Mbappe scores as PSG beat Nice 3-1 to reach French Cup semifinals

Mbappe scores as PSG beat  Nice 3-1 to reach French Cup semifinals
Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe shoots and scores his team's first goal during the French Cup (Coupe de France) quarterfinal football match between PSG and OGC Nice at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris. (AFP)
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Updated 14 March 2024
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Mbappe scores as PSG beat Nice 3-1 to reach French Cup semifinals

Mbappe scores as PSG beat  Nice 3-1 to reach French Cup semifinals
  • Mbappe looked sharp, expertly swapping waist-high passes with midfielder Fabian Ruiz
  • PSG have won the trophy a record 14 times, but not since 2021

PARIS: Kylian Mbappe returned to the starting lineup and took just 14 minutes to score as Paris Saint-Germain beat Nice 3-1 to reach the French Cup semifinals on Wednesday.

He started the past two league games on the bench as part of coach Luis Enrique’s rotation policy, which most observers accept involves leaving out Mbappe to prepare for next season without him.

Mbappe looked sharp, expertly swapping waist-high passes with midfielder Fabian Ruiz and putting the ball between goalkeeper Marcin Bułka’s legs for his 35th goal of the season. Ten minutes later, Mbappe hit the post with a deflected shot.

PSG have won the trophy a record 14 times — but not since 2021 — and faced a Nice team that is the only one to beat PSG in the league this season.

Bułka made an awful blunder for the second goal, botching a clearance and spinning around unaware of where the ball was landing. Ruiz profited to roll it into an empty net in the 33rd.

But PSG’s defense remains vulnerable, as it has been for several years.

Nice pulled a goal back four minutes later when striker Gaetan Laborde — who scored in September when Nice won in Paris — was unmarked on the right of the penalty area and guided a low half-volley into the left corner.

Winger Jeremie Boga and right back Jordan Lotomba missed chances for Nice early into the second half as PSG’s midfield struggled. Nice were punished in the 60th when central defender Lucas Beraldo headed in a cross inadvertently flicked on by Nice defender Dante, who was trying to clear the ball.

The semifinals pit second-tier Valenciennes against Lyon on April 2. PSG will host Rennes the next day.


Zaccagni rescues Italy leaving Croatia in Euro 2024 limbo

Zaccagni rescues Italy leaving Croatia in Euro 2024 limbo
Updated 25 June 2024
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Zaccagni rescues Italy leaving Croatia in Euro 2024 limbo

Zaccagni rescues Italy leaving Croatia in Euro 2024 limbo

LEIPZIG, Germany: Mattia Zaccagni’s superb last-gasp strike fired Italy into the Euro 2024 knock-outs with a 1-1 draw against Croatia in a fraught Group B clash on Monday.

Italy progress in second place behind winners Spain and will face Switzerland in the last 16, while Croatia are on the verge of elimination but could still progress depending on other results later in the week.

With only two points it is unlikely Zlatko Dalic’s side will qualify as one of the four best third-place teams but it is still possible.

Croatia midfielder Luka Modric became the oldest goalscorer in the competition’s history with his strike after 55 minutes, just 33 seconds after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved the 38-year-old’s penalty.

It seemed enough for his team but Zaccagni whipped a brilliant strike into the top corner on the break in the 98th minute to send Italy through from what was dubbed a “group of death.”

After shipping five goals in the first two games, Dalic opted to shore up the midfield by bringing in Mario Pasalic and Luka Sucic amid four changes.

The coach also kept established trio of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic despite their struggles in the 3-0 defeat by Spain and 2-2 draw against minnows Albania.

Luciano Spalletti’s Italy beat Albania 2-1 but were dominated by Spain in a 1-0 defeat and the coach shifted to a 3-5-2 formation, dropping Juventus’ Federico Chiesa.

Croatia dominated the opening exchanges against a defensive Italy side knowing a draw would send them through in second place behind group winners Spain.

On his first start at the tournament 21-year-old RB Salzburg midfielder Sucic forced a fine early save from Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma with a vicious drive from range.

Azzurri forward Mateo Retegui’s header was deflected narrowly wide at the other end on a rare forray forward, with the two-time winners happy to slow the game down and waste time at corners and throw-ins as early as the 20th minute.

Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic made a stunning stop to thwart Alessandro Bastoni, found by Nicolo Barella’s tempting cross, as the holders gained control without taking risks.

Dalic, who steered Croatia to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup final and semis respectively, threw on powerful striker Ante Budimir for the second half.

It gave his team a focal point and they looked instantly more threatening and swiftly reaped their reward.

Italy substitute Davide Frattesi handled Andrej Kramaric’s effort and after a VAR review Croatia were given a penalty.

Donnarumma clawed out Real Madrid midfielder Modric’s effort but the veteran could not be denied 33 seconds later.

The Italian goalkeeper made another fine save in the aftermath from Budimir as Croatia kept the pressure up and Modric smashed home the rebound from close range.

He beat the previous record for oldest Euros goalscorer set in 2008 by Austrian Ivica Vastic by 32 days.

Modric was replaced with 10 minutes to go and even some Italy supporters afforded the playmaker an ovation, while they nervously eyed the ever-advancing clock.

Croatia thought they had progressed but Zaccagni broke their hearts in the eighth and final minute of stoppage time.


Spain complete perfect Euro 2024 group stage as Albania go out

Spain complete perfect Euro 2024 group stage as Albania go out
Updated 25 June 2024
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Spain complete perfect Euro 2024 group stage as Albania go out

Spain complete perfect Euro 2024 group stage as Albania go out
  • It is the first time since 2008 that Spain have won all three group games at either a World Cup or European Championship

DÜSSELDORF, Germany: An early Ferran Torres strike gave Spain’s second-string side a 1-0 win over Albania on Monday as the three-time champions finished the Euro 2024 group stage with a perfect record and the defeat eliminated their opponents.
Barcelona winger Torres finished off a fine move in the 13th minute in Duesseldorf to puncture the atmosphere in a stadium filled with a majority of noisy Albanian fans.
However, this game was not a cruise for a Spain team showing 10 changes to the side which started their 1-0 win over Italy four days earlier.
Spain had already secured top spot in Group B, but Albania knew they realistically needed a win to go through and that made for a frantic encounter at times, particularly as they pushed forward in the second half.
Despite their best efforts, Albania go home after picking up only one point and finishing bottom of a difficult section.
It is a regression for them from their debut European Championship appearance in 2016, when they also went out in the first round but did manage to win a game.
Beating a Spain side who have probably been the most impressive so far in Germany was always going to be a big ask for Albania, coached by former Barcelona left-back Sylvinho.
It is the first time since 2008 that Spain have won all three group games at either a World Cup or European Championship.
Coach Luis de la Fuente can now turn his full attentions to a last-16 tie in Cologne on Sunday against an as-yet unknown third-place finisher.
Center-half Aymeric Laporte was the only Spain player to keep his place following the Italy game, with key midfielder Rodri suspended and everyone else given a breather.
Goalkeeper David Raya, defender Dani Vivian, left-back Alejandro Grimaldo and midfielder Martin Zubimendi, all largely untested at international level, came in.
There was also a start for Jesus Navas, who was part of the Spain teams that won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, and who is now 38.
Even Laporte was removed at half-time, replaced by Robin Le Normand, while Lamine Yamal and Alvaro Morata also appeared in the second half.
Albania, ranked 66th in the world, knew it would be a big ask to beat Spain having lost all of their eight previous meetings.
Spain first threatened in the 12th minute when Mikel Merino’s header was saved by goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, and a minute later they were ahead.
Dani Olmo stepped into the space between the Albanian lines to receive a pass, and then fed a measured ball in behind for Torres to latch onto.
The former Manchester City player timed his run perfectly and finished with precision too, his first-time effort going in off the far post.
Torres has made a habit of scoring at these tournaments, having netted twice at the last Euros and twice at the 2022 World Cup.
It took Albania until the final minute of the half to test Raya, the Arsenal shot-stopper flying to his right to parry a powerful strike by Kristjan Asllani.
Joselu hooked a Grimaldo cross just wide moments after the restart for Spain, before the Albanian fans raised the noise levels as they became aware of events in the other match.
They were very close to equalising when substitute Armando Broja met an Asllani free-kick and tried to lob Raya, but the goalkeeper saved.
Asllani then fizzed an effort just wide, and Broja was again denied by Raya in stoppage time as Albania bowed out.


Pulisic scores, assists on Balogun goal to lead US over Bolivia 2-0 in Copa America opener

Pulisic scores, assists on Balogun goal to lead US over Bolivia 2-0 in Copa America opener
Updated 24 June 2024
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Pulisic scores, assists on Balogun goal to lead US over Bolivia 2-0 in Copa America opener

Pulisic scores, assists on Balogun goal to lead US over Bolivia 2-0 in Copa America opener
  • The 11th-ranked US plays Panama on Thursday at Atlanta and closes the group against Uruguay on July 1 at Kansas City, Missouri

ARLINGTON, Texas: Christian Pulisic scored in the third minute and assisted on Folarin Balogun’s goal in the 44th as the United States cruised past Bolivia 2-0 in their Copa America opener on Sunday night.
Pulisic joined Clint Dempsey as the only US players with a goal and an assist in a Copa America match and reached 30 goals in 69 international appearances, the fewest among Americans.
“We came out flying with a lot of intensity. Obviously, that early goal helped us a lot,” Pulisic said. “All around, a pretty dominant performance. I think we could have put it away and had more goals there.”
Among six invited guests to South America’s championship, the US is expected to advance from Group C to the quarterfinals along with Uruguay.
“It’s a start that’s massive for us. Build the confidence,” American defender Antonee Robinson said. “If we were being picky, we could have been a lot more clinical, We could have put another two, three goals away.”
Bolivia lost its 13th straight Copa America match dating to 2015 and has one win in its last 31.
The 11th-ranked US plays Panama on Thursday at Atlanta and closes the group against Uruguay on July 1 at Kansas City, Missouri. No. 84 Bolivia meets Uruguay on Thursday at East Rutherford, New Jersey, then plays Panama on July 1 at Orlando, Florida.
A crowd of 47,873 attended the match under the retractable roof at 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium, which will host a World Cup semifinal in two years. It was 97 degrees Fahrenheit outside (36 Celsius) the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys at kickoff but air-conditioned inside.
Playing a day before his 30th birthday, goalkeeper Matt Turner had three saves in his 25th international shutout. The US improved to 6-0 at AT&T as the Americans opened their fifth Copa America appearance, the first since reaching the semifinals as co-host in 2016.
The US had 18 touches inside the attacking penalty area in the first half and Bolivia had none.
Pulisic put the US ahead 2:23 in, the fastest American goal in 34 competitive matches against South American opponents. He played a short corner kick to Tim Weah and ran toward the penalty area. Weah returned the ball to Pulisic, who took a touch and from just inside the area curled a right-foot shot off the outstretched fingertips of goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra and into the far upper corner.
Balogun doubled the lead when he received a pass from Pulisic, took several touches and threaded a low, left-foot shot along the ground, past defender Jesús Sagredo and inside Viscarra’s far post for his fourth goal in 13 appearances.
Balogun put the ball in the net again in the 53rd off a pass from Weah, but Weah was whistled for offside when he received the ball from Weston McKennie in the buildup, a decision confirmed in a video review.
Midfielder Tyler Adams, regaining fitness after a back injury, played the first half in his first start for club or country since March 30. Adams and Bologun were inserted into the starting lineup in place of Yunus Musah and Ricardo Pepi in the two changes from the lineup for the 1-1 exhibition draw against Brazil on June 12. Musah replaced Adams at the start of the second half and Pepi entered in the 65th.
Viscarra pushed Pepi’s 79th-minute shot over the crossbar, then stopped Pepi in the 90th on a point-blank initial attempt and another off the rebound.


Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner

Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner
Updated 24 June 2024
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Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner

Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner
  • Hungary arrived at the Euros with increased expectations after a 14-match unbeaten run between November 2022 and March of this year

STUTTGART, Germany: Kevin Csoboth scored in the 10th minute of added time as Hungary snatched a 1-0 win over Scotland to stay in the hunt for a place in the last 16 of Euro 2024.
A sickening collision led to Hungary striker Barnabas Varga being stretchered off in front of his visibly shocked team-mates in the second half, but Csoboth’s late winner kept them alive in the tournament.
It was a bitter end to Scotland’s bid to reach the knockout phase of a major tournament for the first time as they were caught out pressing for a goal of their own right at the death.
Germany finished top of Group A after a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, who will go through as runners-up. Hungary must rely on other results if they are to advance as one of the best third-placed sides.
Scotland came last with just a point as their wait for a first European Championship win since 1996 goes on.
Coach Steve Clarke made one enforced change for Scotland as Scott McKenna replaced Kieran Tierney, who was stretchered off with a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland.
English-born Callum Styles got the nod in Hungary’s midfield, coming in after shaking off an injury, with Endre Botka also making his first appearance of the tournament on the right side of a back three.
John McGinn revealed the team skipped their pre-match nap as thousands of Scotland supporters gathered outside the hotel, belting out songs in anticipation of what they hoped was a historic night.
Hungary arrived at the Euros with increased expectations after a 14-match unbeaten run between November 2022 and March of this year. They also beat England twice in the last UEFA Nations League, as well as Germany away.
But back-to-back defeats had punctured confidence and left Marco Rossi’s side needing to beat Scotland to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds.
Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn shovelled away a dipping drive from Bendeguz Bolla that bounced awkwardly in front of him, with Styles and then Willi Orban booked for cleaning out McGinn in a first half full of endeavour but limited in genuine chances.
That was until Che Adams’ dangerous clearance led to a Hungary free-kick 25 yards out, which Dominik Szoboszlai clipped toward the far post with Orban’s header skimming the top of the crossbar.
Szoboszlai, who shrugged off injury concerns after missing Hungary’s final team training session, hammered over a strike from distance, and it wasn’t until the 53rd minute that Scotland registered a shot.
Scotland defended doggedly as Jack Hendry blocked Roland Sallai’s attempt shifting in from the left before Marton Dardai headed over from a cross.
A horrifying incident left Varga prone on his back in the Scotland area as he tried to head a free-kick goalwards while Gunn came flying out, with Anthony Ralston also crashing to the ground.
It resulted in a long stoppage as medics set Varga in the recovery position before a sheet was draped around him as he was carried off on a stretcher.
The fourth official indicated 10 minutes of stoppage time, which sparked a desperate quest from both teams to find the winning goal.
Gunn saved well from Andras Schafer and Szoboszlai, before Csoboth hit the post. Scotland defender Grant Hanley had a chance parried away by Peter Gulacsi, with Hungary racing up the other end and Csoboth steering home a cutback to break Scottish hearts.


Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany

Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany
Updated 24 June 2024
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Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany

Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany

FRANKFURT: A stoppage-time header from Niclas Fuellkrug has rescued a 1-1 draw for Germany against Switzerland on Sunday in Frankfurt, ensuring the Euro hosts finish top of Group A.

The Swiss hit the lead early, Dan Ndoye booting in from close range after 28 minutes to stun the home side.

Germany took a series of risks late in the hope of an equalizer and veteran striker Fuellkrug delivered, heading home in the second minute of stoppage time.

The result means Switzerland, rather than Germany, face a tougher last 16 assignment, setting up a potential meeting with holders Italy or 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

The Germans look set to face second place in England’s Group C, which is currently Denmark.

Heading into the match the hosts were optimistic they had turned the corner after almost a decade of disappointment at major tournaments, with two World Cup group stage exits bookending a Euros last 16 elimination.

Led by an experienced midfield featuring captain Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos, Germany beat both Scotland and Hungary in their first two Euros matches to give the hosts hope of a deep run in the tournament.

The hosts were however caught off guard by Switzerland’s energy and failed to carve out many clear-cut chances against a dogged Swiss defense.

Despite Fuellkrug’s late rescue effort, Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann will have plenty to ponder after the stodgy performance.

Despite having already qualified for the last 16, Nagelsmann decided to play the same starting XI for the third straight game.

It was a decision he may regret when defender Jonathan Tah saw yellow, his second in the group stage, meaning he will miss Germany’s first knockout game.

Pushed on by an optimistic and partisan home ground, Germany started brightly, carving out some half-chances after launching long balls over Switzerland’s midfield press.

Robert Andrich looked to have given Germany the lead after 16 minutes when Yann Sommer made a meal of his long-range strike, which bounced past the goalkeeper and into the net.

The goal was however overturned with VAR finding Jamal Musiala had committed a foul in the lead-up.

The Swiss had been on the back foot early but took the lead on the 28-minute mark, taking advantage of some sloppy play from Musiala and Joshua Kimmich.

Musiala lost the ball in his own half, sending Switzerland on the break. Kimmich won but then let go of possession, allowing Remo Freuler to find Ndoye who stuck out a leg and booted the ball into the net.

It was the first time the hosts have trailed this tournament and the goal seemed to rattle Germany, who were increasingly hesitant in closing out the first half.

Germany went on the attack in the second half as Nagelsmann made several offensive changes but the hosts had few clear chances against a Swiss side doggedly protecting their lead.

Man City defender Manuel Akanji stretched out to block Kimmich at point-black range with 20 minutes remaining.

Nagelsmann brought Fuellkrug from the bench with 14 minutes remaining and the Borussia Dortmund striker stepped up to the plate, heading in a cross from David Raum to send Germany back to the top of the group.