Newcastle finally record first win of the season against Burnley

Newcastle finally record first win of the season against Burnley
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Burnley's James Tarkowski in action with Newcastle United's Joelinton during their Premier League clash at St James' Park on Saturday. (Reuters)
Newcastle finally record first win of the season against Burnley
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Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe celebrates his club’s 1-0 against Burnley after their Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle on Saturday. (Reuters)
Newcastle finally record first win of the season against Burnley
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Newcastle United fans celebrate their win after the match at St James' Park, Newcastle on Saturday. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 December 2021

Newcastle finally record first win of the season against Burnley

Newcastle finally record first win of the season against Burnley
  • This was a win the players, Howe, the fans, and most importantly the new owners so badly needed

NEWCASTLE: It’s lift-off for Eddie Howe at Newcastle United as the Magpies made it 15th time lucky by claiming their first Premier League victory of the season.

Fourteen fruitless encounters previous went out the window on Tyneside, with the roof nearly coming off St James’ Park as Callum Wilson’s solo strike claimed a vital victory in this relegation battle six-pointer.

And with it, United climbed off the foot of the Premier League table, where they’ve sat for most of Howe’s reign, as well as claiming their first clean sheet of the campaign.

This was a win the players, Howe, the fans and most importantly the new owners — PIF, RB Sports & Media and PCP Capital Partners — so badly needed.

As has been the case in all of his four games since officially taking the reins, Howe decided again to tweak things, making two changes to the side who drew with Norwich City last time out.

One of those changes was enforced with Ciaran Clark suspended, in came returning skipper Jamaal Lascelles, while Miguel Almiron replaced Ryan Fraser.

Cagey and tentative about sums up the first half hour for United, who were unwillingly drawn into playing the Clarets’ game.

High balls, percentage football and plenty of crosses into the box set the early tone of this one as the Magpies relied upon Martin Dubravka to keep things even.

The Slovak, instrumental since his return two games previous, needed the strongest of strong hands to deny Johann Gudmundsson’s powerful, driving effort.

Again Dubravka was on hand to deny a header from Burnley form man Maxwel Cornet, who was forced off with an injury late in the half — and with the Frenchman’s exit, so United began to establish a foothold.

And with that, the chances began to flow. Wilson, largely anonymous to this point, saw a goalward volley blocked from an Allan Saint-Maximin cross.

Moments later and the goal the whole of Tyneside craved arrived. And it was talisman and top-scorer Wilson who delivered.

England keeper Nick Pope rose highest above a crowded area to pluck a telegraphed Joe Willock cross. But a slip of concentration later and the tumbling Pope had spilled it and Wilson was cool and calm in his finish to crash home over three defenders blocking his path to goal.

Seemingly heading into half-time ahead, this wouldn’t be Newcastle United without a scare — and they almost gifted the Clarets a way back in on the cusp of the break.

Matt Lowton’s searching ball from the right found Cornet’s replacement Matej Vydra in acres of space and the Czech Republic international spooned his poor effort over, when well-placed.

After the break there was an air of calm about United, that was to remain until the predictably nervy later moments.

Jonjo Shelvey began to dictate, with Lascelles imperious on his return to the centre of defence.

The Magpies almost doubled their lead on a number of occasions, Almiron coming closest when he saw a goal-bound curler at the famous Gallowgate End flicked over the top by Nathan Collins.

Almiron, unlucky not to net his first of the season on the day, also saw Pope produce one of the saves of the season to tip around the post as United pushed for a second.

That second didn’t come and the invitable retreat to their own half began but this time, where they have failed so often this season, the Magpies saw out the game for the win — a win which will resonate around the top flight, with January just around the corner. The crisis of confidence is over.

No longer are United the only team in the Football League pyramid not to have won a game, no longer are they the top flight’s whipping boys. They’ll have to create history to stay in the Premier League, and survival looks a long, long way off, but this is a start.

Meanwhile, the visit to Leicester City next weekend now looks a whole lot more winnable, especially with that three-point hoodoo gone up in smoke.


Salah scores decisive penalty as Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties

Salah scores decisive penalty as Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties
Updated 1 min 35 sec ago

Salah scores decisive penalty as Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties

Salah scores decisive penalty as Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties
  • The Liverpool star smashed home his penalty with the Ivory Coast’s Eric Bailly the only player to fail from the spot
  • Carlos Queiroz’s team will face Morocco in the last eight despite having scored just two goals in their four matches
DOUALA: Mohamed Salah scored the decisive spot-kick as record seven-time champions Egypt beat the Ivory Coast 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in Douala on Wednesday to reach the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.
The Liverpool star smashed home his penalty with the Ivory Coast’s Eric Bailly the only player to fail from the spot, and Egypt go on to play Morocco in the last eight in Yaounde on Sunday.
It was a tense last-16 tie which for long spells resembled a battle of attrition on a poor pitch at the Japoma Stadium in Cameroon’s economic capital, and it looked for much of the game as though Egypt would pay for their poor finishing.
However, Carlos Queiroz’s team are now through to the last eight despite having scored just two goals in their four matches in Cameroon so far.
Meanwhile two-time champions the Ivory Coast are out, once again defeated by an Egyptian side who have long held the upper hand in meetings between the continental heavyweights.
This was their 11th AFCON encounter and still Egypt have lost just once to the Elephants.
Among their many successes against the Ivory Coast was their victory on penalties in the 2006 final, and a crushing triumph in the semifinals in 2008.
This match, like those played on Tuesday, was preceded by a moment’s silence in memory of the victims of Monday’s tragic crush in Yaounde.
In the wake of those terrible events, there was none of the chaos that followed the Ivory Coast’s 3-1 win over Algeria in Douala last week, when fans invaded the pitch at the end.
This time the crowd was well below what might have been expected for such a match, but many of those who were present were clearly there to see Salah, judging by the screams every time the Liverpool star’s face appeared on the big screens.
Salah spoke on the eve of the tie of his desperation to win the Cup of Nations, with the last of Egypt’s record seven titles coming in 2010, a year before he made his international debut.
He was the one who delivered the final blow, but only after he and his side squandered a hatful of chances.
The young VfB Stuttgart winger, Omar Marmoush, almost put Egypt ahead with a superb 17th-minute strike from 25 meters that crashed off the top of the bar.
Salah and Mostafa Mohamed were both denied by Badra Ali Sangare in the first half, while the Ivory Coast lost influential midfielder Franck Kessie to injury after just half an hour.
Still the Elephants almost went ahead when the unmarked Ibrahim Sangare saw his acrobatic effort pushed away by Mohamed El Shenawy.
Sebastien Haller, the Elephants’ own Europe-based attacking superstar, struggled to get into the game before two attempts, either side of half-time, tested El Shenawy.
The experienced Al Ahly goalkeeper came off injured after a long delay late on as the game petered out, with Mohamed Abogabal replacing him for extra time.
The Zamalek shot-stopper produced a fine save to deny the excellent Sangare before Haller was taken off, and as the game went to penalties Abogabal tipped Bailly’s kick onto the bar and Salah then had the last word.

Serie A on the verge of financial ruin, says Inter CEO Marotta

Serie A on the verge of financial ruin, says Inter CEO Marotta
Updated 55 min 46 sec ago

Serie A on the verge of financial ruin, says Inter CEO Marotta

Serie A on the verge of financial ruin, says Inter CEO Marotta
  • Marotta said that the country's political institutions could no longer ignore the financial plight of Italian soccer
  • Serie A clubs had agreed unanimously earlier this month to cut stadium capacity to 5,000 for two rounds of matches to help curb COVID-19 cases

DUBAI: Italy’s Serie A is at risk of insolvency and needs more financial support from the government during the pandemic as well as stadiums at higher capacity, according to Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Marotta said that the country’s political institutions could no longer ignore the financial plight of Italian soccer.
“It is a system at the edge of the abyss, which without a doubt had already issues before COVID but which has received virtually no support in these two years in the pandemic,” he said.
Marotta is also a member of the federal board of the Italian football association (FIGC) representing Serie A. A spokesperson at the Italian FA told Reuters that they do not usually comment on statements made by board members.
Serie A clubs had agreed unanimously earlier this month to cut stadium capacity to 5,000 for two rounds of matches to help curb COVID-19 cases, but Marotta urged all stakeholders to allow more spectators now.
Italy put off matches and closed stadiums soon after COVID-19 reached the country at the start of 2020 and has kept stadiums at a limited capacity of up to 50 percent ever since it started lifting restrictions.
“Outdoor facilities are without a doubt safe with FFP2 masks, super green pass and capacity reduced to 50 percent. Cutting tickets to 5,000 spectators has been further proof of taking things seriously and another sacrifice for us,” he said.
“If France is getting ready to welcome 100 percent supporters, like it is already happening in England, does it make sense for us to stick to a lower number (of spectators)?“
The former Juventus CEO added that the football industry does not get as much financial aid as other industries because it is not taken seriously.
“Football is still considered the world of ‘rich and stupid’ presidents who waste money away for fun,” he said. “Our world struggles to be recognized for what it is but how can you ignore the fact that professional soccer is an industry like any other?”


Formula E champion Nyck de Vries recalls last season’s triumphs and looks forward to another win in Diriyah E-Prix

Nyck de Vries - who won the first of February 2021’s season-opening double-header in Diriyah - was one of many that were left captivated by Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
Nyck de Vries - who won the first of February 2021’s season-opening double-header in Diriyah - was one of many that were left captivated by Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
Updated 26 January 2022

Formula E champion Nyck de Vries recalls last season’s triumphs and looks forward to another win in Diriyah E-Prix

Nyck de Vries - who won the first of February 2021’s season-opening double-header in Diriyah - was one of many that were left captivated by Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
  • Dutchman debuted as an ABB FIA Formula E driver back in 2019
  • Clinch a dramatic maiden championship for both himself and his team in 2021

RIYADH: Diriyah will always hold a special place in Nyck de Vries’ heart.

It was here, in the north-west of Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh, that the Dutchman debuted as an ABB FIA Formula E driver back in 2019.

Then, in 2021, he broke another duck in Diriyah, this time the first of his two E-Prix victories to date - one that set the course for De Vries to eventually clinch a dramatic maiden championship for both himself and his team.

Last year, under lights for the first time in the series’ history, and swaying between the 21 turns that sweep the street circuit of the UNESCO World Heritage site, there was a real romance to the races in Saudi Arabia.

And De Vries - who won the first of February 2021’s season-opening double-header - was one of many that were left captivated.

“It’s probably unfair to ask a driver what their favourite track is because we’re biassed, but Diriyah is definitely my favourite track on the calendar,” said De Vries on the eve of the 26-year-old’s first defence of his world title.

“It treated me well last year and also in my first Formula E race back in 2019. I really like the layout because it’s twisty but fast at the same time, the slowest corner is not actually considered a slow-speed corner according to Formula E metrics.

“I enjoy racing there and competing at night makes it a bit more special and unique, at night everything becomes a bit more intense and there’s more emotion.”

In ABB FIA Formula E, all of that intensity, all of that emotion, is played out at speeds of up to 280 km/h and Diriyah’s third year on the E-Prix circuit set the tone for a thrilling championship in 2021.

De Vries, who also emerged victorious in Valencia two stops later, eventually held out on the final race of the year to secure the drivers’ championship by just seven points.

His efforts helped his Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team seal the double by an even finer margin, with four points all the separated Mercedes and Jaguar Racing by the time the chequered flag fell on the final race in Berlin last August.

De Vries and Mercedes are now well-polished outfits going into the 2022 championship, but the same couldn’t be said when they entered ABB FIA Formula E hand-in-hand with Diriyah three years ago.

“In 2019, I started my Formula E season before I could end my Formula 2 season so there was very little time for me to adapt and get ready,” De Vries reflected. “I did a test in the summer but I remember that we didn’t have a lot of time. It was still a very new team. Not only was I very much a rookie, but I felt like we all were as a team.”

Clearly, both driver and team have come a long way since and there has been no let up for either since becoming the first ABB FIA Formula E winners under the FIA’s banner.

After the final race in Berlin last year, De Vries went on to contest two rounds of the European Le Mans Series before the year was out and produced fastest times in testing for both IndyCar and FIA Formula One in December.

Having described his team’s pre-Christmas testing in Valencia as going “very smoothly”, De Vries - one of the most sought-after drivers in motorsport - says the variety of his packed personal schedule helps ensure the Uitwellingerga-native remains razor sharp behind the wheel.

“The only way to keep myself on my toes is to continue to race,” he explained. “I certainly want to stay in Formula E, no doubt about it. I personally believe that it’s important for a driver to stay active and continue practising racing skills in different disciplines.”

Despite heading to Saudi Arabia as champion, De Vries isn’t feeling any extra pressure as he moves from being the hunter to the hunted.

He added: “I’m very much looking forward to a new season and a new championship. We’re the reigning champions and I’m looking forward to being in a position to defend those championships. We have a lot of positivity and excitement in our team, we’re growing as a family and I’m very much looking forward to a new season.

“There’s always pressure, I’m always nervous and I’m always stressed on race days because I care and I want to do well and I want to deliver. But being the reigning champion doesn't change anything. I’m very grateful that I was privileged enough to experience winning the championship and everything that comes with it but there’s no added pressure.”

With that being said, all eyes will be on De Vries when he returns to Diriyah for the first E-Prix of the new campaign from 28-29 January.

He will no doubt be looking to write another memorable chapter of his career at the circuit he loves and, with fans back in the grandstands, De Vries was quick to share some advice for any young Saudis looking to take a leaf out of his book and pursue a career in motorsport.

“Follow your passion and your dreams,” said De Vries. “No one has the right to take courage away from you or say something is impossible.

“It’s a tough journey if you set yourself a goal and you always keep that in mind and work towards that then hard work pays off and further down the line you will get to where you want to be. It’s not always that straight forward but I’d say follow your passions and your dreams and believe in them.”


Premier League clubs agree changes to Covid postponement rules

Premier League clubs agree changes to Covid postponement rules
Updated 26 January 2022

Premier League clubs agree changes to Covid postponement rules

Premier League clubs agree changes to Covid postponement rules
  • The change comes after criticism of the way some clubs were perceived to be exploiting the previous rules
  • If a club could not field 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper either from their squad list or appropriately experienced under-21 players, the match would be postponed

LONDON: Premier League clubs must have at least four positive coronavirus cases in their squad before a match can be called off under new guidance issued Wednesday following a number of controversial postponements.
The change comes after criticism of the way some clubs were perceived to be exploiting the previous rules.
If a club could not field 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper either from their squad list or appropriately experienced under-21 players, the match would be postponed.
But that rule included absences unrelated to Covid-19, such as injury or international duty.
There was a growing belief that teams hit by absences of key players were using the flexibility in the rules to have matches called off.
There have been 22 postponements in the Premier League under the Covid criteria since the omicron variant led to a surge in cases among players and staff in December.
Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow recently said the rules were not fit for purpose, while Tottenham were furious at the league’s decision to grant a postponement request to Arsenal for the north London derby.
“Following a club meeting today, the Premier League’s Covid-19 match postponement guidance has been updated to include a Covid-19 impact threshold,” a Premier League statement said.
“From now on, if a club applies to postpone a match on the grounds of insufficient players due to Covid-19, they must have a minimum of four positive cases within their squad.”
The league said the new rules would take effect before the next Premier League fixture, the rearranged match between Burnley and Watford on February 5.
Some top-flight managers had complained that changing the rules mid-season could force them to play weakened teams if four players had Covid, while other sides had benefited from postponements.
But it was reported that no clubs spoke out against the change at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Throughout the pandemic, the Premier League has adapted its guidance in response to the wider public health situation. The guidance was last updated in December in response to the emergence of the omicron variant,” the statement added.
“Club applications will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”


Martial: I can hit the ground running at Sevilla

Martial: I can hit the ground running at Sevilla
Updated 26 January 2022

Martial: I can hit the ground running at Sevilla

Martial: I can hit the ground running at Sevilla
  • Martial has only started two Premier League games for United this season
  • "I'm ready to play," said Martial at his official presentation in Seville on Wednesday

SEVILLE: Anthony Martial said on Wednesday he is fit and ready to play immediately for Sevilla after joining on a six-month loan deal from Manchester United.
Martial has only started two Premier League games for United this season and the 26-year-old forward has made just one appearance this year, after coming off the bench against West Ham last weekend.
“I’m ready to play,” said Martial at his official presentation in Seville on Wednesday.
“I have trained hard to be ready. If the coach wants me to play, I can do it now. My objective is to play, to help the team, to score goals, give assists. That’s my goal for these months.”
Martial told United’s interim coach Ralf Rangnick he wanted to leave in January due to a lack of playing opportunities.
The French international could be given a fresh start if, as expected, Rangnick is replaced in the summer but Martial kept the door open to staying longer at Sevilla.
“At the moment it is for 5 months, but we never know what the future may hold,” Martial said.
He will join Sevilla’s title challenge in Spain, with the team sitting second in La Liga, four points behind Real Madrid.
The team have the best defensive record in the league but have been less impressive in attack.
Martial said he was persuaded to join Sevilla by the club’s coach Julen Lopetegui and sporting director Monchi.
“What convinced me to come was the conversations with the sporting director and with the coach,” Martial said.
“They showed me that they wanted me here. I wanted to come, I wanted to play more and prove my worth at a club like Sevilla.”