The Ronaldo show! – CR7 leads Real Madrid to big UCL win … Monaco, Juve clash today

first_img DISAPPOINTMENT MADRID, Spain (AP): Another impressive performance by Cristiano Ronaldo has left Real Madrid on the verge of another Champions League final. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to reach 400 goals with Madrid and lead the defending champions to a commanding 3-0 win over city rivals Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal yesterday. He scored with a header in the 10th minute, with a strike into the top corner in the 73rd and a close-range shot in the 86th to give Madrid a comfortable lead going into next week’s second leg at Atletico’s Vicente Calderon Stadium. Monaco host Juventus in the first leg of the other semi-final today. “We played a great match,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “It’s not easy to score three times against such a difficult opponent and keep a clean sheet.” The result left Atletico close to yet another disappointing elimination against the cross-town rivals, following defeats in the Champions League in the last three seasons. “We’re going to try and do something practically impossible next week,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “We’re Atletico Madrid and maybe, just maybe, we can do it.” Madrid, which are looking to reach their third final in four seasons, were in control from the start at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and took advantage of Ronaldo’s impressive form. He had scored five in the two legs of the quarterfinals against Bayern Munich, including a hat-trick in the second leg at the Bernabeu. “The team was amazing, it was a complete match,” said Ronaldo, who reached the 400-goal milestone in his 389th game with Madrid. “We played well from start to finish.” He opened the scoring yesterday after Atletico’s defence failed to fully clear a cross into the area. Midfielder Casemiro sent the ball back in with a bouncing shot and Ronaldo got ahead of defender Stefan Savic to nod it past Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Ronaldo, Madrid’s all-time scoring leader, added to the lead after Atletico defender Filipe Luis lost the ball in a challenge with the Portugal star, who entered the area and fired a right-foot shot past Oblak into the upper corner. He scored his 10th Champions League goal of the season with a low shot from inside the area after a pass by Lucas Vazquez. Ronaldo now has 103 goals in the Champions League, not counting one he scored in the qualifiers, which is three more than Atletico have scored since the new format was created in 1992.last_img read more

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Rivalry adds spice to dull NBA

first_img Within minutes, the same folks who applauded Shaq’s detente with Kobe booed the big (and getting bigger) guy constantly, The Big Peacemaker having morphed into Goliath. They also let Gary “The Glove” Payton have it, in part because he trash-talked the usually sedate Lamar Odom into spluttering rage in the Christmas game back in Miami. In part because Payton was part of the 2003-04 Lakers Fab Four who failed so miserably against the Pistons in the NBA Finals. The flop that prompted Jerry Buss (not Kobe) to break up the team. Ah, yes, the game. The Lakers looked like a playoffs team, maybe even a conference-finals team for a half, rolling to a 57-42 lead. Odom scored 15 points in the first 24 minutes, one of those spurts when he played as if he might really be Scottie Pippen to Kobe’s Michael Jordan. The out-of-the-blue highlight was Shaq vs. Andrew Bynum, the Lakers’ kid 7-footer. Bynum riled The Big Touchy back in June, when the Lakers drafted him at the age of 17. Bynum said he patterned his game after O’Neal except that he made his free throws, always a sore spot with O’Neal. Shaq responded by calling Bynum a juvenile delinquent, presumably for skipping college. Anyway, foul trouble on Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown prompted Jackson to send his rarely used teenager out against Shaq, and everyone feared for Bynum’s health. Particularly when Shaq skied over Bynum and violently dunked a putback as Childe Andrew was sent sprawling. Then, at the other end, Kobe tossed the ball into Bynum, posted low against Shaq, and you wondered what good could possibly come from that. Then Bynum spun past O’Neal and threw down a monster dunk, such an astounding sight that 18,997 fans leaped out of their seats. Bynum was so “amped up,” by his own admission, that after galloping to the other end of the court, he leaned into Shaq, already ticked off and embarrassed. Who responded by tossing his right elbow into Bynum’s jaw. Double technical. Shaq for throwing the elbow; Bynum for tugging on Superman’s cape. Miami made a second-half run behind Dwyane Wade, who is so good you wonder how a team with him and O’Neal, even on the back side of his career, doesn’t win every night out. The Heat cut it to three before Bryant did his thing, delighting fans by bombing in three long jumpers over Payton, onetime defensive whiz, and the Lakers had won, 100-92. Shaq eventually emerged from the trainer’s room, his home away from home, where he had been chatting with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and told reporters he had made nice with Kobe because NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell had told him to, in a meeting in Seattle. Apparently, not because the Kobester is just plain lovable and Shaq finally had tumbled to that. He said the booing didn’t hurt him (yeah, right). “A sign of respect,” he said in the barely audible Shaq mumble. Bryant said he was glad Shaq laid some skin on him, noting it was right and proper on Martin Luther King Day for two African American sports icons to shake and make up. Bynum was still a little giddy, suggesting that one dunk had shown Shaq he wasn’t a kid to be trifled with. This, from a guy with 153 career NBA minutes vs. the league’s most dominant player for a decade. Riley bemoaned the abuse O’Neal gets on the court (“Nobody is as beat up as he is.”), an observation limited only to Shaq’s current coach, teammates and fans. The rest of the world sees The Big Pushy as a graceless lug. Including, now, Lakers fans. (Thanks for the three championship banners, Shaq, but you play for Miami now.) And everyone went home happy. Even those folks who pay $1,000 for their tickets. It was entertainment with a capital E, outsized personalities, unpredictable events, with astounding athleticism added to the mix. If every NBA game could be like this But the league has too many clubs without stars or tradition or cachet (Atlanta, Charlotte, Portland, Seattle, New Orleans, Orlando, Toronto, et al). And a batch more in a down cycle (New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc.). If NBA commissioner David Stern watched this one, he probably went to sleep with visions of the ratings bonanza a Lakers-Heat finals might bring. Alas, that’s the only way these two will meet again before next season. Making the rest of the 2005-06 schedule seem even duller and grayer than it already is. Paul Oberjuerge’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Readers may reach him at paul.oberjuerge@sbsun.com. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LOS ANGELES – This one was a hoot. Lakers vs. Heat. Star power on (and off) the court, blood feuds, monstrous egos, more subplots than “War and Peace.” If more NBA games were like this one, the league wouldn’t be trailing baseball and football in domestic sports popularity. Well, not baseball, anyway. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Just to make sure we knew it wasn’t a case of mistaken identity on Shaq’s part, he shook Kobe’s hand at the captains meeting, with a seemingly startled Kobe patting Shaq on the back of his shiny head. And since this is L.A., and nobody is in their seats five minutes before the game, they hugged again, before tipoff. Fans cheered. It was like Reagan and Gorbachev shaking hands. The lion lying down with the lamb. Or the elephant, anyway, as tubby as Shaq has gotten. Then there was Phil Jackson vs. Pat Riley, Coaching Legends who aren’t overfond of each other. They once played on opposing teams (Knicks, Lakers), met in a batch of bitter playoff battles in the 1990s (Bulls, Knicks), and they run teams from opposing ends of the style spectrum. Phil is Dr. Zen, who gently pushes a team into the season and seems almost a bystander to how it turns out. Riles is Mr. Control, uptight and slicked down, sweating every possession. His pregame notes on an enormous dry-erase board in the Heat locker room contained more verbiage than some daily newspapers. The fans were into this one. Even the stars. Among them Andy Garcia, Michael Keaton, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg and, of course, Jack Nicholson. center_img Kobe vs. Shaq, Jax vs. Riles, The Glove vs. Lamar. It was tons of fun. And that was even before the teams got on the court. Shaquille O’Neal approached Kobe Bryant during pregame stretching and shook his hand. For the first time since Shaq was shipped to Miami in the summer of 2004 and began telling anyone who would listen that Evil Kobe had run him, Phil Jackson and Michael Jackson out of town. Beginning a feud that turned into the NBA’s answer to the Cold War and drove TV ratings for their biannual meetings. last_img read more

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Joe Jordan: World Cup qualification failure would ‘eat away’ at Scotland players

first_img Scotland have not qualified for a major tournament since 1998 Failure to qualify for a World Cup would “eat away” at Scotland players when their careers are over, according to Joe Jordan.The Scottish national side have not appeared at a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France and qualification hopes for Russia 2018 are precariously balanced ahead of the visit of old rivals England to Hampden Park on Saturday.Former Scotland striker Jordan never failed to qualify for the World Cup during an international career that spanned a decade and is the only Scottish player to score in three of them, in 1974, 1978 and 1982.Asked how those current Scotland players, who are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning, would feel if a World Cup finals appearance escaped them, he said: “I don’t know how they would respond to the question now but I can assure you later on in your career, after your career is finished and you settle down and take whatever direction you take, that is something that would be a regret. “It would eat away at you definitely.”Jordan put the secret of his World Cup success down to luck and “playing with good players although I had to work hard to play with them”.He added: “Footballers have a short career and especially when you talk about qualification for the World Cup.“It is (every) four years and if it doesn’t fall right for you, you might only get one or two qualification opportunities so you have to take it.“It is a major event, a major chapter in your career.“I go away back to when I first came into the Scotland team, I saw that with players who were older than me.“People like Denis Law, Jimmy Johnstone and Billy Bremner, players like that who hadn’t had the opportunity to play in a World Cup.“They had done everything in the game but they wanted to play against the best in the big tournament, the World Cup.“I could see it in them when we had qualified (for 1974). This is an opportunity and the chances are running out.”England will travel north of the border at the top of the table with 13 points from five Group F fixtures, six ahead of Gordon Strachan’s fourth-placed side who lost 3-0 at Wembley in November.The former Leeds United, Manchester United and AC Milan attacker stressed the importance of taking chances against a country which has not lost a qualifying game in any major tournament since 2009.Speaking in a Glasgow hotel where he was helping to publicise the qualifier at Hampden Park, while promoting gambling firm Mobilebet’s free offer bet, he said: “First of all you have to make chances.“And the games I saw so far, Scotland have made a number of chances and haven’t taken them.“When you are playing against a team who are stronger, with players playing at bigger clubs, you won’t get a barrow load of chances.“Scotland had one or two chances at Wembley and didn’t take them and you have to take them.“If you take the lead, it gives you a certain degree of control and you don’t have to chase the game and leave gaps.“There are England players who are good finishers, good players in vital areas who can score goals and you don’t want to be chasing the game when you are up against players like that.” 1last_img read more

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