Casemiro’s last-gasp leveller rescues Man Utd in Chelsea draw

Manchester United’s Casemiro celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during their Premier League match against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge Stadium in London, on Saturday. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 22 October 2022

Casemiro’s last-gasp leveller rescues Man Utd in Chelsea draw

  • Former Real Madrid star Casemiro ensured United left west London on a six-match unbeaten run
  • Ronaldo was missing from the United squad after being dropped by Ten Hag

LONDON: Casemiro rescued Manchester United as the Brazil midfielder grabbed his first goal for the club in stoppage-time to salvage a dramatic 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Saturday.
Erik ten Hag’s side were seconds away from defeat after Jorginho’s 87th minute penalty put Chelsea ahead in United’s first match since Cristiano Ronaldo was sent into exile.
But former Real Madrid star Casemiro ensured United left west London on a six-match unbeaten run as he netted with a header that was awarded by goal-line technology after crossing the line by millimeters.
Ronaldo was missing from the United squad after being dropped by Ten Hag after his refusal to come on as a substitute in Wednesday’s win over Tottenham.
Ten Hag’s decision to lay down the law to Ronaldo could signal the beginning of the end for the Portugal attacker in his second spell with United.
It would be no surprise if United and Ronaldo parted ways in the January transfer window, but Ten Hag’s men did not appear troubled by the striker’s latest petulant outburst.
With Ronaldo banished, United were still the stronger side for long periods, while there were no chants in support of the 37-year-old from the visiting fans packed into one corner of Stamford Bridge.
Fifth placed United remain one point behind fourth placed Chelsea, who are unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions since Graham Potter replaced the sacked Thomas Tuchel.
The only concern for United was the sight of France center-back Raphael Varane limping off in tears in the second half after a World Cup injury scare.
Varane’s leg twisted awkwardly as he stretched in a failed attempt to intercept a pass toward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, leaving him crumpled in a heap on the pitch for several minutes.
The 29-year-old was eventually able to walk around the pitch unaided, but his angst at potentially missing the World Cup, which starts on November 20, was clear as he punched the corner flag in frustration.
Lost in the fuss over Ronaldo’s antics was the vibrancy of United’s performance against Tottenham and they retained that quality at the Bridge.
A flurry of passes cut through Chelsea’s midfield to create the first chance for Luke Shaw, who fizzed his low drive just wide of the far post from the edge of the area.
Teed up by Bruno Fernandes, United winger Anthony was next to threaten with a left-foot curler that forced a good save from Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Marcus Rashford’s return to form has played a role in keeping Ronaldo on the bench this season.
However, Ronaldo would surely have delivered a better finish than Rashford managed midway through the first half.
Fernandes’s pin-point pass opened up the Chelsea defense, leaving Rashford one on one with Kepa but a poor first touch took him away from goal and his shot thudded into the Chelsea keeper’s chest.
Rashford didn’t let that mess drain his confidence and he surged into the Chelsea area for a fierce strike that Kepa palmed away.
With Chelsea being over-run in central areas, Potter responded by replacing center-back Marc Cucurella and sending on midfielder Mateo Kovacic in a bid to disrupt United’s rhythm.
Chelsea finally managed a menacing raid after Kovacic’s introduction as Aubameyang stabbed just wide.
Aubameyang couldn’t get the decisive touch to a pair of half-chances moments later but United were unfazed.
Christian Eriksen flashed narrowly wide from 25 yards before Anthony missed a glorious chance, the winger firing wide after Fernandes sent him racing clear on goal.
Chelsea’s Trevoh Chalobah hit the bar with a second half header from Mason Mount’s cross.
And Potter’s men looked to have won it in when Scott McTominay needlessly fouled Armando Broja and Jorginho calmly slotted past David De Gea.
But four minutes into stoppage-time, Casemiro rose highest for a superb header that Kepa could only tip onto the post, the ball bouncing down just over the line to spark wild United celebrations.


Most unwanted? How sports treat the Russia problem

Updated 27 March 2023

Most unwanted? How sports treat the Russia problem

  • IOC says it wants to continue its ban “on flag, anthem, colors or any other identifications” from the two countries but is seeking a pathway to let their athletes compete

PARIS: International sports bodies are taking wildly varying stances on allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes and teams to compete while the war in Ukraine continues.

With the Paris Olympics fewer than 500 days away, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it wants to continue its ban “on flag, anthem, colors or any other identifications” from the two countries but is seeking a pathway to let their athletes compete.

That strategy will be discussed again this coming week when the IOC executive board meets.

Here, AFP Sport looks at how sports are handling the dilemma.

While World Athletics on Thursday lifted the ban on the Russian track and field federation for state-sponsored doping, its athletes remain barred from competition while Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine continues. The body’s president Sebastian Coe said “the unprecedented sanctions” imposed on Russia and Belarus by countries around the world “appear to be the only peaceful way to disrupt and disable Russia’s current intentions and restore peace.”

Russian and Belarusian players are allowed to compete on the main ATP and WTA tours but not under their flags or country names. They are banned from the Davis Cup and BJK Cup tournaments. Players from Russia and Belarus were also banned from Wimbledon last year although Moscow-born Elena Rybakina, competing for Kazakhstan, won the women’s singles title.

Russia was thrown out of 2022 World Cup qualifying and are banned from Euro 2024 qualifying which started this week. Instead Russia played a friendly in Iran.
Belarus are not banned from Euro qualifying but they must play home games at neutral venues while their clubs are still allowed to enter European tournaments.
Denis Rogachev, the head of the Russian Football Union, said “negotiations are underway” to play in the Central Asian championship in June and that “a negotiation process is underway with UEFA and FIFA on a phased return.”

The sport has not yet lifted the ban on Russians and Belarusians, which means none have so far qualified for Paris or this year’s World Championships in October. The next opportunity for teams and individuals to book a place for the worlds, where Olympic places will be up for grabs, are the European Championships in Turkiye in April. Russians and Belarusians were not included in the European draw on Tuesday, the cutoff point for competing. Switching to Asia could offer an Olympic pathway to Russians.

Russian fighters were allowed to compete at the recent women’s world boxing championships in India, a move which prompted a boycott by countries including United States, Ukraine, Canada, Sweden and Britain.

Theoretically, drivers from Russia and Belarus can compete as “neutral” drivers in Formula One. But the only Russian driver, Nikita Mazepin, was dropped shortly before the start of the 2022 season by the Haas team. F1 also dropped the Sochi Grand Prix from its 2022 schedule, and canceled plans for annual races to be held in St. Petersburg starting this season.

Russia and the Soviet Union have won the annual ice hockey world championship seven times but on Thursday the International Ice Hockey Federation banned them for a second straight year saying that “it is not yet safe to reincorporate the Russian and Belarusian teams.”

With its Olympic qualifying process about to start, the International Fencing Federation decided on March 10 to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part, although it said it was up to the IOC whether they could compete in Paris. The German, Finnish and Swedish fencing bodies responded by canceling events they were due to host.

Russians and Belarusians were banned from the world championships in Budapest last June and July. For now, aquatic sports are among those playing a waiting game. Governing body FINA told AFP in February: “At this time, there are no further updates regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in World Aquatics competitions.” That means they are still banned from the world championships in Fukuoka in July, but the sport’s Olympic rules means swimmers have until late next June to match the qualifying times.
 


Boutier beats Hall in playoff to claim 3rd LPGA victory

Updated 27 March 2023

Boutier beats Hall in playoff to claim 3rd LPGA victory

  • With the victory, Boutier claimed her third LPGA victory and became the winningest French player on tour

GOLD CANYON, Arizona: Celine Boutier beat Georgia Hall with a birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday to win the LPGA Drive on Championship.
Boutier forced a playoff by making a testy birdie putt at the par-5 18th to close out a 4-under 68, matching Hall (65) at 20-under 268 in the LPGA’s first full-field event of the season.
Playing the 18th hole again, neither golfer found the green with their second shot of the playoff. Boutier, chipping from nearly the same spot as she did in regulation short and right of the green, pitched to about 4 feet. Meanwhile, Hall hit her second shot into a greenside bunker, blasted beyond the hole and failed to convert her birdie effort. That set the stage for Boutier’s winning birdie putt.

Celine Boutier plays her shot on the 17th tee during the final round of the LPGA Drive On Championship on March 26, 2023 in Arizona. (Getty Images/AFP )

With the victory, the 29-year-old Boutier claimed her third LPGA victory and became the winningest French player on tour, moving past Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Anne-Marie Palli. She had previously won the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open and 2021 ShopRite Classic
After three birdie-filled rounds at Superstition Mountain Golf Club, the final round started with 17 players within three shots of the lead and stayed to form. Hall made the most of her fourth round, posting one of three 7-under par scores, including going 6 under on the back nine to charge into the early lead.
Japan’s Ayaka Furue closed with a 65 and finished third at 19 under. Na Rin An of South Korea was alone in fourth at 18 under with a closing 67, while American Ally Ewing (67) and South Korea’s Jin Young Ko (68) were another stroke back in fifth.
 

Related


Andreescu and Sabalenka march into last 16 in Miami

Updated 27 March 2023

Andreescu and Sabalenka march into last 16 in Miami

  • Andreescu will face in the next round Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, who beat world No. 9 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-6 (10/8), 6-3
  • Sabalenka will next face Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open winner, who beat American Madison Keys 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida: Former US Open winner Bianca Andreescu and world number two Aryna Sabalenka cruised into the last-16 of the Miami Open on Sunday with straight sets victories at Hard Rock Stadium.
Sabalenka’s power was simply too much for Marie Bouzkova with the Belarussian breaking serve twice in the opening set on the way to a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Any chance of a comeback from Bouzkova vanished when she was broken in the opening game of the second set and Sabalenka was in no danger on her serve, not facing break point at any time in the 66 minute encounter.
Andreescu looks a player reborn and she oozed confidence as she enjoyed a 6-4, 6-4 victory over American Sofia Kenin.
The 22-year-old Andreescu, the 2019 US Open winner, has been impressive so far having beaten Emma Raducanu and world number 10 Maria Sakkari in the previous rounds.
In a match with few rallies, Andreescu dominated with her serve game, with a 70 percent first serve percentage and it was not until mid-way through the second set that Kenin caused any real problems.
Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open winner, broke Andreescu to cut the lead to 4-3 but despite the improved forehand from the Floridian, Andreescu kept her cool and won with her first match point.
“These victories are definitely very sweet and I’ve had many tough matches against Sofia, so it feels really good to get through,” said Andreescu who converted all three of her break points.
“I definitely feel like I am getting better match by match, even physically. Like I’m feeling really good. I’m feeling very fresh,” she added.
Andreescu will face Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova in the next round after she beat world number nine Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-6 (10/8), 6-3.
In a good day for Russian women, qualifier Varvara Gracheva reached her second straight WTA 1000 fourth round with a straightforward 6-1, 6-2 win over Polish lucky loser Magdalena Frech.
The 22-year-old Gracheva also made it to the last 16 as a qualifier at Indian Wells.
There will also be a strong Czech presence in the fourth round with Petra Kvitova, Barbara Krejcikova and Marketa Vondrousova all winning on Sunday.
Two-times Wimbledon winner Kvitova beat Donna Vekic 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), surviving a strong effort from the Croat in the second set.
“She was always coming back after a (service) break, and it wasn’t really easy already in the first set. ... It was very difficult, she played very well, she served very well,” said Kvitova.
Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open winner, beat American Madison Keys 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 while Vondrousova beat out-of-form compatriot Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-2
Romanian Sorana Cirstea made it to the fourth round in Miami for the first time in a decade after beating Czech Karolina Muchova 7-5, 6-1.
The 32-year-old, now coached by Swedish former Australian Open winner Thomas Johansson, is enjoying a mini-revival after also reaching the same stage in Indian Wells last month.


Scheffler, McIlroy at their best to reach Match Play semifinals

Updated 26 March 2023

Scheffler, McIlroy at their best to reach Match Play semifinals

  • Scheffler, who lost in the final in his Match Play debut in 2021, now has won 10 straight matches
  • McIlroy won with a 12-foot birdie putt, the proper ending to a match that both said was a testament to the quality of golf required

AUSTIN, Texas: The golf was as good as it gets. Rory McIlroy made 17 birdies in the 36 holes he played Saturday. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler rallied with six birdies in his last nine holes to reach the semifinals for the third straight year.

A little luck never hurts in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. And as great as McIlroy played, he needed some of that, too.

McIlroy never led in his quarterfinals match against Xander Schauffele. They came to the 18th hole all square, and McIlroy slumped slightly when he saw his drive headed left toward the trees. Schauffele hit his shot and quickly picked up his tee.

Imagine their surprise. McIlroy came upon a golf ball behind a tree and figured it was his. Schauffele was walking behind him and was stunned when McIlroy kept going.

“He hit a worse drive than I did and he ended up fine,” Schauffele said.

He got no argument from McIlroy.

“I expected my ball to be Xander’s ball on 18 behind that tree, and I got fortunate that mine trundled down the hill and obviously made the chip shot a lot easier,” McIlroy said. “Look, you need a little bit of fortune in these things, and that was a bit of luck for me today.”

McIlroy won with a 12-foot birdie putt, the proper ending to a match that both said was a testament to the quality of golf required. Schauffele applauded all the pivotal putts McIlroy made to stay in the fight.

It was like that all over Austin Country Club. The final version of Match Play lived up to its edge-of-the-seat reputation, with wild turns of momentum until four players remained.

Sam Burns advanced by beating Patrick Cantlay in 17 holes and then overcoming an early deficit to beat Mackenzie Hughes of Canada, 3 and 2, to reach the semifinals.

Burns advances to meet Scheffler, his best friend on tour with whom he often shares a house when they’re on the road. Their last encounter was at Colonial last year, when Burns made a 45-foot birdie putt to beat Scheffler in a playoff.

Cameron Young looked as if he had an easy time, until it wasn’t. He was 3 up at the turn, missed a chance to go 4 up on the 12th and then had to go to the 18th hole before he could dispatch of Bay Hill winner Kurt Kitayama.

Scheffler, who lost in the final in his Match Play debut in 2021, now has won 10 straight matches. He was 2 down against J.T. Poston in the morning with five holes left when he birdied the 17th to square the match and won the 18th with a par.

He was 3 down against former Match Play champion Jason Day through seven holes in the quarterfinals when he battled back, taking his first lead with a birdie on the 13th and then pulling away. He closed it out with a wedge to 2 inches on the 17th.

Scheffler said he and caddie Ted Scott had a chat when Day went birdie-birdie-eagle on the front nine to go 3 up. The eagle came on a 5-wood from 282 yards to 5 feet on the par-5 sixth hole at Austin Country Club.

“Just ride out the heater,” Scheffler said. “I had to stay patient.”

Day began to struggle with allergies on the eighth hole, and then Scheffler had a heater of his own by making six birdies over their final nine holes.

McIlroy reached the quarterfinals by making nine birdies against Lucas Herbert, and it still wasn’t decided until the 18th hole.

“I got to beaten by the best player in the world probably playing the best golf of anyone in the world would today,” Herbert said. “Pushed him all the way to the end. I just didn’t feel like there was a hell of a lot more I could have done.”

Schauffele made seven birdies against McIlroy and it wasn’t enough.

“I needed to dig deep,” McIlroy said. “He’s one of the best players in the world. I knew I was going to need to produce something similar to this morning. I was 16 under for two rounds of golf. That shows the caliber you need to play out there.”

Next up for McIlroy is Young, who finished ahead of him at St. Andrews last year with a 31 on the back nine. Young has made 31 birdies and two eagles in his five matches this week. He won his group on Friday with a 5-and-3 win. He made it through Saturday morning with a 5-and-4 rout of Billy Horschel. He was on his way to another romp against Kitayama.

But he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 12th that would have put him 4 up. Kitayama won the next two holes with birdies. Young missed from 10 feet for birdie, 15 feet for eagle and 10 feet for birdie on the next three, all three putts burning the edge.

Ultimately, he only needed two putts from 15 feet on the 18th for the win. That was about the only easy part of his back nine.

“I don’t think I made a bogey today and I was biting my nails trying to win my match,” Young said. “I think it just shows you the quality of golf that’s played out here and how hard it is to get through even just one day like today, never mind that today was our fifth match.”

Day earlier on Saturday beat Matt Kuchar, leaving the 44-year-old American one match short of the tournament record. Kuchar leaves sharing the mark of 36 wins with Tiger Woods.

Now it’s Scheffler’s turn. Woods is the only player to win Match Play back to back. One day remains, and it feels like a long way to go.


Broadhead to the rescue as Wales draw Euro 2024 qualifier with Croatia

Updated 26 March 2023

Broadhead to the rescue as Wales draw Euro 2024 qualifier with Croatia

  • Wales have now gone nine games without a win but this result will doubtless feel like a victory for Rob Page’s men

SPLIT, Croatia: Debutant Nathan Broadhead proved an unlikely savior as Wales started life without Gareth Bale by snatching a 1-1 draw in a Euro 2024 qualifier against World Cup semifinalists Croatia in Split on Saturday.

Andrej Kramaric’s first-half strike looked like it would be enough to give group favorites Croatia a winning start to their campaign.

And the hosts were still in front until the third and final minute of stoppage time when Croatia failed to clear Connor Roberts’ long throw and substitute Broadhead squeezed the ball in at the far post.

Wales have now gone nine games without a win but this result will doubtless feel like a victory for Rob Page’s men.

There was no disguising the joy felt by the 24-year-old Broadhead, who now plays his club football for English third-tier side Ipswich following a January move from Premier League strugglers Everton.

“I got a bit overwhelmed to be honest, a bit emotional,” Broadhead told S4C. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long.

“We needed a point, we came here to try and win but to get a point is good as well. We are made up.”