Sterling has been directly involved in 18 goals in his last 16 home appearances in the Champions League for Manchester CityManchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he is “so sorry” for Phil Foden after he and Raheem Sterling came off the bench to score in a 2-0 win over a stubborn Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.Sterling swept home from a Riyad Mahrez cross midway through the second half, then set up 19-year-old Foden in stoppage time as City’s second successive win took them top of Group C.Guardiola said: “He (Foden) has incredible finishing and made an incredible step forward tonight.”I am so sorry for him – he deserves to play more minutes. I am sure he will contribute and help us more.”The England squad for the next round of internationals is named on Thursday.”I am buzzing for Phil Foden,” Sterling told BT Sport. “I want him in the national team. If he keeps going he will be there.”Foden said: “You have to show the manager what you can do each day in training. Every young kid wants to play but you have to keep patient.”Man City win, Tottenham concede seven – reactionFootball Daily podcast: Spurs battered by BayernIn truth, this should have been a much bigger victory, with City wasting a host of first-half chances, but in the end they were grateful to Sterling for making the difference.Until he broke the deadlock from close range with his ninth goal of the season, it had been an unexpectedly frustrating night for Guardiola’s side, despite enjoying more than 80% of possession.It was not the case that City struggled to create chances in the absence of the injured Kevin de Bruyne, but they were unable to take them until the second half.Sergio Aguero was the first to waste an opportunity, with the Argentine rounding Zagreb keeper Dominik Livakovic from a poor backpass but seeing him recover with a diving save.Bernardo Silva was also off target from two good openings and Aguero skied another effort before Ilkay Gundogan blasted a shot against the bar and David Silva fired wide from close range.When Aguero did finally get the ball in the net, Dutch referee Serdar Gozubuyuk had already blown his whistle for a handball by Bernardo Silva.The second half saw Croatian champions Dinamo, who were roared on by their fans throughout, put up more resistance before Sterling replaced Bernardo Silva, and quickly gave City their breakthrough.More chances followed but it fell to Foden to finish off Zagreb with a fine first-time strike from a swift counter-attack.It gives City their second successive Group C win and leaves them well placed to make the last 16 for a seventh successive season, while Zagreb have now suffered 13 away group game defeats in a row – a Champions League record.Guardiola gets the result he wantedGuardiola spoke before the game about having to “seduce” City fans who are reluctant to fall for the charms of the Champions League, preferring instead Premier League success.So far, little seems to have changed, the competition’s anthem being roundly booed again inside the Etihad before kick-off providing the main example of that.The atmosphere after that was far from flat, but this one-sided affair was never going to be a fixture that provided the electricity from the stands that Guardiola craves.While City’s fans were enthusiastic enough throughout, their passion could never match that of the Zagreb supporters, who chanted throughout and removed their shirts en masse when they fell behind.Guardiola’s emotions were also on display, with his frustration with the officials evident on more than one occasion as he prowled his technical area.But he got the result he wanted, with City’s fifth successive win since their shock defeat at Norwich providing more evidence that, if they were ever in crisis, it is now over.Guardiola hopes De Bruyne will be back soonGuardiola said after the game that he does not think De Bruyne’s groin problem is serious, which is a rare bit of of good news for City in a season when they have lost Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte to long-term injuries.De Bruyne missed most of last season through injury and, while City’s domestic treble clearly showed they were able to cope, his nine assists this season have been a timely reminder of his talents.Without him, City’s midfield were still able to carve Zagreb open easily enough before the break, but you felt they missed the brilliant Belgian more when the away side dug in after the break.Although City tried to replicate De Bruyne’s dangerous balls into the box, notably through Benjamin Mendy on the left, they were far less effective.With Mahrez notably quieter than against Everton at the weekend, City did not carry the same threat on the ball in wide areas, at least until Sterling arrived on the scene.Man of the match – Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Made a difference in attack immediately and should have won a free-kick as soon as he came on when he was fouled on the edge of the area. Guardiola was booked for complaining about that decision, but he was soon celebrating Sterling’s goal.What next?City’s next game sees them back at the Etihad to face Wolves in the Premier League on Sunday (14:00 BST).They resume their Champions League campaign on 22 October, at home to Atalanta (20:00), when Dinamo Zagreb are away at Shakhtar Donetsk (17:55).Magical Mahrez – the statsManchester City have won five consecutive Champions League home matches for the first time.City completed 626 more passes than Dinamo Zagreb (727-100), also accumulating 71 more touches in their opponents’ box (73-2).Pep Guardiola has won all three of his Champions League matches against Dinamo Zagreb – his sides have scored nine goals without conceding.Riyad Mahrez has been directly involved in eight goals in eight Champions League appearances for City (2 goals, 6 assists), with three of those coming this season.Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 19 goals in his past 16 home appearances in the Champions League for City (11 goals, eight assists).
Going for goal: Saudi Arabia kicks off first women’s football league
RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament. The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize. The…
RIYADH: First they opened the grandstands to women, now Saudi Arabia is encouraging them to cross the touchline and compete in the Kingdom’s first Women’s Football League tournament.
The historic competition kicks off on Tuesday morning, with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup, and a $133,000 cash prize.
The Kingdom opened its stadiums to women football supporters in January, 2018, but this is the first time they will have been allowed to compete in a tournament.
The competition has been lauded as an important step for the Saudi sports world, with many in the game throwing their support behind the event.
Calling the competition a “positive step,” Abdullah Alyami, Saudi football coach and sports reporter, said he expects many more women to participate in future tournaments.
“This is a very happy day for all athletes, be they male or female. And based on what we’ve seen, and how beloved the sport of football is all over the Kingdom, I believe we will see many more of our sisters getting involved in professional sports,” he said.
عبدالله اليامي: انطلاق #الدوري_النسائي في #السعودية خطوة إيجابية.. وأتوقع إقبالا كبيرا على المشاركة في فرق كرة القدم النسائية#تواصل #قناة_الرسالة@m3sss3 pic.twitter.com/UxRa8pZSWo
— قناة الرسالة (@alresalahnet) November 17, 2020
Saudi sports reporter Riyan Al-Jidani tweeted his support.
“To all my dear sisters participating the Women’s Football League, your success in the tournament is a step in the right direction towards our dream of universality and representing our homeland to the outside world. Raising the flag on the field is a glory and pride,” he said.
The tournament was due to start in March – but the coronavirus pandemic stopped play.
But for some that just presented the opportunity to up their game.
“We started preparations early, and the delay due to the pandemic actually worked in our favor. We were able to take more than two months to prepare for the tournament,” Maram Al-Butairi, general manager and head coach at Dammam-based Eastern Flames FC.
Amal Gimie, 26, an Eritrean midfielder for Jeddah’s Kings United, previously told Arab News that she had been playing the beautiful game since she was eight.
“There was a match every weekend. The boys made us play as goalkeepers in the beginning, and in 2002, when I first saw the Women’s World Cup, it sparked my passion to learn more about this sport,” said Gimie, who is also a management information systems graduate. She joined her first female football team, Challenge, in Riyadh in 2014.
She said: “It was the first time I joined something organized. I was happy to be playing but at the same time I felt as though it was an unreachable goal (to become a professional athlete or join an official league), I felt like I was growing older without achieving anything.”
The matches won’t be broadcast, but Saudi’s army of football fans remain excited by the tournament.
Wejdan Al-Shammary, who grew up playing sports in school, said she would have tried for a team “in a heartbeat” if she had been just a few years younger.
“I played both basketball and football on my high school teams. I was a complete sports nut, but it makes me happy to know that even if it’s too late for me to achieve those dreams, there’s a chance now for young Saudi girls that I never had,” she said.
Najla Ahmed, a 16-year-old from Riyadh who plays on her school’s football team, said she would try for a local team in 2021.
“I’ll be 17, and therefore eligible, and I would love to see anyone try and stop me,” she said.
Both women said they hoped this was just the start and that more sports would be opened up to women.
“Football is just the beginning. I would love to see more focus on other sports, as well. Basketball, tennis, maybe even competitive swimming,” said Al-Shammary. “I’m sure we have so many potential Olympians among us who just need their talents nurtured.”
NFL game postponed over Covid-19 cases
Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday,…
Tennessee Titans’ long snapper Beau Brinkley (left) and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (right) have been put on the reserve/Covid-19 listThe NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday has been postponed because of Covid-19 cases.The game will be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday after the outbreak among Titans players and staff.On Tuesday, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson were put on the reserve/Covid-19 list.The NFL has since shut down the team facility.According to the NFL network, a fourth player also returned a positive test on Wednesday.The Titans played the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis last Sunday.The Vikings’ facility was also closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is unclear whether their scheduled game with the Houston Texans will take place on Sunday.
Pliskova survives scare at French Open
Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world…
Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world – in a tie-break.The 2017 semi-finalist wrapped up a quick second set against the 24-year-old after winning four games in a row.Pliskova came through a tense decider to claim a 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4 victory.”It was super tough,” she said. “Especially after losing the first set after having set points.”She played a great game, especially in these conditions.”Sherif kept up an impressive level throughout and the pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set.But Pliskova then won four games in a row, eventually holding serve to level things.The Czech was made to work much harder for the final set as she failed to convert five break points before winning the sixth to go 4-3 up.She held serve and wrapped up the match after two hours and 15 minutes with an ace down the middle.Pliskova, who has never won a Grand Slam, will face Latvian world number 43 Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone