Manchester City crush Watford 8-0

Watford’s goalkeeper Ben Foster, down, fouls Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez during Saturday’s match. (AP)
Updated 22 September 2019

Manchester City crush Watford 8-0

  • Tottenham rocked by Leicester

LONDON: Manchester City powered to their record Premier League win as the champions scored five times in the first half of an incredible 8-0 thrashing of Watford, while Leicester enjoyed a VAR-assisted 2-1 victory over Tottenham on Saturday.

Inspired by Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick, Pep Guardiola’s side ripped woeful Watford to pieces at the Etihad Stadium, eclipsing a 7-0 success against Norwich in 2013 which stood as their previous biggest top-flight win.

Although City fell one goal short of equalling the biggest Premier League margin of victory — Manchester United’s 9-0 demolition of Ipswich in 1995 — their swaggering display was the perfect way to erase the bitter taste from last weekend’s shock defeat at Norwich.

Second-placed City move to within two points of leaders Liverpool.

City had crushed Watford 6-0 in last season’s FA Cup final and, with injury-plagued left-back Benjamin Mendy making his first start since April, they picked up where they left off at Wembley with a goal inside the first minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne played a superb ball in from the right, leaving David Silva with the simple task of poking home from close range for his first goal of the season.

The champions doubled their lead in the seventh minute after Watford keeper Ben Foster conceded a penalty with a foul on Riyad Mahrez.

Sergio Aguero coolly slotted in the spot-kick for his eighth goal in six games this term, taking the Argentina striker to 100 home Premier League goals for City.

Guardiola had rested Raheem Sterling, but even without their star winger City were rampant and they made it three in the 12th minute when Mahrez’s free-kick hit Watford’s Tom Cleverley in the head and deflected past Foster.

Astonishingly, City scored again in the 15th minute, De Bruyne’s corner nodded on by Nicolas Otamendi for Bernardo to head home. By the time Otamendi finished off Aguero’s cross in the 18th minute, City had established the fastest 5-0 lead in the Premier League era.

The joint biggest half-time lead in Premier League history wasn’t enough for City and Bernardo struck again with a close-range finish after another flowing move in the 48th minute. Bernardo completed his first Premier League treble on the hour with a tap-in from De Bruyne’s cross.

De Bruyne set City’s new record mark in the Premier League when the Belgium midfielder scored the eighth in the 85th minute.

At the King Power Stadium, Leicester proved their credentials to gatecrash the top four as they came from behind to beat Tottenham.

The game swung Leicester’s way after Tottenham defender Serge Aurier’s goal midway through the second half was ruled out by the finest of margins for offside by VAR.

The hosts built on that lift immediately as Ricardo Pereira equalized before James Maddison struck the winner from long range five minutes from time.

“We’re six games in, we are not getting carried away,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. “We had a tough start but I’m so pleased with the players’ focus.”

By contrast, Tottenham have now won just two of their first seven games of the season in all competitions and Mauricio Pochettino admitted the VAR controversy had played a role in their latest flop.

Pochettino bemoaned the momentum swing given to Leicester by the long stoppage in play prior to Aurier’s strike being ruled out for an extremely marginal offside against Son Heung-min.

“The emotion of the game changed. The belief it gave to Leicester made things happen differently in the last 10 minutes,” Pochettino said.

“I’m only going to say that we all accept that system in the game and now I am not going to complain.”

Burnley beat Norwich 2-0 at Turf Moor, with New Zealand striker Chris Wood scoring in the 10th and 14th minutes.

Sheffield United piled pressure on Everton manager Marco Silva, whose side were booed off after a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park, the damage done by Yerry Mina’s 40th-minute own goal and Lys Mousset’s 79th-minute strike.


Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

Updated 16 December 2019

Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

  • International exposure key to Saudi riders’ success: Equestrian federation chief
  •  Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field

RIYADH: Saudi showjumpers at this month’s Diriyah Equestrian Festival aren’t just riding to win — they are battling for places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the country’s equestrian chief said on Sunday.

“Saudi riders’ participation in international championships is very important,” said Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah, president of the Saudi Equestrian Federation.

“Coming in contact with international riders will provide them with what they need to achieve their ambitions, which we all know are very big. That is why Saudi riders always have remarkable presence on the international level — hard competitors to beat, like the young rider Waleed Al-Ghamdi, who came second in the first stage of the competition.

“We are waiting for the results of this championship to draft the program for the Tokyo Olympics. We have a good chance at winning but, in this sport one can never be sure until the end of the stage. We will always be sure of the self-confidence our riders have, which will be felt as they represent the Kingdom in any competition,” he added.

Prince Abdullah expressed his happiness at the start of the first stage of the International Show Jumping Championship as part of the Diriyah Equestrian Festival

“The success is due to God, the support the sport has from the wise leadership of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA)," he said

The festival — which concludes next weekend, Dec. 19-21 — is taking place at Al-Duhami Farm, the equestrian arena built by Saudi Olympic legend Ramzy Al-Duhami and his wife Sara Baban.

In addition to showjumping, the attractions include art and photography exhibitions, cultural activities and a range of cafes and restaurants.

Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field, showcasing their skills and talents.

Diriyah has always been a symbol of authenticity and culture, while entertainment came with its international sports activities characterized by their sophistication, strength and diversity.

Mohammed Al-Mudayfar, owner of the artistic incubator “Resin Art” taking part in the activities, said: “The exhibition aims at highlighting the Kingdom’s identity in line with the festival’s. By participating, I seek to revive the Kingdom’s culture and introduce it to the visitors.

'Resin Art' exhibition is part of the activities lined up during the two-week Diriyah Equestrian Festival. (Photo/Supplied)

“The exhibition includes 60 Saudi artworks. They received huge support so they can showcase them in a suitable manner, in line with this year’s fun and exciting activities,” he added, noting: “Featured handicrafts, paintings and sculptures are all up for sale.  

“We provide the necessary space and materials for any artist that wishes to showcase his work. Supporting young Saudis and talented ones in particular is a national duty that society should sense its importance especially when it is related to our heritage and traditions.”

The activities area had a part dedicated to kids that has educational and entertainment activities such as painting horse heads made of cork.

Another exhibition called “Objectives” managed by 24-year-old Lama Al-Thubaiti offered visitors a variety of jewelry and accessories that could be modified according to their requests. Al-Thubaiti works as a doctor for people with hearing disabilities and has been working to develop her brand for five years now.

“We are very happy with the visitors’ reaction and our presence here is remarkable as we get ready to open our headquarters soon,” she said.  

The activities area also featured a wide range of restaurants, Saudi and international cafes, a photography corner and cultural facilities such as Arabian and historic horse exhibition, engraving, henna and local artists.

Diriyah Equestrian Festival is taking place for the second year in a row to bring the international event to the Kingdom, reflect the traditional values of equestrianism according to European standards. The event will run for two weeks, providing participants with the chance to qualify to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World Championship.