Netherlands see off sorry Qatar to reach World Cup last 16

Netherlands see off sorry Qatar to reach World Cup last 16
Qatar’s goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham makes a save as Wout Weghorst of the Netherlands, looks on during their World Cup group A match, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 29 November 2022

Netherlands see off sorry Qatar to reach World Cup last 16

Netherlands see off sorry Qatar to reach World Cup last 16
  • The Netherlands put one foot in the next round inside the first half-hour as Gakpo scored in a third straight group game
  • Qatar suffered the ignominy of becoming the first home team in World Cup history to finish the group stage without a point

AL KHOR, Qatar: Cody Gakpo scored again as the Netherlands booked their place in the World Cup last 16 as group winners with a straightforward 2-0 victory over hosts Qatar on Tuesday.
The Netherlands, needing just a point to be sure of progressing, put one foot in the next round inside the first half-hour as Gakpo scored in a third straight group game.
Frenkie de Jong added another in the 49th minute as the Dutch cruised through in a flat atmosphere at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Qatar, already eliminated before kick-off, suffered the ignominy of becoming the first home team in World Cup history to finish the group stage without a point.
Louis van Gaal’s Dutch side ended with seven points at the top of Group A, while Senegal joined them in the knockout phase as runners-up after beating Ecuador 2-1.
The Oranje will next take on the second-placed team from Group B for a quarter-final spot at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.
England currently top that section and face Wales later on Tuesday, while the United States play Iran. All four teams are still in the hunt for qualification.
“We did what we needed to do,” said Netherlands coach Van Gaal.
“We’re group winners and we’ll most likely be playing a number two team, probably USA or Iran, and they’re playing tonight and we can watch them tonight.”
The Dutch have made a solid start as they look to put the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia firmly behind them.
Qatar signed off from their long-awaited home World Cup with a whimper, securing their place in the record books as the worst ever hosts on the pitch.
“I think that we’ve played against a great team, probably one of the big favorites to go very far in this competition,” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez.
“It was a very tough game for us but I believe the team managed to compete at a very high level for many minutes.”
Van Gaal was able to give Memphis Depay his first start of the tournament as the Barcelona star continued his return to full fitness after a hamstring injury.
It did not take the Dutch long to slice through the Qatar defense, although Daley Blind could only scuff a fourth-minute attempt straight at goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham.
The opening goal arrived in the 26th minute as Davy Klaassen played in Gakpo after a neat move also involving Depay.
The PSV Eindhoven winger drove forward and drilled a low strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to score his third goal of the tournament.
The three-time World Cup runners-up took advantage of shoddy Qatar defending to double their advantage four minutes after the break.
Depay was denied from close range by Barsham but De Jong reacted quicker than a ponderous Pedro Miguel to poke the ball home from barely a yard out.
Substitute Steven Berghuis thought he had added a third midway through the second half, only for his goal to be ruled out after a VAR check for a handball by Gakpo in the build-up.
There was brief excitement for the remaining home supporters late on when Mohammed Muntari prodded the ball into the net, but the whistle had long since gone for a foul on Virgil van Dijk.
The Netherlands almost piled more misery onto Qatar in stoppage time when Berghuis’ excellent curling strike from range hit the crossbar.


Real Madrid ease past Al Ahly to reach Club World Cup final

Real Madrid ease past Al Ahly to reach Club World Cup final
Updated 09 February 2023

Real Madrid ease past Al Ahly to reach Club World Cup final

Real Madrid ease past Al Ahly to reach Club World Cup final

RABAT: Real Madrid reached the Club World Cup final with a 4-1 win over Egypt’s Al Ahly on Wednesday in Morocco, thanks to Vinicius Junior, Fede Valverde, Rodrygo and Sergio Arribas’s goals.
The European champions took the lead just before half-time with a Vinicius chip and then Valverde smashed in the second soon after the break.
Madrid endured a nervier spell than they would have liked after Ali Maaloul earned the 10-time African Champions League winners a foothold in the game from the penalty spot.
Luka Modric missed a late penalty for Los Blancos, perhaps distracted by laser pointers shone at his face from the stands, with Mohamed El Shenawy saving his effort.
Rodrygo added a cool finish in stoppage time after a slick combination with Dani Ceballos and youngster Arribas wrapped up the win.
Madrid will face Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal, who beat Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo, in Saturday’s final.
“I thank my team-mates who are helping me in this moment, which is not so good,” said Valverde, who is reported to be suffering some personal problems away from the game.
“They are always there to give me some words of encouragement.
“It was very special to score the goal and celebrate with them, now we have to rest and work well to win the final.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s side, record four-time Club World Cup champions, hoped the tournament would be a welcome distraction from their domestic struggles.
On Sunday they fell eight points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, suffering a 1-0 defeat at Real Mallorca.
However the Spanish giants struggled to get going at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, without injured stars Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois among others.
Ancelotti was able to start defender David Alaba for the first time since injury.
Al Ahly, who beat MLS side Seattle Sounders and Auckland City on the way to the semifinals, stayed tight at the back and Madrid toiled to break them down.
Vinicius fired wide from a tight angle and Rodrygo hit the post with a dinked effort after pressing well to win the ball back.
Just when it seemed like former Austria coach Marcel Koller’s side were poised to reach half-time with honors even, Mahmoud Metwaly miskicked, allowing Vinicius to rob him and run through on goal.
The Brazilian carefully lofted the ball over El Shenawy to break the deadlock, welcome respite after his hounding by Mallorca players at the weekend and suffering further racist abuse.
Valverde doubled Madrid’s lead at the start of the second half, taking one fine touch to control a loose ball in the box and then blasting home with his second.
The Uruguayan has not been playing well since returning from the World Cup and Madrid will hope his first goal since November can help him find the rich vein of form he was enjoying before the tournament.
Madrid were denied a penalty to wrap the game up when Vinicius was felled in the area but VAR did not correct the referee’s decision to award a corner.
Then Eduardo Camavinga, playing at left-back again, was penalized for tripping Hussein El Shahat in the box at the other end and Maaloul sent Andriy Lunin the wrong way from the spot.
Afsha should have levelled for the underdogs but powered a golden chance over the bar after receiving a cut-back in the middle of the box.
Al Ahly, unbeaten all season in the Egyptian Premier League, were made to pay when Rodrygo and substitute Arribas struck in stoppage time to seal Madrid’s victory.
After dropping away from Barcelona in La Liga and losing in the Spanish Super Cup against their eternal rivals in January, Madrid took a step away from crisis talk with this victory.
Their next goal is lifting the second trophy of their season on Saturday against Al-Hilal, having won the European Super Cup in August.


FIFA rules panel to debate more stoppage time in games

FIFA rules panel to debate more stoppage time in games
Updated 08 February 2023

FIFA rules panel to debate more stoppage time in games

FIFA rules panel to debate more stoppage time in games
  • Changes agreed on March 4 can take effect next season
  • Organizers such as individual domestic leagues have not followed FIFA's example

ZURICH: The 10-plus minutes of stoppage time that were a regular feature of games at the World Cup in Qatar are back on soccer’s agenda.
FIFA’s rule-making panel known as IFAB put additional time on the agenda published Wednesday for its annual meeting next month. Changes agreed on March 4 can take effect next season.
Talks are scheduled on “possible measures to create fairer conditions for both teams in terms of the amount of time available in a match, with a particular focus on a stricter calculation of additional time.”
Games of 100 minutes became routine at the last World Cup as referees followed FIFA advice to add on more accurate amounts for stoppages due to goal celebrations, injuries, video reviews and substitutions.
The directive was part of a long-standing FIFA aim to create more active playing time on the field and give fans and viewers better value.
It led to record-setting long games at the World Cup with a slew of stoppage-time additions of more than 10 minutes early in the tournament.
Though a head injury helped to cause 14-plus minutes of stoppage time in the first half of England-Iran, there were more than 13 minutes added to the second half of Saudi Arabia’s stunning 2-1 win over eventual champion Argentina.
The United States’ 1-1 draw with Wales on the second day of the tournament kicked off at 10 p.m. in Doha and finished the next day once almost 11 minutes were added to the second half.
Organizers such as individual domestic leagues have not followed FIFA’s example, though some said they were unwilling to change policy midseason and would revisit the subject in the offseason.
FIFA trials at the Club World Cup in Morocco of live broadcasts during video reviews of communications between match officials will also be discussed at the IFAB meeting in London.
Other subjects include allowing an extra substitute for teams when a player sustains a suspected concussion, though not the emergency temporary replacements requested by the global players’ union FIFPRO and some head injury experts.
The IFAB panel includes representative of FIFA and the four British soccer federations. The voting structure weighted toward FIFA means soccer’s world body can veto any proposal.


Brittney Griner absent from USA camp, but keeping in touch

Brittney Griner absent from USA camp, but keeping in touch
Updated 08 February 2023

Brittney Griner absent from USA camp, but keeping in touch

Brittney Griner absent from USA camp, but keeping in touch
  • “She (Griner) wants to be a part of this like no one else,” Taurasi said
  • Griner has said she'll play for Phoenix again this season, although she's still an unsigned free agent

DUBAI: Brittney Griner texted her good friend Diana Taurasi on Tuesday asking how the USA Basketball training camp was going.
Griner was back in Arizona, choosing to skip the camp in Minnesota so she can be with her partner and recover from her time in a Russian jail.
She returned to the US in December after a dramatic prisoner swap.
“She wants to be a part of this like no one else,” Taurasi said. “So, she’ll get there eventually. She’ll find her footing.”
Taurasi said the two talk regularly now that Griner is home in Phoenix. They work out together as well as chat and text each other often.
“We’ve been on the court together working out. We’ve sat down and talked for hours,” Taurasi said. “It’s been really nice to reconnect. It’s good to see her smile. Good to give her a hug. Know she was alive and still had the ability to be thankful and happy.”
There was a time during Griner’s 10-month ordeal in Russia that the 40-year-old Taurasi wasn’t sure she’d ever see her friend again.
“Every single day we suffered and hoped she’d be back and not until I saw her did I really believe it. And just to see her smile, just to see her free, was really emotional for everyone,” Taurasi said. “And we knew, at the same time, the minute she got into that plane and we got to Phoenix, there was going to be a whole new set of challenges, a whole new reality, a whole new way of living life for BG.”
Griner has said she’ll play for Phoenix again this season, although she’s still an unsigned free agent. She hasn’t talked about her international future and potentially playing for the US at the Olympics next year in Paris. She has helped the US win two gold medals at the Olympics already.
USA Basketball coach Cheryl Reeve said Monday that she hasn’t talked to Griner yet, but the organization made it clear that she could take all the time she needed to decide if she wanted to play for the US again.
“We’ve missed her and when she’s ready we’ll welcome her back,” Reeve said.


Saez eyes Saudi Cup Jockeys Challenge prize

Saez eyes Saudi Cup Jockeys Challenge prize
Updated 08 February 2023

Saez eyes Saudi Cup Jockeys Challenge prize

Saez eyes Saudi Cup Jockeys Challenge prize
  • Leading US-based jockey jets in alongside Brazilian female rider Jeane Alves
  • Luiz Saez: I finished second on Casa Creed in the 1351 Turf Sprint last year and am all set to ride him again in that race

Luiz Saez will ride in the International Jockeys Challenge (IJC) at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Feb. 24, the opening day of The Saudi Cup meeting.

Born in Panama, where he rode 37 winners before relocating to the USA, Saez will be returning to the scene of his second placing in the 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc aboard Casa Creed last year, and is also set to ride the William Mott-trained seven-year-old once again.

Saez, said: “I’m having a good year so far and am really looking forward to the Saudi trip. The IJC looks like a great group of jockeys, so it should be fun!

“I finished second on Casa Creed in the 1351 Turf Sprint last year and am all set to ride him again in that race, so hopefully he can go one better. The turf was lovely, so I’m pleased to see there are two races on the turf this year in the IJC too.”

Saez, who also rode at the inaugural Saudi Cup meeting in 2020, will be joined by leading Brazilian female rider and two-time champion apprentice, Jeane Alves.

Alves became the first woman to win a G1 contest in Brazil, winning the 2015 Grande Premio Jockey Club Brasileiro, and has since gone on to ride across the world, including the UK, UAE, Belgium, Sweden and Macau. The 2023 IJC marks Alves’ first trip to Saudi Arabia.

Alves, said: “I am delighted to be invited to ride in the International Jockeys Challenge at The Saudi Cup meeting. I’m excited to be riding against some of the world’s best Jockeys, like Joao Moreira, who was one of my inspirations when I started, and of course, the legend, Frankie Dettori.”

Each of the four IJC races carry a prize fund of $400,000, with a further $100,000 reward for winning the challenge itself.

The 14 jockeys are made up of seven international female riders, five international men and two local men with the jockeys receiving 15 percent of prize money won in each of the four races.


Andre Carrillo played through pain barrier to help Al-Hilal defeat Flamengo

Andre Carrillo played through pain barrier to help Al-Hilal defeat Flamengo
Updated 08 February 2023

Andre Carrillo played through pain barrier to help Al-Hilal defeat Flamengo

Andre Carrillo played through pain barrier to help Al-Hilal defeat Flamengo
  • Peruvian star was injured in win over Wydad, leaving his place in lineup against Brazilian club in doubt

Al-Hilal’s Peruvian star Andre Carrillo has revealed how he played with a painful injury during the Saudi club’s sensational 3-2 win against Flamengo in the FIFA Club World Cup semifinal on Tuesday night.

Carrillo had suffered an injury which saw him limp off the pitch in the previous match against Wydad, casting doubt on his ability to take part in the Tangiers semifinal.

“My participation was still not confirmed in the morning, and I did the impossible in order to take part in the match,” he said.

“I endured the injury and insisted on participating. I asked the medical staff for a pain-killing injection to participate in such an important meeting.”

In Saturday’s final Al-Hilal will meet the winner of the second semifinal between Egypt’s Al-Ahly and Spain’s Real Madrid, taking place on Wednesday night in Rabat.