Porto, Nov 29 (AP/UNB) — With another dominant performance, Porto extended its winning streak by defeating Schalke 3-1 on Wednesday to guarantee first place in Group D of the Champions League.
The Portuguese champions picked up their ninth straight win with goals by Eder Militao and Jesus Corona three minutes apart early in the second half at Estadio do Dragao. Moussa Marega finished off the victory in stoppage time, shortly after Schalke pulled a goal back with a penalty converted by Nabil Bentaleb.
"We played a fantastic second half, we could have scored even more goals," Porto coach Sergio Conceicao said.
Both teams had already advanced to the knockout stage, but first place was still up for grabs. The victory kept Porto unbeaten and gave the team a five-point gap to Schalke ahead of the final round of matches in December.
Earlier Wednesday, Galatasaray's hopes of advancing ended with a 2-0 loss at Lokomotiv Moscow. Galatasaray is one point in front of the Russian club in the fight for third place and a spot in the knockout stage of the Europa League.
Porto leads the Portuguese league and has won 12 of its last 13 matches in all competitions, with the only setback a 1-0 loss against rival Benfica. Other than that, the team has won every game since a 1-1 draw at Schalke in the Champions League in September.
Militao scored his first goal since joining Porto in the summer with a header in the 52nd minute and Corona added to the lead with a shot from inside the area in the 55th.
Schalke, which struggled to get near the goal of Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas, scored with an 89th-minute penalty converted by Bentaleb after a handball by Porto's Oliver Torres.
The German team tried to press for the equalizer but Marega restored a two-goal lead from inside the box deep into injury time, not long after he had a goal disallowed for offside.
"We had higher hopes for ourselves here in Porto," Schalke defender Naldo said. "We knew they had a lot of quality up front and we were made to pay for our mistakes."
Porto closes its group stage at Galatasaray on Dec. 11, while Schalke will host Lokomotiv Moscow.
Naples, Nov 29 (AP/UNB) — Dries Mertens scored twice as Napoli comfortably saw off Red Star Belgrade 3-1 on Wednesday, but the Italian side will have to wait to book its place in the Champions League knockout stage.
Marek Hamsik netted Napoli's other goal, while Ben Nabouhane pulled a late goal back for Red Star. However, Carlo Ancelotti's side still needs a point against Liverpool in the final round of group fixtures to guarantee advancement after Paris Saint-Germain beat the English 2-1 in the other Group C match.
"This team gives me great emotions, this group tested us and I am convinced that we can compete against anyone in Europe," Ancelotti said. "We can't go to Liverpool thinking about the math, we have to go there and play like we deserve to be top of a very difficult group, with courage.
"At the end of the day, it's such a difficult and balanced group that it couldn't be decided with a match remaining."
Napoli tops the group with nine points, one more than PSG and three more than Liverpool.
Red Star beat Liverpool at home in the previous round of games and also drew with Napoli in the first meeting between the two sides. But its away form has been dismal, having lost 6-1 at PSG and 4-0 in England.
"Liverpool is a tough team, but we can fight for it, it will be a great match," Hamsik said. "Of course there's still regret that we drew in Belgrade but no-one thought we could be top of the group at this stage."
Napoli almost took the lead in the fifth minute but visiting goalkeeper Milan Borjan did well to parry Mertens' backheel flick from close range.
The hosts did go in front six minutes later when a corner was flicked on for Hamsik to volley in his first goal of the season.
Red Star came close to equalizing in the 23rd minute but Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina — who had received treatment in the opening minutes for a knee injury — pushed away Veljko Simic's fairly tame effort.
Mertens doubled Napoli's lead in the 33rd, prodding home Fabian Ruiz's deflected cross from the left.
Napoli's two scorers combined shortly after the break to extend their side's advantage with Mertens running onto Hamsik's ball over the top and lifting it over Borjan and into the top left corner.
However, Napoli got complacent and allowed Red Star to get one back five minutes later. Marko Marin threaded the ball through for Nabouhane to curl into the bottom left corner.
"In the first half we didn't play like we wanted to but after the break we had our best 45 minutes in this Champions League," Red Star coach Vladan Milojevic said. "I have to compliment the guys, we have a really young team which is doing well.
"We conceded six goals in Paris and I don't have to say anything to my players to motivate them. We will be playing in a full stadium and I am sure we will give our maximum even though we have already been eliminated."
Paris, Nov 29 (AP/UNB) — With its Champions League campaign in danger, Paris Saint-Germain finally showed the grit and fighting spirit that is supposedly the hallmark of a proud English side like Liverpool.
PSG beat Liverpool 2-1 in a tense match on Wednesday to move above the five-time European champion and into second place behind Napoli in a hard-fought Group C.
Coach Thomas Tuchel's side had drawn twice with Napoli and lost away to Liverpool, a draw would have put PSG in serious danger of not qualifying. But now it's Juergen Klopp's Liverpool side that is under big pressure heading into the last round of games.
Napoli, which beat Red Star Belgrade 3-1 at home, is one point ahead of PSG and three clear of Liverpool, leaving the three teams fighting for two spots in the knockout stage.
"It was our last chance to show that we are capable of fighting against a team like Liverpool and Liverpool has an incredible mentality," Tuchel said. "It was very important to show today we can fight against them. We defended incredibly well. Everyone was ready to suffer for everyone else."
Liverpool lost last year's final, while PSG has never reached one and in the past two seasons has not even been in the quarterfinals. Tuchel is banking on an improved team spirit to turn that around.
"We have to work hard to conserve this spirit and attitude," he said. "The players are exhausted in the dressing room."
Klopp's side must beat Napoli at home on Dec. 11, while PSG travels to last-place Red Star.
"We need Anfield again, we need a great atmosphere," Klopp said. "We have to make a special night of it if we want to go through."
Left-back Juan Bernat and Neymar gave PSG a deserved 2-0 lead against a static Liverpool side, whose only attacks in the first half were predictable and slow forays down the right.
Liverpool was given a lifeline on the stroke of halftime when forward Sadio Mane was clumsily tripped by Angel Di Maria and veteran midfielder James Milner coolly sent Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Liverpool had the better of the second half but failed to create clear scoring chances, with Mohamed Salah particularly ineffective.
Klopp was quick to criticize referee Szymon Marciniak and took a swipe at Neymar and other PSG players for what he considered to be play-acting.
"There was a little hurdle with the 500,000 interruptions in the second half, and the referee did nothing. In England we are high up in the fair play table, but tonight we looked like butchers," Klopp said. "It was clever of PSG, Neymar — especially him — but a lot of players went down as if it was really serious."
Klopp wanted PSG's players to be punished more often.
"You act like you die and the next moment you get up. It could be a yellow card. You could do that," Klopp said. "But I don't want to say 'Paris didn't deserve it.' We were not calm enough."
Tuchel wasn't drawn into the argument.
"If we lose a big match I'm also in a bad mood, I know him very well so I don't take this personally," Tuchel said. "I didn't feel like it was such a big issue."
PSG celebrated the win almost as if it had won a title, with Neymar jumping over the advertising hoardings and leading the rest of the team into jubilant dancing in front of the fans. It was a clear sign of PSG's relief.
Tuchel got his choices right and his players responded to his request for more intensity.
PSG's 13th-minute opener had a touch of luck as Kylian Mbappe's mis-hit pass was poorly cleared by Virgil van Dijk and Bernat lashed the ball into the bottom corner.
PSG's second goal came after another Liverpool move on the right broke down. PSG charged down the left and Dejan Lovren's lack of pace was exposed by the electrifying speed of Mbappe. Alisson did well to stop Mbappe's cross from the left reaching Edinson Cavani, but Neymar picked his spot from the rebound.
Liverpool's goal arrived with a timely shift down the left flank, as Mane got behind the defense and forced Di Maria into a panicky error.
Liverpool upped the tempo in the second half. The mobile Mane was getting considerably more involved and PSG started to give the ball away carelessly.
But as the pressure rose at a tense Parc des Princes, Liverpool failed to capitalize.
Eindhoven, Nov 29 (AP/UNB) — PSV Eindhoven did all it could to stifle Lionel Messi. It wasn't enough.
Messi scored one goal after a trademark dribble and set up another from a free kick as Barcelona beat PSV 2-1 Wednesday to secure top spot in Champions League Group B with one match left to play.
"He's a player you almost can't stop," said PSV coach Mark van Bommel. "You have to do everything you can — and we did that today — to block his shots. But sometimes it doesn't work and that has to do with the quality of the player. That's why he's the best in the world."
Barcelona was already qualified for the next round before kicking off at PSV Stadium and was uncharacteristically scrappy at times until a moment of Messi magic finally gave his team the lead in the 61st minute.
The Argentina star scored his 106th Champions League goal by dribbling through a group of PSV defenders and unleashing a powerful shot past Jeroen Zoet.
He then turned supplier for Barcelona's second, taking a free kick that Gerard Pique deflected past Zoet.
In the group's other match, substitute Christian Eriksen scored as Tottenham beat Inter Milan 1-0 at Wembley and those teams will fight for second place in the last round. Tottenham faces Barcelona in its last group match while Inter hosts PSV.
Messi has now scored 10 goals in five Champions League matches against Dutch opponents, including his hat trick against PSV in their Group B opener this season.
But Barcelona will have to raise its game if it is to win back the Champions League trophy that was won by archrival Real Madrid for the last three seasons.
PSV effectively countered Barcelona's threat for much of the first half by pressing hard and denying Messi and his team mates time to settle, forcing mistakes.
"It is our style of play that we take a lot of risks," said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde. "There are a lot of teams now that try to put us under pressure. If we make mistakes in our midfield it is tough, but it is part of our risky style."
PSV unlucky not to go into the break at least one goal in front after twice hitting the frame of the goal.
Gaston Pereiro hit the post after 16 minutes and Luuk de Jong saw his looping header rebound off the crossbar shortly before halftime.
De Jong grabbed a consolation goal for the home fans with an 83rd-minute header to set up a frenetic late assault, but despite pouring forward in the closing minutes PSV could not find an equalizer.
"We had problems with De Jong, he is tough to defend," Valverde said. "PSV began to believe they had a chance and play long balls, but in the end we got the result we came here for."
PSV coach Mark van Bommel — himself a Champions League winner with Barcelona in his playing days — started with his regular lineup that has won all 13 of its Dutch Eredivisie matches this season but failed to register a victory in the Champions League. The team has just one point from five matches and is guaranteed to finish bottom of the group.
Barcelona was without the injured Luis Suarez, with Ousmane Dembele taking his place. Dembele scored a goal as Barcelona beat PSV at Camp Nou in their first Group B match this season, but could not add to his tally in Eindhoven.
Valverde started Clement Lenglet in defense instead of Samuel Umtiti, who returned to play at the weekend for the first time since the end of September due to a left knee injury, but felt discomfort in the knee in training Tuesday.
The missing players may have contributed to the sometimes disjointed performance.
Messi made sure Barcelona won anyway.
Dhaka, Nov 28 (UNB) – Hornets Sporting Club clinched the UniMed UniHealth Metropolis Premier Division Basketball League title with unbeaten record beating Rangers Club by 63-50 points in the last match at the Dhanmondi wooden floor gymnasium here on Wednesday.
The champions led the first half by 33-22 points.
Jamil caged 25, Riyam 13 points for the winners while Bappi scored 19 and Mehedi 13 for the losers.
Managing Director of the league sponsor UniMed and UniHealth Pharmaceuticals M Mosaddek Hossain was the chief guest in the day’s last league match and later, he distributed the trophies among the champions and runners-up.
The champions team received prize money of Tk 30,000 while the runners-up Rangers Club got prize money of Tk 20,000.