of their defeat to Qatar if they are to have a chance of beating Japan in the second round.
Pizzi’s players went into the Group E clash already assured of a place in the knockout stages, having beaten North Korea and Lebanon in their first two marches. But the prospect of topping the pool and avoiding four-time champions Japan was still motivation enough to avoid temptation to treat the Qatar match as a dead rubber.
In a lackluster performance — a marked contrast to the energy and creativity of their first two matches — the Green Falcons failed to impose themselves in the game and paid the price when two Almoez Ali goals gave the win and points to Qatar.
That left Pizzi annoyed, warning his players they cannot afford to make the same mistakes against Japan.
“We tried to impose our style of play on Qatar, but our finishing and our ability to make the right decisions at crucial moments were not there tonight,” Pizzi said.
“We were good in the first 30 minutes, but an individual error for the first goal and then another mistake from a set-piece saw us concede twice.
“I am just starting to think of the game versus Japan. As I have stated before, I respect all of the teams that are here and do not feel either superior or inferior to anyone.
“It is now important for us to learn from the mistakes we made against Qatar and perform better when we play Japan.”
The first rule of any tournament is to get through to the knockout stages. That Saudi Arabia have managed that, having failed in the 2011 and 2015 editions, is a success. Add to that the fact they qualified for their first World Cup in 12 years last year, and it is clear that Pizzi’s team is still one on the up.
If there is a positive to take out of the Qatar defeat it is that the side’s first poor performance in the tournament came in a group match having already made it through, rather than in a winner-takes-all encounter such as the one they face against the Blue Samurai in Sharjah on Monday.
“We will bounce back. I don’t feel that we are not as good as (Japan) in any way,” Pizzi said.


VAR denies Manchester City again in latest wild Premier League match with Tottenham

Updated 17 August 2019

VAR denies Manchester City again in latest wild Premier League match with Tottenham

  • Gabriel Jesus thought he scored the winner in the second minute of injury time
  • VAR — new to the league this season — ruled the ball reached Jesus off the arm of Aymeric Laporte

LONDON: Four months later, Manchester City was denied another crucial late goal against Tottenham by an intervention from the video assistant referee.
Gabriel Jesus thought he scored the winner in the second minute of injury time in a wild English Premier League match at Etihad Stadium on Saturday when he curled home a finish after the ball landed at his feet following a corner. The Brazil striker waved and danced in front of City’s jubilant fans, unaware the on-field referee had been told the goal was under review.
VAR — new to the league this season — ruled the ball reached Jesus off the arm of Aymeric Laporte as the City defender stretched to head it. Newly implemented rules say a foul should be awarded if a goal is scored from an accidental handball.
The goal was disallowed, much to the anger of Jesus and City’s frustrated fans, and the match finished 2-2. The final whistle was greeted with loud boos inside the stadium as the English champions dropped points in the second match of their title defense.
Back in April, almost the exact same thing happened to City when Spurs visited for a Champions League match. On that occasion, Raheem Sterling had a goal disallowed for offside by VAR in the third minute of injury time, denying City a place in the semifinals.
City manager Pep Guardiola didn’t drop to his knees and look as crestfallen like he did in April. Instead he engaged in conversation with Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino in the technical area as confusion reigned around him.
“I thought we left that situation against Tottenham in the Champions League last season. But it is the same,” Guardiola said. “The referee and VAR disallow it. It’s the second time, it’s tough. It’s honestly tough.”
Guardiola will wonder how his team didn’t win.
Twice taking the lead in the first half, through Sterling and then Sergio Aguero, City was twice pegged back by Tottenham, first by Erik Lamela and then by Lucas Moura 14 seconds after he entered the field as a substitute.
The diminutive Brazil winger ran straight toward the penalty area to line up for his team’s corner and rose highest — somewhat improbably — to send a glancing header looping into the net in the 56th.
Aguero was substituted soon after that goal and exchanged some strong words on the sideline with Guardiola as he sat down. The pair was seen embracing near the end of the match, however, suggesting they patched up their differences.
The result leaves City two points behind Liverpool, the team expected again to be its biggest rival for the title.
Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1 earlier.
ADRIAN’S CRAZY WEEK
In the space of nine days, Spanish goalkeeper Adrian has made his Liverpool debut as an injury substitute, saved the decisive penalty to win the club the UEFA Super Cup, got injured by a pitch-invading fan, and made an embarrassing error in a Premier League game.
To say it has been a roller-coaster start to life at Anfield would be an understatement.
Adrian, an offseason signing filling in for the injured Alisson Becker, was a doubt for Liverpool’s match at Southampton after a fan slid into the goalkeeper’s ankle while the team celebrated his crucial penalty stop in a shootout win over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday. He was declared fit on the morning of the match and made some good saves before Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino put Liverpool 2-0 up at St. Mary’s.
Adrian ensured there was a nervy finish when he kicked a clearance straight at Southampton striker Danny Ings and saw the ball rebound into the net in the 83rd.
Liverpool hung on, though, for a second straight win after beating Norwich.
PUKKI PEAKING
Teemu Pukki scored a division-high 29 goals to proper Norwich to the second-tier League Championship title last season.
He cannot stop scoring in the Premier League, either.
After his consolation goal at Anfield on the opening weekend, the Finland striker added another three in dismantling sorry Newcastle as top-flight soccer returned to Carrow Road.
“The guys are creating chances — I could have scored more,” Pukki said.
Newcastle has lost both of its opening games under new manager Steve Bruce.
AUBAMEYANG AGAIN
Another striker to have started the season strongly is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has grabbed winning goals in each of Arsenal’s first two games.
A week after scoring the only goal at Newcastle, Aubameyang led Arsenal to a 2-1 win over Burnley with a shot inside the near post from the edge of the area. He was tied as the top scorer last season with Liverpool attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
The standout player for Arsenal, though, was Dani Ceballos, who is on a season-long loan from Real Madrid. He set up both goals — the first was scored by Alexandre Lacazette — and showed the touch and vision Arsenal has been missing since the departure of another Spanish playmaker, Santi Cazorla.
WINS FOR EVERTON, BOURNEMOUTH
Everton and Bournemouth got their first wins after opening the season with draws.
Brazilian winger Bernard scored in the first half to secure a 1-0 victory for Everton against Watford, while Bournemouth built on a second-minute penalty from Josh King and beat Aston Villa 2-1.
Jack Grealish, the Villa captain, has lost a record 20 straight Premier League games, stretching back to when the team was last in the top flight in 2015-16.
Brighton and West Ham drew 1-1 in the other match.