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Finland beat Bosnia to boost World Cup qualifying hopes

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Ten-man Finland rekindled their hopes of reaching the 2022 World Cup finals with a 3-1 win at Bosnia and Herzegovina in their Group D qualifier on Saturday after a gritty performance in a fervent atmosphere gave them a lifeline.

The result left the Finns second in the group on 11 points from seven games, one behind leaders and world champions France who host Kazakhstan later on Saturday. Third-placed Ukraine have nine points with Bosnia fourth on seven.

Bosnia spurned two chances before their goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic saved a Teemu Pukki penalty in the 25th minute after Miralem Pjanic handled a long-range effort in the area, but the visitors took the lead four minutes later.

Pukki made amends for his poor spot-kick as he delivered a fine low cross after a one-two with Glen Kamara and Bosnian Anel Ahmedhodzic’s desperate attempt to clear the danger ricocheted off Finland’s Marcus Forss into the back of the net.

The visitors had defender Jukka Raitala sent off in the 37th minute with a straight red card for a poor tackle on Sead Kolasinac, who limped off and was replaced by Emedin Demirovic.

More slack defending allowed Finland to double their lead in the 52nd minute as Pukki was given time and space to drag the ball back to Robin Lod, who rifled a fierce shot from 10 metres inside the near post.

The home side pulled one back midway through the second half when Luka Menalo turned a cross by fellow substitute Amer Gojak into the roof of the net, but their hopes of a comeback were dashed by another defensive error in the 73rd minute.

Read Also: WCQ: Osimhen and Musa net as Super Eagles’ boost qualification chances

Defender Daniel O’Shaughnessy tapped the ball in from three metres after a long cross from the right sailed past a static Bosnia defence straight into his path, prompting the home fans to jeer their team’s lacklustre performance.

The Bosnians, who can no longer qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar, are at home to Ukraine in their last match on Tuesday when Finland host France. The group winners qualify for the finals while the runners-up go into the playoffs.

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Neymar leaves St Etienne on crutches in protective boot after injury

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Neymar was spotted using crutches after Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 clash with St Etienne on Sunday.

The striker was carried off the pitch on a stretcher in the closing stages of PSG’s 3-1 win at the Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium following a nasty tackle from Yvann Macon.

Neymar was on the receiving end of a nasty tackle from Saint-Etienne's Yvann Macon

Macon’s poor tackle trapped Neymar’s left ankle and left him writing in agony.

Thankfully for the former Barcelona man, his injury didn’t require a trip to the hospital.

But he did have to make use of a protective boot as well as crutches as he made his way to the team bus.

French champions PSG are currently unsure of the severity of Neymar’s latest injury.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “We will have to see this tomorrow but from the images.

“I hope that it’s not a big deal and that he will be back with the squad quickly.

“But the action is not good.”
The world’s most expensive player will undergo scans on his ankle on Monday to find out the severity of the damage.

Pochettino later said of the injury: “There is nothing more to say for the moment.

“It is the pain he felt in the leg with his ankle that turned.

“We will have the exams tomorrow and we will see.”

Read Also: EPL: Jorginho penalty earns point for Chelsea after howler gifts Man Utd opener

Neymar took to Instagram shortly after the match, vowing to ‘come back better and stronger’.

He said: “Let’s recover, unfortunately, these setbacks are part of an athlete’s life.

“Now that’s what you have, lift your head and let’s go. I’ll come back better and stronger.”

Paris Saint-Germain will be back in action on Wednesday night, welcoming Nice to the Parc des Princes.

 

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De Gea makes damning assessment; ‘strange’ Rangnick thoughts

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Callum Hudson Odoi has a shot saved by David de Gea 1 1024x538 1

Manchester United keeper David de Gea admits he felt his goal was under constant threat against Chelsea.

De Gea faced 24 shots but was beaten only by a Jorginho penalty as Manchester United battled to a 1-1 draw away at the Premier League leaders on Sunday.

The Spaniard saved from Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger, ensuring Jadon Sancho’s opener was enough for the visitors to earn a point.

De Gea has been openly critical of Manchester United in recent weeks, slamming their performance against Liverpool and eviscerating the display against Watford, which proved to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s last as manager.

He was slightly more positive about the Chelsea match but pointed out that there is still plenty of work to be done.

“I think we already improved against Villarreal,” he said. “It was a big game for us, we won, we qualified and now we played against a very good team away from home.

“The effort from the team was very good. They had the best chances, to be honest. For me, a draw is not enough, we want to win all the time, but we are still in a tough moment. I’m proud of the effort of the team.

“On the pitch, in the goal, I was feeling danger for nearly the whole game, but we defended well. They missed big chances to find the target. The one [goal] we have, they gave us a chance and we scored. It’s not enough to draw, but at the moment with the way we are, it’s a big point.

“The games before, we were conceding three or four, now we conceded one from a penalty. We had a clean sheet against Villarreal, but this is just two games. We need to show in the games that are coming – we face Arsenal so it’s a big game again, we need to keep going – that we can stay focused and give 100 per cent.”

On the impending appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim head coach until the end of the season, De Gea added: “It’s a bit strange, but we’re professional players.

Jorginho celebrates scoring

Read Also: EPL: Jorginho penalty earns point for Chelsea after howler gifts Man Utd opener

“We’re training properly, playing properly. We play under the pressure as well and that’s Manchester United.

“We’ll see what happens in the future, but at the moment, we are a team, we feel like we’re all together and fighting for the same things.

“At the moment, it is Carrick and we’re with him. We are still conceding many chances, but the team is together. This will make us stronger.”

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Djokovic ‘probably won’t’ play Australian Open, says player’s father

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Novak Djokovic is currently playing for Serbia at the Davis Cup Finals in Innsbruck

Novak Djokovic “probably won’t” play the Australian Open in January over mandatory Covid vaccination rules, the world number one’s father said on Sunday, likening the restrictions to “blackmail”.

The 34-year-old Djokovic, who would be bidding for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne, has refused to say whether or not he has been vaccinated against coronavirus.

But Australian Open tournament chief Craig Tiley has said that all players must be inoculated to take part.

“Of course he would want to go with all his heart,” Djokovic’s father Srdjan told Serbian channel Prda TV.

“Because he is a sportsman and there are a lot of our people, the (Serbian) diaspora, there who would be delighted to see Novak.

“But I really don’t know if that will happen. Probably not under these conditions, with this blackmail and when it’s done that way.”

Srdjan Djokovic also defended his son’s “exclusive and personal right” to be vaccinated or not, and claimed that even he did not know if Novak had received the jab.

Tiley last week revealed that Djokovic “has said that he views this as a private matter for himself”.

Read Also: Russians knock holders Spain out of Davis Cup

“We would love to see Novak here. He knows that he’ll have to be vaccinated to play here,” he added.

Djokovic, a nine-time Australian Open champion, is level on 20 Grand Slam singles triumphs with old rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

He contracted Covid-19 during the ill-fated Adria Tour event he organised in the Balkans in June 2020, but said he did not suffer from any symptoms.

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