Barcelona stunned by Frankfurt, West Ham and Rangers advance to Europa League semifinals

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Eintracht Frankfurt's Serbian midfielder Filip Kostic scores a goal during the Europa League quarterfinal second leg football match against FC Barcelona in Barcelona on April 14, 2022. (AFP)
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Sporting Braga's goalkeeper Matheus Magalhaes claims the ball under pressure during their UEFA Europa League quarterfinal football match with the Rangers in Glasgow on April 14, 2022. (AFP)
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West Ham United's players celebrate after winning the UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg football match against Olympique Lyonnais on April 14, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 15 April 2022

Barcelona stunned by Frankfurt, West Ham and Rangers advance to Europa League semifinals

  • Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp: I am speechless. Nobody expected this, if you are honest. Everyone expected us to suffer
  • Rangers taken to extra time by Braga before winning 3-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate as the Portuguese side finished the game with nine men

PARIS: Favorites Barcelona were dumped out of the Europa League by Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarterfinals on Thursday, while West Ham United and Rangers joined RB Leipzig in qualifying for the last four.

Serbian international Filip Kostic scored twice either side of a Rafael Santos Borre strike at the Camp Nou for Frankfurt, who survived a late fightback to win 3-2 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate.

Sergio Busquets scored a late consolation before Memphis Depay's even later penalty for Barcelona but Eintracht held on, to the delight of the estimated 30,000 German supporters who traveled for the game.

They go through to their second Europa League semifinal in four seasons, having lost on penalties to Chelsea at the same stage in 2019.

"I am speechless. Nobody expected this, if you are honest. Everyone expected us to suffer," said Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.

Barcelona's recent revival under Xavi Hernandez has been remarkable but this defeat means they have won just once at home all season in Europe, and their campaign is now set to end without silverware.

"It's a hammer blow for us. They deserved to go through," admitted Xavi.

After conceding three penalties in their weekend win over Levante, Barca fell behind to another spot-kick inside four minutes against Eintracht, as Kostic converted after a foul by Eric Garcia to the delight of the enormous away support.

The visitors scored again in the 36th minute as Colombian forward Borre fired high into the net from range, and Kostic's low finish into the far corner made it 3-0 midway through the second half.

Busquets had a late goal disallowed for offside before he found the net with a fantastic strike from 20 meters in the first minute of injury time.

The game carried on into an 11th added minute when Depay netted a penalty after Evan Ndicka was sent off, receiving a second caution for a foul on Luuk de Jong.

Yet Eintracht maintained their record of not having lost to Spanish opposition since the 1960 European Cup final against Real Madrid, and they will face West Ham in the semifinals.

The English side are through to their first European semifinal since losing the 1976 Cup Winners' Cup final to Anderlecht after they outclassed Lyon in France, winning 3-0 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate.

The Hammers took the lead in the 38th minute of the return when Craig Dawson headed in a Pablo Fornals corner.

Captain Declan Rice slotted in their second just before the break, his sidefoot effort from the edge of the area beating Lyon goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck with the aid of a deflection.

The outcome was put beyond doubt when West Ham scored again three minutes after the restart as Fornals sent Jarrod Bowen away to make it 3-0.

"The journey in two years, we were talking about relegation, and now we're talking about getting to the semifinal of a European tournament. It's fabulous, and we're all going to look forward to it," said West Ham manager David Moyes.

There was drama in Glasgow as Rangers were taken to extra time by Braga before winning 3-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate as the Portuguese side finished the game with nine men.

James Tavernier gave Rangers a second-minute lead to level the tie on aggregate, and they had another goal disallowed and then hit the woodwork before winning a penalty just before the interval.

Vitor Tormena was sent off for a foul on Kemar Roofe, and Tavernier netted from the spot.

David Carmo's 83rd-minute header took the tie to extra time, but Roofe's 101st-minute finish put Rangers back in front on aggregate and Braga then had Iuri Medeiros dismissed.

Rangers will now face Leipzig in their first European semi-final since reaching the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

French international Christopher Nkunku scored both goals as Leipzig beat Atalanta 2-0 in Italy to win their last eight tie 3-1 on aggregate.

Nkunku opened the scoring in the 18th minute in Bergamo and then added a late penalty, his 30th goal of the season in all competitions.

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Morocco fire coach Halilhodzic ahead of World Cup

Updated 24 sec ago

Morocco fire coach Halilhodzic ahead of World Cup

RABAT: World Cup qualifiers Morocco have split with coach Vahid Halilhodzic three months ahead of the finals in Qatar.
The fall-out appears to have come over Halilhodzic’s handling of two of his star players.
He sidelined Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui of Ajax for disciplinary reasons and qualified for the World Cup without them, but it seems the federation wanted them back.
“We came to an amiable agreement to part ways due to divergences on preparations for the World Cup,” the Moroccan federation said.
Neither Ziyech and Mazraoui were part of the squad that reached the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January and Halilhodzic omitted both from the World Cup qualifying play-off matches against the Democratic Republic of Congo in March.
The World Cup starts November 20 in Qatar where Morocco take on Croatia, Belgium and Canada in Group F.
Halilhodzi has previously qualified for the World Cup finals with Ivory Coast and Japan.

Norwegian woman climber on track to break 'super peaks' record

Updated 11 August 2022

Norwegian woman climber on track to break 'super peaks' record

  • Kristin Harila successfully summit Pakistan's Gasherbrum I on Thursday  
  • Pakistan has enjoyed a record-breaking climbing season this year

ISLAMABAD: Norwegian climber Kristin Harila has just three mountains left in her bid to climb the world's 14 "super peaks" in record time after successfully summiting Pakistan's Gasherbrum I, officials said Thursday.
Nepali Nirmal Purja holds the record for climbing the world's 8,000 meter-plus (26,000 feet) mountains -- six months and six days -- but Harila now has until early November to complete her quest and beat his time.
Harila's latest successful summit was reported on her official social media pages and confirmed by Karrar Hadri, secretary of Pakistan's Alpine Club.
"The second phase in Pakistan was very challenging and dangerous: ever-changing weather conditions, being hit by a rock, illness and a very tight schedule," read a message on Harila's Instagram page.
"But here we are with only three peaks left."
Five of the 14 super peaks are in Pakistan -- including K2, the world's second highest mountain -- and the country has enjoyed a record-breaking climbing season this year.
Sajid Hussain, head of the tourism department in Gilgit Baltistan, told AFP they had issued about 1,780 permits for the top peaks.
"It has boosted our tourism and has increased our foreign exchange," he said.
Only around 40 people in history have summited all 14 of the super peaks, but none have come close to Purja's 2019 expedition.
He demolished the previous record for accomplishing the feat with supplemental oxygen, set by Poland's Jerzy Kukuczka in the 1980s at seven years, 11 months and 14 days.
In an interview with AFP earlier this year, 36-year-old Harila said she was inspired to show women were as capable as men of achieving great mountaineering feats.
"In history and until now, it has been the strong macho men going out climbing mountains," she said.
"When I talk to people that are not in this sport, they believe that men are more capable than women... If we are going to change, we need to get attention and show that women are just as capable."
The three remaining mountains for Harila are Cho Oyu (sixth highest, in Nepal/China), Manaslu (eighth, Nepal) and Shishapangma (14th, China). 


Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

Updated 11 August 2022

Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

HELSINKI: This time, there were only two goals.
David Alaba and Karim Benzema scored in each half for Real Madrid to win the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday.
Alaba prodded the opener home from close range in the 37th minute when Casemiro cushioned Benzema’s header back after a corner. The French star then sealed Madrid’s record-equaling fifth Super Cup title in the 65th thanks to an assist from the lively Vinícius Júnior.
It was Benzema’s 324th goal for Madrid, overtaking club legend Raúl. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has more after scoring 450 goals for the club between 2009-18.
But the game between the Champions League winners, Madrid, and Europa League champions, Frankfurt, failed to match the spectacle of their previous meeting.
Their only other competitive game was the 1960 European Cup final, when Alfredo Di Stéfano scored three goals and Ferenc Puskás chipped in with four to give Madrid a 7-3 win and fifth consecutive European crown.
Frankfurt goal-scorer Erwin Stein and teammate Dieter Stinka were in Helsinki for the rematch 62 years later, but it was the 93-year-old José Santamaria — the only remaining Madrid player from that final in Glasgow — who celebrated another win. The three veterans embraced warmly when they met before kickoff.


Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia

Updated 10 August 2022

Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia

  • New centers will be in Jouf, Hail, Al-Hudud Ash Shamaliyah and Al-Baha

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation is set to establish four new regional associations to help promote the sport across the Kingdom.

The federation told Arab News on Wednesday that is has 15 official associations representing the sport in nine regions, but aims to establish new associations in the remaining four regions “to make sure that we have future cricket activities all around the Kingdom.”

The long-term aim is for Saudi Arabian cricket teams to compete professionally at regional and international competitions, with the national teams taking on world’s best.

In recent years, the SACF has introduced several competitions and programs to encourage the country’s youth to take up one of the world’s oldest and most popular sports.

In October 2021, it signed an agreement with sports management company JSW Sports to develop cricket in Saudi Arabia, focusing on high-performance academies.

The SACF was established in 2020 and lined up a series of major initiatives the following year, including a national cricket championship, a corporate cricket tournament, a cricket league for expatriate workers, and a social program in several cities.

The initiatives are part of a mission to promote healthy and active lifestyles under the Saudi Vision 2030’s Quality of Life scheme, with the SACF — supported by the Ministry of Sports and Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee — mandated to increase physical activity levels by 40 percent over the next decade.

In November, the SACF partnered with Saudi’s Sports For All Federation to launch the Kingdom’s first cricket talent-spotting program.

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Zamalek president jailed for insulting rival

Updated 10 August 2022

Zamalek president jailed for insulting rival

  • Al-Ahly and Zamalek are historic rivals whose fans regularly clash after matches
  • Zamalek boss, Mortada Mansour, was initially sentenced to one year in prison for insulting Mahmoud al-Khatib, president of Al-Ahly

CAIRO: An Egyptian appeals court has sentenced the president of Zamalek football club to a month in prison for insulting the president of bitter rivals Al-Ahly, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday.
Al-Ahly and Zamalek, the country’s two biggest clubs and among the continent’s most successful, are historic rivals whose fans regularly clash after matches.
The 70-year-old Zamalek boss, Mortada Mansour, was initially sentenced to one year in prison for insulting Mahmoud Al-Khatib, president of Al-Ahly and a former star player, and his family in a video posted on social networks and on Zamalek’s club channel.
On Wednesday, Mansour’s sentence was reduced to one month in prison and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (500 euros).
A former magistrate and member of parliament, Mansour is regularly in the news. He has had a long-running battle with Al-Ahly and has physically attack his counterparts.
His parliamentary immunity had for a while enabled him to avoid legal proceedings after complaints of insults and defamation.
In 2007, he was sentenced to three years in jail by a criminal court in Cairo for “insulting” court officials and levelling accusations of corruption against them.

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