US downs Jamaica 2-1 to clinch sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup

Team USA celebrates with the trophy after it beat Jamaica 2-1 in the final of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2017

US downs Jamaica 2-1 to clinch sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup

SANTA CLARA, California: Jordan Morris’s late strike lifted the United States to a 2-1 victory over Jamaica on Wednesday in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
The US captured their sixth Gold Cup crown — one shy of Mexico’s record seven victories in the regional championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Morris sealed it in dramatic fashion with a goal in the 89th minute.
A misdirected Jamaican clearance was knocked down by US super-sub Clint Dempsey near the penalty spot and Morris blazed a right-footed shot past Jamaican keeper Dwayne Miller and inside the right post.
Jozy Altidore’s superb free kick had put the United States ahead in the 45th minute, but Jamaica’s Je-Vaughn Watson equalized in the 50th as the underdog Jamaicans pushed the US hard.
Jamaica were playing in their second straight Gold Cup final, after falling to Mexico in 2015.
That year they ousted the US in the semifinals, while this year they sent the Mexicans packing.
Although they have joined the US and Mexico as the only teams to reach back-to-back finals, they are now just the second team to lose consecutive title matches.
Since the inception of the Gold Cup, Mexico and the US have won all but one edition, with Canada triumphing in 2000.
Jamaica lost their talismanic goalkeeper, Andre Blake, to a hand injury early in the contest.
Miller was in goal as halftime approached, when US captain Michael Bradley was fouled in mid-field and Altidore curled the ensuing free kick over the wall and into the top corner of the net.
Miller soared to get his fingertips to the ball but couldn’t keep it out of the net.
Jamaica pulled level when Watson bulled his way past Morris on a Kemar Lawrence’s corner kick to volley a short shot past US goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Morris admitted that he was stung when the man he was marking scored — and relieved he could make up for it with the game-winner.
“Credit to Jamaica — they made it very tough for us,” Morris said. “I was nervous — it was my guy that scored on the (Jamaican) goal. So I was trying to make up for that any way I could.
“Obviously, I take responsibility for it, but luckily I could put it in the back of the net.”
For Jamaica, however, Morris’s goal was “like a dagger in the heart,” Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said.
“But again, this is football,” he said. “If you look in the semifinal against Mexico, the same thing happened in that game (when Jamaica scored an 88th-minute winner).”
The first real chance for either team had come in the 19th minute, and the play proved costly for Jamaica.
Altidore fired a 25-yard blast and Blake rose to make the save. Trying to score from the rebound, the United States’ Kellyn Acosta crashed into Blake, whose right hand was injured badly enough to take the Jamaican captain out of the game.
He had led Jamaica to three shut-out victories in the tournament, including a 1-0 triumph over defending champions Mexico in the semis.
The US are now unbeaten in 14 matches since Bruce Arena returned for a second spell as coach, taking over from Jurgen Klinsmann after the German was sacked in the wake of a 4-0 loss to Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying last year.
The US were less than convincing in group play with a young, inexperienced squad, but Arena called in veteran stars for the knockout rounds, adding Altidore, Dempsey, Michael Bradley and goalkeeper Tim Howard.
“This means everything,” said the 38-year-old Howard, who hadn’t allowed a goal in the tournament until Wednesday. “As you get older and get to finals, there’s so much pressure to win because I don’t know how many more finals I’ll come back to.”
Arena said the tournament showed the US were heading in the right direction, with World Cup qualifying set to resume on Sept. 1.
“We had a tournament where we scored by far the most goals of any team, were second in goals conceded, got five wins and used 27 players,” Arena said. “It was an exercise that was outstanding for our program. Certainly not perfect, but for what we were trying to accomplish, we (succeeded at) that.
“We’ve made progress, but have a long way to go. Certainly, we need to integrate our (absent European-based) players, which is difficult. ... I’ve got to find the right blend. We’re a long way from qualifying for a World Cup, and that’s the objective for sure.”

Serena announces upcoming retirement from the sport

Updated 18 sec ago

Serena announces upcoming retirement from the sport

LONDON: Serena Williams said on Tuesday that she is “evolving away from tennis” as she detailed her upcoming retirement from the sport that she dominated for the majority of her career with 23 singles Grand Slam titles.
On Monday, Williams played only her second singles match since she returned to action at Wimbledon in June after a year-long absence from competition, beating Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz to reach the second round of the Toronto Open.
But the 40-year-old said after that match that she could see the light at the end of the tennis tunnel in her career before suggesting the US Open starting this month could be her swansong.
“I have never liked the word retirement,” Williams wrote in a Vogue article.
“It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.
“Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.
“A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family.”
Williams won her last Grand Slam in 2017 and has been chasing an elusive 24th crown that will draw her level with Margaret Court who holds the record for most majors.
She came tantalisingly close to achieving that feat, featuring in four major finals since giving birth to daughter Olympia in 2017.
“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT (greatest of all time) because I didn’t pass Court’s record, which she achieved before the ‘Open era’ that began in 1968,” former world number one Williams said.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her. If I’m in a Slam final, then yes, I’m thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help.”
Williams later talked in an Instagram post about the time to move in a “different direction.”
“That time is always hard when you love something so much,” she added. “My goodness do I enjoy tennis.
“But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”

Ozzy Osbourne closes Commonwealth Games as Birmingham parties

Updated 09 August 2022

Ozzy Osbourne closes Commonwealth Games as Birmingham parties

  • The show, celebrating Birmingham’s rise from the wreckage of World War II and its emergence as a diverse and vibrant modern city, brought 11 days of sporting action to a close
  • Sporting powerhouse Australia have topped the table at every Games since 1990 except in 2014, when England finished in first place in Glasgow

BIRMINGHAM: Legendary Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne brought the curtain down on the Commonwealth Games in spectacular style on Monday as dominant Australia celebrated finishing top of the medals table yet again.

Athletes swarmed Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium for a closing party that also featured UB40, Dexys and a tribute to Peaky Blinders, the global hit TV show about the city’s most notorious gang.

Birmingham-born Osbourne, known as the “Prince of Darkness,” brought the ceremony to a climax after emerging as the surprise act.

The show, celebrating Birmingham’s rise from the wreckage of World War II and its emergence as a diverse and vibrant modern city, brought 11 days of sporting action to a close.

Earlier, six-time defending champions Australia wrapped up their campaign in style, hammering India 7-0 in the men’s hockey final to end up with 67 golds overall.

Hosts England ended in second place with 57 golds, ahead of Canada on 26 and India on 22, with para sports included in the medal tally.

Sporting powerhouse Australia have topped the table at every Games since 1990 except in 2014, when England finished in first place in Glasgow.

Australia hockey captain Aran Zalewski said winning the Commonwealth Games title is “harder than you think.”

“We have won seven, but it’s not as simple as coming out here and winning,” he said.

“There are so many challenges that go into winning a tournament of hockey.

“To finish off with a special performance like that, really clinical, was very nice.”

Elsewhere on Monday, Scotland’s James Heatly and Grace Reid won the mixed synchronized 3m springboard final, with England pair Noah Williams and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix taking gold in the 10m event.

India celebrated a golden double in badminton.

World No. 7 PV Sindhu won the women’s singles, overcoming Canada’s Michelle Li, while Lakshya Sen beat Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong to win the men’s gold.

India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta beat England’s Liam Pitchford 4-1 in the men’s singles table tennis gold medal match.

“The best two weeks of my 40 years of life,” said the winner, who won three golds and a silver in Birmingham. “It can’t get better.”

Birmingham 2022 CEO Ian Reid told a briefing earlier that the Games had been a huge boost for the city and the surrounding area.

He said more than 1.5 million tickets had been sold, with most venues above 90 percent capacity.

“One of the goals at the outset was to put the city on the world map and instil that huge pride across everyone that lives in the region and I think we’ve achieved that,” he said.

“I think that can lead to much bigger and greater things.”

Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Katie Sadleir said there had been “huge engagement” with the Games globally.

She added a number of countries had expressed an interest in staging future Commonwealth Games, including African nations.

She said Birmingham, which already had many facilities in place, could be a blueprint for the future.

“It is definitely not something we want people to spend huge amounts of money and capital investment if it is not needed and desired by the long-term plans for the country,” she said.

The Birmingham Games made history in being the first to award more medals to women than men.

Australian swimming great Emma McKeon became the most decorated athlete in Commonwealth Games history, with 20 medals — including six golds in Birmingham.

And the tiny island of Niue won its first ever Commonwealth Games medal, a boxing bronze for Duken Tutakitoa-Williams.

Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin handed the flag to Linda Dessau, the governor of the Australian state of Victoria, which will host the 2026 Games.

Martin said Birmingham had put on an event “unlike any we’ve seen before.”

“We are emerging from one of the most challenging periods in modern history, where the Covid-19 pandemic has kept us apart,” she said.

“Birmingham 2022 proved to be a special moment when we reunited, when the power of sport to connect us came into sharp focus.”

Everton sign England’s Coady on season-long loan from Wolves

Updated 09 August 2022

Everton sign England’s Coady on season-long loan from Wolves

  • Coady is the fourth player to arrive at Goodison Park during the current transfer window, following the Burnley duo of James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil as well as Sporting Lisbon defender Ruben Vinagre

LONDON: England centerback Conor Coady has joined Everton on a season-long loan from Premier League rivals Wolves, it was announced on Monday.

The Toffees were left short of defenders after both Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina were injured during a 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in their opening match of the new league season on Saturday.

This move sees Wolves captain Coady, 29, returning to his home city eight years after leaving Liverpool, where he came through the Anfield club’s academy.

“It’s incredible to join Everton,” Coady told his new club’s website.

He added: “I’ve grown up around the city, I know the football club, how big this club is and what it means to the supporters.

“I’m someone who was desperate to come here, to play for this club. I’ve got family and friends who are massive Evertonians.

“I’m here to give absolutely everything I’ve got for this football club.”

Coady is the fourth player to arrive at Goodison Park during the current transfer window, following the Burnley duo of James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil as well as Sporting Lisbon defender Ruben Vinagre.

“We are delighted to bring a player of Conor’s quality and vast experience to Everton and he fits into how we want to play as a team,” said Toffees manager Frank Lampard.

Coady was on the bench for Wolves’ first game of the season, a 2-1 loss away to Leeds.

He moved to Wolves from Huddersfield in 2015 and has played in 196 out of a possible 198 league games during the past five seasons for the Midlands club.

Just minutes after Coady’s move was announced, Wolves said they had signed Valencia forward Goncalo Guedes on a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

“We have been monitoring Goncalo for a long time and are very pleased to welcome him to Wolves,” said chairman Jeff Shi of the 25-year-old Portugal international, who was coached by Wanderers manager Bruno Lage at Benfica.

“He has natural talent and has performed very well across Europe and for his country, and we think he is well suited to the Premier League.

“Goncalo worked with Bruno at Benfica and played with many members of our squad previously, so we’re confident he will settle quickly into the group here.

“Now, we are delighted that Goncalo is a Wolves player and look forward to giving him a warm welcome at Molineux this Saturday.”

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown

Updated 08 August 2022

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown

  • This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month

WASHINGTON: Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios ended a three-year title drought by claiming the trophy at the site of his last triumph, saving the only break point he faced in the Citi Open final Sunday along the way to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka.

Kyrgios’ seventh career tour-level championship came where his sixth did in 2019 — on the hard courts of the US Open tuneup in the American capital.

Earlier Sunday, Liudmila Samsonova won her second career WTA title by coming back to beat sixth-seeded Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Citi Open women’s final.

As usual when Kyrgios is on his game, the serve led the way for the 27-year-old Australian: He hit 12 aces and won 22 of 25 first-serve points. He won all nine of his service games against Nishioka, making him 64 for 64 in the tournament, wrapping up the week by saving all 10 of his opponents’ break points. The only one Kyrgios had to deal with Sunday came at 3-2 in the first set, and Kyrgios dismissed it via a volley winner.

At the other end, Kyrgios managed to break Japan’s Nishioka, who is ranked 96th and eliminated top-seeded Andrey Rublev in the semifinals, three times — in the opening game of each set and again in the match’s final game.

This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month. Kyrgios did not get any rankings points for that showing — there were no points awarded to anyone at Wimbledon — but the title in Washington will push him from 63rd to 37th, within shouting range of a possible seeding at the US Open.

Play begins at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 29. That is less than a week after a court hearing in Australia is scheduled for a common assault allegation against Kyrgios.

Samsonova is a 23-year-old Russian who reached a career-best ranking of 25th in May but is currently 60th after needing to sit out part of the season, including Wimbledon, because of her country’s attack on Ukraine. She used a powerful serve that reached 119 mph against Kanepi to make her way through the bracket at the hard-court tournament, including a victory over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Samsonova’s other championship came last year at a grass-court tournament in Berlin. Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, was seeking her first trophy since 2013. She left the court for a medical timeout in the third set Sunday because of what she said was an abdominal muscle problem.

“I guess a lot of matches and a lot of serving this week,” Kanepi said.

Kyrgios’ victory was shown on Tennis Channel, which shunted the women’s final off its main station and instead aired pickleball — because, tournament chairman Mark Ein said, of a prior commitment.

Both women are quite capable of terrific serving and showed so right away: Kanepi closed out her first service game with a 96 mph ace; Samsonova finished off hers with a 112 mph service winner.

“She served better than me today,” Kanepi said, “and maybe that was the key.”

Samsonova’s take? The vital factor was her ability to eventually attack Kanepi’s serve.

This was big-serve, quick-strike tennis between a pair of women with similar playing styles on a humid, 90-degree Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) afternoon. Some spectators held umbrellas to provide shade; portable electric fans were placed next to sideline seats to offer a bit of respite to the players during changeovers; Samsonova held a plastic bag filled with ice atop her head.

Samsonova earned her first break opportunity of the match an hour in, when Kanepi dumped a forehand into the net. Samsonova converted it and went ahead 4-3 when Kanepi sailed a backhand long.

Kanepi’s mistakes kept mounting and, suddenly, the second set belonged to Samsonova as part of a five-game run.

Helped by a double-fault, Samsonova broke to lead 5-3 in the third, then served it out.

Ashleigh Buhai claims Women’s British Open in playoff

Updated 08 August 2022

Ashleigh Buhai claims Women’s British Open in playoff

  • For Buhai, the win more than made up for a near-miss at that 2019 Women’s British Open, when she led the event at the halfway stage at Woburn but finished fifth

MUIRFIELD, Scotland: After seeing a five-shot lead slip away in the final round, Ashleigh Buhai still managed to secure a first major title at the Women’s British Open.

Buhai kept her composure to beat In Gee Chun — and the setting sun — in a playoff at Muirfield on Sunday for her first career victory in an LPGA Tour event.

With the light fading, the South African golfer made a superb bunker shot on the fourth playoff hole to leave herself with a short par putt, while Chun settled for a bogey.

The 33-year-old Buhai calmly rolled in from less than three feet and then clutched her face in relief, before being drenched in water and other beverages by her entourage.

“I was surprisingly calm,” Buhai said about the clutch bunker shot that secured the victory. “My caddie said to me on the last one, I don’t want to brag, but she said ‘Show them why you’re No. 1 in bunkers this year.’ So, you know, she gave me the confidence. Maybe it’s got something to do with Muirfield and South Africans and bunker shots.”

Ernie Els also won the men’s British Open in a playoff at Muirfield in 2002 after a memorable bunker shot during the final round. This was the first time the Women’s British Open was played at Muirfield, a club that didn’t even allow female members until 2019 following a vote two years earlier.

Buhai made things a lot more difficult than they had to be, though.

She entered the final round with a commanding five-shot lead and was still three strokes ahead before a triple bogey on the par-4 15th that put her level with Chun.

Both players missed long birdie putts on the 18th as they settled for a playoff after finishing on 10-under 274.

“I know there are a lot of people in South Africa with lots of gray hairs right now after that 15th hole,” Buhai said. “But I’m very proud of myself, the way I dug deep and kept myself in it to get into that playoff.”

Buhai shot a 4-over 75 in the final round, while Chun carded a 70.

Hinako Shibuno of Japan, the 2019 champion, finished one shot back in third after missing a chip from just off the green that would have made it a three-way playoff.

Chun was in trouble on the first two playoff holes, but her short game bailed her out both times.

On the first, Chun sent her second shot into a bunker while Buhai found the heart of the green. But the South Korean hit a near-perfect bunker shot to within a few feet of the hole to salvage the par.

On the second, she needed to make an 8-foot bogey putt to stay in it after sending her second shot wide and then barely making it onto the green with a chip from the tall grass.

Buhai nearly won it on the third playoff hole, but her long putt for the win pulled up a few inches away from the hole.

For Buhai, the win more than made up for a near-miss at that 2019 Women’s British Open, when she led the event at the halfway stage at Woburn but finished fifth.

“Forgive me, there will be a few tears,” Buhai said during the trophy presentation. “Obviously there’s a lot of hard work and many years of dedication going into this.”