Mbappe and Messi double up in PSG victory

Mbappe and Messi double up in PSG victory
PSG players celebrate after Kylian Mbappe scored his side’s opening goal during their Champions League match against Club Brugge at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 07 December 2021

Mbappe and Messi double up in PSG victory

Mbappe and Messi double up in PSG victory
  • Mbappe scored twice in the first seven minutes, the second-fastest double at the start of a game in Champions League history
  • Mats Rits got one back for the Belgians in the second half

PARIS: Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi both scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain rounded out their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 4-1 thumping of Club Brugge on Tuesday.
Mbappe scored twice in the first seven minutes, the second-fastest double at the start of a game in Champions League history, before setting up Messi to make it 3-0 at half-time.
Mats Rits got one back for the Belgians in the second half but Messi then netted a penalty to make it 4-1 and give PSG a welcome confidence boost in an underwhelming European campaign to date.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side knew before this game that they were heading through to the last 16 in second place in Group A behind Manchester City after losing 2-1 in England last month.
That means a theoretically harder tie against a group winner awaits them in next Monday’s draw, with Liverpool, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Manchester United already potential opponents.
However, with Mbappe on this kind of form and Messi saving his best for Europe, there is still plenty of reason for optimism for Pochettino, who should also have Neymar back from his latest ankle injury by the time the knockout phase begins in February.
Mbappe needed just 73 seconds to open the scoring, following up to finish low into the far corner after Simon Mignolet had saved from Nuno Mendes.
The France World Cup-winning forward netted again in the seventh minute, showing great technique to volley in from Angel Di Maria’s assist for his 11th goal this season.
The only player to score two quicker goals at the start of a Champions League match is Rodrygo, for Real Madrid against Galatasaray in 2019.
Mbappe, who doesn’t turn 23 until later this month, is a player in a hurry and he is already onto 30 Champions League goals in his career — at the same age Messi had 25 and Cristiano Ronaldo, now the competition’s all-time top scorer, had eight.
It was a stunning burst of pace from Mbappe on the left that led to PSG’s third goal in the 38th minute as he picked out Messi in the middle and the Argentinian advanced to the edge of the box before scoring with a trademark left-foot finish into the corner.
The visitors pulled one back midway through the second half as Noa Lang set up Rits to finish past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
However, with RB Leipzig beating Manchester City 2-1 in the other Group A game, Club Brugge were condemned to finishing bottom and missing out on a consolation Europa League spot.
Messi then made it 4-1 for the Ligue 1 leaders in the 76th minute, converting a penalty he had won himself.
While the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has managed just one Ligue 1 goal in nine appearances since moving to France in August, he now has five in five Champions League appearances for PSG.
Messi moves onto 125 career goals in the Champions League, a tally bettered only by his old rival Ronaldo, who has 140.


Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle
Updated 5 sec ago

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle
  • World No.1 will represent Great Britain at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 at AlUla

Endurance horse racing champion Carmine Villani has led a rich and colorful life that has seen him shine in business and sport.

Today, the world No.1 will represent Great Britain at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 (Fursan Cup) at AlUla.

Villani was a talented athlete as a young man — first in Italy and then the US — excelling as a middle-distance runner. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, he went on to become heavily involved in sports car racing.

However, an affinity with horses has always been in his blood. When he was young, Villani was taught to ride by his grandfather. In Carmine’s words, he “learned the tricks and bareback riding from him.”

Villani’s equine passion was rekindled during his time in Texas, where he rode quarter-horses and thoroughbreds.

He began to take part in endurance events in his early 40s and climbed to the summit of the FEI World Rankings in 2020.

There are plenty of reasons the sport has him hooked.

“It teaches discipline, morals and patience, and it takes a mental effort and sacrifice,” said Villani, who is now based in England and represents Endurance GB.

“To participate in an endurance race is an achievement itself. It could be very technical. Strategy is also a very important aspect to know how to win. It is a beautiful sport.”

He added: “Endurance is a mental and physical state. Like military — sacrifice and commitment. You should never give up. You need to be fit and have a fit horse. It is a very good way to maintain your health also.”

Villani, who is also a certified public accountant and public notary, said that a strong understanding and bond between human and horse is essential for success.

Competition tests stamina, skill and intellect, so it is imperative for him that there is an empathy at the heart of the alliance. Judgment of pace and the underlying track, as well as the horse’s moment-by-moment condition, are all integral in the pursuit of success in the sport.

“You have to be the brain of the horse,” said Villani.


Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse
Updated 47 min 8 sec ago

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse
  • Six hopefuls gain automatic entry to the world’s most valuable race meeting on Feb. 25-26

Making Miracles, the 2019 Chester Cup winner, will join the likes of Mishriff and Sealiway in the $20 million Saudi Cup after storming to victory under Alexis Moreno in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup (domestic Group 1) at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse on Thursday, the first of two days of qualifying races at the Riyadh venue.

The seven-year-old, formerly with Mark Johnston, scored his fifth win from eight starts in Saudi Arabia and will now gain an automatic spot in the world’s most valuable horse race.

Four further qualifying events took place at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse, with Portuguese rider Ricardo Sousa Ferreira landing three of the events: The 1351 Turf Sprint Qualifier on Cold Front, Jahez Neom Turf Cup Qualifier aboard Flying Visit and the Riyadh Dirt Sprint Qualifier sponsored by Saudia, with Rock Sound.

The day’s other contest guaranteeing a spot on the Saudi Cup race day was the Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby Qualifier, won by Almuthanna, partnered by veteran rider Wiggy Ramos.

There was also a qualifying spot available for the $2 million Obaiya Arabian Classic (Arabian Group 2) on Thursday for the winner of the Lexus Diriyah Cup, which was claimed by Prince Amer.

The only remaining automatic entry races come at Gulfstream on Saturday, where the winner of the Pegasus World Cup Turf will gain entry to the Group 3 Neom Turf Cup and the Pegasus World Cup (Dirt) will get a spot in the Saudi Cup.

Aside from the qualifying races, there was one other domestic Group 1 on Thursday’s card, which saw Silvestre de Sousa ride Almobeer to victory. The Brazilian had inherited the ride from Frankie Dettori, after the 51-year-old was forced to change his arrangements following a positive COVID-19 test.


Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad
Updated 29 January 2022

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad
  • The Magpies ran out 2-1 victors in a shortened, 70-minute friendly that both teams finished with only 10 men after a double red card
  • United manager Eddie Howe said: ‘It was a good work out. The standard of the game was good. The standard of the opposition was good, too’

JEDDAH: Ten-man Newcastle United ran out 2-1 winners over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad on Friday in a friendly match in Jeddah that was marred by two red cards.

The Magpies’ Ciaran Clark and Al-Ittihad’s Abderazak Hamdallah were given their marching orders in the second-half for an altercation in which the home player appeared to kick out at the Ireland international, who retaliated.

There were no lingering hard feelings, however, and the pair were pictured swapping shirts and pleasantries after the game at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium, which marked the conclusion of United’s six-day training camp in the Kingdom.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser netted for the Magpies, one in each half, bookending an equalizer just before the break by Hamdallah.

“It was a good work out,” said Newcastle manager Eddie Howe. “The standard of the game was good. The standard of the opposition was good, too.

“It was a good test for us and I think when you play a game like this, that’s what you want. We were set certain challenges when the game went to 10 players each and we’re pleased we came through.”

In a game that the sides had agreed to shorten to 70 minutes, United took the lead after only nine minutes when a weaving, jinking run from Frenchman Saint-Maximin ended with the forward smashing home from inside the area.

The goal was canceled out on 33 minutes when Morocco international Hamdallah beat the offside trap before finishing expertly to put the ball past reserve keeper Karl Darlow, who was filling in for regular No.1 Martin Dubravka.

After the double red, Ryan Fraser finished a slick team move to clinch it for the Magpies with 13 minutes to go.

“Two very special goals,” said Howe. “Allan’s was typical Allan: Very special, trademark individual brilliance. Ryan’s goal was great to see, a good team goal and good finish."

Howe was less impressed by the handling of the red cards incident.

“I was surprised it was a red in a game like this,” he said. “The referee could have probably dealt with it differently — but by the book, it probably was the right decision.”

The Magpies fly home to England on Saturday. Their next Premier League game is on Tuesday, Feb. 8, when they will take on managerless Everton at St. James’ Park.


Eddie Howe’s Newcastle edging closer to signing Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes

Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 28 January 2022

Eddie Howe’s Newcastle edging closer to signing Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes

Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Despite frustrations in efforts to get deals over the line, several other transfers, including Man United’s Jesse Lingard, could be completed in the coming days
  • Brighton’s Dan Burn is of interest and Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah has also emerged as a potential target

JEDDAH: Eddie Howe has confirmed that Newcastle United are edging closer to signing a target believed to be Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes — and added that the transfer-hungry Magpies are not finished with the transfer window yet.
Speaking from the club’s Saudi base, the head coach did not mention the 24-year-old midfielder by name, but assured fans that United are on the verge of their third capture of winter trading.
It is widely expected Guimaraes will sign a long-term contract with English club this weekend, after Newcastle agreed a fee, said to be in the region of $44million, with French Ligue 1 side Lyon on Wednesday.
Howe saw his players beat Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad 2-1 in Jeddah on Friday evening. Goals from Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser in either half won it for the Magpies, who were reduced to 10-men when Ciaran Clark saw red for an altercation with home goalscorer Abderrazak Hamdallah.
Before the match, Howe confirmed that good news about transfers is just around the corner.
“I can say nothing about individual players but we are hopeful we are close to completing a transfer for a player,” he said. “We will try and give you that update when we have it. Fingers crossed, we are close to getting one over the line.”
That player is understood to be Guimaraes. When asked if that is the case, Howe responded: “You can guess; there will be no confirmation from me. It would be foolish of me to do so. We are hopeful. We are closer to getting one more in to add to the two quality additions we have brought in so far.
“From my perspective, I don’t think that will be the end of our interest in bringing new players in. If that turns into reality, who knows? Things can change very late in this window, as everybody knows. It can be quite unpredictable, with things happening in the last few days that you maybe didn’t expect.”
In terms of other specific Newcastle targets during the remainder of the transfer window, which closes on Monday night, a center forward remains high on the agenda, as does a central defender.
Brighton’s Dan Burn is of interest, and Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah has also emerged as a potential target. Arab News understands Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard is also pushing hard for a deal to be brokered with the Magpies that would allow him to see out the final months of his Old Trafford contract on Tyneside.
“We are open. We are working hard to improve the squad and give this squad the best possible chance of staying in the league,” said Howe. “That was our aim at the beginning of the window and it remains the same now.”
United have had their share of frustrations during this transfer window, with moves for Sven Botman and Diego Carlos aborted late on due to the unwillingness of Lille and Sevilla, respectively, to sell.
Howe admits things have often proved not to be straightforward but did not lay any blame at the doorstep of the Magpies’ transfer committee.
“We are in a lot better place if we can get this deal done,” he said. “The frustration I felt was only at the window, not anyone connected with the club. I see what everyone is doing behind the scenes, what everybody wants.
“This window has been difficult, regardless of our situation. It has been tough to actually get clear decisions — not from our side, from others — on what we can and can’t do and what they want to do. The work has been immense and we hope it bears fruit at the end of the window.”


Nyck de Vries starts season 8 of Formula E with victory under the lights in Diriyah

Mercedes-EQ driver Nyck de Vries (C) has won the Formula E Season 8-opening Diriyah E-Prix for the second year running. (SPA)
Mercedes-EQ driver Nyck de Vries (C) has won the Formula E Season 8-opening Diriyah E-Prix for the second year running. (SPA)
Updated 29 January 2022

Nyck de Vries starts season 8 of Formula E with victory under the lights in Diriyah

Mercedes-EQ driver Nyck de Vries (C) has won the Formula E Season 8-opening Diriyah E-Prix for the second year running. (SPA)
  • The Dutchman defeated Mercedes team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who failed to take advantage of his pole position

DIRIYAH: Mercedes-EQ driver Nyck de Vries won the Formula E season-opening Diriyah E-Prix for a second year running ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who failed to capitalize on his pole position under the floodlights in Riyadh.

De Vries, who missed almost all of the opening practice sessions because of a crash, managed to pull off a recovery that led to an impressive victory on Friday, ensuring a strong start to season eight for both him and Mercedes as they defend their championship titles.

“The result might be the same (as last year’s opener) but the way we achieved it was very different,” said de Vries. “I’m glad we were able to capitalize on our qualifying position; the way we managed to win this race and start the season strong, we worked really well as a team.”

An attack mode error by Vandoorne allowed de Vries to race to victory in Diriyah, as he failed to activate it correctly after leading the race from pole. After dropping behind his teammate, the Belgian driver was unable to close the gap, then took his second activation at the same time as de Vries on the following lap, effectively giving away the win to his counterpart.

“I messed up on my second activation; there’s only myself to blame for that,” said the runner-up. “I basically handed the position to Nyck. I’m a little bit disappointed with the way I handled the attack mode, and not handling the loop correctly, but it’s still a positive start to the season.”

Jake Dennis secured third place for Avalanche Andretti, after passing Andre Lotterer.

“Everything that I imagined happened, happened,” said Dennis. “We pulled away from the pack; it was generally a clean race.”

Lotterer dropped back several places, eventually finishing 13th, after Dennis passed him on turn 18 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the race. Five additional minutes were added due to the deployment of the safety car, meaning energy usage became critical.

In his first race with Venturi, Lucas di Grassi moved past Sam Bird on the straight to take fifth place. Rookies Dan Ticktum and former Alfa Romeo Formula One driver Antonio Giovinazzi had difficult debuts, with the former finishing 18th and the latter the last to take the checkered flag.

The safety car was deployed after Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland made contact with Envision Racing driver Robin Frijns on turn 17, a collision that sent Rowland’s car into the wall. It earned Frijns a drive-through penalty, while Rowland was awarded a three-place grid drop from tomorrow’s second race in Diriyah.

Season 6 Diriyah ePrix winner Antonio da Felix Costa was forced to pit and retire after the first lap.