Another De Gea howler as United lose 2-0 at Watford

Manchester United's goalkeeper David de Gea reacts after Watford's Ismaila Sarr scores their first goal. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 December 2019

Another De Gea howler as United lose 2-0 at Watford

WATFORD, UK:  David De Gea made a mistake that led to a goal for the second straight Premier League game as Manchester United slumped to a 2-0 loss at last-place Watford on Sunday.

The Spain goalkeeper allowed a tame volley by Ismaila Sarr to slip through his hands and creep into the net near the post, gifting Watford the lead in the 50th minute at Vicarage Road.

It was another moment to forget for De Gea, who failed to punch clear a corner to allow Everton to grab an equalizer in a 1-1 draw at United last weekend. On that occasion, De Gea could legitimately argue he was being fouled as he went for the ball but he had no excuses against Watford as he slid his arms down the post and fell to his knees in embarrassment.

Troy Deeney converted a penalty down the middle four minutes later after Aaron Wan-Bissaka tripped Sarr. It put the seal on only Watford’s second league win all season, and first under new manager Nigel Pearson.

Watford stayed in last place but moved level on 12 points with Norwich after 18 games. They are six points adrift of safety.

One positive on a bleak afternoon for United was the return of midfielder Paul Pogba, the club’s record signing who has missed nearly three months because of injury and, more recently, illness. The France midfielder came on as a 64th-minute substitute for just his seventh game for United this season and was a bright spark, having a shot palmed away and pinging two brilliant long-range passes to set up chances.

Since beating Tottenham and Manchester City in the same week, United has collected just one point against Everton and Watford — two teams battling against relegation.

Breaking down opponents who do not come out to attack has been United’s weakness under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. His team’s defeats in the league this season have come against Crystal Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and now Watford.


Pakistan cricketers positive for COVID-19 in New Zealand

Updated 12 min 36 sec ago

Pakistan cricketers positive for COVID-19 in New Zealand

  • Pakistan team also receives a ‘final warning’ for flouting quarantine rules
  • New Zealand has largely eradicated community transmission of coronavirus

WELLINGTON: Pakistan’s cricket tour of New Zealand was in the balance Thursday after six squad members tested positive for COVID-19 and the team received a “final warning” for flouting quarantine rules.
New Zealand health authorities revoked the Pakistan players’ ability to train while in isolation at their Christchurch hotel, making clear they would not tolerate risky behavior in a country that has largely eradicated the virus.
“It is a privilege to come to New Zealand to play sport, but in return teams must stick to the rules that are designed to keep COVID-19 out of our communities,” director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, said in a statement.
The health ministry said Pakistan’s 53-member tour party, led by skipper Babar Azam, tested negative before leaving Lahore and were swabbed again after arriving for a spell of managed isolation on the South Island on Tuesday.
Six tests came back positive and those affected were moved into stricter quarantine, it said, with New Zealand Cricket adding that four cases were new and two were regarded as “historical.”
“While this is disappointing for the Pakistan squad, the testing outcomes and the actions taken show the government system is working,” NZC said.
Bloomfield said CCTV showed members of the tour party breaching social distancing protocols.
“The team as a whole has been issued with a final warning,” he said.
“It’s important to note that all incidents of breaches occurred within the facility and there is no risk to the public.”
The West Indies cricket team were also reprimanded by New Zealand health authorities for similar breaches earlier this month when they were in managed isolation.
New Zealand has largely eradicated community transmission of coronavirus recording just 1,684 cases and 25 deaths in a population of five million.
Aggressive testing, snap lockdowns and effective contact tracing mean domestic life has largely returned to normal, but border control remain strict.
All overseas arrivals must undergo two weeks in quarantine, although New Zealand Cricket negotiated special privileges to allow the tourists to train together.
Health authorities said these had been revoked after several team members were seen on CCTV “breaching managed isolation rules, despite clear, consistent and detailed communication of expected behaviors.”
The tour is scheduled to being with the first of three Twenty20 internationals in Auckland on December 18, followed by two Tests, but will be in jeopardy if there are any further breaches.
NZC said it was having discussions with the tourists to ensure they understood the quarantine requirements.
New Zealand’s military helps manage border virus accommodation and air commodore Darryn Webb said there were robust procedures in place to deal with positive tests.
“Our focus is on keeping the rest of the squad and our staff safe,” he said.
“For that reason, all other team members must remain in their rooms while investigations continue.”
Even before Pakistan arrived on Kiwi soil the tour had been hit by ill health, with Pakistan’s dashing opener Fakhar Zaman ruled out at the 11th hour with a persistent fever.
The 30-year-old left-hander tested negative along with the rest of the squad.