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Wednesday,26-January-2022

International

UEFA Champions League: Leipzig clinch 2-1 win over Manchester City

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Leipzig sealed the third place in Group A and booked its berth for the Europa League after goals from Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva helped the ‘Red Bulls’ edge Manchester City 2-1 in the final round of the Champions League’s group stage.

Both sides staged well-positioned defences from the kick-off hence goal-scoring opportunities were at a premium in the opening period on Tuesday night.

Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer and City’s Kevin De Bruyne produced the first half-chances before Jack Grealish pulled wide from a promising position to waste a good chance for the visitors in the 22nd minute.

The hosts showed a clinical chance conversion at the other end of the green, as Laimer’s perfectly-timed through ball was sent to Szoboszlai, who rounded goalkeeper Zackary Steffen before finishing the job into the empty goal with 24 minutes played, Xinhua reports. Leipzig almost doubled its advantage two minutes later, but Steffen was on guard and defused Emil Forsberg’s dangerous effort from 12 meters.

The hosts continued on the front foot and should have extended the lead, but Steffen was equal to Silva’s header in the 39th minute.

Manchester City sparked to life before the half time as Peter Gulacsi had to tip Phil Foden’s hammer to the post before the Leipzig goalkeeper neutralised De Bruyne’s free kick in the closing stages of the first half.

After the restart, City assumed control and dominated possession but for all that the visitors couldn’t do damage to Leipzig’s bulwark.

To make things worse for the visitors, Leipzig doubled its advantage against the flow of the game as Silva benefitted on a counterattack via Forsberg to beat Steffen with a well-placed low shot in the 71st minute.

It was a short-lived joy for the hosts though as the ‘Sky Blues’ halved the deficit after Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross fed Riyad Mahrez, whose diving header caught Gulacsi on the wrong foot in the 77th minute.

City’s comeback hopes suffered a heavy setback in the 83rd minute when Kyle Walker was sent off with a straight red card following a rude foul play on Silva.

The visitors pushed forward despite their numerical disadvantage, but Leipzig’s defence stood firm and secured all three points on home soil.

With the result, Manchester City top Group A with 12 points whereas Leipzig finish on the third spot to continue in the Europa League.

Dortmund crush Besiktas 5-0

A brace each by Marco Reus and Erling Haaland smoothed the way for Borussia Dortmund’s 5-0 victory over Besiktas at the last round of Champions League’s group stage on Tuesday. The “BVB” took the reins from the starting whistle and pressed Besiktas on the back foot.

Dortmund still needed some time to produce goal-scoring opportunities and had to wait until the 17th minute before Jude Bellingham pulled over the target from a promising position.

Besiktas posed no threat and failed to combine its ways through Dortmund’s well-positioned defence.

The hosts eventually broke the deadlock at the half hour mark when Bellingham had a lot of space following a counterattack and teed up for Donyell Malen, who slotted the ball past Besiktas goalie Ersin Destanoglu.

The visitors from Turkey had to swallow two more setbacks before the break as Welinton felled Mahmoud Dahoud inside the box. The defender received his marching orders and caused a penalty.

Reus stepped up and made no mistake to double the advantage from the spot.

Dortmund dominated the one-sided affair and made it three with eight minutes into the second half when Reus danced through Besiktas box before finishing off into the bottom left corner.

Haaland came in for Reus at the hour mark but didn’t need long to get his name on the scoreboards as the Norway international made it 4-0 after nodding home Nico Schulz pinpoint cross into the box in the 68th minute.

Haaland gained momentum and wasn’t done with the scoring as he wrapped up his brace after heading home Dahoud’s corner kick in the 81st minute.

Dortmund’s prolific striker had even the chance to clinch a hat trick but for all that Haaland couldn’t turn his two presentable chances into a tangible reward in the closing stages.

With the result, third-placed Borussia Dortmund will continue to play in the Europa League meanwhile Besiktas end its Champions League season on fourth place in Group C.

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Malinga set to take over as Sri Lanka’s fast bowling consultant: Report

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Lasith-Malinga

Former Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga is set to become the fast bowling consultant coach of the national cricket team after the high-profile Cricket Advisory Committee recommended his name to Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) Executive Committee.

The 38-year-old Malinga, who played for more than a decade for Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians, will oversee the Sri Lankan team’s preparations for the upcoming T20I tour of Australia, where the side will play five matches, a report in the The Island said on Wednesday.

While Malinga is one of the most successful T20 bowlers in the world due to his sling-shot action and is a Sri Lankan icon, his appointment has reportedly not gone down well with several stakeholders of the game in the country.

The report said that while he was adored by millions of fans, “he wasn’t the most likeable person in the dressing room with a host of Sri Lankan captains having concerns about his conduct”.

“It is alleged that Malinga deliberately slowed down the over rate with the intention of suspending the captain, an allegation that SLC has not investigated. Cricket’s playing conditions at one point dictated that slow over rates would result in fines for players and suspension for the captain. Since then, the International Cricket Council has amended the playing conditions and the captain is no longer suspended,” the report added.

Sri Lanka lifted the ICC T20 World Cup in 2014 under Malinga’s captaincy, as he was filling in for the suspended Dinesh Chandimal, but his overall record as skipper is abysmal. He led the country in nine One-day Internationals and all nine ended in losses. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka lost 15 of the 24 T20Is it played.

The report said that the Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising of stalwarts such as Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan among others, had their reservations on endorsing Malinga as fast bowling consultant coach. However, since the recommendation reportedly came from former skipper and consultant coach Mahela Jayawardene, it could not be denied, the report said.

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Afghanistan complete whitewash to grab crucial Cricket World Cup Super League points

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Afghanistan completed a 3-0 series victory over the Netherlands to grab 30 crucial World Cup Super League points, here on Tuesday.

Half-centuries from Najibullah Zadran and debutant Riaz Hassan and a three-wicket haul from another debutant Qais Ahmad helped Afghanistan to a 75-run win, setting up a 3-0 series victory in the ODI series.

After deciding to bat first, Afghanistan were driven by 19-year old opener Riaz on debut. The Netherlands managed to send back the centurion from the last game, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, for 12, but Riaz and Rahmat Shah put on an 86-run partnership to revive the innings.

Once Saqib Zulfiqar broke the partnership by sending back Riaz, the Netherlands managed another wicket soon with Rahmat dismissed in the 33rd over. Najibullah Zadran compiled a fine half-century with aid from the lower middle-order. Najibullah finished on 71 off 59 balls as Afghanistan made 254/5 in their 50 overs.

In reply, the Netherlands made a strong start with Scott Edwards once again leading the charge. Colin Ackermann gave him solid company and the duo thwarted Afghanistan’s new ball plans. Their 50 came up in 10 overs with the openers laying a solid platform.

They carried on in the same vein, putting on 103 for the opening wicket before Afghanistan’s debutant Qais broke the stand with his maiden ODI wicket, that of Edwards, trapped in front by the leg-spinner. Fareed Ahmad sent back skipper Pieter Seelaar for a duck and Afghanistan had the opportunity to put a leash on the chase.

The spinners worked in tandem and soon the Netherlands went from 103/0 to 153/5 with Boris Gorlee, Bas de Leede and the well-set Colin Ackermann, who made 81 off 96 balls, also back in the hut. The tables had turned around at this stage and Afghanistan were right on top in the game. They went on to bowl out the Netherlands for 179 to seal a 75-run victory and secure a series whitewash.

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Australia to tour Pakistan with a full-strength squad, says George Bailey

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Chief selector George Bailey on Tuesday confirmed that no Australian player has asked to be left out of the squad that is set to embark on their first tour of Pakistan since 1999.

Bailey added that the selection will be solely based on managing their workload.

“I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we’ll announce the squad post that, but we’re reasonably well down the track,” Bailey was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s website.

“The two (security) briefings that I’ve sat in on, the security sounds very, very robust.”

The tour is set to start on March 3. It will consist of three Test matches to be played in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore and will be followed by a three-match ODI series from March 29 to April 2. A lone T20I will be played on April 5.

The last time Pakistan had an ICC event on its soil was when it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka. The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 ensured Test cricket remained out of bounds until 2019.

In 2020, before the T20 World Cup, New Zealand and England had pulled out of the tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

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