World Sports News in Brief

Marseille closing in on PSG with Nimes victory

Saturday, 2020-12-05 09:12:18
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Olympique de Marseille boosted its title hopes when goals by Dario Benedetto and Valere Germain earned it a 2-0 win at Nimes. (Photo: Olympique de Marseille)
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Olympique de Marseille boosted their title hopes when goals by Dario Benedetto and Valere Germain earned them a 2-0 win at Nimes, their fifth in a row in Ligue 1, and second spot in the standings on Friday (Dec 4).

Benedetto and Germain scored after halftime to put OM on 24 points from 11 matches, one behind leaders Paris St Germain who have played one game more.

* Qatar coach Felix Sanchez was a very happy man on Friday as the 2022 World Cup hosts made a return to competitive action for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began with a comfortable 5-0 win over Bangladesh. The result moves Qatar on to 16 points from their six games, four points clear of Oman at the top of Group E in Asia's qualifying competition for the finals.

* Historic jerseys from the careers of Michael Jordan, Colin Kaepernick and former US President Barack Obama set sales records at an auction of sports memorabilia this week, Julien's Auctions said on Friday. The official National Basketball Association jersey given to Jordan on the day he signed with the Chicago Bulls in 1984 sold for US$320,000, the highest price ever paid for a Jordan jersey.

* Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton's late stand-in George Russell ended his first day atop the timesheets with the fastest time for Mercedes in Friday practice for the Sakhir Grand Prix. The 22-year-old, put into Hamilton’s seat after his fellow Briton tested positive for COVID-19, could not have asked for a better start to his debut with the world champions after lapping fastest in both of the day’s two sessions.

* Lewis Hamilton’s contract talks with Mercedes will have to wait until the seven-times world champion recovers from COVID-19, his team boss Toto Wolff said on Friday.

* FIFA wants to improve the offside rule, currently the source of frequent controversy, but it is difficult to find a consensus among the experts discussing the matter, the head of the global soccer body Gianni Infantino said on Friday.

* Professional women footballers are to be guaranteed maternity leave under new rules approved by FIFA on Friday, the global soccer body's president Gianni Infantino said. Under the new rules, approved by the decision-making FIFA Council on Friday, a player will be given 14 weeks maternity leave and her club will be obliged to reintegrate her afterwards and provide adequate medical support.

* Italian side Napoli's San Paolo stadium has been officially renamed the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium after the late Argentina striker who led them to their only two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup, the city's council said on Friday. Maradona died last week after suffering a heart attack at his home in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, less than a month after his 60th birthday.

* Tottenham Hotspur will only benefit from the return of fans for Sunday's Premier League home game against Arsenal if they are there to get behind the team and not just soak up the atmosphere in the stadium, manager Jose Mourinho said on Friday. London has been placed under Tier 2 COVID-19 restrictions by the British government, paving the way for a limited return of fans to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time since March.

* Veteran Welshman Jamie Donaldson stormed through the course at Sun City on Friday, sinking 10 birdies in a round of 63 to share the lead with Christiaan Bezuidenhout at the halfway mark of the South African Open. They were on a 10-under-par total of 134 after two rounds with a two-shot lead over the field.

* England's Andy Sullivan stayed ahead of the chasing pack at the Golf in Dubai Championship on Friday with a steady third round of 68 at the Jumeirah Golf Estates for a two-shot lead over compatriot Matt Wallace heading into the final day.

* West Ham United forward Michail Antonio will miss their Premier League clash with Manchester United on Saturday with a hamstring injury, manager David Moyes said on Friday. Antonio returned to action from a similar problem to play in West Ham's 2-1 home victory over Aston Villa on Monday and Moyes said the 30-year-old's latest injury was a fresh issue.

* Wolverhampton Wanderers' Raul Jimenez is making excellent progress following surgery on a fractured skull but manager Nuno Espirito Santo said on Friday it was too early to set a timeframe for the Mexican striker's return. Jimenez, 29, was injured after a clash of heads with Arsenal defender David Luiz at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. He received lengthy treatment on the pitch before being taken off and rushed to hospital but could be discharged as early as next week.

* Former 800 metres world champion Marina Arzamasova of Belarus has been banned for four years for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation, the Athletics Integrity Unit said on Friday. Arzamasova, who won gold at the 2015 worlds, was tested out of competition in 2019 and a World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory reported an adverse finding after discovering the presence of an anabolic agent on the Prohibited List.

* Under-fire Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday that he has the backing of the club's players and hierarchy despite their recent run of poor form. Real have won one of their last five games in all competitions, with local media reporting the Frenchman has two games to save his job, starting with Saturday's trip to Sevilla in La Liga.

* Olivier Giroud's recent performances have given Frank Lampard food for thought but the Chelsea boss said on Friday that it was difficult to offer the Frenchman the assurance that he will continue to spearhead their attack. Giroud, 34, has yet to start a Premier League game this season with Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham preferred over him, and France coach Didier Deschamps urged the striker to sort out his playing time ahead of the European Championship next year.

* Germany coach Joachim Loew, under fire after a 6-0 loss to Spain in the Nations League last month, achieved most major goals set in 2019 and has the support of the German Football Association (DFB), national team director Oliver Bierhoff said on Friday. During a virtual news conference after a DFB board meeting, Bierhoff defended the 60-year-old coach, in charge since 2006, and his changes to the team in the past two years.

* Manchester United hope Marcus Rashford can shake off the shoulder injury he aggravated against Paris St Germain in time for Saturday's Premier League game at West Ham United, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday. Rashford, who sat out England's Nations League games last month after injuring his shoulder against Everton, scored for United in Wednesday's 3-1 Champions League defeat to the French side before being withdrawn in the second half.

* Manchester City's Sergio Aguero could miss Saturday's Premier League meeting with Fulham as the striker battles for fitness, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday. The 32-year-old Argentine made his first start of the season in October following knee surgery but missed the 5-0 league win over Burnley last weekend and the goalless draw with Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday due to discomfort.

* The Diamond League said on Friday that it plans to return to a full competition format next year with a complete programme of 32 disciplines if the global health situation allows it.

* Schalke 04 will have more than half a dozen injury absences when they host in-form Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday but coach Manuel Baum is confident they can finally snap their 25-game winless run in the Bundesliga. The Royal Blues, who last won in the league back in January, are in last place and already locked in a battle to stay up this season. They are six matches away from the all-time winless run in the Bundesliga set by Tasmania Berlin in 1965/66.

* Nice have sacked coach Patrick Vieira following a string of poor results, the Ligue 1 club said on Friday. Nice lost 3-2 at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday in the Europa League, leaving them third in Group C with three points and without any hope of reaching the knockouts. They have lost their last five competitive games and lie 11th in the Ligue 1 standings.

* Frank Lampard has said he wants to extend his contract as Chelsea manager to become part of a long-term project at Stamford Bridge. Lampard, 42, has 18 months left on his contract at Chelsea, having succeeded Maurizio Sarri in July 2019.