Chelsea win again, Liverpool lose at Bournemouth in Premier League

Chelsea's Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (C) celebrates scoring the team's third goal during the English Premier League  match between Leicester City and Chelsea at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on Saturday. (AFP)
Chelsea's Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (C) celebrates scoring the team's third goal during the English Premier League match between Leicester City and Chelsea at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on Saturday. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 12 March 2023
Follow

Chelsea win again, Liverpool lose at Bournemouth in Premier League

Chelsea win again, Liverpool lose at Bournemouth in Premier League
  • Manchester City again looked far from their best but still kept the pressure on leaders Arsenal by beating Crystal Palace 1-0 away

LONDON:  Chelsea might finally be finding their stride under Graham Potter while Liverpool’s up-and-down season took another nosedive in the English Premier League on Saturday.

Chelsea made it three straight wins in all competitions for the first time since October by beating Leicester 3-1 away, another sign that the expensively assembled team is starting to gel under Potter.

Liverpool, though, followed their record 7-0 win over archrival Manchester United by losing 1-0 at relegation-threatened Bournemouth — a team they beat 9-0 at home in August.

Manchester City again looked far from their best but still kept the pressure on leaders Arsenal by beating Crystal Palace 1-0 away thanks to a second-half penalty by Erling Haaland. That cut Arsenal’s lead to two points ahead of its visit to Fulham on Sunday.

Liverpool’s surprising loss threw away much of the momentum they had generated recently after a woeful first half of the season, and Jurgen Klopp’s team are six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the fight for the final Champions League place, albeit with a game in hand.

“This game was a massive knock,” Klopp said. “You know how it is with knocks, you have to take them and see how big the scars are and go from there.”

Tottenham beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 at home after Harry Kane scored twice in the first half.

Bournemouth began the day in last place but climbed up to 17th, with Everton also leaving the relegation zone after Dwight McNeil scored just 35 seconds into a 1-0 win over Brentford.

Leeds fell to 19th place despite rallying for a 2-2 home draw against Brighton.

The battle against the drop is exceedingly tight, though, with only four points separating Leeds from 12th-placed Crystal Palace.

Manchester City visited Palace in the late game trying to keep up the pressure on leaders Arsenal, who play at Fulham on Sunday.

CHELSEA THRIVING, LIVERPOOL STUMBLE

After knocking out Borussia Dortmund from the Champions League to reach the quarterfinals, Chelsea followed with a first away win in the league since Oct. 16.

“It’s been a really good week,” said Potter, whose job looks a lot more secure than it did last weekend.

Kai Havertz netted one of the best goals of the day to make it 2-1 just before halftime by volleying in a delicate lob over the goalkeeper after being teed up in the area by another lofted ball from record signing Enzo Fernandez.

Ben Chilwell put Chelsea ahead in the 11th minute after meeting a high cross into the area with a low first-time shot from a difficult angle. Patson Daka equalized in the 39th. Mateo Kovacic added the third for Chelsea in the 78th.

Chelsea remained in 10th place but just five points behind fifth-placed Liverpool after Klopp’s side showed their inconsistency once again.

Philip Billing scored the only goal in the 28th minute after being teed up in the box by Dango Ouattara and Bournemouth managed to contain a Liverpool attack that was rampant against United last weekend.

Mohamed Salah summed up a frustrating afternoon for the Reds when he missed a penalty in the 70th by sending his effort wide, the first time he has missed the target from the spot in the Premier League.

HAALAND SCORES AGAIN

For 77 minutes at Selhurst Park, it looked like Palace manager Patrick Vieira could have a big say in the title race between his two former clubs and tilt the balance further in Arsenal’s favor by taking points off City.

But after defending resolutely for so long, Palace came undone at a corner and gave away a cheap penalty when Michael Olize clumsily clattered into Ilkay Gundogan in the area.

Haaland made no mistake from the spot, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way for his 28th league goal to make up for having missed a stellar chance in the first half.

Palace’s lack of attacking threat at the other end was evident once again. Vieira’s team has not won a single game in 2023, and this was the third league match in a row when it didn’t manage a single shot on target.

LINEKER OFF AIR, IN THE STANDS

Taken off the air, Gary Lineker went into the stands.

Lineker attended the Leicester-Chelsea game amid a growing crisis at the BBC after the popular presenter of the highlights show “Match of the Day” was suspended by the broadcaster for comments criticizing the British government’s new asylum policy.

Lineker, the former England captain who began his professional playing career at Leicester, watched his former team in the stands and posed for photos with fans while the BBC scrambled to stem the fallout from the decision to take him off the air.

The broadcaster said it would air only “limited sport programming” over the weekend after hosts of many of its popular sports shows declined to appear, in solidarity with Lineker. The BBC’s Premier League coverage was especially affected as lunchtime TV program “Football Focus” and the early evening “Final Score” were both replaced with other programs, and Saturday’s edition of “Match of the Day” — the late-night soccer show that has been a British institution for 60 years — was set to be reduced to just a 20-minute compilation of match footage with no studio punditry and no player or manager interviews.

 

 


Canelo Alvarez puts unified belts on line against Charlo in ‘hometown’ match

Canelo Alvarez puts unified belts on line against Charlo in ‘hometown’ match
Updated 29 September 2023
Follow

Canelo Alvarez puts unified belts on line against Charlo in ‘hometown’ match

Canelo Alvarez puts unified belts on line against Charlo in ‘hometown’ match
  • He is back at Vegas again, this time as the unified super middleweight champion preparing to face junior middleweight champ Jermell Charlo on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena
  • Even though Charlo (35-1-1) is the one moving up, he is 4 inches taller than the 5-foot-8 Alvarez and has a 2 1/2-inch reach advantage

LAS VEGAS: It didn’t take long for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to consider Las Vegas his second home.

He came here to fight Jose Cotto on May 10, 2010, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and right away Alvarez felt the support from his Mexican compatriots.

Alvarez won that fight by technical knockout in the second round, the first of many trips to Las Vegas. He is back again, this time as the unified super middleweight champion preparing to face junior middleweight champ Jermell Charlo on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

“I think it’s the capital of boxing,” Alvarez said of Las Vegas. “I just feel (it’s) like coming home because a lot of Mexicans go there and support me. So that’s why I like fighting in Vegas, and there’s a lot of history there.”

The 33-year-old Alvarez has been a big part of that history, whether it’s beating Gennadiy Golovkin twice with another fight ending in a split draw, or defeating Shane Mosley, Daniel Jacobs or Sergey Kovalev. His favorite memory is of the one-sided unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto in November 2015.

“He’s a great champion,” Alvarez said in the ring after that fight, “but now it’s my era.”

Alvarez (59-2-2) has the chance to add to his legacy when he faces the 33-year-old Charlo, who is moving up two weight classes for this fight.

Even though Charlo (35-1-1) is the one moving up, he is 4 inches taller than the 5-foot-8 Alvarez and has a 2 1/2-inch reach advantage. Alvarez said his experience will help him counter the size deficiency.

“I’ve been in the ring with a lot of styles, all kind of fighters,” Alvarez said. “My whole career, I’ve been fighting with (boxers) taller than me, so I know how.”

Charlo, who lives in Houston, already is talking about a rematch, which likely would come if he beats Alvarez.

“I don’t think Canelo has faced a fighter of my caliber,” Charlo said. “He’s been in there with great fighters, but there’s something I bring to the table that’s a lot different than anyone he’s seen. I defy the science of boxing.

“I’m one of the guys from the younger era and I’ve been fighting my whole life. What I’ve been through in life, a lot of people can’t compare to that. I deserve to be in my position and now I get to prove my worthiness.”

If Alvarez prevails, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has declared David Benavidez will be his mandatory challenger for the super middleweight belt.

But Alvarez has not committed to facing Benavidez, a 26-year-old who is 27-0 with all but four by knockout. If Alvarez beats Charlo and turns down Benavidez, the WBC likely would vacate his championship.

“I’m going to win (versus Charlo), but I don’t know what is next,” Alvarez said. “I’m going to sit down with my team and talk about it because I’m 100 percent focused on this fight.”

As for his potential options post-Charlo, Alvarez said his intention would be to “make the best fights out there. We will see after this fight.”

The fight with Charlo should be enough on its own to capture Alvarez’s focus, especially given his most recent bouts.

He lost by unanimous decision to Dmitry Bivol in May 2022, though all three judges had the fight close at 115-113. Alvarez rebounded with a unanimous decision a year ago over Golovkin and then easily beat John Ryder in May on the scorecards. But Triple G had seen his best boxing days, and Ryder was simply outclassed.

Charlo will tell a lot more about where Alvarez truly stands. The odds are in his favor by a considerable amount — Canelo is minus-480 at FanDuel Sportsbook.

“I never overlook any fighter” Alvarez said. “I know what he’s going to bring and I’m ready. He hasn’t experienced this kind of level of fight.

“I want history for my career. I want to achieve a lot of things. This is another one of them and I can’t wait.”

Alvarez’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, said this has been one of Canelo’s most intense training sessions.

“We’ve left behind the injuries and setbacks and we’re ready to show that Canelo is prepared to put on a great fight for the fans,” Reynoso said. “We’re very motivated to be here in Las Vegas for a great fight. We’re going to prove how motivated we are by giving the fans a great fight.”


Atletico Madrid improve to 5th in Spanish league standings with 2-0 win at Osasuna

Atletico Madrid improve to 5th in Spanish league standings with 2-0 win at Osasuna
Updated 29 September 2023
Follow

Atletico Madrid improve to 5th in Spanish league standings with 2-0 win at Osasuna

Atletico Madrid improve to 5th in Spanish league standings with 2-0 win at Osasuna
  • Before beating Madrid, Atletico were coming off a draw at Lazio in the group stage of the Champions League and a 3-0 loss at Valencia in the Spanish league
  • Barcelona kick-start the weekend round by hosting Sevilla on Friday

MADRID: Atletico Madrid kept the momentum going from their win against rivals Real Madrid by beating Osasuna 2-0 in the Spanish league on Thursday.

Antoine Griezmann and Rodrigo Riquelme scored a goal in each half for Atletico, who are in fifth place and right outside the Champions League spots.

Atletico beat Madrid 3-1 at home on Sunday, with Griezmann scoring one of the goals for Diego Simeone’s team.

“It was important not to get caught up with what happened against Real Madrid and to come here to win,” Griezmann said. “We are improving and we have to keep working to keep improving.”

Atletico have a game in hand after their match against Sevilla earlier this month was postponed because of storms in Madrid.

Griezmann opened the scoring with a shot from a tight angle in the 20th minute, and Riquelme sealed the victory in a breakaway in the 81st, not long after Osasuna had a goal disallowed because of a controversial foul on a defender inside the area in the 75th. Osasuna coach Jagoba Arrasate was sent off for complaining about the referee’s decision.

Both teams played with 10 men from the 85th after Osasuna’s Chimy Ávila and Atletico’s Álvaro Morata were sent off following an altercation between them. Spanish media said the two continued arguing with each other heatedly on their way to the locker rooms at El Sadar Stadium.

The result extended Osasuna’s winless streak to five matches in all competitions. They dropped to 14th place with the loss, the third at home in the league.

Before beating Madrid, Atletico were coming off a draw at Lazio in the group stage of the Champions League and a 3-0 loss at Valencia in the Spanish league.

In other results, Real Betis’ winless run reached four matches in all competitions after a 1-1 draw at second-to-last-place Granada, who were coming off three losses in a row. Assane Diao put the visitors ahead in the 51st before Granada’s Lucas Boyé equalized in the 67th.

Celta Vigo remained on the edge of the relegation zone after a 1-1 draw at home against Alaves. The hosts opened the scoring with an own-goal by Rafael Marín in the 35th and Alaves equalized through Samuel Omorodion in the 73rd.

Celta, who had no shots on target, played a man down afer Luca de la Torre was sent off in the 68th.

Girona top the standings after defeating Villareal 2-1 on Wednesday for their sixth straight victory. They are one point ahead of Real Madrid — who beat Las Palmas 2-0 on Wednesday — and two points ahead of fellow Catalan club Barcelona, who drew 2-2 at Mallorca a day earlier.

Barcelona kick-start the weekend round by hosting Sevilla on Friday. Girona host Madrid on Saturday.


Japan trump Samoa again to stay in Rugby World Cup quarterfinals hunt

Japan trump Samoa again to stay in Rugby World Cup quarterfinals hunt
Updated 29 September 2023
Follow

Japan trump Samoa again to stay in Rugby World Cup quarterfinals hunt

Japan trump Samoa again to stay in Rugby World Cup quarterfinals hunt
  • The Japanese reached the quarters for the first time at their home World Cup in 2019 but their form and results this year suggested they were way off the pace to challenge again

TOULOUSE: Japan teamwork trumped Samoa individual power and won their Rugby World Cup match by a surprisingly comfortable 28-22 on Thursday.

With Argentina expected to earn a bonus-point win against Chile on Saturday, Japan’s last Pool D match with the Pumas next week will be a winner-takes-all fight for a quarterfinal spot.

Samoa’s bid for a first quarterfinal since 1995 was terminated, and their second straight defeat advanced idle pool leader England to the quarterfinals.

The Japanese reached the quarters for the first time at their home World Cup in 2019 but their form and results this year suggested they were way off the pace to challenge again. But they were patient and smart and disciplined at Stadium de Toulouse, and Samoa was not.

A late converted try gave Samoa 90-odd seconds to pull off a miracle comeback. It forced a lineout on halfway but the throw-in was stolen — the only lineout Samoa lost all night — and Japan beat Samoa for a third Rugby World Cup in a row.

Fullback Lomano Lemeki, playing after the tournament-ending injury to Semisi Masirewa, highlighted his first start in nearly two years with breaks that led to Japan’s first two tries for ageless back-rowers Pieter Labuschagne and Michael Leitch.

They led 17-3 until Shota Horie’s yellow card canceled a yellow to Samoa’s Jonathan Taumateine, and Samoa drove hooker Seilala Lam over the line just before halftime.

Samoa’s second yellow card in the 47th cost it dearly. Winger Ben Lam, in only his second test, shoulder-tackled Labuschagne in the head.

Before the card was upgraded to red by the bunker, Japan turned the penalty into a corner lineout and mauled captain Kazuki Himeno for a third try.

Rikiya Matsuda couldn’t convert from the sideline, missing his first goalkick in the tournament after 13 successive shots across three matches. But then he made two more penalties for 25-8 and 28-15 to keep the scoreboard pressure on Samoa as it desperately and vainly rallied.

Samoa’s cause wasn’t helped by injuries. Captain and lock Chris Vui was a late withdrawal, then minutes into the match flanker Taleni Agaese Seu limped off. Late in the first half, inside back D’Angelo Leuila had to leave.

Leuila’s exit put goalkicking duty back on flyhalf Christian Leali’ifano, who missed his first chance but converted the second and third tries in the last 15 minutes scored by Duncan Paia’aua and himself.

But it was too late for the Samoans after owning so much of the game; 93 rucks won to 58 and making Japan tackle 184 times, more than twice as many as Samoa. But Samoa too often overplayed, running out of support and getting turned over.

Lam left Samoa short for the last half-hour and contributed to Samoa hurting itself more than Japan.


Saudi football club Shabab to host Roma during Riyadh Season

Saudi football club Shabab to host Roma during Riyadh Season
Updated 29 September 2023
Follow

Saudi football club Shabab to host Roma during Riyadh Season

Saudi football club Shabab to host Roma during Riyadh Season
  • The club is set to mark the their diamond jubilee with a match against the Giallorossi

RIYADH: One of Saudi Arabia’s oldest football club is set to mark the their diamond jubilee with a match against Roma, one of Italy’s iconic clubs.

The Saudi club was founded in Riyadh in 1947 and their name, Shabab, means youth in Arabic.

Playing on the club’s youthful name and its long history, Saudi entertainment chief Turki Al-Sheikh wrote on X that the “Old man of clubs” will mark its diamond jubilee by facing the Giallorossi during Riyadh Season, a key fixture on the Saudi entertainment calendar.

Al-Sheikh did not mention when the match will take place, nor did Shabab.

The Riyadh club have won the Saudi league six times along with half a dozen national cups.

Roma, who have made a slow start to their Serie A campaign this season with only six points from 5 games, have won the league three times and  league competitions 11 times.

The next Supercoppa Italiana will be played in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 4, 2024, with the final on Jan. 8 and will see champions Inter attempt to defend the cup from Napoli, Lazio and Fiorentina. Super cup games have been hosted in the Kingdom since 2018, except for two years due to Covid restrictions.


Al-Hilal to play home games at Boulevard Hall in Riyadh 

Al-Hilal to play home games at Boulevard Hall in Riyadh 
Updated 29 September 2023
Follow

Al-Hilal to play home games at Boulevard Hall in Riyadh 

Al-Hilal to play home games at Boulevard Hall in Riyadh 
  • The project has a capacity of 26,000 seats and is expected to be handed to the club in January

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal have found a new home for their matches this season with the under-construction Boulevard Hall in Riyadh.

Entertainment authority chief Turki Al-Sheikh said during a live on Instagram that they have reached a SAR40 million a year agreement with Al-Hilal president Fahd bin Nafel with a grace period of the first 6 months.

Al-Sheikh thanked Prince AlWaleed bin Talal, a long standing backer of Al-Hilal and founder of the Kingdom Holding Company, for contributing SAR25 million, thus renaming the stadium the Kingdom Arena.

The project has a capacity of 26,000 seats and is expected to be handed to the club in January.

Bin Nafel said the new filed will meet all requirements of the Saudi Pro League, FIFA and, AFC.

Al-Hilal will play the first match in the new stadium in January for the Riyadh Season Cup.

Per the agreement, Al-Sheikh said the Kingdom Arena will host entertainment events off season.

Bin Nafel said the club is working on packages for foreign tourist where they come and spend two days in Riyadh and visit entertainment hubs in addition to attending the games.

The new facility holds 20 VIP cabins and a sky lounge with a capacity of 360 persons.