Algeria beat Tunisia 2-0 to claim 2021 FIFA Arab Cup title in Qatar

Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Arab Cup Final against Tunisia at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar on Saturday. (Reuters)
Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Arab Cup Final against Tunisia at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar on Saturday. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 December 2021

Algeria beat Tunisia 2-0 to claim 2021 FIFA Arab Cup title in Qatar

Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Arab Cup Final against Tunisia at Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar on Saturday. (Reuters)
  • Goals come in extra time after tense 90 minutes ended goalless at Al-Bayt Stadium in Al-Khor

DOHA: Algeria defeated Tunisia 2-0 to lift the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup trophy in Qatar on Saturday, in a hard-fought final between the two North African giants.

It took a spectacular strike from Amir Sayoud after 99 minutes to break the deadlock in a tight game that had been goalless at the end of normal time. Yacine Brahimi then sealed the win with the final kick.

To lose by two goals was harsh on Tunisia. Either team could have ended up winning this clash at Al-Bayt Stadium in the city of Al-Khor. It was a fine end to what has been an exciting, enthralling competition. 

As the African champions, who had defeated Morocco and Qatar in the knockout stages, celebrated in front of their fans, the start of the game already seemed like ancient history despite an exciting opening. 

Tunisia, who had not lost a competitive match against Algeria for 34 years, started brightly and came close to taking the lead after 13 minutes. A long free-kick made its way to the far post with Bilel Ifa waiting, and while his header beat the goalkeeper, it bounced back off the crossbar. Soon after, Hocine Benayada was not far away from putting the ball into his own net when trying to clear a Tunisian attack.

Then suddenly, with 20 minutes on the clock, Algeria should have scored on the break. Baghdad Bounedjah broke free on the right and it seemed Tayeb Meziani just had to tap the ball home from close range, but somehow the 25-year-old shot wide. Ten minutes later, Brahimi also looked set to score from close range after great work on the left from Mohamed Belaili, but his shot was blocked. 

It all became a little bad-tempered for the rest of the half as referee Daniel Siebert showed the yellow card four times in the final few minutes. 

The second-half started brightly as the first with both teams getting into dangerous positions without creating the clear cut chances needed to break the deadlock. It was end-to-end football but there were usually defenders there to get in a last-ditch tackle or block. That was summed up with 10 minutes remaining, when Tunisia’s Mohamed Drager was about to pull the trigger inside the area, only for Ilyes Cheti to clear the danger.

Neither coach wanted to ring changes and Tunisia’s approach looked likely to be vindicated as they started to fire more set pieces into the Algerian area, but without much return. Extra time had looked likely for much of the second-half, but this has been a tournament of late goals, and Seifeddine Jaziri had the best chance of the half in the last minute. The tournament’s top scorer burst through on goal but, after being forced wider than he would have liked by the Algerian defence, he fired into the side netting.

It was always going to take something special to break this tightest of deadlocks, and it came in the 99th minute. Amir Sayoud had the ball 25 meters from goal and, for once, there was a clear sight of goal, with the substitute letting fly with his left foot, and the ball soaring into the top corner to give goalkeeper Mouez Hassen no chance.

As expected, Tunisia came back and in the final seconds of the first period of extra time, Raiss M’Bolhi had to make a smart save from a fierce Mohamed Ali Ben Rhomdane shot. Early in the second period, Mohamed Firas Ben Larbi came close, shooting inches wide from the edge of the area.

The Carthage Eagles continued to push forward with increasing desperation and had a corner in stoppage time with ‘keeper Hassen going into the opposition box. Algeria cleared and there was Brahimi to run into an empty Tunisian half, and roll the ball home from close range to start the celebrations.

Earlier on Saturday, Qatar took third place ahead of Egypt, winning a penalty shootout 5-4 after 120 minutes of football ended goalless. Mohamed Sherif was the one to miss the target for Egypt.


Pope, Trippier help Newcastle grind out 0-0 draw at Brighton

Pope, Trippier help Newcastle grind out 0-0 draw at Brighton
Updated 58 min 16 sec ago

Pope, Trippier help Newcastle grind out 0-0 draw at Brighton

Pope, Trippier help Newcastle grind out 0-0 draw at Brighton
  • Pope racked up a second straight clean sheet since joining Newcastle
  • Newcastle struggled for clear openings despite high endeavor in searing heat

BRIGHTON, England: Nick Pope conjured two fine saves and Kieran Trippier made a goal-line clearance as Newcastle’s two England internationals helped the team grind out a 0-0 draw at Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday.
Pope racked up a second straight clean sheet since joining Newcastle from relegated Burnley, thwarting both Adam Lallana and Solly March at the Amex Stadium.
March thought he had scored with a low shot through a crowd of players in the first half, only for Trippier to clear off the line at the very last opportunity.
Brighton midfielder Pascal Gross then turned the ball the wrong side of the post near the end, after Kaoru Mitoma’s neat cutback.
Newcastle struggled for clear openings despite high endeavor in searing heat, with both teams still unbeaten after two Premier League outings. Newcastle opened with a win over Nottingham Forest and Brighton won at Manchester United.
Brighton increased their domination the longer the match wore on, but Graham Potter’s team was unable to strike again after last weekend’s 2-1 victory at United.


Manchester City earn second win by thrashing Bournemouth 4-0 in Premier League

Manchester City earn second win by thrashing Bournemouth 4-0 in Premier League
Updated 13 August 2022

Manchester City earn second win by thrashing Bournemouth 4-0 in Premier League

Manchester City earn second win by thrashing Bournemouth 4-0 in Premier League
  • Haaland was mostly crowded out by Bournemouth who sat deep with plenty of men behind the ball in a match that resembled an attack vs. defense training exercise

MANCHESTER: Erling Haaland might not hog all of Manchester City’s goals this season, after all.
Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden were City’s scorers — along with an own-goal — in a 4-0 win over Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday, with Haaland barely getting a sight on goal at Etihad Stadium.
The Norway striker scored both of City’s goals in their opening-weekend 2-0 win at West Ham but was mostly crowded out a week later as Bournemouth sat deep with plenty of men behind the ball in a match that resembled an attack vs. defense training exercise.
City’s midfielders reaped the benefits of the extra focus on Haaland.
Gundogan’s goal did involve City’s new star striker, with Haaland holding off his marker with his back to goal and clipping a ball through to the Germany midfielder. Gundogan’s left-footed finish found the bottom corner in the 19th for his 50th goal for City.
De Bruyne scored the pick of the goals, the playmaker cutting inside on a counterattack led by Foden in the 31st, beating a defender and bending his shot with the outside of his right foot into the far corner.
De Bruyne returned the favor for Foden six minutes later, slipping a brilliant pass through the legs of a defender and into the path of his teammate, who took a touch and fired in a deflected shot that beat goalkeeper Mark Travers.
Haaland’s best chance fell in the 73rd when he mishit a first-time shot wide from Jack Grealish’s cut-back. The striker was substituted moments later.
The scoring was completed by Jefferson Lerma, who unwittingly turned a cross from Joao Cancelo into his own net from inside Bournemouth’s six-yard box.
It was a wake-up call for Bournemouth after the promoted team started the season with a surprisingly comfortable 2-0 win over Aston Villa last weekend.
City manager Pep Guardiola again chose to start with Bernardo Silva on the bench. The Portugal midfielder has been linked with a move to Barcelona and didn’t start against West Ham, either.


Barcelona sells more assets to clear Lewandowski for opener

Barcelona sells more assets to clear Lewandowski for opener
Updated 13 August 2022

Barcelona sells more assets to clear Lewandowski for opener

Barcelona sells more assets to clear Lewandowski for opener
  • The troubled Spanish club were only able to ensure that their star signing will be available against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday
  • They sold 24.5% of their Barça Studios production hub to Orpheus Media in a deal worth $103 million

BARCELONA, Spain: Working against the clock, Barcelona sold off even more of their club assets on Friday so they could meet the Spanish league’s financial rules and clear Robert Lewandowski and other summer signings to play in their season opener.
The troubled Spanish club were only able to ensure that their star signing will be available against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday after they sold 24.5 percent of their Barça Studios production hub to Orpheus Media in a deal worth 100 million euros ($103 million).
That improved their financial balance enough to satisfy the Spanish league, which added Lewandowski and fellow newcomers Raphinha, Franck Kessié and Andreas Christensen as well as the recently renewed Ousmane Dembélé and Sergi Roberto to their list of eligible players.
But, by late Friday, the league had yet to declare eligible France defender Jules Koundé, who arrived to Barcelona from Sevilla last month. The club will still need to reduce their current salary load by selling one or more current players to register Koundé.
Last month Barcelona sold an initial 25 percent stake in their production hub to Socios.com, a blockchain provider, for another 100 million euros as well as 25 percent of their Spanish league television rights for the next 25 years for nearly 670 million euros ($689 million).
All told, the heavily indebted Catalan club has mortgaged their future for 870 million euros ($895 million) to sign Lewandowski, Raphinha and Koundé for a combined 160 million euros ($165 million). Kessié and Christensen arrived as free agents.
But the Spanish league has strict financial requirements that limit the amount clubs can spend on players’ salaries and transfers based on the clubs’ financial health. Despite efforts to reduce costs and pay down their debt, Barcelona still hold 1 billion euros ($1 billion) in debt and has seen their salary cap slashed by the league in recent seasons.
Earlier on Friday, coach Xavi Hernández said he was “optimistic” that he can have his new players available for the first game of the season.
“Everyone at the club is very optimistic,” Xavi said. “We have until two hours before the match.”
The club are also pushing to sell players with big salaries like Frenkie de Jong or players unwanted by Xavi such as Samuel Umtiti and Martin Braithwaite.
Orpheus Media is run by Catalan businessman Jaume Roures, the owner of Mediapro, a major television company involved in Spanish soccer but whose 2020 broadcast rights deal for the French league collapsed. Roures was a major financial backer of Barcelona club president Joan Laporta when he returned to run the financially troubled club in 2021.
Roures said on Friday that he was not sure if the money he paid Barcelona would be sufficient.
“The league won’t have any problems with this operation,” Roures told Cadena SER radio. “If the 100 million euros are enough, I don’t know. If it isn’t, the (necessary) amount must be close to that.”
Xavi also said that Barcelona may not be done signing new players, but that any arrivals would have to come after current players were sold. Barcelona are linked to interest in Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, who would provide competition for Jordi Alba at left back.
Laporta at least was able to avoid the embarrassment of having Lewandowski watching from the Camp Nou stands on Saturday.


Ancelotti ‘surprised’ by Kroos absence from Ballon d’Or nominees

Ancelotti ‘surprised’ by Kroos absence from Ballon d’Or nominees
Updated 13 August 2022

Ancelotti ‘surprised’ by Kroos absence from Ballon d’Or nominees

Ancelotti ‘surprised’ by Kroos absence from Ballon d’Or nominees
  • New signing Antonio Rudiger is also on the list but there was no room for the German midfielder Kroos
  • "It surprises me a bit, because Kroos had a fantastic season," quipped Ancelotti in a press conference

MADRID: Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti on Saturday said he was surprised that German midfielder Toni Kroos did not feature on the list of 30 finalists for the Ballon d’Or.
Five members of the Champions League winning side were nominated on Friday in the shape of Thibault Cortois, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and favorite Karim Benzema.
New signing Antonio Rudiger is also on the list but there was no room for the German midfielder Kroos.
“It surprises me a bit, because Kroos had a fantastic season... But it’s true that it could be a problem if we named all the Real Madrid players, I can understand that,” quipped Ancelotti in a press conference ahead of Madrid’s Liga opener at Almeria on Sunday.
“But (Federico) Valverde, (Eder) Militao, (David) Alaba... all deserve to be there.
“All of them had a fantastic season. I’m not talking about winning the Ballon d’Or, but they deserve to be on the list.”
Ancelotti was particularly pleased with the inclusion of Brazilian forward Vinicius on the 30-strong list of nominees.
“He scored the winning goal in our 14th Champions League, he had an incredible season,” said the Italian.
“He doesn’t care if he finishes fourth or second. For the players, only victory matters. He will do better in the future. But unfortunately for Vini, this season, we already have the winner with us.”
Ancelotti was in little doubt, it seems, that French striker Benzema, who is hotly tipped to succeed would walk away with the award.
The Ballon d’Or will be awarded on October 17.
Real Madrid will kick off the defense of their La Liga title at newly-promoted Almería.
“We are feeling good, we have all the hope in the world as we start this season,” said Ancelotti, adding that “each game will be very difficult, starting tomorrow.”


Saudi weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem wins 3 silvers at Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem wins 3 silvers at Islamic Solidarity Games
Updated 13 August 2022

Saudi weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem wins 3 silvers at Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem wins 3 silvers at Islamic Solidarity Games
  • Kingdom’s handball team reaches semifinals after topping group

KONYA: Weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem on Friday claimed three more medals for Saudi Arabia at the fifth edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey.

Al-Saleem’s three silver medals came in the 61 kilogram division after he managed a lift of 123 kilograms in the Snatch category, 154 kilograms in the Clean and Jerk, and a points total of 277 to finish second overall.

Saudi’s medal tally on Friday night stood at 15, with one gold, 10 silvers and four bronzes.

Al-Saleem’s teammate Nawaf Al-Mazeedi finished seventh overall in the under-67 kilogram competition with a points total of 296 (136 in Snatch, 160 in Clean and Jerk).

In the women’s weightlifting competition, Saudi’s Al-Anoud Al-Shehri took sixth place in the 59 kilogram division with a total of 141 points, a new personal record.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia reached the semifinals of the handball competition after playing out a 27-27 draw with Qatar in their final group match.

With that result, the Kingdom qualified to the last four as group winners on goal difference, and will now face hosts Turkey on Saturday evening.

Qatar will meet Iran in the other semifinal.