Arsenal beat Liverpool to go top, Scamacca leads West Ham revival

Arsenal beat Liverpool to go top, Scamacca leads West Ham revival
Arsenal's Bukayo Saka celebrates after a 3-2 win over Liverpool on Sunday. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 October 2022

Arsenal beat Liverpool to go top, Scamacca leads West Ham revival

Arsenal beat Liverpool to go top, Scamacca leads West Ham revival
  • The Gunners led three times at the Emirates as Gabriel Martinelli struck within a minute and Saka scored in first-half stoppage time

LONDON: Bukayo Saka’s double sent Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League after a 3-2 win over Liverpool on Sunday that further dented the Reds’ title aspirations.
The Gunners led three times at the Emirates as Gabriel Martinelli struck within a minute and Saka scored in first-half stoppage time.
Darwin Nunez and Roberto Firmino replied for Liverpool either side of half-time, but Jurgen Klopp’s men are now 14 points adrift of the leaders after winning just two of their opening eight league games.
Worse could be to come for Liverpool as they face Manchester City at Anfield next weekend.
Arsenal restored their one-point lead over City and further strengthened their case to be considered serious title contenders after beating Tottenham in the north London derby last weekend.
Mikel Arteta’s men sped out of the blocks as Martinelli exposed the space in behind under-fire Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold to sweep home the opener.
Liverpool responded well to falling behind as Klopp’s brave selection of a front four paid off when Luis Diaz squared for Nunez to score his first Premier League goal since the opening weekend of the season.
Just as the visitors seemed to be on top, Arsenal retook the lead as Martinelli’s cross was tapped in at the back post by Saka.
Liverpool reacted again after the break when substitute Firmino produced a clinical finish across Aaron Ramsdale.
But the decisive moment of an enthralling encounter came 14 minutes from time when Thiago Alcantara was harshly adjudged to have clipped Gabriel Jesus inside the area.
Saka slotted the ball into the bottom corner from the spot to spark jubilant scenes of celebration as Arsenal fans dream of a first league title since 2004.
Earlier, Gianluca Scamacca’s delightful chip helped West Ham strike back from a goal down to beat Fulham 3-1.
The Italian international has scored six times in his last 10 games for the Hammers since a £30 million move from Sassuolo, but David Moyes’ men were forced to come from behind at the London Stadium.
Fulham were without talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic through injury but went in front after just five minutes when Andreas Pereira smashed in from a narrow angle.
Jarrod Bowen levelled from the penalty spot before half-time after Pereira brought down Craig Dawson in the box.
Scamacca then produced a moment of magic as he lofted Lucas Paqueta’s pass over the helpless Bernd Leno.
Michail Antonio came off the bench to secure the three points in stoppage time.
After winning just one of their first seven league games, back-to-back victories have lifted West Ham to within four points of the top six.
Crystal Palace also came from behind after Pascal Struijk’s early goal for Leeds at Selhurst Park.
Odsonne Edouard headed in Eberechi Eze’s free-kick to quickly level and Eze sealed a 2-1 win 14 minutes from time with a fine low strike from Wilfried Zaha’s backheel.
Manchester United are in action later on Sunday when the Red Devils travel to Everton.


4 talking points from Miami Heat’s win over Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of NBA Finals

4 talking points from Miami Heat’s win over Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of NBA Finals
Updated 22 sec ago

4 talking points from Miami Heat’s win over Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of NBA Finals

4 talking points from Miami Heat’s win over Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of NBA Finals
  • 4th-quarter surge helped complete comeback that leaves the series tied at 1-1

In a thrilling display of resilience, the Miami Heat mounted an impressive comeback in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets to leave the series tied at 1-1.

Despite facing a daunting 15-point deficit and trailing by eight entering the fourth quarter, the Heat showcased their unwavering determination and refusal to accept defeat, securing a hard-fought 111-108 victory on the Nuggets’ home court.

Throughout this playoff series, the Heat have consistently won at least one road game in the opening two games, giving them back home-court advantage. Here are four key factors that contributed to the Heat’s success in Game 2.

Limiting Jokic’s assists

While Nikola Jokic recorded an impressive 41 points in Game 2, a notable difference was his assist numbers. In contrast to his 14 assists in Game 1, Jokic’s assists decreased significantly to only four in Game 2. The Heat employed a strategic approach to limit Jokic’s playmaking by focusing less on double-teaming him and instead doubling other players on the court. This tactic aimed to disrupt the Nuggets’ offense, as Jokic’s assists often facilitate scoring opportunities for his teammates, boosting their confidence and involvement in the game.

Heat raining threes

The Heat’s three-point shooting proficiency played a crucial role in their remarkable comeback. With an impressive 17-for-35, or 48.6 percent, performance from beyond the arc, the Heat set a new record for the most three-pointers made in any of their NBA Finals games.

This shooting prowess not only fueled their comeback but also enabled them to establish an effective zone defense, and stopped the Nuggets’ transition game.

Strength in unity for Heat

Game 2 witnessed an outstanding display of contributions from multiple Heat players. Gabe Vincent led the charge with a game-high 23 points, including four three-pointers. Max Stus, who struggled in Game 1, rebounded with a stellar performance, hitting four three-pointers in the opening quarter and finishing with 14 points.

Jimmy Butler displayed his leadership with 21 points and nine assists, while Duncan Robinson, Kyle Lowry and Kevin Love all made significant contributions from beyond the arc. Bam Adebayo’s presence in the paint, contributing 21 points and nine rebounds, further bolstered the Heat’s success.

The Heat’s intensified aggression in Game 2 resulted in a significant increase in free-throw attempts compared to Game 1. With 20 free-throw attempts, a staggering 18 more than their previous outing, the Heat capitalized on their aggressive approach to gain momentum and seize control of the game.

Fourth-quarter surge

The Heat’s game took a decisive turn in the fourth quarter, ignited by Robinson’s scoring eruption. His consecutive eight points reduced the Nuggets’ lead to a mere two points at 85-83.

Building on this momentum, the Heat engineered a pivotal 12-0 run, propelling them to a 90-85 advantage that they defended until the final buzzer. Notably, the Heat’s bench players outscored their Nuggets counterparts by 16 points to four in the decisive final 12 minutes, while Butler’s clutch baskets further solidified their victory.

The Miami Heat’s remarkable win in Game 2 has vividly showcased their determination to compete, leading to the series now being tied. As the pressure mounts on the Denver Nuggets for Game 3, the Heat will have the advantage of playing on their home court in front of their fans, creating favorable conditions for supporting shooters to secure familiar rebounds off the rim. The series is shaping up to be even more competitive than initially anticipated.


Max Gunther makes motorsport history with Formula E win in Indonesia

Max Gunther makes motorsport history with Formula E win in Indonesia
Updated 18 min 35 sec ago

Max Gunther makes motorsport history with Formula E win in Indonesia

Max Gunther makes motorsport history with Formula E win in Indonesia
  • German driver claims first victory for Maserati in single-seat category since 1957
  • Second race in the 2023 GulaVit E-Prix doubleheader sees Jake Dennis take a consecutive runner-up position

JAKARTA: Maserati MSG Racing driver Maximilian Gunther converted a second consecutive Julius Bar Pole Position into the race win in Jakarta, returning the manufacturer to the top step of the podium in single-seater motorsport for the first time since 1957.

The second race of the 2023 GulaVit Jakarta E-Prix doubleheader saw German Gunther claim his fourth win in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and his first in the iconic blue livery of automaker Maserati.

The last time the trident was seen on the top step of a single-seater championship was in 1957 when the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio won the German Grand Prix on his way to that year’s Formula One title.

Gunther was followed home by Jake Dennis from the Avalanche Andretti team who started and finished second in both races on the competition’s return to Indonesia. Dennis is now within just one point of standings leader Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team.

Following a dramatic first race in which he was hit by his own teammate, leaving the Jaguar TCS Racing team pointless on the day, Mitch Evans recovered superbly to produce a classy defensive drive and round out the podium places in third.

Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy lost his championship lead to the previous day’s race winner Wehrlein — who finished sixth — after an ill-judged overtake led to contact and a point-less day. Cassidy now trails Dennis by five points with six points separating the top three drivers in a tight tussle for the title.

TAG Heuer Porsche lead the way in the team standings with 212 points, pulling further clear of Envision Racing on 190, with Jaguar TCS Racing third on 171.

Just five races remain in season nine of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, with the next stop on June 24, which is a fourth debut city this campaign at the 2023 Southwire Portland E-Prix.

Gunther said: “Very proud moment, I am over the moon with this victory — already yesterday was great with another podium. We have made such good progress over the past couple of races, it is fantastic, and to take my first win here in Jakarta is outstanding. I am just so happy.

“In Formula E you always need to keep your feet on the ground, like life in general,” he added. “It can change so quickly, I am just really enjoying this moment here, I know there will be tracks that suit us more, there will be tracks that suit us less. We try to always maximize our package, that is what we have been doing the past few races. I am very proud.”


Ibrahimovic announces retirement from football

Ibrahimovic announces retirement from football
Updated 05 June 2023

Ibrahimovic announces retirement from football

Ibrahimovic announces retirement from football
  • Veteran striker Ibrahimovic revealed his decision to quit the game during an on-pitch ceremony following AC Milan’s 3-1 win over Verona

MILAN: Zlatan Ibrahimovic brought the curtain down on a long, trophy-packed career on Sunday when he unexpectedly announced his retirement from football.
Veteran striker Ibrahimovic revealed his decision to quit the game during an on-pitch ceremony following AC Milan’s 3-1 win over Verona.
“It’s the moment to say goodbye to football, not just to you,” said Ibrahimovic on the San Siro pitch.
“There are too many emotions for me right now. Forza Milan and goodbye.”
The 41-year-old had been expected to simply bid farewell to Milan fans after his departure from the seven-time European champions was announced on Saturday.
He returned to Milan in late 2019 for a second spell after a previous two-year period in which he won the Serie A title in 2011.
Ibrahimovic was a key figure in Milan’s resurgence to the top of Italian football after his return to the club, helping to bring them back from the doldrums and eventually win the Scudetto last season.
“The first time I came here you gave me happiness, the second time you gave me love,” said Ibrahimovic.
“You welcomed me with open arms, you made me feel at home, I will be a Milanista for the rest of my life.”
Over the course of his career Ibrahimovic won league titles in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France, although his only major European trophy was the 2017 Europa League with Manchester United.
He has hardly featured for Stefano Pioli’s side this term after being plagued with injuries, returning in February following surgery on his left knee in May.
In July he signed a deal which netted him around one million euros ($1.02 million) in fixed salary, with large bonuses linked to appearances and achievements.
But the 41-year-old only started one match and netted once for Milan this season, a 3-1 win at Udinese in March in which he became the oldest goal scorer in Serie A history.
He then picked up a calf injury in a pre-match warm up in April and ended his career sidelined before scotching rumors that he was set to move to Monza and targeting Euro 2024 with Sweden.


Late Wydad strike spoils Al-Ahly CAF Champions League party

Al-Ahly’s South African forward Percy Tau (C) reacts during the first-leg final football match of the CAF Champions League.
Al-Ahly’s South African forward Percy Tau (C) reacts during the first-leg final football match of the CAF Champions League.
Updated 05 June 2023

Late Wydad strike spoils Al-Ahly CAF Champions League party

Al-Ahly’s South African forward Percy Tau (C) reacts during the first-leg final football match of the CAF Champions League.
  • Final is finely balanced ahead of the second leg, with Egyptian giants having a slender advantage

CAIRO: Al-Ahly took a small step toward an 11th continental title with a 2-1 win over Wydad AC in the first leg of the African Champions League final on Sunday but were left wondering what might have been. The Egyptians were looking good with a deserved two-goal lead before the Moroccans hit with a late goal, which means that next week’s second leg is very finely poised.

In this rematch from the 2022 final that went the way of Wydad, a first-half header from Percy Tau and a Kahraba strike on the hour put the Red Giants in control before Saifeddine Bouhra hit back to set things up for next Sunday when there will be a big crowd and a hostile atmosphere in Casablanca.

That was the case with 50,000 fans at Cairo Stadium making an unforgettable atmosphere, Al-Ahly made most of the early running. Perhaps attack was always going to be the best form of defense as despite the pre-match news that Mohamed El-Shenawy had recovered from a calf injury and was set to start, in fact third-choice goalkeeper Mostafa Shobeir came in as the second choice stopper also injured. The stand-in stood out. 

Al-Ahly dominated possession and just before the half-hour, the game seemed to turn the way of the ten-time continental champions as the referee pointed to the spot, judging that that Hussein El Shahat’s free-kick had been handled by Zouheir El Moutaraji but VAR clearly demonstrated that the ball had hit the back of the head of the turning player.

After 38 minutes, there were more calls for a penalty as Al-Ahly claimed that the impressive El Shahat was brought down in the area by Jalal Daoudi but the appeals were waved away.

Until that point, the Moroccans had barely been visible as an attacking force but had shown in the semifinal elimination of Mamelodi Sundowns that they could not be counted out and before the break, Wydad finally started to ask a question or two.

Shortly after the third-choice goalkeeper had the home fans on their feet. Reda Jaadi picked up the ball in space on the right side of the area but Shobeir came out quickly, made himself big and blocked the shot. It was not the first or the last save that the 23-year-old made look easy.

On the stroke of half-time, Al-Ahly got the goal they deserved. El Shahat kept the ball in play on the byline and his cross from the left found Tau unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box and the South African made no mistake and his smart header guided the ball home. 

Wydad came out with a bit more urgency after the break as the game started to open up but found themselves two goals down on the hour. Youssef El Motie, himself the number two goalkeeper for the Moroccans, came far off his line to the right of the area in an attempt to clear a long ball from defense but Shahat got there first. He squared the ball to Kahraba who then had time to pick his spot — high in the Moroccan net — to put the Egyptians firmly in control.

After 68 minutes however, Shobeir was finally beaten by a first-time shot from Yahia Attiyat Allah on the left side of the area but the home fans were relieved to see the ball bounce back from the inside of the post. 

Ten minutes later, Shobier saved again, this time for Mohammed Ounajem as the Moroccans pushed for that away goal that would have changed the whole complexion of the tie. And that is what happened with four minutes remaining. Ayoub El Amloud got to the byline on the right to pull the ball back for Bouhra on the penalty spot and he steered the ball home. The delighted celebrations from the visiting team demonstrated with the goal meant. 

At the end, Al-Ahly left the field as if they had been defeated but it is all to play for in the second leg and it should be a cracker.


Djokovic eases into record 17th French Open quarterfinal

Djokovic eases into record 17th French Open quarterfinal
Updated 04 June 2023

Djokovic eases into record 17th French Open quarterfinal

Djokovic eases into record 17th French Open quarterfinal

PARIS: Novak Djokovic reached his 55th Grand Slam quarterfinal and record 17th at the French Open on Sunday with a straight-sets win over Juan Pablo Varillas.

Djokovic, chasing a third Roland Garros championship and record-setting 23rd men’s Grand Slam title, eased past his 94th-ranked Peruvian opponent, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

The 36-year-old Serb, champion in Paris in 2016 and 2021, will face 11th seed Karen Khachanov for a place in the semifinals.

Djokovic holds a commanding 8-1 career lead over the Russian including their only previous meeting at the French Open in 2020.

“I had never played my opponent before. I knew he was a clay court specialist and that I had to earn the victory. It was the best I played this week,” said Djokovic after ensuring a 14th successive last-eight spot at the tournament.

On his record 17th quarterfinal in Paris, he added: “I am very proud of this record. I have put a lot of effort into my game and I am very motivated to continue.”

On Sunday, Djokovic fought off a break point in the opening game of the first set before stretching out to a convincing 4-0 lead.

Two more breaks then helped him to a comfortable 5-1 advantage in the second set. It took Djokovic just 79 minutes to open a two-set lead.

That was in stark contrast to his gruelling third round win over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The first two sets then needed two hours and 53 minutes to negotiate and his eventual straight-sets win proved to be the longest three-setter he had ever played, clocked at three hours and 36 minutes.

Varillas, who had never won a Grand Slam match before this year’s French Open, continued to wilt, slipping 2-1 down and then 4-1 down in the third before Djokovic put him out of his misery after a shade under two hours on court.