PARIS (AP) — Wrapping up a season during which it failed to achieve its two major goals, it was fitting that Paris Saint-Germain won the French Cup thanks to an own goal in added time.PSG, which relinquished its league title to Monaco and was eliminated from the Champions League in the last 16, ended a mediocre campaign on a high note by winning the cup with a scrappy 1-0 win over Angers on Saturday.PSG dominated but needed an own goal from Angers right back Issa Cissokho to prevail at the Stade de France.PSG claimed its 11th French Cup, its third in a row, to surpass Marseille as the club with the most cups.As the 100th final entered added time, Cissokho looked hampered by Blaise Matuidi’s pressing at the near post and headed the ball into his own net with the back of his head from a corner hit by Angel Di Maria.PSG finished the season with two trophies, having already won the League Cup in coach Unai Emery’s first season in charge.“We learned from everything, and we will learn from that season which was a bit difficult,” PSG defender Serge Aurier said.Amid rumors in the French press he could be replaced during the summer, Emery said he intends to fulfil the final year on his contract.“I am happy here. This team can grow,” Emery said.Angers, which played in its first final in 60 years, failed in its bid to win a first major trophy.With PSG already qualified for next season’s Champions League, the remaining Europa League went to Bordeaux, which finished sixth in the French league.PSG monopolized the ball from the start but Angers goalkeeper Alexandre Letellier ensured his side stayed in the contest with decisive saves.Letellier pushed away a dangerous cross from Serge Aurier, then saved a flick from Matuidi from close range, and stopped a header from Edinson Cavani. After Di Maria set up Cavani with a through ball in the back of the defense, Letellier dived to block the striker’s shot.Playing on the break, Angers had the best chance of the match when Nicolas Pepe unleashed a 20-meter striker that hit the base of Alphonse Areola’s post while the PSG keeper looked well beaten.Di Maria was PSG’s best player and a threat throughout the game with his acceleration, fine dribbles, and accurate passes. The attacking midfielder found Aurier on the right side of the box at the stroke of halftime but his teammate missed the target.After the interval, Matuidi came close to breaking the deadlock, only for the Angers ‘keeper to parry the effort.Fatigue took a toll on Angers after an hour but its defense stayed poised to resist PSG’s onslaught in the final 10 minutes until Cissokho’s own goal in the last action of the game.“It’s sad but that’s life,” Angers captain Cheikh Ndoye said. “I don’t know if we’ll get the chance to play another final. We had a beautiful generation (of players). Football is so cruel.”SAMUEL PETREQUIN, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shares
The Cowboys won their eighth-straight meeting against the Red Raiders, the longest current streak against another Big 12 opponent.But most of those were not without a little drama. This year was no different. Check out all the big plays per Orange Power Studios.Cinematic Highlights from Oklahoma State’s victory over Texas Tech! #GoPokes #okstate pic.twitter.com/nZIDBwjJGj— Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) November 14, 2016 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
4. OU’s Offense Is the Opposite of Its DefenseThink Texas Tech with a beast mode running game. The numbers they’re putting up flirt with Sam Bradford’s 2008 Sooner offense… Just insane. For Pete’s sake two of ESPN’s top four finalists for the Heisman (as of November 29th) are offensive players for OU.Looking at stats in conference play, the Sooner O is putting up some pretty good numbers:Dede Westbrook is the next stud in line for the annual “only receiver with a pulse but it doesn’t even matter because the dude is filthy talented” award.Baker is the prototype OU quarterback, quoted about recently (in a tremendously insightful PFB podcast) by Sooner Scoop writer Eddie Radosevich as one of “the top five cockiest persons I’ve ever been around.” The ginormous tight end/slot Mark Andrews is a red zone target and those running backs … man.5. Bedlam will be a fun one.I would pay good money for a live feed of Mike Stoops this Saturday as he watches Carson plow over backers and McCleskey slide through the secondary like a hot knife through butter. He’ll need to take his heart medication when he wakes up that’s for sure. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. As we prepare for yet another Bedlam, here are five things you need to know about OSU and OU when they get together on Saturday to decide the Big 12 Conference championship.1. OU is the worstIn a likability sense, where does OU rank? I think somewhere between a speeding ticket and an ingrown toenail. Whether it’s the band’s only song they know how to play or the abundance of “gas station for a tank of gas and ball cap fans,” OU is not enjoyable.2. No “D” for Bedlam WeekIt is fantastic that Ohio State chooses to not use the letter “M” in honor of the game with hated rival Michigan. The Bedlam version of that could be if Gundy/OSU abstained from using the letter “D” in honor of what has been by far and away the Brothers’ Stoops worst defense in recent history.“Unacceptable at so many levels,” Bob Stoops said, “I can’t even begin to try and define it.”There was much lamenting post OU-Tech game this year and while there’s since been some improvement, some of that could be quality of opponent. The offensive juggernauts of KU and Iowa State struggled and Baylor sputtered without star quarterback Seth Russell/any sense of direction or morality as a program. West Virginia bludgeoned the OU front seven and Justin Crawford is still running.PS: If your co-worker tells you it’s just because middle linebacker Jordan Evans went down, Crawford had 178 yards at halftime (Evans went out in the 3rd).Justin Crawford has been named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week AND the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week.STORY: https://t.co/2nWSjQ4c3e pic.twitter.com/q9Svx1CZOM— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) November 21, 2016PFB’s Kyle Cox did a fantastic job breaking down how the running game could fare against the Sooners, and a major highlight is how both teams fared over the last three games. The 240+ yards the Pokes are averaging over that time would put them within seven yards of leading the conference in running the football. OU is giving up 240+ on the ground, a number that would rank at the bottom of the barrel in what some refer to as the Conference Where No Defense is Played.Middle linebacker Jordan Evans is a player that holds down the middle of the field when he’s in and Bob is “fairly confident he’ll be ready to play by the end of the week.” Color me skeptical that Evans will be back to anything close to 100 percent for Bedlam — hamstrings don’t heal quickly. In addition to Evans, OU also lost a couple of stud defensive linemen up front, and now you’ve got a couple athletic guys running around without a nose for the ball.3. Porous Pass DefenseWhat do the football teams at New Mexico State University, UMass and Idaho have in common? They allow fewer passing yards per game than the no. 122 ranked Oklahoma Sooners.Houston’s Greg Ward, Jr. threw for 321, Tech’s Pat Mahomes went for an NCAA-record 734, UT-Frosh Shane Buechele went for 245 and my favorite, TCU’s Kenny Hill threw for 449 yards and five scores against the Sooners. Kenny is averaging 217.8 yards per game in B12 play and is benched every other week.One of the top rotation players in the OU secondary was booted for a violation of team rules recently What could he possibly have done to be kicked off the OU football team? Do you have to be video taped committing a felony not be a five star to be held accountable for your actions?A true freshman is starting at corner and the nickleback Will Johnson won’t be playing this week. Safeties Ahmad Thomas and Steven Parker are super talented, but one-on-one coverage isn’t what you’d call a strength.Much ado has been made for “all conference” corner Jordan Thomas who’s likely to draw The President assignment. Stat I can’t get over: DQ Osborne has the same amount of interceptions as this ballyhooed ball-hawk. Zach Sanchez left a year early and it’s left a hole on the back line.James Washington thinks it’s time to … Neither of the Bedlam opponents is untouchable, plenty of close wins on both sides of the fence. But there will be two offenses in this game worth the price of admission.When was the last time we felt really good about a team going into Norman? Chelf and Randle nearly stole one in 2012 but Luchador Landry and his mustache didn’t strike fear in the hearts of Cowboy fans.2016 features Mixon and Perine vs. Carson and Hill, Rudolph vs. Baker. Bob vs. The Mullet. Baker is pining for that trip to New York he missed out on in 2015 and will be ready to dance the night away.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. The Oscar Awards are here! And for people who have zero cares about the real ceremony, but still enjoy a little sports fun surrounding it, CBS Sports named its Oscar Award winners from the 2016 football season.And Mike Gundy came away a winner … in makeup and hairstyling. Here’s what Chip Patterson of CBS said about Gundy’s wicked hairdo:The hairstyle — named perfectly by the coach himself as the “Arkansas Waterfall” — added a fun wrinkle to a wild 2016 campaign. Gundy nearly had to cut it in November because of a bet with his son regarding an upcoming test. Thankfully for us, Gundy’s son scored an 88 and not a 91, allowing the Arkansas Waterfall to continue its dominance of the college football hairstyling scene.Oh, yeah. I’m sure that Oscar will look nice hanging in Gundy’s barn, right next to where he keeps his stash of butch wax.Also included in the Oscars was (look away, quick!) Central Michigan wide receiver Jesse Kroll, who won the award for best player in a supporting role. No, he wasn’t the one who scored the go-ahead heart-breaking touchdown over Oklahoma State. He was the one who caught the first pass then flipped it back for the W.[Warning: Now would be the time to toggle back to the home page.]
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Unfortunately for OSU, the connection between Waddle was solely reliant upon Arroyo. This was Arroyo’s dude. Landing a prospect of his caliber was going to be a tall task, and doing so without Arroyo makes it all the more difficult.Tae ProvensStraight out of SEC territory, Tae Provens is a hot commodity with offers from Auburn, Tennessee, USC, and Ole Miss. But the connection and interest between OSU and Provens is for real, having recently named OSU in his group of schools he remains in contact with.Part of the reason is because OSU got in early on him last year. Part of the reason is OSU has a lot of playing time to pitch. And part of the reason is because he’d be entering a lot of competition should he stay local and play for any variation of Auburn, Tennessee, etc.Keaontay IngramAs you can see from his 247sports crystal ball indicator, Ingram is a 100 percent Texas lean according to recruiting gurus. Out of Carthage, Texas, Ingram is a talent that is being pursued by more than 30 schools and ranks as a consensus four-star prospect among recruiting services.While I do think OSU is trying to make in-roads with Ingram, I feel it’s likely a battle best spent elsewhere. With the likes of OU, Arkansas, Texas, and UCLA banging down his door, it may be a lost cause throwing Wozniak into the game late to try and make up ground that many schools have held for years.Lyn-J DixonDixon is the latest name to emerge in the search for Woznia k, having offered earlier this week. The three-star recruit from Georgia holds offers from Alabama, LSU, Georgia, etc…. and he’s a name to watch because he’s uncommitted having a majority of those offers for an extended period.Large schools like Bama, Georgia, LSU waste no time in holding spots for players. So by the time Dixon decides, his options may be more limiting — indicating he may have passed on them. He’s only landed 3 offers since October: Minnesota, LSU, and Oklahoma State. So keep an eye on Dixon, because I think the Pokes have a chance to make a late play on him. Replacing an ace recruiter like Marcus Arroyo to coach the running backs won’t be an easy task for John Wozniak. Coming from Southern Miss, he will be tasked with starting a new slate, building new relationships, and bringing in talent to compete in Stillwater based off previous relationships and his own eye for talent.Most of that early transition starts with previously formed relationships with the OSU coaching staff, fortunately, and Wozniak is likely to pick up where Arroyo left off before he quacked his way to Oregon. Here are several names to watch as OSU hones in on targets and builds its 2018 recruiting class.Jawhar Jordan, Jr.A speedster out of Arizona, Jordan emerged as a target under Arroyo as an intriguing target. He’s a scatback with elite speed and, at one point, appeared destined to explode onto the national scene. However with offers from Hawaii, Iowa State, and Kansas State, schools are cooling on him — including OSU.While OSU has him squarely on its radar, Jordan is a smaller prospect at 160 pounds, and concerns for him being able to withstand punishment at the Big 12 level are legitimate. Regardless, he has a high ceiling. He also seems to be a more long-term development project.Jaylen WaddleFour-star athlete Jaylen Waddle has long been on the radar before Wozniak arrived, but he’ll stay on it as OSU continues to hunt for athletes. Waddle is a swiss-army receiver/running back who OSU wants to use in a number of ways on offense, and at 5-foot-10-, 175 pounds, he has a Tyreek Hill-esque game with burst, speed, and athleticism.
Barcelona Barcelona equal record for unbeaten La Liga run Joe Wright 06:40 25/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Barcelona Primera División Ernesto Valverde Guardiola Lionel Messi Luis Suárez Barcelona v Girona Girona Real Sociedad The La Liga leaders have surpassed the club record for an unbeaten run in the league, set under Pep Guardiola Barcelona have equalled the record for the longest unbeaten run in a single La Liga season.The leaders reached 32 games without defeat in the top flight with a 6-1 thumping of Catalan neighbours Girona at Camp Nou on Saturday.Luis Suarez completed his hat-trick after Lionel Messi’s brilliant first-half brace and Philippe Coutinho scored his first league goal for Barca in spectacular fashion. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp The run matches that of Real Sociedad back in 1979-80.Sociedad’s total undefeated streak lasted 38 games, running from April 1979 through May 1980, meaning Barcelona is still six games off equalling the La Liga mark that extends beyond a single season. Barca’s run surpasses their previous club record of 31 games in a row without defeat, which was set back in 2010-11, when Pep Guardiola’s side won 27 games and drew four between matchday three and 33 of the season.They have only lost three times in all competitions since Ernesto Valverde took charge — dropping both legs of the Supercopa de Espana against Real Madrid in August and losing 2-1 to Espanyol in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final, although they advanced 2-1 on aggregate.32 – Barcelona have lost none of their last 32 league matches (W27 D5), the second ever unbeaten run of any side (Real Sociedad, 38 between April 1979 and May 1980). Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/wsrcvn3kS6— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 24, 2018Barca’s victory against Girona sees them stay top of the table, with 20 wins and five draws from 25 games. They lead second-placed Atletico Madrid by 10 points.The club go to take sole possession of the single-season unbeaten record Thursday away to Las Palmas.
Primera División Barcelona Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Atletico Ben Hayward Last updated 1 year ago 15:15 4/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Primera División Barcelona v Atlético Madrid Barcelona Atlético Madrid Everything you need to know as first meets second in the Primera Division at Camp Nou this weekend… Barcelona meet Atletico Madrid on Sunday in what will be a huge title test for both teams in La Liga.Ernesto Valverde’s side saw their lead cut to five points at the top of the table after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Las Palmas in the Canary Islands on Thursday and, after arriving on the mainland just before 4am on Friday morning, their players were back in training at 12:30 to prepare for Sunday’s big game.Atletico, meanwhile, were in action at home to Leganes on Wednesday and won that match 4-0, with all four goals scored by Antoine Griezmann. Diego Simeone’s side have only lost once all season and drew 1-1 with Barca at the Wanda Metropolitano back in October. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Here, Goal takes a look at everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s clash at Camp Nou…Barcelona injuriesNelson Semedo is expected to be out for five weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in last Saturday’s 6-1 win at home to Girona.Meanwhile, Sergi Samper is out with a long-term problem. The midfielder was on loan at Las Palmas, but damaged ankle ligaments in a game against Eibar in January and has returned to Barcelona for the rest of the season in order to recover and receive treatment.Barcelona suspensionsJordi Alba picked up his fifth league booking of the season against Girona and missed the trip to Las Palmas, but he will be available again this weekend. Meanwhile, Luis Suarez managed to avoid a yellow card on Thursday and will feature, although he is still just one booking away from a ban.Barcelona potential starting line-upBarcelona remain unbeaten in La Liga and coming through this match with that record intact will make the Blaugrana big favourites to claim the title at the end of the season.Valverde will therefore pick his strongest side and the only real doubt is in midfield, with Andres Iniesta, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele competing for two spots alongside Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic.If Iniesta starts, Coutinho could feature as well, but given that his preferred position is also on the left, Dembele may get the nod to provide more balance on the right.With Semedo injured, Sergi Roberto will start at right-back, with Alba back from suspension to replace Lucas Digne on the left. Gerard Pique, rested on Thursday, will return alongside Samuel Umtiti in central defence.Atletico Madrid team newsAtletico have lost just once this season in La Liga and are on form after thrashing Sevilla 5-2 away from home and then Leganes 4-0 in their last two league games.Griezmann scored seven goals in those two matches and his partnership with Diego Costa in attack is really starting to blossom for the Rojiblancos.Simeone’s side have a small squad for the remainder of the season after Yannick Carrasco and Nico Gaitan both moved to China and goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya joined Real Sociedad this week.In addition, defenders Lucas Hernandez and Stefan Savic are doubtful for Sunday’s game.TV channel & kick-off timeBarcelona versus Atletico kicks off at 16:15 local time on Sunday and will be broadcast live in the UK (United Kingdom) on Sky Sports Mix from 15:00 GMT.In the United States, the game can be watched live on television on beIN SPORTS and kicks off at 10:15 ET.Best Opta match facts Barcelona have not lost any of their last 15 games against Atletico in La Liga (11 wins and four draws), their best unbeaten run against them in the competition. Atletico have just lost just once in their last 24 La Liga games away from home (won 15, drawn eight), a 1-0 defeat against Espanyol in December. Simeone (eight defeats and four draws) has never beaten Barca as a coach in La Liga. Atletico are Lionel Messi’s second favourite opponent in all competitions (27 goals scored) after Sevilla (29). Only against Villarreal (nine) has Fernando Torres scored more goals in La Liga than against Barcelona (eight, same as against Athletic), although his last league goal at Camp Nou in the competition was 12 years ago (a double in February 2006).
Wesley Sneijder Sneijder retires from Netherlands duty after Koeman meeting Joe Wright 19:50 4/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Netherlands Al Gharafa Stars League World Cup With the new man at the helm eager to bring young players into the Dutch set-up, a man with 133 caps to his name has agreed to step aside Wesley Sneijder has retired from Netherlands duty, the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has announced.The 33-year-old agreed to walk away from international football following a meeting with head coach Ronald Koeman.”Wesley is one of the best Dutch footballers of recent years,” Koeman said via the KNVB’s official website. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp “But I want to build a new Oranje and I have to make some decisions.”Sneijder, who joined Al Gharafa in January, admits the move to Qatar was always likely to bring his international career to an end.”When I left for Qatar, I knew of course that this could have an impact on my career as an international,” he said.”I also understand that Koeman wants to make a new start with younger players. We spoke very openly about this and it was a very pleasant conversation.”I respect his choice.”Sneijder made his senior Netherlands debut in a friendly against Portugal in April 2003.The midfielder went on to make a record 133 appearances, breaking the previous highest tally of 130 set by retired goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.He won the Silver Ball and Bronze Boot for his performances in the 2010 World Cup, when he inspired Netherlands to the final, where they lost 1-0 to Spain.
Manchester United Lindelof accepts Man Utd competition as he lives the ‘dream’ Chris Burton 17:15 5/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Manchester United Premier League Crystal Palace v Manchester United Crystal Palace The Swedish defender has endured a testing debut campaign in England, but believes he is adapting to the demands of life at a global superpower Victor Lindelof admits to living “a dream” at Manchester United and is accepting of competition for places at “one of the biggest clubs in the world”.The Sweden international defender moved to Old Trafford in the summer of 2017, with life at Benfica traded in for that at the Theatre of Dreams.Adjusting to the demands of a Premier League stage has not been easy, with Jose Mourinho having eased the 23-year-old into his plans following a testing opening to his debut campaign. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Lindelof has, however, improved as the season has progressed and is happy with his development at a club he always hoped would give him a chance.He told Sky Sports ahead of a possible outing against Crystal Palace on Monday: “Coming here to play at this great club has been a dream for me since I was a kid, so yeah – I enjoy it every day.”I wake up every day and I’m very happy I get to come here and do what I love. I don’t take anything for granted, I work hard every day.”I’m just trying to do my best every day, work hard and improve. When you’re given the chance to play, it’s always nice to be out there and help the team, and I’m just happy to be out there doing that.”We have world-class players in every position and I think that’s very important to have. This club is one of the biggest clubs in the world, so you’re obviously going to have that.”Lindelof has made 23 appearances this season, although only eight of those have been Premier League starts.He admits that the English top-flight has been something of an eye-opener for him, with the standard considerably higher than that he experienced while impressing in Portugal.”Every game is difficult here,” Lindelof added, with United looking to wrap up a runner-up finish this season.”Every opponent is going to work hard, fight for 90 minutes to try to get three points, and that’s what makes the Premier League such a good league, the level of competition. It was a bit different in Portugal, we had only a few big games during the season.”We want to win as many games as possible and of course, you always want to come first. But if not, second is there, and that’s what we have to work for.”We’re improving as a team every day. It’s important for us to play a lot of games, and just keep going.” Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
Lionel Messi NBA star Steph Curry sees ‘creative genius’ similarities with Barcelona’s mercurial Messi Chris Burton 05:08 9/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Lionel Messi Barcelona Primera División The Golden State Warriors superstar believes he shares qualities regarding ability and drive with an iconic performer from a different sporting field Steph Curry enjoys a standing in NBA circles similar to that of Lionel Messi in the football world, with the pair sharing comparable “creative genius”.That is the view of a superstar performer at the Golden State Warriors who has helped to raise the bar on a basketball court and put himself in a position to secure a standing among the all-time greats.Messi has done likewise on a different sporting field, with the mercurial Argentine a five-time Ballon d’Or winner who has broken countless records and collected an enviable haul of collective and individual prizes. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Curry sees parts of himself in the Barcalona icon, with both men having worked tirelessly on their art in an effort to reach the very top.A two-time NBA MVP told reporters: “I think it’s the creative genius to what he does and a flair, but also there is a fundamental aspect to the flair.“The work that he puts in, I’m assuming, based on the talent that he has, and combining that with the talent that he has and how that kind of shows when he’s out there on the pitch.“So I think there’s a lot of comparison, really, around the creativity and the innovation that we bring to our respective sports and trying to, I guess, impact – I would say influence the next generation to try to push themselves as well.”Curry has helped the Warriors to two NBA titles in a three-year period, with only a LeBron James-inspired Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 having denied him a hat-trick.He is back in the pursuit of major honours this season, with Messi doing the same at Camp Nou.Barcelona have opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the Liga table, are through to the Copa del Rey final and the last-16 of the Champions League.Messi has contributed 32 goals to their cause, with the 30-goal mark having been passed for a 10th successive season.
UEFA Champions League Barcelona vs Chelsea: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview Ryan Kelly Last updated 1 year ago 00:20 15/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(2) Shaun Botterill UEFA Champions League Barcelona v Chelsea Chelsea Barcelona The Blaugrana welcome the Premier League outfit to Catalunya as they each attempt to reach the last eight of the competition Barcelona welcome Chelsea to Camp Nou on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.The sides are locked level after the first leg at Stamford Bridge, which finished 1-1, and they will be doing their utmost to ensure their place in the quarter-finals.With home advantage and an away goal under their belts, Barca come into the game in a better position than the Blues, but Antonio Conte’s men will be undeterred. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp However, the Catalan giants also boast a vastly superior set of recent results, going unbeaten in the last 14 matches in all competitions, while Chelsea have lost two of their last five. Game Barcelona vs Chelsea Date Wednesday March 14 Time 19:45 GMT / 14:45 ET Stream (US only) fubo TV (7-day free trial) TV Channel & Live Stream In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial). New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser. US TV channel Online stream Fox Sports 1 fubo TV (7-day free trial) In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on BT Sport 2 and it can be streamed live online using the BT Sport app. UK TV channel Online stream BT Sport 2 BT Sport app Squads & Team News Position Barcelona players Goalkeepers Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Ortola Defenders Semedo, Pique, Alba, Digne, Vidal, Umtiti, Mina, Vermaelen Midfielders Rakitic, Iniesta, Busquets, D. Suarez, Paulinho, Roberto, Gomes, Alena Forwards L. Suarez, Messi, Dembele, Alcacer, Arnaiz Messi returns to the squad having missed Barca’s last game for the birth of his third child, while Andres Iniesta took part in training on Monday and could be involved.Nelson Semedo remains sidelined with an injury, while Philippe Coutinho is cup-tied because of his previous involvement in this season’s competition with Liverpool.Potential Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen; Vidal, Umtiti, Pique, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Suarez, Dembele, Messi. Position Chelsea players Goalkeepers Caballero, Courtois, Eduardo Defenders Rudiger, Alonso, Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Emerson, Sterling Midfielders Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Willian, Scott Forwards Morata, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi Chelsea are likely to be without defender David Luiz, who is recovering from an ankle injury, while Ross Barkley remains sidelined with a hamstring issue.Potential Chelsea starting XI: Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Zappacosta; Kante, Fabregas, Hazard, Willian; Morata.Betting & Match Odds Barcelona are 8/15 favourites to win the match and 2/9 to qualify for the quarter-finals according to dabblebet, while Chelsea are priced at 5/1 to win the game and 3/1 to progress. A draw between the teams, which, depending on the score, could see either side qualify for the next round, is a 16/5 bet.Click here to see all of dabblebet’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.Match Preview When the sides met in the first leg back in February, Chelsea, and Willian in particular, looked to have the measure of Barcelona, but Messi responded to the Brazilian’s goal by breaking his Blues hoodoo to hand the Catalan giants the initiative heading into the second leg.Since then, Conte’s side have struggled, with defeats to Manchester United and Manchester City delivering a serious blow to their hopes of securing a top-four Premier League finish and thus, Champions League qualification for next season.They improved somewhat in their last outing against Crystal Palace to claim a 2-1 win, with Willian again demonstrating the type of quality they will be relying on if they are to upset the Blaugrana at Camp Nou on Wednesday.Given that Barca are in sensational form and the fact that they are at home, where they have not lost a game since their Supercopa defeat to Real Madrid last August, Conte is aware that Chelsea must be patient as they attempt to defy the odds.”We must be very good but when you play against this type of team, which I think is one of the best in the world, you must be prepared to suffer, in the same way we did in the first leg, where I think we were almost perfect,” the Blues boss said.However, with Messi scoring five goals in his last four appearances and eager to continue that form, they will have to be careful not to end up suffering too much.
World Cup Blow for Russia as injury puts Kokorin’s World Cup in doubt Alex Fisher 16:16 16/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images World Cup Russia Zenit v RB Leipzig Zenit UEFA Europa League Premier League The forward suffered knee ligament damage during Zenit’s defeat RB Leipzig and is set to sit out as his country hosts the world’s biggest tournament World Cup hosts Russia look set to be without Aleksandr Kokorin after the Zenit striker ruptured cruciate ligaments in his right knee on Thursday.Kokorin left the field after eight minutes of Zenit’s Europa League clash with RB Leipzig, the last-16 second leg ending 1-1 to send the German side through 3-2 on aggregate.The 26-year-old was seen clutching his right knee as he was substituted and Zenit confirmed on Friday that the diagnosis did not look good. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp “Aleksandr Kokorin has been diagnosed with a rupture of the cruciate ligaments in his right knee,” a club statement read.”The Russian international striker will soon head to Rome for treatment. Details of any planned surgery will be announced shortly.”Although no timescale was put on Kokorin’s recovery, it appears unlikely he will be ready for this year’s World Cup – where he would have been a key member of Stanislav Cherchesov’s squad.Kokorin – who has previously been linked with a move to Arsenal – has scored 12 goals for Russia in 48 appearances and found the net on 19 occasions in all competitions for Zenit this season.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. STILLWATER — When Hawaii granted Dru Brown his release in the summer of 2018, it was a junior college connection that led him to Oklahoma State.Brown had started 22 games in two years with the Rainbow Warriors where he threw for 5,273 yards and scored 43 total touchdowns when he took to social media, stating he received his release. In the post, he thanked his coaches and Hawaii as a whole before announcing he would graduate and transfer elsewhere.Among the replies of gratitude and well-wishes, there was Sione Finefeuiaki. Brown and Finefeuiaki were teammates for a season at the College of San Mateo, and Finefeuiaki, a cowboy back at OSU in 2017 and 2018, had an idea as to where his former teammate should transfer:“I didn’t think he’d actually pursue it because at the time, Dru had places like Washington State, LSU and other places offer him, as well,” Finefeuiaki, who played two seasons at OSU in 2017 and 2018, told PFB in an interview this week. “I never thought that he’d actually come to OSU. I kind of did it jokingly, but we talked and found out he was serious about it and we kind of went from there.”From there, Finefeuiaki passed Brown’s tape to OSU player development specialist Beni Tonga, where the idea of Brown coming to Stillwater got shot up the line.“I talked to Beni,” Finefeuiaki said. “At first, I would bring it up, and Beni was like, ‘OK.’ Then I asked Beni the next day. I was like, ‘Beni, did you check out his film?’ Beni would say that he was going to but he hadn’t looked at it yet.“So, I kind of bugged Beni about it. Beni, he also helps with the cowboy backs, so I built a pretty good relationship with Beni. I kept bugging Beni about it, telling Beni that this guy’s the real deal. I showed him Dru’s highlight tape from Hawaii, and if you’ve seen Dru’s highlight tape from Hawaii, the man goes off. I guess Beni finally got to it, and he’s able to show (Mike) Yurcich and (Mike) Gundy, and it kind of went from there.”Brown and Finefeuiaki are both from the Bay Area in California. Finefeuiaki said the two played against each other in high school before teaming up at the College of San Mateo. In Brown’s one season with the Bulldogs, he threw for 1,879 yards and 21 touchdowns in a triple-option offense. In his final game at the junior college level, Brown threw for 425 yards and seven scores.That 2015 season was Finefeuiaki’s first of two with the Bulldogs. That season, he played as a linebacker before moving to fullback in 2016. Despite being on opposite sides of the ball, Finefeuiaki said it wasn’t hard becoming friends with Brown.“Dru was just really open,” Finefeuiaki said. “It’s pretty easy to build a relationship with Dru. Most of our goals kind of aligned. We both wanted to go big Division I. Dru is really deep into his faith. Dru’s one of those guys where it’s just easy to click with him.”After Finefeuiaki got Brown’s foot in the door, Brown said he was able to talk on the phone with OSU coach Mike Gundy and then-offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. Brown took a visit and decided to use his final season of eligibility away from the beaches of Hawaii or comfort of Northern California in Stillwater.The transition wasn’t as seamless as it appears — and it still isn’t. Sure, Mason Rudolph was headed to the Pittsburgh Steelers after starting games for the Cowboys in the past four seasons. But, Brown was joining the team the same time All-Texas everything quarterback Spencer Sanders was, and fifth-year senior Taylor Cornelius was still at OSU after learning under Rudolph for four seasons.After being Hawaii’s guy the past two seasons, Brown was limited to one snap at OSU in 2018, and it only came because Cornelius’ helmet came off in the Liberty Bowl. Not many grad transfers’ idea of a dream start at a Power 5 school.‘I’m a firm believer that it’s beautiful everywhere’Stillwater summers are what you make them.For some, it’s a boring town to be in during June and July as a good chunk of the population leaves when the school year ends. Others embrace the serenity of things, something Dru Brown did this summer.Brown is from San Mateo, California, which is between San Francisco and San Jose. When he was looking for something to do in the middle of America, he turned to offensive linemen Johnny Wilson, a Texan, and Ry Schneider, an Oklahoman.“Can you guys teach me how to fish? Because I’ve never been fishing before,” Brown asked.“I had to fix the pole a couple times, but he got the hang of it,” Wilson said of Brown’s first outing. “He’s getting better. He’s good. He can throw an open face now, he can throw the spinner, so it’s good.”For four straight days Brown didn’t catch a thing, but he said he was adamant on at least catching something before he turned this new hobby down. Then he finally got one.Well DAG-GUM 🐠🐟 pic.twitter.com/J3lvX4k4OT— Dru Brown (@dbrownTNDO) July 27, 2019“As soon as I caught something, it was like an addiction,” Brown said. “We’ve gone a bunch. Obviously, camp started, so we can’t go out as much. I’m sure that me and Johnny will go as soon as we get a day off here soon.”Oklahoma is not California, and it’s certainly not Hawaii. Although Oklahoma might not have California’s weather or Hawaii’s beaches, Brown said the state has its own appeal and beauty.“It’s just different,” Brown said. “I’m a firm believer that it’s beautiful everywhere,” he adds. “Being from California, the transition to Hawaii was different, but the transition out here was really different.“If I didn’t have to sit last year, and sit behind Corn, I would have never, probably, fished ever. It’s just a blessing in disguise. Me being out here for a year, and me getting involved in things people do out here, it’s beautiful in its own way, for sure.”The End of Brown’s Well-Traveled Collegiate CareerOSU has yet to name a starting QB, and it appears the two will likely share snaps early in the season. Still, there are more ways for Brown to prove himself as a college QB than just touchdowns and victories.“Leadership, I think that’s one thing Dru was able to do with this offseason,” Finefeuiaki said. “He was able to show his leadership because when Dru came last year, he came right at fall camp. Nobody really knew who Dru was. Whereas this year, he had the whole offseason to show his work ethic and all that. His faith, his leadership, his accountability and just how hard he works. The guy’s always putting the extra work in. … I don’t think there’s anybody who works harder than Dru.”What might’ve been originally been just one year for Brown in Stillwater quickly turned into two, as he was able to take advantage of the new rule that allows players to play in up to four games while still retaining a redshirt. He went about his business, spent a year in OSU’s system and now might start for one of the best offenses in the country.There aren’t enough fish in Lake McMurtry to match that kind of anticipation.
The Cowboys are donning the Darth Vader look for their home game against TCU, with a new twist on their alternate helmet.#OKState gameday threads 🤠🔶 #GoPokes | #TCUvsOSU ⚫️ pic.twitter.com/OHIze3KLEQ— Cowboy Football 🤠 (@CowboyFB) November 2, 2019I like the look of this bandana lid sans the barbed wire stripe and the orange brand with orange facemask really pop.#OkState in all black uniforms today against TCU pic.twitter.com/yBAFViS1z4— Jackson Lavarnway (@TheLavarnway) November 2, 2019This is the first time OSU has gone all-black since last year’s Liberty Bowl. The Cowboys are 7-3 all-time in this color scheme.For those keeping score, both Kyle Porter and Justin Southwell correctly predicted B-B-B. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
The following referees have been selected in TFA National Referees Squads. National Referee SquadDave Baggio NSW – Wagga Wagga Touch Association Rob Bowen NSW – Nathan Budge QLD – Redlands Touch Association Tony Calabria NSW – Griffith Touch Association Brett Freshwater QLD – Redcliffe and Districts Touch Association Luke Heckendorf NSW – Hornsby Touch Association Luke McKenzie QLD – Wagga Wagga Touch Association Chris Schwerdt WA – WA City Touch Association Amanda Sheeky SA – SA City Touch Association Kim Skelly NSW – Anthony Smith NSW – Hornsby Touch Association Brad Smith QLD – Ipswich Touch Association Coach: Ian MatthewEmerging Referee SquadBrian Blechynden WA – Southern Districts Touch Association Annabelle Connolly WA – Southern Districts Touch Association Damon Cupitt NSW – Katoomba Touch Association Jake Davis NSW – Singleton District Touch Association Lachlan Freshwater QLD – Redcliffe and Districts Touch Association Michael Littlefield QLD – Burdekin Touch Association Kai Maruta NSW – Penrith Touch Association Zan McCahon NSW – Penrith Touch Association Luke Saldern NSW – Manly Warringah Touch Association Aaron Searston QLD – Toowomba Touch Association Denise Weier QLD – Townsville Castle Hill Touch Association Nicole West WA – Northern Districts Touch Association Andrew Yon VIC – Fawkner Park Touch Association Coach: Dave FieldMasters Referees SquadSteve Bell NSW – Hornsby Touch Association Amanda Draper NSW – Parkes Touch Association Renee Flach QLD – Townsville Castle Hill Touch Association John Frost NSW – Nelson Bay Touch Association Scott Marsh QLD – Townsville Castle Hill Touch Association Barry McNamara NSW – Wollongong Touch Association Marcus Muller QLD – Townsville Castle Hill Touch Association Chris Murray WA – Northern Districts Touch AssociationBernard O’Donohue NSW – Hornsby Touch Association Tim Pearson NT – Alice Springs Touch Association Fiona Quinn QLD – Mackay Touch Association Chris Reynolds NSW – Parkes Touch Association Bill Slade NSW – Hornsby Touch Association John Taylor NSW – Newcastle Touch Association Greg Taylor QLD – Townsville Castle Hill Touch Association Coach: Chris Dolahenty Related Files2017_national_referee_squads-pdfRelated LinksNational Referee Squad
World Cup ‘Neymar is ready to shine for Brazil’ – Tite sounds warning to World Cup rivals Iain Strachan 01:56 6/17/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images World Cup Brazil Brazil v Switzerland Switzerland Neymar Brazil coach Tite has said Neymar is yet to return to peak condition, but expects the forward to make an early impact at the World Cup. Neymar is yet to reach 100 per cent in his recovery from a broken foot but is poised to star for Brazil at the World Cup, according to head coach Tite.The 26-year-old forward, the world’s most expensive player following his €222 million (£194m/$258m) switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain last year, sustained a fractured metatarsal in February, placing his World Cup participation in some doubt.The former Santos attacker made a scoring return to action in friendly wins over Croatia and Austria prior to Brazil’s arrival in Russia, where they will take on Switzerland in their Group E opener in Rostov-on-Don on Sunday. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar And while Neymar still has work to do to get back to his very best level, Tite believes he is still capable of exerting a decisive impact as Brazil go in search of a sixth World Cup triumph. “Neymar is not 100 per cent yet,” he told a news conference at Rostov Arena. “But he is very privileged physically, his sprinting capacity and his speed is really impressive, he hasn’t lost that. He’s not 100 per cent yet. But he’s good enough to play very well.”It remains to be seen who Tite chooses to play alongside Neymar in attack, with the coach refusing to confirm Chelsea’s Willian will be part of the expected three-man frontline. “Well, you’re going to see this on the pitch, it changes, it gets stronger, it shows itself,” he said of his preferred XI, as Gabriel Jesus, Douglas Costa and Roberto Firmino also vie to feature from kick-off. “With 23 top athletes, today yes [Willian could start], but I can’t say about tomorrow, I don’t know what could happen, if you have a physical problem… I would like him to play a lot but he has to prove himself.” After suffering a crushing 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-finals of the previous World Cup on home soil, Brazil also underwhelmed in the Copa America, a group-stage exit in 2016 ending Dunga’s second spell in charge. The Selecao have flourished under Tite, though, and the focus of the 57-year-old, a Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores winner with Internacional and Corinthians respectively, wants Brazil to sustain their excellence in the lead-up to the finals in Russia. “It was a challenge, it still is, to keep the standards [up],” he said. “We were challenging them [the players]. We want to have this expectation for ourselves. We want every game to reproduce this standard or even top it.”At the emotional level, there’s all this pressure. I feel like the world is looking at us… The [score at the] final whistle you can’t always control. Football is like that.”
World Cup ‘He can say what he wants’ – Aguero takes aim at Sampaoli after Argentina fiasco Goal Last updated 1 year ago 06:07 6/22/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(8) Gabriel Rossi World Cup Argentina v Croatia Croatia Argentina The striker was clearly unhappy when it was suggested that the coach had blamed his players for Thursday’s defeat to Croatia Argentina forward Sergio Aguero took aim at his manager Jorge Sampaoli following Thursday’s disastrous 3-0 defeat to Croatia at the World Cup.The Albiceleste stand on the brink of early elimination from the tournament after gaining just one point from their first two matches. While a 1-1 opening-game draw with Iceland wasn’t ideal, the crushing defeat to Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod was far more damaging and left Sampaoli to question his own game plan. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar “Everything that happens to the team and the players’ drop in form is down to the management. The plan against Croatia did not work out,” the Argentina boss said after the game. “I was very hopeful, the defeat pains me a lot, but clearly I did not read the game properly.”Though Sampaoli blamed himself, a TyC Sports presenter told Aguero that his manager had said his players failed to adapt to his tactics, thereby shifting the blame onto them. When told about Sampaoli’s assertion, Aguero told TyC Sports: “He can say what he wants,” before storming out of the interview.While the coach’s words were slightly twisted, Aguero’s dismissiveness does not bode well for team unity ahead of a must-win match against Nigeria on Tuesday. Aguero played 54 minutes of Thursday’s match before being substituted for Gonzalo Higuain.
Iran 1 Portugal 1: Santos’ men survive late Saransk scare after Ronaldo penalty miss Patric Ridge Last updated 1 year ago 04:17 6/26/18 Getty Images Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty miss ultimately did not cost Portugal a last-16 berth as they held out for a dramatic 1-1 draw with Iran. Mehdi Taremi wasted a gilt-edged chance after Karim Ansarifard’s penalty had thrown Iran a lifeline, but Portugal survived with a 1-1 draw to make the World Cup last 16 despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s missed spot-kick in a match dominated by VAR.The usually prolific Ronaldo was off target with a 53rd-minute penalty, awarded after a video-assisted review, as Portugal failed to build on Ricardo Quaresma’s first-half stunner in the crucial Group B contest.That miss from Ronaldo, who was perhaps fortunate not to see red for another VAR check after swinging an arm into the face of Morteza Pouraliganji, was punished when Cedric Soares was pinged for handball after referee Enrique Caceres again went to his video monitor. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Unlike Ronaldo, Ansarifard made no mistake with a powerful finish into the roof of the net to set up a grandstand finish in Saransk.But Taremi fluffed his lines in the dying embers, firing into the side-netting from close range as Portugal held out for a crucial point.It means the European champions are into the last 16 – where they face Uruguay – in second place, behind Spain – who themselves secured a dramatic 2-2 draw with Morocco – only on goals scored, while Iran settle for third with four points.19 – There have been 19 penalties taken at the 2018 World Cup , more than in any other edition in the history of the competition. VAR . #WorldCup #IRNPOR pic.twitter.com/8tmhJJi3nm — OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 25, 2018 Predictably it was Ronaldo who had the first chance, the superstar forward cutting in from the left before lashing a powerful strike goalwards that Alireza Beiranvand held onto at the second attempt.Iran responded well and Alireza Jahanbakhsh led a swift counter-attack before sliding a pass to Vahid Amiri, who dragged his first-time effort wide.Ronaldo appealed for a penalty soon after when his free-kick clipped Sardar Azmoun’s elbow, although replays suggest it would have been a harsh decision.Jahanbakhsh was proving Iran’s greatest threat and Rui Patricio had to be alert to deny the AZ winger an assist with a free-kick that Saeid Ezatolahi turned towards goal, but it would be Quaresma’s piece of magic that broke the deadlock.Having combined with Adrien Silva, Quaresma let rip with a wonderful outside-of-the-boot effort that looped over Beiranvand into the top-left corner.34y 272d – Ricardo Quaresma is the oldest player to score on his first World Cup start (34 years, 272 days) since Yahya Golmohammadi for Iran against Mexico in 2006 (35 years, 84 days). Trivela. #IRNPOR #POR #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/LxL8DI0M84— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 25, 2018Referee Caceres appeared to have missed Ezatolahi’s blatant foul on Ronaldo following the restart, but VAR again took centre stage when the official reviewed, and then overturned, his decision.Ronaldo did not make Iran pay, though, failing to direct his low effort far enough to the right, enabling Beiranvand to get down and make a fine stop.Azmoun tested the referee’s resolve again when he went down under pressure from Jose Fonte, but Caceres rightly dismissed the striker’s appeals for a penalty.There was more VAR drama late on, however. After using his visual aid to conclude that Ronaldo’s challenge on Pouraliganji was only worth a booking, Caceres used the system once more to determine that Cedric’s handball from Azmoun’s header had been intentional.Ansarifard duly converted high to his right to give Iran hope, but Taremi was unable to complete the miracle turnaround as Iran ultimately fell at the first hurdle. Key Opta stats:- Portugal have progressed from the group stage of the World Cup for the fourth time in their history (also 1966, 2006 and 2010).- Iran have been eliminated from the group stage at the World Cup in all five tournaments they have competed in (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014 and 2018).- Both of Iran’s goals at the 2018 World Cup were scored in injury time (94:06 against Morocco, 92:48 against Portugal).- Portugal’s Ricardo Quaresma (34y 272d) is the oldest player to score on his first World Cup start since Yahya Golmohammadi (35y 84d), who did so for Iran in 2006 against Mexico.- Two of Cristiano Ronaldo’s three penalties at the World Cup for Portugal have been against Iran – he scored in 2006 but saw his effort saved in this game.- Ronaldo has a 50 per cent penalty success rate in major tournaments for Portugal, scoring two (against Iran and Spain at the World Cups in 2006 and 2018 respectively) but also failing with two (against Austria at Euro 2016 and Iran today).- Iran remain winless in eight World Cup matches against European opposition (D2 L6). read more