World Sports News in Brief

Precious Griezmann goal earns Barcelona draw at spirited Napoli

Wednesday, 2020-02-26 08:54:50
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Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 First Leg - Napoli v FC Barcelona - Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy - February 25, 2020 Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring their first goal with Lionel Messi and teammates. (Photo: Reuters)
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Antoine Griezmann’s second-half equaliser handed Barcelona a vital away goal and earned them a 1-1 draw at Napoli in their Champions League last-16 first leg meeting on Tuesday.

A superb curling strike from Dries Mertens put the home side in front after half an hour and saw the Belgian draw level with Marek Hamsik as Napoli’s all-time top scorer with 121 goals. But Barca breached a well-drilled Napoli defence in the 57th minute when Griezmann fired in a Nelson Semedo cross.

* Two second-half goals in less than three minutes from Serge Gnabry and another from prolific Pole Robert Lewandowski earned Bayern Munich a thumping 3-0 victory at Chelsea in their Champions League last 16, first leg on Tuesday. The German champions, clearly a class apart from their hosts, piled on the pressure from the start of the match and bossed Stamford Bridge with flair and 63% possession.

* Tiger Woods said on Tuesday that he will prepare for this year's Masters in much the same way as in 2019 when he ended an 11-year wait for a major title with a remarkable triumph at Augusta National. Woods completed an extraordinary return from spinal fusion surgery he underwent in 2017, producing one of the most emotional finishes in tournament history as he came from behind to win by one shot last April.

* Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said no club will repeat Real Madrid's feat of three consecutive Champions League wins as he and opposite number Zinedine Zidane showered each other with praise ahead of Wednesday's crunch clash in the Spanish capital. Earlier on Tuesday, Zidane hailed his opposite number as the greatest manager in the world and recalled visiting Guardiola in 2015 at Bayern with a group of French coaches.

* British Cycling is beginning the search for a new sponsor after confirming on Tuesday that HSBC is pulling out only four years into an eight-year, multimillion pound deal.

* Fernando Alonso will race for Arrow McLaren SP at this year's Indianapolis 500 where the Spaniard will try to complete motor sport's 'Triple Crown' with a victory, the team announced on Tuesday. Alonso is hoping to become only the second driver after the late Briton Graham Hill to complete the so-called 'Triple Crown of Motorsport', having already secured wins at the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours.

* It is not yet clear whether Euro 2020 will be affected by the coronavirus outbreak which has struck Italy, one of the 12 host countries, a vice-president of European soccer body UEFA said on Tuesday. Italy's sports minister, meanwhile, said that a ban on events in the affected regions could be lifted on Monday, though he added that it was a case of waiting to see what happens.

* Olympique Lyonnais are fully focused on their Champions League games against Juventus and refuse to be concerned by the coronavirus outbreak hitting Italy, their coach Rudi Garcia told a news conference. Lyon said earlier that Wednesday's last-16 first leg would go ahead as planned following the "French authorities decision to keep (the game) in its initial configuration".

* Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin says she is frustrated by her inability to rediscover the rhythm that secured her a maiden Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park after the American crashed out of the Qatar Open. The 21-year-old suffered a 6-3 7-6(4) second-round defeat to Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska on Tuesday. Last week, Kenin fell at the first hurdle against Elena Rybakina in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

* Manchester United are in "rebuild" mode as the English soccer club chases a return to the European Champions League, Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward said after financial results were dented by the team's absence from this season's tournament. Woodward has been backing United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to forge a team that mixes top talent from around the world with young players from its academy.

* The British Open championship will return to Royal Troon for its 152nd edition in 2023, the organisers have said. The tournament was last held at the links course in South Ayrshire in 2016, when Henrik Stenson lifted the Claret Jug prize.

* Japan’s J.League says it has postponed seven Levian Cup soccer matches scheduled for Wednesday due to concern about the coronavirus outbreak and all domestic games through the first half of March. The J.League said the decision to postpone Wednesday’s matches was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

* Greece and European soccer's governing body signed an accord on Tuesday offering reform assistance for Greek football. The agreement, signed by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, established a roadmap in which the ruling body will come up with specific proposals for improving Greek soccer within three months.

* Rafa Nadal says the Mexican Open in Acapulco feels "a little bit like home" as the Spaniard returns to action on Tuesday for the first time since being dethroned as world number one by Novak Djokovic. Nadal will have the chance to claim the top spot back on Monday if he wins his third title in Acapulco and Djokovic fails to reach the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Reuters