Arsenal, Man City stalemate hands Liverpool Premier League lead

Liverpool were the big winners of the day in the title race as they beat Brighton 2-1 to go top, as City and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate. (Reuters)
Liverpool were the big winners of the day in the title race as they beat Brighton 2-1 to go top, as City and Arsenal played out a goalless stalemate. (Reuters)
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Updated 31 March 2024
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Arsenal, Man City stalemate hands Liverpool Premier League lead

Arsenal, Man City stalemate hands Liverpool Premier League lead
  • A share of the spoils preserves City's unbeaten home run stretching back to November 2022
  • Guardiola said Liverpool were now "favourites" to win the title

LONDON: Manchester City failed to break down a determined Arsenal defense as a highly-anticipated clash at the top of the Premier League failed to live up to the hype in a 0-0 draw at the Etihad on Sunday.
Liverpool were the big winners of the day in the title race as they beat Brighton 2-1 to go top, two points ahead of Arsenal and three clear of City with nine games to play.
A share of the spoils preserves City’s unbeaten home run stretching back to November 2022 and ends Arsenal’s eight-match winning run in the Premier League.
But it is the Gunners who will be happier with a point as they prevented Pep Guardiola’s men from scoring at the Etihad for the first time in two years.
“Defensively we were outstanding,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.
“The next step is with the ball to have more composure to attack better.
“They are the best team in the world by far, best manager by far, and we have to catch up. That’s the challenge for us.”
City had 72 percent possession but struggled to make anything of it against a defense that has conceded the fewest number of goals in the Premier League this season.
“We didn’t create much but it was almost actions,” said City manager Guardiola. “It’s not easy to break them (down) but I recognize the intention was there.”
Guardiola said Liverpool were now “favorites” to win the title in Jurgen Klopp’s final season.
City are still yet to win in six matches this season against other sides in the Premier League top five and must end that run when fourth-placed Aston Villa visit on Wednesday to keep their title challenge alive.
“Always who is first is favorite, second favorite is Arsenal,” added Guardiola.
“It is not in our hands. All we can do is win against Aston Villa.”

Arsenal had also been in free-scoring form, netting 33 times during their eight-match winning streak.
However, the visitors had lost on their last eight trips to the Etihad, including a 4-1 thrashing as the title race swung decisively in City’s favor last season, and opted for a counter-attacking approach.
“Eleven months ago we were here and the story was very different, we have to keep making steps,” added Arteta, who said his side still have to improve to match the standards City have set in winning five Premier League titles in six seasons.
“We are improving, competing better, understanding how you have to play these games.
“We have to come here and win. Today we draw and we still have to improve to be able to do that.”
Nathan Ake wasted the home side’s best chance in the first half when he failed to connect properly with a dangerous Kevin De Bruyne corner.
City were already missing the key defensive duo of Kyle Walker and John Stones after both were injured on international duty with England.
And Guardiola was forced to cobble together an even more makeshift backline when Ake hobbled off on 27 minutes.
Arsenal, though, rarely tested the City defense.
Gabriel Jesus could just not stretch far enough to meet Bukayo Saka’s cross in the only sign of life from the England international.
At the other end, Erling Haaland was extremely well-marshalled by Arsenal’s solid center-back pairing of Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba.
And the Norwegian fluffed his lines when he did get a rare sight of goal seven minutes from time as he failed to connect with a corner at the back post.
Arsenal’s best chance to snatch all three points came late on when substitute Leandro Trossard fired straight at Stefan Ortega.
But a share of the spoils leaves the title race still tantalisingly poised with three points separating the top three.


West Indies thrash Afghanistan in final T20 World Cup group game

West Indies thrash Afghanistan in final T20 World Cup group game
Updated 1 min 10 sec ago
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West Indies thrash Afghanistan in final T20 World Cup group game

West Indies thrash Afghanistan in final T20 World Cup group game
  • Nicholas Pooran’s blistering 98 off 53 balls highlighted a dominant batting effort by West Indies
GROS-ISLET, Saint Lucia: West Indies thrashed Afghanistan by 104 runs in the final group stage game of the T20 World Cup on Monday.
Nicholas Pooran’s blistering 98 off 53 balls (six fours, eight sixes) highlighted a dominant batting effort by West Indies as they piled up 218 for five after being put in as the two Super Eight qualifiers sparred in advance of the next phase of the tournament starting on Wednesday.
Afghanistan were bundled out for 114 off 16.2 overs in reply.

Celtics rout Mavericks to win record 18th NBA championship

Celtics rout Mavericks to win record 18th NBA championship
Updated 9 min 37 sec ago
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Celtics rout Mavericks to win record 18th NBA championship

Celtics rout Mavericks to win record 18th NBA championship
  • Defeat marks miserable end to the finals for Dallas duo Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving
  • Top-seeded Boston reasserts superiority in convincing fashion after their game four blowout

LOS ANGELES: Jayson Tatum produced a dazzling 31-point display as the Boston Celtics dominated the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 to clinch a record-breaking 18th NBA championship crown on Monday.
Humbled by Dallas in a 38-point game four drubbing on Friday, Boston slammed the door on any chance of a Mavericks fightback to seal a 4-1 series victory at an electric TD Garden.
Tatum spearheaded a superb performance at both ends of the floor as Boston pulled clear of their arch-rival Los Angeles Lakers to stand alone with 18 NBA titles.
The emphatic win came 16 years to the day after Boston’s last NBA Finals win — over the Lakers — in 2008.
“Oh my God. It’s a surreal feeling. We did it,” a jubilant Tatum exclaimed after the triumph. “We did it — oh my God, we did it!”
“First of all, God is the greatest, not ‘cause we won, but to put me in positions to maximize my God-given ability to surround me with these guys and with my family.
“This is an incredible feeling. I’m lost for words. I’m sorry.”
Jaylen Brown, who was named Finals Most valuable Player, gave Tatum scoring support with 21 points, while Jrue Holiday added 15 and Derrick White 14.
The defeat marked a miserable end to the finals for Dallas duo Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who had led the Western Conference fifth seeds on an improbable giant-killing journey to the NBA Finals.
Doncic, sensational during the Mavs’ game four rout of the Celtics, finished with 28 points.
But Irving scored a meagre 15 points while being taunted with chants of “Kyrie sucks!” by Celtics fans still rankled by his departure from the team in 2019.
Top-seeded Boston meanwhile reasserted their superiority in convincing fashion after their game four blowout, leading by double digits from late in the second quarter until the final buzzer.
The Celtics laid the foundations for victory with a controlled first-half performance that saw them open up a 67-46 lead at the break.
Payton Pritchard put the seal on a superb first two quarters for Boston, launching a mammoth buzzer-beating three-pointer from near half-way that gave the Celtics a 21-point advantage.
Boston had been swiftly into their groove early on, building a 9-2 advantage in the first quarter with their swarming defense never allowing Dallas to build any kind of rhythm.
After Boston took a 13-5 advantage the Mavs rallied to narrow the gap to two points at 17-15, but Boston’s defense reclaimed the initiative soon afterwards.
Two quick steals from Tatum and Sam Hauser allowed the Celtics to pull away to 28-18 at the end of the first quarter.
Boston’s defense gave no respite to Irving and Doncic, restricting Dallas’s stars to just 14 points between them in the first quarter.
By contrast, Tatum and Brown threatened to over-run the Mavs defense.
There was no let-up from Boston after the restart, with Holiday’s cutting layup putting Boston 26-points clear at 78-52 early in the third quarter.
There were flickers of a Dallas recovery in the latter stages of the third quarter, but Boston remained in control to lead by 19 heading into the final period.
With the TD Garden roaring them on, there was never any chance the Celtics would be denied and Boston continued to find mismatches to score freely and retain a comfortable double-digit advantage to close out the win.


Lionel Messi and Argentina will try for a 3rd straight major title in Copa America

Lionel Messi and Argentina will try for a 3rd straight major title in Copa America
Updated 18 June 2024
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Lionel Messi and Argentina will try for a 3rd straight major title in Copa America

Lionel Messi and Argentina will try for a 3rd straight major title in Copa America
  • Argentina and Uruguay are tied with 15 Copa titles each, followed by Brazil with nine
  • Spain is the only nation to win three consecutive major titles: The European Championship in 2008 and 2012 around the 2010 World Cup

NEW YORK: Lionel Messi and Argentina will try to match Spain’s feat of three consecutive major titles when the Copa America kicks off Thursday night.

Coming off championships in the 2021 Copa America and the 2022 World Cup, Messi will be four days shy of his 37th birthday when the Albiceleste take the field against Canada at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

“I want to enjoy a couple of more matches being a world champion,” Messi said after Argentina beat France on penalty kicks to win the 2022 World Cup final.

He has 10 goals in 10 international appearances since, raising his total to 108 in 182 games for Argentina’s national team. He is either tied for second with Ali Daei or one behind, depending on whether a disputed goal by the Iranian is counted, trailing only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo at 128.

“It is not easy to compete again after winning it all,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said.

Argentina and Uruguay are tied with 15 Copa titles each, followed by Brazil with nine. No other nation has won more than two.

Brazil features an attack headed by Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, just off a Champions League title with Real Madrid, and Raphinha. The emerging star is 17-year-old Endrick, who joins Real Madrid this summer.

“If you look at every position in their proposed starting 11, it’s probably one of the world’s best players,” US coach Gregg Berhalter said.

Spain is the only nation to win three consecutive major titles: The European Championship in 2008 and 2012 around the 2010 World Cup.

A look at the tournament:

Expanded field

There will be 16 teams, just as in 2016. The US, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica join the 10 South American nations after qualifying from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Back in the US

Ecuador was to host the tournament under the rotation of CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body, but declined. The tournament was then moved to the US, which also hosted the special centennial Copa America in 2016 as Chile won on penalty kicks over Argentina at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Eleven NFL stadiums are being used, including eight of the 11 US venues for the 2026 World Cup, plus three smaller MLS homes. The final will be at Miami Gardens, Florida, on July 14, starting five hours after the European Championship final in Berlin.

CONMEBOL says more than 1 million tickets have been sold for the 32 matches. The 2016 tournament drew just under 1.5 million, and the 2019 tournament in Brazil about 850,000. The 2021 Copa was played mostly without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

US team

This will be the biggest test for the US team before the World Cup — the Americans get an automatic berth as co-host along with Mexico and Canada — and most Europe-based players are expected to skip next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are the core of a team that returns 18 players from the 2022 World Cup roster.

“A World Cup on home soil is the biggest thing that you know we’ll probably do in our career,” Pulisic said. “It’s a special time for this sport in America.”

World Cup test?

In 2016, CONMEBOL partnered with the US Soccer Federation, which was in charge of most of the logistics. This time, CONMEBOL is co-organizing the tournament with CONCACAF, the governing body of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Unlike during the World Cup, the organizers have only short-term access to venues. At Hard Rock, a concert is scheduled for July 6, between the last group stage game and the final, and a new grass surface will be installed.

At MetLife Stadium, where a semifinal will be played July 9, staff will look at it as a preview for the World Cup final on July 19, 2026. The stadium has a camera system designed by Arecont Vision and managed by Genetec Security Center that was installed before the 2014 Super Bowl and a new system by Axis Communications is being put in place this summer in the seating bowl with 80 8K, 41-megapixel cameras.

“We can see every seat all the time. I think it serves as a good deterrent,” said Daniel DeLorenzi, vice president of security and safety services. “We have three drone detection systems. ... Not only can we track the drone, but more importantly, we can track where the operator is.”


Emotional Boult calls T20 World Cup exit his ‘last day’ for New Zealand

Emotional Boult calls T20 World Cup exit his ‘last day’ for New Zealand
Updated 18 June 2024
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Emotional Boult calls T20 World Cup exit his ‘last day’ for New Zealand

Emotional Boult calls T20 World Cup exit his ‘last day’ for New Zealand
  • Boult’s tally of 317 wickets in 78 Tests, is the fourth highest by any New Zealand bowler

Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago, June 17, 2024 Agence France Presse: Left-arm paceman Trent Boult said he had played his “last day” of international cricket after New Zealand’s disappointing T20 World Cup campaign ended with a seven-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in Trinidad on Monday.
His 13-year stint in international cricket appeared to have ended in the downbeat setting of a ‘dead’ T20 World Cup game.
“It feels a little bit weird, a few emotions obviously the last couple of days,” said Boult.
Pressed on whether the game represented his final New Zealand appearance, Boult added an element of doubt: “I haven’t thought much further than this, I’m in no position to comment right now. I enjoyed being out there one last time.”
Defeats by Afghanistan and tournament co-hosts the West Indies earlier in Group C had helped end the Black Caps’ hopes of qualifying for the second-round Super Eights.
Papua New Guinea had also been eliminated before the match in front of a sparse crowd at the Brian Lara Stadium.
Boult took two wickets for 14 runs as PNG were skittled out for 78 in an innings where fellow quick Lockie Ferguson finished with a remarkable 3-0 from his maximum four overs but
“Gutted to not go any further, but I’m very proud of what I’ve done with the Black Caps and sad it’s my last day with New Zealand,” said Boult.
The 34-year-old has been infrequently selected for international duty since being released from his New Zealand central contract in August 2022, allowing him to play in more domestic T20 leagues abroad.
The swing bowler did feature in New Zealand’s 50-over World Cup campaign last year, where they reached the semifinals only to suffer a 70-run defeat by tournament hosts India at a packed Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Boult’s tally of 317 wickets in 78 Tests, is the fourth highest by any New Zealand bowler. Longstanding new-ball colleague Tim Southee (380 Test wickets) is second, behind Richard Hadlee (431 wickets).
“I’ve shared a dressing room with Tim Southee for well over a dozen years,” said Boult, with the pair both involved when New Zealand beat India in the inaugural 2021 World Test Championship final. “It’s a partnership I’ve enjoyed forming, and we’re very good friends off the field.”
Boult’s last Test was against England at Headingley nearly two years ago, with the World Cup semifinal the most recent of 114 one-day internationals that yielded 211 wickets in total.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson paid tribute to Boult by saying he had been a “great servant of the game” who was “consistent in all formats.”
The star batsman added: “It’ll be sad to see him go, it’s been quite special being with him throughout his career.
“He’s got such an attitude for getting better. He trains very hard, he’s as fit as he’s ever been. He knows how he wants to operate in all formats. He sticks his chest out and performs well for his country.”
“He’s made a fantastic contribution to our game and he’s created a space for new players to come in and meet the standard that he’s set.”


Mbappé’s facial injury places doubt on his continued involvement in Euro 2024

Mbappé’s facial injury places doubt on his continued involvement in Euro 2024
Updated 18 June 2024
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Mbappé’s facial injury places doubt on his continued involvement in Euro 2024

Mbappé’s facial injury places doubt on his continued involvement in Euro 2024
  • Deschamps: “The French team with Kylian would always be stronger”

DUSSELDORF, Germany: Kylian Mbappé’s facial injury in France’s 1-0 win against Austria on Monday has put in doubt whether he will continue at the European Championship.
An aerial head-on-shoulder collision with Austria’s Kevin Danso left Mbappé curled on the field with his nose bloodied and swollen late in the Group D game at Dusseldorf Arena.
“I don’t have the elements in my hands,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “He didn’t get off lightly. It is still to be seen. I cannot at this stage give the answer (if he will be ruled out).”
Mbappé’s obvious pain following the collision prompted Austria goalkeeper Patrick Pentz to signal for urgent medical assistance.
“He’s not doing well. He’s with the medical staff. His nose got badly hit that’s for sure,” Deschamps said. “We need to check, but it seems quite complicated, which is really unfortunate for us tonight.”
Mbappé’s injury likely struck fear in the hearts of France fans.
He is France’s talisman and widely considered the heir to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world. Also, he will finally wear the famous white jersey of Real Madrid next season after joining as a free agent from Paris Saint-Germain.
Mbappé tried to play on against Austria, but quickly fell to the ground again, holding his face and prompting whistles and jeers from opposition fans, who seemed to believe he was time-wasting as France held on for the win.
He was then booked by referee Jesus Gil Manzano and replaced by Olivier Giroud.
“We’re worried to see Kylian leave the field like that,” France midfielder N’Golo Kante said. “We still don’t know what the situation is. ... We hope that it’s not too severe and that he’s back with us for the rest of the competition.”
Mbappé produced a mixed performance before the injury but still showed his importance to France’s hopes of winning a record-equalling third European Championship and its first since 2000.
It was his moment of inspiration that led to Maximilian Wober scoring an own goal in the 38th minute that handed Deschamps his 100th win as national team coach.
With a flash of close-ball control, Mbappé beat Phillipp Mwene in the box and crossed in search of a teammate. In Wober’s desperation to cut out the danger, he inadvertently diverted the ball into his own net.
Mbappé was then guilty of a remarkable miss 10 minutes into the second half when failing to hit the target from close range with only the keeper to beat.
Bursting through on goal, he was too fast for Wober and had time to steady himself in the box before picking his spot. With France fans behind the goal just waiting for the net to bulge, Mbappe’s shot instead curled past the post to the relief of the Austrians.
He has yet to score in the European Championship, having failed to at the last Euros three years ago.
Deschamps, however, does not want to consider worst case scenarios.
“I’m not going to go into hypothesis,” he said. “The French team with Kylian would always be stronger. If the news doesn’t go along these lines then we’ll have to fight without him, but Kylian is Kylian and any team with him in the squad is obviously a lot stronger.”