Category: AFP

Palace improve survival hopes, West Brom facing relegation

London (AFP) – Crystal Palace boosted their bid for Premier League survival with a crucial 2-0 win at Huddersfield, but West Bromwich Albion look destined for relegation after an agonising 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Saturday. With several of the Premier League’s big guns on FA Cup quarter-final duty this weekend, the focus in a reduced top-flight fixture list turned to the battle to avoid relegation. After four successive defeats, Palace climbed out of the relegation zone with a victory that carried the added bonus of dragging Huddersfield back into trouble. Palace took the lead in the 23rd minute at ... Read more

Kalou pushes Hamburg deeper into Bundesliga danger

Berlin (AFP) – Salomon Kalou broke Hamburg hearts as he came off the bench to secure a 2-1 reverse victory for Hertha Berlin on Saturday. Crisis-stricken Hamburg were trying for a fresh start under new coach Christian Titz, but Kalou’s second-half winner stretched their winless run to 14 games, and they remain on course for a first relegation in their history. Hamburg started brightly, and took the lead on 25 minutes after Douglas Santos broke away on the counter-attack. At the other end, several smart saves from Julian Pollersbeck kept the lead in tact until half-time. Hertha finally broke through ... Read more

Brazil suffer World Cup blow as Filipe Luis breaks leg

Madrid (AFP) – Brazil’s World Cup preparations have suffered a blow with serious injury to Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis. He had been preferred over Juventus’ Alex Sandro in Brazil coach Tite’s squad released Thursday for the upcoming friendlies against France and World Cup hosts Russia. But hours later he suffered a broken leg in Atletico’s Europa League tie at Lokomotiv Moscow. He underwent surgery in Madrid on Friday and returned home on Saturday. “His absence is estimated at eight weeks,” Atletico said in a press release. That would put his return some time in mid-May, meaning he would not ... Read more

Barcelona coach wary of first season treble prophecy

Barcelona (AFP) – Ernesto Valverde dismissed the idea that he, as Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique had done before, would win the a league, Cup and Champions League treble in his first season at the helm. Valverde has regalvanized the lacklustre Barcelona of last season taking over the team that had just lost Neymar and revitalised their fortunes and the form of their star player Lionel Messi. But despite an eight point advantage over Atletico Madrid, a cup final date with Sevilla in April and a relatively easy draw with Roma in the Champions League quarters, Valverde says Barca a ... Read more

Eriksen double sends Spurs into FA Cup semis

Swansea (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Christian Eriksen proved Tottenham can thrive without Harry Kane as the Dane’s double sent them into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 3-0 win at Swansea on Saturday. With striker Kane sidelined for several weeks due to ankle ligament damage, Mauricio Pochettino’s side received an inspirational performance from Eriksen at the Liberty Stadium. The midfielder rose to the challenge with a majestic strike to open the scoring early in the first half of the quarter-final. After Erik Lamela increased Tottenham’s lead before half-time, Eriksen struck again after the interval to make it seven goals in ... Read more

Zidane admits fondness for Champions League rival Juventus

Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he would have preferred to avoid Juventus in Friday’s Champions League draw because of his attachment to the Italian giant where he spent five happy years. The match, to be played on 3-11 April, is a replay of last season’s Champions League final, which brought Zidane back-to-back European crowns with a 4-1 win in Cardiff.  “I spent five years over there and it was an important club in my career as a player, so obviously it always has an effect on me when we play Juve,” said Zidane, who as a ... Read more

Historic 13th World Cup win for Hirscher

Åre (Sweden) (AFP) – Marcel Hirscher took the season closing giant slalom on Saturday to equal the record of 13 wins in a single campaign. The 29-year-old Austrian entered a select club containing only two others members as he matched the number of wins achieved by skiing legends Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden in 1978-79 and Austrian Hermann Maier in 2000-2001.  The victory was Hirscher’s sixth in a World Cup giant slalom this season, he also won seven slaloms. Last month’s Olympic gold medallist in the giant slalom and combined was half a second clear of his rivals after the first ... Read more

Russia issues security guarantee to Arsenal fans

Moscow (AFP) – Russia has issued a security guarantee to Arsenal fans who will visit Moscow for a Europa League clash in the heat of a diplomatic crisis over an ex-double agent’s poisoning. Moscow on Saturday announced the expulsion of 23 British diplomats in a tit-for-tar response to London’s “provocative” measures over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England. Britain issued a travel warning to people in or planning to travel to Russia after expelling the same number of Moscow diplomats on Wednesday. And Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Friday said it was “overwhelmingly likely” ... Read more