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.

DIFFICULT PITCH

“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.

Controversy as Australia go 2-0 up in series

England were 141 for three, chasing a daunting 310 to win, when Ben Stokes was given out by the TV umpire for 10 ‘obstructing the field’ for stopping paceman Mitchell Starc’s shy at the stumps with his left glove while out of his crease.

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It was harsh on Stokes as he appeared to be acting more in self-defence than trying to prevent being run out.

The all-rounder had joined captain Eoin Morgan in the middle after James Taylor’s promising innings of 43 ended when he nicked Mitchell Marsh to Matthew Wade.

The Stokes decision, and another collapse that included a duck for Jos Buttler, left England in trouble but Morgan responded with a flurry of huge hits before holing out for 85 to end the match.

Pat Cummins had the England skipper caught by Glenn Maxwell as the paceman finished with four for 56.

Morgan was clearly angry, with the performance of his outplayed team and with opposing captain Steven Smith for not withdrawing the Stokes appeal.

“If the guy throws the ball in your direction from five yards then all you can do is flinch, you don’t have time to think,” said Morgan.

“The decision was made and I certainly feel it would have been different if we were fielding.”

Smith disagreed.

“It was blatantly out. The ball wasn’t going to hit him, Stokes was out of his crease, he put his arm out and got in the way of the ball,” he said.

After a rain-delayed start that reduced the match to 49 overs per side, Australia suffered a blow when David Warner was struck on the thumb by a venemous Steven Finn ball in the opening over and was forced off.

Warner suffered a fracture and will miss the last three matches.

Finn bowled Joe Burns for 22 before George Bailey and Smith set about building a solid platform.

The pair had put on 99 for the second wicket when Bailey went for 54, bowled by a turning Moeen delivery.

Smith was out for 70 but Maxwell, Marsh and Shane Watson then smashed 96 came off the last 10 overs.

Marsh was particularly cavalier, belting seven fours and three sixes in a 31-ball 64. Stokes was the pick of England’s attack with three for 60.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman,; Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Flashpoint overshadows Aussie’s win

Post-Ashes hostilities reached a flashpoint at Lord’s on Saturday, with England skipper Eoin Morgan accusing Steve Smith of acting against the spirit of cricket in Australia’s controversial win at Lord’s.

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Australia took a 2-0 lead in the five-match one-day series with the 54-run victory, which threatened to boil over following a decision to give England allrounder Ben Stokes out on the little-used ‘obstructing the field’ law.

Chasing Australia’s total of 7-309, England were 3-141 in reply when the match’s defining moment arrived as Stokes stuck out a hand to deflect a shy at the stumps from Australian quick Mitchell Starc.

Morgan argued that Stokes, who was on 10, was simply interested in self-preservation rather than having any intention of protecting his stumps.

“I feel that the ball was thrown so fast that you can only react in a way that defends yourself and he put his hand up to protect himself and followed the ball,” he said.

“How you can interpret is open but certainly I didn’t think it was deliberate.”

Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade and Starc immediately appealed and umpire Kumar Dharmasena referred the decision to the third umpire Joel Wilson, who saw enough evidence to give Stokes his marching orders.

Smith could’ve retracted the appeal and recalled Stokes, but he chose not to – a move which infuriated Morgan.

“Certainly, I think it would’ve been a lot different if we were fielding,” said Morgan, who also revealed he’d Dharamasena had told him the on-field umpires didn’t believe it to be out.

The opposing captains held spirited discussions during and after the match, but ended up with vastly differing views.

The Laws of Cricket state a batsman must be trying to “wilfully attempt to obstruct or distract the fielding side” to be dismissed obstructing the field – a point Smith remained firm on when challenged over his appeal.

“The way I saw it was he was out of his ground and he wilfully put his hand out which is the rule I’ve been told and he got given out by the umpire,” Smith said.

The dismissal triggered a collapse of 5-46 and played a major role in England being bowled out for 245, though a 55-run partnership between Morgan (85 off 87) and Liam Plunkett pushed Australia to the end.

The incident enraged the typically sedate Lord’s crowd, who booed loudly for a solid half-hour after the incident and hurled abuse following Starc’s every involvement for the rest of the match.

Starc responded to the boos by clean bowling Plunkett to end England’s resistance and silence the crowd.

Even former greats from each nation were divided on the situation – though not necessarily falling in line with their captains.

“He is perfectly entitled to (leave it to the umpires),” said former England skipper Michael Atherton.

Champion Australian legspinner Shane Warne felt differently.

“The correct decision was made by the umps re Stokes even though I didn’t like it,” he said in a Tweet which he later deleted.

“Cricket would’ve been the winner if Smith called him back.”

Controversy aside, the win was well received by Smith and coach Darren Lehmann after Australia battled back despite the loss of David Warner to a broken thumb on the match’s second ball – with the opener facing a four-to-six week recovery.

Luckless allrounder Shane Watson, who clubbed sixes into the top tier of both the Lord’s Pavilion and the Tavern Stand in an exciting cameo, also failed to finish the match after straining a calf muscle.

Australia’s innings was defined by a blistering half-century to man of the match Mitch Marsh which carried them past 300 after Steve Smith (70) and George Bailey (54) had set the platform.

Pat Cummins claimed 4-56.

Ghana, Senegal win but South Africa suffer shock

There was an historic first-ever victory for South Sudan, who beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 at home after failing to win in their first 11 internationals since becoming the world game’s newest nation four years ago.

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A late free kick from Mubarak Wakaso handed Ghana a 1-0 win over Rwanda in Kigali and a second successive win in the preliminaries for the 2017 finals in Gabon.

Cheikhou Kouyate and Sadio Mane scored either side of halftime to give Senegal a 2-0 away victory in Namibia and maintain their 100 percent record in Group K.

But Nigeria were held to a goalless draw away in Tanzania in a disappointing start for new coach Sunday Oliseh with debutant English-born goalkeeper Carl Ikeme proving the difference between a single point and defeat for the visitors.

South Africa suffered a major setback in Mauritania, ranked by FIFA some 40 places below them, as goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune dropped a free kick into his own net in the opening five minutes before the visitors’ debutant defender Siyabonga Zulu was sent off.

Despite being down to 10 men, South Africa equalised only to give away two late goals in a 3-1 defeat which marks the biggest scalp in Mauritania’s limited international history.

Tunisia lost 1-0 away in Liberia, who were celebrating a return home as they hosted their first full international since the end of the Ebola crisis. Francis Grandpa Doe, whose recall to the squad had been criticised, got the game’s only goal.

Joel Mogorosi’s strike handed Botswana a 1-0 home win over Burkina Faso, who were Nations Cup runners-up in 2013.

Nordin Amrabat, Youssef El Arabi and Nabil Dirar scored as Morocco won 3-0 away in tiny Sao Tome e Principe and Fode Dore got a hat trick as Congo emerged 4-2 winners in Guinea Bissau.

A further 12 games are scheduled for Sunday as teams continue the qualification process for the tournament in Gabon. The winners of the 13 groups plus the two best-placed runners-up qualify for the finals.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)

Aussie Brunker outclassed by Warrington

Australia’s Joel Brunker has failed in his attempt to win the Commonwealth featherweight title, losing on points to hugely impressive Englishman Josh Warrington in Leeds.

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The gutsy western Sydney fighter went into the contest with a 28-1 record and fully confident of victory to potentially set up a rematch with Welsh IBF champion Lee Selby, the only man to beat him.

Brunker started well in the early rounds, having some success with some decent body shots but once the Yorkshireman started to find his groove the result was never in doubt.

He was completely outclassed by Warrington, who dealt comfortably with the 29-year-old’s aggressive approach to extend his unbeaten record to 22-0 in front of his delirious supporters in his home town city.

Warrington paid full respect to Brunker by not playing into his hands and going toe-to-toe with the durable Australian and subsequently his limitations were exposed as he battled gamely to take the fight to the distance, failing to win a single round.

The latter rounds were merely about self-preservation for Brunker who was protecting a nasty cut above his right eye, but he bravely went the distance.

However, all three judges scored the fight 120-108 in favour of Warrington.

It was a second successive defeat on British soil for Brunker after his loss to Selby in November and it leaves the 2004 Olympian’s career at the crossroads with little chance of a rematch against Warrington or Selby, or a fight with WBC champion Gary Russell Junior.

“It was a great win for me, Joel is a world class fighter who makes it hard for you,” Warrington told Sky Sports.

Swiss seal ‘crazy’ win with remarkable late rally

Milivoje Novakovic and Bostjan Cesar netted either side of halftime as Slovenia took control of the Group E game against the error-prone hosts who were jeered off at halftime.

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But two goals from Josip Drmic, including the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time, and one by fellow substitute Valentin Stocker gave the Swiss a memorable victory.

Breel Embolo, 18, the other Swiss substitute, also played a key role in the first goal as coach Vladimir Petkovic’s second-half changes paid off handsomely.

“It was a crazy game where we had the bit of luck that we didn’t have in Slovenia,” Petkovic told SRF television, referring to Switzerland’s 2-0 defeat in Maribor in October.

The win left the Swiss second in the group and clear favourites to follow England through while Slovenia must now battle for third spot, and a place in a two-legged playoff, alongside Estonia and Lithuania.

Petkovic’s men have 15 points from seven games while Slovenia are fourth on nine points, below Estonia (10) who beat Lithuania (six) by a 1-0 margin. England (21) qualified after crushing San Marino 6-0 earlier on Saturday.

The Swiss dominated the first half but struggled to create openings and were then caught on the break as Novakovic dinked the ball over Yann Sommer on the stroke of halftime.

Cesar headed in from a corner three minutes after the restart to leave the Swiss floundering and Sommer prevented a third with a superb stop denying Josip Ilicic.

Swiss frustration showed as Ricardo Rodriguez and Xherdan Shaqiri wasted good attacks with poor crosses.

Stocker came on in the 80th minute and, almost immediately, the three substitutes combined to put the Swiss back in the match.

Stocker fed Embolo, his clever flick set Drmic clear and he held off his marker to beat Samir Handanovic.

The Swiss were level four minutes later when Shaqiri pulled the ball back and Stocker levelled.

Then, in the last move of the game, Slovenia lost possession as they tried to play out of their own half.

Switzerland poured forward and Fabian Schaer’s shot was deflected into the path of Drmic who grabbed the winner.

(Writing by Brian Homewood,; Editing by Tony Jimenez)