Australia played the pressure moments better in this Ashes: James Anderson

England's James Anderson, right, is interviewed by for Australian captain Mark Taylor and at the end the last day of their Ashes cricket test match against Australia in Sydney. (AP)
Updated 08 January 2018

Australia played the pressure moments better in this Ashes: James Anderson

SYDNEY: England’s leading bowler James Anderson says Australia played the pressure moments better than the battle-weary tourists and deserved their crushing 4-0 Ashes series triumph.
Steve Smith’s Australians swept to an innings victory in Monday’s final Sydney Test, condemning England to four comprehensive defeats in the five-match series.
The Ashes were relinquished by the third Test in Perth and England gave the impression by the final day of the series that they just wanted it all to end.
Vice-captain Anderson, deputising for stricken skipper Joe Root, said the writing had been on the wall for some time.
“We’ve known for a few weeks they’re going to lift the (Ashes) urn, but I guess, seeing them do it in person is tough to watch,” Anderson told reporters.
“There’s not a lot we can do about it. We’ve not played well enough and they’ve deserved to win.
“Just got to give them credit and they’re well within their rights to be over the moon with that win.”
Anderson, 35, who is England’s all-time leading wicket-taker with 523 in 134 Tests, said the tourists were unable to make their moments count during the series.
“I do think it’s been closer than 4-0. We’ve been on top in some games, if not all the games at some stage,” he said.
“We’ve just not capitalized on the key moments where if we kick on with the bat and get a big score in the first innings then we’ve put them under more pressure. Similarly, if we get them a few wickets down early, then a couple more would get us in the game and get us on top.
“They’ve played those pressurised moments and those situations better than us. When they’ve done that and put the pressure back on us, we have not coped with that very well and that’s why they’ve won.”
Anderson, who toiled away for 223.3 overs for 17 wickets during the series, said the tour outcome was galling for the team.
“After Perth we were all bitterly disappointed as we had come over here thinking we could challenge Australia and to be three down after three Tests was not where we wanted to be,” he said.
“All the guys in the dressing room are hurting. I’m sure they’re hurting as much as I am. That feeling that you get should make you determined to win the Ashes back in 2019.”
Looking ahead to the Ashes series in England next year, Anderson said he was “hungry” to play.
“I’m going to do everything I possibly can be to be ready for that series in 2019. I’m still hungry to play,” he said.
“I’m delighted Ive got through these five Test matches and bowled pretty well.
“I’m going to go away now and have a few weeks off and get ready for New Zealand in March.
“I’d never really liked looking too far ahead, but I’d still like to be around in 2019.”
Meanwhile, Steve Smith praised Australia’s awesome attack.
Mitchell Starc, John Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and spinner Nathan Lyon all finished with 20 or more wickets in the series to take 87 in total to dominate the England batsmen.
“I think all the bowlers did an exceptional job,” the Australia skipper said.
“Each of our bowlers have over 20 wickets which showed that the guys have bowled together as a group, bowled in partnerships, bowled for one another and helped us take the 80-odd wickets that we’ve needed to take four Test matches.”
Cummins, who captured four for 39 to finish man-of-the-match in Sydney, finished as the leading wicket-taker in the series with 23 at 24.65 and played in all five Tests.
Starc claimed 22 wickets at 23.54, Hazlewood 21 at 25.90 and Lyon 21 at 29.23.
Lyon, the leading all-time Australian off-spinner, has now taken 290 wickets at 31.64 in 74 Tests.
“Nathan has been exceptional with the way he’s bowled and the consistency he’s had has been outstanding,” Smith said.
“For me the moment that changed the whole series was Nathan Lyon and his run out (James Vince on 83) at the Gabba, that was such a huge moment in the series.
“Those sorts of plays can change a series and I think that was a series-changing moment.”
Having got his hands on the Ashes urn on his own turf Smith then turned his attention to the next meeting between the old enemies, and insisted he is keen to beat Joe Root and Co. in their own backyard. 
“The 2019 series in England is a long way away but that’s a bucket list item for me: winning an Ashes series as captain in England,” Smith said.
“It’s a tough tour and a great place to play. England play incredibly well at home.
“This team has been magnificent this series. The more we play together, the more we’re going to get better as a group.”

Neymar limps off as Brazil draw with Nigeria

Updated 14 October 2019

Neymar limps off as Brazil draw with Nigeria

  • The 27-year-old’s return to Champions League action may now be delayed

SINGAPORE: Neymar limped off injured early on as Brazil played out a 1-1 friendly draw against a spirited Nigeria at the Singapore National Stadium on Sunday.

The five-time world champions fell behind in the first half, but Casemiro's equalizer early in the second period prevented a loss but then  Brazil were unable to leave Southeast Asia with a victory by wasting chances, after also being held by Senegal on Thursday.

Brazil started well, with Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino firing just wide in the third minute after a smart turn near the penalty spot.

However, Brazil were dealt a major blow when Neymar limped off in the 12th minute with what appeared to be a left thigh problem — the Paris Saint-Germain striker replaced by Bayern Munich’s Philippe Coutinho to bring a premature end to his 101st international appearance.

Neymar's return to Champions League action may now be delayed, with PSG facing Club Brugge on Oct. 22 after the world’s most expensive player missed the first two games through suspension.

“During the match he felt a muscle injury, so I took him off as a precaution,” Brazil coach Tite said.

“Neymar did not have a muscle issue before the match. I would never start a player if they had a hint of a problem like this, I would never pay that price,” Tite added of the 27-year-old, who has suffered a string of injuries since his move from Barcelona to PSG in 2017.

“My career has taught me that I would never use a player if he was not in condition to play. It would be irresponsible of me to risk a player carrying an injury.”

Neymar will be disappointed he was unable to draw level with Brazil legend Ronaldo, who sits second in the country’s all-time scoring list behind Pele, on 62 international goals this week. But Nigeria provided resolute opposition by working hard to prevent the South Americans from forging many clear openings.

Gabriel Jesus, Firmino and Coutinho all went close for Brazil, but it was Nigeria who took the lead in the 35th minute when Joe Aribo burst through a gap in the South Americans' defence and skipped around Marquinhos before firing low past goalkeeper Ederson from close range.

The smart strike was the English-born player's second goal in two appearance for Nigeria after the Rangers midfielder scored on his debut against Ukraine last month.

A more determined Brazil needed just three minutes after the interval to draw level, however, as Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro slotted home after a Marquinhos header had rattled the crossbar following a well-worked corner.

Brazil ramped up the pressure as the match progressed, stretching the Nigeria defence with sharp passing and clever movement as Casemiro, Jesus and half-time substitute Richarlison all came close to giving their side the lead.

Tite's men poured forward in search of a winner with Coutinho guilty of wasting a glorious opportunity with five minutes remaining when the unmarked midfielder's weak effort was cleared off the line by Semi Ajayi.

"I thought it was a good match for us and we created plenty of chances but just could not get that second goal," Tite added. "We definitely missed Neymar's creativity after he went off."