Newcastle United edge closer to making ‘Italian’ dreams a reality with ‘Saudi kit’ demolition of Everton

Newcastle's Jacob Murphy, left, scores his side's fourth goal during the English Premier League match between Everton and Newcastle United at the Goodison Park stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday. (AP)
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Updated 28 April 2023
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Newcastle United edge closer to making ‘Italian’ dreams a reality with ‘Saudi kit’ demolition of Everton

  • A finish in the Premier League’s top four looks increasingly likely for Newcastle following a 4-1 win at Everton
  • Tottenham are up to fifth place, on goal difference, and lead the chasers behind fourth-place United

Newcastle United fans have adopted Doris Day’s “Que Sera, Sera” to frame their trip to Wembley and the Carabao Cup final, with the song taking on a whole new sound and meaning.

Where trips to London were once warned of, now the Magpies’ faithful, littering the steadily depopulating Goodison Park on Thursday night, whimsically proclaimed to their Merseyside foes that they would not be home “for tea” as they were indeed now destined for Italy. Sounds a little more cultured than North West London, doesn’t it?

And after yet another goal-laden show on the blue half of Liverpool, it’s Champions League football that is undoubtedly on the agenda for Eddie Howe’s clinical Mags. Their fans, downtrodden for so long under the tutelage of skinflint former owner Mike Ashley, are not shy in telling everyone that, too — and why should they be? It’s been 19 years since the Champions League theme tune blasted out at St. James’ Park. Time flies when you’re having fun — and the next four months will pass in the blink of an eye for a continental-starved fanbase, as well as a newly ambitious club, management and team, keen to strut their black and white swagger across the four corners of Europe’s premier competition.

“It was always going to be a really difficult game for us. I thought we handled the occasion really well,” said head coach Howe.

“The first goal was going to be crucial. I thought the first 45 minutes were a bit bitty and transitional for both teams, but second-half, I think you saw us at our best. We were really clinical in front of the goal.

“I think confidence was there; it was evident in that second half. Maybe the edge to the game had gone, but you’ve got to earn the right to get to that point because Everton put us under pressure with a lot of long balls and crosses into our box, but I thought we defended our goal really well. The first goal was probably our best move, and it came at a good time for us.

“In any game, you have to do the basics right. I thought we had to be perfect tonight because Everton would take advantage if we weren’t. Mentally, we had to be really good. I thought we learned from the game here last year, which was very similar in terms of timing and conditions. Really positive night for us.”

Four goals on one night, following on from six on Sunday, and these could easily have been seven, eight or nine had Newcastle taken their many and varied chances.

Everything Howe seems to touch, at the moment, turns to gold.

He took two-goal Jacob Murphy and Alexander Isak out — a real luxury of a side playing as fluently as the Magpies at present — and brought in Callum Wilson, who only went and added another two to his tally this season, which, at 13 goals, is his best since signing three years back.

As well as Wilson, Joelinton has recorded his best goalscoring return at Newcastle, albeit from a much deeper position, and netted his eighth goal, a defining second on the night, before some Isak magic laid a fourth on for fellow substitute Murphy.

A bizarre Dwight McNeil curler swirled past Nick Pope to reduce the arrears before VAR ruled out what looked like a goal-of-the-season contender from Fabian Schar, which would have proven not only the icing on the cake but the cherry and sprinkles, too. All of this wearing the lesser spotted “Saudi shirt,” the first win the club has recorded in their recently adopted white and green garb.

Howe added: “I’m very proud to be the manager of the group. They’re individually incredible personalities, and I think that’s reflected in the team you’re seeing at the moment. They’re in a good place, but we know nothing is taken for granted from our perspective.

“It puts us in a much stronger position. We knew the difficulty of the previous two games. Tottenham and Everton are two tough games at any stage of the season, so to get six points is a great return. We have another game this week, which is equally as difficult in a slightly different way. Quick turnaround, we need to rest and go again.

“For us, it’s onto the next game. We want to get as many points as possible and see where we are at the end of the season.”

Eight points clear of fifth-placed Aston Villa, and another one back to Liverpool in sixth. Newcastle United have never positioned themselves so far in the top flight’s top four this season.

Howe urged fans and journalists to bin their calculators and stop worrying about point gaps. He only has eyes for the next game. It’s tough for everyone else to summon that “elite” mindset. They’re all getting a little carried away — and so they should.

This season, these feelings, have been a long, long time in the making. They don’t come cheap. Tears have been shed aplenty in the two decades since the likes of Barcelona graced United’s little cathedral on the hill.

Champions League is back in touching distance — and it’s exactly what Howe’s Newcastle, who have been an energetic, marauding breath of fresh air in the top flight this season, deserve.

Days gone by delivered games against the Rotherhams and Burton Albions of this world, but now, finally, dreams of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, or AC Milan and Ajax, seem set to turn into reality.


Saudi youth weightlifters take second place at world championships in Peru

Updated 5 sec ago
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Saudi youth weightlifters take second place at world championships in Peru

  • The event, held in Peru, concluded on Monday and featured teams from 51 countries

RIYADH: The Saudi national youth weightlifting team finished second in the World Youth Weightlifting Championships.

The event, held in Peru, concluded on Monday and featured teams from 51 countries.

The Saudi weightlifters totalled 498 points in finishing behind the Georgian team, with 539 points, while the Mexican team came third with 364 points, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi team was represented at the tournament by Mohammed Al-Ajyan; Mohammed Al-Wubari; Abdullah Al-Muhaimid; Ali Al-Hawar; Mohammed Al-Zuri; Mohammed Al-Haliw; Abbas Al-Mahdi; Abdullah Al-Qaisum; and Muntazer Al-Mohsen.

The Saudi lifters won three silver medals and a bronze medal.

 


Joy for Jesus as Al-Hilal complete Saudi Pro League campaign unbeaten

Updated 36 min 54 sec ago
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Joy for Jesus as Al-Hilal complete Saudi Pro League campaign unbeaten

  • New champions beat A-Wehda 2-1 on the final day of the 2023-24 season

RIYADH: Al-Hilal’s coach, Jorge Jesus, on Monday night expressed his joy after his title-winning team beat Al-Wehda 2-1 to end the 2023-24 Saudi Pro League season without a loss.

Jesus said he is enjoying the best days of his career with the Riyadh giants.

Mohammed Kanno gave Al-Hilal a 19th-minute lead, with the home team equalizing in the 77th minute through fellow Saudi international Yahya Al-Najei. But Aleksandar Mitrovic scored in stoppage time to ensure a final-day win for the “Invincibles.”

“We were keen to end our last match in the league with a victory to preserve this exceptional league season, during which we broke records after gaining 96 points, achieved the largest victory in a single match, and we also finished the league without a loss,” Jesus said.

“I experienced many happy moments during my career with the clubs I coached, but my happiness with Al-Hilal is more than wonderful, especially in this exceptional season,” he concluded.


Top Saudi clubs expanding into community-building programs

Updated 47 min 40 sec ago
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Top Saudi clubs expanding into community-building programs

  • Al-Hilal FC, Al-Nassr, Ittihad and Ahli are leading the push in corporate social responsibility

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced this month the launch of its first Corporate Social Responsibility Awards 2024, marking a new age of sustainable development and community involvement in the Kingdom.

The CSR initiative recognizes and inspires private-sector firms corresponding to Saudi Vision 2030’s social responsibility objectives. It promotes local initiatives to implement international standards, encourage competition, and set exemplary corporate practices.
Saudi Arabia’s sports clubs, traditionally focused on sports, entertainment, and culture, are now expanding to include community-building programs. The CSR Awards 2024 will focus on these efforts, recognizing initiatives that promote social development and local progress outside of sports.
Teams including Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Ittihad and Ahli are leading the push in CSR. They are making significant progress in youth development, health promotion, and environmental sustainability. From grassroots football programs for poor children to scholarships for promising young players from disadvantaged backgrounds, these efforts are consistent with Vision 2030’s emphasis on economic diversification and social transformation.
Furthermore, European and Asian examples demonstrate how sports clubs advocate sustainability programs with broad reach and impact. Forest Green Rovers of England is the world’s first UN-certified carbon-neutral football team. Their environmentally friendly methods, such as an organic pitch and solar-powered facilities, have spurred others to pursue greener strategies.

FC Bayern Munich in Germany exemplifies how clubs may incorporate sustainability into their operations, with efforts such as the Allianz Arena’s energy-efficient architecture and recycling programs setting a high bar for environmental care.
Japan’s Kashima Antlers have introduced innovative sustainability techniques, such as rainwater harvesting and LED lighting systems, to reduce their environmental imprint in Asia.

Also, China’s Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao FC has conducted large tree-planting projects to help with reforestation and ecological conservation.
The ministry hopes to develop a culture in which social impact is synonymous with financial success, resulting in a more socially responsible economic landscape in Saudi Arabia.
The award criteria include community engagement, environmental sustainability, and ethical governance, emphasizing the organizational benefit of CSR activities. Sports clubs, as role models for other businesses, have a unique power to promote social ideals and effect constructive change.
Furthermore, communication and social media are essential in promoting CSR efforts, raising awareness, and mobilizing support. Platforms such as X, Instagram, and Facebook let clubs promote their sustainability efforts, communicate with followers, and increase their impact, resulting in a more inclusive and sustainable future.
With good communication, CSR programs in sports teams can indirectly enhance profitability by improving brand recognition, increasing fan engagement, attracting sponsorship, and lowering costs through energy efficiency and regulatory compliance.

All while offering access to funds and grants, these additional financial resources can help the club’s operations and allow for more investment in CSR efforts, promoting long-term sustainability.
Embracing Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s sports clubs are helping to reshape the country and pave the road for a more socially responsible and sustainable society.

These clubs demonstrate sports’ transformative ability to generate positive social change through their persistent dedication to CSR activities. As they continue on this journey, they will inspire others and set new standards for CSR excellence, paving the way for future generations.


‘Happy’ Ronaldo confirms SPL top scorer award as he looks ahead to King’s Cup final

Updated 49 min 31 sec ago
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‘Happy’ Ronaldo confirms SPL top scorer award as he looks ahead to King’s Cup final

  • Two goals in 4-2 win over Ittihad takes Al-Nassr captain to 35 league goals for the season
  • It is the sixth time in Ronaldo’s career that he has finished a league campaign as top scorer

RIYADH: Al-Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo on Monday night notched a brace in the 4-2 win over Al-Ittihad in Riyadh to close out the 2023-24 Saudi Pro League season with 35 goals and clinch the top scorer award.

Ronaldo opened the scoring is stoppage time of the first half and doubled the lead in the 69th minute. Al-Nassr’s other goals came from Abdulrahman Ghareeb (penalty, 79) and Meshari Al-Nemer (95), while Al-Ittihad’s goals came from Farhah Al-Shamrani (88) and Fabinho (92).

 

 

Ronaldo’s final tally broke the previous record held by Abderrazak Hamdallah, who scored 34 for Al-Nassr in 2018-19, and was also the sixth time in the Portuguese legend’s career that he has finished a domestic league season as top scorer.

Before joining the Yellows in January 2023, Ronaldo had finished top scorer in league campaigns for Sporting Lisbon in his native Portugal, Manchester United in the English Premier League, three times for Real Madrid in Spain and once with Juventus in Italy.

“I am very happy to end the season with a victory, as well as with my record, which I was not expecting, but it is very important in my career,” Ronaldo said after the win over the Tigers.

“We finished the league well, and now our goal is to win the King’s Cup, and I expect the team to give its best to achieve the title.”


Boston Celtics sweep Indiana Pacers to reach NBA finals

Updated 28 May 2024
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Boston Celtics sweep Indiana Pacers to reach NBA finals

  • The Celtics will face the winner of the Western Conference finals, where the Dallas Mavericks hold a 3-0 over the Minnesota Timberwolves

WASHINGTON: The Boston Celtics clinched the Eastern Conference championship on Monday with a 105-102 win over the Indiana Pacers, sweeping the series 4-0 and booking a spot in the NBA Finals.
The Celtics will face the winner of the Western Conference finals, where the Dallas Mavericks hold a 3-0 over the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of Tuesday’s game four.
The Celtics win in Indianapolis was their seventh straight in the post-season but they left it late against a Pacers team again without injured star guard Tyrese Haliburton.
Jaylen Brown once again proved decisive.
He hit a step through to level at 102-102 with 2:40 left in the fourth, then superbly rose to block Andrew Nembhard at the rim.
With 45 seconds remaining Brown found Derrick White in the corner who sank the three-point jumper that ultimately clinched the game.
Nembhard, who had 24 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Pacers, missed a three-pointer with 33 seconds left which would have tied the game.
Brown led Boston’s scoring with 29 points and Jayson Tatum had 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
The Celtics return to the finals two years after losing to the Golden State Warriors as they search for their first NBA title since 2008.
“It’s been nothing but a grind, we haven’t skipped no steps all season,” said Brown, who was named the Eastern Conference finals MVP.
“We’ve got a bunch of great guys in this locker room, tough guys. Our coaching staff has been great, front office great and now we want to take the next step,” he added.
It was the third time in the four series games that Indiana had lost after holding leads or being tied in the final minute of a game.
“Expectations will be raised for next year, which is good,” said Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle.
“There are challenges to meet over the summer for our guys to get better, all of us involved need to get better,” he added.