There was division and consternation in the Manchester United ranks this summer when Jose Mourinho’s attempts to bring in a new centre-half fell on deaf ears.The United manager had identified Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire as potential additions to the Old Trafford defensive corps, but executive vice-chair Ed Woodward and his fellow board members insisted that the Portuguese already had enough reinforcements and only a high-profile arrival such as Raphael Varane would be sanctioned.So Mourinho instead went into the 2018-19 campaign bemoaning the hand he had been played and United have since kept only three clean sheets and conceded 16 goals in 11 fixtures, shipping 14 in eight league games compared to the two they had allowed at this stage last term. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Mourinho has chopped and changed too, starting the season with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof as his preferred duo but then switching to Chris Smalling with Lindelof and latterly Bailly and Smalling as he looks for the right partnership. He has even used midfielders Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay in back threes.But which of United’s five senior centre-halves – including Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo – have had the greatest effect on the Red Devils since Mourinho became the boss back in the summer of 2016?When it comes to win percentage, Lindelof leads the way. The Swede has come out on the victorious side in 69 per cent of his 29 starts as a centre-back since arriving from Benfica in 2017. While he has been identified as a weakness at times due to the occasional clanger the 24-year-old has actually been the most successful of United’s centre-back options over the last two seasons-plus, just ahead of Bailly.In terms of racking up clean sheets it is the Ivorian who comes out on top, helping to keep opponents scoreless in 27 of his 54 starts in the heart of the defence. The former Villarreal man was particularly prolific in that respect in the early part of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, but he has played only 18 minutes of league football this term since starting the ugly 3-2 reverse to Brighton in August, with his afternoon ending remarkably early against Newcastle last time out.But while Bailly and Lindelof have the favourable individual records, Mourinho has started them together only three times and just twice in a flat back four. Since those two matches at the beginning of the league campaign it is Smalling who has been the constant in United’s defence. And when it comes to being part of a solid partnership, the former England stopper’s name is prevalent among those who have consistently paired up to record clean sheets under Mourinho.So does Mourinho continue to side with Smalling as he looks for the right mix at the back? Or does he give Bailly and Lindelof the chance to develop an understanding over a longer period of time? The manager will need to show his two centre-back signings the same faith the board displayed in the summer if we are to find out whether they can be the answer to United’s current defensive woes. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Alexander Zverev signaled his anticipated arrival among the tennis elite by defeating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 Sunday to win the Italian Open.The 20-year-old Zverev became the youngest player to win a Masters 1000 event since Djokovic won in Miami a decade ago at 19.”It’s nice to know that I can compete and play and win the biggest tournaments on tour against the biggest players on tour,” Zverev said.Zverev broke in the very first game and was never really challenged by Djokovic, who appeared drained after having to win two matches a day earlier to reach the final.”He’s making his mark already,” Djokovic said. “Today winning one of the biggest tournaments – absolutely deserved. Played great, served great. On the other hand, he didn’t get much from my side. I played very poor today. Just couldn’t find any rhythm.”Djokovic committed nearly twice as many unforced errors as Zverev – 27 to 14.The match lasted 1 hour, 21 minutes.Afterward, Djokovic announced that Andre Agassi will coach him at the French Open, which starts next Sunday.”We are both excited to work together and see where it takes us,” Djokovic said. “We don’t have any long-term commitment. It’s just us trying to get to know each other in Paris a little bit.”The title will move Zverev up to a career-high No. 10 in the rankings Monday and place him among the contenders for Roland Garros. It will also add credibility to the belief by many tennis experts that Zverev will reach No. 1 some day.advertisement”If I have only half of the career Novak has had, I’ll be fine,” Zverev said when asked if he can follow in Djokovic’s footsteps.Tennis great Rod Laver presented Zverev with the trophy.”Getting the trophy from Mr. Laver is something very special and something I’ll remember for the rest of my career,” Zverev said.Earlier, Elina Svitolina surged to No. 1 in the season-long rankings race by beating Simona Halep 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the women’s final.It was a tour-best fourth title this year for Svitolina and the most prestigious trophy of her young career. The 22-year-old Ukrainian also leads the tour with 31 match wins this season.”Every day I’m just trying to work on my mental part, my physical, my tennis,” Svitolina said. “Everything just came together and I’m very happy that it’s happened in such a big tournament.”The fourth-ranked Halep was in full control and serving for the first set at 5-2 when she rolled her right ankle while sliding over what appeared to be a small hole in the Foro Italico stadium court.While Halep was able to eventually win the opening set, she required treatment to her ankle from a trainer twice and was late getting to shots as the match wore on.”Sorry guys for third set,” Halep told the crowd. “It was a little tough for me to get through but Elina played great.”Halep was playing in her second clay-court final in two weeks after winning the title in Madrid last Sunday.Svitolina also required medical treatment from a trainer midway through the second set, for an apparent problem with her left leg.”Hopefully we’ll recover, me and Simona, because we’re struggling a bit physically,” Svitolina said.During the post-match presentation, Svitolina dropped the cover of the silver trophy on to the red clay court, prompting her to say, “Oops.”The first two sets featured long, nervous baseline rallies in which both players waited for their opponent to commit errors.”It was very tough first two sets and I’m really happy that it’s all finished,” Svitolina said.
A galaxy of cricket stars descended on London for Aaj Tak Salaam Cricket 2017 and it was an absolute treat for connoisseurs of the game as the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Shane Warne, Sourav Ganguly, Michael Clarke, Mohammad Azharuddin, Kumar Sangakkara, Brendon McCullum, Graeme Smith, Nasser Hussain, Aamer Sohail and Rameez Raja regaled the audience with some superb insights into the game.Gavaskar spoke of his first experience at Lord’s, Warne talked at length of his battles against Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara and then engaged in what is now a classic light-hearted banter with Ganguly while Sohail, the former Pakistan captain, said he would not mind paying to watch Virat Kohli bat.Then there was Hussain’s beautiful speech where he outlined what he thought was the essence of cricket and what the game meant for him.There was plenty of analysis, there were lots of insights into how the game has changed with time, what makes modern day players tick and there were also some warm moments between the former cricketers, whose rivalry once upon a time, set the international cricket stage on fire.However, on May 31, 2017, those rivals came together on Aaj Tak’s platform to relive some of their fondest memories on the field of play, remember the heated moments and laugh them off.Here, we bring to you some of the more candid photos, quotes and expressions from what was a blockuster event at the London Business School. How often have you seen these cricketing icons posing like this?advertisement”I have had plenty of female fans during my time.”- Sunil Gavaskar”Women in Calcutta still ask me about where Sunil Gavaskar is and where they can meet him. And they are pretty looking ones”- Sourav Ganguly”I like Virat Kohli’s attitude. He is one exciting cricketer”- Aamer Sohail”If you asked me whether I’d want to bowl to Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Sachi Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag or the current Indian guys, please, I’d much rather bowl to the current day Indian side.”- Shane Warne”I feel lucky because the players I idiolised I got to play with and against. I played against Sourav Ganguly and with Shane Warne.”- Michael Clarke
Jaipur, Jun 16 (PTI) The Badminton Association of India (BAI) today made it clear it will stick to the National Sports Code, which has been adopted in its constitution. BAI joint secretary K K Sharma said there had been a discussion on modifying its constitution in accordance with the National Sports Act and added that there was no mention of the Lodha Committee recommendations in the BAI executive committee meeting. “Yes there were discussions on how to modify the constitution to incorporate the suggestions made in the National Sports Code but there was no mention of the Lodha Committee. We have already adopted National Sports Code in our constitution and we want to adhere to that,” said Sharma. “The matter would be discussed again since it is crucial. There will be another meeting on July 30 to take these points forward and further decide on the changes in the constitution that would be required.” Sharma refuted claims that a lobby was trying to unsettle national coach Pullela Gopichand. “We all have high respect for Gopichand. He is one of the most respected sports heroes of the country and it already has been announced that he would continue as national coach.” Praising BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma, Sharma said that his vision was to make India a badminton super power. PTI DS AH SSC
Shillong, Jul 6 (PTI) The border guards of India and Bangladesh today kept their guns and combat uniforms aside and played football at a remote village in Meghalaya?s South Garo Hills district to help build confidence and comradeship among themselves.”These sporting events are organised as part of confidence-building measures between the two border guarding forces,” a spokesperson of the Border Security Force (BSF) said here.The football match was also witnessed by thousands of civilians from both sides of the border who cheered for their respective sides. The match was organised to help improve co-ordination among both the border guarding forces, he said.Among those who came to support the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) team from Bangladesh include Sector Commander Col Kazi Aniruddha, Lt Col Md Anusur Rahman along with other BGB officers and other ranks while from the BSF side UPS Pathania (DIG) along with Commandants of local BSF battalions and many other ranks witnessed the match.Meanwhile, the BSF official said nearly 200 cows were seized and handed over to the authorities along the Indo-Bangladesh border in the state in the past one week. PTI JOP RG
The story has expired
Xiaomi will launch the Mi 5X in China on July 26. The Mi 5X will sport a full-metal unibody design and a dual camera system on its rear. The Mi 5X will also mark the debut of Xiaomi’s MIUI 9, the next major iteration of its Android-based software. Ahead of its formal announcement, Xiaomi has come out with a video trailer teasing its upcoming phone. Special emphasis has been given to the phone’s dual rear cameras suggesting there would a lot to look forward to in this regard once Xiaomi takes the wraps off of it.Only recently, alleged press renders of the Xiaomi Mi 5X were spotted doing the rounds of the Internet and looks like, they did indeed hit the bull’s eye. The Xiaomi Mi 6 looks nothing like the iPhone. The Xiaomi Mi 5 didn’t look like the iPhone either. The Xiaomi Mi 5X – which appears to be some sort of hybrid cross between the Mi 5 and the Mi 6 – is however heading towards the iPhone route, and quite blatantly at that.The 5X, as per the video , will ship in at least three colours: black, gold and pink. The phone, with its all metal body and dual rear cameras, will look remarkably like the iPhone 7 Plus from every nook and corner. Everything from the 2.5 D curved glass on the front to the antenna lines placement on the back, screams the iPhone. The only visible difference is seen in the fingerprint scanner placement. As opposed to the iPhone 7 Plus that comes with a front-mounted fingerprint scanner, the Xiaomi Mi 5X will apparently sport one on the back. It will come with physical capacitive – soft keys – keys on the front. advertisementRumoured specs of the Mi 5X include:a 5.5-inch 1080p screen and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor with 4 gigs of RAM. It will also ship with MIUI 9. Not much is known about what MIUI 9 will be bringing to the table. Rumour has it that it would bring split screen multitasking and picture-in-picture mode features; although Xiaomi is yet to formally make an announcement regarding the same.Also Read: Xiaomi Mi 5X is going to be yet another iPhone 7 Plus clone if these renders are to be gone by
Sanil Shetty is fast becoming a popular name in the world table tennis circuit and with the advent of the first Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), Sanil played like a star and his powerful forehand smashes and topspins have fast become a topic of many conversations.Sanil was one of the crucial members of the Falcons TTC, who were crowned the winners of UTT on Sunday. In the final, Sanil scooped one out of the three games against world No. 42 Li Ping and won 3-0 in the mixed doubles alongside Lee Ho Ching, defeating world No. 85 Soumyajit Ghosh and Rio Olympic silver medallist in team event, Petrissa Solja.The year 2017 has been a year of rise for the Mumbai boy till now. In the Hungarian Open in January, he reached the men’s doubles quarter-final alongside India’s top player Sharath Kamal. In the ITTF Asian Championships in April, Sanil made it till the Round of 32 in men’s singles and Round of 16 in the men’s doubles.Just before UTT, Sanil also put up a great show in the Australian Open where he reached the Round of 16 in the men’s singles, causing various upsets on the road starting from the qualifiers.IndiaToday.in caught up with the rising star of India table tennis and here are the excerpts.Abreshmina S Quadri: You were world No. 285 back in February 2017 and now 160 in August. What changed?Sanil Shetty: I think it’s all about confidence. I was very confident after the Australian Open where I beat some top players and that gave me a lot of confidence coming into Ultimate Table Tennis.advertisementAbreshmina: So it is the game time that has helped you grow in stature?Sanil: Absolutely! Playing against top players and winning against them gives you a lot of confidence and that has worked well for me.Photo Credit: ITTF Abreshmina: Your performances at UTT were extremely aggressive and impactful. Some insight into that?Sanil: I had a great bonding with the team and everyone in the team, from the other players to the coaches, encouraged me a lot. They told me that I have a good game and I can beat the top players.Abreshmina: You grew in confidence starting from the January Hungarian Open where you reached the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles with Sharath Kamal.Sanil: Yes I feel so. Actually this season has started very well for me. I was world No. 285 back in February and now when I was playing in the UTT, my ranking was 201. So, this year is looking good for me and it is because of my performances in the Australian Open that my ranking has risen.Abreshmina: There are reports that the foreign players have said that fitness is what is stopping Indians from being a force in world table tennis. Your take on that?Sanil: It’s true but now we are all working really hard on our fitness. Our national coach Massimo Costantini is working a lot on those aspects of our game and we are improving. We have three male players in the top 100 and Massimo is working with all of us to get into top 100 and bring some medals in the Commonwealth Games next year.Abreshmina: What’s the kind of regime you guys follow for fitness and training?Sanil: We work on our legs and core, which are most important for the game. We are also working on our shoulders. We don’t do much of gym training but a lot of field exercising. We have so many competitions that it becomes difficult to do weight training, since we do a lot of game practice, field exercising gets easily accommodated with that.Abreshmina: Your national coach is Massimo Costantini while your personal coach is Peter Engel. Doesn’t having two coaches bring a conflict in your training?Sanil: Actually thankfully with me, not at all. Both coaches are European and they have very similar teaching methods and techniques. Both of them tell me to work on my backhand since my forehand is already strong so it actually helps because my schedule remains the same with both of them. Also, I am extremely comfortable with both Massimo and Peter Engel and talk to them about strategies before every game. I did the same during UTT as well.Abreshmina: In the UTT final, what was your strategy against Li Ping? You lost to him 3-0 earlier but managed to take one in the final.Sanil: I planned not to play short balls to him because he is really strong at that. I tried to put the first ball on his backhand after which I could put my forehand attack into play. I did not get into counter attack game with him much because he’s good at using the speed of the ball and putting it back with good angles. If I do well ahead, I might face him in the quarter-final of the Nigeria Open and hopefully this experience will be of great help there.advertisementPhoto Credit: UTT Abreshmina: Indian girls generally struggle against choppers but they put out a decent show in UTT. Your say on that?Sanil: In India, there are no choppers, none at all. This is why the players don’t get much exposure playing against them and when they face them on world tours, they don’t know how to play them. In UTT, Manika won against Olympic bronze medallist Kim Song I and other girls also got to play against top choppers like Han Ying and Wu Yang, so that should help in the future.Abreshmina: Does the three-game format suit the style and fitness of the Indians become come table tennis or tennis, sustenance is an issue for the Indian players.Sanil: Like I said we are working on our fitness and recently at the Australia Open itself, Gnanasekaran Sathiyan and I both beat top players in the seven-game format. I rather feel the three-game format suits the audience because the game is more fast-paced and people can watch more games in lesser time and I feel that will draw more audience to the game.Abreshmina: Despite being a popular playing sport, why do you think table tennis struggles for viewership?Sanil: People actually take table tennis as a recreational sport, it is not actually a popular sport. It’s just thought of people as an activity. I personally also get to hear from people, ‘what is there in TT, it is so easy’ but people don’t actually realise how much effort and hard work goes behind becoming a table tennis player. The game of table tennis is so fast that people are unable to understand the intricacies of it and therefore, the level of interest suffers.Abreshmina: What’s the ground reality of table tennis in India?Sanil: Before there used to be a lot of problem but things are improving now. We have a big hall in Indore now with some 25 tables and before every tournament, practicing there gives us a good big hall practice and that helps when we go for world tours.Abreshmina: There are lots of aspects to being a sportperson. What about you people getting a nutritionist and fitness trainers?Sanil: Our national coach Massimo is really concentrating on all these factors. He has got us a physio and keeps a tab on our diet and everything so now, we don’t have to worry about that. Earlier we used to think a lot about these factors earlier but now that Massimo takes care of all that, we are able to fully concentrate on just playing and putting our best performance and that is beginning to help.advertisementAbreshmina: What about the finances? A lot of you guys go out and play and practice.Sanil: I am from Maharashtra. The thing there is they want more players to represent the state and they are willing to invest for it. But I am the top player from there and I have to give them a plan and hopefully then things will work out and some finances will come from there. Although BPCL supports me a lot.Abreshmina: What will you say about the regime and work ethic of the Falcons TTC, since you guys came out winners of UTT.Sanil: Basically we were told not to worry about anything but there was a general instruction that we have to win. Even our captain Par Gerell used to ask us to enjoy playing, express and win. We were a very close knit group and had excellent bonding which is why results came. Before the final, I had told the team that I will get four points today and I was glad I lived up to that.Photo Credit: UTT Abreshmina: Falcons TTC had top players like Liam Pitchford and Wu Yang. What kind of interactions you had with them? Did you talk to them about their training and fitness?Sanil: We used to practice with them, learn little tricks from them. My doubles partner Lee Ho Ching, we used to practice together all the time and eat together and all. So, I really got to learn a lot from them.Abreshmina: What next for you?Sanil: I will playing three tournament ahead in Nigeria from August 9-13, Bulgaria from August 15-20 and Czech Republic from August 22-27. So as of now I am completely concentrated on this and I will look to perform well there so that when the rankings come in September, I can reach around 100. After that I will also be playing in the German League along with Sathiyan and Sharath.
India’s domination in Test cricket has been highlighted by Virat Kohli’s sensational run – double hundreds in four successive series, runs against Sri Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand, England and Bangladesh were scored without as much as breaking a sweat.Under Kohli, India have been ambitious and they have stuck to their guns by playing only five specialist batsmen. The number six slot has been manned by either R Ashwin or Wriddhiman Saha and they have done their reputation as gutsy fighters no harm.But India’s remarkable run at home was a fruit of Kohli’s mind-numbing consistency besides Ashwin’s guile with the bat. After an ordinary patch following his maiden double hundred in the West Indies, Kohli came back strongly to score another one against the Black Caps at home.By the time England came visiting, Kohli was hungry for more and he satiated it with 655 runs in five Tests. For the last two months of 2016, Kohli was in a different zone – he was virtually unbeatable and had an answer to everything England tried. He got great support from Cheteshwar Pujara but Ajinkya Rahane’s middling form and the absence of a specialist number six meant more pressure for the top five. Kohli was only too happy to lead from the front.But what would happen in case the captain had an off-day with the bat? Or worse, what if he did not fire right through an important series?India’s worst nightmare came true soon enough.After bringing England’s bowlers down on their knees, Kohli managed only 46 from three Tests and had to sit out of Dharamsala with an injured shoulder. However, that was when Lokesh Rahul and Pujara turned up stronger and more consistent than ever before, Saha pitched in with a gutsy hundred as India weathered the Aussie storm to win the series 2-1.advertisementThe Australia series was an eye-opener on several counts. For starters, India learnt not to underestimate any opposition even in favourable home conditions but more importantly, Kohli’s colleagues showed they had the spunk and the talent to not be overshadowed constantly by their superstar skipper.That is a welcome trend for a team that has now established itself firmly on the world stage. In Sri Lanka, Kohli failed twice on the opening days of the Galle and Colombo Tests but India dug deep thanks to Shikhar Dhawan, Pujara and Rahane.The men coming in at number six are increasingly proving their mettle – Hardik Pandya as India’s new-age all-rounder is an able batsman and the lower-order is dangerous when it has the license to accelerate.India will embark on some serious overseas tours by the end of the year – South Africa, Australia and England are waiting to test the world’s number one team. Rest assured, Kohli will be the prime target there and that is when his batting colleagues will have to stand up and show what they are worth once again.
The Pakistan Cricket Board’s new boss wants to welcome international tours back to the country but has urged for patience because of the prevailing security situation.Speaking after being named PCB chairman for the next three years, Najam Sethi expressed hope that next month’s proposed World XI tour in Pakistan would be the first step towards the return of international cricket.”We need to show patience because it is related to the security situation in the country,” he told local media. “We hope to bring a World XI for a three-match Twenty20 series and the next two to three months will bring more good news.”We have invited Sri Lanka to play a few matches (in Pakistan) after their series with us and I will try to get a reply on that invitation.”Pakistan have played most of their home internationals in the United Arab Emirates since gunmen attacked a bus carrying Sri Lanka players in Lahore eight years ago, wounding six players, and killing six security staff and two civilians.The country has since been largely starved of international cricket, apart from a short visit by Zimbabwe in 2015.Pakistan are scheduled to play two Tests, three one-dayers and two Twenty20 internationals against Sri Lanka in September-October, with the series likely to be held in the UAE.
Mumbai, Nov 17 (PTI) Japanese auto major Toyotas luxury arm Lexus today unveiled a compact hybrid SUV, the NX 300h, which is a premium urban sports car and is expected to begin delivery from February.The NX is the fourth offering from Lexus since its entry into the domestic market this March and is pitted against the likes of the locally-assembled GLA Class from Mercedes, the Audi A6 and most models of the Tatas-run JLR.Though Lexus did not disclose the final price of the NX, which will be sold as CBUs, it indicated that it will priced around Rs 60 lakh.The luxury car maker sells three models–RX450H hybrid and the full-size LX 450d (both SUVs) as well as the hybrid sedan ES300H–all as CBUs in the country now.The Lexus NX300h will be available in two variants – the F Sport and Luxury, and caters to the lifestyle needs of young achievers, Lexus India president Akitoshi Takemura said.Company vice-president Arun Nair said the deliveries of the new car could commence from February.The NX comes with 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder engine, which produces 145 KW max power, and proffers 18.32 km a liter.Nair said they have so far set up four guest experience centres in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Gurgaon besides an equal number of after-sales centres.When asked if the company will follow the rest of the luxe players who all locally assemble most of their models, Nair answered in the negative saying that at present the focus is to establish the brand. PTI IAS BEN BENadvertisement
Alan Hubbard – The IndependentLONDON – The shipping tycoon Evangelos Marinakis, President of top Greek side Olympiakos, has renewed his interest in joining the foreign legion of club owners here. Premier League newcomers Crystal Palace could become a target next season if they go down.Sources close to Marinakis say he is again eyeing an opportunity to break into English football, relishing a fresh challenge after turning around the fortunes of Champions League club Olympiakos, and Palace fit the bill.I understand he is being advised by his friend Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal Chief Executive, a South African of Greek origin, and would like a working relationship between Olympiakos and a Championship side.UEFA rules prohibit him owning a Premier League team unless he relinquishes control of Olympiakos, who have won 15 of the last 16 Greek League titles. Ownership of an English club might also see a more philanthropic approach to sponsorship. Rather than the dubious moneylenders and betting firms, his Olympiakos feature the UNICEF logo, with the club aiming to raise €2m from charity events in the next two years for UNICEF’s child immunization program.Big, bearded and flamboyant, Marinakis, 45, turned down offers to buy Glasgow Rangers or a share of Milan. He was also once believed to be interested in West Ham. He has a house in Hampstead and is an ardent Liverpool supporter, providing Olympiakos as the opposition for Steven Gerrard’s testimonial game in August, and personally donating £100,000.TweetPinShare0 Shares
TweetPinShare0 Shares Greece’s star soccer striker Kostas Mitroglou, who left Olympiakos to sign with the British Premier League team Fulham isn’t fit to play for them yet, the team’s coach said of the man signed for 12 million British Pounds, about $20 million.Coach Felix Magath said Mitroglou, who previously had an injured knee, is in condition enough to play only 30 minutes, not 90 minutes, although the Greek player is expected to play for Greece in a friendly against South Korea. He’s been left off the Fulham roster for its March 8 game against Chelsea, the London Evening-Standard reported.Mitroglou, 25, has made just one 29-minute substitute appearance since joining Fulham in January but Magath’s concern about the player’s condition caused confusion as to why the striker is playing for the Greek national team. He is the centerpiece of its World Cup squad getting ready for the games in Brazil this summer.Magath struggled to clarify his decision to leave Mitroglou out at the weekend, with the Fulham manager first saying the forward was not fit enough before going back on those comments by claiming he was not ready for the intensity of the Premier League.“He is not fit enough to play 90 minutes,” said Magath, and then caused more confusion by not naming Mitroglou on the substitutes’ bench at Craven Cottage despite admitting he was “fit enough to play for half an hour”.Mitroglou joined Fulham with a minor knee injury but appeared to be on his way to full fitness when he made his debut as a substitute against West Brom last month. Mitroglou is likely to return from international duty and will then be assessed by Magath and the club’s medical staff before the trip to Wales.
NEW YORK — Rafael Montero arrived in the majors with a reputation for fine control. In a pair of starts against potent lineups, he hasn’t hit his mark.“I’m going to find out what he’s trying to do. If he’s trying to pitch to the corners, in this league you’ve got to earn that, you’ve got to earn the corners,” New York Mets Manager Terry Collins said.“Once the umpire knows you’ll pound that strike zone, he’ll give you some stuff.”Adrian Gonzalez homered off Montero in his second consecutive three-hit game and Yasiel Puig reached base five times to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers over the skidding Mets 9-4 on May 20.One of the team’s top pitching prospects, Montero (0-2) has walked six and served up three home runs in 10 1-3 big league innings against the Dodgers and New York Yankees, who have the two highest payrolls in baseball.“I’m not sure,” Montero said through a translator. “I always try to throw strikes.”Gonzalez connected for a two-run shot in a four-run fifth, when Los Angeles chased the 23-year-old Montero. He threw only 53 of 97 pitches for strikes in 4 1-3 innings, giving up five runs and seven hits with four walks and four strikeouts.“He fell behind a lot tonight,” Collins said. “That’s why he threw a lot of pitches. We’ve got to get him to realize he’s good enough to get strike one and go from there.”Curtis Granderson (three hits) and Lucas Duda homered in the sixth for the Mets, who dropped to 5-13 in May with their fifth defeat in six games. Twice they loaded the bases with one out and came up empty in the opener of a nine-game homestand.New York (20-24) fell a season-worst four games under .500 and lost for the 10th time in 11 meetings with the Dodgers dating to July 1, 2012.The teams combined to use 12 pitchers in a yawner that took 4 hours, 8 minutes — a minute short of tying the Mets record for a nine-inning game.“It seemed like we were on the field the majority of the game and that’s not good,” third baseman David Wright said.Josh Beckett (2-1) helped himself with an RBI single in his second straight victory after 14 winless starts, but the fiery right-hander left frustrated after failing to get an out in the sixth.Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe limped off with a right hamstring injury after his ninth-inning double. Puig, who had three hits and scored twice to extend his recent tear at the plate, delivered an RBI single during a three-run ninth.Puig drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and Gonzalez hit his 11th homer into the Dodgers’ bullpen in right-center. Matt Kemp doubled and Carl Crawford’s RBI single chased Montero. Uribe fisted a run-scoring single over a drawn-in infield against Jeurys Familia.Trailing by four in the fifth, New York loaded the bases on three straight singles. Beckett escaped by striking out Daniel Murphy on a high fastball and getting Wright to ground out on a full-count pitch.“I think it was a cutter and three curveballs,” Wright said. “You’re hoping that you get something you can drive and he just never gave in.”That dropped Wright to 1 for 21 against Beckett and 1 for 18 with two outs and runners in scoring position this season.J.P. Howell struck out three in 1 1-3 scoreless innings and Chris Withrow retired Duda and Wilmer Flores with the bases loaded to preserve a 6-4 lead in the seventh.Mets hitters are 6 for 40 (.150) with the sacks full this season.“Everybody talks about situational hitting, and that is certainly one of the things this year that we have not done, drive those runs in in those situations,” Collins said.(MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares
NEW YORK — Once again, Brandon McCarthy did a pretty nifty imitation of Masahiro Tanaka.McCarthy pitched a four-hitter and the New York Yankees, trying to claw closer in the AL wild-card chase, avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Houston Astros 3-0 on Aug. 21.McCarthy improved to 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in eight starts since the Yankees got him from Arizona in an early July trade. His first outing for New York came a day after Tanaka, off to an All-Star start as a major league rookie, pitched his last game before an elbow tear put him on the disabled list.“He’s been really, really good,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi praised. Maybe a bit of a surprise, too, considering McCarthy was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA for the Diamondbacks.“We knew he was a better pitcher than his numbers indicated,” Girardi said.McCarthy outpitched Dallas Keuchel (10-9) as they both threw complete games without a walk — the game took only 2 hours, 7 minutes. McCarthy said his “pitch mix is better” since joining the Yankees, fueling his confidence.“In Arizona, I’m not getting out of jams, not performing well, and it starts to roll,” he said.New York won for just the third time in 10 games. Chase Headley hit an early two-run double and the Yankees backed McCarthy with flawless fielding.The Yankees’ fans also made fine plays — sitting in the first row behind the Houston dugout, comedian Chris Rock wound up with a foul ball off the bat of Astros rookie Jon Singleton, and he gave the souvenir to a young boy as the crowd cheered.McCarthy struck out eight in his fourth career shutout and first this season. The Yankees had been shut out in McCarthy’s previous two starts.Keuchel gave up seven hits and struck out five. “I feel like I pitched just as good as McCarthy, but he was better today,” Keuchel said.This was the first nine-inning game where each pitcher threw a complete game without a walk since July 17, 2010, when Mark Buehrle of the White Sox and Carl Pavano of the Twins did it, STATS said.The Astros had won three in a row overall. They were trying to become the first team to come into Yankee Stadium at least 20 games under .500 and sweep a series of three games or more since Milwaukee did it to close the 1972 season, STATS said.The Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the second when a double by Martin Prado set up Headley’s two-run double. Prado and Headley were the only two Yankees starters to previously hit against Keuchel.Ichiro Suzuki added a sacrifice fly later in the inning.Dexter Fowler hit a broken-bat double in the Houston fourth — the barrel reached the infield dirt, the ball two-hopped off the right-field wall — that put runners at second and third.Marc Krauss followed with a hard grounder off McCarthy’s leg and, after taking a moment to locate the ball on the grass, the lanky pitcher zipped a throw to first that ended the threat.McCarthy escaped another second-and-third jam in the seventh when Singleton struck out — right after hitting a foul pop to the third-base side that Rock recovered — and retiring Carlos Corporan on a flyball.(BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares
ATHENS – Uruguayan soccer coach Gustavo Poyet was fired by AEK on April 19 just as his team was getting ready to face Atromitos in a first-round of the Greek tourney.The former coach of the English side Sunderland had earlier told reporters he would quit on his own at the end of the season but didn’t last that long with media reports saying team officials were unhappy he had announced his planned departure without telling them.Former AEK and Greek international player Stelios Manolas will take over on an interim basis.AEK finished the regular Super League season in third place with 54 points and will play in a post-season tourney with Panathinaikos, PAOK and Panionios or PAS Giannina to determine who will play in the European tournament.Poyet, 47, joined AEK in October replacing Traianos Dellas. Greece is a graveyard for soccer coaches, who are fired frequently and whimsically.TweetPinShare0 Shares
Pieros Sotiriou’s second-half strike handed Apoel a massive three points against Young Boys which leaves them on the brink of qualification to the knockout stages of the Europa League.The Cypriot international, along with Efrem, missed a host of chances but persistence paid off and Apoel now sit top of Group B, five points clear of third place with two games remaining.Apoel made their intentions clear right from the off, as they came bursting out of the traps. Efrem, who opened the scoring in Switzerland two weeks ago, stole the ball high up the pitch before striking from the edge of the box, forcing Young Boys keeper Mvogo into a full-stretch tip wide.From the resulting corner, the cross from Efstathios Aloneftis was met by Sotiriou but the striker headed well over the crossbar.Young Boys had a similar chance at the other end just minutes later. After the hat-trick he scored against Apoel in the 3-1 win a fortnight ago, Guillaume Hoarau was the last player they should have been allowing a free header, but thankfully for the Cypriot side, the big man could only guide his effort into the hands of Waterman.Aloneftis has slowly earned his spot in the Apoel lineup after some recent impressive showings and the winger fully justified his start. Sotiriou smartly attempted to flick in Aloneftis’ near-post cross, only for the effort to hit the outside of the post.On 35 minutes, Apoel simply should have taken the lead. A backward header intended for the goalkeeper was short and, even though Efrem was being flagged by the linesman, the referee allowed play to continue. The forward however failed to show composure and blasted the ball straight at the chest of the onrushing keeper.The Aloneftis-Sotiriou connection seemed Apoel’s more likely route to goal. Adding to the two chances in the first half, another three followed in the opening ten minutes of the second.The first was a low cross from deep, and with the keeper stranded, the striker managed to get his toe to the ball first but could not divert goalwards. The second was from a free-kick which Sotiriou rose well to meet but could not get over it enough to head under rather than over the over the bar and it was a comparable scenario for the third.Just after the hour mark came the game’s turning point. Within just over a minute of Mbabu coming on for Young Boys, a late lunge on Carlao saw him pick up a straight red card.A minute later, Sotiriou controlled a lofted Lago cross before shifting beyond his man and placing neatly beyond the keeper into the far post for 1-0. The 23-year-old appeared to have brought the ball down with his hand but, on the balance of play, it was a deserved lead.Efrem’s disastrous night in front of goal continued. Having missed another gilt-edged chance before the goal, he spurned his easiest chance with ten minutes left to set up a nail-biting finish. But it would not prove costly as Apoel held on for an invaluable victory.In the group’s other game between Astana and Olympiacos, the two sides shared a 1-1 draw, meaning that the Cypriots can tie up qualification with a win in Kazakhstan on 24 November or if the Greeks prevent Young Boys from winning in Piraeus later that evening.Results from Europa League’s other matches on Thursday:Fenerbahce 2 – 1 Man UnitedZorya Luhansk 1 – 1 FeyenoordFC Astana 1 -1 OlympiacosFK Qabala 1 -2 Saint-EtienneAnderlecht 6 – 1 MainzMaccabi Tel Aviv 0 – 0 AZ AlkmaarZenit 2 -1 DundalkAstra Giurgiu 1 -1 Viktoria PlzenAustria Vienna 2 – 4 RomaAthletic Bilbao 5 – 3 KRC GenkSassuolo 2 -2 Rapid ViennaFiorentina 3 – 0 Slovan LiberecPaok Salonika 0 – 1 FK QarabagSouthampton 2 – 1 Inter MilanSparta Prague 2 – 0 Hapoel Be’er ShevaFC Zürich 0 – 0 Steaua BucVillarreal 1 – 2 OsmanlisporAjax 3 – 2 Celta VigoPanathinaikos 0 – 3 Standard LiegeKAA Gent 3 – 5 Shakt DonskSporting Braga 3 – 1 KonyasporSchalke 2 – 0 FK KrasnodarNice 0 – 2 FC RB SalzbSource: http://cyprus-mail.com/TweetPinShare0 Shares
The Associated PressEuropean qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is at the halfway stage.Here’s the state of play in the nine groups heading into the sixth round of games from Friday to Sunday:___GROUP AFrance can increase its lead to six points with a win in Sweden on Friday.Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden has less individual threat but a greater sense of teamwork. Still, its defense faces a stern test against a side boosted by a recent 5-0 home win over Paraguay. France striker Olivier Giroud has five goals in his last three internationals.If Sweden loses, Bulgaria can move up to second place by beating Belarus. The Netherlands, in fourth place, hosts last-place Luxembourg.___GROUP BSwitzerland will be looking for a sixth straight win and to keep ahead of Portugal when it plays at the Faeroe Islands on Friday.Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe arrived late to Portugal’s squad following Real Madrid’s win in the Champions League final last weekend, but they should start at next-to-last Latvia.Portugal, which trails Switzerland by three points, is coming off four straight victories since the opening 2-0 loss against the Swiss.Last-place Andorra hosts third-place Hungary, which is five points behind Portugal.___GROUP CWorld champion Germany should have little difficultly making it six wins from six matches, even though an understrength team will host San Marino in Nuremberg on Saturday.Germany coach Joachim Loew has given nearly all of his regulars the summer off, but even an unfamiliar looking German lineup should be too much for a microstate with a population more than 100 times smaller than Berlin’s.The Germans have already scored 20 goals in qualifying, conceding only one.Germany leads with 15 points. Northern Ireland (10 points), the Czech Republic (8), and Azerbaijan (7) all maintain hopes of the runner-up spot and a possible playoff place.Azerbaijan hosts Ireland in Baku, and Norway hosts the Czechs in Oslo.___GROUP DThe chances of Gareth Bale playing at the World Cup will reduce even further if Wales loses to Serbia on Sunday in the biggest game in the group.The Welsh are in third place, four points behind Serbia and Ireland, after drawing four of their first five qualifiers and failing to reproduce their form from last year’s European Championship, where they reached the semifinals.Ireland hosts Austria, while Moldova hosts Georgia in a game between two teams already out of contention.___GROUP EPoland striker Robert Lewandowski, who missed out on being the Bundesliga’s top scorer this season, will look to score in his 11th straight European qualifier in a match against Romania in Warsaw on Saturday.Poland, with 13 points, comfortably leads the group with the others jostling for the runner-up spot, led by Montenegro and Denmark (both with seven points). Romania and Armenia have six.Denmark, which drew with Germany in a friendly on Tuesday, travels to last-place Kazakhstan, and Montenegro hosts Armenia in Podgorica.___GROUP FEngland takes a four-point lead to Scotland for the latest edition of the world’s oldest international rivalry, 145 years after their first meeting.Now under coach Gareth Southgate, England has dropped only two points in five games and would pile the pressure on under-fire Scotland coach Gordon Strachan with a fifth win in qualifying.Second-place Slovakia visits Lithuania and Slovenia, a further point back in third, hosts Malta.___GROUP GItaly hosts last-place Liechtenstein on Sunday with a chance to improve its goal difference and move closer to leader Spain, which plays at Macedonia.Liechtenstein has conceded 19 goals in five matches, including eight against Spain. Italy and Spain have 13 points each from five matches.Italy is coming off a 3-0 win over Uruguay in a friendly on Wednesday, while Spain was held by Colombia to a 2-2 draw.Third-place Israel, which is four points behind the leaders, hosts Albania.___GROUP HFriday could be a big day for Belgium on the road to Russia.Following a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in a friendly this week, Belgium is a huge favorite to beat 98th-ranked Estonia and reinforce first place. It currently has a two-point lead.At the same time as the game in Tallinn, Belgium’s closest challenger, Greece, will be in Bosnia-Herzegovina in a game that could be vital in the race for second place and a playoff spot.The third game, Gibraltar against Cyprus, has no impact on the group.Belgium has such a wealth of talent that winger Eden Hazard’s absence because of a broken ankle should have no impact on its creative play. If anything, it should allow Yuri Tielemans, recently picked up from Anderlecht by Monaco, to flaunt his skills.___GROUP IIt looks to be a straight fight between Croatia and Iceland for top spot and the countries meet in Reykjavik on Sunday.Croatia leads Iceland by three points with five games left.Ukraine and Turkey are two points further back and face away games against Finland and Kosovo, respectively.TweetPinShare0 Shares
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell plays best when he feels free and just lets his instincts take over.Down 17 in the 4th quarter to the NBA’s best team Saturday night, Mitchell turned to his Jazz teammates and said: “We’ve got nothing to lose now. Let’s go!”Mitchell scored a career-high 46 points and led Utah back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to a 115-111 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.“You take certain risks that maybe you don’t take when you are up 17. But we made the right plays and we got stops,” said Mitchell, who said it was probably his best regular-season game of his NBA career.Mitchell scored 17 in the final 8:10, including a 28-foot jumper with 43.7 seconds left to put Utah up 111-105. Mitchell could have made the game a bit less suspenseful, but missed two free throws with a three-point lead with 12.7 seconds left. He came back and made two foul shots with 8.6 seconds remaining.“My teammates were saying, ‘We need you for these two free throws. Forget about what happened,’” Mitchell said. “When you have your teammates backing you like that, you feel confident.”But Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had been brilliant all night and had 43 points and 14 rebounds in 32 minutes, also missed three free throws in the final 10 seconds.“Down the stretch they were making shots and we just couldn’t get a stop,” Antetokounmpo said. “That was playoff basketball.”On a night during which Rudy Gobert was ineffective, Derrick Favors had 23 points and tied a career best with 18 rebounds.“He was the real MVP of the game,” Mitchell said.Joe Ingles had 14 points and eight assists for the Jazz, who won their fourth straight.Khris Middleton scored 29 points and Brook Lopez had 16 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks for the Bucks, whose seven-game winning streak was snapped on the second night of a back-to-back.In an incredible game of runs, the Jazz made the plays down the stretch to outlast the team with the best record in the league. Utah has won 17 consecutive games against the Bucks at home.While Antetokounmpo sat in the fourth quarter, the Jazz went on 17-2 run on the strength of Mitchell’s drives to the basket. It was back and forth the rest of the way.Antetokounmpo relished going against Gobert, the reigning defensive player of the year, in space but also often initiated the offense and played the ballhandler role on the pick-and-roll.“He kicked my (butt),” Gobert said.Antetokounmpo scored or assisted on the first 15 points of a 17-2 spurt as the Bucks extended a 73-71 lead to a 90-73 advantage.Malcolm Brogdon was out with plantar fasciitis and Eric Bledsoe was a late scratch because of a bad back, so Antetokounmpo started at point guard even though he was originally being listed as questionable with right foot soreness.Antetokounmpo powered a 23-4 run bridging the second and third quarters to put the Bucks back in front, 64-57. Time after time, the Greek big man bullied Utah’s vaunted front line as he drove the lane and finished at the rim.Facing one of the tallest lineups in NBA history with the five Bucks averaging more than 6-foot-10, the Jazz fell behind 11-0 and didn’t score until Mitchell hit a pair of free throws with 8:41 left in the first quarter. Lopez had six blocked shots in the first six minutes of the contest as the Bucks led by as many as 14.“They were attacking the rim really hard and we did a great job of protecting the paint,” Lopez said.Utah led 53-46 lead at halftime.Antetokounmpo played without restriction at Los Angeles on Friday after sitting out with right knee soreness on Monday at Chicago and being limited to 24 minutes on Wednesday at Sacramento.PLAYING PRIME TIMEFavors has been working back from a knee injury more than two years ago and finally feels like himself again. “It’s been a long road just getting my body back and making sure my knee’s stronger so I can do that (big dunks in traffic) again,” Favors said. “It feels great to that again.”Favors starts but rarely finishes games. This time around, he was on the court at the end and tried to just stay focused as Mitchell was mesmerizing down the stretch.“Once he starts making shots like that, all the attention goes to him so you get open. … You’ve just got to be ready, keeps your hands open and be ready to take that shot,” said Favors, who made all five attempts and had 13 points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter.TIP-INSBucks: Tony Snell appeared to hurt his shoulder badly on a nasty fall in the first half. He punched a chair and kicked a sign in frustration on his way to the locker room, but then returned to the court before halftime. … The Bucks shot just 38.5 percent on 3s and 2s.Jazz: Former Jazz greats Darrell Griffith, Mark Eaton and Mehmet Okur all attended the game … Raul Neto missed the game with a tight hamstring. … Utah scored 24 points off 15 Milwaukee turnovers.UP NEXTBucks: Visit Phoenix on Monday.Jazz: Host New Orleans on Monday.By MATTHEW COLES , Associated PressTweetPinShare0 Shares