Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

Harry Kane became Tottenham’s record goal scorer on Sunday when he netted his 267th goal for the club against Manchester City. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 February 2023

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

  • The 29-year-old is now also just the third player to net 200 Premier League goals, after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208)

LONDON: Harry Kane’s record-breaking goal pushed Tottenham to a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday to further dent the champions’ hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
Kane slotted home after 15 minutes and moved past the late Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time leading scorer on 267 goals.
It proved enough to keep up Tottenham’s excellent recent home record against City, which could have moved two points behind first-place Arsenal following its defeat at Everton on Saturday.
Fifth-place Spurs instead claimed a third victory from their last four matches against Pep Guardiola’s team — despite Cristian Romero’s late sending-off for a second yellow card — to aid the recovery of absent manager Antonio Conte, who is still in Italy after having his gallbladder removed on Wednesday.
Despite Conte recovering from surgery, he was involved in team selection and deadline-day signing Pedro Porro was only on the bench for Spurs with City surprisingly naming Kevin De Bruyne among the substitutes, too.
The visitors had seen Arsenal drop points a day earlier and signaled their intentions with Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez having shots blocked in the opening exchanges.
City was dominating possession but soon felt the familiar feeling of trailing to Tottenham — and it proved a record-breaking goal.
Eric Dier urged his teammates to press higher and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stole in ahead of Rico Lewis outside the away penalty area to intercept Rodri’s pass and slip the ball into the path of Kane, who scuffed an effort beyond goalkeeper Ederson and into the corner.
The screens inside the stadium acknowledged Kane’s achievement before the striker waved to his family in the West Stand.
Bookings followed with Rodrigo Bentancur and Romero cautioned in quick succession, the latter for clattering into the ineffective Erling Haaland.
Tottenham assistant coach Cristian Stellini, filling in for Conte, was attempting to match the animated presence of his fellow Italian on the touchline but saw his team enjoy a slice of luck before the break.
After Rodri and Jack Grealish failed to find the net with curled efforts late in the half, Mahrez sent a stinging half-volley crashing against the crossbar from 12 yards (meters) that bounced away to safety to ensure Spurs were ahead at the break for the first time at home since Oct. 12.
Ben Davies headed wide for the hosts at the start of the second period before Guardiola turned to De Bruyne with 57 minutes played.
De Bruyne’s first real involvement saw his short free kick find Alvarez, who saw a low shot diverted over by Dier’s thigh.
It sparked a frantic spell with Romero blocking Manuel Akanji’s shot and, seconds later, Ivan Perisic’s cross agonizingly evaded the Argentina defender and Kane at the back post.
Kane was in the thick of the action minutes later, sending one effort wide before Ederson denied him after the striker surged between Kyle Walker and Akanji.
More drama was to follow with referee Andrew Madley showing Romero a second yellow card for a foul on Grealish before five minutes of stoppage time was added on.
Despite plenty of City possession, Tottenham held firm to move a point off the top four and do rivals Arsenal a big favor in the title race.

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Argentina beat Panama in first match after World Cup title

Updated 24 March 2023

Argentina beat Panama in first match after World Cup title

  • Argentina’s full squad in Qatar attended the match and took pictures in front of the World Cup replica trophy before kick off

BUENOS AIRES: The 83,000 screaming fans were not disappointed in Lionel Messi and his Argentina team’s first international match since lifting the World Cup title last December.

Messi’s Argentina beat Panama 2-0 with two late goals Thursday night at the Monumental de Nunez Stadium in Buenos Aires, in the first of two matches for the team to celebrate their triumph in Qatar.

Thiago Almada opened the scoring in the 78th minute, pushing the ball into an empty net after a free kick taken by Messi hit the post. Eleven minutes later, the Argentine great netted the second with another free kick to the delight of the capacity crowd.

It was Messi’s 800th goal in his professional career. If he scores another in Argentina’s next friendly against Curacao on Tuesday, he will hit the mark of 100 goals for the national team.

Argentina’s full squad in Qatar attended the match and took pictures in front of the World Cup replica trophy before kick off. Messi and others brought their families to the stadium.

The match culminates a week in which the 35-year-old Messi was widely celebrated as a hero after helping Argentina win their third World Cup title, a remarkable change from years when some of the same fans accused him of apathy with the national team.
 


Ronaldo breaks men’s international caps record, scores double

Updated 24 March 2023

Ronaldo breaks men’s international caps record, scores double

  • Ronaldo netted a 51st-minute penalty after earlier goals from Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva, before drilling home a free-kick 12 minutes later
  • “I want to become the most capped player in history. That would make me proud,” he said

LISBON: Cristiano Ronaldo broke the men’s international appearance record on Thursday and marked the occasion by scoring twice in Portugal’s 4-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein in Euro 2024 qualifying.
The 38-year-old, who was dropped from the Portuguese first-choice XI during the World Cup in Qatar last year, won a 197th cap for his country in Lisbon as a starter.
He netted a 51st-minute penalty after earlier goals from Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva, before drilling home a free-kick 12 minutes later.
It was Ronaldo’s record-extending 120th goal for his country and made him the first man to score 100 times in competitive internationals.
“Records are my motivation,” Ronaldo had told reporters on Wednesday.
“I want to become the most capped player in history. That would make me proud.
“But it doesn’t stop there, I still want to be called up very often.”
Ronaldo made his international debut in 2003 and became the first man to score in five World Cups last year before Portugal lost to Morocco in the quarter-finals.
He is currently playing for Saudi club Al Nassr after an acrimonious end to his second spell at Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s appearance off the bench in the defeat by Morocco equalled the previous mark of 196 caps held by Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa.
He left the pitch in tears following Portugal’s shock 1-0 loss against the North Africans.
Since leaving Europe, Ronaldo has scored nine goals in 10 matches for Al Nassr.
He was replaced as the starting striker by Goncalo Ramos during the World Cup, with the Benfica youngster scoring a hat-trick in a last-16 win over Switzerland.
But veteran coach Fernando Santos stepped down following the tournament and new boss Roberto Martinez has immediately put his faith in Ronaldo, who also captained the side.
There were questions over whether his 20-year international career had ended in Qatar as Ronaldo will be 39 by the time Euro 2024 kicks off.
But Martinez, who left his role as Belgium coach after the World Cup, has strongly defended his decision to keep Ronaldo in the fold.
“I do not look at the age,” said Martinez when he announced his first squad last week.
The Spaniard added his squad announcement was the “starting point” for Euro 2024, suggesting Ronaldo is likely to be involved if Portugal qualify for the tournament in Germany.
Portugal made the perfect start to their qualification campaign with a straightforward win against Liechtenstein.
Cancelo scored the only goal of the first half in the eighth minute but the floodgates opened after the break.
Bernardo Silva doubled the advantage less than two minutes into the second period before Ronaldo hammered a penalty into the bottom corner.
A powerful free-kick from the edge of the box flew through the hands of goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel to complete the scoring.
Ronaldo was substituted late on for Ramos, with the much expected changing of the guard put on the back burner.
Ronaldo adds the international appearance landmark to an impressive list of individual records.
He is the leading goalscorer in European Championship finals with 14 goals and has netted a record 140 times in the Champions League.
Ronaldo has also finished as the top-scorer in three of Europe’s top five leagues — in England, Spain and Italy.
Portugal will visit Luxembourg in their second Group J qualifier on Sunday.
They have also been drawn alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland and Slovakia.


Man Utd owners await revised offers for Premier League giants

Updated 23 March 2023

Man Utd owners await revised offers for Premier League giants

  • Reports said bidders were initially told they had until 2100 GMT on Wednesday to submit new offers, but that has now been extended
  • Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad AI Thani, the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank, and Ratcliffe, the founder of chemicals giant INEOS, remain the front runners

LONDON: Manchester United’s owners were awaiting fresh bids Thursday from a Qatari banker and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe after a deadline passed for revised offers to buy the Premier League giants.
Reports said bidders were initially told they had until 2100 GMT on Wednesday to submit new offers, but that has now been extended. It is unclear when the new cut-off will be.
Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber AI Thani, the chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank, and Ratcliffe, the founder of chemicals giant INEOS, remain the front runners should the American Glazer family, who own United, give up control of the club.
Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Zilliacus threw his hat into the ring on Thursday, with a bid he said will give fans the chance to own 50 percent of the club.
“My bid is built on equality with the fans,” Zilliacus, founder and chairman of investment company Mobile FutureWorks, said in a statement.
“My group will finance half of the sum needed to take over the club, and will ask the fans, through a new company that is being set up for this specific purpose, to participate for the other half.”
The Glazers have angered many United supporters by saddling the club with huge debts since they took over in 2005. They appeared ready to cash out at an enormous profit when they invited external investment in November.
However, they could yet shun the option of selling a controlling stake in the club, with other parties understood to be interested in a minority shareholding.
The Times reported US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management, which sold AC Milan for $1.3 billion last year, had made a bid to buy a minority stake.
A first round of bidding took place last month and it has been reported there are as many as eight separate potential investors in the club.
The BBC said several other proposed investors made their submissions by the Wednesday deadline.
No figures have been revealed but one or more of the initial bids was understood to be in the region of £4.5 billion ($5.5 billion).
That would make Manchester United — who have not won the Premier League for a decade — the most expensive sports club in history, although it would be short of the £6 billion valuation reportedly placed on the Old Trafford side by the Glazers.
Sheikh Jassim is bidding for 100 percent control, aiming to return the club to its “former glories.”
A source close to Sheikh Jassim’s bid told AFP he remains confident his bid is “the best for the club, fans and local community.”
Ratcliffe, a boyhood United fan, wants to buy the combined Glazer shareholding of 69 percent of the 20-time English champions.
The 70-year-old told the Wall Street Journal this week he was not interested in paying “stupid prices” for one of football’s most iconic clubs.
Ratcliffe, who already owns French club Nice, said his interest in United would be “purely in winning things,” calling the club a “community asset,” rather than a financial one.
He visited Old Trafford last week along with INEOS representatives, a day after a delegation from Sheikh Jassim’s group toured the club’s stadium and training ground.
A Qatari purchase of United would boost the sporting profile of the Gulf state months after it hosted the 2022 World Cup.
Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City’s fortunes have been transformed since a takeover from Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, in 2008.
In 2021, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund bought a controlling stake in Newcastle.
Amnesty International has called on the Premier League to tighten ownership rules to ensure they are “not an opportunity for more sportswashing.”
If Sheikh Jassim’s bid succeeds, it would also raise the question of whether Qatar is shifting its attentions away from Paris Saint-Germain — currently home to the trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe — who were bought by Qatari investors in 2011.
United, three-time European champions, have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson led them to a 20th English title in his final season before retiring in 2013.
But they are enjoying a renaissance under Erik ten Hag’s management this season and ended a six-year trophy drought by lifting the League Cup last month.


UEFA to investigate Barcelona for its referee payments

Updated 23 March 2023

UEFA to investigate Barcelona for its referee payments

  • The European soccer body asked Thursday for an investigation into the matter
  • Champions League regulations in effect since April 2007 allow for clubs to be removed from European competitions if they were involved in fixing matches

GENEVA: Barcelona are facing a new legal threat from UEFA, including a possible Champions League ban, because of their payments of millions of dollars to a company linked to a Spanish refereeing official.
The European soccer body asked Thursday for an investigation into the matter, which is already being pursued by prosecutors in Spain.
Champions League regulations in effect since April 2007 allow for clubs to be removed from European competitions if they were involved in fixing matches. Further disciplinary sanctions can follow.
UEFA said Thursday it asked disciplinary inspectors to “conduct an investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework by FC Barcelona in connection with the so-called ‘Caso Negreira.’”
Court documents show Barcelona paid 7.3 million euros ($7.7 million) from 2001-18 to the company of José María Enríquez Negreira, the former vice president of Spanish soccer’s refereeing committee.
Prosecutors in Spain have formally accused Barcelona of corruption in sports, fraudulent management and falsification of business documents. An investigating judge will decide if this will lead to charges.
No evidence has yet been published that referees or individual games were actually influenced.
Barcelona have consistently denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying they paid for technical reports on referees but never tried to influence their decisions in games.
Any proof of manipulated games in the past 16 years could see UEFA exclude Barcelona from its competitions for one year and prosecute a disciplinary case.
Barcelona have a 12-point lead in the Spanish league and are almost certain to qualify for next season’s Champions League — an entry that would pay tens of millions of dollars to a club that posted record losses last year.
The burden of proof for UEFA is stated in regulations for the Champions League and other club competitions.
“If, on the basis of all the factual circumstances and information available to UEFA, UEFA concludes to its comfortable satisfaction that a club have been directly and/or indirectly involved, (since April 27, 2007), in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level, UEFA will declare such club ineligible to participate in the competition,” the rules state.
In previous cases of suspected match-fixing, clubs including Fenerbahce, Metalist Kharkiv and Skenderbeu were banned from UEFA competitions in decisions that were upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Fenerbahce were withdrawn from the 2011-12 Champions League by the Turkish soccer federation, seeming to be under pressure from UEFA, after being implicated in manipulating games to help secure the previous season’s league domestic title. The club were later banned for two more seasons.
Former Albanian champion Skenderbeu are serving a 10-year ban after a UEFA investigation into match-fixing for betting scams, including Champions League qualifying games and Europa League group games in 2015.


Battle to buy Man United heats up as Qatar banker, British billionaire prepare fresh bids

Updated 23 March 2023

Battle to buy Man United heats up as Qatar banker, British billionaire prepare fresh bids

MANCHESTER, Britain: The battle to buy Manchester United heated up on Wednesday as Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe prepared to raise their bids for the 20-time English champions.
Both parties were expected to increase their initial offers after the submission deadline of 2100 GMT was extended by merchant bank Raine, which is assisting with the sale of the club, following confusion over the timing, the BBC reported.
Sky Sports also reported that Sheikh Jassim and Ratcliffe had been granted extensions to submit fresh bids.
The new deadline for offers has not been made clear, according to the BBC.
United’s owners, the Glazer family, have reportedly set a world record £6 billion ($7.3 billion) valuation for a sports club.
Sheikh Jassim’s bid for 100 percent control of the club promises to wipe United’s $620 million debt and invest in a new stadium and training ground, in addition to backing for the men’s and women’s teams.
A source close to Sheikh Jassim’s bid told AFP he remains confident his bid is “the best for the club, fans and local community.”
INEOS chemical company founder Ratcliffe, a boyhood United fan, has been more circumspect in his assessment, insisting he will not pay a “stupid” price in a bidding war for one of football’s most iconic clubs.
“How do you decide the price of a painting? How do you decide the price of a house? It’s not related to how much it cost to build or how much it cost to paint,” Ratcliffe told the Wall Street Journal this week.
“What you don’t want to do is pay stupid prices for things because then you regret it subsequently.”
Ratcliffe, who wants the 69 percent stake owned by the Glazer family, said his interest in United would be “purely in winning things,” calling the club a “community asset.”
Deeply unpopular with supporters since they saddled the club with debt in a £790 million leveraged takeover in 2005, the Glazers appeared ready to cash out at an enormous profit when they invited external investment in November.
However, they could yet shun the option of selling a controlling stake in the club, with other parties interested in a minority shareholding.
The initial offers from the first round of bidding last month were believed to have been worth around £4.5 billion.
That would surpass the Premier League record of £2.5 billion paid for Chelsea last year by a consortium led by LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital, with a further £1.75 billion promised in investment in infrastructure and players.
Bidders are expected to hear from United next week, with another round of bidding still in play.
If one bid is vastly ahead of the others, it could be chosen to enter into a period of exclusivity, which would allow further negotiation ahead of a final sale.

Ratcliffe visited Old Trafford last Friday along with INEOS representatives, a day after a delegation from Sheikh Jassim’s group toured the club’s stadium and training ground to hold more talks as part of their due diligence.
Just months after hosting the 2022 World Cup, a successful Qatari bid would give the Gulf state pride of place in the Premier League — the world’s most-watched domestic competition.
But it would also be controversial.
Sheikh Jassim is the son of former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, and his close links to the gulf state’s ruling elite would raise questions over another Premier League club becoming a state-backed project.
Premier League champions Manchester City’s fortunes have been transformed since a takeover from Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family in 2008.
In 2021, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund bought a controlling stake in Newcastle.
Amnesty International has called on the Premier League to tighten ownership rules to ensure they are “not an opportunity for more sportswashing.”
United, three-time European champions, haven’t won the Premier League since legendary boss Alex Ferguson led them to a 20th English title in his final season before retiring in 2013.
But they are enjoying a renaissance under Erik ten Hag’s management this season and ended a six-year trophy drought by lifting the League Cup last month.