Uzbekistan pay the penalty as Australia hold nerve to reach last-eight

Joy for the Socceroos as they came out on top in the nervy penalty shootout in Al-Ain. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Uzbekistan pay the penalty as Australia hold nerve to reach last-eight

  • Mat Ryan the hero as keeper saves two Uzbek spotkicks.
  • Neither side could break deadlock in 120 minutes of goals football in Al-Ain.

AL-AIN: Goalkeeper Mat Ryan brilliantly saved two penalties as defending champions Australia won a dramatic shoot-out with Uzbekistan to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals on Monday.
Australia had the better of a goalless 120 minutes before Brighton’s Ryan stopped spot-kicks from Islom Tukhtakhujaev and Marat Bikmaev in a tense shoot-out that finished 4-2.
Hertha Berlin’s Mathew Leckie, returning from a hamstring injury, buried the decisive kick to put the Socceroos into a clash against either hosts UAE or Kyrgyzstan.
Uzbekistan were well on top in the first half against a pedestrian Australia who managed just one shot on target before the break, an innocuous effort from Aziz Behich.
Central defender Trent Sainsbury, back from suspension, will have nightmares about how he was shrugged off by Eldor Shomurodov for a one-on-one chance saved by Ryan’s arm.
Javokhir Sidikov fizzed one wide of the upright after Jaloliddin Masharipov all too easily evaded the joint challenge of Rhyan Grant and Awer Mabil.
But Australia seemed determined to mix it up after the break and as they finally clicked, Jamie Maclaren had a shot blocked before Grant twice had opportunities with his head.
Leckie then made his long-awaited first appearance of the tournament, and he had an immediate impact in the forward line.
Leckie was part of a move that left Maclaren inches away from the opener, and then after dribbling into the box he was only denied by a smart stop from Ignatiy Nesterov.
Rogic’s sharp shot was turned around the post by Nesterov and after they went into extra time, the influential Celtic man curled another one just past the upright.
However, neither side could get the winner and ultimately Ryan was the difference as he stood up to Tukhtakhujaev’s kick straight down the middle, and dived low for Bikmaev’s.
But in a sour note for the holders, Rogic picked up a harsh yellow card in the first half which will rule him out of the quarter-final.


Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

Updated 21 April 2019
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Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

  • The 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets

NEW YORK: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid returned from injury to score a game-high 31 points and grab 16 rebounds, powering the 76ers to a 112-108 NBA playoff victory at Brooklyn on Saturday.
Despite a third-quarter incident that saw two players ejected, the 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets and could advance in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven matchup with a home victory Tuesday.
In the other Eastern Conference game, Khris Middleton finished with 20 points and nine rebounds as the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks put the Detroit Pistons on the brink of elimination with a 119-103 win. The victory give the Bucks a 3-0 lead and they can wrap up the series with a win on the road in the Motor City on Monday.
Philadelphia, down by 10 points early in the third quarter, battled back most of the second half before taking the lead on a run of eight points by Embiid, who missed game three with a sore left knee.
A slam dunk and layup by Embiid gave the 76ers their first late lead at 102-101 but, after an exchange of layups and three-pointers as well as turnovers, fell behind 108-107 on a basket by Brooklyn’s Joe Harris with 25 seconds remaining.
On the next 76er possession, Embiid flipped the last of his seven assists to Mike Scott, whose corner three-pointer put Philadelphia ahead to stay 110-108 with 19 seconds remaining.
Australian Ben Simmons — who added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the 76ers — stole the ball from Brooklyn’s Jarett Allen and Tobias Harris sank two free throws for the last of his 24 points to clinch the triumph.
Caris LeVert led the Nets with 25 points while Brooklyn had 21 points each from Allen and D’Angelo Russell.
Cameroon star center Embiid was issued a flagrant foul in touching off an altercation 4:18 into the third quarter that saw Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler Brooklyn’s Jared Dudley ejected. Embiid, who had elbowed Allen in the face in game two, was whistled for a hard foul on Allen that prompted Dudley to rush at Embiid, taking down the Sixers big man. Butler swung his left arm at Dudley, who wound up in the front row seats with Simmons at one stage, to earn his ejection.
In Detroit, Brook Lopez tallied 19 points and had seven rebounds and five blocked shots and Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered 14 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double in the series and Nikola Mirotic chipped in 12 points.
Detroit’s hobbled star Blake Griffin had 27 points in 31 minutes after he missed the first two games of the series with a sore knee.
Griffin was cleared with his leg heavily wrapped but it didn’t change the outcome.
The Pistons have now lost 13 straight playoff games dating back to 2008. In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets — led by game highs of 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists from Serbian playmaker Nikola Jokic — pulled level with San Antonio at 2-2 in their opening series with a 117-103 road triumph over the Spurs.