Gordon sparkles in Newcastle win over Manchester United, giving Southgate a Rashford headache

Anthony Gordon celebrates scoring Newcastle’s first goal. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 December 2023
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Gordon sparkles in Newcastle win over Manchester United, giving Southgate a Rashford headache

NEWCASTLE: In Paris, many were keen to compare Newcastle United's Anthony Gordon with Kylian Mbappe. And while the young Scouser was overshadowed by his more storied opponent that night, he showed many, four days later, including Gareth Southgate, there are few more electric forwards in English football right now.

While Marcus Rashford still edges ahead of Gordon in England squads, the time is nearing where questions must be asked about the validity of that call. On Saturday night's evidence, Gordon is head and shoulders the man who should own England's left.

On the day when England's European Championship opponents were announced - they face Serbia, Slovakia and Denmark in Germany in the summer of 2024 - Gordon sparkled providing the only goal in a dominant 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Rashford, like many others in red, wilted in St James' Park's unforgiving atmosphere.

"I couldn't be happier with the players," said Howe. "The performances we put in against three top teams (Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Man United) were brilliant, so that will give us confidence. Then, when we get some players back, we can push on even further.

"(An) Incredible physical and mental effort. The level of technical performance, I don’t think should be underestimated, I thought we dominated the first half and attacked really well down both sides.

"The left side of Tino, Anthony and Joelinton was really productive for us. And on the right side, I thought that was Lewy Miley’s best game for us out of the three which is saying something given how well he played in the other two but I thought he was, especially in the first-half, excellent. He, Miggy (Almiron) and Kieran (Trippier) worked really well down that right hand side so a good balance to the team today."

Gordon was judged by many last summer to be a player who looked an ill-fit for Newcastle's high-intensity, high-pressing style. He's now the main man in the Magpies' front three, after netting his sixth strike of the season. Gordon has now scored seven in his last 21 games for the Magpies, matching his goalscoring tally for the rest of his career combined.

Howe said: "From day one, when he arrived at the club, you could see the passion he had and his desire to achieve and be successful. He puts the work in every day and sometimes we have to go and get him off the training pitch.

"He was very good again up against a very good defender in (Aaron) Wan-Bissaka. Physically he was so good today, it was a really good battle between the two of them.

"I am delighted he is scoring the goals now and getting the recognition he deserves.

"I thought he played really well at the start of the season but every attacker needs to score to get that feeling and the confidence that brings. Not just the goals but he’s getting assists as well, he’s involved in match winning moments. I thought he played really well again today. It was a brilliant cross from Kieran. A good move and good finish."

Gordon was overlooked by Southgate for the recent England internationals, in which only Kieran Trippier was called up from the Newcastle squad. Howe thinks it's only a matter of time before all of that changes.

"I’d agree he’s playing at a very high level and he has done for this season," said the head coach when asked about a possible call up.

"When you come here to watch Anthony, that’s been his level. He’s getting the goals and you need the headlines really if you’re going to force your way into the England squad and the competition he has in those positions.

"There’s a long way to go, I just think he’s got to keep very level and focused on playing well for us then the rest will take of itself."

Another who may well force his way into Southgate's thinking, in a very stacked and competitive department, is full-back Tino Livramento. A star in Paris in the Champions League, the youngster's tireless running down the left was a real feature of the Magpies' win.

Howe said: "Very good in maybe a slightly different way to Paris to when he was having to deal with (Ousmane) Dembele. He was having to play against various opponents but good opponents in Antony and Rashford but he gave them a problem going back the other way which was great to see. His athleticism, pace, speed and positioning, although he’s playing on a side maybe not natural to him, was of the highest level."

The only real negative to take from the encounter was yet another injury to another key player, as Nick Pope was taken off with a shoulder problem.

"It will be a massive blow for us if he is ruled out for any length of time," said Howe. "It looked really innocuous, but that is usually the way and they are normally the more serious ones. You could see he was in distress and it looked like he dislocated his shoulder just diving.

"Martin Dubravka came on in a tricky situation with 10 minutes to go with a narrow lead, which is not nice for any goalkeeper, so I have to compliment him for doing so well."


Rublev defaulted and defending champ Medvedev knocked out in Dubai semifinals

Updated 26 sec ago
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Rublev defaulted and defending champ Medvedev knocked out in Dubai semifinals

  • Second-seeded Russian yells in the face of a line judge, gets defaulted for unsportsmanlike conduct
DUBAI: Andrey Rublev was defaulted from his semifinal at the Dubai Championships for yelling in the face of a line judge, allowing Alexander Bublik to advance to the final on Friday.
Also, defending champion Daniil Medvedev was knocked out in the other semi by Ugo Humbert 7-5, 6-3.
The second-seeded Rublev erupted after Bublik won a point to take a 6-5 lead in the deciding set.
The Russian, who is ranked No. 5, immediately pointed to the baseline, walked to the line judge, leaned over and shouted in his face.
ATP supervisor Roland Herfel came to the court accompanied by a Russian speaker, who said Rublev swore in his native language.
Rublev responded: “I was talking to him in English.” He insisted he did not use profanity.
But umpire Miriam Bley defaulted Rublev for unsportsmanlike conduct, after which the seventh-seeded Bublik said “I’m OK to continue” with the match.
Bublik won 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-5.
Rublev won the hard-court tournament in 2022 but lost to Medvedev in last year’s final.
The No. 4-ranked Medvedev was undone by Humbert for the third time in four matchups. Humbert was aggressive, and his left-handed serve sent the Russian top seed wide to open up the court.
“I played the perfect match today,” Humbert said.
The Frenchman’s confidence has been high since he won the Marseille title three weeks ago. That was his was fifth career title. He’s never lost a final.
The big-serving Bublik is looking for his fifth singles title. The Kazakh player won Montpellier last month.

Japan Moon lander put to sleep after surviving lunar night

Updated 1 min 40 sec ago
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Japan Moon lander put to sleep after surviving lunar night

  • The unmanned lander touched down in January at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way
  • As the sun’s angle shifted, it came back to life and carried out observations of a crater with a high-spec camera

TOKYO: Japan’s Moon lander has been put back to sleep after it surprisingly survived the freezing, two-week lunar night, the country’s space agency said, with another operation attempt scheduled for later this month.

The unmanned Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) touched down in January at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way.

As the sun’s angle shifted, it came back to life for two days and carried out scientific observations of a crater with a high-spec camera.

This week, the SLIM probe, which was “not designed for the harsh lunar nights,” when the temperature plunges to minus 133 degrees, produced another surprise by waking up after two weeks.

“SLIM has gone to sleep again as the sun set after 3 am (Japan Time) on March 1,” the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday, alongside an image of the rocky lunar surface captured by the probe.

“Although the likelihood of failure will increase due to the severe temperature cycles, we will attempt SLIM operation again when the sunlight comes back in late March,” JAXA said.

The announcement comes after the uncrewed American lander Odysseus became the first private spaceship on the Moon.

The lander sent its final image on Thursday before its power banks depleted.

SLIM, dubbed the “Moon Sniper” for its precision landing technology, touched down within its target landing zone on January 20.

The feat was a win for Japan’s space program after a string of recent failures, making the nation only the fifth to achieve a “soft landing” on the Moon, after the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India.

The aim of the mission is to examine a part of the Moon’s mantle — the usually deep inner layer beneath its crust — that is believed to be accessible.

NASA is planning to return astronauts to the Moon later this decade.

The US, along with international partners, wants to eventually develop long-term habitats in the region, harvesting polar ice for drinking water — and for rocket fuel for eventual onward voyages to Mars.


Pakistan welcomes resumption of CASA-1000 power line in Afghanistan by World Bank

Updated 45 min 26 sec ago
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Pakistan welcomes resumption of CASA-1000 power line in Afghanistan by World Bank

  • The project aims to allow Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to sell excess energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan in summer months
  • Last month, the World Bank approved resumption of the project after it was stalled in 2022 due to turmoil in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday welcomed resumption of activities in Afghanistan relating to a $1.2 billion Western-backed project to build a power line between Central Asia and South Asia, more than a year after it was stalled over turmoil in the neighboring country.

The CASA-1000 project aims to allow Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, former Soviet republics with an extensive network of hydroelectric power plants, to sell excess energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the summer months.

Last month, the World Bank, a key CASA-1000 backer, approved resumption of the clean energy project after it was stalled in 2022 due to turmoil in Afghanistan, with the Bank focusing on urgently needed education, agriculture and health programs.

It said construction of the project in the other three countries was nearly complete and these countries had requested that CASA-1000 activities in Afghanistan resume to avoid the risk of the project becoming a stranded asset.

“The Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan welcomes the recent announcement by the World Bank that, among other initiatives in support of the people of Afghanistan,” the Pakistani energy ministry said in a statement.

“The Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000) in Afghanistan will be resumed as had been requested in December by all three neighboring countries participating in the project.”

The World Bank’s announcement of the project’s resumption was a “significant step forward” in the region’s commitment to energy collaboration, according to the statement.

The Pakistani energy ministry said Islamabad had signed a joint declaration along with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to thank the World Bank for its timely approval of the “ring-fenced” resumption of CASA-1000 construction in Afghanistan as well as to fully support the Bank in implementation of the parameters agreed with its board for the resumption of CASA-1000 construction activities in Afghanistan.

The project could be a boon for the two Central Asian nations which have excess power in the summer but suffer from shortages in the winter unless they can buy fuel or power from neighbors.

The United States was involved in financing the project when it was launched in 2016 as part of its New Silk Road initiative to integrate Afghanistan with Central Asia.

Other project sponsors have included the Islamic Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


Saudi Arabia gifts Pakistan 100 tons of dates ahead of Ramadan

Updated 02 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia gifts Pakistan 100 tons of dates ahead of Ramadan

  • Fasting during Ramadan is one of five pillars of Islam, wherein Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise till sunset
  • Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have strong brotherly relations and the Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has gifted Pakistan 100 tons of dates ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, the Saudi embassy said on Friday.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, wherein Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise till sunset for a month. The Islamic lunar month will begin in March.

This is followed by the sighting of the new moon and is marked by Eid Al-Fitr, a religious holiday and celebration that is observed by Muslims across the world.

“In a gesture of goodwill, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is delighted to offer 100 tons of dates to its esteemed brethren in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, following the recommendation of the esteemed leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,” the Saudi embassy said in a statement.

The consignment was handed over by Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Maliki along with Abdullah Al-Baqami, director of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Center (KSrelief) at a ceremony held at the Saudi embassy in Islamabad.

“This generous donation is intended for distribution among the Pakistani community during the holy month of Ramadan,” the statement read.

“This noble gesture exemplifies the enduring bond of friendship and brotherhood between the two nations, reflecting the spirit of generosity and solidarity cherished by both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.”

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and brotherly relations. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates, serving as the top destination for remittances for the cash-strapped South Asian country.


Pakistani minister wants Organization of Islamic Cooperation to negotiate ceasefire with Israeli PM

Updated 02 March 2024
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Pakistani minister wants Organization of Islamic Cooperation to negotiate ceasefire with Israeli PM

  • Aneeq Ahmed says the unity of the global Muslim community can lead to a resolution of the Palestine issue
  • Pakistan’s foreign office said on Friday Israel must be held accountable for crimes against the Palestinian people

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Religious Affairs Minister Aneeq Ahmed described Pakistan as a “foremost supporter” of Palestine on Friday, saying that a delegation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should open negotiations with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the ongoing war in Gaza to reach an immediate ceasefire.
Ahmed issued the statement during a meeting with Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed Jawad Rabi’i, pointing out that Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Qatar, Egypt and Pakistan should take the lead in this regard.
Israel launched a military campaign targeting the Gaza Strip after a surprise attack was initiated by Hamas on October 7 in response to the deteriorating condition of Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation.
Since then, Israel has killed over 30,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, prompting much of the world to point out it is carrying a genocide in Gaza.
“Aneeq Ahmed ... proposed that a delegation comprising of crucial Muslim countries, under the banner of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), should talk to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for immediate ceasefire,” the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) news agency reported.
“Pakistan stands as the foremost supporter of the Palestinian cause and will continue to do so,” the APP quoted the minister as saying. “The unity of the Muslim Ummah can lead to a resolution of the Palestine issue.”
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s foreign office condemned the killing of over 100 Palestinians who were trying to get food from an aid convoy in Gaza City, saying the incident had highlighted Israel’s “deliberate and inhumane policy of mass starvation.”
It also said Israel must be held accountable for its crimes against humanity which it had been perpetrating with impunity against the Palestinian people.