White-hot Spurs beat Leicester to keep up Premier League title pressure

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's third goal. (AP)
Updated 11 February 2019
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White-hot Spurs beat Leicester to keep up Premier League title pressure

LONDON: Tottenham kept their bid to gatecrash the Premier League title race alive after Davinson Sanchez’s first goal for the club and Hugo Lloris’s penalty save inspired a 3-1 win over Leicester City on Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side took the lead through Sanchez’s first half header, but they were indebted to Lloris for keeping them ahead after he saved Jamie Vardy’s penalty just after the interval at Wembley.
Christian Eriksen netted moments later and although Vardy got one back for the visitors, Son Heung-min’s late strike ensured third-placed Tottenham clinched a fifth win in their last six league games.
“I feel very proud. I think it was a fantastic result,” Pochettino said.
“It was a tough game and Leicester played so well. You always have to fight to the end for big things.
“We were a little bit lucky today, but we deserved it because we fought. I need to congratulate my players because I thought they were fantastic.
“Sometimes you can win games not playing your best. We conceded more chances than usual, but I think the victory is fair,” Pochettino said.
“The effort was fantastic, with the circumstances that happened in this game and also this season,” he added.
The north Londoners are five points off the top of the table as they try to catch pace-setters Liverpool and Manchester City, who both won again this weekend.
While Tottenham are still outsiders to win their first English title since 1961, their ability to stay in contention, despite injuries to key players Harry Kane and Dele Alli suggests they should not be completely written off.
The battling win was good preparation for hosting Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Leicester have lost four of their last five league games, increasing the pressure on under-fire boss Claude Puel.
“It’s disappointing and again we are left with not a good feeling. We should’ve had the game between our hands with a lot of chances,” he said.
“We created a lot of good moves with a lot of good intentions and we didn’t find good finishing. We had all the opportunities to win this game but we couldn’t finish.
“It leaves me with mixed feelings as we showed good quality but I’m very aggrieved with all these chances we had.”
Puel has reportedly lost the support of several influential players, including England striker Vardy, who was left on the bench for the first 60 minutes before coming on to miss the penalty with his first touch.
Insisting he was happy for Vardy to take the penalty, Puel said: “I gave him the opportunity. I said if he felt good he could take it.
“Maybe it was not a good thing, but we had a lot of chances, not just with this penalty.”
And the only blemish on Tottenham’s day was Son’s booking for simulation, the South Korean going down after an incisive raid, which left Tottenham furious when his penalty appeal ended in a booking for diving after Maguire stuck out a leg to halt him.
Still angry about the decision after the match, Pochettino fumed: “It’s unbelievable. I am a person who accepts the mistakes, but today it was so clear. I told Michael Oliver.
“If we are being targeted (by referees), I don’t understand why. We are nice people.”


Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

Updated 21 July 2019
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Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

  • Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall
  • Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics under the refugee flag

GWANGJU, South Korea: Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, who almost drowned at sea fleeing her war-torn country four years ago, heaved a deep sigh after failing to set a personal best at the world swimming championships on Sunday.
Representing FINA’s independent athletes team, the 21-year-old looked up at the giant scoreboard and winced at her time of 1min 8.79sec in the 100 meters butterfly heats in South Korea.
“I’m not very happy actually,” Mardini told AFP.
“I had some problems with my shoulder but I’m back in training. I still have the 100m freestyle and I’m looking forward to that.”
Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall, but she has come a long way since risking her life crossing from Izmir in Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos in the summer of 2015.
Thirty minutes into that treacherous journey, the motor on their dinghy cut out and the tiny vessel, carrying 20 people rather than the six or seven it was designed for, threatened to capsize.
As the only people who could swim, Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped into the water to push and pull the stricken dinghy for over three hours until they finally reached the shore.
“I arrived in Greece in only jeans and a T-shirt,” said Mardini, who also swims in the 100m freestyle later this week. “Even my shoes were gone.”
Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics a year later under the refugee flag.
“In the beginning I refused to be in a refugee team because I was afraid people would think I got the chance because of my story,” said Mardini, who now lives with her family in Berlin.
“I wanted to earn it. But then I realized I had a big opportunity to represent those people — so I took the chance and I never regretted it,” she added.
“Rio was amazing. It was really exciting to see the reaction of people to the team. Now I’m representing millions of displaced people around the world and it really makes me proud.”
It is a far cry from life back in Syria, where rocket strikes would often shake the pool she trained at in Damascus.
“There were bomb attacks sometimes that would crack the windows around the pool,” said Mardini, who has addressed the United Nations general assembly and whose story is set to be told in a Hollywood movie.
“We were scared the whole time.”
Fellow Syrian Ayman Kelzieh was also forced to flee the country before competing at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
Returning to Korea five years later, the 26-year-old now owns a fistful of national swim records, including the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly.
“When the war started I had just moved to Damascus and I couldn’t get back home to Aleppo,” said Kelzieh, who now lives on the Thai island of Phuket.
“But even in Damascus bombs sometimes even went off at the swimming pool we trained at,” he added after taking a poolside selfie with his idol, South African star Chad le Clos.
“There were even attacks at the hotel I stayed in — I was lucky.”