Hulk double saves ‘lost’ Shanghai in Champions League quarters

Hulk was a €55.8m capture from Zenit St. Petersburg three years ago. (AFP)
Updated 27 August 2019

Hulk double saves ‘lost’ Shanghai in Champions League quarters

  • The 33-year-old Hulk held his nerve twice in the second half from the spot

SHANGHAI: Brazilian striker Hulk scored twice from the penalty spot to rescue Shanghai SIPG in a 2-2 stalemate against Urawa Reds in the AFC Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.
J-League side Urawa will go into the home second leg as slight favorites on the away-goals rule, but it could have been so much better after they led 2-0 at the break.
The 33-year-old Hulk held his nerve twice in the second half from the spot to keep Vitor Pereira’s Chinese champions alive in the tie.
Pereira felt that his side, boasting expensively assembled attacking players Hulk, Oscar and Marko Arnautovic, could have gone on to win the game.
“At half-time we were maybe out of the competition,” said the Portuguese.
“But now everything is possible.
“In the first half the team looked lost, lost on the pitch and without confidence,” he added.
“We suffered a bit, but the reaction in the second half gave us hope to win the game.”
Shanghai’s Chinese international goalkeeper Yan Junling was badly at fault for the opener as Urawa threatened to go goal-crazy at a stunned Shanghai Stadium.
On only three minutes he flapped at a high ball, dropping it at the feet of Tomoaki Makino, who swivelled to fire into an empty net.
The home side complained bitterly but Yan was culpable, spilling the ball under negligible pressure from Makino.
On 30 minutes the visitors, two-time Asian champions, stretched their lead when Shinzo Koroki ran through on goal and slotted under Yan, who again might have done better.
Shanghai’s record of never losing in the Champions League at home in 19 matches was in serious danger.
Boos rang out at half-time in the direction of referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan of the United Arab Emirates, the home crowd feeling that Yan was fouled for the opener.
Arnautovic, signed from West Ham United during the summer, was making his Asian Champions League debut, but the Austrian striker was subdued throughout.
Shanghai, whose domestic league defense is faltering after racking up too many draws, emerged for the second half with intent and scored on 49 minutes.
Oscar, an Asian-record €60m capture from Chelsea in 2017, took on several Urawa players before he was felled in the box.
It looked harsh on the visitors, with Oscar appearing to leave his leg in to win the penalty.
His fellow Brazilian Hulk, a €55.8m capture from Zenit St. Petersburg three years ago, smacked in the spot-kick and Urawa were reeling.
On 71 minutes it was 2-2 thanks to another unerring Hulk penalty after Brazilian defender Antonio Mauricio inadvertently blocked a goal-bound shot with his arm.
The second leg is on September 17.

Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

Updated 16 September 2019

Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

  • Toronto Raptors center Mark Gasol becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year


BEIJING: Three-time All-Star Marc Gasol became only the second man to win an NBA crown and the World Cup in the same year after Spain brushed aside Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.

Spain, who survived double overtime against Australia to reach the final, led throughout in Beijing to win international basketball’s biggest prize a second time.

The only previous occasion was in 2006 with the two Gasol brothers, Marc and older sibling Pau, on the team.

Pau did not feature in China because of injury.

The latest triumph was particularly sweet for the 34-year-old center Gasol, who three months ago also played a key part in the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA title.

Gasol, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, joins Lamar Odom, a double winner in 2010 with the US and Los Angeles Lakers.

Surprise finalists Argentina had not triumphed since they hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1950.

As a contest, the final was over by the fourth quarter — although the Argentines did rally belatedly to reduce Spain’s previously mighty lead.

Fans of both teams had made it feel more like a football match, decked out in their national colors, chanting loudly and refusing to sit down.

Spain, for whom Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the leading players of the tournament in China, surged into a 14-2 lead.

In front of a capacity crowd, Argentina’s 39-year-old talisman Luis Scola could not escape the attentions of Pierre Oriola.

Led by their slick-haired Italian coach Sergio Scariolo, Spain were up 21-14 going into the second quarter and increased their advantage to 43-31 at halftime.

With Rubio prominent, drilling 20 points, Spain never looked like surrendering their lead, repeatedly thwarting Argentina’s suffocated offense.

France roared back after halftime to defeat Australia 67-59 and claim a second World Cup bronze in a row — and extend the Boomers’ long wait for a major medal.

Turkish-based guard Nando De Colo led all scorers with 19 points for France and Nicolas Batum had nine points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals.

The French, one of the tallest teams at the tournament, defeated reigning two-time holders the US in the quarterfinals, but then lost heavily to Argentina.

“For us it’s something very, very special and important we did it after a very difficult first half,” French coach Vincent Collet said.

“Many teams could have given up, even easy shots we were missing in the first half.

“We started to move the ball better in the second half and that’s why we won this game.”

It was hard on Australia, who similarly led for long periods in their semifinal against Spain.

It is still the best finish for the Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarterfinals at 11 previous World Cups, but they are yet to claim a medal at the worlds or Olympics.

Deposed champions the US, who were missing their elite names, finished seventh, their lowest position in tournament history.

They did, at least, qualify to defend their Olympic title in Tokyo next summer. With 32 teams, this was the biggest Basketball World Cup ever.

The next one will be in 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.