Man United mount fightback to draw 2-2 with Leeds

Man United mount fightback to draw 2-2 with Leeds
Manchester United's English striker Jadon Sancho (L) shoots and scores his team's second goal during their Premier League football match against Leeds United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on Wednesday. (AFP)
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Updated 09 February 2023

Man United mount fightback to draw 2-2 with Leeds

Man United mount fightback to draw 2-2 with Leeds
  • Erik ten Hag’s team missed the chance to move level on points with second-place Manchester City

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester United fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Leeds in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Substitute Jadon Sancho rescued a point for Erik ten Hag’s team, which missed the chance to move level on points with second-place Manchester City.

Leeds fired Jesse Marsch on Monday. They are still waiting for a first win in the league since Nov. 5, but moved a point clear of the relegation zone.

Both teams, however, will feel they missed the opportunity to take more from the thrilling match at Old Trafford.

Leeds stunned the home crowd by taking the lead after just 55 seconds through Wilfried Gnonto and looked on course for victory when Raphael Varane deflected Crysencio Summerville’s cross into his own net three minutes after halftime.

United got back into the game through Marcus Rashford’s header in the 62nd and Sancho equalized in the 70th.

But on a night when United were looking to cut the gap on leader Arsenal to five points, it remains seven behind the London club having played two more games.


WWE Night of Champions sees history made and new heroes crowned in Saudi Arabia

WWE Night of Champions sees history made and new heroes crowned in Saudi Arabia
Updated 28 May 2023

WWE Night of Champions sees history made and new heroes crowned in Saudi Arabia

WWE Night of Champions sees history made and new heroes crowned in Saudi Arabia
  • Seth Rollins crowned new WWE World Heavyweight Champion on historic night in Jeddah
  • Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens retain Tag Team titles, defeating Roman Reigns on landmark 1,000-day anniversary

JEDDAH: WWE made a historic return to Saudi Arabia on Saturday evening, with Night of Champions providing an emphatic display for the energetic, sellout crowd and new WWE heroes crowned inside the Jeddah Superdome.

In the first match of the evening’s Triple Main Event, Seth Rollins was crowned the new World Heavyweight Champion. Despite a debilitating knee injury sustained during the match, Rollins fought through the pain to fend off the WWE veteran AJ Styles and secure the championship inside the Jeddah Superdome.

Triple H hands World Heavyweight Championship to Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. (Supplied)

Early in the evening, WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus rolled back the years to take down Becky Lynch in a brutal contest, with the match marred by a controversial finish. Stratus dominated her opponent throughout, but the victory for Stratus would come thanks to a shocking appearance from Zoey Stark. A surprise attack from Stark on Lynch was missed by the referee before Stratus finished the match in astonishing style.

Gunther retains the Intercontinental Champion after a powerful title defense against Mustafa Ali in front of an energetic crowd in Jeddah. Ali’s acrobatic display earned plaudits and wowed the sold-out crowd, but it would not be enough to claim the title from Gunther, with the German Giant’s imposing figure proving too much for his contender.

Japan’s Asuka defeated Bianca Belair to steal the WWE Raw Women’s Championship with her signature blue mist providing the vital upper hand in the title contest. The match was filled with fiery moments following recent run-ins between Belair and Asuka before the Japanese superstar would take victory and the championship.

Rhea Ripley made quick work of her championship title defense against Natalya, with the SmackDown Women’s Champion putting on a devastating performance to defeat her opponent in the evening’s shortest match.

Ripley was joined at ringside by her teammate from The Judgement Day, Dominik Mysterio, who played a vital role in distracting Natalya, allowing the retaining SmackDown Women’s Champion to swoop in and end the contest in swift style.

In a rematch of two of WWE’s most dividing stars, Brock Lesnar powered his way to victory over the injured Cody Rhodes, with WWE officials stepping in to stop the contest. Entering the ring with a fractured left arm, Cody Rhodes produced a defiant display, but his gutsy strategy would be ineffective against the sheer force of Lesnar, with the referee declaring the latter victorious after Rhodes was incapacitated.

The evening’s final match brought a historic moment as Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens retained their Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships, defeating the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa in dramatic fashion.

The Jeddah crowd were in full voice for the Tag Team Champions, bolstered by Sami Zayn’s introduction speech in Arabic before the match kicked off. Despite the pure power of Reigns and Sikoa, a moment of controversy saw Jey and Jimmy Uso, cousins of Reigns, enter the fold in an attempt to redeem their family’s pride and retake the championship belts.

Their efforts were mistimed to the dismay of Reigns, with the aftermath seeing the cousins destroy the family legacy of The Bloodline before Zayn and Owens clinched the victory to retain their championships.

Fans in the Middle East can relive all the action from this year’s WWE Night of Champions, with exclusive highlights available now on Shahid.


Pereira leads Varner by 1, Torque head team competition at LIV Golf DC

Pereira leads Varner by 1, Torque head team competition at LIV Golf DC
Updated 28 May 2023

Pereira leads Varner by 1, Torque head team competition at LIV Golf DC

Pereira leads Varner by 1, Torque head team competition at LIV Golf DC
  • The Chilean golfer shot a 5-under 67 at Trump National course on Saturday

POTOMAC FALLS: In addition to battling a course that was reluctant to give up low scores Saturday at LIV Golf DC, Mito Pereira also had to battle allergy problems midway through his second round.

He overcame both issues — and now he’s 18 holes away from his first LIV Golf title.

The Torque GC member from Chile shot a 5-under 67 that included 10 birdies and five bogeys to take a one-stroke lead at 9 under going into Sunday’s final round at Trump National Golf Club, Washington, D.C.

His closest pursuer is first-round leader Harold Varner III, whose even-par 72 left him at 8 under. Henrik Stenson and Kevin Na are another shot back in a bunched leaderboard in which 20 pursuers are within six shots of Pereira’s lead.

Pereira hopes to become Torque’s first individual winner while his team seeks its second team title of the 2023 LIV Golf League season, having won the third event in Orlando. Torque leads the team leaderboard by three shots over Varner’s RangeGoats GC and Stinger GC, the winners two weeks ago in Tulsa.

Pereira said both the individual and team leaderboards will be top of mind on Sunday.

“The team aspect, it’s really cool to watch it out there,” Pereira said. “It’s nice to have that in the background and just hope we can take the win again.”

Pereira also hopes that his allergy problems will not impact his performance like they threatened to do Saturday.

“It was really, really bad. I just tried to keep myself together and tried to play good and just take the allergy how it is,” Pereira said.

Varner, who opened with an 8-under 64 on Friday, hopes to rebound from a second round that was not as productive as he had hoped but still leaves him in contention. He will need his putter to cooperate better, as he took 31 putts on Saturday, seven more than he needed in the first round.

“I played poorly, but it is what it is,” Varner said. “It’s golf. I just didn’t have it but after yesterday, I’m still in position. Just got to get back on the horse and have fun with it.”

Pereira and Varner will be in the final group on Sunday for the first time as LIV Golf members. Stenson returns to the lead group in the final round for the first time since winning last year at Bedminster.

“We’re at the races,” Stenson said, “and we’ll try and finish strong tomorrow.”

Here are the standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf DC. The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds win the team title.

TORQUE GC (-18): Mito Pereira 67, Sebastián Muñoz 68, Joaquin Niemann 71 (Rd. 2 score: -10)

STINGER GC (-15): Louis Oosthuizen 67, Branden Grace 69, Dean Burmester 71 (Rd. 2 score: -9)

RANGEGOATS GC (-15): Bubba Watson 68, Talor Gooch 71, Harold Varner III 72 (Rd. 2 score: -5)

4ACES GC (-13): Patrick Reed 71, Peter Uihlein 71, Dustin Johnson 72 (Rd. 2 score: -5)

MAJESTICKS GC (-12): Henrik Stenson 67, Ian Poulter 69, Lee Westwood 73 (Rd. 2 score: -7)

FIREBALLS GC (-10): Carlos Ortiz 68, Eugenio Chacarra 69, Abraham Ancer 72 (Rd. 2 score: -7)

CRUSHERS GC (-10): Andy Ogletree 70, Bryson DeChambeau 70, Anirban Lahiri 71 (Rd. 2 score: -5)

HYFLYERS GC (-9): Brendan Steele 70, Cameron Tringale 71, James Piot 74 (Rd. 2 score: -1)

CLEEKS GC (-7): Richard Bland 70, Graeme McDowell 70, Martin Kaymer 74 (Rd. 2 score: -2)

IRON HEADS GC (-6): Kevin Na 69, Scott Vincent 75, Danny Lee 76 (Rd. 2 score: +4)

RIPPER GC (-4): Cameron Smith 70, Matt Jones 72, Marc Leishman 72 (Rd. 2 score: -2)

SMASH GC (+4): Brooks Koepka 69, *Kieran Vincent 74, Chase Koepka 75 (Rd. 2 score: +2) *Reserve


Chelsea must ‘build step by step’ to get back among challengers, says Sterling

Chelsea must ‘build step by step’ to get back among challengers, says Sterling
Updated 28 May 2023

Chelsea must ‘build step by step’ to get back among challengers, says Sterling

Chelsea must ‘build step by step’ to get back among challengers, says Sterling
  • The London club will end a torrid season with home clash against Champions League-bound Newcastle United

Raheem Sterling casts his mind back to the start of his Manchester City career to reflect on a turbulent debut season at Chelsea.

“My first two years at City, it was not all beauty,” he says. “We had to build step by step and that’s exactly what we have to do here at Chelsea.”

From his arrival in 2015 until 2017, a League Cup triumph in 2016 was City's sole trophy and all they had to show for their exertions in four competitions.

They came fourth and third too in a Premier League they have since dominated.

That latter placing came in Pep Guardiola’s eagerly-awaited first season as they finished empty-handed and the Spaniard came under intense scrutiny as he tried to shape their transformation.

It was way below the expectations of the club and their supporters - something six-time league champions Chelsea can relate to now as they endure their worst campaign in the Premier League era.

The Blues, who host Newcastle in Sunday’s final day of fixtures, are in 12th place with a 43-point tally after spending £600 million on 16 new signings under new owner Todd Boehly.

Their fall - in contrast to the rise of Eddie Howe's side as they secured Champions League football next season after previously battling relegation - has been astonishing.

Just 15 months ago Chelsea were crowned World Club champions in Abu Dhabi - following on from their 1-0 victory in Porto over Sterling’s City side in the 2021 Champions League final.

Critics and fans have savaged them for their under-achievement since, with Sterling among the main targets following last summer’s £50m arrival from City, where he won four league titles and six domestic cups.

“It’s been hard, but it’s a transitional period for the club and I know, like everything, how things can be,” the 28-year-old tells Arab News exclusively.

“There’s an expectation of a certain level for clubs and players, and if you don’t match that, then you are going to get that criticism.

“But that’s what you want at this top level, because that’s what drives you to build, to get better and have a better season than the one we have had this season.

“And I have got no doubt that once we get the organisation right, once we get the personnel right, then we will be challenging.”

And Sterling, who was left out of England’s squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia in June after talks with boss Gareth Southgate amid injury concerns, is ready to accept the challenges ahead.

He has faced hardships and vitriol before. Whether it was his acrimonious departure from Liverpool to City, leading the fight against racism or having to constantly prove his worth for England, for whom he has 20 goals in 82 appearances.

As a two-year-old, Jamaica-born Sterling’s father was murdered and his mother Nadine moved to England to provide a better life for the family.

Setbacks only serve as a driving force for the forward to respond and succeed.

So too does watching former club City lift this season’s title for a fifth time in six seasons - and after a 1-0 loss at the Etihad where the Chelsea players formed a guard of honour for the champions beforehand.

"That’s what I want, that’s the level I want to be at, that’s the motivation for me," adds Sterling, who has scored nine goals for Chelsea but struggled to find consistency in a side unsettled by managerial changes and the influx of new faces.

“It’s not been hard at all for me personally. I don’t hear the criticism. I keep working, keep going and that’s it.

“I’ve got the ambition to do well. This is one season and you just have to brush it off and go again.

“Sometimes these tough times are what gets you to go to the next level. That’s why you use this fuel, you use this motivation of seeing City, my old club, win the title, right in front of me, and go again. It’s simple.

“That’s the level I’ve been at for the past seven years and that’s the level I want to stay at. I won’t accept this season and we just build now.”

Chelsea’s rebuild will begin with the imminent arrival of Argentine Mauricio Pochettino to take charge.

He will be the club’s fifth manager since September, following the departures of Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and interim bosses Bruno Saltor and Frank Lampard, who will lead them for the last time against Newcastle.

Sterling believes Pochettino, who managed Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain, can restore the good times at Chelsea.

“From his time before at Tottenham, I heard a conversation about him and he’s the exact person that we need,” he says.

“He will bring leadership, he will challenge players physically and mentally and I think he is going to come here and he is going to have the personality that everyone is going to respect. That’s what we need, someone in charge.”

Sterling adds: “We have a good squad, the quality is there. We will add some players and some will leave, I get it, but there’s no doubt in my mind we will be challenging again very soon.

“From the start of this season we have not had our best XI out. The majority of it, we have had 11, 12 players out injured so it was an unfair start. 

“But then again, these are the challenges that happen at the top football clubs and it will get us the consistency we need.

“It’s been hard work, it’s been a tough season, but I always believe after tough times there will be good times if you keep working hard. 

“No matter how this season has gone, good, bad or indifferent, I’ve tried to keep the same focus, the same work-rate and believe you will see the shadow pass.”


WWE fans see their heroes battling for glory

WWE fans see their heroes battling for glory
Updated 27 May 2023

WWE fans see their heroes battling for glory

WWE fans see their heroes battling for glory
  • Jeddah Superdome reverberates with roars of 13,000 people

JEDDAH: The Jeddah Superdome could not contain the pandemonium and excitement expressed by more than 13,000 WWE fans. The Night of Champions had fans hanging from the rafters and provided excitement from bell to bell.

The evening showcased superstars such as AJ Styles, Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Trish Stratus, and others who kept fans out of their seats throughout.

The premium live event showcased WWE’s commitment to its partnership with the General Entertainment Authority to provide sports entertainment. This was the ninth event of the partnership.

WWE has also taken its offering to the world and plans to visit more destinations to spread the word.

Stratus, who is in the WWE Hall of Fame, said: “(It’s) an absolute dream come true, honestly, coming back at this point in my career.

“I was excited to come back, to do my matches and interact with the different talents that I did not have a chance to interact with before, but to do special things like this and come over to the Kingdom, and be welcomed so warmly by the Kingdom, has been wonderful.

“I’ve had a great trip so far, and honestly, I look forward to coming back again, whenever.”

It was an evening of fireworks, indoors and outside, and thousands of people shouting and chanting the names of their favorite wrestlers.

People stood on their seats, holding up signs to cheer on their champions. Some were supportive; others mocking. There were even children in the front row.

Susan Bhatia, from England, who has been living in the Kingdom for over 30 years, went to the event with her daughter and said: “I have attended many WWE events in Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Orlando, but today it is my first time here in Jeddah.”

Dhari Al-Rashed, a 33-year-old journalist from Kuwait, told Arab News that he attended to see his favorite stars.

He said: “I am here to see my idol, Trish Stratus. She’s the female wrestler who was coming out of retirement for just one match today.”

He added that he had attended WWE showdowns for years and his first time was back in 2004 in Houston, Texas.

British fan Sam Waddington, a big fan of Triple H (Paul Michael Levesque) since the age of 10, told Arab News it was the first time he had attended a WWE event in Saudi Arabia.

He added: “I’m also a big fan of Trish Stratus.”

Yousif Al-Mizyan, a fan from the Kingdom who attended with his family, said: “I was so thrilled once I saw the event was coming to Saudi Arabia. I am a fan of Reigns.”


Al-Ittihad champions as Al-Nassr and Ronaldo stumble

Al-Ittihad champions as Al-Nassr and Ronaldo stumble
Updated 28 May 2023

Al-Ittihad champions as Al-Nassr and Ronaldo stumble

Al-Ittihad champions as Al-Nassr and Ronaldo stumble

Al-Ittihad are Saudi Arabian champions for the first time since 2009 after defeating Al-Fayha 3- 0 on Saturday in the penultimate round of fixtures in the Roshn Saudi League. Second-placed Al-Nassr came back to draw 1-1 at Ettifaq but it was not enough as Ittihad’s win ended an exciting title race. It is a well-deserved triumph for coach Nuno Santo and his players who saw off the challenge of Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Nassr to lift a hard-fought and deserved prize.

At kick-off, Al-Ittihad knew that a win would be enough for title number nine but they also knew that they had been in good positions before and failed to finish the job such as last season when a 16-point advantage over Al-Hilal did not prove to be enough. Any nerves were, however,  reduced after three minutes as Ahmed Sharahili sent the Jeddah giants on their way. Igor Coronado floated over a deep free-kick and Sharahili reacted to stab the ball home from close range and the celebrations in Jeddah started to bubble under the surface.

(Twitter: @ittihad)

That early strike was a blow for Al-Nassr who hit the post in the first half thanks to a shot from Luiz Gustavo from close range.but three minutes before the break, the Yellows fell behind.Saeed Al-Mowalad crossed from the right and Youssouf Niakate swept home from close range to finish a perfect move. It was harsh on Al-Nassr who had dominated possession and had the better of the chances but they could feel that their chances of league title number ten were slipping away.

Ronaldo and his team continued to work hard but received another body blow just before the break as Al-Ittihad extended their lead thanks to another set piece. Coronado floated over a free-kick once again and this time Romarinho – the Brazilian has been one of the players of the season – headed home. It prompted wild celebrations among the travelling fans who knew that their 14-year wait was almost over.

Al-Nassr were not about to give up without a fight however. After 56 minutes Abdulrahman Ghareeb passed back to the onrushing Gustavo who unleashed a rocket of a shot into the top corner of the Ettifaq goal from outside the area. It was a spectacular effort. With ten minutes remaining, it looked as if the game was won as Ghareeb pulled the ball back for Gustavo to fire an unstoppable shot into the Ettifaq net. It was ruled out by VAR, which spotted an offside in the build up. In the end, it didn’t really matter as Al-Ittihad rarely looked like losing their two-goal lead and their grip on the league trophy. Soon after, the Tigers made it 3-0 as Romarinho broke free to slot the ball home from just inside the area.

 

It meant that the celebrations could start in earnest as Al-Ittihad took the points before the end of the Al-Nassr game. It has been a deserved triumph.

Elsewhere, defending champions Al-Hilal moved into third place with a 3-0 win at Abha. Mohammed Al-Qahtani opened the scoring after 11 minutes and Odion Ighalo extended that lead a minute before the break. Abdullah Al-Hamdan added a third.

The relegation battle is hotting up. In the battle of the two teams at the bottom of the table, Al-Batin, who are already relegated, drew 2-2 with next to bottom Al-Adalah who are a point behind safety and Al-Khaleej who drew 0-0 with  Al-Raed. Al-Wedha are now safe after defeating Al-Tai 2-1.

The headlines however belong, for once, not to Criistiano Ronaldo, but to the new champions of Al-Ittihad.