West Ham up to fourth as troubled Spurs crash again

Tottenham’s Lucas Moura, right, duels for the ball with West Ham’s Declan Rice in London on Sunday. (AP)
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Updated 21 February 2021

West Ham up to fourth as troubled Spurs crash again

  • Tottenham have already lost eight league games this season — the second-worst return of Mourinho’s career after losing nine with Chelsea in 2015-16

LONDON: West Ham moved into fourth in the Premier League with a 2-1 win against troubled Tottenham on Sunday that left their London rivals’ top four bid in tatters.

Jose Mourinho’s side slumped to a fifth defeat in their last six league games as they paid the price for a sloppy defensive display at the London Stadium.

Michail Antonio put West Ham in front early in the first half and Jesse Lingard doubled the hosts’ advantage after the break.

Lucas Moura reduced the deficit with his first league goal since September, but spluttering Spurs were unable to salvage a point.

West Ham climbed two points above Chelsea into the Champions League spots as their unexpected European challenge gathered pace with a seventh win in their last nine league matches.

It was a first triumph for West Ham boss David Moyes in 16 meetings with Mourinho.

And while Moyes has sparked a remarkable revival at West Ham, who were in a relegation battle when he arrived last season, Mourinho’s Tottenham are in the middle of a woeful campaign.

They are languishing in ninth and trail West Ham by nine points, albeit with a game in hand.

Tottenham have already lost eight league games this season — the second-worst return of Mourinho’s career after losing nine with Chelsea in 2015-16. Mourinho will have to turn the tide quickly to save his job after Tottenham’s latest flop.

Tottenham had conceded nine goals in their last three games in all competitions, underlining the defensive flaws that have plagued them since they squandered a three-goal lead in the closing minutes of their 3-3 draw with West Ham in October.

Antonio exploited more dismal defending to open the scoring in the fifth minute.

When Son Heung-min’s slow reaction allowed Jarrod Bowen to whip in a cross from the left, Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga stood flat-footed as Antonio got between them.

Antonio’s initial toe-poked effort was saved by Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris and the West Ham forward quickly got to his feet to stab in the rebound from close-range.

Tomas Soucek was left with blood streaming down his face after a clash of heads with Tanganga, putting West Ham down to 10 men for five minutes while the midfielder went off to be stitched up.

Even then, toothless Tottenham couldn’t make any headway and Lloris had to tip over Craig Dawson’s header after the defender easily evaded slack marking at Aaron Cresswell’s corner.

After a lethargic half, Tottenham showed signs of life as Erik Lamela’s curler forced a decent save from Lukasz Fabianski, who had to sprawl to his right to keep out Harry Kane’s low drive moments later.

Tottenham had failed to win any of their previous 11 league games when trailing at half-time, so Mourinho took action with the introduction of Gareth Bale and Matt Doherty.

Bale had impressed during a rare start against Wolfsberger, but the Wales forward could do nothing to prevent Spurs spiralling toward another defeat.

Aided by Tottenham’s statuesque rearguard, Lingard broke clear to drive a fine finish into the far corner in the 47th minute.

An offside flag looked like it might spare Spurs, but a VAR review overturned the decision as Lingard belatedly celebrated his third goal since signing on loan from Manchester United.

Tottenham needed an immediate response and Kane was just off-target with a fierce free-kick before Lucas got one back in the 64th minute.

Bale’s corner arrowed toward Lucas at the near post and the Brazilian edged in front of his marker to glance a header past Fabianski.

Bale almost equalized with a blistering effort from the edge of the area that cannoned off the bar.

Tottenham’s luck was out again in stoppage-time when the ball rebounded off Son but looped onto the post and bounced to safety.


Portugal hammer Switzerland 6-1 to reach World Cup quarters

Updated 14 sec ago

Portugal hammer Switzerland 6-1 to reach World Cup quarters

DOHA: Portugal hammer Switzerland 6-1 to reach World Cup quarters.

Morocco players celebrate with Palestinian flag after Spain upset

Updated 06 December 2022

Morocco players celebrate with Palestinian flag after Spain upset

  • The Palestinian flag -- which has been fluttering widely across Qatar during the finals -- was seen being held aloft by Moroccan players

DOHA: Morocco’s players unfurled a Palestinian flag during their on-pitch celebrations after the team’s stunning World Cup upset victory against Spain on Tuesday.
The Palestinian flag — which has been fluttering widely across Qatar during the finals — was seen being held aloft by Moroccan players following the dramatic penalty shoot-out win over the Spaniards.
FIFA regulations prohibit the display of banners, flags and fliers that are deemed to be “political, offensive and/or discriminatory nature.” In the past, football’s governing bodies have issued fines for displays of the Palestinian flag inside stadia.
Morocco’s players also displayed the Palestinian flag after the team’s win against Canada during the group stage last week.
World Cup host Qatar has no relations with Israel and remains a supporter of the decades-long Palestinian cause for statehood.
Israel has occupied the Palestinian territories of east Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War fought with Arab nations.
About 250,000 Palestinians live in Qatar which has a population of around 2.9 million, most of them foreigners.


Ronaldo benched for Portugal’s last 16 tie with Switzerland

Updated 06 December 2022

Ronaldo benched for Portugal’s last 16 tie with Switzerland

  • Ronaldo, 37, is the only man to score at five World Cups
  • He angered Portugal coach Fernando Santos with his reaction to being substituted in the last group game

DOHA: Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of Portugal’s starting line-up for their World Cup last 16 clash against Switzerland on Tuesday, with Goncalo Ramos selected up front at his expense.
Ronaldo, 37, is the only man to score at five World Cups, but he angered Portugal coach Fernando Santos with his reaction to being substituted in the last group game.
Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix return for Portugal after they were rested in the 2-1 loss to South Korea, as does Bernardo Silva who made a brief appearance off the bench in that game.
Joao Cancelo drops out, with Diogo Dalot keeping his spot at right-back and Raphael Guerreiro restored at left-back.
Otavio starts in midfield after recovering from an injury in Portugal’s opening match.
Switzerland welcome back goalkeeper Yann Sommer from illness and Fabian Schaer retains his place in defense having filled in for Nico Elvedi in the 3-2 win over Serbia.
Edmilson Fernandes comes in for the absent Silvan Widmer at right-back.

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Eto’o sorry for fan ‘altercation’ but slams Algeria ‘provocation’

Updated 06 December 2022

Eto’o sorry for fan ‘altercation’ but slams Algeria ‘provocation’

  • Eto'o released a statement in which he admitted being involved in a "violent altercation"
  • He only addressed his apology to "the public" however and made no gesture to the fan

DOHA: Former Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o apologized Tuesday for kneeing an Algeria supporter in the face but insisted he was the target of “relentless provocation” by the North African state’s supporters since a controversial World Cup qualifier this year.
The 41-year-old Cameroon federation president and ambassador for the Qatar World Cup flew into a rage after being approached as he left Brazil’s 4-1 win over South Korea in Doha on Monday night.
A video widely shown on social media showed the four-time African player of the year breaking free from people seeking to restrain him and kneeing the face of a blogger named as Sadouni SM.
The man fell back after being struck but has not reported any serious injury.
Eto’o released a statement in which he admitted being involved in a “violent altercation.”
“I would like to apologize for losing my temper and reacting in a way that does not match my personality,” said the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker.
Eto’o only addressed his apology to “the public” however and made no gesture to the fan.
Eto’o lashed out at Algeria’s supporters for their behavior since Cameroon beat Algeria on away goals in a World Cup qualifying playoff in March.
Algeria later complained to FIFA about the referee and initially demanded a replay.
“I pledge to continue to resist the relentless provocation and daily harassment of some Algerian supporters,” Eto’o said.
“I have been the target of insults and allegations of cheating without any evidence,” he added.
He said Cameroon fans at the World Cup had also been “harassed and pestered” by Algerians.
“The scenario of Algeria’s defeat was cruel but perfectly in line with the rules and ethics of our sport,” Eto’o insisted.
All of Algeria’s appeals have been rejected and Eto’s said that Algerian authorities must now act to halt “this unhealthy climate before a more serious tragedy occurs.”
The African football legend was surrounded as soon as he left the 974 Stadium where the round of 16 match was played.
Wearing a blue baseball cap, he is seen allowing selfies with some fans before he was approached by the Algerian.
Eto’o handed his mobile phone to a man before surging at the blogger to deliver the blow with his knee.
Sadouni SM said in a video posted online Tuesday that his camera and microphone had been “smashed” in the incident.
“He hit me,” the man adds, pointing to his chin.
“I did all that for Algeria,” Sadouni SM says in the video.
“I am at the police station now for the inquiry.
“This video must be shared. As Eto’o is a celebrity I am afraid they will cover up the inquiry, but I trust the Qatari police,” he added.
Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee has not commented on the incident. Eto’o toured Senegal, Cameroon and Ghana in August to promote the World Cup.
The former international has a history of fiery outbursts, receiving a three-match ban in 2010 for headbutting an opponent while playing for Inter.

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Dutch flier Dumfries dazzles ahead of Argentina World Cup showdown

Updated 06 December 2022

Dutch flier Dumfries dazzles ahead of Argentina World Cup showdown

  • The Inter Milan defender provided two assists and scored the third goal in a 3-1 win to help set up Friday's quarter-final clash with Argentina
  • The Dutch will need to find a way of stopping Lionel Messi

DOHA: Denzel Dumfries had a slow start at the World Cup but the Netherlands wing-back hit his stride in spectacular style in the last-16 match against the United States.
The Inter Milan defender — one of the breakout stars at last year’s Euro 2020 — provided two assists and scored the third goal in a 3-1 win to help set up Friday’s quarter-final clash with Argentina.
The Dutch will need to find a way of stopping Lionel Messi as the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner continues his quest for a maiden World Cup title.
But coach Louis van Gaal will be hoping that his side can expose gaps behind the Argentina defense on the counter-attack, for which Dumfries and fellow wing-back Daley Blind will be crucial.
The pair assisted each other’s goals in the victory over the Americans as Van Gaal’s 3-4-1-2 formation paid dividends.
“He is (important). He got a lot of criticism in the first games but we know what he can do and he showed it today,” midfielder Davy Klaassen said after the last-16 tie.
“In this system the wing-backs are really important and if you see them assisting each other today, this is what you want.”
Kylian Mbappe is the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals, while other wingers to impress include England pair Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka and Brazil’s Vinicius Junior.
Wide players have been more important than usual in Qatar, according to Arsene Wenger, now FIFA’s football development chief.
“The sides with the best wingers are those who have the best chances to win because the game is changing toward the wings,” said Wenger.
“Teams are blocking the center, and attacks are going toward both sides.”
The Netherlands’ width comes from Blind and Dumfries, with Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo starting in a narrower front two ahead of Klaassen.
The positives of that system were best shown by their opening goal when a sweeping 20-pass move was finished off by Depay from Dumfries’ cut-back.
“In that goal you see all the facets of the system that we play,” said Dumfries.
“We really attack the spaces and change sides really well. It was a fantastic team goal. This is where you see the core of the system being executed.”
The Netherlands labored at times in the first round but still finished top of Group A after wins over hosts Qatar and Senegal and a draw with Ecuador.
“We knew before that we could play better. In the group stage we didn’t lose but we felt that we could play better,” said Dumfries.
The three-time runners-up are hoping to peak at the right time in their bid to win the title for the first time.
“We’re growing in the tournament, we’re improving every game and this was another step,” said captain Virgil van Dijk.
“We came here with one goal and that’s to become world champions and we have to win every game and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Dumfries, who is named after US film star Denzel Washington, impressed at the Euros with his first two international goals in the group stage.
Those performances helped him earn a move from PSV Eindhoven to Inter Milan and he has often been linked with a switch to the Premier League.
“I play for a very beautiful club in Italy and I’m very proud that I can play for Inter,” said Dumfries.
“I’m not focused on anything other than the national team.”

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