Kassman honored to fight among world’s best

first_imgDespite the defeat, Kassman felt honoured to take the ring against a world number 1 and she is proud to have donned the PNG colours at the biggest sporting event.Kassman went down to her British number 3 ranked and 2015 Taekwondo World Champion opponent, Bianca Walkden, 14-1 in the +67kg category fight.Kassman said: “Going into the fight, I knew it was going to be challenging and a hard task but I wasn’t nervous nor intimidated.“I stuck to it and fought all three bouts and I wouldn’t have wanted the draw any other way,” Kassman told Loop PNG.Kassman added that being among the greatest fellow athletes, managers, coaches and teams has inspired her to work towards the 2020 Japan Olympics.Team PNG is expected to return to the country in the next few days.last_img read more

​Germany cruises to the top

first_imgThe champions registered their first win on Monday against Venezuela before adding another 3 points against Mexico to climb ahead with 6 points.Korea Republic trailed behind the champions with 3 points recorded from the 3-0 win against Venezuela yesterday, followed by Mexico, who is also on 3 points, and Venezuela.Korea Republic will decide their fate against Germany on Monday while Mexico will do their best against Venezuela as both teams battle to book the second spot in the Group for the quarterfinals.last_img read more

Mourinho defends United approach, hails spirit after derby draw

first_imgManchester United manager Jose Mourinho defended his team’s approach in Thursday’s 0-0 derby draw with Manchester City, hailing their spirit as they held on with 10 men.United had only 31 per cent possession and created few chances as they battled for a share of the spoils that left them a point behind fourth-placed City in the Premier League.But Mourinho, who also questioned Sergio Aguero’s reaction in the incident which saw United midfielder Marouane Fellaini sent off in the 84th minute, was in no mood for apology.“They had more ball, they had more chances but I have to defend the players and the spirit of my players and say they were amazing the way they fight,” he said, after his team extended their unbeaten run to 24 games.United could have grabbed the lead just before halftime when midfielder Ander Herrera missed a glorious chance, heading wide from close range when left unmarked, and Mourinho felt they would have deserved the advantage.“In the first half we controlled easily the game, we controlled easily the defensive side of the game and we were always dangerous on the counter-attack and we had two good chances to score,” he said.“Marcus Rashford gave their defenders lots of problems, they stopped him sometimes with lots of fouls, so for me the spirit was amazing and the first half was really good.“In the second half, I think they were stronger than us. Despite the fact that we were very strong defensively, we didn’t create enough problems in attack and we allowed them to be more offensive and play more in our half,” he added.But the former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager said he was hampered in his ability to positively influence the outcome of the match by having few options from the bench due to injuries.“In the crucial period of the game I had no players to change in midfield, I had no midfielders on the bench, then we lose Marouane and for 15 minutes we play with ten and fight for the point, which the boys did brilliantly,” he said.Guardiola said he had no problem with United’s tactics.“In my career I have come across many different styles. I am going to be respectful of my opponents’ style. We did absolutely everything to win and tonight it wasn’t enough.“We tried to have the ball and attack like we have tried to do all season. Today it was much harder against a team who hadn’t lost in 23 games – it was not easy but we tried. It’s one point and the fight keeps going.”Mourinho could not resist a jibe at Argentine striker Aguero over the dismissal of Fellaini for a relatively light headbutt.“I saw Aguero in the tunnel, no broken nose, no broken head, his face as nice as always. If he doesn’t go to the floor, it’s not a red card,” said the Portuguese.last_img read more

Halep stops Muguruza charge to reach third French final

first_imgTop seed Simona Halep reached her third French Open final when she stopped hard-hitting Spaniard Garbine Muguruza in her tracks with a 6-1 6-4 semi-final victory on Thursday.Now the 26-year-old Romanian will bid to go a step further than she has ever gone before by beating American Sloane Stephens in Saturday’s title match.Muguruza, the 2016 champion, set about attacking Halep from the off but whereas all her previous opponents this fortnight has withered under the onslaught, battle-hardened Halep barely took a backward step.Hurling everything Muguruza fired her way back across the net with equal venom Halep made a lightning start and was 5-0 up despite her opponent not playing badly herself.The tall Muguruza had not dropped a set before facing Halep and thrashed two Grand Slam champions in Sam Stosur and Maria Sharapova for the loss of five games en route to the last four.The 2016 French champion and reigning Wimbledon champion ratcheted up the intensity in the second set and broke in the third game when a powerful return forced an error.Halep weathered the storm and broke back for 4-4 before winning a marathon ninth game in which she saved three break points to pile the pressure on the third seed.Halep seized her chance, moving 0-40 ahead and then raising her arms in triumph as Muguruza blazed a backhand long — her 31st unforced error of the match.“I knew that I have to be aggressive like her. I knew that she’s gonna start the match with a lot of power,” Halep, one of the best tacticians on the circuit, told reporters.“I was strong on the legs. Also I pushed her back. I feel like I played so well opening the court.“It was a very good level, the whole match, even if the first set was 6-1. She didn’t give up a point. So it was very nice to play like that.”Muguruza said Halep’s fast start had been the key.“She started playing very well immediately, and I wasn’t able to reach the level that she was playing,” she said. “She went high very fast.“In the first set, it was just lightning.”Halep now has the chance to finally win the Grand Slam title she has toiled so long for.She was beaten by Sharapova in three sets in the 2014 final here and last year had victory in sights, only to lose tearfully to Latvian firebrand Jelena Ostapenko.Earlier this year she lost to Caroline Wozniacki in a sweat-box Australian Open final.“We will see what is going to happen Saturday, but for sure I will fight for every ball,” Halep said.Of that, no one is in any doubt.last_img read more

Brawls and arrests after Nurmagomedov beats McGregor

first_imgChaos erupted after Khabib Nurmagomedov retained his UFC lightweight title with a submission victory over Ireland’s Conor McGregor on Saturday with members of his support team arrested after an all-in brawl broke out after the bout.The Russian ended McGregor’s attempt to win back the title when he sealed a brutal submission victory with a rear naked choke hold in the fourth round, which then sparked a mass brawl.Fights broke out in and around the cage, with a red-shirted fan landing several blows on McGregor before security intervened. Both fighters were escorted from the arena by police and security.UFC boss Dana White later told Fox Sports that three members of Nurmagomedov’s team were arrested.The fight had been highlighted by bad blood between both camps, with McGregor pleading guilty in July as part of a deal with prosecutors to resolve charges over an April melee in which he attacked a bus the Russian was travelling on.The situation boiled over after referee Herb Dean waved off the fight, which prompted Nurmagomedov to jump out of the cage and head straight for McGregor’s teammate and corner-man Dillon Danis, prompting a series of violent scuffles.One man jumped the fence, swinging blows at McGregor before being bundled away by security and there were punches thrown in the crowd as police and security struggled to deal with the angry crowd, most of whom had been backing the Irishman.White entered the octagon to try to placate Nurmagomedov, who was not presented with the belt, although he was announced as the winner.The Russian’s fans chanted his name and danced in the street outside the T-Mobile Arena, but rather than the fight bringing to the end the feud, it only poured more fuel on the fire.WRESTLING STRENGTHMcGregor, making a comeback to the octagon after nearly two years away, had looked dangerous in the early striking exchanges but as expected, Nurmagomedov quickly took the fight to the ground.The Russian smothered him with his wrestling skills and prevented him from getting back to his feet for the rest of the first round.The Irishman was then wobbled by an early right cross from the Russian in the second round and the fight was soon on the floor again, but this time the Russian champion was able to keep the challenger from getting his back to the cage.McGregor survived until the end of the round, giving a tired smile as the horn went, and in the third period he managed to keep the fight standing, tripping off shots to the head and body as he rediscovered his range.However, it proved to be too little, too late, and Nurmagomedov was once again on top in the fourth, sapping McGregor’s energy with his excruciating pressure before the choke ended the fight 3:03 into the fourth round.Despite McGregor tapping his arm to indicate his submission, Nurmagomedov seemed to hold on to the winning choke rather than releasing it, encapsulating the bad blood between the pair.The victory stretched Nurmagomedov’s professional record to 27-0 and handed the Irishman his second defeat in the UFC, both to the same choke hold, before the chaos began.last_img read more

Spectacular Knockaert strike breaks Palace resistance

first_imgA moment of brilliance from Anthony Knockaert settled a fiercely contested local derby as Brighton & Hove Albion beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park to edge further clear from the Premier League relegation zone.The Frenchman moved inside his marker to fire a curling 74th-minute left-foot winner from outside the area as Brighton completed the league double over their great rivals for the first time since 1983-4.But Knockaert was fortunate to still be on the pitch after only receiving a yellow card for a crunching challenge on Luka Milivojevic after just 28 seconds — the quickest booking in the Premier League for 10 years.Brighton opened the scoring on 19 minutes when 35-year-old Glenn Murray — promoted off the bench after Florin Andone was injured in the warm-up — volleyed home after Scott Dann misjudged his headed clearance.The goal was Murray’s 100th league strike for Brighton and seventh in this fixture, three of which he scored for Palace.Brighton, impressively marshalled at the back by Lewis Dunk, were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Dann wrestled Shane Duffy to the ground but then conceded from the spot after the break when Davy Propper fouled Andros Townsend.The ever-reliable Milivojevic converted the penalty for the 17th time as a Palace player before Knockaert had the final say as Brighton registered back-to-back league victories for the first time this year to join Palace on 33 points in the standings.Afterwards Knockaert, who was substituted immediately after his goal, described it as “a special day for us and the fans”.Knockaeart said the referee spoke to him at halftime about his two-footed challenge on Milivojevic which led to his early booking. “We both went for the same ball. I was a bit late,” he said.Murray said he was delighted to get a start — and his goal. “I got drafted in just before the game after Florin Andone felt his groin go in the warm-up,” he said.“The 100 goals and things like that don’t bother me, it’s something to look back on but I’m just delighted to get the three points.”last_img read more

Porto goalkeeper Casillas suffers heart attack, taken to hospital – club statement

first_imgMADRID, May 1 (Reuters) – Spain’s World Cup winning captain Iker Casillas, 37, suffered a heart attack while training with his team Porto on Wednesday and was taken to hospital, the Portuguese club said in a statement, adding that the goalkeeper’s life was not in danger.“Iker Casillas suffered an acute heart attack during this Wednesday’s training session,” Porto said in a statement on their official website.“The session was quickly halted so medical assistance could be provided to the Porto goalkeeper, who is currently in the CUF Porto Hospital. Casillas is ok, stable and the heart problem has been resolved.”Casillas played 167 times for Spain, famously captaining his country to their first and only World Cup win in 2010 as well as the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.Born in Mostoles, Madrid, Casillas came through Real Madrid’s academy and spent the majority of his career there until joining Porto in July 2015.He is Real’s second all-time appearance maker, playing 725 matches between 1999 and 2015, winning five La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns with the club. His former team mate Raul made 741 appearances for Real.last_img read more

Heart and fight key to Spurs stunning win, says Eriksen

first_imgTottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen said they threw tactics out the window and relied on grit and heart to come back from 3-0 down on aggregate to beat Ajax Amsterdam on away goals and reach the Champions League final on Wednesday.Having lost the first leg in London 1-0, Tottenham got off to the worst possible start in Amsterdam by going 2-0 down on the night.The second leg turned on its head after halftime, however, as Lucas Moura scored twice in quick succession before netting a 96th minute effort to complete his hat-trick and make it 3-3 on aggregate.“It was a non-tactical performance, it was more of a fight, more of a heart performance, and that’s how we won it,” Danish playmaker Eriksen told BT Sport.“It was a ridiculous game. We were really far down, we tried to fight back and we’re just lucky. I feel sorry for Ajax, they played a very good game against us.“In the end we’re just lucky we scored. It’s a relief, because we’ve been fighting for this and I think it’s a dream for everyone to be in the Champions League final.”The midfielder revealed that there was no great tactical change at halftime as Spurs simply rolled up their sleeves and went at Ajax in the second half.“We weren’t able to look ourselves in the mirror if we (were to) go down three or four nil today – we had to fight back, there was no other option,” Eriksen said.After Liverpool fought back from a 3-0 first-leg defeat to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate on Tuesday, the final will be an all-English affair.LIVERPOOL INSPIRATIONSpurs defender Danny Rose said that he had taken inspiration from the Merseysiders.“We saw Liverpool last night. It goes to show it’s not over until it’s over. Disappointed with the first leg, how we started and we started like that tonight. But after the break we came out,” Rose said.“The gaffer mentioned Liverpool’s display at the hotel before the match — the gaffer doesn’t mind us losing but we have to lose the right way.”Moura, however, was not prepared to let the match slip, and slotted the winner for Spurs deep in stoppage time.“It’s been a rollercoaster of a season. For him (Moura) to get us in the final, he’ll be a hero. I hope he gets a statue in England after this … I’m blown away, there’s really no words for it,” Eriksen said.There was one major tactical shift that did play a crucial role in the victory, however. At half-time Pochettino took out midfielder Victor Wanyama and replaced him with Spanish forward Fernando Llorente.Llorente, whose main asset is his height and strength in the air, placed himself on Ajax defender Daley Blind and that upset the solidity of the Dutch defence.The Spaniard’s presence caused confusion and created instability which Moura was able to exploit to the full.With a big man as a focal point for the attack, Tottenham were able to take a more direct approach — with crosses from deep and in the latter stages, hopeful punts into the box.Llorente would not have been on the field had Spurs’ first choice striker Harry Kane been fit but the injured England captain was in the dressing room at the break and he said the focus was purely on effort.“At half time we said it is 45 minutes to give everything… the lads dug deep, showed passion, showed character, showed heart and that is what it’s all about,” said Kane.“Over the two legs we didn’t play as well as we would have liked but we found a way to win,” he added.Former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, in Amsterdam as a pundit for BT Sport, said the Llorente introduction had been key.“Fernando Llorente – what a substitution. He stood on Daley Blind. Blind couldn’t deal with him and the boys came up behind him.” REACTION TO  TOTTENHAM’S HEROIC WINTHE WINNERSTottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino: “The emotion is amazing, thank you to football. My players are heroes – in the last year I was telling everyone this group are heroes. The second half they were amazing. Thank you football – this type of emotion without football is no possible. Thank you to everyone who has believed in us. To describe this in words is difficult.“We were talking before the game that when you work and when you feel the love it’s not stress it’s passion of the team. We showed we love the sport and football. Today was amazing. It was a joy to watch this kind of game.“It’s difficult to compete at this level. I am so grateful to be a coach. To be in football and to live this type of football.“They are all heroes but (Lucas Moura) was a superhero. From the first to last one – the tough moment to live in the five years before.”Tottenham hat-trick scorer Lucas Moura: “Impossible to explain what I’m feeling. I’m very happy and very proud of my team mates. Always believe in this moment. We gave everything on the pitch and deserved this moment – we are family. Impossible to explain. Big gift from God I’d like to share with team mates, friends and family.Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen: “It was a non-tactical performance, it was more of a fight, more of a heart performance, and that’s how we won it.“It was a ridiculous game. We were really far down, we tried to fight back and we’re just lucky. I feel sorry for Ajax, they played a very good game against us.”Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who missed the match through injury: “It was amazing. I’m a fan first and foremost and I know how much it means to the club.“The lads dug deep and showed passion and that is all you can ask for. We had to wait to get the third in the last minute and we found a way. That is what football is about and we have the final to come.”Tottenham defender Danny Rose: “We saw Liverpool last night. It goes to show it’s not over until it’s over. The gaffer mentioned Liverpool’s display at the hotel before the match – the gaffer doesn’t mind us losing but we have to lose the right way.”THE LOSERSAjax Amsterdam captain Matthijs De Ligt: “It’s a nightmare, like a dream. We played well in the first half, we had it all our way.“We didn’t keep up the same pressure in the second half. We gave silly goals away. We were so close to the final … and then the ball goes in. Unbelievable.”Ajax coach Erik ten Hag: “We were so close, we had so deserved it, but that last second…“Football can be very beautiful and it can be very cruel, we have had to experience that today.”“Overall we had a fantastic Champions League campaign, we were one second away from the final, our team deserves a very big compliment, I am very proud of my players.“I told the players in the break that it wasn’t over yet, you could tell by the attitude of the Tottenham players. They still believed in it.“When that ball hits the post from Hakim Ziyech, it’s over and out for Spurs. But I can’t blame anyone. We have had an incredible Champions League season and have grown a lot as a team. It is difficult to process.”THE ‘NEUTRALS’Former Ajax coach Louis van Gaal: “It was admirable that Spurs had the courage to never give up and try and do the business, but it was totally unnecessary of Ajax to let it all slip.“This defeat was completely unnecessary. At half time there was nothing wrong with a 2-0 lead. In the second half, Tottenham took more and more risk and more and more attackers entered the field. Ajax made the wrong choices in possession of the ball in that phase.”Norway coach Lars Lagerback: “I’m driven crazy here, they (Ajax) went for another goal instead of holding on to the ball and pushing back the Tottenham team.“At the same time, I can appreciate them, it’s a good attitude, but if you know you only have a few minutes left… it shows that they are not as experienced.”Former Tottenham manager Glenn Hoddle: “Incredible, we’ve seen two footballing miracles in two nights and Tottenham only had 45 minutes to score three goals, incredible.“I’m so glad that I’m still around to see this. I’ve been a Spurs fan since I was eight years of age. What a proud moment that was.”Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton: I have never seen anything like it. Spurs have been gallant and bold. Fernando Llorente has caused problems. It’s a cracking finish and Spurs just do not know when they are beat.”Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand: “Lucas Moura … every one of his goals was a cracker. It almost makes you speechless what happened today. Two English teams to produce two performances like that. You need heart, desire and effort. Fernando Llorente: What a substitution. He stood on Daley Blind. Blind couldn’t deal with him and the boys came up behind him.”Former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho on Pochettino’s tears at full time: “(Coaches) are normally a very lonely person in that football consumes a lot. “It’s a very beautiful way to show the world that for us managers, means much more than for the ordinary fan in defeat and in victory too.“I’ll be in trouble in the final because I like Mauricio and (Liverpool boss) Juergen (Klopp) very, very much and I think they both deserve to win a trophy. I think it will be a fantastic final.”Former Dutch international Ruud Gullit: “I feel for the (Ajax) youngsters. It’s going to be hard work because they’re going to lose a lot of players and they have to build up a new team. But thank you Ajax, thank you for the football that you showed us.”last_img read more

Hamilton favourite for Spanish GP in big test for Ferrari

first_imgLewis Hamilton is favourite to win the Spanish Grand Prix for a fourth time, and third in a row, on Sunday and retake the Formula One world championship lead from Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas.Needless to say, Ferrari have another script in mind for a race seen as something of a litmus test for their title prospects.Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc dominated pre-season testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya amid excited talk of Ferrari ending Mercedes’ five-year stranglehold on the sport.They return reeling from four successive Mercedes one-two finishes, an unprecedented start to the season by any team, and hoping an engine upgrade — brought forward by two races — will swing things their way.If Mercedes are again quicker at such a benchmark circuit, where the champions have won four times in the last five years, the writing will be on the wall for Ferrari. They need to step up a gear and start turning things around.Both teams have been talking up the other’s chances.“The last four races, on average, we were not quite there so I think we are not the favourites going to Barcelona,” said Vettel, winner with Red Bull in 2011, after finishing third in Azerbaijan.Team principal Mattia Binotto agreed: “Obviously Mercedes are very strong at the moment. I’m pretty sure they will be very strong as well in Barcelona.“Many teams will bring aero package or car developments, so that will be again a different balance compared to what we’ve seen so far in the season,” he added.FLATTERINGMercedes principal Toto Wolff dismissed Vettel’s portrayal of Ferrari as underdogs for the first race of the European season.“The results seem to paint a relatively clear picture, but the truth is that they’re too flattering. The performance has fluctuated in the first four races,” said the Austrian.“Our opponents were blisteringly quick in winter testing, so the Spanish Grand Prix will be anything but easy.”Bottas leads five times world champion Hamilton by a single point, with both men on two wins, by virtue of the Finn’s fastest lap in the Australian season opener.British bookmakers William Hill have Hamilton as race favourite at 6-4, with Bottas on 9-4 and Vettel and Leclerc priced at 9-2.Barcelona has also been a happy hunting ground for Red Bull, with Max Verstappen becoming the sport’s youngest winner there in 2016.“It is always a special one for me,” said the 21-year-old of a track whose future remains uncertain, with talk of Verstappen’s home Dutch circuit Zandvoort taking the slot next year.“The temperatures will be a bit different (to testing in March) and everyone is bringing new parts to their cars, so it will be interesting to see how competitive we can be.”Former Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo, now at Renault, has a three-place grid drop as punishment for a bizarre collision with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat in Baku.A Brazilian-Austrian flag will be displayed on the podium in tribute to the late triple champion Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger who died at Imola in May 25 years ago. Sunday’s race is the first since the anniversary.last_img read more