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Unlucky Alex Meret Hands Real Madrid Win At Napoli



Alex Meret’s unfortunate own goal handed Real Madrid a 3-2 win at Napoli on Wednesday which moved the Spanish giants top in Champions League Group C. Italian international goalkeeper Meret could do nothing to stop Federico Valverde‘s powerful, deflected shot crashing out off the bar and back into the goal off his outstretched arm 12 minutes from the end of an entertaining clash in Naples. That unlucky rebound maintained Madrid’s perfect start to the group stage and moved them three points clear of both the Italian champions and Braga, 3-2 winners over bottom side Union Berlin earlier on Tuesday.

“It was a difficult match, very hard-fought right until the last minute,” said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti to Sky Sport in Italy.

“It seems absurd to me that that goal is given as a Meret own goal… Valverde is a great player and a great midfielder, he creates a lot and that was a great strike.”

Vinicius Junior and Jude Bellingham scored the away side’s other goals on former Napoli coach Ancelotti’s return to southern Italy, giving Madrid a half-time lead after Leo Ostigard headed the hosts in front in the 19th minute.

England midfielder Bellingham, who also set up Vinicius’ smart low finish, has now scored eight times in his first nine Madrid matches in all competitions and looked a class above most of the other players on the pitch.

“What’s so amazing about Bellingham is that he’s only 20. He has great quality, a strong personality and character,” added Ancelotti.

“He’s a young man of 20 who’s showing everyone what extraordinary talent he has.”

Piotr Zielinski had given Napoli hope that they could build on a recent burst of good form when he smashed in a 54th-minute penalty harshly given for a Nacho handball while challenging Victor Osimhen.

Nigeria forward Osimhen was playing for Napoli after backing supporters following a row with the club over an insulting video on social media, telling his countrymen that they were not racist.

Napoli shaken

Tuesday’s match took place in a city shaken by a series of earthquakes in recent days and the Stadio Maradona rocked as the two teams went straight at it from kick-off.

Madrid were more dangerous in the opening exchanges, Rodrygo and Bellingham having respective efforts stopped by Meret and Mathias Olivera in the first 11 minutes.

But shortly afterwards Ostigard struck first blood for Napoli, powering in a header after Kepa Arrizabalaga flapped at Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s cross and Natan looped an effort of his own off the crossbar.

Napoli had their tails up but a sloppy pass from captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo allowed Bellingham to pounce and help bring Real level in the 27th minute.

Bellingham nipped in to intercept Di Lorenzo’s ball into midfield from the right flank and only had to make a couple of steps before feeding Vinicius who calmly slotted home his first goal since mid-August.

And Bellingham silenced the previously boisterous crowd seven minutes later with a touch of pure class, collecting a pass in midfield before bursting forward, brushing off Ostigard and thumping home.

Kepa made up for his error for Napoli’s goal six minutes before the break when he pulled off a super stop to deny Osimhen’s bullet header from Matteo Politano’s whipped cross.

Napoli were not downhearted and were rewarded for their enterprising play when referee Clement Turpin decided after checking the pitch-side monitor that Nacho had handled while challenging Osimhen.

Ancelotti was dumbfounded while Zielinski crashed his penalty past Kepa and in off the post, and not long after the Pole stung the Madrid keeper’s gloves with a powerful drive from just outside the area.

The introduction of Luka Modric helped turn the match in Madrid’s favour, and Bellingham should have put them back in the lead when he headed wide after Vinicius’ stinging shot was well saved by Meret.

But Meret could only look on in horror as Valverde was bundled by his teammates in celebration following a goal which gave Madrid the initiative in what looks to be a tight group.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Babar Azam A “Fake King”: Pakistan Star Rips Into Skipper, Claims He Has Better Stats Amid T20 WC Poor Show




File image of Babar Azam.© X (Twitter)

Former Pakistan international batsman Ahmed Shehzad is making a habit of criticising Pakistan captain Babar Azam. With Pakistan on the verge of elimination from the 2024 T20 World Cup, Shehzad has again launched a scathing attack on Babar on the Pakistan talkshow “Haarna Mana Hai” (Losing Is Not An Option!). This time, the show displayed a humiliating comparison between Shehzad and Babar’s T20 World Cup stats. Mocking Babar’s tag of “King” by calling him a “Fake King”, Shehzad stated that Babar’s stats are worse than his. Not only that, Shehzad also accused Babar of not letting young players grow in order to protect the Pakistan careers of his friends.

Babar has scored 517 runs in 16 T20 World Cup games to date, but at a poor strike rate of 112. In comparison, Shehzad has slammed 250 runs in 9 games at a strike rate of 126, and even has a century to his name.

“I feel I could’ve done better than those stats. But your (Babar’s) stats are worse than mine,” said a fuming Shehzad.

“You’ve faced 205 balls in powerplays in T20 World Cups, but you haven’t managed to hit one six!” slammed Shehzad.

“You destroyed the entire domestic structure. You sacrificed good performers in domestic cricket to adjust your friends in the team,” further criticised Shehzad.

Shehzad, in particular, blamed Babar for mishandling 22-year-old batsman Saim Ayub‘s development.

“It was your responsibility to take care of Saim Ayub’s development, but now his career is over at such a young age. People are criticising Ayub after just 25 games,” said Shehzad.

Shehzad has now asked Babar Azam to take accountability for his and the team’s poor performances. Pakistan are heading towards a group stage exit at the 2024 T20 World Cup.

“The least you can do now is raise your hand, accept that you had the support and apologize for not being able to deliver a trophy for Pakistan,” said Shehzad.

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England Thrash Oman To Reignite T20 World Cup Campaign




England hammered Oman by eight wickets as the reigning champions revived their T20 World Cup campaign with a record-breaking win in Antigua on Thursday. Needing a heavy victory to bolster their net run-rate as they attempt to overhaul Scotland in the race to qualify for the second round, England routed Oman for just 47. England then made 50-2 in a mere 3.1 overs, captain Jos Buttler 24 not out and Jonny Bairstow, who hit the winning boundary, unbeaten on eight.

This overwhelming Group B victory meant England recorded the largest win in T20 World Cup history in terms of balls remaining.

Oman had no answer to England’s attack, leg-spinner Adil Rashid taking 4-11, while express quicks Jofra Archer and Mark Wood both had figures of 3-12 in an innings that ended with nearly seven overs to spare.

Number seven Shoaib Khan (11) was the only Oman batsman to reach double figures after Buttler won the toss.

England’s net run-rate climbed to 3.081, better than Scotland’s 2.16, although they stayed third on three points, behind the Scots’ five.

But amid speculation arch-rivals Australia, undefeated so far in Group B might ease up in their closing pool game against Scotland to engineer England’s exit, Buttler’s men now know they will go second if they beat Namibia in their pool finale on Saturday.

Even a win, however, would leave England awaiting the outcome of Sunday’s match between Australia and Scotland to discover if they have reached the Super Eights. 

‘Job done’

“I thought the tone was set really well by the bowlers, picking up the early wickets,” said Buttler as England returned to winning ways after a comprehensive 36-run loss to Australia last time out that followed a washout with Scotland.  

“Job done today, another big game in two days’ time.”

Defeat by Australia added to the pressure on Buttler and coach Matthew Mott, himself a native Australian, that had been growing since late last year when England lost six of their nine games during a woeful defence of their 50-over World Cup title in India.

“I’ve been around long enough to know how things work,” said Buttler. “We have confidence. We can only focus on ourselves, we’ve got a huge game against Namibia.”

Already-eliminated Oman, who ended the tournament having lost all four of the games, just scraped past the record lowest completed total of 39 at any T20 World Cup, posted by fellow-non Test nation Uganda against co-hosts West Indies in Guyana last week.

“We couldn’t do well in the batting, it was a big collapse,” said Oman captain Aqib Ilyas.

“Overall we couldn’t do much. There are still many positives and you just have to get better and better. Once in a year you play against bowlers doing 150 kph (93 mph) plus.”

Archer did the early damage with 2-12 in nine balls.

Oman then lost two wickets in Wood’s first over as they slumped to 25-4 in six overs.

The very next delivery wicketkeeper Buttler luckily removed the bails at the second attempt to stump Khalid Kail off Rashid’s first ball as wickets continued to tumble.

Phil Salt struck the first two balls of England’s chase for six, only to be bowled off the third by Bilal Khan, but his side were on their way.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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England Break Silence After Australia Get ‘Manipulation’ Suggestion To Knock Out Jos Buttler And Co. From T20 WC




Ahead of his side’s T20 World Cup game against Oman, England head coach Matthew Mott expressed hope that Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood’s comments about playing to knock out England from the tournament were made out of humour. England thrashed Oman in their Group B clash at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Friday. England face the danger of being eliminated from the tournament. Sitting fourth in the Group B after a no result against Scotland and a loss to Australia, defeat against Namibia in their final match will eliminate the defending champions.

Australia have already qualified for the Super Eight and if Scotland beats them on Sunday, the Scots could also proceed to the Super Eights along with the 2021 champions.

Speaking about playing to eliminate England, Hazlewood in the pre-match press conference had said that eliminating England would be in the best interest of everyone.

“In this tournament, you potentially come up against England at some stage again and they are probably one of the top few teams on their day and we have had some real struggles against them in T20 cricket, so if we can get them out of the tournament that’s in our best interest as well as probably (that of) everyone else,” Hazlewood had said, according to ESPNcricinfo.

Mott downplayed Hazlewood’s remarks.

“To be honest, I was informed of that this morning. Look to me, that is things out of our control and I think I know Josh pretty well and I know his integrity. I do not think that is a thing. He has got a very good sense of humour and hopefully, that is what he was doing,” Mott said at the pre-match press conference.

Mott said irrespective of Josh’s remarks or any other outside noise about qualification, run rates etc, the team is focused on winning their next game.

“I know Jos (Buttler) spoke really well yesterday about how we need to push hard in this game as well and I think that is what teams do. Nice, cool, calculated response. It is going to be a good wicket out here by the looks of it. We are going with a lot of confidence, I think. We have played good T20 cricket for a while now. It did not quite come off against Australia in the last game but I think we have got our structure in place, we are really confident. Those who saw us train yesterday, you can see a buoyant group up and about that is ready for the challenge ahead,” he added.

Mott also admitted that while England has shown glimpses of its fearless cricket, the tournament has been disjointed for them.

The coach also said that the team is aiming to take some quick wickets during the powerplay.

“I do think it is a different ball game when you do take wickets in the power play, it is something we aim to do and hopefully comes off in this game. It does make your life a lot easier when you can come out of the power play and batters are not set but I think over time we will sort that out and certainly that is a big aim for our guys in this contest out here,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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