Suarez double sends Barcelona past Real Madrid and into Copa del Rey final

Luis Suarez said it was a complete performance. (Reuters)
Updated 28 February 2019
0

Suarez double sends Barcelona past Real Madrid and into Copa del Rey final

MADRID: Luis Suarez scored twice on Wednesday as Barcelona inflicted another defeat on Real Madrid to move within touching distance of winning a record fifth consecutive Copa del Rey.
Madrid were the better side for at least half of a wild Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu but three goals conceded in 28 chaotic, second-half minutes sent Barca through to the final with a 3-0 victory, 4-1 on aggregate.
Suarez would have had a hat-trick had Raphael Varane not beaten him on the line to Ousmane Dembele’s cross, Varane’s own-goal coming between the Uruguayan’s smart finish and a mischeivously chipped penalty. He now has 11 goals in 13 games against Madrid.
“We have other players apart from Leo Messi that can score goals,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said. “Luis’ numbers are incredible, historic for Barca. We know he is always there.”
By then, Barca were coasting and after thrashing Madrid 5-1 at the Camp Nou in October, they will return for Saturday’s La Liga game boasting an accumulative score of 9-2 from the clubs’ three meetings this season.
But this was not the humiliation of four months ago and if the result can be put to one side, Santiago Solari might take heart from the handful of golden opportunities his team wasted before their opponents began their spree.
“We are sad, we wanted to play in the final,” Solari said.
“But we go out with our heads held high, we did everything we could but we didn’t take our chances, and they did.”
Vinicius Junior was most guilty, the 18-year-old showing his both his talent and youth in equal measure. Gareth Bale, left on the bench again, might have wondered what he would have done with some of the chances that went begging.
There was a scattering of whistles for Bale when he came on with just over 20 minutes left but there was little he could do about Barcelona quickly extending their lead from one goal to three.
For Valverde’s side, a record sixth consecutive Copa del Rey final, with either Valencia or Real Betis, who play on Thursday, awaiting them on May 25.
After beating Sevilla 4-2 on Sunday, the Catalans appear to have rediscovered their groove. “It was a complete performance,” said Suarez. “We knew it would have to be.”
The first half was a scrap, full of heavy touches and lunging challenges with a handful of chances to counter-attack squandered by loose passes.
Ivan Rakitic plunged into Casemiro and Toni Kroos charged into Lionel Messi. Vinicius offered the best moments down the left, terrorizing Barca’s backline but failing to find a finishing touch.
He wanted a penalty for a clumsy challenge by Nelson Semedo but the contact was probably not enough, and then three chances were passed up.
First, he fired over after his opponents backed off and then was sent clear through a gap vacated by Gerard Pique, who had lost the ball upfield.
A heavy touch took Vincius wide and while he squared for Karim Benzema, Marc-Andre ter Stegen made the block with his foot. Soon after, he shot high again from six yards, before beckoning the groaning crowd by swinging his arms.
Barca should have capitalized on a wayward Sergio Reguilon backpass but otherwise they, and Lionel Messi, were a little flat, lacking either the precision or spark to create a clear chance.
Then, with their first one they scored. Dembele made it, drifting Dani Carvajal one way before darting the other and pulling the ball back for Suarez to squeeze inside the near post.
Madrid came again. Reguilon’s header drew another excellent save from Ter Stegen and Vinicius left three Barca defenders sprawled on the floor but could not complete a mesmeric run with a finish.
Bale came on but it was Barcelona that scored, twice in four minutes. Dembele again skipped in behind and passed to Suarez at the backpost, although it was Varane that got the final touch.
Then Casemiro planted a clumsy foot on Suarez’s ankle and the referee pointed to the spot. Messi deferred to Suarez, perhaps thinking he was on a hat-trick, and the Uruguayan coolly chipped the penalty into the corner.
There was still time for Bale to break free but he curled his shot well wide. It was last of too many chances spurned.


England celebrate World Cup triumph with young fans

Updated 15 July 2019
0

England celebrate World Cup triumph with young fans

  • After 44 years of trying, England became world champions with a stunning victory over New Zealand

LONDON: England revelled in their first World Cup triumph on Monday, soaking up the adulation of a disbelieving nation after one of the most extraordinary finishes to a cricket match in history.

The host country, after 44 years of trying, finally became world champions with a stunning victory over New Zealand at Lord’s, triumphing on superior boundary count after both the match and the additional Super Over shootout ended with the scores level.

The game was watched by the biggest audience in a generation, with around 30,000 packed into Lord’s, thousands congregating in front of a big screen in Trafalgar Square in central London and the first free-to-air terrestrial coverage in 14 years.

Hundreds of children flooded across the outfield at the Oval — across town from Lord’s — to help Eoin Morgan’s men celebrate their historic triumph. The south London ground was where England launched their World Cup campaign with a victory over South Africa way back on May 30.

Many of the young children at the Oval were wearing the kit of the All Stars junior program run by the England and Wales Cricket Board and others were dressed in their school uniforms.

As “Happy” by Pharrell Williams blared out, the youngsters were delighted to catch sight of England stars such as Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer and flocked toward their new heroes.

It was a more modest celebration than the open-topped bus parade through the streets of London for England’s 2005 Ashes victors but was in keeping with the push to sell the game to a new generation.

“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet but coming down here and seeing what a small portion of the support we’ve had feels about it, the kids, the adults, the energy they all had for what they saw yesterday is amazing,” said man-of-the-match Stokes.

England coach Trevor Bayliss, drafted in with the aim of winning the World Cup following their miserable first-round exit at the 2015 tournament, said: “I heard some of the young guys in the team say the 2005 Ashes inspired them to bigger and better things.

“I think they are very proud they’ve been put in a position where they can hopefully inspire a few of the next generation.”

On Sunday the Queen sent her congratulations to England and the Royal Mail postal service announced it would issue a series of special stamps and decorate 15 post boxes to celebrate both the World Cup win and England’s victory at the 2017 Women’s edition of the tournament.

Prime Minister May, a lifelong cricket fan, was due to host the team at a reception.

“Yesterday (Sunday) was a brilliant performance by a brilliant team,” said May. “They showed flair, courage and an absolute determination to become world champions.

“The achievement, delivered in such a thrilling style on home soil, will live forever in our sporting history.”

“It’s also exciting to think just how many children will be inspired by this victory to pick up a bat for the first time and hopefully become the great cricketers and World Cup winners of tomorrow,” she added.

“We must build on this success.”