Premier League leader Man City beats Newcastle 4-0

Premier League leader Man City beats Newcastle 4-0
Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte in action with Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles at St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain on December 19, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 December 2021

Premier League leader Man City beats Newcastle 4-0

Premier League leader Man City beats Newcastle 4-0
  • Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo scored before the break, and Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling netted in the second half

MANCHESTER: Premier League leader Manchester City made it 11 goals in two games by sweeping aside Newcastle 4-0 on Sunday.
Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo scored before the break, and Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling netted in the second half.
Newcastle has now won just one of its 18 league games this season and is only above last-place Norwich on goal difference.
Having been repeatedly punished for their own mistakes in recent games, the Magpies set out with a makeshift back four and knowing there was no margin for error against the reigning champions, but capitulated in depressing fashion within five minutes.
Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka needlessly conceded a corner after dwelling on Jamaal Lascelles’ back pass. After Kevin De Bruyne’s initial delivery had been half cleared, Ciaran Clark failed to intervene when Cancelo played the ball back across the six-yard box and Dias headed into the unguarded net.
Newcastle looked vulnerable with Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne picking holes in the defense.
Cancelo combined with De Bruyne and Mahrez before leaving Joe Willock and Isaac Hayden in his wake and smashing a 27th-minute shot past the helpless Dubravka.
Ryan Fraser, much to his astonishment, saw appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Martin Atkinson after he had been wiped out by sliding City goalkeeper Ederson.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe sent on Allan Saint-Maximin for Willock at the break and the Frenchman’s pace immediately presented City with a different problem, although it took a brilliant reaction save by Dubravka to deny Gabriel Jesus after Silva had headed Cancelo’s cross back across goal.
City added a third in the 63rd minute when Mahrez converted Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross with a VAR review correcting an initial offside decision, and Sterling’s strike from Gabriel Jesus’ 86th-minute cross deepened the gloom on Tyneside.


Barca confirm injuries for defensive duo Araujo and Kounde

Barca confirm injuries for defensive duo Araujo and Kounde
Updated 24 September 2022

Barca confirm injuries for defensive duo Araujo and Kounde

Barca confirm injuries for defensive duo Araujo and Kounde
  • Araujo was taken off inside the first minute of Uruguay's 1-0 loss to Iran
  • Kounde lasted just 23 minutes of France's 2-0 Nations League win over Austria

BARCELONA: Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo suffered a thigh-muscle tear while on international duty, his club said Saturday, while confirming Jules Kounde also had a thigh issue.
Araujo was taken off inside the first minute of Uruguay’s 1-0 loss to Iran in a friendly on Friday night. Kounde lasted just 23 minutes of France’s 2-0 Nations League win over Austria on Thursday.
The central defenders will miss their countries’ next match and are likely to be unavailable for Barcelona’s first games when club football resumes.
With the Clasico approaching on October 16, Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez may need to construct a new defense for upcoming fixtures, including a reprieve for Gerard Pique, who has been largely frozen out.
Since he was registered to play for the Catalan side, following his summer switch from Sevilla, Kounde has become a key part of Barcelona’s rear guard, often used at right-back. Spanish reports suggest he will be out for at least three weeks, although the club did not specify a recovery time.
The international break has been problematic for Barca. Memphis Depay suffered a hamstring injury with the Netherlands in their 2-0 win over Poland on Thursday. Frenkie de Jong was substituted for precaution in the same match.


Tchouaméni looking to impress again as France plays Denmark

Tchouaméni looking to impress again as France plays Denmark
Updated 24 September 2022

Tchouaméni looking to impress again as France plays Denmark

Tchouaméni looking to impress again as France plays Denmark
  • Tchouaméni was excellent as France, missing nine regulars, beat Austria 2-0 in the Nations League on Thursday night
  • The young midfielder gets another chance to push his claim for a permanent starting place when Les Bleus travel to play Denmark

PARIS: Amid mounting injuries and off-field problems, at least France coach Didier Deschamps has one less thing to worry about heading into the World Cup.
Aurélien Tchouaméni looks a very good option to start in midfield.
Tchouaméni is 22 with only 13 caps but is already playing with the maturity of a seasoned international and, with Paul Pogba’s place in Qatar looking in doubt, his form is most welcome for Deschamps.
Tchouaméni was excellent as France, missing nine regulars including goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, striker Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Pogba, beat Austria 2-0 in the Nations League on Thursday night.
The young midfielder gets another chance to push his claim for a permanent starting place when Les Bleus travel to play Denmark in Copenhagen on Sunday for the last group game in the Nations League — the last match for both sides before the World Cup.
It should be a competitive game, too, with the Danes still in contention for first place in Group 1 and a place in next year’s Final Four.
Defending champion France already lost their title in June and are fighting with Austria to avoid relegation to the second tier. Last-place Austria, one point behind France, host Croatia, which hold top spot but are only one point ahead of Denmark.
His own form and other circumstances have accelerated Tchouaméni’s international career.
Pogba is recovering from a knee injury and is weighed down by an extortion probe involving his elder brother Mathias.
Tchouaméni is the latest in a long production line of talent to emerge from the French league, following in the footsteps of Benzema, Kylian Mbappé, Anthony Martial and many others.
Like Mbappé and Martial, he came through at Monaco — which boasts one of the finest scouting networks in Europe.
Real Madrid paid 100 million euros ($97 million) to sign Tchouaméni in the offseason and then sold Casemiro to Manchester United.
That Madrid fans are hardly missing Casemiro speaks volumes for how easily Tchouaméni has settled into a side leading the league with six straight wins.
So what makes Tchouaméni so good?
He is the complete midfield package. But perhaps his greatest attribute is composure.
He showed that on his first start for France in a World Cup qualifier away to Ukraine one year ago, when it looked like he’d been playing at international level for years.
In a similar way to Pogba, he is a tall, lean and athletic player who always plays with his head up. He has an assured first touch wherever he receives the ball, and sprays passes short or long with equal effect.
He showed that against Austria by pinging a 50-meter pass to Mbappé that landed not only at the forward’s feet, but into his path as he was running onto it. That was just minutes into the game, when lesser players would have been settling down.
Rarely wasteful, Tchouaméni has the same knack as Kanté for knowing when to release the ball quickly and offload it to a better-placed teammate.
It may look obvious, but it ensures that — like Kanté — Tchouaméni’s rarely caught in possession and his calmness enables him to shake off players closing him down around the penalty area.
Even under pressure from an Austria striker on the edge of his own box, Tchouaméni dropped his shoulders, turned and completed a clean pass as casually as if it was a pre-season training session.
He drops deep to collect, is quick and covers ground well with his rangy running style.
Tchouaméni’s good at making late runs into the opposing area and he’s not afraid to shoot, either, having one 20-meter effort saved and then hitting the crossbar against Austria with a spectacular overhead kick that displayed technique befitting an attacking player.
Another bright spot for Deschamps was the form of Benoît Badiashile in a three-man defense and his Monaco teammate Youssouf Fofana in central midfield.
The left-footed Badiashile impressed with his passing out from the back while, Fofana won the ball effectively.
Olivier Giroud also staked a strong claim to be in the World Cup squad with a goal and assist against Austria. He’s on 49 international goals, just two behind Thierry Henry’s national record.
Giroud and Tchouaméni could have a big part to play in Qatar.


Southgate running out of time to arrest England slide

Southgate running out of time to arrest England slide
Updated 24 September 2022

Southgate running out of time to arrest England slide

Southgate running out of time to arrest England slide
  • Southgate has just 59 days to stop the rot before England's World Cup starts in Qatar
  • Germany's visit to Wembley for a Nations League dead rubber on Monday is England's only match before the World Cup

LONDON: Gareth Southgate claimed England have taken a “step in the right direction,” but relegation from the top tier of the Nations League suggests the Three Lions’ are sliding.
Southgate has just 59 days to stop the rot before England’s World Cup starts in Qatar, but there was little evidence of the tide turning in a 1-0 defeat to an experimental Italy at the San Siro on Friday.
Germany’s visit to Wembley for a Nations League dead rubber on Monday is England’s only match before the World Cup.
Rather than use a final chance for experimentation, Southgate doubled down on his principles in Milan. He suggested he will do likewise in Qatar.
“I compromised certain decisions internally, and you don’t win if you compromise,” said Southgate of England’s run of four games in June that produced just two points and one goal.
The back three that got England to the World Cup semifinals in 2018 and the Euro 2020 final just 14 months ago was restored, with Harry Maguire at the heart of it despite his lack of game time for Manchester United.
Although Southgate said the performance was much improved from the summer, the same problems persisted.
England were toothless in attack, taking their run without scoring from open play to 495 minutes, and prone to lapses in concentration at the back.
Once again the array of creative talent at Southgate’s disposal either failed to deliver on the international stage, or were left out entirely.
Without a win in five competitive games for the first time since 1992, England join San Marino as the only other side yet to have scored from open play in this edition of the Nations League.
As a result, next time round they will face the likes of Albania, Montenegro, Kazakhstan and Georgia rather than Germany, Spain and Italy.
But it is the danger of wasting the chance to win a World Cup with a richly talented squad in their prime years that is of most pressing concern to England fans.
Southgate worked wonders in building a structure for success after the embarrassment of a Euro 2016 exit to Iceland.
He led his country to a first World Cup semifinal for 28 years and then a first major final for 55 years.
Yet, the increasing evidence is that the peak of his time in charge may have come and England are hitting the downslope straight into a World Cup like no other.
“No cohesion, no shape, no belief. But no surprise what happened here in Milan,” wrote The Times’ Henry Winter. “England have a crop of good players being wasted by Southgate.”
That is a feeling shared among a fanbase that booed their manager at full-time.
In his defense, Southgate pleaded a much tougher run-in to a major tournament than any of his predecessors have faced.
Just eight days will separate the final round of Premier League fixtures from England’s opening game of the World Cup against Iran.
A soft looking group on paper, also featuring Wales and the United States, may give Southgate’s men the time they need to find their feet.
But failure to deliver even a consolation win at Wembley against Germany will likely see the Three Lions sent off to the World Cup with more abuse ringing in their ears than a show of support.


’Angry’ Germany eye redemption against England

’Angry’ Germany eye redemption against England
Updated 24 September 2022

’Angry’ Germany eye redemption against England

’Angry’ Germany eye redemption against England
  • Next up for Germany, as they build up to November-December’s World Cup in Qatar, is a trip next week to old rivals England

LEIPZIG: Germany manager Hansi Flick said “it is better to be angry now than at the World Cup” as he promised his side will learn from their 1-0 home defeat to Hungary.

“I am absolutely disappointed because as a footballer you hate to lose,” Flick said after Friday’s defeat in Leipzig, his first since taking over the Germany job.

Flick said the first-half performance was the worst of his 14 games in charge, but took some responsibility himself.

“I opted for a lineup that just didn’t work so well,” he said.

“The way we approached the game, we can do much better.

“The time for experimentation is over.”

Flick’s “experimentation” referred to putting attacking midfielder Jonas Hofmann at right back, which he abandoned at half-time with the home side trailing to Adam Szalai’s 17th-minute goal.

“We wanted to try something with Jonas at right-back... we wanted to see two attacking full-backs,” said Flick.

“As a result, we couldn’t get in flow. I have to take some of the blame for that.”

Next up for Germany, as they build up to November-December’s World Cup in Qatar, is a trip next week to old rivals England.

Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger, who will miss the Nations League clash after picking up a second yellow card, said Germany need to up their standards to make an impact at the World Cup.

“We wanted more today. In the first half we lost the battle against them,” Rudiger told AFP.

“We have to definitely learn our lessons from this game.”

Joshua Kimmich, clearly the home side’s best player on a disappointing night, said beating England was the first step to a successful World Cup.

“Listen... we wanted to win the group at all costs, even if you didn’t see that in the first half,” Kimmich said, with his side third in their Nations League group, behind Hungary and Italy.

“And now we can’t do that anymore, but we still want to win the last game against England to give us more confidence.”


Kim, O’Toole among six sharing LPGA lead in Arkansas

Kim, O’Toole among six sharing LPGA lead in Arkansas
Updated 24 September 2022

Kim, O’Toole among six sharing LPGA lead in Arkansas

Kim, O’Toole among six sharing LPGA lead in Arkansas
  • The leading group in the 54-hole event also included South Korean Lee5 Jeong-eun, Japan’s Yuka Saso and Americans Megan Khang and Lauren Coughlin

LOS ANGELES: Ryann O’Toole started hot and Sei-young Kim finished strong on Friday to join a group of six players sharing the first-round lead in the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship.

America’s O’Toole exploded with six straight birdies from the second through seventh holes at Pinnacle Country Club and finished with eight birdies in her 7-under par 64.

“It was one of those you just start laughing,” O’Toole said of her big birdie burst. “As the fifth one poured in and the sixth one poured in I’m, like, ‘OK, I got it. I’m just going to keep going.’“

And she needed all the birdies she could get as the crowd got bigger atop the leaderboard.

South Korean Kim’s eight birdies included four straight at her last four holes, the sixth through the ninth.

“Pretty solid round today,” Kim said, adding that the soft greens made it possible to attack the pins. “I’m very happy with the strong finish today.”

The leading group in the 54-hole event also included South Korean Lee5 Jeong-eun, Japan’s Yuka Saso and Americans Megan Khang and Lauren Coughlin.

Lee5 had seven birdies without a bogey while Khang had eight birdies and a bogey and Coughlin grabbed a share of the lead with a 28-foot eagle putt at the par-five 18th.

O’Toole, who returned from a month-long break to post a ninth-place finish at Portland last week, said her round could have been even better.

“I definitely felt like I left a lot out there still,” said O’Toole, who hit all 18 greens in regulation. “Eight birdies, but I still felt like there was a ton left out there, especially on the back side.”

Coughlin was in the first group off the tee on Friday and was warming up before it was really light.

The 29-year-old admitted she was nervous coming into the week which she entered 94th in the Race to the CME Globe with only three more full-field events remaining after the tournament.

While the top 60 in the race will qualify for the Tour Championship, for those ranked 85 to 110 the coming weeks are a battle to maintain their exempt status without having to go to the Q Series qualifier.

“I knew once I got in the groove of (the first round) it would go away,” she said of her nerves, “and it did.”

The leading bunch had a one-shot lead over Taiwan’s Vivian Hou and American Lilia Vu, with another six players a further stroke back.