Dhaka, Feb 3 (UNB) – Arambagh Krira Sangha earned their 3rd consecutive victory in four matches to take a joint lead in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football beating formidable Chattogram Abahani Limited by 2-0 goals at their lucky home venue -- Rofiq Uddin Bhuiyan Stadium in Mymensingh on Sunday.
With the day’s feat, Maruful Haque’s Arambagh KS shared the top slot in the league with star-studded Bashundhara Kings, holders Dhaka Abahani Limited and Saif Sporting Club securing nine points each. Chattogram Abahani went down to the 6th slot in the league table with five points from four matches.
Mediocre Arambagh KS, which started their league campaign with 0-1 goal defeat against Sheikh Russel KC, smartly returned to the winning tone outplaying traditional Dhaka Mohammedan SC 4-1 in the 2nd match and maintained their good form beating Saif Sporting Club 1-0 in the 3rd match.
After a barren first half in the day’s match, Arifur Rahman and Paul Emile scored one each for Arambagh KS in a span of 13 minutes. Nigerian forward Matthew Chinedu, who scored the match-winner against Saif SC in the last match, also played an important in the day’s match assisting in both the goals.
Arifur Rahman put Arambagh KS ahead in the 61st minute, off a Matthew Chinedu pass (1-0) while Cameroon striker Paul Emile confirmed the Arambagh victory scoring the 2nd goal in the 74th minute, also by a Matthew Chinedu pass (2-0).
In the day’s other match, Saif Sporting Club beat Brothers Union Club by 2-1 goals to take joint lead in the league on Sunday at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here.
Deiner Cordoba scored the first goal for Saif SC in the 11th minute (1-0) while Bablu of Saif SC scored a suicidal goal in the 27th minute to level the Brothers margin (1-1).
Denis Bolshakov scored the match winner for Saif SC in the 60th minute.
Spain, Feb 3 (AP/UNB) — Nothing can silence the Camp Nou crowd like the thought of an injury to Lionel Messi — especially four days before a clash against Real Madrid.
So a chill ran through Barcelona's supporters during the Spanish league match against Valencia on Saturday when Messi sat down on the sideline, his right leg stretched before him, and received a massage from a team trainer.
Little did it matter that the team's all-time leading scorer had just struck two goals to lead Barcelona back from a two-goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw. Any hint of Messi being sidelined with the season entering its critical phase with titles on the line immediately overshadowed yet another outstanding performance by the Argentine.
Messi may have been hurt when Valencia defender Antonio Lato ran into him.
The scare comes before Barcelona hosts Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal.
"Please don't let it be anything serious," Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena said. "We hope he will be back in full form on Wednesday."
Coach Ernesto Valverde said Messi was undergoing medical exams.
"He is bothered by something, but we will have to wait to see what the doctors say," Valverde said. "I imagine that it is not that bad."
Messi missed Barcelona's first clasico against Madrid in October due to a broken right arm. His teammates did fine without him, routing their fierce rival 5-1 and sealing the fate of coach Julen Lopetegui.
Madrid, however, is playing much better now. It has won four straight before hosting Alaves on Sunday.
Before his fitness put a damper on a thrilling match, Messi extended his scoring run to nine straight games across all competitions. His double took his league-leading tally to 21 goals in 22 rounds.
Barcelona's winning streak in la Liga ended at eight matches in a row. It leads second-placed Atletico Madrid by six points before its closest title rival visits Real Betis on Sunday.
Valencia took advantage of Sergi Roberto playing out of position as a fill-in left back for Jordi Alba. Daniel Wass led several attacks from Roberto's side, starting with a pass for Dani Parejo to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen before Denis Chershev put the rebound off the post.
Parejo started a move that produced Kevin Gameiro's opener in the 24th minute when he tackled Messi. That sprung a counterattack led by Rodrigo Moreno, who slipped a pass forward to set up Gameiro.
Parejo doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Roberto knocked down Wass trying to dispute a cross.
Valencia lost Gameiro to injury shortly after when the striker asked to be substituted after being shaken up when he knocked heads with Gerard Pique.
Messi got his first goal from the penalty spot in the 39th after Nelson Semedo was fouled by Lato.
Messi struck again in the 64th when Arturo Vidal laid the ball off for him on the edge of the area. Messi quickly unleashed a curling, left-foot strike around two defenders, who impeded goalie Neto from seeing the ball until it was too late to react.
"We played at a good pace, counterattacked well, scored twice and could have scored more," Parejo said. "The team's performance was magnificent."
Celta Vigo broke a five-match losing streak and escaped the relegation zone by beating Sevilla 1-0 at home thanks to Okay Yokuslu's second-half goal.
Fourth-place Sevilla has won only one of its last six league games.
Real Sociedad defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-1 to deal its northern Basque Country rival its first defeat since the arrival of coach Gaizka Garitano.
Garitano had kept Bilbao unbeaten through seven league games since replacing Eduardo Berizzo in December.
Getafe's 0-0 draw at Levante was marred by 11 Getafe fans being arrested for provoking a clash with rival supporters outside the stadium in Valencia.
Getafe, which condemned the violence, rose to fifth as the small Madrid-based club continued its impressive season on the field.
Dhaka, Feb 02 (UNB) – A brilliant hat-trick by national striker Nabib Newaz Zibon enabled defending champions Dhaka Abahani Limited to earn the biggest victory in their 4th match of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) outplaying mediocre Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society by 5-1 goals at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Saturday.
With the day’s feat, the popular sky-blue Dhanmondi outfit Abahani Limited shared the top slot in league with Bashundhara Kings securing nine points after beating NoFel SC 2-1 and Muktijoddha Sangsaad KC 2-0 after losing the only match to Bashundhara Kings 0-3 goals.
National striker Nabib Newaz Zibon made the 3rd hat-trick of the league scoring three goals in the 18th, 19th and 93rd minutes while Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba netted the remaining two goals for Abahani Limited in the 50th and 68th minutes.
Congo booter Siyo Zunapio scored the consolation goal for Rahmatganj MFS in the stoppage time of the first half (45+4 minute).
Bello of Brothers Union made the first hat-trick in the league against Sheikh Jamal DC while Zahid Hossain scored the 2nd hat-trick against Dhaka Mohammedan SC.
In the day’s other match, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club beat Team BJMC by 2-0 goals at Shahid Bhulu Stadium in Noakhali on Saturday.
Luciano Araya put Sheikh Jamal ahead in the 13th minute while David Tetteh doubled the margin in the 33rd minute.
Saint-Denis, Feb (AP/UNB) — George North accepted two gift tries as Wales rallied from 16-0 down at halftime to beat France 24-19 in a rainy Six Nations rugby opener on Friday.
Two of Wales' three tries were donated by French mistakes, allowing Wales to pull off the biggest comeback win in the tournament since it expanded in 2000.
Wales ran its winning streak to 10, one short of the national record set more than a century ago.
"The biggest difference between the two sides is that we're a side who's forgotten how to lose, whereas on the other foot they're a side looking for confidence," Wales coach Warren Gatland said.
"It was strange. To win this tournament, you need a little bit of luck. You saw that last year with Johnny Sexton scoring a last-minute drop goal in a game France probably should have won (against Ireland)."
No. 8 Louis Picamoles barged over for an early try for France, and left winger Yoann Huget added a neat second. Neither was converted but flyhalf Camille Lopez added a penalty and dropped goal to make it 16-0 by halftime.
France ended a miserable 2018 with a home loss to Fiji. So French fans could scarcely believe the halftime score against the team second in last year's tournament and a strong candidate this year.
Wales had to hit back strongly and did so as scrumhalf Tomos Williams and North scored converted tries to pull within two of France just 11 minutes into the half. By then Wales had already two tries disallowed.
Wales went ahead for the first time with a penalty by replacement flyhalf Dan Biggar, Camille kicked France back in front, then North intercepted debutant Romain Ntamack's ponderous pass to Huget and sprinted home from 55 meters for the clinching converted score.
While Wales overcame a sloppy performance, France still seems chronically unable to make the most of a winning situation.
"It's not a question of mental strength," France coach Jacques Brunel said, somewhat surprisingly. "It's more a lack of control."
France's selection promised a more mobile, attacking approach than previous years. They made the ideal start as Picamoles bundled over in the right corner in the sixth minute after sustained pressure.
On a slippery night, Morgan Parra missed two difficult goalkicks for France, and Wales kicker Gareth Anscombe, who made all of his goalkicks in the 2018 championship, botched his first shot.
But a slick four-man passing move opened up the French defense, and fullback Liam Williams rode a tackle to get over the line. But the try was disallowed on video review by a knock on, which Williams could have avoided by passing inside to his left.
A physical French side unsettled Wales and a one-handed reverse offload by flanker Arthur Iturria released Huget into space on the left touchline and he scored in the corner.
Parra again missed the extras. Anscombe followed suit to make kickers 0-5.
Still, the Stade de France crowd had cause for optimism, having long been used to watching a brittle and gritty France side.
Since Les Tricolores reached the World Cup final in 2011, the side has finished no higher than third in the Six Nations — and that was only once. But the fans were enjoying the show and the players fed off their energy.
Lopez took over the goalkicking from his Clermont clubmate and nailed a penalty and long dropped goal on the buzzer to make it a dream first half.
The fans were lapping it up.
Then it all went wrong.
"It's frustrating, a feeling of deja vu, like South Africa (last year) and like many other times," France captain Guilhem Guirado said. "Every team in the world manages to control the second half. Not us, unfortunately."
Tomos Williams finished off a Josh Adams break for a Wales try on his tournament debut, then Huget spilled the ball on his tryline under no pressure, and North scooped it up and scored.
Anxiety spread in the home crowd as Biggar's penalty put Wales one point ahead with less than 20 minutes left.
Fear turned to relief when a mighty effort from the French scrum drew an error near the line, and Lopez clipped over the penalty for 19-17.
Then Ntamack undid the hard work moments later with a sloppy pass and watched North streak away.
Wales takes momentum to Italy next weekend. Guirado has to rally his crushed players for England at Twickenham.
Abu Dhabi, Feb 2 (AP/UNB) — Long scorned for a lack of soccer pedigree, Qatar will enter the 2022 World Cup as the champion of Asia.
The Asian Cup was lifted by Qatar for the first time on Friday after a series of victories on the field just as improbable as winning the vote in 2010 that secured the FIFA showpiece for the small, super-rich Gulf nation.
While Japan entered the Asian Cup hotly tipped to win a fifth title, the Qataris hadn't even reached the semifinals before. But confounding the disparity in the FIFA rankings — with Qatar at 93 and Japan at 50 — the Gulf nation won the final 3-1 to claim its first major soccer title.
The strong attacking display was a reflection of Qatar's remarkable run over the last month in the United Arab Emirates, scoring 19 goals and conceding only once in winning all seven games.
"Qatar today is a top Asian team," goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb said. "We wrote history."
After upsetting the final favorite, players wrapped themselves in Qatari flags in a display of patriotic furor that will have resonated far beyond the stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Since joining other Arab countries in cutting diplomatic, economic and travel ties with Doha in 2017, the UAE warned residents that expressing sympathy for Qatar could lead to fines and imprisonment. The UAE is among a quartet of nations accusing its regional foe of supporting extremists, which Qatar denies, and even prevented the team from traveling direct to Abu Dhabi for the tournament.
There was even an attempt by the UAE to get Qatar disqualified after losing their semifinal. Tournament organizers confirmed only hours before the final they dismissed a challenge by the UAE against the eligibility of two Qatar players who were born outside Qatar.
One of them, Almoez Ali, scored the opening goal against Japan in the 12th minute with an audacious overhead kick. That gave him an all-time tournament record nine goals, surpassing Ali Daei's previous record tally of eight with Iran in 1996.
Abdulaziz Hatem doubled Qatar's lead with a curling strike in the 27th.
While Qatar conceded its first goal of the tournament in its seventh game when Takumi Minamino netted in the 69th, Akram Afif restored the two-goal cushion in the 83rd from the penalty spot.
"It's a huge disappointment," Japan captain Maya Yoshida said. "But we have to learn from this defeat."
Victory will give Qatar renewed hope of being able to compete against the globe's best teams when it qualifies for the first time for the World Cup — as hosts — in 2022.
"This result doesn't come from nothing," said defender Bassam Al-Rawi, the other player whose eligibility was questioned by the UAE. "It came with lot of effort. It came from determination. It came from immense hard work on the pitch. We were able to win today because we took all the chances."
There is an even stronger test for the squad in June when Qatar joins Japan as guest nations at the Copa America. Qatar is in a group with Argentina, Colombia, and Paraguay.
"This is one step more to continue developing the team to play another tournament in the summer and to be ready for 2022, to represent Qatar as a very competitive team at the World Cup," Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said.