India make strong start after England post 400

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1 CRICKET Page 2 India make strong start after England post 400 GOLF Page 7 Johnson in Dubai lead but India s Aditi lurks To Advertise here Call: , Rabia 1 11, 1438 AH GULF TIMES SPORT FOOTBALL Real eye record back where it all began for Zidane Page 4 SCANDAL Report exposes institutional DECISION Russia denies state doping programme doping by Russia McLaren says Russia corrupted Games on unprecedented scale More than 1,000 athletes in 30 sports, including soccer, involved Reuters More than 1,000 Russian athletes competing in summer, winter and paralympic sport were involved in or benefited from an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive doping tests, an independent WADA report said yesterday. The second and final part of the report for the World Anti-Doping Agency by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren provided more details of an elaborate state-sponsored doping scheme operated by Russia. It said there was a systematic cover-up, which was refined at the 2012 Olympics, 2013 world athletics championships and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and that more than 30 sports, including soccer, were involved in concealing positive doping samples. We are now able to confirm a cover up that dates back until at least 2011 and continued after the Sochi Olympic Games. It was a cover up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy, McLaren told a news conference yesterday. It was a cover-up of an unprecedented scale and the second part of this report shows the evidence that increases the number of athletes involved as well as the scope of the conspiracy and cover up. We have evidence revealing that more than 500 positive results were reported as negative, including wellknown and elite-level athletes, who had their positive results automatically falsified. McLaren said Russia won 24 gold, 26 silver and 32 bronze medals at Lawyer Richard McLaren delivers his second and final part of a report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), at a news conference in yesterday and no Russian athlete tested positive. Yet the Russian team corrupted the Games on an unprecedented scale, the extent of which will probably never be fully established, he said. The desire to win medals superseded their collective moral and ethical compass and Olympic values of fair play. For years international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians. Coaches and athletes have been playing on an uneven field. The report said a urine sampleswapping technique used at Sochi became regular practice at the Moscow laboratory that dealt with elite athletes. It added that four Sochi gold medallists had samples with physiologically impossible salt readings, while 12 Russian Sochi medallists had evidence of tampering with the bottles containing their urine samples. The report detailed how a clean urine bank existed in the Moscow laboratory, where salt and coffee were added to clean samples to try to fool officials testing B samples in supposedly tamper-proof bottles. The report included evidence of DNA mismatches, where a tampered B sample did not match the DNA of previous specimens and cases of sample swapping between male and female athletes. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said in a statement that 53 % of the athletes whose details had been shared with them by McLean s investigation team had been sanctioned or were currently undergoing disciplinary proceedings. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said the full findings of the report were unprecedented and astonishing. They strike right at the heart of the integrity and ethics of sport, Paralympic sport s governing body said in a statement. Yelena Isinbayeva, the twice Olympic pole vault champion and now a Russian anti-doping official, however, said it was unfair to single out Russia for criticism. If we want to clean up world sport, let s start, she said. We don t need to concentrate on just one country. I think banning clean Russian sportsmen is impractical and unfair. The original McLaren report, released in July, revealed widespread state-sponsored doping in Russian sport. The July report found Moscow had concealed hundreds of positive doping tests in many sports ahead of the Sochi Games and led to a partial ban of Russian athletes competing in the Rio Olympics in August. Although Russian track and field athletes and weightlifters were banned from competing at Rio, the International Olympic Committee rejected a blanket ban and let international sports federations decide which athletes should be eligible to compete. The evidence contained in the report can be found at the website: Reuters Moscow Russia denied it was running any state-sponsored doping schemes after fresh revelations from the McLaren report yesterday of an institutional conspiracy by Moscow to cheat. The Russian sports ministry with full responsibility states there are no government programmes to support doping in sport, the ministry said in a statement, adding that it will continue the fight against doping with zero tolerance. Investigator Richard McLaren said in a new report for the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA) that more than 1,000 Russian athletes in about 30 sports took part in a plan involving Moscow sports ministry officials to use banned drugs at the Sochi and Olympics and other global events. The sports ministry said it would carefully study the information contained in the report with the aim of coming up with a constructive position. Moscow has consistently denied the existence of any government-run scheme to cheat its way to medal glory and says it is doing all it can to reform its doping control system in a bid to crack down on drug use. I am not a traitor, says Russian whistleblower Stepanova Reuters, : Whistleblower Yulia Stepanova has denied being a traitor and said being banned for two years was the turning-point that led her to expose Russia s state-backed and systematic doping programme. Stepanova secretly recorded Russian coaches and athletes describing how they used performance-enhancing drugs evidence used to ban more than 100 Russian athletes from the Olympics this year. She has been called a traitor by her former coach Vladimir Kazarin and is currently in hiding in North America with her husband Vitaly, a former Russian anti-doping official. In 2007, for the first time my coach (Kazarin) started giving me testosterone injections, she told the BBC in an interview. I did know it was banned, but before giving it to me I think my coach prepared me well because he was telling me stories about how it s normal, that s how it s done. Every night I had a dream that the doping inspectors were coming to test us, every single night the same nightmare. I was really afraid of being tested because I didn t know how the system worked. I didn t realise that the management was in on it, that even if you re caught you won t be disqualified if your coach has connections. Stepanova, who was given a two-year ban in 2013 for abnormalities in her blood passport, said that suspension made her determined to expose how deep the problems in Russian athletics had actually spread. It was a turning-point and I had a choice or rather a second chance, she added. I could return to the same system and simply think, okay so they re lying, but they ll take me back into the national team and pay me money or else I could do the right thing. She spent the next two years gathering evidence, driven by the desire to expose the truth. The reason I was doing it was to show that this was the system, she said. I just wanted them to admit that yes, everyone s doing drugs, the bosses are covering it up. That s what was important to me. Stepanova said she thought telling the truth would make things better. I don t consider myself a traitor, she said. I simply revealed the shameful truth, which our country doesn t want to confront, and the only reason I told the truth about it all, was to try and put a stop to it. BOTTOMLINE Blatter blasts FIFA chief Infantino over lack of respect Disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter accused his successor Gianni Infantino of showing a lack of respect for him in an interview with the BBC. The 80-year-old who on Monday lost his appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a six year ban from football for a 2mn Swiss franc payment to then UEFA boss Michel Platini said Infantino had dropped by his house once since he was elected in February and Blatter had raised matters he thought should be dealt with. I am definitely not a happy man (with) what happened with FIFA, Blatter told the BBC. I have never seen in any company that the new president... was not paying respect to the old president.after his election we had a very good contact and he stopped at my house and we had a chat. I told him I have a list of questions that should be solved in Fifa which has not been solved before. (Infantino) said I will work on that and he never came back. Blatter said Infantino, who was UEFA secretary-general under Platini, had not returned his phone calls since that meeting. I have asked him, I have sent him a letter and I have his personal number and I was told that it s still correct. Never never an answer never, said Blatter. Blatter, who served as FIFA president for 18 years but was subject to withering criticism during his tenure, claims he is too trusting and as a result he and his team never expected the FBI investigation that exposed massive corruption involving senior FIFA members. I think people are good, and they are not good, said Blatter. The Swiss, who served as the faithful secretary-general under his similarly disgraced predecessor as FIFA president the late Joao Havelange, also claims he came perilously close to death late last year. An unusually dishevelled and unshaven Blatter had alluded to this when he held a press conference last December but he went further with the BBC. It was 1 November I was at the cemetery in my home village where we have a family grave. And I was there... very, very weak, I couldn t move, he said. They brought me immediately to a hospital in Zurich and they thought I was going to die in the next hours. Seriously. It was a lady doctor there and she (asked) me: Who should I phone? And I said: No, no, no, I will go home tonight. And she said: Oh no. They brought another doctor and he said: OK calm down, calm down. I had time enough in the hospital to think that life is (more) than only football. STATUS QUO Head of Russian federation re-elected Moscow Russia s scandal-ridden athletics federation yesterday re-elected Dmitry Shlyakhtin president after Yelena Isinbayeva pulled out, as fresh revelations on state-run doping rocked sport in the country. Russia remains suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) after it was kicked out in November 2015 over drug cheat allegations in a move that saw its athletes banned from international competition and miss the Rio Olympic Games. Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Isinbayeva withdrew from the running after this week being appointed head of the supervisory board of RUSADA, Russia s national anti-doping agency, which was suspended in the wake of the scandal. Shlyakhtin also saw off competition from ARAF general secretary Mikhail Butov and high jumper Andrei Silnov. Shlyakhtin, who was first drafted in at the start of the year as a crisis manager, now faces the mammoth task of trying to convince the IAAF that Moscow has done enough to fix its rotten system. We agree that there are problems in Russian athletics and we don t hide this, Shlyakhtin said after the vote. We are working to eliminate these problems as best we can. The things that were done since our suspension demonstrate our capacity for reform. But the job of returning Russia to the fold likely became even tougher after the second part of a report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) detailed more jaw-dropping revelations on the scale of Russia s state-run doping programme.

2 2 Gulf Times CRICKET MUMBAI TEST India make strong start in reply to England s 400 India reach at stumps * Ashwin takes six wickets for 112 runs SPOTLIGHT Reiffel suffering from concussion, to miss rest of Test Reuters Mumbai Australian umpire Paul Reiffel will not officiate in the remainder of the ongoing fourth Test between India and England after suffering concussion following a blow to the back of his head on Thursday. Television umpire Marais Erasmus, who took over Reiffel s on-field duties after he left the field, will continue for the rest of the match, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) said in a statement yesterday. The incident occurred in the second session on Thursday when former Australia fast bowler Reiffel was hit by a lobbed throw from the outfield from India s Bhuvneshwar Kumar at the Wankhede Stadium. England s medical staff helped the 50-year-old off the field with play restarting after a brief delay with Erasmus replacing Reiffel. Paul Reiffel underwent precautionary tests yesterday, which came back all clear, the BCCI said. Umpire Paul Reiffel is helped by support staff. Paul, however, has been advised to rest, which is the normal course prescribed following a concussion. As such, he will not take any further part in the Mumbai test and has been replaced by Marais Erasmus. Indian umpire Chettithody Shamshuddin, who was present at the ground as part of a programme to train local umpires on the decision review system, replaced Erasmus as the television official ahead of reserve umpire Nitin Menon. NEW DEAL Paceman Philander signs for Sussex England s Jos Buttler belts the ball at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on the way to his 76 against India. South African all-rounder Vernon Philander committed himself to playing the first half of the 2017 season for Sussex in a major coup for the County Championship second division outfit. The 31-year-old, who has taken 142 wickets in 37 Tests at an average of 22.21, will be available for Sussex s first six County Championship matches and the group stage of the One-Day Cup tournament. Philander, one of a select group of South African cricketers to take five wickets on his Test debut, has played county cricket in England on four previous occasions, for Middlesex in 2008, Somerset in 2012, Kent in 2013 and Nottinghamshire in I m really looking forward to getting to Hove and playing for Sussex for the first couple of months of the English season, said Philander, who most recently played a leading role in the Proteas impressive 2-1 Test series win over Australia. Although I haven t come up against Sussex much in my time playing in England, I ve always heard good things about the club and set-up. Reuters Mumbai Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara shared a century stand as India made a strong start in their reply to England s total of 400 on the second day of the fourth test at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Vijay was unbeaten on 70 and Pujara on 47 not out with India on 146 for one at the close, still 254 runs behind. The right-handed pair added 107 runs for the second wicket after Lokesh Rahul had fallen following an opening stand of 39 with Vijay. England captain Alastair Cook introduced spin from both ends after seven overs and there was considerable turn on offer for Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. Rahul hit four crisp boundaries in his 24 before off-spinner Moeen breached his defences to bowl him. Vijay twice mis-hit Rashid but the ball landed safely beyond the reach of the fielders on both occasions. The opener hit the leg-spinner for six over the long-off boundary. Scoreboard England 1st innings: A. Cook st Patel b Jadeja 46 K. Jennings c Pujara b Ashwin 112 J. Root c Kohli b Ashwin 21 M. Ali c Nair b Ashwin 50 J. Bairstow c U. Yadav b Ashwin 14 B. Stokes c Kohli b Ashwin 31 J. Buttler b Jadeja 76 C. Woakes c Patel b Jadeja 11 A. Rashid b Jadeja 4 J. Ball c Patel b Ashwin 31 J. Anderson not out 0 Extras (b 1, lb 2, nb 1) 4 Total (all out, overs) 400 Fall of wickets: 1-99 (Cook), (Root), (Ali), (Jennings), (Bairstow), (Stokes), (Woakes), (Rashid), (Ball), (Buttler) Bowling: Kumar , U. Yadav , Ashwin , J. Yadav (1nb), Jadeja India 1st innings: L. Rahul b Ali 24 M. Vijay not out 70 C. Pujara not out 47 Extras (b1, lb4) 5 Total (1 wicket, 52 overs) 146 Fall of wickets: 1-39 (Rahul) Bowling: Anderson , Woakes , Ali Rashid , Ball , Stokes , Root Pujara looked solid and hit some sublime boundaries off the back foot against the England fast bowlers. Earlier, Jos Buttler made 76 to guide the touring side, trailing 2-0 in the fivematch series, to a strong total before they were all out 25 minutes after lunch. India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin completed figures of six for 112 for his 23rd five-wicket haul and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja took the other four wickets. Resuming on 288 for five, England lost Ben Stokes for 31 in the third over to Ashwin, who had picked up four wickets on Thursday. India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin completed figures of six for 112 for his 23rd five-wicket haul and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja took the other four wickets The umpire turned down the appeal for catch against Stokes but India managed to overturn the decision on review with the batsman leaving the field making his displeasure evident. Jadeja dismissed Chris Woakes and Rashid cheaply to boost India s chances of keeping England s total to under 350. But Buttler and number 10 Jake Ball, playing his first match of the series and second overall, frustrated India with a partnership of 54 for the ninth wicket. Ashwin broke the stand when Ball, who was on nought when India captain Virat Kohli dropped a sharp chance at slip off Jadeja, was caught behind. Buttler repeatedly used the reverse sweep against Jadeja and hit six boundaries and a big six off Ashwin before Jadeja bowled him as he attempted another big shot. Pakistan on top of CA XI, but struggle under lights, Cairns, Australia: Pakistan held a lead of 218 runs over a Cricket Australia XI after the second day of their three-day day-night match in Cairns yesterday ahead of next week s pink-ball Test against Australia. The tourists fought back to dismiss the CA XI for 114 and an innings lead of 94 runs before going to stumps at 124 for five ahead of today s final day. But there were some concerns about Pakistan s ability to play the pink ball under lights after they lost four top-order wickets in the final session. It is the tourists only warmup game under lights before Thursday s day-night Test against Australia in Brisbane. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was dismissed for a duck to go with his first-innings 20, facing 29 balls before he was bowled, playing on after fending at a ball outside off-stump. Opener Azhar Ali looked more comfortable to remain not out 44 at the close with Sarfraz Ahmed on four. Sami Aslam (12) was out leg before wicket after leaving a ball before the dinner break and the tourists also lost Babar Azam two balls into the final session when he edged to first slip for 22. Veteran Younis Khan was run out for seven before Misbah s struggling innings and Asad Shafiq was bowled between bat and pad for 29. Paceman Mohamed Amir looked impressive bowling in the CAXI first innings swinging the ball and finishing with 3-15 from 10 overs. Rahat Ali (3-26) also claimed three wickets, while paceman Wahab Riaz (3-28) cleaned up the tail. ODI Warner the man as Aussies rout New Zealand Melbourne Opener David Warner smashed his second straight hundred and Mitchell Starc bowled lethal reverse swing to spearhead Australia to a third emphatic win over New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in Melbourne yesterday. The Australian vice-captain was run out on the last ball of the innings for 156 off 128 balls more than half of his team s 264 for eight total with 13 fours and four sixes. It follows Warner s 119 off 115 balls against the Black Caps in Canberra on Tuesday. Starc then led Australia to a series clean sweep helping to skittle New Zealand for 147 off 36.1 overs to reclaim the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. Starc bowled Henry Nicholls and Colin Munro with unplayable yorkers and then trapped Mitchell Santner leg before wicket with reverse swing to finish with three for 34. Warner, with 299 runs at from the three matches, was named man of the match and man of the series after raising his 11th ODI century and seventh for the year. Only Indian great Sachin Tendulkar, with nine in 1998, has hit more ODI centuries in a calendar year. It s a team performance, Warner said. Credit to the bowlers for coming out and executing the plans. Our batsmen had to relay the message and they did extremely well. Warner was the difference after New Zealand had made early inroads into the Australian batting. He was involved in partnerships with George Bailey (62) and Travis Head (105) which helped Australia fight back from 11 for two and 73 for four. Warner gave a tough chance on 18 when he pulled Lockie Ferguson to deep mid-wicket, where a diving Nicholls couldn t take a difficult low catch. Then Australia s bowlers finished off the job with Starc in deadly form and supported by paceman Pat Cummins, medium-pacer James Faulkner and part-time spinner Travis Head, all with two wickets. Cummins claimed the wicket of opener Tom Latham for 28, snapped up by Faulkner at backward square leg. Faulkner got the prized wicket of Kane Williamson, leg before wicket for 13 with the New Zealand skipper losing a review in the process. Martin Guptill chased a wide delivery from Head, and Bailey snapped up a leaping catch at short cover for 34 off 40 balls. Eleven balls later Starc bowled newcomer Nicholls with a wicked lateswinging yorker for three to reduce the Black Caps to 83 for four in the 17th over. Starc then ripped through the defences of Colin Munro and trapped Santner leg before wicket to wreck the Black Caps hopes. Captain Steve Smith sealed the victory with another stunning one-handed flying catch at slip to dismiss Trent Boult off Cummins. Australia D.Warner run out (Boult) 156 A.Finch c Nicholls b Boult 3 S.Smith c Nicholls b Boult 0 G.Bailey c Santner b De Grandhomme 23 M.Marsh b De Grandhomme 0 T.Head b Santner 37 M.Wade c De Grandhomme b Santner 14 J.Faulkner c Guptill b Boult 13 M.Starc not out 0 Extras (lb5, w11, nb2) 18 Total (8 wickets, 50 overs) 264 Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Finch), 2-11 (Smith), 3-73 (Bailey), 4-73 (Marsh), (Head), (Wade), (Faulkner), (Warner) Bowling: Southee (3w), Boult (2w), Ferguson (2nb, 3w), Santner (1w), De Grandhomme (2w), Williamson , Munro New Zealand M. Guptill c Bailey b Head 34 T. Latham c Faulkner b Cummins 28 K.Williamson lbw b Faulkner 13 H.Nicholls b Starc 3 C.Munro b Starc 20 B.J.Watling lbw b Head 8 C.De Grandhomme c Head b Hazlewood 11 M.Santner lbw b Starc 15 T. Southee c Warner b Faulkner 4 L.Ferguson not out 4 T.Boult c Smith b Cummins 1 Extras (lb2, w4) 6 Total (all out, 36.1 overs) 147 Fall of wickets: 1-44 (Latham), 2-74 (Williamson), 3-79 (Guptill), 4-83 (Nicholls), 5-98 (Watling), (De Grandhomme), (Munro), (Santner), (Southee), (Boult) Bowling: Starc (2w), Hazlewood (1w), Cummins (1w), Faulkner , Head

3 Gulf Times FOOTBALL 3 SPOTLIGHT Cruising Chelsea CLUB WORLD CUP Superstar Ronaldo targets world treble face West Brom, aim for cloud nine Antonio Conte s Chelsea juggernaut rolls back into action against West Bromwich Albion with the Premier League leaders chasing a ninth consecutive win Antonio Conte s Chelsea juggernaut rolls back into action against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow with the Premier League leaders chasing a ninth consecutive win. Chelsea produced the most impressive display of their winning streak last weekend when they came from behind to win 3-1 at Pep Guardiola s Manchester City. They have not won nine successive league games within the same season since 2007 and ahead of West Brom s visit, Marcos Alonso has urged his teammates not to let their level drop. Winning game after game gives you confidence, but you have to keep working, the Spanish wing-back told the Chelsea website. The results give you confidence to work in this way, though. We have got to use this momentum of the last eight league games and go on to have another good game against West Brom now. While most of Chelsea s title rivals have been in European action this week, Conte s side have once again had a full week to prepare for the visit of Tony Pulis s side. It is 32 years since West Brom last won at Chelsea, but they have drawn on two of their last three visits and have climbed to seventh in the table on the back of a fourgame unbeaten run. (Chelsea) are on a great run of form, West Brom manager Pulis told the club website. The manager s come in and he s changed things around and got the players playing the way they can. It s a wonderful, wonderful squad of players. But we ll go there and do our best. Guardiola s City will look to kick their title challenge back into gear when they visit unravelling champions Leicester City today. The ill-tempered defeat at Chelsea s hands left a mark, with Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho picking up red cards that will keep them out until after Christmas. City have slipped to fourth place in the table, four points below Chelsea, and although Leicester are toiling in 16th place, Pablo Zabaleta is taking nothing for granted. Always it s a difficult place to go. Even if they are not doing great in the domestic competition, they are still a good team, very competitive, said the City right-back. It is going to be a tough game. We need to win and get three points after the big defeat last weekend to stay in the fight for the title. EUROPA LEAGUE ARSENAL ON SONG While City have won their last three away matches in the league, they have won just four of their last 14 games in all competitions as Guardiola continues to search for a durable winning formula. His problems pale in comparison, however, beside those of Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who saw a secondstring side trounced 5-0 by Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday. With seven defeats already, Leicester s league form is as alarming as last season s was astonishing and has left them just two points above the relegation zone. Second-place Arsenal, three points behind Chelsea, can provisionally take over at the summit if they beat Stoke City by two goals or more at the Emirates Stadium today. Alexis Sanchez s hat-trick fired Arsenal to a 5-1 win at West Ham United last weekend, which was followed by a superb 4-1 win at Basel in the Champions League, but manager Arsene Wenger feels there is more to come. I feel the team is on the way upwards, he said. But we have as well to show that first of all we can improve, that we have the desire to improve as a team, and as well, that we can repeat the performances week in, week out. Stoke is another challenge for us that we can reset, refocus and continue our development and take the points. Like Chelsea, third-place Liverpool have had a week off to prepare for Sunday s home game with West Ham. Manchester United, in contrast, entertain Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday just two days after returning from a gruelling Europa League trip to play Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk. Jose Mourinho s side, currently sixth, trail fifth-place Spurs by six points and will have a mountain to climb in terms of Champions League qualification if they lose at Old Trafford. FIXTURES (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated): Arsenal v Stoke, Burnley v Bournemouth, Hull v Crystal Palace, Leicester v Man City (1730 GMT), Swansea v Sunderland, Watford v Everton (1230 GMT) (1415 GMT unless otherwise stated): Chelsea v West Brom (1200 GMT), Liverpool v West Ham (1630 GMT), Man United v Tottenham, Southampton v Middlesbrough United s Mkhitaryan breaks duck Paris Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his first Manchester United goal to set up a 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk in Ukraine on Thursday and take Jose Mourinho s side into the last 32 of the Europa League. United required only a point to secure progress from Group A but Mkhitaryan s 48th-minute strike and a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal separated the sides and took the Premier League club through in second place behind Fenerbahce, who won 1-0 at Feyenoord thanks to a Moussa Sow effort. The game went ahead despite concerns about the state of the icy, rock-hard pitch at the Chornomorets Stadium in Odessa, almost 1,000 kilometres away from Luhansk in the conflicttorn east of the country. After a goalless first half, United broke the deadlock three minutes into the second half as the Armenian Mkhitaryan burst forward from midfield through the middle of the Zorya defence before finishing past goalkeeper Igor Levchenko. They wrapped up the victory File picture of Chelsea coach Antonio Conte (R) gesturing during a training session. Manchester United s Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan celebrates after scoring a goal during the Europa League tie. two minutes from the end as a fine one-touch passing move ended with Paul Pogba sending Ibrahimovic away, the Swede running through and finishing coolly. I was waiting a long time for this goal. My next goal has to be at Old Trafford because I want to score at home, Mkhitaryan, who previously played in Ukraine for Shakhtar Donetsk, told BT Sport. The first half was a little bit difficult because we couldn t find the last pass but in the second half we created some space for the wingers and the strikers. The important thing was to win today and go through. Mourinho praised the playmaker, who endured a difficult start to his United career but is now starting to show his worth. He worked hard physically and tactically the talent was there, we knew that when we bought him. Now he s playing good in the Premier League, Europa League and EFL Cup and now the goal means a little more happiness for him, so I m very pleased, Mourinho said. SOUTHAMPTON OUT United will join Tottenham Hotspur, who drop out of the Champions League, in the last 32, but there was bitter disappointment for fellow Premier League club Southampton. Claude Puel s men knew a goalless draw or a win at home to Hapoel Beer-Sheva would see them advance from Group K but instead drew 1-1 with the Israelis and were eliminated. The visitors went in front in the 79th minute, Yuval Shabtai pouncing on a poor pass by Oriol Romeu and setting up Maor Buzaglo to fire home. Virgil van Dijk equalised with a deflected shot in stoppage time but they could not get a winner and Hapoel go through instead. A brilliant late chip by Manuel Trigueros gave Villarreal a nervy 2-1 win over Steaua Bucharest that took the Spanish club into the last 32 from Group L behind the Turkish side Osmanlispor. Celta Vigo won 2-0 at Panathinaikos and qualify from Group G, while Fiorentina are through as winners of Group J after a 2-1 win over Qarabag in Azerbaijan secured by a 76thminute goal from 19-year-old Federico Chiesa, son of ex-italy striker Enrico, who was then sent off shortly after. PAOK of Greece are also into next week s draw for the first knockout round thanks to a 2-0 win against Slovan Liberec, while Gent joined Shakhtar Donetsk in advancing from Group H. RESULTS Group A Zorya Luhansk (UKR) 0 Manchester United (ENG) 2 (Mkhitaryan 48, Ibrahimovic 88) Group E Astra Giurgiu (ROU) 0 AS Roma (ITA) 0 Group K Southampton 1 (Van Dijk 90+1) Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) 1 (Buzaglo 79) Inter Milan (ITA) 1 (Eder 23, 90) Sparta Prague (CZE) 1 (Marecek 54) Real Madrid s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Tokyo Cristiano Ronaldo will have little time for cyber clones or facial keepyuppy when the Real Madrid superstar arrives in Japan next week for the Club World Cup. The Portuguese pin-up met a life-size silicon Ronaldo complete with ripped abs, greased-back hair and twitching eyebrows on a commercial visit last year. The world s highest-paid athlete has also appeared in a Japanese commercial to promote a bizarre face-stretching gadget designed to enhance the user s smile. But Ronaldo, who rakes in nearly $90 million in salary and endorsements yearly according to Forbes, insisted he would be in Japan on a different kind of business as European champs Real chase a second Club World Cup in three years. It is a big tournament and I have been lucky enough to win it twice before, he told Japan s Nippon TV, referring to the 2014 tournament and his first personal triumph with previous club Manchester United in Of course I want to win it for a third time, added the 31-yearold. We are not going to Japan for a holiday. We go there with the sole aim of winning the title and to be crowned the best team in the world. Ronaldo, who touches down in Japan on Monday, has legions of female fans who swoon over his chiselled looks and muscular physique, which he regularly flaunts by removing his shirt to celebrate goals. There is similar reaction when Ronaldo is wheeled out for Japanese television on his moneymaking trips as studio guests giddily poke and prod his stomach. CYBER CLONE Japanese scientists unveiled a cyber clone of the player last year to promote an electric muscle stimulator for sculpting a washboard stomach, a device being advertised again during commercial breaks at this year s Club World Cup. Ronaldo, tipped to win his third Ballon d Or trophy on Monday, gave the doppelganger the thumbs-up but drew the line at modelling the propeller-like face stretcher, which requires the user to nod excitedly while biting on a ball in the middle. Zinedine Zidane s table-topping Real face either Mexico s Club America or South Korea s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the competition s second semi-final in Yokohama next Thursday. Barring an major upsets, the Spanish giants will face Libertadores Cup holders Atletico Nacional in the competition final on December 18. The Colombians will have the hopes of a grieving continent on their shoulders after Copa Sudamericana final opponents Chapecoense were all but wiped out in a plane crash that claimed the lives of 71 people. SERIE A Depleted Juve face Torino in Turin derby File picture of Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain. Milan Reported Manchester United target Andrea Belotti could star when Torino host depleted city rivals Juventus looking to secure the spoils from a city derby attracting particular interest from Roma and AC Milan. With 10 goals in 13 appearances in only his second season in Serie A, Belotti who celebrates his goals by mimicking a rooster s comb with an open hand to his forehead has emerged as the most exciting home-grown striker in years. So much so that Torino president Urban Cairo, amid reports of interest from United manager Jose Mourinho, added a 100m euros buyout clause when he tied the 22-year-old front man to a new deal until 2021 in midweek. I will repay the club s faith in me by giving my everything in every training session and every game, Belotti said. It should buy Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic time to ward off potential suitors although Belotti s stock is sure to rise if he produces another trademark performance against a Juve side that has shown chinks in its armour of late. Juventus make the short trip to the Stadio Olimpico with a fourpoint lead on both Roma and AC Milan although the cushion would have been more comfortable had the champions not suffered a stunning 3-1 defeat to Genoa a fortnight ago. Massimiliano Allegri s men have made amends, a 3-1 home win over Atalanta preceding a 2-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb in midweek that secured top spot in Group H and a place in the last 16. But injuries and stuttering form continue to compound Juve s chances of pulling away from the chasing pack. Remarkably, the Old Lady were without the three-man BBC defence of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini on Wednesday. While Barzagli and Bonucci are out till the New Year, Chiellini is expected to return tomorrow to marshall a makeshift defence that will be under the orders of captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was rested against Zagreb and will make a resturn tomorrow. FIXTURES (GMT) Crotone v Pescara (1700), Sampdoria v Lazio (1945) Cagliari v Napoli (1130), Atalanta v Udinese (1400), Bologna v Empoli (1400), Palermo v Chievo (1400), Torino v Juventus (1400), Inter Milan v Genoa (1945) Monday Fiorentina v Sassuolo (1800), Roma v AC Milan (2000)

4 4 Gulf Times FOOTBALL LA LIGA Real eye record back where it all BUNDESLIGA Top meets bottom as Leipzig head to winless Ingolstadt began for Zidane Deportivo s last visit to Real was Zidane s first match in charge back in January and the 5-0 thrashing of the Galicians was a sign of things to come in a dream debut year Real Madrid s French coach Zinedine Zidane takes part in a training session at Valdebebas training ground in Madrid yesterday. Madrid Real Madrid can set a club record by extending their unbeaten run to 35 games when Deportivo la Coruna visit the Santiago Bernabeu today. Deportivo s last visit to Real was Zinedine Zidane s first match in charge back in January and the 5-0 thrashing of the Galicians was a sign of things to come in a dream debut year for the Frenchman as a senior coach. Madrid haven t tasted defeat since April, winning the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and opening up a six-point La Liga lead over Barcelona in the process. You have to congratulate the players, insisted Zidane humbly after Madrid had to settle for qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League in second place behind Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. They are the ones that are on the pitch, that have to fight and run. Los Blancos will be looking for the perfect end to their La Liga campaign for LIGUE as they head for the Club World Cup in Japan on Sunday. However, Deportivo have also been buoyed by a surprise 5-1 romp over highflying Real Sociedad on Monday to register a first league win since early October and move out of the relegation zone in the process. I am always optimistic and I am going there with the hope of getting something from the game, said Deportivo boss Gaizka Garitano. We are in the more desperate situation and we are not going to the Bernabeu just to make up the numbers. Madrid are at full strength bar the absence of Gareth Bale. Toni Kroos and Alvaro Morata made their return from injury in the 2-2 with Dortmund in midweek and are likely to feature once more, whilst Mateo Kovacic could be recalled after being rested on Wednesday. INIESTA STYLE Barcelona can cut the gap to three points before Madrid kick-off with victory at rock bottom Osasuna earlier today. After the blow of conceding a last minute equaliser to Madrid in last weekend s El Clasico, Barca got back to winning ways with a morale boosting 4-0 thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach on Tuesday. Crucially the returning Andres Iniesta has starred in his first two appearances after a six-week injury layoff over the past week. With their captain restored, the Catalans looked like the Barca of old by registering a competition record 993 passes against the Germans in midweek. The most important thing is that the team continues to believe in what it does and how it does it, said Iniesta. I am convinced we will get to the final months of the season in the hunt for all the trophies. Neymar is suspended so Arda Turan is expected to start alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in attack after netting a hat-trick against Moenchengladbach. Sevilla were the one Spanish side not assured of their place in the Champions League last 16 before this week, but ground out a 0-0 draw at Lyon to progress. However, struggles on the road have been a common theme for Jorge Sampaoli s men as despite lying third in La Liga, seven points adrift of Real, they have won just four of their 12 away games this season. The Europa League holders will be keen to make amends for a shock 2-1 defeat at Granada last weekend and maintain a two-point lead over Atletico Madrid when they travel to Celta Vigo tomorrow. Atletico aren t in action until Monday when they visit sixth-placed Villarreal in a crucial clash in the fight to qualify for next season s Champions League. FIXTURES (GMT) Osasuna v Barcelona (1200), Real Sociedad v Valencia (1515), Las Palmas v Leganes (1730), Real Madrid v Deportivo la Coruna (1945) Eibar v Alaves (1100), Celta Vigo v Sevilla (1515), Espanyol v Sporting Gijon (1730), Real Betis v Athletic Bilbao (1945) Monday Villarreal v Atletico Madrid (1945) Pressure on PSG coach Emery Paris Unai Emery is once again a coach under pressure as his Paris Saint- Germain side prepare to face Nice tomorrow looking to close the gap on the surprise Ligue 1 leaders. A 12-game unbeaten run had appeared the perfect response to early-season criticism of Emery at PSG, but in the last week the Spaniard has seen his side humbled 3-0 by Montpellier and then left to scramble a 2-2 draw with Ludogorets in the Champions League. After two such worrying performances, it is debatable whether Emery could even survive a defeat at home to Nice, which would leave the defending champions seven points adrift of the southern upstarts with the season s halfway stage approaching. It is a difficult spell, but we will show a reaction on Sunday in what is a huge match for us, Paris Saint-Germain s Spanish headcoach Unai Emery. insisted midfielder Blaise Matuidi, just about the only PSG player deserving of pass marks against Ludogorets. PSG needed a late Angel di Maria equaliser to avoid defeat at home to the Bulgarians after a lacklustre display but the result meant they finished second in Champions League Group A to Arsenal. This disappointment must give us the desire to lift our hands and show a different face in the last 16. We must improve, and that starts on Sunday against Nice, said Emery in his still stumbling French. PSG have Adrien Rabiot and Javier Pastore on the sidelines while Di Maria is in wretched form, so they may look to Hatem Ben Arfa for creative inspiration against the club for whom he starred last season. Without him, the side from the Cote d Azur with a reported budget less than a tenth of PSG s have gone from strength to strength this season under Lucien Favre and they have topped the table since mid- September. They have only lost once in the league all season and impressed in beating Toulouse 3-0 last weekend to hold a threepoint lead over Monaco and a four-point advantage over the capital giants. BALOTELLI BACK? Mario Balotelli is in line to feature after making his comeback from a month on the sidelines with a calf injury in Thursday s Europa League meeting with Russian outfit Krasnodar. Monaco travel to Bordeaux today knowing a win would take them provisionally top of the table, above Nice on goal difference. Leonardo Jardim s prolific side are still running at an average of more than three goals per game and were able to rest key players for Wednesday s Champions League defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in Germany having already qualified for the last 16 as group winners. They are targeting the symbolic title of topping the table at the year s end and striker Valere Germain said: It would be nice to be autumn champions and we will give everything in the final matches of the year to do that. Lyon will aim to bounce back from the disappointment of being eliminated from the Champions League after failing to get the better of Sevilla as they host Rennes. FIXTURES (1900 GMT unless stated) Bordeaux v Monaco (1600 GMT), Bastia v Metz, Lille v Montpellier, Nancy v Angers, Nantes v Caen, Toulouse v Lorient Lyon v Rennes (1400 GMT), Saint-Etienne v Guingamp (1600 GMT), Paris Saint-Germain v Nice (1945 GMT) This file photo shows RB Leipzig s Director of Sports, Ralf Rangnick. Berlin Bottom faces top today when basement dwellers Ingolstadt host unbeaten Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig, who are chasing an eight straight win to keep Bayern Munich off the top. RB Leipzig s coach Ralph Hassenhuettl returns to Ingolstadt, who he left in May having taken them from the bottom of the second division to Germany s top flight in his three seasons. Ingolstadt, who have slipped down to 18th in the table after their 2-1 defeat at Werder Bremen, have yet to win a match at home this season. Leipzig, meanwhile, have the best away record in the Bundesliga with five wins and two draws. RB are the surprise package this season and have now been top of the table since Bayern s 1-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund a fortnight ago. Timo Werner, the club s top scorer with eight goals, has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons this week. After being awarded a penalty just 19 seconds into last Saturday s 2-1 win at home to Schalke, replays showed Werner dived. Second-placed Bayern Munich host VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday in a repeat of the match which broke four Bundesliga records last season when Robert Lewandowski scored five goals in nine minutes. Bayern s Germany forward Thomas Mueller is without a Bundesliga goal is his 12 games so far, while Lewandowski has been regularly hitting the net. The Poland hot-shot netted twice in last Friday s 3-1 win at Mainz before drilling in the winning goal in Tuesday s 1-0 home win against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. Wolfsburg are struggling with just two wins this season to leave them just two points from the relegation zone and their Germany forwards Julian Draxler and Mario Gomez have failed to gel. They have picked up just four league points since Valerien Ismael replaced Dieter Hecking as head coach in October. Cologne host a Borussia Dortmund side buoyed by their 4-1 romp at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach last Saturday and Wednesday s 2-2 draw at Real Madrid. Both Cologne and Dortmund are just outside the Bundesliga s top five. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted twice to leave him as the league s top scorer with 15 goals so far, while Cologne crashed to a 4-0 drubbing at Hoffenheim last weekend. The match pits the league s top strikers against each other with Anthony Modeste having hit 12 goals in 13 league games. Both Aubameyang and Marco Reus are in form as the pair both scored at Real. Andre Schubert is in danger of becoming the sixth Bundesliga coach fired this season and his Borussia Moenchengladbach badly need a win at Mainz on Sunday. FIXTURES (1430 GMT unless stated) Bayern v Wolfsburg, Cologne v Borussia Dortmund, Hamburg v Augsburg, Ingolstadt v RB Leipzig, Freiburg v Darmstadt, Hertha Berlin v Werder Bremen (1730) Borussia Moenchengladbach v Mainz, Schalke v Bayer Leverkusen (1630) SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP No need to be top player to be a good coach: Warburton Glasgow Rangers manager Mark Warburton says you don t need significant playing experience to make it in management. The 54-year-old Englishman, who had a career outside football as a city trader before spending the money he earned to travel round Europe to learn about coaching, was speaking about the appointment of former Newcastle United assistant coach Ian Cathro as Hearts manager ahead of their visit to Ibrox today. The 30-year-old, who never played professional football, became the youngest manager in Scottish top flight history when he replaced Robbie Neilson. And Warburton, whose own playing experience was limited to non-league football after failing to make the grade at Leicester, said Cathro deserved a chance to prove himself after four years as assistant manager at Portuguese side Rio Ave, Spanish outfit Valencia and Newcastle. I m delighted to see the appointment. I think it s brave on his part and a brave call by Hearts, the Rangers manager, whose side were defeated 2-0 by Hearts last week, said. I think it is brave in the right way and all credit to Hearts for giving him his chance. He s a young coach but he s very knowledgeable and demonstrated that to a number of people in the game. He s got a lot of confidence to come and do this job and I m sure a lot of ability too. I m pleased to see him get his chance and I ll wish him well but only after this weekend. Warburton, whose side trail bitter rivals Celtic by eight points at the top of the Scottish Premiership having played three games more, insists his side are still a draw for star players despite the club s ill-fated signing of the fiery Joey Barton. The English midfielder was Warburton s marquee signing in the summer as Rangers prepared for their return to the top flight. However, the much-travelled Barton managed just eight games before his outspoken nature saw his contract terminated by the club following a bust-up with management and teammates in the wake of their 5-1 derby thrashing by Celtic. Despite the controversy, Barton claimed this week in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live he wouldn t hesitate to make the move to Ibrox again if faced with the same opportunity in the future. Warburton said other top players would not be put off making a similar switch. It s a big club. It s not about Joey or myself, Rangers is a magnificent club, a fantastic football institution. s Fixtures (1500GMT unless otherwise stated) Aberdeen v St Johnstone, Dundee v Ross County, Inverness CT v Hamilton, Motherwell v Kilmarnock, Rangers v Hearts

5 Gulf Times SPORT 5 NHL Boston Bruins go down to Colorado Avalanche By Steve Conroy Boston Herald (TNS) So maybe spotting the opposition a three-goal lead isn t a recipe for success. A night after coming back from a three-goal deficit to salvage what felt like a very good point in Washington, the Bruins were just as hospitable to the Colorado Avalanche. But this time the Bs would only have a loss to the NHL s worst team to show for it. David Pastrnak reaffirmed his status as a special player with two terrific goals, but that was all the Bs could muster as they had their six-game point streak snapped with a 4-2 loss to the Avs. The Avalanche, who were waiting in Boston while the Bs played in Washington on Wednesday, halted an skid. A slow start is expected on the second of back-to-back games, but it doesn t excuse the wounds the Bs inflicted on themselves early on. Until you can find your legs you ve got to be smart, and we weren t, said coach Claude Julien. We gave up some soft goals and dug ourselves a hole that was certainly hard to come back from tonight. They looked like a well-rested team, they had a lot of energy. They re a team that hadn t won in a while and you could tell that they were tired of losing. They came out ready to play tonight. Goalie Anton Khudobin (four goals on 22 shots) was not sharp, nor was the Bs struggling power play. The Bs were 0-for-2 on the man advantage and allowed a shorthanded goal that put them firmly in chase mode for the night. The Avs got on the board in a 4-on-4 situation when Matt Duchene was given Patrice Bergeron (right) of Boston Bruins battles for the puck with Fedor Tyutin of the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of their NHL game in Boston. () time and space to walk through the slot and beat Khudobin to the glove side. The game was still manageable when Fedor Tyutin was called for slashing at 12:57 to give the Bs their second power play. The first unit has not scored now in six games and the desperation was showing, but it did not manifest itself in a good way. Torey Krug dove to keep a puck in at the blue line, which he did. The only problem was that he slid past the puck, leaving it on a tee for a Nathan MacKinnon breakaway goal. I thought they were tired and if I could keep it in, we could keep them hemmed in and keep them running around, said Krug. At the end of the day it s a play... I probably won t do that anymore. Sometimes you ve got to go through those things to learn. It was one of those things I thought instinctively I could get there and keep them hemmed in. You could even tell, when he went in on the breakaway he was tired. If I keep that in, hopefully we get a couple chances. But we ve got to be better. It s some of our better players on our team and we ve got to take the onus on ourselves to start capitalizing on our opportunities and changing the game for our team. Following the script from the previous night, the Bs then allowed a bad goal early in the second. Brandon Carlo was simply trying to get the puck deep outside the offensive blue line, but he hammered it into John Mitchell s shin pads, and the Colorado forward took off on an odd-man rush. Khudobin lost his angle and gave up a bad shortside goal to make it 3-0. It looked like the Bs might come back from this deficit, too, when Pastrnak unleashed his own brand of lightning with two goals in 1:20. First, he scored after stepping out of the penalty box and taking a great indirect pass from Tim Schaller off the boards. He put a move on goalie Calvin Pickard, who made a strong initial save, but Pastrnak stayed right on top of the play to put home the rebound. Then off a faceoff win, Brad Marchand found him in the high slot, from where Pastrnak lasered a one-timer past Pickard for his league-leading 18th goal. But after the Bs put on some pressure to get the equalizer, the Avs ended the B s momentum two seconds after a Kevan Miller penalty was up. Khudobin stopped a Francois Beauchemin shot, but the rebound went to Mikhail Grigorenko, who deftly fed Carl Soderberg for a nice backdoor goal. That was the killer. The Bs had some chances in the third, but the Avs seemed determined to end their streak as they threw their bodies in front of pucks to snuff out scoring chances and the Bs point streak. Definitely, we have to get better, said Pastrnak. The last two games we kind of slept in the first period and those games can happen, obviously, but we have to learn from them. It can t happen again. Results Carolina 3...LOS ANGELES 1 Calgary 2...ARIZONA 1 DALLAS 5...Nashville 2 NY Rangers 2...WINNIPEG 1 MONTREAL 5...New Jersey 2 Vancouver 5...TAMPA BAY 1 Pittsburgh 5...FLORIDA 1 Colorado 4...BOSTON 2 NY ISLANDERS 3...St. Louis 2 PHILADELPHIA 6...Edmonton 5 (Home team in CAPS) NBA Bulls inflict first road loss of season on Spurs The guys get a lot of money to get ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It is your job. If you are a plumber and you don t do your job, then you don t get any work. If you are a doctor and you botch operations you are not a doctor anymore. If you are a basketball player you come ready Chicago The San Antonio Spurs suffered their first road loss of the season on Thursday, as the Chicago Bulls led wire-to-wire en route to a victory that snapped a three-game skid. The Spurs needed just one more road win to tie the NBA record of 14 straight road victories to start a season, set by the Golden State Warriors last season. But they failed to fire against a struggling team and coach Gregg Popovich was livid that they couldn t deliver in front of a crowd of 21,400 at United Center arena. I don t remember playing tonight. The guys get a lot of money to get ready to play, said Popovich of the Spurs. No Knute Rockne speeches. It is your job. If you are a plumber and you don t do your job, then you don t get any work. If you are a doctor and you botch operations you are not a doctor anymore. If you are a basketball player you come ready. Veteran Dwayne Wade, who left Miami in the offseason to return home to Chicago after the Heat gave up on him, led the Bulls with 19 points. Rajon Rondo finished an assist short of a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Jimmy Butler, who d scored at least 20 points in his previous 15 games, added 13 all in the second half. Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez each had 12 for the Bulls, who led by as much as 18 points in the third quarter and fended off strong San Antonio comeback attempt in the fourth. We needed a win, said Wade. When you re out there playing, you re not thinking about how this team s on a roll on the road. You re just thinking about getting the win. That s a very good team, of course, but tonight was about us finding a way to get a win here at home. Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs and all scorers with 24 points, Patty Mills added 16 points and Pau Gasol had a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in his return to Chicago after leaving via free agency in the offseason. Because of our talent and quality of play, we are able to make up ground. Tonight we were down (18) and were able to make up some ground, but in the end it wasn t enough, said Gasol. DeRozan, Lowry spoil Wiggins homecoming party In Toronto, DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and Kyle Lowry tallied 25 points and 11 assists as the Toronto Raptors rallied to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves in Andrew Wiggins homecoming game. Wiggins scored 11 of his 25 points in the first quarter but the Timberwolves were no match for the offensive firepower of the Raptors at home. Wiggins, who was the first overall draft pick in 2014, is from the Toronto area and receives plenty of attention each time he crosses the border to play. Toronto s Jonas Valanciunas added 20 points and 10 rebounds. We just picked it up, DeRozan said. We kicked in our experience of understanding how to win games. We can t underestimate a Chicago Bulls forward Doug McDermott (left) tries to get past San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports) team like that, that plays extremely hard. They jumped out on us and we had to fight back the whole game until the fourth quarter. Zach LaVine scored 29 points and Karl-Anthony Towns recorded 17 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota. The Timberwolves took a onepoint lead into the fourth quarter but consecutive three-pointers by Lowry and Patrick Patterson had the Raptors ahead by 12 points with less than five minutes to play. LaVine hit a three-point shot with 3:06 to play to cut Toronto s lead to seven points but the Raptors march continued. Cory Joseph came off the bench to score 12 points for the Raptors and DeMarre Carroll scored 10. Gorgui Dieng finished with 10 points for Minnesota. Wiggins scored 11 points in the first quarter on five-for-seven shooting to lead the Timberwolves to a lead. The Raptors overcame a nine-point deficit to tie the game with 4:45 left in the quarter. Wiggins led all first-half scorers with 15 points. Lowry led the Raptors with 12 points. DeRozan needs 250 more points to equal forward Chris Bosh as the Raptors all-time leading scorer. Sixers snap road losing streak In New Orleans, Dario Saric scored eight consecutive points in a decisive fourth-quarter charge and Ersan Ilyasova had a team-high 23 points as the Philadelphia 76ers snapped a 23- game road losing streak with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The Sixers entered the game with the NBA s worst record, but they had five players in double figures, comprising Ilyasova, guard Sergio Rodriquez (16), Joel Embiid (14) and Nik Stauskas (14), and Saric with 13. The Pelicans lost their fourth straight game despite Anthony Davis 26 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Langston Galloway also scored in double figures for the Pelicans with 19 points. In Salt Lake City, Stephen Curry scored 26 points and Kevin Durant added 21, including 11 in fourth quarter, to help Golden State hold off a late rally and defeat the Utah Jazz Results CHICAGO San Antonio 91 Golden State UTAH 99 MEMPHIS Portland 86 Philadelphia NEW ORLEANS 88 TORONTO Minnesota 110 WASHINGTON Denver 85 (Home team in CAPS) Australia beefs up integrity unit ahead of first Grand Slam Australia s tennis association has added two full-time investigators to its integrity unit and promised greater prize money at lower-tier events in a bid to thwart betting-related corruption. Tennis Australia (TA) informed yesterday it had implemented a raft of new measures designed to safeguard the integrity of the upcoming summer of tennis, which includes next month s Australian Open, the year s first Grand Slam. The tournament was rocked last year by media allegations that more than a dozen top players were repeatedly flagged over suspicions for throwing matches in the past decade and none had been properly investigated by the Tennis Integrity Unit. The TIU rejected the allegations but subsequently announced a major review into its operations during the second week of the tournament. Tennis Australia s national integrity unit, headed by Ann West, was now staffed with a an information and intelligence officer and a safety and risk manager, both with law enforcement backgrounds, the governing body said in a media release. While top players can earn millions of dollars a year in prize money, lower tier professionals who make significantly less have long been considered vulnerable to corruption, and dozens have been arrested this year in stings around the globe. Australian former professional Nick Lindahl was fined by a Sydney court in April after pleading guilty to matchfixing at a minor domestic tournament. Prize money would also be boosted during the qualifying and early rounds of the Australian Open. TA said there would be increased security vigilance at local events, including tighter restrictions on player and accreditation access, and it would block access to all gambling websites on its public Wi-Fi hotspots. All licensed Australian bookmakers would have to provide mandatory reporting of all suspicious betting alerts, the governing body added. An independent review panel, formed to investigate allegations of corruption in tennis and the effectiveness of existing integrity procedures, is expected to release its findings before the Australian Open, which runs from January Rinaldi named US Fed Cup captain Former world number seven Kathy Rinaldi has been appointed US Fed Cup captain in place of Mary Joe Fernandez, who relinquished the role in October, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) has announced. Rinaldi, 49, takes over an expanded position which will also involve working with Team USA players throughout the WTA Tour season and a much closer liaison with the USTA s player development. Rinaldi won three WTA singles titles and two doubles crowns during a playing career that ended in September In 1981, she became at 14 years, 91 days the youngest player to win a match at Wimbledon, a record that stood until The United States, winners of a record 17 Fed Cup titles, last won the women s team competition in 2000 and were runners-up in IPTL will bounce back, says Bhupathi The International Premier Tennis League will bounce back despite the pulling out of Roger Federer and Serena Williams over money problems and dropping from five tournaments to three, its founder said yesterday. Mahesh Bhupathi, who launched the IPTL in 2014, said he was sure new money was on its way for the innovative tournament, without specifying where it would come from. The IPTL, which features a shortened scoring system, shot-clock, cheerleaders, DJs and franchise-based teams is billed as a refreshing update to the traditional tennis format. But this year s tournament is missing most of the game s top players and this week, the IPTL said superstars Federer and Williams were skipping the Indian leg. Bhupathi has blamed their absence on chaos caused by India s withdrawal of 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes.

6 6 Gulf Times SPORT BOXING Joshua eyes Klitschko prize in Molina bout Chisora punished but bout to go ahead I will make Eric look like a novice. It s a breaking-down job. This is boxing, this is science. It s about being clever, so I m going to go later on in the rounds breaking him down. I m the guy that should beat Klitschko, so I have to make sure I perform like the guy who should beat Klitschko Manchester World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua fights Eric Molina tonight, but all the talk this week has been about who the Briton could fight next. Joshua s second defence of his IBF world crown might not be generating as much excitement and anticipation as his previous fights, but much is on the line. Should he prevail, Joshua will be set to face former world champion Wladimir Klitschko in a 2017 megafight and he must therefore ensure nothing upsets those plans against SWIMMING Montreal Chad le Clos, rebounding from what he considered a disappointing Rio Olympics, won his second gold of the Short Course Swimming World Championships on Thursday with a world recordsetting victory in the 100m butterfly. The South African s time of 48.08sec improved his own world record of 48.44, set at the previous edition of the championships in Doha in Le Clos, denied a 200m fly Olympic repeat in Rio, added another gold to the 200m fly title he captured on Tuesday when the championships kicked off in Windsor, Canada. American Tom Shields was second in and Australian David Morgan claimed bronze in Hungary s one-woman wrecking crew of Katinka Hosszu, a treble gold medallist in Rio, picked up her fourth individual gold of the championships in the 200m backstroke. It was another convincing win for the Iron Lady, who was in control from the 50m mark and steadily built her lead to win in 2:00.79 more than a second in front of runner-up Daryna Zevina of Ukraine (2:02.24). Australian Emily Seebohm took bronze in 2: Hosszu, winner of the 200m butterfly, 100m back and 400m individual medley earlier in the meeting, also topped the semi-final times in the 100m individual medley. American Molina. I will make Eric look like a novice, said Joshua, who has knocked out all 17 of his professional opponents, at a press conference in Manchester. It s a breaking-down job. This is boxing, this is science. It s about being clever, so I m going to go later on in the rounds breaking him down. If I get past Eric, it s only going to get tougher. I m the guy that should beat Klitschko, so I have to make sure I perform like the guy who should beat Klitschko. Klitschko, who reigned for over nine years until he lost on points to Briton Tyson Fury a year ago, will be an interested observer when Joshua gets into the ring at the Manchester Arena. The Ukrainian powerhouse, who turns 41 in March, has been lined up to meet Joshua at Wembley Stadium in on April 29. Molina, 34, is attempting to pull off a big shock and scoffed at Joshua s promise to make him look like a beginner. You have to make me look like a novice, Molina said to Joshua. If you slip up once, you will be dancing. All of Britain will be very surprised. Joshua s not even the best heavyweight in the division. (Deontay) Wilder is the hardest puncher in the division. It is Molina s second world heavyweight title fight, after he gave WBC champion Wilder a scare early on before being knocked out in the ninth round last year. That was the Texan s third professional defeat, but Joshua is respectful of Molina s power, with 19 of his 25 wins being stoppages. He s looking for that one-shot knockout and anyone who is 17 or 18 stone (108 kilogrammes/238 pounds or 114kg/252lbs), that is possible, said the 2012 Olympic gold medallist. He s said he has spotted three or four weakness in me, but I ve seen 10 or 13 weaknesses in him and it s first come, first served. It s first to the punch and I m ready for a 12-round fight because he s dangerous. Joshua, 27, has hardly put a foot wrong in his professional career, aside from one brief moment of concern against compatriot Dillian Whyte a year ago. Molina was drafted in as a replacement opponent for Joshua less than six Anthony Joshua (left) and Eric Molina during the weigh-in ahead of tonight's fight. (Reuters) weeks ago after Klitschko opted to wait until next year to box again. The Mexican-American made an inauspicious start to his career he was knocked out in the first round of his professional debut in 2007 but stopped two-weight world champion Tomasz Adamek in his last fight. Molina has taken a break from his job of teaching disabled children, after attaining a masters degree in special education four years ago, and win or lose against Joshua, he plans on returning to the day job. He s going to have the toughest fight of his career that s a guarantee, Molina said. This is the heavyweight division. What makes it so exciting is that any one punch can change the fight and I bring that to the table. Le Clos breaks 100m fly world record But she wasn t a factor as she capped her night with an eighth-place finish in the 800m freestyle won by American Leah Smith. Smith, the 400m free bronze medallist in Rio, led all the way to head a US one-two in 8: Ashley Twichell was second in 8:11.95 and Australian Kiah Melverton was earned bronze in 8: The 800 free field was missing reigning champion and world recordholder Mireia Belmonte of Spain, who pulled out of the event after a disappointing showing in the 400m medley on Tuesday. Germany s Marco Koch further soothed the disappointment of Rio with a victory in the 200m breaststroke, adding a second gold to the 100m breast title he captured on Wednesday. Koch, the reigning long course world champion who was relegated to seventh in the 200m breast at the Olympics, clocked a championship record of 2:01.21 for a comfortable win over Britain s Andrew Willis (2:02.71) with Russia s Mikhail Dorinov third in 2: Australian Brittany Elmslie, a relay gold medallist in Rio, snatched victory in the women s 100m freestyle, earning her first short course world title in Silver went to 2012 double Olympic sprint gold medallist Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands, who was second in 51.92, while Canadian teenager Penny Oleksiak, who shared 100m free gold with American Simone Manuel in Rio, took bronze in The United States capped the night with a victory in the mixed 4x50m medley relay. Michael Chadwick, swimming the final freestyle leg, hit the water in seventh place but stormed home to complete the victory in 1: The win gave breaststroker Lilly King her third gold of the championships, after an individual triumph in the 50m breast and her swim on America s world record-setting women s 4x50m medley relay. Fiery heavyweight Dereck Chisora has been fined 25,000 ($31,000, 29,600 euros) and received a suspended two-year ban for hurling a table at a press conference to promote tonight s bitter bout with British champion Dillian Whyte. The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) who have withdrawn 32-yearold Zimbabwe-born Chisora s licence before for disciplinary reasons have also deemed the fight will no longer be for the British title. It will, however, still be a WBC world heavyweight title eliminator fight, although the duo will weigh in at different times and not face-off as Wednesday s illtempered press conference is not the first time they have clashed out of the ring. The Board considered the matter with great care and concern, read a statement form the BBBC. Mr Chisora s previous record, which is not good, was considered, as was a letter written to him, his opponent Dillian Whyte, his manager and the promoters by the General Secretary of the Board, dated the 16th November 2016, warning them that they should not misbehave and bring the sport of boxing into disrepute prior to the contest. Having viewed and listened to a recording of what occurred the Board concluded that Mr Chisora s behaviour fell far short of that expected from a licensed boxer. Indeed his behaviour was wholly unacceptable and deserving of punishment. Chisora previously fell foul of the BBBC when they banned him for his behaviour before and after a world title fight with Vitali Klitschko in They withdrew his licence to box after he slapped Klitschko at their weigh-in for the world title bout in Munich and spat water in the face of his opponent s brother, Wladimir. Chisora subsequently brawled with former world heavyweight champion David Haye at the post-bout press conference after they exchanged insults. Chisora and Whyte s unappetising promotion for the bout which is on the undercard of Anthony Joshua s world heavyweight title defence against Eric Molina in Manchester comes a week after Haye threw a punch at fellow Briton and WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew in a press conference to promote their fight next March. Crawford looks to end year on a high Los Angeles: Terence Crawford puts his World Boxing Organization and World Boxing Association super lightweight titles on the line in Omaha, Nebraska, tonight against big-punching John Molina, who showed his mettle in June in an upset win over Ruslan Provodnikov. Unbeaten Crawford, the Boxing Writers Association of America fighter of the year in 2014, has two victories already on his resume in 2016, taking his record to 29-0 (20 knockouts) with a fifth-round technical knockout of Henry Lundy in February and a unanimous decision over Viktor Postol in Las Vegas in July. The 29-year-old will be a heavy favorite in front of his hometown fans against 33-year-old Molina, despite the Californian s impressive win over former titlist Provodnikov that took his record to 29-6 with 23 knockouts. You ve got to be careful with the type of guys that throw wild punches and come in with their head, Crawford said. He s a strong puncher. He s upset a lot of people and he s hurt a lot of people. Nevertheless, Crawford is already envisioning a victory that he believes should earn him another fighter of the year nod. I did a number on Hank Lundy, the kind that nobody else was able to do, Crawford said. I unified the title against Postol, a guy everybody said was almost as good as I was. I am an undefeated champion and was fighting a guy (Postol) coming off a knockout win against (Lucas) Matthysse and I totally dominated him. Now I m fighting another guy coming off an impressive win, a number one contender, and a win over him should convince people that I am fighter of the year.

7 Gulf Times SPORT 7 FOCUS Resurgent Willett makes charge at GOLF / DUBAI LADIES MASTERS Birdie blitz lifts Johnson to Dubai lead Hong Kong Open Cabrera Bello shoots sparkling 65 to extend his lead to three strokes Hong Kong Masters champion Danny Willett rediscovered his magic touch as he shot four-under-par 66 to lie hot on the trail of Rafa Cabrera Bello at the Hong Kong Open yesterday. As injury-hampered defending champion Justin Rose and Ian Poulter left fuming after a late quadruple bogey flirted with the cut, Willett finally located the form that has eluded him for months. The 29-year-Englishman has slumped since winning his first major title in April, dropping out of the world s top 10, and he was delighted to lie joint third after round two. It s nice to be in this position after the last few months, said Willett, who skipped the BMW Masters and last month s World Cup to rest a bad back. I came out here probably as fresh as I ve been for a month and a half, he said. It s probably showed mentally more than anything. However, Willett remains five adrift of Ryder Cup team-mate Cabrera Bello, who shot a sparkling 65 at par-70 Fanling to lie 11-under and extend his lead to three strokes. While Willett hasn t tasted victory since the Masters in April, Cabrera Bello s winless streak stretches all the way back to the Dubai Desert Masters in I know I will win again. I ve won before, said the Spaniard, 32. I don t think I m doing anything wrong not to get the win, so it will happen. Hopefully it will happen in two days time. It wasn t such a good day for Poulter, who snarled at a cameraman during his mini-collapse as he quadruplebogeyed 15 and bogeyed 18 to card 72 and survive the cut by a stroke. Rose, the biggest draw at the $2mn tournament and struggling with a bad back, was also worried about missing the cut until he rolled in birdies on holes three, seven and eight to score one-under 69. The Olympic champion said he was moving more freely on day two but after a number of missed putts, the tournament is slipping out of reach. I set myself a mini-goal of finishing the day three under which I felt would keep me in touch, he said. It s going to require a couple of low ones now, he said. LEADING SECOND ROUND SCORES 129: Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) : Sam Brazel (AUS) : Danny Willett (ENG) 68-66, Paul Peterson (USA) 66-68, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 66-68, Justin Walters (RSA) : Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 67-68, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 69-66, Danny Chia (MAS) 69-66, Steve Lewton (ENG) : Carlos Pigem (ESP) 68-68, Peter Uihlein (USA) 66-70, Daniel Im (USA) 69-67, Benjamin Hebert (FRA) 66-70, Jason Scrivener (AUS) 67-69, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 69-67, David Lipsky (USA) England s Danny Willett putts during round two of the UBS Hong Kong Open yesterday. () Chinese teenager Dou Zecheng sets sights on PGA Tour Hong Kong eenage Chinese golfer Dou Zecheng set his sights yes- on becoming the first Tterday mainland player to win a PGA Tour card as he shrugged off a disappointing debut at the Hong Kong Open. The 19-year-old crashed out of the event after failing to make the cut but he was looking to the future and a season playing in the United States on the Web.com Tour. He won the chance after an outstanding season in the PGA Tour China Series designed to put players on the road to securing American playing rights where he was named Player of the Year and Order of Merit winner after four tournament wins. It s definitely great they had the PGA Tour China Series in China, which did bring a lot of foreign guys to play, he told. He singled out US golfer Charlie Saxon, who finished second in the PGA Tour China Series Order of Merit, as someone he had enjoyed competing against. He hits it long and straight, which you wouldn t see so much from Chinese players, said Dou. The teenager, who only got his driving licence two days after winning the PGA Tour China Series when he returned home to Henan province, has played with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson at the Shenzhen International in April. Dou said he was impressed with the top players mental strength. When they make a bogey they come back with five birdies, and that s what we need to learn, he said. Dou is following in the footsteps of Chinese golf sensation Li Haotong, who also won the PGA Tour China Series Player of the Year honours in He said players such as Li represented the next generation of Chinese golfers, but added he was determined to keep his feet on the ground. I wouldn t say I m Chinese so I m special you ve still got to play good on the PGA Tour, he said. And he was under no illusions of the difficulties he will face settling into his new life in the US, where he will be based either in Las Vegas or Houston. It s really hard for players from China, they ve got to travel and spend time in a different country, Dou said. And there are not a lot of (Chinese players) to talk to over there, which makes you a little bit lonely. But he remains determined and said golfers such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were players who would inspire him in his career. They re players who make golf different, he said. Dubai A sensational round of eightunder par 64 lifted England s Felicity Johnson to a two-shot lead yesterday heading into the final round of the tragedy-hit Dubai Ladies Masters. Play was suspended early Wednesday in the season-ending championship of the Ladies European Tour following the death of caddie Max Zechmann on the course, and the tournament has been reduced to 54 holes. Johnson, who started the day tied for 47th place after her one-over par 73 on Thursday, was bogey-free in a second round that contained eight birdies. Overnight leader Florentyna Parker, could only finish on even-par 72 after mixing three birdies with three bogeys, but the Englishwoman slipped only one position to second at five-under par. India s Aditi Ashok, continued her hot streak as the 18-year-old moved into contention for a third straight title with a second successive two-under par 70. She was tied third at four-under alongside Denmark s Emily Kristine Pedersen (71). It was a beautiful morning out there. Obviously the bacon tomato sandwich I had for breakfast worked this morning. It was a great day for golf, said Johnson, 29, a two-time winner on the LET, who started with four birdies in her first five holes. I hit a lot of really close iron shots. I holed out really well with my putts but I had probably seven birdie putts within four feet, so that always makes the game a little bit easier. All the ones I hit close, I converted, so just 24 putts. Hitting a lot of good iron shots, you re going to have a good score. Parker fourth in the Order of Merit but without a win this year insisted she could snatch victory on Saturday. The only thing I haven t done this year is win and that s all I m going to do tomorrow. And I m just going to go for it, she warned. Ashok, who made four birdies in five holes in the middle of her round, has won the last two individual LET tournaments, including her home Open. Obviously I didn t play as well on the par 5s as I thought I would. It s not great, but it was still two-under, so it s not bad. I m happy, she added. LEADING SECOND-ROUND SCORES 137: Felicity Johnson (ENG) : Florentyna Parker (ENG) : Aditi Ashok (IND) 70-70, Emily Kristine Pedersen (DEN) : Angel Yin (USA) 71-70, Ashleigh Simon (RSA) 69-72, Laura Jansone (LAT) 69-72, Cheyenne Woods (USA) 68-73, Georgia Hall (ENG) 71-70, Lynn Carlsson (SWE) 71-70, Linda Wessberg (SWE) 70-71, Jade Schaeffer (FRA) : Shanshan Feng (CHN) 72-70, Klara Spilkova (CZE) 71-71, Thidapa Suwannapura (THA) 71-71, Isabelle Boineau (FRA) 71-71, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG) 71-71, Kylie Walker (SCO) 70-72, Amelia Lewis (USA) 70-72, Gwladys Nocera (FRA) 70-72, Leticia Ras-Anderica (GER) 70-72, Nontaya Srisawang (THA) 72-70, 143: Lina Bloqvist (DEN) 73-70, Stacey Keating (AUS) 72-71, Charley Hull (ENG) 72-71, Belen Mozo (ESP) 72-71, Carly Booth (SCO) 72-71, Kelsey McDonald (SCO) 72-71, Emma Cabrera-Bello (ESP) 71-72, Isi Gabsa (GER) 71-72, Anne van Dam (NED) 69-74, 144: Camilla Lennarth (SWE) 73-71, Nanna Koertz Madsen (DEN) 73-71, Pornanong Phatlum (THA) 72-72, Noemi Jimenez Martin (ESP) 71-73, Nuria Iturrios (ESP) 69-75, Sophie Giquel-Bettan (FRA) th Qatar National Purebred Arabian Horse Show Florentyna Parker of England plays a shot during the third round of the Dubai Ladies Masters at the Emirates Golf Club yesterday. () Theeb Al Shaqab representative Sheikh Hamad bin Ali al-thani receives the trophy after the colt finished second in Class 2 for Colt Foals at the 19th Qatar National Purebred Arabian Horse Show at the Al Shaqab Arena yesterday. PICTURE: Juhaim SPOTLIGHT Kelly-Stricker lead Templeton Shootout Miami Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker got off to a rousing start at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, firing an opening round 16-under 56 for a one-stroke lead in Naples, Florida, on Thursday. The former winners of the event have a slight lead over fellow Americans Harris English and Matt Kuchar at the Tiburon Golf Club course. Kelly and Stricker combined to shoot one eagle, 14 birdies and three pars in the first round scramble format as they finished just one stroke shy of matching the event s 18 hole scoring record which has been set four times. The teams will play modified alternate shot Friday and close with better ball on Saturday. Kelly and Stricker are playing together for the record eighth time. They won in 2009, and Kelly also won with Rod Pampling ten years ago. Harris and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Kuchar won in their first start together in 2013 and were runners up the last two years. Charles Howell and South African Rory Sabbatini were third at 59, and defending champions Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner shot a 60 with Kevin Chappell-Kevin Kisner and England s Luke Donald-Russell Knox of Scotland. Lexi Thompson, a seven time winner on the LPGA Tour, became just the second woman to compete in the event after Annika Sorenstam in The 21-year-old Thompson played brilliantly, finishing with an eagle on No. 18. She and her playing partner Bryson DeChambeau, 22, were in eighth after a 62.

8 GULF TIMES SPORT TABLE TENNIS / ITTF WORLD TOUR GRAND FINALS Yuling in pole position after Ning pullout; Ma Long cruises through SPOTLIGHT Olympic champions Ning and Long named ITTF stars Yuling makes it to semi-finals after stern test in quarters by Cheng I-Ching By Sahan Bidappa Doha The women s field at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals was thrown wide open after defending champion Ding Ning of China withdrew from the event in Doha yesterday. Ning was scheduled to play Germany s Han Ying in the quarter-finals at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, but the world and Olympic champion was forced to pull out as she suffered from a high temperature. The absence of Ning very much opens up the top half of the draw, with Zhu Yuling, also of China, now the highest ranked player in the tournament. The world No. 4, who is in other half of the draw, yesterday sealed her spot in the semis. The 21-year-old is seeded third in Doha and the Chinese hopes firmly rest on her. Yuling, however, was given a stern test in the quarters by Chinese Taipei s Cheng I-Ching before she won 4-2 (8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7). The No. 6 seed Ching won the first two games but dropped her level, giving Yuling a chance to make a recovery. And the Chinese needed no second initiation as she won four games on the trot to clinch the match. Ching is one of the most improved players on the circuit, having jumped from No.22 to No. 7 in the world rankings. Against Yuling, she unleashed her strong forehand game to take a 2-0 lead but Yuling made some tactical changes to make a comeback. She made many changes after the second game; especially with her service. She served short and I made mistakes. I am pleased with my level but disappointed to lose, said Ching. Yuling on the other hand was relieved to have got through. It was a hard match having to come back from two-nil down. Ching played very well today, the scores were tight and even in the third game, I could only take the game after 10-10, the Chinese said. I think winning the silver medal at the World Cup definitely was a big step in her career; she s more confident on court, more experienced and is able to handle crucial points better. One reason why I lost in the first two games was because I wasn t executing my strategy as planned. After that I was thinking of those points and how I could play those points to my favour, Yuling added. Meanwhile, Han Ying will play the winner of the quarter-final match between Japanese teen Miu Hirano and Hong Kong s Tie Yana, which is scheduled for today afternoon. Yesterday, world No. 11 Hirano, the ninth seed in the tournament upset world No. 6 and fourth seed Feng Tianwei of Singapore in the round of 16. Tianwei made a bright start but eventually lost 3-4 (11-6, 11-4, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 5-11, 4-11) Tianwei was one of the fancied players Zhu Yuling of China beat Chinese Taipei s Cheng I-Ching in the quarter-finals of the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena yesterday. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil Xu Xin (right) and Chen Chien-An in action during their match yesterday. in the tournament, having defeated Ding Ning in the Chinese Super League last weekend. The 30-year-old was expected to make a strong bid for the sport s biggest prize but fizzled out against Hirano in the last two games. Tianwei, the 2010 champion, had come out firing in her match against the Japanese teenager, claiming the first two games 11-6, But the 16-year-old proved to be no walkover, as she clawed back to win the next two games 11-9, While Tianwei looked ready to claim victory after winning the fifth game (11-7), the veteran player could not fend off the challenge from her plucky young opponent, as Hirano turned on the heat to level the score at 3-3 before winning the seventh and final game With her victory over three-time Olympic medallist Feng in Doha, Hirano looks set to cement her reputation as a player to watch out for in the future. In the last quarter-final today, Yang Haeun of South Korea will take on Japan s Kasumi Ishikawa. Meanwhile, men s defending champion Ma Long cruised into the semis yesterday. The Chinese was in supreme form as he dispatched Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong 4-0 (11-4, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5). The World No. 1 Ma Long, also the Olympic champion in Rio, hardly put a foot wrong not even giving Chun Ting a sniff. Up next for Ma Long in the semifinal today is Jung Young-sik of Korea. In the last eight, Young-sik beat Chuang Chih- Yuan of Chinese Taipei 4-2 (11-13, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10, 11-1). The other two spots in the semis will be decided today, when Xu Xin of China takes on Japan s Yuto Muramatsu, while Germany s Dimitrij Ovtcharov meets Fan Zhendong of China. Earlier, the No.8 seed Ovcharov had beaten Hong Kong s Tang Peng, the No.14 seed, in five games (11-9, 11-5, 13-15, 14-12, 11-6) to reserve his place in the quarter-finals. The second seed Zhendong accounted for Japan s Koki Niwa, the No.15 seed 4-1 (11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4) and Xu Xin, the No.3 seed, defeated 11th seeded Chinese Taipei s Chen Chien-An 4-0 (11-8, 11-11, 11-6, 11-8). Awardees take a selfie at the ITTF Star Awards in Doha on Thursday. By Sports Reporter Doha Rio Olympic champions Ding Ning and Ma Long of China were named female and male Table Tennis Stars respectively at the ITTF Star Awards, held in Doha on Thursday night. The award show was held on the sidelines of the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, which began at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena on Thursday. In total, eight awards were handed out to honour the world s best table tennis athletes. Having dominated the international table tennis scene since his victory at the 2015 World Championships, world number one Ma Long was the favourite for the men s award. The Chinese was adjudged as the best in 2015 too and he became first player to receive the title twice in a row. Thanks to the ITTF and the Qatar Organizing Committee for giving me this award. I m very happy and honoured to receive this award in Doha. Thanks to everyone for the recognition of my efforts and results in 2016, said Ma. I hope that through my efforts and those of other members of the table tennis community, we will be able to spread table tennis to more corners of the globe, he added. Ding Ning was the overwhelming choice for the women s award, which was voted for by fellow players and members of the media. Ding was also inducted into the ITTF Hall of Fame together with fellow teammates Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen. Liu Guoliang of China received the Coach of the Year Award for the second time in succession, while his compatriot Liu Jing was named Para Female Athlete of the Year. Jing had claimed her third consecutive Paralympic singles gold in Rio earlier this year. Belgium s 16-year-old Laurens Devos took the Male Para Table Tennis Star award. At the Rio Paralympic Games, Devos secured the Singles Class 9 title. At 16 years, he became the youngest player ever to win gold in a table tennis event at Paralympics. Chinese Fan Zhendong claimed the 2016 Star Point award for his amazing roller shot Ding Ning receives her award. ITTF president Thomas Weikert (right) and Qatar Table Tennis Association president Khalil al-mohannadi cut a cake. when retrieving the ball from below the height of the table at the Japan Open. Miu Hirano of Japan returned home with the Breakthrough Star title. At 16, Hirano became the youngest World Cup champion, and is the first non-chinese ever to take home the trophy. Egypt s Rinad Fathy was the 2016 Fair Play Star for acts of sportsmanship and honesty at the ITTF African Junior Cadet Championships. At 2-2 and in the Cadet Girls Team Final, Fathy gave an edge point to her opponent that neither the umpire nor the assistant umpire saw, which resulted in the loss of her individual game. But Fathy s sportsmanship was rewarded in the end, as Egypt were crowned the eventual champions. BOWLING Agerbo, Kulick win gold in World Singles Jesper Agerbo of Denmark and defending women s champion Kelly Kulick of the United States struck gold in the World Singles Championships which concluded yesterday with the knock-out finals at Qatar Bowling Center in Doha. Along with the gold medal, Agerbo and Kulick received 8,000 and 6,000 dollar bonuses, respectively. Agerbo, a seven-time European champion, flew past 19-year-old Rafiq Ismail of Malaysia, , to seal the victory. PWBA spokesperson Kulick, who won the inaugural World Singles Championships in Cyprus in 2012, defeated 2016 PWBA Rookie of the Year New Hui Fen of Singapore, , to successfully defend her title. In the semi-finals, Agerbo, who won three gold medals at the 2016 European Championships (singles, trios and allevents), eliminated No. 4 seed, Joonas Jahi of Finland, Jahi won two gold medals at the 2016 European Championships (doubles and team) and finished second to Agerbo in all-events. In the other match, Ismail sidelined three-time Asian champion Michael Mak (right) of Hong Kong, Ismail received the silver medal while Mak and Jahi both got a bronze medal. The women s medal round featured three USA vs. Singapore matches. Fourth-seeded New, who won the seasonending Smithfield PWBA Tour Championship for her first career PWBA title and the first major, edged top-seeded world champion Shannon Pluhowsky, , to advance to the title match. Second-seeded Kulick, who made sports history by winning the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions to become the first woman to win a PBA Tour event, eliminated New s teammate and No. 3 seed, Shayna Ng, , in the other semifinal match. New earned the silver medal while Pluhowsky and Ng shared the bronze medal. (BowlingDigital.com) Kelly Kulick of the United States (back row, second from left) won among the women, while New Hui Fen of Singapore finished second, ahead of Shannon Pluhowsky and Shayna Ng, who shared the bronze medal. Jesper Agerbo (right) of Denmark celebrates his win. Kelly Kulick celebrates her win.

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