Milan, Nov 17 (AP/UNB) — A year after its stunning elimination by Sweden in a World Cup playoff, Italy is back at the San Siro stadium for another potentially decisive match.
The Azzurri have to beat Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal on Saturday and then hope the European champion does not defeat Poland three days later in order to reach the UEFA Nations League finals.
"We would like to advance, and we'll try to, but the No. 1 objective remains qualifying for the European Championship," coach Roberto Mancini said on Friday.
Portugal leads Group 4 with a perfect six points, Italy has four, and Poland one.
The group winner advances to the Final Four in June. Poland is already assured of finishing last in the group and will be relegated to League B.
Mancini was hired after previous coach Gian Piero Ventura was blamed for Italy's failed World Cup qualification.
"I see a team that wants to roll its sleeves up and bring Italy back where it belongs," Mancini said. "Let's be clear, we still need some time, but we're on the right path."
Defender Giorgio Chiellini is slated to make his 100th appearance for Italy while wearing the captain's armband.
"I want to celebrate the achievement only at the end of the match," Chiellini said. "First let's focus on Portugal, try to bring home three points and provide continuity to the good work done to this point."
Chiellini retired from the national team in the aftermath of the loss to Sweden but then changed his mind.
"The real disappointment came in June when many of my club teammates left for Russia while I was preparing my suitcases for vacation," Chiellini said.
Fellow defender Alessio Romagnoli left Italy's squad on Friday with a muscular injury, and Italy is also without forward Federico Bernardeschi.
Bernardeschi was a key performer in the 1-0 win over Poland last month, lining up alongside Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa.
Unable to use the same lineup, Mancini announced that Ciro Immobile will likely start at center forward.
Italy has had trouble scoring.
The last time the Azzurri scored more than one goal was in May, a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in a friendly , while the last time they accomplished the feat in a competitive match was in June 2017, a 5-0 victory over Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifier.
Italy next plays the United States in a friendly in Genk, Belgium, on Tuesday.
Mancini announced Chiellini, Alessandro Florenzi, Jorginho and Insigne would be sent home after the Portugal game and Gianluca Mancini and Moise Kean would be called up from the under-21 side.
Mancini and Chiellini both expressed disappointment that Ronaldo, who is taking a break from the national team, isn't with Portugal.
"It's always great to face the best players," Mancini said. "Anyhow, Portugal remains a great squad even without Cristiano."
London, Nov 17 (AP/UNB) — After reaching the last four at the ATP Finals for the first time, Alexander Zverev isn't satisfied.
He set up a semifinal with six-time champion Roger Federer by defeating John Isner 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Friday.
Zverev is the youngest player at 21 to reach the semifinals since 2009 and the first from Germany since 2003.
"The tournament isn't over," Zverev said. "I don't want to really be thinking 'I'm in the semifinals now, I'm satisfied.' That's not how I work."
Isner and Marin Cilic, who later lost 7-6 (7), 6-2 in a dead rubber against group winner Novak Djokovic, were eliminated by the result.
Five-time champion Djokovic will face debutant Kevin Anderson in the other semifinal on Saturday.
Isner needed to win in straight sets to have any chance of advancing and almost took the lead when he held a set point in the 12th game of the opener. Zverev saved it with an ace and played a faultless tiebreaker to eliminate the American.
"You make this tournament, you want to do a little bit better," said Isner, who lost all three of his matches. "But at the same time this is no normal event. You're up against the absolute best in the world."
In the second set, Zverev converted his only break point of the match to lead 5-3, before calmly closing out the contest at the O2 Arena.
Reaching the last four in London is the latest achievement in a career-best season for Zverev, whose victory over Isner took him beyond the 55 wins he posted last year.
Both players utilized powerful serves to hold comfortably but Isner came up with a crushing forehand return winner to bring up the first break point at 5-6.
Having forced a tiebreaker, Zverev produced perhaps the most important shot of the match to dig out a deep Isner return and force a volley error to ensure it was he and not the American who earned set point. "A remarkable shot," Isner said.
Isner netted a forehand and, with his chance of qualification gone, wilted in the second set as quality Zverev returns secured the only break of the match.
The 37-year-old Federer holds a 3-2 career record over Zverev, with the most recent meeting between the oldest and youngest player in the tournament having been a three-set victory for the Swiss at last year's ATP Finals.
"It's going to be a very difficult match," Zverev said. "I mean, him on this surface, indoor court, he's an unbelievable player."
The top-ranked Djokovic ensured he will be the only unbeaten semifinalist. Despite having already secured an eighth semifinal appearance with his previous victory, the Serb showed no signs of complacency as he lost just five points on his serve against Cilic.
Djokovic won 31 straight service points from the third game of the first set through to the fourth game of the second, but he did have to save a Cilic set point on his way to winning a closely fought tiebreaker.
"It wasn't easy to approach this match with 100 percent willingness to win it," Djokovic said.
Cilic, who has failed to advance from the round robin stage in four appearances, was unable to maintain his level of performance in the second set and allowed Djokovic to break twice.
Djokovic ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by defeating Anderson in the Wimbledon final, before going on to claim his 14th major title at the U.S. Open.
"He's playing well, serving well, very aggressive," Djokovic said of Anderson. "So I know what to expect."
London, Nov 17 (AP) — Brazil extended its winning streak since the World Cup to five after Neymar scored a controversial penalty to beat Uruguay 1-0 in a friendly at Emirates Stadium on Friday.
After defender Danilo fouled Uruguay defender Diego Laxalt, Neymar calmly placed his 76th-minute spot kick to the right side of the Uruguay goal as goalkeeper Martin Campana dived the wrong way.
The Uruguay players were furious at the decision and accused Danilo of diving. Referee Craig Pawson took a while before pointing to the spot and did so only on the advice of one of his linesman.
"It's a shame that it comes down to a bit of a controversial situation," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. "It was the linesman that flagged for it."
Though the five-time world champion enjoyed a lot of possession, Brazil failed to create many chances after Neymar had a close-range goal disallowed as early as the 11th minute.
Uruguay, which has lost three games in a row, went closest to scoring before Neymar's winning penalty.
Striker Luis Suarez took advantage of a loose ball on the edge of the Brazil penalty area but his shot was flicked over the bar by goalkeeper Alisson.
Brazil had its goalkeeper to thank again in first-half injury time when he parried away a sharp volley from Suarez's forward partner, Edinson Cavani.
Alisson was called upon again early in the second half when he dived to his left to turn a low curling free kick from Suarez behind for a corner.
This was the first time Suarez and Cavani have played together since the World Cup round of 16, where Cavani was injured after he scored the two goals that beat Portugal 2-1. Cavani's absence was noticeable when the two-time world champion was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual champion France.
Brazil coach Tite was particularly impressed by his defense, which has not conceded a goal since the quarterfinal loss to Belgium in the World Cup.
He heaped praise on the Uruguay strikers, too, especially Cavani.
"Cavani does make marking hard and he gives Suarez space," he said.
Brazil plays Cameroon next in Milton Keynes, north of London, while Uruguay takes on world champion France at the Stade de France. Both matches are on Tuesday.
Kandy, Nov 16 (AP/UNB) — England put itself in a strong position Friday on the third day of the second test against Sri Lanka before play was suspended by bad light.
The English reached 324-9 and lead by 278 runs. Play was stopped 43 minutes early, at 4:34 p.m., at Pallekele International Stadium.
Play is scheduled to start 15 minutes early on Saturday.
England lost four wickets in the morning session, but captain Joe Root then hit his 15th test hundred.
With the England top order perishing for the sweep shot, both the conventional and the reverse, Root took a different route playing straight. The 27-year-old Yorkshireman hit some elegant drives and powerful cuts but fell for the reverse sweep, ruled leg before wicket to Akila Dananjaya.
Dananjaya then dismissed first innings top-scorer Sam Curran when he bowled him to pick up his third five-wicket haul in test cricket.
Adil Rashid drove the hat-trick ball to mid-off but lasted only 13 deliveries before being given out leg before wicket to Dananjaya. The batsman got a thick edge onto the pads but England didn't have reviews to contest umpire Sundaram Ravi's decision.
Dananjaya finished 6-106, his career best figures. His bowling has come under a cloud after being reported by match officials as suspect during the test in Galle. The bowler is likely to miss the next test because he has to go overseas for testing.
After the struggle before lunch, England recovered thanks to a 74-run stand between Root and Jos Buttler.
Root then added 82 runs for the seventh wicket with Ben Foakes, who was unbeaten on 51.
Root's chanceless knock came as a big relief for England as he had accumulated only 52 runs in three innings in the series. On all three previous occasions, he had been dismissed by a left-arm spinner, but this time he tackled Malinda Pushpakumara well. It is his second test hundred against Sri Lanka.
Suranga Lakmal, the lone seamer in the Sri Lankan attack, sent down only four overs in the innings as the hosts depended heavily on their four pronged spin attack.
Sri Lanka need to win to stay alive in the three-match series after England took a 1-0 lead in Galle with a comprehensive 211-run win.
England has not won a test series in Sri Lanka since 2001.
Dhaka, Nov 16 (UNB) - A friendly cricket match will be held at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in the city on Saturday morning to mark the World Children’s Day that falls on November 20.
A group of under privileged adolescent cricketers (boys and girls) will play with past and present celebrity cricketers of Bangladesh.
The match will be held from 10:30am to 1pm, according to UNICEF.
Former national cricketers Akram Khan, Minhajul Abedin, Habibul Bashar, Naimul Islam Durjoy MP, Test cricketer Hannan Sarkar, national cricketer Taskin Ahmed, National Women’s Cricketer of Bangladesh Suraiya Azmin and others will play.
Adolescent cricketers from UNICEF partner NGOs -- Aporajayo Bangla, BRAC and Shurovi will take part in the match.
World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s annual global day of action for children, by children, a chance to advocate, raise funds and awareness for the most pressing issues facing children.
This year, the world will come together on November 20 to help build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfil their potential.
United Nations Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954 and is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children's welfare.
November 20 is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Since 1990, Universal Children's Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children's rights.
Mothers and fathers, teachers, nurses and doctors, government leaders and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls and media professionals as well as young people and children themselves can play an important part in making Universal Children's Day relevant for their societies, communities and nations.
Universal Children's Day offers each of us an inspirational entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children's rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for Children.
This year the world is going blue and there is an effort to build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfil their potential.
World Children’s Day - a day for children, by children.