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Showing posts from July 13, 2014

Argentina, Netherlands set for battle, Brazil wonders what happened

Argentina and the Netherlands were getting ready to play on Wednesday for the right to join Germany in the World Cup final as the inquisition into Brazil's humiliating exit gathered pace. The hopes of a South America winner now rest on the shoulders of Argentina captain Lionel Messi who will lead his team against the Dutch in the second semi-final in Sao Paulo, kicking off at 2000 GMT. The host-nation's chances ended on Tuesday when they were thrashed 7-1 by a ruthless Germany in Belo Horizonte, a result that shocked the soccer world and plunged Brazil into a state of national mourning. Brazilian media savaged the team's limp performance with newspapers describing the match as an "historic disgrace", "national humiliation", "eternal shame" and a "fiasco". A lot of the blame was directed at Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose job is now the source of wide speculation with Tite, Muricy Ramalho and Vanderlei Luxemburgo looming

Nibali keeps a cool head after shining on cobbles

Yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali smashed his rivals on the cobbles on Wednesday, but the Italian climber knows the Tour de France is still full of traps. After five eventful stages, the Astana rider has a lead of more than two minutes on his Spanish rival Alberto Contador while defending champion Chris Froome of Britain crashed out of the race after suffering a third fall in two days. Nibali, who won the Giro last year and was third on the Tour in 2012, is looking to complete his set of grand Tour titles as he prevailed in the Vuelta four years ago. Only five riders, France's Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil, Belgian Eddy Merckx, Italian Felice Gimondi and Contador have won all three grand Tours. It is an intriguing thought but despite taking early control on crash-littered day on the cobbles of northern France on Wednesday, Nibali knows several riders will be setting their sights on him with three quarters of the race to run. Contador, along with Americans Andrew Ta

Defending champion Froome abandons Tour after crash

Chris Froome's attempt to win a second successive Tour de France ended in bitter disappointment after less than a week of the race on Wednesday when he crashed out on stage five. On a miserable, rain-sodden day in northern France, the Briton appeared in great pain after falling for the second time, some 70 kilometers from the finish. The Team Sky rider stood holding the wrist he injured in another spill on Tuesday, and was limping heavily as he eventually climbed into a team vehicle after chatting to team doctor Alan Farrell and sports director Nicolas Portal. "I'm obviously hugely disappointed," Froome said later. "The way my hand was and the conditions, it was impossible to control my bike." Earlier in the stage, a 152.5-km ride from Ypres, Belgium, Froome suffered his second crash in two days. Froome hurt his wrist and suffered bruises to his left side in a fall on stage four but was cleared to start Wednesday's stage which featured several tr

De Jong, Van Persie start for Netherlands

Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong was named in the starting line-up to face Argentina in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, completing a remarkable recovery after straining his groin muscle in the last-16 game against Mexico on June 29. _0"> The experienced 29-year-old had been a doubt for the rest of the tournament but he replaced forward Memphis Depay, who started the quarter-final against Costa Rica, suggesting that coach Louis van Gaal will use a 5-3-2 formation. Striker Robin Van Persie also starts despite suffering from stomach problems before the game. As expected, Argentina made two changes to the team who beat Belgium in the quarter-final. Enzo Perez comes in to replace the injured Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo takes the place of Jose Basanta. (Reporting by Mike Collett-White , editing by Ed Osmond)

Froome out, Nibali in command after Tour mayhem

Chaos and carnage rained down on the Tour de France on Wednesday as defending champion Chris Froome crashed out of the race on stage five and Italian Vincenzo Nibali seized control. On a miserable wet day in northern France, Froome did not even make it to the notorious cobbled sections as his second fall of the day, following another painful spill on Tuesday, led to him quitting after less than a week of his attempted defense. The batted and bruised Briton, who fell some 70km from the finish of the 152.5-km ride from Ypres in Belgium, hobbled around in clear pain before climbing into a Team Sky car. "Obviously it's devastating for Chris and for the team. We knew it was going to be a tough race," Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford told reporter. With crash after crash decimating the peloton, Italian Nibali powered away from Spain's Alberto Contador on the slippery cobbled sections, taking over two minutes on the Spaniard who, before the race, was regarded as the ma

Argentina, Dutch level at 0-0 at halftime in semi

Argentina and the Netherlands were level at 0-0 at halftime in their World Cup semi-final on Wednesday with Lionel Messi's side having most of the play and creating the best chances. _0"> Messi's low free kick around the wall was saved by Jasper Cillessen in the 15th minute and Ezequiel Garay's diving header from Ezequiel Lavezzi's whipped-in corner went over the bar with the Argentina defender under pressure from Ron Vlaar. The winners will play Germany in the final on Sunday. (Writing by Ken Ferris , editing by Ed Osmond)

Blackhawks sign Toews, Kane to lucrative contract extensions

The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to lucrative eight-year contract extensions with high-scoring forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the National Hockey League team said on Wednesday. _0"> Financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed by the team but local media estimate each is worth $84 million. "The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago," Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. "We are excited for our future and proud that they will continue to be a part of that commitment and success for years to come." Canadian Toews, 26, became Chicago's youngest ever captain in July 2008 and has guided the team to two Stanley Cup championships during his time in charge. "There's no organization in sports that cares more about the overall experience of their fans and the success of their players,&q

Coach Popovich agrees to contract extension with Spurs

Gregg Popovich, one of only five coaches to have won at least five National Basketball Association (NBA) championships, has agreed to a multi-year contract extension with the San Antonio Spurs, the team said on Wednesday. _0"> The 65-year-old, widely known for his wry sense of humor and nicknamed "Coach Pop" or just "Pop", guided the Spurs to their fifth NBA title last month when they beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat 4-1 in the best-of-seven finals. As per club policy terms of the contract were not disclosed, the Spurs said in a brief statement. Popovich, who took charge of the Spurs in 1996 and has become the longest serving active coach in the league, was in April voted NBA Coach of the Year for a third time. He had led San Antonio to a league-best record of 62-20 during the 2013-14 regular season before they relentlessly advanced through the playoffs. The Spurs have been a model of consistency under Popovich and, with veteran forward