Jordan shock Asian Cup defending champions Australia 1-0

Delight is clear to see as the Jordan players Anas Bani-Yaseen's first-half winner. (AFP)
Updated 06 January 2019

Jordan shock Asian Cup defending champions Australia 1-0

  • Anas Bani-Yaseen goal gives underdogs surprise win in Al-AIn.
  • Socceroos now starring possible early exit in the face.

AL-AIN: Defending champions Australia made their worst ever start to an Asian Cup on Sunday when they lost 1-0 to Jordan in front of a partisan crowd in Al Ain.
Graham Arnold's youthful side had expected victory in their Group B opener but they were undone by Anas Bani-Yaseen's powerful first-half header from a corner.
It leaves the injury-hit Aussies with much to ponder ahead of Friday's game against Palestine, when they will need a win to get their title defence on track.
Australia started confidently but their Brighton 'keeper Mat Ryan made the first save when he kept out Yousef Rawashdeh at his near post after a mistake by Massimo Luongo.
Shortly afterwards, Australia's former South Sudanese refugee Awer Mabil, in his first competitive international, nearly opened the scoring but his close-range shot was blocked by Amir Shafi.
The youthful Socceroos had more than 70 percent of first-half possession but rarely threatened, while Jordan were intent on harassing in midfield and seeking chances on the break.
Their goal came from a corner on 26 minutes, when defender Bani-Yaseen escaped Luongo's marking and powered his header into the top corner, prompting jubilation in the strongly pro-Jordan crowd of just under 5,000.
Suddenly Australia were rocking and three minutes later, they were grateful for Ryan's finger-tip save as he pushed Baha Abdelrahman's free kick onto the bar.
In the second half, Arnold brought on Rhyan Grant and then Chris Ikonomidis to find a way through Jordan's defence.
Celtic forward Tom Rogic's stinging shot was kept out by Shafi, before Ikonomidis's attempt at a follow-up was smothered by the defence.
Rogic passed up a golden opportunity for the equaliser on 72 minutes, when he was free in the box but scooped his shot well over from Aziz Behich's cross.
Six minutes later, the lively Mabil smashed one off the upright with Shafi beaten, before Ikonomidis's header was scrambled off the line.
With three minutes to go, Jamie Maclaren had a goal chalked off for offside and. with the last action of the game, Shafi pulled off a superb double save to deny Ikonomidis and Jackson Irvine, capping a desperately disappointing day for the Aussies and a joyful one for the Jordanians.


Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

Updated 01 October 2020

Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

  • The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match

PARIS: Serena Williams suffered another blow in her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title as the American withdrew from the French Open on Wednesday with an Achilles injury, while 12-time champion Rafael Nadal raced into the third round.

The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match against Tsvetana Pironkova citing the injury that prompted her to skip the Rome tuneup event.

“The Achilles didn't have enough time to heal after the US Open,” said Williams, who admitted last week she was not fully fit after her run to the semifinals in New York.

“I'm struggling to walk, so that's kind of a telltale sign that I should try to recover.”

The injury likely means she will miss the rest of 2020, leaving the Australian Open in 2021 as her next chance to equal Margaret Court's all-time majors record.

Nadal looked in ominous form as he stepped up his pursuit of Roger Federer's 20 major titles with a crushing win over 236th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald.

The Spaniard batted aside McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in exactly 100 minutes and will meet Japan's Kei Nishikori or Stefano Travaglia of Italy for a spot in the last 16.

“The aim was to play as well as possible. I'm very happy. I have another difficult match next,” said Nadal. The 34-year-old needs one more major to pull level with long-time rival Federer and owns an astonishing 95-2 record in Paris going back to his triumph on debut in 2005.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem swept into the third round with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) victory over American qualifier Jack Sock, saving three set points to close out the match.

The Austrian third seed will play Norway's Casper Ruud, seeded 28th, or American Tommy Paul for a place in the last 16.

“I'm very happy with my game in the first two rounds. It was not an easy draw at all and I'm very happy not to drop a set,” said Thiem, who defeated 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic in round one.

Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens had to be taken off court in a wheelchair after a fiery win over former finalist Sara Errani.

Bertens triumphed 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 9-7 in a three-hour 11-minute clash which left her in cramps and Italian Errani screaming an obscenity as she left the court.

"After one hour, she's injured but then she's running around like never before," said Errani.

"She leaves the court in a chair and now she's in the locker room and eating in the restaurant, perfect. She exaggerated."

Bertens is due to meet Katerina Siniakova next while Elina Svitolina overcame Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

The Ukrainian third seed is coming off a title at Strasbourg last week and will next play Russian 27th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, but was briefly taken aback by a sonic boom.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open winner, followed up his demolition of Andy Murray with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 defeat of Germany's Dominik Koepfer.

Sebastian Korda, the son of 1992 Roland Garros runner-up and 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, also progressed after a four-sets victory over fellow American John Isner.