Argentina Beat Australia, Reach World Cup Quarter-Finals

Argentina’s forward #10 Lionel Messi (C) fights for the ball with Australia’s defender #05 Fran Karacic (L) and Australia’s defender #04 Kye Rowles during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Argentina and Australia at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on December 3, 2022. (Photo by Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP)

 

Argentina moved into the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Australia which set up a last-eight clash with the Netherlands.

Lionel Messi scored his first ever goal in a World Cup knockout round tie in the 35th minute and Julian Alvarez added Argentina’s second just before the hour mark.

Australia pulled one back with a late own goal.

AFP

Australia Reach World Cup Last 16, Send Denmark Home

TOPSHOT – Australia’s defender #02 Milos Degenek (L) and Australia’s defender #04 Kye Rowles celebrate after they won the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Australia and Denmark at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 30, 2022. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

 

Australia reached the last 16 of the World Cup for only the second time in their history with a 1-0 win over a disappointing Denmark on Wednesday.

Winger Mathew Leckie scored the winner on the hour with a smart run and finish to end Denmark’s Qatar hopes at the group stage.

Australia, who made the knockout rounds in 2006 when they had Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Mark Viduka in their ranks, have now won back-to-back World Cup games for the first time.

They progressed to the knockouts in second place behind holders France in Group D and will play the winners of Group C. Poland are top of that group going into the final round of matches.

This Socceroos do not have the stars of yesteryear but they make up for it with spirit and hard work, and showed flashes of quality in a strangely subdued encounter.

Australia’s substitutes all had their arms around each others’ shoulders for the pre-match national anthem, a sign of the togetherness that had taken them to the brink of the knockouts.

European semi-finalists Denmark, who had to win to stand any chance of going through, were on top in the early stages.

Australian defender Milos Degenek, the only change from the team that beat Tunisia 1-0, denied an almost certain Denmark goal with a crucial block.

Denmark’s Mathias Jensen, the Brentford midfielder, shot powerfully at goal and was denied by goalkeeper Mathew Ryan in the 11th minute when he probably should have passed.

Socceroos captain Ryan was in the thick of it again soon after, frantically hacking the ball away with his feet after an incisive run down the left by the dangerous Joakim Maehle.

Riley McGree stung the palms of Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel on a rare Australian counterattack.

Australia were just about on top when a sterile first-half meandered to a goalless conclusion.

Australia and Denmark both made one change at the break and spectators at Al Janoub Stadium would have been hoping it might trigger a bit more action in the second half.

Jackson Irvine scooped over the bar shortly after the restart for Australia and then the shock news filtered through that Tunisia had taken a surprise 1-0 lead over a weakened France team.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand had already decided to make a double substitution, bringing on forward Kasper Dolberg and attacking midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard.

One minute after that, on the hour, Australia took the lead.

Leckie found himself one on one with an exposed Maehle on the left and turned him inside out before pinging the ball into the bottom corner past Schmeichel. Cue pandemonium from the Australian bench.

Denmark thought they had won a penalty in the 70th minute but there was an off-side and their World Cup hopes slipped away without much of a fight.

Australia Scraps 33,000 Covid Fines

Workers and security personnel wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) guard the entrance to a residential area under lockdown due to Covid-19 coronavirus restrictions in Beijing on November 29, 2022. (Photo by Noel CELIS / AFP)

 

Australia’s most populous state scrapped 33,000 fines issued for breaking Covid-19 rules Tuesday, after a top court ruled they were invalid.

New South Wales authorities were forced to retract more than half their pandemic-era fines, which were found to be too vague in describing the offence.

Revenue NSW said that because of the “technical” breach it would withdraw “fail to comply” penalties believed to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

“Fail to comply” fines were issued for a range of alleged offences from carpooling to public gathering.

READ ALSO: China Imposes COVID-19 Lockdown On Area Around iPhone Factory

They varied in severity but included fines of between $1,000 and $3,000 (US$670 and US$2,000) a piece.

Those who have already paid the fines will be reimbursed, Revenue NSW said.

Redfern Legal Centre, the legal aid organisation that brought the court challenge, hailed the ruling as “momentous”.

“This case is about more than just two people’s fines. It is about the need to properly adhere to the rule of law, even during a pandemic,” centre solicitor Samantha Lee said before the ruling.

The group alleged that the fines were also disproportionately issued to people living in poorer neighbourhoods and regions.

Canada Win First Davis Cup Title

davis-cup-canada-
Canada’s team celebrates after winning the men’s singles final tennis of the Davis Cup tennis tournament match between Canada and Australia at the Martin Carpena sports hall, in Malaga on November 27, 2022. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

 

Felix Auger-Aliassime sealed tennis history for Canada as they won their first Davis Cup title by beating Australia 2-0 in Sunday’s finals in Malaga.

The world number six eased past Alex De Minaur 6-3, 6-4 to give Canada the trophy at the expense of 28-time winners Australia.

READ ALSOJamaican Sprinter Asafa Powell Retires

Earlier Denis Shapovalov gave Canada, beaten finalists in 2019 to Spain, the first point with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Thanasi Kokkinakis.

AFP

Australia Beat Tunisia To Keep World Cup Hopes Alive

Fans of Australia celebrate as the team acknowledges the crowd after defeating Tunisia 1-0 in the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between Tunisia and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 26, 2022. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

 

Australia clinched a 1-0 victory over Tunisia on Saturday to keep their hopes of reaching the World Cup knockout phase alive.

The Socceroos, who would have gone out with a second successive defeat, scored the only goal through Mitchell Duke’s 23rd-minute header to move second in Group D behind France.

More to follow . ..

Giroud Equals Henry’s Mark As World Cup Holders France Sink Australia

France's forward #09 Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates with France's forward #10 Kylian Mbappe (C) and France's defender #22 Theo Hernandez after he scored during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
France’s forward #09 Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates with France’s forward #10 Kylian Mbappe (C) and France’s defender #22 Theo Hernandez after he scored during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Olivier Giroud joined Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading goalscorer with a brace as holders France recovered to beat Australia 4-1 and get their defence of the World Cup off to a winning start Tuesday.

Australia took a shock lead at Al Janoub Stadium with the game just nine minutes old when Craig Goodwin scored.

France, whose build-up to the tournament was marred by injuries, saw left-back Lucas Hernandez come off hurt in the move that led to that goal.

However, they recovered to equalise through Adrien Rabiot before Giroud put them ahead with an easy finish in the 32nd minute for his 50th international goal.

Kylian Mbappe got his name on the scoresheet in the second half and Giroud sealed the win to equal Henry’s record tally of 51 goals for France.

The win leaves them top of Group D after rivals Denmark and Tunisia drew 0-0 in Doha earlier.

At the age of 36, veteran AC Milan striker Giroud, who has 115 caps, is the oldest player to score for France at a World Cup.

Yet he almost certainly would not have been playing here had Karim Benzema been fit.

Instead, the withdrawal of the Ballon d’Or winner with a thigh injury on the eve of the tournament has played into the hands of Giroud, who was a key player for coach Didier Deschamps in France’s triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign but didn’t score in Russia.

It is not just Benzema who is missing for Les Bleus, with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante –- their starting midfield duo four years ago –- also out of the tournament.

Centre-back Raphael Varane was not risked having not played since suffering a leg injury playing for Manchester United a month ago.

That meant Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate –- with nine caps between them –- played together in central defence while Rabiot joined Aurelien Tchouameni in midfield.

Hernandez injury blow

Australia stunned the world champions by scoring an early opener.

Mathew Leckie controlled the ball on the right and escaped Lucas Hernandez before delivering a low ball across the face of goal for Goodwin to finish into the roof of the net.

Hernandez hurt his right knee trying to stop Leckie, although there did not appear to be any contact between the players.

The Bayern Munich defender was helped off, with his brother Theo coming on.

The younger Hernandez did not have the best introduction, giving the ball away and allowing Mitch Duke to hit a shot from range that flew just wide.

Yet he played a part in the 27th-minute equaliser –- Antoine Griezmann’s right-wing corner was cleared but the ball came to Hernandez on the left and his cross was headed in by Rabiot.

Five minutes later Rabiot was involved again as France went ahead, hounding Nathaniel Atkinson out of possession on the French left and playing a one-two with Mbappe before teeing up Giroud.

A Jackson Irvine header that hit the post in first-half stoppage time was a reminder that Australia could still threaten, but France ran away with the game after the break.

Griezmann had a shot cleared off the line just before Mbappe made it 3-1 midway through the second half, as he headed in off a post from Ousmane Dembele’s cross.

Mbappe then turned provider as France got their fourth in the 71st minute, crossing for Giroud to head in a historic goal.

After all the injuries, and after seeing what happened to Argentina earlier, this was a good evening for France.

AFP

Boy Dies As Car Swept Away In Australian Floods

Australian police on Saturday located the body of a five-year-old boy trapped in floods.

 

 

Australian police on Saturday located the body of a five-year-old boy trapped in floods west of Sydney, the latest death from a prolonged period of heavy rainfall.

The boy and four other people had been travelling in a car that was swept into floodwaters late Friday.

Police said four of the occupants, a 37-year-old man, a 28-year-old woman and another young boy and a girl, managed to escape the vehicle and clung to a tree until help arrived.

“However, a five-year-old boy became trapped in the car before it submerged,” New South Wales police said.

After a desperate overnight search, the boy’s body was recovered from the vehicle.

The incident occurred in the town of Tullamore, a five-hour drive from Sydney.

A swathe of eastern Australia has endured repeated flooding in the last two years.

Several people have died as back-to-back La Nina weather events pummelled the area with rainfall and caused rivers to burst their banks.

Earlier this year hundreds of thousands of people were told to leave their homes in already flood-hit areas as the waters rose again.

La Nina is the large-scale cooling of surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

The phenomenon has widespread impacts on weather around the world.

A rare third consecutive La Nina event has now been declared, prompting warnings of more rain and floods.

Australia is at the forefront of climate change, with scientists warning that floods, bushfires, cyclones and droughts are becoming more frequent and more intense as the planet warms.

Over 200 Whales Stranded On Australian Beach

This handout photo taken on September 20, 2022 shows the carcass of one of 14 sperm whales beached on King Island, off Tasmania’s north coast. AFP

 

Around 230 pilot whales were found stranded on the rugged west coast of Tasmania Wednesday, with Australian officials saying only half appeared to be alive.

“A pod of approximately 230 whales has stranded near Macquarie Harbour,” said the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

“It appears about half of the animals are alive.”

Aerial images showed a devastating scene of dozens of black glossy mammals strewn along a stretch of beach where the frigid southern ocean meets the sand.

Almost two years ago to the day the area was the scene of another mass stranding involving almost 500 pilot whales. Just over 100 survived.

The causes of mass strandings are still not fully understood.

Scientists have suggested they could be caused by pods going off track after feeding too close to shore.

Pilot whales are highly sociable and can follow podmates who stray into danger.

Officials said marine conservation experts and staff with whale rescue gear were en route to the scene.

AFP

Australia Agrees 555 Million Euro Settlement With France’s Naval Group

The HMAS Waller, a Collins-class submarine operated by the Royal Australian Navy. (File photo: AFP)

 

 

Australia on Saturday announced a massive compensation deal with France’s Naval Group for scrapping a landmark contract to build a fleet of diesel submarines.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the French firm had agreed to a “fair and an equitable settlement” of 555 million euros (US$584 million) for ending the multi-billion-dollar contract.

The agreement draws a line under a bitter spat that derailed ties between Canberra and Paris for the better part of a year.

In September 2021, then-Australian prime minister Scott Morrison abruptly ripped up the French contract, which was years in the making.

He announced that Australia would be buying US or British nuclear-powered submarines, a major shift for a country with little domestic nuclear capability.

The decision drew fury from French President Emmanuel Macron, who publicly accused Morrison of deceit.

Relations were on ice until this May, when centre-left leader Albanese was elected.

The submarine contract is the centrepiece of Australia’s race to develop its military capabilities, as it fears the threat from a more bellicose China under President Xi Jinping.

The nuclear-powered submarines are likely to give Australia the ability to operate more stealthily and pose much more of a deterrent to China.

But there remains deep uncertainty about how quickly it can be implemented.

The first US or British submarines likely will not be in the water for decades, leaving a long capability gap as Australia’s existing fleet ages.

Australia’s Conservative PM Concedes Election Defeat

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison leaves from a Liberal election night event after the Australian general election in Sydney on May 21, 2022. Saeed KHAN / AFP
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison leaves from a Liberal election night event after the Australian general election in Sydney on May 21, 2022. Saeed KHAN / AFP

 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted defeat in national elections Saturday and said he was stepping down as leader of his conservative Liberal Party.

“Tonight I have spoken to the leader of the opposition and the incoming prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and I have congratulated him on his election victory,” Morrison said.

The 54-year-old outgoing leader, who won an election three years ago that he termed a “miracle”, said he took responsibility “for the wins and the losses”.

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“That is the responsibility of leadership and as a result I will be handing over the leadership,” Morrison said.

Noting that voter support had fallen for the major parties, the prime minister said Australians had suffered “great upheaval” over the past few years, which have been marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, drought, bushfires and floods.

“It has imposed a heavy price on our country and on all Australians. And I think all Australians have felt that deeply,” he said.

Morrison’s voice cracked with emotion as he thanked his wife Jennifer and his daughters, “the loves of my life”.

“I have no doubt under strong leadership of our coalition, three years from now I am looking forward to the return of a coalition government.”

AFP

Australia Accuses China Of Paying Bribes To Win Deals

Australia on the map.

 

Australia’s defence minister on Sunday accused China of paying bribes for international deals but refused to say whether corruption played a role in Beijing’s newly signed defence pact with the Solomon Islands.

Peter Dutton made the allegations as his conservative government faced questions in the run-up to May 21 general elections about how China apparently outmanoeuvred Australia by securing the agreement.

The deal shocked the Solomon Islands’ traditional allies Australia and the United States, which fear it may give China a military foothold in the South Pacific less than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from Australia’s coast.

“The Chinese don’t play by our rules,” Dutton said.

“If you look at what has happened in Africa, there are corrupt payments being made,” he told Sky News Australia. “We can never compete with that sort of playbook. We have values and we have the rule of law that we abide by.”

READ ALSO: Russia Slaps Travel Ban On Kamala Harris, Zuckerberg

Asked specifically if he believed corrupt payments were made to forge China’s deal with the Solomon Islands, which was announced by Beijing on April 19, the minister said he could not comment.

“The reality is that China has changed,” he added.

“China’s incredibly aggressive acts of foreign interference, the preparedness to pay bribes to beat other countries to deals: that’s the reality of modern China.”

A draft of the pact shocked countries in the region when it was leaked last month, particularly measures that would allow Chinese naval deployments to the Solomons.

A White House delegation visited the Solomon Islands capital Honiara on Friday to warn of repercussions if China was to establish a permanent military presence in the Pacific nation under the new agreement.

The White House said the officials had told Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare that the recently signed pact had “potential regional security implications” for Washington and its allies.

“If steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation, the delegation noted that the United States would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly,” the White House said in a statement.

 ‘No Military Base’ 

National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink led the delegation, which also included Pentagon officials.

According to the White House statement, “Sogavare reiterated his specific assurances that there would be no military base, no long-term presence, and no power projection capability, as he has said publicly”.

Sogavare’s government severed ties with Taiwan in September 2019 in favour of diplomatic relations with China, unlocking investment but stoking inter-island rivalries.

Last November, protests against Sogavare’s rule sparked violent riots in the capital, during which much of the city’s Chinatown was torched.

While the unrest was partly fuelled by poverty and unemployment, anti-China sentiment was also cited as playing a role.

When asked about China’s influence in the Pacific, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters Friday that Beijing was exerting “enormous pressure” on leaders of Pacific island nations.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian in turn accused “Australian politicians” of “coercive diplomacy” in the region.

AFP

Australia Flood Toll Rises To 20 As Thousands Evacuate Sydney

A resident looks at cars stranded in floodwaters due to heavy rain in southwestern suburb of Sydney on March 8, 2022. (Photo by Muhammad FAROOQ / AFP)

 

The death toll from week-long floods battering Australia’s east coast rose to 20 on Tuesday, after the bodies of a man and a woman were discovered in floodwaters in Sydney.

Police said the pair were believed to be a missing mother and son whose car was abandoned in a stormwater canal.

Tens of thousands of Sydney residents have been told to evacuate their homes as severe storms and flash flooding inundated swathes of Australia’s largest city Tuesday.

The national weather bureau warned of “a tough 48 hours ahead” for Sydney, with 60,000 people subject to evacuation orders and warnings, and the city’s Manly Dam beginning to spill.

Intense rainfall across Sydney flooded bridges and homes, swept away cars and even collapsed the roofs of a shopping centre and a supermarket.

In the riverside suburb of Georges Hall vehicles were semi-submerged and police had to rescue people stranded in their cars by rising floodwaters.

– A ‘watery’ Black Summer –

State emergency services have been stretched thin as the torrential rain and intense storms continued into a second week — with flood warnings in place Tuesday for the entire 2,000-kilometre (1,250-mile) coastline of New South Wales.

“It’s very much the watery equivalent of the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires,” emergency services spokesperson Phil Campbell told AFP.

In the past week the scale of the damage to property and wildlife has been similar to those devastating bushfires, he said, which ravaged Australia’s east for months in late 2019 and early 2020.

“We have also had a similar effect on communities in terms of dislocation with roads closed, infrastructure damaged, power outages,” Campbell said.

In the past 24 hours, emergency services have been called to 100 flood rescues across the state, a number that is expected to rise as the full force of the storms bears down on Sydney Tuesday.

In the city’s north, flood researchers were evacuated from their lab as water from the nearby Manly Dam began to spill over into suburban areas.

The University of New South Wales facility uses water from the dam to run large-scale experiments about one-in-100- and one-in-1,000-year flooding scenarios.

“Ironically, the conditions were happening just outside,” researcher Mitchell Harley told AFP.

When he arrived at work in the morning, floodwaters were already rising but soon the downpour caused “significant flooding” in the lab.

“We haven’t seen impacts of that magnitude in the 60 years of the laboratory,” Harley said.

He said the flooding that had inundated Sydney in recent days showed the need to consider the impact of climate change on the coastal city of more than five million people.

“We have a lot of ageing infrastructure in Sydney which were designed for historical flood events,” he said.

“A lot of this infrastructure needs to be re-evaluated in the context of climate change.”

– ‘No way to rebuild’ –

In the northern reaches of New South Wales — where floodwaters this week destroyed homes, washed away cars and stranded hundreds of locals on their roofs — a long, slow clean-up is under way.

There are 800 people in emergency accommodation in the state’s Northern Rivers region alone, said state emergency services commissioner Charlene York.

According to emergency services, almost half of the 5,000 flood-ravaged homes inspected in the region in the wake of the disaster are uninhabitable.

In Mullumbimby, a town cut off from phone service, internet and outside help for days by the floods, local Casey Whelan told AFP that “lots of people in my street can’t get flood insurance”.

“They will have no way to rebuild,” he said.

Australia has been at the sharp end of climate change, with droughts, deadly bushfires, bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef and floods becoming more common and intense as global weather patterns change.