De Bruyne stars, leads Belgium to 3-2 victory in Germany

De Bruyne stars, leads Belgium to 3-2 victory in Germany
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne scores his side's third goal against Germany's goalkeeper Marc-Andre her Stegen during the international friendly soccer match between Germany and Belgium in Cologne Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 29 March 2023

De Bruyne stars, leads Belgium to 3-2 victory in Germany

De Bruyne stars, leads Belgium to 3-2 victory in Germany
  • De Bruyne set up both opening goals then sealed the victory just as Germany were threatening an equalizer

COLOGNE, Germany: Kevin De Bruyne steered Belgium to a 3-2 friendly win over Germany in new coach Domenico Tedesco’s return home on Tuesday.

De Bruyne set up both opening goals then sealed the victory just as Germany were threatening an equalizer after recovering from a very poor opening half hour.

It gave Tedesco, the former Leipzig and Schalke coach, a second win from his first two games after his team started Euro 2024 qualifying with a 3-0 win in Sweden last week.

Yannick Carrasco opened the scoring in the sixth when he easily eluded Germany right back Marius Wolf and dispatched the ball past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen after De Bruyne sent him through on the left. De Bruyne was involved again three minutes when Romelu Lukaku made it 2-0.

Germany’s defense was looking shaky in the absence of Real Madrid’s Antonio Rudiger and Borussia Dortmund’s Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck. Neither Matthias Ginter nor Thilo Kehrer were able to capitalize on their absences.

Dodi Lukebakio should have made it 3-0, Lukaku struck the crossbar, and David Raum almost scored an own goal as play continued in one direction.

Leon Goretzka went off with an apparent ankle injury in the 32nd — bad news for Bayern Munich ahead of the “Klassiker” against Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund on Saturday — and Germany coach Hansi Flick also took off the ineffective Florian Wirtz, bringing on the more defensively minded Emre Can and Wolfsburg midfielder Felix Nmecha for his debut.

The changes had an immediate effect as Germany switched to a 4-3-3 formation.

Niclas Füllkrug scored with a penalty in the 44th after his header from a corner struck Lukaku’s hand and the Belgium star was penalized for hand ball.

Can made a potentially goal-saving tackle before the break and the home team continued its renaissance after it, cheered on by the relieved crowd.

Timo Werner had a goal ruled out for offside, Fullkrug headed over, and Joshua Kimmich tested Koen Casteels, who was playing in goal for regular No. 1 Thibaut Courtois, out with what the team said was “a minor strain in the adductor.”

With the home team attacking, De Bruyne sealed Belgium’s win on a counterattack in the 78th.

Kevin Schade set up Serge Gnabry for a late consolation before the visitors held on through the final minutes.


Party in Jeddah while Talisca takes centre-stage in Riyadh from absent Ronaldo

Party in Jeddah while Talisca takes centre-stage in Riyadh from absent Ronaldo
Updated 01 June 2023

Party in Jeddah while Talisca takes centre-stage in Riyadh from absent Ronaldo

Party in Jeddah while Talisca takes centre-stage in Riyadh from absent Ronaldo
  • Al-Ittihad celebrated in Jeddah their first league title since 2009

The pressure may have been off Al-Ittihad in Jeddah on Wednesday but the celebratory atmosphere will never be forgotten by those present at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium. The memories will last longer than the 2-0 win over Al-Tai as fans heralded their heroes and first title-winners since 2009.

As expected, the hosts had the better of the 90 minutes but with the job already done, few of the home fans cared much that there was only a second half penalty to show for their efforts and then an injury time strike.

As well as a first domestic championship win for coach Nuno Santo, it was clean sheet number 19 for Marcelo Grohe and a third golden boot in Saudi Arabia for Abderrazak Hamdallah. The Moroccan scored from the spot with 17 minutes remaining against a backdrop of thousands of phones recording history and a moment that will be replayed again and again. 

The goal took his tally to 21 for the season. There was just enough time for Helder Costa to add a second, a fitting way to end as the winger was brought over by Santo, his former coach at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Hamdallah finished a goal ahead of Anderson Talisca of Al-Nassr.

Al-Ittihad’s Hamdallah lifts the trophy. (@ittihad)

In the absence of Ronaldo who picked up a muscle injury at the end of last Saturday’s draw with Ettifaq that left the Yellows five points behind the leaders, Talisca took centre-stage as they defeated Al-Fateh 3-0. A smart low Abdulaziz Al-Aliwa pass found the Brazilian who rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home from close range. Shortly before the break, he netted again but this time the goal was ruled out. No matter, it came midway through the second half with a smart first time shot from just inside the area. Talisca then assisted Mohammed Maran to make it 3-0.

In third, Al-Hilal ended an up and down season with an up and down performance, taking a 3-0 lead over Al-Raed before being pegged back to 3-2. It has been a good campaign for teenage midfielder Musab Al-Juwayr who opened the scoring after 17 minutes. Mohammed Al-Qahtani added a second before the break and Abdullah Otayf, in his last appearance in the blue shirt, made it three with ten minutes remaining. Two late goals from the visitors showed that there is work to do however. 

There are sure to be plenty of changes at the club over the coming weeks. Already head coach Ramon Diaz is back in Argentina and a number of the foreign players look to be on their way out. For now, though, finishing third, winning the King’s Cup and reaching the final of both the Asian Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup finals will have to do. For most clubs, that would be seen as quite a season but Hilal, who are now able to sign players after being banned from doing so in the past two transfer windows, are going to go again.

Al-Ittihad players celebrate the title. (@ittihad)

Al-Shabab, who once looked like they were the team to beat for the title, ended a run of five defeats in six with a 4-1 win over Damac. Aaron Boupendza signed off with all four. There should also be praise given to Al-Taawoun who won their last six games, including against the new champions, to finish fifth, just a point behind.

While everything at the top had been settled there was still the issue of which team will join Al-Batin in the second tier next season. Al-Adalah and Al-Khaleej had been finding their form of late to leave Al-Fayha looking nervously over their shoulders. In the second half, Al-Khaleej looked to be heading down as they were a man down and drawing 1-1 at home to Abha but then Morato intervened to score twice to give three points and another season in the top flight. Al-Adalah dropped.

It has been a season to remember and it will take time to digest everything that has happened. Not much can be said about next season but there are going to be a lot of changes in the next few weeks. A thrilling season is going to be followed by a busy summer.


Sevilla in seventh heaven after Europa League win

Sevilla in seventh heaven after Europa League win
Updated 01 June 2023

Sevilla in seventh heaven after Europa League win

Sevilla in seventh heaven after Europa League win
  • Gonzalo Montiel netted the decisive spot-kick after Mancini and Roger Ibanez had failed to convert for Roma
  • Sevilla made it seven wins in seven finals in Europe’s second-tier competition

BUDAPEST: Sevilla found their Europa League magic formula on Wednesday, beating Roma 4-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to make it seven wins in seven finals in Europe’s second-tier competition.

The Spanish side trailed after Paulo Dybala’s first-half opener in Budapest but pulled level in the second period when Roma defender Gianluca Mancini scored an own goal.

Extra-time could not separate the teams and the game went to penalties at the Puskas Arena.

Gonzalo Montiel, who scored the winning penalty in the 2022 World Cup final, netted the decisive spot-kick after Mancini and Roger Ibanez had failed to convert for Roma.

Earlier, Paulo Dybala put Jose Mourinho’s Roma in front in the 35th minute only for a revitalized Sevilla to drew level 10 minutes after the break through a Mancini own goal.

The fans created a crackling atmosphere before kickoff but the early stages of the game did not match the color in the stands.

The Italian side created the first opportunity of the match but Leonardo Spinazzola shot straight at Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou after neat build-up play involving Dybala and Zeki Celik.

Just after the half-hour, Roma appealed for a spot-kick after forward Tammy Abraham was caught on the head by a high boot from Nemanja Gudelj as the Sevilla defender was clearing the ball but VAR confirmed it was not a penalty.

But minutes later they were in front.

Dybala ran between two defenders and latched onto Mancini’s through ball from the center circle, coolly slotting his shot past Bounou.

Sevilla, finally finding some fluency, came agonizingly close to levelling deep into the seven minutes of added-on time when Ivan Rakitic drilled a fierce left-footed strike from distance that cannoned back off an upright.

Sevilla boss Jose Luis Mendilibar brought on forward Suso and Erik Lamela for Oliver Torres and Bryan Gil at the break and the Spanish side began the second period on the front foot.

They were level after 10 minutes when Mancini bundled a Jesus Navas cross from the right into his own net from close range.

Roma seemed certain to re-take the lead against the run of play midway through the second half but the Sevilla defenders somehow scrambled the ball away after several stabs at goal from close range.

Dybala, starting a match for the first time since mid-April, was withdrawn, with midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum coming on to replace him.

Sevilla thought they had a penalty with 15 minutes to go after referee Anthony Taylor ruled that Ibanez had brought down Lucas Ocampos but the decision was overturned by VAR.

The Italian side should have been ahead in the 83rd minute but substitute Andrea Belotti failed to keep his shot on target with only the goalkeeper to beat after captain Lorenzo Pellegrini found him with a clever dinked free-kick.

Extra time was largely uneventful as tempers flared between the two benches but Roma defender Chris Smalling almost snatched the win when he hit the woodwork with a looping header from a corner in the dying seconds.

Sevilla had the advantage in the shootout when Mancini’s penalty was saved and when Ibanez hit the post the Spanish side appeared certain winners.

But there was still more drama to come.

Montiel’s effort was saved by Rui Patricio but the kick was ordered to be re-taken after an encroachment by the goalkeeper and this time the Argentine made no mistake.


Brazil court seeks arrest of LA Galaxy’s Costa for failing to pay child support

Brazil court seeks arrest of LA Galaxy’s Costa for failing to pay child support
Updated 31 May 2023

Brazil court seeks arrest of LA Galaxy’s Costa for failing to pay child support

Brazil court seeks arrest of LA Galaxy’s Costa for failing to pay child support
  • The 32-year-old Costa cannot be arrested outside Brazil, according to the court’s ruling

SAO PAULO: A Brazilian court is seeking the arrest of L.A. Galaxy striker Douglas Costa for failing to pay for child support.
An attorney for the Brazilian striker said on Tuesday in a statement that he trusts the decision by a judge in the city of Porto Alegre will be reversed. Details of the case are sealed.
The 32-year-old Costa cannot be arrested outside Brazil, according to the court’s ruling, which was issued on Friday.
Costa has played for Brazil, Bayern Munich and Juventus. He signed a deal with the Major League Soccer team in February 2022, and it runs to December.


Forwards Nkunku, Dembélé recalled by France for Euro qualifiers

Forwards Nkunku, Dembélé recalled by France for Euro qualifiers
Updated 31 May 2023

Forwards Nkunku, Dembélé recalled by France for Euro qualifiers

Forwards Nkunku, Dembélé recalled by France for Euro qualifiers
  • The two strikers were included in coach Didier Deschamps’ squad for upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Gibraltar and Greece
  • France top the Group B standings in qualifying after back-to-back wins against the Netherlands and Ireland

PARIS: Christopher Nkunku and Ousmane Dembélé were recalled Wednesday to France’s national team.
The two strikers were included in coach Didier Deschamps’ squad for upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Gibraltar and Greece after missing Les Bleus’ previous games due to injury.
France top the Group B standings in qualifying after back-to-back wins against the Netherlands and Ireland. The two-time world champions take on Gibraltar in Portugal on June 16, then host Greece three days later at the Stade de France.
Nkunku, who plays for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga, has been sidelined for months due to a knee injury while Barcelona’s Dembele missed a series of games due to a hamstring problem.
Deschamps will be without the injured Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté, with William Saliba also missing because of a back injury.
France squad:
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Mike Maignan (AC Milan), Brice Samba (Lens)
Defenders: Axel Disasi (Monaco), Wesley Fofana (Chelsea), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Ibrahima Konaté (Liverpool), Jules Koundé (Barcelona), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich)
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurélien Tchouaméni (Real Madrid),
Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Mönchengladbach).


Hudson quits as US men’s football team interim coach, is replaced by Callaghan

Hudson quits as US men’s football team interim coach, is replaced by Callaghan
Updated 31 May 2023

Hudson quits as US men’s football team interim coach, is replaced by Callaghan

Hudson quits as US men’s football team interim coach, is replaced by Callaghan
  • Hudson was appointed interim coach on Jan. 4, four days after Berhalter’s contract expired
  • Callaghan figures to have the full player pool available for the CONCACAF Nations League final four

NEW YORK: Anthony Hudson quit as interim head coach of the US men’s football team on Tuesday, just two weeks before he was to lead the Americans in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals.

He was replaced by B.J. Callaghan, another holdover from former coach Gregg Berhalter’s staff.

Hudson’s departure was announced just six days after the US Soccer Federation said he was remaining as coach of the Americans through the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer. The USSF said Hudson was taking a job with a club but did not identify the team or the role.

The USSF said the decision to elevate Callaghan, a 41-year-old from Ventnor, New Jersey, was made by Matt Crocker, who is leaving relegated Southampton to become USSF sporting director on Aug. 2. Crocker is leading the search for a permanent coach to guide the team through the 2026 World Cup, which the Americans will co-host.

Neither Callaghan nor Crocker was made available to media by the USSF to discuss the change.

Hudson was appointed interim coach on Jan. 4, four days after Berhalter’s contract expired. Hudson led the Americans to two wins, one loss and two draws. His five games were the fewest for a US coach since John Kowalski led the team against Canada and Mexico in March 1991 between the terms of Bob Gansler and Bora Milutinovic.

Callaghan figures to have the full player pool available for the CONCACAF Nations League final four. The defending champion Americans play Mexico on June 15 and Canada or Panama three days later.

Most Europe-based players are expected to skip the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which starts June 24 and runs through July 16.

Callaghan played at Ursinus and spent six seasons at Villanova, becoming associate head coach. He worked in the youth academy of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, then became an assistant coach in 2014.

He was hired by the USSF as strategy analyst and assistant coach in January 2019, a month after Berhalter became head coach. He had been an assistant to Hudson this year.

Notes: The USSF also announced exhibitions on Oct. 14 against Germany at East Hartford, Connecticut, and on Oct. 17 against Ghana at Geodis Park in Nashville, Tennessee. The games are on FIFA fixture dates, meaning Europe-based players will be available.