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Neymar suspended for 3 matches after clash with fan

HOUSTON: After Stephen Curry bounced back from the first scoreless first half of his playoff career to score 33 points in the last two quarters and help the Golden State Warriors eliminate the Houston Rockets and advance to the Western Conference finals on Friday night, coach Steve Kerr stopped to talk with his star’s parents.He…

Neymar suspended for 3 matches after clash with fan

HOUSTON: After Stephen Curry bounced back from the first scoreless first half of his playoff career to score 33 points in the last two quarters and help the Golden State Warriors eliminate the Houston Rockets and advance to the Western Conference finals on Friday night, coach Steve Kerr stopped to talk with his star’s parents.He said he told Dell and Sonya Curry: “If that game didn’t personify Steph Curry, I don’t know what does.”Curry’s huge second half allowed the Warriors to overcome the absence of Kevin Durant and get the 118-113 win. He heard the chatter about how he’d struggled in this series entering this game and admitted that he was “pretty terrible” before halftime on Friday night.“A night like tonight doesn’t happen without belief in myself,” Curry said.Klay Thompson added 27 points to help two-time defending champion Golden State reach the conference finals for a franchise-record fifth straight year and eliminate Houston for the fourth time in five seasons. The Warriors did it with Durant sidelined by a calf injury sustained in the second half of their Game 5 victory.“That was an absolute grind,” Kerr said. “We’re thrilled to be moving on and excited to have this one in our review mirror.”James Harden led Houston with 35 points, and Chris Paul added 27.Harden’s layup got the Rockets within three with less than a minute to go, but Thompson made a 3-pointer with 36.1 seconds remaining to extend Golden State’s lead to 110-104.Gerald Green then missed a 3 for Houston and the Rockets were forced to foul Curry. He made both shots before Harden’s 3 got Houston within five at 112-107 with 24 seconds left.Playing with a dislocated finger on his left hand, Curry made two more free throws before P.J. Tucker hit a 3 for Houston. But two more free throws by Curry made it 116-110 with 12.3 seconds left and Harden dribbled it off his foot for the last of his six turnovers.“We’ve let a lot of opportunities slip away … if you don’t take advantage of opportunities you end up on the losing side,” Harden said.The Rockets failed to score for a big chunk of the fourth quarter and had to watch the Warriors celebrate a series victory on their home court for the second straight season after they won the conference finals in Houston last year. Harden was 11 of 25 from the field, going 6 of 15 from 3-point range, and 7 of 12 on free throws.“This one’s going to leave a mark,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “This is not something you just get over. This one hurts. We played our best and they played their best, and we didn’t knock them out. It was like a heavyweight fight. We didn’t land the blows to at least get back to Golden State.”Curry struggled early, failing to score in the first half for the first time in 102 career playoff games, and had just 10 points through three periods. But he got going in the fourth, scoring 23 points.“At halftime we’re tied and I had zero points, you’ve got to like that situation,” Curry said.There were questions entering the game about how the Warriors would weather the loss of Durant — and his more than 34 points a game. But they didn’t seem to miss a beat, getting 21 from Thompson in the first half before Curry closed it in the fourth.“When you’re missing one of the greatest players to ever play and the best scorer in the world, you can’t collectively make up for what he does,” Thompson said. “But you can step up in his absence and help out the point production.”The Rockets had a five-point lead to start the fourth and it was tied at 95 with about 7 ½ minutes to go after three points by Golden State’s Shaun Livingston.Harden and Curry exchanged baskets soon after that before both teams failed to score for the next 2 ½ minutes. Houston missed five shots in that stretch and the Warriors missed four before Kevon Looney made a layup to put Golden State on top 99-97 with just under four minutes left.A 3-pointer by Curry gave the Warriors a five-point lead before Harden ended a scoring drought by the Rockets of almost four minutes with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 102-100 with about 2 ½ remaining.Harden was called for a charge after that before Curry scored all of Golden State’s points in a 5-2 run that made it 107-102 with 90 seconds left.Tip-insWarriors: Durant didn’t make the trip to Houston, remaining in the Bay Area to receive treatment for his injury. The Warriors said he’ll be re-evaluated next week. … The Warriors started Andrew Bogut for Durant and he had three rebounds and zero points. … C Damian Jones, who is out with a torn pectoral muscle, has been cleared for contact drills and could be available later in the playoffs if the Warriors advance.Rockets: Tucker had 15 points and has scored at least 10 points in eight of Houston’s last 11 games. … Clint Capela had with 10 points and 10 rebounds.They said itKerr on the performance of Andre Iguodala, who made six 3-pointers and had 17 points: “That game was probably not winnable without Andre’s contribution. Andre just does so much for us on both ends of the floor.”Up nextThe Warriors move on to face the Denver-Portland winner with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday night in Oakland.

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Algeria beats Nigeria, sets up final match with Senegal in African Cup

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo. With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and…

Algeria beats Nigeria, sets up final match with Senegal in African Cup

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo.

With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net.

Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalize when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee rejected their penalty appeals after checking the incident on the VAR monitor.

Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese.

Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria or Nigeria after he was yellow-carded.

It was the second caution of the knockout phase for the Napoli center-back and triggered an automatic one-match suspension.

Senegal last reached the title decider 17 years ago, when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in Mali.

Cisse made one change to the team that defeated Benin in the quarterfinals with 20-year-old forward Krepin Diatta replacing Keita Balde.

Tunisia coach Alain Giresse changed two of the side that eliminated Madagascar, promoting Mohamed Drager and Ayman Ben Mohamed and benching Wajdi Kechrida and Ghaylen Chaaleli.

The countries were meeting for the sixth time in the Cup of Nations with each winning one match and the other three drawn.

Tunisia had the first clearcut chance at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital, but unmarked captain Youssef Msakni headed a corner well over.

Senegal then took control and had three opportunities before half-time to end the deadlock and edge closer to the July 19 final.

Youssouf Sabaly unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the box that beat Mouez but cannoned back into play off the woodwork on 26 minutes.

Then, in a 60-second purple patch, Mbaye Niang and Liverpool star Sadio Mane were unable to convert chances before a small crowd. Niang swivelled inside the box only to fire well wide and Mane rounded Hassen but his shot from an acute angle finished well off target.

Giresse took off Msakni at halftime and introduced Naim Sliti, scorer of the stoppage-time goal that sealed a convincing last eight win over giantkillers Madagascar.

Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, a virtual spectator in the opening half, reacted quickly early in the second half to push away a Sassi snap shot.

Attackers Niang and Diatta were having little success and came off with Mbaye Diagne and Ismaila Sarr replacing them as an intriguing semifinal entered the final quarter.

The Sassi penalty was weak, allowing Gomis to save comfortably, while Hassen made a brilliant one-hand block to foil a powerfully struck spot kick by Saivet.

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Senegal reach Africa Cup final as own goal sinks Tunisia

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo. With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and…

Senegal reach Africa Cup final as own goal sinks Tunisia

CAIRO: Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last four clash in Cairo.

With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net.

Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalize when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee rejected their penalty appeals after checking the incident on the VAR monitor.

Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese.

Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria or Nigeria after he was yellow-carded.

It was the second caution of the knockout phase for the Napoli center-back and triggered an automatic one-match suspension.

Senegal last reached the title decider 17 years ago, when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in Mali.

Cisse made one change to the team that defeated Benin in the quarterfinals with 20-year-old forward Krepin Diatta replacing Keita Balde.

Tunisia coach Alain Giresse changed two of the side that eliminated Madagascar, promoting Mohamed Drager and Ayman Ben Mohamed and benching Wajdi Kechrida and Ghaylen Chaaleli.

The countries were meeting for the sixth time in the Cup of Nations with each winning one match and the other three drawn.

Tunisia had the first clearcut chance at the 30 June Stadium in the Egyptian capital, but unmarked captain Youssef Msakni headed a corner well over.

Senegal then took control and had three opportunities before half-time to end the deadlock and edge closer to the July 19 final.

Youssouf Sabaly unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the box that beat Mouez but cannoned back into play off the woodwork on 26 minutes.

Then, in a 60-second purple patch, Mbaye Niang and Liverpool star Sadio Mane were unable to convert chances before a small crowd. Niang swivelled inside the box only to fire well wide and Mane rounded Hassen but his shot from an acute angle finished well off target.

Giresse took off Msakni at halftime and introduced Naim Sliti, scorer of the stoppage-time goal that sealed a convincing last eight win over giantkillers Madagascar.

Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, a virtual spectator in the opening half, reacted quickly early in the second half to push away a Sassi snap shot.

Attackers Niang and Diatta were having little success and came off with Mbaye Diagne and Ismaila Sarr replacing them as an intriguing semifinal entered the final quarter.

The Sassi penalty was weak, allowing Gomis to save comfortably, while Hassen made a brilliant one-hand block to foil a powerfully struck spot kick by Saivet.

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England eye World Cup glory as New Zealand plot shock

London: Eoin Morgan’s England face New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday desperate to win the World Cup for the first time after four years of hard graft.When England exited the 2015 tournament after an embarrassing defeat by Bangladesh, few tipped them as potential champions four years later.As captain Morgan put it: “If you had offered…

England eye World Cup glory as New Zealand plot shock

London: Eoin Morgan’s England face New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday desperate to win the World Cup for the first time after four years of hard graft.When England exited the 2015 tournament after an embarrassing defeat by Bangladesh, few tipped them as potential champions four years later.As captain Morgan put it: “If you had offered us the position to play in a final the day after we were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup, I would have laughed at you.”One person not laughing was Andrew Strauss, the former England director of cricket.Drafted into the newly created role, Strauss set about an overhaul that saw the former England captain appoint Australia’s Trevor Bayliss as coach, and place greater emphasis on white-ball cricket.The value of that work showed when England, now top of the one-day international rankings, thrashed reigning champions Australia by eight wickets in the semifinal at Edgbaston with the kind of performance that justified their billing as pre-tournament favorites.Pacemen Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes destroyed the top order, leg-spinner Adil Rashid chipped in and the dynamic duo of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow launched the run chase with another blistering century partnership.Australian World Cup-winning captain Steve Waugh said England could go down as one of the greatest teams in one-day international history if they win on Sunday.

But the challenge for the host nation, as they seek a first title in the 44-year history of the World Cup, is to embrace Sunday’s occasion at Lord’s without it inhibiting their “fearless” brand of cricket.“It’s the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup,” said Morgan.Back-to-back group-stage defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia effectively saw England playing knockout cricket before the semifinals but they got their campaign back on track with impressive victories against India and New Zealand.“I think it has helped us because it’s lent itself to actually being more positive and aggressive and a bit smarter about how we play. It’s sort of been the last-chance saloon,” explained Morgan.New Zealand, who have also never won the World Cup, helped shock England into a change of approach by humiliating them in Wellington four years ago and cannot be underestimated after seeing off Virat Kohli’s India in the semifinals.The 2015 losing finalists boast a well-balanced attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult but their batting has been hugely reliant on captain Kane Williamson, who has scored 548 runs in the tournament at an outstanding average of 91.33, and Ross Taylor.Williamson said his side were happy to embrace their underdog status, acknowledging that England deserved to be favorites.“But whatever dog we are, it’s just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play,” he said. “And we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody — regardless of breed of dog.”While some members of the home side were not even born when England made the last of three losing appearances in a World Cup final in 1992, the Black Caps have the experience of their heavy defeat by co-hosts Australia in the climax of the 2015 edition in Melbourne to call on.But there is a sense that England will never have a better chance.“I haven’t allowed myself to think about lifting the trophy,” said Morgan.“Cricket and sport in particular is very fickle. If you ever get ahead, it always seems to bite you in the backside. For us to win it, I think around the country it would be awesome, great for the game.”

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