Benfica, Kyiv, Eindhoven and Rangers advance to Champions League playoffs

Benfica, Kyiv, Eindhoven and Rangers advance to Champions League playoffs
1 / 2
Benfica's Goncalves shoots to score a goal during the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg match against FC Midtjylland in Herning, Denmark, on Aug. 9, 2022. (AFP)
Benfica, Kyiv, Eindhoven and Rangers advance to Champions League playoffs
2 / 2
Dynamo Kyiv's Tsyhankov (2L) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg match against SK Sturm Graz. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 10 August 2022

Benfica, Kyiv, Eindhoven and Rangers advance to Champions League playoffs

Benfica, Kyiv, Eindhoven and Rangers advance to Champions League playoffs
  • The first leg of the playoffs take place on Aug. 16/17 with the return fixtures a week later

PARIS: Two-time former champions Benfica will play Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv while Ruud van Nistelrooy’s PSV Eindhoven will face Glasgow Rangers after they all qualified for the final Champions League qualifying playoff round on Tuesday.

Luuk De Jong claimed an 109th-minute winner as PSV Eindhoven edged Monaco 3-2 in extra-time in the Netherlands, to go through 4-3 on aggregate.

De Jong was adamant his side deserved the win.

“Monaco hit the bar and the post, I hit the target,” said the PSV captain.

Monaco had been awakened overnight when fireworks were set off outside their hotel, and there was a fiery atmosphere inside a packed stadium in a see-saw match.

Joey Veerman fired the Dutch ahead on 21mins with a sweet shot into the far corner but Guillermo Maripan then levelled clinically with a cool finish in a goalmouth scramble.

Monaco striker Wissam Ben Yedder then raced on to a sweeping through ball to smack home the go-ahead goal before PSV grabbed a late equalizer as Mexican Erick Gutierrez delivered PSV on 89 minutes.

Benfica beat Mitjylland 3-1 to win 7-2 on aggregate thanks largely to midfielder Enzo Fernandez and 20-year-old striker Henrique Araujo who scored before Pione Sisto responded for the Danes.

Argentinian Fernandez, 21, and Araujo were making just their second European appearances as Diogo Goncalves claimed the third goal for the 1961 and 1962 winners.

In Scotland Malik Tillman completed a turn around when he scored the decider with 11 minutes left as Rangers beat Union Saint-Gilloise 3-0.

The Belgian outfit had won the first leg 2-0 in their first appearance in European competition since 1964-65.

Kostiantyn Vivcharenko and Viktor Tsygankov guided Dynamo Kiyv past Austrians Sturm Graz 3-1 over two ties with efforts in extra time.

Dynamo were second in the Ukrainian Premier League when Russia invaded the country earlier this year.

Earlier, Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol, who stunned Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu during last season’s group stages, were knocked out by Viktoria Plzen as the Czech outfit won 4-2 over two legs.

The first leg of the playoffs take place on Aug. 16/17 with the return fixtures a week later.


Egypt considers bid to host 2036 Olympics

Egypt considers bid to host 2036 Olympics
Updated 56 min ago

Egypt considers bid to host 2036 Olympics

Egypt considers bid to host 2036 Olympics
  • If successful with its bid, Egypt would become the first African or Arab nation to host the Olympics

CAIRO: Egypt is planning to apply to host the 2036 Olympic Games, sports minister Ashraf Sobhi said on Saturday during a reception for IOC president Thomas Bach in Cairo.
“President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has given his permission for Egypt to put itself forward as host for the 2036 Olympics,” Sobhi said.
If successful with its bid, Egypt would become the first African or Arab nation to host the Olympics.
“Egypt has solid sporting infrastructures and if it can host the Olympic Games, it will be historic,” Bach said during a joint press conference with Sobhi.
An Egyptian official announced earlier in the month that Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia were in talks to jointly host the 2030 World Cup.
Egypt staged the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, as well as last year’s handball world championship during the Covid-19 pandemic.


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.”