Guimaraes’ magic silences Hasenhuttl and Southampton as Newcastle edge to safety

Guimaraes’ magic silences Hasenhuttl and Southampton as Newcastle edge to safety
Southampton's Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhuttl gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 11 March 2022

Guimaraes’ magic silences Hasenhuttl and Southampton as Newcastle edge to safety

Guimaraes’ magic silences Hasenhuttl and Southampton as Newcastle edge to safety
  • Four of Newcastle’s January signings were heavily involved in the 2-1 win at St Mary’s which left Eddie Howe’s men 10 points clear of the relegation zone

SOUTHAMPTON: It was a piece of pure magic, forged in the heat of the January transfer window, and executed right under the nose of Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Revenge is best served, not cold, but full of Brazilian spice — and for Newcastle United, on a seasonally warm night on the south coast of England, four of their five January transfer window signings silenced their biggest winter window critic by claiming all three points at St Mary’s.

When this game was first set to be played — on January 2 — the Magpies were deep in the relegation mire.

With one win all season their Premier League prognosis was grim. Southampton’s wasn’t all that much better, to be honest.

However, when COVID-19 swept through the Newcastle squad and Eddie Howe’s request to have the game called off was granted, the decision enraged Hasenhuttl.

He seethed: “I was disappointed we couldn’t play. I don’t think it is really fair for them (new signings) to play in games that have been postponed. We should think about it because of the integrity of the league.”

Doubling down, and taking the bait again, earlier this week, Hasenhuttl bristled: “(It is) strange now to concentrate on a game you should have played two months ago against a completely different team.”

Newcastle signed five players in winter trading — and four of those combined to ensure all three points took Howe’s men a remarkable 10 points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.

While Chris Wood netted the equalizer, his first goal for the Magpies, following a fortuitous Stuart Armstrong opener, they saved their best till last as Bruno Guimaraes, making his first start in English football, ghosted into a crowded home area to produce a backheel volley that announced himself to the English game.

Now, we really need to talk about Bruno.

And much to Hasenhuttl’s ire, that stroke of a wand by Bruno was firstly crossed in by Matt Targett, a January signing, headed down by Dan Burn, another winter addition, and finished by the former Lyon man, Newcastle’s jewel in their transfer crown.

Post-match, Hasenhuttl had a whole lot less to say about the issue that clearly irked him so much. When quizzed he quickly retorted: “It doesn’t interest me today.”

Classy Howe didn’t need to say a thing; his players, new and old, did the talking for him out on the pitch.

“I thought it was a welcome to the Premier League for Bruno. It was an end-to-end game. It was high in transitions and a very physical game,” said Howe. “For us, that’s been one of our hallmarks. I thought we looked a little bit leggy at the start but we grew into the game physically.”

“That will be a really, really good experience for Bruno. We made a tactical switch when we conceded and he showed his best qualities.

“The goal is probably something we didn’t expect from him but it shows his technical ability and the eye that he has,” he added. “He’s going to be a huge player for us and I’m really pleased for him tonight.”

If Bruno’s addition to the side was a rabbit out the hat for Howe, he also had to deal with a disappearing act or two.

The surprise pre-match was not necessarily seeing Guimaraes’ name in the starting 11 but more the absence of in-form Joelinton. The Brazilian travelled with the Newcastle squad to the south coast, but was left out of the side with a slight groin issue.

Another absentee on the night was Allan Saint-Maximin, whose lack of availability was down to a non-COVID-19-related illness, not a recurrence of his recent calf problem.

Nothing could split these sides at St James’ Park earlier in the season, with late drama ensuring the shares were spoiled in an entertaining, but ultimately frustrating 2-2 draw.

And for much of the first 45, again, there was little to divide the two as defensive frailties, recently eradicated by Newcastle in this encounter, were evident at both ends.

Quality, for 45 minutes, at least, was in short supply. Guimaraes more than made up for that in the second, mind.

After some early waves of pressure at both ends, as the game ebbed and flowed, it found itself punctuated, quite abruptly with Armstrong’s opener.

The Scotland international’s runs into the visiting area were rarely picked up by a leggy looking Newcastle midfield early on and a lobbed cross from the left by Kyle Walker-Peters was knocked back into the path of unmarked Armstrong, who bundled home via Burn’s midriff.

With Saints shading it, it was hard to argue they didn’t deserve to edge their noses in front.

Newcastle sides of old have folded on their travels under less pressure, but this Howe-constructed unit is made of firmer, more resilient stuff — and in weathering the storm, managed to bite back and level themselves.

A well-worked move down the left saw Ryan Fraser and Targett exchange passes, before laying back to skipper Jonjo Shelvey, who’s perfect cross found the head of Wood to open his Newcastle account in emphatic fashion.

After the break came the second — and it was exactly the spark Newcastle, and the game, required.

A corner from Southampton-nurtured Targett was guided back across goal by Burn, both of whom will be on the mind of England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of the upcoming international break, and cue a back-to-goal Bruno flick that left a Saints defense bamboozled and Fraser Forster helpless.

Nine unbeaten. Six wins in seven. The Newcastle rise continues. At this rate who knows when they’ll hit their top flight ceiling — and the same goes for Guimaraes.

“Instantly looking at him, I loved his way of playing, eye for a pass and composure but also he’s not frightened to do the other side of the game. You have to be in this league. You can’t carry anybody,” said Howe.

“That will be slightly different for him. He came off, got a bit of a cramp but I think that’s expected because he hasn’t played for a while."


Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad play out stalemate in ill-disciplined ‘Saudi Classico’

Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad play out stalemate in ill-disciplined ‘Saudi Classico’
Updated 02 October 2022

Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad play out stalemate in ill-disciplined ‘Saudi Classico’

Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad play out stalemate in ill-disciplined ‘Saudi Classico’
  • Champions Al-Hilal suffer shock 2-1 home defat to Al-Taawoun in the day’s other big match

RIYADH: The first ‘Classico’ of the Roshn Saudi League season ended in stalemate as Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad played out an ill-tempered 0-0 draw at Mrsool Park on Sunday, which saw two players sent off and six others booked.

It looked like Al-Nassr might have gained a major advantage when Al-Ittihad midfielder Tarek Ahmed was sent off two minutes before the break. But Rudi Garcia’s team failed to take advantage and on 59 minutes the numerical advantage was lost when Abdulmajeed Al-Sulaiheem received a straight red.

The stop-start nature of the match saw almost 15 minutes of stoppage time added at the end of the match, but neither team could find a breakthrough.

The result leaves Al-Ittihad in third place with 11 points from five matches, while Al-Nassr are in fifth with one point less.

The day’s big shock came with Al-Hilal’s 2-1 home defeat to Al-Taawoun.

The reigning Saudi and Asian champions took the lead through Brazilian forward Michael on the half hour, but the visitors equalized with a goal from Summayhan Al-Nabit in first half stoppage time.

Despite having Leandre Tawamba sent off on 65 minutes, Al-Taawoun took a shock lead through Fahad Alrashidi after 74 minutes, and then held onto the final whistle for a famous win.

After their first loss of the season, Al-Hilal are in second place with 12 points, while Al-Taawoun are in joint-fourth position with 11. 


Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title

Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title
Updated 03 October 2022

Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title

Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title
  • Djokovic, who didn’t drop a set all week, now heads to the Astana ATP tournament where world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz takes the top seeding

TEL AVIV: Novak Djokovic claimed his third title of 2022 and 89th of his career with an impressive straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic in the Tel Aviv final on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 6-4 to add the Israeli trophy to victories in Rome and Wimbledon this season.

It was Djokovic’s 19th win over Cilic in 21 meetings in a rivalry stretching back to 2008.

Djokovic was playing his first singles tournament since wrapping up a seventh Wimbledon crown and 21st Grand Slam title in July.

He was banned from the US Open and the entire North American hard court swing over his refusal to be vaccinated before returning for Roger Federer’s farewell in the Laver Cup team event in London last month.

“It was really a special week, I felt at home with all your support,” top-seeded Djokovic told the crowd before turning to Cilic who turned 34 last Wednesday.

“I’m sure we going to keep beating all these young players for a while yet.”

On Sunday, Djokovic, playing in his 127th final, broke Cilic in the second game of the final and pocketed the first set with a fourth ace after 47 minutes on court.

Former US Open winner Cilic, chasing a 21st career title but first of 2022, was broken in the first game of the second set and never recovered.

The Serb only faced one break point in the final which was clinched in 94 minutes.

Djokovic, who didn’t drop a set all week, now heads to the Astana ATP tournament where world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz takes the top seeding.


England thump Pakistan in T20 decider, win series 4-3

England thump Pakistan in T20 decider, win series 4-3
Updated 02 October 2022

England thump Pakistan in T20 decider, win series 4-3

England thump Pakistan in T20 decider, win series 4-3
  • England strangled Pakistan’s struggling middle-order through pace as Pakistan never looked to challenge a strong total

LAHORE, Pakistan: England finished their first tour to Pakistan in 17 years with a thumping 67-run win in their Twenty20 decider on Sunday to clinch the exciting seven-match series 4-3.

Dawid Malan (78 not out off 47 balls) smashed his first half century of the series and Harry Brook hit an unbeaten 29-ball 46 as both profited from three dropped catches in England’s strong total of 209-3.

Pakistan, who won the toss and chose to field, were effectively out of the chase once the usually prolific opening pair of captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan departed within the first two overs.

Pakistan finished on 142-8.

Babar, who dropped both Malan and Brook, gave a regulation catch at cover in Chris Woakes’ first over and Reece Topley clean bowled Rizwan off a full-length delivery.

No. 3 Shan Masood fought a lone battle with 56 off 43 against well-disciplined England pacers with Woakes (3-26), David Willey (2-22), Sam Curran (1-27) and Topley (1-34) all chipping in with wickets.

“Brilliant game today, we played really well from the start,” said England captain Moeen Ali. “The batters put up a very good score and I thought our bowling was outstanding in wet conditions. We had two must-win games, to come back and win them is good to see.”

Regular England T20 skipper Jos Buttler didn’t play a single game on tour and continued his rehabilitation on an injured calf.

England’s opening pair of Phil Salt (20) and Alex Hales (18) once again provided a brisk start of 39 before both fell in the space of three deliveries in the fifth over.

Hales was pinned leg before wicket by Mohammad Hasnain, one of the four changes Pakistan made from the team which lost the last game by eight wickets on Friday.

Salt couldn’t beat a strong direct throw from Shadab Khan and was run out after Malan refused a single and stood his ground at the striker’s end.

Ben Duckett hit a breezy 30 off 19 balls before he was run out by Rizwan who clipped the bails after the ball bounced in front of him off Duckett’s bat but England continued to score more than 10 runs an over in the first half of the innings.

Sloppy Pakistan fielding let both Malan and Brook combine in a beefy and unbroken 108-run stand off 61 balls as Babar dropped both batters in their 20s before Mohammad Wasim also couldn’t grab an opportunity after Malan had completed his half century.

“Our fielding was not up to the mark today and when you drop crucial catches of set batters, you are bound to struggle,” Babar said.

Haris Rauf, who was rested in the last game, bowled well in the death overs to finish with 0-24, but fast bowler Mohammad Wasim cost 0-61 – Pakistan’s third most expensive figures in a T20 international.

“We couldn’t execute our plans in the field and credit goes to England for fully capitalizing,” Babar said.

Malan hit eight fours and three sixes while Brook smashed four sixes and a boundary as Wasim conceded 20 in the last over which lifted England to its second highest total of the series.

Pakistan’s middle order had struggled throughout the series and once again couldn’t cope up with the pressure after both Babar and Rizwan were dismissed early.

Willey missed a skier off his own bowling which could have ended Iftikhar Ahmed’s knock before he found the outside edge of the right-hander as Pakistan slipped to 33-3 inside the batting powerplay.

England strangled Pakistan’s struggling middle-order through pace as Pakistan never looked to challenge a strong total.

Masood, who hit his second half century of the series after making his T20 debut at Karachi, fell against Woakes when he was brilliantly snapped by a diving Adil Rashid at short third-man in the penultimate over of the innings.

England will return to Pakistan in December when they play a three-Test series.


Saudi sports minister chairs delegation at Asian Olympic council meeting

Saudi sports minister chairs delegation at Asian Olympic council meeting
Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi sports minister chairs delegation at Asian Olympic council meeting

Saudi sports minister chairs delegation at Asian Olympic council meeting
  • The delegation will highlight the Kingdom’s bid to host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 at TROJENA in the NEOM region

RIYADH: Saudi Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal will chair the Kingdom’s delegation at the Olympic Council of Asia executive board meeting and its general assembly in Cambodia on Monday.

The prince will lead the delegation in his role as president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC) and vice-president of the OCA.

The Saudi committee will include SOPC Vice-President Prince Fahad bin Jalawi, board member of SOPC Prince Abdullah Bin Fahad and NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr.

The delegation will highlight the Kingdom’s bid to host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 at TROJENA in the NEOM region in northwest Saudi Arabia. The bid will be submitted to a vote during the general assembly on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia will be the first west Asian country to host the Asian Winter Games if it wins the bid.

The meeting will also shed light on the preparations of Riyadh in hosting the 7th Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games 2025 and the Asian Games in Riyadh in 2034.


Japan wrestling trailblazer Antonio Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy

Japan wrestling trailblazer Antonio Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy
Updated 02 October 2022

Japan wrestling trailblazer Antonio Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy

Japan wrestling trailblazer Antonio Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy
  • The professional wrestler, martial artist, politician and promoter died on Saturday at the age of 79

RIYADH: Legendary Japanese figure Antonio Inoki, real name Muhammad Hussain Inoki, died on Saturday at the age of 79.

Inoki was a professional wrestler, martial artist, politician and promoter for both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts.

Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1943, he spent most of his childhood in Brazil where his family had relocated. There, he developed a passion for professional wrestling. Inoki was recruited by Rikidozan, one of the the most famous Japanese wrestlers of all time, and returned to Tokyo to join the Japanese Wrestling Association.

In his home country, Inoki became widely popular and revered for his versatility and for his charismatic demeanor in the squared circle. His contributions transcended achievements inside the ring, and he founded New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1972.

Over the course of the next two decades, Inoki built NJPW into the most successful wrestling company in Asia, using talented competitors such as Tiger Mask, Dynamite Kid, Bob Backlund, and Vader.

In addition to running the promotion, Inoki himself was one of the top stars carrying the championship, stepping into the ring against the likes of Stan Hansen, Tiger Jeet Singh and Hulk Hogan.

He gained global fame in 1976 when he faced Muhammad Ali in a wrestler vs. boxer match in Tokyo. This encounter was credited for being a precursor to what is known today as mixed martial arts, and was one of the most watched fights of its generation. In addition to the sold-out crowd of more than 14,000 at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, it aired on closed-circuit across the world.

Shea Stadium in New York aired the bout on its big screen and drew a crowd of 32,897, with an undercard of pro wrestling and mixed-rules matches preceding the main event.

Outisde the ring Inoki used sport to forge peace and diplomacy. In 1990, he played a major role in freeing 36 Japanese hostages held in Iraq.

Inoki was also a outstanding ambassador for professional wrestling, bringing major events to places such as Russia and China.

He was also instrumental in organizing two large sporting events in Pyongyang in 1995, and another in 2014. The first event, known as “Collision in Korea” drew nearly 380,000 fans and is considered the biggest-pay-per-view in pro-wrestling history.

In 1998, Inoki retired from in-ring competition. In 2010, he was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame. An WWE statement said: “This passion for competition earned him the nickname ‘Moeru Toukon’ among his peers, which translates to ‘The fighting spirit that burns’.”

Inoki leaves behind a unique legacy as a competitor. He was 12-time professional wrestling world champion, notably being the inaugural IWGP Heavyweight Champion and the first Asian WWF Heavyweight Champion in a reign not officially recognized by WWE.

The cause of Inoki’s death was not released, but he had been ill in recent years and confined to a wheelchair.