Liverpool rescue win over Fulham as Mohamed Salah stutters once again

Mohamed Salah’s goal drought continued as the Egyptian has scored just once now in his last 10 games. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019

Liverpool rescue win over Fulham as Mohamed Salah stutters once again

  • Egyptian striker has suffered from a poor run of form in recent weeks
  • Liverpool jumped above Manchester City to take top spot in the Premier League

LONDON: Liverpool jumped above Manchester City to take top spot in the Premier League but needed a James Milner penalty nine minutes from time to see off lowly Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
The on-form Sadio Mane put the visitors in front midway through the first half, but a rare defensive mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker allowed Ryan Babel to give his former club a huge scare 16 minutes from time.
Fulham’s awful defending all season is the reason they are heading back to the Championship after just one season back in the top flight, and the hosts gave Jurgen Klopp’s men a much-needed gift when goalkeeper Sergio Rico bundled over Mane and Milner secured all three points from the spot.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah’s goal drought continued as the Egyptian has scored just once now in his last 10 games, but it was his shot that Rico spilled before the Spaniard unnecessarily pulled down Mane.
Salah should have got a much-needed confidence boost when released clean through by Mane during the second half, but Rico saved low to his left.
The Egyptian striker has suffered from a poor run of form in recent weeks.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said: “It was (exactly) like how we are at the moment — we started really well, did a lot of good things and then lost the rhythm a little bit.
“I’m not the most experienced manager but I’ve had similar problems after Champions League games — the first-half was a bit rusty. We could’ve finished it off in the second-half but if you don’t kill the game at 1-0 up, it’s clear something like that can happen.
“I have no doubt about my players’ nerves. I always want perfection but it’s rare that you get it. People will say we should be more convincing in games like this but this is us, we are in the middle of a development, not at the end. How the boys dealt with it was brilliant.
“(It was an) average game, sensational result,” Klopp added.
“City don’t look like they will drop a lot of points, so we have to win and win and win. That’s our job to do.”
Fulham boss Scott Parker, who replaced Claudio Ranieri as the boss at Craven Cottage was looking for the positives after another damaging defeat for the west Londoners.
”The back end of the game we came strong and caused Liverpool some problems. It was pleasing, but we have lost (but have) some positives to take from the game.
“These players have been working really well for the two weeks I’ve been here. But you need to stay in the game against Liverpool. First half we did that. We changed things around a little bit and were in the ascendancy. The goal was what we deserved. We were in a position then to get the right side of it.
“I have seen some massive positives. I stand here two weeks on from being involved and these players are working to a maximum. The attitude and passion that comes with that means this club will be in a better place.”


Two more foreign cricketers positive for virus in Pakistan 

Updated 02 March 2021

Two more foreign cricketers positive for virus in Pakistan 

  • They bring to four the number of known infections in Pakistan Super League 
  • Pakistan Cricket Board official says league will continue with testing every three days 

KARACHI: Two more foreign cricketers and one staffer tested positive for the coronavirus in the Pakistan Super League on Tuesday. 
One unnamed player was from Islamabad United, while the other two’s names and teams were not identified by Pakistan Cricket Board media and communications director Sami Ul Hasan.

They bring to four the number of known infections in the league after Australian leg spinner Fawad Ahmed tested positive on Saturday. His Islamabad side had its scheduled game against Quetta Gladiators on Monday postponed to Tuesday.

Hasan said that game will go ahead, and the league will continue with testing every three days. Spectators will also continue to be allowed.

All four people who tested positive are in 10-day isolation. 


Sister act as Korda romps to Gainbridge LPGA win

Updated 02 March 2021

Sister act as Korda romps to Gainbridge LPGA win

  • Three birdies in her opening six holes gave her a healthy cushion at the top of the leaderboard, leaving her five shots clear at one stage

MIAMI: Nelly Korda produced a flawless final round to claim a three-shot victory at the Gainbridge LPGA tournament in Florida on Sunday.

Korda — whose elder sister Jessica won the LPGA Tour’s previous event, the season-opening Tournament of Champions in January — fired a three-under-par 69 to finish on 16 under.

The 22-year-old, whose father is former Czech tennis star Petr Korda, had opened up a one-shot lead on Saturday with a four-under-par 68.

On Sunday at Orlando’s Lake Nona Golf and Country Club, she picked up where she left off in the third round.

Three birdies in her opening six holes gave her a healthy cushion at the top of the leaderboard, leaving her five shots clear at one stage.

She then reeled off 12 consecutive pars to remain in control and close out the fourth LPGA Tour victory of her career with her parents and sister Jessica rushing to congratulate her on the 18th green.

“Honestly I did not play very good golf today,” Korda told a television interviewer moments after clinching her first career win on US soil.

“I just stayed really solid. I honestly don’t know how I did it. It was definitely very stressful.

“Winning in front of my parents was a first too, so that was really nice.”

Korda’s 72-hole aggregate 272 left her three clear of Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko who finished tied for second on 13 under.

Thompson had closed to within three of Korda with a brilliant eagle three at the par-five 11th, but a bogey on the following hole stymied her chances of mounting a charge down the stretch. Thompson finished with a four-under-par 68.

New Zealand’s former world No. 1 Ko stormed up the leaderboard at the start of the back nine with four consecutive birdies starting on the 12th hole, eventually carding a three-under-par 69.

World number one Ko Jin-young meanwhile finished five off the lead in fourth place on 11 under. Ko posted a one-under-par-71 after an erratic final round that included four birdies and three bogeys.

There was disappointment for Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit, who had started the day one off the lead.

The 21-year-old rookie faded with a two-over-par 74, with two bogeys and a double bogey on the front nine dropping her out of contention.

Tavatanakit finished on 10 under alongside Australia’s Sarah Kemp, who shot a three-under-par 69.

Meanwhile, LPGA great Annika Sorenstam, who parred her final hole on Friday to make the cut in her first tour start since 2008, closed with a four-over-par 76, propping up the leaderboard on 13 over.


Australian player positive for COVID-19 while playing in Pakistan cricket league

Updated 01 March 2021

Australian player positive for COVID-19 while playing in Pakistan cricket league

  • Australian leg spinner Fawad Ahmed has been put in isolation
  • Pakistan Cricket Board says all remaining members of Islamabad United tested negative

KARACHI: Australian leg spinner Fawad Ahmed tested positive for COVID-19 while playing in the Pakistan Super League and has been put in isolation, his club said Monday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said all remaining members of Islamabad United have tested negative.
“One of our players, Fawad Ahmed tested positive ... and was immediately put in isolation two days ago,” Islamabad said in a statement.
In his only appearance in PSL this year, Ahmed took 1-40 against Peshawar Zalmi on Saturday. Islamabad lost by six wickets.
Two-time champion Islamabad was due to meet Quetta Gladiators at 7 p.m. on Monday, but the PCB said the match will be delayed for two hours.
It’s the first COVID-19 positive test in Pakistan’s premier twenty20 league, which began on Feb. 20.
On Feb. 21, Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz and head coach Daren Sammy were allowed to rejoin their squad after their appeal against a quarantine for breaching COVID-19 protocols was accepted by the PCB.
Riaz and Sammy breached the team’s bio-secure bubble on Feb. 19 when they met with their team owner, who was not part of the bubble. But they rejoined the team following two negative COVID-19 tests after they were spared the three-day quarantine when their appeal was accepted by the PSL committee.


Police enter Barcelona’s stadium in search operation

Updated 01 March 2021

Police enter Barcelona’s stadium in search operation

  • Police said detentions were made but did not say who or how many people were taken into custody
  • The club said authorities were at the team’s headquarters but did not provide any more detail

BARCELONA: Spanish police entered Barcelona’s stadium and detained some people on Monday in a search and seize operation related to an investigation into club officials.
Police said detentions were made but did not say who or how many people were taken into custody.
The club said authorities were at the team’s headquarters but did not provide any more detail.
The operation was related to last year’s “Barçagate,” in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players who were critical of the club and then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Barcelona had denied accusations that it hired — and overpaid — a company to make negative comments about its own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior club officials.
The company was accused of using fake social media accounts to discredit opposition figures when they expressed views that went against the club. Some of the figures supposedly included players such Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué, as well as former coach Pep Guardiola.
The club later released an independent audit report showing that there was no wrongdoing.
Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned last year amid fallout from the controversy surrounding Lionel Messi. The club has been mired in political turmoil and debt prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The operation comes less than a week before presidential elections are to be held at the club.


Liverpool beats Sheffield United 2-0 to end EPL losing run

Updated 01 March 2021

Liverpool beats Sheffield United 2-0 to end EPL losing run

  • The 20-year-old academy graduate Curtis Jones made the breakthrough for Liverpool in the 48th minute when he fired in off Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deflected cross

SHEFFIELD, England: Liverpool halted a run of four defeats in the Premier League as it ended a miserable February with a 2-0 win over last-place Sheffield United on Sunday.
A series of fine first-half saves from Sheffield goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale kept the defending champions at bay in the first half. The 20-year-old academy graduate Curtis Jones made the breakthrough for Liverpool in the 48th minute when he fired in off Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deflected cross. There was a brief check for whether the ball had gone out of play in the buildup but there was no conclusive evidence that it had.
Oliver McBurnie sent a header wide in Sheffield’s best chance of leveling the score before Liverpool made it 2-0 in the 64th. Roberto Firmino weaved through the defense before hitting a shot which took a deflection before going past Ramsdale. The Premier League ruled it was an own-goal for Sheffield’s Kean Bryan, meaning Firmino went a seventh game without a goal in the league and Champions League.
The second goal took the game out of reach for a Sheffield team with just three league wins all season as Liverpool marked its first league game without conceding a goal since a 0-0 draw with Manchester United on Jan. 17.
However, it was not the kind of emphatic victory which might have boosted Liverpool’s confidence further after a miserable recent run which included last week’s defeat to rival Everton and losses to Manchester City and Leicester which buried an already ailing bid to retain the title.
Mohamed Salah missed from close range in the 80th and Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian, standing in for Alisson Becker after his father died, stopped a late attempt from Oliver Burke.