Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe fires back at Mikel Arteta’s explosive VAR rant

A solitary Anthony Gordon goal was the difference as the Magpies beat the Gunners to close the gap in the Premier League top four. And while it was no day for footballing brilliance — it was definitely one for the purists — refereeing calls dominated the post-match talk, particularly for Spaniard Arteta. (AFP)
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Updated 05 November 2023
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Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe fires back at Mikel Arteta’s explosive VAR rant

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has fired back at Mikel Arteta over his astonishing VAR rant at St. James’ Park.

A solitary Anthony Gordon goal was the difference as the Magpies beat the Gunners to close the gap in the Premier League top four. And while it was no day for footballing brilliance — it was definitely one for the purists — refereeing calls dominated the post-match talk, particularly for Spaniard Arteta.

A potential red card for Kai Havertz was the first major talking point, as referee Stuart Atwell reached for yellow and even booked Sean Longstaff for dissent, despite the Newcastle midfielder almost being on the end of a leg-breaker from the German. The second big call was overlooking a potential Bruno Guimaraes red card for violent conduct, and then the goal itself was checked for three possible infringements — out of play, foul and offside — before eventually being given.

Arteta raged: “You look at the images, and I don’t know how to feel. I am wasting my time. We are wasting our time. I don’t want to be in the hands of people. It is difficult enough to compete against this really good team. The way we play, the way we compete, it is embarrassing. There is too much at stake.

“We have to talk about the result and talk about how the hell this goal stands. I feel embarrassed, I have to be the one to come in here and defend the club and ask for help because it is a disgrace that this goal is allowed.”

Howe preferred to focus on the Havertz red card as he followed enraged Arteta into the Newcastle press room.

He said: “We were close to the incident. I thought it was high and potentially dangerous. He was lucky to get a yellow. There (were) a lot of yellow cards, and I don’t think there needed to be. It wasn’t a dirty game, but there were a few flashpoints.

“Keep 11 players on the pitch was the message at half time but not lose fighting spirit and desire. We kept our heads really well in the game.”

On the VAR decision for the goal: “We’re in the dark, we’re stood by the side of the pitch seeing VAR on the screen but with no pictures. I haven’t seen anything other than what I saw at the time. It looked a good goal to me.”

Having secured a last-eight Carabao Cup place with a dazzling midweek 3-0 win at Manchester United, the Magpies followed it up with another clean sheet against the Gunners, who were previously unbeaten in the Premier League this season. Howe prefers to point to the positives from his side, rather than any ref call.

He said: “Tough game. Massive win. Full credit to players for what they gave today. It was a battling performance … Thankfully, we came out on top.

“Our open play shape defensively was good and has to be against Arsenal. We nullified them and didn’t give them clear-cut chances. I always felt we were in the game the other way, we had to stay in the game, and we did and then got the goal.

“Maybe (it was) not the game we expected it to be in terms of style from both teams. Midfield battle was important. We had to try and stay in the game in that way and Joelinton was huge and all three midfielders really helped us. When you don’t concede, you're always in a game. It wasn’t the game we prepared for, but you have to show different sides of your game to win and I think we have that in the group at the moment.”

Goalscorer Gordon, in front of the watching England boss Gareth Southgate, again impressed, netting his fourth of the campaign. The player’s versatility greatly impresses Howe.

“He’s got used to what’s expected of him. He had sight of it at the end of last season. He came back fitter from the Euros. That was successful for him. That helped his confidence and he’s been brilliant for us this season. And he’s shown versatility,” Howe said.

“There was a good feeling in the stadium. The crowd (was) responding to us, and the players understood how important every tackle and duel was. You don’t win these games unless you compete. Really proud. We’re stretched at the moment, but the players have stepped up.

“We have a group of level-headed players. The injury situation is a concern. It’s a worry when you’re competing on lots of fronts. At the moment, we seem to be losing a player a game, which is the big negative today. We’ll let the dust settle on today’s game and see what we’ve got for Dortmund.”


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

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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.


Unpredictable Pakistan aim for ‘third time lucky’ at T20 World Cup

Updated 28 May 2024
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Unpredictable Pakistan aim for ‘third time lucky’ at T20 World Cup

  • Pakistan’s build-up to the tournament, which takes place in West Indies and the USA, has been chaotic
  • Men in green have shown they still have the capacity to be the best outfit one day and the worst the next

KARACHI: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam is hoping it is third time lucky for his side at the Twenty20 World Cup after finishing losing semifinalists in 2021 and runners-up a year later.
Pakistan’s build-up to the tournament, which takes place in West Indies and the USA, has been chaotic, with Azam replacing Shaheen Shah Afridi as captain barely three months before it gets underway.
They squeaked a 2-2 T20 series draw at home against a depleted New Zealand in April before heading to Ireland where they slumped to defeat in the opener before coming back to win that series 2-1.
As now seems to be entirely normal, the men in green have shown they still have the capacity to be the best outfit one day and the worst the next, making them the most unpredictable side in the 20-team event which kicks off in the United States on June 1.
Pakistan are placed alongside India, co-hosts United States, Canada and Ireland in Group A. The top two teams will qualify for the next round of Super Eight, to be held in the West Indies with the final in Barbados on June 29.
If they lose to India in what is likely to be a monumental clash in New York on June 9 — Pakistan have won just one of seven T20 World Cup matches against them — their final group game with Ireland in Florida a week later could become a knock-out affair.
But Azam is confident his side can be lucky this time.
“Semi-final and then final, so it’s our turn to win the trophy this time,” he said before leaving for Ireland.
Since crashing out of the 50-over World Cup in November last year, Pakistan cricket has undergone a multitude of changes with coaching staff changed twice and the white-ball captaincy changed hands from Azam to Shaheen and back.
A news channel owner, Mohsin Naqvi, who is also the country’s interior minister, has taken charge of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Naqvi reconstructed the selection committee, held a training camp at an army base to improve the often vulnerable fitness and brought in former South African opener Gary Kirsten as white-ball coach — all to improve their chances in the World Cup.
Fast bowler Mohammad Amir — the only surviving member of Pakistan’s T20 World Cup title win in England in 2009 — and spinner Imad Wasim were brought out of retirement to further bolster the bowling attack, spearheaded by Shaheen and fast-rising Naseem Shah.
“My mood is good and my fitness is good and I am looking forward to winning the World Cup,” Shaheen told a PCB podcast recently, in spite of reported dissent over the captaincy saga.
“I have good partners and when they do well then you are also motivated.”
To spur the players further, Naqvi also announced a $100,000 bonus for each player if they win the World Cup.
Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed and Shadab Khan supplement Wasim in slow bowling.
“This is the best team with every base covered, so we can win and there should be no excuse,” said Shaheen, whose fitness will be the key for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s batting approach and lack of consistency are big problems.
While the other teams have started to blast totals over 200 regularly, Pakistan have gone 43 T20Is without achieving that figure.
Pakistan rely heavily on Azam and Mohammad Rizwan who have a world record 10 century partnerships between them.
Dashing left-hander Saim Ayub is set to break up the Azam-Rizwan opening partnership which has been criticized for being too slow.
Star batter Fakhar Zaman, newcomer Usman Khan, Azam Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed form a powerful middle-order, but they have struggled for consistency.
If Pakistan are, indeed, to “return with the trophy,” the batters will need to step up and match their bowlers.


Mike Tyson ‘doing great’ after falling ill during weekend flight from Miami to Los Angeles

Updated 28 May 2024
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Mike Tyson ‘doing great’ after falling ill during weekend flight from Miami to Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES: Mike Tyson was recovering Monday after falling ill a day earlier during a flight from Miami to Los Angeles, his representatives said.

The 58-year-old boxing legend “became nauseous and dizzy due to an ulcer flare up 30 minutes before landing” on Sunday, his publicist’s office said in a statement.

“Thankfully Mr. Tyson is doing great,” the statement said. “He is appreciative to the medical staff that were there to help him.”

American Airlines flight 1815 was met by first responders upon landing at LA International Airport “due to the medical needs of a customer,” an airline statement said.

Tyson is preparing to fight the 27-year-old social media star-turned-boxer Jake Paul this summer at the 80,000-seat home of the Dallas Cowboys. Netflix will carry the fight live, a first for the streaming platform.

Tyson was the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990. He retired in 2005, but most recently fought in an exhibition in November 2020 against Roy Jones in California.


Ronaldo sets Saudi Pro League season scoring record while Al-Hilal finishes unbeaten

Updated 28 May 2024
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Ronaldo sets Saudi Pro League season scoring record while Al-Hilal finishes unbeaten

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: Cristiano Ronaldo finished the Saudi Pro League by setting the season goal-scoring record on Monday.
Ronaldo scored twice in Riyadh as Al-Nassr defeated Al-Ittihad 4-2 and lifted his league tally to 35, one more than the record in 2019 by Abderrazak Hamdallah.
In the final seconds of the first half, Ronaldo, who had already had two goals ruled out for offside, chested down a long pass from Mohammed Al-Fatil and opened the scoring with a low shot from the left side of the area.
With 21 minutes remaining, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner celebrated wildly after heading home a corner from Marcelo Brozovic. He was substituted off the field five minutes later to a standing ovation from the home fans.
It ended an action-packed season for Ronaldo, who scored four hat tricks and collected one red card. He was also suspended for an obscene gesture in February at Al-Shabab fans who had been chanting the name of Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s longstanding soccer rival.
Al-Nassr finished second in the league, 14 points behind local rival Al-Hilal, which won the championship more than two weeks ago and completed the 34-round league unbeaten on Monday.
Al-Hilal was too strong even without Neymar, who joined the club in August from Paris Saint-Germain but suffered a season-ending ACL injury in October.
Aleksandar Mitrovic stepped in and ended the season with a goal in the final seconds to clinch a 2-1 win over Al-Wehda. The Serbian striker, signed from London club Fulham last summer, reached 27 league goals, second only to Ronaldo.
On its way to the title, Al-Hilal went on a 34-game winning streak in all competitions, a new world record for a top tier team.
“This season has been truly exceptional for the team, arguably our best ever,” coach Jorge Jesus said. “The credit goes to the immense talent within the squad and the incredible sense of unity that transcends both on and off-field interactions.”
Al-Ittihad’s defeat at Al-Nassr ended a disappointing season for the defending champion. Karim Benzema, signed from Real Madrid, struggled with injuries and even with N’Golo Kante and Fabinho in midfield, signed from Chelsea and Liverpool respectively, the team from Jeddah could manage only fifth place.
Poor results cost Nuno Santo his job as coach in November, and the Portuguese tactician returned to the English Premier League a month later to take over Nottingham Forest.
Al-Ahli, the fourth of the ‘Big Four’ clubs taken over by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund last June, finished third, 17 points behind Al-Nassr. Al-Ahli beat Al-Fayha 1-0 thanks to a late goal — his ninth of the season — from former Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino.
Ronaldo took the headlines, however, and the 39-year-old still had one more chance to end the season with a trophy when Al-Nassr meets Al-Hilal in the King’s Cup final on Friday.