Manchester City beat Chelsea to celebrate Premier League title triumph

Manchester City beat Chelsea to celebrate Premier League title triumph
The strength of City’s squad was exemplified by Julian Alvarez, who has spent most of the season as Erling Haaland’s understudy, scoring his 17th goal of the campaign. (AFP)
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Updated 21 May 2023
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Manchester City beat Chelsea to celebrate Premier League title triumph

Manchester City beat Chelsea to celebrate Premier League title triumph
  • Pep Guardiola’s men clinched a fifth title in six seasons on Saturday when second-placed Arsenal were beaten 1-0 at Nottingham Forest

MANCHESTER: Manchester City celebrated their third consecutive Premier League title on Sunday as a much-changed side was still good enough to beat Chelsea 1-0 at the Etihad.

Pep Guardiola’s men clinched a fifth title in six seasons on Saturday when second-placed Arsenal were beaten 1-0 at Nottingham Forest.

That gave Guardiola the luxury of resting most of his star names with one eye on the FA Cup and Champions League finals next month as City go for the treble.

The strength of City’s squad was exemplified by Julian Alvarez, who has spent most of the season as Erling Haaland’s understudy, scoring his 17th goal of the campaign to extend the English champions’ unbeaten run in all competitions to 24 games.

But a festive afternoon for City was marred at full-time as thousands of fans spilt onto the pitch despite pleas from the club to remain in the stands.

Guardiola made nine changes in all from the side that thrashed Real Madrid 4-0 in midweek.

The youthful hosts were still too sharp for the beleaguered visitors early on and took the lead on 12 minutes.

Alvarez continued his stunning season for club and country as the Argentine World Cup winner swept home Cole Palmer’s pass.

Palmer made the most of a rare Premier League start and was unlucky not to double City’s lead when his goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Trevoh Chalobah.

Defeat confirmed that Chelsea will end a miserable campaign in the bottom half and a familiar lack of cutting edge in front of goal showed why the Blues have struggled under three different managers this season.

Raheem Sterling should have marked his return to the Etihad with at least one goal but was denied by a fine save by Stefan Ortega when one-on-one with the German goalkeeper.

Moments later Conor Gallagher headed onto the post with just Ortega to beat.

But the lack of jeopardy for both sides shone through as the majority of the game was played out at a snail’s pace under the unusually baking Manchester sun.

Not that the home fans minded as they serenaded their side with cries of “championees” and bounced around doing the Poznan celebration with their backs to the pitch.

Chelsea had the better chances in the second-half to at least avoid a seventh defeat in nine games under caretaker boss Frank Lampard.

Even when the stand-in City goalkeeper Ortega was finally beaten by Sterling, John Stones was on hand to clear off the line.

Mykhailo Mudryk and Cesar Azpilicueta also wasted late chances to grab a point.

At the other end, Kalvin Phillips was inches away from his first City goal as the England midfielder’s header came back off the inside of the post.

Alvarez had a second goal ruled out for handball by Riyad Mahrez 20 minutes from time before Guardiola gave the home crowd what they wanted by unleashing Haaland from the bench.

The Norwegian went for goal with his first touch and nearly teed up Rico Lewis with a shot across goal.

But he was made to wait for his 53 goal of the season as City serenely played out the final stages to open up a seven-point lead at the top of the table with two games remaining to Arsenal’s one.


Nagelsmann named coach of Euro 2024 hosts Germany

Nagelsmann named coach of Euro 2024 hosts Germany
Updated 43 sec ago
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Nagelsmann named coach of Euro 2024 hosts Germany

Nagelsmann named coach of Euro 2024 hosts Germany
  • Germany fired Flick with the national team struggling, the German football association (DFB) fearing another embarrassing performance in a major tournament
  • Former Bayern Munich boss Nagelsmann has signed a deal until the end of next July, allowing the 36-year-old to leave after Euro 2024

MUNICH, Germany: Julian Nagelsmann has been given nine months to revive flailing Germany ahead of hosting Euro 2024 after being named as the sacked Hansi Flick’s successor as national team coach on Friday.
Germany fired Flick with the national team struggling, the German football association (DFB) fearing another embarrassing performance in a major tournament, this time as hosts at next year’s European championships.
Former Bayern Munich boss Nagelsmann has signed a deal until the end of next July, allowing the 36-year-old to leave after Euro 2024.
“We have a European Championship in our own country — that’s something special,” Nagelsmann said in a statement.
“I have a great desire to take on this challenge.”
Nagelsmann said he signed the short-term deal “to keep the Euros in focus” but insisted he “would not rule out” an extension.
Flick, who became the first coach in Germany history to be sacked, had won just four of 17 matches leading up to his dismissal and took the team to a disappointing group-stage exit at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The four-time world champions were also knocked out in the group stage at the 2018 World Cup in Russia under previous boss Joachim Loew.
DFB president Bernd Neuendorf called Nagelsmann “an outstanding coach” and said: “We are convinced (he) will ensure that the national team inspires its fans and that the Euros are also a sporting success.”
Flick was sacked after a humiliating 4-1 friendly loss to Japan in Wolfsburg in early September.
Nagelsmann, who also succeeded Flick as Bayern coach, has been jobless since he was sacked by the German champions in March.
DFB sporting director Rudi Voeller called Nagelsmann “an absolute football expert” and said he had “proven himself at a very young age for a head coach.”
Voeller took the reins on a “one-off” basis for Germany’s 2-1 win over France in Dortmund, but said his main task was to find a permanent successor.
Nagelsmann said the victory over France was “the beginning” of the team’s journey to Euro 2024.
Benjamin Glueck and Sandro Wagner have been appointed as Nagelsmann’s assistants.
Nagelsmann was seen as a rising star after impressive spells at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig, before getting the top job at Bayern.
Nagelsmann was mentioned as a possible candidate for a number of top club vacancies over the summer, being linked with English sides Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as Paris Saint-Germain.
Nagelsmann told a press conference he would focus on a playing style which was “easy to implement,” saying: “Especially in difficult moments, it’s important to give players something they can grasp.”
Nagelsmann spoke out for the first time about his “painful” Bayern exit.
“What hurts most in a separation like that is that it is painful to sit in front of the TV and watch your team in the Champions League, but know that you aren’t able to help them and work with them,” he said.
The Bavaria native, who became the youngest coach in Bundesliga history when he took over as head coach of Hoffenheim aged 28, added: “For me as a person, Julian Nagelsmann, I don’t define myself by the job.
“There can be phases where it doesn’t go perfectly. That’s part of the job. But I know when I lie down in bed in the evening, there’s other things that define me, not just the job as a football coach.”
Nagelsmann said he was “looking forward” to meeting his former Bayern players in the national team setup again.
“I really enjoyed working with those players.”
Nagelsmann also confirmed Barcelona midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who Flick named as captain to replace the injured Manuel Neuer, would keep the top job.
“I’m extremely convinced of Ilkay as a person and as a player.”
Germany’s next assignment is a tour to the United States in October, playing friendlies against the USA and Mexico.


’We’ll see:’ Messi unsure about 2026 World Cup

’We’ll see:’ Messi unsure about 2026 World Cup
Updated 22 September 2023
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’We’ll see:’ Messi unsure about 2026 World Cup

’We’ll see:’ Messi unsure about 2026 World Cup
  • For now, Messi said he is focused on the 2024 US-hosted Copa America tournament
  • Messi reiterated his disappointment with not having received sufficient “recognition” at his former French club Paris Saint-Germain after holding aloft the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina captain Lionel Messi has said he is unsure about his participation in the next World Cup to be co-hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada in 2026, when he will be 39.

“I don’t know if I will get there,” he told Argentine media personality Miguel Garrados in an interview broadcast on YouTube Thursday. “I don’t think about it yet because it is far away.”

For now, Messi said he is focused on the 2024 US-hosted Copa America tournament.

“After the Copa America we’ll see, it will depend on how I feel,” he said. “There are still three years left.”

Messi led Argentina to victory against France in the World Cup final in Qatar last December.

In the interview, he reiterated his disappointment with not having received sufficient “recognition” at his former French club Paris Saint-Germain after holding aloft the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

He claimed he was the only one of his Argentine team mates “who got no recognition” from his club.

“It was not what I expected but I’ve always said that things happen for a reason,” Messi said of his Paris years, adding he “wasn’t well there.”

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner had already stated on numerous occasions that he was unhappy at PSG before moving to Florida to play for Inter Miami in Major League Soccer.


Liverpool fight back again to edge LASK on Europa League return

Liverpool fight back again to edge LASK on Europa League return
Updated 21 September 2023
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Liverpool fight back again to edge LASK on Europa League return

Liverpool fight back again to edge LASK on Europa League return
  • Romelu Lukaku earned last year’s beaten finalists Roma a 2-1 victory at Sheriff
  • Bayer Leverkusen crushed Swedes Hacken 4-0, Rennes cruised past Maccabi Haifa 3-0 in France, Spaniards Villarreal lost 2-0 to Panathinakos in Greece

PARIS: Liverpool fell behind for the fourth time in five matches this season but fought back to beat LASK 3-1 in Linz in the Europa League on Thursday.
Elsewhere in the early matches in the first round of the group stage of the second-tier European competition, Romelu Lukaku earned last year’s beaten finalists Roma a 2-1 victory at Sheriff.
Bayer Leverkusen crushed Swedes Hacken 4-0, Rennes cruised past Maccabi Haifa 3-0 in France, Spaniards Villarreal lost 2-0 to Panathinakos in Greece.
Liverpool, playing in the Europa League for the first time since finishing runners up in 2016, changed their entire starting 11 away to LASK and quickly fell behind.
In the 14th minute, Sascha Horvath lobbed a corner to Florian Flecker just outside the Liverpool box. The Austrian midfielder controlled the dropping ball before smashing a rocket shot past Caoimhin Kelleher in the Liverpool goal.
Darwin Nunez levelled with a 55th-minute penalty kick after Luis Diaz was brought down.
After 61 minutes, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp started to replace teenagers with regular starters.
Within two minutes they were ahead when Ryan Gravenberch burst down the right and crossed low for Diaz to score from close range.
Two minutes from the end Mohamed Salah, a second-half replacement, poked home a third.
In Moldova, Leandro Paredes scored four minutes into first-half injury time to give Roma the lead away to Sheriff.
Colombian Cristian Tovar levelled but Romelu Lukaku gave Jose Mourinho’s team a narrow victory.
In the Conference League, Aston Villa, returning to European competition after a 12-year gap, fell behind in the third minute to Legia Warsaw and despite equalising twice lost 3-2.
Pawel Wszolek met a cross from the left with a sliding volley to put Legia ahead.
Jhon Duran levelled after six minutes heading in a rebound after a Nicolo Zaniolo shot.
But the Poles regained the lead after 25 minutes when Wszolek crossed from the right and Ernest Muci scored on the half volley.
Lucas Digne levelled with a deflected shot from the edge of the box after 38 minutes but Muci settled the game with a low shot after 51 minutes.
Croatians Zrinjski Mostar came from three goals down to beat visiting AZ Alkmaar 4-3.
Myron Van Brederode, Sven Mijnans and Dani de Wit put the Dutch side three goals up by half-time.
Zvonimir Kozulj started the comeback after 48 minutes and ended it in the 81st minute, sandwiching goals from Josip Corluka and Aldin Hrvanovic.


Neymar draws blank as Al-Hilal draw with Damac

Neymar draws blank as Al-Hilal draw with Damac
Updated 21 September 2023
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Neymar draws blank as Al-Hilal draw with Damac

Neymar draws blank as Al-Hilal draw with Damac
  • Early goal from Malcom put the visitors ahead as Al-Hilal looked to bounce back from a disappointing opening game 1-1 draw in the Asian Champions League with Navbahor
  • Nicolae Stanciu lined up a free-kick for Damac and the Romanian’s shot took an awkward bounce as Bounou went down to make the save and it ended up in the net

Neymar is still looking for his first goal in Saudi Arabia as Al-Hilal were held to a 1-1 draw with lowly Damac on Thursday. Despite the dropped points, the Riyadh giants return to the capital as league leaders with 17 points from the first seven games of the season. 

An early goal from Malcom put the visitors ahead as they looked to bounce back from a disappointing opening game 1-1 draw in the Asian Champions League on Monday with Navbahor of Uzbekistan. It didn’t quite work out that way as Damac produced a performance that belied their next-to-bottom league standing.

Hilal coach Jorge Jesus fielded a strong line-up containing the club’s big summer signings. Neymar was in attack alongside fellow Brazilian Malcom. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic also started, as did Kalidou Koulibaly in defense and Yassine Bounou between the sticks. Ruben Neves came off the bench at the start of the second half.

By that time the men in white were looking for a bit of a cushion as Damac, still looking for a first win of the season with just three points from the opening six games, had their moments.

Malcom fired the opener after just nine minutes but there was much to thank Neymar for. The former Barcelona star had dropped deep — as he did on numerous occasions — to pick up possession. He then threaded a pass through two defenders on the left for Salem Al-Dawsari to get to the byline — to pull back for the Brazilian to smash the ball high into the net from the edge of the six-yard box.

Al-Hilal wanted a second, and almost immediately from the restart, attacked down the same side but this time Al-Dawsari’s low ball, with Neymar waiting in the middle, was cut out.

Damac almost levelled after 14 minutes. Abdulaziz Al-Bishi blocked a poor clearance, and after pushing Bounou out of the way on the right side, could not curl the ball into the empty net from the tightest of angles. It was a let-off for the 18-time champions.

There was another warning on the half-hour. Assan Ceesay looked like he was going to give Damac the lead as he shot from inside the area but Bounou was quick off his line to make the save.

Then Neymar should have scored. With eight minutes of the first half remaining, Malcom drew a number of defenders on the right side and then slipped the perfect pass into his fellow Brazilian, unmarked near the penalty spot. Neymar shot toward the bottom corner but was denied by the heel of Sultan Faqihi.

Just before the break, Damac came even closer as Farouk Chafai headed against the Hilal crossbar. The hosts continued to push for the equalizer after the break and got back on level terms midway through the second half. It was a deserved goal though slightly soft from the point of view of the visitors.

There didn’t seem to be a huge amount of danger when Nicolae Stanciu lined up a free-kick more than 30 meters from goal, but the Romanian’s shot took an awkward bounce as Bounou went down to make the save and it ended up in the net.

Soon after, Milinkovic-Savic produced a pass of beauty to dissect the Damac defense and while Neymar made his run behind the backline, he could not quite guide the ball between the posts.

Both teams continued to push forward for the winner but neither managed it. It was a second successive disappointing 1-1 draw for Al-Hilal.

Elsewhere, Gina Wijnaldum announced his arrival in Saudi Arabia with a brace as Ettifaq picked up a dramatic 4-3 win at home to Al-Tai. 

The former Liverpool star scored the fastest goal of the season so far, after 79 seconds, to give the Dammam men the lead. A hat-trick from Bernand Mensah ensured that Al-Tai were in the game as Moussa Dembele and then a second from Wijnaldum ensured it was 3-3 as the game entered injury time.

With 94 minutes on the clock Dembele struck again to send the team third, just a point behind leaders Al-Hilal.

Al-Taawoun are second after a 2-1 win at home to Al-Raed.


Oman hosts 10th West Asian Union Championship for Youth Football in December

Oman hosts 10th West Asian Union Championship for Youth Football in December
Updated 21 September 2023
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Oman hosts 10th West Asian Union Championship for Youth Football in December

Oman hosts 10th West Asian Union Championship for Youth Football in December
  • The championship will be held for footballers born in 2008
  • The tournament’s draw will take place on November 23, 2023

MUSCAT: The Omani Football Federation will be hosting the 10th West Asian Union Championship for Youth in Muscat between December 10 and 20, 2023.
Seven Arab countries including Jordan, UAE, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Yemen, in addition to the host, Oman, will participate in the championship that is being held for footballers born in 2008, said a media statement on Thursday.
The tournament’s draw is scheduled to take place on November 23, 2023, at the West Asian Union Headquarters in Jordan’s capital, Amman, and will be broadcast on its official YouTube page.
The Jordanian national team won the 9th championship which was held in Aqaba City, in Jordan, during the summer of 2022 after winning the final match 1-0 against Lebanon.
Along with the two finalists, Yemen, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine, Syria and Iraq participated in the tournament’s ninth edition.