Champions League: Zidane’s Plaudit for Benzema

first_imgReal Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has hailed the impact of Karim Benzema after his compatriot lifted the European champions from the early blow of conceding to beat Napoli 3-1 on Wednesday night.Madrid is now on the brink of a seventh successive Champions League quarterfinal as the Los Bloncos aim to become the first team to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.Lorenzo Insigne’s wonder strike from 40 yards after just eight minutes had given Napoli a shock lead at the Bernabeu.However, Zidane was rewarded for keeping faith in Benzema despite fierce criticism of late from the Spanish press as he headed home his 51st Champions League goal to equalise before second-half strikes from Toni Kroos and Casemiro gave Madrid a commanding lead.“I am always happy with him, said Zidane.“He needed that goal which lately he didn’t get, but I am happy not only for the goal but also for how he played generally. He made the rest of the team play better and his movement is very good.“The performances of Karim, Cristiano (Ronaldo), James (Rodriguez) they all made the rest of the team better.”Benzema’s goal also moved him ahead of compatriot Thierry Henry as top French scorer of all-time in the Champions League proper.“It was a great night. We all played well, not just me,” Benzema told Spanish TV station MEGA.“I am very happy and proud of my work. There are a lot of sacrifices, but now I feel good.“I scored a goal and saw that the fans were with me which is very good for my confidence.”Napoli had chances to set up a mouthwatering second leg on March 7 as Dries Mertens blazed over with the goal at his mercy and former Madrid winger Jose Maria Callejon had a goal ruled out for offside late on.However, Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri believes his side still have a chance of reaching the quarterfinals for the first time in their history.“Clearly Madrid played their best game of the past three months and we didn’t play our best,” said Sarri.“If we manage to play at our best we are not that far away. We may lose (in the second leg) but we can go for it.”“It is the first game we have lost in four months. We didn’t manage to express ourselves 100 percent, but we can’t lose our confidence because we have the return game and league games to come.“We don’t have a great chance of turning it around but we have a chance.”Even a pre-match pep talk from former Napoli great Diego Maradona couldn’t inspire the Italians to victory.However, Sarri believes their fast start more than justified his decision to invite the Argentine into the dressing room before kick-off.“Diego spoke with us for 30 seconds, but he is a legend so clearly it had an impact. Our first 10-15 minutes were our best.”Despite that early blow, though, Madrid responded like European champions to take control and Sarri lamented his side’s distribution from the back under Real’s intense pressing.“It was difficult to mount counter-attacks because we gave the ball away so much,” he added.“We were playing a very good team, the best team in the world. The only thing is I feel we committed more errors than normal.“It is normal to suffer in this stadium, it is normal to commit errors, but thanks to these type of games you improve.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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Wimbledon 2013: David Ferrer defeats Roberto Bautista Agut to reach last 32 for sixth year in a row

first_imgDavid Ferrer’s Wimbledon record is much like his tennis: consistent and dogged but spectacularly unspectacular.The 31-year-old Spaniard has reached the third round here for the sixth year in a row but has only one quarter-final appearance to show for all his hard work in 10 previous appearances at the All England Club.Ferrer is through to the last 32 once again thanks to a typically hard-working victory over his fellow Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut. Ferrer, who will climb to at least No 3 in the world rankings after Wimbledon, won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 but was pushed hard by the world No 60.The victory was typical of so many Ferrer performances. Although he lacks the big weapons that so many of his rivals can call upon, he is a model of consistency. Nobody works harder for his points as Ferrer creates winning situations with his aggressive ball-striking from the back of the court, manoeuvring opponents out of their comfort zone.Bautista Agut is playing in his first Wimbledon – he failed in three previous attempts to qualify – and has never gone beyond the second round of a Grand Slam tournament yet he has plenty of talent. Although most comfortable when grinding out points from the back of the court, the 25-year-old was not afraid to use subtle variations of pace and even tried serve-and-volley on occasions.After two false starts because of the rain – play was even halted after the first point because the damp Court One surface was deemed to be dangerous – Ferrer broke immediately.The last two points of Bautista Agut’s first service game summed up Ferrer’s relentless spirit as the server was outrallied and forced into backhand errors. Bautista Agut broke back immediately but after another break Ferrer served out for the set after 43 minutes.Bautista Agut took the second set with a single break of serve, Ferrer double-faulting on break point, and twice came back from a break down to take the third set into a tie-break, only for Ferrer to win it 7-4. The underdog hung on well in the fourth set, but at 5-5 he was broken, netting a forehand on break point. Ferrer, who will now play the Ukrainian world No 24, Alexandr Dolgopolov, served out for victory when Bautista Agut hit a return wide on the first match point.last_img read more

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Player agent Oliver Arthur explains why Ghana league players fail to attract top foreign contracts

first_imgAs the winter transfer deadline looms for major European leagues, the lack of local players moving straight to these league has been thrown into the spotlight.The last time a player from the local league moved to any of Europe’s elite divisions was in 2012 when defender Baba Rahman was transferred to Germany’s Greuther Furth.For a country well-known for great African players, this development has been of immense concern. The latest to comment on this is Oliver Arthur, a renowned Ghanaian football agent.In an interview with Joy Sports, Arthur believes that there is a shift in the European market towards players who are relatively younger and it is increasingly making it difficult for those already playing in the local league for some time to get a chance.“In Africa, we don’t have the facilities to train the players to a particular level so the Europeans find it very difficult working with already mature players aged24 and 25.”“In Europe now, the market now is looking for young players aged 18 and 19. Europe wants players it feels they have developed themselves.” Agent Arthur, whose clientele includes Afriyie Acquah and Godfred Donsah therefore believes that the focus on the local front should now be on spotting and grooming talents very early.“When these older players move to Europe, it becomes very difficult. So now we have to train in the process of developing them very young.”A flurry of deals are expected later today. In England, Spain and France; clubs have until 11pm while German clubs have until 5pm on Tuesday to wrap up all their deals.–Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @JoyFMSports. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img read more

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In their own words, how Ghana won 4x100m relay gold

first_img“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships”. These were the words of one of the greatest basketball players in history, Michael Jordan.Teamwork and intelligence usually serve as the foundation of strategy for the most successful teams in sports especially when it comes to athletics relay.Sean Safo-Antwi, Benjamin Kaweku Azamati, Martin Owusu Antwi and Joseph Amoah are four names that Ghanaians will remember for a long time.The quartet won gold in the men’s 4X100m relay at the ongoing African Games in Morocco. They recorded a time of 38.30 seconds which is just 0.18s shy of the Ghana national record of 38.12s, set at the Athens World Championships on 9 August 1997 by Abu Duah, Eric Nkansah, Aziz Zakari, and Emmanuel Tuffour. The order in which they ran was: Safo-Antwi started, then passed on to Azamati, and then Owusu-Antwi went through the bend before anchorman Amoah powered to the finish.According to Sean Sarfo-Antwi, this was the second time the four of them were running together. So how exactly did the Ghana team make up for the lack of competition experience as a team? THE BELIEFThe celebrations at the end of the race didn’t depict a team shocked at the result. Rather, each of the quartets exuded so much confidence and self-belief.  Two hours prior to the semi-finals of men’s 4×100 relay, Joseph Amoah and Sean Antwi-Sarfo had competed in the men’s 100m finals. Despite both athletes missing out on a medal (Joseph Amoah – 4th and Sean Antwi-Sarfo – 5th), they had their heads lifted high as they prepared for the semi-finals of the men’s 4×100 relay.Joseph Amoah, speaking to AIPS Young Reporter Akosua Addai Amoo, about the way forward, said: “I’ll just go and take some rest, come back and do better”.In the same interview, Sean Safo-Antwi also added, “We’re just going to focus on the relay and try and bring a gold medal home for our homeland Ghana”. From the onset, the objective to win a gold medal in the men’s 4×100 relay was engrained in the Ghana team. Nigeria came into the relay final as favourites given how good their team was and the fact that they possessed Africa’s fastest man, Raymond Ekevwo. Raymond won the 100m final with a time of 9.96s and another member of the Nigerian 4×100 men’s relay team, Itsekitri Usheoritse finished third with a time of 10.02s.Knowing how much of a threat the Nigerian team possessed. Ghana’s anchor Joseph Amoah spoke of the strategy they adopted in order to topple Nigeria in the final.He stated: “We knew Nigeria had a very fast team with sub-10 guys. We let each other know that relay is not about your times, but getting the stick to the last person”.The personal bests of the Nigerian team compared to Ghana prior to the final established a gulf in class between the two countries. Team NigeriaTeam Ghana If relay is not really about individual times, then how exactly did the Ghana team get the baton to the last person and eventually win the race?Prior to 2018, the baton had to be passed within a 20-meter changeover box, preceded by a 10-metre acceleration zone. With a rule change effective November 1, 2017, that zone was modified to include the acceleration zone as part of the passing zone, making the entire zone 30 metres in length. The outgoing runner cannot touch the baton until it has entered the zone, the incoming runner cannot touch the baton after it has left the zone. The baton change for years has been one of the most defining factors for relay winners. The ability to change over a baton in a relay race is imperative given the fine margins races come with.In previous years, the baton change technique has been Ghana’s Achilles heel in championships. This year, Ghana’s quartet made ground with quick and smooth baton changes. The incoming runner held one third of the baton, dropped the last one third in the outcoming runner’s palm leaving enough space between the incoming runner’s & the outcoming runner’s palm.The speed with which the Ghanaian runners switched batons was another key area in their success. The quickest changeover of 0.6s came between Sean Safo-Antwi and Azamati Benjamin Kaweku. The highest changeover of 0.8s came between Owusu Antwi Martin and Joseph Amoah.Choosing Joseph Amoah (Ghana’s fastest runner in the 100m finals) as the anchor of the relay team paid off as Ghana won the race in the last stretch. Despite boasting of the fastest runner in Africa runner Raymond Ekevwo, Nigeria chose Usheoritse Itsekiri to anchor the relay. In the last 100m, Joseph Amoah and Usheoritse Itsekiri received the baton at virtually the same time. However, the sheer will and power of the Ghanaian was enough to bring gold home. —last_img read more

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Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza makes the Hall of Fame in his fourth try

first_imgSay what you want, but all kinds of “helpers” floated around major league clubhouses before, during and after Piazza’s time. A lot of people ingested a lot of things. Piazza finished his career with 400-plus home runs and a 300-plus career batting average. No catcher ever did that.Piazza’s journey should have moved the voters, too. He was taken in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, four months before the Dodgers won their last World Series, and only because Tommy Lasorda was a pal of Mike’s father Vince.The kid disappeared into a batting cage and never came out. Even as a major league All-Star, Piazza celebrated each stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve by taking batting practice.Yet in 1990 he hit .250 with six home runs in the Florida State League. Three years later he hit 35 homers for the varsity Dodgers and was Rookie of the Year.Through it all he never struck out 100 times in a season and hit over .300 in each of his first nine full seasons. He was that rare force who made fans put down their pagers and, later, their cell phones when he made that threatening walk to the plate. He also could grab a moment, as he did in 2001 when his eighth-inning homer won the first post-9/11 game for the Mets and made the crowd scream away some grief.So, of course, the Dodgers traded him in 1998 and got, among other things, Gary Sheffield, who was named on 11.1 percent of the Hall ballots Wednesday.That deal came solely from Fox executives who were angry that Piazza turned down an $80 million contract offer before the season. The Marlins kept him long enough to fit him for socks and shipped him to the Mets, who gave him a $91 million deal after the season. General Manager Fred Claire, who had nothing to do with the deal, was fired shortly afterward. A solid front office was upended, with Mike Scioscia, among others, landing elsewhere.Piazza was not a catcher before the Dodgers drafted him. As the story goes, Lasorda proclaimed Piazza a catcher when the scouts said he wasn’t good enough to play first base. But the Dodgers’ pitching staff won an ERA title with Piazza and finished second twice.Next year Ivan Rodriguez gets his chance at Cooperstown. He caught more games than anyone in history. Buster Posey is building a Cooperstown case, way down the road. Otherwise, who knows? No position in baseball or maybe any sport has been so diluted.In 2015 only three men caught 130 games and only 20 caught 100. Brian McCann led all catchers with 26 home runs, and Posey’s .849 OPS was the only one over .800. Piazza topped 1.000 in OPS four times. His lifetime figure was .922.So Piazza joins the Dodgers’ Ex-Men in Cooperstown. Two years ago Pedro Martinez danced on the podium. Next year brings eligibility to Vladimir Guerrero, who was in L.A.’s camp as a youth in the Dominican Republic before he signed with Montreal.Sure, every club has a refugee or two that it regrets. But the Dodgers should have known better than anyone. This was a different animal. mark.whicker@langnews.com @MWhicker03LANG on TwitterThe National Baseball Hall of Fame opened its first Unicorn Wing on Wednesday.Its curators will blink in befuddlement when Mike Piazza walks in.What is this? An everyday catcher? Who hits home runs? And hits for average? And limits his strikeouts? And handles the league’s best pitching staff? Obviously this exotic creature has been assembled from leftover parts, like a jackalope. It certainly has not walked this baseball earth in recent times.But the voters finally recognized its singularity on Wednesday. It gave Piazza 83 percent of the vote. He sailed into the Hall on his fourth try by a margin of 35 votes.Piazza was the top non-qualifier on the 2015 ballot, so this is not a shock. But you do wonder if certain players are properly appreciated, and it’s strange that such a visible, unique player had to wait.He was either a Dodger or a Met for most of his career. He did crowd-pleasing things, like belt a home run completely out of Dodger Stadium in 1997. He made the World Series in 2000, leading the Mets, and got into a well-replayed dispute with Roger Clemens.Some voters suspected him of PED use, an issue that still haunts Clemens and Barry Bonds, even though Major League Baseball lifted no finger when Bonds was hired as the Miami Marlins’ batting coach. Neither Clemens nor Bonds drew 50 percent of the vote Wednesday.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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Live Week 11 Fantasy Football Advice: Injury updates, start ’em sit ’em, NFL DFS tips, more

first_imgWEEK 11 NON-PPR RANKINGS:Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | KickerWatch: Live Fantasy Football Start ’em Sit ’em Advice Week 11Traditional live chat on Fantasy Alarm!, Week 11 has already gotten off to a weird start, as a player used his helmet as a weapon on the field. Don’t see that every day. Anyway, with a lot on the line for fantasy football owners, you can bet there will be even more weirdness. Fortunately, Fantasy Alarm fantasy experts Howard Bender and Jennifer Piacenti are going live from 11 a.m. ET until kickoff to help you get ready for this week’s games. Get start ’em, sit ’em advice, NFL DFS tips, injury updates, stats, trends, and much more. You can also join Fantasy Alarm’s traditional live chat and have all of your fantasy football questions by more Fantasy Alarm experts. Also, check out the Fantasy Alarm “Pie in the face” challenge!The Week 11 weather forecast highlights a few windy/rainy/cold spots, and there are several injuries to keep track of. We have updates on RBs Le’Veon Bell, Jordan Howard, David Montgomery, Damien Williams, and Raheem Mostert (click here) and pass-catchers Marquise Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Gerald Everett (click here).last_img read more

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Michael Jordan calls out Horace Grant as snitch in ‘The Last Dance’

first_imgIn the sixth episode of “The Last Dance,” Jordan remained steadfast in his belief Horace Grant was the primary person leaking anecdotes.”He was telling everything that was happening within the group,” Jordan said in the documentary.Grant denied the accusation: “No, not one thing I divulged to Sam Smith.” He said Jordan and others were looking for scapegoats. The 1992 book “The Jordan Rules” by Chicago sportswriter Sam Smith prompted fighting within the Bulls organization at the time.Even now, there is disagreement as to the sources of information Smith used to reveal unsavory aspects of Jordan’s leadership style. Michael Jordan says Horace Grant was the “Jordan Rules” player leak. Horace Grant denies pic.twitter.com/usFS7MVxQu— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) May 4, 2020MORE: Why Christian Laettner made the “Dream Team”Point guard B.J. Armstrong came to Grant’s defense, telling the documentary crew there was no way an entire book was built off a single source. Even if Grant did offer information, Armstrong said, he wasn’t alone in doing so.Grant remained on the Bulls through the 1993-94 season, winning the first three of the Bulls dynasty’s six championships before moving on to Orlando. He was a huge part of Chicago’s success, too, reaching his personal pinnacle in his final year there while averaging 15.1 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.last_img read more

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State center under investigation; top official put on leave

first_imgGLENWOOD, Iowa (AP) – The superintendent of Iowa’s care center for people with intellectual disabilities has been placed on paid leave amid a federal investigation into the facility.The director of Iowa’s Department of Human Services, Kelly Garcia, sent an email Monday to staffers at the Glenwood Resource Center, informing them of the action taken against Jerry Rea. The Des Moines Register reported that Garcia said Rea was placed on leave “in light of” a federal investigation into conditions at Glenwood.Associated Press efforts to reach Rea on Wednesday were unsuccessful.The newspaper reported earlier this month that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating whether the state has been violating the federal rights of people with disabilities at Glenwood. A Nov. 21 letter from an U.S. attorney general said investigators would check among things whether the state was providing adequate medical care and using “needless and harmful restraint practices.”The Glenwood center provides care to about 250 people with intellectual disabilities, many of whom have other health issues. Its history of problems over the years includes mistreatment of residents.last_img read more

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Sports Briefs

first_imgSimmons fails again in Heat lossBRISBANE, Australia (CMC):West Indies opener Lendl Simmons failed to score for the third time in four outings as his Brisbane Heat slid to an eight-wicket defeat to Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash here yesterday.Sent in at the Gabba, Heat rallied to 175 for six from their 20 overs, with opener Jimmy Peirson top-scoring with 51 from 36 balls and Nathan Reardon hitting an unbeaten 40 from 32 deliveries.The right-handed Simmons faced two balls before perishing in the second over leg before wicket to seamer Michael Neser with seven runs on the board.English leg-spinner Adil Rashid was brilliant, taking two for 17 from his four overs.In reply, Strikers raced to their target in the penultimate over with opener Tim Ludeman getting 57 not out off 49 balls; Mahela Jayawardene stroking 53 of 30 balls; and Travis Head, 50 off 25 balls.Bonners shines before rain takes overBASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC):Jamaican Nkrumah Bonner stroked an entertaining half-century, but rain forced the abandonment of the Leeward Islands Hurricanes’ opening game of the Regional Super50 after only 38 overs at Warner Park here Thursday.Opting to bat first in the day/night encounter against Combined Campuses and Colleges Marooners, Hurricanes had reached 187 for five when the adverse weather ended the game prematurely.Both teams were awarded two points.In the time available, Bonner hammered 65 off 69 deliveries with six fours, while opener Shane Jeffers hit 47 and left-handed partner Chesney Hughes, 28.Messi set to get5th FIFA best player prizeGENEVA (AP):Lionel Messi is favoured to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or on Monday, ending Cristiano Ronaldo’s two-year hold on football’s top individual prize.Messi already has a 4-3 lead in their career duel for the annual FIFA prize but has recently been eclipsed by his great rival.That changed in 2015 when Messi inspired Barcelona to regain the Champions League title among five major trophies to none for Real Madrid, despite Ronaldo’s relentless goalscoring pace.Barcelona’s dominance also helped Brazil star Neymar earn a place on the three-man shortlist for the first time.The Catalan club can sweep the men’s honours with Luis Enrique heading the coaches’ shortlist after becoming European champion and winning the Spanish league and cup, the European Super Cup, and the Club World Cup.Luis Su·rezsuspendedBARCELONA, Spain (AP):Barcelona striker Luis Su·rez was suspended yesterday for two Copa del Rey matches for insulting rival players.The referee’s report for the heated match at Camp Nou that ended 4-1 for Barcelona on Wednesday said Su·rez insulted Espanyol players in the tunnel after the match.Referee Juan Martinez Munuera’s report states that Su·rez told Espanyol’s players: “I am waiting for you. Come here. You are trash.”The ban will rule the Uruguay striker out of the return leg set for next week at Espanyol’s stadium and possibly the first leg of the quarter-finals.last_img read more

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UPDATE: Vere dominate Douglas Forrest 800m

first_imgVere Technical’s athletes were in dominant form earlier today in the 800 metres at the Douglas Forrest meet inside the National Stadium, showing their strength in winning in all three classes. Leading the way was Britney Dixon in Class II, who produced the fastest time on the day, stopping the clock at 2:18.37 to defeat, Shanique Masters of Hydel who was second in 2:21.19. Dixon’s team-mate, Monique Campbell was third in 2:22.88. Aleitha Fearon finished in the top spot in the Class I event with a time of 2:20.94, ahead of Hydel’s Sherona Stewart, 2:22.26 with Mico University’s Dawnalee Loney coming in third overall in 2:23.62. Alisha Skyer closed out the wins for Vere in Class III after stopping the clock at 2:25.14 to better her peers. St Jago’s Taletho Green continued from where he left off last year, as he had an easy win in the Boys 5000 metres, taking the event in 16:04.98 with his team-mate Kyle Morgan finishing second in 16:24.84 ahead of Mico University’s Romario Foote (16:48.85) in third.last_img read more

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