Barca advances in Europa League, Rangers knock out Dortmund

Barca advances in Europa League, Rangers knock out Dortmund
Barcelona's Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off second leg football match between SSC Napoli and FC Barcelona on February 24, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 25 February 2022

Barca advances in Europa League, Rangers knock out Dortmund

Barca advances in Europa League, Rangers knock out Dortmund

Barcelona found its scoring touch again to reach the round of 16 of the Europa League with a 4-2 win over Napoli on Thursday, while Rangers knocked out Borussia Dortmund in Glasgow.
Frenkie de Jong scored with a long-range curler and newly signed striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted again for Barcelona, which had been held 1-1 at home in the first leg. The Spanish giant has struggled badly in its first season since the departure of Lionel Messi and was demoted to the Europa League after failing to advance to the Champions League knockout stages for the firs time since 2004.
Dortmund is also a Champions League regular but couldn’t come back from a 4-2 home loss in the first leg as a 2-2 draw at Rangers saw the German team eliminated in one of eight playoffs between third-place finishers in the Champions League groups and Europa League group runners-up.
On a night when Europe was rocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi scored a couple of goals to lead Atalanta into the round of 16.
Malinovskyi netted twice in a two-minute span in the second half for a 3-0 win over Olympiakos as Atalanta advanced 5-1 on aggregate.
After scoring, Malinovskyi lifted his Atalanta jersey to show a message reading “No war in Ukraine” on his undershirt.
Real Betis also advanced after a 0-0 draw with Zenit St. Petersburg that was enough for a 3-2 aggregate victory after the Russian team had a late goal overturned by VAR.
Ten-man Sevilla eliminated Dinamo Zagreb 3-2 on aggregate, Porto knocked out Lazio 4-3 on aggregate and Leipzig won 3-1 at Real Sociedad to reach the next round 5-3 on aggregate.
In the playoff matches to reach the last 16 of the inaugural Europa Conference League, Leicester advanced with a 7-2 aggregate victory over Denmark’s Randers.
The other biggest teams in the playoff round, Marseille and PSV Eindhoven, also advanced while Norwegian upstart Bodø/Glimt knocked out Scottish giant Celtic.
EUROPA LEAGUE
Barcelona jumped out to a 2-0 lead within 13 minutes as Jordi Alba finished off a counterattack after a corner kick at the other end in the eighth minute and de Jong doubled the advantage five minutes later with a sublime strike into the top right-hand corner.
Lorenzo Insigne halved the deficit from the penalty spot before Gerard Piqué restored a two-goal lead in the final minute of the first half.
Aubameyang added the fourth in the second with his fourth goal in five games since a move from Arsenal, while substitute Matteo Politano netted a late consolation goal for Napoli.
James Tavernier netted both goals for Rangers, putting the Scottish side in front from the penalty spot and then netting the equalizer after Jude Bellingham and Donyell Malen had given Dortmund a 2-1 lead.
Portuguese side Braga won a penalty shootout 3-2 against Moldovan side Sheriff a 2-0 home win made it 2-2 on aggregate.
Willi Orbán and Andrés scored to give Leipzig a 2-0 lead and Emil Forsberg added the third from the penalty spot after Real Sociedad pulled one back through Martin Zubimendi.
Lazio striker Ciro Immobile returned from injury to score the opening goal in the 19th with a low shot past goalkeeper Diogo Costa, a minute after he had a goal disallowed due to offside. But Porto forward Mehdi Taremi equalized from the spot and Matheus Uribe gave the Portuguese team a 2-1 lead at Stadio Olimpico in the 68th. Lazio substitute Danilo Cataldi’s goal in stoppage time came too late.
Mislav Oršić scored the lone goal for Dinamo from the penalty spot in Zagreb for a 1-0 victory over Sevilla.
EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
Midfielder James Maddison spearheaded Leicester’s dominant display at Randers with two second-half goals within four minutes and Harvey Barnes also scored with a curling right-foot attempt from inside the box on the way to Leicester’s 3-1 victory on the night.
After winning the first leg 3-1 in Glasgow, Bodø/Glimt dominated again at home with another 2-0 victory even though the Norwegian champions are between domestic seasons.
PSV held Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-1 to advance 2-1 on aggregate while Marseille won 3-0 away at Qarabag to complete a 6-1 rout.
Slavia Prague earned a second straight 3-2 win over Fenerbahce, Vitesse beat Rapid Vienna 2-0 to erase a 2-1 deficit from the first leg and Partizan Belgrade advanced with a 2-1 over Sparta Prague. PAOK eliminated Danish side Midtjylland on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate score.


Liv Golf makes long-awaited Asian debut in Thailand

Liv Golf makes long-awaited Asian debut in Thailand
Updated 30 sec ago

Liv Golf makes long-awaited Asian debut in Thailand

Liv Golf makes long-awaited Asian debut in Thailand
  • 48 world-class players to tee off for $25m in Bangkok
  • Innovative changes to sport ‘thrilling’ fans, says Greg Norman

BANGKOK: The 48 world-class players preparing to tee off at the $25-million LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok will have plenty to play for this week when they line up at the all-new Stonehill venue from Oct. 7 to 9.

“In our inaugural year with the Invitational Series, LIV Golf is already making waves among golf fans globally. Innovation creates energy that will further grow the sport into the future, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this movement,” said Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf.

“Our world-class players and new team format are generating a thrilling conclusion to this first year, and I’m eager to watch the action unfold in our final three tournaments of 2022.”

The world’s best are jostling for position in the individual standings, where a $30 million purse will be shared among the top three podium places at the end of the campaign.

This year’s champion in the final individual standings after the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah will receive a first-place prize of $18 million, with $8 million to the runner-up and $4 million for third place.

In the individual standings, where points are awarded to the top 24 finishers within each tournament’s 48-player field, 2016 US Open and 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson leads the pack with 118 points. The American holds a healthy 39-point lead over his nearest challenger thanks to a win in Boston, top-three finishes in Bedminster and Chicago and consistent play throughout five events in which he has never finished outside the top 10.

South African Branden Grace (79) is in second place with a victory in Portland and is trailed by 2022 Open winner Cameron Smith (56).

The Australian currently holds third place after notable performances in just two events: A fourth-place finish in his LIV Golf debut in Boston, followed by a three-stroke win in Chicago, the largest margin of victory for any LIV Golf individual champion this season.

The team competition is building for an exciting finish, as LIV Golf’s 12 teams prepare for the back-to-back Asian swing in Thailand and Saudi Arabia before turning their attention to the season-ending LIV Golf Invitational Miami Team Championship at Trump National Doral Golf Club from Oct. 28 to 30.

The iconic Blue Monster course will stage the seeded three-day, knockout tournament featuring both match play and stroke play, as teams compete for a historic $50 million purse.


Andrey Rublev to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown

Andrey Rublev to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown
Updated 05 October 2022

Andrey Rublev to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown

Andrey Rublev to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship crown
  • Event’s stars include world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, US and French Open finalist Casper Ruud, world No. 2 Ons Jabeur and British No. 1 Emma Raducanu
  • 3 more ‘big names’ to be announced soon, say organizers

ABU DHABI: Andrey Rublev will return to Abu Dhabi in December to defend his Mubadala World Tennis Championship title, organizers have confirmed.

He is the latest star to join the six-player male lineup at the MWTC from Dec. 16 to 18 that includes world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and regular Slam finalist Casper Ruud, with three more big-name players expected to be unveiled soon.

The 24-year-old, who has reached a career-high ranking of No. 5, secured his first MWTC title with a straight sets victory over Andy Murray at the International Tennis Center in Zayed Sports City last December.

Rublev has 11 ATP Tour singles titles and three doubles titles to his credit. He won the mixed doubles gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics alongside compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam five times, including at this year’s French and US Opens.

Fans will have the chance to catch two of the best women’s players on the tournament’s first day, with world No. 2 US Open finalist and defending MWTC champion Ons Jabeur taking on 2021 US Open Champion and British No. 1 Emma Raducanu.

“Last year’s event was memorable, firstly to see the return of the championship after the rebound of live events and, secondly, because of the top-class tennis on display. Andrey was a worthy winner so it’s great that we have secured his return alongside the next generation of superstars Carlos, Casper, Ons and Emma. The 14th edition is shaping up to be a very exciting three days of action on and off the court,” said John Lickrish, CEO, Flash Entertainment.

The Arabian Gulf’s leading tennis experience will also bring its traditional mix of interactive activities, and player meet-and-greets.

Tickets start from AED95 for adults and AED45 for children. Three-day packages offer a 20 percent saving, guaranteeing spectators a seat for the entire championship.

Premier hospitality tickets also offer fans a special menu and courtside seating. More details are available at www.mubadalawtc.com.


Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir

Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir
Updated 05 October 2022

Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir

Tunisian star Jabeur eases into second round at home in Monastir
  • The 28-year-old, whose ambition is “to be a good example for all the young people who follow her” has won three WTA titles including two this year in Madrid and Berlin

MONASTIR, TUNISIA: Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur eased into the second round of her home tournament at Monastir on Tuesday with a straight sets win over American Ann Li.

Top seed Jabeur, a finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open this year, won 6-2, 6-3 in the first-ever WTA tour event to be hosted in Tunisia.

The world No. 2 took 73 minutes to dispatch her 67th ranked opponent in their first meeting.

The Monastir tournament, staged on the central coast of Tunisia, is just the second women’s professional circuit organized in Africa, after that of Rabat in Morocco.

Jabeur is hugely popular in north Africa, and the world No. 2 is hoping “to reach the final and win in Monastir to make Tunisians happy.” 

The 28-year-old, whose ambition is “to be a good example for all the young people who follow her” has won three WTA titles including two this year in Madrid and Berlin.

“Young people must gain self-confidence to achieve their ambitions,” said the player dubbed “Minister of Happiness” in a Tunisia hit by a deep political and economic crisis.


Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn

Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn
Updated 05 October 2022

Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn

Oust owners, officials named in US soccer abuse report: Sauerbrunn
  • The 37-year-old two-time World Cup winner said players were “horrified and heartbroken” by the findings of a report published on Monday

LOS ANGELES: US international captain Becky Sauerbrunn said Tuesday team owners and officials implicated in a bombshell report which detailed systemic sexual abuse and misconduct in US women’s soccer should be barred from the sport.

The 37-year-old two-time World Cup winner said players were “horrified and heartbroken” by the findings of a report published on Monday following a year-long investigation by former US Attorney General Sally Yates.

Yates’ report included interviews with more than 200 National Women’s Soccer League players — many of them members of US national teams — and detailed patterns of abuse from team coaches, manipulation and tirades.

“Every owner and executive and US soccer official who has repeatedly failed the players and failed to protect the players who have hidden behind legalities and have not participated fully in these investigations should be gone,” Sauerbrunn said in a video-conference call from London, where the US women’s team is preparing for a friendly with England on Friday.

Merritt Paulson, the owner of Sauerbrunn’s club, the Portland Thorns, was accused in the Yates report along with other club officials of enabling misconduct by former Thorns manager Paul Riley.

Pressed on whether Paulson was included in the team owners she believes should be forced out of the NWSL, Sauerbrunn replied: “It includes everyone that has continued to fail the players time and time again, who didn’t take players concerns seriously, who didn’t pass on information correctly, who have not participated in investigations. All of them.”

In a separate development on Tuesday, Paulson, who is also the owner of the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer franchise, said he was removing himself from all Thorns-related decision-making until the conclusion of a separate NWSL/NWSL Players Association investigation.

“I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015,” Paulson said in a statement.

“I am truly sorry.”

Sauerbrunn, meanwhile, said players were “not doing well” following publication of the findings of the investigation, which was launched last year after reports in The Athletic and Washington Post lifted the lid on abuse in the NWSL.

“We are horrified and heartbroken and frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry,” said Sauerbrunn, a veteran of 208 internationals stretching back to 2008.

“We are angry that it took a third party investigation. We’re angry that it took an article in The Athletic and the Washington Post.

“We’re angry that it took over 200 people sharing their trauma to get to this point right now.

“For so long, this has always fallen on the players to demand change. And that is because the people in authority and decision-making positions have repeatedly failed to protect us. And they have failed to hold themselves and each other accountable.”

US head coach Vlatko Andonovski, meanwhile, said members of his squad would be given the option of sitting out this week’s game against England if they decided they were not in the right frame of mind for the game.

“Some players and staff members need time, need space, need to process all of it,” Andonovski said. “That’s why we as a staff are allowing the players to think and process to do whatever they need in order to get over this difficult time.

“If that means they don’t want to participate in a team meeting, or in a team training, or even if they don’t want to play the game, then it’s up to them,” said Andonovski, adding that he was “sickened and disgusted” by details of the report.

“Now this report is out, it’s our job to do our part to make sure that no one has to deal with this ever again in our sport at any level,” he added.

Sauerbrunn, meanwhile, said she has not contemplated the possibility of going on strike to force change in the NWSL.

“I haven’t thought about not playing,” she said. “I hope it won’t get to that point. A lot of us have been navigating these things for a very long time and you find a way to deal with it. We, as women, as players have faced a lot for a very long time. Unfortunately, I’d say you get used to it.”


Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record
Updated 05 October 2022

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

ARLINGTON, Texas: Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first row of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

After No. 99 took a smooth, mighty swing, he had a wide smile on his face as he rounded the bases and his Yankees teammates streamed out of the dugout to celebrate with him. They stayed away from home plate, letting Judge step on it before sharing hugs and high-fives.

Judge’s mother and father were in the stands to see Judge end a five-game homerless streak, including Game 1 of the doubleheader when he was 1 for 5 with a single.

The ball was caught by a fan in Section 31, who was then taken with security to have the ball authenticated.

Another fan was escorted away after leaping out of the seats into a gap between the seats and the left-field wall.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans — perhaps many — until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”