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Update June 2018


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Update June 29, 2018

Belgium beat England 1-0, move into tougher side of draw

England's Gary Cahill, left, and Belgium's Michy Batshuayi challenge for the ball during the group G match between England and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia, Thursday, June 28. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Rob Harris

Kaliningrad, Russia (AP) — England barely seemed troubled by losing. Belgium appeared to be reluctant winners.

Such was the curious conclusion to the group stage at the World Cup on Thursday. Neither team needed to win and there was good reason for neither to even want to win.

Belgium did collect the three points, beating England 1-0, and secured first place in the group on Adnan Januzaj's curling shot. But that might not turn out to be the desirable outcome since the victory diverted Belgium onto the tougher potential path to the final.

Although Belgium get what appears to be an easier match against Japan in the round of 16, it could get trickier with a victory in Rostov-on-Don on Monday. Brazil, Portugal, France and Argentina are possible future opponents.

"I don't think you can plan the ideal scenario," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. "You have seen big nations coming very close to elimination, or already eliminated."

Thanks to a pair of opening victories for both, England and Belgium entered the Group G match knowing they were already in the second round. Belgium made nine changes and still won. England lost the top spot after dropping Harry Kane, the tournament's leading scorer, and seven others.

England coach Gareth Southgate could barely contain his delight in finding himself on the less challenging side of the draw. His team will face Colombia on Tuesday in Moscow, followed by possible matchups against Spain, Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.

"We don't suffer for (the loss)," Southgate said. "When you are a leader and a manager you have to make decisions that are right for your group and your primary objectives. Sometimes those decisions will be criticized ... but you have to think about the bigger picture."

For Southgate, it was as much about ensuring players like Kane did not pick up injuries in a game that wasn't essential. The leading scorer in Russia with five goals watched the match from the bench. So did Romelu Lukaku, who has scored four for Belgium.

"We don't like to lose, but tonight there were other factors that were more important," Southgate said. "We know our strongest 11, but what's pleasing is that there are guys that have put their hand up tonight to really push for a place."


Colombia advance while Senegal are eliminated by tiebreaker

Senegal goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye, left, fails to stop a goal by Colombia's Yerry Mina, not in picture, during the group H match between Senegal and Colombia, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena in Samara, Russia, Thursday, June 28. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Anne M. Peterson

Samara, Russia (AP) — The "fair play" tiebreaker doesn't seem all that fair to Senegal.

The last African team standing at the World Cup lost to Colombia 1-0 Thursday, leaving them even with Japan on record, goal differential, total goals and head-to-head. The next tiebreaker to determine who would move on as the second-place team in the group — Colombia were first — was a new one: which team accumulated fewer yellow cards. Japan had four, Senegal had six.

Japan lost to Poland 1-0 in the other group match, which was played at the same time. When Japan realized that second place would come down to the yellow-card tiebreaker, the Japanese started stalling.

"I don't know if the regulation is cruel or not, but I can't ask my players to go on the pitch in order to avoid yellow cards," coach Aliou Cisse said. "You have to be in contact with other players when you play football. This is how you play football. It worked against us."

Yerry Mina scored the only goal. The 6-foot-5 Barcelona defender leapt above a pair of Senegalese defenders to head the ball hard off the ground, off Senegal goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye's hand and into the net, sending the enthusiastic Colombian fans at Samara Stadium into a frenzy.

Colombia, who reached the quarterfinals four years ago in Brazil, are the fourth South American team to advance, with only Peru getting eliminated. All five African teams failed to move on.

Colombia will face England on Tuesday in Moscow, while Japan go on to face Belgium in Rostov-on-Don on Monday.

Japan and Senegal drew 2-2 in a back-and-forth match on Sunday. Japan beat Colombia 2-1 to begin the tournament, while Senegal beat Poland by the same score. If FIFA had not added the fair play tiebreaker for this World Cup, the two teams would have had to draw lots to determine which would advance.

"We would have preferred to be eliminated in another way," Cisse said. "But as I say, it's a pity for us, it's a pity for our team. But we knew the regulations."

Many of Senegal's players, including Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, would not speak to reporters following the disappointing loss.

Senegal's Keita Balde was asked afterward if he knew during the game about Poland's goal. He said his Monaco teammate, Colombian star Radamel Falcao, told him, but he didn't get a chance to talk to his Senegalese teammates because he was so focused on the game.

"All of Africa was behind us, all Senegalese as well. And we leave with our head held up high, proud, and ready to give it all whatever comes," Balde said.

This is the first time since 1982 that no African teams have advanced from the first round.


Sung Hyun Park shoots 66 to take KPMG Women's PGA lead

Sung Hyun Park, of South Korea, reads the green on the 18th hole during the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship golf tournament at Kemper Lakes Golf Club near Kildeer, Ill., Thursday, June 28. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Andrew Seligman

Kildeer, Ill. (AP) — Sung Hyun Park sees herself rounding back into form.

Winning a second major sure would be a good way to prove it, and to that end, the 24-year-old South Korean player is off to a good start.

Park shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. The 2017 U.S. Women's Open Champion birdied three of the four par-5 holes at Kemper Lakes in the third of the LPGA Tour's five majors.

Canada's Brooke Henderson, the 2016 KPMG winner and runner-up last year, was a stroke back with Jessica Korda, Jaye Marie Green and Brittany Altomore.

The 24-year-old Park won the weather-shortened LPGA Texas Classic in May, but followed that with three missed cuts and a tie for 61st last week in Arkansas. After a switch in putters, she believes she is rounding back into form.

The long-hitting Park birdied the par-5 15th to reach 5 under and parred the tough final three holes, finishing with a short putt on 18.

"I felt like something little was missing, especially my putting," Park said through an interpreter. "But this week, I (feel) comfortable."

The course favors long hitters not only because of the distances by the soft conditions. The leaderboard reflected that.

"I feel like that was really beneficial," Henderson said. "None of the par-5s I can really get to in two, but there's some long par-4s out here. And having a few shorter clubs than my competitors I feel like is a big advantage, and I can take some bunkers out of play, too, which makes the fairway a lot wider, which is a good thing."

Korda was also glad to be playing on a course like that.

She has five tour victories and her sights set on becoming the second member of her family to capture a major championship. Her father, Petr Korda, won tennis' Australian Open in 1998.

After tying for fourth at the ANA Inspiration this year, Korda missed the cut at the U.S. Women's Open. But she's off to a good start in this one.

"Oh, It was great," said Korda, the winner in Thailand in February in her return from reconstructive jaw surgery. "Finally, a golf course that benefits the long-hitters. The last couple weeks it's definitely been a lot of 3-woods or even 4-irons off the tees, so this is really, really nice."

Korda birdied three of the first six holes and ended her round on a rather strong note. She birdied Nos. 14 and 15 before making pars on the final three holes.

Green closed with a birdie on No. 9.

Michelle Wie shot 71, U.S. Women's Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn had an even-par 72, and top-ranked Inbee Park and defending champion Danielle Kang followed at 73.

Lexi Thompson also shot 72, acing the 166-yard sixth hole with an 8-iron. Brittany Marchand also had a hole-in-one with a 5-iron on the 175-yard No. 17. She shot 71.

The winner last year at Olympia Fields, Kang fought through a stomachache after she couldn't resist the chocolate chip waffles at breakfast. She knew that was a bad idea no matter how good they looked, and it didn't take long for her to start paying for it.

Kang was already starting to feel sick before she teed off. It bothered her throughout the round, and she even threw up after the ninth hole.

"Just that constant contraction, your stomach contracting," said Kang, who was planning to have oatmeal and cereal for breakfast Friday. "When I'm putting and if I contract too much, I smashed one on 10. I go, 'Oops.'"

She felt it in a double bogey on the par-4 16th. The 419-yarder is a nightmare, with water running the entire right side of the fairway before forming a pond in front of the green. There are also two fairway bunkers on the left as well as a deep one by the green. Kang's stomach was acting up as she sent her third shot sailing over the green, just missing the water.

"I was feeling it over it, and then I just tried to hit through it and hit it way too hard," she said.


Pliskova, Edmund and Shapovalov eliminated at Eastbourne

Germany's Mischa Zverev serves to Canada's Denis Shapovalov on day five of the Nature Valley International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, south England, Thursday June 28. (Steven Paston/PA via AP)

Eastbourne, England (AP) — Marco Cecchinato of Italy is the only seeded male player left in the Eastbourne International after Kyle Edmund and Denis Shapovalov were both eliminated in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Second-seeded Edmund lost 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.

Edmund fought back from a break down to take the opening set but was broken by the world No. 90 in the third game of the second set and again in the ninth, following a double fault.

Kukushkin clearly had the momentum and won the first three games of the decider. Edmund's frustration was clear and the British No. 1 had a prolonged argument with umpire Arnaud Gabas over a line call.

Kukushkin will face Mischa Zverev in the semifinals after the German's surprise 6-3, 6-3 victory over third-seeded Shapovalov of Canada.

Cecchinato, who is seeded fourth, will face Lukas Lacko in the other semifinal after beating John Millman of Australia 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Lacko, who knocked out top-seeded Diego Schwartzman in the second round on Wednesday, comfortably dispatched British No. 2 Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-4.

There were also surprises in the women's draw as defending champion Karolina Pliskova was upset by Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

The second-seeded Czech player, who has reached the final in the past two years, lost 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5) in 2 hours, 12 minutes.

It was Sabalenka's first win over a top-10 player.

Sabalenka, who is ranked 45th in the world, fought back from a 4-1 deficit in the deciding set and clinched the match when Pliskova sent a forehand wide.

Sabalenka will face 2008 champion Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals after the Pole eased past fifth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 7-5.

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki survived a scare to beat Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-4, 6-3.

The eighth-seeded Barty broke twice in the second set but Wozniacki broke straight back each time and the Danish player won four successive games to book her semifinal spot, sealing the result when Barty returned into the net.

Wozniacki will play fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber, who prevailed over Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3).

Kerber seemed on her way to a comfortable win as the German powered through the first set in just 19 minutes.

But the seventh-seeded Kasatkina recovered from her terrible start and the Russian pushed Kerber all the way.

Both players appeared to struggle on their serve — with Kasatkina in particular racking up 10 double faults. There were several breaks of serve before Kerber triumphed in little over two hours.


Update June 28, 2018

Defending champions Germany eliminated from World Cup

South Korea's players celebrate after beating Germany 2-0 at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 27. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Samuel Petrequin

Kazan, Russia (AP) — Everyone was waiting for Germany to score another late World Cup-saving goal.

It never came.

Instead, the Germans have become the fourth defending champions in the last five tournaments to be eliminated in the group stage following a 2-0 loss to South Korea on Wednesday.

The four-time champions allowed a pair of injury-time goals while knowing a 1-0 victory would have been enough to advance because of the result in the other group match.

"It's very, very hard to put it into words," said German defender Mats Hummels, a member of the team that won in Brazil four years ago. "We believed until the end today. Even when it was 0-1, I think we kept trying to turn it all around."

Germany ended up last in Group F while Sweden and Mexico advanced to the round of 16. South Korea were also eliminated despite the victory.

It was the first time Germany have been knocked out in the first round since 1938, though the team was not allowed to enter the 1950 tournament.

"It's a dark day for German football," German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.

Even in Yekaterinburg, nearly 500 miles away, the Mexican fans expected Germany to score. They were still in position to advance despite trailing Sweden, but they were waiting — some with tears in their eyes — for Germany to do the inevitable and ruin their chances of moving on.

That's when South Korea stepped up.

Kim Young-gwon scored the first goal in the third minute of injury time, a goal that sent the Koreans cheering in Kazan and the Mexicans delirious in Yekaterinburg. Originally called out for offside, the goal was given after video review.

Son Heung-min made it 2-0 in the sixth minute of stoppage time after Neuer came up the field to help his teammates outside the South Korea box. Son tapped the ball into an empty net after a long pass from Ju Se-jong.

Besides Germany this year, France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014 were the previous defending champions to get eliminated in the group stage.

"We deserved to be eliminated," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "For us, this is a huge disappointment. But we have young players who are talented and have the potential to go forward. It happened to other nations before. We need to draw the right conclusions."

All four teams in the group had a chance to advance in games that were being played simultaneously, but Sweden's 3-0 lead over Mexico put Germany in prime position to move on as well - if the Germans could score against the South Koreans.

That was the problem, for Germany.

Loew had changed his line-up to mix youth with experience, calling back Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil while also fielding Niklas Suele and new Bayern signing Leon Goretzka. Suele made his first World Cup appearance as a replacement for Jerome Boateng.

Germany made a nervous start, playing slower than they usually do to avoid being vulnerable on the break. But the strategy did not bring much success in the first half.

The Germans kept peppering the South Korea box with harmless crosses and it was their opponents that came close to scoring from a set piece in the 19th minute after Neuer failed to control a 25-yard free kick from Jung Woo-young. The German keeper bobbled the ball and needed to swipe the rebound away from the attackers after a spectacular dive.

The Germans continued at the same pedestrian pace after halftime and Ozil had another poor display, with many of his passes misplaced.

Loew brought on substitutes Mario Gomez and Thomas Mueller on either side of the 60-minute mark but his players kept giving the ball away, with most of their attacking combinations lacking precision and speed.

Gomez had a decent header stopped by goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo in the 68th minute and could not properly connect with a low cross from Joshua Kimmich in the 72nd as Germany's hopes vanished.

"We did not deserve to be winning the title once again," Loew said.


Brazil advance to round of 16 at World Cup, top Serbia 2-0

Brazil's Paulinho scores his side's opening goal during the group E match between Serbia and Brazil, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 27. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Frank Griffiths

Moscow (AP) — Worried no more, Brazil are through to the knockout stages at the World Cup.

Paulinho and Thiago Silva scored a goal each Wednesday to give the five-time champions a 2-0 victory over Serbia and first place in their group.

Brazil struggled in their opening two matches, first held to a 1-1 draw and then needing late goals to win the other. But they controlled this one, and it was a big relief to Tite.

"I'm apparently at peace," the Brazil coach said. "I'm still going to have a drink tonight for sure, a caipirinha. I'll allow myself."

Paulinho gave his team the lead when he met a lofted ball from Philippe Coutinho in the 36th minute. The defensive midfielder let the ball bounce in front of him near the penalty spot and kicked his right leg in the air to tap it over the goalkeeper's fingertips.

Silva later scored with a powerful header in the 68th minute from Neymar's corner.

Brazil finished first in Group E and will next face Mexico in the round of 16 on Monday in Samara. Serbia were eliminated, finishing third in the group behind Switzerland.

Both of Brazil's goals came when Serbia threatened to get back into the match.

The Serbs nearly scored in the 61st minute when Brazil goalkeeper Alisson pushed the ball into the path of forward Aleksandar Mitrovic, whose shot bounced off the keeper and was bound for goal before being cleared by Silva.

"In the second half we tried to play with more risk," Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic said. "We had chances to equalize, but we missed our chances and we were punished."

For most of the first half, Brazil couldn't break through Serbia's compact back line. But Paulinho, the player that Tite calls his "secret weapon," lived up to his name by scoring the first goal at Spartak Stadium.

Four years ago, Paulinho was part of the Brazil team humiliated at home in a 7-1 drubbing by Germany in the semifinals. He said he's learned so much since then, leaving Tottenham for a spell in China before joining Barcelona.

"A lot has changed in my life and my career," he said. "I have to be aware of the evolution I have undergone in these last four years. My leaving England for China was good for me, did me well. ... I recovered my self-confidence. I am here because I worked and I deserve it. In four years, I really developed a lot."

Brazil had an early setback when left back Marcelo was substituted in the 10th minute, limping off the field. Filipe Luis, who is playing at his first World Cup after failing to be selected in 2010 and 2014, was brought on to replace him.

The Brazilian soccer confederation later said Marcelo only had a back spasm and was fine.

This was a more assured performance from Brazil compared to their first two group matches. There was patient buildup play and the Brazilians sometimes rested in possession, exchanging short passes in their own half to slow down play.

Brazil needed only a draw to advance, while Serbia needed to stop Neymar and go for the win. The victory was good for first place.

"Not just now, even before the World Cup, Brazil was one of the favorites to win," Krstajic said.

Switzerland also advanced after a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica and will next face Sweden on Tuesday in St. Petersburg.


Maradona 'fine' after being treated by doctor at World Cup

Former Argentina soccer star Diego Maradona gestures to the heavens during the World Cup group D match between Argentina and Nigeria in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 26. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Steve Douglas

St. Petersburg, Russia (AP) — Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona said he is "fine" after being treated by a doctor during his country's victory over Nigeria at the World Cup.

Concerns over the health of one of the sport's most iconic players were revived after he needed help getting out of the stands and into an adjoining luxury box at St. Petersburg Stadium following Tuesday night's game.

Alongside a post on Instagram showing a picture of himself with medical staff, Maradona said: "I want to tell everyone that I am fine."

The 1986 World Cup winner said his neck "hurt a lot" during halftime of the game and that he was "checked by a doctor" who recommended Maradona leave the stadium.

"But I wanted to stay because we were risking it all," Maradona said. "How could I leave?"

Maradona celebrated wildly as Argentina scored a late goal for a 2-1 win to earn a place in the knockout stage. He was seen on television giving a middle-finger salute with both hands when Argentina scored.

Video also showed Maradona with his eyes closed for parts of the game.

Soon after the match, he was photographed smiling at an airport. Another photo posted on Twitter by a Colombian television journalist showed him sitting on a plane.

"I send a kiss to everyone," Maradona said at the end of his Instagram message, "thanks for the support!"


In-form Buttler leads England to T20 win vs Australia

Australia's Ashton Agar looks dejected during the International Twenty20 cricket Match between England and Australia at Edgbaston, Birmingham, England, Wednesday, June 27. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)

Birmingham (AP) — England, boosted by another display of power hitting from Jos Buttler, Alex Hales and Jason Roy, defeated Australia by 28 runs in a one-off Twenty20 at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

Buttler was promoted to opener and continued his excellent form with another belligerent performance, smashing 61 in 30 balls with six 4s and five 6s after the home team had been put into bat on a balmy evening in Birmingham.

He and Roy (44) put Australia on the back foot from the start, compiling 95 for the first wicket from only 8.5 overs. Hales chipped in with 49 while test captain Joe Root made 35 as England amassed 221-5, nine short of their highest T20 score.

Buttler's 21-ball half-century was the fastest by an England player in this format of cricket, surpassing Ravi Bopara's 23-ball effort against the same opponents in Hobart four years ago.

"We started outstandingly well. Jos and Jason really did get us off to a flyer, expressing themselves and making the most of that new ball and good wicket," captain Eoin Morgan said.

"Sometimes when you get off to a good start and you're 100 for none or one, you can fall short of getting 200, but we didn't take the foot off the pedal. We bat quite deep so we stuck to our mantra of going quite hard."

Australia, on the receiving end of a 5-0 defeat by England in this month's one-day internationals, made a valiant attempt to overhaul England's total thanks to captain Aaron Finch.

Opener Finch clubbed 84 in 41 balls with seven 4s and six 6s, but when he was caught just inside the long-on rope off Adil Rashid it left his teammates too much to do and his side were bowled out for 193.

Leg-spinner Rashid took 3-27 and paceman Chris Jordan claimed 3-42.

Finch said he hoped Australia's inexperienced squad would take valuable lessons out of their winless one-day tour.

"It's been a really good learning curve for a lot of the young guys," he said. "We've had four months since the end of the season back home.

"For them to walk straight back in and perform against the best in the world, you can't come in 1 percent off the boil. They will learn a lot about their preparation going forward, that you have to hit the ground running and be 100 per cent committed and 100 per cent ready to go when you turn up and play that first game."


Update June 27, 2018

Messi finally scores, Argentina advances at World Cup

Argentina's Lionel Messi, front, competes for the ball during the group D match between Argentina and Nigeria at the 2018 soccer World Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, June 26. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Steve Douglas

St. Petersburg, Russia (AP) — From his thigh to his foot to the back of the net, Lionel Messi finally scored a goal at this year's World Cup.

The exquisite strike from the Argentina great sparked the first of several celebrations from an animated Diego Maradona, who screamed, shouted and made obscene gestures — and raised concerns for his health.

Argentina staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria on Tuesday, getting a late goal from Marcos Rojo. Maradona showed both middle fingers to the crowd after the 86th-minute winner.

A short time later, videos posted on social media showed Maradona needing help out of the stands and into an adjoining luxury box at the stadium. He appeared to have his eyes closed and a later photo showed a pair of paramedics attending to him.

There was no immediate information on his health, but about two hours later he was photographed smiling at an airport. Another photo posted on Twitter appeared to show him sitting on a plane.

Messi's goal — his 65th for Argentina — was surely enough to impress even Maradona.

From a long pass over the defence by Ever Banega, Messi caressed the ball with his left thigh, took another touch with his left foot, and then delivered a smooth right-footed finish into the corner.

Messi fell to his knees and pointed his fingers upward in celebration. At the same time, Maradona crossed his arms with his hands on his shoulders and looked to the sky.

"I knew that God is with us," Messi said, "and he wouldn't let us get eliminated."

Messi, who later hit the post off a free kick, and Banega controlled the game in the first half. Rojo finished it off in the second by cushioning a volley with his right foot into the bottom corner and ensuring Messi's quest for a first World Cup title continued.

Argentina will play France in the last 16 in Kazan on Saturday. If the Argentines win and Portugal beat Uruguay on Saturday, Messi would face Cristiano Ronaldo in the quarterfinals.

Without that late goal from Rojo, the 31-year-old Messi might have retired from international soccer for a second time — and for good this time.

Instead, it was Messi who was at the center of the celebrations. His teammates formed a circle around him while striker Gonzalo Higuain cried nearby. Messi then clenched his fist as he turned toward the Argentina fans.

"He's above everybody else," Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said. "The most important thing for Leo is his human side. He cries. He suffers. He's happy when Argentina wins. I know him.

"Many people say Leo does not enjoy playing for Argentina, but I do not agree. He enjoys and suffers like all the other players and that makes him even bigger."

Before Rojo's goal, Nigeria had been only a few minutes from qualifying for the last 16 for the fourth time.

Javier Mascherano gave away a penalty with a pull on Leon Balogun at a 49th-minute corner. Victor Moses converted — and marked the goal with a somersault — to put Nigeria back in control of the race for second place in the group.

Argentina were facing finishing a World Cup without a win for the first time since 1934, but instead the team are headed to the knockout stage.

"This is Messi," Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr said with a shrug.

Minutes away from advancing to the knockout stage, Nigeria ended up third in the group — ahead of Iceland but a point behind Argentina.

Argentina have four days to prepare for their last 16 match against France. It is the first game of the knockout stage.


Denmark advance at World Cup in drab 0-0 draw with France

Denmark's Simon Kjaer, top centre right, heads the ball under pressure from France's Raphael Varane top center left, during the group C match between Denmark and France at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 26. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Graham Dunbar

Moscow (AP) — A game no team needed to win became the game no fan would want to watch.

France and Denmark produced the World Cup's first 0-0 draw at the 37th attempt amid boos and whistles from fans on Tuesday.

The slow-paced game was out of step with a vibrant tournament. But it advanced both teams to the round of 16 unbeaten, with the bonus of no players suspended and no serious injuries. France will now play Argentina, and Denmark face Croatia.

The draw would always have ensured that outcome, and became inevitable in the second half. Events elsewhere in Group C made this game all but irrelevant.

Peru beat Australia 2-0 in Sochi at the same time, meaning the Danes would have advanced even if they lost to France before 78,011 at the World Cup's signature Luzhniki Stadium.

"We did what we needed," Denmark coach Age Hareide said, praising his team for a disciplined display. "We would have been stupid to open a lot of space for the French team."

France were already sure to advance with two opening victories, and this result spread the happiness to Denmark and their thousands of fans who stayed to dance and cheer in an empty stadium.

Less happy were the neutral fans in the crowd. Many Russians cheered the host team's name and whistled misplaced passes and slow play as the game progressed with Denmark protecting their one point for a draw.

It was the longest a World Cup had gone without a goalless draw since 1954, a tournament of 26 games which all delivered at least one goal.

"We didn't have to take risks to get better because this result was good for everyone," France coach Didier Deschamps said.


Joshua ordered by WBA to fight Povetkin and ditch Wilder

In this file photo dated Saturday, March 31, 2018, Britain's Anthony Joshua celebrates after his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO Heavyweight Championship title bout against New Zealand's Joseph Parker in Cardiff, Wales. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

London (AP) — Anthony Joshua was ordered to sign a deal to fight Alexander Povetkin "within 24 hours" or face being stripped of the WBA portion of his world heavyweight boxing titles.

The WBA lost patience with the talks between Joshua and WBC champion Deontay Wilder for a unification bout, and want Joshua to fight its mandatory challenger from Russia.

WBA president Gilberto Mendoza said on Tuesday in a statement: "The WBA have allowed over a month extension to negotiations with Povetkin and also ongoing discussions with Deontay Wilder.

"It appears the Wilder team have not returned the contract for the fight and therefore we are requesting a date for the Joshua versus Povetkin fight with immediate effect."

There seemed no choice for Joshua (21-0, 20 KO).

His promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports on Tuesday they will not relinquish the WBA belt to wait for Wilder. Joshua owns three of the big four belts, and aims to become the first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000. His WBA and IBF belts were joined by the WBO version he relieved from Joseph Parker in March.

"We're not going to lose a belt to the WBA through ordering a mandatory," Hearn said. "If Povetkin is ready to go then that will be next. It will be in September, and then we fight Wilder straight after, if he signs a contract."

The WBA originally gave the promoters of Joshua and Povetkin until May 5 to reach an agreement then extended the deadline twice because of a potential deal with Wilder.

Hearn said they gave Wilder's team a contract nine days ago, and their reaction didn't come until Sunday, when they proposed to offer comments this Friday.

"They know we're under pressure from the WBA and it all feels like a big game," Hearn said.

"We have to get on with our business. If Povetkin is ready to sign a contract then he's next. Conversations and negotiations will continue with Deontay Wilder and we'll sign that contract at any moment.

"The important thing is to maintain the belts."

Povetkin (34-1, 24 KO) became the WBA mandatory challenger last December when he beat Christian Hammer of Romania by unanimous decision. He enhanced his record in March by knocking out David Price of England in the fifth round on the undercard of the Joshua-Parker fight in Cardiff.

Povetkin held the WBA "regular" title from 2011 to 2013, when he suffered his only loss in a unification fight with Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision.


Kvitova, Konta ease into 3rd round at Eastbourne

Britain's Johanna Konta celebrates defeating Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic on day three of the Nature Valley International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, south England, Tuesday June 26. (Steven Paston/PA via AP)

Eastbourne, England (AP) — Petra Kvitova continued to impress with a straight-sets victory over Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round at the Eastbourne International on Tuesday.

The third-seeded Kvitova, who won her fifth title of the season on Sunday in Birmingham, triumphed 7-5, 6-3 and looks in impervious form ahead of her bid to win a third Wimbledon.

Kvitova's career looked seriously in doubt 18 months ago after a knife attack at her home which led to surgery on her left playing hand.

"I'm pretty happy with my win today," Kvitova said. "Obviously, I'm a little bit tired, but I got a hit this morning before the match, a warmup.

"The whole tournament (in Birmingham) was more relaxed for me from my side. It was great that I hopefully will save some energy for the next weeks. I felt good with the body, so that's important."

In a tight first set, Kvitova secured the first break but Bondarenko broke back when the Czech player was serving for the set.

However, Kvitova broke straight back and held her serve to love, clinching the first set with a delightful serve and volley.

Bondarenko went 3-1 up with a break in the second as Kivitova double-faulted. But that was to be the last game the Ukrainian won. Kvitova sealed the match with another break when her opponent hit a forehand into the net.

Up next for Kvitova is Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated 15th-seeded Daria Gavrilova 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-0.

British No. 1 Johanna Konta will face top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the third round after easing past Aleksandra Krunic 6-1, 6-3.

The 13th-seeded Konta stuttered at times and perhaps benefited from Krunic injuring herself while sliding into the net mid-rally toward the end of the first set.

The Serbian player had treatment on court and played the second set with strapping on her left leg.

Konta has not dropped a set against Wozniacki in their two previous meetings — the 2017 Australian Open and the final of last year's Miami Open.

"I'm looking forward to that," Konta said about her upcoming match against the Australian Open champion. "I haven't played her in quite some time and she's obviously a Grand Slam champion this year, playing some great tennis, so I'll look forward to that battle."

Earlier, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus upset sixth-seeded Julia Goerges 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, while Danielle Collins of the United States beat 16th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2, 6-4.

Collins will next face Angelique Kerber after the German comfortably defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-3.

Fifth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Estonia looked back to some of her best tennis as she dismissed Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 7-5.

It was Ostapenko's first match since losing in the first round of her French Open title defense.

Other seeded players to make it to the third round were: Daria Kasatkina, Elise Mertens, Barbora Strycova, Anastasija Sevastova and Ashleigh Barty.

In the men's draw, fifth-seeded Leonardo Mayer beat Gilles Simon 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the first round.

Mayer took the first set when he broke Simon for the second time after a lengthy final game which saw the Frenchman save four set points.

The second set was even tighter before the Argentine, who served up seven aces, eventually prevailed.

Seventh-seeded Steve Johnson is also safely through to the second round after easing past Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 6-4.


Update June 26, 2018

World Cup matchups turn on late video reviews

Referee Enrique Caceres from Paraguay gestures during the group B match between Iran and Portugal at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk, Russia, Monday, June 25. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Ronald Blum

Moscow (AP) — Fans in stadiums about 1,000 miles apart — and millions watching on multiple screens around the globe — were transfixed on a studio outside Moscow where World Cup fates turned on nearly simultaneous video replay decisions.

Iago Aspas had scored in the first minute of stoppage time Monday night, pulling Spain into a 2-2 tie with Morocco in Kaliningrad, but a referee's assistant ruled he was offside. If the goal did not count, Spain would be in second place behind Portugal.

Referee Ravshan Irmatov went to the monitor on the side of the field to view the image put on the screen by the control room at the International Broadcast Center in Krasnogorsk.

At the same moment, referee Enrique Caceres went to view his monitor in Saransk to determine whether Portuguese defender Cedric committed a handball when Iran's Sardar Azmoun headed the ball down. Portugal were leading 1-0, past 90 minutes and into stoppage time.

If Portugal won, they would finish first. If Iran were able to score on the penalty kick and somehow score again while Morocco held on to beat Spain, Iran would have shockingly won the group, Portugal would finish second and Spain's World Cup would be over.

Iramatov reversed the call, pointing to the center circle to signal goal, and Spain got the 2-2 draw. Cacares gestured to the spot for the record 20th penalty kick of the World Cup, and Karim Ansarifard converted in the third minute of stoppage time to give Iran a 1-1 draw.

When final whistles blew, Spain and Portugal — who drew 3-3 earlier in the tournament — were tied again atop Group B, but Spain got the top seed on the second tiebreaker, total goals, 6-5.

That means hosts Russia, who finished second in Group A, will play Spain on Sunday in Moscow, while Portugal face Uruguay on Saturday in Sochi.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz was incensed after a decision that followed a video review not to send off Cristiano Ronaldo. The five-time FIFA Player of the Year instead was given a yellow card after an arm of the Portuguese star hit Iranian defender Mortez Pouraliganji in the face in the 82nd minute.

Early in the second half, a video review led to a penalty kick for Portugal when Saeid Ezatolahi was judged to have fouled Ronaldo. There was minimal contact and Caceres originally waved off a foul. Ronaldo's penalty kick was saved by goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Queiroz threw his jacket when the penalty kick was given.

"When there is a penalty, everything becomes more warm in the pitch. The temperature in my body it comes from 46 to 250, so understand why I need to take the jacket off," he said.

Queiroz coached his native Portugal from 2008-10 and has led Iran since 2011. He complained that Ronaldo gets star treatment.

"The reality is you stop the game too far. There is an elbow — elbow is red card in the rules, and the rules don't say if it is (Lionel) Messi or Ronaldo."

Queiroz railed against the way video review was used.

"I need to know if I am grandfather or no. I don't want to know if my daughter is a little bit pregnant or it's a little evidence or obvious," he said. "It's a red card. So the question it is for me, as I said before, it is not about the refs, it's about the attitude and the bravery and the character. The decisions, they must be clear for everybody, for the people."

Soccer's rules-making body started allowing experiments with video review last year and FIFA adopted it for the World Cup for the first time.

"Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes and referees make mistakes," Queiroz said. "But now you have one system that costs a fortune — a fortune. High technology, five, six people inside, whatever, nobody takes responsibilities. The referees on the pitch, they are ... washing their hands. They cover themselves with decisions because the guys are upstairs. The guys upstairs they don't know exactly what they should do. Stop it."

Not surprisingly, Portugal coach Fernando Santos said that Ronaldo did not deserve red.

"It seemed like a normal thing in the match and the referee did what he had to do," Santos said. "I'd have to watch it again, but I think the VAR did its job, and that's what we have to accept."


Suarez scores again, Uruguay beat hosts Russia 3-0

 

Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring against Russia during the World Cup group A match at the Samara Arena in Samara, Russia, Monday, June 25. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Anne M. Peterson

Samara, Russia (AP) — Luis Suarez finally got rattled at this year's World Cup.

Sitting at the podium in the post-match news conference following Uruguay's 3-0 victory over Russia, a reporter asked him why he often wore a sad expression.

Suarez tossed aside his translation headphones, then smiled broadly in defiance and finally said: "What a waste of time. Next question please."

Other than that little blip, Suarez has been on his best behavior in Russia, scoring twice as Uruguay swept through the group stage with three straight victories — sending the two-time champions to the knockout round for the third straight World Cup.

Edinson Cavani also scored Monday against the host nation, who dropped their first match of the tournament.

Both teams were already assured of spots in the knockout round, but Uruguay's victory put them at the top of Group A and looking towards a match in Sochi on Saturday against Portugal.

Uruguay, who also benefited from an own-goal in the first half, had their third straight shutout of the tournament after consecutive 1-0 victories over Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Uruguayans and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera have not allowed a goal in any of the team's six matches this year.

"After winning the first two matches 1-0, our goal was to get another," Suarez said. "We wanted to play the same we had before, only better."

By advancing to the round of 16 with victories over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Russia secured their best World Cup showing in the post-Soviet era. But Uruguay — ranked No. 14 in the world — posed a far greater challenge to the hosts.

Suarez, who seems to have put past World Cup controversies behind him, scored with a low shot from just outside the box that sailed past the wall of Russian players and into the right corner of the goal. The Barcelona striker then blew a kiss to the national team's fans.

Suarez is the all-time leading scorer for Uruguay with 53 international goals in 101 appearances, including a goal against Saudi Arabia last Wednesday.

But his two past World Cups have been marked by controversy: He was sent home from Brazil four years ago for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini. In 2010, he used his hands to block Dominic Adiyiah's header and then celebrated when Ghana missed the penalty kick. Uruguay prevailed in a shootout, and Suarez was marked as a dirty player.

Uruguay took a 2-0 lead over Russia on an own-goal — the sixth of the World Cup to tie the tournament record. Midfielder Diego Laxalt's shot from long range deflected off Denis Cheryshev's foot and past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Russia, the lowest ranked team in the field at No. 70, went down to 10 men after right back Igor Smolnikov received a second yellow card in the 36th minute. Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov immediately took off Cheryshev for defender Mario Fernandes.

Cavani scored in the 90th minute and was taken out a short time later. The Paris Saint-Germain forward put a rebound into the left corner of the net after Diego Godin's header was parried by Akinfeev.

"It's important for strikers to score," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. "When they feel comfortable or at home, they score goals. Strikers contribute a lot to a team. We know as we improve our game we will offer opportunities to all of our players to improve their game."


Murray yet to commit to Wimbledon after first comeback win

Britain's Andy Murray celebrates defeating Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka on day two of the Nature Valley International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, south England, Monday June 25. (Steven Paston/PA via AP)

Eastbourne, England (AP) — After his first win in nearly a year, Andy Murray wasn't ready to commit to playing at Wimbledon next week.

Murray beat Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3 at the Eastbourne International on Monday in the second match of his comeback from long-term hip problems.

Murray returned last week at the Queen's Club and lost to Nick Kyrgios in the first round.

He said if he believes his body can handle Grand Slam best-of-five-set matches, then he'll play at Wimbledon, where he's won twice.

"If I don't, then obviously I won't play," Murray said. "I'm coming back from a very serious injury which is not easy.

"I'm not putting any pressure on myself to make that decision after one match here or two matches, because I don't need to. I can decide when I want.

"The match with Nick was two hours, 45 minutes, and the slams, you have to be prepared for four hours. That (against Kyrgios) obviously could have gone another couple of sets potentially, and I didn't feel great the following day."

Wawrinka, coming back from his own long-term knee injury, contributed to his downfall with an erratic serve. He hit eight aces but double-faulted four times, including on match point.

Murray's last success came in the fourth round of Wimbledon on July 10, 2017, when he was No. 1.

"I thought the first set I played well, second set was a little bit patchy at times, a bit nervous towards the end.

"When you've not played for the best part of a year, closing out the match against someone like Stan, who I've had lots of great matches with — tough, tough guy to play against — was tough. But delighted to get the win."

He next faces second-seeded Kyle Edmund, who overtook him as the British No. 1 while he was injured.

Another Briton is also through to the second round, after Jay Clarke beat Ryan Harrison of the United States 6-4, 6-1.

It was the teenager's first ATP Tour win and his first victory over a player in the top 100. Harrison is ranked 58th.

Also through was sixth-seeded David Ferrer.

In the women's draw, defending champion Karolina Pliskova survived a scare to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and reach the third round.

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, last year's runner-up, had an easier passage as she beat Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-2.

Pliskova had never lost a set to Pavlyuchenkova in five previous meetings but the Czech player struggled in the second set before prevailing 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

The second-seeded Pliskova hit nine aces in the first set and seemed on her way to another comfortable victory.

However, Pavlyuchenkova broke immediately in the second set and, although the Russian was broken back, she broke Pliskova's serve again and two successive errors from her opponent saw her level on sets.

But there was to be no upset as Pliskova broke in the third game of the third set and, after saving a break point in the next game, she never looked back.

Pliskova broke again in the final game, sealing the match when Pavlyuchenkova hit the ball long.

Giorgi won the first two games against Wozniacki but that was to prove a false dawn for the Italian as three successive double faults appeared to shake her confidence and she lost the next six games and the first set, which Wozniacki sealed with a delightful shot down the line.

Wozniacki broke Giorgi at the start of the second set and the Danish player looked in impervious form as she stormed on to take the match, winning when Giorgi hit a forehand into the net.

Former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska was one of a number playing first-round matches and the Polish player beat Timea Babos 6-3, 6-1.

Kristina Mladenovic of France beat local hope Heather Watson 6-7 (2), 7-5, 6-3.


After 5-test losing streak, England's Jones still believes

England's rugby union head coach Eddie Jones.
(AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

London (AP) — Eddie Jones will review the South Africa tour with Rugby Football Union chief executive Steve Brown this week still convinced England can win the Rugby World Cup next year.

Jones and his squad returned to London on Monday after losing the test series 2-1.

The RFU has assured Jones he remains the man to lead the team to the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 15 months. Jones has a lot of credit with his employers for the team's remarkable rebound from the 2015 Rugby World Cup humiliation. But chairman Andy Cosslett, while happy with the face-saving win in Cape Town on Saturday, says their support isn't unconditional, adding, "You have to keep a sense of proportion about this."

England blew leads in the first two tests and lost them 42-39 and 23-12, extending a losing streak that started in the Six Nations to six matches and five tests. The streaks ended at Newlands, where England found wet conditions more to their liking.

The 25-10 victory has provided some breathing space heading into a November schedule comprising of fixtures against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia.

"We want to win every test. We want to win the World Cup and sometimes you do things that might not necessarily mean you are at your best for that test match," Jones said.

"I'd like to win every game and I'd like to be the best team ever, but we'll settle at where we are at.

"I'm enjoying what we are going through. It is just a natural part of a team development."

Jones' mantra throughout the tour has been that England are a team in transition, plugging gaps left by the absence of veteran operators such as James Haskell, Dan Cole, and Dylan Hartley with the likes of Tom Curry and Kyle Sinckler.

Across each test in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town, however, the Springboks fielded teams with fewer caps.

"You start as (South Africa coach) Rassie Erasmus has done. You get some easy games and you improve and then you have got to renew the team," Jones said.

"Sometimes that renewal is difficult because you have to bring in some new players and maybe some of the older players are not performing where they should be, and so you've got a bit of a gap in the team."


Update June 25, 2018

Kane scores hat trick in England's 6-1 rout of Panama

England's Harry Kane scores from the penalty spot during the World Cup group G match between England and Panama in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Sunday, June 24. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Rob Harris

Nizhny Novgorod, Russia (AP) — With two penalties and an accidental deflection, Harry Kane moved ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and put England into the round of 16 at the World Cup.

Kane scored half of England's goals Sunday in a 6-1 rout of Panama, the national team's largest-ever margin of victory at the World Cup.

"The third one is probably one of the luckiest ones of my career," said Kane, who took the game ball to the locker room. "Sometimes you go through spells where you are scoring and sometimes it doesn't fall for you.

"Not many players get to score a hat trick in a World Cup."

Kane has scored a tournament-leading five goals at the World Cup in Russia, one more than Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku.

Not since the 4-2 victory over Germany in the 1966 final have England scored as many goals at the World Cup.

The ruthlessness of the display in the sweltering heat of Nizhny Novgorod showed just how far England have been transformed in the four years since an older, more experienced squad couldn't even manage a win when they exited the World Cup in the group stage.

In 2014, England complained about the heat in Brazil — particularly the humidity of the Amazonian jungle in the team's opening loss to Italy.

Kane scored two in the opening 2-1 victory over Tunisia, including a header in injury time.

"The other day we had to go right to the wire and show qualities that are going to be extremely important," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "The only downside today was the goal at the end because we talked at halftime about the importance of controlling the group with our goal difference. We missed out on that opportunity but it would be harsh to criticize the players after a day like that, in the heat as well, so we must enjoy the win."

Now England are sure of a spot in the round of 16 with a game to spare in Group G. Panama, who offered little resistance, are leaving the tournament early after being eliminated along with Tunisia.

Sterner tests await, starting with the Thursday's game against Belgium. England and Belgium are level on points and goal difference and will play for first place in the group.


Falcao scores, Colombia beat Poland 3-0 at World Cup

Colombia's Radamel Falcao, right, celebrates after scoring the second of his side’s goals during the World Cup group H match against Poland in Kazan, Russia, Sunday, June 24. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Samuel Petrequin

Kazan, Russia (AP) — Four years after Radamel Falcao was supposed to lead Colombia at the World Cup, he's doing just that.

Falcao missed the tournament in Brazil with a knee injury and had to wait until arriving in Russia to score his first World Cup goal. It came in Colombia's 3-0 victory over Poland on Sunday.

"It's a dream goal," Falcao said. "I'm happy for the victory, for the team's performance and the goal that I scored, which I've been waiting for for many years."

The victory kept Colombia in the running for a spot in the round of 16 and knocked out Poland, the first European country to be eliminated.

Falcao, Colombia's all-time leading scorer with 30 goals, made sure he would stay healthy for this year's World Cup by sitting out several matches with his Monaco club this season.

So far, so good.

"We always hope that he can score and hope that he can be fit as he was today, and we want to help him," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. "I think the fact that he scored was very important, not just for today but for the matches to come.

"He is a symbol of the national team. He is a symbol of Colombian football."

Playing some scintillating soccer in Kazan, Falcao scored with the outside of his foot in the 70th minute after a superb pass from playmaker Juan Quintero in the back of the defense.

Yerry Mina scored the first goal in the 40th and Juan Cuadrado completed the win in the 75th.

Both teams lost their Group H openers and knew another loss would end their hopes of advancing. Colombia will next face Senegal on Thursday in Samara with a chance to win the group, while Poland will play Japan in Volgograd.

Senegal and Japan drew 2-2 earlier Sunday and lead the group with four points each.


Hamilton wins French GP to retake lead in F1 title race

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steps from his car after winning the French Formula One Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard racetrack, in Le Castellet, southern France, Sunday, June 24. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Joseph Wilson

Le Castellet, France (AP) — Lewis Hamilton capitalized on a mistake by rival Sebastian Vettel to enjoy a wire-to-wire victory at the French Grand Prix on Sunday and retake the lead in the Formula One title race.

Starting third behind Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, Vettel tried to use his faster set of tires to make a good start.

But the German's lunge on the inside of the first corner crunched his Ferrari into the back of Bottas, damaging both cars and sending them into the pits for repairs.

Vettel emerged with a new front wing and the entire field to fight through, and even though he made quick work of the slower cars he had to settle for a fifth-place finish.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari crossed second and third to complete the podium at the Paul Ricard Circuit. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was fourth.

Defending champion Hamilton has 145 points after eight races. Vettel, who entered the race with a one-point lead, leaves trailing by 14.

While Hamilton thanked his team for its "great work" via the radio after crossing the finish line, Vettel regretted that he "had lost the race on the first lap."

"My start was too good. Then I ended up with nowhere to go," Vettel said. "It was my mistake, I tried to brake early and get out of it, but I had no room and no grip, being so close to the car in front and also next to me."

Hamilton dominated the race, qualifying and Friday's practice sessions boosted by an engine upgrade that Mercedes had expected to roll out in Canada, when Hamilton finished fifth and lost his lead to race winner Vettel.

"A fresh engine is always a good thing," Hamilton said. "After seven races there is no way it can have the same power as a brand new engine. The guys did a great job. They work to create the best engine in the world."

It was Hamilton's 65th career win. Only Michael Schumacher has more victories with 91.

Just after the run-in between Vettel and Bottas, there was further trouble when Pierre Gasly ran his Toro Rosso into the back of Esteban Ocon's Force India, knocking them both out of the race and bringing out the safety car.

Bottas, who needed a new rear tire, had to restart at the back with Vettel.

Hamilton thought that Vettel got away lightly with a five-second penalty for causing his collision.

"It's a shame, we had a chance for a one-two (finish)," Hamilton said. "I mean we are all going into Turn 1 as hard as you could, but when someone destroys your race through an error, it is kind of a tap on the hand."

But Hamilton then added: "Those things happen."

"I thought I was going to get rear-ended," he said. "(But) we are all fighting for world championships. We are not twiddling around."

Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Bottas, Carlos Sainz (Renault), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Charles Leclerc (Sauber) finished out the points.

Force India's bad day only got worse when it also lost Sergio Perez midway through the race due to an engine issue.

Fernando Alonso, who won the 24 Hours Le Mans classic endurance race last week, endured more misery back with McLaren. The former two-time champion failed to finish his third consecutive F1 race when his McLaren had a problem with its back left tire and he was forced to retire late.

Lance Stroll also failed to finish when a tire blew on his Williams.

Driving conditions were optimal at the 5.8-kilometer (3.6-mile) circuit situated just inland from the Cote d' Azur.

However, the handful of secondary roads that led to the track produced hours-long traffic jams for the tens of thousands eager to attend their first F1 race in France since 2008.

The return of the French GP is the first part of an unprecedented tripleheader of three races on consecutive weekends.

With less time for Ferrari's engineers to play catch up, Hamilton will hope to press his advantage at the Austrian and British races.


Buttler 110 as England beat Australia to sweep series 5-0

England's Sam Curran celebrates taking the wicket of Australia's Ashton Agar during the fifth One Day International match at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, Sunday, June 24. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)

Manchester, England (AP) — Jos Buttler hit an unbeaten 110 as England completed their first-ever 5-0 cricket sweep of Australia in any format with a one-wicket win in the fifth ODI on Sunday.

England reached 208-9 in 48.3 overs at Old Trafford in reply to Australia's 205 all out.

At 114-8, England looked finished before Buttler and Adil Rashid shared a ninth-wicket partnership of 81.

Rashid was then out for 20, leaving Australia needing just one wicket and England 11 runs to win. Jake Ball came in as No. 11 and defended successfully as Buttler hit the winning runs in the series finale.

England had bowled Australia out in just 34.4 overs, but collapsed to 50-5 against the pace and bounce of Billy Stanlake (3-35) before the scheduled lunch break.

After his partnership with Adil Rashid, Buttler scrambled the last runs alongside Ball to carry England to victory with nine balls to spare.

Australia's innings was flawed after they won the toss in glorious conditions on a quick pitch.

Moeen Ali (4-46) and then Sam Curran (2-44) — both with two wickets in three balls — took turns to stop the tourists in their tracks.

Travis Head (56) hit his third successive half-century, but got out soon afterward for the third time too, and D'Arcy Short was left unbeaten three runs short of his maiden ODI 50.

Australia faltered from 60-0 in little more than six overs to 100-5 - and the tourists crumbled a second time after Short shared a stand of 59 with Alex Carey.


Update June 23-24, 2018

Brazil leave it late to beat Costa Rica 2-0 at World Cup

Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 22. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Jerome Pugmire

St. Petersburg, Russia (AP) — After more than 90 minutes of aggravation and exasperation, Neymar and Brazil finally broke through Costa Rica's smothering defense.

Philippe Coutinho scored in the first minute of stoppage time, and Neymar followed six minutes later to give Brazil a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica on Friday at the World Cup.

Unlike Argentina and Lionel Messi, Brazil are still in a good position to advance to the round of 16. Costa Rica have been eliminated.

"The responsibility is huge when you are playing for the national team," Coutinho said. "You have to be mentally strong from the beginning until the end. We fought until the end and we were rewarded."

Neymar dropped to his knees after the final whistle, sobbing in his hands as his teammates surrounded him and then lifted him off the ground.

"We know he had a difficult injury, he went through a very bad patch," Coutinho said through a translator, referring to Neymar breaking a bone in his right foot four months ago. "But his joy at being on the pitch is contagious."

A few minutes before the end, Neymar flopped backward to initially earn a penalty, but the contact was so exaggerated that the referee reversed the call after using video review. Neymar then angrily punched the ball a short time later as Costa Rica's players tried to waste time. It earned Brazil's biggest star a yellow card.

"The joy, the satisfaction and the pride of representing the national team is a lot," Brazil coach Tite said, defending Neymar. "He has the responsibility, the pressure. Everyone shows it in their own way."

Neymar seemed panicked for most of the second half as his shots sailed over the bar or simply missed the mark, and he complained over nearly every call. In danger of ending in a draw, Brazil’s players seemed nervous but composed themselves through the seven minutes of injury time.

Coutinho was first to get the ball past goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Rising superbly to meet a header from Marcelo's cross, Roberto Firmino nodded the ball down to striker Gabriel Jesus, who then flicked it to a sprinting Coutinho in the penalty area.

In the seventh minute of injury time, Douglas Costa whipped in a cross from the right and Neymar deftly tapped it into the net.

Both Firmino and Costa had come on as substitutes in the second half.

"I think Brazil's changes made an impact," Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez said. "It became very difficult for us."

Brazil have four points in Group E and play Serbia in their final match in Moscow on Wednesday. Costa Rica have zero points and cannot advance.


Hamilton tops charts on first day of French GP practice

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the first free practice at the Paul Ricard racetrack, in Le Castellet, southern France, Friday, June 22. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Joseph Wilson

Le Castellet, France (AP) — Lewis Hamilton was fastest in Friday's two practice sessions for the French Grand Prix, while his top rival struggled to figure out the unfamiliar track as Formula One returned to the country for the first time in a decade.

Sebastian Vettel, who leads Mercedes driver Hamilton by one point after seven of 21 races this year, had trouble adapting to the 5.8-kilometer (3.6-mile) Paul Ricard Circuit and was fifth fastest in the morning and in the afternoon.

The track, situated in wooded hills just inland from the Cote d'Azur, basked in the Mediterranean sun but was subject to gusting winds.

"The car is quick but I wasn't able to be quick with the car today, it's as simple as that," Vettel said. "I think it is a tricky track, not easy to get in a good ride start to finish.

"Over the long run I was able to play a little more and find some (driving) lines. Let's see if we can start from there tomorrow. We should have more of a rhythm."

There will be another practice session on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race.

Hamilton benefited from an engine upgrade that Mercedes failed to roll out in the last round when the British driver lost his lead to Vettel.

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas registered the second best time of the day before a water leak kept him in the garage for the final minutes.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, fourth in the overall standings behind Bottas, was third quickest on Friday.

The morning session ended with a scare for Sauber's Marcus Ericsson after his car burst into flames when he spun out of control and slammed into a barrier. The Swedish driver was unharmed.

Hamilton also had a close call when forced to swerve off course to avoid ramming Stoffel Vandoorne and slalomed around two rows of bollards before returning to the flow.

The four-time world champion said on his team radio that the McLaren driver was going "dangerously slow".

Minutes later, Hamilton complained his Mercedes was having trouble turning. After coming back out, though, he quickly went to the top of the timesheet.

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso), Esteban Ocon (Force India) and Vandoorne all spun onto the blue-striped run-off areas at Turn Six but stopped before hitting the barrier.

Charles Leclerc twice spun to a brief stop, while Max Verstappen drove his Red Bull wide on consecutive corners and Kevin Magnussen had a near miss with Sergio Perez.

Vettel said the winds picked up after the lunch break, telling his team it was "quite gusty so the track is a lot slower" than the morning.

The second session was momentarily stopped while crews helped retrieve Perez's Force India after the back left wheel came off as he drove over a curb, sending the car sliding across the tarmac.

Fernando Alonso also spun his McLaren.

Vettel took his one-point lead two weeks ago when he won the Canadian GP. That victory erased a 14-point advantage held by Hamilton as the British driver finished fifth.

The last time Le Castellet held an F1 race was in 1990, when French great Alain Prost won for Ferrari.


Musa scores twice to give Nigeria 2-0 win over Iceland

Nigeria's Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the World Cup group D match between Nigeria and Iceland in Volgograd, Russia, Friday, June 22. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Pan Pylas

Volgograd, Russia (AP) — Ahmed Musa gave Nigeria their first win at this year's World Cup, and gave Argentina a gift.

Musa scored two second-half goals to help the Nigerians beat Iceland 2-0 Friday and move into second place in the group behind already-qualified Croatia.

Nigeria will face Argentina in their final group match on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. If Nigeria win, they will advance to the round of 16. But if Argentina claim all three points, the South Americans can still advance depending on the result of the other match between Croatia and Iceland.

Musa, Nigeria's all-time leading World Cup scorer with four goals, has played well against Argentina before. His two previous goals came at the 2014 tournament in Brazil in a group match against the two-time champions.

"It's possible I'm going to score another two goals," the 25-year-old Musa said.

On Friday, Musa gave Nigeria the lead in the 49th minute after Victor Moses sprinted deep into the Iceland half and curled a cross to the near post. Musa deftly controlled the ball before slamming it past Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson on the half-volley.

Nigeria nearly doubled their lead on several occasions, but Musa made it happen in the 75th minute. He picked up the ball on the left side of the Iceland penalty area, mazed his way past Halldorsson and picked his spot in the Iceland goal.

"I think the control made it more perfect for me," said Musa, who hinted he wants to leave Premier League club Leicester and play for CSKA Moscow.

Iceland, the smallest nation ever to compete in the World Cup, were not as effective as they had been against Argentina when they earned a surprise 1-1 draw.

Still, the European champion quarterfinalists had a chance to get one back but Gylfi Sigurdsson sent a penalty kick over the Nigeria bar in the 83rd minute. The penalty was awarded after a video review showed that Alfred Finnbogason had been brought down by Tyronne Ebuehi.

Croatia can be joined by any of the other three teams in Group D in the round of 16.

Iceland can qualify if they beat Croatia in Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday in a match that takes place at the same time as the game between Nigeria and Argentina.

Iceland have met Croatia several times in recent years, including in World Cup qualifying.

"We often say we are like a married a couple trying to get a divorce, but we always meet up again," Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said. "We know Croatia. We know what kind of game it is going to be."


Xhaka and Shaqiri score for Swiss, make Albanian symbol

Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup group E match between Switzerland and Serbia in Kaliningrad, Russia, Friday, June 22. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

Mike Corder

Kaliningrad, Russia (AP) — Albania's national flag was at the center of Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday at the World Cup.

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated their goals by making a nationalist symbol of their ethnic Albanian heritage.

Both players put their open hands together with their thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to make what looks like the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania's flag. The thumbs represent the heads of the two eagles, while the fingers look like the feathers.

"I think about this, I don't want to speak," said Shaqiri, who also took off his shirt after scoring. "In football, you have always emotions. You can see what I did, and it's just emotion, and I'm just happy to have scored the goal. I did it, and we don't have to speak about this."

The gesture is likely to inflame tensions among Serb nationalists and ethnic Albanians.

Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo's independence and relations between the two countries remain tense. Xhaka's parents are originally from Kosovo and they are of Albanian heritage. His brother plays for Albania's national team.

Years of war in Balkans sent many families to western European countries, including Switzerland. The Swiss have dozens of ethnic Albanians in their national soccer program.

Serbia's players did not react to the eagle gestures at Kaliningrad Stadium.

"I don't have any comments," Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic said. "I don't deal with these things. I am a man of sports, and this is what I'm going to stay being."

In the tournament's first come-from-behind victory, Xhaka made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute with a powerful shot through a crowded penalty area. Shaqiri added the other in injury time after running past the Serbian defense.

Their celebrations were emotional and could overshadow Switzerland's victory.

"You should never mix politics and football. You should always show respect," Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said. "It's a wonderful atmosphere and a positive experience and that's what football should be about."

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored for Serbia with a header in the fifth minute.

Serbia had chances to score more before halftime. Mitrovic came close in the 19th minute when he controlled a cross from Branislav Ivanovic on his chest and sent a bicycle kick over the bar.

The win puts Switzerland into second place in Group E with four points, the same as Brazil. The Swiss will advance to the round of 16 if they beat Costa Rica on Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod. Serbia will face Brazil in Moscow at the same time.

Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia could all still claim first place in the group with a win on Wednesday. Costa Rica have been eliminated.


Update June 22, 2018

Argentina beaten 3-0 at World Cup, Croatia advance

Argentina goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero holds his head after Croatia's Ante Rebic, background right, scored the opening goal during the World Cup group D match in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Thursday, June 21. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Stephen Wade

Nizhny Novgorod, Russia (AP) — Lionel Messi's frustrating international career may be coming to an early and anti-climactic finish after Argentina's worst loss in World Cup group play in 60 years.

With Diego Maradona watching from the stands, the 2014 runners-up were routed by Croatia 3-0 Thursday. The Croats are moving on to the round of 16.

Messi got off only one shot in a defeat that pushed Argentina to the brink of elimination. Messi, who turns 31 on Sunday, has never won a major title with Argentina's senior national team despite of decade of championships with Barcelona and five world player of the year awards.

"He is our captain, he leads the team and we quite simply couldn't pass to him," Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said. "We work to give Leo the ball, but the opponent also works hard to prevent him from getting the ball."

Messi also missed a penalty kick in his team's opening 1-1 draw against Iceland.

Argentina, hurt by the poor play of goalkeeper Willy Caballero on Thursday, had not lost by such a large margin in the first round since a 6-1 defeat to Czechoslovakia in 1958. Caballero gained the starting role because No. 1 keeper Sergio Romero injured his knee last month in the run-up to the tournament.

"We have to swallow the poison," Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano said. "The game says it all."

Argentina, who have not missed making the second round since 2002, have not been eliminated. But the two-time champions need to win their next match against Nigeria on Tuesday, as well as get help from other matches.

Thursday's humiliating loss came in humiliating fashion for one of soccer's most storied nations.

Caballero mangled a clearance and kicked the ball toward Croatia’s Ante Rebic, who one-timed it into the net in the 53rd minute.

Caballero buried his face in his hands while a giant television screen showed Maradona doing the same.

"After they scored on us, we were emotionally broken," Sampaoli said. "I had a lot of hope. I am extremely hurt by this defeat, but I probably didn't understand the match the way I should have."

And it got worse as Argentina crumbled, frustrated by the Croatian defence. Modric scored with a hooking shot in the 80th minute and Ivan Rakitic added the third in stoppage time.

Croatia frustrated Argentina throughout the match and never gave Messi space to operate.

"Argentina wasn't confused. We were excellent," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said. "We beat a great Argentina with the best player in the world playing, Messi."

Croatia, who reached the 1998 World Cup semifinals but have not advanced past the group stage since then, will face Iceland on Tuesday in Rostov-on-Don.

"Let's keep our feet firmly on the ground and prepare for the next matches," said Modric, the man of the match. "We should be focused on what awaits. Every next game is going to be more difficult, but our main objective has been reached. It looks easy, but it was not that easy."

Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986 — the last with Maradona as the star player — but have not won any major title in 25 years. The Argentines also lost in the last two Copa America finals.


Australia get crucial 1-1 draw with Denmark at World Cup

Australia's Mile Jedinak scores his side's goal from the penalty spot during the group C match between Denmark and Australia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena in Samara, Russia, Thursday, June 21. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Anne M. Peterson

Samara, Russia (AP) — Mile Jedinak has a knack for penalty kicks and his strategy is beyond simple.

"Just to get that ball in the back of the net," the Australia captain said after converting from the spot to give Australia a 1-1 draw against Denmark on Thursday and new life at the World Cup.

The 38th-minute penalty was set up after Denmark forward Yussuf Poulsen was called for a handball following a video review. Poulsen was also cautioned by the referee and will be suspended for the team's final group match against France because of yellow card accumulation.

The goal was Jedinak's second from the spot at this year's World Cup, and it snapped Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel's five-match streak of shutouts for the Danes.

"It's more just composing and staying concentrated, regardless of the situation, regardless of where you're standing and regardless of what's going on around you," added Jedinak, who has converted 16 straight penalties.

Christian Eriksen scored in the opening minutes for Denmark, who have gone unbeaten in 17 straight international matches.

Going into the tournament, No. 36 Australia were the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12.

With a loss to France in the opener, a defeat Thursday would have made it nearly impossible for the Socceroos to advance to the next stage. Denmark, meanwhile, won their first match against Peru.

In the later group match on Thursday, France's 1-0 victory eliminated Peru while securing a spot in the knockout round for the French.

Australia lost to 1998 World Cup champions France 2-1 last Saturday in Kazan, with both French goals coming as the result of video technology. But the score didn't reflect the Socceroos' gritty defensive performance.

"You've got to put those frustrations aside," Jedinak said. "You don't put two performances in like that if you're frustrated. You've got to just believe, and that's what we do. We have belief in what we're doing. We're believing in the structure and how we've been training and preparing. And we'll continue to do that. It will be the same going forward."

Australia again took a defensive stand against Denmark, who were back at the World Cup after missing out on the tournament in Brazil. The Danes were coming off a 1-0 victory over Peru on Saturday in Saransk. Poulsen, who plays for German club RB Leipzig, scored the lone goal.

It is the fifth World Cup appearance for the Danes, who reached the quarterfinals in 1998.

Australia were also making a fifth trip to the World Cup. The team's best showing was in the 2006 quarterfinals.

Moments after Mathew Leckie's early header for Australia sailed over the goal, Eriksen sent a left-footed shot over goalkeeper Mathew Ryan's outstretched arms.

The Danes held the lead until the yellow on Poulsen, which was not without controversy. Video replay also gave Peru a penalty against the Danes in the opener, but it wasn't converted.

"I think after today I don't like the system. It's the second match it's been used against us," Eriksen said. "If you want to use the VAR for penalties, you should also use it for free kicks. Two matches in a row, that's bitter."

After the pleas from Denmark's players to the referee went unheard, Schmeichel had a few words with Jedinak to rattle him. It didn't work.

"You still have to stay focused in getting good contact and maintain that focus," said Jedinak, who plays for Aston Villa.

Pione Sisto nearly gave the Danes the advantage just after the halftime break, but his shot went to the right of the goal. Australia added some firepower in the 68th, bringing on 19-year-old Daniel Arzani as both teams scrambled for a winning goal.

Denmark's opening victory over Peru was marred by the loss of starting midfielder William Kvist, who fractured two ribs and is likely to miss the rest of the tournament. He was replaced in the starting lineup against Australia by Lasse Schone.


England beat Australia by 6 wickets to lead ODI series 4-0

England's Jos Buttler hits the winning shot against Australia, during their One Day International (ODI) cricket match at the Emirates Riverside in Chester-le-Street, England, Thursday June 21. (Richard Sellers/PA via AP)

Chester-le-Street, England (AP) — England are one win away from a 5-0 ODI series sweep of Australia after another comfortable cricket victory on Thursday with 32 balls to spare.

The top-ranked hosts beat Australia by six wickets in the fourth one-day international at Riverside Ground to take a 4-0 lead.

England reached 314-4 in 44.4 overs in reply to 310-8 for Australia, who won the toss and chose to bat.

Jason Roy (101 runs off 83 balls), Jonny Bairstow (79 off 66) and Jos Buttler (54 not out off 29) led the charge for England.

Shaun Marsh (101) and Aaron Finch (100) top-scored for Australia who ended their innings badly. David Willey took 4-43 off seven overs.

An opening stand of 174 between Roy and Bairstow kick-started England's second highest successful one-day international run chase, before Buttler joined in with a remarkable 28-ball 50.

England followed Tuesday's world record 481-6 at Trent Bridge by demonstrating they can be equally unstoppable in the chase.

Finch's 11th ODI century, and sixth against England, and Marsh's second in three innings underpinned the total for Australia, who have been depleted by a number of key absences.

Willey took the last four wickets, including three in one over, as Australia stumbled from 296-4 at the start of the 48th over to 310 all out.

The fifth ODI is on Sunday at Old Trafford in Manchester.


France defence excels in 1-0 victory over Peru in Group C

France's Blaise Matuidi celebrates at the end of the group C match between France and Peru at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Yekaterinburg Arena in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Thursday, June 21. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Karel Janicek

Yekaterinburg, Russia (AP) — With all their attacking talent, France proved they also have class in defence.

Other coaches might envy Didier Deschamps, who has a forward line bursting with skill, speed and goals. But Peru coach Ricardo Gareca looked at the other end Thursday after his team lost 1-0.

"I think France did some outstanding work of defence," said Gareca, whose team were eliminated while the French advanced to the knockout stage.

"Credit needs to be given to France, it's not that Peru fell short," Gareca said. "Unlike their other games, France had very strong tactical discipline to neutralize Peru. Something that wasn't visible in their other matches."

After Peru lost their opening game to Denmark 1-0, they needed at least a point against France to stay in contention following a 36-year absence from the tournament. With striker Paolo Guerrero back in the starting lineup, Peru's players used any and every opportunity to put France under pressure.

It didn't work.

Deschamps made two tactical changes for the game, using Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi in the starting line-up. The result upfront was visible. France were more fluid than in the 2-1 victory over Australia and the cooperation between midfielders Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante with the attackers resulted in a number of scoring opportunities.

But when Peru were on a desperate attack, they all were ready to help at the back.

It was not just defenders Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Hernandez who were solid for the second straight game.

"It doesn't come only from the French defence," Deschamps said. "The attacking players did what they had to do. They made an effort for the team to be compact, to work together. It was very important to have very solid defence."

France neutralized Guerrero to a single chance in the first half. But goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who made his 100th international appearance, saved his low shot from close range.

In the second half, France kept Peru at a distance, allowing mostly only long range attempts on goal.

Even such an offensive ace as Kylian Mbappe, who scored the winning goal in the first half, came to help.

"If the team needs it, you need to sacrifice yourself," Mbappe said. "Today, sometimes we didn't need to be up the field ... this is what I did."


Update June 21, 2018

Ronaldo scores in Portugal's 1-0 win, Morocco eliminated

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the group B match between Portugal and Morocco at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 20. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Graham Dunbar

Moscow (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo made European soccer history by scoring in Portugal's 1-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday, a result that makes the North African team the first to be eliminated from the World Cup.

Ronaldo's header in the fourth minute was his fourth goal at this year's tournament, and his 85th for his country. That moved him ahead of Hungary great Ferenc Puskas and alone in second place worldwide behind Ali Daei's 109 goals for Iran.

The Portugal forward celebrated his goal with a trademark run and soaring leap toward the corner flag at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Morocco lost 1-0 for the second straight Group B match and are out of contention for a spot in the next round.

The North Africans had several chances against Portugal, nearly all from set pieces, and three of them came in a five-minute spell early in the second half. Younes Belhanda was twice denied by goalkeeper Rui Patricio's diving saves, and defender Mehdi Benatia scooped a shot over the bar.

In injury time, Benatia lifted another shot too high with an even clearer chance.

Ronaldo's four goals tops the individual scoring chart at the World Cup. Buoyed by his hat trick against Spain on Friday, including a spectacular free kick late in the game, Ronaldo scored against Morocco with his first meaningful touch early in the match.

He was too strong for marker Manuel Da Costa and found space in the goalmouth to meet Joao Moutinho's cross after a corner.

Ronaldo had two more free kick chances, though each from less than 20 yards. He could not get the ball up and over a solid wall of defenders on either occasion.

Benatia, a rugged defender who plays for Juventus, led the efforts to stop Ronaldo. His hard tackles from behind, however, earned him a yellow card.


Costa scores again, Spain beat Iran 1-0 at World Cup

Spain's Diego Costa, right, shoots as Iran's Morteza Pouraliganji tries to block during the World Cup group B match between Iran and Spain at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 20. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Samuel Petrequin

Kazan, Russia (AP) — Patience is a virtue, and Spain showed plenty of it to overcome a tough challenge from Iran at the World Cup.

During a frustrating evening at the Kazan Arena when the 2010 champions struggled to break through the stubborn Iranian defence, Diego Costa scored on a deflection for a 1-0 win on Wednesday.

Costa scored in the 54th minute after being set up by Andres Iniesta. The powerful striker turned in the area and took a shot that deflected off Ramin Rezeian before bouncing back onto Costa's knee and into the net.

It was far from a beautiful win, but the goal was enough to make Spain coach Fernando Hierro smile.

"We have four points," Hierro said. "We were happier after the match against Portugal, but we only had one point."

Spain and Portugal lead Group B with four points each following their 3-3 draw and 1-0 victories. Iran have three points, but Morocco have been eliminated.

Costa, who scored twice against Portugal, has three goals at this year's World Cup, trailing Cristiano Ronaldo by one. He also has nine goals in his last nine starts for Spain.

He only had one chance against Iran, and he converted it.

"It's going be tight (with Ronaldo)," Hierro said. "I know Diego is really committed, he has scored three goals in three matches. He can do better, he works hard, he is fighting both at the back and at the front."

Facing a very compact Iranian team that came out to defend, Spain pressed high and controlled much of the game but found it difficult to threaten against Iran's 10-man defence.

Spurred on by their vociferous fans, Iran's imposing players did well to handle Spain's attacks. Iran were also dangerous on the break, using the speed of their attacking players to threaten the Spanish back four but without creating many real chances.

Spain were mostly dangerous from set-pieces, including in the 25th minute when a free kick from David Silva that took a deflection was stopped by Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand.

Spain continued to apply strong pressure in the second half and Beiranvand stopped a strike from Sergio Busquets in the 49th minute with a superb one-handed diving save. He then palmed the rebound away before Lucas Vazquez could get to the ball.

Hierro's players were almost caught against the run of the play when Karim Ansarifard unleashed a powerful strike that ended up in the side-netting following a long thrown in.

Then, trailing in the second half, Iran nearly equalized when Saeid Ezatolahi had a goal ruled out on video review.

Iran continued to push hard and managed to challenge with some fast counterattacks. Spain were lucky not to concede toward the end as Mehdi Taremi connected with a cross from Ansarifard, but his header from close range went over the crossbar.


Suarez sends Uruguay, Russia to last 16 at World Cup

Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring his side's winning goal during the World Cup group A match against Saudi Arabia at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, June 20. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Derek Gatopoulos

Rostov-on-Don, Russia (AP) — With a single goal, Luis Suarez settled the fate of four teams in the group stage of the World Cup.

The controversial striker, who was making his 100th appearance in his national team's light blue, scored Wednesday to give Uruguay a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia and a spot in the round of 16.

The result, though, had a domino effect in Group A. It also put hosts Russia into the next round while eliminating both Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the same time.

Suarez, who was kicked out of the last World Cup for biting an opponent during a match, knocked in a corner kick from Carlos Sanchez in the 23rd minute for his 52nd goal for his country in that century of matches.

"We are more than proud because we've reached the knockout stage at three successive World Cups. It's a beautiful moment and we want to enjoy it," Suarez said. "We still haven't hit our stride so we need to tweak some things."

Uruguay and Russia both have six points from their opening two matches, putting them into the round of 16 with a match to go. They will face each other on Monday in Samara with first place in Group A on the line.

Besides scoring, Suarez led his team with a hard-working performance. He fell back to defend and raced forward alongside Edinson Cavani on the counterattack.

"I don't want to hand out empty praise but Suarez is a crucial player for us. And he has that enormous capacity to score goals," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. "He lives under enormous pressure, but he lives with it. He takes that pressure on."

The 71-year-old Tabarez is the oldest coach at the tournament and also led Uruguay to the World Cup semifinals in 2010.

"We do want to score more but there are other positives: no yellow cards, no injuries," Tabarez said. "We'll see who we get now (in the next round). You don't see 10-0 games at the World Cup anymore. All the teams out there are good we respect all of them. That is a cardinal rule for us."


Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson dies aged 88

In this Nov. 24, 2004, file photo Australian golfer Peter Thomson poses for a photo after an exhibition match at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Dennis Passa

Melbourne (AP) - Hailed as a hero to some and as golf royalty to others, Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of the British Open and the only player in the 20th century to win the tournament for three straight years, died Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members, Golf Australia said.

The first Australian to win the British Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

The Australian's wins came in 1954, '55, '56, again in 1958 and lastly in 1965 against a field that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Only Harry Vardon, with six titles between 1896 and 1914, won more.

Thomson also tied for fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open and placed fifth in the 1957 Masters. He never played the PGA Championship.

In 1998, he captained the International side to its only win over the United States at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Asked by The Associated Press in 2011 how he'd like to be remembered, Thomson replied: "A guy who always said what he thought."

Veteran Australian golfer Karrie Webb was among the first to tweet her condolences, saying she was "saddened to hear of the passing of our Aussie legend and true gentleman of the game.... so honored to have been able to call Peter my friend. RIP Peter."

Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Thomson was "a champion in every sense of the word, both on the course and in life."

"Many know him as a five-time champion golfer of the year or as a three-time captain of the Presidents Cup International team." Finchem added. "But he was also a great friend, father, grandfather and husband. He was golfing royalty, and our sport is a better one because of his presence."

Former golfer and now broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 British Open champion, called Thomson his "hero" — "Peter - my friend and mentor R.I.P. Australian golf thanks you for your iconic presence and valuable guidance over the years."

From Britain, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers praised Thomson's plans for the game's future.

"Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going, which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf," Slumbers said. "He was one of the most decorated and celebrated champion golfers in the history of The Open."

Born in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Brunswick on Aug. 23, 1929, Thomson was a promising cricketer. He scored an unbeaten 150 runs for the Carlton club against a men's side as a 15-year-old.

But golf became his passion, and he turned professional in 1947.

He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times and Australian Open three times. He first played on the PGA Tour in the U.S. in 1953 and 1954, finishing 44th and 25th on the money list, respectively. He won the Texas International in 1956.

Thomson won nine times on the Senior PGA tour in the U.S. in 1985, topping the money list. His last tournament victory came at the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship, the same year he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Overall, he won 26 European Tour events, 34 times on the Australasian PGA tour and 11 on the seniors tour in the U.S, as well as once in Japan.

In later years, Thomson wrote articles for many publications and daily newspapers, was club professional at Royal Melbourne and designed more than 100 golf courses. In the 2011 Presidents Cup program, Thomson provided an insightful hole-by-hole analysis of the composite course at Royal Melbourne.

Thomson was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's.

"All records are qualified in that they were made at a certain time in history," Thomson told golf historian and author Brendan Moloney for a story on his 80th birthday.

"The circumstances change so much, and so do the players' attitudes. In golf, only in the last 30 years or so has there been a professional attitude to playing for money. The professionals in the USA and Britain and anywhere else all had club jobs as a backstop to their income.

"When they did play and make records, you have to understand that they were taking time off from the pro shop," he said. "So the records that were set were pretty remarkable."

Thomson always had stories to tell, and told them well. With a full head of hair and a lineless face that belied his age, the Australian wasn't afraid to let everyone know his feelings on any subject.

That was true as far back as 1966. As president of the Australian PGA, Thomson was indignant that Arnold Palmer's prize for winning the Australian Open was only $1,600, out of a total purse of $6,000, one of the smallest in golf.

"Golf Stars Play for Peanuts," blared the headline of a story he wrote. "Never before has such a field of top golfers played for what $6,000 is worth today. Canada offers 19 times that. I know 19 other countries who give more."

But he was always happy on the golf course.

"I've had a very joyful life, playing a game that I loved to play for the sheer pleasure of it," Thomson said. "I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life."

Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years and worked behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

In 1979, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf, and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
 


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Defending champions Germany eliminated from World Cup

Brazil advance to round of 16 at World Cup, top Serbia 2-0

Maradona 'fine' after being treated by doctor at World Cup

In-form Buttler leads England to T20 win vs Australia


Messi finally scores, Argentina advances at World Cup

Denmark advance at World Cup in drab 0-0 draw with France

Joshua ordered by WBA to fight Povetkin and ditch Wilder

Kvitova, Konta ease into 3rd round at Eastbourne


World Cup matchups turn on late video reviews

Suarez scores again, Uruguay beat hosts Russia 3-0

Murray yet to commit to Wimbledon after first comeback win

After 5-test losing streak, England's Jones still believes


Kane scores hat trick in England's 6-1 rout of Panama

Falcao scores, Colombia beat Poland 3-0 at World Cup

Hamilton wins French GP to retake lead in F1 title race

Buttler 110 as England beat Australia to sweep series 5-0


Brazil leave it late to beat Costa Rica 2-0 at World Cup

Hamilton tops charts on first day of French GP practice

Musa scores twice to give Nigeria 2-0 win over Iceland

Xhaka and Shaqiri score for Swiss, make Albanian symbol


Argentina beaten 3-0 at World Cup, Croatia advance

Australia get crucial 1-1 draw with Denmark at World Cup

England beat Australia by 6 wickets to lead ODI series 4-0

France defence excels in 1-0 victory over Peru in Group C


Ronaldo scores in Portugal's 1-0 win, Morocco eliminated

Costa scores again, Spain beat Iran 1-0 at World Cup

Suarez sends Uruguay, Russia to last 16 at World Cup

Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson dies aged 88

 



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