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Showing posts with label Sport. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sport. Show all posts

SPORT: Neymar earns 3m euros per month at PSG

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar (L) and Paris Saint-Germain's Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani attend in a training session at the club's training center in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on September 21, 2017.<br />FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Brazil superstar Neymar earns just over three million euros a month at Paris Saint-Germain, according to German magazine Der Spiegel.

The magazine, using Football Leaks as a source, claims the 25-year-old Neymar, who cost PSG 222 million euros ($265m) from Barcelona, earns 36.8 million euros per year -- a monthly salary of exactly 3,069,520 euros.

The Spiegel claims Neymar earned 54 million euros at Barcelona last season, 8.5 million more than Lionel Messi, considered one of the world's best -- and highest paid -- players alongside Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.




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SPORT: Federer leads Europe to maiden Laver Cup title

Roger Federer of Team Europe returns a ball to Nick Kyrgios of Team World during third day of Laver Cup on September 24, 2017 in O2 Arena in Prague. Michal Cizek / AFP

World number two Roger Federer handed Team Europe the maiden Laver Cup title after beating Team World's Nick Kyrgios in a super tie-break thriller in Prague on Sunday.

Federer, this year's Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, won 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 11/9 to give Team Europe an unbeatable 15-9 lead.

But the 36-year-old Swiss legend struggled against the 20th-ranked, 22-year-old Australian and his flawless serve, losing the first set on a single break.

When he finally broke Kyrgios halfway through set two, he yelled "Come on!" in relief, only to lose his serve again in the next game.

But Federer capitalised on the system of the tournament he had founded -- forcing Kyrgios into longer exchanges, he edged him in the second-set tie-break, then came back from 8-5 down in the decisive super tie-break.

"I was ready to go. The boys played fantastic all weekend," said Federer. "We knew it was going to be tough."

The start of their clash saw the controversial Kyrgios briefly kneel on the court in a gesture which sparked speculation that he was joining the ongoing protest against US President Donald Trump.

A host of NFL players chose to kneel in games across the US on Sunday during the playing of American national anthem in a demonstration against racial inequality.

Team Europe, the odds-on favourites with five of the world's top seven players, entered Sunday with a 9-3 lead which narrowed as Jack Sock and John Isner beat Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic in the opening doubles rubber.

On Sunday, the winner of each rubber earned three points, against one on Friday and two on Saturday.

Alexander Zverev then took Europe within sight of the trophy by beating Sam Querrey in straight sets, but world number one Rafael Nadal missed his chance as he lost to big-serving John Isner in straight sets.

Sock and Isner beat Berdych and Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6) with Sock's vicious forehand leading the charge on the American's 25th birthday.

In the day's second rubber, a break in each set was all German youngster Zverev, the world number four, needed to beat 16th-ranked American Querrey 6-4, 6-4 in their first-ever encounter.

Isner's moment was yet to come as the world number 17 edged Nadal, this year's French and US Open champion.

Nadal lost his serve in game one with a double-fault before Isner's errors helped him draw level in game ten, but Isner broke back at once and finished the set with the help of two second-serve aces in the last game.

He then swept Nadal in the second-set tie-break after both held on to their serves.

Skippered by Bjorn Borg, Team Europe also comprised Dominic Thiem, while Frances Tiafoe and Denis Shapovalov played for John McEnroe's Team World earlier in the tournament.

The organisers said Sunday Chicago would host the next edition of the Laver Cup at the United Center sitting 23,500 people on September 21-23, 2018.




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SPORT: Hemed gives Brighton revenge over Newcastle

Brighton's Israeli striker Tomer Hemed (R) gestures into the TV camera as he celebrates on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Newcastle United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on September 24, 2017. Brighton won the game 1-0. Glyn KIRK / AFP

Israeli striker Tomer Hemed's 51st-minute goal earned Brighton and Hove Albion a 1-0 victory over last season's Championship sparring partners Newcastle United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Hemed struck early in the second half at the Amex Stadium to give Brighton manager Chris Hughton a first victory over the club he previously managed at the seventh attempt.

It was a measure of revenge for Brighton, who were defeated home and away by Newcastle last season as Rafael Benitez's side beat them to the English second-tier title.

Brighton have now claimed successive home wins, having beaten West Bromwich Albion 3-1 in their previous home outing, and climb to 13th in the table.

Newcastle slip to ninth after their three-match winning streak come to an end.

Brighton made most of the first-half running and might have gone ahead earlier had Anthony Knockaert not inadvertently blocked Pascal Gross's goal-bound shot from Solly March's left-wing cross.

Newcastle carved out the clearer chances, Joselu dragging agonisingly wide after Ayoze Perez's cross fell into his path and Perez side-footing over the bar from Chancel Mbemba's lay-off.

But defensive inattention undid the visitors in the 51st minute as Gross's free-kick from the left was headed back across goal by Dale Stephens and Hemed hooked a close-range shot into the roof of the net.

It took a goal-line block by Rob Elliot to keep Newcastle in the game, the goalkeeper jutting out his right foot to divert the ball off the line after March slid in to meet Bruno's drilled cross from the right.

Jonjo Shelvey entered the fray as Newcastle sought an equaliser and the former Liverpool midfielder almost provided one in the 73rd minute with an enterprising corner kick that clanged off the post.




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SPORT: Champions League no longer interesting – Wenger

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has claimed the Champons League is not as attractive as it was, with many now watching “only one or two games”.


The Gunners missed out on qualification for this year’s competition for the first time in 19 years and are playing Europa League football.

“I think that, in the group stage, there are not many interesting games,” Wenger said.

“You choose only one or two games.”

He said the group games had become “a routine” and added: “Look at the audiences. It has lost some attraction power.”

Figures have shown a steady decline in television viewing figures for Champions League matches in Britain, with even those featuring UK clubs failing to attract the level of viewers they once did.

Wenger, whose side will play BATE Borisov next week, however admits he missed being involved in the Champions League.

“I have had nearly 200 games in the Champions League, so I can feel privileged,” he added.



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SPORT: D'Ambrosio saves Inter, AC Milan crash in Serie A

Genoa's forward Pietro Pellegri (R) and Inter Milan's midfielder from Uruguay Matias Vecino go for a header during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan vs Genoa at San Siro stadium in Milan on September 24, 2017. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

Danilo D'Ambrosio scored the only goal as Inter Milan left it late to squeeze past Genoa 1-0 in Serie A action Sunday and keep in touch with the leaders, as AC Milan fell 2-0 at Sampdoria.

D'Ambrosio headed in off a corner with two minutes to go at the San Siro to earn three points for Luciano Spalletti's side, who saw their winning run ended on Tuesday with a 1-1 draw at Bologna.

Inter stay third, two points behind leaders Juventus and Napoli, who both claimed their sixth wins out of six on Saturday against Torino, 4-0, and SPAL, 3-2, respectively.

Ciro Immobile scored a double including one from the spot to bring his tally to eight for the season, as injury-hit Lazio stayed fourth with a comfortable 3-0 win at Verona.

Immobile converted a penalty after 24 minutes, scored from the edge of the box before the break and then teed up Adam Marusic for his first Serie A goal on 60 minutes.

City rivals Roma -- who have a game in hand -- are fifth, after easing past Udinese 3-1 on Saturday.

Duvan Zapata and Ricky Alvarez scored as Sampdoria condemned big-spending AC Milan to their second defeat of the campaign.

Zapata broke through after a terrible clearance by his cousin and fellow Colombia international Cristian Zapata after 72 minutes with substitute Alvarez getting the second just before the final whistle.

Chinese-owned Milan again showed their difficulty against teams in the top half of the table as they remained sixth after six games with Sampdoria, who have a game in hand, moving seventh just a point behind.

"We deserved this victory, we fought to the end and must build on this performance," said Zapata.

"It's important for us to keep a clean sheet too, now we need to rest and prepare for another important match."

Milan had problems defensively with Cristian Zapata having a forgettable afternoon and Leonardo Bonucci and Alessio Romagnoli performing little better.

Sampdoria dominated from the outset with the visitors having a scare after two minutes when Ivan Strinic's cross hit Franck Kessie on the arm and the referee awarded a penalty.

However, the decision was overturned by the video assistant referee.

Chievo won at 10-man Cagliari thanks to goals in the second half from Roberto Inglese and Mariusz Stepinski as Crotone earned their first win of the season 2-0 over tailenders Benevento.




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SPORT: $100,000 prize money our major target — Super Eagles


As Super Eagles team B take on their Ghanaian counterparts in today’s West Africa Football Union Cup of Nations final, the team players are focused on winning not just the trophy but also the $100,000 prize attached to it. The team coached by Salisu Yusuf has been playing in the tournament without bonus of any sort.


The Nigeria Football Federation told the players they will be settled from their winnings. Claiming the top prize therefore will be huge reward, according to reserve goalkeeper, Dele Ajiboye.


“We need this match because we have a chance to pay ourselves. And besides the cash we could make from this tournament, it will be great for our profiles,” said the Plateau United player. He noted that the match will not be a stroll in the park as the Ghanaians will be out to take their revenge, following their 2-0 loss to the Super Eagles earlier in the group A games.

“You know Ghana will be seeking revenge against us and so they will come out to attack us, but if they do so without much caution, they will make more mistakes to our advantage.” He revealed that the team is not under pressure and was glad the match will come up in the evening.

“All the matches we have won easily were played at night, 2-0 vs Sierra Leone and 2-0 vs Ghana – because the afternoon sun and heat affected us badly against Mali, Guinea and even when we beat Benin yesterday,” he opened up, adding, “So, we are very excited that for the final, we will also play at night.”

Striker Peter Moses added that the Eagles will get the job done. “We have already beaten Ghana and we will do that again. We want to take the trophy back to Nigeria, we don’t want to be second best going by how the whole team have been talking about this final.”


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SPORT: Mourinho reacts to his sending off against Southampton

Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, is adamant that he does not know why referee Craig Pawson sent him off, in the final minutes of their 1-0 win at Southampton on Saturday.


Mourinho also blamed their poor performance on the good weather.

Asked why he had been sent off, Mourinho said: “I don’t know. Craig told me to leave, and I left.

“Did I ask for an explanation? No. He told me to leave, and I left.

“[I collided] with the fourth official [Mike Jones].

“[My players] were really tired at the end. Nine of them didn’t play in midweek [in the 4-1 defeat of Burton] so nine of them, it’s not even an accumulation of fatigue.

“The weather was beautiful. Even if you train at 11am, 12pm, 3pm. in Manchester, we don’t get this weather. Seriously. The last time we had this was in Los Angeles and then in Macedonia, and they felt [it].

“I saw some players not sharp. Great spirit and always trying, but not the same sharpness. So if your opponent is coming with everything against you, let’s do it for 10 or 15 minutes and stay solid.

“We are better this season than last. But this is nothing. It’s just a start. I really think that six teams are going to fight for the title.”

United took all three points, thanks to a first-half finish from Romelu Lukaku.



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SPORT: Parker sets sights on Joshua unification bout

Joseph Parker

New Zealand's Joseph Parker said he had the skills to exploit Anthony Joshua's "weaknesses" after beating Hughie Fury by a majority points decision to defend his WBO world heavyweight title.

Parker condemned Fury, cousin of former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, to a first professional defeat in a scrappy fight at Manchester Arena on Saturday, which the judges scored 118-110, 118-110, 114-114.

The 25-year-old has now set his sights on a unification bout with British WBA and IBF champion Joshua, who fights Bulgaria's Kubrat Pulev in Cardiff in October.

"I feel I have better movement," Parker said after extending his unbeaten record to 24 fights, with 18 wins by KO.

"He's got good power and is a good champion, but if I fight him, I can bring out the weaknesses."

Parker's promoter, David Higgins, said Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn had already made contact about a fight next year.

"He wants to unify and so do we," said Higgins, who is eager for Parker to fight again this year.

Fury's promoter, Mick Hennessy, was furious about the decision and compared his fighter's display to Muhammad Ali.

He also pledged to appeal against the decision.

"It was an absolute masterclass, shades of Ali. It was beautiful boxing in the heavyweight division," Hennessy told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Parker wasn't even in the fight. Any punches he was throwing were either missing or hitting elbows or hitting gloves. It was very rare he got through with a clean shot. Hughie absolutely skated that fight.

"That is probably one of, if not the worst, decisions I've ever seen in my life. It was disgusting, absolutely disgusting."

Fury, 23, echoed Hennessy's words.

"I thought I'd done enough," said Fury, who was supported at ringside by Tyson Fury.

"There are no words. At the end of the day, they are ruining people's dreams.

"I don't know what the judge was seeing -- he kept missing. Devastating. Judges like that shouldn't be there."




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Today's Gossip: Ozil Favours OT Move; Wenger Eyes Schalke Star




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SPORT TRANSFER: Today's Gossip: Ozil Favours OT Move; Wenger Eyes Schalke Star

SPORT: Istanbul derby delivers three goals, five red cards

Ricardo Quaresma was shown the first red card. PHOTO: BBC.CO.UK

Five players were given their marching orders in a fiery Super Lig clash between Istanbul giants Fenerbahce and Besiktas on Saturday with two of the red cards dished out in the final minutes.

Fenerbahce beat Besiktas 2-1 at home in the season's first derby at the Ulker stadium on the Asian side of Istanbul.

Besiktas' Ricardo Quaresma was the first recipient of the referee's wrath when he was sent off in the first half for a bad tackle after two yellow cards.

Fenerbahce defender Luis Neto soon followed in the 45th minute for bringing another player down.

In a dramatic end, red cards were given to Besiktas' Atiba Hutchinson and the home team's Ismail Koybasi, who was given a second yellow for a hard tackle.

Red card number five went to Besiktas' Oguzhan Ozyakup who was ordered off the pitch after a second booking following the final whistle for allegedly insulting referee Ali Palabiyik.

Ozyakup told reporters: "There was no swearing, no insult."

He said he "only criticised" the referee whom he claimed "could not tolerate" it.

"He gave me a yellow card, then a red card because I criticised him," Ozakup told Turkish broadcaster NTV.

Brazilian midfielder Giuliano scored the first penalty for Fenerbahce giving the home team a lead in the first half.

Then Dutch striker Vincent Janssen, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, scored the second penalty for the hosts in the 86th minute with former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel scoring Besiktas' only goal a minute later.

The next big Istanbul derby will be on October 22 between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.

Saturday's red card tally although high was a long way short of the record 36 red cards handed out by a referee in a fifth tier Argentinian league game in 2011 to all the players, substitutes and coaches of Claypole and Victoriano Arenas.




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SPORT: Wenger urges Sanchez to prove his worth

Sanchez’s picture with Caption 24 goals and 10 assists contributed by Sanchez still was not enough to get Arsenal into Champions League spots. PHOTO:TWITTER/ARSENAL

Arsene Wenger has warned Alexis Sanchez he will have earn his place back in Arsenal's starting line-up after his failed attempt to force a move to Manchester City.

Sanchez was close to joining City before last month's transfer deadline after his refusal to sign a new contract convinced Wenger to sell him.

But the deal fell through when Arsenal were unable to land a replacement for Sanchez, leaving the Chile forward in the awkward position of having to remain with the Gunners at least until January.

Sanchez, out of contract at the end of the season, has yet to make a Premier League start following the transfer saga and found himself instead selected for recent Europa League and League Cup fixtures.

With West Bromwich Albion visiting the Emirates Stadium on Monday, Wenger insisted the 28-year-old would only return to his strongest starting team if his form justifies it.

Sanchez is yet to play 90 minutes in the league this season and, asked if the former Barcelona player was central to his plans, Wenger said: "Not more than any other. There is no real hierarchy.

"I used the team at Chelsea who could be strong on the counter-attack and fight very hard.

"I have six or seven strikers but if I go in one game with three strikers, the three who have not played will play in mid-week no matter what game that is.

"But that is nothing calculated. There is no disguised attitude on my side.

"He came back not really fit and then he got injured.

"If you add the injury plus the rest time it was a bit long, but on Wednesday (against Doncaster) I left him on the pitch for 90 minutes because I wanted him to have a real go."

Down to earth
Lagging behind the early Premier League pace-setters after a spluttering spell, Arsenal already have no margin for error if they are to mount a title challenge.

One of keys to an Arsenal revival will be France striker Alexandre Lacazette finding form after a tepid start following his pre-season move from Lyon.

"He connects well with the other players. He still needs to adapt to the physical aspects of the Premier League and that will take maybe a little bit of time," Wenger said.

Albion midfielder Gareth Barry will break the Premier League appearance record if he features against Arsenal.

Barry, a former England international, is expected to play in his 633rd top-flight game and break the record set by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs.

The 36-year-old made his professional debut for Aston Villa in 1998 and has also played for Manchester City and Everton.

"Gareth is such a down to earth chap he just wants to get it over with and move on," said Albion boss Tony Pulis, whose side are without a win in their last three league games.

Barry could have been lining up in an Arsenal shirt for his milestone moment after Wenger twice tried to sign him.

"There were a couple of conversations with representatives and Arsene that he was interested," Barry said.

"Before I was leaving Villa and when I was leaving Man City to go to Everton there was a bit of interest too.

"I've got massive respect for Arsene for what he's done for the English game. It would have been good to work under him, but that didn't happen."




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SPORT: Eagles have reason to soar over Black Stars, says Dosu

Eagles striker, M. Eneji (right) being kept in check by a Ghanaian defender, during the Group A match between Ghana and Nigeria, at the WAFU Cup. Ghana takes on Nigeria in the final match of the competition, today.


We’ll Turn The Table Against Nigeria – Ghanaian Coach Boasts

Former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Joseph Dosu, has expressed confidence in Super Eagles’ ability to dethrone defending champion, Ghana, in today’s epic WAFU Nations Cup final. The match will be played at the Cape Coast Stadium.

The Eagles had earlier defeated Black Stars 2-0 in the last Group A game to book a place in the semi finals. Ghana also qualified after two wins over Guinea and Mali.

However, the Nigerian side, which is yet to concede since the start of the tournament, will want to finish with a clean slate.Speaking to The Guardian, yesterday, Dosu applauded the Eagles for doing well against all odds, cautioning that the final should not be a do or die thing.

“I think for now the boys have done well. They have played three games without conceding a goal; that shows that the defence, goalkeeper and coaches have done well too.

“Now they are going to play against Ghanaians whom they defeated 2-0 to qualify for the semi finals. I believe it is going to be a very tight and difficult game. All they need to do is get their chances and utilise them,” he said.

He said the boys would be inspired to raise their game, win the trophy in order to stand the chance of playing for Eagles Team A in the not too distant future.

“This is why they will want to fight to win the cup. I believe that if they win the trophy, then the coaches may want to look at them and see if some players can make it to the main Eagles. A lot of things are at stake for them to win the competition but then it is not a do or die affair,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ghana’s coach, Maxwell Konadu, has said his team has the ability to win today’s final.“We will be very prepared for Nigeria. They beat us last time so we have to come out strong to turn the table against them.

“They are a very good side, but we have to fight very hard. We are the defending champions, but that now belongs to history. Sunday will be a new chapter we have to open and we will do so by trying to beat Nigeria,” he said.




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SPORT: Dybala double as Juventus whip Torino

Juventus's forward from Argentina Paulo Dybala (L) scores a goal during the italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Torino in Turin on September 23, 2017. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP


Paulo Dybala scored a double as Juventus outclassed 10-man Torino 4-0 in Saturday's Turin derby to stay top of Serie A alongside Napoli who battled past SPAL 3-2.

The Argentine striker has now scored an impressive ten goals -- including two hat-tricks -- in six Serie A games with Miralem Pjanic and Alex Sandro also on target at the Allianz Stadium.

Juventus kept their perfect start but for Torino it was a first defeat of the campaign as they struggled a man down for over an hour after Daniele Baselli was sent off for a second yellow card.

"Torino usually cause problems for their opponents, but we were never under threat tonight," Pjanic told Mediaset Premium.

Earlier Napoli came from a goal down to beat SPAL 3-2 for their sixth win in as many games as AS Roma cruised past Udinese 3-1, to give all of Italy's Champions League contenders confidence boosts ahead of next week's action.

Maurizio Sarri's Napoli are ahead of the champions on goal difference with 22 scored with Roma moving up to fourth on 12 points and Torino drop to sixth with 11.

Dybala opened the scoring after 16 minutes from the edge of the box following great work by Pjanic to win the ball off Tomas Rincon in midfield.

A Pjanic free kick five minutes before the break gave Juventus their second with Sandro heading in the third after 57 minutes.

Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu did well to deny the hosts more but could do nothing to stop Dybala's fourth in stoppage time leaving Torino waiting for a first victory at Juventus since 1995.

Despite their Serie A run Massimiliano Allegri's side lost their Champions League opener 3-0 at Barcelona and next host Greek champions Olympiakos on Wednesday.

“The team will give a response at home, as we want to get through to the next round," warned Pjanic.

"Olympiakos have quality, so we must try to dominate from the start and put the pressure on straight away, as we did tonight."

Despite sitting 15th in the league SPAL proved to be more than a match for high-flying Napoli.

Pasquale Schiattarella opened on 13 minutes for the hosts but just a minute later Lorenzo Insigne had pulled Napoli level.

In a dramatic second half Jose Callejon headed in on 71 minutes for Napoli before Federico Viviani curled a free kick over the wall to make it 2-2 for SPAL six minutes later.

But Faouzi Ghoulam sealed victory on 83 minutes with a great solo run from midfield.

"They created some problems, but we were good at staying united and believing until the end," said Insigne.

Napoli next host Feyenoord in Champions League action Tuesday bouyed by having scored 22 goals in six championship games.

'El Shaarawy brace'
Earlier Italian forward Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice after Edin Dzeko's 12th-minute opener, as Roma, with a game in hand, move up to fourth.

Coach Eusebio Di Francesco said he was delighted that the pieces were beginning to fit into his jigsaw after early criticism of his tactics.

"I see the lads are ready to do what I ask," said Di Francesco. "El Shaarawy is an ideal forward for my system.

"I can't help but be satisfied with my team."

Luigi Delneri's visitors were struggling from the outset at the Stadio Olimpico with Dzeko on hand for the opener and his sixth goal of the season after Radja Nainggolan pushed his way through a porous Udinese defence.

Dzeko rolled in a cross for El Shaarawy's first after half an hour with a blunder by Udinese's Danish defender Jens Stryger Larsen giving the player nicknamed 'The Little Pharaoh' his second just before the break.

Stryger Larsen got one back after his earlier misfortune scoring a consolation goal in the final minutes.

It was a confidence-boosing performance for Di Francesco's side ahead of their midweek Champions League trip to Qarabag in Azerbaijan.




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SPORT: PSG still a great team without Neymar, Verratti insists

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar plays a line out during the French L1 football match Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) vs Toulouse FC (TFC) at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on August 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSON


Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 0-0 draw by Montpellier as the end of their 100 per cent Ligue 1 record coincided with Neymar’s absence.Marco Verratti does not believe Neymar’s absence was the reason Paris Saint-Germain failed to beat Montpellier, yesterday.

PSG were without world-record signing Neymar due to a reported foot injury as their 100 per cent start to the Ligue 1 season ended with a 0-0 draw at Stade de la Mosson.

Unai Emery’s side dominated possession, but managed just one shot on target and Verratti – restored to the starting line-up after serving a three-match ban – insisted the loss of the Brazilian was not behind their failure to triumph.

“Everyone thinks like that. It’s like Barcelona without (Lionel) Messi or Real Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo – it is not because Neymar was not there that PSG hasn’t won,” Verratti told Canal.

“We are a great team, even without him. It will just be a matter of turning words into action the next time the situation arises.”The Italy midfielder was adamant PSG played to the best of their abilities, but was keen to turn his focus to Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich in Paris.

“It was a tough game, there was not a lot of space,” said Verratti.“We played at 100 per cent. The concentration is there. We did not let Montpellier have a single shot.

“It got harder to score the longer the time went on. We did have opportunities.“After six matchdays, it can happen that there is a difficult one. Now we have to think about the Champions League.”




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SPORT: Barca remain perfect in Girona, Real bounce back


Barcelona maintained their perfect start to La Liga with a sixth straight win as Luis Suarez and two own goals secured a 3-0 win at Girona in a match laced with political tension on Saturday.

Real Madrid remain seven points behind Barca thanks to Dani Ceballos's double on his full debut to bounce back from a shock midweek defeat by Real Betis with a 2-1 win at Alaves on Saturday to move up to fourth.

Girona were hosting Barca in a Catalan derby for the first time in the top flight, but a one-sided game on the field was marked by persistent chants in favour of independence for Catalonia.

Catalonia's pro-separatist president Carles Puigdemont was in attendance, whilst the pro-independence Estelada flag was waved by sections of both supports.

On the field there was much less controversy as Barca were rarely troubled after Aday Benitez turned Jordi Alba's wayward shot into his own net after just 17 minutes.

Another own goal extended their advantage three minutes after half-time when goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz was fooled by Suarez's dummy from Aleix Vidal's cross.

And Suarez rounded off the scoring himself with just his second goal of the season by whipping the ball into Iraizoz's near post from Sergi Roberto's pass over the top.

Wasteful Madrid
At Mendizorroza, Madrid were once again wasteful in front of goal, but still sneaked by an Alaves side that remain without a point after six games.

"Today we needed the three points. We are not in brilliant form, but for sure we will play better on other days," said Real boss Zinedine Zidane.

Ceballos was one of three changes made to the side that lost to Betis by Zidane as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale were left on the bench ahead of Tuesday's Champions League trip to Borussia Dortmund.

And the Spanish under-21 international settled Madrid's nerves after just 10 minutes as he caught Fernando Pacheco flat-footed.

Alaves did register their first goal of the season five minutes before half-time when Manu Garcia met Munir El Haddadi's cross flush to power a header into the top corner.

Madrid retook the lead just three minutes later, though, as Ceballos pounced on a poor punch from Pacheco to fire into the bottom corner.

Real should have ensured a far more comfortable afternoon after the break as Pacheco made a great save to deny Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo struck the woodwork twice and Sergio Ramos blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

Yet, Alaves could also have snatched a first point of the season as Alfonso Pedraza's deflected effort hit the bar before Pedraza struck the post when clean through on goal.

"When you go away having only scored two goals for the chances we had it isn't a lot," added Zidane.

Atletico impress
Earlier, Diego Costa was an interested spectator as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Costa won't be able to feature until January after completing his prolonged return to the club from Chelsea for a reported club record fee of 55 million euros ($66 million), plus 10 million euros in add-ons.

"We are happy that a player of his stature wants to come to Atletico Madrid," Atletico boss Diego Simeone said of Costa's return.

Filipe Luis smashed the underside of the bar with Atletico's best effort of a first half short on clear-cut chances.

But it took less than a minute of the second period to break the deadlock when Carrasco showed great awareness and pace to latch onto a short back pass from Steven N'Zonzi to beat Sergio Rico to the ball, round the keeper and slot into an empty net.

Griezmann then made the game safe 20 minutes from time as the French international won a tackle inside the Sevilla box before lifting himself off the floor to receive Luis's pass and drill through Rico's legs.




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SPORT: Aubameyang hits hat-trick for leaders Dormund

Dortmund's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores past Moenchengladbach's goalkeeper Tobias Sippel during the German First division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund vs Borussia Moenchengladbach in Dortmund, western Germany, on September 23, 2017. PATRIK STOLLARZ / AFP


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed a hat-trick as Borussia Dortmund romped to a 6-1 home thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach to regain top spot in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Gladbach had no answer to Peter Bosz's fleet-footed Dortmund, who opened a two-point lead over Hoffenheim at the top of the table before Tuesday's Champions League clash with holders Real Madrid.

Aubameyang, last season's top scorer in Germany's top flight, has now netted eight goals in six league games -- one ahead of main rival Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich.

Left winger Maximilian Philipp scored Dortmund's first two goals with ice-cold finishing before Aubameyang's hat-trick, with defensive midfielder Julian Weigl scoring a superb sixth.

After third-placed Bayern threw away a two-goal lead on Friday in a 2-2 draw at home to Wolfsburg, Dortmund are now three points ahead of the defending champions.

Bayern could finish the weekend in fourth if Hanover 96 beat bottom side Cologne on Sunday.

Hosts Dortmund needed just 28 minutes to take the lead at Signal Iduna Park when Aubameyang, who hit the post twice in the first half, played provider.

A superb pass from Weigl released Aubameyang, who sprinted into the box and squared for Philipp to drill home and then grab a second ten minutes later thanks to Dortmund pressing.

After briefly losing possession, Dortmund defended high up, forcing Gladbach defender Matthias Ginter into a mistake.

Germany Under-21 international Jeremy Toljan left-back pounced on the loose ball and fired in a short cross for Philipp to again fire in.

With Gladbach unable to cope with Dortmund's pace, Greece defender Sokratis rolled the ball behind the defence and Philipp squared for Aubameyang to make it 3-0 at the break.

The Gabon striker grabbed his second when he hit the post on 49 minutes, but hammered home the rebound and completed his hat-trick by using his devastating pace on 63 minutes.

Gladach's Lars Stindl became the first player to score against Dortmund in the league this season when he netted three minutes later.

But Germany midfielder Weigl chipped into the top right-hand corner in the 79th minute from outside the area for a superb sixth.

- Hoffenheim down Schalke -

Earlier, teenage midfielder Dennis Geiger scored his first league goal as Hoffenheim briefly went top with a 2-0 win against Schalke.

Geiger hit the top corner from the edge of the box with 13 minutes gone and Lukas Rupp added Hoffenheim's second just before the final whistle.

Germany striker Timo Werner hit form with a goal and an assist during RB Leipzig's 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the Red Bull Arena.

Leipzig responded to their shock 1-0 defeat by Augsburg, when Werner was below-par, and boosted confidence for Tuesday's Champions League match at Besiktas with an impressive display.

Werner played a big part in the opening goal when his shot was saved by Frankfurt goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, but French forward Jean-Kevin Augustin tapped home the rebound on 28 minutes.

The 21-year-old Werner doubled the lead midway through the second half when he fired in off the post for his fifth goal in six league games to leave Leipzig in sixth.

Hosts Werder Bremen and Freiburg both stayed in the relegation places after their 0-0 draw, while Augsburg are fourth after their goalless stalemate at Stuttgart.

Striker Pablo de Blasis converted a second-half penalty as Mainz picked up only their second win in six games with a 1-0 victory at home to midtable Hertha Berlin.




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SPORT: Coutinho scorcher gets Liverpool back on track

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho (2nd R) scores their second goal with this freekick during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Liverpool at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on September 23, 2017.Geoff CADDICK / AFP


Philippe Coutinho marked his first Premier League start of the season with a superb goal as Liverpool returned to winning ways by edging Leicester City 3-2 on Saturday.

Coutinho submitted a transfer request on the eve of the season, only for Liverpool to block his move to Barcelona, and he began the atonement process with a glorious 23rd-minute free-kick.

Further goals from Mohamed Salah and skipper Jordan Henderson helped Jurgen Klopp's side register a first win in five attempts and avenge their mid-week loss to Leicester in the League Cup.

But victory so nearly eluded them at the King Power Stadium. Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy replied for Leicester and the latter then saw a 73rd-minute penalty parried by Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool climb to fifth place, five points below leaders Manchester City, while Leicester sit 16th, above the relegation zone on goal difference alone.

Predictably, Klopp made seven changes to the side that went out of the League Cup earlier in the week, but Coutinho retained his place.

Okazaki had shone in Leicester's 2-0 win on Tuesday and was rewarded with a place in Craig Shakespeare's starting line-up.

The visitors applied the early pressure, Emre Can forcing Kasper Schmeichel into a save from a narrow angle in the first minute.

It was a sign of things to come as both sides enjoyed chances in a frantic opening period.

Okazaki set Vardy away down the left flank and although Mignolet could only palm his shot across goal, Riyad Mahrez scooped the rebound over the bar.

Liverpool should have taken the lead after Can rattled the base of Schmeichel's post with a 20-yard shot, but with the Danish goalkeeper lying helpless on the ground, Salah contrived to shoot wide.

The Egyptian made amends in the 15th minute as he got on the end of Coutinho's cross and powered a far-post header past Schmeichel to open the scoring.

The home side came close to a reply three minutes later as Vardy chased down an attempted Mignolet clearance and the Belgian goalkeeper did well to divert Okazaki's shot wide.

Okazaki stabs in
Instead the visitors went further ahead from Coutinho's free-kick, the Brazilian curling his effort brilliantly over the wall and past the despairing dive of Schmeichel in the 23rd minute.

The half ended as it had started with a flurry of chances at both ends.

Leicester looked like they had pulled a goal back shortly before half-time as Okazaki squeezed the ball past Mignolet, only to see it ruled out by an errant offside flag.

Liverpool were inches away from extending their lead still further when Coutinho came agonisingly close to getting a decisive touch on Roberto Firmino's driven cross.

Amid the half's dying embers, Mignolet produced a fantastic one-handed save to push Vardy's header over the bar.

But the Liverpool goalkeeper's inability to claim to ensuing corner, amid suspicions of a foul by Okazaki, allowed the Japanese striker to stab home and give the Foxes a lifeline.

Liverpool came close to restoring their two-goal cushion soon after the restart as a dangerous attack ended with Coutinho driving a shot into the grateful arms of Schmeichel.

The visitors continued to press, Firmino ballooning a header over from close range.

Liverpool finally got a third from a devastating counter-attack that saw substitute Daniel Sturridge feed Henderson, who cut inside before wrong-footing Schmeichel.

The two-goal advantage only lasted one minute as Mignolet parried Demarai Gray's shot into the path of Vardy, who headed home from beneath the crossbar.
Leicester could have drawn level after Vardy raced into the box and was clattered by Mignolet, who also managed to graze the ball.

Referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot, but decided the challenge only warranted a yellow card.

Mignolet made the most of his reprieve by guessing correctly to deny Vardy from 12 yards and stop the Leicester striker scoring a third penalty in successive matches.




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SPORT: Mourinho sent off as Lukaku fires United

Romelu Lukaku fired Manchester United to a 1-0 win over Southampton as Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands at St Mary's on Saturday.

Lukaku scored the only goal of the game in the first half, but United had to survive a late barrage of Southampton pressure that played a role in Mourinho's dismissal.

It was an indication of the visitors' anxiety that United boss Mourinho was dismissed by referee Craig Pawson in stoppage-time, apparently for encroaching onto the pitch during a Southampton attack.

United and Mourinho are second behind Manchester City on goal difference after the leaders crushed Crystal Palace.

But they can console themselves with the fact that a fifth victory in six matches gave them a club record-equalling 16 points at this stage of a Premier League campaign.

Southampton have now failed to score in nine of their past 10 home games, and their manager Mauricio Pellegrino, formerly with Valencia, has failed to best Mourinho, the ex-Real Madrid coach, in five attempts.

United were on top from the first kick and could have had an early penalty when Wesley Hoedt grabbed handfuls of Marouane Fellaini's shirt as Juan Mata's corner came over.

Instead, Pawson gave a free kick against Fellaini for reasons best known to himself.

It was no surprise when United took the lead after 20 minutes.

Ashley Young swung the ball over towards the far post and Belgian striker Lukaku jumped above Ryan Bertrand to head goalwards.

Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster could only parry and Lukaku reacted more quickly than the dozing defenders to convert the rebound.

Frustrations
Saints could not deal with United's movement and when Maya Yoshida brought Mata down 22 yards out, Marcus Rashford hit a clever free kick that dipped inches wide of Forster's right-hand post.

Time and again United broke at pace, players rushing forward to support the attack.

In contrast, Southampton often had only Shane Long forward, and his frustrations came out in the form of a nasty kick at Fellaini, for which he was booked.

United were so much in charge that they would have been annoyed to be only a single goal ahead at half-time, but perhaps it had been too easy.

Their players had not been forced to work hard and seemed to show little sense of urgency to get shots on goal.

They almost paid the price five minutes into the second half.

A flick by Yoshida from a Southampton corner was half-blocked and the rebound fell to Oriol Romeu, who somehow managed to stab the ball wide from three yards out.

That near miss inspired Southampton and they began to attack in greater numbers.

Nathan Redmond cut inside Antonio Valencia and hit a shot that United goalkeeper David De Gea held only at the second attempt.

And Long appealed in vain for a penalty when he was nudged from behind by Phil Jones as they chased a long forward pass.

Fellaini was in the right place to nod a header by Romeu off United's goal line, and a pass from Dusan Tadic to Romeu, only for the Spanish midfield player to shoot across goal and wide again.

Substitute Ander Herrera missed a chance to settle United's nerves and, perhaps, the match but shot a foot high from 18 yards.




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SPORT: Sparkling Sane inspires Man City in Palace rout

Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) celebrates after scoring with Manchester City's German midfielder Leroy Sane during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 23, 2017. Oli SCARFF / AFP

Leroy Sane was the difference as Premier League leaders Manchester City claimed a comprehensive 5-0 win over bottom club Crystal Palace on Saturday to extend their unbeaten start.

"Shall we score a goal for you?" the home fans chanted, and well they might, with Pep Guardiola's side having now scored 16 goals in three Premier League games.

By contrast, Palace are still yet to score in the league and have now lost six games in succession.

Sane and Raheem Sterling, who scored twice, did the damage, while Sergio Aguero and Fabian Delph added gloss to the scoreline at the Etihad Stadium.

The win keeps City on top of the table, edging in front of rivals Manchester United on goal difference.

It was frustrating for City until they were able to edge in front just before the break.

Palace defender Mamadou Sakho flicked Kevin De Bruyne's cross onto his own post and Sane fired over after skipping through several challenges.

But for all of City's early possession, it was Palace who had the better chances in the opening stages.

The south London side, playing under Roy Hodgson for the second time in the league, looked well drilled and could have stung the hosts on the break.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek had an effort deflect off Nicolas Otamendi and onto the post, having beaten England centre-back John Stones twice to get into a shooting position on 19 minutes.

Loftus-Cheek went close again, sliding a shot wide when it seemed easier to score after Timothy Fosu-Mensah's low cross nicked off Fernandinho.

City's disjointed start to game was not helped as the home side lost Benjamin Mendy to injury mid-way through the first half.

The France left-back clashed knees with Andros Townsend, giving away a tactical foul as the winger skipped past, and was replaced by Danilo.

Aguero closes on Brook
City had to work to forge chances, but the pressure was eased on the stroke of half-time.

Quick interplay between Sane, De Bruyne and David Silva allowed the Spaniard to lift a pass to Sane on the left.

He flicked it over the head of Scott Dann and slid a shot through the legs of Wayne Hennessey.

The goal opened the visitors up. Six minutes into the second half, a quick break saw City double their lead.

Again Sane was key. His break down the left flank was picked out by De Bruyne and a perfect low cross into the path of Sterling meant the England winger could not miss.

Presented with what seemed an even easier opportunity a minute later after Hennessey's touch on De Bruyne's cross presented him with an open goal, Sterling side-footed wide.

Aguero was now on the hunt for the goals to take the club's scoring record.

Having found space on the edge of the box, he skipped past three challenges to go one-on-one, but fired his left-foot strike straight at Hennessey.

It was one-way traffic. Sterling doubled his tally and took City's to three after De Bruyne's ball to the back post was touched into the winger's path as he arrived late into the six-yard box.

All eyes were now on Aguero, who began the day needing two goals to join Eric Brook as City's all-time leading scorer.

The Argentina striker netted with 11 minutes to play, heading in Sane's searching cross to close to within one goal of Brook's haul of 177 goals.

Palace were begging for full-time by the time Fabian Delph made it 5-0, the substitute curling a sublime effort into the top corner with his weaker right foot.




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SPORT: Ceballos helps Real bounce back, Atletico down Sevilla

Real Madrid's midfielder from Spain Daniel Ceballos (R) celebrates a goal with teammates during the Spanish league football match Deportivo Alaves vs Real Madrid CF at the Mendizorroza stadium in Vitoria on September 23, 2017. ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

Dani Ceballos scored twice on his full debut as Real Madrid bounced back from a shock midweek defeat to Real Betis to close to within four points of La Liga leaders Barcelona with a 2-1 win at Alaves.

Earlier, Diego Costa was an interested spectator as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Barca can re-establish their four-point lead over Atletico with victory later at Girona.

Ceballos was one of three changes made to the side that lost to Betis by Zinedine Zidane as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale were left on the bench ahead of Tuesday's Champions League trip to Borussia Dortmund.

And the Spanish under-21 settled Madrid's nerves after just 10 minutes as he caught Fernando Pacheco flat-footed by pulling the ball inside the goalkeeper's near post from the edge of the area.

Alaves caretaker coach Javier Cabello had denied Enzo Zidane the chance to face his father Zinedine and former club as he was left out the Alaves squad.

However, Cabello did manage to inspire a more spirited display from the hosts despite a sixth straight defeat as they scored their first goal of the season five minutes before half-time.

Alaves captain Manu Garcia met Munir El Haddadi's cross flush to power a header into the top corner.

Madrid retook just three minutes later, though, as Ceballos pounced on a poor punch from Pacheco to fire into the bottom corner.

Real should have ensured a far more comfortable afternoon after the break as Pacheco made a great save to deny Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo struck the woodwork twice and Sergio Ramos blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

Yet, Alaves could also have snatched a first point of the season as Alfonso Pedraza's deflected effort hit the bar before Pedraza struck the post when clean through on goal.

Atletico impress
Atletico maintained their impressive start to the season despite the difficulties of a ban on registering new players.

Costa won't be able to feature until January after completing his prolonged return to the club from Chelsea for a reported club record fee of 55 million euros ($66 million) plus 10 million more in add-ons.

"We are happy that a player of his stature wants to come to Atletico Madrid," Atletico boss Diego Simeone said of Costa's return.

Filipe Luis smashed the underside of the bar with Atletico's best effort of a first-half short on clear-cut chances.

But it took less than a minute of the second period to break the deadlock when Carrasco showed great awareness and pace to latch onto a short back pass from Steven N'Zonzi to beat Sergio Rico to the ball, round the keeper and slot into an empty net.

Griezmann then made the game safe 20 minutes from time as the French international won a tackle inside the Sevilla box before lifting himself off the floor to receive Luis's pass and drill through Rico's legs.

"In the first-half we found it more difficult and they controlled the game," added Simeone.

"But you could see with Carrasco, Griezmann and Filipe that if we got the final pass right we could win the game.

"At the start of the second-half we got the goal that put us on the right track."




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SPORT: Morata hits hat-trick as Chelsea sink Stoke

Chelsea's Spanish striker Alvaro Morata (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Chelsea at the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent, central England on September 23, 2017. Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

Alvaro Morata bagged a classy hat-trick as Chelsea made short work of beating Stoke 4-0 to keep up the pressure on the Premier League leaders on Saturday.

Pedro also scored for Antonio Conte's side, who remained just three points off the top of the table with their title defence gathering steam.

They brushed aside an under-strength Potters side, who paid for some costly defensive errors as Morata scored early and then twice late on to take his season's tally to seven goals in six games for club and country.

Having scored his first three goals for his new club with his head, the £60 million ($81 million, 68 million euros) signing from Real Madrid netted all three goals with his feet in the Potteries and he might have added to his total from two late chances.

It was a chastening afternoon for Stoke, who went into the game with just one senior centre-back available in Bruno Martins Indi.

Chelsea led after just 81 seconds as Stoke's makeshift back three were undone by a straightforward long pass.

It was played from the Chelsea defence by Cesar Azpilicueta and collected by Morata after a simple run between Glen Johnson and Bruno Martins Indi. He composed himself before beating Jack Butland low to his left.

The champions doubled their lead on the half-hour thanks in no small part to an error by Darren Fletcher.

The former Manchester United man tried to chest down a high header from Erik Pieters but only succeeded in guiding it into the path of Pedro, who skipped away from Martins Indi and rifled a superb, right-footed shot past Butland for his first league goal of the season.

Stoke went close two minutes before the break when Joe Allen found space wide on the right and crossed for Mame Diouf, who sent an overhead kick just wide at the far post.

Tempers fray
The second half began with tempers frayed. Xherdan Shaqiri was booked for a foul and Chelsea's Marcos Alonso cautioned for tripping Allen moments after being caught by a stray arm from Diouf.

Then Alonso was late into a challenge on Diouf, leaving home fans screaming for a second yellow card and the inevitable red.

But the Spanish wing-back escaped with a final warning from referee Mike Dean. Conte responded by replacing Alonso with Gary Cahill on 58 minutes to spare him further punishment.

Stoke threatened briefly through Shaqiri but he fired straight at Thibaut Courtois after cutting in from the right. And they went closer when Johnson's lofted pass was headed down by substitute Peter Crouch to Diouf, who lifted a shot over the bar.

Play was then halted when Courtois landed awkwardly on his neck following a collision with Crouch but the goalkeeper was able to continue.

Fletcher's miserable afternoon continued when he missed a superb chance to halve Chelsea's lead. He arrived to meet a Shaqiri free-kick but failed to make clean contact with either his head or foot and bundled the ball wide.

Chelsea wrapped up victory with 12 minutes remaining thanks to more dreadful Stoke defending and another fine Morata finish.

Bakayoko charged down a Johnson pass, the rebound broke for Morata and he raced away from makeshift centre-back Fletcher before finishing from a tight angle.

And 10 minutes later Morata completed his treble when he tapped home from close range after Azpilicueta had chested down a pass from substitute Cesc Fabregas.

Morata then missed two chances to add to Stoke's misery, firing wide from eight yards then failing to force a Willian cross over the line.




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SPORT: Stoke City 0-4 Chelsea: Alvaro Morata scores sublime hat-trick as champions ease past Potters

Chelsea continued to show there is life after Diego Costa with another Premier League victory at Stoke, with Alvaro Morata scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 win.


Morata, the club-record signing bought to replace Costa, was on the scoresheet again early on before Pedro extended the lead on the half-hour mark.

Both goals came from defensive mistakes by Stoke, whose manager Mark Hughes had demanded a response from his players following the disappointing midweek defeat at Bristol City in the Carabao Cup. He did not get it, with Morata rounding off the win in the final quarter-hour.

The game was just over a minute old when Cesar Azpilicueta's long ball forward dissected Stoke's makeshift back line and allowed the lethal Morata to take a touch and finish calmly past Jack Butland.

With Kurt Zouma, on loan from Chelsea, ineligible against his parent club and Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron and Kevin Wimmer all out injured, Glen Johnson, making his first Premier League start of the season, and Erik Peters played either side of Bruno Martins Indi in Stoke's central defensive three and Chelsea capitalised on the unfamiliarity immediately.

It was Morata's fourth league goal since joining the club in the summer from Real Madrid with the impending departure of Costa in mind.

Relations between Costa and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte began to deteriorate in January when the striker reportedly had his head turned by a big-money offer from the Chinese Super League, which soon evaporated.

It was further strained over the summer with the player - having initially been granted an additional summer break after being told he could leave the club - ending up in exile in Brazil.

But on Thursday a deal was agreed for Costa to return to his former club Atletico Madrid and that move should be finalised next week.

Morata has so far proved to be an able successor and only a timely interception from Martins Indi denied him the chance of a second goal.

Chelsea's second goal arrived after 30 minutes and it came from another mistake. Darren Fletcher attempted to chest the ball down to Martins Indi but got the weight wrong, allowing Pedro through on goal to score with a lovely finish from the edge of the penalty area.

That was hard on Stoke, who had the champions on the back foot for much of the first half without really troubling goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and arguably enjoyed the better of the second half up until Morata's late double.

Mame Diouf went close for the hosts with an acrobatic effort just before half-time while on the other side of the break the same player slid another shot narrowly wide following a knockdown from substitute Peter Crouch. Courtois then kept out a header from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting with 74 minutes on the clock.

Most inside the bet365 Stadium could sense a goal coming, but it was a surprise when Chelsea scored it three minutes later as Morata accelerated past Johnson and Fletcher before clipping the ball beyond Butland.

He completed his hat-trick in the 82nd minute when Azpilicueta and Cesc Fabregas combined to lay on a tap-in and seal a fourth win in five Premier League matches for Conte's team.
ends.








Credit: ESPN



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SPORT: Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace: Guardiola's men sink strugglers to go top

Sergio Aguero moved within a goal of Manchester City's all-time record as Pep Guardiola's men thrashed bottom side Crystal Palace 5-0 in the Premier League.


Aguero headed a Leroy Sane cross through the grasp of Wayne Hennessey for his 176th goal in City colours during the second half of another commanding display at the Etihad Stadium.

The prolific Argentinian now needs just one more goal to equal the record tally of Eric Brook, which has stood since 1939.

Leaders City were already well on the way to victory when Aguero struck their fourth in the 79th minute after an opener from Leroy Sane and quickfire double from Raheem Sterling. Substitute Fabian Delph added a superb late fifth.

For Palace the misery continues, although they showed signs of looking more organised under the guidance of former England boss Roy Hodgson.

The Londoners have failed to win in six games without scoring - the longest wait for a first goal of the season in top-flight history.

They did trouble the hosts at times in the first half but the result never looked in doubt after Sane's 44th-minute breakthrough.

Such are City's attacking options that Gabriel Jesus was left on the bench with Aguero up front alone, with Sane and Sterling in support.

They immediately went onto the front foot and Palace survived an early scare as Mamadou Sakho headed a Kevin De Bruyne onto his own post.

Sane fired a low shot across goal and Benjamin Mendy had an effort deflected wide as City maintained the pressure. Nicolas Otamendi then had an effort blocked and Fernandinho's follow-up was parried by Hennessey before Sterling also shot at the Palace goalkeeper.

Throughout this initial dominance from the home side, Palace remained unflustered and started to grow into the game.

Counter-attacking opportunities arose and Ruben Loftus-Cheek twice went close as he had a shot deflected onto the post and then miskicked in front of goal.

City suffered a blow when Mendy was forced off after injuring his knee in a challenge on Andros Townsend, for which he was also booked.

City stepped up the tempo before the interval with Aguero sidefooting over from a Sane cross before the German himself opened the scoring.

It came from a slick move in which Sane combined well with David Silva and raced onto the Spaniard's lobbed return pass. Sane flicked the ball over Scott Dann's head with his first touch and then calmly slid it past Hennessey with his second.

That made for a second half stroll for City. Sparking a flurry of activity, Sterling doubled the lead after 51 minutes as he raced into the middle to turn home a low Sane cross.

Sterling's second came just eight minutes later as he diverted home an Aguero pull-back from close range.

Sane had a shot saved by Hennessey but Aguero, denied earlier by Hennessey's feet, got in on the act with a powerful header late on.

There was still time for more and Delph, making his first league appearance since April, curled a fine shot into the top corner in the 89th minute.
ends



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SPORT: Lukaku strikes again as United stutter past Saints

Manchester United made hard work of beating Southampton, with Romelu Lukaku sealing a 1-0 victory.


Romelu Lukaku scored his eighth goal in as many games for Manchester United to seal a 1-0 victory away to Southampton on Saturday.

The Belgium international converted a rebound in the first half to give Jose Mourinho's side a fifth win in six Premier League games and keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table.
It was a largely unconvincing performance from the visitors, who made the most of their one clear-cut opportunity in a comfortable first half and spent the majority of the second on the back foot.
Lukaku scored after seeing a header saved by Fraser Forster, prompting a repeat of the controversial chant from the away section in support of the former Everton man, but United created little otherwise in a disjointed display and Mourinho was sent to the stands in the dying minutes.

Mauricio Pellegrino's side enjoyed 70 per cent of the possession in the second half but struggled to find a way through United's rearguard, underlining the attacking problems of a team who have failed to score in nine of their last 11 home league games.

United move on to 16 points, the same as league leaders City, but Mourinho will no doubt want improvement from his side when they travel to Russia to take on CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Nathan Redmond flashed a half-volley over as Saints started in encouraging fashion, but United snatched control of the half on 20 minutes.

Ashley Young, starting again at left-back, danced his way into space and curled a fine cross onto the head of Lukaku and, although Fraser Forster saved his effort superbly, the Belgian had the simple task of scuffing the rebound into the unguarded net.

A large number of United fans celebrated with the controversial chant about Lukaku, despite the player and club asking for them to refrain from singing it this week following a complaint by anti-discrimination body Kick It Out.

United looked comfortable as they kept Saints at bay for the remainder of the half, but the home side stepped up their pursuit of an equaliser after the break and Oriol Romeu flashed a shot wide when the visitors failed to clear a corner.

Redmond then cut inside from the left and fired in a low shot across goal, forcing David de Gea to save well and gather the rebound away from the lurking Shane Long, before the Republic of Ireland striker was denied a clear run at goal by a strong shoulder charge from Phil Jones that went unpunished.

Mourinho responded to the growing pressure by bringing on Ander Herrera in midfield, and United should have snatched a second goal on the break, with Lukaku shooting straight at Forster's feet after being played in by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Fellaini cleared a Dusan Tadic header from just in front of the line and the winger dragged a low cross inches past the right-hand post moments later, before Herrera blasted over the crossbar when given time and space to pick his spot on a rare United attack.

Saints kept up the pressure in the closing minutes but United held firm for an important –  though far from impressive – three points, even as Mourinho was ordered into the stands in injury time by referee Craig Pawson.











Credit: Goal



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