UAE’s Al-Ain score shock win on penalties over River Plate at Club World Cup

Al-Ain’s players converted all five penalty kicks, before goalkeeper Khalid Eisa saved Enzo Perez’s fifth shot for River to seal a 5-4 victory in the shootout. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2018

UAE’s Al-Ain score shock win on penalties over River Plate at Club World Cup

AL AIN, UAE: South American champions River Plate were upset by Al-Ain FC in the Club World Cup on Tuesday, losing in a penalty shootout after the semifinal finished 2-2 following extra time.
Al-Ain’s players converted all five penalty kicks, before goalkeeper Khalid Eisa saved Enzo Perez’s fifth shot for River to seal a 5-4 victory in the shootout.
River endured the humbling loss to the team from the UAE less than two weeks after thrilling their fans with a memorable win over fierce Argentine rivals Boca Juniors in the final of the Copa Libertadores.
Real Madrid play Kashima Antlers on Wednesday in the other semifinal.
River entered the match heavily favored, but it quickly found it faced a more than worthy opponent that attacked effectively and got an inspired performance by Eisa in goal.
Marcus Berg put Al-Ain ahead in the third minute when he grazed a corner kick near the post and sent it between the legs of goalkeeper Franco Armani.
Rafael Santos Borre pulled River Plate level in the 11th after redirecting a shot into the net following a pair of saves by Eisa.
Borre added a second goal just five minutes later by scoring from a tight angle after a quick attack.
Al-Ain pressed for a second goal, coming close before halftime when a video review disallowed a goal by Hussein El-Shahat for offsides.
The equalizer came in the 51st when Brazilian forward Caio exchanged passes with Tsukasa Shiotani before cutting back inside a defender and shooting past Armani.
Borre went close to putting River back in front, only for Eisa to make an excellent one-handed save to turn back his powerful header.
Gonzalo Martinez had an opportunity to put River back in front from the penalty spot after Mohamed Ahmad fouled Milton Casco in the area. But Martinez hit the 68th-minute spot kick against the crossbar.
River were outplayed the rest of the way and only a save by Armani in extra time sent the match to penalties.
Al-Ain beat Team Wellington of New Zealand and Esperance de Tunis in previous rounds.
The final is on Saturday.


Spain’s Marc Gasol on verge of rare NBA-World Cup double

Updated 15 September 2019

Spain’s Marc Gasol on verge of rare NBA-World Cup double

  • The 34-year-old proved his enduring quality by saving Spain in Friday’s double overtime victory over Australia

BEIJING: Spain’s Marc Gasol is one victory away from a rare feat — winning the NBA crown and a Basketball World Cup in the same year.

Only Lamar Odom, a double winner in 2010 with the US and the Los Angeles Lakers, has ever managed that, according to basketball’s governing body FIBA.

Now the center Gasol, who played a key role in the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA title, is on the verge of joining him in the history books.

The 34-year-old proved his enduring quality by saving Spain in Friday’s double overtime victory over Australia to set up a World Cup final against Argentina on Sunday in Beijing.

He had 33 points, six rebounds and four assists after stepping up when his country needed him most.

Gasol, who also lifted the world crown with Spain in 2006, said he was less interested in his personal landmark and more motivated by what it means for his country.

“I just cherish every moment for what it is,” the three-time NBA All-Star told FIBA. “I don’t try to double up. I want to give the maximum for every occasion.

“It is two completely different situations. I’m going to give my best to win a World Cup for Spain.”

BACKGROUND

Outgoing champions Team USA won their final match at the Basketball World Cup — but it was still their worst finishing place in the tournament’s history.

Gasol admitted that playing matches every other day in China soon after a long NBA season was tough.

“I knew that committing to the national team this summer would not be easy physically because we were so lucky to stretch our (NBA) season and get away with a championship,” he said.

“But it’s completely worth it.”

Few predicted a Spain-Argentina final.

But quarter-final defeats for reigning two-time champions the US and title favorites Serbia left the door open for the remainder of the field.

Argentina were convincing 80-66 winners over France in their semifinal with their 39-year-old talisman Luis Scola propelling them into the showdown with Spain.

Scola finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds and two assists, and was given a huge ovation when he stepped off the court near the end.

Argentine coach Sergio Hernandez said there was no secret ingredient to Scola’s success, even as middle age approaches.

“He works so hard,” said Hernandez, explaining how Scola had locked himself away in his own training camp at the start of the summer.

“He was in his house, in the middle of nowhere, for 14 weeks in a row,” said Hernandez.

“He made a basketball court and was there was a basketball trainer and a physical trainer.”

Argentina’s only previous World Cup success came as hosts in the inaugural edition in 1950.

Also on Sunday, Australia, who led for long periods against Spain, play France for bronze.