Fleetwood scorches back 9 to win title. Qatar stun European champs Germany, enter quarters

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1 GOLF Page 5 Fleetwood scorches back 9 to win title NBA Page 6 Wade s late heroics help Bulls survive Kings To Advertise here Call: , Rabia Il 25, 1438 AH GULF TIMES SPORT CRICKET England win Eden thriller by five runs Page 4 Qatar stun European champs Germany, enter quarters Qatar s Rafael Capote shoots a free throw. The left-back scored nine goals to be adjudged MVP of the match. () Agencies Paris Olympic gold medallists Denmark and European champions Germany crashed out of the World Handball Championships at the last-16 stage yesterday. Denmark were stunned by Hungary while Germany lost to Qatar, who were runnersup to France at the last tournament in It s the first time since 2005 that Denmark three-time finalists but never world champions have been dumped out of the competition before the quarter-finals World Championship silver medallists Qatar defeat the Olympic bronze medallists and EURO champions by one to claim a place in the quarter-finals. Qatar opened with a 5-1 defensive system with Rafael Capote pushing high in an attempt to disrupt Germany s back court, but the Bad Boys still netted the first goal of the match inside the opening minute with a rocket from Kai Hafner. At the other end of the court, Andreas Wolff stopped Qatar s first attack and went on to make three saves at 50% within the first eight minutes, hinting that a difficult task lay ahead for Qatar s shooters. When Wolff made his fifth save just before the 10-minute mark, the European champions led 5-2, and the goalkeeper was proving his value with a 71% rate. At that point, Qatar keeper Danijel Saric had saved only one. But Germany s hold on the game began to lessen after the first 10 minutes, as Saric s save rate picked up. Midway through the half, when coach Dagur Sigurdsson called his first timeout, it was a one-goal lead at 6-5 for Germany, and five minutes later Qatar levelled the score at 7-7 off a goal from Roine Bertrand. It stayed a low-scoring match with only one goal in five minutes, and when Wolff made his second penalty save, his team held only a narrow lead at 8-7. Germany just held the edge at half-time, and German goalkeeper Andreas Wolff's 19 saves were not enough to save his team from defeat. opened the second period with Wolff s third penalty save out of Qatar s four attempts. The Rio Olympic bronze medallists could not shake their opponents as the clock ticked on, however, and missed some easy chances due to Saric s saves. Wolff also made things difficult for Qatar, maintaining an incredible 60% after 40 minutes when Paul Drux broke through to open a two-goal gap at Germany pulled ahead by three thanks to Kai Hafner in the 43rd, but Qatar slowly reduced the gap. Germany reclaimed a two-goal advantage with six minutes remaining, but Qatar roared back again and this time they did not let the opportunity slip. When the final three minutes began, the game was level at 20-20, before Capote took Qatar in front. Hungary will face Norway tomorrow for a place in the semi-finals while Qatar will take on Slovenia. Qatar s Cuban winger Capote scored nine goals to be named MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the match. Qatar s Bassel al-rayes (left) and left wing Hassan Mabrouk celebrate the win. () TENNIS It s carnage Down Under World number ones Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both crash out on a day of major upsets at Australian Open Melbourne The whiff of sporting upset hung around Melbourne Park yesterday after top seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber were handed stunning defeats in the Australian Open fourth round. Britain s Murray was bamboozled by the serve-volley game of Mischa Zverev to exit after 3-1/2 hours on Rod Laver Arena, while fellow world number one Kerber s title defence was ended in little more than an hour by Coco Vandeweghe. Murray was the first top seed to depart before the quarter-finals since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003, while Germany s reigning women s champion was last sent packing before the second week a decade ago when Amelie Mauresmo went out in the fourth round. Murray and Kerber were playing their first grand slams as top seeds and both looked all but powerless to deal with the style of game they were confronted with from across the net. Zverev, the world number 50, rushed the net 118 times to keep one of the best defensive players in the game on the backfoot for much of the contest before holding his nerve to close out the contest 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. Credit to him, said Murray. He came up with great, great shots and played a really, really good match. You know, you always finish matches you lose with things you maybe could have done a bit better, but he played some really good stuff. The German, ranked outside the top 1,000 in the world after wrist surgery Germany s Mischa Zverev celebrates his shock upset of Britain s Andy Murray (inset) in the 4th round of Australian Open yesterday. () two years ago, will face Roger Federer in his maiden grand slam quarter-final after the Swiss master outlasted Kei Nishikori 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. New Yorker Vandeweghe later hammered down 30 winners to Kerber s seven, overpowering the US Open champion 6-2, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Spanish seventh seed Garbine Muguruza in her first trip to the last eight in Melbourne. Kerber made 15 unforced errors in a contest lasting little more than an hour and admitted it was simply not her day. It was a tough match and, of course, I m disappointed, she said. But I was not feeling the ball at all tonight. I was not playing good from the first point. I was trying tonight but, yeah I missed a lot. So this was not my game like I play normally. While Kerber could yet lose the number one ranking to Serena Williams after the year s first grand slam, Murray s main rival Novak Djokovic made an even earlier exit in the second round. With Murray and the Serbian reigning champion having already departed, Melbourne Park will next week witness the first grand slam since the 2004 French Open without its top two men s seeds. Federer will hope to profit as he bids for his 18th grand slam title, as will his compatriot and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, who is in the same half of the draw and fended off Andreas Seppi 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(4). Wawrinka next faces France s 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who ended the fairytale run of Britain s Dan Evans by coming from a set down to win 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. Murray and Evans had hoped to become the first British pair to reach the men s quarter-finals at Melbourne Park in 40 years and the first at a grand slam since Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski at Wimbledon in Venus Williams, at 36 the oldest woman in the singles draw, also progressed to the last eight with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Mona Barthel, moving closer to a potential blockbuster final against sister Serena. The younger Williams sister continues her quest for a 23rd grand slam title against Barbora Strycova today, when men s 2009 champion Rafa Nadal is also in fourth round action. Results (Round 4) Men: Mischa Zverev (GER) bt Andy Murray (GBR x1) 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4; Stan Wawrinka (SUI x4) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4); Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) bt Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-4, 6-4; Roger Federer (SUI) bt Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 Women: Venus Williams (USA x13) bt Mona Barthel (GER) 6-3, 7-5; Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x24) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS x8) 6-3, 6-3; Garbine Muguruza (ESP x7) bt Sorana Cirstea (ROM) 6-2, 6-3; Coco Vandeweghe (US) bt Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-2, 6-3 (x denotes seeding)

2 2 Gulf Times TENNIS FOCUS Kerber s rocky title defence finally collapses Melbourne A fourth-round elimination by an unfancied player was a disappointing end to Angelique Kerber s defence of her Australian Open title yesterday but the top-seeded German had never appeared comfortable in her skin at Melbourne Park. Kerber left head bowed from Rod Laver Arena after a 6-2, 6-3 defeat by 35th-ranked American Coco Vandeweghe, her final stand ending meekly in 68 minutes. It was a far cry from the magical night 12 months before, when Kerber rose up like a blonde Valkyrie to fell Serena Williams in a three-set classic, clinching a maiden grand slam title that set a platform for the brilliant season to come. Kerber proved it was no fluke when she grabbed her second major title at the US Open, swiping the world number one ranking from Williams in the process. The German arrived at Melbourne Park exalting in the memories, cradling the winner s trophy like a baby to the draw ceremony. But behind it all was a lean run after Flushing Meadows, a shock defeat to Dominika Cibulkova in the WTA Finals decider and a poor preparation at lead-up tournaments in Australia. Heavy lies the crown, and the world number one ranking appeared to weigh on Kerber as she battled nerves and meltdowns in her opening matches at Melbourne Park. She had an easier time of it against third-round opponent Kristyna Pliskova but it was to prove a false dawn as she was off from the first point against Vandeweghe. It was a tough match, and of course I m disappointed. But I was not feeling the ball at all tonight, said the 29-yearold Kerber. My preparation was like I wanted and everything was fine. I came here to play good tennis, playing round by round, trying to continue my run from last year. But this is tennis, and you have good days and bad days. For sure today was not my best day. Kerber s elimination adds to a round of shocks at Melbourne Park so far, with the men s two top seeds, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, also sent packing. Williams, the 22-times grand slam champion, can take the number one ranking back by the end of the tournament, leaving Kerber s hopes of building a dynasty in ruins. I think I have to a little bit think about everything what s happened like the last few weeks, what I can take to the next tournaments with all the experience from the tournaments I played here in Australia, she said. I will try my best to, yeah, of course, come back stronger. Kerber was bidding to be the first woman to successfully defend an Australian title since Victoria Azarenka in 2013, but it all went horribly wrong against a player ranked 35. It s really special, to play a number one player in the world on any stage and any round. So I think I believe this is my first number one win. I ll take that, said Vandeweghe. Last year I came here and didn t win a match. Now here I am. It was just another opponent in the way of my goals for this year, she added. I set a goal this tournament of making the quarterfinals and the semi-final of a Grand Slam this year. Vandeweghe, who made the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2015 but had never been past the third round in Melbourne, now faces dangerous seventh seed Garbine Muguruza for a place in the last four. Muguruza blasted into her first Melbourne quarter-final with a two-set thumping of Romania s Sorana Cirstea. OPINION Shock results good Improving Stanimal completes Italian job to put rivals on notice for sport, says Federer I never thought that Mischa Zverev and Denis Istomin (who beat Djokovic) would beat those two big guys. I guess it s good for tennis that a lot of guys believe strongly now that the top guys are beatable, are vulnerable, especially on a faster court Melbourne Roger Federer showed his 35-year-old legs may yet still carry him to a long-awaited 18th grand slam title as he overhauled fifth seed Kei Nishikori in a five-set slog to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals yesterday. Having issued a reminder of his class in the 90-minute rout of Tomas Berdych, Federer flaunted his endurance by prevailing 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 after a threehour and 26-minute battle under the lights at Rod Laver Arena. After six months out of the game to recover from a knee injury, Federer s fairytale return will continue against giant-killing German Mischa Zverev, who sensationally ousted top seed Andy Murray on the same centre court only hours before. Since winning Wimbledon in 2012, Federer has gone close to adding to his major tally, but with each passing year, the doubts have only piled higher. Yet, with Murray and six-times Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic sent packing from Melbourne Park, the Swiss master finds himself with his best chance in years and revelled in his physical condition when taken deep by Nishikori. I felt great in the fifth (set), I must say, the 17th seed told reporters. Great energy. Even deep into the fourth I thought, Yeah, fifth, here we go, no problem for me. I m feeling good about my chances. But tonight was special, no doubt about it. Going five against Kei here on Rod Laver Arena with the comeback, it s definitely very special. The match threatened for a time to be anything but special as Asia s first men s grand slam finalist stormed to a 4-0 lead before weathering a huge Federer recovery to take the first set on a tiebreak. The Swiss hit back quickly, belting a huge return to break Nishikori in the seventh game of the second. Federer served out the set to love when Nishikori hit a return into the tramlines and the old master threw a steely gaze at his player s box, pumping his fist. Rattled by the pressure, Nishikori became twitchy, his fidgeting between points betraying the nerves as Federer roared through the third set in 26 minutes. The Swiss looked to be coasting to victory but he suffered a rare wobble at 2-2 in the fourth, shanking a straightforward smash and then netting a volley to give up two break points. The door ajar, Nishikori barged through it with a stinging passing shot as Federer rushed the net with more hope than design. Nishikori served out to love, the match back to level terms as Federer s suddenly misbehaving backhand saw him put a return just wide of the line. Nishikori took a medical timeout between sets, with a trainer working hard on his legs, but it was Federer who appeared in greater need of a massage as he was thrown around the court by the Japanese. But the Swiss held on grimly, and grabbed his chance in the second game when Nishikori netted to offer two break points. The Japanese saved the first and fired a huge serve on the next that should have settled the argument. But Federer somehow made the return with a desperate backhand lunge. Nishikori came in for the kill with an open court spread before him but dumped the ball into the net, triggering thunderous cheers from a crowd heavily favouring the Swiss. From there, Federer rode the momentum to the finish, serving out the match strongly and savouring another huge ovation after having defied father time once again. Federer said the new vulnerability of the game s top guys was good for the sport. I felt like if Rafa and myself can be healthy, yes, you can expect that (they would be in the quarter-finals). That Novak and Andy are not, that is a big surprise, he said. I never thought that Mischa Zverev and Denis Istomin (who beat Djokovic) would beat those two big guys. I guess it s good for tennis that a lot of guys believe strongly now that the top guys are beatable, are vulnerable, especially on a faster court, he added. Nishikori, who had lost his last three matches against Federer, was troubled by a left hip injury and twice needed courtside treatment from a trainer. Federer holds a 2-0 career record over Zverev, who is into his first Grand Slam quarter-final. Obviously he s on a high right now. He s feeling great. Probably feels the best he s ever felt on a tennis court, Federer said of Zverev. I like Mischa a lot and he has a nice game coming forward. It will be different. The Swiss legend is looking to become the third man to win five Australian Open singles titles after Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson, who have both won six. It is the 13th time Federer has reached the last eight, extending his record for most Australian Open quarter-finals. Melbourne Stan Wawrinka warned he was getting stronger as the Australian Open goes on as he swept past Andreas Seppi to reach the quarter-finals yesterday. The US Open champion was taken to five sets by Martin Klizan in the first round but he is warming to the task and beat Italy s Seppi 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4). Probably my level, confidence, Wawrinka said, when asked why he was so hard to beat in the latter stages of tournaments. Mentally I know I can beat any player on any day. It s tough to say. I m just focused on myself. I think in general, my level, when I m at the top of my game, I can beat any player. Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, will next play French 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Britain s Dan Evans 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. The Swiss leads Tsonga 4-3 in their head-to head. I think this match was the best match of the tournament so far, that s for sure, Wawrinka said of his victory over Seppi. I m not really worrying about trying to improve every match, trying to play better or not. I know that my level is there, that physically I m feeling good. He added that he was surprised by topranked Andy Murray s upset by Mischa Zverev, which along with Novak Djokovic s exit offers a big chance to the remaining players. It s big surprise that they are not in the draw anymore, but my next match is the quarter-final, he said. I m not thinking about semi or final, that I will not have to play Andy or Novak. That s the last thing in my head... I just think it s an interesting tournament. In a tight struggle, Wawrinka only converted two of his nine break point opportunities and dropped his serve twice to Seppi. It was Wawrinka s ninth win in 12 encounters with the Italian, who knocked out Australia s big hope Nick Kyrgios in the second round. Wawrinka hit 17 aces, 53 winners and made 41 unforced errors in overcoming Seppi to move into the second week of the Grand Slam. Among Wawrinka s three Grand Slam titles is his win over Rafael Nadal in Melbourne three years ago, when he became the first player to defeat the top two seeds en route to a major title since Spaniard Sergei Bruguera won Roland Garros in Wawrinka also won the 2015 French Open and last year s US Open, both times conquering Djokovic. Showcasing the composure that has helped Wawrinka win all three of his grand slam finals, the Swiss lifted a gear in each of the three tie-breaks and his fearsome backhand was on fire as he closed out the match with a 53rd winner. A searing backhand return down the line sealed the deal, booking a fourth quarter-final at Melbourne Park for the no-frills 31-year-old. Never renowned for lively post-match interviews on the court, Wawrinka greeted news of Murray s elimination as if he had been informed that the sky was blue. Nothing, he said bluntly when asked for a reaction. It s a big surprise, he added later when pushed. It shows that it s not as easy as we think, or when we see the draw, to just win, keep winning all the time.

3 Gulf Times SPORT 3 TENNIS Siblings make for good companions Just to have your twin brother who is your best friend there, it s really kept us going for 19 years Melbourne The life of a professional tennis player can be a lonely existence so, for the likes of the Bryan brothers, having a sibling along for the ride as you hit a new city every week can make a huge difference. Mike Bryan and his twin Bob have been on the road for the best part of two decades, racking up 16 grand slam titles as they became the dominant force in men s doubles tennis. As siblings, they are not that unusual on the circuit with multiple grand slam winners Venus and Serena Williams among 10 sets of brothers and sisters in the main singles draws at this year s Australian Open. I think that s why we re still doing what we re doing, Mike Bryan told. It s fun to have a companion out on the road, especially when you re travelling. There s a lot of time alone in rooms, so a lot of times we re there playing games. Just to have your twin brother who is your best friend there, it s really kept us going for 19 years. The twins sailed into the fourth round under sunny skies in a packed Showcourt Three on Saturday, having prevailed over Germany s Mischa Zverev and Serbia s Nenad Zimonjic. Zverev and his brother Alexander are also close, even though separated in age by a decade. They became the first brothers to reach the third round of the same slam in singles since Byron and Wayne Black in While Mischa was playing doubles having already secured his place in the fourth round, his 19-year-old brother was losing a titanic five-set struggle with ninth seed Rafa Nadal on Rod Laver Arena. Mischa s fourth-round match was on yesterday against British men s top seed Andy Murray, who was able to hang out with his brother Jamie at Melbourne Park until the older sibling went out of the men s doubles with partner Bruno Soares. COMPETITIVE NATURE Unlike the Bryans and the Williams sisters, the Murrays do not have the complication of playing together, which can create a few challenges, according to Mike Bryan. When it starts going well, we re moving so strong, and moving like a unit. But when it starts going sour, it can be tough to get it back, the 38-year-old added. Mike Bryan and his twin Bob have been on the road for the best part of two decades, racking up 16 grand slam titles. When your brother is not playing well, you can see him struggling, you can empathise, it s like a piece of you is playing bad. I think the lows are a little bit lower just to see your twin so down. The Bryans are not the only set of twins on the circuit, with Czechs Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova this week becoming the first to reach the third round of a singles draw grand slam. For our parents it s perfect that they have both twins in the grand slam and now in the third round, which I think is for the first time so it s special, Kristyna told, before she was felled by world number one Angelique Kerber. She s almost all the time with me so it helps, she said of world number five Karolina. She can give me some advice, we can talk about everything. The world number 58 was unsure whether both being decent players had helped drive the twins to greater heights in the game than they might otherwise have attained. Serena Williams (L) and Venus Williams. Maybe it s just nature? she said. The Pliskovas were fortunate enough to end up in different halves of the draw at Melbourne Park as, for the siblings, having to take on a brother or sister on court at a tournament can be complicated. Juergen, the older of Austria s Melzer brothers, called his straight set win over brother Gerald in Wimbledon qualifying two years ago the worst tennis day of his life. The 27 meetings between Serena and Venus Williams, who have both been world number one and own 29 grand slam singles titles between them, have often disappointed. When they combine in women s doubles, though, they are an intimidating force and Venus was at something of a loss when asked whether her experience echoed that of Mike Bryan of the lows being lower. We don t really lose that often. There weren t a lot of lows. CRICKET Sandakan stars on debut as Sri Lanka level T20 series Johannesburg Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Lakshan Sandakan took four wickets on his debut in a three-wicket victory over new-look South Africa that levelled the three-match Twenty20 series yesterday. Hosts South Africa won the toss and elected to bat but were bowled out for 113 by the tourists three balls before the end of their innings at The Wanderers. Sri Lanka were rocked by an early burst from exciting 20-year-old fast bowler Lungisani Ngidi (4-19) but chipped away at the target and completed the win with two balls left as captain Angelo Mathews led the way with an unbeaten 54 from 50 balls. The deciding match in the three-game series will be played in Cape Town on Wednesday. South Africa s batsmen struggled from the start with only opener Heino Kuhn (29) and captain Farhaan Behardien (27) offering anything of substance as the home side managed just nine fours and two sixes in their innings. Sri Lanka s bowling attack produced an excellent line that made scoring difficult, with Sandakan (4-23) and seamer Isuru Udana (3-13) doing most of the damage. Sandakan became the first Sri Lankan to take a wicket off his first ball in Twenty20 internationals when he had Mangaliso Mosehle caught by wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal for 11. Fast bowler Ngidi, who made his debut in South Africa s 19-run win in the first match of the series in Pretoria on Friday, was again impressive as he accounted for the topfour batsmen. But Mathews provided the glue to keep Sri Lanka s chase together with an excellently paced innings and delivered the killer blow. He was hobbling with cramp when the tourists needed seven off the last over bowled by spinner Jon-Jon Smuts and, after being dropped off the first ball, launched the second delivery into the stands for a six to level the scores. Another blow over the boundary rope two balls later handed Sri Lanka victory. SCOREBOARD South Africa Smuts c Sandakan b Kulasekera 4 H. Kuhn st Chandimal b Sandakan 29 T. de Bruyn c D. de Silva b Udana 7 M. Mosehle c Chandimal b Sandakan 11 D. Miller c Mathews b D. de Silva 11 F. Behardien c Chandimal b Udana 27 W. Parnell c Mathews b Sandakan 3 A. Phehlukwayo c Chandimal b Sandakan 0 A. Phangiso c Gunaratne b Udana 13 I Tahir b Kulasekera 1 L. Ngidi not out 2 Extras (lb2, w3) 5 Total (19.3 overs) 113 Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Smuts), 2-13 (De Bruyn), 3-41 (Mosehle), 4-57 (Kuhn), 5-68 (Miller), 6-74 (Parnell), 7-74 (Phehlukwayo), (Behardien), (Imran Tahir) Bowling: Mathews , Kulasekera , Udana (1w), Prasanna , Sandakan (2w), Gunaratne , D. de Silva Sri Lanka N. Dickwella c Mosehle b Ngidi 22 D. de Silva c Miller b Ngidi 2 K. Mendis b Ngidi 4 D. Chandimal c Mosehle b Ngidi 22 A. Mathews not out 54 A. Gunaratne lbw b Imran Tahir 3 S. Prasanna c Imran Tahir b Smuts 2 T. de Silva c Behardien b Parnell 3 N. Kulasekera not out 0 Extras (b3, lb2, w2) 7 Total (7 wkts, 19.4 overs) 119 Fall of wickets: 1-11 (D. de Silva), 2-15 (Mendis), 3-35 (Dickwella), 4-86 (Chandimal), 5-93 (Gunaratne), 6-97 (Prasanna), (T. de Silva) Bowling: Ngidi (1w), Parnell , Phehlukwayo , Imran Tahir , Phangiso , Smuts (1w) Result: Sri Lanka won by three wickets Series: The three-match series is tied at 1-1 Remaining fixture: January 25, Cape Town. Sri Lanka bowler Lakshan Sandakan (C) celebrates the dismissal of South African batsman Mangaliso Mosehle (not pictured) during the second T20 match in Johannesburg yesterday. () BASKETBALL Monroe excels in Gharafa s win Sammy Monroe scored 24 and Hassino Ndoye chipped in with 21 as Al Gharafa edged Al Wakrah in the Qatar Men s League yesterday. Al Gharafa were rarely threatened and managed to comfortably stay ahead for most part of the match despite the narrow eight-point margin of their victory. Alexander Arnold and Salem Abdulla also made decent contributions for the winners, scoring 18 and 17 respectively, as Al Wakrah failed to find that extra spark in order to cause an upset. The only time Al Wakrah led in the match was in the opening two minutes when they took a 3-0 advantage, but after that it was Al Gharafa all the way. They edged the first quarter and held a decisive 13-point advantage at the end of the third (78-65) before eventually closing out the match. Thomas Blair scored a gamehigh 25 for Al Wakrah with three three-pointers, while Ageni latokunbo had 22 and Emir Mujkic 20. In the second match of the day, Al Arabi eased past Qatar Sports Club with Adamu Saaka top-scoring for the winners with 26 points. Al Arabi led throughout, opening up a lead later the first quarter and never looked back. Souleye Ndour chipped in with 15 and Osaro Adako contributed 14 for the winners. For Qatar Sports Club, Edward Justice Jr excelled with a gamehigh 37 points while Quinton Doggett with 14 was the only other player who could get into double figures. Tomorrow, Al Sadd play Al Khor while Al Ahli meet Al Rayyan. Both matches will be played at Al Gharafa Sports Club. Gharafa s Sammy Monroe (R) shoots over Wakrah defenders during their Qatar Men s League game yesterday. PICTURE: Anas Khalid NZ-Bangladesh Test: Third day s play washed out Heavy rain washed out the entire third day s play of the second Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh at Hagley Oval in Christchurch yesterday. Rain had forced the players off early on Saturday and the hosts were to have resumed their first innings on 260 for seven, a deficit of 29 runs, with Henry Nicholls on 56 while Tim Southee was on four. However, downpours overnight ensured there would be at least a delay to the start of play, but when the rain did not stop umpires Paul Reiffel and Nigel Llong abandoned play without a ball being bowled at the conclusion of the scheduled tea break at 1600 local (0300 GMT). Bangladesh were dismissed for 289 with about five minutes remaining on the opening day s play on Friday with Southee taking five wickets. Grounds staff push water off of the covers as rain falls delaying the start of play during day three of the second Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh Christchurch yesterday. ()

4 4 Gulf Times CRICKET ODI SERIES England pulls off consolation win...but it feels nice to close it off. The lads bowled really good overs before I came on Kolkata England all-rounder Ben Stokes put in a dominant performance with the bat and ball to help England pull off a five-run consolation win against India in the third one-day international in Kolkata yesterday. Seam bowler Stokes claimed three wickets to help restrict India, who were chasing 322 for victory, to as Kedar Jadhav s 90 went in vain. Chris Woakes, who bowled the final over with India needing 16 to win, held his nerve to give England their first victory on the tour. Woakes said the conditions were tough, which makes the victory special. Not ideal I suppose going for a four and a six in the first two balls, but it feels nice to close it off. The lads bowled really good overs before I came on. Earlier Stokes hit an unbeaten 39-ball 57 to help England post after being put into bat at Kolkata s Eden Gardens. India lost their openers early in the chase but Kohli (55) and Yuvraj Singh (45) put on 65 runs for the third wicket to rebuild the innings. Kohli, who was dropped on 35, failed to capitalise on the reprieve after losing his wicket to Stokes. He was caught behind chasing a wide delivery outside the off stump. With Yuvraj (45), fresh from his match-winning 150 in Cuttack, and former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25) also back in the pavilion, India slipped to First match hero Jadhav, who hit a brilliant 120 in India s opening win in Pune, and Hardik Pandya (56) then put on 104 runs to revive the chase. The batting duo took the opposition attack by surprise with their powerful hitting as they struck 16 fours and three sixes between them. Stokes got Pandya and Ravichandran Ashwin in his final two overs to hurt the Indian chase. Jadhav though carried on to give the Eoin Morgan-led side a scare but his departure on the penultimate delivery spelled the end for the hosts. In England s innings, fifties from Jason Roy (65) and Jonny Bairstow (56) proved crucial before Stokes took the team India s players pose with the trophy after winning the ODI series against England. () total to well past the 300-run mark. England rode on a 98-run opening stand between Roy (65) and Sam Billings (35) before the Indian bowlers came back with regular strikes. Paceman Pandya claimed three wickets while left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja got two. Morgan, who struck a valiant 102 in England s second loss on Thursday, once again looked like he would pilot the innings with some assured hitting. The left-hander shared an 84-run third-wicket partnership with Bairstow (56), who was added to the side in place of injured Alex Hales, before falling to Pandya. Stokes ensured the efforts of the top order were not in vain as his 73-run seventhwicket stand with Woakes (34) helped England put on 58 runs in the final five overs. The two teams now head for the threematch Twenty20 series starting January 26 in Kanpur. Scoreboard England J. Roy b Jadeja...65 S. Billings c Bumrah b Jadeja...35 England s Ben Stokes plays a shot during the third One Day International against India in Kolkata yesterday. () J. Bairstow c Jadeja b Pandya...56 E. Morgan c Bumrah b Pandya...43 J. Buttler c Rahul b Pandya...11 B. Stokes not out...57 M. Ali c Jadeja b Bumrah... 2 C. Woakes run out...34 L. Plunkett run out...1 Extras: (b1, lb8, w7, nb1)...17 Total: (8 wickets; 50 overs) Fall of wickets: 1-98 (Billings), (Roy), (Morgan), (Buttler), (Bairstow), (Ali), (Woakes), (Plunkett) Bowling: Kumar (2w), Pandya (1w), Bumrah (1nb, 3w), Yuvraj , Jadeja , Ashwin (1w) India A. Rahane b Willey...1 L. Rahul c Buttler b Ball...11 V. Kohli c Buttler b Stokes...55 Y. Singh c Billings b Plunkett...45 M.S. Dhoni c Buttler b Ball...25 K. Jadhav c Billings b Woakes 90 H. Pandya b Stokes...56 Jadeja c Bairstow b Woakes R. Ashwin c Woakes b Stokes...1 B. Kumar not out...0 J. Bumrah not out...0 Extras: (lb8, w13, nb1)...22 Total: (9 wickets; 50 overs) Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Rahane), 2-37 (Rahul), (Kohli), (Yuvraj), (Dhoni), (Pandya), (Jadeja), (Ashwin), (Jadhav) Bowling: Woakes (1nb), Willey (5w), Ball (1w), Plunkett (2w), Stokes (5w), Ali Result: England won by 5 runs Series: India won 3-match series 2-1. SPOTLIGHT Bangladesh s Sunny arrested over photos of girlfriend Dhaka Bangladesh police yesterday arrested national cricketer Arafat Sunny for allegedly breaching strict Internet laws after his girlfriend accused him of uploading sensitive photos on social media. Police raided the home of the 30-year-old slow left-arm bowler in the Dhaka suburb of Aminbazar after his longtime girlfriend filed a complaint two weeks ago, said local police chief Jamaluddin Mir. She said Sunny opened up a fake Facebook account of hers and posted their personal photos, which she found offensive and defamatory, he told. We have arrested him and sent him to the court, seeking to take him into custody for five days for questioning. If found guilty Sunny could face up to 14 years in jail or a fine of 10mn taka ($126,340) under the controversial law, which local right groups say is being used to crack down on dissent. There was no immediate comment from the cricketer. It seems to be a personal matter. We don t want to comment now, however, we are observing (the situation), Bangladesh Cricket Board chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury told. The spinner has played 16 one-day internationals, taking 24 wickets, and 10 Twenty20 internationals in which he picked up 12 wickets. He was suspended from international matches during the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 for an illegal bowling action. Since then he has been playing domestic first-class cricket for Dhaka Metropolis. Sunny is the third national team cricketer to have been arrested in recent years, after pacemen Rubel Hossain and Shahadat Hossain. Rubel was jailed in 2015 after he was charged in a rape case filed by an actress who claimed to be his fiancé. The fast bowler was however granted bail days after his arrest to join the squad for the 2015 World Cup. The actress later withdrew the charges. Shahadat spent nearly two months in custody last year after he and his wife were arrested on charges of torturing an 11-year-old girl whom he employed as a maid. A court acquitted the couple. Boon, Hayden inducted into Australia Hall of Fame Test greats David Boon, Matthew Hayden and the late Betty Wilson will be inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame this week, Cricket Australia said yesterday. Top-order batsmen Boon and Hayden were key figures who played more than 100 Tests for Australia, while all-rounder Wilson was a female cricketer ahead of her time, Hall of Fame chairman Peter King said. David Boon and Matthew Hayden are among a select group of just 12 players to have appeared in 100 Test matches but their significance goes way beyond that simple statistic, he said. (Boon) epitomises the tough-as-teak Australian cricketer and his induction into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame is thoroughly merited. Boon made 7,422 runs in his 107 Tests in the 1980s and 1990s, while Hayden scored 8,625 runs in his 103 Tests from 1994 to Boon described his induction as an enormous honour. To join some of those great players from past eras, some of the guys that I played with as well, it s a huge honour and something that is going to be very special to my family and I for a long period of time, he told reporters. Wilson, who died in 2010, is the second woman after Belinda Clark to be in both the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. She played only 11 Tests, partly due to World War II, scoring 862 runs at 57.40, and took 68 wickets at The trio will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Allan Border Medal ceremony in Sydney today. The first Australia squad to win the World Cup in 1987 were presented with medals during the innings break at the fourth one-day international against Pakistan in Sydney yesterday. The side, captained by Allan Border and coached by Bob Simpson, beat England by seven runs in a tense final in Kolkata. Australia have since won four more World Cups. The International Cricket Council last year decided to award medals to players and support staff of all World Cup-winning squads who did not receive them at the time of their successes. The West Indies team from 1975 and Sri Lanka from 1996 will also receive medals. FOCUS Warner helps Australia seal series win over Pak Sydney David Warner s 12th one-day international hundred and brisk fifties from Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head set up Australia for an 86-run win over Pakistan in the fourth match yesterday as the hosts secured an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series. The diminutive opening batsman smashed 130 for his sixth ton in his last 11 innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground, including his century before lunch in the third test against the same opponents in January. Maxwell then pulverised the Pakistan attack with his 78 off 44 balls and added a quick-fire 100 for the fourth wicket with Head, who hit 51 off 36 balls, as the hosts piled up in their 50 overs after winning the toss and opting to bat. Pakistan needed to pull off the highest successful ODI chase on Australian soil to keep the series alive but lacked the required firepower in their batting and were bundled out for 267 with six overs remaining in their innings. Left-handed opener Sharjeel Khan top-scored for the touring side with his 74 off 47 balls keeping Pakistan in the hunt for the early part of their chase. Australia s paceman Josh Hazlewood and leg-spinner Adam Zampa, playing in his first match of the series, picked up three wickets each. DROPPED CATCHES It was a forgettable day for Pakistan in the field as they dropped at least five catches and gave away extra runs through misfields and overthrows. Warner put together a breezy 92-run opening stand with Usman Khawaja, who was caught behind for 30 and became the first of seamer Hasan Ali s five wickets. Warner, who hit 11 fours and two sixes in his 119-ball knock, added 120 for the second wicket with captain Steve Smith which gave Australia an ideal platform for a huge total. It s the home crowd, absolutely love playing here, Warner said after being presented with the man of the match award. I was quite slow tonight, but it s always special to put the boys in a great position. Hasan dismissed Warner and Smith, who made 49 after being dropped on 10, in the space of three deliveries but it did not hamper Australia s quest for quick runs. Maxwell was dropped on eight and made Pakistan pay for their profligacy by hitting 10 fours and a six in his innings as Australia accumulated 118 runs in their last 10 overs. Head smashed four sixes and two fours in his 36-ball knock. The fifth and final match of the series will be played in Adelaide on Thursday. Scoreboard Australia U. Khawaja c Rizwan b Hasan...30 D. Warner c Rizwan b Hasan S. Smith lbw Hasan...49 T. Head c Shoaib b Amir...51 G. Maxwell c Sharjeel b Hasan...78 M. Wade c Imad b Hasan...5 M. Starc not out... 0 Extras: (lb8, w2)...10 Total (for 6 wickets, 50 overs) Fall of wickets: 1-92 (Khawaja), (Warner), (Smith), (Head), (Wade), (Maxwell) Bowling: Hafeez , Amir, Junaid (1nb), Hasan (1nb), Imad , Shoaib Pakistan A Ali c Smith b Hazlewood... 7 S Khan c Warner b Zampa...74 B Azam c Hazlewood b Head M Hafeez c sub b Zampa...40 S Malik c Warner b Head...47 U Akmal c Cummins b Starc...11 M Rizwan lbw Zampa...10 I Wasim c Wade b Hazlewood...25 M Amir c Wade b Cummins...5 Hasan Ali not out...8 J Khan b Hazlewood... 0 Extras (lb5, w4)...9 Total (all out, 43.5 overs) Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Azhar), 2-88 (Babar), (Sharjeel), (Hafeez), (Shoaib), (Umar), (Rizwan), (Amir), (Wasim), (Junaid) Bowling: Starc (3w), Hazlewood , Cummins , Head , Zampa (1w) Australia won by 86 runs Australia lead series 3-1 Australia s David Warner (3rd R) celebrates with teammates after Pakistan s Shoaib Malik was dismissed during the fourth one-day international in Sydney yesterday. ()

5 Gulf Times GOLF 5 GOLF/DESERT SWING Fleetwood blazes back nine 31 for Abu Dhabi victory Some good players chasing me, so very, very proud of this. I did really just concentrate on my own game, kept going. A 31 on the back nine on a Sunday is great Tommy Fleetwood of England poses with the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship trophy yesterday. Abu Dhabi England s world number 102 Tommy Fleetwood overcame swirling winds and final-hole jitters to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by one shot yesterday. The 25-year-old carded a five-underpar final-round 67 to clinch only the second European Tour title of his career. He finished on 271, one shot ahead of world number three Dustin Johnson, the US Open champion who made an eagle on the last hole for a final-round 68. Tied with him on 16 under par was Spain s 2014 champion Pablo Larrazabal, who also shot 68. Fleetwood was even par with a birdie and a bogey on the front nine, but chipped in an eagle from the front edge of the parfive 10th green to kick-start his charge. The 10th was a big turning point, really. You can quite easily chip that to six foot and miss and make five. I chipped it in and made three and birdied the next. Those two holes were the big difference, he said. Some good players chasing me, so very, very proud of this. I did really just concentrate on my own game, kept going. A 31 on the back nine on a Sunday is great, no matter who you are. The outcome could have been different, however, after a few nerves on the 18th when Fleetwood was just one shot ahead of Thailand s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Larrazabal. He hit a wayward tee shot next to the cart path on the left and after a lengthy discussion with the referee got a drop. Then he hit a stunning three-wood second shot straight to the heart of the green and two-putted for birdie. Three-time champion Martin Kaymer of Germany made an eagle at the last hole to tie Bernd Wiesberger (68) of Austria and Kiradech (69) in fourth place at 273. Last year s winner, Rickie Fowler of the US, shot a 72 and finished 12 shots behind the leader on five-under, while reigning British Open champion and European number one Henrik Stenson (69) was in a three-way tie for eighth place at 275. Fleetwood is expected to move close to 50th in the world rankings when they are released Monday. BOTTOMLINE Alfardan Automobiles tees up its luxury fleet for 2017 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Alfardan Automobiles will continue its partnership with the prestigious Commercial Bank Qatar Masters golf tournament for the 11th year, providing a world-class fleet of luxury vehicles for the world s top golfers congregating in for the 20th edition of the event. Set to be held at Golf Club s unique desert-style Championship Course from January 2017, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Golf Tournament will host a luxury fleet of more than 40 chauffeurdriven and 20 self-driven vehicles designated for the use of players, officials and organisers. The luxury line-up is composed of BMW s latest models from the BMW 7 Series, BMW 5 Series, BMW X4, BMW X5 and BMW X6. Commenting on the importance of supporting sporting events in the nation, Ihab Allam, General Manager of Alfardan Automobiles said: Our longstanding sponsorship of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters golf tournament reflects Alfardan Automobiles commitment to the evolution of the country as a Middle East sporting hub. Much like our partnership with the Qatar Tennis Federation, this collaboration buoys Qatar s credentials as an international sporting destination, with the infrastructure, organisation and logistical capabilities to host a global event. In addition to helping us drive our national goals, this has also allowed us to showcase a stellar collection from the BMW stable. Joseph Abraham, CEO of Commercial Bank commented, Our continued partnership with Alfardan Automobiles allows key tournament stakeholders to experience some of the most luxurious vehicles in the world. We are grateful for the continued support of our local Qatari partners, who provide a range of essential services to the highest possible standards and ensure that the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters is a truly premium event. With players including Graeme McDowell, Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan, Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els and 2018 Ryder Cup Team Europe Captain Thomas Bjørn, the on-course action is expected to be intense but BMW has curated a collection of BMW 4 Series, BMW 5 Series, BMW 6 Series, BMW 7 Series, BMW X1, BMW X5 and BMW X6 to inspire off-course excitement. The prestigious Commercial Bank Qatar Masters golf tournament has been hosted by the Golf Club since The annual tournament is sponsored by the Commercial Bank of Qatar and is held at the beginning of each year with a plethora of established champions and upand-comers competing for a prize fund of USD 2.5 million as well as valuable ranking points. Johnson, who is scheduled to play in Torrey Pines next week, said he was happy with the state of his game. All in all it was a solid day. It was windy out there. It s playing a little bit tougher today. I felt like I struck the ball well and gave myself plenty of opportunities. I just didn t roll any putts in, he said. Larrazabal, who was playing with Johnson in the leader group, made several long putts and kept himself in the hunt. He needed an eagle on the last to force a playoff, but could only manage a birdie. I gave it my best. I never give up. I didn t play my best but I tried my best, holding some putts, chipping in on the 14th. Three bogeys on Sunday afternoon are too many. But I m very proud the way I played. Commercial Bank of Qatar CEO Joseph Abraham (top) and Alfardan Automobiles GM Ihab Allam. SPOTLIGHT 20 Reasons to Love Commercial Bank Qatar Masters To celebrate the 20th edition of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters from January, we take a look at our 20 favourite things about the unmissable annual sporting event at the Golf Club 1. Getting outdoors: When you re chained to a desk sitting at a computer most of the day, getting a full weekend out and about under the glorious sun and in-between nature, breathing in that fresh air and freshly cut grass is just therapeutic, isn t it? 2. The nerves: This is easily one of the things we love most about golf in general. It s an excited anticipation. Watching your favourite golfers tee off at sunrise in s perfect January weather is incomparable to anything else. 3. Golfing action: Your favourite golfer pulling off a spectacular shot. Isn t it the best when you witness history made live in action? 4. Photo opportunities galore: The chance for the ultimate sporting #Selfie at Qatar s largest annual sporting event. Nothing beats that 5. Entertainment for all the family: Much more than four days of international golf action, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters brings a range of family fun to as one of the biggest social events on Qatar s calendar 6. You don t need a babysitter: no matter the age of your kids you can come down and enjoy the weekend with the entire family as your kids will be able to try out a range of sports including mini & soft golf. Kids under 14 enter for free. 7. The Public Village: The most popular social area of the event, located to the 9th Fairway of the Academy Course, with a huge range of entertainment from outstanding food and beverage options. 8. You won t go hungry: The wide array of gourmet food offerings that are set to tantalise your taste buds making the tournament just that bit more enjoyable. 9. Shop till you drop: Exclusive shopping boulevard experience for visitors, with a wide selection of accessories and apparel. 10. Unique golf course: The Golf Club was one of the first grass golf courses to be built in the Middle East. It enjoys all the merits of golf with excellent fairways, true greens and challenging holes 11. Fairway street styles: This is s biggest social event of the year, come down and witness the Golf club transform into a fashion runway as everyone will be dressed to the nines. People will be coming out to the 20th edition of Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in carefully chosen outfits to be featured in the following week s society pages. You better start thinking of an outfit, we know you want to. 12. Watching the stars practice: at the driving range. You may begin to understand how Branden Grace has conquered the very tricky and windy Golf Club course to lift the Mother of Pearl trophy two years in a row. 13. The Village Concert Series: continues each day following close of play, with a diverse range of regional and international acts packing the venue and making for one of the most popular social events on s calendar. 14. Trick Shot Boys: will entertain the masses daily with their unique brand of golfing comedy. 15. Hospitality: Guests can enjoy a memorable alfresco or retreat to climate controlled luxury hospitality to enjoy exquisite fivestar dining and access to an open bar followed by high tea, as well as live coverage on multiple television monitors. 16. Live cooking stations: Guests, in hospitality, will delight in complimentary dining specially prepared by IHG Culinary Ambassadors, Chef Tobias Gensheimer and Chef Hiroaki Nagaishi, for breakfast and lunch. 17. Quiet please: there is something almost magical about the moment right before a tee where you are asked to stand still and be quiet. Followed by the perfect sound of driver striking golf ball. There is nothing quite like it. 18. Doing something different: even if you are not a diehard golf fan. The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters has something for everyone, and that is what we love about it. 19. Gifts galore: across the weekend spectators will get a chance to win lots of prizes. That is unmissable! 20. Community atmosphere: The first thing you notice at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters is the extra buzz in the air. You marvel at great plays and players and the plain truth that watching a game of golf live brings people closer together, irrespective of victory or defeat. You can sense it in the crowds, and you can even feel it when watching the players warm up. Everywhere from the grandstands to the driving range there is a distinct feeling that screams this is something special. SPOTLIGHT Prayad wins in Singapore after Scott s watery woe Singapore Veteran Thai golfer Prayad Marksaeng won the Singapore Open by a single stroke yesterday after the tournament favourite Adam Scott blew his chances of a fourth title by hitting two balls into the water. Prayad shot a final round of four-under-par 67 to finish at nine-under 275 and capture his 20th title since turning professional in 1991, earning himself a place in this year s British Open. I feel like I have done my country proud, Prayad said. I am thrilled to earn a spot in The Open too. I hope I can make my country proud again by securing a good result at Royal Birkdale. Four players Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand, Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, Jbe Kruger of South Africa and the defending champion, South Korea s Song Young-Han finished tied for second after a thrilling final day where six players had a share of the lead. Phachara, Kruger and Song also secured berths in the British Open but Pagunsan missed out because only four places in total were available and he has the lowest ranking of the runnersup. Kruger leapfrogged him for the last spot when he eagled the final hole. Scott, chasing his fourth victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, led by a stroke heading into the final round but the Australian squandered his chances with a final round of 74 to finish tied for ninth at six-under. The 2013 US Masters champion still had a share of the lead after six holes but saw his chances of winning sink when he chipped into the water on the seventh hole then hooked his drive into the South China Sea on the 15th. Hadwin shoots 59 Los Angeles: Canada s Adam Hadwin became only the eighth golfer to shoot 59 over 18 holes at a US PGA Tour event, sinking 13 birdies in a bogey-free third round Saturday at the Career- Builder Challenge. The 29-year-old from suburban Vancouver was one stroke off the tour record 58 fired last year by American Jim Furyk at the Travelers Championship. It was the second US PGA Tour 59 in as many weeks, following American Justin Thomas firing 59 on the way to victory in the opening round at last week s Sony Open in Hawaii. Asked to describe the round, Hadwin said, Perfect, I guess. I got away with a few shots on the back. For whatever reason, I was making every putt I had.

6 6 Gulf Times SPORT SPOTLIGHT Leonard s late dunk lifts Spurs to OT win over Cavs Kawhi Leonard capped his career-high, 41-point night with a dunk in the final seconds as San Antonio Spurs hold on for a overtime win against Cleveland Cavaliers Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots over Tristan Thompson #13 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena. MCT Cleveland Kawhi Leonard capped his career-high, 41-point night with a dunk in the final seconds and the San Antonio Spurs held on for a overtime victory Saturday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James tied up Leonard for a jump ball with 13 seconds left and the Cavs down 3. James won the tip, but the ball was headed out of bounds when Kevin Love saved it and fired it behind his back inbounds. Leonard caught the pass and sprinted to the other end for the dunk and the clincher with four seconds left. After LaMarcus Aldridge missed a pair of free throws in the final second of overtime and the Cavs called timeout, Love missed a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer BOTTOMLINE that would ve forced double overtime. Love shot just 3-of-11 from the 3-point line Saturday. The Cavs had plenty of chances late, but went scoreless for about two minutes late in overtime. James received an inbounds pass with 24 seconds left and a chance to tie with a 3-pointer. He fired a bounce pass to the corner, but no one was standing there on the busted play. James expected Kyrie Irving to cut to the corner, but he never did and James was charged with his seventh turnover of the night. Leonard surpassed 30 points for the sixth straight game, while Aldridge scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Spurs. David Lee scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds starting in place of Pau Gasol, who is out with a fractured bone in his left hand. Tony Parker also missed the game with an ankle injury. James and Irving each scored 29 points and Love had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavs. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 12 rebounds. James deep 3-pointer from 30 feet away with 34.8 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 107 after the Cavs missed their previous five 3-point attempts. SCORELESS STRETCH The Spurs went scoreless over the final 2:36 of regulation, missing their last four shots and committing a turnover while the Cavs erased a five-point deficit in the final minute. Leonard missed a short fadeaway jumper over James with 13.4 seconds left and the Cavs grabbed the rebound with a chance to win it. James and Irving ran pick-and-roll to switch Leonard off James, but he missed a 3-pointer in the corner to force overtime. Leonard previously scored 10 points in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter as the Spurs scored the first nine points of the fourth and 12 of the first 13. They held the lead most of the fourth, but Leonard missed his last five shots of regulation once James started guarding him. He s kind of the face of their franchise now with Timmy (Duncan) hanging them up and he s producing, James said of Leonard. And he s worked on his craft, he s gotten better and better every year and he s an All-Star starter for a reason. So, you commend a guy like that who puts in the work and goes out and plays that way. Trail Blazers 127 Celtics 123; Wizards 112 Pistons 113; 76ers 93 Hawks 110; Nets 105 Hornets 112; Bucks 97 Heat 109; Suns 107 Knicks 105; Rockets 119 Grizzlies 95; Spurs 118 Cavaliers 115; Clippers 98 Nuggets 123; Kings 99 Bulls 102; Pacers 100 Jazz 109 Wade inspires Bulls to victory MCT Chicago Nobody knows where this Bulls season will wind up, but it s pretty clear it will go only as far as Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade take it. Wade scored 13 of his 30 points in the final period, including two steals in the final 20 seconds, as the Bulls outlasted the Kings, , in a wild affair Saturday night at the United Center. Wade and Butler, who finished with 23 points, scored 20 of the Bulls 27 fourth-quarter points. We needed it bad, said Wade, who made 12 of 15 free throws and also had four blocks. Our performance in Atlanta (Friday) was awful. We needed to play harder. Coach Fred Hoiberg appreciated the effort. I loved Dwayne s mentality, he said. I thought he was aggressive all game long. Our energy (difference) was night and day from last night. Indeed, losses featuring 34-point deficits raise plenty of questions. I don t know if I broke a chair. Chairs are hard to break, Hoiberg said in response Dwyane Wade (R) of the Chicago Bulls is fouled by Matt Barnes of the Sacramento Kings at the United Center. to one of the more creative queries. I ve thrown a chair. Even Hoiberg s motivational tactics were called into question before Saturday night s late tipoff against the Kings at the United Center that followed Friday night s debacle in Atlanta. Such is life in an underwhelming season. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don t, Hoiberg said on whether angry antics work. It s like the science of a shootaround. Sometimes they have great energy in a shootaround, which we did (Friday) and had two really good practices going into that game. Obviously, it didn t carry over. What did carry over was Hoiberg s promised changes, though they didn t affect the starting lineup despite Friday s inexcusable opening. Wade, who completed his seventh backto-back out of 11 possible, even posted an apology on Twitter. The first thing Larry Brown told me when I signed my contract with the Pacers is he doesn t coach effort, Hoiberg said of his playing days. It s about putting a game plan together. Guys have to get themselves prepared to play together and give an honest effort. DeMarcus Cousins, huge with 42 points and 14 rebounds, pushed the Kings ahead on a difficult, driving hoop with 52.4 seconds left. Robin Lopez tied it with 36.8 seconds left on a tip-in of a Butler miss. First, Wade stripped Garrett Temple and sank one of two free throws when officials whistled Cousins for a questionable touch foul as Wade missed the ensuing break-away dunk. Then Wade stripped Cousins and fed Michael Carter-Williams for a break-away dunk with 2.7 seconds left for the final margin. I think they made the absolute right call, Cousins said sarcastically. Incredible job by the referee crew tonight. I don t have a complaint in the world. Said Wade: The refs saw him come close to me and I thought he probably nudged me a little bit. Sometimes you get the call, sometimes you don t. After keeping the same starters, Hoiberg pushed secondround pick Paul Zipser into a sixth-man role and waited until the second quarter to use Doug McDermott. Zipser fared well with 13 points and three 3-pointers, his second straight game in double figures. SO CLOSE Knicks drop another close one, fall to Suns MCT New York There are the tough games to lose and some you can t bear to lose. On Thursday, the Knicks were dealt the former, on Saturday night, they experienced the excruciating disappointment of the latter. Carmelo Anthony s potential-game winning 3 swirled inside the rim and popped out at time expired as the Knicks fell to the Phoenix Suns, , at Madison Square Garden. The loss their 13th in last 16 games comes two days after dropping a close game to the Wizards, one that featured a missed call in the final seconds of the game. The Knicks erased a 12-point second quarter deficit and led by 5 with a little less than three minutes left in the game, but could never get comfortable against the third-worst team in the league, and it cost them dearly when it counted the most. Devin Booker scored six points in the final two minutes, 19 seconds of the game including a 3-pointer with 31 seconds to go win it. Derrick Rose missed a contested layup with 26 seconds remaining. By the time the Knicks got the ball back, there were 6.3 seconds left and the ball went to the logical choice. Anthony got a fairly clean look, but just missed. He scored 31 points, but none in the fourth quarter. Rose finished with 26. Booker led the Suns with 26 points while Tyson Chandler had 16 rebounds and nine points. Brandon Jennings hit two free throws early in the fourth quarter to break a tie at 90, but the Knicks could never quite muster any semblance of control. PJ Tucker s driving layup with 7:31 to go drew the Suns to within 97-96, but Rose s jumper put the Knicks up by three and Courtney Lee s dunk had them up The bright side if there could ever be such a thing was that the Knicks were barely clinging on in the second quarter. The Suns went on a 12-2 second run to go up before Anthony and Porzingis went back-to-back to cut the deficit to eight with two minutes left. Anthony hit two 3s _ sandwiching Devin Booker s 3 with 15 seconds left, to get the Knicks to within at halftime. The Knicks went to the line only once in the first half, while the Suns went 13-for-15 from the stripe. Phoenix led by as many as 12 in the second quarter, and scored 12 points on seven turnovers as the Knicks flailed on defense. They were able to chip away in the third, tying it twice before finally creating some space in the waning seconds, after Hernangomez hit two free throws to knot it at 85. Lee hit a 3 in the next possession and Anthony s two free throws later put the Knicks up with eight seconds to go. The Suns were resilient, though, and with time expiring, Marquese hit a straightaway 3 to tie it at 90 going into the fourth quarter. It was the second heartbreaker in a row for the Knicks, though this might ve stung even more than the Wizards on Thursday the one where Lee couldn t get off a potential game-tying shot because he was distracted by a Wizards assistant who had sidled up next to him on the court. The team was not assessed a technical foul, though the coach was later fined. BACKBONE Anthony remains the key to Knicks playoff hopes File picture of New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (R). MCT New York Carmelo Anthony has been involved in three played-out Melo-dramas this season and none were directly created by him. From Phil Jackson saying he stalls the offense, to George Karl ripping him in his book and finally the Charley Rosen article that led to Anthony announcing once again he wants to stay with the Knicks, it s fair to wonder why Anthony wants to stay with the Knicks. What makes it easier to get through it is because I know all of it is (expletive), Anthony told Newsday. That s why I can come here and be at peace and still be able to talk to you all about the situation because I know a lot of the stuff that s being said is BS. And I know if I go back to (management) they re going to be Oh we didn t say that. I ve dealt with that stuff before. The Knicks are losing, perhaps heading to their fourth straight season of missing the playoffs. Anthony often is the scapegoat when he doesn t play hard defense or move the ball enough. Yet he gets little credit for what he does: keeps the Knicks in many games with his scoring, opens up shots for his teammates because of the attention he receives. This won t change unless the Knicks start winning. But Anthony plans to stick it out. He said for the first time in an interview with Newsday that he would consider waiving his no-trade clause it if the Knicks told him they want to go in a different direction. Anthony isn t there yet. He said he loves New York, loves playing in Madison Square Garden, loves the attention all of it. He also feels a loyalty to his teammates and doesn t want to be selfish and abandon ship while the team is struggling. Now, it won t be easy to move Anthony. He has a 15 percent trade kicker, worth roughly $9.9 million, that gets split in half and added to his salary for this season and next. But waiving his no-trade might be something he thinks long and hard about after this season when he s not dealing with the daily grind and has more time to talk it over with his family. The Knicks, as bad as they have played lately, are still in the playoff chase, just two games out going into Saturday s game against the Suns. The goal is still the playoffs. If they moved Anthony now or before the Feb. 23 trade deadline, the Knicks have no shot at the playoffs. For all of Anthony s flaws, he wants to lead the Knicks back into the playoffs. He wants to win in New York. He s not turning his back on them now, and the front office shouldn t turn their backs him yet. The Knicks focus should be to limit the distractions and play basketball. If they do move Anthony right now it should be to power forward full-time with Kristaps Porzingis starting at center. Anthony s best position now and it has been the past five years has been at power forward. Bring Joakim Noah off the bench. All that matters, or should matter, is doing whatever it takes to make it to the playoffs. Know this: the Knicks have a better chance getting there with Anthony than without him.

7 SPORT Gulf Times 7 NHL Kings hit road, continue to skid The guys did a good job, tied it up. You ve got to stop the puck and win a battle New York Islanders defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (L) is checked into the boards by Los Angeles Kings left wing Kyle Clifford during the third period at Barclays Center. MCT New York BOTTOMLINE The first power-play goal was an anomaly, and the Los Angeles Kings could live with an anomaly. The second power-play goal was a game-winner, which they could not stomach in a 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night. The Kings ( ) faced a team that had not scored on the power play in six games, and allowed them to do so three times in five opportunities. Goals from Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty led a late surge, but it was not enough to avoid a three-game losing streak and a poor start to a four-game East Coast swing. Anders Lee scored two of the Islanders power-play goals, Jason Chimera started the scoring in the first and John Tavares scored a hollowed empty-net powerplay goal in the final minute. It was the fifth straight game in which they scored three or more goals. The guys did a good job, tied it up, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. It s sort of the same _ they scored those two power-plays goals, same things, one either a rebound or between the goalie and the defenseman in front. You ve got to stop the puck and win a battle. The Kings shots piled up, unflinchingly, as the first 40 minutes ticked by. Fourteen shots on goal in the first period. Fourteen more in the second. But their offense operated like a metronome: It generated shot after shot after shot, but no goals to cut through a monotonous rhythm. There were 28 shots and I d say a good 15 of them were just easy saves for him with guys not in front and guys not going into the net, Doughty said of the first two periods. We got to look to shoot more rebounds and tips and stuff like that in order to score in this league. It s good to get shots, I m not saying don t get shots. But we d like to have more quality shots, definitely. The Islanders, conversely, capitalized on far fewer opportunities. Chimera s first-period score, which hit Peter Budaj in the mask before trickling in, came on their first shot on goal. Lee s secondperiod power-play goal was their first in six games ending an 0-for-21 drought and came off a Tavares rebound. On the other end of the ice, Jean-Francois Berube extended a more redeeming streak. The Islanders were coming off consecutive shutouts by Thomas Greiss and, when the second ended, had not allowed a goal in eight periods. But that only lasted for 37 more seconds. Carter gathered a stray puck in front and beat Berube with a backhanded shot. Less than four minutes later, Doughty s slap shot caromed through a crowd and into the net to knot the score. The Kings after a fast start, a fluky goal and an anaemic offensive effort despite a small handful of tangible chances 0 were awake. They were even, for a moment or two, in control. Then Derek Forbort was called for holding and Lee tipped a Nick Leddy slap shot by Budaj 9 minutes and 31 seconds into the third. It took just 10 seconds for Forbort to exit the penalty box, shaking his head as the Islanders celebrated the decisive goal. When you tie it up 2-2 we have all the momentum on our side, Doughty said. It sucks to give up a goal right after that. Hurricanes 2 Blue Jackets 3; Kings 2 Islanders 4; Devils 4 Flyers 1; Sabres 3 Canadiens 2; Senators 3 Maple Leafs 2; Lightning 3 Coyotes 5; Capitals 4 Stars 3; Ducks 3 Wild 5; Oilers 7 Flames 3; Avalanche 2 Sharks 3 Furious rally ignites Wild s win MCT St. Paul Hours after Bruce Boudreau said half kidding he wished the Wild never had to play the Anaheim Ducks because he doesn t like playing against guys he really likes, the Ducks showed there are no friends on the ice. The Ducks at Xcel Energy Center ready to battle and ruin Hockey Day Minnesota s grand finale. Instead, it was the Wild who ramped up the intensity in the second and third periods to storm back from a two-goal deficit to beat Boudreau s old team for the second time in 13 days, this time 5-3. After Mikael Granlund and Marco Scandella each hit iron for close calls toward an attempted tying goal, Erik Haula, Ryan Suter and Jason Zucker scored three goals in a span of 1 minute, 59 seconds late in the third period. Beginning with 6:21 left, Haula, who also scored in the first period, redirected Suter s slap pass from the high slot. Only 36 seconds later, Suter, after an odd-man rush, caught up File picture of Minnesota Wild s Erik Haula. to Nino Niederreiter s deflected shot in the left trapezoid behind the net and banked it in off goalie Jonathan Bernier. Not long after, Zucker buried his second of the night on a breakaway. The Wild, who went on a tough six-game stretch to begin January, improved to 2-1 on a homestand that ends Sunday night against Nashville. Its point streak against the Western Conference improved to 15 games (13-0-2) as it improved to since Dec. 4. The Wild entered the game in their previous seven home games against the Ducks with all six losses by a one-goal margin. Haula gave the Wild a 1-0 lead only 2:35 into the game, but from that point, the Wild were smothered the rest of the period. The Ducks came to play, came to hit and came to fight. Kurtis Gabriel, fresh up from the Iowa farm team as Boudreau sent Tyler Graovac a message for his ho-hum play of late, was lured into a scraps with Nick Ritchie right after Gabriel turned the puck over in his own zone with a 1-0 lead. Twelve seconds after the fight, the score was tied 1-1 when Stefan Noesen buried Cam Fowler s rebound. The Ducks were in Minnesota s face the rest of the period, especially during a ghastly first of two successive power plays. The Wild entered with the NHL s top-ranked home power play and tied for the fewest short-handed goals allowed in the league (one). Maybe the Wild was due for a doozy because after a terrible shift by the No. 1 unit, the No. 2 unit couldn t regain the momentum. After Jared Spurgeon rimmed the puck around the wall, Mikael Granlund gathered the puck along the far boards and promptly coughed it up to Fowler. The speedy defenseman shot out of the zone like a rocket and beat Devan Dubnyk on the shorthanded breakaway for a 2-1 Ducks lead. Twenty-four seconds later, after the Wild drew another power play, Ducks goalie John Gibson left the game hurt. He actually appeared to be injured seven minutes earlier when robbing Zach Parise s backhanded chance. Less than a minute into the second period, defenseman Marco Scandella took a holding penalty. On the ensuing penalty, Ryan Getzlaf circled the back of the net, threw a puck in the crease and Corey Perry gave the Ducks a two-goal lead. But the Wild responded through Jason Zucker s 13th goal of the season. The Wild buzzed after that and started creating chance after chance as they gained momentum from Zucker s goal. And they went on to win the game. ANALYSIS Locker room social media bad for team, good for player s brand By Barbara Barker, MCT New York So the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers used a profane word to describe the New England Patriots? This alone isn t exactly groundbreaking news, given that a good portion of the league probably feels the same way about the Patriots. What is groundbreaking is how we learned Steelers coach Mike Tomlin s sentiments concerning the team they are playing Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. Tomlin s star receiver, Antonio Brown, whom The Wall Street Journal has reported was getting paid $244,000 by Facebook Live to create video content, live-streamed a celebration that included Tomlin s speech from the locker room immediately after Pittsburgh s win over the Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs. The streaming not only violated the team s privacy, it violated the NFL s social media policy, which prohibits players from using social media from a period that begins 90 minutes before kickoff and ends after traditional media interviews conclude. Brown apologised to his team, saying he wasn t aware of the policy and adding, I let my emotions and genuine excitement get the best of me. Some social media observers, however, don t see his actions as being all that innocent. He wasn t impulsively doing this, said Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University s Newhouse School of Public Communications. Here you have someone who has been put on the payroll of Facebook to promote Facebook Live. When someone is paying you that kind of money, you are being hired to produce content, and if you want to keep that relationship going, you want to promote stuff that s going to promote Facebook Live. In doing that, he let the priority of getting a lot of hits overcome the danger of breaking team and NFL rules. During the team s availability on Wednesday, Brown was asked about his deal with Facebook. He smiled and responded, Top secret. Brown also played coy when asked if he will leave his camera off the next time the postgame locker room door is closed. I guess you have to wait and see, Brown said. We also will have to wait and see how the NFL reacts to all this, and my thinking is that they are going to have to come down hard if they don t want their locker rooms to devolve into a postgame reality show. According to a widely reported memo that was distributed to teams at the beginning of the year, the fine for a club s first social media infraction is $25,000. That sum seems laughable if Facebook is indeed paying Brown $244,000. And considering how much the exposure could help him build his personal brand, it can be seen as a fair cost of business. This is something that has to scare the heck out of media relations directors in every sport. For athletes, the big appeal of social media is it lets them have immediate and direct and unfiltered contact with their fans. Yet those same attributes also can be a big negative, as we seem to see on almost a weekly basis. All four of the major sports leagues require their players to go through some form of social media training before the start of the season. The New York Giants, for instance, give a dosand-don ts list to their rookies. Among the pointers: Avoid social media after a bad loss, keep internal matters private and don t respond to angry fans. My message to anyone on social media is to think twice and hit send once, and I think that s a good place to start, Ben McAdoo said shortly after taking over as coach. Of course, there are examples of that not happening on a weekly basis. Recently, the Knicks Courtney Lee posted a picture of the characters from the movie Dumb and Dumber on his Instagram. Before he took it down, it was widely interpreted as criticism of the Knicks coaching staff for not starting him. And who can forget the flap over the Miami party boat picture that originally was posted to Victor Cruz s Instagram account? A media relations director for one New York team said that as part of their media training, they show photos and bad tweets and talk about the resulting fallout. Would you want your mom to read this? Would you want your coach to read this? That s what we tell the players to ask themselves before pushing the button, he said. While this is sound advice to anyone, what s good for a team s image isn t always the same as what s good for a player s brand. If you want to get a million followers, you aren t going to want to tweet just about mom s apple pie recipes, Thompson said. Players have to seem edgy and unrehearsed and unfiltered. And so we have Antonio Brown breaking a league rule and the confidence of his team to build his own brand. It will be interesting to see how the NFL reacts. REACTION Popovich pops off at racist Trump Cleveland San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich took aim at Donald Trump Saturday, devoting nearly half of his pre-game news conference to describing his contempt for the newly sworn-in American President. Popovich, 67, called Trump a bully, chastised his top advisers and praised Saturday s protests defending the rights of women on Trump s first day in office. It does boggle the mind how somebody can be so thinskinned, Popovich said. It s all obvious it s about him... It doesn t matter what it is, there s a pattern there. And that s dangerous. I d like to have someone with gravitas, but he got there through the Electoral College, which is part of our system, and I hope he does some good things. Popovich was speaking on a day that more than one million people protested Trump s presidency by marching in North America and across the world at a series of women s rallies. The march today was great, Popovich said. That message is important and it could have been a whole lot of groups marching. And somebody said on TV, What s their message? Well, their message is obvious. That is our president comes in with the lowest rating of anybody who ever came into the office. And there s a majority of people out there, since Hillary (Clinton) won the popular vote, that don t buy his act. He said Trump should spend less time attacking his critics and more time trying to bring the country together by ending the racial and political polarisation in the United States. And I just wish that he was more mature, enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying, I m going to include everybody. He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it. But so far, we ve got to a point where you really can t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. Popovich said he worries about the effect a Trump presidency will have on young Americans. I hope he does a great job, but there s a difference between respecting the office of the presidency and who occupies it. And that respect has to be earned. But it s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist and make fun of handicapped people.

8 8 Gulf Times SPORT QATAR TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Qatar s al-khelaifi takes double win BAD LUCK Engine failure ruins Qatar s al-hamad s Prototype 3x3 Endurance outing in opening round It was a great race as Mansoor is getting very close to my timings. I managed to fix the car and after that I got my timings better so I am able to take the win Qatar driver Amro al-hamad in action during the race. Dubai This was an exciting opportunity for Qatar driver Amro al-hamad in this new series formed as part of a busy week of racing with a triple-header of three-hour mini endurance races at Dubai Autodrome. Amro, racing the production sportscars WolfGB08 for the Italian factory team Avelon Formula Racing, he was joined in the #46 car with British South Africa based driver Nick Adcock and Italian driver Guglielmo Belloti. Free practice on Tuesday morning gave all the the drivers a chance to familiarise themselves with the new series rules and qualifying later in the day saw the car placed fourth in the class for race one start. Amro started off the weekend in a confident mood having had a lot of experience at the circuit and also in the car during previous race events. Race one started on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00pm and Amro had to start from last place in the pit lane, due to the lengthy repairs to the car after qualifying. In the first race, I handed the car over to Nick, but restarting the car after the refuelling had been a challenge for my team mate Nick and we lost a lot of time to restart the car and lost our position, later on in the lap he had a spin and the car and it cut out, he and had to be pulled back to the pits to restart the engine. During the first part of race two the car suffered a split timing belt with Belotti at the wheel, and the car had to be towed back to the pits where it retired from the race. Race three started at 4:00pm on Wednesday with Nick Adcock taking the first stint and the car, then Amro took over one hour later where he climbed to first in the CN class and fifth overall when the car suffered a spectacular engine blow out just before turn 10, this was unfortunately a race ending failure resulting in another DNF for the Avelon Team despite their best efforts. It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride to be honest and the car didn t play the game. But I am happy as I took the car from last position to 4th overall after an hour and half of hard work during race one. I wish to thank all the team for doing a difficult job trying to fix the car, as we had a lot of issues, this format of racing took its toll on a lot of the cars, so hopefully we will have more time to fix issues in the next rounds, but this was all rushed into just 2 days which was very hectic. I wish to thank the QMMF for the support and to all my friends and family it means a lot to me to represent Qatar at these events. Qatar s Abdullah al-khelaifi crossing the finish line during the Qatar Touring Car Championship race at the Losail International Circuit. Qatari driver Abdullah al- Khelaifi won both races of the Qatar Touring Car Championship yesterday at Losail International Circuit. Al-Khelaifi started from the second row as he had some electrical problems during the practice session and couldn t clock a good lap time. But on race day he managed to fix his car and took the lead immediately after the green light. It was a great race with tough competition as Mansoor was getting very close to my timings. In fact he did the fastest lap today. We had a lot of fun, he was fastest in one section and I was in another. I managed to fix the car and after that I got my timings better, al-khelaifi said after the race. Mansoor al-hajri was on pole position but was overtaken by al-khelaifi just at the start and maintained the second posi- CYCLING tion during the entire race. The race was great. I had a good start from pole position and as I expected, Abdullah fixed his problem and he is much better now. I fixed an air kit to my car for the first time it improved the handling a lot. But I am not used to it and I tried to stay behind Abdullah as much as possible, but he is really fast, al-hajri said. The third place on the podium went to Omran Karama who was very happy with his position taking into account the problems he had with his car. It was a good race, even with the problems I had, but I cannot complain. The weather is fine, a bit dusty but happy with my third place, Karama said. The second race added more excitement with the reverse starting grid, as the fastest drivers starting from the back had to work away their way to the front. Al- Khelaifi started from the third row together with al-hajri and both of them fought hard to reach the first positions before al- Khelaifi finally again took victory. It was really different this race, I had a long fight with Mansoor to get the first position. The reverse grid also made it harder for me to get Mansoor because of all the other cars around. But eventually one mistake cost him the race, but he is getting faster and we have more fun competing with him. Also, Omran had a problem with his car so I think that if that wasn t the issue we would have had a three-way battle for the first position, said the double winner. Mansoor al-hajri ended again in second position. With the reverse grid, the second race was even more fun and also Abdullah and myself were faster. We had fun at the beginning of the first laps and after that I made a little mistake and Abdullah found the gap and it was hard for me to catch up with him. He is really fast but overall I am very happy with the first round results and hopefully in the next round I can give more challenge, al-hajri said. Karama had a difficult second race as his problems with his car continued and he had to struggle a lot before managing third position. I had a tough race, the reverse grid was great, of course it is hard to catch cup with the first and second. Also, I had overheating in my engine and I had to reduce my speed. I returned back to sixth position and only manage to get to third position on the last turn, Omran said. The fourth position was for George Coleman. It was a very interesting start from the back, the reverse grid is really an interesting way of doing it. During a lot of time, Shady, Omran and myself were fighting and I managed to hold third position for a while until Omran passed me just four corners before the end. Let s see how it goes in the next round, said Coleman. As the qualifying session is also taken into account for the points, al-khelaifi and al-hajri are leading with 28 points. Karama is third with 25 points and Shady El Mohandes fourth with 19 points. The next round of the Qatar Touring Car Championship is on February 3 and 4. Porte wins first Tour Down Under Adelaide Australia s Richie Porte won his first Tour Down Under yesterday when he finished behind compatriot Caleb Ewan in a bunch sprint on the final 90-kilometre sixth stage around the streets of Adelaide. Orica-Scott s Ewan outsprinted world champion Peter Sagan to clinch his fourth stage on this year s Tour, joining Germany s Andre Greipel (2028) and Australia s Robbie McEwen (2002) as the only riders to have won four stages in the same race. The 31-year-old Porte, who had finished second in the race the last two years, was 48 seconds ahead of Colombian climber Esteban Chavas, with Australia s Jay Mc- Carthy given third overall, three seconds further back. Nathan Haas, who had started the final stage in third, was credited with the same time as Mc- Carthy, who took the podium on countback. Australian rider and race leader Richie Porte of team BMC Racing holds the trophy as he celebrates winning the Tour Down Under. Porte, who broke his shoulder in a crash during the Rio Olympics road race, said having a break after the Games had been key to him claiming his first Tour Standings Standings from the WorldTour Ranking (Top 10) 1. Richie Porte (Australia / BMC Racing) Esteban Chaves (Colombia / Orica) Jay McCarthy (Australia / BORA) Nathan Haas (Australia / Dimension Data) Caleb Ewan (Australia / Orica) Diego Ulissi (Italy / UAE Abu Dhabi) Rohan Dennis (Australia / BMC Racing) Rafael Valls (Spain / Lotto) Robert Gesink (Netherlands / LottoNL) Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands / Sunweb) 100 Down Under title. After crashing in Rio and injuring myself in a nasty crash, it wasn t too hard to motivate myself for this race, Porte told reporters. I had a good break and I came here fresh, physically and mentally. It s incredible to come back here and win... after being so close in the last two years. I owe each day of racing successfully here to my team mates. They took me to the line every day and it s a massive credit to them. It was a dream for me to win this race. BMC s Porte had extended his lead to 48 seconds when he won the kilometre fifth stage from McLaren Vale to the summit of Willunga Hill on Saturday. While essentially a procession for Porte s victory, the final stage, which comprised 20 laps on central Adelaide streets, featured an early breakaway by Belgium s Tomas De Gendt and Italy s Gianluca Brambilla, who established a 30-second lead before they were hauled in. Seven others managed to get away from the peloton about halfway through the stage, establishing a 58-second gap and held on until the penultimate lap when the last of the seven New Zealand s Jack Bauer was reeled in for a final bunch sprint. The six-stage race around South Australia is the first event on the 2017 UCI WorldTour calendar. BOXING Pacquiao willing to fight McGregor This file photo shows Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao during a training session at a gym in Manila. Manila WBO welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao is willing to square up with mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor if his potential superfight with Floyd Mayweather fails to materialise, a spokesman said yesterday. But the Filipino boxing heroturned-senator stressed that any fight with McGregor would have to be a boxing bout, not an MMA contest. If McGregor will fight me in boxing, why not? But not in MMA. MMA is much different than boxing, a spokesman quoted Pacquiao as saying a few days ago. The fight can be at the 140-pound weight division. My normal weight when I m not on training is just 141or 142 pounds, he said. Both Pacquiao, 38, and Mc- Gregor, 28, have been trying to lure the retired Mayweather back into the boxing ring. For Pacquiao, it would be a chance to avenge his defeat to Mayweather at their long-awaited showdown in Meanwhile Ireland s McGregor, the first man to simultaneously hold Ultimate Fighting Championship titles in two weight divisions, has floated the idea of taking on the undefeated Mayweather, 39. In late November McGregor was issued a boxing license in the state of California in a development that fuelled speculation about a future showdown with Mayweather. Mayweather told ESPN s First Take programme that a McGregor bout was the only thing that could tempt him back into the ring. UFC boss Dana White also added further fuel to the fire this month when he offered to pay each $25 million, along with a cut of pay-per-view proceeds, to fight an offer that Mayweather later batted down. Pacquiao has previously parlayed his sporting fame into a career in politics, getting elected to the influential Philippine Senate last year while still continuing to box professionally. The Filipino southpaw had briefly retired from the ring after beating American Tim Bradley in Las Vegas in April but soon made a comeback, saying he still felt like a youngster. In his last fight in November, Pacquiao reclaimed the World Boxing Organization welterweight title for the third time with a unanimous-decision victory over former champion Jesse Vargas in Las Vegas. Pacquiao has been engaged in ongoing talks with his American promoter about a possible fight with Australian Jeff Horn later this year.

9 Gulf Times FOOTBALL 9 PREMIER LEAGUE Penalty drama sees Arsenal go second, Chelsea extend lead Costa takes his Chelsea tally for the season to 15 goals, as leaders win 2-0 against Hull; Southampton beat Leicester London Diego Costa marked his return to Chelsea duty by scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 victory over Hull yesterday that saw the Premier League leaders go eight points clear after Arsenal went second by coming through late penalty drama. Brazil-born Spain forward Costa, who yesterday took his Chelsea tally for the season to 15 goals, missed last weekend s 3-0 win at Leicester City due to a back complaint. But Costa, the Blues leading scorer this term, was reported to have had a training-ground row with fitness coach Julio Tous, amid speculation he had been the subject of a mega-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian. Following a sickening clash of heads between Chelsea s Gary Cahill and Hull s Ryan Mason, Costa struck in the seventh minute of firsthalf stoppage-time when he turned in Victor Moses s cross. Hull, belying their position of second-bottom in the table, pushed Chelsea hard and might have had a penalty before Cahill sealed victory for the hosts nine minutes from time at Stamford Bridge when he ran on unchallenged to head in Cesc Fabregas s free-kick. Earlier in London, 10-man Arsenal beat Burnley 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in a match where both sides scored penalties in stoppagetime. Shkodran Mustafi s first Arsenal goal put the home side 1-0 up in the 59th minute. That was still the score when, in the third of seven minutes of time added on, Burnley s Ashley Barnes was fouled inside the area by Francis Coquelin and referee Jon Moss awarded a penalty. Andre Gray, a childhood Arsenal fan, scored POINTS TABLE (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points): Chelsea Arsenal Tottenham Liverpool Man City Man Utd Everton West Brom Stoke West Ham Southampton Bournemouth Burnley Watford Leicester Middlesbrough Swansea Crystal Palace Hull Sunderland from the ensuing spot-kick but there was more drama to come. With virtually the last attack of the game, Arsenal s Laurent Koscielny was caught by Ben Mee s high foot as he attempted to head in and Moss once more pointed to the spot. Alexis Sanchez, showing remarkable nerve, chipped a penalty down the middle to give the Gunners three valuable points. By that stage Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had been sent off after his furious reaction to Burnley s penalty. Arsenal had to play the final 25 minutes down to 10 men after midfielder Granit Xhaka was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Steven Defour. We finally got the win but of course it was very difficult for us, Wenger said. We couldn t get the second goal, we played with 10 men and they (Burnley) played well as well. Every week and every game is an unbelievable fight for everybody. Burnley manager Sean Dyche insisted Arsenal s decisive penalty ought not to have been awarded because Koscielny was offside. We know how tough this division is but you need officials to make the right decisions and that is the shame today, he said. Victory saw Arsenal leapfrog both Liverpool, beaten 3-2 by Swansea on Saturday, and Tottenham Hotspur, held to a 2-2 draw by Manchester City, in the table. Southampton marked their first match since former captain Jose Fonte s 8mn move to West Ham on Friday by ending a run of four straight league defeats with a 3-0 win at home to struggling champions Leicester. Goals from James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez gave the Saints a 2-0 interval lead before Dusan Tadic s penalty four minutes from time rounded off a comfortable win at St Mary s. Leicester s 11th defeat of the season left them just five points above the relegation zone Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri blamed himself for the club s latest loss and promised to revert to the formation that proved so successful during their shock title triumph last season. The players are used to and know the positions but I made a mistake, he said. I think it is much better to give them what they know well. Arsenal s Alexis Sanchez (left) celebrates with Nacho Monreal after scoring a 98th-minute penalty winner against Burnley at the Emirates Stadium in London yesterday. () Arsenal 2 (Mustafi 59, Sanchez 90+7-pen) Burnley 1 (Gray 90+3-pen); Chelsea 2 (Costa 45+7, Cahill 81) Hull 0; Southampton 3 (Ward-Prowse 26, Rodriguez 39, Tadic 86-pen) Leicester 0 Played Saturday Bournemouth 2 (King 48, Afobe 82) Watford 2 (Kabasele 24, Deeney 64); Crystal Palace 0 Everton 1 (Coleman 87); Liverpool 2 (Firmino 55, 69) Swansea 3 (Llorente 48, 52, Sigurdsson 74); Manchester City 2 (Sane 49, De Bruyne 54) Tottenham 2 (Alli 58, Son 77); Middlesbrough 1 (Stuani 27) West Ham 3 (Carroll 9, 43, Calleri 90+4); Stoke 1 (Mata 19-og) Manchester United 1 (Rooney 90+4); West Brom 2 (Fletcher 30, Brunt 36) Sunderland 0 Sevilla maintain pressure on Madrid Madrid LA LIGA Sevilla produced another late fightback to remain just one point behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid after twice coming from behind to edge out rock bottom Osasuna 4-3 yesterday. However, Atletico Madrid lost further ground on the top three as they needed a spectacular Antoine Griezmann equaliser 10 minutes from time to secure a 2-2 draw at Athletic Bilbao. Sevilla scored twice in the final five minutes to end Real Madrid s 40-game unbeaten run in all competitions last weekend and have now won five of the seven La Liga games when they have conceded first this season. The team did some good things and made mistakes, but from start to finish looked to win the game, said Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli. Victory also ensured Sevilla end the first half of the campaign with a record 42 points. To finish the first half of the season with a record number of points and be second fills us with excitement for what is to come, added Sampaoli. Sergio Leon got across his marker to turn a low cross into the far post after just 15 minutes to give Osasuna a shock lead. Iborra got the first of his unusual hattrick two minutes before half-time as he followed up to sweep home Stevan Jovetic s cross after his initial spectacular volley came back off the post. The Sevilla captain was the centre of attention early in the second-half as he inadvertantly deflected a cross looping over the head of Sergio Rico to briefly restore Osasuna s lead before heading home at the other end to make amends two minutes later. Osasuna were infuriated when Vazquez s goal was allowed to stand despite a push on Oriol Riera to finally give Sevilla the lead. Indeed, so enraged were the hosts that the club released a statement after the match saying they will present a formal complaint to the Spanish football authorities over referee Xavier Estrada Fernandez s display. Sarabia s fine left-footed shot from outside the area sealed the points, but there was still time for Osasuna to pull another goal back when Kenan Kodro headed in from close range. Victory takes Sevilla four points clear of Barcelona in second, but the champions can cut that gap back to one by winning at Eibar in a late match last night. Atletico are now seven points back on Sevilla after sharing the spoils in a pulsating 2-2 draw in Bilbao. The visitors got off to the perfect start when Koke s cross towards Griezmann evaded everyone and flew into the far corner after just three minutes. However, Atletico were punished for trying to sit on their lead when Inigo Lekue smashed home an equaliser in off the underside of the bar three minutes before half-time. Athletic then went in front as former Atletico favourite Raul Garcia crossed for Oscar de Marcos to head home. Griezmann had already had one spectacular finish ruled out by the offside flag, but the French international continued his fine form with a rasping low drive from 25 yards to at least salvage a point for Diego Simeone s men. Osasuna 3 (Leon 15, Iborra 63-og, Kodro 90+3) Sevilla 4 (Iborra 43, 65, Vazquez 80, Sarabia 90+2); Athletic Bilbao 2 (Lekue 42, De Marcos 56) Atletico Madrid 2 (Koke 3, Griezmann 80) Played Saturday: Espanyol 3 (Reyes 10, Piatti 32, Navarro 48) Granada 1 (Pereira 23); Real Madrid 2 (Ramos 35, 43) Malaga 1 (Juanpi 63); Alaves 2 (Laguardia 11, Edgar 51) Leganes 2 (Guerrero 45, Insua 84); Villarreal 0 Valencia 2 (Soler 35, Mina 42) Friday: Las Palmas 1 (García 13) Deportivo La Coruna 1 (Andone 69) Sevilla s Vicente Iborra (right) and Pablo Sarabia celebrate after their team s third goal during the Spanish La Liga match against Osasuna in Pamplona, Spain. () BUNDESLIGA Calhanoglu breaks penalty curse Berlin Hakan Calhanoglu finally broke Bayer Leverkusen s penalty curse this season with the first of his two goals in yesterday s 3-1 Bundesliga win at home to Hertha Berlin. The Turkish international winger drilled home from the spot on 36 minutes to put his side 2-0 up holding his nerve after Leverkusen had failed to convert all five spot-kicks they had been previously awarded this season. Calhanoglu, who had a penalty saved in November s 3-2 defeat to RB Leipzig, slotted home after a handball from Berlin defender Marvin Plattenhardt on a Julian Brandt cross. I am very relieved. I could feel a bit of pressure, but I know I can score penalties, said the 22-year-old Calhanoglu, who scored his first double in the Bundesliga. We took our chances and everything fitted together today. Leverkusen took the lead in scrappy style at the BayArena when Turkey defender Omer Toprak stabbed home on 12 minutes after Javier Hernandez had failed to connect with his shot. Calhanoglu s penalty made it 2-0 before Berlin s Swiss midfielder Valentin Stocker pulled a goal back just before the break when he fired home at the post from a corner and it finished 2-1 at the break. Berlin s USA international John Anthony Brooks then cleared Hernandez s header off the line on 57 minutes, which means Chicharito has now gone 1,200 minutes without scoring for Leverkusen. His last goal was in a 2-0 win over Dortmund on October 1. At the other end, only a superb save from Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno denied Hertha striker Vedad Ibisevic from close range with 25 minutes to go. Leverkusen put the result beyond doubt when Kevin Kampl was allowed to put in a cross unchallenged and left winger Calhanoglu crashed his shot home on 88 minutes for the three points. The result lifts Leverkusen to eighth while Hertha finish the weekend dropping from third to fifth. Later, Mainz dropped to 11th after being held to a goalless draw at home to Cologne, who remain three points outside the top six. Leaders Bayern Munich maintained their three-point lead at the top of the table with a 2-1 win at Freiburg on Friday thanks to two Robert Lewandowski goals. Bayer Leverkusen 3 (Toprak 12, Calhanoglu 36, 88) Hertha Berlin 1 (Stocker 44); Mainz 0 Cologne 0 Played Saturday: Schalke 1 (Burgstaller 90+2) Ingolstadt 0; Wolfsburg 1 (Gomez 83) Hamburg 0; Augsburg 0 Hoffenheim 2 (Wagner 47, Kramaric 64); Werder Bremen 1 (Bartels 59) Borussia Dortmund 2 (Schuerrle 5, Piszczek 71); Darmstadt 0 Borussia Moenchengladbach 0; RB Leipzig 3 (Compper 6, Werner 45+4, Vallejo 67-og) Eintracht Frankfurt 0 Played Friday: Freiburg 1 (Haberer 5) Bayern Munich 2 (Lewandowski 35, 90+1)

10 10 Gulf Times FOOTBALL SERIE A Juventus humble Lazio, Inter edge Palermo Allegri, an often pragmatic coach, fields an ultra-attacking line up and it quickly pays off Turin POINTS TABLE (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points): 1. Juventus Napoli Roma Lazio Inter Milan AC Milan Atalanta Fiorentina Torino Bologna Cagliari Udinese Chievo Sassuolo Sampdoria Genoa Empoli Crotone Palermo Pescara Juventus Paulo Dybala (left) and Lazio s Marco Parolo vie for the ball during the Italian Serie A match at the Juventus stadium in Turin, Italy. () Serie A leaders Juventus brushed aside Lazio 2-0 yesterday after coach Massimiliano Allegri threw caution to the wind in response to criticism following last weekend s reverse at Fiorentina. Allegri, an often pragmatic coach, fielded an ultra-attacking line up and it quickly paid off as his side stunned sleepy Lazio with early goals from Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain on the way to a 27th straight home league win. I don t spend much time on theories, I just put my ideas onto the pitch even if they are weird, Allegri told reporters. This is one of the solutions we came up with and the lads have given me a great response. Juve have 48 points, four ahead of AS Roma, who have also played 20 games before hosting Cagliari late last night. Napoli have 44 after a 2-1 win at AC Milan on Saturday while Lazio are fourth, a further four points back after 21 matches. Juve started with three forwards plus winger Juan Cuadrado and switched to a four-man defence as Allegri responded to criticism of a lacklustre display after a 2-1 loss in Florence. Dybala broke the deadlock five minutes into the match when he met Mario Mandzukic s header at an awkward height and fired home a low volley from outside the area. His fellow Argentine Higuain added the second when he caught two defenders napping and got in between them to turn home Juan Cuadrado s cross for his 14th league goal this season. Higuain had another effort disallowed while defender Leonardo Bonucci turned the ball just wide from a cross by the Argentine after charging forward before halftime. Inter Milan notched their sixth successive league win after Joao Mario came off the bench to score the only goal of their game at Palermo, played in torrential rain. Inter s Cristian Ansaldi and Palermo s Alessandro Gazzi were sent off in the last 10 minutes as some wild tackles flew on a the slippery surface. Robin Quaison had the ball in the net for Palermo late on but his effort was disallowed because the referee had not authorised Alessandro Diamanti to take the free kick. The win took Inter up to fifth on 39 points. Bologna s Blerim Dz i scored twice in a 2-0 win over fading Torino, who were without suspended top scorer Andrea Belotti. Alessandro Matri also scored twice as Sassuolo won 3-1 at bottom club Pescara, the second a volley from an impossible angle which appeared to be intended as a cross. Genoa s Giovanni Simeone, son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego, scored but they were twice pegged back in a 2-2 draw with visiting Crotone. Relegation already appears a foregone conclusion for Palermo and Crotone, with both sides 11 points adrift of the safety zone, and Pescara, who are a further point behind at the bottom. Juventus 2 (Dybala 5, Higuain 17) Lazio 0; Empoli 1 (Mchedlidze 82) Udinese 0; Bologna 2 (Dz i 43, 83) Torino 0; Palermo 0 Inter Milan 1 (Mario 65); Pescara 1 (Bahebeck 56) Sassuolo 3 (Matri 1, 73, Pellegrini 65); Genoa 2 (Simeone 43, Ocampos 66-pen) Crotone 2 (Ceccherini 54, Ferrari 74) Played Saturday: Chievo 0 Fiorentina 3 (Tello 18, Babacar 52-pen, Chiesa 90+4); AC Milan 1 (Kucka 37) Napoli 2 (Insigne 6, Callejon 9) SPOTLIGHT Balotelli: Is racism legal in France? Paris A furious Mario Balotelli asked fans whether racism was legal in France after the Nice striker accused Bastia supporters of abusing him during his team s 1-1 Ligue 1 draw on Friday, prompting a French League investigation. The Italian posted a message on his Instagram page on Saturday, saying the incident was a real shame. Yesterday the result against Bastia was right... we will work more and try to get our objective... the referee was good, too, but I have a question for French people... Is it normal that Bastia supporters make monkey noise and uh-uh for the whole game and no-one of the commissions discipline say nothing?, Balotelli, on loan from Liverpool this season, wrote. So is racism LEGAL in France? Or only in Bastia? Football is an amazing sport... those people like Bastia supporters make it horrible. In a statement on their website, Nice gave their full support to Balotelli, adding that stones had been thrown at their team bus ahead of the game. We are shocked to learn of the behaviour towards our players, especially Balotelli. The club congratulates them for remaining calm and not reacting and give them their full support, Nice said in a statement on their website. The French League (LFP) said it would investigate the incidents in its next disciplinary commission meeting on Thursday. Later on Saturday, it added that it was sending footage from BeIN Sport TV channel, showing some Bastia fans racially abusing Balotelli, to its disciplinary commission. Bastia were docked two points by the LFP in the season after fans racially abused a Libourne St Serin player during a Ligue 2 game. Having not been informed last night, by the referee, the delegates or any member of OGC Nice, that any incident had occurred, it is with amazement that we discover allegations damaging the image of Sporting (Bastia), the club said in a statement sent to. Bastia said it was for the LFP to shed light on the incidents. Gyan takes Ghana through as Uganda dumped out Port-Gentil, Gabon: Asamoah Gyan headed Ghana into the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday while Uganda were condemned to an early exit after an agonising defeat to Egypt in Port-Gentil. Gyan scored the only goal of the first match of the day in a Group D double-header in the Gabonese port city, securing a 1-0 win for the Black Stars against Mali. On an awful pitch, seven-time African champions Egypt had substitute Abdallah El Said to thank for the 89th-minute effort that gave them a 1-0 win over Uganda, who become the first team to be eliminated. Four-time winners Ghana, the runners-up in 2015, are one of only two teams to have clinched qualification for the quarter-finals with a match to spare, the others being Senegal. In tournaments you need to be winning games and that is what we did today, said Gyan, who has now scored at six consecutive Cup of Nations tournaments. We are satisfied about our performance. Whether we play an excellent game or not, at the end of the day we just want to win and move forward. After back-to-back 1-0 wins, Avram Grant s side will secure top spot by avoiding defeat when they play Egypt in their last group match on Wednesday. The teams had been prevented from warming-up on the pitch in order to prevent the damaged surface from further deteriorating, and when the game began it was Ghana who adapted quickest to the conditions. Andre Ayew should have put the ball in the net rather than poke wide from a Christian Atsu assist, before the goal arrived in the 21st minute. Gyan headed in a Jordan Ayew cross for his eighth goal at the Cup of Nations his first came on home soil in 2008 and Ghana then soaked up Malian pressure after the break. Mali, who were eliminated from the group stage after a drawing of lots in 2015, must now beat Uganda in their last match and hope Egypt lose if they are to stay in the competition. The players are disappointed but not completely knocked down. They will be ready to lift their heads for the last match, said the Mali coach Alain Giresse. Egypt need only a point to be sure of their progress after taking their chance when it came with a minute left against the Ugandans. Hector Cuper s side had drawn 0-0 with Mali in their first match and were heading for another goalless Ghana s forward Asamoah Gyan (left) celebrates with team staff after their win over Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations match on Saturday. () stalemate until Mohamed Salah set up substitute El Said to lash home. Back at the tournament for the first time since winning a third consecutive trophy in 2010, the Pharaohs have not impressed so far in Gabon but are now within touching distance of the last eight. It was difficult on that pitch and in this climate but we won and that is the important thing, admitted Cuper. It was a crushing blow for the Ugandans, who lost 1-0 to Ghana through a penalty in their first match and looked certain to take a point against Egypt before the late goal. Bottom of the group without a point, their first appearance at the Cup of Nations since 1978 will stop at the group stage, regardless of what they do against Mali in Oyem on Wednesday. We have come after 39 years and paid for the lesson in a hard way. If you lose in a convincing way you accept it, but in this way it is very hard to accept, said Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic. Monaco thrash Lorient to take lead Paris LIGUE 1 Gabriel Boschilia and Valere Germain both struck twice as a rampant Monaco routed bottom side Lorient 4-0 yesterday to climb two points clear of Nice at the top of Ligue 1. Brazilian striker Boschilia netted a brace inside the opening half hour as Monaco punished slack Lorient defending in driving rain at the Stade Louis II before Germain curled in a third on 37 minutes. The Frenchman then grabbed his second on the hour as Leonardo Jardim s free-scoring side collected a fifth win in six games to claim the outright lead, following Nice s 1-1 draw at Bastia on Friday. Third are Paris Saint-Germain, three points behind Monaco, and the two go head to head in the French capital next weekend in a championship six-pointer. We had a very good first half and we managed the game well today, said Jardim, who singled out Boschilia for praise. I played him today because he is a quality player who works hard, added Jardim, before hitting out a fixture schedule which sees Monaco in action again on Wednesday in a League Cup semi-final at home to Nancy. Monaco face a busy run of games over the next month as they compete on four fronts at home and in Europe. Boschilia made the most of a rare start by hooking home in the 24th minute after Lorient goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte failed to adequately deal with Radamel Falcao s looping header in the box. Lecomte was again culpable four minutes later when Boschilia found the net from the edge of the area as the ball rolled through the legs of the visiting goalkeeper. Lorient paid the price for more sloppy play as Falcao won the ball back deep in the visitors half before firing against the base of the post. The ball rebounded back to Germain, who steered neatly into the far corner. Germain rounded out a thumping win 14 minutes into the second half after Lorient skipper Michael Ciani was dispossessed by Djibril Sidibe. The France full-back slipped Monaco s Colombian forward Radamel Falcao (left) and Alhassan Wakaso of Lorient go for a header during the French Ligue 1 match in Monaco yesterday. () the striker in behind the defence with Lecomte again beaten between his legs. Lorient remain two points adrift at the foot of the table. On Saturday, Edinson Cavani scored both goals, taking his tally this season to 20, as PSG snapped Nantes four-game winning run with a 2-0 victory at the Stade de la Beaujoire. Arnaud Souquet earned Nice a point against Bastia in Corsica on Friday, equalising with a header after Prince Oniangue had given the hosts an early lead in a game marred by what Italy striker Mario Balotelli said was persistent racial abuse directed at him from the home fans. The Nice bus was also pelted with stones and the French league s disciplinary committee said it will look into the incidents. Lyon were hosting Marseille in late game last night as both teams look to return to winning ways after their respective four-game winning streaks were brought to a halt last weekend. Monaco 4 (Boschilia 24, 28, Germain 37, 59) Lorient 0; St Etienne 2 (A. Bamba 51 (OG), L. Perrin 74) Angers 1 (M Pavlović 17 ) Played Saturday: Nantes 0 Paris SG 2 (Cavani 21, 65); Metz 2 (Diabate 14, 19) Montpellier 0; Guingamp 1 (Diallo 39) Rennes 1 (Gourcuff 46); Dijon 0 Lille 0; Bordeaux 1 (Vada 1) Toulouse 0 Friday: Bastia 1 (Oniangue 17) Nice 1 (Souquet 33)

11 Gulf Times AL KASS INTERNATIONAL CUP 11 THE BIG ONE Aspire prove their worth with victory over Raja Abdulrasheed Ibrahim and Mekki Tombari score in home team s 2-1 win Action from the match between Aspire Academy (in white) and Raja Casablanca (in green) in the Al Kass International Cup yesterday. PICTURE: Jayaram Aspire Academy came through their first test of Al Kass 2017 with an impressive showing, running out deserved 2-1 winners against Raja Casablanca. Barely 24 hours after making their Al Kass debut a dramatic 3-2 loss to PSV Eindhoven the Moroccan youngsters were back in action at the Aspire Zone. Yet despite these exertions, manager Hilal Et-Tair had made just three changes to the starting lineup. And it was Aspire Academy, raring to go on home turf, who started brightest. They should have been ahead within three minutes, when Raja s Abdelilah Madkour upended Nasser Saleh Alyazidi in the area. Illustrating their physical approach, it was the third penalty that the Moroccans had conceded in just over 90 minutes of competitive play. Aspire s Yusuf Abdurisag Yusuf stepped up confidently but slammed his effort against the bar, granting Raja a welcome reprieve. Undaunted, the home side launched a series of concerted attacks, testing Casablanca s resolve and energy levels during the opening exchanges. Captain Riad Idbouiguiguine, Raja s most impressive performer in their opening game, had retained his place. Operating in the hole between midfield and attack, he fashioned his side s first chance in the 16th minute, bursting through from deep to unleash a fine effort from distance that flew narrowly wide of the left-hand post. Minutes later, the Casa skipper was cautioned for a careless lunge on Yusuf. It was a challenge that he didn t need to make. The resulting free kick from 30 yards out came to nothing, as Aspire struggled to convert their dominance into a tangible advantage. And, in the 38th minute, they almost paid the price when Zakaria Saoud broke free down the left and found Idriss Nazil advancing into the box, but keeper Shehab Ellethy was equal to the striker s placed effort. There was nothing to separate the sides as the half time whistle blew, and the game settled into a familiar pattern early in the second period, with clearcut chances at a premium. And then, 10 minutes into the second half, the game was turned on its head following a controversial decision from referee Moatasim al- Mezied. Raja skipper Idbouiguiguine advanced into the area down the left and went crashing to the ground under pressure. However, rather than award a penalty, al-mezied produced a yellow card for simulation Idbouiguiguine s second of the game, meaning he was sent off. Deprived of their talisman, Raja fell behind moments later, when Aspire s Hashim Ali battled his way into the area before supplying Abdulrasheed Ibrahim, who made no mistake from three yards out. And they were almost two up within a minute when Hashim Ali, unmarked in the area, stretched to reach a high ball but headed over with only the keeper to beat. Yet despite their numerical disadvantage, Raja retained their competitive edge, and nearly equalised on 68 minutes when Hamza Amama produced a superb effort from range that cannoned off the post with the keeper beaten. It was a rare chance for Casablanca as Aspire remained largely in control in the game, and they doubled their lead on 78 minutes, following some neat interplay. Hashim Ali found Mekki Tombari with a chipped ball across the area, and the midfielder made no mistake from 12 yards out. Belatedly, the game exploded in to action as each side traded attacks, and Raja reduced the deficit moments later when Soufiane Mahrouk broke free through the middle and placed a precise shot to the keeper s right. With 10 minutes remaining, Casablanca had found a new lease of life and began to press for the equaliser. However, Aspire s backline held firm, and deep into injury time, with Raja committing players forward, Ibrahim almost added a third for the Academy when he ran from the halfway line and produced a shot that rattled the woodwork. It mattered little, as the final whistle sounded moments later, confirming the home side s deserved victory. SPOTLIGHT Salzburg bulldoze Bayern in opening day thriller Red Bull Salzburg completed an impressive comeback against German heavyweights FC Bayern Munich in the second game of Al Kass A calm finish and an impressive set-piece secured the Austrian side a vital win, with their high intensity, attacking football proving too much for Bayern to withstand. Both sides started strongly, displaying confidence on the ball and an ability to create opportunities. An impressive defensive display from Munich saw them comfortably soak up Salzburg pressure from early on, their deep defensive line allowing them to win the ball back without too much trouble whenever Red Bull threatened. The first clear chance came in the 13th minute, when Salzburg s Dario Kolobaric found himself goal side of defender Alexander Lungwitz. Although the striker was able to outmuscle the full back, he took one too many touches and the keeper snatched the ball from under his feet. Red Bull continued to dominate, and the Bayern defence was called into action once again when the ball was cut into the area following some silky footwork from Dominik Szoboszlai. The Germans regained their shape quickly, and managed to defuse the situation and keep the scores level. Red Bull were hungry for an opener, and pressed high up the pitch. However, their plan backfired when a 24th minute counterattack saw Franck Evina latch on to a searching ball from deep. The keeper came off his line to close the gap, but it wasn t enough to deter the forward, who produced a cheeky chip to give Bayern the lead. Despite going 1-0 down, Salzburg continued to dominate possession. Purposeful passing and sharp movement saw them break through the midfield at almost every attempt, only to have the ball stolen by Bayern s composed centre-back partnership. However, the constant pressure saw the German side begin to crack, and towards the end of the first half Red Bull exploited acres of space on the right flank. With an initial cross blocked, the rebound fell to midfielder Nikola Stosic, who coolly stroked the ball into the bottom corner to make the score 1-1. The second half started slowly, as both teams adopted a more patient approach, with Salzburg creating fewer chances as Bayern looked to regain their lead. The match became increasingly physical as tiredness crept in and tempers flared, and in the 64th minute Vesel Demaku was fouled on the edge of the Bayern box. A free kick in a dangerous area provided the perfect opportunity for Salzburg to complete their comeback. A training ground set piece saw the side assume formation as Demaku stepped up and fired the ball low towards a teammate, only to see him move aside just in time to watch it roll into the bottom corner. Having lost their lead, Bayern needed fresh legs. Several substitutions and a change in formation saw them shift into a high tempo, offensive set up and, without warning, the Red Bulls found themselves on the back foot, swatting away wave after wave of German attacks. Oliver Batista Meier and Elias Kratzer each saw several efforts come close, but none could find the back of the net and the search for the elusive equaliser continued. It almost arrived in the final minute, when Bayern s Marin Pudic found himself one on one with Salzburg stopper Daniel Antosch. The crowd held their breath as the German hammered a leftfooted shot low to the keeper s right, only for Red Bull s number 1 to produce an incredible acrobatic save and secure a close-fought victory. Eintracht Frankfurt claimed a narrow victory over Esperance De Tunis in Day One s final match, with the Germans withstanding late pressure to prevail by two goals to one. In the 72nd minute, Cem Barlik scored the first goal of the match for Frankfurt, heading in a teasing cross by midfielder William Kabuya. Mischa Hauser doubled the Germans advantage, his long-range effort taking a cruel deflection to bamboozle the unfortunate Esperance keeper Fares Jbali. The Tunisians got on the board in the last minute when Mohamed Ammar fired home from close range following a goalmouth scramble. Action from the Al Kass International Cup match between Red Bull Salzburg (in blue and yellow) and Bayern Munich (in red) on Saturday. BOTTOMLINE Imperious Real give attacking masterclass Real Madrid romped to a 6-1 victory over Al Ahli in the opening match of Day Two. The Spanish giants took their chances, scoring almost at will against a Saudi side who looked daunted by the task before them. Madrid s intricate passing, quick feet and set pieces proved too much to handle as they dominated play for 90 minutes. Real s first clear cut chance came in the sixth minute, and saw Raul De Blas fire a warning shot from just outside Al Ahli s penalty area. The crowd held their breath as the ball skimmed just wide of the post. Los Blancos began to find their rhythm, with Jose Simal and Bilal El Khallak the key playmakers in midfield. Their confidence on the ball and ability to turn saw them receive possession whenever the Spanish side were in trouble, exhibiting that classic flair that everyone knows and loves. However, in the early stages Real toiled, with the towering figure of Ahmad Albassas comfortably dealing with any crosses that came into Al Ahli s area. Madrid began to focus their play through the centre, and before long they broke the deadlock. An amazing solo run saw Miguel Pérez pick the ball up at the halfway line, dance past five Ahli players and roll the ball into the bottom corner to give Los Blancos the lead. Four minutes later Ahli gave away a free kick in a dangerous area. With a goal already to his name, Miguel Perez stood over the ball, eyeing up the far post. His stunning left foot strike beat both the wall and the keeper to give Real a two-goal advantage before half-time. Al Ahli looked rejuvenated after the break, and their snappy passing and newfound poise proved that, despite the scoreline, they were far from deterred. However, Madrid s class soon told once more. Five minutes into the second half full-back Daniel Sanchez caught a loose ball 30 yards out. After skipping past the final defender and into the box he unleashed a powerful strike to make the score 3-0. The Al Ahli defence finally tightened up, and for the first time Real struggled to create. An inspiring defensive display from captain Yasser Ibrahim kept the Spaniards at bay for long enough for the Saudi side to claw one back. A lofted free kick was delivered into the box from range, and a glancing header from centreback Abdullah Fadaili denied Madrid a clean sheet. Several changes proved to be the difference towards the end of the game, as Madrid s fresh legs ran riot down the right-hand side. Substitute Marvin Akinlabi had an immediate impact from the bench, assisting fellow replacement Jose Juárez in the 84th minute. The Mallorca-born youngster weaved his way down the line and a simple pass across the box provided an easy finish. Akinlabi earned his second assist soon after in the 90th minute. One touch passes opened Al Ahli up, and a simple delivery across the face of goal saw Antonio Casas Marín slide in to claim Real s fifth. Al Ahli were on the ropes, with each Real attack looking increasingly menacing. The Spanish weren t finished, and in the last few seconds an easy pass through the deflated Ahli defence saw José Juárez clean through. One on one, he opened his body up and placed the ball low, out of the keeper s reach to claim his second and Real s sixth. An Al Ahli player (in blue) vies for the ball with Real Madrid (in white) players during their match yesterday. PICTURE: Jayaram

12 GULF TIMES SPORT QATAR STARS LEAGUE Rayyan post impressive 4-1 FOCUS Al Sadd cruise past Muaither to take three points win over Jaish QSL champions leapfrog Jaish into third place in standings Yesterday s final Round 17 QSL clash saw bottom of the table Muaither SC lose 6-1 to Al Sadd as Jesualdo Ferreira s men took all three points with a commanding performance at Al Gharafa Stadium to keep the pressure on league leaders Lekhwiya. Al Sadd controlled the game right from the whistle and it didn t take long before they found themselves 1-0 up thanks to a fine goal from their in-form number 8, Ali Assad. After Muaither s goalkeeper failed to deal with a hard long range shot, Assad was the first to run into the box and follow up parried shot, taking it on his chest before poking it home with his right from ten yards out. Al Sadd continued their absolute domination of the game and in the 25th minute made it 2-0 when Hamza Sanhaji scored a dramatic diving header from just a yard out. Al Sadd all but secured the three points on the 38th minute when they were awarded a penalty following a trip in the box. Up stepped Hamroun Jugurtha who struck it low and hard into the bottom right hand corner to make it 3-0 to Al Sadd. Just before the stroke of half time, Muaither got one back to give them a glimmer of hope going into the second half. Their new signing Kissito Yessoh powered into the 18 yard box to connect with a perfectly squared pass, taking one touch before drilling a low shot into the bottom right hand corner. Al Sadd started the second half much like the first, dominating possession and camping in Muaither s half. It didn t take long for them to all but see off the fixture when Hamroun bagged his second of the game and fifth of the season to make it 4-1 to Al Sadd. Hamroun received the ball on the edge of the box in the 54th minute, ran at two defenders and produced some lovely footwork to generate some space before unleashing a shot that took a deflection and looped over the goalkeepers head. Just minutes later, Hamza got his second of the game to make it 5-1 to Al Sadd after he connected with a low cross across from Hamroun on the 59th minute, tapping it in from just two yards out. Muaither continued to look for goal-scoring opportunities but Al Sadd controlled the remainder of the game and Mohamed Kasola bagged one more with the last play of the game to make it 6-1 on the night. The three points leaves Al Sadd just three points behind league leaders Lekhwiya, who managed to grab a point against Al Wakrah earlier today after coming back from 3-0 down. Despite two points from their last two games, Muaither now look destined for the drop. Al Rayyan captain Rodrigo Tabata (right) celebrates his goal with teammates Nathan (left), Abdulrahman al-harazi (second from left) and Sebastian Soria during their Qatar Stars League match against El Jaish yesterday. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil Reigning QSL champions Al Rayyan leapfrogged rivals El Jaish into third place in the QSL standings, thanks to an emphatic 4-1 win yesterday. The first half was a closely-fought affair, with Al Rayyan edging out El Jaish 2-1 thanks to goals from Sebastian Soria and Sergio Garcia in the first half, with Jaish pulled a goal back through Lucas Mendes. Michael Laudrup s men further pulled away courtesy of a free-kick from captain Rodrigo Tabata and a tap in for returning defender Nathan. The match sprung into life in the 14th minute when Soria was bundled down in the box and the referee duly pointed to the penalty spot. The spot kick was delayed for a number of minutes, as Jaish argued the decision which saw defender Yousef Muftah shown a yellow for his protests. Soria finally stepped up and produced a Panenka penalty to go past Jaish keeper Saoud al-khater and give Al Rayyan an early lead. Immediately after the goal, the tie threatened to boil over, as both Soria and Jaish midfielder Mohamed Mothnani were given a yellow card for an off the ball incident. El Jaish pushed hard for an equaliser as the first half progressed, and enjoyed the majority of the possession. The closest that Sabri Lamouchi s side came was in the 25th minute when Uzbek winger Sardor Rashidov saw his shot fly just over Omar Barry s goal. Three minutes later, Jaish right back Murad Naji knocked in an inch perfect ball into the box. Jaish s Brazilian defender Mendes was the first to react and out-jumped the Al Rayyan defence to nod in his third goal of the season. However, the game opened up and Al Rayyan got back into the lead just four minutes later. South Korean midfielder Koh Myongjin pounced on an errant touch in the box and slid the ball to Spanish striker Garcia. The former Espanyol player produced a perfect first time curling shot, which found its way into the bottom right hand corner to give the Lions a 2-1 lead. Both sides exchanged chances to score in a breathless period of play to see out the first half, which eventually ended with Al Rayyan leading 2-1. The reigning QSL champions gave signal of intent at the start of the second half, with Soria s shot skidding just wide, seconds after the restart. The match tightened up in the second half, but just on the hour mark, El Jaish could have levelled but Abdulgadir Ilyas s towering header was tipped onto the cross bar by Omar Barry. Al Rayyan put the game beyond doubt thanks to a free-kick of real quality in the 74th minute. On a foray, Garcia was tackled just outside the penalty box. Tabata stepped up and whipped in from a tight angle which sailed into the far corner to give Laudrup s side a 3-1 lead, with his tenth goal of the season. In the 82nd minute, the QSL champions rubber stamped their win with Tabata having a helping hand in his side s fourth of the evening. Al Rayyan captain produced a cross to the far post. Garcia had the peace of mind to keep the ball in play and pass to Rayyan s returning defender Nathan, who tapped in from close range as the Lions took a commanding 4-1 lead. Al Sadd s Hamroun Jugurtha (right) vies for the ball with Muaither s Shahin Ali during their Qatar Stars League match at Al Gharafa Stadium yesterday. PICTURE: Anas Khalid BOTTOMLINE Lekhwiya fight back for 3-3 draw against Wakrah Qatar Stars League (QSL) leaders Lekhwiya bagged a hard fought point against league strugglers Al Wakrah after a stunning comeback that saw the league leaders come from 3-0 down to finish the game 3-3 at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium in yesterday s early Round 17 QSL kickoff. Al Wakrah stunned the league leaders early on by taking the lead after just four minutes of play thanks to a fine finish from Prince Ibara. Lekhwiya failed to properly clear their lines after the first corner of the game and Wakrah s Ibara was quick to pounce on a loose ball on the edge of the box and smash a volley into the back of the net to make it 1-0. Things went from bad to worse for Lekhwiya when Khalid Muftah brought down Wakrah s Mouhcine Moutouali in the 18-yard box with just 16 minutes on the clock. Muftah was lucky to stay on the field as he was Lekhwiya s last defender and Moutouali was clearly through on goal. The referee was quick to reach for his yellow and blow for a penalty, which Moutouali converted, bagging his seventh of the season to make it 2-0 for Al Wakrah. There was mass confusion in the 30th minute when the referee awarded a penalty to Lekhwiya after Al Wakrah s Sultan al-breki appeared to control the ball with his arm in the box. Despite the referee blowing for a penalty and Lekhwiya celebrating and placing the ball on the spot, the call was overturned just seconds later after one of the linesmen cast his judgement over the ruling and the referee changed his mind. Despite protests from Lekhwiya s entire squad, Al Wakrah were awarded a goal kick and the play went on. It didn t take long for Al Wakrah to make it 3-0 in the second half. In the 50th minute, the ball found its way to Abdurahman Mesaad, who calmly turned inside and wrong-footed a defender before hitting a fierce shot with his right from 20 yards out, to score his first goal for the club. Most would have assumed Al Wakrah would be leaving with the full three points but Lekhwiya had other ideas and stepped it up a gear in the last 30 minutes. Their comeback started on the 72nd minute when Ali Afif found the back of the net from six yards out after some poor defending from Al Wakrah. Ten minutes later, Afif struck again to make it 3-2, scoring with his head this time after being left in acres of space in the box. Karim Boudaif made Lekhwiya s comeback a reality in the 88th minute when he struck a lightning bolt of a shot from 20 yards out to claim a point for the aspiring champions and leave them six points clear at the top. Lekhwiya s Karim Boudaif (left) in action against Al Wakrah yesterday. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil Results Lekhwiya 3 (Ali Hassan Afeef 72, 83, Karim Boudiaf 88) Al Wakrah 3 (Prince Ibara 4, Mouchine Moutouali 16, Abdulrahman Mossad 50) Muaither 1 (Kissito Yessoh) Al Sadd 6 (Ali Asadallah Qambar 10, Hamza Senhaji 26, 58, Hamroun Jugurtha 39, 54, Mohamed Kasola 92) El Jaish 1 (Lucas Mendes) Al Rayyan (Sebastian Soria 13, Sergio Garcia 33, Rodrigo Tabata 75, Nathan 82) Standings Team P W D L GD Pts 1. Lekhwiya Al Sadd Al Rayyan El Jaish Al Gharafa Al Ahli Umm Salal Al Khor Al Arabi Al Sailiya Al Kharaitiyat Al Shahania Al Wakrah Muaither

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