Japan in stunning 2-1 win over Spain as both teams reach last 16

Japan midfielder Ao Tanaka scores the winning goal against Spain at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on December 1, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 02 December 2022

Japan in stunning 2-1 win over Spain as both teams reach last 16

  • Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka’s goals saw Japan mount a sensational comeback to win 2-1
  • Alvaro Morata had sent Spain ahead early on with a towering header

DOHA: Spain staggered through to the World Cup last 16 on Thursday despite a 2-1 defeat by Japan, who remarkably won Group E on a rollercoaster night which saw four-time champions Germany eliminated.
Japan secured another incredible triumph after beating Germany in their opening game, with their progression from the “group of death” one of the greatest achievements in the country’s footballing history.
For a few heart-stopping minutes Spain were poised to head out when Costa Rica were leading in the other game, but the 2010 champions squeezed through after Germany did them a favor by coming back to beat Los Ticos.
Spain and Germany ended on four points each, but La Roja progressed on goal difference.
Alvaro Morata sent Spain ahead early on with a towering header, but Japan dramatically struck back at the start of the second half.
Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka’s goals saw them mount a sensational comeback, just as they did against Germany.
Tanaka’s goal was highly controversial after the officials relied on VAR to decide Kaoru Mitoma had kept the ball in play by a hair’s breadth to set him up.
Spain struggled to create chances against a staunch Japanese defense in the final stages, with the Asian side aware that conceding another goal would see them eliminated.
Japanese players collapsed at full-time in celebration, exhausted and elated, while the substitutes raced on to celebrate.
Spain face Morocco in the last 16, while Japan play Croatia.
Both sides made five changes, with Luis Enrique bringing in Morata to lead the line, and handing Alejandro Balde and Nico Williams their full debuts.
Japan started with five at the back, hoping to keep Spain at bay, but pressed high in attack to try and capitalize on any mistakes.
Spain are sometimes guilty of glaring defensive errors and Pau Torres exemplified that with a sloppy touch which led to Japan’s first chance, fired into the side-netting by Junya Ito.
Morata sent La Roja ahead in the 12th minute with a towering header from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross, rekindling the connection which occasionally worked at Chelsea after the striker’s arrival in 2017.
Japan coach Hajjime Moriyasu replaced the ineffective Takefuso Kubo and Yuto Nagatomo at the break with Mitoma and Doan, and it paid instant dividends.
Balde lost the ball under pressure and from the edge of the box winger Doan hammered past Unai Simon, who might have done more to keep it out.
Three minutes later and Japan had turned the game on its head, Tanaka bundling home from on the goalline after Mitoma had miraculously kept the ball in play as he crossed it — according to VAR.
Spain were shellshocked and struggled to react, with Luis Enrique making a raft of substitutions to try and regain control.
The coach, alone and perched on the edge of his technical area, was unaware that for a few moments his team faced elimination, when Costa Rica took the lead against Germany in the other game to go 2-1 ahead.
Spain survived, progressing thanks to their superior goal difference, on a night that was far more terrifying than they had anticipated — and Japan secured a hugely unlikely achievement.

Lydia Ko delivers big moment to win mixed team event with Jason Day

Updated 11 December 2023

Lydia Ko delivers big moment to win mixed team event with Jason Day

  • They closed with a 6-under 66 in modified fourballs to capture the first mixed-team event in 24 years
  • It was the first time the PGA Tour and LPGA had a mixed-team event since the JC Penney Classic in 1999, and players on both tours spoke endlessly about looking forward to the next one

NAPLES, Florida: Lydia Ko hit a fairway metal to 8 feet to set up the birdie she and Jason Day needed to win the Grant Thornton Invitational on Sunday. They closed with a 6-under 66 in modified fourballs to capture the first mixed-team event in 24 years.

Playing the par-5 17th hole, Ko and Day were tied with the Canadian duo of Corey Conners and Brooke Henderson, who had to settle for two closing pars and a 63.

The format allowed for both players to hit tee shots, then switch to the other player’s golf ball and finish out the hole. Day was in a bunker left of the green at the par-5 17th, no easy up-and-down. Ko had 208 into a slight wind and her fairway metal never left its target.

“That is so nice,” Day said as Ko’s shot was in the air. It landed near the hole and rolled out about 8 feet. Her eagle putt never had a chance, but the hard work was done. Both secured easy pars on the 18th to finish at 26-under 190.

“It’s weird because that felt like the most stress-free win, because I knew she was going to step up in the end,” Day said.

That she did, and it allowed Ko to cap off an otherwise poor year on a winning note. Ko was the Race to CME Globe champion on the LPGA Tour last year at Tiburon. This year, she failed to be among the top 60 who returned as she went winless — until Sunday.

It was the first time the PGA Tour and LPGA had a mixed-team event since the JC Penney Classic in 1999, and players on both tours spoke endlessly about looking forward to the next one.

Conners holed out from the fairway for eagle on the ninth hole and briefly took the lead until Day made a 15-foot birdie on the 12th. They stayed close the rest of the way.

“We both did a pretty good job of getting the ball in play off the tee,” Conners said. “There’s a few shots we’d both like to have back throughout the day. But we fought hard and gave ourselves a lot of chances.”

They failed to birdie the 17th when Henderson pulled her second shot well left of the green into a waste area, and Conners came up short of the green and couldn’t get up-and-down.

Ludvig Aberg, the sensational rookie to won on the PGA Tour and European tour and played in the Ryder Cup since turning pro in June, teamed with fellow Swede Madelene Sagstrom to post a 60 in the final round. They also briefly had the lead, but ran out of holes and finished third, two shots behind.

Tony Finau and Nelly Korda didn’t make birdie until the sixth hole. They closed with two birdies for a 67 and tied for fourth with Denny McCarthy and Megan Khang (65).

Girona make a genuine title contender statement with 4-2 win at Barcelona to go top in Spain

Updated 11 December 2023

Girona make a genuine title contender statement with 4-2 win at Barcelona to go top in Spain

  • The statement win moved Girona two points ahead of Madrid, who drew 1-1 with Real Betis on Saturday
  • The game between Granada and Athletic Bilbao was suspended after a fan suffered a cardiac arrest and died in the stands

MADRID: Girona made their strong case to be considered a genuine contender for the Spanish league title by beating Catalan rivals Barcelona 4-2 on Sunday and overtaking Real Madrid at the top of the standings.

Ukraine forward Artem Dovbyk and Viktor Tsygankov teamed up for Girona’s opener, and Miguel Gutierrez, Valery Fernandez and Cristhian Stuani scored a goal each to seal the away victory against the defending league champions. Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan scored Barcelona’s goals.

The statement win moved Girona two points ahead of Madrid, who drew 1-1 with Real Betis on Saturday. Barcelona dropped to fourth place, seven points behind their regional rival and five behind Madrid. Atletico Madrid regained third place with a 2-1 win over last-place Almeria to extend their winning streak at home in the league to 17 matches. Atletico hae the same 34 points as Barcelona with a game in hand.

Barcelona had never lost in six matches against Girona in the league, with four wins and two draws.

“Girona deserves a lot of credit. It has a great team,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said. “It was an even match, it could have gone either way. It also would have been a fair result if we had won it.”

Girona, partly owned by Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi ownership, never looked like the minnow club against Barcelona on Sunday, showing maturity and poise from the start at the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium.

The team coached by Míchel Sanchez, sporting a white and blue uniform with similar colors to Man City, has been playing some of the best soccer in Spain and holding on to its position near the top from the start of the season.

“It’s a special victory, it gives us the lead,” Michel said. “Very happy with the result because we faced a great Barça team.”

Girona had won 12 of their first 15 league matches, though it had failed in their first big test when they lost 3-0 to Real Madrid at home in September.

There was no problem against Barcelona, though.

The visitors opened the scoring in a breakaway in the 12th minute. Dovbyk found the net from close range after completing a low cross by his countryman Tsygankov. Barcelona equalized with a header by Lewandowski off a corner kick taken by Raphinha in the 19th, but Girona retook the lead in the 40th with a nice shot by Gutierrez into the top corner from inside the area.

Fernandez scored Girona’s third in the 80th before Barcelona pulled closer with Gundogan’s goal two minutes into stoppage time. Stuani restored Girona’s two-goal advantage five minutes into injury time.


The game between Granada and Athletic Bilbao was suspended after a fan suffered a cardiac arrest and died in the stands.

Granada said the fan had been a season ticket holder for 16 years. No further details were given about the fan’s identity.

The match will restart on Monday night from the 17th minute with Athletic leading 1-0. Iñaki Williams had put the visitors ahead in the sixth minute.


Atletico won their 17th consecutive match at home to extend their biggest winning run in the competition as a host.

Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa scored a goal each in the first half before Almeria pulled one back through Leo Baptistao after halftime.

Atletico will have a game in hand after the weekend’s round. Diego Simeone’s team were coming off a 1-0 loss at Barcelona in the previous league round. They had won 11 of their last 13 matches in all competitions before that defeat in Barcelona.

“We know there’s still a long way to go. We lost the other day but it wasn’t the end of it,” Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann said. “We have to keep playing like this.”

Atletico’s last setback at home in the league was a 1-1 draw with Getafe in February.

Morata opened the scoring in the 17th minute after dribbling past a defender and then the goalkeeper inside the area. Correa added to the lead five minutes later from close range after a low cross by Marcos Llorente.

The assist for Morata’s goal came from Griezmann, who had a goal disallowed for offside in the fifth minute. The France forward remains three goals shy of the 173 scored by Luis Aragonés, the club’s all-time leading scorer.

Baptistao scored from close range for Almeria in the 62nd.

It was the 12th league loss for the club from southern Madrid, who remain the only team without a win this season. They stayed on four points from four draws. The Saudi-owned club this week was eliminated by fourth-division team Barbastro in the second round of the Copa del Rey.

Also Sunday, relegation-threatened Cadiz saw their winless streak in all competitions reach 14 matches after a 1-1 draw with Osasuna at home.

Kingdom’s Olympic committee VP announces third edition of Saudi Games for 2024

Updated 11 December 2023

Kingdom’s Olympic committee VP announces third edition of Saudi Games for 2024

  • Prince Fahd made the announcement on behalf of Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki bin Faisal

RIYADH: Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz, vice president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee and director of the Saudi Games, on Sunday announced the third edition of the games would be held in 2024.

Prince Fahd made the announcement on behalf of Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki bin Faisal, minister of sports, at the closing ceremony of the second edition on Sunday in the games’ Fan Zone.

More than 8,000 participants, competing in 53 sports, took part in this year’s edition.

Prince Fahd said he was proud of the organizational success of the Saudi Games, stressing that this achievement would not have been achieved without the support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He also thanked everyone who contributed to the success of event.

Eddie Howe hints Newcastle squad depth inadequate after Tottenham hammering

Updated 14 min 22 sec ago

Eddie Howe hints Newcastle squad depth inadequate after Tottenham hammering

  • Magpies’ hope for European and domestic success in doubt
  • Injuries and poor away form are big problems, says Howe

LONDON: Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has for the first time hinted that the Magpies’ squad is not equipped to fight on three fronts.

The Magpies were hammered in North London by Ange Postecoglou’s men, as Richarlison’s double and goals from Heung-Min Son and Destiny Udogie ensured Newcastle slipped further away from the Champions League places in the Premier League. It was also their second three-goal beating in four days, having lost at Everton on Thursday.

So with Premier League top-four hopes faltering, attention turns to the Champions League on Wednesday, when a win against last season’s semifinalists, AC Milan, will ensure European football remains on Tyneside, either in the last 16 of the competition, or in the Europa League, depending on the result in the Borussia Dortmund versus Paris Saint-Germain encounter.

Newcastle also have the prospect of a Carabao Cup quarterfinal in a week and a half, with Chelsea waiting in the wings.

Assessing his side’s performance, and looking at possible reasons for the last week’s disappointments, Howe has for the first time hinted his squad, after a host of injuries, is not capable of performing three times a week, as has been the case since September.

“We had our moments but we gave everything without the resources to give more,” said Howe. “It is difficult because we play on Wednesday, this is what we wanted. We hoped to have the squad to cope with that but we’ve had worse injuries than any team that I can remember.

“You have to critique like you would normally; we weren’t in rhythm around the box and lacked conviction. We didn’t defend the goals well enough. The moments were there, we had chances. There is always more, you can push yourself even when you’re tired.

“It was a difficult afternoon. The players have done so well to keep going behind a very congested period of games with some very hard fixtures for us.

“When you go back to Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Bournemouth they’re all difficult fixtures and then Everton and Tottenham away in a very short period of time. We haven’t been at our best, it’s there for everybody to see. The players are giving everything they could give so I have to back them and support them but acknowledge that our performances are not where they could be.

“You want to make changes that benefit the team. Not make changes that don’t benefit the team so I’m trying to make those decisions and get them right. I’ve been backed into a very difficult position with the team selection and even in game decisions. Today it would have been easy to say: ‘You’ve got Callum and Sean, put them on the pitch.’ But they’re not 100 percent fit so I’ve got to be very careful with them. Thankfully they came through and I thought their performances were really good in the game and that is a big positive in the game.”

While injuries have bitten hard, with the absence of fringe men felt as much as key performers, given Howe has been unable to allow his starters to rest, there is hope from the treatment room.

Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff both came off the bench against Spurs and it is hoped Sven Botman and summer signing Harvey Barnes are not too far behind.

“We have light at the end of the tunnel,” Howe added.

“Callum and Longstaff are two huge players for us. We have to be positive, take the pain and come fighting.

“(Longstaff and Wilson) will be better for today. That was a good 30 minutes for them but we’ll have to take it game by game.”

One player who Howe will have to learn to live without, for (one) game at least, is Kieran Trippier, who picked up his fifth booking of the campaign. He will be unavailable for next week’s visit of Fulham, but will be able to play against Milan.

“It’s a huge blow for us, Kieran is a standard for us really to get a level of consistent performance. We’ll miss his quality,” said Howe.

Two home games in a week comes on the back of an away-day doubleheader. The form on home turf compared to their travels is stark. The Magpies have lost just once at St. James’, while they’ve won just once on the road. Howe knows it’s something that needs to change if Newcastle are to challenge the top four, like they did so successfully last season.

On poor away form, Howe said: “I can’t argue with that assessment. It’s up to us to find answers to that. I can’t defend it, so I won’t.”

Man City beat Luton without Haaland to end 4-match winless run as Tottenham thrash Newcastle 4-1

Updated 10 December 2023

Man City beat Luton without Haaland to end 4-match winless run as Tottenham thrash Newcastle 4-1

  • The injuries are piling up for Newcastle, and so are the losses

LONDON: Without the injured Erling Haaland and trailing 1-0 to Luton at halftime, Manchester City were in danger of plunging into a full-blown crisis approaching the halfway point of their Premier League title defense.
The defending champions managed to turn it round, though, as goals by Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish in a three-minute span earned a 2-1 victory Sunday that ended their four-match winless run and trimmed the gap to first-place Liverpool to four points.
If it wasn’t for the recovery in the second half, City manager Pep Guardiola would have stumbled into the worst streak of results in his coaching career, having never gone five matches without a win.
That was the bleak scenario facing Guardiola and City after striker Elijah Adebayo headed in Andros Townsend’s cross at the back post in the second minute of first-half stoppage time to give Luton the lead at Kenilworth Road — five days after the promoted hosts blew a 3-2 lead against Arsenal to lose 4-3.
Haaland was sidelined because of a foot injury so City was without the league’s top scorer in its bid to produce a fightback.
Still, Rodri was back from suspension and when the Spain midfielder’s surge into the area was stopped by a timely challenge, Silva was there to pounce on the loose ball and curl a finish into the bottom corner in the 62nd.
Grealish then converted a cross by Julian Alvarez in the 65th.
City stayed in fourth place, with Guardiola saying Haaland will be assessed ahead of the home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The injuries are piling up for Newcastle, and so are the losses.
With the 4-1 thrashing at Tottenham, Newcastle have lost more games in the Premier League — six — than the team had in the whole of the 2022-23 campaign.
Three of them have come in the last five games and away from home as Newcastle manager Eddie Howe struggles to balance playing domestic and Champions League soccer amid an injury crisis that has led to him playing the same starting lineup in five straight games. Next up is their biggest game of the season, at home to AC Milan on Wednesday when Newcastle’s Champions League hopes are on the line.
Destiny Udogie scored for the first time in the Premier League, Richarlison added goals either side of the break and Son Heung-min converted a late penalty for Tottenham, who hadn’t won since Oct. 27 — when the team were unbeaten and top of the standings.
There have been four defeats and a draw since then, with Spurs taking the lead in each of those games but failing to hold on. Not this time, though Joelinton scored a stoppage-time consolation for Newcastle.
Everton are surging clear of the relegation zone, less than a month after plunging into the bottom three after being deducted 10 points for financial mismanagement.
A 2-0 win over Chelsea secured a third straight win for Everton, which has moved four points clear of third-from last Luton.
Abdoulaye Doucoure scored for the third time in five games, converting a rebound in the 54th after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had a shot saved by Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez. Lewis Dobbin added a second in the second minute of stoppage time.
After spending around $1 billion on players in the last three transfer windows, Chelsea aren’t even in the top half after losing three of their last four games.
The visitors also lost right back Reece James to another injury after he was forced off in the 27th minute with a suspected hamstring problem.
Raul Jimenez is enjoying a new lease of life at Fulham.
The Mexico international went through some lean times after sustaining a career-threatening head injury while playing for Wolverhampton in November 2020. From being one of the most sought-after strikers in the Premier League, he appeared to lose all of his confidence and was sold to Fulham in July.
With his 22nd-minute strike in Fulham’s 5-0 win over West Ham, Jimenez has four goals in his last five games and is leading a midseason resurgence from the London club.
Willian and Tosin Adarabioyo added first-half goals while Harry Wilson and Carlos Vinicius added more after the break as Fulham scored at least three goals for the fourth straight game, after doing so against Wolverhampton, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
It was a second straight 5-0 win, after thrashing Forest by that score in midweek.
Marco Silva’s team are now in 10th place and only three points behind ninth-place West Ham, whose four-match unbeaten run in the league came to an end.