Super sub Darwin Nunez strikes twice as Liverpool stun Newcastle

Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez celebrates scoring their first goal. (Reuters)
Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez celebrates scoring their first goal. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 August 2023
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Super sub Darwin Nunez strikes twice as Liverpool stun Newcastle

Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez celebrates scoring their first goal. (Reuters)
  • Anthony Gordon had pounced on a Trent Alexander-Arnold mistake to put the Magpies in front
  • Newcastle failed to make the man advantage count and were punished

NEWCASTLE: Darwin Nunez came off the bench to score twice in the final 10 minutes as 10-man Liverpool came from a goal down to stun Newcastle 2-1 at St. James' Park on Sunday.
Anthony Gordon had pounced on a Trent Alexander-Arnold mistake to put the Magpies in front before Virgil van Dijk was sent off for bringing down Alexander Isak inside half an hour.
But Newcastle failed to make the man advantage count and were punished when Nunez produced two moments of rare quality so far in his Liverpool career to turn the game on its head.
"With 10 men in my history, 1,000 games (as a manager), I have never had something like that. At Newcastle, in this stadium with that atmosphere, it is crazy," said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool spent a club-record £85 million ($107 million) on Nunez just over a year ago, but the Uruguayan has found himself behind Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo in the battle to be Klopp's preferred number nine early in the season.
Nunez was unleashed from the bench 13 minutes from time and made the most of his opportunity as he was twice released behind the Newcastle defence and kept his nerve to fire low and hard beyond Nick Pope.
"We calmed the game down and brought on Darwin. He was obviously fired up from not starting," added Klopp.
"It's clear he's not happy but it's early in the season, we need to find stability and results.
"We need to find a way of playing. This is a new team with new key players. It needs time. He scores two goals and can't get the smile off his face."
Victory keeps Liverpool two points behind leaders Manchester City and lays down an early-season marker after Newcastle usurped the Reds to secure Champions League football last season.
"We should have put the game to bed and that's the thing we are kicking ourselves about," said Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.
Liverpool were lucky not to be a man down after just six minutes.
Alexander-Arnold had already been booked for throwing the ball away when he pulled down Gordon as the Newcastle man tore down the left wing.
But to the astonishment of the home crowd and Newcastle bench, referee John Brooks did not produce a second yellow card.
Joe Gomez was sent out by Klopp to warm up with one eye on replacing Alexander-Arnold to keep him out of further trouble.
The Liverpool boss might have wished he had made that change as Alexander-Arnold's failure to control Mohamed Salah's pass allowed Gordon to run clear on goal and score just his second Newcastle goal since a £45 million move from Everton in January.
Things went from bad to worse for the Reds when Brooks did produce a red card, Van Dijk's first of his Liverpool career, on 28 minutes.
The Liverpool captain was deemed to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity when he kicked through Isak on the edge of the area.
Only some brilliance from Alisson Becker kept Liverpool in the game before half-time as the Brazilian turned Miguel Almiron's fiercely struck volley onto the crossbar.
Almiron came even closer after the break as some mesmeric wing play scythed through the Liverpool defence, only for his shot to come back off the post.
But Newcastle were made to pay for not adding to their lead in an incredible finale.
Sven Botman failed to deal with Jota's ball forward and Nunez drilled a shot into the far corner nine minutes from time.
Salah had been kept largely quiet in the week he was linked with joining the stars leaving European football for Saudi Arabia.
But the Egyptian produced three minutes into stoppage time when his pass put Nunez in the clear once more to deliver the most telling goal of his Liverpool career to date.


Despite Islamabad fightback, skipper Rossouw inspires Quetta to victory

Despite Islamabad fightback, skipper Rossouw inspires Quetta to victory
Updated 23 February 2024
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Despite Islamabad fightback, skipper Rossouw inspires Quetta to victory

Despite Islamabad fightback, skipper Rossouw inspires Quetta to victory
  • In low-scoring match, Rilee Rossouw holds his nerve with 34-run inning to guide Quetta to victory
  • Gladiators’ Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim take three wickets each to keep Islamabad at bay

ISLAMABAD: Despite a valiant fightback by Islamabad United, Quetta Gladiators continued their impressive run of the tournament by beating the former by three wickets at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Thursday.

“Continuing our winning streak,” the Gladiators wrote on social media platform X after the match ended.

Batting first, United scored a lackluster 138/9 at the end of their 20 overs courtesy of a stellar bowling performance from the Gladiators. Spinner Abrar Ahmed returned figures of 3/18 while Mohammad Wasim finished with 3/20. Akeil Hosein finished with 2/32 while pacer Mohammad Hasnain returned figures of 1/35.

United’s only resistance in the batting department came from Agha Salman, who top-scored with a decent 33-run knock from 23 balls while opener Alex Hales scored 21 from nine deliveries.

What should have been an easy chase for the Gladiators turned into a difficult one when United took quick wickets to put the pressure back on Rossouw’s squad. United skipper Shadab Khan returned figures of 2/24 while pacer Naseem Shah finished with 2/34.

Rumman Raees and Hunain Shah took a single wicket each before Rossouw guided United to victory with a composed 34-run innings that came off 38 balls and featured only three boundaries.

Opener Jason Roy provided the Gladiators an impressive start to the game by smashing 37 runs off 18 balls while Sherfane Rutherford held his nerves to score 29 runs from 23 balls before Naseem rattled his stumps.

The Gladiators and table-toppers Multan Sultans both have three wins from the tournament so far. Islamabad, with a single win and two losses, is at number three on the PSL points table.


Celtics, Mavs stretch win streaks, triple-double milestone for Jokic

Celtics, Mavs stretch win streaks, triple-double milestone for Jokic
Updated 23 February 2024
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Celtics, Mavs stretch win streaks, triple-double milestone for Jokic

Celtics, Mavs stretch win streaks, triple-double milestone for Jokic
  • Jokic was a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor on the way to 21 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists
  • Golden State star Stephen Curry drilled six three-pointers on the way to 32 points to lead the Warriors to a 128-110 victory over a Los Angeles Lakers team that was missing LeBron James

LOS ANGELES: The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks picked up where they left off when the NBA resumed following the All-Star break on Thursday as both notched their seventh straight NBA victories.

Luka Doncic scored 41 points with nine rebounds and 11 assists and Kyrie Irving added 29 points for the Mavs in a 123-113 home victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Derrick White scored 28 points and Jayson Tatum scored 25 to lead the Celtics, who used a big third quarter to take control on the way to a 129-112 victory over the Bulls in Chicago.

It had looked like business as usual for league-leading Boston when they took a 16-point lead in the first quarter. But the Bulls outscored them 39-28 in the second period and led by three at halftime before the Celtics righted the ship.

White and Tatum made five three-pointers each as the Celtics connected on 23 from beyond the arc.

Nikola Vucevic led Chicago with 22 points and 14 rebounds but the Bulls had no answer when Boston clamped down defensively in the second half.

In Dallas, the Mavericks also found themselves down by three at halftime. But they opened the third quarter on a 16-0 run to seize a double-digit lead and didn’t trail again.

“It’s always tough to come back from All-Star, the first game’s always tough,” Doncic told broadcaster TNT. “We played against an amazing team, but we showed out.”

Devin Booker scored 35 points to pace Phoenix and Kevin Durant added 23.

But the Suns couldn’t reel the Mavs back in late, Irving pushing Dallas’s lead back to double digits early in the fourth quarter with a thrilling coast-to-coast that saw him dribble behind his back before spinning to the rim.

With the win the Mavs matched Phoenix’s 33-23 record and earned the tiebreaker over the Suns.

“I think it was a very big game,” Doncic said after the Mavs climbed into playoff position at sixth in the West, but added: “We’ve got to get ready for the next game and just keep going like that.”

In Denver, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic grabbed another piece of NBA history when he became just the third player to record at least one triple-double against every team he has faced in the league in a 130-110 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Jokic was a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor on the way to 21 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists.

“When I finish career it’s going to be like a legacy,” he said after joining LeBron James and Russell Westbrook as players with a triple-double against every team they have faced.

Even more importantly, the reigning champion Nuggets snapped the three-game losing streak they took into the All-Star break.

“We needed this win,” added Jokic, whose 16th triple-double of the season puts him second on this season’s list behind Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis, who posted his 19th with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a 127-122 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Golden State star Stephen Curry drilled six three-pointers on the way to 32 points to lead the Warriors to a 128-110 victory over a Los Angeles Lakers team that was missing LeBron James — who sat out with an ankle injury.

Curry set the tone early, making six of eight shots, including four three-pointers, on the way to 16 first-quarter points. Curry added eight assists and became the first Warrior with 6,000 in the regular season.

Anthony Davis had 27 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Lakers, whose three-game winning streak ended.

In Oklahoma City, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points to led the Thunder to a 129-107 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in a clash of Western Conference contenders.

Lu Dort added 19 points as all five starters scored in double figures for the Thunder, who moved within one game of West leaders Minnesota.

Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points and Norman Powell added 19 off the bench for the third-placed Clippers.

Brooklyn’s coaching change brought no quick change of fortune as the Nets fell 121-93 to the Raptors in Toronto in their first game since Kevin Ollie took over as interim coach after Jacque Vaughn was fired.


Palestine beat Syria to reach semifinals of 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship

Palestine beat Syria to reach semifinals of 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship
Updated 23 February 2024
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Palestine beat Syria to reach semifinals of 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship

Palestine beat Syria to reach semifinals of 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship
  • A 1-0 win secured maximum 6 points from 2 matches in Group B and spot in the last 4

JEDDAH: Palestine on Thursday night advanced to the semifinals of the West Asian Football Federation Women’s Championship after defeating Syria 1-0 at the reserve pitch of King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah.

Miral Qassis scored the winner in the 85th minute with a powerful shot from outside the penalty area, leaving Palestine with a maximum of six points from two matches, and second in Group B only on goal difference to Nepal.

Palestine had won their opener 3-0 against Iraq and will now face the group leaders on Saturday. With no points, Syria and Iraq sit in third and fourth respectively, and meet each other in a dead rubber on the same day.


Fahey and Ferguson getting into the Spirit ahead of Saudi Cup

Fahey and Ferguson getting into the Spirit ahead of Saudi Cup
Updated 23 February 2024
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Fahey and Ferguson getting into the Spirit ahead of Saudi Cup

Fahey and Ferguson getting into the Spirit ahead of Saudi Cup
  • Big-race winner in Bahrain represents some famous connections, including former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

RIYADH: Trainer Richard Fahey has admitted he was “humbled” when first getting the opportunity to train horses for legendary ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and suggested that saddling Spirit Dancer (GB) in Saturday’s Howden Neom Turf Cup is the “stuff of dreams.”

The co-owner’s homebred capped off a memorable year when winning the Bahrain International Trophy in November, and following a prep run in Dubai last month, appears a leading contender in the $2 million (SR7.4 million) Howden Neom Turf Cup.

“I felt he would need the run the last day and it looked that way as well,” Fahey said. “He has had four or five weeks to acclimatize now. It’s all stuff of dreams, which is becoming a reality when we get to run on Saturday.”

Fahey’s association with one of the most successful British sportsmen has been fruitful for both parties, and the trainer has been able to swap sporting experiences with Ferguson.

“To be fair when I first started training for him I was a little bit humbled,” Fahey said. “I have some fantastic conversations with him and he has been to the yard three or four times now. He is just a wonderful man and you can see why he has been a success.

“It’s a humbling experience, but it’s amazing because even this morning we were discussing footballers and horses, and Sir Alex was asking why we didn’t canter on the grass.

“I explained we race on the (grass) surfaces because if we were to train on them all the time, we wouldn’t have many horses left, so we tend to use the artificial surfaces, and he compared it to a very good football team whose training pitch was quite quick and a lot of the players were getting hurt — so there are comparisons with football and racing.”

Fahey has been impressed with the surroundings in Riyadh and confirmed that the seven-year-old Spirit Dancer has settled in well.

“It’s fantastic here; we are well looked after and the horse is happy. When you come on these trips, the most important thing is how the horse is and the horse is in good order,” the North Yorkshire-based trainer said.

“I’m very pleased with him and at the moment I wouldn’t swap my fella.”

There is no hiding the sheer enjoyment that all connections got from Spirit Dancer’s Bahrain victory and Fahey is hoping for more of the same this weekend.

“It has given them a huge amount of pleasure and I think as a trainer we don’t really respect the pleasure horses give to people. For Sir Alex to be animated and excited and for all the team, it was a great win,” Fahey said.


Anna Kalinskaya eliminates Coco Gauff to set up semifinal with Iga Swiatek in Dubai

Anna Kalinskaya eliminates Coco Gauff to set up semifinal with Iga Swiatek in Dubai
Updated 23 February 2024
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Anna Kalinskaya eliminates Coco Gauff to set up semifinal with Iga Swiatek in Dubai

Anna Kalinskaya eliminates Coco Gauff to set up semifinal with Iga Swiatek in Dubai
  • The Russian becomes only the fourth qualifier in history to reach final 4 of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
  • Swiatek breezes past last month’s Australian Open finalist Zheng to reach her second successive Dubai semifinal

DUBAI: Qualifier Anna Kalinskaya rallied back from a set down on Thursday night to dump world No. 3 Coco Gauff out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 and set up a surprise semifinal with No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

Gauff, winner of last year’s US Open at Flushing Meadows, took an early lead and with Kalinskaya requesting a medical timeout shortly before the end of the first set, it looked like a repeat of last year’s semifinal where Gauff met Swiatek.

But the world No. 40 had other ideas, showing her mettle — and the benefits of a little medical attention — to turn the match on its head and secure her second top-10 win of the week and first top-five victory.

Gauff raced into the lead despite facing two breakpoints in the opening game. Kalinskaya, who reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open last month, struggled to settle and was broken again in the fourth after a lengthy service game. Yet with 25-year-old Kalinskaya — making her main-draw debut in Dubai this week — requesting on-court treatment for upper back pain and momentum firmly with Gauff, it was the American’s level that declined in the second set.

Both players dropped early service games, but Kalinskaya held in the fourth to advance 3-1 and showed a strong defensive game to eventually take it to 5-2. Gauff secured a break that gave her hope, but it was not enough as Kalinskaya closed out the set on her serve.

In the decisive third set, an error-prone Gauff failed to match her opponent, who quickly went ahead 2-0 and showed no signs of the early back pains as she played a variety of powerful forehands from the baseline mixed with angled cross-court backhands that had her opponent on her heels. Serving for the match, Kalinskaya — who has never contested a semifinal in a WTA 1000 event — showed some nerves, but ultimately secured what was required.

“It was a difficult match,” said Kalinskaya, who becomes only the fourth qualifier to reach the final four in Dubai. “I started a little bit not so confident. I was getting used to the surface. I played many games this week (in qualifying) but didn’t get the chance to play on center court. I felt the speed of the bounce was a bit different. I couldn’t find my timing.

“In the second set, I actually calmed down a little bit more and I played point-by-point until the end of the match. I could feel the tension until the last point. She kept bringing so many balls back, so I had to stay really patient and decide which ball to go and finish the point.”

Swiatek, 22, crowned champion in Doha last week, extended her unbeaten run in the Middle East this year by making light work of Zheng. The 6-3, 6-2 win meant the Pole also maintained her 100 percent record against last month’s Australian Open champion, having won all five previous encounters, most recently at the United Cup in Perth.

Under the lights at Dubai Tennis Stadium, she convincingly emerged victorious yet again, denying Zheng a break of serve throughout and saving three breakpoints.

“I think I can really play well under pressure and in those important moments,” said Swiatek after extending her winning streak in the Gulf region this year to seven matches. “I guess it’s maybe the decision-making. For sure, mentally I treat those shots the same way as any other shot in the match. I don’t feel extra pressure; I just feel like it’s any other point — which gives me freedom to do anything, honestly.”

For all the pre-tournament talk of this year’s Dubai championship featuring 17 of the world’s top 20 players, Swiatek is the sole semifinalist ranked inside the top 22. Yet while she is undoubtedly favorite now and expected to win, she was quick to play down talk of a title and explain some of the unique demands in playing back-to-back tournaments.

“I’m in the semifinal, so I don’t think anybody would say it’s their title when they’re in the middle of the tournament,” she responded when asked whether she considered the title hers to lose.