Ceballos late heroics send Arsenal into semifinals

Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos after scoring their second goal against Sheffield United on Sunday in the FA Cup quarterfinal match. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 June 2020

Ceballos late heroics send Arsenal into semifinals

  • After losing their first two matches following the restart, Arsenal have now won 2 in a row

SHEFFIELD: Dani Ceballos fired Arsenal into the FA Cup semifinals as the Spaniard’s stoppage-time strike clinched a dramatic 2-1 win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta’s side rode their luck after surviving a second-half barrage from the Blades at Bramall Lane.

Nicolas Pepe put Arsenal ahead with a first-half penalty after Chris Basham fouled Alexandre Lacazette.

David McGoldrick equalized with three minutes left, but on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Ceballos settled a hard-fought quarterfinal in the final moments.

Arsenal join Manchester United in the last four, with Leicester facing Chelsea and Newcastle hosting Manchester City in Sunday’s other quarterfinals.

Arteta was Arsenal’s captain when they won the FA Cup final against Hull in 2014.

And the Gunners boss remains on course to get his hands on the silverware again as Arsenal look to win the competition for a record-extending 14th time.

“This is a difficult place to get a win. We are back at Wembley. I am really happy with the attitude and performance of the players,” Arteta said.

“It is a great opportunity to try and win a title and play in Europe.”

After losing their first two matches following the restart, Arsenal, who beat Southampton in the Premier League in midweek, have now won two in a row.

Complaining about Arsenal’s hectic schedule, Arteta added: We have played four away games since the restart. Thank you to the Premier League for our calendar playing every three days. But we go again on Wednesday.”

The Blades have gone winless in their four matches since the English season restarted, ruining their hopes of a push to qualify for the Champions League and ending their FA Cup campaign.

Arteta made five changes, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Eddie Nketiah among those left out.

There was no place for Matteo Guendouzi again after the Arsenal midfielder’s role in the brawl against Brighton, while Mesut Ozil was also absent from the Gunners squad.

David Luiz was back in Arsenal’s defence after serving a suspension for the red card he picked up during a disastrous substitute appearance in the defeat at Manchester City last week.

It wasn’t long before Arsenal’s defensive frailties were on display when John Lundstram nodded home from Oli McBurnie’s header, but the goal was ruled out by VAR for offside against the Blades midfielder.

Despite their unconvincing start, Arsenal grabbed the lead in the 25th minute.

Basham’s challenge on Lacazette looked innocuous, but he caught the Arsenal striker just inside the area and referee Paul Tierney awarded a penalty.

Ivory Coast winger Pepe stepped up to beat Dean Henderson from the spot for his eighth goal of the season.

Arsenal were clicking at last and Kieran Tierney broke down the left, crossing for Pepe to shoot just wide. Luiz’s difficult start to the resumed season continued when the Brazilian limped off injured after stumbling while shepherding the ball out of play early in the second half.

Henderson almost scored a remarkable goal from his own penalty area, the keeper’s wind-assisted kick bouncing past Gunners stopper Emiliano Martinez and narrowly over the bar.

United were denied by another VAR review when John Egan headed home after McGoldrick’s shot from an offside position was pushed out by Martinez.

Basham should have equalised from Jack Robinson’s cross, but the defender headed wide from close range.

Arsenal were undone by a terrible piece of defending in the 87th minute.

Sead Kolasinac made a comical mess of clearing Robinson’s long throw, smashing it into Mustafi and McGoldrick pounced to beat Martinez with a close-range finish.

It was United’s first goal in four games since the restart, but Arsenal had the perfect response.

When Pepe was tackled by Enda Stevens, Ceballos seized the loose ball and drilled past Henderson’s weak attempted save to keep Arsenal’s silverware hopes alive.


European Ryder Cup stars take aim on 2021 Saudi International

Updated 27 November 2020

European Ryder Cup stars take aim on 2021 Saudi International

  • The February tourney looks set to be one of the strongest events on European Tour schedule

JEDDAH: European Ryder Cup stars Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood join defending champion Graeme McDowell in looking to get their campaign to qualify for the 2021 European Ryder Cup team off to the strongest possible start at the Saudi International.

The tournament, powered by Softbank Investment Advisers, will take place  Feb. 4 -7 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

With world No. 1 and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson and 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau confirmed for the event, along with reigning Open champion Shane Lowry and US stars Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed, the strength of the field means huge ranking points will be on offer for Europe’s leading golfers as they look to get their 2021 qualifying efforts off to a fast start and secure a coveted place on the 2021 European Ryder Cup team.

With a lineup that looks set to ensure that the Saudi International will be one of the strongest events on the 2021 European Tour schedule, Golf Saudi is looking to build on the momentum resulting from hosting two extremely successful Ladies European Tour events this month as interest and participation in golf continues to grow in the Kingdom.

Fleetwood, a six-time winner on the European Tour and standout player in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in Paris in 2018, is making his debut this year in the Saudi International. He said: “From all I’ve heard from the lads who played there the last couple of years, the Saudi International has established itself as one of the leading events on the European Tour both in terms of set up and facilities as well as quality of the field, which is really impressive this year.”

Poulter, who played for the first time in the 2020 edition, said: “I really enjoyed the tournament at the beginning of this year and am psyched to be returning next February. The course sets up for my game rather nicely so I was pretty frustrated to only finish in the top 20 and will certainly be aiming to finish rather higher up the leaderboard this year!

“It’s a fantastic championship course with some amazing vistas and I also really like the fact we get to play a part in introducing golf to a whole new audience in a new region. With Ryder Cup qualification on the line, I am obviously looking to get my campaign off to a fast start and getting a decent finish or winning the Saudi International against such a stellar field would be massive.

“It’s been a really weird year with the pandemic so we are all looking forward to a fresh start in 2021 and I am hoping it is also a strong start as I keep my eyes firmly focused on qualifying for the European team at Whistling Straits,” he added.

Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “This announcement marks yet another amazing group of golf stars joining our 2021 field and the excitement of all the players to kick off afresh in 2021, in Saudi Arabia, is heartening to hear.

“The lineup for the tournament is looking strong and with more players still to be announced in the coming weeks — and on the back of two excellent Ladies European Tour events earlier this month — we are very much looking forward to the third edition of our tournament. We believe it will be the strongest installment to date and will serve as a fabulous illustration that Saudi Arabia is open for business.”