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Olivier Giroud brace seals Chelsea comeback at Southampton

LONDON (Agencies): Olivier Giroud was the hero for Chelsea as the Blues fought back from two goals down to claim a 3-2 win over Premier League strugglers Southampton at St Mary’s.

Goals from Dusan Tadic and Jan Bednarek looked to have Saints on course for a first home league win since November for Mark Hughes’ side but Giroud, a 61st-minute substitute, scored two goals either side of Eden Hazard’s strike to spare Antonio Conte’s side what would have been a sixth defeat in their last eight league matches. The victory keeps Chelsea’s slim hopes of salvaging a top-four finish alive, while Southampton remain in the relegation zone. After a stale opening 20 minutes, Southampton sparked the match into life when some neat play down the left released Ryan Bertrand.

The former Chelsea left-back powered past Cesar Azpilicueta into the box and squared for Tadic to sidefoot home for his first league goal since December. Saints then began to take control of the match, although Chelsea spurned a good chance to level near the half-hour mark when Davide Zappacosta nodded the ball across the area but Alvaro Morata’s tame header looped comfortably over the bar.

Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso was fortunate to remain on the field when his studs came down on the back of Shane Long’s ankle, but referee Mike Dean took no action despite being close to the incident. The home side maintained the upper hand at the start of the second half. Long was released by a long ball over the top. His first touch allowed two defenders to catch him, but he twisted clear and forced an acrobatic save from Thibaut Courtois after the Republic of Ireland forward’s shot hit his standing leg.

But it didn’t take long for the home side to make their greater drive and creativity count. Ward-Prowse whipped in a typically inviting delivery from the right flank on the hour mark and Bednarek, making his first league start for the Saints, arrived unmarked at the far post to coolly guide it low past Courtois. Giroud replaced the ineffectual Morata and, 10 minutes later, the France international gave his side hope when he leapt to head Alonso’s cross from deep for only his second goal for Chelsea since joining them from Arsenal in January.

That goal was quickly followed by the equaliser, with Willian’s low cross from the left finding Hazard, who was able to take a touch before firing home from inside the area to spare his side’s blushes. And, with Southampton on the ropes after seeing their lead evaporate so quickly, Giroud delivered the killer blow. Saints failed to clear their lines as Chelsea applied the pressure and the ball fell for Giroud to fire home a low drive from the edge of the box. Chelsea next face a challenging trip to Burnley in the league, while Southampton travel to Leicester before the two sides meet again in an FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on April 22.

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Pakistan takes 7th place in Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Hockey

GOLD COAST (APP): Pakistan came from behind to defeat Canada 3-1 by taking 7th place in the positional match of the hockey competition of the XXI Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Hockey Club ground on Friday.

Canada went ahead in the first quarter through James Kirkpatrick goal in open play. The North Americans kept the lead intact till the end of the second quarter. Pakistan were the far better side in the second half. Arslan Qadir equalised before Mubashar Ali, who ended Pakistan’s top scorer in the competition with four goals, put his team ahead off a penalty corner. In the last quarter M.Irfan Jr completed the tally with his third goal of the event. For Pakistan Arslan Qadir, M.Irfan Jr, Mubashar Ali slammed in on penalty corner while for Canada James Kirkpatrick scored an early goal on the field attempt in the very outset of the match, thun Pakistan got 7th position and Canada finished at no. 8th.

New Zealand and Australia book place for hockey final Earlier, New Zealand booked a gold medal clash with Australia after scoring a thrilling shootout victory over England in their semi-final. Scores were locked at 0-0 at full-time, before the penalty heroics of Captain Stacey Michelsen and back-up goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon guided the Black Sticks to victory.

The second semi-final between Australia and India was also a low-scoring affair, with both sides struggling to break the deadlock. It took a moment of brilliance from Australia’s Grace Stewart to give her side the lead, as she pounced on an errant pass into the attacking circle to slam home the game’s only goal.

India took its goalkeeper off the field with four minutes remaining in the second half as it pushed for an equalizer. But the stoic defence of the Hockeyroos was up to the task, holding strong after some fantastic saves from seasoned goalkeeper Rachael Lynch.

Grace Stewart celebrates her goal for Australia against India in the hockey semi-finals. In the day’s other games, Scotland produced its finest performance of GC2018 to defeat Malaysia 6-2 and finish in seventh place. Malaysia finished eighth. And it took a shootout to separate Wales and Ghana, with the Welsh women finishing on a winning note and securing ninth position. Commonwealth Games debutant Ghana finished in 10th place. In Men Freestyle 65kg quarter-final Abdul Wahab beat Adam Vella Malta on points 12-2. He got more points in the first bout of 10 points and 2 points in the second round. Reaching to the semi-final mean another victory would earn him another medal for Pakistan.

In the Men’s 97kg freestyle Umair Ahmad of Pakistan lost to Jordan Steem of Canada on 11-0 in the semi-finals. In the Men’s Freestyle 65kg semi-final Abdul Wahab beaten by Vincent De Marinis of Canada on points by 10-0 in the first round. Kathryn Mitchell breaks javelin record to claim emotional gold. Australian Kathryn Mitchell broke the Commonwealth Games and Australian record on her first javelin throw and then promptly broke down when she realized she had won the gold medal. Her first throw of 68.92m was the longest throw in the world for five years and the best of the night to claim the gold medal. The 35-year-old started her career at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, but this was her first medal. She finished 6th in Melbourne, 5th at the Delhi 2010 Games and fourth at Glasgow 2014.

Anish, a 15-year-old shooter from India fired into Games history when he grabbed gold medal in the shooting of being the youngest ever shooter of the Games. Anish shot into history when he spun his magic in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol at the Belmont Shooting Centre. The teenager, who is the world 25m standard pistol junior champion and record holder, headed off local hope Sergei Evglevski before the Australian could fire his last five shots. Anish, the top qualifier with 580 and 22 central bulls, started with two possible fives, racing to a three-point margin. He stumbled with a three and a one before scoring another five to lead by four points over Evglevski.

Birthday presents don’t get much better than a gold medal, and Laetisha Scanlan made it a 28th birthday to remember when she won the women’s trap title. As icing on the birthday cake, she also secured a Commonwealth Games record of 38.

Gold medalist Laetisha Scanlan of Australia celebrates after winning the women’s trap final Birthday girl and Commonwealth Games champion. The three-time gold medalist won her first Games medal on debut in the trap pairs at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, before setting an Australian record (74/75 targets) in 2012, a World Cup win in 2013 and gold on the 2014 World Cup circuit and Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Australia with 65 gold medals, 49 silver medals and 51 bronze medals claimed 165, England with 30 gold, 34 silver and 34 bronze medals, India at third with 17 gold, 11 silver and 41 bronze medals while Canada with 13 gold medal, 37 silver medals and 24 bronze medals. Pakistan is still on 31st position with three bronze medals so far.

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Champions League draw: Liverpool to face Roma in semi-finals

NYON (Agencies): Liverpool have been drawn against Roma in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Jürgen Klopp’s side came through an all-Premier League quarter-final against Manchester City, winning the first leg 3-0 at Anfield and the second 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.

Serie A side Roma produced a remarkable comeback to knock out Barcelona. The Italian team lost the first leg 4-1 in Spain, but progressed on away goals following a 3-0 home victory. For Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool forward, it will be a return to Rome, where he scored 29 goals in 65 league appearances before moving on last summer.

“Of the three options that were available I’ve never played there before so that is already exciting,” said Klopp. “It will be two difficult games. Roma are a fantastic side as you saw against Barcelona. They played a very good season after a difficult transfer window for them last summer. They lost Mo, Emerson and other key players but still they played a really good season and are fighting for the Champions League again. When we face Roma we will know everything about them. I saw the second leg against Barcelona and they were outstandingly good.”

The final will take place in Kiev at the end of May but the Scotland defender, Andrew Robertson, insists Liverpool will not fear any opposition. “This club has been here before and they know how hard it is – regardless of who you are playing – to get to the final and try to win this trophy,” Robertson said. “We know how hard it’s going to be and we need to try and work so hard to get to the final because we need to deserve it.”

The Roma sporting director has challenged his players to channel the same spirit that they did against Barça on Tuesday. “It feels like a great opportunity to chase the joy that we were not able to experience so many years ago,” Monchi said. “But of course it will be difficult because Liverpool are an extremely strong side. We need to think about ourselves, and try to reproduce what we were able to show against Barcelona.”

The other semi-final will be between European heavyweights Bayern Munich and holders Real Madrid, who needed a dramatic stoppage-time penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo to see off Juventus after the Italian outfit had come back from 3-0 down in the first leg to level the tie. “It’s one of European football’s top clashes,” said Bayern’s departing manager, Jupp Heynckes. “It’s the defending champions against a top side with quality players.” The first legs will be played on 24/25 April, with the second legs on 1/2 May.

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Muhammad Waseem to fight South African MThalane for IBF flyweight title

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Pakistan’s only World Boxing Council (WBC) title winner Muhammad Waseem will take on South Africa’s Moruti MThalane in the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight world title bout on July 15 in Malaysia.

This is also the first time any Pakistani will be going for the IBF world title. According to Waseem, the fight is as big as it gets since this will be his first chance at the World title that was left vacant by a Filipino boxer Donnie Nietes, who has been the longest reigning world champion in flyweight category after the latter climbed to the super flyweight category.

He will take on a much more experienced Mthalane who has a record of 37 bouts with only two defeats in his career. However Waseem has age on his side with an impeccable professional career with eight bouts, no defeats and six knock-outs to his name.

Earlier Waseem was looking to fight WBC world title holder Japan’s Daigo Higa, however, due to the lack of resources and limited finances Waseem had to let go and in return he was stripped off of his WBC silverweight champion title and lost his top ranking at the WBC too.

“It has been a roller-coaster ride,” Waseem told The Express Tribune. “I had troubles even after getting Pakistan the first WBC title, but I didn’t give up. And now this is my big chance, if it’s not the WBC title, then it will be the IBF title.”

Waseem added that he will be featured on the undercard in Kuala Lumpur, with Manny Pacquiao featuring in the main card bout. “It is huge for me to be even in the same arena as Pacquiao,” said Waseem. “The crowd will be great and I know this is a do-or-die fight for me.”

Waseem believes the opportunity came at a crucial time where he had almost thought of retiring from boxing, however, now the chances of him winning are greater on a neutral venue, while if he had fought Higa, he would have had to go to Japan as his promoter did not have enough money to host a fight elsewhere.

“It’s a great venue and has great energy. I had almost given up but then Sean Gibbon came along and said that he could help, and now he made a difference for me, he arranged this in a lot of ways, almost like a new lease for me,” said Waseem.

On the other hand Waseem’s Korean promoter Andy Kim believes this is a big fight for the Quetta-based boxer and he is the favourite to win. Waseem said that he will prefer to train with Jeff Mayweather in Las Vegas and he is trying to get back in shape. “I’ve been in Islamabad, but for a very long time I didn’t train at all, now I’m back on track,” said Waseem.

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Two Indian athletes kicked out of Commonwealths over needle find

GOLD COAST (AFP): Two Indian athletes were kicked out of the Commonwealth Games on Friday after syringes were found in their accommodation, a breach of tournament rules.

Triple jumper Rakesh Babu and race-walker Irfan Kolothum Thodi were stripped of their accreditation and ordered to take the first available flight home, Games president Louise Martin said.

A cleaner found a syringe in a cup on a bedside table in their room, and an Australian anti-doping official found another in Babu s bag.

It comes after India were cleared of doping but given a strong reprimand over unauthorised use of syringes after an unwell boxer was given a vitamin injection.

“Rakesh Babu and Irfan Kolothum Thodi are with immediate effect not permitted to participate in the Games,” Martin said.

“We have asked the Commonwealth Games Association of India to ensure both athletes depart Australia on the first flight available,” she added.

Babu, 28, will now miss the men s triple jump on Saturday. Thodi, also 28, finished 13th in the 20km race walk on Sunday.

The Commonwealth Games has banned unauthorised use of syringes in a bid to stamp out doping.

No failed drugs tests have been reported at the Games, but pre-tournament testing snared three Australian athletes and a number of foreign competitors.

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All rounder Faheem Ashraf likely to make Test debut on England tour

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Talented Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf is all set to make his test debut on the upcoming Ireland and England test series in May.

Faheem Ashraf has played eight ODIs and 10 T20Is for Green Shirts in the last 10 months and he impressed spectators by his tremendous performance while playing for Islamabad United in Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Micky Arthur, head coach of Pakistan appreciated the performance of 24 year old all rounder and adding that Faheem’s selection would fill in the all-rounder slot.

Pakistan and Ireland are scheduled to play a Test match from May 11, while the Green Shirts will play two Test matches against England on May 24 and June 1.

 

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English conditions to favor pace bowlers, Azhar Ali

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Pakistan opener Azhar Ali believes English condition will favor fast-bowlers and his compatriot pacers have the ability to trouble the hosts.

The right-handed opener was talking to media when he said that England will have home advantage but Pakistan are ready for the challenge. “Home side always has an advantage when it comes to playing in certain conditions”, said Azhar, while talking to the reporters here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday. “England will come hard at us because they are coming back from losses against New Zealand away from home.

They will try to win their home series. The conditions there will favor fast-bowlers. We have a good bunch. They will trouble the England batsmen.” The 33-year-old, when asked how the Test team will fare in the absence of veterans Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan in England, said youngsters need backing to deliver results. “English conditions would be tough. They will be a challenge for everyone. Even players who have played there need time to adjust in English conditions”, explained Azhar.

He continued by laying down a plan to upstage England on their home turf. “We should back our youngsters who are going on the tour. When you have a new team and you are going on a tough tour, obviously it poses a big challenge, but if we play as a unit, back each other, then we can extract good performances”. When asked if the longest-format team is going to face the same fate as it did against Sri Lanka in the UAE, succumbing to a 2-0 defeat in the two-match series, Azhar said there were a lot of positive in the series too. “There were good signs in the series too”, he said. “Haris Sohail made his debut and scored runs. Asad Shafiq scored a century at the end. All these were positive signs”.

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Second RMI Media Cricket League: Two more matches decided as United, Pukhtons win

Ali Sheikh

PESHAWAR: Two more matches were decided in the RMI Media Cricket League on Thursday when PPC United and PPC Pukhtons won their respective matches.

The tournament has been organized by Peshawar Press Club for the journalists in collaboration with Rehman Medical Institute, Top Up mineral water, Director General Sports Khyber Pakhtunkwa and Traffic Wardon Police Peshawar at Hassan Khan Shaheed Government School No 1 Hashtnagri.

In the first match of the day PPC United hold their nerves to snatch the victory from PPC Eagles as United won the match by 12 runs. Batting first United scored 110 runs thanks half century by Imran Yousafzai. He scored unbeaten 54 runs. Asad was also among run getters as he scored 25 valuable runs.

In response Eagles scored 98 runs thus United winning the match by 12 runs. At one point it looked as if Eagles would win the match but PPC United bowlers bowled brilliant last four overs to give away just 20 runs. Imran Yousafzai was named Man of the Match. PPC United have now two points from as many matches and still have a chance to qualify for the quarter-final while Eagles are now out of the quarter-final race after second defeat in two matches.

In the second match of the day, PPC Pukhtons stun PPC Gladiators by eight wickets. Gladiators playing their second match in two days time looked favourite after they comprehensively defeated PPC Toryali in their first match of the tournament.

But defeat against PPC Qabails on Wednesday and now the defeat against Pukhtons can dent their chances of advancing to the next round. Gladiators opted to bat first after winning the toss and scored a fighting 105 runs in 10 overs. Asif was the top scorer with 34 runs while Aftab scored 32 runs. In response, Pukhtons easily chased the target after losing only two wickets. Shabbir Jan scored 32 runs while he was well supported by Naeem Babar who scored 29 runs. Shabbir was adjudged Man of the Match. Shehzada Kokab, SSP City, was the chief guest in the first match while in the second match DSP Traffic Razia Altaf was the chief guest. On Thursday (today) PPC Tigers will face PPC Azmari while in the second match PPC Kings will face PPC Eagles.

 

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England, Ireland Test series tough test for Arthur

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: This summer the Sarfraz XI will play one test against Ireland and two against England.  Given the team’s Test performance, the upcoming series if not only going to be a tough test for the Sarfraz XI but also for Mickey Arthur as coach. Under the 49-year-old Arthur, the Pakistan team has performed well in the ODI and T20 formats of the game. According to Arthur, Pakistan will go into the Test matches with an attacking approach.

The team has been training hard at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore under tough weather conditions. Arthur has emphasised that he wants to leave a positive culture in Pakistan cricket. “I love this job, I love this team and want to make the country proud by leaving a great culture and legacy when I finish one day.” Seven months ago, Pakistan played the last two-match Test series against Sri Lanka at UAE and lost both. Mickey Arthur became the coach of Pakistan team in July 2016. Since then, the team has lost 11 Test matches of the 17 that it has played.

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Amir Khan will fight Phil Lo Greco on his British homecoming

Monitoring Desk

London: Amir Khan will fight Phil Lo Greco in his long-awaited British comeback. Canadian Lo Greco has been named as the opponent for ‘King Khan’ in his first fight in two years, at the Echo Arena, Liverpool, on April 21.

Former world champion Khan will be taking the first step towards getting back to the top of the boxing world after signing a three-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing.

Khan’s return is part of a huge night of action on Merseyside as Birkenhead’s Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd defends his Commonwealth Lightweight title against Tommy Coyle, and former Team GB Olympians Natasha Jonas and Anthony Fowler and unbeaten super-welterweight Scott Fitzgerald are all in action.