RB Leipzig on Monday returned to third place in the Bundesliga with an entertaining 4-2 victory at Cologne. Jhon Cordoba claimed the early advantage for the home side, but Leipzig scored four in 37 minutes, including Timo Werner’s 31st goal in all competitions, to climb back above Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the hunt for a UEFA Champions League place. “We wanted the three points, we succeeded, but it is annoying that we fell behind early and wasted a few chances,” Leipzig managing director Oliver Mintzlaff told broadcaster DAZN. “We are back on course for the Champions League, which is our goal, but the pressure is great. Everyone has to go all in, be totally focused and focused,” he said. Cologne coach Markus Gisdol made four changes from Wednesday last week’s loss at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, starting Rafael Czichos in place of the suspended Sebastian Bournaauw, red-carded in the defeat. Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann switched both his wingbacks from Wednesday last week’s draw with Hertha BSC as Angelino, on loan from English Premier League side Manchester City, and France youth international Nordi Mukiele started. The hosts took the early lead as Cordoba poached his 10th home goal of the campaign. Midfielder Elvis Rexhbecaj’s effort deflected onto the far post and the Colombian finished from the rebound after seven minutes. The sides were level 13 minutes later when Patrik Schick headed home Angelino’s cross to start the flurry of goals. Things went from bad to worse for Gisdol’s men four minutes later when Cordoba was forced off with an injury and replaced by Anthony Modeste. Leipzig took the lead eight minutes from halftime when Christopher Nkunku claimed his first goal since January. Austria midfielder Konrad Laimer played a clever ball into the penalty area and the former Paris Saint-Germain striker dinked his finish over the onrushing Timo Horn. Leipzig went further ahead
Japan’s top baseball players yesterday got their first taste of competitive action more than 10 weeks after the scheduled start of the season, as warm-up matches were held across the nation. Nippon Professional Baseball is to stage its first competitive matches on June 19, albeit in empty stadiums, as the Japanese government lifts COVID-19 restrictions that delayed the season from its March 20 start. All 12 teams were due to hold practice games yesterday, including reigning Japan Series champions the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, as well as last year’s Central League champions the Yomiuri Giants. This season’s schedule, which has been reduced to 120 games, has been devised to limit the amount teams need to travel in the hope of reducing the risk of infection. Yokohama DeNA BayStars held their first game against Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in an empty stadium with only limited media and officials allowed to attend. Everyone entering Yokohama Stadium had their temperature taken and were required to answer questions about their health. None of the players wore masks, but all members of both teams’ coaching and support staff did. BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said that despite playing in an empty stadium and suffering from a delayed start to the season, his players needed to just focus on what they can control. “I just want the guys to go out there and play, and do the best they can do,” Venezuelan-born Ramirez told reporters before the game. “Just stay in control of themselves and then we will see what happens. I am not expecting too much from them.”
With fans barred from entering stadiums due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Danish Superliga leaders Midtjylland took an imaginative approach to their return to action with a “drive-in” broadcast for supporters. The club on Monday installed giant screens in the parking lot of the MCH Arena to allow fans to watch their match against AC Horsens from the their vehicles from the more than 2,000 available parking spaces. Fans turned out with the vehicles emblazoned in the club’s red and black colors, with balloons and flags on show. While fans, who listened to the commentary on their radios, would have been glad for the chance to see their team back in action, the hosts suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to 10th-placed Horsens. A goal from Louka Prip in the 36th minute settled the outcome, although Midtjylland remain nine points clear of Copenhagen at the top of the table. The top six in the Superliga play a 10-game “mini-league” to determine the champions.
England paceman James Anderson believes the extended break afforded to him by cricket’s suspension during the COVID-19 pandemic could prolong his career by up to two years. The cricket season was brought to a halt in March and England’s three-Test series against the West Indies was pushed back from its scheduled start this month. The England and Wales Cricket Board has set a provisional date of July 8 for the series to begin and Anderson, who has not played since suffering a rib injury in January, was part of a 55-strong group asked to return to training. “The break could just add on a year or two at the end of my career,” 37-year-old Anderson, Test cricket’s most prolific fast bowler with 584 wickets, said on the Tailenders podcast. “I’ve really enjoyed being back — and as odd as it is just bowling into a net with not many people around, it’s still nice to be back and playing cricket.” England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler previously said that the shutdown had allowed cricketers to recharge their batteries and could prove beneficial in the long term. With games set to be played without fans, Anderson believes that crowd noise should be piped in to improve the atmosphere. “I’ve been watching the rugby league in Australia and I actually thought there was a crowd watching,” the Lancashire paceman said. “I thought it worked. It was nice to have that sort of atmosphere even though there was no one there.”
Former Brazil international Fred on Monday began on a five-day, 600km cycle ride to help poor families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 36-year-old announced his “Tour de Fred” on Twitter, from the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte to Rio de Janeiro, where he plays for Fluminense. He said he wants to “help 4,000 poor families” and vowed to donate a food basket for every kilometer he rides, while he has also launched an online campaign to collect donations. Fred left at dawn and is due to take dirt tracks and small roads to avoid main highways, and the potential of crowds breaking social distancing rules in coming out to cheer him on. His final destination is Fluminense’s training center close to Rio de Janeiro Olympic Park. Fred scored 18 goals in 39 appearances for Brazil. He played at the 2006 and 2014 FIFA World Cup finals. He helped Brazil to victory in the 2007 Copa America and 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. He has previously played for Atletico Mineiro and Cruzeiro, the two biggest clubs in Belo Horizonte.
Formula One has a perfect opportunity to experiment with back-to-back races in Austria next month, but champions Mercedes are standing in the way, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said on Monday. The governing FIA and the sport’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media have suggested a reverse-grid qualifying race on the second Saturday to decide that race’s starting order and add to the excitement. The idea would see qualifying replaced by a 30-minute race, with drivers starting in reverse order of their previous finishing position. Mercedes opposed the idea when it was raised last year and were not supportive when it came up again at a meeting on Friday last week. “I think we’ve got a unique situation this year and having two races at the same venue — it would seem the perfect time to try something different at that second event,” Horner told Sky Sports. “Otherwise, with stable weather conditions, we’re likely to have the same output in race two as we have in race one.” “The only person that wasn’t particularly supportive of it [the proposal] was [Mercedes team principal] Toto [Wolff], because he thought it would interfere with Lewis’ [Hamilton’s] seventh world championship campaign and it would be too much of a variable,” he said. Sky quoted Mercedes as saying that “we don’t believe F1 needs gimmicks to make it attractive. We believe in the sport to deliver excitement.” Mercedes have won both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles for the past six years and another for Hamilton would equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven. Formula One has yet to start its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but was expected to issue a revised calendar yesterday with a string of European races in quick succession. Any change to the race weekend format has to be approved by all the teams. An online vote on the
Retired All Blacks captain Kieran Read is backing calls for an integrated international rugby union season, but is concerned that money “coming out of the north” might frustrate attempts to create a global calendar. Read yesterday in an interview with the Stuff Web site echoed the widespread view that international rugby union needs to move away from the current schedule which frequently forces players from both hemispheres to play Tests out of season. Read, who retired from Tests after last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan and after leading the All Blacks in 52 of his 127 matches, suggested the richer northern hemisphere might continue to influence how the global calendar is structured. Northern hemisphere teams currently play Tests in the southern hemisphere this month or next month — at the end of their season — and southern hemisphere nations tour the north in November and December. Those international windows, which fall either of the middle of the Super Rugby season or the European club seasons, substantially lengthen the season for top players. Re-elected World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont has pledged to work toward a more integrated calendar which provides room for the Six Nations and Rugby Championship tournaments, as well as northern and southern hemisphere professional competitions. Beaumont is a strong advocate of a world Test championship, though his efforts to establish one last year were stalled by an impasse over promotion and relegation. Southern hemisphere nations opposed Beaumont’s re-election, favoring the reform candidacy of Argentina’s Agustin Pichot. In part, Beaumont was seen as being too protective of the Six Nations, and British and French club tournaments. He has already made clear he would oppose any move to reschedule the Six Nations, which features Ireland, France, Italy, Wales, Scotland and England. Read hoped an agreement could be reached which would better integrate the global season and provide more
‘BITTERSWEET’: Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho revealed a ‘Justice for George Floyd’ message after ’Gladbach’s Marcus Thuram earlier took a knee to protest the death
England winger Jadon Sancho on Sunday scored a hat-trick and revealed a “Justice for George Floyd” protest message in Borussia Dortmund’s 6-1 rout of bottom side SC Paderborn 07 that trimmed Bayern Munich’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga to seven points. Sancho, who has 17 goals and 17 assists in the Bundesliga this season, joined a host of protests in the German top-flight over the weekend at the death of an unarmed black man in the US. “Delighted to get my first career hat trick, a bittersweet moment personally as there are more important things going on in the world today that we must address and help make a change,” Sancho wrote on Instagram. Morocco international Achraf Hakimi lifted his jersey to deliver the same message as Sancho after scoring Dortmund’s fourth goal at Paderborn. George Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis during an arrest by a police officer who pinned him to the ground for several minutes by kneeling on his neck, sparking protests across the US. Earlier on Sunday, Borussia Moenchengladbach’s French forward Marcus Thuram took a knee to protest Floyd’s death, while Schalke 04’s US international Weston McKennie wore a “Justice for George” armband on Saturday. At Paderborn, second-placed Dortmund kept their remote title hopes intact as Sancho stole the limelight with teenage striker Erling Braut Haaland sidelined by a leg injury. “We’re going to give everything to win every game,” Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Buerki said. Bayern are firmly on course for an eighth successive title with just six matches left to play and Borussia Dortmund sports director Michael Zorc said the focus was now on securing UEFA Champions League qualification as quickly as possible. “It’s clear that Bayern will be German champions at the end,” Zorc said. After Dortmund’s attack struggled to break the deadlock, Hazard scored the opening goal on 54 minutes when presented
Japan’s Sunwolves yesterday bowed out of Super Rugby as they failed to join an Australian offshoot of the tournament shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sunwolves, who are being kicked out of Super Rugby at the end of the season, said Australian officials had told them they would not be able to take part. The series between Australia’s four Super Rugby teams — the Queensland Reds, the New South Wales Waratahs, the ACT Brumbies and the Melbourne Rebels — along with the previously axed Western Force, is due to kick off on July 3. Super Rugby, which also includes teams from New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina, has been suspended since March. “We are announcing that we have been told by the Australian rugby association officially that we are unable to participate in the competition,” a Sunwolves statement said. The decision ends a nearly five-year run in Super Rugby for the Sunwolves, who won only nine games in that time and were on the receiving end of some big defeats. The Tokyo-based side would have had to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Australia and they also faced problems in securing a permanent base for 12 weeks. They said they had consulted with Australia’s rugby authorities and government, but “we reached the conclusion that we will not be ready to join matches in Australia from July 3.” “We apologize to people who had been looking forward to the resumption of matches,” Sunwolves chief executive Yuji Watase said. “Following this decision, the Sunwolves’ time with Super Rugby, which has seen us participate for the past five seasons, will end. We are bitterly disappointed to conclude the season in this way, but we also feel honored to have participated in the best rugby competition.” The Sunwolves, who also played home matches in Singapore and Hong Kong, were introduced in
When Atalanta BC coach Gian Piero Gasperini was struggling with COVID-19 in the middle of March, the prospect of entering Bergamo’s hospital — which was overflowing with coronavirus patients at the time — made him fear for his life. “Every two minutes an ambulance passed by. It seemed like a war,” Gasperini said. “At night, I would think: ‘If go in there [the hospital], what will happen to me?’” Fortunately for Gasperini, he quickly recovered and did not have to check into Pope John XXIII hospital. The coach only recently confirmed that he had the coronavirus when the entire team was tested 10 days ago, he told Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview published on Sunday. The 62-year-old started feeling sick on March 9, a day before Atalanta played at Valencia in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League round-of-16. He said that when he returned to Bergamo, which was quickly becoming the epicenter of the pandemic, “I didn’t have a fever, but I felt destroyed and as if I had a 40°C fever.” Many experts have pointed to the first leg between Atalanta and Valencia on Feb. 19 in Milan as one of the biggest reasons why the coronavirus was so deadly in Bergamo. The match has been dubbed “Game Zero” by local media. With the coronavirus advancing rapidly across Europe, the second leg in Valencia was played without fans. Still, more than 35 percent of Valencia’s team became infected. Valencia released a statement later on Sunday to express its “surprise” with the comments made by Gasperini and that no “preventive measures” were taken. “Such actions, if this was the case, would have put at risk numerous people during the trip,” Valencia said. “It should be remembered that this game was held behind closed doors amidst strict safety measures, on the order of the Spanish health authorities, to
A feel-good campaign allowing fans to have cardboard cutouts of themselves at Australian rugby league games has been hijacked by pranksters, with a notorious serial killer among those making an appearance — while one TV show edited an image of Adolf Hitler into the crowd. The NRL launched “Fan In The Stand” to coincide with the sport’s return at the weekend after its season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters are barred from stadiums under strict health protocols, but can pay A$22 (US$15) to have their photograph printed on a life-size cutout and placed in the stands of their team’s home venue. While most played by the rules, TV viewers spotted some anomalies as cameras panned over the fake fans, including a dog and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings. Cummings sparked a political scandal when newspapers discovered that he left London and took a cross-country trip during the UK’s strict COVID-19 lockdown. However, it was a cutout of serial killer Harold Shipman, known as “Dr Death,” at Sunday’s clash between the Penrith Panthers and Newcastle Knights that caused concerns. Shipman was an English doctor who in 2000 was found guilty of murdering 15 patients, although he is believed to have killed more than 200. “We are reviewing the vetting process for ‘Fan In The Stand.’ The weekend was a trial run and trials are designed to iron out issues,” the NRL said in a statement. Meanwhile, Fox Sports apologized after one of its shows photoshopped an image of Adolf Hitler onto one of the cutouts. “The segment on my Fox League show on Sunday in which we showed an image of Hitler in crowd cutouts was in poor taste and completely inappropriate,” said the show’s host Matty Johns, a former Australia international.
India paceman Jasprit Bumrah says his short run-up is a product of his youth when playing backyard cricket gave him little space to build up a head of steam, but his approach allows him to bowl long spells in Tests without compromising on speed. The right-arm quick consistently bowls above 140kph, despite his relatively brief run-up, and batsmen find him particularly tricky because of his unorthodox sling-arm action. “The run-up is because of playing in the backyard,” the 26-year-old said in the International Cricket Council’s “Inside Out” video series. “We didn’t have a lot of space when I used to play as a child. This was the longest run-up you could have, so maybe that could be a reason. I’ve tried a longer run-up and nothing changes — the speed is still the same. So why run so much?” It comes especially handy in Test matches, he said. “When I’m bowling my fourth spell, fifth spell, I’m relatively more fresh than the bowlers who play with me and have a longer run-up. This was my theory,” Bumrah said. “This is not the best thing I should say, but I am bowling quicker than them in my fourth spell as well. So I think I should stick to it,” he added. “If I have some physical difficulty and if it’s giving me some trouble, then I’ll find solutions, but if it’s not broken, why fix it?” he added. With a ban looming on the use of saliva to shine the ball when cricket resumes after the COVID-19 shutdown, Bumrah said there should be an alternative to help maintain the balance between bat and ball. “The grounds are getting shorter and shorter, the wickets are becoming flatter and flatter,” he said. “So we need some alternative for the bowlers to maintain the ball so that it can do something —
SPAIN La Liga schedule unveiled La Liga is to restart on Thursday next week with the derby between Sevilla and Real Betis Balompie, it was confirmed on Sunday. The first round of games are to be played over four days, with leaders Barcelona at RCD Mallorca on the following Saturday and Real Madrid at home to Sociedad Deportiva Eibar the next day. The following round of matches is to run from June 15 to June 18. Barcelona are to host CD Leganes on June 16, while Real Madrid take on Valencia in the capital two days later. The season should be completed by July 19. “We want next season to start Sept. 12,” La Liga president Javier Tebas told Movistar. “We have designed the schedule to give each team at least 72 hours of rest between matches... We will update the schedule two matchdays at a time to take into account the weather conditions, which are known two weeks in advance.” Barcelona led Real Madrid by two points at the top of the table when the season was halted in March. ENGLAND Championship set to resume The Championship is due to resume behind closed doors on June 20 after league officials on Sunday agreed to a provisional return date. The Premier League announced on Thursday last week that the top-flight season would resume on June 17 following the COVID-19 suspension in the middle of March. The English Football League (EFL), which governs the three divisions below the Premier League, said the Championship would return at about the same time, provided that all safety requirements are in place. Leeds United led West Bromwich Albion by a point at the top of the table when the season was suspended with nine rounds of matches remaining. Fulham, Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Preston North End occupied the promotion playoff
DISTANCING RULES: The government said social distancing should be maintained during disputes and celebrations, but conceded it would not be possible during play
The Premier League on Saturday was given British government approval to press ahead with its June 17 restart, although players will have to stay apart during goal celebrations and disputes to maintain social distancing. Further details of the league’s plans for dealing with COVID-19 cases have been disclosed with clubs likely to have to play even if they only have 15 fit squad members. In a further boost to the league’s restart plans, there were no positives in the fourth round of twice-weekly testing. Tests were conducted on 1,130 players and club personnel on Thursday and Friday as contact training resumed. The season was suspended in March and the government is now willing to allow games without fans if prevention protocols for the novel coronavirus are followed by those in stadiums. Where possible, social distancing must be maintained at games including “during any disputes between players and referees, or scoring celebrations,” the government said. However, there is a recognition that players will not always be able to stay 2m apart while playing, it said. “There is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of everyone involved,” Premier League chief executive officer Richard Masters said. “This includes consulting with our clubs, players and managers — along with all our other stakeholders — as the health and welfare of our participants and supporters is our priority. “If all goes well, we will be thrilled to resume the 2019-20 season in just over two weeks’ time,” Masters said. The league agreed to a government request for some games to be broadcast for free, whereas they are usually only available on subscription channels, to make them accessible to fans unable to attend games. However, authorities want Liverpool’s key games — before they almost certainly clinch the trophy — to be played away from the city and in neutral stadiums. Liverpool
Gilbert Burns dominated former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley to win a unanimous decision on Saturday in the mixed martial arts promotion’s return to Las Vegas. Brazilian heavyweight Augusto Sakai employed some unpunished gamesmanship to eke out a split-decision victory over Bulgaria’s Blagoy Ivanov in the penultimate bout of the UFC’s first show in its hometown since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The event was held without fans at the UFC Apex, a small gym with broadcast facilities on the promotion’s corporate campus. The UFC used minimal personnel to stage the fight and the promotion said that everyone involved was subject to strict health and safety protocols. The 33-year-old Burns (19-3) dominated on his feet and on the ground, finishing his first main-event bout with likely the biggest win of his career and his sixth consecutive victory since July 2018, including four straight since moving back up to welterweight. From a first-round knockdown to a strong finish, the Florida-based Brazilian soundly defeated one of the most accomplished welterweights in UFC history and made his case for a shot at champion Kamaru Usman, his training partner. “I trained so hard for this fight and I knew I could do it,” said Burns, who entered the bout ranked sixth in the crowded 170-pound division. “I was calling these guys out for a reason. I’m coming to stay. That was a former champion right there. You saw a dominant performance against a former champion. I’m ready. I feel so good right now.” The judges all gave all five rounds to Burns, scoring it 50-45, 50-44 and 50-44. Burns called out Usman in his post-fight interview. “I love the champ, my training partner, but come on, give me a shot,” Burns said. “A lot of respect, a lot of love for you, but I think I’m next... If they want to make
The losing captain thanked the winning team’s players for their personal sacrifices leading into the match and a charter flight pilot received a big round of applause when his plane beat incoming fog to touch down after midnight following another game as feel-good stories off the field matched those on it as the National Rugby League (NRL) restarted its season in Australia over the weekend. The New Zealand Warriors’ 18-0 win over St George Illawarra was the Auckland-based team’s first of the season after three rounds and it could not have come at a better time. Due to international travel restrictions for international passengers into Australia, the Warriors arrived on May 3 and had to undergo two weeks of quarantine before beginning full training. They will likely be without their families until October, when the NRL season ends. That fact was not lost on the Dragons, despite having lost three straight matches to start the season. After the match, the Warriors gathered on the field while St George Illawarra captain Cameron McInnes addressed the team to thank them for their sacrifices to restart the league. Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said the goodwill shown to the club from other NRL teams has been humbling — typified by the Sydney Roosters loaning them Poasa Faamausili for four weeks — despite the Roosters having not won a game before the weekend. “I was pretty pleased for the boys. I’m really proud of the way they’ve gone about the last couple of months,” Kearney said. “They’ve just got on with the job and that’s what I was most pleased about,” he said. “It means a great deal to not only the group, but to families back home,” he said. “We’ve got a footy club that’s still operating, all our footy staff back home, administration and all of our fans.” The Canberra Raiders beat
“Road Runner” Alphonso Davies lived up to his nickname with another lightning sprint on Saturday as Bayern Munich opened a 10-point lead in the Bundesliga. Having defeated second-placed Borussia Dortmund 1-0 away in midweek, Bayern enjoyed a 5-0 romp over Fortuna Duesseldorf. Defender Mathias Joergensen scored an early own-goal before Benjamin Pavard, Robert Lewandowski (2) and Davies scored for Bayern. With five games remaining, the defending champions, who have won their past eight league games, are comfortably on course for an eighth straight league title. Davies scored the best goal of the game when the fleet-footed defender pressed Duesseldorf into making a mistake, barged past several defenders and fired home. “It was very special, I did my job as a defender, I pressed high up the pitch and got the ball, then put it in the back of the net,” Davies said. The 19-year-old, who was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp before his parents emigrated to Canada, was nicknamed Bayern’s “Road Runner” by teammate Thomas Mueller after the win in Dortmund. Mueller joked that Davies is Bayern’s version of the fast-running Looney Tunes character after the left-back sprinted to dispossess Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland, himself no slouch. “When the opponent thinks: ‘Oh, I have time,’ ‘meep, meep, meep’ the Roadrunner comes and steals the ball,” Mueller said after Davies clocked 35.3kph to catch Haaland. Davies said he likes his new nickname after running even faster against Duesseldorf. “Yeah, I know the cartoon, I watched it when I was growing up,” said the Canadian teenager, who clocked 35.4kph in a sprint at the Allianz Arena. He was just short of the Bundesliga record of 36.49kph, which Borussia Dortmund’s Achrif Hakimi set earlier this season. “Yeah, I am quick, but him [Mueller] calling me the ‘Road Runner’ is a compliment which I take to heart and it was a good nickname,” Davies
Taiwan Steel celebrated a big win over Tatung in the Taiwan Premier League yesterday, while undefeated Taichung Futuro remained at the top of the table, although their lead is only one point. Four of the eight teams were in action, completing matches postponed the previous weekend due to rain, with Taipower and Hang Yuan playing out a scoreless draw in Kaohsiung. Taiwan Steel are sorting out their early-season problems as they chase the leaders and it showed against defending champions Tatung at the Jhubei Stadium in Hsinchu County. Haitian striker Benchy Astama netted a brace and midfielder Kuo Po-wei’s outstanding solo effort sent the Tainan-based side to a 3-0 lead in the second half before Tatung’s Japanese midfielder Hirokimi Harada grabbed a consolation goal. Taiwan Steel head coach Luo Chih-chong was happy with the performance, with his side pocketing their fourth win of the campaign to move to 12 points and fifth place on the table, three points behind Taichung. “We had training sessions for players to work together as a team and we made adjustments to counter Tatung’s fast and skilled forwards,” Luo said. “Benchy had a good performance today, as we put him on the right side to attack, where he can see the game situation much better. He linked up well with his midfielders throughout the game,” he said. From a corner in the 35th minute, the ball was worked to the right side, where midfielder Yao Ke-chi sent in a cross for Astama to score with a spectacular flying header. Just before halftime, midfielder Kuo dribbled past Tatung’s defense and rounded goalkeeper Shih Hsin-an for an outstanding goal. In the 71st minute, Taiwan international Wu Chun-ching advanced before crossing past Shih for Astama to slot into an open net. The other round 7 match featured close marking and hard tackles, with neither Taipower nor Hang Yuan
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: UEFA has said that various options are being explored, but the Turkish Football Federation and local fans are hoping the final can still be held in Istanbul
UEFA is planning to move its Champions League final away from Istanbul and is considering other locations as planning and scheduling have been shaken up by the COVID-19 pandemic. The UEFA executive committee is to meet on June 17 to examine the findings of a working group that has been assessing how to complete competitions suspended in March — they are likely to finish in stadiums with no spectators. UEFA is aiming to complete its elite club competition in August after the delayed domestic leagues of the remaining sides have managed to conclude. The Champions League round of 16 has yet to be fully completed. The Champions League final was due to be staged yesterday at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul. UEFA had already concluded that using Istanbul was no longer feasible this year and that one option was to stage all of the remaining matches in a single city, one person with knowledge of the planning said on condition of anonymity. There are restrictions on air travel across Europe and Turkey has banned international arrivals. The priority for the location of the matches would be accessibility to players and officials, as there are unlikely to be any fans allowed at the remaining Champions League games. This means that the choice of a Champions League final venue is likely to be determined by travel logistics amid coronavirus curbs, as well as an ability to implement the necessary hygiene protocols and testing. The most experienced European nation playing during the pandemic is Germany — the first of the major leagues to resume two weeks ago. The Europa League is also in flux, but one club confirmed plans to play the final eight in a single city. Spanish club Getafe is due to play Inter in the last 16. “It seems what they want to do is to play the quarter-finals and
It is the land of the world champions, but is it really a soccer country? That is the question that some in France have been asking this week while its European neighbors work to bring the sport back after the COVID-19 shutdown. Debate has raged ever since Ligue 1 decided in late April to bring a premature end to the season with 10 rounds of matches unplayed. By contrast, two weeks have passed since the Bundesliga restarted, while Italian Minister for Sport Vincenzo Spadafora on Thursday confirmed that Serie A would return on June 20, and La Liga and the English Premier League appear set to be back underway by then. “Like Idiots” was the headline on the front of L’Equipe on Friday, as the sports daily questioned why such a hasty decision was made by France’s Professional Football League (LFP) to end the season. The decision was based on French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe saying at the time that the season “cannot restart” as the pandemic raged, but France has been steadily easing its lockdown and Philippe said on Thursday that team sports could restart after June 21. “We will be the only major footballing country in Europe to stick to this decision, and to have not conditioned it to the evolution of the pandemic and the easing of the lockdown,” Vincent Duluc of L’Equipe wrote. France is not the only European soccer nation to have ended its season, with the Netherlands notably voiding the campaign altogether. While Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) were crowned champions for the third year running, Amiens and Toulouse were relegated and have since launched legal action. However, the leading voice against the early ending has been Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas. The Lyon side were seventh when the season stopped in mid-March and so were denied European qualification. Neither they nor PSG are to have