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LaLiga: Lewandowski hat-trick puts Barca back to second ahead of Girona showdown

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Madrid, April 30 (IANS) A second-half hat-trick from Robert Lewandowski helped FC Barcelona come back from a goal down to beat Valencia 2-1 in the former Olympic Stadium in Montjuic.

The result sees Barca move back above Girona in La Liga ahead of its game in Girona next weekend and also means that Real Madrid can’t assure the La Liga title in its match at home to Cadiz next week.

Barcelona opened the scoring in the 21st minute when Fermin Lopez again showed his intelligence around the penalty area when he darted in between two defenders to head home Raphinha’s pinpoint cross, reports Xinhua.

Barca’s lead didn’t last long in a rainy Montjuic after Hugo Duro leveled five minutes later.

Valencia’s top scorer chased down a long ball over the top and although Marc Andre Ter Stegen got to the ball with time to spare, he tried to clip the ball over the striker’s leg, only to give Duro the gift of an open goal to put the ball into.

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Another ball over the top saw Peter Gonzalez through on goal before being wiped out by Ronald Araujo in the Barca area, with Pepelu stepping up to put Valencia ahead from the spot.

The game took another dramatic turn in the last minute of the half when Valencia goalkeeper, Giorgi Mamardashvili’s control let him down and he committed handball outside his area as Lamine Yamal looked to beat him.

Referee De Burgos Bengoetxea had no option but to send Mamardashvili off, leaving Valencia to play the second half with 10 men.

Barcelona levelled three minutes into the second half when Lewandowski flicked home a near-post corner, with Valencia claiming a positional offside from Fermin.

The second half was one-way traffic, with Barcelona playing in the Valencia half, although defended with two ordered lines to deny them spaces.

The visitors should have gone back ahead with 17 minutes left to play when Peter and Diego Lopez combined to leave the latter through on goal, only for Pedri to make a last-gasp challenge as Lopez looked certain to score.

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Lewandowski headed in his second of the game in the 82nd minute after Araujo won a challenge against substitute keeper Jaume Domenech, leaving him with a simple finish.

Lewandowski completed his hat-trick in injury time with a free kick into the top-corner that gave Domenech no chance.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Australia clinch classic against Scotland, England make Super 8

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Gros Islet (St Lucia), June 16 (IANS) Australia rallied late to end Scotland’s qualifying dreams with a 5-wicket win in the group B match on Sunday (as per IST) at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, helping nemesis England to progress into the Super Eight of the T20 World Cup.

Needing a victory to move forward and end England’s title defence, the Scots made the unbeaten Aussies dig incredibly deep for the win. Scotland posted a total of 180/5 in 20 overs.

In response, Australia needed 19.4 overs to chase down the total. Marcus Stoinis and Travis Head slammed half-centuries and put on 80 for the fourth wicket off just 44 balls to take their team over the line.

Putting Scotland to bat first, Australia’s masterstroke of calling Ashton Agar to the team worked well as he dismissed Michael Jones in the first over. But Scotland quickly overcame the early blow, compiling 54 runs in the Powerplay through Brandon McMullen and George Munsey

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Munsey went 6-6-4 to end the fifth over, a costly sequence off Glenn Maxwell’s bowling. McMullen brought up his 50 off just 26 balls in the eighth over.

Maxwell then took the breakthrough wicket, dismissing Munsey (35 off 23) in the ninth over, which ended an 89-run partnership. Scotland reached 96/2 at the drinks break, and then captain Richie Berrington joined the action with a boundary.

In-form spinner Adam Zampa dismissed McMullen (60 off 34), and Maxwell, in his final over, claimed the wicket of Matthew Cross (18 off 11) with a full toss. Berrington (42*) anchored Scotland’s innings, pushing them to a total of 180 as Australia worked hard to slow the run rate.

In the process, Australia made unwanted history, becoming the first team in T20 World Cup history to drop six catching opportunities.

Defending 180, Scotland landed an early blow with the ball, as Brad Wheal forced David Warner to sky a delivery that moved across him and Berrington hold on to a good catch.

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Travis Head tried to take the initiative to keep Australia’s chase ticking over. Then Mitchell Marsh holed out at deep midwicket to start the sixth over. Australia were reeling 36/2 in the Powerplay.

Australia’s first six came in the seventh over from Head, who moved into the 30s. However, Maxwell (11 off 8) was soon dismissed by a sharp spinning ball from Mark Watt that hit the off stump. The Aussies were 74/3 at drinks with Marcus Stoinis at the crease.

After the drinks break, Head and Stoinis sparked Australia’s fightback with an 80-run partnership featuring 12 boundaries. Head reached 50 before being caught by Jones at long off, leaving Australia at 140/4 in the 16th over.

Then, Stoinis took charge, continuing his powerful hitting. He smashed 59 runs off 29 balls before being bowled while attempting a reverse sweep.

Afterwards, Tim David (24* off 14) brought Australia’s target down to a run-a-ball in the 17th over. With plenty of wickets in hand, Australia clinched victory with two balls to spare, doing England a huge favour.

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A heavy defeat against Australia followed by a resounding win over Oman plus a washout against Scotland in the opener had left the defending champion England in a perilous position. And even a win against Namibia was not enough as their fate depended on the result between Australia and Scotland.

If Scotland had defeated Australia, it would have ended England’s hopes of defending their title.

Brief scores: Brief scores: Scotland 180/5 in 20 overs (Brandon McMullen 60, Richie Berrington 42*; Adam Zampa 1-30) lost to Australia 186/5 in 19.4 overs (Travis Head 68, Marcus Stoinis 59; Mark Watt 2-34) by five wickets

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: England beat Namibia to close in on Super 8 berth

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North Sound (Antigua), June 16 (IANS) England defeated Namibia by 41 runs (DLS method) in a rain-hit Group B match of the T20 World Cup late on Saturday (IST) at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to keep their hopes alive in the tournament.

Harry Brook’s 47 off 20 helped the defending champions to post a truncated match. After a mid-innings rain delay, the match was reduced from its original rain-delayed 11 overs a side to 10 overs a side, meaning Namibia had to chase a DLS-adjusted 127 to win

After a lengthy rain delay, when play finally began, Jos Buttler was bowled out for a duck by Ruben Trumpelmann in the second over, and Phil Salt fell to David Wiese in the next, leaving England at 13/2.

Then, Jonny Bairstow and Brook steadied the ship putting on a solid 56-run partnership before Bairstow was caught by wicketkeeper Zane Green off Bernard Scholtz.

Rain stopped play with England 82/3, and when they returned to the field Brook then got support from Moeen Ali (16) and later Liam Livingstone, who was run out in the final ball of the innings having faced four balls and scored 13.

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With a sizeable target to chase, Namibia’s opener started strong with Michael van Lingen and Nikolaas Davin putting up a 44-run stand before Davin retired out at the end of the sixth over.

It brought Wiese to the crease, promoted up the order, smashed two sixes and a four in successive Adil Rashid balls. But the England bowlers did what had to be done, restricting Namibia to 84/3.

Brook played a key role, taking catches to dismiss van Lingen off Chris Jordan and Wiese off Jofra Archer in the final over and was adjudged Player of the Match.

Brief scores: Brief scores: England 122/5 in 10 overs (Harry Brook 47*, Jonny Bairstow 31; Ruben Trumpelmann 2-31) beat Namibia 84/3 in 10 overs (Michael van Lingen 33, David Wiese 27; Jofra Archer 1-15) by 41 runs (DLS method).

–IANS

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Euro 2024: Spain dominate Croatia for 3-0 win in opening match

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Berlin, June 16 (IANS) Alvaro Morata, Fabian Ruiz, and Daniel Carvajal scored once each in the first half as Spain got their UEFA Euro 2024 campaign off to a flying start with a 3-0 win against Croatia in a Group B encounter here on Saturday evening.

It was expected to be a hard-fought encounter between two sides that have done well in the past. With these two sides facing each other in a fourth consecutive Euro finals, it was La Roja who triumphed for a third time against familiar opponents with a ruthless and slick attacking display.

After dominating the early stages, former champions Spain took the lead in the 29th minute when Fabián Ruiz threaded a wonderful pinpoint pass through to Morata, who made no mistake to coolly score his seventh Euro finals goal for his country, three of those goals coming against Croatia.

Just minutes later, Fabián Ruiz went from provider to scorer, twisting and turning in the box before firing into the bottom-right corner to put Spain in total control.

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Croatia responded well to that quickfire double, Josko Gvardiol stinging the fingertips of Unai Simon and Ante Budimir mere centimetres away from getting on the end of the rebound.

Spain’s 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal made history by becoming the youngest player to ever feature in a European Championship match. It was the teenager who created his side’s third goal just before half-time, his wicked cross turned in by Champions League final scorer Carvajal to cap off a superb first period from Luis de la Fuente’s side.

Yamal was in the thick of the action again at the start of the second half, with only a brilliant reflex save from Dominik Livakovic denying him the honour of also becoming the youngest Euro scorer.

Croatia were handed a lifeline when Rodri brought down substitute Bruno Petkovic in the box with ten minutes to go, but Simon guessed correctly to dive to his right and save the forward’s effort from the spot.

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Croatia will now dust themselves down and go again against Albania on June 19 while Spain will face another former champion Italy the day after.

–IANS

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Nagal beats Zapata in three sets. reaches final of Perugia Challenger

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Perugia (Italy), June 16 (IANS) India’s Sumit Nagal continued his dream run in Europe as he reached the final of the Internazionali di Tennis Citta di Perugia, a Challenger-level event in Italy, with a three-set win over Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain in the semifinals on Saturday.

Fifth-seeded Nagal secured his spot in the final by defeating Zapata Miralles 7-6(2),1-6, 6-2 for his ninth win in 11 days this season.

After winning the Heilbronn Challenger last week in Germany, he has now advanced to the final at the Perugia Challenger.

Nagal broke in the second game of the first set to take a 2-0 lead but Zapata broke back in the marathon fifth game that went to deuce six times before the Spaniard got the break and made the score 2-3. He then held his service to make it 3-3. The two players continued to hold serve in the next few games before Zapata put Nagal’s serve under pressure in the 11th game. The Indian managed to hold his service. He eventually won the tiebreak 7-2 to win the first set.

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Zapata turned the tables on Nagal in the second set. He dominated the set, breaking Nagal in the 5th and 6th games to win the set easily.

Nagal regrouped in the decider and broke serve in the second game. Though Zapata broke immediately back to negate the advantage, Nagal broke Zapata’s service in the fourth game and again in the sixth game to win the set and the match in two hours and 39 minutes.

–IANS

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Football: Argentina announce 26-man squad for Copa America title defense

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New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni has named his final 26-man squad for the Copa América, with veterans Lionel Messi and Ángel Di María leading the charge. The squad features a blend of experience and youth, with 21 players returning from the 2022 World Cup victory.

“I have decided which players will be left out, but first I am going to inform them. The decision always involves looking for the best for the team. This is the most difficult list of all because we have had complications,” Scaloni said to reporters after their 4-1 victory over Guatemala.

Scaloni experimented during pre-tournament friendlies, calling up 29 players including youngsters Valentín Barco, Ángel Correa, and Leonardo Balerdi. However, they didn’t make the final cut. Conversely, Monza’s Valentín Carboni impressed against Guatemala and earned a call-up, receiving praise from Messi himself.

Argentina open their Copa América campaign against Canada on June 20th at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. They’ll then face Chile and Peru in Group A, aiming to defend their 2021 Copa America title.

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Argentina Squad:

Goalkeepers: Franco Armani, Geronimo Rulli, Emiliano Martinez

Defenders: Gonzalo Montiel, Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, German Pezzella, Lucas Martinez Quarta, Nicolas Otamendi, Lisandro Martinez, Marcos Acuna, Nicolas Tagliafico,

Midfielders: Guido Rodriguez, Leandro Paredes, Alexis Mac Allister, Rodrigo De Paul, Exequiel Palacios, Enzo Fernandez, Giovani Lo Celso

Forwards: Angel Di Maria, Valentin Carboni, Lionel Messi, Alejandro Garnacho, Nicolas Gonzalez, Lautaro Martinez, Julian Alvarez

–IANS

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