Australia’s Duke heads Al-Taawoun into AFC knockouts

Australia’s Duke heads Al-Taawoun into AFC knockouts
Al-Taawoun’s forward Mitchell Duke celebrates after scoring a goal during the AFC Champions League match against Al-Duhail. (AFP)
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Updated 26 September 2020

Australia’s Duke heads Al-Taawoun into AFC knockouts

Australia’s Duke heads Al-Taawoun into AFC knockouts

DOHA: Australian striker Mitchell Duke shrugged off a head injury to put Saudi Arabia’s Al-Taawoun into the Asian Champions League knockouts with a 1-0 win over Qatar giants Al-Duhail.

Duke’s head was heavily bandaged after a clash with Al-Duhail’s Almoez Ali minutes earlier, but he recovered to nod the winner from a corner on 86 minutes.

Al-Taawoun’s second win over Al-Duhail in the coronavirus-hit tournament put them into the round of 16 for the first time as the visitors advanced due to their head-to-head record, with both teams on nine points after six games.

And on a night when all four Group C teams had a chance of reaching the last 16, Iran’s Persepolis thrashed UAE outfit Sharjah 4-0 to join Al-Taawoun in the knockouts.

Duke’s goal was the decisive act in a frenetic final 10 minutes at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar, a venue for the 2022 World Cup.

The Aussie clashed heads with Ali following a corner but he was back in the action after a few minutes of treatment on the ground.

Al-Duhail’s Ismail Mohamed almost found the mark but his chip was cleared off the line by substitute Saad Yaslam with the goalkeeper beaten.

Duke was then on hand to seal Al-Taawoun’s last-16 spot as he planted a firm header past Al Duhail goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Bakri from Sultan Mandash’s corner.

Persepolis had an easier ride at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium as they scored three in the first half to ease past Sharjah.

Shojae Khalilzadeh nodded the Iranians in front in the second minute, and Isa Alekasir and Vahid Amiri also scored with headers just before halftime. Mehdi Qara completed the scoring with Persepolis’s fourth headed goal in second half injury time.

Earlier, Qatar’s Al-Sadd and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr both lost their final group games against already eliminated rivals.

Al-Sadd were shocked 2-1 by Iran’s Sepahan, while Al Nassr went down 1-0 to former champions Al Ain.


Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season

Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season
Updated 25 January 2021

Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season

Chelsea fires coach Frank Lampard halfway through second season
  • Chelsea has lost five of its last eight Premier League games and dropped to ninth place

LONDON: Frank Lampard was fired by Chelsea on Monday halfway through his second season in charge of the London club after being unable to replicate his success as the club’s record scorer in his first Premier League managerial job.
Chelsea has lost five of its last eight Premier League games and dropped to ninth place, despite Lampard benefiting from nearly $300 million spent on new players for this season.
Chelsea said the performances had not shown “any clear path to sustained improvement” — making a change of managers necessary.
“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,” owner Roman Abramovich said. “He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, the Board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future. He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.”
As the pressure has grown, the cracks were showing ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup win over Luton, when Lampard hit out at perceived negative coverage of the club.
But his own shortcomings of a fledging coaching career were being exposed and sentimentality counted for little despite being instrumental to the trophy-laden revival of the club as a player since the takeover by Abramovich in 2003.
Chelsea brought back its midfield great as coach in 2019 despite him having only a single season’s experience in management in the second division with Derby.
He achieved Champions League qualification in his first season by securing a fourth-place finish in the Premier League. The rush to dismiss Lampard is indicative of the impatience shown by Abramovich, particularly when the team is slipping away from the Champions League spots.
After securing one of the biggest jobs in English management so early in his coaching career, Lampard leaves Stamford Bridge without any success having lost the 2020 FA Cup final to Arsenal.
Lampard is a Chelsea great after scoring 211 goals from central midfield from 2001-14, during which he won every major honor at the club including three Premier League titles and the Champions League. He was associated with some of the best moments in the club’s history and admired for his work ethic and making the most of his talent.