Man United beat Villa 2-1, level on points with Liverpool

Man United beat Villa 2-1, level on points with Liverpool
Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes scores from the penalty spot for his sides 2nd goal of the game past a diving Aston Villa's goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Jan. 1, 2021. (Lawrence Griffiths/ Pool via AP)
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Updated 02 January 2021

Man United beat Villa 2-1, level on points with Liverpool

Man United beat Villa 2-1, level on points with Liverpool
  • Man United victory ended Aston Villa’s five-game unbeaten run

MANCHESTER, England: Bruno Fernandes scoring a penalty has become a very familiar sight for Manchester United. Being among the Premier League frontrunners has not been seen in recent years for the fallen giant.
United went level on points with leader Liverpool with a 2-1 victory that ended Aston Villa’s five-game unbeaten run on Friday. The win was secured by Fernandes scoring his ninth spotkick since making his debut 11 months ago.
While United is still behind Liverpool on goal difference, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has won one more and has the team looking well-placed to mount a challenge for a first title since 2013.
“We are building something important — we know that,” Fernandes said. “I see in the stands the last two or three minute, everyone shouting and hoping we don’t concede the goal and take care of the ball. We have to build this more and more.”
Of course, there weren’t many to shout. With Manchester in near-lockdown and games closed to fans, just a few hundred key personnel — including players — were allowed into Old Trafford on New Year’s Day.
One of them was the most legendary figure in British football: Alex Ferguson, who produced United’s record-extending 20th English title before retiring eight years ago.
A day after his 79th birthday, the Scot saw Anthony Martial head United in front in the 40th minute at the end of a counterattack started by Paul Pogba. And it was Pogba who won the penalty — from the restart after Bertrand Traoré’s equalizer — that allowed Fernandes to clinch the win in the 61st minute.
Such has been United’s decline in the post-Ferguson years that only once — in 2018 under Jose Mourinho — has United finished second and then it was 19 points behind Manchester City.
And when Solskjaer opened 2020 with United 27 points behind eventual champion Liverpool, the manager’s days looked numbered.
“It’s such a big difference when you look 12 months back,” Solskjaer said. “It’s a good position to be in but we need to improve and get better.”
Key to United’s transformation last season that secured a third-place finish was Fernandes arriving in the January transfer window.
But it is the team’s costliest player — Pogba — that Solskjaer will need to be making a consistent impact if the trophy is to be collected.
“His physical presence is important for us,” Solskjaer said.
After gaining possession five minutes before halftime inside his own half, Pogba headed the ball to Marcus Rashford, who flicked it for Aaron Wan-Bissaka to take down the right flank. A cross was then sent in for Martial to meet with a stooping header planted into the net for his third goal in six games.
It’s not easy breaching Villa’s defense. This was only the second conceded in six games.
So much of Villa’s threat was coming on the left flank from Jack Grealish. At the start of the second half he beat Wan-Bissaka and sent in a cross which led to Ollie Watkins’ header being turned over by goalkeeper David de Gea.
But De Gea was beaten by Traoré from close range after Douglas Luiz let Grealish’s cross go past him. The move started with a quickly taken free kick by John McGinn inside Villa’s half that caught out United.
But the lead didn’t last long after Pogba tangled with Luiz’s shoulders and almost appeared to trip himself over. But the penalty survived a VAR review for Fernandes to convert for his 11th league goal of the season.
Fernandes did have a chance to extend the lead from open play with a shot pushed over that ensured a nervy conclusion to protect the lead.
In stoppage time, De Gea kept out a powerful shot from Matty Cash and defender Eric Bailly scrambled a clearance to prevent Keinan Davis leveling.
No wonder Bailly was so triumphant, roaring at the final whistle. Fernandes went over to embrace him.
“It’s a fantastic block at the end,” Solskjaer said. “I didn’t enjoy the last 10 minutes that much because I think we could have seen out the game out in a better way.”


LeBron confirms vaccinated but ‘not my job’ to persuade others

LeBron confirms vaccinated but ‘not my job’ to persuade others
Updated 57 min 41 sec ago

LeBron confirms vaccinated but ‘not my job’ to persuade others

LeBron confirms vaccinated but ‘not my job’ to persuade others
  • Los Angeles Lakers superstar had declined previously to say whether he had been vaccinated, saying it was a "private" matter for him and his family
  • He told reporters on Tuesday he had now been vaccinated, part of a Lakers drive to ensure that 100 percent of the squad and staff had taken the vaccine

LOS ANGELES: LeBron James confirmed he had been vaccinated against Covid-19 on Tuesday but said it was “not my job” to convince other NBA players to follow suit.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar had declined previously to say whether he had been vaccinated, saying it was a “private” matter for him and his family.
However he told reporters on Tuesday he had now been vaccinated, part of a Lakers drive to ensure that 100 percent of the squad and staff had taken the vaccine.
“At the end of the day you’re always trying to figure out ways that you can be available and protect one another and put yourself in the best possible chance where you are available to your team-mates, available to do what we need to do on the floor,” James said.
“The ultimate goal is to win a championship and it starts with being healthy which is the number one thing.
“We’re excited to know that we’ve given ourselves another opportunity to be available to each other, and that’s what it came down to.”
James said he had opted to be vaccinated after deciding it was in the best interests of himself and his family.
“When it comes to me I can speak for myself,” James said.
“I think everyone has their own choice to do what they feel is right for themselves and their family and things of that nature.
“I know that I was very skeptical about it all but after doing my own research I felt like it was best suited for me and my family and my friends. That’s why I decided to do it.”
Around 90 percent of players in the NBA are believed to have been vaccinated as the new season approaches.
However there remains a significant number who have either said they will not take the vaccine or have refused to confirm their status.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving on Monday said he was keeping his decision private while Washington Wizards ace Bradley Beal has said he is declining the vaccine for “personal reasons.”
When pressed Tuesday over whether he could play a greater role in persuading individuals over the vaccine, James said it was not his place to do so.
“You’re talking about individual’s bodies,” James said. “You’re not talking about something that’s political, or racism, or police brutality. You’re talking about people’s bodies and well-being.
“I don’t feel like for me personally I should get involved in what people do for their bodies and their livelihoods. It would be like me talking about whether somebody should take this job or not. You have to do what’s best for you and your family.
“I know what I did for me and my family. But as far as speaking for everybody and their individualities and what they want to do... that’s not my job.”

*


Prince Saud bin Mishal in UAE to watch Indian Premier League action

SACF President Prince Saud bin Mishal (center) with board member Dalal Al-Mutlaq and Chairman of Dubai Sports City Khalid Al-Zarooni. (SACF)
SACF President Prince Saud bin Mishal (center) with board member Dalal Al-Mutlaq and Chairman of Dubai Sports City Khalid Al-Zarooni. (SACF)
Updated 28 September 2021

Prince Saud bin Mishal in UAE to watch Indian Premier League action

SACF President Prince Saud bin Mishal (center) with board member Dalal Al-Mutlaq and Chairman of Dubai Sports City Khalid Al-Zarooni. (SACF)
  • President of Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation was accompanied to game by board member Dalal Al-Mutlaq, Dubai Sports City Chairman Khalid Al-Zarooni

DUBAI: President of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation Prince Saud bin Mishal and board member Dalal Al-Mutlaq are in the UAE to watch the latest action from the ongoing Indian Premier League.

The representatives of the Saudi federation, which over the last year has transformed the cricket landscape in the Kingdom with a series of game-changing initiatives and competitions, were pictured with the chairman of Dubai Sports City, Khalid Al-Zarooni, at one of the matches currently taking place in the UAE.

The IPL, the world’s richest cricket tournament, resumed in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah on Sept. 19, more than four months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Chennai Super Kings currently lead the table on 16 points from 10 matches, followed by the Delhi Capitals with 16 points from 11, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore with 12 from 10.


Women’s Cycling Challenge to take place at Dubai’s Al-Qudra track in October

The second edition of the Women’s Cycling Challenge is set to take place at Dubai’s Al-Qudra Cycle Track in Al-Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. (Facebook/The Women's Cycling Challenge)
The second edition of the Women’s Cycling Challenge is set to take place at Dubai’s Al-Qudra Cycle Track in Al-Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. (Facebook/The Women's Cycling Challenge)
Updated 28 September 2021

Women’s Cycling Challenge to take place at Dubai’s Al-Qudra track in October

The second edition of the Women’s Cycling Challenge is set to take place at Dubai’s Al-Qudra Cycle Track in Al-Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. (Facebook/The Women's Cycling Challenge)
  • 2nd edition of Dubai Sports Council-organized race will be contested over 40-km, 70-km distances

DUBAI: The second edition of the Women’s Cycling Challenge is set to take place at Dubai’s Al-Qudra Cycle Track in Al-Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve on Oct. 8, Emirates News Agency WAM has reported.

The event is being presented by logistics firm DP World and held under the umbrella of Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Women’s Sports Committee, in association with the UAE Cycling Federation.

The challenge, over 40-kilometer and 70-kilometer distances, is open to cyclists of all skill levels who can take part as individuals or in teams.

A DSC spokesperson said: “The Women’s Cycling Challenge supports a healthy and active lifestyle for women, providing them with an opportunity to practice sports and physical activity that enables them to compete in an environment that conforms to the customs and traditions of the UAE. It is one of our strategic objectives, and the Women’s Cycling Challenge is an initiative that seeks to further those aims.

“We are pleased that DP World is a partner and supporter of this important sports event for women in the UAE, championing the opportunities and initiatives that women have to participate in sports at every level in the country.”

Nabil Qayed, director of people and general administration for the UAE in DP World’s people department, said: “As a global logistics leader, we not only enable smart trade, but work to create a better future for everyone.

“In alignment with this goal and our sustainability strategy that impacts people, communities, and the environment, we take pride in our association with the Women’s Cycling Challenge that is dedicated to promoting female health and wellness.

“At an organizational level, we have constantly supported women and are committed to increasing female representation in every sphere, thus promoting women’s aspirations in the UAE,” Qayed added.

Riders will race through the Al-Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, which is home to 204 species of native birds, 158 species of migratory birds, many endangered animals, as well as Arabian oryx, Arabian sand gazelles, foxes, and wild cats.

The 3,000-year-old Saruq Al-Hadid archaeological site — one of the oldest in the country dating back to the Iron Age — is also located within the reserve.

Ruth Dickinson, the event’s director, said: “Women cycling for recreation and as a way to keep fit is popular in Dubai and across the UAE. Around the region, it is a fast-growing sport and pastime for women of all levels of fitness and riding capability.

“In Dubai, we have excellent facilities and easy access to cycle tracks around the city and this has encouraged more women to take up cycling competitively and socially.

“We are encouraging women at every level of ability to join the challenge. We would like to see women come and ride to compete, or cycle just for fun and enjoy a great experience,” she added.


Saudi Arabia names 25-man squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers

Saudi Arabia will face Japan and China in October’s Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. (SAFF)
Saudi Arabia will face Japan and China in October’s Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. (SAFF)
Updated 28 September 2021

Saudi Arabia names 25-man squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers

Saudi Arabia will face Japan and China in October’s Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. (SAFF)
  • The Green Falcons sit second in Group B and will host Japan on Oct. 7 and China on Oct. 12 at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah
  • The top two finishers in each of the two six-team groups will qualify for Qatar 2022 while third-place finishers will meet in a play-off round

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard on Tuesday named a 25-man squad for the team’s upcoming Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Japan and China.

The Kingdom will host Japan on Oct. 7 before facing China on Oct. 12. Both fixtures will be held at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah.

The Green Falcons sit second in Group B of the third round of AFC qualification behind Australia, having won their opening two fixtures against Vietnam (3-1) and Oman (1-0).

The top two finishers in each of the two six-team groups will qualify automatically to Qatar 2022 while the third-place finishers will meet in a play-off round.

The squad list revealed by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation includes Mohammed Al-Owais, Zaid Al-Bawardi, Fawaz Al-Qarni, Mohammed Al-Yami, Mohammad Khobrani, Abdullah Mado, Abdulelah Al-Amari, Ali Al-Bulaihi, Saud Abdulhamid, Hussain Qassim, Sultan Al-Ghannam, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Nasser Al-Dossari, Ali Al-Hassan, Abdulelah Al-Malki, Mohammed Kanno, Sami Al-Najei, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Al-Kwaikbi, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Abdulrahman Ghareeb, Abdulrahman Al-Obud, Firas Al-Buraikan, Ayman Yahya and Saleh Al-Shehri.


Chelsea midfielder Kante tests positive for coronavirus

Chelsea midfielder Kante tests positive for coronavirus
Updated 28 September 2021

Chelsea midfielder Kante tests positive for coronavirus

Chelsea midfielder Kante tests positive for coronavirus
  • France’s World Cup winner will miss Chelsea’s Champions League match at Juventus

LONDON: Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has tested positive for the coronavirus and is isolating for 10 days.
The France World Cup winner will miss Chelsea’s Champions League match at Juventus on Wednesday and the English Premier League match against Southampton on Saturday.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he did not know the percentage of his squad that has been vaccinated against COVID-19. Tuchel has been vaccinated.