Sports & Entertainment

By Andrew Cawthorne DOHA - Argentina's and Mexico's big and boisterous fan bases were out in force on Friday as one of Latin American football's biggest rivalries spiced up the World Cup ahead of their latest clash. Thousands of flag-draped supporters of both sides have made the huge journey to Qatar and arguably been the liveliest presence, organising street parties and teaching Spanish-language chants to Arab fans eager to join in. "They are the craziest and the best! This is exactly what we were waiting for," said Ibrahim Hussain, a Saudi Arabian wearing a Lionel Messi shirt, as he watched Argentines and Mexicans banter good-naturedly on the Qatari capital Doha's sea-front. Saturday night's Group C match at the Lusail Stadium is, however, a deadly serious matter for both. Argentina began their World Cup with a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in a disastrous start for Messi's fifth and final attempt to win...
- Home hero Cameron Smith carded a two-under-par 69 to take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Australian PGA Championship on Saturday, inching closer to a third title at the A$2 million ($1.35 million) event. British Open champion Smith got off to a strong start with four of his six birdies coming in his first six holes, but the world number three struggled on the back nine in windy conditions. The 29-year-old, who won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, moved up to an 11-under total of 202 at the event, which is co-sanctioned by Europe's DP World Tour. Overnight leader Jason Scrivener had a day to forget after he failed to recover from a poor start at the Royal Queensland course. Three bogeys on the front nine were followed by bogeys on the 14th and 16th for the Australian, who partially recovered with two successful birdie putts in his last two holes. China's Liu Yanwei shot a 70 to move up to j...
AMSTERDAM - Veteran coach Dick Advocaat has agreed yet another return to the dugout, signing on for the rest of the season at struggling Netherlands second division club ADO Den Haag, Dutch media reported on Saturday. The 75-year-old, who has announced several previous retirements, replaces former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt, who was dismissed this week, months into his first coaching job. Advocaat, whose winning record as Dutch coach was last weekend broken by Louis van Gaal at the World Cup, began his playing career at Den Haag but never previously coached the club. He confirmed he would be going there in a Dutch television programme on Friday. Den Haag were relegated two seasons ago and in the last campaign narrowly failed to win back their topflight status, losing in a penalty shootout in the post-season promotion playoffs. But under Kuyt this campaign, they have plummeted to 17th spot in the 20-team second division....
- Four-times champions Italy are not in this year's World Cup in Qatar, marking the second time in a row that the 'Azzurri' will miss the tournament. Here's what you need to know about the European Champions' failure to qualify: HOW DID ITALY'S WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION CAMPAIGN UNFOLD? * Italy were drawn in Group C of the UEFA World Cup qualification round along with Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania. * The pressure was high on coach Roberto Mancini and the squad as Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia four years earlier. * They started with three consecutive wins against Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania before taking a break for the European Championships last year. * After winning the tournament, they drew twice in a row to Bulgaria and Switzerland, before claiming a 5-0 win at home against Lithuania. * With two games left, Italy appeared to be in pole...
NEW YORK - Brazilian Larissa Pacheco pulled off a shock decision victory over Kayla Harrison after an epic five-round battle to claim the women's Professional Fighters League (PFL) lightweight title at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Pacheco, who had lost to two-time Olympic judo champion Harrison twice previously, handed her American opponent the first defeat of her professional MMA career as she picked up the million-dollar prize for winning the 2022 PFL championship. As the PFL season climaxed with a card full of championship deciders, British fighter Brendan Loughnane claimed the men's featherweight crown with a fourth-round TKO win over Bubba Jenkins, and Canadian Olivier Aubin-Mercier knocked out Stevie Ray with one punch to win the lightweight belt. (Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Kim Coghill)...
- England captain Ben Stokes is hopeful Jofra Archer can fully recover from the injury issues that have kept him out of the team since March 2021 in time for next year's Ashes series, but added that the bowler would not be rushed back into action. Archer played for the Lions in a three-day match earlier this week against the England test side in the United Arab Emirates. On Thursday, Archer said he was "fully back" from his long injury lay-off, adding that he was targeting a spot in the England team for the Ashes, which will take place on home soil in June. "He's one of the superstars of the international game and it's great to see him running back in, bowling fast and it's really good to have him back around the group as well," Stokes told Sky Sports. "I think he's just really excited to be back. He's obviously had a long time off with injury and as exciting as it is we've got to be careful not to rush him back as we don't...
By Hritika Sharma AL KHOR, Qatar - United States coach Gregg Berhalter admitted his team need to be more clinical if they are to stand a chance of reaching the knockout stage at the World Cup after they produced a lively display against England on Friday but ultimately fired blanks. The U.S. dominated play for long periods but were unable to convert a flurry of first-half chances and played out a second straight draw, after Monday's 1-1 stalemate with Wales. Berhalter's side are third in Group B with two points and would go through to the last 16 for the fifth time since 1994 with a win over Iran in their final group game on Tuesday. "The final product still could be better... I'm overall pleased with the performance of the group, most importantly the belief of this group because that never wavered," Berhalter told reporters. "What I saw pre-game was a team that was extremely focused on getting results. In the...
AL KHOR, Qatar - England's performance in a 0-0 draw with the United States at the World Cup on Friday failed to match the attacking standards in their opening 6-2 win against Iran, but grinding out results was key to tournaments too, coach Gareth Southgate said. "Yes, we lacked a little bit of zip and quality in the final third and we weren’t able to open up, to create really good chances. But we had to show another side of ourselves," Southgate told reporters. He praised his players resilience in defence as they withstood a string of corners and set-pieces by a U.S. side that grew in confidence throughout the game and came closest to winning the contest. "To be a successful team at a tournament, you have to show those different faces and we did that tonight," Southgate said. "I'm sure there'll be a lot of noise about the performance. But not many teams go through World Cups and get nine points in the group."...
By Hritika Sharma AL KHOR, Qatar - A youthful United States side outplayed England in their World Cup Group B battle but were left to rue a flurry of missed chances and poor finishing in both halves after having to settle for a 0-0 draw at the Al Bayt Stadium on Friday. England, unchanged from Monday's 6-2 win over Iran, could have sealed their place in the knockout phase with a win but were careless in possession and struggled to dominate the Americans, who steadily grew in confidence. Tim Weah set up Weston McKennie with a measured cross but the midfielder blazed his effort over before Christian Pulisic's powerful strike beat goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but crashed off the crossbar in a lively first-half display from the Americans. The closest England came to breaking the deadlock was on the stroke of halftime when U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner denied Mason Mount, while captain Harry Kane endured a frustrating evening up fron...
By Steve Keating DOHA - If the Netherlands do not improve possession they have little chance of winning the World Cup, coach Louis van Gaal said on Friday after his men let a chance to reach the last 16 slip through their fingers with a 1-1 draw with Ecuador. After Cody Gakpo's sixth-minute rocket gave the Netherlands a 1-0, the Dutch appeared on their way to advancing from Group A into the knockout stages. But the ball retention issues that bedevilled the Dutch in a somewhat unconvincing 2-0 win over Senegal in their opener surfaced again at the Khalifa International Stadium, resulting in a second half equaliser from Ecuadorean "Superman" Enner Valencia. Ecuador had a subdued first half as Van Gaal's side looked comfortable but unhurried. The South Americans, roared on by a large yellow-clad contingent, stepped up a gear in the second and could have won it when Gonzalo Plata's strike hit the crossbar....
By Shady Amir DOHA - The muffled anger from the fans was evident outside Al Thumama Stadium after Qatar's 3-1 loss to Senegal on Friday and hours later they were out of the World Cup to become the second host country to suffer that fate after South Africa in 2010. Qatar has prepared for the finals since getting the hosting rights in 2010 by spending a reported $200 billion to put on a "gathering for all mankind", as the title of the opening ceremony said, but it was all over for the team in 180 minutes. "This whole team should be changed," a Qatar fan told outside Al Thumama stadium, without revealing her name. In the tournament's opening match, the 2019 Asian Cup winners did not live up to expectations and conceded twice in the first half to lose 2-0 against Ecuador after a disappointing and shaky performance, with lots of fans leaving before the end. The team may have paid the price for the Qatar FA's decisi...
By Andrew Cawthorne DOHA - Veteran striker Enner Valencia, who has gone from selling cows' milk for his first boots to scoring Ecuador's last six World Cup goals, is rightly hailed as "Superman" at home. Yet the 33-year-old, whose latest goal heroics came in a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands on Friday, is just the spearhead of a potent young team on the verge of at least equalling their previous best ever finish at a World Cup. Gustavo Alfaro's side is brimming with young talent and outmuscled the Dutch, sitting 36 places above them in the FIFA world rankings, with a thrilling second half comeback that kept both teams joint top of Group A. Ecuador's past best World Cup showing was a last 16 place in Germany in 2006. Alfaro's team relies heavily on midfielder Moises Caicedo, who plays with an assurance beyond his 21 years and had already been turning heads in the Premier League with Brighton & Hove Albion....
By Karolos Grohmann AL RAYYAN - Saudi Arabia's stunning 2-1 comeback win over Argentina in their World Cup Group C opener this week sent shockwaves across the football world but for coach Herve Renard it was just one of three difficult group games, with Poland up next on Saturday. The Green Falcons' defeat of a Lionel Messi-led team who were unbeaten in three years was the greatest result for an Arab nation since Algeria beat West Germany in 1982 and one of the biggest upsets in the tournament's history. But Renard said on Friday that the sensational win had done nothing to change the players going into the Poland match. "Nothing has changed. We are still the lowest team in the group in terms of ranking and experience," Renard said. "So nothing changes in our mind or the favourites for the World Cup." "We know where we come from and we keep our humility because if we don't have the humility we won't be able to...
- Mexico winger Jesus 'Chucky' Lozano said he is relishing their World Cup clash against a wounded Argentina, with the Lionel Messi-led side needing to go for broke after they suffered a shock defeat in their opening Group C match. A 2-1 defeat by Saudi Arabia has left Argentina at the bottom of the standings ahead of Saturday's clash, but Lozano said his team will have to be watchful against a player he considers the best in the world. "They have the best in the world who for me is Messi, but they have the responsibility to go for everything... for me it's a special moment," Lozano told reporters on Friday. The 27-year-old, who is playing his second World Cup, was a key cog in Mexico's 0-0 draw against Poland on Tuesday, creating several chances from the right wing. Lozano said he is confident Mexico can serve up another shock for Argentina. "We must have a lot of patience and be intelligent... We have a great...
By Mark Gleeson DOHA - Ecuador's "Superman" captain Enner Valencia led a feisty fightback on Friday as the South Americans drew 1-1 with the Netherlands in Group A to keep both teams in the running for the last 16 while ending hosts Qatar's chances of qualifying. Valencia, 33, tapped in his third goal of the tournament from a rebound in the second half after Cody Gakpo had put the Dutch ahead in the sixth minute with a sizzling shot in a result that advanced both sides to four points. Qatar lost their second successive game at their debut World Cup earlier on Friday to Senegal and are eliminated. The African champions are third in the group with Ecuador to come in Tuesday's final group games. Ecuador had a subdued first half as Louis van Gaal's side looked comfortable but unhurried. But the South Americans, roared on by a large yellow-clad contingent at the Khalifa International Stadium, stepped up a gear in the second half...
AL KHOR, Qatar - Captain Harry Kane will lead England in their second match at the World Cup in Qatar against the United States on Friday after he recovered from a minor ankle injury earlier this week in an unchanged lineup for the Three Lions. England manager Gareth Southgate kept the side that beat Iran 6-2 on Monday and retained Harry Maguire - who was substituted after feeling ill in that match - at the centre of defence. U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter made one change from the side which drew 1-1 with Wales in the Americans' opening match, giving a start to striker Haji Wright in place of Josh Sargent who led the attack on Monday. Wright, who plays for Turkish side Antalyaspor and has four caps for the United States, came on as substitute in the Wales game. England: Jordan Pickford, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Kieran Trippier, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Luke Shaw, Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling...
LONDON - Twenty years after she put out her album "This Is Me... Then", singer and actor Jennifer Lopez announced on Friday a follow-up "This Is Me... Now", to be released next year. The 53-year-old, who has deleted posts from her Instagram in the last few days, shared a video clip on the social media platform in which she recreated the 2002 record's cover of herself dressed in a pink top and hat before turning into her current older self, all while saying "This is me then ... this is me now". The 2002 album, which featured hit songs "Jenny from the Block" and "All I Have", was inspired by Lopez' relationship at the time with actor Ben Affleck. The couple, dubbed "Bennifer", got engaged but called off their wedding in 2003 and split up a few months later. They rekindled their romance last year and married in the summer. In her Instagram post, Lopez listed the new album's 13 song titles, including one called "Dear Ben pt. ll"...
DOHA - Qatar became the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup on Friday after Group A rivals the Netherlands and Ecuador drew 1-1. The Dutch and Ecuador each have four points, Senegal have three. Qatar are without a point after they lost their opening game 2-0 to Ecuador and then went down 3-1 to Senegal earlier on Friday. They cannot qualify whatever happens in their final match against the Dutch on Tuesday. (Reporting by Mitch Phillips; editing by Christian Radnedge)...
- Paris St Germain coach Christophe Galtier expects Lionel Messi to be motivated for the rest of the Ligue 1 campaign regardless of how his Argentina team get on at the World Cup in Qatar. Galtier, who arrived in the capital during the close season and has led PSG to a 22-game unbeaten run with a powerful attack spearheaded by Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Messi, said the trio's preparation this term has not only been for the World Cup. "Why should I think that (I'll see a different performance after the World Cup)? Would that mean they've been preparing only for the World Cup? I can't think that," Galtier, 56, said in an interview with Spain's Marca newspaper. "They've been preparing to be good at the start of the season with PSG. I don't think Messi will have a different motivation after the World Cup (which ends on Dec. 18)." Messi is playing at his fifth World Cup and leads a wounded Argentina after they were stunned by Saud...
- Borna Coric put 2018 champions Croatia on course for a second successive appearance in the Davis Cup final with a comfortable 6-4 6-3 semi-final win over Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis in Malaga, Spain on Friday for a 1-0 lead. Croatia, who were beaten by the Russian Tennis Federation in the 2021 title clash, can now secure a meeting with either Italy or Canada in Sunday's final if former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic gets past Alex De Minaur in the second singles rubber. Australia are trying to reach their first final since 2003 -- when they won their 28th title -- and captain Lleyton Hewitt selected Kokkinakis for the opening contest in place of Jordan Thompson, who played against the Netherlands in the quarters. But despite an encouraging start, the 26-year-old came undone towards the end of a tight opening set as Coric went up 5-4 and grabbed the only break of the set to take the early advantage in the contest. Coric,...