Swiss beat France on penalties to reach Euro 2020 last eight

Swiss beat France on penalties to reach Euro 2020 last eight
It was Switzerland’s first knockout stage victory at a tournament since 1938. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 June 2021

Swiss beat France on penalties to reach Euro 2020 last eight

Swiss beat France on penalties to reach Euro 2020 last eight
  • Mbappe misses last penalty for France

BUCHAREST: Switzerland’s Yann Sommer saved France striker Kylian Mbappe’s penalty to secure a 5-4 shootout win over the world champions following a thrilling 3-3 draw after extra time on Monday to reach the Euro 2020 quarter-finals where they will meet Spain.
On a memorable evening for Swiss football, the so-called Nati repeatedly beat the odds, coming from 3-1 down with two goals in the final five minutes to force extra time and eventually penalties.
It was Switzerland’s first knockout stage victory at a tournament since 1938 and the first time they have made the last eight since the 1954 World Cup which they hosted.
“Honestly I am still in shock,” said Sommer, who became the most capped Swiss keeper with 65 international appearances.
“We showed courage, heart, we left everything out there. When you come back from two goals down against the world champions it is just unbelievable, and then to win on penalties, I could not be prouder of the way we did it.”
France, who had started with an unusual three-man defense and lacked any real bite up front in the first half, looked to be heading for victory when Karim Benzema struck twice in two minutes early in the second half.
He latched on to Mbappe’s through ball in the 57th minute to cancel out Switzerland’s first-half lead from Haris Seferovic’s header.
Benzema then headed home from near the goal-line two minutes later to take his tournament tally to four as France grabbed control of the game only minutes after the Swiss missed a 55th minute penalty and the chance to go 2-0 up when Hugo Lloris saved Ricardo Rodriguez’s spot kick.
By the time Paul Pogba curled a sensational shot into the top corner in the 75th minute to make it 3-1 for France, who had reverted to a four-man backline in the second half, few believed the momentum could shift once more.
“Nobody believed in us anymore at that stage,” Sommer said. “We felt France had become a bit complacent and maybe thought they had already won it. So we used that to our advantage.”
Seferovic sneaked into the box again to head in his second goal with five minutes left and substitute Mario Gavranovic beat Lloris to snatch a 90th-minute equalizer and force extra time after France substitute Kingsley Coman’s drive hit the bar.
Olivier Giroud twice came close for France having come off the bench but the game was to be resolved on penalties where Sommer swatted Mbappe’s spot kick away after five Swiss players had scored to earn their first ever tournament shootout win.


Countdown on to Spanish Super Cup semifinal in Riyadh

Countdown on to Spanish Super Cup semifinal in Riyadh
Updated 13 January 2022

Countdown on to Spanish Super Cup semifinal in Riyadh

Countdown on to Spanish Super Cup semifinal in Riyadh
  • Neither Atletico Madrid or Athletic Bilbao have been having a great season
  • The last time the two sides met the match ended in a draw

RIYADH: The second semifinal of the Spanish Super Cup between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao is just hours away.

The game kicks off at 10:00 p.m. in Riyadh, with Real Madrid awaiting the winners in Sunday’s final.

“I will go anywhere it takes to win a title,” Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez told a pre-match press conference.

Despite his confidence, neither side is having a great season. Reigning La Liga champions Atletico are currently fourth in the table and struggling for form. Even Antoine Griezeman has failed to rediscover the magic that endeared him to fans during his first stint at the club.

Teammate Luis Suarez — Atletico's top scorer last season — has also been struggling in front of goal.

Defending Super Cup champions Bilbao are currently ninth in La Liga and have also been short on goals. Their top scorer is Inkai Williams with just five for the season so far.

The last time the two sides met the match ended in a draw.

If Atletico Madrid get through tonight they will be keen to avenge their loss to Real Madrid in the 2020 final in Jeddah.

Tonight’s match is being billed as a battle of two goalkeepers. Bilbao’s Unai Simon is first choice for the Spanish national side, while Madrid’s Jan Oblak is considered by many, not least his teammate Koke, as the best in the world.

“We know the level of player he is. For me, he’s the best goalkeeper in the world,” Koke told a press conference on Wednesday.

“Maybe we aren’t having the luck we’ve had in previous years. When our opponents shoot, they score. But Jan is our vice captain, he’s important. He looks strong. He’s focused on doing the same work that he’s done all these years, to keep improving and helping the group.”


Yorkshire appoint former England bowler Gough as director of cricket after racism scandal

Yorkshire appoint former England bowler Gough as director of cricket after racism scandal
Updated 06 December 2021

Yorkshire appoint former England bowler Gough as director of cricket after racism scandal

Yorkshire appoint former England bowler Gough as director of cricket after racism scandal
  • Darren Gough, 51, played for both Yorkshire and England during his long career
  • The club was rocked by a racism scandal that brought on resignations from the club's top brass

LONDON: Yorkshire confirmed the interim appointment of former England bowler Darren Gough as the county’s new managing director of cricket on Monday as the cricket club attempts to rebuild following a damaging racism scandal.
The club came under intense fire over their handling of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism and harassment, with chairman Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur standing down.
On Friday, the county announced that 16 members of the coaching and medical staff had left the club, including first-team coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
Gough, 51, who had two playing spells with Yorkshire, captaining them in the second, has been appointed initially until the end of the 2022 season.
“Like many, I have followed how the club handled the recent racism allegations with sadness and anger,” said the former England paceman.
“I want to play my part in rebuilding cricket in Yorkshire and I am looking forward to working with the exceptionally talented group of players here.
“I am also aware of my wider responsibility to listen to everyone and ensure that every person who is associated with this club feels welcome, instilling values we want associated with the White Rose: honesty, straight-talking, hard work, integrity and excellence.”
New chairman Kamlesh Patel praised Gough’s “infectious” enthusiasm.
“As we start on this journey with Darren, we want to engage everyone at the club and involve as many people as possible in shaping our direction,” he said.
“We have a considerable job ahead of us, but we are ready to embrace the opportunity together and build a brighter future for Yorkshire County Cricket Club.”
England captain Joe Root, who plays for Yorkshire, had earlier welcomed reports that Gough was set to be appointed.
“From my experience of spending time with Goughy he is obviously very passionate and knowledgeable about the game,” the skipper said ahead of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane this week. “His love for it is clear for anyone to see.
“And for the club as well, I’m sure he will be wanting to bring all of that to the fore and all of his experiences and achievements within the game and pass that knowledge onto the group.”


Countdown to big Saudi race has F1 fans awaiting serious action

Countdown to big Saudi race has F1 fans awaiting serious action
Updated 06 December 2021

Countdown to big Saudi race has F1 fans awaiting serious action

Countdown to big Saudi race has F1 fans awaiting serious action
  • Locals and international visitors applaud Kingdom’s success in inaugural Formula One Grand Prix

JEDDAH: With just hours left until the big race, the Jeddah Formula One weekend has stolen the hearts of locals and visitors as the open-sea circuit promises and delivers a spectacle for fans.

F1 fans from all over the world made their way to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit by the Red Sea for the Kingdom’s inaugural Grand Prix and the penultimate race of the season, taking place on Sunday as the fifth night race on the calendar.

“Well, honestly, coming here I wasn’t expecting to see what I saw today. This is something we’ve been waiting for, for a long time,” said Almogherah Al-Ghalib, a local F1 fan who works in the marine sector. “The organization, the views and the lighting is awesome — and just to see all these people here in this historical event is something that words cannot explain.”

Organizers at the venue welcomed people to scenes that personified the buzz that has been building up since construction on the track commenced in April. With many events, activities and concerts taking place, fans were dazzled both on and off the track.

“This is my first time in Saudi Arabia, so I didn’t really know what to expect but it’s been super positive ever since I arrived,” said Sam Fane, an automotive YouTuber from the UK. “I’ve been very well looked after through amazing hospitality, and I tried some nice Arabian coffee, which I very much enjoyed.”

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Months of planning went into the eagerly anticipated race. However, many foreign media outlets released reports before the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix claiming that the track would not be finished on time. But the Kingdom responded through action, delivering on its promise to give the fans a show.

“I think this place is absolutely stunning, I have to say. You have a beautiful sunset like the one that’s going on behind me and the background of the F1 track is pretty amazing. Everywhere I look, it’s beautiful. It’s a great place to have an F1 race and I’m sure a great place to visit even when the F1 is not going on,” Fane said.

“I think we’re all excited for what’s hopefully going to be an epic race,” he added.

With doors to the venue having been open since Friday, the sun has been bright and shining, the Red Sea glistening and the fans flocking to catch the action of the nail-biting championship between seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and up-and-coming driver Max Verstappen, who will be pushing their cars to the limit during tonight’s potential title-decider.

“I'm British, so obviously I have to be a Lewis Hamilton fan. It’s been a very exciting season in F1 this year.” Fane told Arab News. “While I want to it to go down to the wire, I’m a Lewis fan all the way.”

At 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, it is lights out and away we go.

“Honestly, words cannot explain or express how I feel today. It’s a transitional period here in Saudi Arabia, and we’re glad to be here,” said Al-Ghalib.


Lydia Ko squares course record in Aramco Saudi Ladies International

Lydia Ko squares course record in Aramco Saudi Ladies International
Updated 07 November 2021

Lydia Ko squares course record in Aramco Saudi Ladies International

Lydia Ko squares course record in Aramco Saudi Ladies International
  • Ko: “I played really solid today”

JEDDAH: A course record-equaling 63 from Lydia Ko has the New Zealander in firm control heading into the final day of the $1 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by the Public Investment Fund.
The former World No. 1 carded five birdies on both the front and back nine at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to lead by four with one round to play.
Sitting at -16, the 24 year old will look to hold off a final day push from Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul, whose scintillating 65 propelled her into lone second.
England’s Alice Hewson sits two further back on -10, with Spaniards Carlota Ciganda and Nuria Iturrioz both on -9.
“I played really solid today,” said Ko, who tied Australian Steph Kyriacou’s record low round at Royal Greens. “I missed a short putt for par on three and then went on a stretch of birdies. I gave myself a lot of good looks for birdie opportunities and I was rolling it well, so it was a good combination of everything, where I wasn’t making many mistakes. It was that kind of a round where I just kept putting myself in position, trying to play the best golf I can.
“I’ve got to keep playing aggressively. This is a course where you’ve seen players can play well so I’m just trying to make my share out there and see what happens.”
Atthaya Thitikul — who looks set to be crowned the LET’s Race to the Costa del Sol champion after her low round on Saturday — said: “I feel pretty good about my round today. My putter was on fire. I’ll keep trying to roll in my putts tomorrow and keep making as many birdies as I can, staying focused.”
On her final day playing partner Lydia Ko, Thitikul added: “She is really solid. Her putter and short game is one of the best — she’s pretty good! I’ll learn from her tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”
After an opening day 75, a resurgent Georgia Hall went three-under-par on Friday, before going a further three better on Saturday, placing her in a busy chasing pack, albeit 10 off the top.
Hall said: “Today I could’ve been nine-under if I’m honest. I missed quite a few putts under 10 foot. But my game was a lot better today and I’m very happy with how I played.
“I had three weeks off so maybe just getting back into tournament mode took me a little bit more time than I thought. No matter how much you practice, competitions always feel different, so it’s just been getting my swing back into a good place.”
American Alison Lee — whose compatriot and playing partner Lyndsey Weaver found the tournament’s second hole-in-one en route to a one-under-par 71 — sits one better at -7, herself bouncing back from a day one five-over-par 77 with rounds of 65 and 67.
Lee said: “I feel like I played pretty solid today. My strength today was my putting. Long birdie putts, shaky par putts coming back — it was my savior today.
“I was very disappointed after the first round.
I feel like I’ve been playing really well and that was just one of those days a golfer has in their back pocket once in a while, it just kind of happens. Thankfully I recovered yesterday and hopefully I can put a good number up tomorrow.”
The Aramco Saudi Ladies International will be followed by the Aramco Team Series — Jeddah on Nov. 10-12, the last of four new $1 million team tournaments added to the Ladies European Tour this season.


The end of the road for Bobby Lashley and Goldberg at the WWE Crown Jewel

The end of the road for Bobby Lashley and Goldberg at the WWE Crown Jewel
Updated 10 November 2021

The end of the road for Bobby Lashley and Goldberg at the WWE Crown Jewel

The end of the road for Bobby Lashley and Goldberg at the WWE Crown Jewel
  • The rivalry between Goldberg and Bobby Lashley has been brewing ever since they first met at SummerSlam

RIYADH/JEDDAH: Bill Goldberg will be looking for revenge when he goes head to head with Bobby Lashley in a “No Holds Barred” match headlining WWE Crown Jewel at Mohammed Abdo Arena in Riyadh on Thursday night.

Fueled by the images of his son unable to escape the clutches of Bobby Lashley at SummerSlam in August, passionate fans are flocking in to see the spectacle that is Goldberg who is on a mission of redemption, to finally settle the score and end his personal rivalry with Lashley. 

Earlier this year at SummerSlam, Lashley defeated Goldberg to retain the WWE Championship but the animosity between the two wrestlers spilled over post match when Lashley attacked Goldberg’s son, who had come to the aid of his defeated father.

Coming into the match in Riyadh, Goldberg revealed on the CarCast podcast that he is not 100 percent fit to compete as he is still recovering from a knee injury, but on Thursday morning he told Arab News that this will not stop him going after his rival in the ring.

“I’m at peace, because in a matter of hours I’m gonna get my hands around the throat of some guy who dared to touch my son. It’s a pretty simple equation,” Goldberg said. "If somebody goes after you family, they need to pay.”

Goldberg is accustomed to the atmosphere at the Crown Jewel, and this is his fourth visit to the Kingdom. After the disruptions of the pandemic saw many WWE events take place behind closed doors, he is delighted to be back performing in front of a live audience. 

“The feeling of the people, period, end of story,” he said. “It’s hard to go out and perform if nobody's watching in person, you don’t have the direct connection with the fan, you don’t have the immediate gratification of listening to them cheer or boo.”

“It’s like doing a match in your closet,” Goldberg added.

The success of Crown Jewel means it is now one of WWE’s marquee events and with this comes high expectations.

The rivalry between Goldberg and Bobby Lashley has been brewing ever since they first met at SummerSlam, and the unfinished business between the two looks set to be settled in front of a packed crowd in Riyadh.