World Sports News in Brief

Own goal denies France win over Ukraine, Turkey stun Netherlands

Thursday, 2021-03-25 07:36:11
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Soccer Football - World Cup Qualifiers Europe - Group E - Belgium v Wales - Den Dreef, Leuven, Belgium - March 24, 2021 Belgium's Romelu Lukaku scores their third goal from the penalty spot. (Photo: Reuters)
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Holders France got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a disappointing start with a 1-1 draw at home to Ukraine on Wednesday (Mar 24) while Turkey pulled off an impressive 4-2 win at home to the Netherlands, powered by a Burak Yilmaz hat-trick.

* Croatia, 2018 runners-up, slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat away to Slovenia, while Belgium continued their remarkable run in qualifiers by coming from behind to beat Wales 3-1 at home.

* Ireland ended a seven-game drought by scoring twice away to Serbia but still got beaten 3-2, while Czech Republic routed Estonia 6-2 in the biggest win of the night and Portugal scraped past minnows Azerbaijan 1-0 courtesy of an own goal.

*Qatar beat 10-man Luxembourg 1-0 in a friendly in Hungary thanks to a goal from striker Mohammed Muntari in the 2022 hosts’ first match in a set of games after being included as a guest team in Group A, although their matches will not count towards the qualification process.

* Pathum Nissanka scored a century on debut as Sri Lanka amassed a commanding lead on the fourth day before setting the West Indies a target of 375 to win the first test in Antigua. The 22-year-old Nissanka and wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella spent most of Wednesday at the crease in a 179-run partnership before Sri Lanka were bowled out for 476.

* Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford and Arsenal midfielder Bukayo Saka are doubtful for England's three World Cup qualifiers, manager Gareth Southgate said ahead of Thursday's opener against San Marino at Wembley. Rashford missed United's FA Cup defeat at Leicester City on Sunday due to a foot injury and has yet to train with England, while Saka is still having his hamstring injury treated by his club.

* Former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt has left his role as their head of first team development in order to seek a new challenge, the Premier League club said on Wednesday. The former England midfielder, who played 387 games for United between 1992 and 2004, was moved up to the position from Head of Academy two years ago and reported directly to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

* World Rugby is set to spend 1.2 million pounds (US$1.65 million) annually over three years on two Pacific Island teams to help them join Super Rugby in 2022, the sport's governing body said on Wednesday.

* Italy manager Roberto Mancini expects a "typically British" Northern Ireland team to cause his side problems when they kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign on Thursday, four months after their last game. The Azzurri begin their bid to reach Qatar 2022 on a 22-match unbeaten run, but they haven’t played a match since a 2-0 win over Bosnia in November 2020.

* Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo and striker Cristiano Ronaldo will not leave Turin despite a disappointing season, the Serie A champions’ vice-president Pavel Nedved said on Wednesday.

* The Paris-Roubaix one-day cycling race will not take place on April 11 as planned due to the COVID-19 situation, Le Parisien paper reported on its website on Wednesday. The 2020 edition of the 'Queen of the Classics' race was also postponed once before being cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

* Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood has withdrawn from England's squad for the Euro Under-21 Championship due to injury, the Football Association said. Greenwood, who scored in United's 3-1 defeat by Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, has been replaced by Norwich City midfielder Todd Cantwell in Aidy Boothroyd's 23-man squad.

* Athletes representing New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics later this year will be able to apply to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they depart, the government said on Wednesday.

* Manchester City will install over 5,000 rail seats at the Etihad Stadium, the Premier League club said, a move that will allow spectators to stand safely during matches next season. The seats, which are designed to lock into a folded position and give fans space to stand, would be installed over the summer in the lower tier of the South Stand, City said.