Klopp keeps the drama going to the end as Liverpool beat Spurs 4-2 in his penultimate Anfield match

Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott celebrates scoring his side’s fourth goal during the English Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England on May 5, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 06 May 2024

Klopp keeps the drama going to the end as Liverpool beat Spurs 4-2 in his penultimate Anfield match

  • A nervy finish didn’t stop the home fans from beckoning Klopp to produce his trademark post-match triple fist pump to the crowd after his penultimate home game in charge
  • A bad week for Aston Villa got worse after a surprise 1-0 loss at Brighton

LIVERPOOL, England: The smile is back on Jurgen Klopp’s face — even if his Liverpool players seem intent on testing his nerves right to the end.

The Premier League title may be all but beyond the Merseyside club, but that doesn’t mean the drama is over for Klopp, who will step down at the end of the season.

Last week he was arguing on the sideline with Mohamed Salah as Liverpool effectively dropped out of the title race. And while Salah opened the scoring in a 4-2 win against Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, it was Harvey Elliott who appeared to bring the broadest smile to Klopp’s face with a wonderful long-range goal in what looked like being a cakewalk for Klopp’s team.

“What a goal,” the Liverpool manager said. “In the game you only see it flying in and I thought, ‘That was a good shot.’ The goal I saw afterwards, there was not a lot of space left or right. It went exactly where it should be be. Top goal.”

Elliott’s strike, after goals from Salah, Andy Robertson and Cody Gakpo, fired Liverpool into a 4-0 lead before the game had even reached the hour mark. What followed was the unlikeliest of fightbacks from Spurs that might have made this another frustrating day in what has ultimately been a disappointing finale for Klopp at the end of nearly nine trophy-filled years.

Goals from Richarlison and Son Heung-min made it a much closer contest than it had ever looked like being. And it needed two outstanding saves from Alisson, a goal-line clearance from Joe Gomez and a VAR call to prevent it from being closer still.

“It’s a little bit of a mirror of the season. Really, really, really, good until we were really rubbish and then, we were okay again,” Klopp said.

A nervy finish didn’t stop the home fans from beckoning Klopp to produce his trademark post-match triple fist pump to the crowd after his penultimate home game in charge, with Feyenoord coach Arne Slot set to take over next season.

Mathematically, at least, it is not over for third-place Liverpool, who sit five points adrift of leader Arsenal with two games remaining. But, in reality, a late-season slump has killed Klopp’s hopes of walking away with a second Premier League crown of his reign.

His team had been heavily rebuilt over the past two seasons and was not expected to contend at the top so soon. But this season at one point offered Liverpool the hope of a quadruple of trophies. Now they feel like it is ending on an underwhelming note.

Still, Klopp, who delivered the English League Cup in February, will walk away from a team that is on the up and leave his successor with plenty of young talent to work with.

The 21-year-old Elliott is a prime example and he showcased his ample potential with an assist and a goal as Liverpool threatened to run riot.

His perfectly placed curling cross provided Gakpo with the simple task of heading in Liverpool’s third and then he swept an unstoppable shot from around 20 yards (meters) into the top corner and beyond Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.

“Harvey is exceptional. Still so young. So exceptional,” Klopp said. “In the midfield position, it was probably one of the top three performances from him today. The goal was exceptional. Everyone needs moments to gain more confidence. It was a good moment. That helps definitely.”


A bad week for Aston Villa got worse after a surprise 1-0 loss at Brighton.

Unai Emery’s team lost 4-2 at home to Olympiakos in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semifinal on Thursday. And on a day when it could have secured its place in next season’s Champions League, it suffered another setback when Joao Pedro headed home a rebound in the 87th after seeing his penalty saved by Robin Olsen.

Only Spurs’ loss at Anfield prevented it from being a bigger blow after the result at the Amex Stadium had given Ange Postecoglou’s team hope in its pursuit of Villa in fourth.

But Villa still missed out on the chance of making certain of a top-four finish.


Chelsea’s troubled season could still end on something of a high after Mauricio Pochettino’s team boosted their chances of European soccer next season with a 5-0 rout of West Ham.

The win at Stamford Bridge moved Chelsea up to seventh in the standings and two points behind sixth-place Newcastle. Only the top six teams in the Premier League will be guaranteed a place in Europe next season.

“We need to keep this momentum and belief going,” Pochettino said.

While Chelsea’s exorbitant spending under US owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital was supposed to put the 2021 Champions League winner back in contention for the biggest prizes, qualification for Europe would represent progress after finishing in the bottom half of the table last year and another season of struggle this term.

After a morale-boosting 2-0 win against Tottenham on Thursday, Chelsea followed it up by thrashing West Ham.

Nicolas Jackson scored twice in the second half after Chelsea had raced to a 3-0 lead by the break through goals from Cole Palmer, Conor Gallagher and Noni Madueke.

Diogo Jota says Riyadh Esports World Cup ‘a truly amazing experience’

Updated 22 July 2024

Diogo Jota says Riyadh Esports World Cup ‘a truly amazing experience’

  • Liverpool and Portugal star, an avid gamer and investor, watched all the ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Counter-Strike 2’ action, and met esports players

RIYADH: Diogo Jota, the Liverpool and Portugal footballer, who attended the Esports World Cup in Riyadh on Sunday, has declared the globe’s largest gaming festival “a truly amazing experience.”

Jota, an avid gamer and investor in multinational esports organization Galaxy Racer, watched all the action at Boulevard Riyadh City as teams contested the finals of the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” and “Counter-Strike 2” competitions.

The eight-week Esports World Cup features a unique cross-game structure pitting the top clubs and players against one another across 22 competitions in 21 leading games.

Held within the 8,000-capacity Saudi Esports Federation Arena at Boulevard Riyadh City, it runs until Aug. 25 and has a tournament prize pool of $60 million, the largest in the history of the sport.

The attacker, who has 42 caps and played for Portugal at the UEFA Euro 2024 this summer, met participating stars, including from Saudi Arabia’s Team Falcons, and happily swapped gaming and esports stories.

Jota said: “Being here at the inaugural Esports World Cup is a truly amazing experience. The organization and scale behind this event are truly impressive, even more than I anticipated.

“I’ve always believed in the potential of esports, even before starting my own team, and EWC is proof that this scene is evolving rapidly. This level of investment and infrastructure is exactly what esports needs to grow and reach a wider audience.

“I’m excited to see how EWC continues to evolve and push the boundaries of competitive gaming.”

Jota, who wears the No. 20 for Liverpool, was ranked world No. 1 in FIFA 21’s Champions Leaderboard. A regular streamer on Twitch, he also won an invitational series of FIFA matches, run by the Premier League, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then a Wolverhampton Wanderers player, Jota defeated future Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final.

Last year, Jota’s own esports organization, Diogo Jota Esports, was rebranded to Luna Galaxy — coming under the Galaxy Racer umbrella.

Prior to this, Diogo Jota Esports participated in the FIFAe Finals at Gamers8, organized by the Saudi Esports Federation, at Boulevard Riyadh City last summer, with Daniel “DFernandes” Fernandes finishing in the top 16.

More than 1,500 players, of over 60 nationalities, are battling it out at the inaugural Esports World Cup. Week three of the competition features action in the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters,” “Counter Strike 2,” and “PUBG Mobile” contests.

SAFF launches first edition of Regional Under-13 Championship in Taif

Updated 21 July 2024

SAFF launches first edition of Regional Under-13 Championship in Taif

  • Top talents from academies across 14 cities, provinces, and regions are featuring in the tournament
  • The competition will provide valuable experience for young up-and-coming referees who have been selected from SAFF Referees’ Academy

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has launched the first edition of the Regional Under-13 Championship in Taif, running from July 18–30.

Currently in its third day, the 12-day tournament features 14 regional teams, showcasing top talents from academies across 14 cities, provinces, and regions.

The 14 regional teams competing in the championship are from Al-Ahsa, Jazan, Najran, Jouf, Hail, Al-Qassim, the Eastern Province, Riyadh, Jeddah, Asir, Madinah, Makkah, Hafar Al-Batin, and Tabuk.

SAFF’s Technical Director Nasser Larguet said: “The championship represents the result of the significant work supported by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and the outcome is the creation of the Regional Under-13 League. Clear goals and strategic plans have been set to discover and support young talents.”

Additionally, the tournament will provide valuable experience for young up-and-coming referees, who have been selected from the SAFF Referees’ Academy, further contributing to the development of skilled officials in the sport.

Manuel Navarro, president of the SAFF Referees Committee, said: “The Regional Under-13 Championship is an opportunity to develop promising referees, especially since it will witness the participation of 32 young referees. The committee aims to increase their refereeing hours and enhance their experience.”

This tournament is a significant part of SAFF’s strategy to scout and develop over 4,000 young talents by 2025, supporting the growth and future of Saudi football.

Al-Ittihad unveils new kit for 2024-25 season

Updated 20 July 2024

Al-Ittihad unveils new kit for 2024-25 season

  • The classic striped design in yellow and black is based on the Nike shirt, with its authentic heritage
  • The kit’s new design represents the architectural style “Rawashin”

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad FC has unveiled its kit for the 2024/25 season in collaboration with Nike.

Al-Ittihad presented its distinctive new kit in photo sessions in the center of historic Jeddah, among its alleys and ancient buildings, in cooperation with Al-Balad Development Company, the club’s official sponsor.

The classic striped design in yellow and black is based on the Nike shirt, with its authentic heritage, which fans have loved and celebrated for 97 years.

The kit’s new design represents the architectural style, “Rawashin,” the prominent traditional wooden panels used to cover windows and external openings at the old houses of Jeddah — considered an icon of the city’s heritage.

Domingos De Oliveira, CEO of Al-Ittihad Club, described the new kit as a symbol of the club’s history: “We worked closely with Nike in order to ensure access to the best that can be presented in the new kit, while preserving the established values of the basic kit, which represents a unique identity, after maintaining it for nearly a century.

“In the new kit, we worked to blend the heritage of Al-Ittihad Club with the history of the region from which it started, with a modern spirit that creates innovation in order to emerge with a product that reflects the club’s vision of starting from the base of its great history toward more glory and development in the current era and the future.

“Attention was paid to all the details in terms of the degree of color and their overlapping in the dividing line between them in the same way that the wooden columns in the Rawashin buildings of Jeddah are intertwined.”

For the first time, the home kit will be presented in three categories — the official home kit, which the players will wear, the stadium category, and the fans category.

Argentina apologizes to France in football-chant row

Updated 20 July 2024

Argentina apologizes to France in football-chant row

BUENOS AIRES: Buenos Aires apologized to France after Argentina’s vice president called the European country “colonialist” and its people “hypocrites” in an argument over alleged racist chants by Argentine footballers.
President Javier Milei’s office said Friday it had sent a senior official to the French embassy to explain that Victoria Villarruel’s angry statement on social media was made in her personal capacity.
FIFA has announced an investigation into the chants sung by Argentina players, including Chelsea and Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez, 23, after they won the Copa America.
The chants were heard on a live video posted on social media by Fernandez from the team bus in the wake of the Copa victory over Colombia in Miami on Sunday.
The song targets France’s star striker Kylian Mbappe among others and includes racist and homophobic insults.
Fernandez has apologized, but Chelsea have launched an internal disciplinary procedure against him. The French Football Federation (FFF) has complained to FIFA.
On Wednesday, Villarruel expressed support for Fernandez on X, saying: “No colonialist country is going to intimidate us because of a stadium chant nor for speaking truths that they do not want to admit. Enough with feigned outrage, hypocrites.”
The diplomatic incident came just days before Milei is due to travel to Paris to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.
“Diplomatic relations with France are intact,” presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni said Friday.
Argentina’s under secretary for sports, Julio Garro, was dismissed from his post this week after saying captain Lionel Messi and the Argentine Football Association should apologize for the chants.

Costa Rica keeps USA to 0-0 draw in Olympic sendoff game

Updated 17 July 2024

Costa Rica keeps USA to 0-0 draw in Olympic sendoff game

WASHINGTON: Costa Rica played the United States women’s national team to a goal-less draw on Tuesday in the Americans’ sendoff match before departing for the Paris Olympics.

US captain Lindsey Horan told a crowd of nearly 19,000 spectators they were undaunted about their chances in France despite the draw.

“We wish we would have gotten the win,” she said. “But we’re going to go out and do our thing at the Olympics. This team is amazing. We’re going to represent this country so well and we’ll do everything possible to being back a gold medal.”

Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermudez and a swarming defensive effort frustrated a patient US squad to earn the Ticas a draw after losses in their first 17 matches against the Americans.

The US women outshot Costa Rica 26-2, forcing 12 saves from Bermudez and taking all 16 corners in the match.

“It takes a lot of patience to play against a low block. Costa Rica did it really well,” US midfielder Sophia Smith said. “It was definitely challenging for us but it was a good test because we’re going to face that in the Olympics.

“I know we can create chances. We created I don’t know how many chances tonight. It’s getting one in the back of the net, no matter how that looks. That will come.”

While it was a disappointment against a defensive-minded squad for new coach Emma Hayes and her US team, it showed the Americans what they need to do before they start to play for gold next week in France.

“That was a big message from Emma at the end of the game — don’t be frustrated,” Smith said. “We wanted a result from this but these games are preparation for something bigger.

“We need to peak when we need to peak and that’s at the start of the Olympics. We’re calm about it. We’re not frustrated. We trust the process. We know things will go our way when we need them to.”

The American women begin Olympic Group B play on July 25 against Zambia at Nice and also face Germany and Australia in group matches at Marseille.

“I think it’s going to be amazing,” Smith said. “I’m so excited to be going with this group. I’m excited to get the ball rolling in France. This group has a lot of potential and good things in store.”

The United States have won four Olympic women’s football titles — in 1996 on home soil and three in a row in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

US midfielder Rose Lavelle, who helped win the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, was a late scratch from the match due to leg tightness. Korbin Albert replaced her in the US starting lineup.

The Americans have three wins and a draw without surrendering a goal under England’s Hayes.

“I think we’ve made good, nice progress,” Hayes said. “When you take over a team and you’ve got to implement quite a lot, they have adapted to those ideas really well.

“We’re going into the Olympics with an idea of what we look to do most of our moments but now we’re starting to add some adaptations.”

Smith and Mallory Swanson were each denied on early chances by Bermudez while Trinity Rodman was offside on another US opportunity.

Bermudez and Rodman collided as the keeper denied Horan in the 24th minute. Bermudez also grabbed a Horan header in the 40th minute and thwarted Smith shortly before halftime.

Bermudez batted away a Smith chance in the 49th minute and deflected Horan’s kick in the 50th to keep Las Ticas level.

Horan found the net in the 55th minute only for the offside flag to be raised.

Bermudez deflected away a Rodman centering pass in extra time and Horan nodded a header over the crossbar in the final seconds.