Spurs’ Euro hopes dented by Villa defeat

Spurs’ Euro hopes dented by Villa defeat
Tottenham's Harry Kane reacts at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa at Tottenham’s Stadium in London on Wednesday. (AP)
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Updated 19 May 2021

Spurs’ Euro hopes dented by Villa defeat

Spurs’ Euro hopes dented by Villa defeat
  • Seventh place would bring entry into a play-off for the new Europa Conference League
  • Kane was named in Tottenham's starting line-up days after reportedly telling the club he wants to leave

LONDON: Tottenham’s bid to qualify for the Europa League suffered a blow in a 2-1 defeat against Aston Villa on Wednesday in what could be Harry Kane’s last home game for the club.
With fifth and sixth place finishes securing a place in next season’s Europa League, Tottenham are involved in the scramble to make it into the tournament.
Seventh place would bring entry into a play-off for the new Europa Conference League.
But Ryan Mason’s sixth-placed side will have to wait until their last game of the season at Leicester on Sunday to discover their European destiny after a second defeat in their last three games.
Kane was named in Tottenham’s starting line-up just days after reportedly telling the club he wants to leave.
The England captain is keen to move on as he chases the first trophies of his career, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain among the clubs linked with the striker.
There were 10,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as crowds return to stadiums on a limited basis after the UK eased coronavirus restrictions this week.
Those supporters quickly urged Kane to stay as they chanted “Harry Kane, he’s one of our own” before kick-off.
Tottenham’s Steven Bergwijn was making his first league start since February and the Dutch winger celebrated his return with a superb strike in the eighth minute.
Bergwijn robbed Marvelous Nakamba, held off two challenges and smashed a rising drive into the roof of the net from just inside the area for his first goal this season.
But Tottenham’s lead lasted only 12 minutes as Sergio Reguilon scored a comical own goal, the left-back somehow managing to slice Nakamba’s cross past Hugo Lloris from 16 yards out.
Villa punished sloppier Reguilon defending in the 39th minute when Bertrand Traore pressured the defender into surrendering possession, allowing Ollie Watkins to fire home from close-range.
Despite an improved second half, Tottenham couldn’t stage a fightback and were booed off at full-time.
Everton remain in the hunt for a Europa League berth after Richarlison’s 48th minute header from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner sealed a 1-0 win against Wolves.
Around 6,500 fans at Goodison Park saw Richarlison clinch Everton’s first home victory in seven attempts as they climbed to eighth place, level on points with Tottenham.
Newcastle beat relegated Sheffield United 1-0 in front of 10,000 fans at St. James’ Park.
Joe Willock gave Newcastle the lead on the stroke of half-time with a thumping header from Jacob Murphy’s cross.
The 21-year-old midfielder, on loan from Arsenal, is the youngest player to score in six successive Premier League games.
Fifth-placed Liverpool, winners of their last three games, will go above fourth placed Leicester on goal difference if they beat Burnley at Turf Moor.
That would put Jurgen Klopp’s side in position to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Liverpool, hoping to salvage a troubled season with a top four finish, host Crystal Palace in their last game.
Also on Wednesday, Roy Hodgson takes charge of his last home game as Crystal Palace manager when Arsenal visit Selhurst Park.
Former England boss Hodgson, 73, will leave Palace at the end of the season after four years with the south London club.
West Ham can no longer qualify for the Champions League after their unexpected top four challenge, but David Moyes’ men head to relegated West Bromwich Albion looking to improve their prospects of a Europa League berth.


Tottenham stages latest-ever comeback to win an EPL game

Tottenham stages latest-ever comeback to win an EPL game
Updated 20 January 2022

Tottenham stages latest-ever comeback to win an EPL game

Tottenham stages latest-ever comeback to win an EPL game
  • As an extra reward for Tottenham, the victory took the team above fierce rival Arsenal and into fifth place in the league

LEICESTER, Britain: Tottenham staged the latest-ever comeback to win a Premier League game on Wednesday.
Manchester United’s second-half turnaround was quite the surprise, too.
On a dramatic night in England’s top flight, Tottenham was losing to Leicester after 94 minutes and 52 seconds. Within two minutes, Steven Bergwijn had scored two goals to seal a 3-2 win pretty much out of nowhere.
As an extra reward for Tottenham, the victory took the team above fierce rival Arsenal and into fifth place in the league — only one point off the Champions League positions with games in hand.
“My team showed they don’t want to give up and until the end we have to fight,” said Tottenham manager Antonio Conte, whose unbeaten league record at the London club was preserved.
The previous latest comeback came in arguably the Premier League’s most famous game, when Manchester City scored in the 92nd and 94th minutes to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2 and clinch the title in May 2012.
As for Man United, Ralf Rangnick’s under-pressure team put in a wretched first-half display at Brentford and was lucky to be 0-0 at halftime, only for Anthony Elanga — with his first Premier League goal — Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford to score after the break in a 3-1 win. Ivan Toney pulled a late goal back for Brentford.
United stayed seventh but is one point behind Tottenham having played two games more.


Man United beats Brentford 3-1 after 2nd-half turnaround

Man United beats Brentford 3-1 after 2nd-half turnaround
Updated 20 January 2022

Man United beats Brentford 3-1 after 2nd-half turnaround

Man United beats Brentford 3-1 after 2nd-half turnaround
  • United stayed in seventh place, but is only two points behind fourth-place West Ham in the race for Champions League qualification

LONDON: Manchester United staged a second-half turnaround as goals from Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford earned a 3-1 win at Brentford to boost the team’s top-four ambitions in the Premier League on Wednesday.
It was another less-than-convincing display from United, though, with Cristiano Ronaldo ostensibly far from impressed at being substituted with 20 minutes left.
Elanga, a 19-year-old winger starting only his fourth Premier League match, broke the deadlock in the 55th minute after Brentford had wasted a host of chances to take the lead in the first half.
Greenwood then notched his first Premier League goal since October, tapping in from Bruno Fernandes’ pass, to make it 2-0 in the 62nd and Rashford climbed off the bench to add the third in the 77th for a first league win of 2022.
It was a tough blow for Brentford, which had dominated the first league meeting between these sides since 1946 but only had Ivan Toney’s late consolation to show for it.
United stayed in seventh place, but is only two points behind fourth-place West Ham in the race for Champions League qualification.


Egypt make Cup of Nations last 16 as Cape Verde, Malawi advance

Egypt make Cup of Nations last 16 as Cape Verde, Malawi advance
Updated 20 January 2022

Egypt make Cup of Nations last 16 as Cape Verde, Malawi advance

Egypt make Cup of Nations last 16 as Cape Verde, Malawi advance
  • Egypt defeated neighbors Sudan 1-0 — a result which sent Cape Verde and Malawi through
  • Nigeria finished Group D with a third successive win as they beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0

YAOUNDÉ: Seven-time champions Egypt clinched a place in the Africa Cup of Nations last 16 on Wednesday by defeating neighbors Sudan 1-0, a result which sent Cape Verde and Malawi through as well.
Nigeria finished Group D with a third successive win as they beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0, leaving Egypt to face the winners of Group E in the next round, and a potential clash with Ivory Coast in Douala.
Mohamed Abdelmonem headed home the winner at a corner 10 minutes before half-time in Yaounde to send the Pharaohs through and eliminate Sudan.
Egypt’s victory guaranteed Cape Verde and Malawi will qualify as two of the four best third-placed sides. It is the first time Malawi have reached the knockout rounds of the tournament.
Three-time former winners Nigeria continued their fine start to the competition by sweeping aside Guinea-Bissau courtesy of second-half goals from Umar Sadiq and captain William Troost-Ekong.
The Super Eagles will stay in Garoua to play a third-placed team in the last 16 on Sunday.
Cape Verde will take on Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Bafoussam on January 25, while Morocco await Malawi on the same day in Yaounde.


Tunisia hit by 12 Covid cases at Cup of Nations: federation

Tunisia hit by 12 Covid cases at Cup of Nations: federation
Updated 20 January 2022

Tunisia hit by 12 Covid cases at Cup of Nations: federation

Tunisia hit by 12 Covid cases at Cup of Nations: federation
  • 12 players in the 28-man squad contracted Covid-19, Tunisian football federation said on Facebook
  • Key player Wahbi Khazri is among the players to test positive

TUNIS: Tunisia’s preparations for their final Africa Cup of Nations group match against Gambia were thrown into disarray after 12 players in the 28-man squad contracted Covid-19, the country’s football federation said Wednesday.
Key player Wahbi Khazri is among the players to test positive.
“This evening (Wednesday) the players took part in a training session with 16 players present and the rest absent due to Covid-19 contamination,” the federation said on its Facebook page.
The federation also said: “Tuesday, the tests revealed the contamination of Ali Maaloul, Aymen Dahmen, Ghailene Chaalali, Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Wahbi Khazri, Ali Jemal and Mohamed Amine Ben Hmida who have been isolated from the group.”
Right-back Mohamed Drager has though recovered from the virus and Tunisia are hoping that five other players, positive since the start of the tournament, will test negative before Thursday’s game.
Tunisia, the 2004 winners, need to at least draw their final Group F match to be sure of qualification for the last 16.
The Carthage Eagles bounced back from their controversial opening 1-0 loss to Mali, when the referee blew the final whistle early, by thrashing Mauritania 4-0 in their second game.


Expectations high for Godolphin in week 2 of Dubai World Cup Carnival

Week two and seven more races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival sees horses from 10 countries clash at Meydan Racecourse. (AFP/File Photo)
Week two and seven more races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival sees horses from 10 countries clash at Meydan Racecourse. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 19 January 2022

Expectations high for Godolphin in week 2 of Dubai World Cup Carnival

Week two and seven more races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival sees horses from 10 countries clash at Meydan Racecourse. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Meydan Racecourse’s 7 races will see runners from 10 countries including Greece, France, UK and Sweden

 

DUBAI: Remember how in last week’s column I mentioned how international the Dubai World Cup Carnival is? Well, that certainly proved to be the case on opening night, when we had wins for horses based in Uruguay (Bet Law, you read it here first, by the way) and France, with Pevensey Bay.

Now we are on to week two and seven more races, in which horses from 10 countries are set to clash at Meydan Racecourse. We welcome back the lesser-known racing nation of Greece with one runner, Revamp, for trainer Christos Theodorakis, while trainer Mohamed Saeed brings runners from Bahrain for the first time. There is also a strong contingent from Sweden, the UK and France.

Despite this welcome international flavor, this will be a good week for Godolphin. The excellent card has three Group races, including the Group 2 Al-Fahidi Fort which has gone to the “boys in blue” in each of the last four seasons. In 2021, it went to Land Of Legends, who will defend his title for Saeed Bin Suroor, although Charlie Appleby also holds a strong hand, with Naval Crown and La Barrosa. Naval Crown, a winner here last season, is the pick of stable jockey William Buick and will be hard to beat.

Godolphin might also be able to land the Group 2 Al-Rashidiya, race four, although a certain grey gelding will have something to say about that. The popular Lord Glitters, trained in the UK by David O’Meara, is two from five at Meydan, with both of those wins coming last year in the Group 2 Singspiel Stakes and the Group 1 Jebel Hatta. He won a strong edition of the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy when we last saw him in November, and he will not be far away again. His main rival looks to be Art Du Val, who returns to the Carnival for a fourth time.

The Group 3 Dubawi Stakes, race six, will not go to Godolphin, because they do not have a runner. It might well go to Doug Watson, who has two, with Canvassed resuming off a 10-month break and Al-Tariq coming here off a Jebel Ali win in November. Both are capable of landing this, as is Freedom Fighter, a new recruit to Bhupat Seemar, who is Grade 2-placed in the US.

Perhaps the race most likely to go to the internationals is the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, race three, which has two runners from Uruguay: The unbeaten Kiefer and Quality Boone, a winner here in December. However, they must concede weight to Appleby’s Albahr, a Group 1 winner when last seen in September. If adapting to the dirt, he should give the South Americans most to think about. Steinar, two from two in Sweden, is also an interesting runner for dual Carnival-winning handler Susanne Berneklint.

The most Instagrammed runner on the night will be JJ Jumbo, who lines up in the Dubai Trophy. Trained in Ireland by Darren Bunyan, he is owned by TV presenter Sultan Harib and has become something of a social media star since arriving in Dubai. Watch out for him in the first race – you will not miss his big white face.