Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

Harry Kane became Tottenham’s record goal scorer on Sunday when he netted his 267th goal for the club against Manchester City. (Reuters)
Harry Kane became Tottenham’s record goal scorer on Sunday when he netted his 267th goal for the club against Manchester City. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 February 2023

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City
  • The 29-year-old is now also just the third player to net 200 Premier League goals, after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208)

LONDON: Harry Kane’s record-breaking goal pushed Tottenham to a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday to further dent the champions’ hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
Kane slotted home after 15 minutes and moved past the late Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time leading scorer on 267 goals.
It proved enough to keep up Tottenham’s excellent recent home record against City, which could have moved two points behind first-place Arsenal following its defeat at Everton on Saturday.
Fifth-place Spurs instead claimed a third victory from their last four matches against Pep Guardiola’s team — despite Cristian Romero’s late sending-off for a second yellow card — to aid the recovery of absent manager Antonio Conte, who is still in Italy after having his gallbladder removed on Wednesday.
Despite Conte recovering from surgery, he was involved in team selection and deadline-day signing Pedro Porro was only on the bench for Spurs with City surprisingly naming Kevin De Bruyne among the substitutes, too.
The visitors had seen Arsenal drop points a day earlier and signaled their intentions with Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez having shots blocked in the opening exchanges.
City was dominating possession but soon felt the familiar feeling of trailing to Tottenham — and it proved a record-breaking goal.
Eric Dier urged his teammates to press higher and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stole in ahead of Rico Lewis outside the away penalty area to intercept Rodri’s pass and slip the ball into the path of Kane, who scuffed an effort beyond goalkeeper Ederson and into the corner.
The screens inside the stadium acknowledged Kane’s achievement before the striker waved to his family in the West Stand.
Bookings followed with Rodrigo Bentancur and Romero cautioned in quick succession, the latter for clattering into the ineffective Erling Haaland.
Tottenham assistant coach Cristian Stellini, filling in for Conte, was attempting to match the animated presence of his fellow Italian on the touchline but saw his team enjoy a slice of luck before the break.
After Rodri and Jack Grealish failed to find the net with curled efforts late in the half, Mahrez sent a stinging half-volley crashing against the crossbar from 12 yards (meters) that bounced away to safety to ensure Spurs were ahead at the break for the first time at home since Oct. 12.
Ben Davies headed wide for the hosts at the start of the second period before Guardiola turned to De Bruyne with 57 minutes played.
De Bruyne’s first real involvement saw his short free kick find Alvarez, who saw a low shot diverted over by Dier’s thigh.
It sparked a frantic spell with Romero blocking Manuel Akanji’s shot and, seconds later, Ivan Perisic’s cross agonizingly evaded the Argentina defender and Kane at the back post.
Kane was in the thick of the action minutes later, sending one effort wide before Ederson denied him after the striker surged between Kyle Walker and Akanji.
More drama was to follow with referee Andrew Madley showing Romero a second yellow card for a foul on Grealish before five minutes of stoppage time was added on.
Despite plenty of City possession, Tottenham held firm to move a point off the top four and do rivals Arsenal a big favor in the title race.


Haaland a doubt for Man City’s match against Liverpool

Haaland a doubt for Man City’s match against Liverpool
Updated 12 sec ago

Haaland a doubt for Man City’s match against Liverpool

Haaland a doubt for Man City’s match against Liverpool
  • The 22-year-old Haaland withdrew from the Norway squad for their European Championship qualifiers against Spain and Georgia
  • City manager Pep Guardiola said Friday he would make a decision on Haaland’s availability after the team’s final training session

MANCHESTER, England: Erling Haaland is a doubt for Manchester City’s match against Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday as the striker recovers from a groin injury.
The 22-year-old Haaland withdrew from the Norway squad for their European Championship qualifiers against Spain and Georgia during the international break. His father, Alf-Inge, was quoted by Norwegian TV saying his son had traveled to Barcelona for treatment.
City manager Pep Guardiola said Friday he would make a decision on Haaland’s availability after the team’s final training session.
The team will definitely be without England winger Phil Foden, who underwent appendix surgery last weekend.
Guardiola said doctors told him that Foden would be out for “two-to-three weeks.”
Haaland’s fitness is more important, given he has scored 28 goals in the Premier League and 42 in all competitions during a prolific first season in English soccer.
City are second in the league, eight points behind Arsenal but with a game in hand.
The team have a busy April, including home-and-away games against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League and an FA Cup semifinal match against Sheffield United, as it looks to remain in contention for three trophies.


On and off the pitch, Premier League caters to Muslims during Ramadan

On and off the pitch, Premier League caters to Muslims during Ramadan
Updated 31 March 2023

On and off the pitch, Premier League caters to Muslims during Ramadan

On and off the pitch, Premier League caters to Muslims during Ramadan
  • For the first time, English officials will provide iftar breaks for fasting players

Throughout Ramadan, many Muslims around the world find themselves counting down the hours till sunset when they can devour a lavish iftar.

Now imagine this same act of endurance as an elite athlete competing in intense professional sport.

For the first time, the English Premier League and Football League this year have asked match officials to cater to the needs of Muslim professional players.

With the Premier League restarting this weekend after the international break, the English Football Association has advised referees to provide an opportunity for Muslim players to break their fast during a match.

As the sport becomes more global and top athletes join from a range of backgrounds, it is inevitable that the presence of practicing Muslim footballers will increase in football. From Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah to Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, some of the Premier League’s biggest superstars are devout Muslims.

During Ramadan, these athletes are pushed to their limits. Their normal training regime, which includes strict nutritional diets and regular intense physical sessions, is sent into disarray. With no food or drink through daylight hours, players’ energy levels can vary drastically during the Muslim holy month.

The move by the Premier League — one of the most lucrative sporting outfits in the world — to cater for its Muslim participants is not only a show of acceptance and inclusivity but also takes a stand against racism and islamophobia.

“The Premier League is the best for Muslim players to be in,” said Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure when speaking to BBC Sport. “We feel very confident here, very accepted.”

Such signs of progress and acceptance by the Premier League show that things have come a long way from the time when prejudiced spectators would describe images of Muslim fans praying at stadiums as a “disgrace.” 

This year will not be the first during which a Ramadan pause takes place in a Premier League match. In 2021, during a late kick-off match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace, an agreement between the clubs allowed for an iftar break.

This year, however, the Premier League has made such a pause a widespread guidance for all late kick-off matches, allowing Muslim players to take on energy gels and rehydrate themselves as soon as the sun sets.

However, there has been no evidence that fasting interferes with a player’s ability to perform at an elite level. A study by British sports university Loughborough concluded that “the available evidence indicates that high-level athletes can maintain performance during Ramadan.”

One prime example is Karim Benzema. In Real Madrid’s Champion’s League-winning campaign last year, he sensationally scored a hat-trick against Chelsea after fasting all day. The recommendation from sports scientists, however, is that “physical training, food and fluid intake, and sleep, are appropriate and well controlled” during Ramadan.

Sadio Mane, speaking to beIN Sports last year, described how Liverpool catered to his and his fellow Muslim teammates’ needs during Ramadan.

The players were monitored by the club’s nutritionist during pre-match preparations, while coach Jurgen Klopp agreed to reschedule training sessions to facilitate an easier Ramadan period for the team’s practicing Muslims.

This year, other clubs have taken this inclusivity to another level. Teams such as Chelsea and Brighton have for the first time organized open iftars in their stadiums; welcoming both Muslims and non-Muslims alike to break their fast, build a more hospitable community and learn about cultural differences.

Growing up as a Muslim football fan, it rarely felt that we were welcome at such sporting events. From champagne celebrations to a lack of understanding of what Ramadan means, I could even sense the divide at university-level football.

It is heart-warming to see that the English FA has scrapped champagne celebrations at cup finals, and has now provided Muslim players with appropriate and necessary breaks during Ramadan.

Let’s hope other leagues and sports around the world take a leaf out of the Premier League’s book.


Hayes hails Berger as Chelsea stun Lyon in Champions League shootout

Hayes hails Berger as Chelsea stun Lyon in Champions League shootout
Updated 31 March 2023

Hayes hails Berger as Chelsea stun Lyon in Champions League shootout

Hayes hails Berger as Chelsea stun Lyon in Champions League shootout
  • Blues’ success sparked joyous scenes at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea facing a Barcelona side that beat them 4-0 in the 2021 final

LONDON: Chelsea manager Emma Hayes lauded Ann-Katrin Berger as the “best pen-saving goalkeeper I’ve worked with” after the Germany international’s heroics helped the Blues knock holders Lyon out of the Women’s Champions League on Thursday.

The 32-year-old, diagnosed with thyroid cancer for a second time in August, made two saves in a penalty shootout Chelsea won 4-3 to set-up a semifinal with Barcelona.

An already dramatic two-legged tie finished level at 2-2, but only after Chelsea substitute Maren Mjelde scored a penalty in the eighth minute of added-on time at the end of extra-time to send the match to spot-kicks.

Mjelde then scored the first penalty of the shootout.

Berger later denied Wendie Renard before ending the match when she got a strong hand to US international Lindsey Horan’s strike low to the bottom left corner.

The Blues’ success sparked joyous scenes at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea — yet to win the Women’s Champions League — now facing a Barcelona side that beat them 4-0 in the 2021 final.

“She’s someone who really thrives in big moments,” said Hayes, in charge of Chelsea for nearly 11 years, of Berger.

“She’s probably the best pen-saving goalkeeper I’ve worked with.”

Hayes added: “It was the most character-building performance, even if it was the ugliest...I’m relieved and exhausted.”

Earlier, two-time Champions League winners Wolfsburg secured a last-four place against Arsenal, one of Chelsea’s London rivals, with a 2-1 aggregate win over Paris Saint-Germain.

Eight-time champions Lyon appeared to have done enough when Sara Dabritz’s goal deep into extra-time put the French side 2-0 up on the night and 2-1 ahead on aggregate.

But in the third minute of added-on time at the end of extra time, Lyon’s Vicki Becho clipped Lauren James inside the box.

Contact appeared to be minimal but, following a lengthy VAR check and with Lyon players surrounding referee Ivana Martincic, a penalty was awarded.

Mjelde then made no mistake with the last kick of extra-time.

Lyon coach Sonia Bompastor was left with feelings of “frustration and injustice” at a penalty awarded after Martincic was instructed to consult the pitch-side VAR.

“The referee made the right decision live (for the penalty),” she said. “Then she was obliged by VAR to go and look.”

Lyon, who had won this competition in six of the last seven seasons, kicked off 1-0 behind after Guro Reiten’s curling shot had given Chelsea a first-leg lead in France last week.

The visitors brought Champions League record goalscorer Ada Hegerberg off the bench at the start of the second half.

But they had to wait until the 77th minute to draw level when Vanessa Gilles nudged the ball in from a tight angle.

In a bruising encounter, neither side could manage another goal until the 110th minute when Dabritz shot into the far corner.

Previously, a 1-1 draw at home was good enough for Wolfsburg to go through.

The German club took an early lead through star striker Alexandra Popp but that was soon canceled out by a Kadidiatou Diani equalizer.

Wolfsburg manager Tommy Stroot enjoyed his side’s “extremely special” victory, saying “we made it, we’re proud of it – and now Arsenal waits for us.”

Three-time Champions League winner Popp told DAZN: “We are mega happy and mega proud. It was a hard fight but we dug in.”

The hosts went ahead on the night when Popp curled in a shot from outside the box following Wolfsburg’s first foray deep into PSG territory.

PSG also scored against the run of play when Diani headed in a looped cross from Sakina Karchaoui.


‘Proud’ John Stones looks to continue his success with Man City and England

‘Proud’ John Stones looks to continue his success with Man City and England
Updated 31 March 2023

‘Proud’ John Stones looks to continue his success with Man City and England

‘Proud’ John Stones looks to continue his success with Man City and England
  • The 28-year-old defender has reestablished himself as first choice for club and country, and is looking forward renewing the Premier League rivalry with Liverpool on Saturday
  • In an exclusive interview, he thanked City fans for their support in good times and bad and said: ‘I hope they appreciate that I appreciate them … I’d love to play here for as long as I can’

When injuries and a struggle to establish himself as a starter prompted doubts about the future of England defender John Stones at Manchester City in 2018, his manager, Pep Guardiola, issued a stirring statement that made it clear he backed the defender.

“I don’t know how long I will be here in Manchester but as long as I’m here, John Stones will be with us,” he said.

True to his word, Guardiola has kept faith with Stones through good times and bad, irrespective of mistakes or magnificence. When there has been criticism of the player, doubts about his quality, or speculation in the summer of 2020 that he would be sold, his manager has often cited the ball-playing center-back’s character and courage.

“It was hard,” Stones admitted during an exclusive interview with Arab News. “I didn’t want to leave City, first and foremost, and I didn’t want to give up.

“I’ve always been a fighter, from a young age when I had setbacks at age groups, when they said I was too small. I wanted to stay true to myself and show, not to anyone in particular but to myself, that I could do it. I believe I am here for a reason and I am good enough.

“All that seems a while ago now but I’m really proud of myself for what I did and what I’m doing now. I’m trying to go from strength to strength. I want to achieve everything I can, to win trophies and make history.”

In adversity, 28-year-old Stones has become stronger, to take advantage of a second chance and fulfill the ambitions he had growing up as a youngster in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

He left his hometown club in 2013 to join Everton, then signed for City three years later for £47.5 million ($59 million). He is the club’s third-longest-serving player, after Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan.

As he played a key role in securing the club’s haul of trophies over the years, including four Premier League triumphs in the past five seasons, Stones forged a firm bond with the fans, who have supported him through the difficult times.

This was emphasized again when he left the field during the recent 7-0 win over RB Leipzig that earned City a Champions League quarter-final clash with Bayern Munich. The game marked his Etihad return after a six-week absence with a hamstring injury.

“I think the fans have always had a love-love relationship with me — I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “The ovation I got against Leipzig when I was coming off the pitch, it touches my heart, it really does.

“I hope they appreciate that I appreciate them, that I always give everything and fight right until the end. This is home for me now and has been for seven years, and I’d love to play here for as long as I can. I would love to finish at 40 here, if I could.”

Stones chuckled at the thought of that prospect but he is clearly in a good place. Now a first choice for club and country — even playing impressively at right-back for City — he has set himself fresh targets for both as he looks to build a playing career to remember.

“I set my goal for England at 50 caps and didn’t think I was going to get to that when I wasn’t in the squads and I was on 42,” he said.

“Now I’m on 67 and my next goal is to get 100. I’ve set the bar high, but why not? I think it’s achievable and it’s down to me. I’ve come so close with England as well and I’d love to win something for my nation.”

After the disappointment of losing in the Euro 2020 final to Italy, Stones helped England win their opening two qualifiers for next year’s tournament in Germany, against Roberto Mancini’s defending champions and Ukraine.

But his focus is now back on the Premier League, with City hosting rivals Liverpool on Saturday at the Etihad. For the past five seasons this encounter has been pivotal to the outcome of the title race. While sixth-placed Liverpool might not be challengers for top spot this time, they could still upset second-placed City’s bid to cut Arsenal’s eight-point lead at the top.

But, in the same way that Stones has demonstrated his personal fighting spirit, he said City will continue to do the same as a team, this season and beyond, as they look to surpass the achievements of the game’s legendary club sides.

A third successive top-flight title in this campaign would see Guardiola’s side match the feats of Huddersfield Town, Liverpool and Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson’s United players achieved it twice, from 1999-2001 and 2007-2009, and remain the only club to have done it in the Premier League era.

“I think we can achieve whatever we want,” said Stones. “We have got the ability, we have got the chemistry together, and we all want the same thing as well: To be successful.

“My aim is to win the Premier League again, and to make history and win the Champions League for everyone. We definitely want to be remembered among the great teams of the past.”


Wolfsburg sink PSG to set up Women’s Champions League semifinal against Arsenal

Wolfsburg sink PSG to set up Women’s Champions League semifinal against Arsenal
Updated 31 March 2023

Wolfsburg sink PSG to set up Women’s Champions League semifinal against Arsenal

Wolfsburg sink PSG to set up Women’s Champions League semifinal against Arsenal
  • Wolfsburg came into the match needing just a draw to progress, after a 1-0 away win in the first leg

WOLFSBURG, Germany: Wolfsburg will face Arsenal in the Women’s Champions League semifinals after beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on aggregate following a 1-1 draw at home on Thursday.

Two-time Champions League winners Wolfsburg took an early lead through star striker Alexandra Popp but that was soon canceled out by a Kadidiatou Diani equalizer.

The Wolves were unable to strike the killer blow despite dominating the second half, with Popp missing several chances.

Wolfsburg manager Tommy Stroot enjoyed his side’s “extremely special” victory, saying “we made it, we’re proud of it — and now Arsenal waits for us.”

Three-time Champions League winner Popp told DAZN: “We are mega happy and mega proud. It was a hard fight but we dug in.”

Wolfsburg came into the match needing just a draw to progress, after a 1-0 away win in the first leg.

Stroot reacted by picking a more defensive line-up, benching tournament top scorer Ewa Pajor in favor of reinforcing the midfield with Sveindis Jonsdottir.

Seemingly stung by Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Bayern Munich, which saw Wolfsburg relinquish their lead atop the table, the home side started slowly, enduring wave after wave of PSG attacks.

The Wolves were lucky to have a 12th-minute Diani goal chalked off for a narrow offside and even luckier six minutes later when Popp curled in a shot from outside the box on Wolfsburg’s first foray deep into PSG territory.

With Wolfsburg building, PSG took their turn at scoring against the run of play, Diani heading in a looped cross from Sakina Karchaoui to level the scores and halve the deficit in the tie.

Diani went down clutching her shoulder late in the first half and played no further part, depriving PSG of a forward focal point.

Early in the second half, Popp had a chance to put the match beyond PSG’s reach but she blasted wide when presented with an open goal.