May Faces Defeat In Final Brexit Gamble

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa/ AFP

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May stared at the prospect Wednesday of her political career coming to an inglorious end after her final attempt to save her hated Brexit deal was almost universally condemned by parliament.

The beleaguered premier is in the last throes of a tumultuous rule focused all-but exclusively on guiding her fractured country out of the European Union in one piece.

But three overwhelming rejections by parliament of the terms she struck with the other 27 nations last year have forced Britain to miss the original March 29 departure date and plead for more time.

May is now paying the price for failing to deliver on the wishes of voters who chose by a narrow margin in 2016 to break their uneasy four-decade involvement in the European integration project.

READ ALSO: Turkey Ready For US Sanctions Over Russian Missile Deal – Minister

Her Conservatives are set to get thumped in European Parliament elections Thursday in which the brand new Brexit Party of anti-EU populist Nigel Farage is running away with the polls.

Anxious members of May’s party were meeting behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss changes to the rules that would let them vote no-confidence in her leadership in the days to come.

May has already promised to step down no matter the outcome of her fourth attempt to ram her version of Brexit through parliament in early June.

But even that sacrifice — and a package of sweeteners unveiled Wednesday that included a chance for lawmakers to get a second Brexit referendum — failed to win hearts and minds.

“It’s time for the prime minister to go,” Ian Blackford of the pro-EU Scottish National Party told May as she tried to defend her latest proposals in parliament.

“Will she do it?”

May ignored the question and called the upcoming vote Britain’s last chance to leave the EU with a negotiated deal that can avert economic chaos.

“There are people who tell me I have compromised too much in the package being put forward, others telling me I have not compromised enough in the package being put forward,” she said with a note of exasperation in her voice.

“At some stage the House has to come together and we have to decide to go the distance together in order to deliver Brexit.”

 Election drubbing 

But things look to go only worse for May in the days and weeks to come.

The European elections are being interpreted in Britain as a referendum on both Brexit and May’s ability to get the job done. They make grim reading for the government team.

A YouGov survey Wednesday showed Farage’s Brexit Party claiming 37-percent support.

The pro-EU group of Liberal Democrats was second on 19 percent. The main opposition Labour Party was on 13 percent and May’s Conservatives were lagging in fifth place with just seven percent.

“If we win these elections and win them well, we have a democratic mandate,” Farage said Thursday.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable told supporters that a vote for his party was “a vote to stop Brexit”.

His group’s open rejection of Brexit appears to be resonating with pro-EU voters who would normally back one of the two main parties.

 ‘We can do better’ 

May is still hoping to stay in power long enough to somehow win parliament’s approval of the EU divorce terms before its summer recess begins on July 20.

This would let the country leave at the end of that month — as long as lawmakers reject a second referendum.

Otherwise the process could be delayed until October 31 — the deadline set by the EU — or even later if its leaders grant Britain another postponement.

But pressure within both May’s government and party is building for her to go now so that a new leader can rescue the process before Britain crashes out without a deal.

UK media reports said that Wednesday’s meeting of rank-and-file Conservatives discussed changes in rules focused on pushing May out the door within days.

Discussions were expected to continue into Wednesday evening.

The field of candidates to succeed May is led by former foreign secretary Boris Johnson — a divisive figure who enjoys relatively strong public support.

Johnson said on Twitter he would not support May’s new package despite backing her “with great reluctance” the last time around.

“We can and must do better,” Johnson tweeted.

Valverde’s Job On The Line After Another Champions League ‘Disaster’

Barcelona’s Spanish coach Ernesto Valverde gestures during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Liverpool and Barcelona at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on May 7, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Barcelona and Lionel Messi walked out at Anfield as probable for a Champions League, Cup, and Liga treble but walked off with coach Ernesto Valverde possibly facing the sack. 

Shortly after their 4-0 capitulation on Tuesday which sent Liverpool through to the Champions League final on the back one of the competition’s greatest ever comebacks, Barca president Josep Bartomeu dodged guaranteeing the future of his coach Ernesto Valverde.

“We are all very emotional now because of the elimination,” said Bartomeu. “We have to raise our spirits because there is a Copa del Rey final to come. There will be difficult days for everyone but we have to lift our heads.”

Another Cup final to erase the disappointment of another failure in the Champions League except, just like last year, even a domestic double will not come close.

READ ALSO: Never-Say-Die Spirit Propels Liverpool To The Brink Of Glory

It was supposed to be the season Barcelona laid to rest the ghost of the Stadio Olimpico, where they inexplicably conceded three in Rome, one year after they let in three in Turin, two years after they were stunned in Madrid.

Three consecutive quarter-final defeats, all away from home.

This was one stage further and Liverpool were more capable than Roma, Juventus or Atletico but Barca’s latest loss was the worst of them all.

“We ask for forgiveness because even after Rome, it happened again,” said Sergio Busquets.

They had won La Liga on April 27, with three games to spare, when Bartomeu said: “Our target is the treble”.

If it felt like the president was denying his team the chance to celebrate, it was because La Liga, which Barcelona have now won eight times in 11 years, is no longer enough.

“Making the extraordinary normal,” it said on the players’ victory t-shirts.

 ‘That beautiful cup’ 

To be extraordinary, Barca had to deliver in Europe where, unlike in Spain, their record diminishes their impact on this era which, for many, at least in terms of style and talent, is tinted in red and blue.

This has been Messi’s era too, but not in the Champions League, where he owns four titles, one fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo and equal to most of the squad of Real Madrid.

Some of Barcelona’s players joked their captain had cranked up the pressure when he pledged in August to bring “that beautiful cup” back to Camp Nou.

But the expectation and the armband seemed to bring the best out of Messi, 12 goals his second best ever return in the tournament and only a couple short of his highest tally in 2012.

His last two left Liverpool three down and surely out, even if the score flattered Barca and overlooked what had been their fiercest opponent all season.

It should have been enough. Valverde had rested all 11 of his first-leg starters against Celta Vigo on Saturday just as Liverpool, with seven of the same 11, were churning out a win over Newcastle.

Liverpool should have been exhausted, without two of their first-choice forwards, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, both injured.

Barca should have been prepared too, their memories of the past three seasons painful enough to prevent complacency and recent enough to harden their resolve against the inevitable onslaught of Anfield.

Instead, they crumbled, unable to find that stubbornness that has carried Madrid, a less coherent team, to success again and again in the Champions League.

“I do not know how it’s going to affect me,” Valverde said. “But here we are, the coach has to take responsibility.”

There will be calls for change, particularly from those fans who have never been convinced by Valverde, suspicious of his more pragmatic tendencies and, perhaps, underwhelmed by his placid approach.

Valverde signed a new contract in February, albeit only until 2020, and, out of Europe, he boasts a record that is almost faultless.

If he was to leave in the summer, he could depart having won consecutive doubles, lost two games in the Champions League and only four in La Liga, with half of those coming after the title was already secured.

This season, Barcelona have been brilliant, sitting nine points ahead of Atletico Madrid and 15 clear of Real, who they were 17 better than last year too.

“No way,” said Luis Suarez, when asked if the coach was to blame. “The players are the ones who were on the field. If his approach was good in the first leg, it was good again now.”

But the Champions League was the one they wanted, and the objective was the treble.

“There will be time to reflect,” said Bartomeu. “For the second year in a row, it’s a disastrous night.”

AFP

Cannavaro Under Pressure As China Coach After Second Defeat

China’s new head coach Fabio Cannavaro reacts during the 2019 China Cup third-place play-off football match between China and Uzbekistan in Nanning in China’s southern Guangxi region on March 25, 2019. STR / AFP

 

Fabio Cannavaro’s short reign as China coach could already be over after the hosts were beaten for the second time in five days on Monday and again failed to score.

The World Cup winner was put in charge 10 days ago, but local media had speculated that the China Cup amounted to an audition to be fellow Italian Marcello Lippi’s long-term successor.

If that was the case, the 45-year-old legendary defender fluffed his lines.

The home side followed up Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Thailand with another disjointed display in the four-team tournament, going down 1-0 to lower-ranked Uzbekistan.

READ ALSO: Dortmund Dismiss Reports Linking Sancho To Man United

In front of a sparse crowd for the mid-afternoon match in Nanning, China failed to muster a shot on target and there was a smattering of jeers at the final whistle.

Former Juventus and Real Madrid star Cannavaro, who is also coach at Guangzhou Evergrande, said afterward that he would hold talks with the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and the Chinese Super League (CSL) club.

“But until now the CFA hasn’t made any clear statement about the appointment,” he said.

“I have said before: taking over the national football team can be a very big challenge. The bigger the challenge, the greater the passion will be.

“As the national team is experiencing changes, we all have some concerns about the pace and degree of the changes.

“If (China) needs me, I will consider it, but who can be the coach of the national team cannot be decided in one day.”

Juggling a top CSL job and the national side “is difficult”, Cannavaro admitted, after another meek defeat that left China — who have grand ambitions to host a World Cup and become a major footballing force — bottom of the four sides in the China Cup.

“We still need to calm down and discuss it. If we cannot find a suitable way to cooperate, I will still coach Evergrande (only).”

Cannavaro made five changes to the side lucky to lose by just one goal to Thailand last week, but it only made China — missing the rested Espanyol forward Wu Lei — less effective.

They were already on the back foot when forward Eldor Shomurodov took advantage of hesitant defending by Evergrande’s Zhang Linpeng on 35 minutes to lash the ball into the roof of the net for Uzbekistan, who are 89th in the FIFA rankings to China’s 72nd.

Uzbekistan, soundly defeated 3-0 by Uruguay on Friday, were also the better team in the second half and should have extended their lead, but China-based substitute Odil Ahmedov headed straight at goalkeeper Yan Junling.

Uruguay and Thailand play later Monday in the final of the annual mini-tournament.

AFP

Real Madrid Suffer Shock Defeat To Girona

Girona’s Uruguayan forward Cristhian Stuani (2ndL) scores a penalty during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid and Girona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 17, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Real Madrid threw away their lead and perhaps their hopes of catching Barcelona as Girona came from behind to pull off a shock 2-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday. 

Girona had not won in 13 matches and looked on course for a seventh straight defeat when Casemiro headed a dominant Madrid ahead in the first half.

But complacency set in, and Girona took full advantage as Cristhian Stuani scored a penalty and Portu nodded in at the back post, leaving the European champions scrapping even for a point before Sergio Ramos was sent off in the 90th minute.

They failed even to muster that, with defeat here a major act of self-harm for what was beginning to look like a serious resurgence in La Liga’s title race.

Barcelona had beaten Real Valladolid by a single goal on Saturday but their stodgy display continued a period of uncertainty for the Catalans, while Madrid arrived here on the back of seven wins and a draw at the Camp Nou.

READ ALSO: VAR Helps Fiorentina Beat SPAL Amid Controversy

Barca still have to go to the Bernabeu later this month but that Clasico will be a lot less nervy now. Their cushion has been extended to nine points over Real, with Atletico jumping back above them into second, seven points off the top.

“It’s a shame,” Real coach Santiago Solari said. “We drop points and our rivals won. It is a pity because we were on a great run.” Is the league over? “Not at all,” he said.

The frustration for Solari will be that his team had this game in the palm of their hands, in control against a Girona side that celebrated at the end as if they had secured survival.

Their first league victory since November pushes them four points clear of the bottom three.

Solari will also take some of the blame after he fielded a rotating line-up following the Champions League win over Ajax in midweek.

Gareth Bale and Vinicius Junior both started on the bench, while Luka Modric was suspended. Marcelo came in at left back and was again unconvincing for Girona’s second.

Madrid barely broke a sweat in the first half, in control but playing within themselves as long spells of possession were only occasionally turned into a clear-cut chance.

The best move was marked by two scoops, the first by Toni Kroos, who lifted the ball over Pere Pons and squared for Lucas Vazquez, who repeated the trick, dinking it between two defenders, only for his finish to be saved by Bono.

It was no surprise in the 25th minute when Casemiro nodded in Kroos’ cross after Bono elected to punch rather than catch the initial ball in.

 Comfortable to complacent 

Eusebio brought on both Aleix Garcia and Anthony Lozano at half-time, and the impact was almost instant, as Garcia blazed over a rebound after Lozano’s header.

Madrid slipped from comfortable to complacent and shortly after the hour, they were punished. Stuani’s header spilled out to Douglas Luiz, whose finish was blocked by the hand of Ramos.

Ramos’ yellow card might have been red, the defender perhaps only spared by two white shirts behind him. Stuani made no mistake with the penalty.

Girona almost scored again, Portu’s shot rattling the outside of the post, and then they did. Casemiro missed a tackle in midfield and Lozano’s shot was parried to Portu. Marcelo dangled a leg but failed to stop the header creeping inside the post.

Vinicius and Bale both came on but Vinicius three times missed the target from good positions, while Bale was whistled at one point after losing possession.

Casemiro wanted a penalty when he felt Pedro Alcala’s hand on his shoulder and moments later Ramos was sent off, drawing a second yellow card catching Alcala in the face with an attempted volley.

Even Courtois was allowed up for a late corner and he got his head on it too but the ball flashed wide. The surprised applause quickly turned to groans at full-time.

AFP

Guardiola Stays Cool Despite Shock Man City Defeat

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) consoles Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) after the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on December 22, 2018. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said he was not disappointed by his players’ effort despite suffering a surprise 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring for the home side at the Etihad but Palace hit back with goals from Jeffrey Schlupp and Andros Townsend followed by a Luka Milivojevic penalty.

Substitute Kevin De Bruyne gave City late hope but it was not enough and they remain four points behind leaders Liverpool after their first home defeat of the season.

“We started quite decent and created chances,” Guardiola told the BBC. “We scored a fantastic goal and after they passed the halfway line they scored.

“The third goal… we cannot concede the penalty we conceded. We have to try and avoid it. Football is like this. Three shots on goal and three goals.

“It’s complicated but we fight until the last second. We are in December and we will try and recover and try and win games again.”

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson put his side’s victory down to hard work.

“You don’t produce that sort of performance by waving a magic wand or having a five-minute team talk — there’s a lot of work that goes into that structure and we were excellent,” he told the BBC.

“We are playing against a team with enormous skill levels and their focus, their ability to sustain attacks, is an example to us all.”

He described Townsend’s goal as “magnificent”.

“I wouldn’t say I thought he was going to score but he gave himself a chance. It will be a contender for goal of the week, if not goal of the year.”

AFP

Man City Humbled After Shocking Loss To Crystal Palace

A strike from Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (not seen) beats Crystal Palace’s Spanish goalkeeper Vicente Guaita (C) for Manchester City’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on December 22, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester City were shocked 3-2 by Crystal Palace at home on Saturday, suffering their second defeat in three Premier League matches to losing ground on Liverpool in the title race.

Pep Guardiola’s team opened the scoring in the first half through Ilkay Gundogan but Roy Hodgson’s men hit back through Jeffrey Schlupp, an Andros Townsend stunner and a Luka Milivojevic penalty.

Kevin De Bruyne pulled back a goal in the 85th minute but it was too little, too late for City.

AFP

Federer Suffers Shock Defeat To Germany’s Zverev In ATP Semi

Switzerland’s Roger Federer uses a towel during a break in play against Germany’s Alexander Zverev during their men’s singles semi-final match on day seven of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 17, 2018. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Roger Federer said he hoped a ballboy who dropped a ball during the climax of his ATP Finals last-four defeat against Alexander Zverev would not have a sleepless night.

Germany’s Zverev won the match 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) but the end of the contest at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday was overshadowed by an unusual incident.

Zverev stopped playing during a rally with Federer leading 4-3 in the second-set tie-break after the ballboy’s error, forcing the point to be replayed.

Zverev won the point with an ace and nudged into a 5-4 lead before Federer inexplicably netted with a simple forehand volley to hand the German two set points, the second of which he took on his own serve.

Immediately after the match finished there were boos from the pro-Federer crowd and on-court interviewer Annabel Croft told them to be “more respectful” as Zverev had been playing by the rules.

“First of all I want to apologise for the situation in the tie-break,” said the German. “The ball boy dropped the ball and it is the rules we have to stop the point.”

Federer, who was chasing a seventh end-of-season title, described Zverev’s move to stop the rally as a “big call” but said no blame attached to the German.

“I’m not questioning Sascha’s (Zverev’s) sportsmanship in any way,” he added.

Federer said the ballboy had confirmed to him that he had dropped the ball.

“From that standpoint, it’s OK, no problem, that happens,” said the Swiss. “It’s all good. It’s all good. I hope he doesn’t have a sleepless night. It’s not a big deal at the end of the day.”

“I’m definitely not mad at him,” he added. “It’s all good, you know, from my side.”

AFP

Henry Suffers Defeat In First Match As Monaco Coach

Monaco’s French coach Thierry Henry reacts on the pitch prior to the French L1 football match between Monaco and Strasbourg on October 20, 2018 at the Stade de la Meinau in Strasbourg, eastern France. Frederick FLORIN / AFP

 

Thierry Henry suffered defeat in his first match as a head coach when his 10-man Monaco side slumped to a 2-1 loss at Strasbourg on Saturday to drop into the Ligue 1 relegation zone, while Paris Saint-Germain eased to a 10th straight victory to start their title defence.

The principality club have failed to win in 11 games in all competitions since the opening weekend of the French top-flight season, and are only above bottom team Guingamp on goal difference.

Monaco, who were runners-up to PSG last season, are now 24 points adrift of the reigning champions after they cruised to a 5-0 thrashing of Amiens at the Parc des Princes despite resting several key players.

A dreadful error by Monaco’s third-choice goalkeeper Seydou Sy gifted Strasbourg midfielder, Adrien Thomasson, an early opener, and substitute Samuel Grandsir was sent off midway through the second half.

Lebo Mothiba doubled the advantage, and a late Youri Tielemans penalty was a mere consolation for the 2017 Ligue 1 title-winners.

Henry — a World Cup winner and Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer who started his playing career at Monaco — made four changes to the team which lost to Rennes before the international break, with former Manchester City and Inter Milan striker Stevan Jovetic restored up front.

But his new side got off to the worst possible start as they handed Strasbourg a 17th-minute lead.

Kenny Lala’s long ball forward was nodded hopefully towards goal by Thomasson, but Senegalese ‘keeper Sy — who was only playing due to injuries to Diego Benaglio and Danijel Subasic — comically fumbled the ball over his own line.

A disappointing first half ended poorly for Henry and Monaco, as captain and star striker Radamel Falcao was forced off injured.

Monaco started the second half quickly and almost equalised when centre-back Kamil Glik’s volley was hacked off the line by home defender Lala.

But it was proving a miserable debut for Henry, as just two minutes after being brought on as a substitute, Grandsir was given a straight red card for catching Anthony Goncalves in the hip with a high boot, with the Strasbourg winger collapsing to the ground holding his face.

As the visitors pushed for an equaliser, they were hit on the counter-attack in the 84th minute as South African international Mothiba raced clear before a cute lob gave him his seventh goal of the season for club and country.

Tielemans pulled one back with an injury-time spot-kick after Moussa Sylla was brought down in the area, but it proved too little, too late.

– PSG make it 10/10 –

Paris Saint-Germain continued the blistering start to their Ligue 1 title defence as Kylian Mbappe scored again earlier on Saturday.

Coach Thomas Tuchel left key men Neymar, Thiago Silva and Thomas Meunier out of the squad altogether at the Parc des Princes with Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Napoli in mind, but PSG had more than enough to see off Amiens.

“Everyone thinks that Ligue 1 might be too easy to prepare for the Champions League, but it’s not like that,” insisted Tuchel, who took over the reins from Unai Emery in the close-season.

“That would mean you’re blaming the other teams, but we focus on ourselves. Nobody won 10 games in a row, and we did it.”

Brazilian centre-back Marquinhos nodded the hosts into a 12th-minute lead and Adrien Rabiot made it two shortly before half-time.

Germany winger Julian Draxler grabbed the third headed goal of the game, and the 19-year-old Mbappe fired in late on to score his ninth goal in just six league outings this season.

It was a horrid mismatch with Amiens utterly outclassed, and teenager Moussa Diaby came off the bench to complete the rout as the capital-city giants maintained their commanding eight-point lead at the top of the table.

Elsewhere, second-placed Lille continued their strong start to the campaign as goals from Nicolas Pepe and Luiz Araujo sealed a 2-1 win over Dijon.

AFP

Sterling Shines As England Defeat Spain

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (L) taps Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling on the head as he leaves the pitch after being substituted off during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 7, 2018.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Raheem Sterling scored twice as England delivered one of their finest victories of the modern era by beating Spain 3-2 in Seville on Monday. 

Away from home, and against a Spanish side in scintillating form under their new coach Luis Enrique, this was certainly England’s best win under Gareth Southgate and, perhaps, they’re most impressive since thrashing Germany 5-1 in Munich in 2001.

Marcus Rashford was the other scorer in a breathless opening 45 minutes, which witnessed Spain conceding three on home soil for the first time in their history.

“To play the way they did, this should be a great reference point for this team for the future,” Southgate said.

Paco Alcacer, on as a substitute, headed in before the hour to spark hopes of a comeback but England were home and dry by the time Sergio Ramos scored in the 98th minute, with the last action of the match.

It means England keep alive their hopes of finishing top of Group 4 in the UEFA Nations League, the position Spain had needed only a point to all-but-guarantee would be theirs.

It was a night for streaks ending and records tumbling. Sterling’s opening goal was his first in 1,102 days for England, even more, remarkable given he added his second 22 minutes later.

“The only thing we did say is when he scores he will score again,” Southgate said. “He managed to do so pretty quickly.”

The last time England won away against Spain was 1987 — which was also when they last scored against Spain away from home, Gary Lineker on target.

With an average age of just over 23, this was also the youngest England starting line-up in the 21st century. That will be the most exciting aspect of Southgate.

For Spain, Alcacer now has an astonishing 10 goals from his last 10 shots on target. But defeat represents something of a reality check. “Waving the flag for goals,” read Marca’s front page on Monday. They had scored 12 in three games since Luis Enrique took charge.

“Clearly it wasn’t our night,” he said. “We have made mistakes on an individual level and their goals were medicine for them and poison for us.”

But Eric Dier set the tone early on. He left Sergio Busquets, sluggish throughout, hopping out of his first pass and then slid through Ramos, who was also out of sorts.

After a frantic start, England settled and in the 13th minute, scored. Under pressure at the back, they kept the ball until the risk was too great and Jordan Pickford drove forward to Harry Kane.

With Spain caught upfield, he was able to turn and find Rashford, whose quick switch set Sterling free. He finished into the top corner.

“We are staying up,” sang the away support as Thiago Alcantara danced around England’s midfield with flicks and tricks. But to little effect.

Instead, Kane showed the value of a top-class center forward for England’s second. He outmuscled Ramos to win Pickford’s punt downfield, outpaced Nacho to the loose ball with a superb reverse pass in behind. Rashford only had to finish.

Spain’s early confidence was gone and England added a third before the interval, which was greeted by whistles from the home fans.

Ross Barkley’s sumptuous ball over the top caught Ramos napping again and Kane squared for Sterling to tap in. “Are you Scotland in disguise?” came the taunt from the corner.

Spain was sent out early for the second period, among them Alcacer, who replaced Saul. He scored with his first touch, heading in Marco Asensio’s corner, given away after a fumble by Pickford.

It was a nightmare few minutes for England’s goalkeeper, who then dallied and was tackled by Rodrigo.

Pickford scrambled the ball away but probably fouled Rodrigo in the process and Spain was adamant they deserved a penalty. The referee was not convinced.

England played for time, with a handful of players going down injured, and Spain’s pressure gradually eased. Rodrigo shot wide in the final 10 minutes. Asensio went even closer.

Marcos Alonso then deflected onto the bar deep into injury time and Ramos headed home in the 98th minute. But there was not even time for a restart. England’s win was complete.

AFP

Maldives President Yameen Blames Election Defeat On ‘Disappearing Ink

File Photo of President Abdulla Yameen

Outgoing Maldives President Abdulla Yameen says disappearing ink and specially treated ballot papers were to blame for his heavy election defeat last month.

The strongman leader of the honeymoon island nation had been expected to romp home in the September 23 poll, with opposition leaders jailed or exiled, and warnings that he would try to fix the vote.

But in a surprise turn of events, a little-known united opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, was declared the winner, sparking celebrations across the tropical holiday destination.

Yameen initially said he accepted defeat and was ready to step down when his term ends on November 17. But last week he launched a Supreme Court challenge, seeking to annul the result.

At a hearing on Sunday which resumed Monday, Yameen’s lawyer Mohamed Saleem accused the printer of coating ballot papers with an unnamed substance to make votes marked in Yameen’s box vanish.

Saleem said a “special pen with disappearing ink” had been given to people who were going to vote for his client, a reporter at the hearing said.

A lawyer for the Elections Commission, which Yameen accused of colluding with the printer to ensure his defeat, on Sunday denied any wrongdoing, including using any special ink.

A day ahead of the court hearing in the capital Male, the United States warned “appropriate measures” would be taken if the will of the Maldivian people was undermined.

Europe and India have also issued similar warnings in the past.

The US and its allies have been concerned about growing Chinese influence in the strategically positioned Indian Ocean archipelago, especially under Yameen’s authoritarian rule.

Yameen’s Progressive Party (PPM) on Saturday said the vote was the “most farcical election in living memory” with the organization “abysmal” and vote-rigging “rampant”.

AFP

Arsenal Sends Everton Into Drop Zone In 5-2 Defeat

Everton’s Croatian striker Nikola Vlasic reacts during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park in Liverpool, North West England on October 22, 2017. PHOTO: AFP Oli SCARFF

Wayne Rooney recreated his famous first league goal for Everton against Arsenal on Sunday but it was not enough to prevent his struggling team falling to a 5-2 defeat and into the Premier League bottom three.

Goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette proved pivotal as Everton continued their worst start to a season in nine years, with this latest reverse adding to the mounting pressure on Everton manager Ronald Koeman.

German international Ozil struck with a superb header in the 53rd minute at Goodison Park, slipping between two defenders to meet a magnificent left-wing cross from team mate Alexis Sanchez and put Arsenal ahead.

Nacho Monreal had cancelled out Rooney’s opener and hopes of a home comeback were damaged when Everton were reduced to 10 men in the 69th minute after midfielder Idrissa Gueye caught Granit Xhaka and was shown a second yellow card.

Lacazette killed off any hope of that recovery in the 74th minute, after neat passing between Sanchez and Ozil allowed the Frenchman to convert clinically from 15 yards.

The rout continued in the last minute of normal time as substitute Jack Wilshere produced a defence-splitting pass which found Aaron Ramsey who finished unerringly to make it 4-1.

But in a bizarre conclusion, there were two goals in stoppage time, first from Everton substitute Oumar Niasse who charged down a Petr Cech clearance to force the ball into the net.

Arsenal were still not finished and Sanchez became their fifth different scorer from the last attack as he was allowed to carry the ball across the face of the area and score with an excellent angled shot.

– Rooney rolls back the years –

Rooney’s goal had come completely against the run of play in the 12th minute but the technique employed by the veteran forward — who turns 32 on Tuesday — was no less impressive for that fact.

Gueye won the ball from Xhaka some 30 yards out and slipped the ball to Rooney, who leant back and guided a perfect finish into the top left-hand corner of the net.

It was the same end and the same top corner as the goal which announced Rooney’s spectacular arrival in the Premier League against the same opponents, 15 years and three days earlier.

But while the Rooney goal that day had won three points for Everton, a repeat of that outcome looked doubtful from early in Sunday’s proceedings.

Aaron Ramsey was denied by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after just three minutes and a Ramsey cross soon found Lacazette, who showed breathtaking skill to turn his defender and force Pickford into another fine save.

Even after going behind, Arsenal were soon back in the ascendancy with Pickford failing to gather a fiercely-struck Sanchez free-kick but making up for that error by blocking Ramsey’s follow-up attempt from the rebound.

But there was no similar reprieve in the 40th minute when Pickford dived to keep out a drive from Xhaka, which took a deflection off Gyfli Sigurdsson.

The Everton keeper could only push the ball as far as the sprinting Monreal who struck a sweet finish past Pickford for the equaliser.

Everton started the second half brightly but, after Nikola Vlasic ended a promising attack by having a shot blocked, instead of playing in Rooney, Arsenal broke directly upfield for Ozil’s goal.

Lacazette’s goal killed off the contest and, even before the late flurry, there should have been more for the visitors as Sanchez missed with a diving header and Xhaka struck the crossbar with a 20-yard shot.

AFP

Sunderland Confirm Anichebe Out For Ten Weeks With Knee Injury

sunderlandNigerian forward, Victor Anichebe, has been ruled out of action for three months after sustaining a knee injury in Sunderland’s 2-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.

Anichebe, who just returned from a hamstring injury, was brought on as a second half substitute but later went down clutching his right knee.

Sunderland manager, David Moyes, confirmed that the 28-year-old will be out until April.

Anichebe’s latest injury will be a big blow to the Black Cats who already have Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Paddy Mcnair, Jordan Pickford and Duncan Watmore all out with long-term injuries.