Dortmund fight back in Frankfurt to trim lead of Covid-hit Bayern

Dortmund fight back in Frankfurt to trim lead of Covid-hit Bayern
Borussia Dortmund’s Mahmoud Dahoud celebrates scoring their third goal with Erling Braut Haaland, Donyell Malen and Thomas Meunier in their Bundesliga match against Eintracht Frankfurt at Deutsche Bank Park on Saturday. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 January 2022

Dortmund fight back in Frankfurt to trim lead of Covid-hit Bayern

Dortmund fight back in Frankfurt to trim lead of Covid-hit Bayern
  • Dortmund cut Covid-hit Bayern Munich's lead to six points at the top of the Bundesliga
  • Erling Haaland sparked the recovery by setting up Thorgan Hazard to halve the deficit

BERLIN: Jude Bellingham and Mahmoud Dahoud scored late goals as Borussia Dortmund came from behind to seal a dramatic 3-2 win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Dortmund cut Covid-hit Bayern Munich’s lead to six points at the top of the Bundesliga.
With nine players sidelined by Covid, a makeshift Bayern side lost 2-1 at home to Gladbach on Friday before second-placed Dortmund left it late in Frankfurt a day later.
Eintracht raced into an early 2-0 lead with Colombia striker Rafael Borre scoring both goals before Dortmund pulled one back with 19 minutes left.
Erling Haaland sparked the recovery by setting up Thorgan Hazard to halve the deficit.
Bellingham levelled with three minutes left by heading past Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp before Dahoud curled in the winner from the edge of the area just before the final whistle.
Earlier, Togo striker Ihlas Bebou struck twice as Hoffenheim also fought back to seal a 3-1 home win against Augsburg to climb to third in the table.
Augsburg took an early lead through a header by Michael Gregoritsch before Bebou converted a pair of crosses to put Hoffenheim ahead, with defender David Raum bagging their third goal in stoppage time.
The win allowed Hoffenheim to leapfrog both Freiburg and Leverkusen, who drew at home to Arminia Bielefeld and Union Berlin respectively.
Freiburg threw away a two-goal lead at home as Bielefeld’s Japan midfielder Masaya Okugawa and substitute forward Bryan Lasme scored second-half goals to earn a 2-2 draw in Germany’s Black Forest.
Lasme’s equalizer three minutes from time was down to a mistake by Freiburg stand-in goalkeeper Benjamin Uphoff on his Bundesliga debut with first choice Mark Flekken sidelined by Covid.
Freiburg had been 2-0 up 20 seconds into the second half when South Korean midfielder Jeong Woo-yeong netted after Janik Haberer gave the hosts an early lead with a long-range shot.
In Leverkusen, Germany defender Jonathan Tah headed in a late equalizer for the hosts to rescue a 2-2 draw with Union Berlin.
Czech Republic striker Patrik Schick notched his 17th Bundesliga goal this season from a tight angle to give Leverkusen a first-half lead after a powerful run by team-mate Moussa Diaby.
However, Union attacking midfielder Grischa Proemel scored twice before Tah headed in a Karim Bellarabi cross six minutes from time.
Portugal striker Andre Silva scored twice as hosts RB Leipzig routed 10-man Mainz 4-1 with Christopher Nkunku and Dominik Szoboszlai also getting on the scoresheet.
Visitors Mainz had defender Alexander Hack sent off after just 20 minutes for using his arm to block a Silva shot that was heading into the goal.
Hack trudged off and Silva converted the resulting penalty while Szoboszlai doubled Leipzig’s lead just after the break when the Hungarian midfielder fired home after Nkunku’s perfectly-timed pass.
South Korea’s Lee Jae-sung grabbed a goal back for Mainz, but just 62 seconds later Leipzig were 3-1 up when Szoboszlai returned the favor by setting up Nkunku before Silva grabbed his second.
The win saw Leipzig climb to eighth in the table while Greuther Fuerth remain bottom after a goalless draw at home to Stuttgart.


Real Madrid sign deal worth $380m for Santiago Bernabeu management

Real Madrid sign deal worth $380m for Santiago Bernabeu management
Updated 17 sec ago

Real Madrid sign deal worth $380m for Santiago Bernabeu management

Real Madrid sign deal worth $380m for Santiago Bernabeu management
  • The deal with the US-based companies comes with Madrid close to signing Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, who would arrive as a free agent but command a club-record salary
  • The Bernabeu is undergoing major renovation, getting a new roof, modern video screens and a retractable field in a project that was expected to cost close to €1 billion ($1.05 billion)

MADRID: Real Madrid have signed a stadium management deal for the Santiago Bernabeu worth €360 million ($381 million), the club said Thursday.

The agreement was reached with investment firm Sixth Street and “experiences company” Legends, which specializes in organizing sports and other events and is partly owned by Sixth Street.

The deal with the US-based companies comes with Madrid close to signing Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, who would arrive as a free agent but command a club-record salary. One of soccer’s top stars, the 23-year-old Mbappe’s contract with PSG expires at the end of this season.

Real Madrid said the money from the deal can be invested in “any of the club’s activities.”

Madrid have not signed any top players in the last few transfer windows and currently hold the league’s highest spending limit at €739 million ($783 million).

The club this season won a record-extending 35th Spanish league title and will be looking to win a record-extending 14th European trophy when it faces Liverpool in the Champions League final on May 28 in Paris.

Sixth Street acquired the right to participate in the operation of certain new businesses of the Bernabeu for 20 years, Madrid said. The exact stake the company will have was not immediately disclosed by the club.

Legends, meanwhile, “will contribute its experience and knowledge in the operation of large stadiums and leisure centers, allowing for the optimization of the management” of the stadium.

“This alliance with Sixth Street and Legends, world leaders in their respective disciplines, will be fundamental in providing unique experiences in a stadium where multiple events can be hosted throughout the year,” Madrid said in a statement. “This agreement strengthens our goal of continuing to significantly increase the stadium’s revenues from both sporting and other types of events.”

Sixth Street said it manages over $60 billion in assets globally and is also linked to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, as well as to Airbnb and Spotify. Last year it invested a majority stake in Legends, which was formed in 2008 by affiliates of the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys.

“Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu is hallowed ground in the world of football, and we are honored to be joining this partnership to invest in the innovative, long-term strategic vision that has guided the club’s consistent success over its storied history,” said Alan Waxman, co-founder and CEO of Sixth Street.

The Bernabeu is undergoing major renovation, getting a new roof, modern video screens and a retractable field in a project that was expected to cost close to €1 billion ($1.05 billion). The goal was to have it completed by the end of the year. Last season, the team played at the small Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium at the club’s training center. The renovation work was expedited as fans were not allowed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Madrid rival Barcelona will also renovate their Camp Nou Stadium. It recently reached a naming rights deal for the venue with streaming company Spotify believed to be worth €400 million ($424 million) over 12 seasons.

Barcelona and Madrid did not join in the Spanish league’s deal with private equity firm CVC, which will bring in about €2 billion ($2.1 billion) in investment to Spanish clubs. They say the deal gives too much power to CVC over the clubs’ television rights deals for the next five decades.


Al-Fayha shock Al-Hilal in King’s Cup final to claim first-ever major trophy

Al-Fayha shock Al-Hilal in King’s Cup final to claim first-ever major trophy
Updated 41 min 24 sec ago

Al-Fayha shock Al-Hilal in King’s Cup final to claim first-ever major trophy

Al-Fayha shock Al-Hilal in King’s Cup final to claim first-ever major trophy
  • The underdogs took the Saudi and Asian champions to extra time after holding them to a 1-1 draw in normal time, before winning 3-1 on penalties

Al-Fayha defeated Al-Hilal 3-1 in a penalty shootout on Thursday to claim the King’s Cup, the first major trophy in the club’s history.

After two hours of football ended 1-1 at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, the men from Al-Majma’ah were the ones celebrating after Panagiotis Tachtsidis fired home the decisive spot-kick.

It was a stunning ending to the game, during which a Salem Al-Dawsari goal deep into first-half stoppage time broke the deadlock and put Al-Hilal ahead, before Ramon Lopes equalized for the underdogs midway through the second half.

The Riyadh giants had more of the game in terms of possession and chances but nevertheless found it hard going against determined opponents who have the best defensive record in the country. Had Al-Hilal been a little more clinical during the opening exchanges it might have been a very different evening.

It was a breathless opening by the favorites. Coach Ramon Diaz had talked before the game about how his team needed to take their chances because Al-Fayha have the tightest defense in the country, and had they heeded those words Al-Hilal could have almost put the game beyond reach within the first 10 minutes.

With less than five minutes on the clock, the men in blue almost took the lead when Nasser Al-Dawsari burst through onto a loose ball in the area and lifted his shot over the goalkeeper. It was heading toward the back of the net when, almost out of nowhere, Hussein Al-Shuwaish appeared and hooked the ball clear. Soon after, Al-Fayha goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic got down low at his near post to save well from Odion Ighalo.

Five minutes later, Al-Hilal again came close. Moussa Marega sent over a perfect cross from the right side for Al-Dawsari, who arrived unnoticed and unmarked. Somehow, the winger managed to head wide with the goal at his mercy.

Al-Fayha weathered this early storm during the first 20 minutes, during which they did not even manage to secure one fifth of the possession, before finally starting to venture into opposition territory. At the midway point of the first half, Ahmed Bamsaud sent a header over the bar. By that time, the game had settled into a scrappy affair and it looked likely that the two teams would go in goalless at the break.

But with virtually the last kick of the half, Al-Dawsari struck. Collecting the ball from Salman Al-Faraj just inside the left side of the area, the 30 year old took a touch and, with the goalkeeper perhaps expecting a curler into the top corner, fired a low shot with his right foot that beat the diving Stojkovic at the near post.

The half-time show lasted more than 30 minutes and after the restart it took a little time for the game to rediscover its rhythm but Al-Fayha were noticeably more aggressive. After 66 minutes, the underdogs were back on level terms.

It was not a great goal to concede, from Al-Hilal’s viewpoint. Defender Ali Al-Bulaihi completely missed a cross from the right and Lopes got to the ball ahead of Jang Hyun-soo around the penalty spot. His shot on the turn should have been saved by Abdullah Al-Mayouf, who instead could only palm the ball onto the underside of the bar on its way into the net.

Al-Fayha could have gone on to win the game in normal time but were unable to take their chances. The pace slowed in extra time and the play became cagey once more.

After 98 minutes, Al-Hilal’s two Al-Dawsaris combined down the left but the goalscorer pulled his shot just wide. As you might expect, the Asian champions made almost all the running in the 30 minutes of extra time but were just not able to find a way through.

And so to penalties. The shootout started well for the favorites as Al-Mayouf saved the first spot kick but Ighalo failed to capitalize, hitting the bar. After Al-Fayha got off the mark by scoring their second penalty, Al-Faraj blasted his attempt wide and it was all uphill from there for Al-Hilal, especially after Stojkovic then saved well from Abdullah Al-Hamdan.

In the end, it was left to Tachtsidis to fire home with his left foot, giving Al-Fayha the win and the first major trophy in club history.

Al-Hilal are now left to focus on the league, starting with a massive clash against leaders Al-Ittihad on Monday.


Exclusive: Floyd Mayweather Jr talks life in Dubai ahead of Don Moore exhibition fight on top of Burj Al-Arab

Few boxers can match Mayweather’s remarkable unbeaten career in the ring. (AFP)
Few boxers can match Mayweather’s remarkable unbeaten career in the ring. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2022

Exclusive: Floyd Mayweather Jr talks life in Dubai ahead of Don Moore exhibition fight on top of Burj Al-Arab

Few boxers can match Mayweather’s remarkable unbeaten career in the ring. (AFP)
  • Only a select group of VIPs will be at the bout, which was postponed from last week after the passing of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

DUBAI: For most of his career as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Floyd Mayweather Jr, was used to being on top of the world.

This weekend, he will, in a very literal sense, return to the summit.

On Saturday, Mayweather Jr will step into the ring in Dubai at the helipad of Burj Al-Arab, although only a select group of Sheikhs and VIPs will see the legendary 45-year-old American fighter take on Don Moore. 

The event will be the world’s first NFT Sporting event, with Mayweather earning a reported amount of $25 million.

Currently, he is spending time with celebrity friend, Tamer Hassan, renowned British Hollywood actor and humanitarian, and Hassan’s close friend, celebrity publicist and real estate power broker, Kas Syed for Espace Real estate alongside friend and American footballer, Antonio Brown.

Mayweather was due in the ring last weekend but the fight was postponed due to the passing of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa.

"I am saddened by the passing of HH Sheikh Khalifa and will continue to support this amazing country, I love coming here and will continue to invest and broaden my business into Dubai" He told Arab News.

Few boxers can match Mayweather’s remarkable unbeaten career in the ring. From 1996 until his retirement in 2017, he won 15 world titles, ranging from super featherweight to light middleweight.

Like Hassan and Syed, Floyd now retired and a boxing promoter himself, still misses being in the ring. For many boxing experts and fans, he is the greatest pound for pound boxer of modern times.

Mayweather seems to be enjoying his time in Dubai, in and outside the gym.

The boxer has spent the week skiing in the mall of the Emirates, splashing out in Dubai mall, visited the Museum of the Future and topped it off with a luxury cruise on a yacht hosted by Espace Real Estate and Superfly Yachts DXB. Mayweather also treated his closest friends and family to a whopping 150 burgers and 150 pizzas.

Asked if he has any plans to bring his talent elsewhere in the region, Mayweather told Arab News: “The Middle East is always welcoming and combat sports is growing fast in the region. As the name says, Money May, if it makes sense, I am there.”


Everton seal Premier League survival after epic escape, Burnley out of bottom three

Everton seal Premier League survival after epic escape, Burnley out of bottom three
Updated 20 May 2022

Everton seal Premier League survival after epic escape, Burnley out of bottom three

Everton seal Premier League survival after epic escape, Burnley out of bottom three
  • Their thrilling comeback was a microcosm of Lampard’s reign since he took over in January, with Everton staring disaster in the face before pulling back from the brink
  • Thursday’s drama was only an appetizer for what will be a thrilling final day of the season

LONDON: Everton staged a dramatic fightback from two goals down to preserve their Premier League status with a 3-2 win against Crystal Palace, while Burnley climbed out of the relegation zone after a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on Thursday.

Frank Lampard’s side recovered from conceding twice in the first half as Michael Keane and Richarlison netted after the break before Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s late winner sparked wild celebrations at Goodison Park.

After a nerve-jangling battle to avoid playing outside the top-flight for the first time since 1954, Everton can finally relax with one game to play.

Their thrilling comeback was a microcosm of Lampard’s reign since he took over in January, with Everton staring disaster in the face before pulling back from the brink.

Everton are four points above the relegation zone, leaving fourth-bottom Burnley and third-bottom Leeds scrapping for survival.

“It is the character of this club, the fans and the players that dragged us through,” Lampard said.

“The players to a man were incredible. The fans lifted them and we created a special night in Everton’s history.

“The spirit of the club was immense. I’m overwhelmed.”

Burnley, who host Newcastle in Sunday’s final round of fixtures, climbed above Leeds on goal difference thanks to their point at Villa.

They will be safe if they match Leeds’ result at Brentford on the last day.

Whatever happens at the weekend is unlikely to surpass the emotion at Goodison, where fans wept tears of joy during a frenzied post-match pitch invasion.

The celebrations turned nasty when supporters taunted Palace boss Patrick Vieira, who responded by kicking one fan.

Palace had silenced the boisterous crowd with their 21st minute opener.

Vitalii Mykolenko allowed Jean-Philippe Mateta to get in front of him and the Palace forward headed in Eberechi Eze’s free-kick.

Several bottles were thrown toward Mateta and the atmosphere turned even more toxic in the 36th minute when Jordan Ayew poked home after Abdoulaye Doucoure failed to clear.

But Lampard had labelled the game “all or nothing” and Michael Keane gave Everton a vital 54th minute lifeline, the defender applying the finishing touch from Mason Holgate’s header.

Revitalized, Everton laid seige to the Palace goal and Richarlison hooked the equalizer past Jack Butland in the 75th minute.

With Goodison at fever pitch, Dominic Calvert-Lewin completed the comeback in the 85th minute with a clinical header that sparked a jubilant pitch invasion.

At Villa Park, Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet won a penalty on the stroke of halftime when he was bundled over by Emiliano Buendia.

Ashley Barnes sent Emiliano Martinez the wrong way with a cool strike for his first goal since February 2021.

In the 48th minute, Buendia volleyed Villa’s equalizer, with Burnley protesting that a foul throw should have been given in the buildup.

Burnley finished with 10 men after Matt Lowton was sent off for a high tackle on Calum Chambers in stoppage-time.

“Terrific point for us. We’re at home on the last day and it’s in our hands,” Burnley interim boss Mike Jackson said.

Chelsea effectively guaranteed a third place finish with a 1-1 draw against Leicester at Stamford Bridge.

Given their vastly superior goal difference advantage over fourth placed Tottenham, who sit three points behind them, the FA Cup runners-up will not be caught.

James Maddison gave Leicester a sixth minute lead from the edge of the area before Marcos Alonso volleyed home in the 35th minute.

Thursday’s drama was only an appetizer for what will be a thrilling final day of the season.

Manchester City will be crowned champions for a fourth time in five seasons if they beat Villa at the Etihad Stadium.

But second placed Liverpool, one point behind Pep Guardiola’s team, would steal the title if City drop points and they defeat Wolves at Anfield.

In the battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League, Tottenham need to win at Norwich to be certain of pipping Arsenal, who host Everton and are two points behind their north London rivals.

Manchester United can qualify for the Europa League with a win at Palace, although they would drop into the Europa Conference League with a defeat and a West Ham victory at Brighton.


Cricket adapts to changing post-pandemic landscape

Cricket adapts to changing post-pandemic landscape
Updated 19 May 2022

Cricket adapts to changing post-pandemic landscape

Cricket adapts to changing post-pandemic landscape
  • An easing of COVID-19 constraints has led to an abundance of play in recent months, as tournaments, particularly ICC World Cup qualifiers, catch up on a backlog of fixtures

Throughout cricket, when the person batting has scored 50 runs, it is normally the cue for applause, the strength of which will be according to the manner and style of the innings. In former days of league cricket in northern England, when the professional reached 50, it was customary for a club official to go around the spectators with a box asking for small change to be proffered in recognition of the feat.

This is my 50th column for the Arab News. In recognition of this, I organized my own collection — that of recurring topics which have emerged during the compilation of these columns. Too many emerged to be discussed in one column. Hence, I will focus on those which have material implications for the future of the game.

Acting as a backdrop to the whole year has been the impact of COVID-19. It is easy to forget that, at this stage of 2021, preparations were being made in England for international matches to be staged at biosecure venues in front of a restricted number of spectators. This method of “keeping the show on the road” worked for a time, but players began to feel the pressure, leading to concerns for their mental well-being. These are now being taken more seriously.

Another lasting impact of the pandemic on cricket has been the way it has been forced to adapt its products and revenue streams. The Indian Premier League could not be played in India in March/April 2020. It was later switched to the UAE, taking place between mid-September and mid-November, thus preserving its media and sponsorship income streams. In 2021, the IPL began in India but was suspended halfway through, resuming in the UAE in September.

Apart from ensuring that the tournaments were completed, the switches also provided the UAE with enhanced exposure within the cricketing world.

This was further highlighted to a broader audience when the delayed men’s 2020 T20 World Cup, due to be hosted by India, was played in the UAE, plus Oman, in October/November 2021. Additional stimulus has been provided by positive performances from both men’s and women’s teams in the UAE and Oman, plus Bahrain, in World Cup qualifying 20 and 50-over competitions. All of this points to a real advance in competitiveness within these countries, on and off the field.

Emergence from the constraints imposed by the pandemic has led to an abundance of cricket in recent months, as tournaments, particularly ICC World Cup qualifiers, catch up on a backlog of fixtures.

Into this mix, new tournaments have been added or existing ones expanded. In 2021, The Hundred was introduced in England and Wales, a format played nowhere else in the world, designed to appeal to a younger spectator.

In the same year, a T20 minor League Cricket Championship was introduced in the US, consisting of 27 teams from four regions. This is a developmental league for the US major Cricket League, planned for six cities in 2023.

In 2022, the IPL was expanded from eight to 10 franchises, necessitating an extension in its duration. Within the last year, the direction of travel for cricket, in terms of a focus on the T20 format, has been reaffirmed, especially in emerging countries.

What has also been reaffirmed is the dominance of Australian cricket in both men’s and women’s cricket. This is based on its men’s team winning the T20 World Cup in November in the UAE, its crushing of England in the 2020/21 Ashes. The women’s team won the 50-over ODI World Cup in April, and beat England in a combined Test and short format series in January/February. For the time being, India’s bid to dominate has been halted in recent months, partly because of a hiatus caused by changes of coach and captain.

One of the most significant developments in the last 12 months has been the increased support for women’s cricket. This has taken the form of increased funding, increased audiences, both in person and on media channels and increased remuneration, although gender parity has not yet been reached. Most women’s cricket is played to the shorter formats and cricket’s authorities seem reluctant to increase the opportunities for women’s Test cricket.

It is in India where women’s cricket has the greatest latent potential, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India has been slow to provide the platforms for its realization. Even recently, it expressed the view that, at this stage, there is not enough depth in the women’s game in India to justify further investment. This has been accompanied by vague talk about a women’s IPL.

Despite the current president of the MCC being a woman, as well as holding the post of managing director of women’s cricket for the England and Wales Cricket Board, cricket remains a game dominated by male administrators.

By way of example, only one of the 18 professional county cricket clubs in England and Wales currently has a woman in the post of either chair or CEO. Somewhat bucking the fashion, one county had a woman in both positions in 2019. Neither are still in post. The chair, herself a woman of color, stepped down in November 2021, apparently saddened by the high-profile allegations of racism within the domestic game.

My column of Nov. 24, 2021 covered those revelations. They rocked cricket, especially in Britain, where inquiries, sackings and recriminations ensued.

These have died down, but the problem cannot have dissipated overnight. Out of the key recurring topics of the last year — coping with the impact of the pandemic, recognition of mental health issues, continuing growth of T20 competitions, surge in support for women’s cricket, limelight for the UAE and Oman, and Australia’s resurgence — racism is the most concerning one.

Work is underway within the game to counter its impact and bring about behavioral change. However, progress is not always obvious and needs monitoring. Time is required to educate and develop the willingness to change among those who remain in doubt.