Nunez saves Liverpool from opening day defeat at Fulham

Nunez saves Liverpool from opening day defeat at Fulham
Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez celebrates with teammate Mohamed Salah after scoring during their English Premier League match against Fulham at Craven Cottage stadium in London, on Saturday. (AP)
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Updated 06 August 2022

Nunez saves Liverpool from opening day defeat at Fulham

Nunez saves Liverpool from opening day defeat at Fulham
  • Aleksandar Mitrovic twice put the impressive hosts ahead
  • Darwin Nunez came off the bench to make a huge impact on his Premier League debut

LONDON: Liverpool twice had to come from behind against newly-promoted Fulham to salvage a 2-2 draw in a pulsating start to the Premier League season on Saturday.
Aleksandar Mitrovic twice put the impressive hosts ahead, but Darwin Nunez came off the bench to make a huge impact on his Premier League debut.
The Uruguayan, who arrived at Anfield in a deal that could rise to 100 million euros ($102 million) from Benfica, flicked home to level at 1-1 and then teed up Mohamed Salah for an equalizer 10 minutes from time.
Liverpool’s season had got off to a flying start by getting the better of Manchester City to win the Community Shield in what was billed as an early showdown between the two title contenders.
However, the Reds were punished for a sluggish performance in the first hour in what could prove a costly concession of two points.
Mitrovic scored 43 goals in as many games last season as Fulham romped to the Championship title and gave Liverpool an early warning as he stabbed just wide inside the first minute.
Much to Jurgen Klopp’s frustration on the touchline, the visitors did not wake from their slumber and were finally punished on 32 minutes when Mitrovic outmuscled Trent Alexander-Arnold at the back post to head in Kenny Tete’s cross.
Liverpool flickered into life before the break as Luis Diaz smashed against the post from a narrow angle.
However, it was not until the introduction of the towering presence of Nunez that the Champions League finalists began to pose a persistent threat.
Nunez was at fault when Fulham were inches away from doubling their lead when he was caught in possession and the ball was fed to Neeskens Kebano, who drilled off the inside of the post.
At the other end, Liverpool’s new striker quickly made his presence felt as an audacious flick from Salah’s cross was saved by Marek Rodak.
Moments later a replica move did deliver Nunez’s first Premier League goal as he backheeled in from Salah’s low cross 26 minutes from time.
At that point there appeared only one winner, but Mitrovic showed a surprising fleetness of foot to turn Virgil van Dijk, who clipped the Serbian striker inside the box.
Mitrovic coolly slotted the resulting penalty low past Alisson Becker, but Fulham failed to hold out in the final 18 minutes for a famous win.
Another long ball into the box toward Nunez caused panic in the Fulham defense and the ball eventually fell kindly to Salah to score on the opening weekend of the Premier League for a sixth consecutive season.
Liverpool could even have snatched victory five minutes into stoppage time when Jordan Henderson’s long range strike came back off the crossbar.
But a point was the least Fulham deserved as they made a strong start in their bid to avoid relegation for a fourth consecutive season when in the top flight.


Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
Updated 5 sec ago

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
  • After Friday’s display Popovici will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest

ROME: David Popovici continued his dream summer of swimming on Friday by easing into the 100 meters freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships with a new European record of 46.98 seconds, while world champion Nicolo Martinenghi won the 100m breaststroke.

Teen sensation Popovici looked in fine form earlier on Friday when he easily won his heat and delighted fans by finishing over a second ahead of Italian Lorenzo Zazzeri.

Only two other swimmers managed to dip under 48sec, Kristof Milak and Alessandro Miressi in the other semis, but both were some way off 17-year-old Romanian Popovici.

“It’s a fine route to the final and a step toward the right direction. It feels normal for me to go step-by-step and keep improving my time,” said Popovici.

Popovici, who in June became the first man to complete the 100-200m freestyle double at the World Championships in nearly 50 years, will now compete in Saturday’s final.

After Friday’s display he will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest.

Martinenghi was a double gold winner at the Budapest worlds and got the home crowd roaring in Rome with a time of 58.26sec in his final, beating countryman Federico Poggio by 0.72sec.

Andrius Sidlauskas took the bronze for Lithuania.

“This victory means a lot to me. This season has been a very long one and I’m not in my best shape, but it was important to continue winning,” Martinenghi said.

The 23-year-old’s win was one of four golds for Italy in Friday’s evening session at the Foro Italico.

Margherita Panziera won the 200m backstroke, Thomas Ceccon claimed the honors in the 50m butterfly and Simona Quadarella won European gold in the 800m freestyle for the third straight time.

However, the Italians finished second in the 4x100m medley relay, leading for most of the way only to finish nearly two seconds behind the Netherlands and settling for silver.

Ukraine’s Marta Fiedina followed up on her artistic swimming team technical gold by winning the solo technical discipline, pipping local hope Linda Cerutti in the final moments.

Also double gold winner at the recent worlds, Fiedina was the last to take to the pool and won over the judges to earn a score of 92.6394, 1.7555 points ahead of Cerutti who had been leading since finishing her routine as fifth of 21 participants.

“I really gave everything I could at this moment. This is my best performance in Technical Solo this year, for sure,” said the champion.

Giorgio Minisini won the European championships’ inaugural men’s edition of the solo technical with a score of 85.7033, the Italian finishing over six points ahead of Spain’s Fernando Diaz Del Rio Soto.


‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
Updated 13 August 2022

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg
  • The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus

BERLIN: Eighteen-year-old Englishman Jamie Bynoe-Gittens scored one and created another as Borussia Dortmund came back to defeat Freiburg 3-1 on Friday with all their goals coming in the last 13 minutes of the game.

With the game drifting toward defeat, Dortmund were again able to rely on their young brigade, with Bynoe-Gittens and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko scoring two quick goals to see the visitors pick up a valuable three points in their quest for a sixth Bundesliga title.

Dortmund manager Edin Terzic lauded his side’s depth and praised “game-changer” Bynoe-Gittens.

“With him, it’s pretty simple — he’s got the skills to decide games,” said Terzic.

“He’s a game-changer and (I told him when he came on) I wanted to see that from him.

“We fought back, scored three goals through three substitutes and showed how good the squad is.”

The visitors dominated the early stages, with Anthony Modeste — playing in his first game for Dortmund just days after transferring from FC Cologne — striking up an immediate partnership with captain Marco Reus.

Reus teed up Modeste to run into the left side of the penalty box in the 20th minute, forcing Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken into a save.

Modeste also had a chance right in front in the 32nd minute after superb one touch football from Jude Bellingham and Raphael Guerreiro, but the Portuguese’s cross was inches too high.

As if stunned into action, Freiburg then flipped a switch, building pressure on a suddenly shaky Dortmund defense.

Roland Sallai won a free kick on the edge of the box with 33 minutes played.

Dead-ball specialist Vincenzo Grifo stepped up to force a fingertip save from Gregor Kobel in goal.

Freiburg took the lead minutes later, when former Dortmund defender Matthias Ginter found Michael Gregoritsch who deftly drifted a header over Kobel and into the top right corner of the goal.

Terzic turned to youth halfway through the second half, bringing on Bynoe-Gittens and Moukoko to introduce some potency to Dortmund’s attack.

Known more for his dribbling and assists, the Englishman equalized with a stunning strike from outside the box.

While his shot was helped by a poor attempted save from Freiburg keeper Mark Flekken, the goal spurred Bynoe-Gittens and Dortmund into action

The former Manchester City academy player had a chance to put his side in front after 82 minutes, but was unable to control a sharp Marius Wolf pass with the goal begging.

He then set up Dortmund’s second just a minute later when he slalomed past several Freiburg defenders on the edge of the area before delivering a no-look pass to Julian Brandt.

Brandt, who had also been brought on by Terzic in the second half, found Moukoko in the box, with the teenager whipping in from close range.

Wolf, another who was subbed on in the second half, then put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute, striking powerfully across goalkeeper Flekken and into the bottom left corner of the net.

The game was manager Terzic’s ninth win in a row in charge of Dortmund, breaking a record set by former mentor Juergen Klopp a decade ago.

The loss continues a poor run of home form for Freiburg recently, with the Breisgauer now conceding 16 goals in their last six games at Europa Park Stadium.

Despite the loss, Freiburg manager Christian Streich said he was impressed by his side’s “unlucky” performance.

“We played a good game, I’m satisfied,” he said.

“Ultimately we lost, it’s a shame... but it doesn’t achieve anything to think we were unlucky to lose the game.”


Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees
Updated 13 August 2022

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees

Lionel Messi misses cut for Ballon d’Or list of nominees
  • Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo were all included, as were Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min

PARIS: Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi was omitted from the 30-man list of nominees for the prestigious award on Friday for the first time since 2005.

The Argentina great edged out Poland striker Robert Lewandowski for the Ballon d’Or last year but wasn’t nominated this time after an underwhelming first season at Paris Saint-Germain.

The 35-year-old forward also won the prize in 2019 — it was not held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neymar also missed the cut this time.

Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo were all included, as were Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

Alexia Putellas, Ada Hegerberg, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema were on the list of 20 female nominees. US players Alex Morgan, Catarina Macario and Trinity Rodman were also named.

The men’s list features six Manchester City players: Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo, De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, and new signing Haaland (formerly Borussia Dortmund).

Liverpool also has six nominees: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Darwin Nunez, Salah and Virgil van Dijk.

Mane, who helped Senegal win their first African Cup before leaving Liverpool for Bayern Munich, is included, as is Bayern teammate Joshua Kimmich.

Benzema leads a group of six Real Madrid players. The others are Casemiro, Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and new signing Antonio Rudiger.

The other nominated players are Sebastien Haller (Ajax), Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan (both of AC Milan), Christopher Nkunku (Leipzig), and Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus).

The award will be presented on Oct. 17.

Among changes announced in March, the award is now being awarded based on performances over the course of a regular European season, rather than a calendar year. A reduction in the number of voters was among other changes, with the goal of streamlining the process. Voters also will no longer consider a player’s career accomplishments.

France Football magazine has given out the award to men every year since 1956 and to women each year since 2018 — when Hegerberg became the first female winner — though both were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Putellas became the third winner of the women’s award last year. Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Aitana Bonmati was also nominated.

Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze and Beth Mead — who helped England win the European Championship — were included.

France has four players on the list: Selma Bacha, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Wendie Renard.

The other nominated women are Christiane Endler, Lena Oberdorf, Asizat Oshoala, Alexandra Popp and Fridolina Rolfo.


Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff
Updated 12 August 2022

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff

Hard work for Halep in Toronto WTA win over Gauff
  • The former number one made hard work of her triumph over the rising American teenager
  • Halep needed a second-set tiebreaker to advance into the semi-finals in just under two hours

TORONTO, Canada: Simona Halep served twice for her match against Coco Gauff without success on Friday before finally securing a 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) quarter-final victory at the WTA Toronto Masters.
The former number one, a two-time winner in Canada, made hard work of her triumph over the rising American teenager who just missed a chance at cracking the world ranking top-10 for the first time.
Halep needed a second-set tiebreaker to advance into the semifinals in just under two hours.
Double Grand Slam champion Halep earned her leading 183rd match win at the Masters 1000 level. She now owns 36 victories in 2022.
Gauff fired a backhand into the net on Halep’s first match point to end the encounter and lose her eighth straight set against the 30-year-old Romanian.
On Saturday, Halep will play her 29th Masters semifinal against the winner of a later match between US seventh seed Jessica Pegula or Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.


Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats
Updated 12 August 2022

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats

Willian leaves Corinthians following death threats
  • "Willian asked us for his (contract) termination," said club president Duilio Monteiro Alves
  • "Whenever Corinthians lost and I didn't play well, my family received threats and insults on social media," Willian told the Globo Esporte website

SAO PAULO: Former Chelsea and Arsenal midfielder Willian quit Corinthians on Friday following the Brazilians’ Copa Libertadores elimination against domestic rivals Flamengo, after claiming he and his family received death threats on social media.
“Willian asked us for his (contract) termination. We are sad not to have him anymore and also because it didn’t go the way we expected. But we have to keep those here that are happy,” said club president Duilio Monteiro Alves.
It was only a year ago that the 34-year-old only rejoined the club where he made his professional debut in 2006. Local media have linked him with a move to promoted English Premier League side Fulham.
The return to Corinthians in Sao Paulo quickly turned sour for Willian both on the pitch where he scored one goal in 45 matches, and off it.
“Whenever Corinthians lost and I didn’t play well, my family received threats and insults on social media. My wife, my children, recently they also started attacking my father, my sister,” Willian told the Globo Esporte website.
“I didn’t play as well as I expected but I was never a player who scored 20 or 30 goals a season,” he told ESPN Brasil on Wednesday.
Willian, who also played for Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine and Russians Anzhi Makhachkala, leaves the club three days after they were eliminated from the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals by Flamengo, 3-0 on aggregate.