Month: February 2019

Hulk gives lacklustre Brazil victory over Costa Rica

Zenit St Petersburg striker Hulk scored after nine minutes when he muscled his way past a defender and fired home from 12 metres.

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Hulk started for the first time since enduring a disappointing World Cup last year while coach Dunga gave debuts to Gremio goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe and Santos midfielder Lucas Lima.

Only two players remained from the side that lost the Copa America quarter-final to Paraguay in July.

Brazil dominated the first half and David Luiz almost gave them the lead after five minutes, shooting straight at the keeper when it looked easier to score.

Dunga’s team could not build on the Hulk goal and neither team looked particularly menacing for the remainder of an uneventful first period.

The pace quickened in the second half with Brazil looking the more dangerous.

Marcelo cut in from the left and came close twice in the first few minutes and Douglas Costa, one of Brazil’s best players, did the same.

Bryan Ruiz thought he had equalised in the 55th minute, smashing a through ball into the roof of the net, but Canadian referee Mathieu Bourdeau unfairly ruled it offside.

Bayern Munich’s Costa also had a goal unluckily chalked off with a quarter of an hour left.

Brazil perked up when Kaka replaced Hulk midway through the second half as the experienced midfielder brought an urgency and creativity to the side.

“It was great. I was proud to be back after eight months and feeling the warmth of the fans here was special,” Kaka told TV Globo.

“I feel I can contribute a lot in the short and medium term. I’ve played in two World Cup qualifiers and if Dunga wants me I have plenty to offer.”

Brazil meet the United States in a friendly on Tuesday in New England and then kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign against Chile in Santiago in October.

Costa Rica host Uruguay in a friendly next week.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie,; Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Annual pillow fight turns bloody at military academy

The event, part of a tradition for first-year students at the service academy in West Point, New York, is intended as a way to help them blow off steam and build morale after a summer spent preparing for a grueling program, the newspaper reported.

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But instead, the fight turned bloody after many of the cadets stuffed helmets and other hard objects into the pillow cases resulting in concussions, broken bones, and at least one cadet knocked unconscious, the paper reported, citing interviews with officials, cadets and videos posted on social media. 

No cadets have been punished and all the injured, including 24 with concussion, have returned to campus, the Times said. 

The brawl on Aug. 20 was not confirmed to the Times until Thursday, the newspaper said.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Kasker, an academy spokesman, told the Times the matter was under investigation and there were no plans to cancel the tradition.

Reuters could not reach Kasker for comment on Saturday.

“West Point applauds the cadets’ desire to build esprit and regrets the injuries to our cadets,” Kasker told the Times.

“We are conducting appropriate investigations into the causes of the injuries.”

He said upperclassmen supervising the freshmen had required the cadets to wear helmets, but many put the helmets in their pillow cases instead, the Times reported.

The pillow fights date back to at least 1897, the Times reported, citing a 1901 congressional inquiry on hazing. The 2013 fight was canceled after a cadet put a lockbox in a pillow case during the 2012 event and hurt other cadets, the paper reported.

Bale’s Wales exploits puzzling for Real faithful

The 26-year-old, who joined Real from Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of 100 million euros (£73.

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5 million), clinched a 1-0 win for Wales over Cyprus in their Euro 2016 Group B qualifier on Thursday, a towering header not unlike a trademark effort from club team mate and FIFA Ballon d’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo.

The victory lifted Chris Coleman’s side to 17 points from seven games and they can clinch a place at the finals in France next year if they beat Israel at home on Sunday.

Bale has scored (six) or assisted (two) eight of his nation’s nine goals in qualification and only Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who took his tally to eight against Germany on Friday, has netted more.

Without Bale’s contribution, Wales would have 11 points fewer and would already be on the brink of elimination, according to Spanish Twitter statistician Mister Chip (@2010MisterChip).

“It was a great header but it’s nothing we as players haven’t come to expect from him,” defender Ben Davies told reporters.

While his exploits have prompted comparisons with Wales great John Charles, Bale has yet to achieve the same kind of success at Real that Charles did playing for Italian side Juventus in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Bale’s debut season in Spain was impressive, if not spectacular, and he scored in the finals of the Champions League and the King’s Cup.

However, he failed to push on from that last term, when Real missed out on the three main trophies and coach Carlo Ancelotti was sacked and replaced by Rafa Benitez.

Bale scored 17 goals in 48 outings in all competitions in 2014-15, compared with 22 in 44 appearances in 2013-14.

He also produced fewer assists, setting up 10 goals after 12 the previous year.

According to a survey of 725 Real members conducted by market research firm SigmaDos for Marca sports daily, Bale rated five out of 10 for the season.

That compared unfavourably with Portugal captain Ronaldo, who scored 7.8 after netting a La Liga-best 48 goals and 61 in all competitions.

And perhaps therein lies Bale’s problem at Real.

While with Wales he is the undisputed star of the team, at Real he has to defer to Ronaldo and has several more of the world’s highest-profile players around him like Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez and France forward Karim Benzema.

As Real president Florentino Perez’s marquee signing in 2009, Ronaldo confidently assumed the mantle from previous ‘galacticos’ like France great Zinedine Zidane, former Brazil striker Ronaldo and compatriot Luis Figo.

Bale, so far, has yet to show he is capable of being the number one man at the world’s richest club by income and the record 10-times European champions.

To be sure, Bale has made a fine start to his latest campaign with Real, scoring a double in a 5-0 thrashing of promoted Real Betis last weekend.

However, if he does not want to join other Real imports who have been considered a failure — including the likes of Kaka, Antonio Cassano and Nicolas Anelka — he will need to make a more telling contribution on a more consistent basis.

Exactly like he does for Wales.

(Editing by Toby Davis)

France claim victory in final minutes

A late Noa Nakaitaci try snatched a 19-16 win for France over Scotland in their final World Cup warm-up test at the Stade de France on Saturday.

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It had been 16 years since Scotland last won in Paris, and until the 73rd minute it appeared the hoodoo might be broken by a team that six months ago ran last in the Six Nations tournament.

“It was important to win this match,” said France coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

“We were patient and we didn’t panic when we conceded a try, and came back.

“We were less efficient in the first half in the ruck and clearing.

“We lacked intensity. We had a talk at half-time and in the second half things were different.”

He added: “It was a high level match, and we’re now heading for England full of confidence.”

Saint-Andre’s side dominated in many aspects including fitness but were hit with centre Fofana and lock Pascal Pape both going off injured.

Fofana, 27, picked up a thigh injury after 35 minutes and was replaced by Alexandre Dumoulin while 34-year-old Pape limped off with a knee knock after 53 minutes.

Both sides traded penalty goals in the opening half, with Scotland sending over three to France’s two to lead 9-6 at the break.

The hosts took the lead for the first time after 58 minutes when Scott Spedding sent over a penalty from inside his own half.

But Scotland would regain the lead four moments later when Tommy Seymour scored, allowing Greig Laidlaw to convert.

The French pushed forward and Scotland were left a man down for the final 10 minutes when David Denton was sin-binned for a foul on Mathieu Bastareaud.

It allowed Nakaitaci to combine with fly-half Remi Tales before powering over for the winner on 73 minutes which substitute Morgan Parra converted.

Saint-Andre’s side open their World Cup campaign against Italy on September 19 with Scotland starting against Japan in Gloucester on September 23.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter said his side was extremely disappointed after coming so close to victory.

“The guys really wanted to win, it’s been several years now that we haven’t managed to do that here.

“There is still a lot of work to do but the team showed good spirit this evening, conditions were difficult with rain.

“I think they (France) are stronger than during the Six Nations and if they continue like that they’ll be difficult to play (in the World Cup).”

Rugby – Late Nakaitaci try gives France win over Scotland

France were rewarded for their domination when wing Nakaitaci went over seven minutes from time after Philippe Saint-Andre’s side had looked short of ideas against a sturdy Scottish defence.

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The visitors, who will open their World Cup campaign in Pool B against Japan, were in front for most of the match but France’s power eventually prevailed.

France, who also beat England at home last month, will need to show a lot more creativity, however, if they want to prevail in Pool D where they face Ireland, Italy, Canada and Romania.

Greig Laidlaw, who ended with 11 points, opened the scoring for Scotland when he slotted home a 45-metre penalty after France captain Thierry Dusautoir was sanctioned for offside.

Flyhalf Frederic Michalak levelled with a penalty for the hosts only for Laidlaw to add another three points as the visitors were rewarded for their attacking intent.

But Vern Cotter’s Scotland lacked discipline and Michalak was handed an easy penalty to make it 6-6.

The French built momentum and Scott Spedding eased his way through the Scotland defence before centre Wesley Fofana dived over the line only to see referee Wayne Barnes rule out the try for a forward pass.

Scotland were lucky to reach halftime with a 9-6 lead after Laidlaw added another penalty when the French were again penalised for offside.

Michalak drew the hosts level again after Gordon Reid was penalised early in the second half, but France were guilty of making too many errors.

A knock-on after a long phase of domination cost France a possible try, while Yoann Huget was bundled into touch by Sean Maitland five metres from the line after bursting down the right flank.

France took the lead for the first time just before the hour thanks to Spedding’s 55-metre penalty as the hosts’ upped the pressure.

But Saint-Andre’s side wasted another good try-scoring chance, when they lost the ball five metres from the line.

Scotland then grabbed their only try of the match when Laidlaw’s long kick set up Tommy Seymour who comfortably scored between the posts and the conversion gave Scotland a four-point lead.

France then laid siege to the Scottish line, winning scrum after scrum, and number eight David Denton was shown a yellow card.

France finally found a way through the Scotland defence when Nakaitaci escaped two tackles and dived over while replacement scrumhalf Morgan Parra converted.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)

England first to qualify as Rooney equals record

The visitors outclassed San Marino’s part-timers as they chalked up a seventh successive Group E qualifying win to seal a place in France next year with three matches to spare.

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Rooney, who scored his first goal for England 12 years ago this weekend, equalled Charlton’s 45-year-old record when he scored with a 13th-minute penalty, sending goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini the wrong way.

Both players scored their 49 goals in 106 appearances.

The England skipper never had another clear-cut chance to break the record and manager Roy Hodgson replaced Rooney after 57 minutes with Harry Kane who also got among the scorers with a well-taken chip in the 75th.

“It’s a proud moment for me to equal Bobby’s record and my aim is to push on and help the team beat Switzerland on Tuesday,” Rooney told ITV Sport.

“Since I joined Manchester United, Bobby gives me advice after games and I am sure if anyone will be happy for me to break his record it will be him.”

Hodgson said he had always planned to take Rooney off.

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“It was in our thoughts to keep Wayne on for 45 to 60 minutes because other players needed to play,” the manager explained.

“We played well today and players like Jonjo Shelvey had a good game on a very difficult pitch.”

San Marino, who have only avoided defeat in a competitive match once in 10 years, played some neat football but there was never any doubt about the outcome even before Cristian Brolli headed a cross into his own net after 30 minutes to double England’s lead.

Ross Barkley made it 3-0 seconds after halftime when he nodded his first goal for his country and the second half turned into little more than a training match as Hodgson’s men retained possession for long periods.

Substitute Theo Walcott, who had just replaced Arsenal team mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, tapped in the fourth goal at the far post in the 68th minute.

Kane, without a goal for Tottenham Hotspur this season, ended his drought with a perfectly-flighted effort over Simoncini before Walcott slid in the sixth goal in the 76th minute.

Switzerland and Slovenia, who are second and fourth in the group, meet later on Saturday.

(Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Tony Jimenez)

G20 eyes faster economic reforms as cheap credit not enough for growth

But they also said they were confident growth would pick up and, as a result, interest rates in “some advanced economies” – code for the United States – would have to rise.

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“Monetary policies will continue to support economic activity consistent with central banks’ mandates, but monetary policy alone cannot lead to balanced growth,” the communique of the G20 finance ministers and central bankers said. 

“We note that in line with the improving economic outlook, monetary policy tightening is more likely in some advanced economies.”

The wording defied pressure from emerging markets to brand an expected U.S. rate rise as a risk to growth.

“We heard different opinions on the possible Fed decision. Some think the Fed needs to make a decision sooner rather than later, while others think it should delay,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cevdet Yilmaz told a news conference. 

To limit the volatility of capital flows from emerging economies into dollars – the reason for concern about a future Federal Reserve hike – G20 financial leaders said they would avoid any surprise or excessive moves.

“We will carefully calibrate and clearly communicate our actions, especially against the backdrop of major monetary and other policy decisions, to minimise negative spillovers, mitigate uncertainty and promote transparency,” they said. 

Concern about the turbulence that might be caused by a possible Fed rate hike was amplified by investor worries over an economic slowdown in China, the world’s second-biggest economy.

G20 officials said they discussed the devaluation by China of its yuan currency in August, a move some may see as a realignment to market rates rather than a move to help exports.

“Many supported the measures that China took… the ministers were very tolerant,” Russian deputy finance minister, Sergei Storchak told a news briefing. 

The Chinese devaluation as well as the stock market plunge on growth jitters were all part of a difficult path to a more liberal economy, officials said.

“It’s an unbelievably difficult transformation and it’s not surprising that there are bumps, that it’s not a perfectly smooth process, and I think we had plenty of explanations, opportunity to ask questions, and it was a dialogue, and a very open one,” IMF head Christine Lagarde said after the meeting. 

But some were less impressed. 

“Their explanations weren’t very good. They should have been much clearer,” said Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso about the Chinese.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew noted that global economies were keen to see the world’s second-largest economy move to an exchange rate that reflected market fundamentals.

“When the world has called on China to move toward a more market-determined exchange rate, it’s in the context of doing so in an orderly way with clearly articulated policies that can be understood and that reinforce themselves in a positive way,” he said in a statement.

Tomic shares special moment with Gasquet

Bernard Tomic has crashed out of the US Open but not before featuring in the sporting moment of the tournament with 12th seed Richard Gasquet.

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Tomic triggered a standing ovation for Gasquet on The Grandstand after the classy Frenchman produced a dazzling round-the-net-post forehand winner early in the third set of his 6-4 6-3 6-1 victory on Saturday.

Left in awe by Gasquet’s extraordinary court coverage and racquet skills to produce possibly the shot of the Open, Tomic rushed to the Wimbledon semi-finalist and give him a congratulatory fist bump.

The Australian then went to the back of the court, put down his racquet and urged the capacity crowd to applaud the Frenchman.

Gasquet said he’d never before shared such an on-court moment with an opponent.

“I think I never did it,” he said.

“Bernard is a great friend of mine, so I think I can do it with him. You don’t do it with guys you don’t like. With him, he’s a great friend.

“Yeah, I think it was the best shot of the match for sure. When I saw he put it on the net, I saw I could do it, and of course it’s a lucky shot because if it’s not touching the net I can’t do that.

“Of course it’s an incredible shot, so I’m very happy with it. It’s very funny for me. The crowd loved it. That’s very nice.”

His instinctive sporting gesture was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable match for Tomic.

“At that moment I didn’t care that I was losing. You don’t see that every day,” he said.

“For everyone it was huge. I’d like to see that on replay – I’m going to watch that tonight. It was an amazing point.

“He was playing very good. I have to congratulate him.”

Just as he did to eliminate Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon, Gasquet brought his A game to take out Tomic in less than an hour and a half.

The Frenchman landed 18 winners to Tomic’s one from his famous one-handed backhand wing and Australia’s 24th seed said he struggled to back up physically and mentally from his sapping five-set second-round win over Lleyton Hewitt.

“It’s amazing when a top player like that who has been very long in the top 10 is playing good,” Tomic said.

“I’m (only) a little bit off him my ranking-wise but I was no chance.

“I was trying but I was very tired and I couldn’t keep up with the ball speed.

“Every match we played in the past we were close apart from the Roland Garros where I came back from surgery and he destroyed me as well.

“The one I got him in Wimbledon I played him very well but that’s on grass. I was serving well feeling good.

“But today I just couldn’t find the momentum at the right time. He was playing very very good tennis.”

Johnson not in Suns’ age bracket: Eade

Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade has ruled out signing outgoing Geelong veteran Steve Johnson, with the Suns looking to trade for players with fewer AFL miles on their clock.

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The Suns have finished 16th with a 4-17-1 record after suffering a 63-point final round away loss to Sydney.

The under-strength Suns got the better of the Swans in the two middle quarters, but Sydney kicked ten of the last 12 goals.

Eade wasn’t sure the next draft was vital for his club and suggested their biggest moves would come in the trade period.

Big man Charlie Dixon is one player rumoured to want a move.

Three-time Geelong premiership winner Johnson 32, finished off with Geelong on Saturday and is believed to want to continue his career elsewhere, but he’s not on the Suns radar.

“He’s not in the age bracket we need,” Eade said

“In the trade period, we’re looking for guys 22 to 26, 27 years of age in certain positions that we need.

“We certainly need to increase our depth in that range of players, that demographic.”

He said the spirit of the players had been fantastic and they had stuck together through a season in which they suffered a massive injury toll.

Eade nominated key forward Tom Lynch and defender Kade Kolodjashni as two of the Suns better performed individuals this season, but was pleased with the emergence and development of several other players.

“In the young players, I think Touk Mlller and Adam Saad have been fantastic for us,” Eade said.

“But Jessie Lonergan, Aaron Hall playing in the midfield, they’ve been pleasing.

“Steven May has again jumped up and improved again, so become a real leader around the club.

“There’s probably about another half dozen as well.

“”We’ve still got a lot of work to do and a lot of effort is required, but with players back (from injury)and I think a better fitness program, the way we’re going to go ahead, I’m quite bullish about where we’re headed.”

Eade gave Adam Goodes a senior debut in 1999 when he was Sydney coach and 16 years later that player in now the Swans’ all-time games record holder.

“He’s done a great job hasn’t he?” Eade said of Goodes.

“You still see the way he runs he’s athletic and it’s all credit to himself he’s been to do what he’s been able to achieve.

“I think it’s fantastic and hopefully he can contribute to the Swans in the finals.”

Canada less welcoming to refugees

Canada has long prided itself for opening its doors wider than any nation to asylum seekers, but the number it welcomes has waned since Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper took power almost 10 years ago.

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Harper has rejected calls to take immediate action to resettle more Syrian refugees, despite the haunting image of a drowned 3-year-old washed up on a Turkish beach that has focused the world’s attention on the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

Canada denied initial, inaccurate reports that it had rejected a refugee application for the boy’s immediate family, but the story landed in the middle of an election campaign and forced Harper’s party to cancel events and address what Canada is doing for asylum seekers.

In times of crisis in decades past, Canada resettled refugees quickly and in large numbers. It airlifted more than 5000 people from Kosovo in the late 1990s and more than 5000 from Uganda in 1972 and resettled 60,000 Vietnamese in 1979-80. More than 1.2 million refugees have arrived in Canada since World War II.

But the number of refugees has declined since Harper became prime minister in 2006. In 2005, Canada received 35,775 refugees. Canada welcomed 23,286 last year. According to the United Nations, Canada has dropped from the fifth-highest refugee-receiving country in 2000 to 15th last year.

The Harper government says it has resettled 2374 Syrian refugees since January 2014. More than 4 million Syrians have fled their country since the conflict began in 2011.

“Our view has been on refugees we should be doing what we’re doing,” Harper, who is facing re-election in October told a campaign event on Thursday.

“Our message is also that we need to help people that are actually there and who can’t get away, and part of the way we need to help them is to stop awful violence that is being directed at them, displacing and killing them.”

Canada has six fighter jets bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria and Iraq and has a small number of special forces soldiers in a training role in northern Iraq. Canada’s opposition parties oppose the military action.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has said Canada will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years in response to a United Nations Refugee Agency’s global appeal to resettle 100,000 refugees worldwide.

But leaders of the two main opposition parties challenging Harper in the October election say Canada should do more.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said Canada should take in 25,000 Syrian refugees immediately.

“We have it done in the past, and we can do that again,” Trudeau told a campaign event Friday. “It is something that has made Canada the country that we are.”

Tom Mulcair, leader of the New Democrats, said military action would not have saved the little boy on the beach.

“Canadians that I meet with across this country want Canada to do its share,” Mulcair said. “If we’re elected, there will be 10,000 people brought to Canada before the end of this year.”

Alex Neve of Amnesty International’s Canada branch said the country is not the welcoming place it once was for refugees.

“What we’ve seen from the Canadian government is a pittance, especially for a country that has a long and proud record of pursuing bold refugee resettlements in the past,” Neve said.