Pep Guardiola delighted with ‘incredible’ players after Fulham win puts City at Premier League summit

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero scores their second goal at Fulham as Pep Guardiola's side go top of the league. (Reuters)
Updated 31 March 2019

Pep Guardiola delighted with ‘incredible’ players after Fulham win puts City at Premier League summit

LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed his “incredible” Manchester City players after they sealed a very comfortable 2-0 win at Fulham on Saturday.
Goals from Bernardo Silva and club legend Sergio Aguero in the first half were enough for City to move ahead of title rivals Liverpool in the Premier League table ahead of the Merseyside club’s crucial clash with Tottenham Hotspur today.
The 2-0 scoreline flattered relegation-bound Fulham, as City completely dominated the game, and the the rhythm the Manchester club showed after the two-week international break particularly impressed Guardiola.
“Our first 15-20 minutes was one of the best of the season. We played with incredible spirit, we could have scored more. After the goals we controlled it,” he said.
“It was an incredible result after the international break and having played away. We did what we should do.
“After the break playing at home is different to playing away. Always you have doubts about how they’re going to react.
“Fulham was a tough game for Liverpool and Chelsea so we knew it was going to be tricky, (playing at) 12:30 on Saturday, a sunny day.
“That is unusual and that is why I am so satisfied.”
Liverpool can regain pole position in the table if they beat Tottenham at Anfield today, but City have a game in hand and will definitely be crowned champions for a second successive season if they win their last seven matches.
However, Guardiola refuses to look that far ahead just yet and he urged his players to take it one game at a time.
“Liverpool and Man City have done incredible so far so deserve the credit. We will have 80 points with six games to play if we win next week,” he said.
“We are going to do everything to win. No matter the next competition, we will win the game.”
City, who have already won the League Cup, remain in contention for an unprecedented quadruple as they chase Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup glory.
But Guardiola said: “We don’t think too much about what people say about the quadruple. Enjoy the moment and dream to win another game.”
“Every game we have to win if we want to be champions. We have tough opponents, but that is the challenge,” he added.
Guardiola admitted that he would have to make changes ahead of what will be a packed schedule for Manchester City.
“Next game on Wednesday (against Cardiff) we are going to change a few players. It is important for the rhythm, Fernandinho is still far away from his rhythm. Wednesday we have another one, Saturday we have the (FA Cup) semifinal, Tuesday is Champions League, so we need everybody.”
Aguero, who scored his 19th Premier League goal to go top of the Golden Boot standings, was taken off with 57 minutes gone with what looked to be a slight injury, but Guardiola was not worried after the match.
“Tomorrow we have the real assessment, he says he felt something but not injured. For precaution he decided not to continue, hopefully it’s nothing serious.”
Fulham, by contrast, remain 13 points adrift of safety with just 18 left to play for and failed to register a single shot on target at home for the first time in nine years.
“From the outset we knew the challenge ahead was against a really good team. We made a nervous start and when you go 1-0 down after five minutes, it was always going to be a tough hill to climb and so it proved. In saying that, I thought we dug in and showed some bits at times against a world-class side,” Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker said.
“We are realistic, the main focus in the last six games is to keep pushing and end the season on a positive in a disappointing campaign,” he added.


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.