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Liverpool withstand Tottenham rally to earn their season’s first away win

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Liverpool withstand Tottenham rally to earn their season’s first away win

Liverpool survived a trademark second-half rally from Tottenham on Sunday to claim a crucial 2-1 win and boost their English Premier League (EPL) top-four hopes.

Mo Salah’s first-half double put Jurgen Klopp’s side on course for all three points in London, but Harry Kane reduced the deficit with 20 minutes left.

Antonio Conte’s Spurs pushed for a late leveller but were thwarted by a dogged Liverpool.

Liverpool thus closed the gap between the sides to seven points and with a game in hand on the fourth-placed hosts.

After struggling for consistency for much of the season, Klopp would have been encouraged by a professional display to win their first away league game of the season.

It also helped to back up Tuesday’s triumph over Napoli in the UEFA Champions League.

Both teams entered this fixture following important midweek victories in the Champions League, but Spurs’ came at a cost with Son Heung-min suffering a fracture around his left eye.

Liverpool manager Klopp rewarded Darwin Nunez for his goal against Napoli with a start.

The Uruguayan twice went close in the opening exchanges, with one volley parried away by Hugo Lloris before another curler went wide.

The visitors had settled quickly and it was no surprise when they went ahead with Nunez and Salah combining in the 11th minute.

Andrew Robertson rested on Tuesday, crossed into the area for Nunez, who controlled well and spun away from his marker before he teed up Salah.

The Egyptian forward took a touch and fired into the bottom corner in a flash.

Tottenham’s tendency to start slowly had again cost them but the hosts did respond well to going behind and hit the woodwork after 15 minutes.

Kane produced a dangerous cross into the area which Perisic missed and Alisson Becker could only inadvertently divert the ball onto his own post.

This was after making a mess of his attempted punch.

Referee Andrew Madley waved away penalty kick appeals soon after when Ryan Sessegnon went down after a shove from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

This was in an incident that looked similar to the one that saw Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo sent off on Saturday.

Alexander-Arnold was on the back foot again midway through the first half when Eric Dier produced a superb crossfield pass to Sessegnon who got in behind the Liverpool full-back.

But Ibrahima Konate came across well to get his teammate out of trouble.

Conte’s side was looking the more likely but five minutes before half time they were undone by a poor Dier mistake.

Dier attempted to head Alisson’s clearance back to Lloris but got it horribly wrong.

The ball bounced off his shoulder into the path of Salah, who raced through before he lobbed in for his second goal.

Liverpool was by now halfway to a vital victory for their top-four hopes.

But Spurs had come from two down to win at Bournemouth last weekend and should have reduced the deficit early into the second half.

First, Dier headed straight at Alisson from Perisic’s corner kick.

Then, Spurs hit the woodwork for a second time when Sessegnon cut back for Perisic, only for him to flick against the crossbar from close range.

Sessegnon flashed another effort wide moments later, but Salah squandered a good chance to put the game to bed when he fired straight at Lloris in the 53rd minute.

The opportunities kept on coming for Tottenham.

They saw Kane head Ben Davies’ free-kick wide before Conte called for the cavalry, with Matt Doherty and Dejan Kulusevski introduced with 22 minutes left.

Kulusevski’s entrance was met with huge cheers after he missed 11 matches with a hamstring issue and he quickly made up for the lost time.

Barely 60 seconds had passed when Kulusevski passed onto Kane, who rifled home first-time for his 12th goal of the campaign.

Clement Lenglet and Rodrigo Bentancur failed to score with headers from good positions with the seconds ticking away in London.

Lucas Moura was thrown on by Conte but, after Bentancur could not get on the end of Kane’s flick.

Liverpool held on to make it back-to-back wins to move up to eighth.

 

*dpa

 

 

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Serbia and Cameroon draw 3-3 in game of two quick comebacks

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Serbia and Cameroon draw 3-3 in game of two quick comebacks

Cameroon and Serbia produced one of the best games of the Qatar World Cup but a dramatic 3-3 draw on Monday did little for their hopes of last 16 qualifications.

Cameroon took the lead against the run of play in 29 minutes when Jean-Charles Castelletto tapped in at the far post following a flick-on from a corner.

But Serbia reacted with two quick-fire goals in first-half stoppage time from Strahinja Pavlovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

They kept up the pressure early in the second half and a well-worked move allowed Aleksandar Mitrovic to get a deserved goal.

But Cameroon substitute, Vincent Aboubakar changed the game again when he scooped the ball over the goalkeeper, assuming he was offside only to be ruled onside by the semi-automated system on 63 minutes.

Aboubakar repeated the trick in evading offside just three minutes later and squared for Bayern Munich striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to tap home.

The draw gives both sides one point, with Brazil and Switzerland on three ahead of their meeting on Monday.

Serbia takes on the Swiss in their final group game on Friday when Cameroon plays the Brazilians.

“I am satisfied because my players showed real fighting spirit. We were two goals down and came back.

“ That is the spirit that was missing in the first game,” Cameroon coach Rigobert Song said, referencing the opening 1-0 defeat by Switzerland.

“The team showed the right reaction. There are still things to improve, but for today we are satisfied.”

Song made a big call before kick-off by choosing goalkeeper Devis Epassy ahead of Andre Onana, with media reports saying the Inter Milan stopper had been dropped for disciplinary reasons.

Serbia brought in fit-again winger Filip Kostic, after he missed the opening 2-0 defeat by Brazil.

The Europeans dominated the opening spell and striker Mitrovic had three chances, including one effort which came back off the post.

But out of the blue, Cameroon took the lead, with defender Castelletto popping up completely unmarked for his first international goal.

Pierre Kunde then missed a good chance for the Indomitable Lions before Serbia levelled just before half-time.

Dusan Tadic sent in a free-kick from a central position and the burly Pavlovic rose highest to power a header into the corner, as another defender netted from a set-piece.

There was even time for Milinkovic-Savic to find the net with a measured shot from the edge of the area, which Epassy could only get a hand to.

The Lazio midfielder has been linked with top European clubs for years but a move has never materialized.

Cameroon’s defence for both goals could be questioned as Serbia’s rapid turnaround gave a better reflection of the game until then.

But an inspired substitution from Song set up another comeback.

Forward Aboubakar entered the fray at 55 minutes and soon made a difference with his size and skill.

“We had some problems, but we always played to win and played a very good game in the end.

“We are super motivated before the game against Brazil. We will look for our chance,” said Aboubakar.

His casual lobbed finish for his goal may well only have come about because he thought he was offside.

Serbia was then left shell-shocked as he carefully played in Choupo-Moting, who famously skipped the 2017 African Nations Cup won by his team but is now very much part of the group again.

Mitrovic had the best chances for a winner but lacked composure. 

– dpa

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Ronaldo to leave Manchester United after criticising Club

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Ronaldo to leave Manchester United after criticising Club

Manchester forward Cristiano Ronaldo will leave with immediateUnited effect, the English Premier League (EPL) club said on Tuesday.

The development marked a bitter end to the Portugal captain’s second spell at Old Trafford after he said he felt betrayed by the club.

An interview this month — in which Ronaldo also said he did not respect manager Erik ten Hag —- had put him on shaky ground at the club.

He rejoined the club in August 2021 after winning eight major trophies with them from 2003 to 2009.

Manchester United said last week they would address Ronaldo’s comments only after establishing the complete facts and added last Friday that they had initiated “appropriate steps” in response.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is to leave Manchester United by mutual agreement, with immediate effect.

“The club thanks him for his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family well for the future,” Manchester United said in a statement.

“Everyone at Manchester United remains focused on continuing the team’s progress under Ten Hag and working together to deliver success on the pitch.”

Last month, Ten Hag said Ronaldo had refused to come on as a substitute against Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

This was when the forward walked down the tunnel with a few minutes of the game remaining after being put on the bench.

The 37-year-old was then not part of the squad which faced Chelsea the following Saturday before returning to the fold.

Ronaldo later said in the interview he regretted leaving early against Spurs, but added his decision to walk off came because he felt “provoked” by Ten Hag.

Ronaldo said in a statement on Tuesday that he loved the club and the fans.

“… That will never ever change,” he added. “However, it feels like the right time for me to seek a new challenge. I wish the team every success for the remainder of the season and for the future.”

Raphael Varane, Ronaldo’s French teammate at Manchester United, said last week that the Portuguese’s comments had affected the club’s players.

Many of them are also at the World Cup in Qatar.

Ronaldo confirmed on Monday that an awkward handshake between him and midfielder Bruno Fernandes that was caught on camera and went viral was the result of a joke.

He said the joke was between the Portugal and Manchester United teammates.

Ronaldo added that he did not believe his actions would affect Portugal’s squad, adding that he felt great about the country’s chances of winning the World Cup.

Portugal kicks off their campaign against Ghana on Thursday.

-Reuters

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Djokovic beats Ruud to win record-equalling Sixth ATP Finals title

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Djokovic beats Ruud to win record-equalling Sixth ATP Finals title

Novak Djokovic beat Norway’s Casper Ruud 7-5 6-3 to collect a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title on Sunday.

Djokovic, as a result, earned the biggest paycheck ever in tennis —- 4,740,300 dollars —- for completing the season-ending tournament unbeaten.

Djokovic sealed victory in style with his ninth ace to collect the title for the first time since 2015 in front of a rapturous crowd.

“Got to stay focused the entire match, every single point, the momentum can switch to the other side really quickly,” the Serbian said in a televised interview after the match.

“The fact that I waited seven years makes this victory even sweeter,” he added as he matched Roger Federer’s haul of six titles in the season-ending event.

The 23-year-old Ruud enjoyed the best tennis of his career in 2022 and battled toe-to-toe with the 21-time major winner early on.

But he produced two clumsy errors to hand Djokovic the break at the end of the first set.

Djokovic put his foot on the accelerator from there on, harnessing his mighty forehand to break Ruud in the fourth game of the second set.

The Norwegian threw everything he had at the veteran in a 36-shot penultimate rally but the Wimbledon champion was simply too sharp.

He outlasted his opponent in the marathon exchange to hold his arms out wide after clinching the title.

The 35-year-old Djokovic is the oldest player to win the title and said the tournament did not leave him unscathed after a grueling three-set thriller against Russian Daniil Medvedev en route to the semi-finals.

“It was not easy to recover and to really be able to play well in the semi-finals in less than 24 hours after that match,” he told reporters.

“It’s an internal battle with myself because there’s one voice that is always telling you ‘you can’t do it, you’re too tired, this and that, right? The bad guy and the good guy. You try to feed the good guy.”

Djokovic ends the season on a high note after a year of ups and downs.

He was unable to defend his title at the Australian Open in January as he was deported from the country due to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

His stance also meant he was barred from competing in the U.S. this year, including at the season’s final major — the U.S. Open.

“I look forward to having a couple of weeks off because I was really kind of on the needles an entire year, whether it was for tournaments or waiting for permissions to go somewhere.

”So, I’m really glad that I managed to end it in a positive way,” said Djokovic, who collected a seventh Wimbledon title in July.

The defeat capped a disappointing end to Ruud’s breakout year.

The Norwegian had also reached the finals at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows but came off second best.

– Reuters

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