Wales Secure Crucial Win As Italy Eye Euro 2020 Knockouts

Wales’ midfielder Aaron Ramsey celebrates after scoring his opening goal next to Turkey’s goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match between Turkey and Wales at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on June 16, 2021. (Photo by VALENTYN OGIRENKO / POOL / AFP) 

 

 

Wales took a big step towards the Euro 2020 knockout phase on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Turkey in Baku, before rejuvenated Italy look to seal their place in the last 16 with victory against Switzerland.

After drawing 1-1 with the Swiss in their opening Group A game, Wales now have four points from two matches after goals from Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts saw off a disappointing Turkey.

“You’d like to think so, but we’ll have to wait and see,” said Wales captain Gareth Bale when asked if his team had done enough to get through.

“If you’d offered us four points at the start we would’ve bitten your hand off.”

Senol Gunes’ side, roared on by the majority of the crowd in Azerbaijan, have lost both of their games without scoring and face a mountain to climb if they are to qualify.

 

Wales’ coach Robert Page celebrates his team’s victory at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match between Turkey and Wales at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on June 16, 2021. (Photo by VALENTYN OGIRENKO / POOL / AFP)

 

Wales, semi-finalists five years ago, should have won more convincingly, but wasted several chances including a second-half penalty which was blazed over by Bale.

Up to 4,000 Turkish fans travelled for the game, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but Wales immediately were on the front foot and Ramsey wasted two excellent chances early on.

He made no mistake three minutes before the break, though, chesting down Bale’s pass and slotting home.

Bale, whose future at Real Madrid is uncertain, won a penalty just after the hour mark but was uncharacteristically wayward from the spot.

Merih Demiral, left on the bench after his own goal in Turkey’s 3-0 loss to Italy last week, almost made amends as a substitute in the 87th minute but was denied by an excellent save from Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward.

Robert Page’s Wales grabbed the second goal their performance deserved in stoppage time, as Bale danced through and teed up Roberts to sweep into the net.

– Italy bid to book last-16 spot –
Roberto Mancini’s Italy were impressive in their first outing and, with home advantage in Rome, will be confident of securing qualification for the knockout phase.

The 1968 European champions, on a 28-match unbeaten run, have a rich international pedigree and are desperate to atone for the humiliation of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“The strength of this Italy? It’s the group,” said forward Lorenzo Insigne.

“The coach has created a great group. No one is assured of a place.

“Whoever plays knows what we have to do, to put ourselves at the service of each other.”

In the first match of the day, Russia defeated neighbours Finland 1-0 in Saint Petersburg courtesy of Aleksei Miranchuk’s goal just before half-time to pick up their first points in Group B.

It blows open the section after Russia lost 3-0 to Belgium in their opening game at the weekend. Finland had beaten Denmark 1-0 in Copenhagen on Saturday, a game completely overshadowed by Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest.

 

Wales supporters celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match between Turkey and Wales at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on June 16, 2021. (Photo by TOLGA BOZOGLU / POOL / AFP)

 

– Germany under pressure –
On Tuesday, a Mats Hummels own goal proved enough for 2018 World Cup winners France to beat Germany 1-0 in a blockbuster Group F match in Munich on Tuesday.

France deserved the win, with both Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having second-half goals disallowed for offside calls while Adrien Rabiot also hit the post for Les Bleus.

“It’s our first match, but this is a game that could have been a semi-final or a final and to take these three points in a group like this was important,” France coach Didier Deschamps told broadcaster M6.

Germany’s opening defeat in the “Group of Death” turns up the pressure on coach Joachim Loew, who is taking charge of a tournament for the last time.

“It’s up to us to crank things up in the next two or three days,” said Loew. “We have to look to improve, because we need a goal or two.”

Germany’s next game is against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Euro 2016 winners, who got off to the perfect start by beating Hungary 3-0 in Budapest.

Ronaldo marked the occasion by netting his 10th and 11th European Championship goals, surpassing the record of nine he shared with France legend Michel Platini.

The 36-year-old Juventus forward has now scored in five different European Championship finals and has 106 goals for his country, leaving him just three away from matching Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time international scoring record of 109.

EU Sanctions Three Firms For Breaking Libya Arms Embargo

An official hangs a Union Jack next to an European Union flag at EU Headquarters in Brussels on October 17, 2019, ahead of a European Union Summit on Brexit.
Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on three companies — one Turkish, one Kazakh and one Jordanian — for breaching the UN arms embargo on Libya, drawing an angry reaction from Turkey.

At a regular meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers signed off on the measures, which freeze any EU assets held by the companies, cut them off from EU finance markets, and bar them from doing business with anyone in the bloc.

Two individuals were also hit with sanctions for human rights abuses in Libya, where the UN-recognised government in Tripoli has been under attack from strongman Khalifa Haftar, who runs a rival administration in the east.

The EU has a naval mission operating in waters off Libya which is tasked with policing the embargo and collecting intelligence on violators.

“These new listings show the EU’s strategic use of its sanctions regime and ability to react to developments on the ground in support of the political process and to deter past and present perpetrators from further violations,” the EU said in a statement.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

But there have been signs of progress, with representatives from the two sides meeting for peace talks in Morocco, announcing a surprise ceasefire and pledging national elections.

“After many months I see a reason for cautious optimism. There is a positive momentum, there is a ceasefire and we need to use it,” EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said as he arrived for the foreign ministers’ talks.

– Turkey attacks ‘wrong decision’ –
But the targeting of a Turkish company risks inflaming already tense relations between Ankara and the EU following a recent flare-up in the eastern Mediterranean over oil and gas reserves.

The EU says the company, Avrasya Shipping, operates a vessel called the Cirkin, which it says breached the arms embargo by transporting military material to Libya in May and June 2020.

Turkey lashed out at the decision in a statement from the foreign ministry late on Monday.

“At a time when efforts are made to reduce tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, making such a wrong decision is extremely unfortunate,” it read.

It also accused the EU’s naval mission in waters off Libya, called Operation Irini, of “ignoring” shipments to Haftar, “especially by the UAE (United Arab Emirates)”

“The EU’s Operation Irini rewards Haftar and punishes the Libya government recognised by the United Nations,” said the statement.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli is backed by Turkey and Qatar, while Haftar has enjoyed the support of Russia, Egypt, the UAE and France.

“If the EU wants security and stability in the region, it should give up on its biased attitude and act in consultation and cooperation with Turkey,” the foreign ministry statement added.

The other two companies targeted by the EU sanctions were Kazakh cargo air operator Sigma Airlines and Jordanian maritime firm Med Wave Shipping.

 

 

-AFP

Pope Francis Returns From Greece With 12 Migrants

Pope FrancisPope Francis has taken 12 Syrian migrants back with him to the Vatican after visiting a camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The three families, including six children, are all Muslim and had their homes bombed during the Syrian war.

The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis wanted to “make a gesture of welcome” to the refugees.

Thousands of migrants are now stuck on Lesbos after last month’s EU-Turkey deal to try to ease the flow.

All of those leaving with the Pope were already living on Lesbos before the deal was implemented, the Vatican said.