Man United, Chelsea advance in Champions League; Barcelona made to wait

Man United, Chelsea advance in Champions League; Barcelona made to wait
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo in action with Villarreal's Juan Foyth. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 November 2021

Man United, Chelsea advance in Champions League; Barcelona made to wait

Man United, Chelsea advance in Champions League; Barcelona made to wait
  • Chelsea and Juventus, who are tied on 12 points with a game left to play

Energized by a change of manager and another opportunistic finish by Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League with a game to spare on Tuesday.
Another newly appointed coach sill has work to do, though, to get Barcelona into the last 16.
United was led for the first time by Michael Carrick following the weekend firing of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and, just like his predecessor, the interim manager was left to be thankful for a goal by the Champions League’s record scorer.
Ronaldo produced a sublime lobbed finish to put United ahead against Villarreal and a 90th-minute strike by Jadon Sancho — his first goal since joining for $100 million in the offseason — sealed a 2-0 win to secure progress as the winner of Group F. Ronaldo has scored in all five group games so far, and now has a record-extending 140 Champions League goals in his career.
Another English team, defending champion Chelsea, also advanced on the back of a 4-0 win over already-qualified Juventus, which slumped to its heaviest ever loss in the Champions League. With Liverpool also qualified and Manchester City likely to join them, the Premier League will again be well represented in the knockout stage.
Barcelona, now coached by former star midfielder Xavi Hernandez, has advanced from its group every season for almost two decades but a 0-0 draw at home to Benfica means the Spanish club might need to beat Bayern Munich in the final round of games to advance.
All four teams in Group G are separated by three points and could still qualify heading into their last games after wins for Lille and Sevilla over Salzburg and Wolfsburg, respectively.
Ronaldo had already scored two winners and a late equalizer in the Champions League this season before his smartly taken go-ahead goal against Villarreal in the 78th minute, prompted by Fred winning the ball high up the field.
And both Fred and Ronaldo featured in a counterattack that ended with Sancho smashing a shot in off the underside of the crossbar to seal the win.
Carrick made a big call in his first game in charge by dropping playmaker Bruno Fernandes in a bid to set up in a more solid fashion and protect a defense that has been overrun this season. It led to a first clean sheet of the group stage.
More joy was to follow as Atalanta’s wild 3-3 draw at Young Boys meant United cannot be displaced as group leader courtesy of its superior head-to-head record against Villarreal, which is three points back in second place.
Atalanta, which is a point further back, grabbed a point thanks to Luis Muriel’s 87th-minute free kick with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.
It was a bittersweet night for Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.
The thrashing of Juventus, achieved courtesy of goals by academy graduates Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi as well as a fourth by substitute Timo Werner, was marred by knee injuries to key players N’Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell.
Kante went off in the first half while Chilwell looked in agony as he was helped off the field in the 71st.
Chelsea and Juventus, who are tied on 12 points with a game left to play, both started an American in Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, respectively. They were two of six Americans to start Tuesday, a record in one night of group play.
Zenit St. Petersburg is assured of finishing third and going into the Europa League knockout stage after drawing 1-1 at Malmo, which will end the group stage in last place but at least has a goal to show for its efforts.
Barcelona missed a string of chances at the Camp Nou and stayed two points ahead of Benfica.
If Barca fails to beat Bayern away, Benfica could overtake the Spanish club with a win at home to already-eliminated Dynamo Kyiv. If they finish tied on points, Benfica would advance courtesy of their head-to-head record.
Helping Barca is the fact that Bayern has little to play for — except, maybe, the chance to knock out a historic rival, albeit one that has lost its aura following the departure of Lionel Messi and other big-name players amid financial problems.
Bayern had already qualified for the last 16 before its 2-1 win at Dynamo Kyiv and the result secured the German champions first place in the group.
Robert Lewandowski — with an overhead kick — and Kingsley Coman scored the goals for a threadbare Bayern squad missing nine players, with seven unavailable because either they tested positive for the coronavirus or were unvaccinated and had contact with a positive case.
Lille moved top of its group after Canada striker Jonathan David scored his 12th goal of the season to seal a 1-0 win over Salzburg, which dropped a point back in second.
Sevilla jumped into third place, above Wolfsburg, with a 2-0 victory over the German team thanks to goals by Joan Jordán and Rafa Mir.
In the final games, Wolfsburg hosts Lille and Salzburg is at home to Sevilla.


Tsitsipas storms into Australian Open semifinal

Tsitsipas storms into Australian Open semifinal
Updated 4 sec ago

Tsitsipas storms into Australian Open semifinal

Tsitsipas storms into Australian Open semifinal
MELBOURNE: Stefanos Tsitsipas stormed into his third Australian Open semifinal with a blistering straight-sets victory over Jannik Sinner on Wednesday.
The Greek fourth seed played his best tennis yet in the year’s opening major to romp past the 11th-seeded Italian 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in 2hr 6min and into a semifinal against either Daniil Medvedev or Felix Auger-Aliassime.

29th Aramex Dubai to Muscat Offshore Sailing Race officially opens

29th Aramex Dubai to Muscat Offshore Sailing Race officially opens
Updated 21 min 26 sec ago

29th Aramex Dubai to Muscat Offshore Sailing Race officially opens

29th Aramex Dubai to Muscat Offshore Sailing Race officially opens
  • 20 teams are set to compete for up to five days at the region’s longest-running offshore race, a challenging 360 nautical mile course from Dubai to Muscat

DUBAI: Aramex and Dubai Offshore Sailing Club have announced the opening of the 29th Aramex Dubai to Muscat Offshore Sailing Race, which starts on Saturday, Feb. 5.

The Aramex D2M is the longest-running offshore race in the MENA region, covering more than 360 miles of challenging and adventurous sailing around the Musandam Peninsula.

Twenty teams of keelboats and multihulls are set to compete for five successive days, marking their start from Dubai Offshore Sailing Club. From there, the teams will sail across the Arabian Gulf to the deep waters of the Indian Ocean, passing through the famous Straits of Hormuz, with the final leg taking a southeastern route leading to Muscat, the capital city of Oman, before finishing at Marina Bandar Al-Rowdha, Muscat.

“This year’s Aramex Dubai to Muscat Offshore race marks its 29th edition, demonstrating the enduring appeal of competitive offshore racing among the region’s sailing community,” said David Worrall, head of the Aramex D2M race committee.

“With a challenging course over 360 miles and four days of continuous racing, the Aramex D2M offers a significant adventure challenge for all the sailors of all levels, from professionals and hardcore races to amateurs and more low-key cruisers.”

“Being a key event in the Asian Sailing Region race calendar, which stretches from Saudi Arabia to Japan, the Aramex D2M aims to contribute to the UAE’s ambitious vision to develop a sports community capable of achieving global success, in line with the proposed UAE Sports Sector Strategy 2032, and drive recognition of Dubai and the UAE as a world-class sailing destination,” Worrall said.

Organized by Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and the United Arab Emirates Sailing & Rowing Federation in association with the Oman Maritime Sports Committee, the event is recognized by the Asian Sailing Federation and Royal Ocean Sailing Club.

Andy Van der Velde, president at Aramex, said: “We are very pleased to be the title sponsor of one of the most prestigious sailing events in the sporting history of the UAE. At Aramex, we have high regard for discipline, collaboration and a strong drive to achieve excellence — core values that we will witness in action as the world’s top sailors compete in what is set to be one of the most challenging and enjoyable sailing races in the region. We look forward to welcoming sailors, their friends and families, sailing enthusiasts and visitors to this fantastic event.”


‘Home’ hopes driving Montgomerie challenge at Dubai Desert Classic

‘Home’ hopes driving Montgomerie challenge at Dubai Desert Classic
Updated 26 January 2022

‘Home’ hopes driving Montgomerie challenge at Dubai Desert Classic

‘Home’ hopes driving Montgomerie challenge at Dubai Desert Classic
  • Winner in 1996, the Scotsman is relishing being back among the world’s best players at Emirates Golf Club

Twenty-six years after lifting the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic’s famous Dallah Trophy, Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, the tournament’s 1996 champion, is relishing his latest shot at Dubai glory.

Two-and-a-half decades after famously playing a driver off the deck on the 18th fairway — a shot that effectively sealed his maiden Dubai title — Montgomerie is back in the emirate alongside a world-class field comprising multiple Masters, Open and Major winners, numerous Ryder Cup veterans, as well as serial DP World Tour and PGA Tour event winners.

With two of the event’s headline stars, Collin Morikawa, the world number two, and Viktor Hovland, the world number five, not even born when Montgomerie triumphed on the Majlis Course, the eight-time Order of Merit winner is keen to enjoy himself against a youthful Dubai field.

“I really enjoy it in Dubai,” Montgomerie said. “It’s a great honor to have my name above the door at a course not too far away from here, and it’s always nice to come to Emirates Golf Club as a past champion. I have one plaque in the world and it’s here on the 18th fairway, so it’s a very special place for me. I do enjoy coming back here and playing the golf course, it’s stood the test of time and I think I speak for all the players when I say we enjoy coming here.”

As a regular in Dubai since the 1980s, Montgomerie is in an ideal position to evaluate the ever-evolving landscape surrounding Emirates Golf Club.

“The city has sprung up around the course,” Montgomerie said. “They were ahead of the game and realized the potential out here — and I say here because in those days it was quite a way out.”

Following its promotion to a Rolex Series Event this year, and a fresh look and feel around the Majlis Course on the back of title sponsor Slync onboard, Montgomerie is embracing the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic’s “new era.” 

Everything is moving forward in the right way. The prize money is $8 million, who can argue with any of this and in the January sunshine no less — let’s enjoy ourselves,” Montgomerie said.


Saudi Arabia launches ‘Sports Career Day’ to connect job seekers with sports sector

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport launches the ‘Sports Career Day’ initiative in Riyadh. (Ministry of Sport)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport launches the ‘Sports Career Day’ initiative in Riyadh. (Ministry of Sport)
Updated 26 January 2022

Saudi Arabia launches ‘Sports Career Day’ to connect job seekers with sports sector

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport launches the ‘Sports Career Day’ initiative in Riyadh. (Ministry of Sport)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia launched the “Sports Career Day” initiative on Tuesday to connect qualified job seekers and sports institutions to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The three-day initiative, which is being organized by the Leaders Development Institute, was inaugurated by Deputy Sports Minister Badr Al-Qadi, on behalf of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the minister of sport, at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex in Riyadh.
The minister was briefed on the activities of the first day, which included several workshops, sports commentary trials, TV presenting, job fairs, and a number of personal interviews conducted by the participating sports organizations and bodies.
48 governmental, semi-governmental and private sports entities and various institutions are participating in the Sports Career Day, including the Ministry of Sports, the Quality of Life Program, the Leaders Development Institute, Sadu Company, and Sawaed, in addition to the Saudi Football Association, the Saudi Professional League, and the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee. A number of sports clubs are also taking part, most notably Al-Nasr, Damak and Al-Wahda, as well as sports federations and several parties participating virtually through the Saudi Athletes Network.
29 workshops will be held by 15 different entities over the three days, and the topics include sports entrepreneurship, professional fields in the sports sector, social responsibility, data science applications in sports, the Quality of Life and Future of Saudi Sports Program, management consultancy, sports marketing, and other subjects aimed at developing the sports sector.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sports announced that it will exceptionally raise the capacity of attendance in the Saudi match against Oman to 100 percent, in an effort to support the national team’s important journey in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The match, which is the seventh in the final round of the Asian qualifiers, is set to be held on Thursday at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah.
The decision came following approval from the concerned authorities following up on the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry said.
It added that only fans who have been fully vaccinated will be permitted to attend the match, and urged the public to fully adhere to the precautionary measures and staff to take necessary action if violations are detected, in order to preserve health and safety.


Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare
Updated 26 January 2022

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare

Hakimi fires Morocco into quarter-finals after Malawi scare
  • Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi, playing their first ever knockout game at the tournament
  • Hakimi drilled in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a meeting with Egypt or Ivory Coast in the last eight

YAOUNDE: Achraf Hakimi scored a brilliant free-kick to send Morocco through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 win over Malawi on Tuesday.
Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi, playing their first ever knockout game at the tournament, a shock early lead with a stunning goal from 40 meters at Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium.
But Youssef En-Nesyri headed Morocco level in first-half stoppage time before Hakimi drilled in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a meeting with Egypt or Ivory Coast in the last eight.
That quarter-final was due to take place at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde but will be moved after a fatal crush outside the ground on Monday which killed eight people and injured 38.
As with the earlier match between Senegal and Cape Verde in Bafoussam, a minute’s silence was observed before kick-off and players of both teams wore black armbands.
Morocco, bidding for a second Cup of Nations title and first since 1976, fell behind on seven minutes when Mhango caught Yassine Bounou off his line with a superb long-range strike.
The Atlas Lions responded by creating a series of chances as Imran Louza stung the palms of Charles Thomu, who then did well to keep out Hakimi’s powerful free-kick and the follow-up from Louza.
Mhango dragged wide for Malawi after a terrific long ball from Micium Mhone, but the Flames found themselves under sustained pressure as Morocco captain Romain Saiss volleyed against the bar.
En-Nesyri prodded weakly at Thomu from close range before the Malawi goalkeeper tipped Hakimi’s low drive onto the post and then denied Sofiane Boufal with his legs.
Morocco were finally rewarded for their persistence on the stroke of half-time as En-Nesyri rose to power Selim Amallah’s deep cross past Thomu.
Hakimi appealed vociferously for a penalty in the second half when his cross struck the arm of Malawi defender Dennis Chembezi, but the Paris Saint-Germain star took matters into his own hands to secure victory.
His late equalizer against Gabon had secured top spot in the group stage, and Hakimi delivered again with another magnificent free-kick 20 minutes from time to end Malawi’s impressive run.