China crush Guam, Aussies beat Nepal in 2022 qualifier whitewash

Australia easily bested a struggling Nepal. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2019

China crush Guam, Aussies beat Nepal in 2022 qualifier whitewash

  • Jamie Maclaren made a hat-trick in Australia’s 5-0 thrashing of Nepal

GUANGZHOU: Veteran striker Yang Xu made four goals in 25 minutes during China’s 7-0 blitz of Guam while Australia easily bested a struggling Nepal in Thursday’s World Cup qualifiers.
China struggled to keep up the pressure and would have gone scoreless in the second half without a sudden strike by Brazil-born Elkeson, who in August became the first player without Chinese heritage to be named in the national squad.
Yang found his first in the sixth minute off a cross from Wang Gang but Guam looked like levelling soon after with some gaping holes in the hosts’ defense.
Winger Wu Lei’s feint around Travis Nicklaw into goal from the penalty line checked the brief burst of momentum from the visitors and Yang’s second moments later kept the hosts on the front foot for the rest of the half.
Yang made his fourth at the 31st minute and shook off a tumble soon after that saw a yellow card for Nicklaw, while Yu Xi’s header brought China to six.
With the other scorers benched after the break, Yang’s best shot at a fifth was flagged offside.
Elkeson stepped up in the 75th minute but missed his chance at matching the double he made on debut against the Maldives last month in the final shortly before the whistle.
Meanwhile Jamie Maclaren made a hat-trick in Australia’s 5-0 thrashing of Nepal during Thursday’s World Cup qualifier in Canberra.
The Socceroos missed several opportunities against their 161st-ranked visitors but maintained a tight defense and dominated possession through the match.
Their opponents were flagging by half-time, with a dogged showing by keeper Kiran Chemjong avoiding a bigger blowout.
“We created a lot of chances, but we got a bit more ruthless when it counts,” said Australia coach Graham Arnold after his side’s biggest home win in three years. “Overall, I’m very happy.”
Melbourne City’s Maclaren opened scoring in the sixth minute when Chemjong lost his grip on a drive from the top of the box.
He doubled the lead in the 18th with a header off Rhyan Grant.
International debutant Harry Souttar followed five minutes later with his own nod into goal, but a potential fourth by Mathew Leckie seconds before the break was controversially ruled offside.
By then the Aussies had made 16 shots on goal against a solitary attempt by the visitors — a 44th minute Hail Mary from Abhishek Rijal from near the half-way line.
The visitors rallied in the second half but notched an own goal after failing to deflect Souttar in minute 59.
Late substitutes Ajdin Hrustic and Awer Mabil kept up the pressure but could not capitalize on their attempts before Maclaren made his third in the closing moments.
“(It’s) my proudest moment in a football jersey,” he told Fox Sports after the match, while conceding that his side squandered a few easy opportunities through the match.
“End of the day we scored five... but looking back we could’ve scored more,” he said.
Striker Kim Shin-wook scored four in South Korea’s 8-0 drubbing of Sri Lanka while Japan triumphed 6-0 against Mongolia in Thursday’s other second round group matches.

What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

Updated 03 June 2020

What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

  • Restart to begin with 2 matches on June 17, to ensure every side played same number of games

LONDON: The Premier League's return is just two weeks away but there are plenty of details for the 20 clubs in the English top-flight to work out before competitive action resumes on June 17.

AFP Sport looks at what is on the agenda at the latest in a series of meetings between the clubs on Thursday.

There have been squabbles over how final league standings should be decided if the season cannot be completed but clubs need a contingency arrangement if a spike in coronavirus cases wrecks their plans.

Most of the teams in the bottom half of the table are reportedly pushing for relegation to be scrapped if the season is not completed on the field.

That still seems highly unlikely, with the English Football Association and English Football League both insisting on promotion and relegation throughout the pyramid.

A points-per-game formula is the most likely option and is part of the reason why the restart will begin with two matches on June 17, to ensure every side has played the same number of games.

Once the two outstanding games — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United — have been played, all 20 sides will have nine games remaining.

No dates for other matches have yet been released, but fixtures are expected to continue from where they left off in March and be crammed into just five weeks ahead of the FA Cup final on August 1.

A long layoff, little time together in contact training and a gruelling schedule mean players' bodies will be pushed to the limits.

In an attempt to minimize injuries and fatigue, world governing body FIFA has allowed leagues to temporarily change their rules to allow five substitutes.

Chelsea have also reportedly proposed increasing the number of substitutes available from seven to nine.

However, critics have suggested those changes will simply play into the hands of the bigger clubs with deeper squads.

Premier League clubs appear to have won their battle to have games played in their own grounds rather than on neutral sites.

However, the UK's national lead for football policing confirmed last week that a "small number" of fixtures will take place at neutral venues.

That is likely to include any match that could see Liverpool crowned champions for the first time in 30 years, to try and avoid crowds gathering at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unconcerned by playing at neutral venues, with results from four rounds of Germany's Bundesliga showing no advantage for home sides in a closed-doors environment.

"We will not have the help from the crowd but no team will have that, so where is the advantage?" Klopp told the BBC.

"Whoever we play it is the same situation, which is why I'm not too worried about it."

The use of VAR could also be dispensed with for the rest of the season should the clubs wish to further cut the number of people required for games to go ahead.

However, the Premier League's CEO Richard Masters is keen for it to remain.

"VAR has its own social-distancing issues, but we think there is a way of completing the season with VAR," Masters told Sky Sports.