Hertha out for Union revenge in Berlin derby

Schalke’s Daniel Caligiuri has his free kick blocked by Borussia Dortmund players during their Bundesliga match last Saturday. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 May 2020

Hertha out for Union revenge in Berlin derby

  • The return match would in normal times have been a 74,000 sellout

BERLIN: Hertha Berlin will look to build on their winning return to Bundesliga action last weekend following the coronavirus suspension and avenge November’s derby defeat by city rivals Union when the pair meet on Friday in the German capital.

Union, the side from the east of Berlin, pulled off a famous 1-0 win over their west Berlin rivals when the teams met for the first time in the top division this season. The return match at Hertha’s Olympic Stadium home would in normal times have been a 74,000 sellout.

“We all remember the match at the Alten Foersterei. It was a black, black, day. Now we’ve got the chance to put it behind us just a bit,” said Hertha’s general manager Michael Preetz. “The conditions are very different, therefore it’s a different sort of derby,” added Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia, who started with a win in his first match last Saturday.

The Bundesliga became the first major European league to resume last weekend following the two-month shutdown, with draconian hygiene measures enforced at all matches across the country.

Players are undergoing regular virus tests while games are being played behind closed doors as part of strict guidelines approved by the government.

Germany’s top two tiers will pay tribute to the victims of the virus outbreak over the course of the next two rounds of matches. More than 8,000 people have died in the country, which has reported over 175,000 cases of COVID-19.

“The spread of the coronavirus has already taken many lives throughout the world. German professional football would like to express its condolences on the next two matchdays,” said German league chief executive Christian Seifert.

Players will also wear black armbands and observe a moment of reflection before the start of each match.

Union coach Urs Fischer missed the 2-0 loss at home to Bayern Munich last weekend after breaking the team quarantine following a family bereavement.

Borussia Dortmund will try to keep pace with leaders Bayern Munich away to Wolfsburg ahead of Tuesday’s crucial top-two showdown at Signal Iduna Park, although they could be without captain Marco Reus for the remainder of the season due to a thigh injury.

Bayern, four points clear at the top, host Eintracht Frankfurt, who won 5-1 in the reverse fixture — inflicting the heaviest league defeat on Bayern since 2009 and putting an end to Niko Kovac’s turbulent spell in charge.

Champions League quarterfinalists RB Leipzig go to Mainz on Sunday, having have fallen behind in the title chase after three successive draws. Julian Nagelsmann’s side set a club record with an 8-0 win when the teams met in November.

Bayer Leverkusen picked up where they left off before the league’s suspension with a 4-1 rout of Werder Bremen, Kai Havertz further enhancing his reputation by scoring twice as the club made it 10 wins in their last 11 games in all competitions.

The 20-year-old Havertz, who saw Florian Wirtz (17 years and 15 days) break his record on Monday as Leverkusen’s youngest Bundesliga debutant, has emerged as one of the best young forwards in Europe and is attracting interest from several of the continent’s top clubs.

With nine goals and seven assists since the turn of the year, Leverkusen will hope for more from Havertz when they take on third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach.

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Fixtures (1330 GMT unless stated)

Friday: Hertha Berlin vs. Union Berlin (1830)

Saturday: Borussia Moenchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund, Freiburg vs. Werder Bremen, Paderborn vs. Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (1630)

Sunday: Schalke vs. Augsburg (1130), Mainz vs. RB Leipzig (1330), Cologne vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf (1600)


Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold of Lakers

Updated 23 September 2020

Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold of Lakers

  • The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99

ORLANDO: Jamal Murray scored 28 points as the Denver Nuggets held off a ferocious late fightback from the Los Angeles Lakers to roar back into contention in the Western Conference finals series on Tuesday.

Murray nailed two crucial late three-pointers in the closing minutes as Denver held on for a 114-106 victory in game three to reduce the Lakers’ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

But the Nuggets — who looked in complete control for long periods of the contest — were given a mighty scare by the Lakers in a thrilling fourth quarter battle.

The Lakers had trailed by 20 points with just over 10 minutes remaining but whittled away the Denver lead to just three points with 3min 53sec left on the clock in Orlando.

But just as it looked as if LeBron James and Anthony Davis were poised to complete a remarkable comeback, Murray regrouped to take the game away from the Lakers.

The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99 and he then provided the assist for Paul Millsap to make it 108-99.

With less than a minute on the clock, Murray struck the dagger blow with a 29-foot three-point jumpshot to make it 111-99 and effectively seal victory.

Denver coach Michael Malone said his team — who had suffered an agonizing buzzer-beater defeat in game two on Sunday — were determined not to go 3-0 down in the series.

The Nuggets have already overturned 3-1 series deficits en route to the Western Conference finals.

“I had no doubt we were going to show up tonight,” Malone said.

“We have won six straight elimination games. Everybody always has us packing our bags and leaving, but we’re not ready to go. They’re a very resilient group and they have proved that time and time again.”

Asked about his late flourish, Murray said he had set out to lead by example.

“That’s my whole energy, my whole approach to the game, not getting down if I miss a couple of shots,” Murray said.

“I’m just trying to be aggressive ... but the most important part is the energy I bring when I’m talking to my team-mates, being a vocal leader, getting up and down and pushing everybody so they tend to follow. I just wanted to see them have a lot of fun today.”

The Lakers, meanwhile, were left reflecting on an uneven display which ultimately left James and Davis with too much to do.

James led the scoring with a triple double comprised of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, with six turnovers. Davis had 27 points, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (12) and Kyle Kuzma (11) the only other Lakers players to crack double figures.

Murray, who also had 12 assists, was backed with 26 points from Jerami Grant while Nikola Jokic weighed in with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

“You put yourself in an 18-point hole, it’s tough to climb out of that,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

“I thought Denver played with great energy throughout the game. We didn’t match it early, we matched it late. They’re a great basketball team so credit it to them for the win. They played a really good basketball game.

“We were not as sharp as we could have been on both ends of the floor. We were playing at a high level, but were a little bit off in the first half.

“But I liked the spirit that the guys competed with down the stretch to try and make it a game.”