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Man City beat Chelsea in League Cup

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MANCHESTER:

Manchester City increased the pressure on Graham Potter with a 2-0 win over Chelsea to progress to the last 16 of the League Cup on Wednesday as Arsenal and Tottenham crashed out.

The Gunners were beaten 3-1 at home by Brighton, while Spurs laboured to a 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest despite starting Harry Kane.

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Holders Liverpool also survived a scare as they needed penalties to see off League One Derby after a 0-0 draw at Anfield.

City won the battle of two much-changed sides at the Etihad as two goals in five second-half minutes from Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez put Pep Guardiola’s men through to the next round.

Mahrez curled in a brilliant free-kick from the edge of the box to break the deadlock after a tight first 45 minutes.

Alvarez then made the most of another chance to start ahead of Erling Haaland by tapping in his third goal in as many games at the back post after Mahrez had been denied.

“Julian is an exceptional player,” said Guardiola.

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“Of course he has to fight against maybe the best striker in the world, Erling, but Julian is showing the many things he can do.”

Arsenal are keeping City off the top of the Premier League, but will not be adding their first League Cup since 1993 after Brighton continued their impressive turnaround under Roberto De Zerbi.

Eddie Nketiah’s fine finish put the hosts ahead at the Emirates but a slip from goalkeeper Karl Hein on his Arsenal debut gave Danny Welbeck the chance to level from the penalty spot against his old club.

Kaoru Mitoma’s powerful finish turned the tie around before Tariq Lamptey slotted home 19 minutes from time.

“We are out, it is already done, and now we have to concentrate on the Premier League, which is the priority,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

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England manager Gareth Southgate may have been dismayed by the sight of Kane starting at the City Ground the night before he names his World Cup squad.

The England captain did finally get a rest for the final half-hour, but only as Antonio Conte seemingly threw in the towel with his side 2-0 down.

Renan Lodi cut inside on to his weaker right foot to fire in a brilliant opener early in the second half before Jesse Lingard headed in his first goal for Forest.

Caoimhin Kelleher was Liverpool’s hero as he was for much of last season’s competition as the Reds’ stand-in goalkeeper saved three Derby penalties.

Jurgen Klopp made 11 changes and it showed as a youthful side struggled to make their possession count.

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Roberto Firmino and Darwin Nunez failed to find a winner after being introduced with 25 minutes to go and Firmino rounded off a bad week after being left out of the Brazil World Cup squad by blasting his penalty over the bar in the shootout.

But Kelleher, who scored the winning penalty in last year’s final, made sure Liverpool progressed.

Newcastle also needed penalties to get past Crystal Palace after a 0-0 draw at St James’ Park.

Nick Pope will be in Southgate’s squad for Qatar and showed he can be called on if needed in a shootout by saving three of Palace’s five spot-kicks.

Neither goalkeeper managed to save any of the 20 penalties at the London Stadium as Blackburn dumped out West Ham.

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The tie was level at 2-2 after 90 minutes as Ben Brereton Diaz equalised two minutes from time for Rovers.

Blackburn converted their 10 penalties and were through when West Ham captain for the night Angelo Ogbonna hit the bar.

Boubacar Traore’s strike five minutes from time gave Wolves a 1-0 win over Leeds.

Meanwhile, Southampton edged through on penalties over Sheffield Wednesday after a 1-1 draw in front of Nathan Jones, who is expected to be named the Saints’ new manager on Thursday.





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Uruguay held by South Korea in goalless stalemate

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DOHA:

Uruguay faltered in their World Cup opener against a lively and energetic South Korea after they were held to a 0-0 draw in Group H on Thursday in a contest where both teams struggled to find the clinical edge.

Clear-cut chances were rare for either side at the Education City Stadium and although Uruguay created more goalscoring opportunities, neither team were able to register a shot on target.

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Uruguay captain Diego Godin was denied by the woodwork while South Korea forward Hwang Ui-jo blasted over the bar with the goal at his mercy, leaving both teams to rue missed chances before group rivals Portugal and Ghana meet later on in the day.

Uruguay’s first sight of goal came in the 19th minute through Federico Valverde, who connected with Jose Maria Gimenez’s pass and took a touch before firing a half-volley towards goal, but his ambitious attempt went just over the bar.

The South Americans had begun to find their footing when South Korea, having been patient so far, disrupted their rhythm and launched a counter-attack from a Uruguay corner before the half-hour mark. Son Heung-min picked up the ball on the left flank and cut inside, skipping past two Uruguay defenders before curling a right-footed effort towards goal, but left back Mathias Olivera was able to clear it away. South Korea should have taken the lead in the 34th minute when Moon-hwan Kim fizzed the ball into the penalty area and into the path of Hwang in front of goal, but the forward could not keep his composure and sent it over the crossbar.

The closest Uruguay came to scoring in the first half was just before the break, when centre back Godin rose highest to power a header from Valverde’s corner but it bounced off the left post and away from goal. Gimenez made a crucial tackle to deny Son five minutes after the restart after a flowing move from South Korea, while Jung Woo-young blocked midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur’s powerful strike at the other end. Uruguay saw more of the ball but found few chances to break through the South Korean defence until the closing stages, when Valverde unleashed a thunderbolt in the final minute of regulation time that struck the top of the post.





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World Cup fans in Qatar introduced to Islam

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DOHA:

The Katara Cultural Village Mosque in Qatar’s capital of Doha has become the focus of attention for World Cup fans who want to get to know about Islam.

Multilingual male and female preachers at the mosque explain the religion and tolerance of Islam to tourists.

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Electronic boards about Islam in more than 30 languages at the door are positioned to allow visitors to view them on their phones. And booklets introducing Islam in different languages ​​are distributed to those who want them.

The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Qatar also launched a pavilion to introduce Islam and its teachings during the World Cup 2022.

Also read: Batshuayi fires Belgium to World Cup

World Cup fans encounter hadiths — words, actions or habits of Prophet Muhammad — on the walls of streets, describing the importance of good deeds.

The opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2022 was last Sunday at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

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The tournament’s official mascot, La’eeb, whose name is an Arabic word that means super-skilled player, along with the flags of all 32 participating nations were waving on the field.





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Ronaldo and Brazil enter World Cup fray after Swiss win

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DOHA:

Cristiano Ronaldo will aim to put his painful Manchester United divorce behind him at the World Cup on Thursday as Brazil also make their bow following a win for Switzerland in the early kick-off.

Ronaldo’s preparations for what is likely to be his last World Cup have been overshadowed by his sudden departure from Old Trafford this week after he lambasted the club in a TV interview.

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The Portugal superstar’s form this season has been poor but he is still hoping for a final shot at glory in Qatar after leading his team to the Euro 2016 title.

The 37-year-old, whose club future is uncertain, is aiming to become the first player in history to score at five World Cups.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos said his men were entirely focused on their opening Group H match against Ghana despite the distractions of the media circus surrounding their captain.

“The players are absolutely focused, with a great spirit, convinced about what they have to do, what their objectives are and realistic about the challenges they are facing,” he said.

“Winning a competition of this magnitude is difficult.”

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World Cup favourites Brazil launch their bid for a record-extending sixth global crown against a dangerous Serbia side.

Brazil boast a frightening array of attacking talent including Paris Saint-German forward Neymar and Real Madrid pair Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.

Coach Tite will be wary of his Group G opponents after witnessing shock defeats for Argentina and Germany already in Qatar.

“In my opinion these players (attackers) will help Neymar because they can divide up the responsibility and create space for him,” said veteran Brazil skipper Thiago Silva.

“The atmosphere in the squad is super-healthy,” he added. “The mixture of young players and more experienced ones creates a great connection.”

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Serbia appear a more dangerous proposition than four years ago, when they also faced Brazil in the group stage but lost 2-0 and exited in the first round.

“We are afraid of nobody in the world, not even Brazil,” said Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic, who hopes prolific Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic will be fit for the match at the Lusail Stadium.

Switzerland and Cameroon, also in Brazil’s group, kicked off Thursday’s action in Qatar, with the Swiss winning 1-0 courtesy of a goal from Cameroon-born Breel Embolo.

The forward struck three minutes into the second half at Al Janoub Stadium as Switzerland secured a vital three points.

Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler worked the ball out wide on the right to Xherdan Shaqiri, whose low cross into the area was swept home by an unmarked Embolo, who chose not to celebrate against his birth country.

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“It’s quite special for him because of his links to Cameroon — I’m very happy he’s playing for us,” said Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer. “He’s always right there when you need him.”

Defeat condemned Cameroon to their eighth straight loss at World Cups — a miserable run stretching all the way back to 2002.

Son Heung-min was named in the starting line-up for South Korea’s Group H opener against Uruguay at 1300 GMT even though he was wearing a mask after suffering a fracture around his left eye earlier this month.

Uruguay coach Diego Alonso selected Luis Suarez up front, with fellow veteran Edinson Cavani on the bench.

Germany coach Hansi Flick said no member of his team was safe after their shock 2-1 defeat against Japan on Wednesday.

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The four-time champions, who next face Spain, are facing a nightmare scenario of a second consecutive group-stage exit after their early departure in Russia in 2018.

“You can understand that we are discussing every matter of personnel and every position,” Flick said.





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