Mitchell rallies Cavs for series-clinching Game 7 win over Magic

Mitchell rallies Cavs for series-clinching Game 7 win over Magic
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell shoots between Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero and Wagner in the first half of Game 7 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Sunday in Cleveland. (AP)
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Updated 06 May 2024
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Mitchell rallies Cavs for series-clinching Game 7 win over Magic

Mitchell rallies Cavs for series-clinching Game 7 win over Magic
  • Cavs move on to second round a year after a stinging first-round loss to the New York Knicks
  • The Celtics will host Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Tuesday

LOS ANGELES: Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers silenced the young guns of Orlando, beating the Magic 106-94 in Game 7 of their NBA playoffs first-round series Sunday to book a meeting with Eastern Conference top seeds Boston.

It was another magisterial performance from Mitchell, who scored 39 points two days after pouring in 50 in the Cavs’ Game 6 defeat.

This time he had plenty of scoring support from teammates as the Cavs erased an 18-point second-quarter deficit to clinch a series in which the home team won every game.

Caris LeVert scored 15 points off the bench and Max Strus scored 11 of his 13 points in the third quarter, when the Cavs outscored the Magic 33-15 to take charge.

Evan Mobley scored 11 points with 16 rebounds and five blocked shots and Darius Garland chipped in 12 points to help Cleveland withstand a 38-point performance from Paolo Banchero.

The Cavs, with starting center Jarrett Allen sidelined a third straight game with bruised ribs, moved on to the second round a year after a stinging first-round loss to the New York Knicks.

“I didn’t want to go home,” Mitchell said of the mindset that saw him score 17 points in the third quarter as he virtually willed Cleveland to the lead.

The Magic delivered a strong first punch, Banchero scoring 10 points in the first period as Orlando grabbed a 24-18.

In the face of Orlando’s suffocating defense the Cavs connected on just six of 22 shots in the first quarter and didn’t make a three-pointer until Sam Merrill drilled one midway through the second quarter.

The Magic pushed their lead to as many as 18 points in the second quarter before the Cavs clawed back to cut the lead to single digits.

Banchero’s layup in the closing seconds of the first half saw Orlando take a 10-point lead into the break, but momentum was on Cleveland’s side and they overwhelmed the Magic in the third.

“I didn’t feel our confidence waver much, even when we had 18 points in the first quarter,” Mitchell said.

“They came out and jumped on us,” he added, saying the key was for the Cavs “to respond the way we did, keep plugging, just keep chipping away.”

Mitchell, again relentless in the paint, tied it at 64-64 with a floater and LeVert drained a pair of free throws to give the Cavs their first lead since the first quarter.

Strus hit back-to-back three-pointers as Cleveland built a 76-68 lead going into the final period.

The Cavs pushed their advantage to 14 points in the final frame, fans chanting “We want Boston” as the final minutes ticked off.

The Celtics will host Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Tuesday, and Mitchell vowed the Cavaliers will be ready for the team that posted the best record in the regular season.

“We didn’t make the group we made just to win the first round,” he said. “We accomplished one goal. Now we have to do it again.”

It was a crushing end to a strong season for the Magic, collectively the second-youngest team in the playoffs behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Wendell Carter Jr. scored 13 points and Jalen Suggs added 10 for the Magic, but Franz Wagner was held to just six as Orlando remained in search of a first playoff series victory since 2010.

Mitchell heaped praise 21-year-old Banchero, the top pick in the 2022 draft.

Banchero himself said the Magic’s fight back from 0-2 down in the series to force game seven “just shows where we’re headed.”


Denmark through to Euros last-16 with Serbia stalemate

Denmark through to Euros last-16 with Serbia stalemate
Updated 9 sec ago
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Denmark through to Euros last-16 with Serbia stalemate

Denmark through to Euros last-16 with Serbia stalemate
  • With Denmark and Slovenia both finishing on the same points total and goal tally, second-place — and a meeting with hosts Germany — was decided on the basis of European qualifiers ranking

MUNICH, Germany: Denmark progressed to the knockout stages of Euro 2024 after a goalless draw with Serbia on Tuesday which allowed them to seal second spot in Group C, ahead of third-place Slovenia on European qualifiers ranking.
The 0-0 stalemate finished with the same scoreline as England and Slovenia’s parallel group match, with England emerging group winners.
With Denmark and Slovenia both finishing on the same points total and goal tally, second-place — and a meeting with hosts Germany — was decided on the basis of European qualifiers ranking.
While Denmark face Germany in Dortmund, England will return to Gelsenkirchen for a meeting with a third-placed side.
Slovenia will take on a group winner while Serbia were eliminated as last in the group.
Luka Jovic’s stoppage-time equalizer against Slovenia at this venue on Thursday had kept Serbian hopes alive of reaching the last-16 in their first Euros as an independent nation.
Having never beaten Denmark, Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic backed his charges to “change history” against the 1992 Euros champions.
The Danes, semifinalists at this competition in 2021, knew a draw would be enough to qualify but needed a win while hoping for an England loss to avoid meeting hosts Germany in the last 16.
Despite Stojkovic’s side needing a win to progress, the Danes were more willing to attack early, with the Serbs rarely venturing into Danish territory.
Denmark caught the Serbian defense napping early, Christian Eriksen’s free-kick finding Jonas Wind alone in the box, but the forward shot directly at goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic on the turn.
The Danes’ best phase came after 20 minutes, Eriksen forcing a fingertip save from Rajkovic and then pinning Serbia back with a series of corners.
Eriksen and Wind combined again from a corner to have the ball in the net on the 27-minute mark, but the midfielder’s direct cross had drifted out.
Jovic, brought from the bench at half-time, immediately posed questions of the Danish defense, pressuring Joachim Andersen into an own goal eight minutes in but the flag went up again for offside.
VAR confirmed Jovic, Serbia’s late hero against Slovenia, was inches offside.
Eriksen, Denmark’s most dangerous creative outlet, laid on an inch-perfect cross for Jannik Vestergaard after 65 minutes but the Leicester City defender’s header was gobbled up by a thankful Rajkovic.
Stojkovic went all out in the hope of a winner, bringing Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic on alongside forward Jovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic, but the Serbs were unable to break through.


England top Euros group but disappoint again in Slovenia stalemate

England top Euros group but disappoint again in Slovenia stalemate
Updated 7 min 30 sec ago
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England top Euros group but disappoint again in Slovenia stalemate

England top Euros group but disappoint again in Slovenia stalemate
  • England will have to wait until Wednesday’s final group games to find out which of the four best third-placed teams they will face in the last 16

COLOGNE, Germany: England manager Gareth Southgate was met with boos and thrown beer cups by his own fans despite topping Group C as Slovenia also progressed to the knockout stages thanks to a 0-0 draw in Cologne.
The Three Lions were already assured of a place in the last 16 but can expect more criticism after failing to improve on underwhelming performances in edging past Serbia and drawing with Denmark.
England will have to wait until Wednesday’s final group games to find out which of the four best third-placed teams they will face in the last 16.
But more questions will be asked over one of the favorites’ ability to end a 58-year wait for major tournament glory as a star-studded forward line was snuffed out by Slovenia.
“That was the aim before the start of the tournament. Come top of the group and control our destiny,” said England captain Harry Kane.
“I thought we played a lot better than the other games. We couldn’t just find that finish but we look forward to the next one.”
Southgate made a statement with his team selection, resisting the calls to make mass changes as Conor Gallagher replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold in the only alteration from the opening two games.
If the England boss was looking for a reaction by showing faith in the other 10 who have started all three matches in Germany, he was left disappointed.
Slovenia are now nine games unbeaten, which included beating Portugal 2-0 in a pre-tournament friendly.
Declan Rice had highlighted Benjamin Sesko as their big threat on Monday.
Sesko could have been lining up alongside Rice at Arsenal next season had he not shunned interest to extend his contract at RB Leipzig.
The 21-year-old shrugged off a thigh injury to start and had the first chance of the game when he tamely headed straight at Jordan Pickford four minutes in.
It took 20 minutes for England to pose a serious threat and only the offside flag denied them a slick opening goal.
Rice picked out Phil Foden’s run but the Manchester City midfielder had strayed beyond the Slovenian defense before squaring for Bukayo Saka to tap in.
England’s lack of attacking threat down the left had been pinpointed as a major weakness against Serbia and Denmark.
Newcastle right-back Kieran Trippier has had to deputise on the left side of defense due to Luke Shaw’s lack of match fitness, while Foden tends to drift inside.
However, it was down that side that Southgate’s men looked most threatening as a teasing Trippier cross just evaded Gallagher and Harry Kane at the back post.
Southgate took action at the break as Gallagher was replaced by Kobbie Mainoo.
The 19-year-old added some much needed thrust to the England midfield but they still struggled to turn dominance in possession into chances.
Kane saw a header cleared by Sesko from a corner and Rice flashed a shot wide from the edge of the box.
Southgate answered the call to give Cole Palmer his first minutes of the tournament in the final 20 minutes.
The Chelsea midfielder, who scored 26 goals at club level this season, had England’s only shot on target of the second half but failed to seriously test veteran goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
A point was jubilantly celebrated by the Slovenians as it did enough for them to progress as one of the best third-placed sides thanks to three draws from their three games.
Matjaz Kek’s men missed out on second place in the group solely due to Denmark’s superior record in qualifying as the sides had the same points, goal difference and goals scored.
By contrast, Southgate had to endure a barrage of abuse as he saluted the England fans at the end.


Kylian Mbappé scores on return from broken nose as France draw 1-1 with Poland at Euro 2024

Kylian Mbappé scores on return from broken nose as France draw 1-1 with Poland at Euro 2024
Updated 25 June 2024
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Kylian Mbappé scores on return from broken nose as France draw 1-1 with Poland at Euro 2024

Kylian Mbappé scores on return from broken nose as France draw 1-1 with Poland at Euro 2024
  • Mbappé removed his protective mask to celebrate in front of France’s fans after converting his 56th-minute penalty for his first goal at a European Championship
  • Lewandowski found the bottom corner with his second attempt

DORTMUND: Kylian Mbappé scored from the penalty spot on his return after breaking his nose before France conceded a spot kick by Robert Lewandowski in a 1-1 draw with Poland at the European Championship on Tuesday.
Mbappé removed his protective mask to celebrate in front of France’s fans after converting his 56th-minute penalty for his first goal at a European Championship. It wasn’t enough to secure his team first place in Group D at Euro 2024, though.
Lewandowski had his penalty saved in the 77th minute by France goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who was adjudged to have come off his line. The Poland striker found the bottom corner with his second attempt.
France finished as runner-up to Austria in the group and will play the runner-up in Group E, which could be Belgium, Romania, Slovakia or Ukraine, in the last 16 on July 1.
France have yet to score an open-play goal at Euro 2024, having beaten Austria 1-0 on an own-goal and then drawn 0-0 with the Netherlands — when Mbappé was missing after breaking his nose against the Austrians.
Mbappé returned to the starting lineup against last-place Poland, which were already eliminated before the match began, and was clearly impaired by wearing a mask that limits his peripheral vision.
He largely kept away from overly physical challenges and didn’t compete for the ball in the air.
Still, Mbappé remained France’s most dangerous attacker and finally got his first goal in six matches at the tournament — taking in four at Euro 2020 and two at Euro 2024 — after Ousmane Dembele was tripped in the area.
Mbappé played the full game, starting as a central striker before ending up on the left wing, in another unconvincing display from France — a two-time European champion and the World Cup runner-up in 2022.


Rangnick delighted by ‘incredible’ first place for Austria at Euros

Rangnick delighted by ‘incredible’ first place for Austria at Euros
Updated 25 June 2024
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Rangnick delighted by ‘incredible’ first place for Austria at Euros

Rangnick delighted by ‘incredible’ first place for Austria at Euros
  • Rangnick’s men edged a dramatic closing Group D encounter 3-2 against the Dutch
  • He said: “If you had bet on us to win here and France not to win you’d be a very rich man or woman...”

BERLIN: Austria coach Ralf Rangnick said it was “incredible” for his team to snatch top spot in their Euro 2024 group ahead of France and the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Rangnick’s men edged a dramatic closing Group D encounter 3-2 against the Dutch, who had to settle for going through in third place, while France were held to a 1-1 draw by already-eliminated Poland.
Austria jumped up from third before kick-off and will next face either Turkiye, the Czech Republic or Georgia in the last 16 in Leipzig on July 2.
They have never reached the European Championship quarter-finals.
“We started in the tournament with a 1-0 loss with an own goal against France and if you knew the pressure we had against Poland (3-1 win) when we knew we had to win to have a realistic chance to qualify, then to finish top of the group is incredible,” Rangnick told reporters.
“If you had bet on us to win here and France not to win you’d be a very rich man or woman...
“But that’s the great thing about football and we were rewarded for a great and energetic performance from my lads.”
Rangnick surprisingly made four changes from the team which beat Poland, knowing Austria would qualify unless they suffered a defeat by more than four goals.
He said Italy’s last-gasp equalizer on Monday against Croatia allowed him to rest some players who would have picked up a one-match suspension with a yellow card.
“If the goal in the Italy game hadn’t gone in in the last minute, we would’ve had a different line-up as we wouldn’t have been basically qualified,” added Rangnick.
“So we had an unexpected line-up but in the end all the thinking was worth it as we were able to go all in with this line-up and we didn’t have to think about second bookings and so forth and it worked out.”
Two of Austria’s squad — Nicolas Seiwald and Christoph Baumgartner — play for RB Leipzig, while key midfielders Marcel Sabitzer and Konrad Laimer count the Bundesliga side among their former clubs.
Rangnick also enjoyed two stints there as head coach and he admitted playing in Leipzig next week would give his team an advantage.
“Now we have a week to prepare, we won’t have to travel a lot, we won’t have to fly...
“Apart from the three points we got and the ‘home’ game in Leipzig, the depth of our squad is better than we thought because the lads who played today did so well.”
Sabitzer was the hero at the Olympiastadion against the Netherlands, firing Austria in front for the third and final time in the 81st minute.
“The intensity is the decisive factor, we managed that for a very long time,” said the Borussia Dortmund star.
“If you beat the Netherlands, win the group, then you can’t be that bad.”


Show your love for Turkiye by supporting us, Montella tells critics

Show your love for Turkiye by supporting us, Montella tells critics
Updated 25 June 2024
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Show your love for Turkiye by supporting us, Montella tells critics

Show your love for Turkiye by supporting us, Montella tells critics
  • Montella’s men are one of the best supported sides in Germany, where nearly three million people with Turkish roots call home
  • “I’d like to remind the critics, if you love this country, support your country as much as you can,” Montella told reporters

HAMBURG: Turkiye coach Vincenzo Montella urged his side’s huge following to show their support in a crunch Euro 2024 showdown against the Czech Republic, rather than getting on his players’ backs.
After beating Georgia 3-1 to get their tournament off to a flier, Turkiye were swatted aside 3-0 by the class of Portugal.
Montella’s men are one of the best supported sides in Germany, where nearly three million people with Turkish roots call home.
However, there has been a backlash to the Italian boss and his squad after failing to compete with Portugal for large spells in Dortmund.
“I’d like to remind the critics, if you love this country, support your country as much as you can,” Montella told reporters at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“This is the only team that represents Turkiye. These lads have put a smile on our face in recent teams.
“We need your support and the players deserve it based on what they have achieved on the pitch.”
Turkish football features some of the fiercest rivalries between clubs in the world.
But Fenerbahce winger Irfan Can Kahveci urged fans to put those tribal differences aside to unite in support of the national team.
“Within the team we have a great atmosphere and we try to demonstrate that whether the players are from Galatasaray, Besiktas, Trabzonspor or Fenerbahce.
“We are united under the national flag. We should let those divisions go.”
Turkiye remain second in Group F and just need a draw against the Czechs in Hamburg to secure a place in the last 16.
Even a narrow defeat could see Turkiye through as one of the four best third-placed sides.
But Montella said he would set out for victory.
“We have to go out and win the game,” he added. “We can’t get hung up on permutations.”
Real Madrid’s Arda Guler is set to return to the Turkish starting line-up after Montella revealed he was only left on the bench against Portugal due to an injury that meant he could not play the full 90 minutes.
“If he doesn’t play it will be footballing reasons,” said Montella. “He didn’t start the last game not because of footballing reasons.”