Taylor puts England in World Cup last 16 with game to spare

Taylor’s goal ended a 540-day scoring drought that had stymied the Golden Boot winner from the 2017 European Championship. (Reuters)
Updated 15 June 2019

Taylor puts England in World Cup last 16 with game to spare

  • England are through with a game to go in Group D

LE HAVRE, France: As roommates at the Women’s World Cup, Jodie Taylor and Beth Mead have built a connection that helped lead England into the second round of the tournament.
Mead delivered a low cross from the left flank and Taylor sneaked into a central location, nudging the ball into the net to earn a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Friday and secure England’s place in the second round with a game to spare in Group D.
“I just knew where Beth was going to play it,” Taylor said. “It must be roommates becoming more connected. It was such a good ball from Beth. I do believe the closer you are as a team the better your performance will be on the pitch.”
Argentina had frustrated England for 61 minutes and goalkeeper Vanina Correa was nearly flawless — she even stopped a penalty kick — until Taylor and Mead connected on the game-winning goal.
Taylor’s goal ended a 540-day scoring drought that had stymied the Golden Boot winner from the 2017 European Championship.
“It’s not until people start bringing it up that you start thinking about it,” said Taylor, who plays in the US for the Seattle Reign.
England had to be patient against the resilient Argentines, who collected their first ever World Cup point in an opening draw against Japan. Finding a way past Correa wasn’t easy.
The 35-year-old goalkeeper was coaxed back into competition after giving birth to twins in 2017 and her appearance in this tournament makes Correa the only Argentine woman to appear in three World Cups.
“Generally, for women goalkeepers, things are changing, we’re having better training,” she said. “It’s not nice to criticize goalkeepers even if we do sometimes make mistakes.”
Jill Scott discovered how hard it would be to beat Correa in the 13th minute when her header was collected.
While Nikita Parris scored the first England goal in the opening 2-1 victory over Scotland on Sunday, she missed her chance to do it again. After Linda Bravo’s sliding tackle brought down Alex Greenwood, Parris sent her spot kick to the right and Correa pushed it onto the post.
Correa’s hand denied Parris, and her foot thwarted Mead just before halftime. When Fran Kirby hooked a ball through to Mead, the low shot was turned away by Correa’s outstretched right boot.
“We were thinking when is it actually going to go in?” Alex Greenwood said.
Particularly when in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, Parris had a shot saved and Taylor’s header was collected by Correa before she was finally beaten.
“I told Jodie before the game that I knew she would score,” England coach Phil Neville said. “You reap your rewards from your training performances. She thrives off service, she thrives off balls through and the support from around her.”
England has opened a World Cup with back-to-back wins for the first time and advanced to the next round ahead of its final Group D match against Japan. Italy, France and Germany are also already through to the round of 16 with a game to spare.

New Sharqiya Baja to take place Thursday

Updated 12 December 2019

New Sharqiya Baja to take place Thursday

ALKHOBAR: The new Sharqiya Baja 2019, the fifth and final round of the inaugural Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, will take place at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday with a timed super special stage of 4.32 km. 

Ahead of a field of 51 cars, nine NUTVs, 10 motorcycles, 23 quads and one truck will be two further days of competitive action through the deserts of the Eastern Province and 474.86 competitive kilometers in a compact route of 746.58 km. 

 Several international drivers, most notably Spaniard Carlos Sainz, Zimbabwe’s Conrad Rautenbach, Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Czech Miroslav Zapletal will use the opportunity to finalize their preparations for January’s Dakar Rally.

In contrast, the massive Saudi contingent is spread across several categories and sporting disciplines, and the series finale will decide the outcome of the drivers’ championship and the winner of the quad section.

 Saudi Arabia’s leading drivers, Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Toyota Hilux) and Yasir Seaidan (X-raid Buggy), have fought a fascinating tussle for supremacy in the new series.

 Seaidan won the Aseer Rally opener and finished behind his rival at the Qassim Rally, the AlUla-Neom event and the Riyadh Rally. 

 The pair are now separated by just three points, heading into the showdown on Half Moon Bay.

An outright victory would give either driver the title, with 25 points awarded to the winner, 18 for second place and 15 for third. The two drivers, however, face strong opposition from a plethora of Saudi rivals. 

 ED Racing’s Essa Al-Dossari is a distant third in the series in his Nissan Navara, and can confirm that position by staying ahead of Mutair Al-Shammeri, Khalid Al-Feraihi and Faris Al-Shammeri. 

 Salman Al-Shammeri has already clinched the T2 title by scoring maximum points in the category for series production cross-country vehicles in three of the four rallies. His closest challenger is Yousef Al-Suwaidi, winner of the T2 in the Qassim Rally.

 Saleh Al-Saif confirmed success in the T3 before the recent event in Riyadh, and tackled that rally in the NUTV class, while Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb have cruised to the T4 title in a Mercedes truck. 

Yousef Al-Dhaif has an unassailable lead over Fahad Al-Naim and Khalil and Majid Al-Tuwaijri in the NUTV Championship, but the latter trio will be battling to finish as runners-up in the popular category. Motorcycle honors have already gone to Mishal Alghuneim with Abdullah Al-Helal finishing the series in second place, but a host of riders still have a shot at claiming third overall.

Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi won the quad section at the Qassim and AlUla-Neom rallies, but a retirement in Riyadh has left the door open for Riyadh Al-Oraifan to snatch the title in the Eastern Province. He trails his fellow Yamaha rider by 21 points, with 25 available for the outright win.

 Several riders can still finish third, but Abdul Aziz Al-Shayban heads into the ceremonial start on Half Moon Bay leading Riyadh event-winner Sufiyan Al-Omar by six points. 

The event is organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and the supervision of former FIA Middle East champion Abdullah Bakhashab. 

 The new Baja runs with the support of the SAMF, the General Sports Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group, Al-Arabia Outdoors and the Saudi Research and Marketing Group.

 The event is being considered as an official candidate for future inclusion in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.