Ballon d’Or sees Barca childhood fan Putellas go down in folklore

Ballon d’Or sees Barca childhood fan Putellas go down in folklore
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded the the women's Ballon d'Or. (AFP)
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Updated 30 November 2021

Ballon d’Or sees Barca childhood fan Putellas go down in folklore

Ballon d’Or sees Barca childhood fan Putellas go down in folklore

MADRID: Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.
Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.
Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.
Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.
She started playing the sport in school, against boys.
“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.
So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.
“That’s where things got serious... But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.
After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.
She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.
In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.
It was in the following year that she made the step up to the national team and she has gone on to feature in four major tournaments with Spain, winning 92 caps.
Last season was her crowning glory as her childhood side won the Primera Division and the Copa de la Reina as well as the Champions League in a matter of weeks, a historic achievement for a Spanish women’s outfit.
Individual recognition shortly followed, as she was named UEFA women’s player of the year and Monday’s announcement in Paris made her just the second Spanish player, after Luis Suarez in 1960, to win the much-coveted Ballon d’Or.
 


Saudi Arabia kick off 20th Asian Handball Championship with comprehensive win over India in Dammam

Saudi Arabia kick off 20th Asian Handball Championship with comprehensive win over India in Dammam
Updated 10 sec ago

Saudi Arabia kick off 20th Asian Handball Championship with comprehensive win over India in Dammam

Saudi Arabia kick off 20th Asian Handball Championship with comprehensive win over India in Dammam
  • Host nation lead Group B on goal difference and will meet Australia in their second match

Saudi Arabia launched the 20th Asian Handball Championship on Tuesday at the Ministry of Sports Hall in Dammam by defeating India 54-30 to top Group B on goal difference from Iran, who beat Australia 32-10 on the same day.

The opening ceremony was attended by Prince Fahd bin Jalawi, vice president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, as well as Badr Diab, vice president of the International Handball Federation for Asia, and Fadel Al-Nimr, president of the Saudi Handball Federation.

Kuwait kicked off the action in Group A by beating Jordan 42-31 in Dammam, while South Korea comfortably overcame Singapore 40-9 in the same group.

In Group C, Iraq posted a tight 32-31 win over the UAE  and Qatar beat Oman 31-14.

Group D saw Bahrain complete a comprehensive 46-14 win over Vietnam at Prince Nayef Sports City in Qatif, while Uzbekistan defeated Hong Kong 28-24.

Eight matches will take place on Wednesday, with Saudi Arabia taking on Australia in Group B and Iran facing India at Prince Nayef Sports City in Qatif.

In Group A, South Korea take on Jordan in Dammam, while in Group D Qatar face Iraq and the UAE clash with neighbors Oman at the same time.

In Group D, leaders Bahrain will face Uzbekistan in Dammam, while Vietnam and Hong Kong go head to head in Qatif Arena.


Australian court to publish reasons for dismissing Djokovic challenge on Jan 20

Australian court to publish reasons for dismissing Djokovic challenge on Jan 20
Updated 14 min 53 sec ago

Australian court to publish reasons for dismissing Djokovic challenge on Jan 20

Australian court to publish reasons for dismissing Djokovic challenge on Jan 20

MELBOURNE: The Federal Court of Australia will publish reasons for its dismissal of tennis star Novak Djokovic’s challenge to the cancelation of his visa on Thursday at 0515 GMT, the court said.
The reasons will be read out in court by Chief Justice James Allsop, viewable online, a court spokesperson said.


Chelsea slump goes on as Brighton earn draw

Chelsea slump goes on as Brighton earn draw
Updated 19 January 2022

Chelsea slump goes on as Brighton earn draw

Chelsea slump goes on as Brighton earn draw
  • Thomas Tuchel was critical of his forward players after a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday

BRIGHTON, United Kingdom: Chelsea surrendered a lead against Brighton for the second time in a month as both sides had to again settle for a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.
The European champions went ahead against the run of play when Hakim Ziyech’s snap shot caught Robert Sanchez in the Brighton goal by surprise.
But the Blues have now just one of their last seven league games as Adam Webster’s towering header earned Brighton a fully deserved point.
Thomas Tuchel was critical of his forward players after a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday, but kept faith with Romelu Lukaku and Ziyech in attack as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were again left on the bench.
There was little to impress the German once more as Chelsea’s slump leaves them looking over their shoulders at the contenders for a top-four finish rather than a title challenge.
They remain third in the table, 12 points behind leaders Manchester City having played a game more.
Brighton have only won twice in their last 16 league games, but once again just lacked the cutting edge to their impressive build-up play.
After a bright opening, the hosts were hit with a sucker punch when Ziyech justified his inclusion with a powerful low effort that Sanchez should have done better to save down to his left.
Callum Hudson-Odoi wasted a great chance to double Chelsea’s lead just before the break when he was put through by Lukaku in one of the Belgian’s few productive moments.
Brighton were again faster out of the blocks after half-time and Kepa Arrizabalaga did brilliantly to turn Alexis Mac Allister’s deflected shot onto the post.
But Chelsea’s reprieve did not last long as from the resulting corner, Webster was given a free run to power home from Mac Allister’s cross.
Lukaku had Chelsea’s one clear chance to retake the lead when Sanchez made amends for his earlier error by blocking the ball into the side-netting.
Chelsea’s record signing was then replaced as Tuchel turned to his compatriots Havertz and Werner for the final quarter.
The German international duo were just as ineffective as Brighton held out comfortably and could even have snatched all three points with more composure on the counter-attack.
Chelsea host Tottenham on Sunday in their final league game for nearly a month due to an international break and their commitments at the Club World Cup in February.
Should Tuchel’s men fail to turn things around at Stamford Bridge, they could return from Abu Dhabi with their place in the top four under severe threat as the chasing pack make up their games in hand.


Minnows Comoros send Ghana crashing out of Africa Cup of Nations

Minnows Comoros send Ghana crashing out of Africa Cup of Nations
Updated 19 January 2022

Minnows Comoros send Ghana crashing out of Africa Cup of Nations

Minnows Comoros send Ghana crashing out of Africa Cup of Nations
  • Ahmed Mogni, who plays for French third-tier club Annecy, scored the winner when he pushed a low cross from Ben Djaloud past Ghana keeper Joseph Wollacott
  • Comoros finish third in the group and must wait until Thursday to know if they are among the best four third-placed teams to get last 16 spots

YAOUNDÉ: Four-time champions Ghana were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations after crashing 3-2 to minnows Comoros in Group C on Tuesday in Garoua.
The Black Stars had captain Andre Ayew sent off after 25 minutes and, after wiping out a two-goal deficit, lost when Comoros’ Ahmed Mogni scored his second goal five minutes from time.
Morocco and Gabon drew 2-2 in Yaounde in the same group to retain first and second places respectively and qualify for the round of 16, which kicks off on Sunday.
Comoros, representing a tiny island nation off the south east coast of Africa, finished third and must wait until Thursday to know if they are among the best four third-placed teams, who get last 16 spots.
A disastrous night for Ghana started after just four minutes when Serbia-based El Fardou Ben Mohamed fired the first-time qualifiers in front.
Mogni, who plays for French third-tier club Annecy, added a second just past the hour only for 10-man Ghana to hit back through goals from Richmond Boakye and Alexander Djiku.
Mogni struck again when he pushed a low cross from Ben Djaloud past goalkeeper Joseph Wollacott to give the islanders a stunning triumph.
In Yaounde, Gabon led twice through Jim Allevinah and a Nayef Aguerd own-goal while Sofiane Boufal and Achraf Hakimi netted for Morocco.


Messi back in full training for PSG after Covid

Messi back in full training for PSG after Covid
Updated 18 January 2022

Messi back in full training for PSG after Covid

Messi back in full training for PSG after Covid
  • The Argentina attacker was seen warming up with his PSG teammates in a video clip posted by the club on Twitter
  • Messi contracted the virus whilst on holiday in his hometown of Rosario in Argentina during Ligue 1's winter break

PARIS: Lionel Messi was back in full training with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday for the first time since testing positive for Covid-19 at the end of last year.
The Argentina attacker was seen warming up with his PSG teammates in a video clip posted by the club on Twitter.
Messi contracted the virus whilst on holiday in his hometown of Rosario in Argentina during Ligue 1’s winter break.
PSG announced on January 5 that he was back in France after testing negative but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is only now feeling fit enough to resume normal service.
He missed the French Cup match against Vannes and two league games, the 1-1 draw with Lyon and last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Brest.
Messi’s emotional move from Barcelona to the French capital side has not gone according to the script he, the fans, and his new employers would have liked.
Messi has scored only one goal in 11 league appearances for PSG, although he has netted five times in the Champions League.
He has missed a total of 10 Ligue 1 games since August through injuries, late return from Argentina duty, and then Covid-19.
He resumed individual training last Thursday, after which he told his fans on Instagram: “It has taken me longer than I thought to be OK but I’m almost recovered and I’m looking forward to getting back on the field.”
Messi could make his league return against Reims on Sunday.