Kudus double for Ghana sinks South Korea 3-2

Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus, left, scores their third goal during the World Cup Group H match against South Korea on Monday. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 November 2022

Kudus double for Ghana sinks South Korea 3-2

  • Despite their efforts, South Korea look likely to crash out of the tournament at the group stage for the third straight World Cup

DOHA: Mohammed Kudus scored twice as Ghana beat South Korea 3-2 in a pulsating World Cup encounter on Monday to keep their World Cup hopes alive and leave Paulo Bento’s side facing an early exit.

Mohammed Salisu opened the scoring against the run of play midway through the first half at Education City Stadium and Ajax midfielder Kudus doubled the Black Stars’ lead.

But the Asian side, who looked toothless in the first half, roared back after the break, pulling level through a quickfire double from forward Cho Gue-sung either side of the hour mark.

Ghana looked shell-shocked as the Korean fans celebrated wildly but they were back in front in the 68th minute when Kudus finished calmly at the back post after Iñaki Williams failed to connect with a cross from the left.

The result takes Ghana into second in Group H on three points.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will have six points and secure qualification for the last 16 if they beat Uruguay in the later kickoff in Qatar.

Despite their efforts, South Korea look likely to crash out of the tournament at the group stage for the third straight World Cup.

The Asian side, captained by Son Heung-min, were quicker to settle, forcing a succession of corners as they dominated possession but they were unable to fashion a shot on target in the entire first half.

Son looked uncomfortable in the black face mask he is wearing after having surgery for a facial injury he suffered while playing for Spurs, constantly readjusting it.

Ghana, who lost their opener 3-2 to Portugal, struggled to gain a foothold in the game.

But the match totally changed complexion in the 24th minute when the impressive Jordan Ayew, playing down the left for Ghana, swung in a cross following a free kick.

South Korea failed to clear and Southampton center-back Salisu finished with his left foot, sparking wild scenes of celebration among the Ghana fans decked out in red, white and green.

The goal revitalized the African nation, who reached the quarterfinals in 2010, with South Korea struggling to deal with their physicality and direct approach.

Now playing with flair and confidence, Ghana poured forward and doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Kudus powered a header home after a pin-point Jordan Ayew cross from the left.

Captain Andre Ayew — the brother of Jordan — called his men into a team huddle on the pitch and the players got soaked by the sprinklers before they went off for their halftime beak.

The Koreans at last produced an effort on target in the 53rd minute, when goalkeeper Lawrence Ati Zigi punched away a header from Cho.

But the Korean found the net just minutes later, heading home a cross from substitute Lee Kang-in, who had just been brought on by Bento.

And they were level just three minutes later when Cho headed home Kim Jin-su’s ball from the left, sparking scenes of delirium among the Korean fans.

Now Ghana were rocking but they restored their lead midway through the second half through Kudus.

South Korea came back again. Zigi was forced into a scrambling save to push away a free kick while Salisu cleared off the line.

The fourth official held up a board for 10 minutes of added time. South Korea continued to pour forward but they could not find the net and a number of their players collapsed to the turf at the final whistle.

Bento was sent off for protesting at the end of the match.

Haaland a doubt for Man City’s match against Liverpool

Updated 31 sec ago

Haaland a doubt for Man City’s match against Liverpool

MANCHESTER, England: Erling Haaland is a doubt for Manchester City’s match against Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday as the striker recovers from a groin injury.
The 22-year-old Haaland withdrew from the Norway squad for their European Championship qualifiers against Spain and Georgia during the international break. His father, Alf-Inge, was quoted by Norwegian TV saying his son had traveled to Barcelona for treatment.
City manager Pep Guardiola said Friday he would make a decision on Haaland’s availability after the team’s final training session.
The team will definitely be without England winger Phil Foden, who underwent appendix surgery last weekend.
Guardiola said doctors told him that Foden would be out for “two-to-three weeks.”
Haaland’s fitness is more important, given he has scored 28 goals in the Premier League and 42 in all competitions during a prolific first season in English soccer.
City are second in the league, eight points behind Arsenal but with a game in hand.
The team have a busy April, including home-and-away games against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League and an FA Cup semifinal match against Sheffield United, as it looks to remain in contention for three trophies.

Ex-England cricket captain Vaughan cleared of racism on ‘balance of probabilities’

Updated 31 March 2023

Ex-England cricket captain Vaughan cleared of racism on ‘balance of probabilities’

  • Vaughan was alleged to have used the term “you lot” when referring to players of South Asian ethnicity
  • In November 2021, Pakistan-born Azeem Rafiq accused English cricket of being “institutionally racist”

LONDON: Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan was Friday cleared “on the balance of probabilities” of using racist language before a match for county club Yorkshire in 2009.
The 2005 Ashes-winning captain was alleged to have used the term “you lot” when referring to a group of four players of South Asian ethnicity, including Pakistan-born Azeem Rafiq.
A Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) report said it was “not satisfied on the balance of probabilities” that Vaughan spoke the words he was alleged to have used.

Former England cricket team captain Michael Vaughan leaves the International Arbitration Centre, in London, United Kingdom on March. 3, 2023. (AP)

But it added that its findings “do not in any way undermine the wider assertions” made by Rafiq, who told lawmakers in November 2021 that English cricket was “institutionally racist.”
Vaughan, who appeared in person at a CDC hearing earlier this month, thanked the panel for “their careful attention in very difficult circumstances” in a statement on social media.

Medvedev and Alcaraz beat Americans to reach Miami Open semis

Updated 31 March 2023

Medvedev and Alcaraz beat Americans to reach Miami Open semis

  • Jose Alcaraz of Spain needed just 78 minutes to dismiss ninth-seed Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-2
  • Russian Daniil Medvedev ended qualifier Christopher Eubanks’ impressive run with a 6-3, 7-5 victory 

MIAMIA GARDENS, Florida: World number one Carlos Alcaraz and in-form Russian Daniil Medvedev booked their places in the Miami Open semifinals with convincing victories over American opponents at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday.
Alcaraz crushed ninth-seed Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-2, while Medvedev ended qualifier Christopher Eubanks’ impressive run with a 6-3, 7-5 victory in their quarter-final.
Alcaraz needed just 78 minutes to dismiss Fritz with the Spaniard yet again dominating with his big serve and attacking the American from the outset.
The powerful Alcaraz set the tone by breaking Fritz’s first service game and he did the same again at the start of the second set, winning the game to love.
The 19-year-old broke again to go 5-2 up and wrapped up the win without losing a point in the final game.
He will be up against Italian tenth-seed Jannik Sinner next as he seeks to complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ following his triumph over Medvedev at Indian Wells.
The 26-year-old Eubanks was playing in his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final after upsetting Frenchmen Adrian Mannarino and Gregoire Barrere and Croatia’s 17th-ranked Borna Coric.
The 6-foot-7 (2.01m), big-serving Eubanks showed no signs of nerves, holding his first two serves, but he was unable to take advantage of five break-points in a thrilling fourth game.
A half hour rain-break appeared to disrupt Eubanks’ momentum, however, and he was broken on his first service game after the resumption of play, going long and allowing Medvedev to take a 4-3 lead.
The Russian, who after the break noticeably stepped further into the second serve, broke again to take the first set, but Eubanks was not about to roll over against the world number five.
In the sixth game of the second set, Medvedev won a great rally at the net to go 4-2 up but Eubanks again showed his character to break back and keep his hopes alive.

Eubanks saved two match points as Medvedev looked to break him and avoid a deciding set, but then on the third match point he messed up a straightforward volley, putting it out and ending his resistance.
The American, who will move from 119th to 85th in the ATP rankings, said Medvedev had shown the ruthlessness that exists at the top level of the game.
“The mistakes are going to be amplified at this level. Little things, missed opportunities, that maybe in some tournaments I’ve played in the past or (against) some opponents don’t seem like such a big deal,” he said.
Medvedev has now won 22 of his past 23 matches, capturing titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai during that run and reaching the final in Indian Wells, where he lost to world number one Carlos Alcaraz.
“I have never had such a good start to the season. A lot of matches won, tournaments won. I am really happy,” Medvedev said.
“I was disappointed at Indian Wells when my streak ended but the only thing you can do is begin a new streak and I am happy I was able to bring my form into Miami.”
Medvedev, in the semifinals in Miami for the first time, will face fellow-Russian Karen Khachanov for a place in the final after the 14th seed beat Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo 6-3, 6-2.
Khachanov needed just 75 minutes to take care of business against Cerundolo despite a determined start from the Argentine.
Cerundolo broke the Russian to go 3-2 up but then lost his next two service games and was never able to recover.
Khachanov now faces a familar foe in Medvedev.
“We know each other from young age. We’ve been playing against each other since we were kids... we’re good friends outside, but we’re rivals on the court,” he said.

Wolfsburg sink PSG to set up Women’s Champions League semifinal against Arsenal

Updated 31 March 2023

Wolfsburg sink PSG to set up Women’s Champions League semifinal against Arsenal

  • Wolfsburg came into the match needing just a draw to progress, after a 1-0 away win in the first leg

WOLFSBURG, Germany: Wolfsburg will face Arsenal in the Women’s Champions League semifinals after beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on aggregate following a 1-1 draw at home on Thursday.

Two-time Champions League winners Wolfsburg took an early lead through star striker Alexandra Popp but that was soon canceled out by a Kadidiatou Diani equalizer.

The Wolves were unable to strike the killer blow despite dominating the second half, with Popp missing several chances.

Wolfsburg manager Tommy Stroot enjoyed his side’s “extremely special” victory, saying “we made it, we’re proud of it — and now Arsenal waits for us.”

Three-time Champions League winner Popp told DAZN: “We are mega happy and mega proud. It was a hard fight but we dug in.”

Wolfsburg came into the match needing just a draw to progress, after a 1-0 away win in the first leg.

Stroot reacted by picking a more defensive line-up, benching tournament top scorer Ewa Pajor in favor of reinforcing the midfield with Sveindis Jonsdottir.

Seemingly stung by Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Bayern Munich, which saw Wolfsburg relinquish their lead atop the table, the home side started slowly, enduring wave after wave of PSG attacks.

The Wolves were lucky to have a 12th-minute Diani goal chalked off for a narrow offside and even luckier six minutes later when Popp curled in a shot from outside the box on Wolfsburg’s first foray deep into PSG territory.

With Wolfsburg building, PSG took their turn at scoring against the run of play, Diani heading in a looped cross from Sakina Karchaoui to level the scores and halve the deficit in the tie.

Diani went down clutching her shoulder late in the first half and played no further part, depriving PSG of a forward focal point.

Early in the second half, Popp had a chance to put the match beyond PSG’s reach but she blasted wide when presented with an open goal.

Watson, Reed say they expect no LIV-PGA tensions at Masters

Updated 30 March 2023

Watson, Reed say they expect no LIV-PGA tensions at Masters

WASHINGTON: Former Masters champions Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed said Wednesday they do not expect awkward moments and tension when LIV Golf and PGA Tour players meet at next week’s Masters.

Speaking ahead of this week’s LIV Golf League event at Orlando, they and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka said the world’s top players plan on routine situations at the year’s first major at Augusta National despite the ongoing feud.

The Saudi-backed LIV series lured several big names from the PGA, prompting the PGA to ban those who jumped to the global series for record $25 million purses and 54-hole events.

While a court battle is set to play out into 2024, major tournaments have not restricted qualifying, making them the only stage where LIV and PGA players will face each other.

“I’m going to be honest, man. It’s only awkward in the media,” two-time Masters winner Watson said. “I’ve talked to people that are going to be there.

“I’m going to sign up with (PGA players) Jason Day and Cam Young in the par-3. Some guys have already asked me to play some practice rounds.”

Watson says he’s trying “to beat them all” while Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, says there’s no battle for tour top honor, just the fight for the green jacket symbolic of Masters supremacy.

“The storylines are going to be obviously LIV versus PGA Tour and all that kind of stuff, but really at the majors, all the guys that come in, top players in the world are playing against each other no matter where they come from,” Reed said.

“It doesn’t matter what tour they’re on or anything. It’s the top guys going and trying to play for one of the most coveted events in the world.

“For us, at least for myself, it’s going to be business as usual going out and playing. Would I like to have LIV be up at the top? Of course.”

Koepka, still eligible for the Masters thanks to his most recent major triumph at the 2019 PGA Championship, said he often spends time with PGA major winners like Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy near their homes in Jupiter, Florida.

“That’s one of the big things,” he said. “Down in Jupiter, I was just with Rory and J.T. yesterday, and I think Keegan (Bradley) was there. We see each other quite a bit.

“There are a lot of conversations. I was talking with Rory for probably about 30 minutes... no one is angry at anybody from what I’ve seen.”

McIlroy has been a major supporter of the PGA Tour and the changes it has made to create more top-level events for bigger purses.

“Protecting his entity, man,” said Watson. “He’s protecting his business, which is fine.”

Opposite sides of a business decision, Koepka said, will not mean animosity at Augusta.

“I also don’t think that means anything personal with any of us,” Koepka said. “I’ve had relationships with them — I’ve known J.T. 13, 14 years old maybe. Rory for the last 10 years. It’s not anything (like) we don’t see each other normally.”