Real beat Espanyol to go top of La Liga

first_imgREAL Madrid moved top of La Liga after Marco Asensio’s VAR-awarded strike proved enough to beat Espanyol.Asensio drilled in a low shot just before the break when Luka Modric’s effort deflected into his path, with the goal given after a lengthy review.Borja Iglesias hit the crossbar for the spirited visitors with a deft chip.Former Real keeper Diego Lopez made a fine save to deny Sergio Ramos late on in an otherwise stilted performance by the hosts at the Bernabeu.Victory takes Julen Lopetegui’s side above rivals Barcelona, who can retake the top spot with a draw or victory against Girona today.Espanyol drop to sixth following Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win over Getafe earlier yesterday. ISCO AND ASENSIO HIGHLIGHT NEW ERAReal made sure of victory with a functional rather than fluent performance, maintaining their unbeaten league start under new boss Lopetegui.Isco and Asensio once again showed how vital they will be to the new era at the Bernabeu after the departure of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and three-time Champions League-winning manager Zinedine Zidane over the summer, the Spain pair central to most of their side’s best moves.Asensio was unmarked when Modric’s blocked strike fell to him and clinically found the far bottom corner as Espanyol appealed for offside.Referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz consulted VAR and after a long delay awarded the goal, with replays showing Asensio was clearly onside, as the midfielder appeared to joke about the wait with his celebration, pointing to his wrist.Isco then created Real’s best chance in the latter stages, curving an immaculate cross with the outside of his right foot, only for Lopez to tip the onrushing Ramos’ header over the bar.The lack of fluency could also be down to the hosts making five changes from the side that beat Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Gareth Bale an unused substitute.ESPANYOL FAIL TO EXPLOIT SHAKY REAL DEFENCEWhile right-back Alvaro Odriozola made a largely assured debut, Real’s defence as a whole was suspect at times but Espanyol failed to take advantage.Pablo Piatti shot just wide after Real were slow to react to a sweeping Espanyol counter, before former Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois saved from Hernan Perez.After the interval, Ramos was caught dallying in possession on the edge of his own area, with Iglesias robbing him off the ball and beating Courtois with an exquisite lob only to see it ricochet back off the bar.Despite that warning, Ramos continued to streak forward at will, with Casemiro forced to race back and cover on several occasions. The experienced Spaniard could have cost his side the win, had the visitors been more clinical with their final ball. (BBC Sport)last_img read more

GFF shortlists 60 for CONCACAF Men’s U20 Championships

first_imgThe Guyana Football Federation (GFF) has shortlisted 60 local players to commence training at the National Training Centre, Providence, for the impending CONCACAF Men’s U20 Championships, which is slated to be hosted in Nicaragua from February 15th-23rd. The shortlisted players will form the provisional local squad and will be whittled down ahead of the final selection for the championship. The players are Goalkeepers Sean Adonis, Ronaldo Blair, Simeon Hackette, Reon Jones and Tony Ogle; Defenders Junior Adams, Nicholai Andrews, Kerry Baker, Albert Campbell, Jeffrey Charles, Neville Cheong, Tyrone David, Joseph DeFreitas, Kenrick Dover, Rickford Emmanuel, Vivian Felix, Prince Ford, Shawn Gilbert, Omari Nkosi Glasgow, Corvin Griffith, Leon Hope, Anthony Ifill, Bevney Marks, Eric Moore and Eric Sampson; Midfielders Atua Austin, Ravon Bailey, Ronaldo Felix, Donell France, Jermaine Garrett, Dorwin George, Michael George, Jemar Harrigon, Joel Isaacs, Joseph Jeffrey, Keanu Lawrence, Joshua Liverpool, Akeemo Marks, Andrew Mayers, Nicholas MacArthur, Darron Niles, Devon Padmore, Threvon Pluck, Shannon Samnauth, Troni Semple, Osafa Simpson and William Vaughn Jagmohan; and Forwards Kadeem Agard, Sekou Agard, Dan Arthur, Kemule Batson, Kevin Charles, Javier George, Julius Hamilton, Hazlewood Hutson, Cleavon Murray, Jermain Padmore, Junior Ravi, Osafo Simpson and Shemar Welch.Guyana will open their Group A campaign against Montserrat on February 15th at the Estadio de Nacional de Futbol from 16:30hrs. In their second fixture, Guyana will oppose St Vincent and the Grenadines two days later at the same venue from 16:30hrs. This will be followed by an encounter with the US Virgin Islands on February 21st from 20:30hrs. In their final showdown, Guyana will battle the host nation on February 23rd at 20:30hrs.In their previous outing in the CONCACAF U20 Championship in 2018, Guyana ended with a record of one win [against El Salvador] and three losses [to Guatemala, Curacao and Cayman Islands]. The qualifying round of the event features 17 teams divided into four groups. One group will comprise five teams. The top finisher from each group will advance to the knockout round. The other groups are Group B: Dominican Republic, Grenada, Dominica and Anguilla; Group C: Curacao, Guadeloupe, Belize and Saint Martin and; Group D: Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands and Barbados.Meanwhile, the remaining 16 teams have been divided into four groups of four in the second round section. The groups are Group E: United States, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Saint Kitts and Nevis; Group F: Mexico, El Salvador, Canada and Aruba; Group G: Panama, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname and; Group H: Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda.The top three finishers from the second round division will progress to the knockout round. According to CONCACAF, “the final stage of the competition (round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal and final) will be played in a single match elimination format, with the semifinalists qualifying to the FIFA U20 World Cup Indonesia 2021.”last_img read more

Ravens add “insurance policy” to return competition with Kenjon Barner

first_imgIt’s become an annual story line at the start of training camp.Who’s going to return kicks and punts for the Ravens?Since Jacoby Jones’ impressive three-year run from 2012-14 that included a trip to the Pro Bowl and a standout performance in Super Bowl XLVII, the only constant at the return specialist spot has been uncertainty. In fact, the only player even resembling continuity in the return game has been reserve wide receiver Chris Moore, who’s more often been used as a Plan B option at kick returner than as the answer.With previous return specialist De’Anthony Thomas opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic last month, general manager Eric DeCosta officially added veteran running back Kenjon Barner to the return mix on Wednesday. The 30-year-old returned 35 punts for 267 yards and a touchdown and 17 kickoffs for 406 yards playing for Atlanta last year, but the 5-foot-9, 195-pound Barner is now with his sixth different NFL organization — he had two stints with Philadelphia and three separate runs with Carolina — and fumbled four times in his only season with the Falcons.A lack of ball security is something for which head coach John Harbaugh has had little patience in the past.“What we saw in Kenjon, it just gives us another opportunity to bring in another guy, a veteran guy that has some experience,” special teams coach Chris Horton said. “That is a spot that we’re lacking, so it just gives us a little bit of an insurance policy. And I think that’s one thing that we are going to be working on; we’re going to be working on making sure that he can catch the ball [and] he can hang onto the ball, so we can be productive in that phase.”Barner is far from a roster lock as Moore and second-year running back Justice Hill remain in the kick return mix and rookie wide receiver James Proche is expected to receive an extended look as Baltimore’s punt returner and also returned kicks in his collegiate career at SMU. Horton praised Proche’s quickness and ability to “hit it and get it” after catching the ball, and Harbaugh has gone as far as suggesting the punt return job could be the sixth-round pick’s to lose.Of course, the cancellation of the four preseason games eliminates the valuable live-game opportunities to evaluate returners, creating another challenge for the competitors and the coaches evaluating them.“I think it is going to be my job and the job of my assistants of just making sure that we put [Proche] in those game-like situations,” Horton said, “so when he is our guy and he wins that job, he’s been put in those situations to go out there and say, ‘You know what? Game 1 — this is our guy.’ It’s not easy coming in from college [and] catching turn-over balls, but he has great ball skills, he’s been working, and he’s getting better every day.”last_img read more