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UEFA Nations League: Croatia edge past Spain 3-2

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Players of Croatia
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Zagreb, Nov 16: Croatia battled to the final whistle and prevailed with a 3-2 over Spain to stay alive in the UEFA Nations League.

Spain, with six points from four matches, retain the lead in League A Group 4, while Croatia go level on points with England at 4 after three matches, though the Three Lions have the advantage on goal difference, reports Efe news.

After beating England in the opener in London and routing Croatia at home, Spain looked set to cruise into the final stage until they lost 2-3 to the Three Lions in Seville last month.

That was the backdrop for La Roja’s visit to Zagreb to face the 2018 World Cup runners-up, anxious to dispel the memory of their abysmal performance two months ago in Spain.

The hosts, physical on defence and direct on the attack on Thursday, largely dictated the flow of play until the final seconds of the first half, when Spain’s Saul Ñiguez and Isco Alarcon threatened the Croatia goal.

With the score 0-0 and both teams needing a win, the 36,000 spectators at Maksimir stadium were treated to a second-half offensive display involving some of the most talented players in the game.

Just as Spain seemed to be getting the upper hand, a giveaway by Sergi Roberto left Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric alone in front of goal and he beat keeper David de Gea to put the hosts up 1-0 in the 54th minute.

Spain reacted furiously and the equalizer was not long in coming. Iago Aspas sent a deft pass to Isco behind the Croatia defence and the forward relayed the ball to midfielder Dani Ceballos for an easy goal in the 56th.

The visitors stepped up the pace and would have taken the lead if Aspas hadn’t hit the cross-bar with a strike from close range.

Instead, the next goal went to Croatia thanks to a rare mistake by De Gea, who had a chance to grab the ball before Tin Jedvaj headed-in after a corner to make it 2-1 for the home side with 20 minutes left.

But a blunder at the other end in the 78th minute let Spain get back into the game, as Sergio Ramos converted from the spot after a hand ball by defender Sime Vrsaljko.

The final stretch was all Croatia and Jedvaj completed the brace with a goal in the 93rd minute.

With the outcome, Spain, who have played all four of their matches, need Croatia and England to draw at Wembley next Sunday to be assured of advancing directly to the final stage.

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Valencia impress in win over Man United

Valencia, meanwhile, had an incentive to win their final group match to be in better placed in next week’s draw for the Europa League round-of-32.

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Valencia

Valencia (Spain), Dec 13 : Valencia ended their 2018-2019 Champions League campaign with a 2-1 victory against a listless Manchester United.

Wednesday’s action in Group H began with United and Juventus already qualified for the Champions knockout stage and BSC Young Boys doomed to finish last, reports Efe.

Valencia, meanwhile, had an incentive to win their final group match to be in better placed in next week’s draw for the Europa League round-of-32.

Both sides started brightly in front of 36,500 fans at Valencia’s Mestalla. The only goal of the first half went to the hosts, courtesy of Carlos Soler’s opportunistic strike in the 17th minute.

Valencia retreated in the minutes after the goal, essentially ceding the midfield to United, though the visitors failed to capitalize and the Spanish side came roaring back in the 30th minute with a near-miss by Michy Batshuayi.

The visitors found themselves trailing 2-0 just two minutes into the second half as the result of an own goal by United defender Phil Jones, who redirected the ball to his goalkeeper in an attempt to break up a pass intended for Batshuayi.

Unfortunately for Jones, keeper Sergio Romero had come off his line and the ball rolled into the net.

United struggled to react and their first shot came only in the 74th minute, a fine effort by Andreas Pereira that forced a great stop by Valencia keeper Jaume Domenech.

While the Premier League club avoided the shutout with Marcus Rashford’s goal in the 87th minute, the loss represented a missed opportunity to grab the top spot in the group as Juventus were upset 1-2 by Young Boys.

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Al Ain stuns Wellington, reaches Club World Cup quarters

Four minutes later, New Zealand playmaker Andrew Bevin made a second assist, setting his countryman Aaron Clapham up for the second goal in a close-range finish.

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Al Ain stuns Wellington,

Al Ain (UAE), Dec 13 : Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates made a thrilling comeback after beating Team Wellington of New Zealand 4-3 on penalties in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup play-off, advancing to a quarter-final clash with Esperance Sportive of Tunisia.

The 2018 OFC Champions League winner Wellington shocked Al Ain with three goals in the first half here on Wednesday, while the 2017-2018 UAE Pro-League champion rallied back to a 3-3 tie that lasted during the extra time at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, reports Efe.

Argentine midfielder Mario Barcia opened the scoring for Wellington on a long-range effort that went past Al Ain keeper Khalid Eisa, just 11 minutes into the game.

Four minutes later, New Zealand playmaker Andrew Bevin made a second assist, setting his countryman Aaron Clapham up for the second goal in a close-range finish.

Midfielder Mario Ilich gave Wellington a 3-0 lead, one minute before the first-half stoppage time, as he finished a corner-kick cross by teammate Henry Cameron.

The host side showed more drive and solidarity, and managed to get on the scoreboard in the first minute of the stoppage time, thanks to its Japanese left-back Tsukasa Shiotani’s right-footed shot after dribbling past Wellington’s defence.

After the intermission, Brazilian forward Caio sent a cross-pass from the left side, to which Malian midfielder Tongo Doumbia connected, sending the ball home for Al Ain’s 3-2 goal in the 49th minute.

In the closing minutes, Swedish striker Marcus Berg, who entered into the field as a substitute, netted the 3-3 equalizer for Al Ain on a close-range volley, making use of Ibrahim Diaky’s assist.

The 3-3 draw lasted during the extra time, so the winner had to be decided by penalty shoot-out where a brilliant performance by Al Ain goalkeeper Eisa saved two penalty shots to lead his side to win 4-3.

IANS

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IND vs AUS: Injuries rule Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma out of Perth Test

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Ravichandran Ashwin rohit sharma

Perth, Dec 13: Star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and batsman Rohit Sharma were ruled out of the second cricket Test against Australia, starting at the WACA here on Friday.

Pacer Umesh Yadav, all-rounders Hanuma Vihari and Ravindra Jadeja were included in the 13-man squad.

“Ashwin has a left-sided abdominal strain. He is receiving treatment at the moment. He has been ruled out of the second Test,” a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) statement said.

“Rohit Sharma jarred his lower back while fielding in the first Test at Adelaide. He is undergoing treatment. He too is ruled out of the second Test,” it added.

The BCCI also said that teenage opener Prithvi Shaw was recovering well from his left ankle injury but still undergoing treatment.

Shaw too will be out of the second Test.

Squad: Virat Kohli (C), M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav.

IANS

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