Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League

Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League
RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai celebrates scoring their second goal with Mohamed Simakan and Christopher Nkunku before it was later disallowed during their Champions League match against Celtic at Red Bull Arena, Leipzig on Wednesday. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 October 2022

Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League

Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League
  • The win came at a cost as influential goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi had to be carried off early with an apparent right knee injury
  • Nkunku showed his class in the 27th when he went past Hart and finished from a narrow angle

LEIPZIG, Germany: Leipzig earned their first win of the Champions League season by beating Celtic 3-1 on Wednesday thanks to two late goals from André Silva and a defensive error from visiting goalkeeper Joe Hart.
The outstanding Christopher Nkunku also scored as Leipzig finally got off the mark in Group F after losses to Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid. But the win came at a cost as influential goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi had to be carried off early with an apparent right knee injury.
Janis Blaswich replaced him for his Champions League debut.
Nkunku had a goal ruled out through VAR for offside shortly afterward, but the French player showed his class in the 27th when he went past Hart and finished from a narrow angle.
Kyogo Furuhashi had just gone close for the visitors, who suffered a further blow when captain Callum McGregor had to go off injured in the 37th.
Portuguese winger Jota equalized in the 47th when Furuhashi sent him through for a one-on-one with Blaswich. Jota sidefooted a low shot inside the far post for his first Champions League goal.
Dominik Szoboszlai struck the post in response, then thought he scored with a shot from 20 meters (yards) inside the far post. But VAR again ruled it out as André Silva had blocked Hart’s view.
The Celtic goalkeeper then gifted Leipzig their second goal when he passed straight to Szoboszlai, who teed up Silva to put the host ahead in the 64th.
Then Nkunku shone again with a brilliant ball for Mohamed Simakan to tee up Silva to seal the result in the 77th.
Celtic dropped to the bottom of Group F with one point.


World Cup braces for quarter-finals as Spain sack coach

World Cup braces for quarter-finals as Spain sack coach
Updated 56 min 34 sec ago

World Cup braces for quarter-finals as Spain sack coach

World Cup braces for quarter-finals as Spain sack coach
  • A blockbuster set of quarter-finals gets under way on Friday when five-time champions Brazil face 2018 runners-up Croatia
  • On Saturday, Morocco will carry the flag for African football in their quarter-final clash with Portugal

DOHA: Brazil were gearing up for a showdown with Croatia while Argentina prepared to face the Netherlands as anticipation mounted Thursday on the eve of the World Cup quarter-finals.
After three weeks of pulsating action, just eight teams are left standing as the 32-nation tournament heads into the final rounds of knockout competition after a two-day break.
A blockbuster set of quarter-finals gets under way on Friday when five-time champions Brazil face 2018 runners-up Croatia.
That clash is the appetiser for another heavyweight World Cup collision between Lionel Messi’s Argentina and three-time losing finalists the Netherlands.
On Saturday, Morocco will carry the flag for African football in their quarter-final clash with Portugal before holders France face England in an eagerly anticipated showdown.
Wins for Argentina and Brazil on Friday would set up a titanic semifinal between the two South American heavyweights.
For now though Brazil are looking no further than Friday’s assignment against Croatia at the Education City Stadium in Doha.
“They have individual quality and collective quality as well as a resilience and persistence,” Brazil coach Tite said of Croatia.
“We are aware of their virtues but my focus is on maintaining our standards and whoever plays best will go through.”
Croatia captain Luka Modric said Thursday that his side were determined to progress beyond the last eight.
“We did a great thing by going to the quarter-finals, but regardless of that we would like to do more,” the Real Madrid midfielder said.
“We have to play our best match. And if we do that we have a chance of winning.”
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni is optimistic that Angel Di Maria and Rodrigo De Paul will be available for his side’s clash against the Netherlands after injury issues.
His opposite number, Louis van Gaal, back in charge of the Dutch for a third spell, said his team would have to step up a gear to compete with the South American side, who beat them on penalties in the 2014 semifinal in Brazil.
“The tournament is actually starting tomorrow for real for us, although of course I don’t want to downplay the importance of other countries we were able to beat,” he said.
“But Argentina and Brazil, who we will possibly play in the next round, are quite different to the teams we beat in the group stage and last 16.”
On Saturday, all eyes will be on the battle between France and England at the Al-Bayt Stadium, the Bedouin tent-inspired structure located in the desert outside Doha.
England said Thursday that forward Raheem Sterling is set to return to the squad after initially leaving the team’s World Cup base following a break-in at his family home.
Sterling did not feature in England’s squad for the 3-0 last-16 win against Senegal and it would be a major surprise if the 28-year-old starts against France.
In Saturday’s other quarter-final, buoyant Portugal will be looking to end Morocco’s fairytale run to the last eight.
Portugal produced one of the most scintillating displays of the tournament by dismantling Switzerland 6-1 in the last 16 after coach Fernando Santos opted to drop Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s replacement, 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos, fired a brilliant hat-trick as Portugal ran riot.
According to reports in Portugal, Santos’s bombshell decision to drop Ronaldo prompted the 37-year-old superstar to threaten to walk out of the team camp.
But Ronaldo took to social media to stress the squad was rock solid after the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) issued a statement denying the reported bust-up with the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star.
“It’s a group too united to be broken by outside forces,” said Ronaldo.
“A nation too courageous to let itself be frightened by any adversary. A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end.”
Elsewhere on Thursday, Spanish football authorities dismissed coach Luis Enrique following the team’s shock elimination against Morocco, naming under-21s boss Luis de la Fuente as his replacement.
“Both the president, Luis Rubiales, and the sporting director, Jose Francisco Molina, have told the coach their decision,” the Spanish federation (RFEF) said in a statement.


LaLiga scores deal to win new audiences in Middle East

LaLiga scores deal to win new audiences in Middle East
Updated 08 December 2022

LaLiga scores deal to win new audiences in Middle East

LaLiga scores deal to win new audiences in Middle East
  • Joint venture with Galaxy Racer expected to generate over $3bn with each party holding a 50 percent stake
  • Deal establishes esports organization Galaxy Racer as LaLiga’s local partner in the region as well as on the Indian subcontinent

DUBAI: LaLiga has signed a 15-year deal with the world’s largest esports organization to boost the Spanish football league’s presence in the Middle East and North Africa.

The deal establishes Galaxy Racer as LaLiga’s local partner in the region as well as on the Indian subcontinent. The deal is expected to generate more than $3.16 billion, with each party holding a 50 per cent stake.

LaLiga wants new ways to boost its audience in the two regions, which have more than 1.3 billion people under the age of 30. It will also grant broadcast and media rights in the 29 countries covered by the deal.

This agreement was signed by LaLiga President Javier Tebas and Galaxy Racer Chairman Paul Roy. It comes as Qatar hosts the first World Cup to be held in the Arab world. 

Oscar Mayo, LaLiga Executive Director, said: “Signing this agreement is testament of our deep commitment to supporting the transformation of the sports media scene, and building on the passion for football in MENA and the Indian Subcontinent.

“Galaxy Racer’s experience will be vital in building fan loyalty to position LaLiga as a top brand for football and lifestyle.”

Roy said: “The MENA region and Indian subcontinent are considered (among) the fastest growing territories in sport and by partnering with LaLiga, a global leader in football, we are confident in our ability to work together to radically transform the sport league’s brand presence in these regions, while also fostering the next generation of young sport fans.”

“Several projects, including a documentary series, competitions, merchandise (and) live events are already in the pipeline.”

The agreement in the UAE will see a team of around 20 people working to build the brand and find new business opportunities. There will also be a five-person Board of Directors that includes CEO Maite Ventura. Luis Cardenas, Commercial Director for LaLiga MENA, will be the CCO.

Ventura said: “Galaxy Racer’s extensive experience in the region will serve as an important source of support towards our international strategy. The Middle East is growing as a dedicated sports hub and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar now is the best example of the power of the sport.”

Additionally, Galaxy Racer will launch a roster of creators who will focus on LaLiga and curate events to promote the LaLiga brand throughout the whole year. The creators will exclusively represent LaLiga, touring the world to promote both themselves and LaLiga to fans.


Leading football figures, investors meet in Dubai to discuss future of sport

Leading football figures, investors meet in Dubai to discuss future of sport
Updated 08 December 2022

Leading football figures, investors meet in Dubai to discuss future of sport

Leading football figures, investors meet in Dubai to discuss future of sport
  • Global platform Investopia hosts 10 sessions within context of 2022 World Cup
  • Bernard Caiazzo: Sport has the power to change the world; the World Cup demonstrates this by uniting more than 4 billion people around the globe over four weeks

DUBAI: Global business leaders in sports, football leagues’ senior officials and policymakers on Thursday met to discuss the future of investments in sports at an event hosted by Investopia, the global investment platform, in partnership with World Corporate Summit.

The sessions took place within the context of FIFA World Cup 2022 currently taking place in Qatar, in the presence of Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri, UAE minister of economy and chairman of Investopia, and Bernard Caiazzo, president of the Global Football Alliance and of WCS.

The event’s 10 sessions covered major topics in the sports business from “Harnessing the Media Power of Sports for Business” to “Creating Global Champions in Sport,” “Achieving Sustainable Development Through Sports,” “Unique Assets: Alternative Opportunities in Sports Finance,” “The Future Now: Innovation in Sport,” “The Intersection of Technology and Health in Sports” and “Building the Smart Stadiums of the Future.”

Mohamed Naser Al-Zaabi, CEO of Investopia, said: “Investopia, the global investment platform, engages with business leaders and decision makers at the global level, in all prominent business events, in order to achieve its vision of creating and leading global dialogues to discuss economic topics, and channel investments toward sectors of the new economies.”

Caiazzo, said: “Sport has the power to change the world. The World Cup demonstrates this by uniting more than 4 billion people around the globe over four weeks.” 

“Investopia: The Future of Sport will bring together decision-makers from the most prestigious professional clubs and leagues major investors and brands to discuss the future of the sector, which has evolved more in the past 10 years than in the previous 30 years, and is on track for tremendous growth over the coming decade,” he added.

Investopia global investment platform is one of the major strategic initiatives under the ‘Projects of the 50’ announced by the UAE government in September 2021 and aims to enhance the exchange of global investment flows in support of sectors of the new economy. 


Maguire mockery is ‘undeserved’ says England’s Phillips

Maguire mockery is ‘undeserved’ says England’s Phillips
Updated 08 December 2022

Maguire mockery is ‘undeserved’ says England’s Phillips

Maguire mockery is ‘undeserved’ says England’s Phillips
  • Manchester United defender Maguire has started just three games in the Premier League this season
  • Phillips said Thursday he believes much of the Maguire mockery is wrong

DOHA: England midfielder Kalvin Phillips has backed team-mate Harry Maguire as the much-maligned center-half prepares for the ultimate World Cup quarter-final test against France on Saturday.
Manchester United defender Maguire has started just three games in the Premier League this season due to a combination of injury and the arrival of Argentine Lisandro Martinez, but has been solid so far for England in Qatar, where he has started every game.
It marks a stark turnaround in fortunes for Maguire, who became the butt of many jokes on social media after a bad run of form last season.
Phillips said Thursday he believes much of the Maguire mockery is wrong.
“I know Harry Maguire has not played as much football this season as he probably would have liked this season and he does get a lot of stick, which I think is very undeserved,” Phillips told a news conference.
“I think he’s a top professional and a great footballer and all you have to do is watch England in major tournaments and when he plays for Manchester United, I think, he’s one of the best defenders and I think for England he’s been one of the top defenders for a long time and especially in tournament level,” he added.
Phillips feels Maguire, who is up against France’s record goalscorer Olivier Giroud on Saturday, is a player that England can rely on.
“He’s always been that player that when we’ve got set pieces or when we need to block or when anybody needs to make a challenge, he’s always the first one to do it.
“And he’s always the first one to get his head to the ball. Obviously, he’s scored some very important goals as well,” he said.
“I think a lot of people...because, he’s been obviously mocked quite a lot the past few years, I think he’s just the first one they go to if anything bad happened in the England team, he’d be the first one for anything to be said about.
“It’s very undeserved. And, like I said, I think if you look at the major tournaments he’s played in and how well he’s done then, you can’t really mock him because he’s been unbelievable,” Phillips added.
The Manchester City midfielder also had plenty of praise for his team-mate and Maguire’s central defensive partner John Stones.
“I believe that John is one of the best center-halves in the world right now.
“I’m not just saying that because he’s with England or he’s my friend or plays for Manchester City. I genuinely believe that — he is one of the best center halves in the game at this moment in time. He’s very composed on the ball, one of the best central defenders you could have distributing the ball.
“His partnership with Harry is an amazing partnership as well — they understand each other so well and feed off each other, help each other out. As of now, it’s probably the best center-half partnership in the World Cup“


Messi resumes World Cup quest as Argentina play Netherlands

Messi resumes World Cup quest as Argentina play Netherlands
Updated 08 December 2022

Messi resumes World Cup quest as Argentina play Netherlands

Messi resumes World Cup quest as Argentina play Netherlands
  • The quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands on Friday has all the ingredients of a classic
  • The seven-time world player of the year, Messi, is three wins away from achieving his ultimate dream

DOHA: Lionel Messi up against Virgil van Dijk. The youngest coach at the World Cup taking on the oldest. South America versus Europe. A back catalog of famous meetings.
The quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands on Friday has all the ingredients of a classic.
And the possibility of it being Messi’s final game on soccer’s biggest stage just adds to the anticipation.
The seven-time world player of the year is three wins away from achieving his ultimate dream but he has two people, in particular, blocking his path.
First, the not inconsiderable frame of Van Dijk, who has been one of the world’s best defenders over the past five years. If there’s anyone able to stop Messi on one of his trademark dribbles, it is the graceful Liverpool center back who combines pace with a great reading of the game.
And then there’s Louis van Gaal, the wily tactician who is 71, has recently undergone successful treatment for prostate cancer, and is now plotting to win the World Cup in perhaps the final job of his 26-year coaching career.
Van Gaal, who has long been one of the most charismatic characters in soccer, is approaching this task with a lot of fun — even on the eve of one of the biggest matches of his career.
On Thursday, he was told that Angel Di Maria, who plays for Argentina, thinks he is the worst coach he has ever played under following their time together at Manchester United in 2014-15.
Van Gaal said it was a pity Di Maria felt this way — “he is one of the few players to have said that,” he remarked, “as usually it is the other way round” — and added he once had a falling-out with Netherlands captain Memphis Depay, who was sitting next to him.
“Now we kiss each other,” Van Gaal said, leaning toward Depay with his arms out.
Van Gaal was also asked how he was planning to stop Messi — a question for which many coaches down the years have failed to come up with an answer.
“It’d be pretty stupid to reveal your own tactics,” he said, smiling. “But it’s not that difficult to come up with any answer. You could have come up with an answer yourself. You may want to block and close the passing lines. Am I right, Memphis?“
As for his Argentina counterpart, the 44-year-old Lionel Scaloni is a comparative novice after taking charge of his country in 2018 for his first senior coaching role. Still, he has already led Argentina to the Copa America title last year — the country’s first major trophy since 1993 — and has managed to steady his team after a shocking loss to Saudi Arabia in their opening group game.
While Van Gaal was predicting a tight match that will be settled by a “decisive moment,” Scaloni said it will be a “beautiful game because we are talking about two national teams willing to attack but who can also defend.”
It’s set to be a clash of styles between two of soccer’s historic powerhouses, with Argentina — a two-time champion — preferring to play a possession game and the Dutch — three times a beaten finalist — now typically playing on the counterattack under Van Gaal.
They have met in some high-profile World Cup games, none bigger than the 1978 final won by Argentina on home soil. There was also a last-16 match in 1998, won by the Netherlands thanks to a wonderful 90th-minute goal by Dennis Bergkamp, and then a penalty-shootout win by Argentina in the semifinals in 2014.
Messi played in that game and was kept relatively quiet by a team also coached by Van Gaal. Eight years later, Messi is still Argentina’s star player and put in his best performance in this World Cup in the 2-1 win over Australia in the round of 16.
“The tournament is starting tomorrow for us, for real,” Van Gaal said. “Although I don’t want to downplay the importance of the other countries we have beaten, Argentina and then potentially Brazil in the next round are different countries than those we played up to now.”
Scaloni was pressed on the fitness of midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, who might be a doubt according to some reports in the Argentine media, but gave little away.