Tottenham recover to beat 10-man Southampton 4-1 in EPL
Hotspur's Dele Alli, second right, scores his side's first goal of the game
during their English Premier League match against Southampton at St Mary's
Stadium in Southampton, Wednesday, Dec. 28. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)
Southampton, England (AP) —
Tottenham recovered from conceding a goal after 69 seconds to beat 10-man
Southampton 4-1 in the English Premier League on Wednesday, keeping the team
in touch with their rivals for Champions League qualification.
Dele Alli began Spurs' fightback with
the equalizer at St. Mary's stadium and completed it with their fourth goal
in the 87th minute, with the visitors threatening to score each time they
Tottenham's other goals in their third
straight win were scored by Harry Kane, who also missed a penalty, and
substitute Son Heung-min.
Mauricio Pochettino's side stayed in
fifth place, but moved back to within a point of the top four and 10 points
It completed a perfect set of results
for the league's title chasers this round, with Chelsea, Liverpool,
Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United also winning across Monday
and Tuesday. The top six teams are seven points clear of the rest, setting
up a fierce fight for the four Champions League qualification spots.
Virgil van Dijk gave Southampton the
perfect start by heading in a free kick with barely a minute gone. But the
hosts faced an uphill task after winger Nathan Redmond was given a straight
red card in the 56th minute — with the score at 2-1 — for bringing down Alli
in the box, conceding the penalty that Kane missed.
"This changed the whole game for me,"
Southampton manager Claude Puel said. "It's difficult to keep going with
this level of intensity (by Spurs)."
Kane blazed the spot kick over the
crossbar, with his standing foot moving a piece of turf and, as a
consequence, the ball before the England striker made connection.
It didn't stop Pochettino making a
successful return to the team he managed for 16 months over 2013-14.
"After yesterday's result (Liverpool's
4-1 win over Stoke) and the others (on Monday), when the big teams won, it
was very important for us to win the game for our belief," Pochettino said.
Alli beat Van Dijk to Moussa Sissoko's
left-wing cross and steered home a header into the top corner for Spurs'
equalizer in the 19th minute.
Tottenham went ahead in the 52nd when
Kane lost marker Oriol Romeu to head home Christian Eriksen's corner, his
first goal in four games.
Eriksen struck the bar with a deflected
shot before Son drilled in a third goal in the 85th at the end of a
counter-attack, and Alli curled home the fourth for his 16th goal in 50
Premier League appearances.
Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic retires from tennis at 29
Ana Ivanovic of Serbia is shown
competing at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York in this
Aug. 30, 2016 file photo. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
London (AP) — Ana
Ivanovic retired from tennis at age 29 Wednesday, ending a career in
which she was ranked No. 1 in 2008 but can no longer play at the
highest level because of injuries.
In a live broadcast on
Facebook, Ivanovic said "it was a difficult decision, but there is
so much to celebrate." The Serb won 15 tour titles, including the
2008 French Open, and is now ranked No. 63.
"It's been well-known that I've
been hampered by injuries. ... I can only play if I can perform up
to my own high standards and I can no longer do that," she said. "So
it's time to move on."
Ivanovic became a UNICEF
national ambassador for Serbia in 2007 and says that position will
figure in her plans.
"I will become an ambassador of
sport and healthy life. I will also explore opportunities in
business, beauty and fashion among other endeavors," she said on her
Facebook page. "I will also have more time for my philanthropic
activities with my work with UNICEF. I've lived my dreams and I
really hope to help others do so as well."
A finalist at Roland Garros in
2007 and the Australian Open in 2008, Ivanovic lost in the first
round of this year's U.S. Open to 89th-ranked Denisa Allertova of
the Czech Republic. It was her second consecutive exit in the first
round at Flushing Meadows.
Ivanovic announced a week later
she would take the rest of the season off because of wrist and toe
injuries, saying she had a recurring wrist injury and would also
have surgery on a toe she broke at the Australian Open in January
"Ana is a true champion and a
great ambassador for the sport of women's tennis," WTA CEO Steve
Simon said in a statement on the tour's website. "She has
contributed greatly to the entire sport, both in her home country of
Serbia and across the globe."
American skier Shiffrin takes 2nd World Cup GS win in 2 days
United States's Mikaela Shiffrin
celebrates at the end of the second run of alpine ski, women's
World Cup Giant Slalom, in Semmering, Austria, Wednesday, Dec.
28. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)
Semmering, Austria (AP) —
After waiting 26 months for her second career World Cup giant slalom
win, Mikaela Shiffrin needed just one more day to add the third.
On Wednesday, the American
earned her second GS win in two days. Her only previous victory in
the discipline was in October 2014 — at the season-opening race in
another Austrian resort, Soelden.
The victory raised her total of
World Cup wins to 25, with 22 coming in her favorite slalom
discipline. Among active skiers, only American teammate Lindsey
Vonn, who is currently recovering from a broken arm, has won more
races — 76.
In dense snowfall, Shiffrin
built on a narrow first-run lead to beat 2013 world champion Tessa
Worley of France by 0.15 seconds, while 2010 Olympic champion
Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was 0.18 back in third for her first
podium finish of the season.
"It was a really big fight,"
Shiffrin said. "It was tough because you could feel your skis like
stopping and going, stopping and going. And I thought, 'This is
slow, it has to be.'"
Shiffrin and Worley also
finished 1-2 in Tuesday's GS on the same course. Worley won the
previous two GS races in Killington, Vermont, and Sestriere, Italy,
and now leads Shiffrin by 35 points in the discipline standings.
Shiffrin extended her lead in
the overall World Cup standings to 115 points over defending
champion Lara Gut of Switzerland, who finished sixth in Wednesday's
The three-day event in Austria
ends with a floodlit slalom race on Thursday, giving Shiffrin an
opportunity to further strengthen her lead. The Olympic champion has
won all 11 slaloms she competed in since February 2015, while Gut
usually sits out slaloms.
The opening run in the morning
hours was hampered by strong winds and snowfall, but conditions even
got worse in the afternoon.
"It was so tough. I didn't
think I was going to see the green light at the end," said Worley,
who briefly led the competition before Shiffrin had her final run.
"It was so bumpy and you couldn't see anything."
Worley's French teammate Taina
Barioz had a nasty crash and appeared to have hurt her left lower
leg, but Shiffrin said conditions were still suitable for a GS race.
"Outside the track it might
have been pretty dangerous because there is so much snow but in the
track it is OK," Shiffrin said.
Rebensburg, who injured her
knee in the off-season, dropped from second after the first run to
third but said she was still satisfied with getting her first
top-three finish since winning the season-ending GS in St. Moritz,
Switzerland, in March.
"Basically I am very happy to
be on the podium but I am also a bit angry with myself as I didn't
ski the final part too well," the German said. "It was brutally
difficult and I held back a bit."
Just like at the race the day
before, Shiffrin took a slim lead in the opening run.
"It was fun again," said
Shiffrin, who wore bib No. 6 after Tuesday's win had earned her a
place among the seven highest-ranked GS skiers, who get the
favorable start numbers one to seven.
"It was a good day to get into
the top seven. I had a nice track so it wasn't too bad. Actually
they did a really good job cleaning up the track," said Shiffrin,
referring to a legion of course workers who moved fresh snow off the
race line in the hours before the start, and again before the final
Ronda Rousey saying little to promote UFC 207 comeback fight
Ronda Rousey is shown in this Feb.
22, 2014, file photo.
(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Los Angeles (AP) — Ronda
Rousey is returning to mixed martial arts Friday after a 13-month
absence, taking on Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title at UFC
Just don't expect to hear about
it from Rousey.
The once-dominant champion has
largely declined to promote her comeback bout, skipping nearly every
traditional pre-fight media responsibility. Rousey's silence leaves
Nunes and the other fighters on the card in the awkward position of
doing all the dirty work to sell the UFC's end-of-the-year,
pay-per-view event in Las Vegas.
"I really don't know what's
going on with Ronda right now," Nunes said recently. "This whole
thing, I really don't know. ... I think the UFC is doing it for her.
I think the UFC has been doing all the promos for her. I think she
can do whatever she wants."
Rousey is the most marketable
name in the game and perhaps the biggest mainstream star in MMA
history, and her return from last year's shocking knockout loss to
Holly Holm should be one of the biggest sports events of the holiday
period. Rousey (12-1) largely vanished from public after her defeat,
but agreed to return for a title shot at Nunes (13-4), who won the
belt in July.
Rousey's decision to limit
herself to a few talk-show appearances and a fleeting interview or
two has forced Nunes — who has a tiny fraction of Rousey's fame — to
carry the promotional weight along with talkative men's bantamweight
champion Dominick Cruz, who takes on unbeaten Cody Garbrandt in the
co-main event at T-Mobile Arena.
Nunes has gamely done hours of
interviews in her ever-improving English to promote the show. The
Brazilian champion thinks she knows why the UFC has given a free
pass to Rousey.
"The UFC wants to make it
easier for her, so she doesn't feel like she's not the champion
anymore," Nunes said. "They want to make her feel like she's not the
second. They want to make me the second, to make her get stronger or
something. I feel like they promote her, so she can be strong, like,
'Ronda, Ronda, Ronda, Ronda.' But she knows she's the challenger.
I'm the champion."
You might not know it from the
UFC's posters, videos and TV commercials, which are thoroughly
dominated by Rousey's glowering face. She agreed to appear in those
in-house promotions, in which Nunes is practically a footnote — a
decision criticized on Twitter by no less than Joe Rogan, the UFC's
lead color commentator.
Rousey became one of the
world's most famous female athletes during her meteoric rise from
Olympic judo to MMA dominance, thrashing a series of overmatched
Her rise ended last November
with a head kick from Holm, who made Rousey look unprepared in their
lop-sided fight. Rousey cited the grueling grind of fight promotion
as a factor in her loss, and she was stunned by the gleeful
reactions of schadenfreude on social media after her defeat.
So when she finally agreed to
another bout, Rousey was allowed to bypass the usual scrutiny and
tedium. The UFC isn't even holding a pre-fight news conference this
Promotion is usually a major
factor in pay-per-view sales, and the UFC hasn't always been
accommodating to its stars. Even Conor McGregor, its charismatic
two-belt champion, was pulled from UFC 200 this year when he balked
at a request to fly from his training camp to Las Vegas to promote.
Nunes has a stake in the
pay-per-view revenue from their fight, so she has ample motivation
to promote — and ample reason to be disappointed in Rousey's
decision to stay silent. The champion looks at her heavy lifting
before UFC 207 as a reasonable price for her chance to get a
"The only thing that I look for
in my career is this thing right here: the belt," Nunes said. "Be
the champion. And whatever they want to do with Ronda, they can do.
(Her name) promotes good. It's going to sell a lot of
Former Tour de France champ Wiggins retires from cycling
Former Tour de France winner and
Olympic Gold medalist Bradley Wiggins announced his retirement
from professional cycling on Wednesday, Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Peter
London (AP) - Bradley
Wiggins announced his retirement from cycling on Wednesday, ending
an illustrious career in which he won a British-record eight Olympic
medals and became his country's first winner of the Tour de France.
The 36-year-old Wiggins posted
a statement on his Facebook and Instagram pages, alongside a picture
of his collected race jerseys, medals and trophies.
"I have been lucky enough to
live a dream and fulfill my childhood aspiration of making a living
and a career out of the sport I fell in love with at the age of 12,"
"2016 is the end of the road
for this chapter, onwards and upwards."
Wiggins is Britain's most
decorated Olympian with five golds in a haul of eight medals across
five games, capped this year when he led the British pursuit team to
victory at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The summer of 2012 was the
pinnacle of Wiggins' career, when he completed a rare double by
winning the time trial at the London Olympics soon after his Tour
triumph amid a joyful atmosphere described as "Wiggomania" by the
British press. A lanky athlete with a strong appetite for fine
clothing and British rock music, Wiggins was subsequently honored
with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.
In recent months, he has found
himself under scrutiny for his use of therapeutic use exemptions
(TUEs) earlier in his career, after hackers leaked that he got
intramuscular injections of a strong corticosteroid days before
three big races, including the 2012 Tour.
Wiggins' treatment was approved
by cycling authorities and there has been no suggestion any rules
have been broken over the TUEs. But the revelations cast a shadow
over one of the strongest advocates of the anti-doping fight.
Both Wiggins and Team Sky, his
former team, have denied any wrongdoing over the rider's approved
use of the treatment.
Wiggins' father, Gary, was
making a living in Belgium as a professional cyclist when Bradley
was born in the country. A hard-drinking Australian, Gary left his
English wife and son when Bradley was two years old, with Bradley
moving to London where he lived on a working-class estate. Wiggins
took to cycling at 12 and collected his first Olympic medal eight
years later at the Sydney Games, winning bronze in the team pursuit.
He added three more in Athens in 2004, with gold, silver and bronze
in three different events, becoming the first British athlete in 40
years to win three medals at a single Olympics.
Wiggins had more success at the
2008 Beijing Games, winning gold in the team and individual
After shedding some weight,
Wiggins realized during the 2009 Tour that he was capable of
competing for the overall win, achieving his best-ever finish with a
fourth place. He crashed out of the Tour with a fractured collarbone
in 2011 and fulfilled his dream of winning cycling's most grueling
race a year later.
Like his father, who died in
2008 after struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, Wiggins had
to overcome drinking problems after his early successes in the
velodrome. He wrote in his autobiography that he suffered from
depression after the Athens Olympics and indulged in binge drinking
as he struggled to cope with his celebrity status.
"Apparently it's a well-known
phenomenon, but Olympic gold medalists usually only lose the plot
for a month or so," Wiggins wrote. "My bender (drinking) after
winning three medals, including my first gold, in Athens in August
2004 lasted a good eight or nine months and I wasn't quite right for
at least a year... For a while my life threatened to spiral out of
Wiggins pulled himself together
after the birth of his son, Ben, in March 2005, and had a daughter a
year later with his wife, Catherine.
"What will stick with me
forever," Wiggins wrote in his retirement statement, "is the support
and love from the public through thick and thin, all as a result of
riding a pushbike for a living."
Bradley out as Swansea manager after less than 3 months
Bob Bradley. (Simon Galloway/PA via
London (AP) - Bob
Bradley waited years for the chance to coach a team in one of
Europe's top soccer leagues.
When he finally got it, the job
proved too big for him.
The 58-year-old American was
fired as Swansea manager on Tuesday, just 85 days after taking over
at the English Premier League strugglers.
Bradley won two of his 11
matches in charge, with his fate sealed a day after a 4-1 loss at
home to West Ham that left Swansea in the relegation zone. After
taking training on Tuesday, Bradley later returned to the club's
training ground to be told he had been dismissed by Swansea's
"I knew exactly what I was
getting into when I came to Swansea," Bradley said by text message,
"and realized the hardest part was always going to be getting points
in the short run.
"But I believe in myself and I
believe in going for it."
Swansea are next to last in the
standings, only above Hull on goal difference after 18 games of the
38-game season. The Welsh club is four points from safety, having
been one place out of the relegation zone when Bradley joined.
"With the club going through
such a tough time," Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins said in a
statement, "we have to try and find the answers to get ourselves out
"Personally, I have nothing but
praise for Bob. He is a good man, a good person who gave everything
to the job."
Once regarded as a beacon of
stability and an example of how a soccer club should be run, Swansea
will begin the search for their fifth full-time manager in less than
three years, desperate to keep their place in the richest soccer
league of all. American businessmen Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan
have run the south Wales club since July, when they bought a 68
percent controlling stake.
Former Manchester United
midfielder Ryan Giggs and current Wales manager Chris Coleman are
the early favorites with British bookmakers.
Bradley arrived at Liberty
Stadium with a strong reputation after spells at clubs in Norway and
France, as well as stints as coach of the U.S. and Egypt national
teams during his 35-year coaching career. He felt he'd earned his
shot at a big job after a number of setbacks and rejections, and was
proud to be the first American coach to manage in the Premier
Turning around Swansea's
fortunes was always going to be a difficult task, though, especially
for a man with no experience of British soccer. Bradley couldn't
shore up Swansea's defense — the team conceded 29 goals in his time
in charge, and at least three goals in eight of his 11 games — and
had only one attacker of true quality, Iceland midfielder Gylfi
Bradley was unconcerned about
coming under scrutiny — mostly from British soccer fans on social
media — for his occasional use of American soccer terms like "PK"
(for penalty kick) and "road games" (for away games), but was
worried about Swansea's sloppy play and failure to keep clean
Bradley acknowledged that
Swansea's two games immediately after Christmas, at home to West Ham
and Bournemouth, could determine his future. He didn't even make it
to the Bournemouth game on Saturday, with the board taking decisive
action that will at least give Swansea's new manager the January
transfer window to make changes.
Assistant coaches Paul Williams
and Alan Curtis will take charge of the team in the short term.
Azhar's unbeaten 139 lifts Pakistan to 310-6
Pakistan's Azhar Ali hits a shot
against Australia on the second day of the second test in
Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 27. (AP Photo/Andy
Melbourne, Australia (AP) —
A brilliant century by opener Azhar Ali took Pakistan to 310-6 on
the second day of the rain-hit second test against Australia at the
Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.
Azhar, unbeaten on 139 and
Mohammad Amir, 28 not out, were together in an unfinished 42-run
stand for the seventh wicket when rain forced players off for the
day. A total of 78 overs have been lost over two days due to
The innings was set up by a
fighting 115-run fifth wicket stand between Azhar and Asad Shafiq
(50) after the tourists were precariously placed on 125-4 after
winning the toss.
Azhar, 31, held the Pakistan
innings together and batted brilliantly without offering any chances
off 287 balls. He mixed caution with aggression and studded his 12th
test century with 12 exquisitely driven boundaries.
The 56-test veteran became only
the seventh Pakistani batsman to score a test ton at the world's
oldest test venue, and he knelt and kissed the playing surface in a
solemn celebration of a milestone he so richly deserved. It was
Azhar's third hundred in six test appearances against Australia
including 109 and 100 not out in Abu Dhabi in October 2014. He has a
tally of 646 runs (average 71.78) against Australia over this
Azhar, who also scored 71 in
Pakistan's 39-run loss in the first match of this three-test series
in Brisbane last week, has also become the fifth man to reach 1,000
test runs for the calendar year during his Melbourne century. He
went to stumps on Tuesday with 1,085 runs in 2016, at an average of
"Azhar Ali batted extremely
well (today)," said Australian bowling coach David Saker. "They've
blunted that attack quite well. (It) looks like that's a bit of a
focus from them to get through the really good spells.
"Sometimes the rain can be a
blessing but today because it was constant rain ... that's when it
can be quite difficult. The ball gets wet, the footholds become a
little bit slippery, the bowlers pick up grass on the bottom of
their shoes so they slip a bit and when the ball gets wet it becomes
quite easy for the batters. And they made the most of it, they
scored quite quickly."
Asad, who scored 137 in the
second innings in Brisbane, continued that form here, hitting four
boundaries off 146 balls in three hours before the second new ball
ended his 123-ball innings after three hours.
Following a four-hour rain
delay, Australia took the second new ball and struck immediately
through Jackson Bird (3-91) and Josh Hazelwood (2-33).
Asad, who survived two lbw
appeals off successive Hazelwood deliveries, edged Bird to second
slip Steve Smith.
Sarfraz Ahmed (10) lasted half
an hour and edged the economical Hazelwood to Matt Renshaw at first
That's all the Australian could
manage as Azhar and Amir counterattacked in their seventh wicket
stand, with Amir hitting six fours off 23 balls to further frustrate
the Australians. Amir lived dangerously as he edged, or played and
missed, against the Australian pace trio.
Saker believes the best batting
conditions are yet to come and could put Australia in a good
position to force a result.
"Knowing the MCG quite well,
it's usually good to bat day three and four here so we're still well
and truly in the game," he said.
Liverpool's prolific attack delivers in 4-1 win over Stoke
Stoke City's Mame Biram Diouf, left
and Liverpool's Roberto Firmino battle for the ball, during
their English Premier League match at Anfield Stadium in
Liverpool, Tuesday Dec. 27. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)
Liverpool, England (AP) —
Liverpool's prolific forward line delivered again in a 4-1 win over
Stoke in the English Premier League on Tuesday, lifting the team
back into second place and within six points of Chelsea.
Liverpool fought back from
conceding in the 12th minute at Anfield, with Brazil forward Roberto
Firmino among the scorers with his sixth league goal of the season —
three days after he was charged by police with drunk-driving in
Liverpool city center.
Playmaker Adam Lallana
equalized for the Reds in the 34th and Firmino added the second just
Liverpool stretched the lead in
the second half through an own-goal by Giannelli Imbula and Daniel
Sturridge's first league goal of the season with his first touches
after coming on as a substitute.
Liverpool reacted to wins for
Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United on Monday
with their own a day later, and it was the sixth time this season
that Juergen Klopp's team have scored four goals or more in a league
game. It is no surprise that the Reds are the top scorers in the
division with 45 goals in 18 games.
"Confidence is not a problem of
the team at the moment," Klopp said. "We know about our quality, but
obviously we don't show it all the time."
Liverpool's players only got
going once they fell behind to a rare Stoke goal at Anfield.
Erik Pieters provided the cross
from the left and Jon Walters glanced in a header at the near post
that Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet got a hand to but couldn't
keep out. It was only Stoke's third league goal away to Liverpool in
Stoke were the architects of
their own downfall at times, with Lallana finding the net after Glen
Johnson — one of three former Liverpool players in Stoke's lineup —
failing to clear a cross.
Firmino started despite his
off-field issue and repaid Klopp's loyalty by slamming home an
angled left-foot shot that hit one post, careered across the line to
hit the other and rebound in.
Imbula turned in a 60th-minute
cross from the left wing by Divock Origi, who was then replaced by
In his first action of the
game, Sturridge was alert to intercept a back-pass by Ryan
Shawcross, round goalkeeper Lee Grant and slot a finish into the
It was Liverpool's 100th goal
since Klopp took charge in October last year, completing another big
win ahead of the visit of Man City on Saturday.
Lions' playoff hopes on hold after 42-21 loss to Cowboys
Detroit Lions' Johnson Bademosi,
left, is unable to stop Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant from catching
a touchdown pass late in the first half of their NFL football
game, Monday, Dec. 26, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon
Arlington, Texas (AP) —
Matthew Stafford lost to his hometown team again, and the playoff
plans are on hold for the Detroit Lions.
Dez Bryant threw his first
career touchdown pass between a pair of scoring catches, Ezekiel
Elliott ran for two TDs and the Dallas Cowboys kept the Lions from
clinching a postseason spot with a 42-21 win Monday night.
Despite a second straight loss
following five consecutive victories, Detroit (9-6) still controls
its postseason fate. The Lions will be at home against Green Bay
(9-6) with the NFC North title at stake in the finale Sunday.
"It's a one-game season,"
Stafford said. "If you told me in Week 17 we would have a game at
our place and got a chance to win the division, I'd take it all
championship-winning high school quarterback in the Dallas area, had
a 1-yard scoring plunge , but was sacked four times — matching a
season high — almost two years after losing a wild-card game at
He was 26 of 46 for 260 yards,
including an interception that set up Elliott's 1-yard touchdown
early in the third quarter to break a 21-all halftime tie.
With home-field advantage
already wrapped up, the Cowboys (13-2) didn't let up in their
seventh straight home win while matching their franchise record in
victories, reached two other times.
"There's just one way to play,"
coach Jason Garrett said. "You can't put different meaning on
different competition, like all of a sudden this is less important
than that. That's not how we operate."
The biggest sign they were
serious about this one came late in the third quarter, when Bryant
took a reverse pitch from Dak Prescott and tucked the ball as if
planning to run before pulling up and tossing a lefty lob to Jason
Witten for an easy 10-yard score and a 35-21 lead.
"We've been working on that
about five or six weeks, maybe a little longer," Bryant said. "You
know how you practice plays and sometimes you don't run them? I did
not think we were going to call that play. And we did, and we made
Elliott, the NFL rushing
leader, had a 55-yard touchdown run in the first half and finished
with 80 yards on 12 carries. He has 15 touchdowns rushing, two
behind league-leading LeGarrette Blount of New England.
Prescott tied Pittsburgh's Ben
Roethlisberger (2004) for the most wins by a rookie quarterback in
the Super Bowl era with 13. He was 15 of 20 for 212 yards with three
touchdowns, including Bryant's juggling 25-yard grab in the end zone
when he fought off pass interference by Johnson Bademosi.
Perpetual Loyal wins Sydney to Hobart race in record time
Supermaxi yacht Perpetual Loyal
crosses the finish to take line honors in the Sydney Hobart
yacht race in Hobart, Australia, Wednesday, Dec. 28. (Kurt
Arrigo/Rolex via AP)
Hobart, Australia (AP) —
Supermaxi Perpetual Loyal has taken line honors in the Sydney to
Hobart yacht race with its winning time nearly five hours faster
than the previous record.
Skippered by Anthony Bell,
Perpetual Loyal crossed the finish line at Constitution Dock in
Hobart around 2:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday to complete the
630-nautical-mile race in 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes, 20 seconds.
That shattered the race record,
set in 2012 by rival supermaxi Wild Oats XI, by 4 hours, 51 minutes,
Wild Oats XI had been leading
the race and was on target to take line honors for the ninth time
when it suffered a hydraulic failure on Tuesday and was forced to
Perpetual Loyal inherited a
comfortable lead, making up for its misfortunes of the last two
years when it had to quit the race. In 2015 it was forced out with
rudder damage and, in 2014, it withdrew after striking a submerged
This year it was able to take
full advantage of favorable wind conditions which propelled the
88-boat fleet at a record pace.
"We got a good set of weather
conditions," Bell said. "Sometimes you just need a little bit of
luck and we've certainly had our fair share of bad luck, so I was
entitled to ask the forecasters for that."
Bell said he was immediately
aware of the misfortune that struck Wild Oats XI and handed
Perpetual Loyal the race lead. The failure of a hydraulic ram
affected the movement of the yacht's keel and forced it to pull out
of the race and head for the port of Eden.
"We saw the boat tilt right
over, we saw them come to a sudden stop," Bell said. "Our first
worry was that it might have lost a crew member overboard.
"We radioed them and said, 'Hey
if you're in trouble we're prepared to stop the race and go over and
help the guys' but the fortunate thing is no one got hurt."
Wild Oats arrived safely in
Eden late Tuesday night.
Owner Sandy Oatley, who was not
aboard, was shocked the yacht was forced out of the race for the
second straight year.
"Last year we tore the mainsail
and we've done a lot of preparation and training in that regard and
the boys were very happy with that," Oatley said. "This hydraulic
failure has come out of left field."
The 70-foot New Zealand yacht
Giacomo, skippered by Jim Delegat and whose teenage sons Nikolas and
James were among the 14-man crew, crossed the line two hours after
Perpetual Loyal to take second place.
Giacomo completed the race in 1
day, 15 hours, 27 minutes, 5 seconds, just a few minutes ahead of
the Hong Kong-based supermaxi Scallywag. All three top finishers
were under the 2012 record.
"This type of yachting is a
boyhood dream come true," Delegat said. "The key really is we picked
a good plan, a good strategy."
Bell said following the race
that he wouldn't defend his title next year, preferring to sell
Perpetual Loyal and move on to other sailing challenges.
"We called last shots for the
boat last year, we said 'this is going to be our last trip to
Hobart' and we didn't make it to Hobart so we thought we should come
back," Bell said. "This boat is a great boat and it needs the next
owner, someone to pick it up and jump into it with passion and
American skier Shiffrin beats Worley for 2nd career GS win
United States's Mikaela Shiffrin
speeds down the course during the second run of an alpine ski,
women's World Cup Giant Slalom, in Semmering, Austria, Tuesday,
Dec. 27. (AP Photo/Marco Tacca)
Semmering, Austria (AP) —
A few days after Mikaela Shiffrin spent Christmas at Manuela
Moelgg's home in Italy and trained with her, the American and the
Italian finished first and third in a women's World Cup giant slalom
Shiffrin held on to her
first-run lead on the icy Panorama course to beat Tessa Worley of
France by 0.78 seconds. The result ended Shiffrin's 26-month wait
for a second GS win after celebrating her maiden triumph in the
opening race of the 2014-15 season.
Moelgg came 1.09 back in third
for the Italian's first podium in nearly six years.
"It's so cool. She and her
family were so inviting for Christmas. It made it feel more like
home for us," said Shiffrin, adding "it's so special" that Moelgg
also made the top three — for the first time since placing third at
a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, in Jan. 2011.
"We have been training at her
home," Shiffrin said. "We really only had Christmas Day off. But it
was OK, I had a restful day. And sometimes it is like when you take
a break, then your body says, 'Oh, it's a break!', and then you get
sick. I tried to fight that off but I feel good right now. My energy
Shiffrin's 24th career win
extended her overall lead to 55 points over defending champion Lara
Gut of Switzerland, who finished Tuesday's race in fourth.
At the previous GS in Sestriere
two weeks ago, Shiffrin also held a first-run lead but dropped to
sixth after a disappointing final run. It made her skip the speed
races in Val d'Isere, France, the following week in order to put in
extra GS training.
The sessions with Moelgg at
Kronplatz, which will host a World Cup GS in January, have paid off
"But it feels like it's taking
forever. I want to get better in GS for five years now," said the
American slalom specialist, who won Olympic gold, two world
championships and three World Cup season titles in her favorite
Moelgg was all smiles after
sharing the podium with Shiffrin and Worley, the GS world champion
"To be here with them is a
dream," said the Italian, who is still seeking a first win after 258
World Cup starts. "I had a good feeling, I raced well."
Worley was only sixth after the
opening run, 0.80 seconds behind Shiffrin. She hardly won time on
the American in the final run and missed out on her third straight
GS win after triumphing in Killington, Vermont, and Sestriere over
the last few weeks.
"I am happy because in the
first run I lost so much time on the top section," Worley said. "In
the second run I was just attacking the whole way down."
Returning from a 14-month
injury layoff, two-time former overall champion Anna Veith finished
3.21 seconds off the lead and failed to qualify for the final run.
The Austrian caught a stone
which damaged the edge of a ski early in her run.
"Unfortunately, this was not
how I thought it would be," Veith said about her first race since
March 2015. She missed last season to recover from knee surgery.
"But I am happy that I was back
at the start again even though the skiing was far off from where I
want it to be," Veith said.
The final run was interrupted
for a few minutes after Maria Pietilae-Holmner lost her right ski as
she went through a gate and crashed full-speed into the safety
boarding near the end of her run, though the Swede seemed to have
avoided serious injuries.
The race replaced the GS that
was canceled because of high winds in Courchevel, France, last week.
Another GS in Semmering is scheduled for Wednesday, followed by a
flood-lit slalom the next day.
Australia edge Pakistan on rain-shortened first day
Australian keeper Matthew Wade,
left, watches as Pakistan's Azhar Ali, right, hits a cut shot on
the first day of the second test in Melbourne, Monday, Dec. 26.
(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Melbourne, Australia (AP) —
Australia took honors on the rain curtailed opening day of the
second test against Pakistan after only two sessions were possible
at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday.
Having won the toss, Pakistan
were 142-4 with opener Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq unbeaten on 66 and
Light rain forced players to an
early tea break and continued before umpires Ian Gould and Sundaram
Ravi called off play leaving the day 39.1 overs short. Play will
resume 30 minutes early on the remaining days to make up for the
Azhar, with a stubborn innings,
stood between Pakistan and a meek capitulation, as Australia's swing
and seam trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Jackson Bird
made the tourists work hard for runs on a surface on which it was
difficult to force the pace.
Bird, 2-53, was outstanding and
claimed the wickets of the two most senior Pakistan batsmen Younis
Khan (21) and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (11) as the tourists stumbled
from a comfortable 111-2 to 124-4.
Bird beat Younis off the pitch
and bowled the right hander.
Misbah, having opened the
scoring with a six off Nathan Lyon, edged Bird to his pads and Nic
Maddinson at short leg caught the ball inches off the ground.
Azhar hit his four boundaries
off 135 balls and batted obdurately for his 25th half century in his
56th test, holding the innings together and sharing a 51-run stand
for the third wicket with Younis. It was Azhar's second half century
in as many innings following his 71 runs in Pakistan's gallant
run-chase in the 39-run loss in the first test in Brisbane last
Pakistan was 60 -2 at lunch
after a slow morning session.
Swing bowler Josh Hazelwood had
Babar Azam caught by skipper Steve Smith for 23 runs off the last
ball before the lunch break.
Opener Sami Aslam was caught by
Smith three balls after he introduced offspinner Lyon to the attack
after Australia's pacemen failed to make inroads in the first 11
overs. Lyon got a ball to turn sharply and lefthander Sami edged to
Smith after scoring 9 off 41 balls.
Mkhitaryan masterpiece keeps Man United rolling in EPL
Manchester United's Henrikh
Mkhitaryan celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during
their English Premier League match against Sunderland at Old
Trafford in Manchester, Monday, Dec. 26. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
London (AP) — Toppling
forward, Henrikh Mkhitaryan looked like he'd misjudged the
right-wing cross as he surged into the box seeking a clinching goal
for Manchester United.
What came next brought Old
Trafford to its feet — and underlined Mkhitaryan as perhaps the next
cult figure at the English giants.
With an acrobatic flick of his
right heel, the Armenian somehow managed to turn a ball that was
behind him into the far corner from eight meters out, before
plunging to the ground. Paul Pogba was the first United player to
celebrate with Mkhitaryan and walked away shaking his head in
It was a goal-of-the-season
contender in the English Premier League, another piece of art from a
player who is coming into his own after a tough start to life at
United when he struggled to adapt to the fast pace of English
football following a move from Borussia Dortmund.
Mkhitaryan sealed a 3-1 win for
United over Sunderland on Monday and a fourth straight league
victory for a side that's beginning to motor under Jose Mourinho.
United might still be 13 points behind Chelsea, who won a
club-record 12th straight game to extend their lead to seven points,
but a finish in the Champions League qualification places looks
Zlatan Ibrahimovic provided the
cross for Mkhitaryan's goal, set up Daley Blind for United's
39th-minute opener and scored the other goal for his 17th goal of
the season in all competitions. Mourinho will be delighted to see
his trio of high-profile offseason signings — Ibrahimovic,
Mkhitaryan and Pogba — looking the real deal.
Monday marked the opening batch
of games in the first of three Premier League rounds over the
festive period. All the title-chasing teams won.
Here's a look at what else
happened away from Old Trafford:
CHELSEA 3, BOURNEMOUTH 0
Two goals from Pedro and Eden
Hazard's penalty kick ensured Chelsea bettered a run of 11 victories
set over two seasons in 2009.
Only once — Arsenal in 2001-02,
with 13 straight wins — has a top-tier club had a longer winning
streak in one season since World War II.
Hazard starred in the absence
of suspended duo N'Golo Kante and Diego Costa as the league leaders
recorded their 10th clean sheet of the 12-match winning run.
HULL 0, MANCHESTER CITY 3
City wore down last-placed
Hull, with all their goals coming late in the game.
Yaya Toure converted a penalty
in the 72nd minute after Raheem Sterling was tripped as he drove
into the area. Up until that point, City lacked inspiration going
forward as Hull defended valiantly and in numbers, but more spaces
opened up to allow the visitors a second goal.
Kevin De Bruyne played in David
Silva, whose pinpoint cross was tapped home by Kelechi Iheanacho at
the far post in the 78th. In the third minute of stoppage time,
Sterling weaved his way into the area and sent in a cross that was
deflected into his own net by Curtis Davies.
It was a third straight win for
City, lifting the team into second place ahead of Liverpool by two
points. Liverpool play their game in hand against Stoke on Tuesday.
ARSENAL 1, WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Olivier Giroud marked his first
league start of the season with a late winner as Arsenal avoided
another stumble after back-to-back losses on the road.
The France striker headed home
Mesut Ozil's cross in the 86th minute to end West Brom's stubborn
resistance at Emirates Stadium.
Fourth-place Arsenal are tied
for points with Liverpool.
SWANSEA 1, WEST HAM 4
American coach Bob Bradley's
future at Swansea looked increasingly fragile after the team lost
again to remain in relegation trouble.
Angry Swansea supporters turned
on Bradley as Swansea slumped to a seventh loss of his 11 games in
charge, with a chant of "We want Bradley out" reverberating around
"I don't have regular dealings
with the board," Bradley said after goals by Andre Ayew, Winston
Reid, Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll sunk Swansea. "As a manager,
when results go bad you understand there will be discussion. It's
not anything you control."
Swansea are in next-to-last
place, tied on points with Hull.
Former England coach Sam
Allardyce's first game in charge of Crystal Palace ended in a 1-1
draw at Watford, Burnley beat Middlesbrough 1-0 to continue their
strong home form, and Leicester lost 2-0 at home to Everton in the
latest disappointing result of their stuttering title defense.
Leicester are only three points
above the relegation zone nearly halfway through the season.
Chiefs rout Broncos 33-10 to keep AFC West title hopes alive
Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman
Dontari Poe, right, tackles Denver Broncos running back Devontae
Booker during the first half of their NFL football game in
Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 25. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City, Missouri (AP) —
The Kansas City Chiefs knew before kickoff against Denver that they
were going to the playoffs.
They proceeded to play as if
they have much bigger goals.
Travis Kelce hauled in 11
catches for 160 yards and a touchdown, Tyreek Hill added a 70-yard
TD run to his rookie highlight reel and the Chiefs routed the
Broncos 33-10 to keep their AFC West title hopes alive on a soggy,
sloppy Christmas night at Arrowhead Stadium.
"Unforgettable," said 346-pound
defensive tackle Dontari Poe, summing up not only the night for
Kansas City but also the way he punctuated it in style, lining up at
quarterback and throwing a jump pass to tight end Demetrius Harris
for a touchdown late in the game.
The Chiefs (11-4) were already
assured of a wild card when Pittsburgh beat Baltimore earlier in the
day. But a win next weekend in San Diego and an Oakland loss in
Denver would give them the division title for the first time since
2010, not to mention a first-round bye and home playoff game.
"I give the guys a lot of
credit for playing hard when they already clinched a playoff spot.
That isn't easy to do," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "They came out
and I really thought played aggressive."
Meanwhile, the Broncos (8-7)
trudged through another inept offensive performance, this one
costing the reigning Super Bowl champions an opportunity to keep
their own postseason hopes alive.
Trevor Siemian was 17 of 43 for
183 yards and a game-ending interception, and the only TD drive he
led came after a pick gave him the ball at the Kansas City 6. Justin
Forsett scored two plays later.
The lackluster performance came
one week after a dismal showing in a 16-3 loss to New England led to
a locker room shouting match between the Denver offense and defense.
The Broncos downplayed any kind of disharmony this week , but their
performance Sunday night only seemed to underscore the rift.
"Next week is all geared toward
next year and our football team moving forward," Denver coach Gary
Kubiak said. "We need to finish on a positive note, but we need to
move on to the next year."
Kansas City controlled the
prime-time matchup from the opening bell.
Alex Smith capped a 77-yard
touchdown march with a 10-yard keeper in the first quarter, and Hill
out-ran the banged-up Broncos a few minutes later to give the Chiefs
a 14-0 lead.
It was the fourth TD scored by
Hill against the Broncos this season .
Forsett's touchdown gave the
Broncos fleeting hope, but it was dashed moments later. Kelce took a
screen pass and followed perfectly executed blocking for an 80-yard
touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
"It felt good to see this
offense come out, three possessions in a row and just move the
ball," Hill said. "We know what we can do. We still haven't put it
all together, but it's coming."
The Chiefs' defense took care
of the rest, making it a festive night for their fans.
Wild Oats XI retires from Sydney to Hobart race
The supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI is
shown underway after the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race,
Monday, Dec. 26. (Daniel Forster/Rolex via AP)
Sydney (AP) — Eight-time
line honors winner Wild Oats XI has been forced to retire from the
Sydney to Hobart yacht race for the second straight year after
suffering damage to a hydraulic ram.
The 100-foot supermaxi was
leading the race by around 8 nautical miles and was several hours
inside its 2012 race record early Tuesday morning when skipper Mark
Richards made the decision to retire. The fleet of 88 yachts which
left Sydney on Monday has been reduced to 84 after the additional
withdrawals of Freyja, Dare Devil and Patrice.
Supermaxi Perpetual LOYAL now
leads the race by about 15 miles and is also inside the race record
as the fleet sails down the east coast of Victoria.
Maserati is in third spot.
Wild Oats XI had recovered from
a bad start to seize the race lead and to set a record-breaking pace
as it sought to break its own race record of 1 day, 18 hours, 23
minutes, 12 seconds.
Perpetual LOYAL had the best
start of the supermaxis and was the first yacht through Sydney Heads
but yielded the lead to Wild Oats XI as the fleet headed down the
New South Wales coast.
While the Hong Kong-owned
supermaxi Scallywag was shown in eighth place early Tuesday its
position was deceiving. Skipper David Witt made the decision to go
further offshore than most of the fleet which puts the boat in a
strong tactical position. It is likely to have to gybe less often
than its rivals as the fleet approaches Tasmania.
John Markos, commodore of race
organizers the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia was confident the
race record would fall as the fleet encountered perfect sailing
conditions. The leading boat must reach the finish line before
7.23am local time Wednesday (2023 GMT Tuesday) to beat Wild Oats'
"We're very confident the race
record is going to get broken," Markos said. "This is the first time
I've been confident in the last 10 years.
"The reality is you've got
boats moving at a very high speed. They are picking up pace now that
the sun has come up.
"The modeling suggests they are
going to finish at 3am, (more than) four hours ahead of the race
record. I'm not quite believing that, it just sounds too incredible,
but I predict about five in the morning."
Markos said around six or seven
yachts were in contention for line honors.
The key to the record falling
is likely to be whether there is favorable wind in Tasmania's
Derwent River on the final stretch to the finish line at Hobart.
Yachts often encounter very light winds in the Derwent, delaying
their finish, but Markos said projections were for wind conditions
which would allow the leaders to maintain a record pace.
Security ramped up for Boxing Day cricket test
Security checkpoints are shown
outside the MCG stadium before the start of play on the first
day of the second cricket test between Australia and Pakistan in
Melbourne, Monday, Dec. 26. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Melbourne, Australia (AP) —
Victoria Police say hundreds of extra officers have been deployed to
the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the second cricket test between
Australia and Pakistan on Monday as security was increased following
a foiled terror plot.
In raids on Friday police
arrested four men who were allegedly plotting a Christmas Day attack
in Melbourne's central city.
Victoria Police Chief
Commissioner Graham Ashton said additional uniformed police would be
at the MCG on each day of the second test and police would have an
increased presence at all major events over the festive season. The
Boxing Day test is one of the largest events on the Australian
Ashton said "nothing that we're
seeing suggests there is any threat" and people should go about
their business as usual.
Irving clutch against Warriors again as Cavs win 109-108
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James
(23) passes over Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) as
Andre Iguodala (9) defends in the second half of their NBA
basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 25 in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won
109-108. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland (AP) — With
another clutch shot, Kyrie Irving took the Warriors on a trip down
Irving dropped a short,
turnaround jumper over Klay Thompson with 3.4 seconds left as the
Cleveland Cavaliers rallied just the way they did in June's NBA
Finals to defeat Golden State 109-108 on Sunday in a marquee
Christmas matchup that more than lived up to the hype.
Down by 14 early in the fourth
quarter, the Cavs chipped away and then put the ball in the hands of
Irving, whose step-back 3-pointer over Stephen Curry on June 19
helped seal Game 7 and gave Cleveland its first major pro sports
championship since 1964.
This time, Irving went deep in
the lane before spinning and making his shot over Thompson, one of
the league's best defenders.
"The kid is special," LeBron
James said of his teammate. "It was never in doubt."
Golden State had one last
chance but Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 36 points in his
first game in the league's hottest rivalry, lost his balance coming
off a screen and couldn't get off a shot as time expired.
Durant felt he was fouled by
"I was trying to make a move,"
he said. "I didn't fall on my own."
James scored 31 points with a
season-high 13 rebounds, Irving added 25 points and Kevin Love 20
for the Cavs, who were down 3-1 in the Finals before storming back
to stun a Warriors team that won 73 games during the regular season,
but came up one victory short of winning their second straight
Thompson added 24, Draymond
Green 16 and Curry 15 — on 4 of 11 shooting — for the Warriors, who
had their winning streak stopped at seven and fell to 9-1 against
Eastern Conference teams.
The biggest present under the
tree for basketball fans this holiday was filled with drama,
intensity and more than a few moments that sparked reminders of last
season's brilliant Finals.
Irving drained a 3 from the
wing that looked a lot like the one he made on June 19, but his
bucket over Thompson had a higher degree of difficulty.
"That's a really hard shot,"
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I thought Klay played tremendous
defense. You don't do anything different."
The teams will meet again Jan.
16 and then not again unless they make it back to the Finals — a
"three-quel" that would be the first in league history.
If there was any doubt that
this game meant more than the other 81 to both squads and fan bases,
Green took care of that in the opening minutes.
After being called for his
second personal foul, Green stormed off the floor, cursing with
every step on his way to the bench. Green, whose suspension from
Game 5 of the Finals helped swing the series to Cleveland, was
slapped with a technical and several of his teammates came over to
calm him down before things got worse.
Chelsea, Conte standing out as normality returns to EPL
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Manchester, England (AP) —
In one sense, normality has returned to the English Premier League
after the craziness of Leicester's improbable surge to the title
The top six on Christmas Day
are the teams most pundits predicted would be challenging for the
title: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and
There's nothing normal about
Chelsea's current form, however.
After 11 straight wins, Chelsea
lead the league by six points from Liverpool, heading into the
hectic period of festive fixtures that is unique to British soccer.
Only once — Arsenal in 2001-02, with 13 straight wins — has a
top-tier club had a longer winning streak in one season since World
In the first year of the
"super-coach" era in the Premier League, Chelsea manager Antonio
Conte is standing head and shoulders above the rest, although it
needed a September switch to his favored 3-4-3 formation to get the
team to click.
With a stingy defense (two
goals conceded in the last 11 games), a dynamic midfield marshalled
by N'Golo Kante and a forward line led by the league's top scorer,
Diego Costa, there are no apparent weaknesses in Conte's lineup. On
current evidence, it's hard to see how the team from southwest
London can be stopped.
One thing is for sure, there'll
be no miracle sequel for Leicester in the Premier League.
Languishing in 15th place in the 20-team standings, the reigning
champions are closer to the relegation zone than the Champions
League qualification spots.
It's back to the heavyweights
challenging for the title. And Chelsea are the big favorites.
One factor is particularly
helping Chelsea and Liverpool in their quests for the title: No
Such was the extraordinary
nature of last season that neither team qualified for the Champions
League or even the Europa League. That failure is now allowing them
to focus purely on the domestic games, give their players more rest,
and have a full week of preparation for Premier League games.
Chelsea haven't dropped a point
since a 3-0 loss at Arsenal on Sept. 24, during which Antonio Conte
changed formation to a 3-4-3 and hasn't looked back. Like Chelsea,
Liverpool have two losses so far.
Man City are in third place, a
point behind Liverpool, as coach Pep Guardiola gets to grips with
the physical and non-stop demands of English soccer, including no
rest at Christmas. Arsenal are a further two points back on 34
points in fourth, Tottenham have 33 and Jose Mourinho's Man United
30. For United, some 13 points behind Chelsea, the target has
already switched from winning the league to securing Champions
League qualification with a top-four finish.
Chelsea have three tough away
games left — at Spurs, Liverpool and United — and are proving adept
at eking out 1-0 wins. Four of their last six games have finished
with that scoreline, including the last three.
PICK OF THE PLAYERS
While Liverpool playmaker
Philippe Coutinho, Man City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, Chelsea
midfielder N'Golo Kante and Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez have
starred in patches, Diego Costa has been the only player to have had
a consistent impact this season.
Last season, the Spain striker
appeared to be more interested in picking fights than scoring goals.
Costa is a changed man, though, and has scored a league-high 13
goals while providing five assists.
Five of the goals were winners
(against West Ham, Watford, Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion and
Crystal Palace), an overhead kick earned a draw at Swansea, and
another goal sparked a come-from-behind win at Man City in December.
There's another "Harry" making
a splash at White Hart Lane.
The 20-year-old Harry Winks is
a central midfielder who is getting a run in Tottenham's first team,
starting four of the past eight games at the expense of
internationals like Moussa Sissoko and Eric Dier. He scored against
West Ham on his full league debut in November and is an intelligent
passer with a good technique.
Mauricio Pochettino is renowned
for giving youth players a chance to shine during his time at
Southampton and now Tottenham. Harry Kane has matured into one of
the best strikers in the Premier League under Pochettino, and Winks
could be next in line.
When it was announced in August
that West Bromwich Albion had been bought out by Chinese investors,
the future of manager Tony Pulis looked precarious despite his
record of never having been relegated from the Premier League.
The new owners were wise to
keep hold of the 58-year-old Pulis.
Away from the likely title
contenders, West Brom are proving to be the best of the rest in the
Premier League and at one point early in December were in the top
Known for setting his teams out
with a solid defensive structure, Pulis has added some flair up
front in forwards Nacer Chadli — a club-record signing in the
offseason — and Matt Phillips, who operate behind Salomon Rondon.
The Baggies have scored three or more times in four games this
season, testament to their new-found attacking approach.
POINTS TO PROVE
The season started with rival
coaches Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho expected to be battling it
out for the title. The way things are going, they'll be fighting
just to secure Champions League qualification.
Both coaches have had tough
spells in the first season with their respective clubs, with
Mourinho in particular criticized for public outbursts against his
players and a run of poor results over September and October. United
have won their last three league games to get back on track, but a
current position of sixth is not good enough.
Guardiola started his City
tenure with 10 straight victories but has only won six of his next
17, raising questions about his tactics, the team's defensive
stability and whether Guardiola can get to grips with English
It will help Guardiola to have
Sergio Aguero on the field. The Argentina striker has missed seven
of City's 17 league matches through suspension, and needs to make
amends in the second half of the season.
Raiders and Colts both left dejected after Oakland's win
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, bottom, remains on the
field after being tackled by Indianapolis Colts inside
linebacker Edwin Jackson during the second half of their NFL
football game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 24. (AP
Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Oakland, California (AP) —
As Derek Carr fell to the turf with a broken leg, a celebratory day
in Oakland immediately turned somber. The Raiders had suffered their
most significant loss of the season.
Carr broke a bone in his right
leg in the fourth quarter of the Raiders' 33-25 victory over the
Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, immediately throwing a dark cloud
over a resurgent season in Oakland.
Carr got hurt with Oakland
leading 33-14 early in the fourth quarter when he was sacked by
Trent Cole. Carr stayed on the ground for several minutes in pain as
trainers came out to treat him. With the crowd chanting "M-V-P!
M-V-P!" Carr limped off the field without putting any pressure on
his right leg. He was due to have surgery on Sunday.
Carr has led a revival in
Oakland since arriving as a second-round pick in 2014. After losing
his first 10 games as a rookie, Carr has been a big part of the
turnaround that has the Raiders in the playoffs for the first time
since 2002. He threw three TD passes Saturday to give him 28 on the
season and his seven fourth-quarter comebacks are the biggest reason
behind Oakland's success.
Now the team must prepare for a
playoff run with Matt McGloin at quarterback. McGloin has not
started a game since the end of the 2013 season with Carr starting
all 47 games since he arrived.
Andrew Luck rallied the Colts
(7-8) from 26 points down to just eight with 2:33 left.
JAGUARS 38, TITANS 17
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)
— Blake Bortles' best game of the season helped the Jaguars end a
nine-game losing streak, and Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota
broke his right leg in the third quarter.
Bortles threw for 325 yards and
a touchdown, and was on the receiving end of a 20-yard trick play
that sealed the win with 5:25 remaining. Rookie Jalen Ramsey
returned an interception 30 yards on the ensuing play to set off a
raucous — and long-awaited — celebration in Jacksonville.
Bortles and the Jaguars (3-12)
played inspired football and won for the first time this season at
EverBank Field. Maybe they rallied around interim coach Doug
Marrone. Maybe they played for ultra-popular ex-coach Gus Bradley,
who was fired six days earlier. Maybe they just wanted to avenge an
embarrassing loss to the Titans (8-7) on national television in late
The Titans had won three in a
row and seven of 10 entering the game. All they needed to do was
beat reeling Jacksonville to set up an AFC South title game next
week against Houston. Instead, they lost, and the Texans beat
Cincinnati to clinch the division for the second straight year and
TEXANS 12, BENGALS 10
HOUSTON (AP) — Tom
Savage threw for 176 yards for Houston in his first career start and
Cincinnati missed a field goal as time expired, giving the Texans
their second straight AFC South title.
The Bengals converted a fourth
down play to keep a drive alive, but four plays later, former Texan
Randy Bullock's 43-yard attempt sailed wide right to secure
Savage helped the Texans (9-6)
rally for a win over the Jaguars last week after taking over when
Brock Osweiler was benched after throwing interceptions on
back-to-back possessions in the second quarter.
Cincinnati (6-8-1) regained the
lead when Dalton found Brandon LaFell on a short pass and he took it
86 yards for a touchdown that made it 10-6 with about 11 minutes
left. Alfred Blue's 24-yard touchdown run put the Texans back on top
with about 9 minutes left, but the extra point was blocked.
BROWNS 20, CHARGERS 17
CLEVELAND (AP) — The
Browns are winless no more.
Cleveland avoided that fate
Saturday by beating San Diego for its first victory in more than a
year. San Diego's Josh Lambo missed a 45-yard field goal as time
expired, giving the Browns (1-14) their first win in 377 days.
When the kick sailed right,
Cleveland's small crowd erupted in celebration and Browns players
poured off their sideline as if they had just won the Super Bowl.
The Browns avoided becoming the
second team to go 0-15, and no longer have to worry about joining
the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to lose all 16 games.
Cleveland built 10-point lead
in the third quarter and hung on — defensive tackle Jamie Meder
blocked a potential tying field goal with 3:49 left — to give coach
Hue Jackson his first win with the Browns.
The win also snapped
Cleveland's 17-game losing streak dating to last season.
The Chargers (5-10) lost their
fourth straight and one that could sting for a while.
SEATTLE (AP) — The
Arizona Cardinals continue to give the Seattle Seahawks headaches at
home. This time, it will likely end up costing Seattle a first-round
bye in the playoffs.
Chandler Catanzaro hit a
43-yard field goal on the final play.
Seattle (9-5-1) rallied from a
31-18 deficit, scoring two touchdowns inside the final 3 minutes to
pull even at 31. Jimmy Graham had a 37-yard touchdown catch and Paul
Richardson's 5-yard TD with 1:06 left tied it. Steven Hauschka
missed the extra point that could have given Seattle the lead.
Arizona (6-8-1) went 50 yards
in the final minute and Catanzaro's kick was good, delivering a huge
blow to Seattle's chances at the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
It was the Seahawks' first home
loss this season; all NFL teams have now been beaten in a home game.
FALCONS 33, PANTHERS 16
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) —
The Falcons are back on top of the NFC South, capturing their first
division title since 2012.
Matt Ryan threw for 277 yards
and two touchdowns, Tevin Coleman had 135 yards from scrimmage,
including a pivotal 55-yard fourth-quarter TD run.
The Falcons then had to wait
about 3 1/2 hours to celebrate when the Saints defeated the
Buccaneers to seal Atlanta's first playoff appearance in four years.
The Panthers (6-9) were
officially eliminated from playoff contention after making the Super
Bowl last season.
Ryan torched the Panthers for
the second time this season. He threw for 503 yards and four TDs in
Atlanta's Week 4 win over Carolina at the Georgia Dome, a victory
that set the stage for the Falcons' playoff push.
SAINTS 31, BUCCANEERS 24
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Mark
Ingram rushed for two-touchdowns and a game-sealing first down in
the final minutes.
The Buccaneers (8-7) needed a
win to keep pace with Green Bay (9-6) for the final NFC wild-card
spot, but couldn't keep up with the Saints' explosive offense. And
their loss handed the NFC South to Atlanta, while giving the New
York Giants a wild-card berth.
Drew Brees was 23 of 34 for 299
yards and a touchdown for New Orleans (7-8), which gained 417 total
yards and did not have a turnover against a with 26 takeaways —
including three interceptions of Brees in the clubs' previous
meeting two weeks earlier.
This time, it was New Orleans'
defense producing turnovers; Jairus Bryd intercepted Jameis Winston
twice. The first takeaway set up Ingram's second TD, and the second
stalled a promising Bucs drive into Saints territory.
Now Tampa Bay must win the
season finale and hope for losses by Washington and Green Bay next
week. If that happens, a complicated tie-breaker based on strength
of victories will decide the final playoff spot between the Bucs and
PATRIOTS 41, JETS 3
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) —
Tom Brady passed for 214 yards and three touchdowns , and the
Patriots moved a step closer to securing home-field advantage
throughout the AFC playoffs.
A loss or tie by the Raiders
against the Colts later Saturday would officially give New England
the AFC's top seed.
Malcolm Butler added two
interceptions and a fumble recovery , and LeGarrette Blount had a
pair of 1-yard touchdown runs.
New England (13-2) took
advantage of New York miscues all day, scoring on three of its first
The Jets (4-11), who have lost
six of seven, had four turnovers.
The only really good piece of
news for the Jets came before the game, when Todd Bowles rejoined
the team and coached from the sideline a day after a medical scare
sent him to the hospital.
PACKERS 38, VIKINGS 25
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) —
Aaron Rodgers threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns, WHILE Jordy
Nelson shredded Minnesota's secondary for 154 yards and two scores.
The Packers' fifth straight win
set up a winner-take-all showdown next week with Detroit for the NFC
North title, while extinguishing the Vikings' faint postseason
Green Bay (9-6) built a 28-13
lead at halftime, with Rodgers accounting for all four scores. He
finished 28 of 38, and shrugged off his right calf injury after
scrambling for a 6-yard touchdown late in the second quarter and
making a rare Lambeau Leap.
Rodgers and Nelson connected
for scores from 21 and 2 yards in the first half.
Playing again without running
back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings (7-8) had success through the air
after Sam Bradford threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns,
including a 71-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen in the second
quarter. Thielen had a career-high 202 yards and two scores.
DOLPHINS 34, BILLS 31, OT
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)
— Jay Ajayi ran for 206 yards and broke loose for a 57-yarder in
overtime to set up Andrew Franks' 27-yard field goal.
In winning for the ninth time
in 10 games, the Dolphins (10-5) inched closer to their first
playoff berth since 2008. Miami would secure the AFC's final
wild-card berth if Denver lose to Kansas City.
Denver needs to win its final
two games to make the postseason, and Baltimore is eliminated from
the wild-card race and can only make the playoffs as the AFC North
The Bills (7-8) were eliminated
from contention and extended the NFL's longest active playoff
drought to 17 seasons. Buffalo's drought is tied for the fifth
longest in NFL history, and is the longest since the New Orleans
Saints went 20 years before qualifying for the playoffs for the
first time in franchise history in 1987.
Ajayi is the fourth player in
NFL history to have at least three games with 200 rushing yards in a
season. Earl Campbell, OJ Simpson, Tiki Barber are the others.
Franks forced overtime by
hitting a career-best 55-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining.
REDSKINS 41, BEARS 21
CHICAGO (AP) — Kirk
Cousins threw for a touchdown and ran for two more, and the Redskins
gave their fading playoff hopes a boost.
DeSean Jackson added 114 yards
receiving, and Washington (8-6-1) intercepted Matt Barkley five
Eighth in the NFC behind Green
Bay and Tampa Bay coming in, Washington scored 14 points in the
first quarter after struggling early in recent games, and never
really was threatened by the Bears (3-12).
Cousins, shaky against
Carolina, was 18 of 29 for 270 yards. He threw a 17-yard touchdown
to Chris Thompson in the first quarter and scored on a 9-yard run in
the second. He also pushed in from the 1 late in the third to make
49ERS 22, RAMS 21
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Colin
Kaepernick threw a 10-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining
and scrambled for a go-ahead 2-point conversion as the 49ers
overcame a 14-point deficit to end a 13-game losing streak.
Kaepernick rolled to his right
while looking for a receiver before tucking the ball and barreling
into the end zone. That gave the 49ers a sweep in the renewal of the
instate rivalry with the Rams' return to Los Angeles this season.
Kaepernick threw for 257 yards,
two touchdowns and one interception and rushed for a touchdown for
the 49ers (2-13).
Kaepernick found Rod Streater
on a slant pattern to cap a 10-play, 73-yard drive to make it 21-20.
Jared Goff was intercepted by
Rashard Robinson with 16 seconds left as the Rams again squandered a
late two-score lead for the second time in their past three home
Goff, the No. 1 overall draft
pick, has lost all six of his starts for Los Angeles (4-11).
Eagles prevent Giants from clinching playoff spot, 24-19
Philadelphia Eagles' Darren Sproles
(43) rushes for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL
football game against the New York Giants, Thursday, Dec. 22, in
Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Philadelphia (AP) —
Because they couldn't win on the road, the New York Giants ensured
they won't open at home if they make the playoffs.
Three of Eli Manning's
career-high 63 passes were intercepted, including one that Malcolm
Jenkins returned for a touchdown, and the Philadelphia Eagles beat
the Giants 24-19 Thursday night to snap a five-game losing streak
and prevent New York from clinching a playoff spot.
"We didn't play well enough,"
Manning said. "I got off to a bad start and spotted them a 14-0
The loss gave Dallas the NFC
East title — and home-field advantage throughout the conference
playoffs. The Giants (10-5) still own the top wild-card position and
will end their four-season playoff drought this weekend if Detroit,
Green Bay, Tampa Bay or Atlanta loses.
If not, they get in with a win
at Washington next week.
"We need to be confident,"
Manning said. "We can get healthy and get a little break these next
couple days and come back and practice and play better football."
After Darren Sproles gave the
Eagles (6-9) a 7-0 lead on a 25-yard TD run, Jenkins picked off
Manning and ran it back 34 yards for a 14-0 lead. Jenkins got
another interception in the second half, the second time he's had
two picks in a game in his eight-year career.
"I want to be wherever the ball
is," Jenkins said. "If I play deep too long a lot of times, I get
Carson Wentz threw a touchdown
pass to Nelson Agholor and later shook off a late hit that forced
him to miss his first snaps of the season. The rookie quarterback
even threw a lead block on a double reverse after he passed
Then the defense delivered a
stop on fourth down before Terrence Brooks clinched the win with an
interception at the Eagles 5.
"My name was called and I made
the most of it," said Brooks, who had not played a defensive snap
this season before getting in for two plays against the Giants.
Here's some things we learned
in Philadelphia's win over the Giants:
LANE'S IMPACT: Eagles right
tackle Lane Johnson returned from a 10-game suspension for violating
the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and immediately
showed why he's so valuable. He wiped out the left side of New
York's defensive line twice on big gains on the offense's first
series, including a block on Landon Collins to clear a path for
Sproles on his TD run. The Eagles are 4-1 with Johnson, 2-8 without
"It was huge to get Lane back,"
Wentz said. "That was a big spark for us."
WAITING GAME: The Giants
couldn't do the deed themselves Thursday night and now must wait for
the weekend's action. They have plenty of opportunity to qualify for
the postseason while opening holiday gifts.
If the Falcons (9-5) lose at
Carolina, New York is in. If the Packers (8-6) lose to Minnesota,
New York is in.
Should Tampa Bay fall at New
Orleans, the Giants advance. And if Detroit (9-5) is beaten by
Dallas, the Giants are playoff-bound.
"We're disappointed right now
in the way we played tonight," said Manning, who completed 38 passes
for 356 yards and one TD. "We know we can bounce back next week and
still get a win and get in the playoffs."
They might not need that
BECKHAM'S NUMBERS: Earlier this
season, when the Giants beat the Eagles 28-23, Odell Beckham Jr. had
only four receptions for 46 yards, though he scored twice. At the
Linc, he made 11 catches for 150 yards, but didn't find the end
Beckham has 96 catches for
1,323 yards. His career highs are 97 receptions, set last season,
and 1,450 yards.
"I think anytime you get the
ball in his hands," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said, "you have a chance
to go for a touchdown."
Manning targeted Beckham 20
times; the next favored receiver was Victor Cruz, who caught eight
of the 13 balls thrown his way. New York's only touchdown was a
13-yard pass over the middle to Sterling Shepard, who had seven
catches on 11 targets.
But all those throws weren't
TOUGH KID: Wentz was wobbly
after banging his head following Olivier Vernon's hit but didn't
hesitate to throw himself at Eli Apple on a block after returning to
"If there was anyone out in
front, I was going to pick up a block," Wentz said. "Once you're
cleared, you're good to go."
Oscar to move from Chelsea to Shanghai for reported $73.5m
Chelsea playmaker Oscar will move to
Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG in January for a
reported fee of 60 million pounds. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
London (AP) - Brazil
playmaker Oscar became the latest high-profile player to be lured to
the cash-rich Chinese Super League when he sealed a move to Shanghai
SIPG from Chelsea for a reported 60 million pounds ($73.5 million)
The English Premier League
leaders said Oscar will complete the transfer at the beginning of
January, joining a team managed by former Chelsea coach Andre
It is the latest show of
financial clout from the Chinese league, which has enticed
established internationals like Brazilians Hulk, Ramires and
Paulinho, Colombia striker Jackson Martinez and Argentine Ezequiel
Lavezzi. Carlos Tevez also is reportedly on the verge of moving to
China from Boca Juniors.
"The Chinese market is a danger
for all," Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said last week, "not only
for Chelsea, but all the teams in the world."
Aged 25, Oscar is in the prime
of his career despite being out of favor under Conte, making only
five starts early in the season. He was a key member of Jose
Mourinho's team that won the Premier League in 2015, having joined
Chelsea from Brazilian club Internacional in 2012. He scored 38
goals in 203 appearances.
Driven by a government-led
vision, China is aiming to be a soccer superpower and have a team
capable of winning the World Cup. Having a strong domestic league is
central to that and Chinese clubs are offering the kind of money
that even the English Premier League cannot match.
Manchester United manager Jose
Mourinho said this week that the money on offer in China was
"attractive for everyone," but that he preferred to work "at the
"I'm too young to go to a place
like China," Mourinho said. "I want to stay in the most difficult
place to win."
Oscar's transfer fee was not
disclosed by Chelsea in their announcement. The BBC, Sky Sports and
some British newspapers reported the fee was 60 million pounds.
"Skillful and tenacious, Oscar
has been highly regarded by fans, players and staff during his time
as a Blue," Chelsea said in a statement.
Ex-England coach Allardyce hired as Crystal Palace manager
Sam Allardyce has been appointed the
new manager of Crystal Palace. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
London (AP) — Three
months after losing his dream job as England manager, Sam Allardyce
was back in football on Friday and facing a familiar task: Keeping a
struggling team in the Premier League.
Allardyce was hired as the
manager of London team Crystal Palace, who fired Alan Pardew on
Thursday with the club lying in 17th place in the 20-team standings.
The 62-year-old Allardyce will
look to rebuild a reputation that was damaged by an ill-fated 67-day
spell with England's national team, which ended in humiliating
fashion in September when he was forced out because of unguarded
comments he made to undercover reporters posing as businessmen.
He has never been relegated
from the Premier League as a manager — a record that will have
attracted Palace as the club looks to halt its downward momentum and
stay in the most lucrative league in Europe. Palace have been the
worst-performing team across all four leagues of English soccer in
"We are delighted to be able to
make an appointment so quickly," Palace chairman Steve Parish said,
"and fortunate that someone of Sam's caliber and experience was
Palace's hierarchy has
reportedly been in contact with Allardyce for weeks. In his last
firefighting role in the Premier League, he joined Sunderland in
October 2015 when the team were next-to-last in the league and
preserved their place in the top flight.
He has established Bolton,
Blackburn and West Ham as Premier League teams during his 25 years
Palace became an expansive,
attacking team under Pardew, who was backed in the transfer market
by the club's board that is fronted by Parish and has also contained
American businessmen David Blitzer and Josh Harris since they became
co-owners in December 2015.
However, defensive problems
plagued Pardew's side — especially at set pieces — and Parish said
Thursday "now we're going to wind the dial back the other way."
With Allardyce known for his
pragmatic approach, he fits the bill.
He will take training on
Saturday and his first game in charge is away to Watford on Monday,
the first of three games in nine days for Palace over the festive
World Rugby intervenes in George North concussion case
Wales' George North, left, is shown
in action against Australia in this Oct. 21, 2011 file photo.
(AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Dublin (AP) — World
Rugby has intervened in the latest concussion case involving George
North, questioning why established protocols weren't followed and
the reasons behind a review panel's decision not to sanction his
English club Northampton.
North was allowed to return to
the field of play by Northampton's medical staff, despite appearing
to lose consciousness after he landed on his head following a tackle
in the air during a match against Leicester on Dec. 3.
Northampton said its doctors
did not have access to full television footage that suggested North
had been knocked out, and were happy for him to continue playing
following a Head Injury Assessment.
The Concussion Management
Review Group, set up by England's Rugby Football Union, assessed the
case and said Wednesday that Northampton would not be punished,
despite saying North should not have returned to the field.
After looking at the case,
World Rugby said Friday it was "disappointing that apparent
non-compliance with the sport's elite head-injury protocols led to
George remaining on the field of play when he should have been
immediately and permanently removed."
The governing body raised
concerns that there was a "failure in the identification and
management of the injury," especially considering North's history of
concussions. The winger suffered three concussions on club and
international duty between November 2014 and March 2015, forcing him
to spend time away from the game on two separate occasions.
"While recognizing that there
is always a risk of human error," World Rugby said, "we will seek
further information from the RFU regarding the factors behind the
apparent non-compliance with World Rugby protocols and the outcomes
reached by the independent review group."
North hasn't played again since
World Rugby has made the
handling of concussions a priority in recent years.
Ethiopian running legend Miruts Yifter dies at 72
this July 19, 1980 file photo Ethiopia's Miruts Yifter (191) leads
the field during the 10,000 Meter Race at the Summer Olympic Games
in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AP) —
Miruts Yifter, an Ethiopian running legend who inspired world-class
athletes like Haile Gebreselassie, has died in Canada at age 72, his
family and Ethiopian Athletics Federation officials told the
Associated Press on Friday.
The athlete known widely by the
nickname "Yifter the Shifter" won two gold medals at the 1980 Moscow
Olympics and won bronze medals earlier at the 1972 Munich Games.
"Miruts has been everything to
me and my athletics career," said Haile Gebreselassie, the double
Olympic 10,000-meter champion, who struggled with his tears while
talking to the AP by phone. "When I started running, I just wanted
to be like him. He is the reason for who I'm now and for what I have
Miruts' son, Biniam Miruts,
said his father had been suffering from respiratory problems.
Yifter was the subject of much
criticism during Ethiopia's former military regime, especially for
not winning gold medals at the Munich Games, and he was thrown into
jail upon his return home. He was soon released but left Ethiopia in
2000 for Canada.
Family members said he was
never accorded the dignity and privileges he deserved in Ethiopia,
and they called on all Ethiopians to give him a heroic welcome when
his body arrives for burial in Addis Ababa next week.
Miruts has seven children, most
of whom live outside Ethiopia.
Haile recalled listening to the
radio as a little boy during Mirut's victory in Moscow.
"I used to doubt that he was a
human being for achieving what he achieved back then," he said
Friday. "For me, he is the best athlete Ethiopia ever had after the
great Abebe Bikila."
Security increased at MCG test after terror arrests
Australia's Matthew Wade, right,
bats against Pakistan during the first test in Brisbane, Friday,
Dec. 16. The second test is due to start on Boxing Day, Dec. 26,
in Melbourne. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
Melbourne, Australia (AP) —
Security has been increased at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for Monday's
second test between Australia and Pakistan following the arrest of seven
people over a terror-related plot in the city.
Those charged were allegedly
planning to attack Melbourne's Flinders Street train station, nearby
Federation Square and St. Paul's Cathedral on Christmas Day.
Chief police commissioner Graham
Ashton said while they are confident the terror plot had been contained,
extra police will be deployed at major events.
"We know there's lot of events on
over the next several days right across our state, including the Boxing
Day test, Christmas carols, other events that are on," he said. "There
is no intelligence to suggest there is any threat whatsoever in relation
to any of those events. However we're just making sure we're taking
those extra precautions."
Ashton said he had spoken to
Cricket Australia on Friday to assure officials that additional security
has been added to the Boxing Day test.
In a security-related move late in
2015, the MCG erected a new perimeter fence about 20 to 25 meters (65 to
80 feet) away from the stadium where spectators queue to pass through
security before entering the ground.
Australia won the first test
against Pakistan by 39 runs at the Gabba in Brisbane. A third test in
the series begins Jan. 3 in Sydney.
Russia loses biathlon, skating events over doping
An employee of the Russian national
drug-testing laboratory holds a vial in Moscow in this May 24,
2016 file photo. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Munich (AP) — Russia has lost
biathlon and speedskating events it was due to host this winter following
allegations it ran a vast state-sponsored doping scheme.
World Anti-Doping Agency investigator
Richard McLaren's final report has prompted Western athletes to campaign for
boycotts in several winter sports in Russia after 12 medalists from the 2014
Winter Olympics in Sochi were implicated.
The International Biathlon Union said
it also provisionally suspended two Russian athletes, who are the subject of
doping cases from Sochi now opened by the IOC.
The two were not identified by the IBU.
Russia won four medals in biathlon at
Sochi, including gold in men's team relay.
The IBU also said it is investigating
29 other Russian biathletes, based on McLaren's evidence, who are currently
free to continue competing.
"A decision whether or not a charge
should be filed to the (IBU doping panel) will be made in cooperation with
legal experts and WADA, who offered to assist IBU," the governing body said
in a statement after an executive board meeting in Munich.
Russian biathlon officials voluntarily
gave up their rights to host a World Cup round at Tyumen in March and the
world junior championships in Ostrov, due to start late February. It was
"impossible" to hold the events in the circumstances, the Russian Biathlon
The IBU's president, Anders Besseberg,
welcomed the move.
"This is a first important step by the
Russian Biathlon Union to show to the IBU and to the world of sport that the
current situation is taken very seriously," Besseberg said in a statement.
"This will now allow the international biathlon family to focus on biathlon
during these events."
Russia is also due to host the world
championships in 2021, after the IBU awarded hosting rights to Tyumen in
September — weeks after McLaren's initial report into state-backed doping
The IBU did not address the 2021 worlds
in Thursday's statement.
The McLaren report showed "severe
problems in Russian sport and its anti-doping control system," the IBU
acknowledged Thursday, adding it takes "all available information very
seriously. It is now on us to find out in detail the scale of the problem in
The International Skating Union said it
was stripping the Russian city of Chelyabinsk of the final round of this
season's World Cup because, following McLaren's report, "the focus of the
event would not be on the sport but rather accusations and controversies."
Other concerns included "a substantial
amount of critical evidence" of doping in Russia "and the uncertainty
relating to the attendance of the athletes," the ISU said.
It's not yet clear where the biathlon
and skating events will be held instead.
Russia had previously lost the right to
host the world championships in bobsled and skeleton — due in Sochi in
February — in the fallout from McLaren's final report, published Dec. 9.
The Canadian law professor alleged more
than 1,000 athletes, including Olympic medalists, had benefited from a
state-backed plan to cover up drug use.
Harden, Gordon lead Rockets to 125-111 win over Suns
Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe
passes the ball as Houston Rockets center Nene Hilario (42)
defends during the second half of their NBA basketball game,
Wednesday, Dec. 21, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Jose M. Romero
Phoenix (AP) — A night after
their 10-game winning streak came to a halt with a two-point loss at home to
San Antonio, the Houston Rockets looked ready to start a new run of
The Rockets went from making 38 percent
of their shots, including just 6 of 38 3-pointers, to a 53.5 field goal
percentage and 18 made 3s on 38 attempts. It added up to a 125-111 win over
the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
James Harden had 27 points and 14
assists as the Rockets earned their 11th victory in 12 games.
"It's a good bounce-back win,
back-to-back, and the guys showed some heart," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni
Eric Gordon added 24 points off the
Rockets' bench, shooting 7 of 13 on 3s. Patrick Beverley finished with a
season-high 18 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
Harden's biggest shot came with 4:19
left, a pull-up 3 for a 120-100 lead. He bent down and moved his arms in a
swimming motion in celebration as he ran back to the bench.
"He just knows when to pick the spots
and he knows what he has to do, and he controls the whole game," D'Antoni
Devin Booker's 28 points led the Suns,
who have lost four in a row. T.J. Warren added 19 and Brandon Knight 17.
Gordon hit back-to-back 3s midway
through the fourth quarter, the second one at the 6:39 mark for a 110-95
"It's tough to really slow us down,
knocking the 3s down and also making layups," Gordon said. "Teams just have
to pick their poison against us."
The Rockets led by as many as 13 in the
third, only to see the Suns cut it to 86-84 on a tip-in by P.J. Tucker with
1:19 left. Harden drew a questionable foul call against Tucker on a 3-point
try with 4.3 seconds left and made all three free throws to give Houston a
91-84 lead entering the fourth.
The Rockets led 30-26 after the first
quarter, when the Suns struggled to get back in transition. Houston scored
12 fast-break points in the period.
Harden took only two shots in the
quarter but excelled as a passer, handing out seven assists.
"Stopping people in transition, it's
mostly on the defense. It's something we have been working on in practice
but in game time we still are not doing," Booker said. "Obviously, James
being the playmaker, he finds the open man. When they have so many shooters
on the floor, it's tough to guard."
Gordon hit four 3s in the second
quarter, Harden drove for a layup with 0.3 seconds left and Houston took a
61-55 lead into halftime.
Crystal Palace fire manager Alan Pardew after woeful 2016
Alan Pardew was sacked as manager of
English Premier League club Crystal Palace on Thursday, Dec. 22
following a run of poor results. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
London (AP) - In charge of
English soccer's worst-performing team of 2016, Alan Pardew was already
under heavy scrutiny at Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace.
Some unwise comments about the club's
American owners might just have made his position untenable.
Pardew was fired as Palace's manager on
Thursday, three days before Christmas and nearly two years into his job at
Selhurst Park. The club may now turn to Sam Allardyce, who has been without
a job since getting fired by England in September.
With nearly half the league season
gone, Palace are in 17th place in the 20-team standings after four wins from
17 games. The club has the fewest points per game (0.72) in 2016 than any
team in England's top four divisions.
"Personally, I have a lot of good
feelings for this football club and am sad that my time there has ended,"
said Pardew, who played for Palace from 1987-91. "I feel that I have a
special bond with the club and hope that hasn't been affected."
In a short statement, Palace said the
club had asked Pardew to step down from his position and thanked him for his
Since December 2015, the club's board
has contained American businessmen David Blitzer and Josh Harris, who were
the target of remarks from Pardew after Palace's 3-0 win over Southampton
that gave the under-pressure manager some breathing space.
"We have a lot of serious investors at
the club who perhaps don't know a lot about football," Pardew said, before
praising Palace chairman Steve Parish for defending him in troubled times.
Less than three weeks later, the
55-year-old Englishman is out.
British media reported that Allardyce
will hold talks with Palace regarding the vacancy. Allardyce lasted just 67
days — and one match — in charge of England's national team before he was
fired over unguarded comments to undercover reporters posing as businessmen.
Allardyce has a strong record of
improving underperforming teams, so would be the perfect appointment for
Palace have only won six league games
in 2016, and have lost eight of their last 10 games.
Yet it all started so well under
Pardew, who joined Palace after quitting Newcastle — where he made headlines
because of his frequent flare-ups in the coaches' technical area. These
included head-butting an opposing player as they jostled for a ball at a
Palace finished in a club-record 10th
place in the Premier League in Pardew's first season in charge, then began
last season well until a drastic dip in form saw the team narrowly avoid
relegation. A run to the FA Cup final, where Palace lost to Manchester
United at Wembley Stadium, spared Pardew from more scrutiny.
Palace broke their transfer record
twice in the offseason to sign England winger Andros Townsend and then
Belgium striker Christian Benteke. Scoring hasn't been a problem for the
team nicknamed "The Eagles," who are the sixth-highest scorers in the
league, but they have the third-worst defense and have conceded lots of
goals at set-pieces.
Palace's next game is against Watford
on Monday, which starts a run of three games in eight days over the festive
"During his tenure, Alan's hard work
and dedication were without question," Parish said. "He has improved so many
areas of the club and we wish him the very best for the future. With games
now coming thick and fast over the holiday period, the club are hoping to
put someone in place as quickly as possible."
No drone danger but Hirscher still can't catch Kristoffersen
Kristoffersen celebrates after winning an alpine
ski men's World Cup slalom in Madonna di
Campiglio Italy, Thursday, Dec. 22. (AP
Madonna di Campiglio, Italy (AP)
— There were no falling drones to deal with this time but Marcel
Hirscher still can't catch Henrik Kristoffersen on the slalom hill.
For the second consecutive slalom
race this season, and in a result that matched last year's event on the
Canalone Miramonti course, Kristoffersen edged Hirscher on Thursday
The Norwegian finished the two runs
under the lights 0.33 seconds faster than Hirscher, the five-time
defending overall World Cup champion from Austria.
A year ago, Hirscher narrowly
escaped getting hit by a camera drone that fell from the sky within
inches of his head as he was racing.
"If I think back to last year, I'm
just happy that I'm healthy and still a ski racer," Hirscher said. "Last
year I needed a lot of luck."
Drones have since been banned from
the ski circuit.
While Hirscher retains a
comfortable lead in the overall standings, he's now only 60 points ahead
of Kristoffersen in the slalom ranks.
Kristoffersen skipped the opening
slalom of the season due to a sponsor conflict with the Norwegian
Sitting second to Kristoffersen
after a clean but otherwise unimpressive opening run, Hirscher attacked
from start to finish on his second trip down — on the borderline of
When Kristoffersen then came down
and added to his advantage, Hirscher just applauded.
Still, Hirscher was content with
"I'm super, super happy with my
skiing," he said. "I'm in a really good way and I earned a lot of points
for the overall World Cup."
It was the 11th slalom win of
Kristoffersen's World Cup career and the 12th overall for the Olympic
Kristoffersen joined Swedish legend
Ingemar Stenmark (1979-80 and 1980-81) and Italian great Alberto Tomba
(1987-88 and 1988-89) as the only men to win the Campiglio slalom — one
of the steepest and most difficult on the circuit — in consecutive
"They're huge superstars, the best
there has ever been in skiing," the 22-year-old Kristoffersen said.
"This is a real slalom hill and to have skied here and won here like
legends like Stenmark and Tomba is really special."
Stefano Gross of Italy finished
third, a distant 1.35 seconds behind, and Manfred Moelgg, another
Italian, was fourth, 1.45 back.
Curry, Warriors warm up and thump Utah Jazz 104-74
Warriors guard Stephen Curry, centre, chases
after a loose ball against Utah Jazz forward
Trey Lyles, right, during the first half of
their NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 20, in
Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Oakland, California (AP) —
Stephen Curry scored as many points as Utah's starting five combined.
Yet it sure didn't look pretty early for the star-studded Warriors, who
eventually found their groove in another lopsided result.
Curry scored 25 points with four
3-pointers while Kevin Durant had 22 points as the Warriors whipped the
Utah Jazz 104-74 on Tuesday night thanks to their defense following a
Klay Thompson added 17 points and
Draymond Green had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five steals as Golden
State handed the Jazz their worst defeat of the season.
Joe Johnson scored 14 points for
Utah in its seventh straight defeat to the Warriors. The Jazz have also
lost seven in a row and 10 of 12 at Oracle Arena.
The teams combined to begin 2 for
25, but the Warriors got going in the second quarter and the rout was
on. They shot 61.9 percent in the period to lead 55-33 at halftime and
Utah had the lowest total in any half by a Golden State opponent this
"It was cool to go through and cool
to see how we guarded through the night," Durant said.
JaVale McGee contributed eight
points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Warriors.
Utah shot 35.5 percent — 9 of 30
from 3-point range — and had a four-game winning streak snapped with
just its second loss in the last nine games and third in 14.
"We looked like we were just
scared, and we shouldn't be," Utah's Rudy Gobert said.
The Warriors warmed up and the
backups got more extended playing time down the stretch. Golden State
beat the undermanned Jazz 106-99 on Dec. 8 when Utah was without
starters Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood because of injuries.
This time, the teams combined to
start 0 for 8, each missing its first four shots and seven of eight. The
Warriors were 1 for 12 at one point and the Jazz 1 of 13.
"This is an ugly game, it's nasty,"
Green recalled thinking early on.
Then, Golden State got defensive.
"If we keep a team under 80, I like
our chances of winning most every night," Curry said.
Ex-South Africa batsman banned for 2 years in fixing probe
Former South African test batsman
Alviro Petersen is shown in this July 23, 2013 file photo. (AP
Johannesburg (AP) — Former
South Africa test batsman Alviro Petersen was banned for two years on
Wednesday after admitting that he failed to report meetings he had with
match-fixers and also concealed and destroyed evidence.
Petersen, who played 36 tests and
retired from international cricket last year, admitted to numerous charges
under Cricket South Africa's anti-corruption code: He failed to disclose the
meetings with fixers, failed to report corrupt activity by other players,
didn't cooperate with investigators, and concealed and destroyed evidence,
Petersen accepted the two-year ban, but
charges against him of attempting to fix a match or matches and seeking
bribes to fix games were dropped, CSA said.
The investigation, which is ongoing,
relates to plans to fix matches in South Africa's domestic Twenty20 league
Another former South Africa
international, Gulam Bodi, was identified as the go-between who approached
players on behalf of the fixers. He was banned for 20 years in January. Four
other players, including former South Africa wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile,
have also been banned for between seven and 12 years and more players are
believed to be involved in the case.
CSA said that while plans were made to
manipulate games, it doesn't believe any fixing ultimately took place,
although it cannot completely rule it out.
Petersen played for South Africa's test
team for five years from 2010-15 and was a regular opening partner to former
captain Graeme Smith. He continued to play domestic cricket in South Africa
after giving up internationals and is the highest-profile player caught up
in the fixing probe so far.
In comments published by CSA, Petersen
admitted to meeting with Bodi and unnamed "fixers," although he claimed he
never had any intention to take money or fix matches. Petersen did not say
why he attended the meetings.
"I now deeply regret having
participated in these meetings and not to have immediately reported them to
the authorities as I am obliged to do," Petersen said in the CSA statement.
"I understand that I need to take personal responsibility for my actions and
I accept the punishment that CSA has imposed on me. I hope that other
players will learn from my experience and be better prepared if they find
themselves in the situation that I was in."
Although this scandal has not been on
the same scale, the match-fixing investigation has revived uncomfortable
memories of the Hansie Cronje case, when South Africa's popular national
cricket captain was found guilty of match-fixing and banned for life in
2000. Cronje died in a plane crash in 2002 at the age of 32.
Jagr on Gretzky: 'I don't think he was from this planet'
Jagr, left, of
a shot on a
an NHL hockey
Dec. 16, in
Sunrise, Fla. (AP) — Jaromir
Jagr knows No. 2 is as high as he'll go on the NHL career scoring list.
In his mind, that's a record in
Jagr's next point will be the
1,888th of his career and give him outright possession of second place
on the all-time NHL points list, breaking a tie with Mark Messier. Only
Wayne Gretzky's total of 2,857 is better than that, and Jagr — the
44-year-old Florida Panthers forward who has said he can see himself
playing until he's 50 — knows the top spot is going to stay far from his
"For me, it's like No. 1," Jagr
said recently when asked what passing Messier would mean. "I don't
really count Wayne Gretzky. He was from another planet. I don't think he
was from this planet. Whatever he did, it's unbreakable."
Jagr caught Messier on Tuesday with
a three-assist effort in Florida's shootout win over Buffalo. His next
chance for the tiebreaker is Thursday, when the Panthers play host to
the Boston Bruins.
Jagr would have been No. 2 long ago
if not for his leaving the NHL to play in Russia from 2008 through 2011.
Jagr collected 146 points in those three seasons, deciding to play there
in part because of the proximity to his parents in the Czech Republic.
But he missed the NHL, returned to play with Philadelphia in 2011-12 —
and has been collecting jerseys since, also logging time with Dallas,
Boston, New Jersey and now Florida since coming back to North America.
"It's an honor to be around him,
get a little wisdom from him, get a few laughs from him," said Florida's
Nick Bjugstad, who scored the goal that became point No. 1,887 for Jagr.
"He's been nothing but awesome for our organization."
Including playoffs, Tuesday's
three-point game was the 215th of Jagr's career.
He's reached seven points in an NHL
game twice, and that's not even close to his career best. He played one
game in a German league in 1994-95 during an NHL work stoppage and
racked up 11 points — one goal and 10 assists.
His first NHL point was a goal on
Oct. 7, 1990, when he was the youngest player in the league at 18. The
goalie who gave that one up was Chris Terreri, who was just in his
second full NHL season and a relatively young player at 25.
Terreri had a fine, full career and
his last NHL game was 16 years ago. Jagr is still going, with no end in
"The way he comes to work every
single day is unbelievable," Panthers interim coach and general manager
Tom Rowe said.
The NHL is made up of two
conferences, six divisions and 30 arenas. And to illustrate how long
Jagr has been in that league, consider that he's played in four
conferences, 11 divisions and 57 different arenas.
That doesn't even include four
neutral-site arenas, or two baseball stadiums — Yankee Stadium in New
York, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
"He's kind of inspired us with his
passion and dedication," Messier said.
For Messier, going to No. 3 on the
all-time scoring list is merely a formality. He said the huge numbers
Jagr put up early in his career deserve credit on their own, and now he
merits more of the same credit for staying so fit and committed at this
point in his life.
"This is kind of anticlimactic for
me in a way," said Messier, a former teammate of Jagr with the New York
Rangers. "I understand the amount of time that he put in overseas when
he left the NHL and came back and the amount of points he amassed over
there and where he would be if he would have stayed (here). So I guess
in my own mind he surpassed me a long time ago."
Eagles standing in way of Giants' clinching playoff berth
New York Giants wide receiver Odell
Beckham, right, runs away from Detroit Lions' Asa Jackson during
the second half of their NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 18, in
East Rutherford. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Philadelphia (AP) — All the New
York Giants have to do to secure a playoff berth is beat a struggling
division rival headed nowhere.
That's no simple task in front of a
hostile crowd and a national audience.
There's plenty at stake when the Giants
(10-4) visit Philadelphia (5-9) on Thursday night. A victory would secure
New York's first playoff berth since 2011 and also keep pressure on NFC
East-leading Dallas (12-2).
But prime-time games in Philly have
been tough on the Giants lately. They lost 27-0 on a Sunday night in 2014,
and 27-7 on a Monday night in 2015.
"I've been called every name in the
book in Philly, but you have to embrace it," wide receiver Odell Beckham,
Jr. said. "They don't want to see you win. It is a pretty ruthless place
The Eagles have lost five straight
games and they're 2-9 since a 3-0 start, but six of those losses were
one-score games. Among them was a 28-23 loss to the Giants on Nov. 6.
Eli Manning nearly gave that game away.
The Eagles had four chances to score the winning touchdown from the Giants
17 in the final minutes after Jordan Hicks made an acrobatic interception of
Manning's pass. However, Carson Wentz threw four straight incomplete passes.
"We're in all these close games," Wentz
said. "To come up short time and time again, that (stinks). It's tough and
there are things we keep saying we have to learn from. At the end of the
day, we have to find a way to win these ballgames."
They also want to prevent the Giants
from celebrating in their house. Last year, the Cardinals and Redskins
clinched playoff berths in consecutive games at the Linc.
"There is motivation to definitely make
sure that that playoff spot isn't clinched here in Philly if we can control
it," safety Malcolm Jenkins said.
Olympic organizers in Tokyo disclose total cost estimate
On the left side; Tokyo Gov. Yuriko
Koike, center, speaks with Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee
President Yoshiro Mori, left, at a Four-Party Working Group
meeting in Tokyo, Wednesday, Dec. 21. (AP Photo/Shizuo
Tokyo (AP) — Organizers of the
Tokyo Olympics estimate the total cost of hosting the 2020 Games will be
between 1.6 and 1.8 trillion yen ($13-$15 billion).
The official cost estimate announced
Wednesday was below the promised 2 trillion ($17 billion) cap, while
organizers said they will try to come down further.
"This is Version 1," said Toshiro Muto,
chief executive officer of the organizing committee. "We will continue our
cost-cutting effort toward our Version 2."
Details of cost-sharing among the three
parties — the organizing committee, Tokyo and central governments — can be
now worked out, Muto said.
The cost estimate includes 590 billion
yen ($5.5 billion) to build permanent and temporary venues and other
facilities, and 410 billion yen ($3.8 billion) for "soft" costs such as
transportation, security and other operational expenses. It takes into
account 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion) of revenue from sponsorship, ticket
sales, licensing and IOC contributions.
It also calls for a backup budget of
100-300 billion yen ($1-$2.8 billion) to cover "contingency" costs such as
possible anti-heat measures that may be needed to cope with Tokyo's hot
weather, officials said.
International Olympic Committee vice
president John Coates had criticized the $17 billion cap as too high.
Coates, via a videoconference link from Australia, joined chief organizer
Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa
for Wednesday's announcement.
Coates praised their effort and said he
was "very, very pleased" with the outcome, which is a substantial reduction
from an earlier prediction. He noted the taxpayer money would be from 1.1 to
1.3 trillion yen ($10.3-$12.1 billion) and that the total cost also includes
While Coates would not give a numerical
target, he said more details are needed in areas such as transport, security
and games operations for further cost reduction.
"We need to do more work there. But the
feeling we have is that there are savings to be found there," he said.
Tokyo's Olympic costs have soared amid
Japan's reconstruction from the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the year the
city launched its bid for the games. Tokyo secured the games in 2013. The
trend in the construction industry is expected to continue until the Games,
A Tokyo government panel has warned the
eventual total cost could exceed $30 billion — four times the initial
estimate — without drastic cuts. The outspoken governor, Koike, has
spearheaded a cost-cutting effort, proposing a review of three costly
The IOC is facing pressure to reduce
costs to help entice cities to bid for future games. The $51 billion price
tag associated with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, led numerous
cities to drop out of bidding for the 2022 and 2024 Olympics. The IOC is
encouraging cities to make maximum use of existing and temporary facilities.
Koike has agreed to keep all three
venues — for rowing and canoe sprint, swimming and volleyball — at their
planned sites in Tokyo, rather than moving them outside the capital. Yet,
she said the review led to a 40 billion yen ($340 million) savings and that
she is seeing further reductions in line with IOC policy.
"I hope this will be a wisely-spent,
sustainable event," she said.
Petra Kvitova could return to tennis in about 6 months
photograph of Czech tennis player Petra Kvitova lies on a tennis
racket during a charity tennis exhibition in Brno, Tuesday, Dec. 20,
2016. Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova had to cancel the event
because she has been injured during an attack in her flat in the
Czech Republic. (Vaclav Salek/CTK via AP)
Prague (AP) — Petra
Kvitova could return to tennis in about six months, the surgeon who
operated on the two-time Wimbledon champion's left hand said
Kvitova was injured Tuesday
when a knife-wielding intruder attacked her at her home in the town
of Prostejov. The attacker is still at large and police have asked
the public for help.
Kvitova underwent nearly four
hours of surgery on Tuesday at a specialized clinic in the northern
town of Vysoke nad Jizerou.
"When we talk about (playing
tennis), it will take about six months," said surgeon Radek Kebrle
of the Hand and Plastic Surgery Institute. "It's a serious injury
and we have to deal with that accordingly.
"She's young and healthy and
has long, slim fingers," he said. "That's a good prognosis."
Earlier Wednesday, Kvitova's
spokesman, Karel Tejkal, said the surgery was successful and the
Czech player was feeling good.
Kvitova sustained damage to the
tendons in her left hand, along with injuries to all five fingers
and two nerves.
She was taken to the clinic in
Vysoke nad Jizerou, an elite institution in the country, after
initial treatment at a hospital in Prostejov. Doctors decided to
operate on her hand immediately.
Shortly after the attack,
Kvitova wrote on Twitter that she expected to recover and get back
to playing tennis, saying "if you know anything about me I am strong
and I will fight this."
Kvitova won the Wimbledon title
in 2011 and 2014. She reached a career-high ranking of No. 2 in
2011, but finished the 2016 season as No. 11.
In April 1993, Monica Seles was
at the height of her success when she was stabbed in the back during
a changeover at a tournament in Hamburg. A man reached over a
courtside railing and knifed her, leaving an inch-deep slit between
her shoulder blades.
Seles returned to the game 27
months later and reached the 1995 U.S. Open final.
Hawks overcome Westbrook's 46 to beat Thunder 110-108
Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap
(4) grabs a rebound in front of Oklahoma City Thunder center
Steven Adams, right, in the first half of their NBA basketball
game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Dec. 19. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City (AP) — Paul
Millsap took advantage of a chance to show off his rare versatility.
Atlanta's 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter)
forward shifted to center because Dwight Howard was out and scored a
season-high 30 points, including the go-ahead 10-footer with 12.7
seconds left. He helped the Hawks overcome Russell Westbrook's 46 points
and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-108 on Monday night.
"It took everything we had,"
Millsap said. "It took everybody stepping up to get this win tonight."
After Millsap's late shot, Thunder
center Steven Adams rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Westbrook and dunked
it, but a review determined that the basket came just after time
Westbrook entered the game as the
NBA's leading scorer with more than 30 points per game.
"If he gets his points — he's going
to get that regardless," Millsap said. "The game plan was try to take
everybody else out of it."
Westbrook, who made 16 of 33 shots
and had 11 rebounds and seven assists, was unimpressed with his effort.
"No, we don't have any moral
victories around here, buddy," he said.
Dennis Schroder scored 31 points
and made 10 of 16 shots for the Hawks, who have won four of six after a
six-game losing streak.
"Pretty special effort by the guys
tonight, to come in here down Dwight, without him, and to find a way to
compete against a great rebounding team and an individual player that's
playing just lights-out basketball," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer
said. "I was very proud of our players."
Jerami Grant scored a season-high
15 points, and Andre Roberson matched a season high with 14 points for
Westbrook scored 18 points in the
second quarter to help the Thunder take a 53-48 lead. The Hawks shot 50
percent in the first half, but without Howard, they were outrebounded
27-14, and the Thunder outscored them 10-0 on second-chance points.
Schroder scored 18 points in the first half, and Millsap added 16.
The Hawks closed the third quarter
well to take an 81-78 lead into the fourth, then Atlanta held on.
"They made some tough plays toward
the end of the game," Thunder guard Semaj Christon said. "We can do
better on defense keeping the guys in front of us without fouling."
England collapse to humiliating defeat vs India
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, left, and teammate Ravindra
Jadeja celebrate after winning the test series against England
during their fifth day of the fifth test in Chennai, India,
Tuesday, Dec. 20. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
Chennai, India (AP) —
England's losing tour of India ended in further failure on Tuesday when
the tourists collapsed to an innings and 75-run loss in the fifth test
Well placed at 167-4 going into the
final session and playing for an honorable draw, England lost six
wickets for 40 runs to lose the five-match series 4-0.
India dominated throughout the
series, with effective spin bowling while their batsmen exerted complete
domination over England's spinners.
On Tuesday, Ravindra Jadeja took
7-48, his sixth five-wicket haul and his career-best in test cricket, as
the visitors collapsed.
The first test in Rajkot ended in a
draw and India won the second test in Visakhapatnam by 246 runs, as well
as the third test in Mohali by eight wickets.
They won the series with an innings
and 36-run win in Mumbai.
Virat Kohli was declared man of the
series for his 655 runs in five tests. "It's been a complete performance
from the time we were put under pressure in Rajkot, to come back and put
them under pressure in the next game. We lost tosses in four of the five
tests and came from behind to win three of those matches. The
lower-order contributions stand out for us and it has been a very
satisfying series," he said.
Karun Nair was given the man of the
match for his maiden triple hundred. "I think it will take a couple of
days to sink in. It's an amazing feeling when you contribute to winning
a match, so hats off to the team," he said.
Starting from overnight 12-0,
England openers Alastair Cook (49) and Keaton Jennings (54) put on a
century stand for the first wicket.
Cook was caught at leg slip off
Jadeja soon after lunch while Jennings completed his half-century off
117 balls. He too fell shortly afterwards, lobbing a simple return catch
to Jadeja in the 44th over.
Jadeja then trapped Joe Root (6)
lbw in the 50th over via DRS review.
The all-rounder was all over the
visitors, as he played a part in dismissing Jonny Bairstow (1) as well.
Jadeja ran back from midwicket to complete the catch, as the batsman
miscued a chip in the air off Ishant Sharma (1-17).
England went from 103-0 to 129-4,
still hoping to save the match in the last session though, placed at
167-4 at the break. Instead, they collapsed, and were bowled out for 207
runs in the span of 24 overs.
Jadeja had taken 3-38 before tea,
and he continued his fine form thereafter, picking 4 wickets for 10
runs. His previous best was 6-138 against South Africa in Durban in
This was Jadeja's first ten-wicket
haul in test cricket, as he picked 3-106 in the first innings, returning
a total 10-154.
"With his accurate bowling, Jadeja
brings balance to the side. He can bowl in any conditions. He doesn't
have too many variations, but he made the batsmen think with his
accuracy about how long they can defend," said Kohli, about Jadeja's
Moeen Ali (44) played an
unnecessary heave to throw away his good work, and was caught at mid-on
by a leaping Ravichandran Ashwin.
Ali had been given a life in the
70th over, when he was dropped at short leg off Jadeja, but didn't make
Then, Ben Stokes (23) was caught at
midwicket off Jadeja again, the left-arm spinner picking up his first
five-wicket haul since 5-73 against New Zealand in Kanpur this past
Stokes and Ali had added 63 runs
for the fifth wicket, and thereafter it all fell apart.
Amit Mishra (1-30) bowled Liam
Dawson (0) with a googly, and then Umesh Yadav (1-36) had Adil Rashid
(2) caught at point by Jadeja, as he was omnipresent today in England's
Jos Buttler (6 not out) and Stuart
Broad (1) resisted for a bit, but Jadeja returned to pick the last two
Broad was caught at short leg, and
then Jake Ball (0) was snapped up by Karun Nair to bring down the
curtains on the series.
England went from 103-0 to 207 all
out, losing 10 wickets for 104 runs. "It wasn't great viewing but it
happens in this part of the world on the fifth day of a test. The
momentum is very hard to stop when wickets fall in clusters," said Cook,
after the day's play.
"It has been a tough tour and it
can get lonely when you lose games of cricket. We have to give India
credit. Even when we put 470 runs on the board, they made big runs under
pressure. We knew we would be under pressure today if we lost a couple
quick wickets, and wanted to stop that momentum. But we couldn't do that
with our skills. We just haven't been good enough to put India under
pressure," he added.
Cook is under pressure to hold on
to his job as England test skipper, after drawing 2-2 with Pakistan at
home in the summer, drawing 1-1 in Bangladesh before the Indian tour,
and after suffering a 4-0 rout in the five-match series here.
"I have said earlier that I have to
go away and do some thinking. This is not the right time to make
decisions as big as that. I will come back in January, then plan with
Andrew Strauss, and see what's right going ahead for English cricket,"
Cook signed off.
Panthers knock Redskins out of wild-card position
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam
Newton passes the ball during the first half of the NFL football
game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Monday,
Dec. 19. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
New York (AP) - Cam Newton
and the Panthers stuck it to Josh Norman and the Redskins, helping the
Buccaneers and Packers improve their playoff chances.
Carolina's 26-15 victory at
Washington on Monday night knocked the Redskins out of the NFC's second
wild-card position and kept the Panthers in the race mathematically.
Carolina needs to win and have 10 games go their way, including another
tie for Washington.
The Redskins gained control of
their playoff hopes when rival Dallas beat Tampa Bay on Sunday night,
but they gave it right back. The loss dropped Washington into eighth
place in the conference behind the Bucs and Green Bay.
On Sunday, Tom Brady and the
Patriots clinched another division title and helped the Dolphins jump
into a postseason position while Oakland snapped a 13-year playoff
New England secured its eighth
straight AFC East title and earned a first-round bye with a dominant
defensive performance in a 16-3 win at Denver.
The Patriots' victory allowed Miami
to leapfrog the Broncos for the second wild-card position in the AFC.
The Raiders beat the Chargers to
earn their first trip to the playoffs since losing the 2003 Super Bowl.
In the early games Sunday, the
NFC's playoff picture got more jumbled and the Chiefs lost control of
their division championship hopes.
The Packers got right back in the
mix for an NFC North title thanks to a last-second win over the Bears
and help from the Giants, who beat the Lions and put pressure on the
Cowboys in the NFC East.
Kansas City lost to Tennessee and
then fell out of first place in the AFC West following Oakland's
victory. In the AFC South, all three teams vying for first place got big
The Seattle Seahawks kicked off
Week 15 by securing another NFC West title on Thursday night.
Dallas, which already got in,
maintained a two-game edge over the Giants with a 26-20 win over the
Here's a closer look at the teams
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-2)
Remaining schedule: vs. New York
Jets on Dec. 24, at Miami on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-1. Conference
Clinched division and first-round
bye with impressive win over the Broncos. Need one win or loss by
Raiders to lock up No. 1 seed.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-5)
Remaining schedule: at Buffalo on
Dec. 24, vs. New England on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-1. Conference
Their win over the Jets coupled
with New England's win at Denver gave the Dolphins control of the second
Need a miracle: BUFFALO BILLS (7-7)
Eliminated: NEW YORK JETS (4-10).
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-5)
Remaining schedule: vs. Baltimore
on Dec. 25, vs. Cleveland on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-1. Conference
Their comeback win over the Bengals
set up a showdown for the division at home on Christmas Day vs. the
Ravens. Pittsburgh already lost at Baltimore so it must win that game.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-6)
Remaining schedule: at Pittsburgh
on Dec. 25, at Cincinnati on Jan. 1.
Division record: 4-0. Conference
They win the division if they win
Eliminated: CINCINNATI BENGALS
(5-8-1), CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-14).
HOUSTON TEXANS (8-6)
Remaining schedule: vs. Cincinnati
on Dec. 24, at Tennessee on Jan. 1.
Division record: 5-0. Conference
They might have a quarterback
controversy, but Tom Savage led them to a comeback win that keeps them
in first place. Houston is tied with the Titans, so their New Year's Day
rematch at Tennessee could be for the division.
TENNESSEE TITANS (8-6)
Remaining schedule: at Jacksonville
on Dec. 24, vs. Houston on Jan. 1.
Division record: 1-3. Conference
An impressive comeback win at
Kansas City allows them to control their playoff possibilities. If they
win out, they earn a division crown. The Titans would lose a tiebreaker
with Houston, so they can't fall behind the Texans going into Week 17.
They hold head-to-head tiebreakers over the Broncos and Dolphins, so a
wild card is still in play.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (7-7)
Remaining schedule: at Oakland on
Dec. 24, vs. Jacksonville on Jan. 1.
Division record: 2-3. Conference
A big win at Minnesota keeps them
alive, but they have the tough Raiders and need help.
Eliminated: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
OAKLAND RAIDERS (11-3)
Remaining schedule: vs.
Indianapolis on Dec. 24, at Denver on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-2. Conference
Oakland clinched its first playoff
spot in 14 years with a win over the Chargers. The Raiders must finish
one game ahead of the Chiefs to win AFC West because they lost to them
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-4)
Remaining schedule: vs. Denver on
Dec. 25, at San Diego on Jan. 1.
Division record: 4-0. Conference
Missed opportunity to clinch a
playoff spot and lost control of division race, but hold a tiebreaker
over the Raiders because of a series sweep.
DENVER BRONCOS (8-6)
Remaining schedule: at Kansas City
on Dec. 25, vs. Oakland on Jan. 1.
Division record: 1-3. Conference
They lost control of their playoff
future and their schedule is brutal.
Eliminated: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
DALLAS COWBOYS (12-2)
Remaining schedule: vs. Detroit on
Dec. 26, at Philadelphia on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-2. Conference
Their magic number to win the
division and secure the No. 1 seed is one.
NEW YORK GIANTS (10-4)
Remaining schedule: at Philadelphia
on Thursday, at Washington on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-1. Conference
They put heat on the Cowboys, but
still need lots of help to win the division. A wild-card berth is more
likely, but they have only road games remaining so it won't be easy.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (7-6-1)
Remaining schedule: at Chicago on
Dec. 24, vs. New York Giants on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-2. Conference
Lost control of their playoff
future. Will need help to get in.
Eliminated: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
DETROIT LIONS (9-5):
Remaining schedule: at Dallas on
Dec. 26, vs. Green Bay on Jan. 1.
Division record: 2-2. Conference
A loss to the Giants plus Green
Bay's win is setting up a winner-take-all home game vs. the Packers in
Week 17. The Lions still have a one-game lead, but their schedule is
GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-6)
Remaining schedule: vs. Minnesota
on Dec. 24, at Detroit on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-1. Conference
The Packers gained control of their
playoff hopes with a win and Detroit's loss. If they win out, they take
the North. A wild card also is in play.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-7)
Remaining schedule: at Green Bay on
Dec. 24, vs. Chicago on Jan. 1.
Division record: 1-3. Conference
A blowout loss at home to the Colts
leaves Minnesota on the brink of elimination.
Eliminated: CHICAGO BEARS (3-11).
ATLANTA FALCONS (9-5)
Remaining schedule: at Carolina on
Dec. 24, vs. New Orleans on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-1. Conference
Their win over San Francisco
coupled with Tampa Bay's loss put them in control in the division race.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (8-6)
Remaining schedule: at New Orleans
on Dec. 24, vs. Carolina on Jan. 1.
Division record: 3-1. Conference
Regained their grip on the second
wild-card spot with Washington's loss.
Need a miracle: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
(6-8), CAROLINA PANTHERS (6-8).
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-4-1)
Remaining schedule: vs. Arizona on
Dec. 24, at San Francisco on Jan. 1.
Division record: 2-1-1. Conference
The first team to clinch a division
title, Seattle jumped up to the No. 2 seed following Detroit's loss.
Eliminated: ARIZONA CARDINALS
(5-8-1), LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-10), SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-13).
Petra Kvitova injured by knife-wielding attacker at her home
Petra Kvitova. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias).
Prague (AP) — Two-time Wimbledon
champion Petra Kvitova was injured by a knife-wielding attacker at her home
on Tuesday and had to undergo surgery on her left hand.
An operation that took 3 hours and 45
minutes revealed that the left-handed player's injuries were "serious," but
"there's no reason to think she wouldn't be able to play tennis," her
spokesman Karel Tejkal said.
Kvitova will, however, miss the
Australian Open and a significant part of the season as she won't be able to
fully train for at least three months, Tejkal said.
Kvitova sustained damaged to the
tendons in her left hand, along with injuries to all five fingers and two
nerves, Tejkal added.
The 2011 and 2014 champion at the All
England Club said she considered herself lucky to have survived the attack
Tuesday morning in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov.
"In my attempt to defend myself, I was
badly injured on my left hand. I am shaken, but fortunate to be alive,"
Kvitova wrote on Twitter. "The injury is severe and I will need to see
specialists, but if you know anything about me I am strong and I will fight
In an earlier statement on the Facebook
page of the Czech Republic's Fed Cup team, Kvitova said: "What happened to
me was certainly not pleasant, but it's behind me. I have the best possible
care and I'm in touch with my loved ones. The worst is behind me."
It was not immediately clear how the
injury could affect Kvitova's play. She underwent surgery "because of her
condition and future career," said Tejkal, who described the incident as a
burglary. Prostejov police spokesman Frantisek Korinek said the attacker, a
man who is about 35 years old, escaped from the scene and was at large. He
said police have launched a manhunt.
Kvitova was scheduled to participate in
a charity event in the city of Brno on Tuesday with another Czech player,
"It's horrible," Safarova told Czech
public radio. "Things like that are shocking to all of us. It can happen to
anyone of us. That's really terrible."
In April 1993, Monica Seles was at the
height of her success when she was stabbed in the back during a changeover
at a tournament in Hamburg. A man reached over a courtside railing and
knifed her, leaving an inch-deep slit between her shoulder blades.
Seles returned to the game 27 months
later and reached the 1995 U.S. Open final.
In an unrelated move earlier Tuesday,
Kvitova withdrew from the Czech Republic team at next month's Hopman Cup
mixed-team tennis tournament because of an earlier foot injury.