By Toby DavisMesut Ozil gave Arsenal fans a glimpse of his creative talents in a comfortable 3-1 Premier League win at Sunderland, but Manchester City’s glittering frontline misfired in a goalless stalemate at Stoke City on Saturday.Arsenal threw £42 million signing Mesut Ozil into the fray for his debut at Sunderland and he set up the opener for Olivier Giroud before Aaron Ramsey continued his excellent form by scoring twice in the second half.Champions Manchester United earlier laboured to a 2-0 win over 10-man Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur’s Gylfi Sigurdsson scored twice as they beat Norwich City by the same scoreline.Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa scored one and created another in a 2-1 win at Aston Villa.Hull City against Cardiff City and Fulham against West Bromwich Albion both ended 1-1.With Chelsea playing Everton later on Saturday, Arsenal go top with nine points, ahead of Tottenham and Liverpool on goal difference. Manchester City and United are fourth and fifth respectively on seven.
By Ece ToksabayGalatasaray’s Didier Drogba will be full of emotions when he strides out to face former club Chelsea on Wednesday but Jose Mourinho knows the striker will be as clinical as ever on the field.The Champions League last-16 first-leg clash in Istanbul is the first time the Ivorian has been on the pitch with the Blues since scoring the winning penalty when Chelsea lifted the trophy in May 2012.The 35-year-old, who media reports say could return to the London club as striker coach, is Chelsea’s record European scorer with 34 goals in 69 games.Including the spot kick in the Munich shootout and his header late in normal time, he has also bagged nine goals in nine domestic and European finals. His sizeable contribution to the club’s recent history is apparent from the number of posters of him still dotted around Stamford Bridge.“It’s a strange feeling but, as we know him so well, we know that for him no friends during the game,” Chelsea boss Mourinho, who managed Drogba during his first spell at the club, told reporters.“Before the game, big friends and big respect for a legend. After the game, the same. But, during the game, we have a job to do. He has his nature, he wants to score, he wants to win. I think it is a tie to go until the end.“He deserves a reception here even better than mine, because he deserves much more than me. For Didier, double or three times better and bigger than I had.”Drogba moved to Chelsea in 2004, Mourinho’s first season, and stayed after the Portuguese departed in 2007.He left the club a few days after their Champions League triumph, saying he had achieved everything he wanted with Chelsea, before spending a few months playing in China and then moving on to Turkey.Mourinho, who rejoined Chelsea in the close season, has already experienced playing against Drogba in the Champions League.He was at Inter Milan four years ago when they took on Drogba and Chelsea and also held the reins at Real Madrid last year when the Spanish giants met Galatasaray.Both times Mourinho was on the winning side.Galatasaray manager Roberto Mancini, who is no stranger to Premier League side Chelsea after coaching Manchester City for four seasons before joining the Istanbul club last September, was not too optimistic about his side’s fate.“I know Chelsea very well. For us it will be a very difficult game because Chelsea are used to playing these important games but we want to play a good game if it’s possible,” the Italian said.“They have improved a lot in the last two months. We went through in a difficult group with Real Madrid and Juventus and I think it was a miracle. Now we are here and I don’t know if we can do another miracle but we want to try. In football never say never.”As well as Drogba, Galatasaray will rely on Mourinho’s ex-Inter playmaker Wesley Sneijder as well as Selcuk Inan, whose penalty gave them 1-0 victory over Istanbul rivals Besiktas on Saturday.Mourinho is hoping Brazil defender David Luiz and Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel, who missed the 1-0 win over Everton on Saturday with minor injuries, will be fit for Wednesday.Oscar is carrying a knock while January signings Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic are cup-tied.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was stripped of his first Formula One podium finish at his home Australian Grand Prix on Sunday after his car was found to have broken fuel regulations, the governing FIA said.Nico Rosberg drew first blood for Mercedes in the new Formula One season with a dominant Australian Grand Prix victory on Sunday after pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and world champion Sebastian Vettel retired with reliability problems.The 28-year-old German capitalised on a brilliant start from third on the grid, snatching the lead before the first turn and roaring to a 24.5-second victory ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo under a cloudy sky at Albert Park.Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen finished third on his race debut for McLaren.Rosberg, tipped to duel with team mate Hamilton for the championship, celebrated his fourth race victory and first since last year’s British Grand Prix, when he was also the beneficiary of technical mishaps to Hamilton and Vettel.Nico Rosberg (L) of Mercedes AMG GP greets his team mates“Brilliant stuff, what a car you’ve given me! What a car!” Rosberg said over the team radio after crossing the line.The gaping margin of victory underscored Mercedes’ superior preparations for F1’s technical revolution, which saw all teams struggle during winter testing with the new V6 turbocharged hybrid engines.The glitches continued as only 14 of the 22 cars finished on a gusty day at the bumpy street circuit which was doused by a brief rain-shower early in the race.Hamilton, who snatched pole position at the end of a wet qualifying session on Saturday, noticeably lacked power on his start and was called in by his team to retire on the third lap.Twelfth off the grid, Vettel also struggled at the start and retired only a few laps after Hamilton, complaining of engine performance problems.That snapped a nine-race winning streak for the German dating back to the Belgian Grand Prix in August.Red Bull’s Daniel RicciardoRicciardo thrilled home fans by taking his maiden podium spot in his first race weekend with Red Bull and drove with admirable composure after being challenged by Magnussen over the closing laps.Magnussen’s podium, the first by a Dane in Formula One and the team’s first since 2012, was an exact match of Hamilton’s first F1 race for McLaren in 2007 when the Briton qualified fourth and finished third.McLaren’s Jenson Button finished fourth, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fifth.Williams driver Valtteri Bottas finished sixth for his best F1 result after an outstanding race from 15th on the grid. His eight point haul was more than his team scored in all of last season.The race began farcically, with Marussia driver Max Chilton stalling on the grid before the pre-start installation lap and his team mate Jules Bianchi then repeating the mishap, forcing a second formation lap.Both Marussias started from pit-lane behind Lotus’s Romain Grosjean, who was also dealt a drive-through penalty for leaving his garage prior to the 15-minute signal before the race.Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi lived up to his reputation as a combustible racer by ploughing into the back of Felipe Massa’s Williams at the start, taking both drivers out of the race at the first corner and prompting an FIA investigation.
By Karolos GrohmannRemembering the dozens of mainly Italian victims who died 30 years ago at the European Cup final is a strong motivation for Juventus as they prepare to face Barcelona in the Champions League final on Saturday.Some 39 people, most of them Juventus fans, were killed at the dilapidated Heysel stadium in Brussels when Liverpool supporters charged at them before kick-off, causing a wall to collapse and many people to fall and suffocate.“I went to the commemoration last week, remembering the victims and what happened, and for us it is a further stimulus because we hope to dedicate the victory to those who lost their lives that day,” Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci said.“It is 30 years since Heysel and for us it is very important,” he added.The match in 1985 went ahead despite the deaths and with current European football president Michel Platini scoring the only goal with a penalty as Juventus won 1-0 on one of the darkest nights in European football.In a twist of fate Platini, as head of UEFA, will hand over the trophy to the winners on Saturday.A Juventus victory would be that much more important for their fans on such a date, coach Massimiliano Allegri said“It is very important what happened 30 years ago for Juve fans, for fans around the world,” Allegri said. “It has gone down in the history of football and that year is a year that needs to be remembered.”“We have to remember the victims. We have to think about the families of the victims,” Allegri said.
By Julian LindenLiverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed the transfer of England international Raheem Sterling to a rival Premier League team, pending a medical test.British media reported on Sunday that Liverpool had reached an agreement with Manchester City to transfer Sterling in a deal worth 49 million pounds.It would make Sterling the most expensive English player ever, surpassing the 35 million pounds Liverpool paid Newcastle United for striker Andy Carroll in 2011.Rodgers, speaking at a news conference in Thailand where Liverpool are kicking off their pre-season tour of Asia and Australia, did not provide any specific details on the winger’s transfer but confirmed that an agreement had been reached.“The situation is very simple. The club has agreed with another for a deal for Raheem to be transferred and subject to medical that will go through,” Rodgers said.“Contrary to the last week or so, in terms of what was written, Raheem and I have always remained very strong in our relationship, and have been up until he left. There’s no issue there.”City had two bids for Sterling rejected last month after he turned down a pay increase to stay at Liverpool.The 20-year-old did not fly out with Liverpool for their pre-season tour despite being named in the squad.Sterling signed for Liverpool as a 15-year-old from Queens Park Rangers in February 2010 and has made 129 appearances for the Anfield club, scoring 23 goals.But his relationship with Liverpool hit troubled waters in April when he denied being a “money-grabber” in an interview with the BBC, claiming he was motivated purely by ambition.Sterling’s agent Aidy Ward also angered the club and its supporters in May by saying the England winger would not sign a new deal at Anfield – even for 900,000 pounds a week.Rodgers, whose side finished sixth in the Premier League last season, was coy about the details, saying he was focusing on the players on the tour.“I spoke to Raheem at length yesterday, there is no issue. Two clubs have greed a deal and subject to a medical he will move on,” the Northern Irishman said.“It’s important for us to improve and build the squad for this season coming. We are pleased with the players we have brought in.“It’s the overall team that is important. We aim to be stronger than last season that will be reliant on everyone.”
By Julien PretotA Ciaran Clark own goal earned Sweden a fortunate 1-1 draw against a spirited Ireland side in their Euro 2016 Group E opener at the Stade de France on Monday.Returning to the scene of Thierry Henry’s infamous handball for France that crushed their 2010 World Cup qualifying dreams in an unforgettable playoff, Ireland were the better side for most of the game.They were rewarded for their domination three minutes into the second period when Wes Hoolahan scored with a splendid half-volley.However, they then lost their composure under Swedish pressure and centre back Clark headed a Zlatan Ibrahimovic cross into his own net in the 71st minute.“The boys were unlucky but we’ll take the point. We created a lot of chances,” said Hoolahan.“In the first half we were excellent and at the start of the second as well. The boys should be proud of themselves, it’s a great point in the end.”Drawn in a tough group that also features Belgium and Italy, who meet in Lyon later on Monday, the two sides now face a battle to reach the last 16.After both were eliminated in the first round at the 2012 European Championship, Sweden and Ireland had a point to prove.The Irish had the first clear chance in the 10th minute when Jeff Hendrick’s attempt from just outside the box was saved by Andreas Isaksson.John O’Shea, in front of an open goal, then missed the ball by millimetres after Clark headed on a corner.MISPLACED PASSESSweden were toothless in attack and misplaced several routine passes.Ireland came close again on the half hour, Robbie Brady’s missile from 18 metres shaving the bar.Three minutes later Hendrick’s curled effort smashed against the woodwork as Ireland built some momentum but they could not make their domination count.They continued to push forward after the break and in the 48th minute half of the Stade de France roared with joy as Hoolahan produced a delightful shot from Seamus Coleman’s centre.It spurred Sweden into action and Ireland defended stoutly until Ibrahimovic broke down the left, a rare foray by the striker, and his cross was nodded into the net by Clark.With 10 minutes left Irish coach Martin O’Neill sent on Robbie Keane for Hoolahan as his men refused to settle for a draw.Ibrahimovic then went close in the 83rd minute, failing to connect with Martin Olsson’s cross.Sweden, who remained unbeaten against Ireland in seven competitive matches, next face Italy on Friday.Ireland take on Belgium on Saturday.
Rio de Janeiro will deliver a successful Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said, despite delays in preparations, lack of funds and the country suffering from its biggest political and economic turmoil in decades.The first Games on the South American continent are due to start on Aug. 5 and organisers are still frantically rushing to prepare venues.A metro extension to the Olympic park opened only on Saturday as Brazil grapples with its worst recession since the 1930s.The $3.1 billion expansion of the metro to Barra, the area housing the Olympic park and athletes’ village, is key to the smooth transport of tens of thousands of fans and athletes between the Games’ different competition zones.But workers are still busy putting the finishing touches to the venues and dealing with problems in some Olympic accommodation.The main ramp at the sailing centre collapsed on Saturday, adding another headache to last-minute preparations.“There are some last-minute challenges but our Brazilian friends are addressing them,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “It is all coming together. We are looking forward to great Games.”“We are more confident than ever that we will have great Olympic Games in Rio in five days from now. Olympic Games a la Brazil.”CASH PROBLEMSWhen Rio won the right to host the Olympics in 2009 the country was posting near double-digit growth figures, a far cry from the current financial conditions.Organisers have also had to depend on the IOC making some of the contributions towards their budget months ahead of the original payment dates.“We have been informed yesterday by the organising committee that they are still working on a balanced budget,” Bach said.“With regard to these cash flow challenges the IOC has helped and is helping the organising committee to make sure these Games are the success we all want them to be.”On a political level, suspended President Dilma Rousseff faces an impeachment trial over alleged budget irregularities, and the Senate is expected to vote against her the last week of August.Interim President Michel Temer is widely expected to officially take over the presidency just days after the Olympics end on Aug. 21.Temer has recognised he will probably be booed when he goes to the Games’ opening on Friday, while Rousseff has said she will not attend.Hundreds of peaceful protesters on Sunday marched on Rio’s Copacabana beach to demand the ousting of Rousseff,A recent study also showed most Brazilians were pessimistic about the impact of the Games on their country.According to a study by polling group Ibope, 60 percent of Brazilians believe the Games, expected to cost more than $12 billion and also hit by corruption investigations over contracts, will bring more harm than good. Only 32 percent believe the Games will bring benefits. The World Anti-Doping Agency meanwhile has cancelled its scheduled Rio 2016 pre-Games press conference to avoid it being overshadowed by the ongoing Russian doping crisis.The WADA press conference had been due to take place at the main press centre on the Olympic Park at 3.30pm local time on Thursday, a day before the Games opening ceremony.
The top two title contenders APOEL and Apollon had easy afternoons over the weekend hitting four past Nea Salamina and newcomers AEZ Zakakiou respectively, while last years runner up, AEK, secured an easy win over Karmiotissa. Anorthosis came from behind to defeat Aris in Limassol while Ermis Aradippou registered their first points with a deserved 1-0 win over Anagennisi Deryneia.The shock result came at the GSP stadium where Omonia slipped up for the second consecutive game, this time against Doxa Katokopias, a team that has not finished higher than ninth in the last three seasons.A couple of hundred supporters stayed behind after the game against Doxa to vent their anger against the club’s board, coach, team and players.The club’s board will convene later on Monday to discuss the team’s plight with their Greek director of football Nikos Dabizas, whose recommendations may determine the fate of Omonia manager John Carver. Omonia took an early lead against Doxa through a Cilian Sheridan penalty and seemed to be cruising, creating a number of chances for a second goal but also limiting their opponents to a handful of attacking forays. However, unable to take advantage of their superiority, they paid the ultimate price when Rudy fired past Panayi from the edge of the box with 15 minutes still to play.However the goal galvanised Doxa who bossed the final quarter of the half with Omonia players chasing shadows. Anorthosis’ late summer signings of Kalo, Colunga and Cabrera combined to overturn a half-time deficit and nick the three points in the space of a couple of minutes against Aris. Calo was instrumental in both goals, first winning the penalty for Colunga to score and then setting up Cabrera for a simple tap in.Aris had taken the lead through Antoniou in the fifth minute.Despite playing with ten for the last half hour Ermis Aradippou were worthy winners against Deryneia. The only goal of the game came just after the hour mark from man of the match da Silva.APOEL’s Cypriot striker Pieros Sotiriou gave his team a first half lead against Nea Salamina and doubled his tally ten minutes from the end to make the game safe for the champions. Belgian striker de Camargo finally got off the mark with a fine goal before laying off for Efraim to score deep into added time.AEK’s Larena opened the scoring for his team against Karmiotissa with Triscovski and Tomas also findiong the net in the second half.Apollon continued their great start to the season with a resounding 4-0 win over first division novices AEZ Zakakiou.Papoulis grabbed two with Guie and da Silva completing the rout.AEL’s perfect start to the season came to and end on Monday night, but the Limassol side still moved level with Apollon at the top of the table after a 0-0 draw against Ethnikos Achnas at the Tsirion.AEK 3-0 KarmiotissaAEZ 0-4 ApollonOmonoa 1-1 DoxaNea Salamina 0-4 APOELErmis 1-0 Anagennisi DeryneiaAris 1-2 Anorthosis(Highlights courtesy of the Cyprus Football Association)
Augusta National’s notoriously difficult course will be even tougher to play because of a heavy rainstorm which is expected to hit the local area on Wednesday, six-time U.S. Masters champion Jack Nicklaus said on Tuesday.While the underground SubAir system that sucks water from the course’s surface should ensure speedy play on the greens, strong winds and a soggy surface will keep players off balance when the tournament begins on Thursday.“When it’s wet, it’s not too bad,” Nicklaus told a news conference. “Once it starts to get firm and the wind starts to blow… it blows from so many different directions that the golf course changes constantly.”Wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour are forecast for Thursday, according to the weather.com website.Nicklaus, who has a record 18 career major championships, said keeping a cool head amid frustrating conditions was critical to success at the tournament.“It’s a golf course that you really need to take advantage of when you can take advantage of it. And when it’s tough, you’ve got to be very patient,” he said.“And it is very easy to get out of being patient on this golf course,” he said.There are six shots that players really need to watch on the course – the tee shots at 2, 11 and 12, both shots at 13 and the second shot on 15, he said.“If you’re smart with those shots in the difficult conditions, and you play them pretty well, then you probably will do pretty well in the tournament,” Nicklaus added.Far from being a fault, he said the unpredictable course conditions are what makes the world famous course so special.“What a great tournament it is, because you really never know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Kicking off just over a year after the 2016 OFC U-17 Championship – and only a few months after the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea – there are many familiar faces coming to Auckland this July.Defending champions New Zealand have recruited an army of international experience for their attempt at a sixth-consecutive title, including Malia Steinmetz, Grace Jale and goalkeeper Anna Leat – who will offer senior international football experience to Gareth Turnball’s squad, having already been in the mix for the New Zealand national women’s team.Steinmetz and Jale were also part of New Zealand’s squad at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, along with Hannah Blake, Jacqui Hand, Elizabeth Anton, Sarah Morton and goalkeeper Nadia Olla. Hand, Blake and Jale – along with 11 other players in the team – represented New Zealand at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan as well.After their historic FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup campaign last year, Papua New Guinea also hold a handful of players from their world cup squad, including Nicollete Ageva, who scored the nation’s only goal of the tournament against eventual champions Korea DPR.Adding more experience to his side in an effort to face-track the development of domestic players, Tonga coach Christian Koaneti has recruited three New Zealand-based players to meet the team in Auckland for the competition.Also contributing experience to the team, Tonga-based player Seini Lutu has already represented her nation at the 2014 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, 2015 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, and the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship. At only 16 years old, Lutu is a well-seasoned national team player and will be one to watch throughout the competition.Although Fiji will be making their debut in this age group, many players in the team have already made a name for themselves, representing Fiji in the U-17 competition last year.After edging New Caledonia 3-2 and placing third, many of the players have moved up to the next age-group, including goal-scorers Aliza Husseiin, Koleta Likuculacula and Cema Nasau. The latter found the net five times in the U-17 competition, scoring twice in their third-place playoff against the Francophones.Also taking the field for Fiji is goalkeeper Francine Lockington, who proved her ability between the posts last year, earning the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship Golden Glove Award.New Caledonia did a great job showcasing their development at last year’s U-17 competition – finishing second in their group behind eventful champions New Zealand – but the nation was less fortunate with results in 2015’s U-20 competition.With nine players moving up to join the next age group, including Darnelle Hace, Ami-Nata Ajapuhnya, Isabelle Ilengo and goalkeepers Karine Xozame and Kathleen Waunie, New Caledonia are hopeful of an improved performance.This year’s Samoa U-19 team will have large shoes to fill after 2015’s representatives earned their highest placing in the nation’s history – finishing runners up behind New Zealand.As older players in the team have moved into the senior women’s football age group, spaces have been filled by players from last year’s U-17 team, including goalkeeper Jecky Toma, striker Sophia Aveau and U-17 captain Shalom Fiso.After a tough campaign in the U-17 competition last year, the young Samoan players will be battling for redemption against plenty of other familiar faces moving up the ranks to U-19s when the competition kicks off next month.The 2017 OFC U-19 Women’s Championship will be played as a round-robin competition, running from 11-24 July at Ngahue Reserve in Auckland, New Zealand, to determine Oceania’s representative nation at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France.The team list can be downloaded here: https://www.oceaniafootball.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/PNG-teamlist.pdf(Photo OFC)Related article:Six teams to contest OFC U19 Women’s Champs http://bit.ly/2uu1hmA