Chelsea downs Hull to go 6 points clear

Updated 22 March 2015
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Chelsea downs Hull to go 6 points clear

LONDON: Chelsea regained their six-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table and took a step closer to the title thanks to a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Hull City on Sunday.
Eden Hazard's thumping strike gave Chelsea the advantage inside the first two minutes and Diego Costa added a second before Hull responded in blistering fashion to score twice in 74 seconds through Ahmed Elmohamady and Abel Hernandez.
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made a fantastic treble-save to deny Hull in the second half and substitute Loic Remy restored the visitors' lead with a shot that squirmed under Hull stopper Allan McGregor.
Chelsea, who still boast a game in hand over Manchester City, have 67 points from 29 matches, while Hull are 15th with 28 points from 30 games.
Queens Park Rangers' hopes of Premier League survival were dealt a blow by 13th-placed Everton, who stole a 2-1 win at Loftus Road through on-loan Tottenham Hotspur winger Aaron Lennon. QPR remain 19th, four points adrift of fourth-bottom Sunderland.
Earlier, Juan Mata struck twice, including a sublime volley, for Manchester United in a 2-1 Premier League victory over Liverpool who had substitute Steven Gerrard sent off for a stamp 38 seconds after the break at Anfield.
Fourth-placed United have 59 points from 30 matches, five more than Liverpool in fifth.

Feyenoord upsets PSV as Ajax closes gap
Anass Achahbar scored two dream goals for Feyenoord as they beat runaway leaders PSV Eindhoven 2-1 on Sunday to delay their opponents' march to the Dutch league title.
PSV's slip enabled champions Ajax Amsterdam to cut Eindhoven's lead at the top to eight points when Davy Klaassen conjured up a late winner in their 1-0 home victory over ADO Den Haag.
The 21-year-old Achahbar, handed a place in the starting line-up for the first time this season after his match-winning performance as a substitute against FC Dordrecht last week, opened the scoring in front of his home fans with a beauty just before the hour mark.
Taking a long ball hit high into the PSV box onto his foot, he swivelled and struck it on the volley into the back of the net.
Achahbar then netted a second with similar aplomb just four minutes later.
In between, Memphis Depay missed a good chance to equalise for PSV but he did reduce the two-goal deficit in the 68th minute.
PSV stay top on 70 points as Ajax moved on to 62 points with their win. "We mustn't suffer any championship stress," warned PSV coach Phillip Cocu after his side's defeat.
"What is now important is that we impose ourselves (in the next game) against Twente. We mustn't panic because we lost a game. It is not dramatic, it is rather something to learn from."
Feyenoord consolidated third place as they advanced to 54 points, eight behind Ajax, who prevailed despite a laboured performance following their Europa League exit on Thursday.
The Dutch international Klaassen eventually earned them the points in the 80th minute when he headed home a free kick.
Earlier on Sunday, PEC Zwolle continued their slide down the table and dropped to seventh as they were held 1-1 at home by Excelsior Rotterdam while Groningen and Twente Enschede drew 2-2.


Iraq coach Katanec looking for performances over results in Saudi friendly

Updated 14 October 2018
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Iraq coach Katanec looking for performances over results in Saudi friendly

  • On Friday, Iraq were heavily defeated by Argentina, 4-0
  • Iraq coach Srecko Katanec has emphasised the importance of his team’s performance in Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Iraq coach Srecko Katanec has emphasised the importance of his team’s performance in Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia as he seeks to build ahead of next year’s Asian Cup in the UAE and the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Really, I don’t care about the results,” Katanec told Arab News. “What will be, will be. I hope that I will see good things from our players — personality and nothing more. I will just ask the players to give all that they have. Nothing more, nothing less. If you want to show too much in a game, that behavior can be a problem also.”
On Friday, Iraq were heavily defeated by Argentina, 4-0. Katanec fielded a reinforced five-men defense, but to little avail as Lautaro Martinez, Roberto Pereyra, German Pezzella and Franco Cervi all got on the scoreboard. “To prepare a friendly match with two training sessions… with players that I don’t quite know — how they are, how their behavior is and all these things, that’s difficult but anyway we are here, that is our job,” said Katanec
Ali Adnan from Atlanta in Italy and Justin Meram from Columbus Crew in the US started against Argentina, but the new Iraq coach may ring the changes against Saudi Arabia, a team he rates highly.
“I will give a chance to all the players who are now with us,” said Katanec. “I hope that we will be at a very good level. Saudi Arabia is a good team, a 100 percent. If they participated in the World Cup, they deserved it. They also played quite good football in Russia, even in the first game: a part of the first game, but the following two matches they were very solid. I know, in this region you have good players. Saudi Arabia have invested a lot of money in football and that’s important. So, big respect for them. They can show, if they can, that they are better than us, but we will also try to do our best.”
In September the Slovenian was appointed coach of Iraq, succeeding Basim Qasim.
Katanec enjoys a wealth of experience in the international game, having guided his native Slovenia to the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea. He also coached the United Arab Emirates from 2009 and 2011, but his 2011 Asian Cup campaign ended in disappointment as his team failed to register a single point in a group with Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
The 55-year-old considers the friendly against the Green Falcons a part of the learning curve for Iraq as they look toward the 2019 Asian Cup and the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. In November, Iraq have confirmed a friendly against Jordan in preparation for the continental tournament where they will face Iran, Vietnam and Yemen in group D.
“These friendly games are very important in that I will know what to do before the Asian Cup,” explained Katanec. “We need information: how the players are, what their condition is like at this moment. You know, the media at all times want to put some pressure on all of us, but until now I am very satisfied with how the team works.”