Mitoma magic inflicts more Brighton misery on Liverpool

Kaoru Mitoma in action: Mitoma drove a close-range finish into the roof of the net to earn Brighton a come-from-behind win. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 January 2023

Mitoma magic inflicts more Brighton misery on Liverpool

  • Lewis Dunk leveled before the break for Brighton and they were well worthy of the victory given to them by a moment of magic from Mitoma

BRIGHTON: Liverpool’s disastrous season suffered another blow on Sunday as the holders were dumped out the FA Cup by a 2-1 defeat at Brighton.

Kaoru Mitoma’s brilliant control and finish in stoppage time earned the Seagulls a place in the fifth round.

Liverpool had led at the Amex through Harvey Elliott, but have now won just once in their last six games.

Lewis Dunk leveled before the break for Brighton and they were well worthy of the victory given to them by a moment of magic from Mitoma.

The Japanese winger cushioned Pervis Estupinan’s cross into his path, flicked the ball over Joe Gomez and fired high past Alisson Becker in the 92nd minute.

Liverpool are languishing in ninth in the Premier League, 21 points behind pacesetters Arsenal.

Their FA Cup exit leaves the Champions League as their only remaining shot at a trophy this season.

Last season, Jurgen Klopp’s men were on the brink of a historic quadruple, which included their first FA Cup triumph in 16 years.

But Klopp is still searching for answers to halt their decline after a second defeat on the south coast in 15 days.

The German described Brighton’s 3-0 win when the sides last met as the worst performance of his managerial career.

Liverpool did at least put up a fight this time and will rue two big early chances missed by Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian did at least have a hand in Liverpool’s goal as he released Elliott, whose strike had too much power for Steele to keep out.

Brighton hit back within nine minutes when Tariq Lamptey’s powerful shot was deflected past the helpless Alisson by Dunk.

The hosts were without Moises Caicedo after the Ecuadorian took to social media on Friday to try and force through a move to Arsenal.

Brighton have already lost Leandro Trossard, who scored a hat trick against Liverpool earlier in the season, to the Gunners this month.

But those absences did not show as Liverpool were left riding their luck for most of the second period.

Ibrahima Konate and Fabinho were extremely fortunate to escape red cards for challenges on Alexis Mac Allister and Evan Ferguson.

Alisson threw himself in front of Solly March to make a brilliant save from Mitoma’s inventive cross and Konate did likewise to block from Ferguson.

But Brighton’s pressure finally got its reward when Mitoma struck his fourth goal in six games.


West Ham beat Fiorentina to win Europa Conference League

Updated 31 sec ago

West Ham beat Fiorentina to win Europa Conference League

PRAGUE: Jarrod Bowen’s dramatic 90th-minute goal secured West Ham their first major European trophy since 1965 with a 2-1 win over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday.
It is the second European trophy for West Ham after they won the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup 58 years ago with a team including England World Cup heroes Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst.
Bowen picked up a superb through ball from Lucas Paqueta, before sending a low shot past a helpless Pietro Terracciano in the Fiorentina goal.
“I obviously dreamed of scoring but to score the winner in the last minute. It’s what you always say you want to do,” Bowen told BT Sport.
“To do it in front of these fans. I thought I was going to cry. I’m just happy.”
Said Benrahma had opened the scoring for West Ham in Prague as he blasted a penalty past Terracciano on 62 minutes after VAR had caught Cristiano Biraghi handling the ball trying to stop Bowen in the box.
Giacomo Bonaventura levelled five minutes later, beating West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola with a fine, low right-footed effort.
Bonaventura capitalized on a superb header back from Nicolas Gonzalez who had leapt over West Ham full-back Emerson.
The champions’ name will be the second ever on the Conference League trophy following Roma, who won the maiden edition of the competition last year.
West Ham have also clinched a spot in next season’s Europa League with the win, while Fiorentina will miss out on European competition after finishing eighth in the Serie A.
West Ham’s previous major trophy was back in 1980 when they won the FA Cup.
They spent most of the last season battling the prospect of relegation, finishing 14th in the Premier League in the end.
“We had a dream, we haven’t had the best season, myself included, but to give these fans this moment, I’m over the moon,” Bowen said.
“This is the biggest game of my career. The emotion, there was time for one more chance. I’m just so happy.”
The game got off to a slow start, although Michail Antonio tested Terracciano with a low shot on 40 seconds.
Fiorentina dominated possession and looked more organized in a largely uneventful first half.
But they did not came close until injury time when Christian Kouame headed against the post from Gonzalez’s cross.
Fiorentina striker Luka Jovic then tapped the ball across the line on a rebound but his goal was ruled out for offside.
Declan Rice’s 13th-minute shot from outside the box whizzed just past the post in the Hammers’ best chance of the first half.
Rice may have played his last game for the East Londoners as he is being courted by the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.
The game changed with the goals as both sides suddenly looked far more lively, earning corners and creating chances.
But Rolando Mandragora sent his shot just wide and Sofyan Amrabat was denied by Areola, while Tomas Soucek’s header was saved by a diving Terracciano.
Before the game, Prague police said they had detained 16 people as Fiorentina fans attacked West Ham supporters in a bar in central Prague. Three people sustained light injuries.


McIlroy: Saudi, PGA Tour deal ‘good for golf’

Updated 07 June 2023

McIlroy: Saudi, PGA Tour deal ‘good for golf’

LOS ANGELES: Rory McIlroy on Wednesday welcomed the PGA Tour’s merger with the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf.

According to the Northern Ireland star, Tuesday’s deal would secure the financial future of the sport.

“I think ultimately, when I try to remove myself from the situation and I look at the bigger picture and I look at 10 years down the line, I think ultimately this is going to be good for the game of professional golf,” McIlroy said.

“It unifies it and it secures its financial future.”

McIlroy was speaking on the eve of this week’s PGA Canadian Open in Toronto in his first comments since Tuesday’s agreement was revealed.

Under the new deal, the PGA Tour and Europe’s DP World Tour said they had signed an agreement with LIV’s Saudi backers that will lead to ‘a new collectively owned, for-profit entity.’

McIlroy is widely reported to have turned down an offer in the region of $400 million to switch to LIV but on Wednesday denied ever receiving a bid for his services.

“I was never offered any money,” McIlroy said. The Northern Irishman, however, said he understood anger from fellow professionals against PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan — but insisted he still had confidence in the under-fire tour chief.

“I’ve dealt with Jay a lot closer than a lot of those guys have,” McIlroy said.

“From where we were a couple of weeks ago to where we are today, I think the future of the PGA Tour looks brighter as a whole, as an entity.”


Lionel Messi: ‘I’ve decided to go to Inter Miami’

Updated 07 June 2023

Lionel Messi: ‘I’ve decided to go to Inter Miami’

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi will sign for Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, the player said Wednesday in interviews with Spanish media, choosing the United States as his next destination over a Barcelona reunion or blockbuster deal to play in Saudi Arabia.
The Argentine forward, 35, has spent the last two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, playing his final game for the club on Saturday, after moving from Barcelona in 2021, where he spent the majority of his career.
Messi said that he did not want to have to wait for Barcelona to find a formula to be able to sign him given their financial situation — they were unable to keep him before his move to PSG, leading to a tearful departure.
“I was afraid that it would happen again,” Messi told Spanish newspapers Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo.
“I’ve taken the decision that I am going to Miami, I don’t have (the deal) 100 percent sealed or maybe there’s something left to do, but we decided to continue our path there.
“(I decided) to leave Europe, it’s true that I had offers from another European team but I didn’t even think about it because in Europe, my idea was only to go to Barcelona.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it’s time to go to MLS to live football in a different way and enjoy my day to day life more.
“Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to win, and to do things well, but with more calm.”
Messi is a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and is expected to earn the individual accolade once more after leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar in December 2022.
The football world was eagerly awaiting Messi’s decision after PSG confirmed this week the playmaker, widely considered the best player in the history of football, was departing.
Inter Miami, co-owned by former England international David Beckham and founded in 2018, sacked coach Phil Neville last week with the team bottom of the Eastern Conference — with Argentine Javier Morales taking over on an interim basis.
The romance of a Barcelona return and prospect of eye-watering riches in Saudi Arabia fell by the wayside as Messi opted to join MLS, with sun-soaked Miami a city he has holidayed in on previous occasions.
Some reports say key MLS sponsors including sportswear brand Adidas and Apple TV, who own the league’s domestic broadcasting rights, may be contributing to his deal.


Czech police: Fiorentina fans attack West Ham supporters ahead of Europa Conference League final

Updated 07 June 2023

Czech police: Fiorentina fans attack West Ham supporters ahead of Europa Conference League final

  • Three West Ham fans and one police officer were injured in the incident while 16 people were detained, police said

PRAGUE: Fiorentina fans attacked West Ham supporters in a bar in downtown Prague ahead of the Europa Conference League final, Czech police said on Wednesday.
Three West Ham fans and one police officer were injured in the incident while 16 people were detained, police said.
An investigation was ongoing, and no more details were immediately provided.
Thousands of West Ham and Fiorentina fans have arrived in Prague for the final of the third-tier European competition at Slavia Prague’s Eden Arena.
Both clubs are aiming to end long European trophy droughts.
Organizers prepared two separate fan zones for the fans of both clubs who don’t have tickets for the match.


Germany under-17 national team racially abused on way to winning European title

Updated 07 June 2023

Germany under-17 national team racially abused on way to winning European title

  • General manager Joti Chatzialexiou said racist comments on social media made for “unpleasant circumstances” around the team's run to the European title

FRANKFURT, Germany: Players on the Germany under-17 national team faced racist abuse on social media on their way to winning the European Championship, a team official said Wednesday.
General manager Joti Chatzialexiou said racist comments on social media made for “unpleasant circumstances” around the team’s run to the European title, won on penalties against France on Friday.
“Under particular posts on our social media channels there was a strong accumulation of racist comments. Our boys saw those and that really bothered them,” Chatzialexiou said on the German soccer federation’s website.
“Together they decided, however, not to give any space to these distractions during the course of the tournament, and so they came even closer together as a team. As a team which fully identifies with Germany and with the eagle (badge) on the chest, which lives its shared values and stands for diversity, tolerance, community and integration.”