World Sports News in Brief

Belgium hit eight, seven for Dutch, Portugal survive scare

Wednesday, 2021-03-31 08:21:14
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Soccer Football - World Cup Qualifiers Europe - Group E - Belgium v Belarus - Den Dreef, Leuven, Belgium - March 30, 2021 Belgium's Leandro Trossard scores their seventh goal. (Photo: Reuters)
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Top-ranked Belgium slammed eight goals against Belarus and the Netherlands crashed seven past Gibraltar but Portugal suffered a scare before beating Luxembourg as the World Cup qualifying matches continued on Tuesday (Mar 30).

There were also victories for Croatia, Serbia and Norway while Slovakia shocked Russia and Wales got their campaign up and running with a late winner against the Czech Republic.

* Daniel James headed a late winner as Wales claimed their first victory in their World Cup qualifying campaign by beating the Czech Republic 1-0 in Cardiff.

* Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic completed a perfect week for the striker in World Cup qualifying with two more goals to help the Balkan nation to a 2-1 win at Azerbaijan.

* South Africa's Olympic 400 metres champion Wayde van Niekerk stepped up his return from long-term injury with a victory over 200 metres at the ASA Athletix Invitational on Tuesday.

* World Cup hosts Qatar continued their impressive run as they drew 1-1 with struggling Ireland in Debrecen on Tuesday.

* European soccer's governing body UEFA will make a final decision on its proposed changes to the Champions League on April 19 as talks continue about the details of the plan for an expanded competition. UEFA's executive committee will on Wednesday be given an update on the negotiations with clubs and leagues about the plans for a new-look competition which will take effect from 2024.

* Bayern Munich's Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has been ruled out for four weeks after suffering sprained ligaments in his right knee, the German champions said on Tuesday. Lewandowski sustained the injury in Poland's World Cup qualifying win over Andorra on Sunday, ruling him out of their match against England on Wednesday, and had scans on Monday.

* Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been handed a one-match ban for making a "blasphemous expression" and will miss Saturday's Turin derby at Torino, the Italian Federal Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday. Buffon was initially given a 5,000 euros (US$5,862.00) fine over an incident which took place during a Serie A clash against Parma on Dec. 19 last year.

* Stoke City have withdrawn from the women's FA Cup before their second round match due to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FA said on Tuesday.

* In-form midfielder Mason Mount has been declared fit for England's home World Cup qualifier against Poland on Wednesday after shaking off a minor injury. The Chelsea player scored England's second goal in the 2-0 win over Albania at the weekend - a victory that left England top of Group I ahead of the clash with Poland.

* Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania have become the latest countries to qualify for January’s Africa Cup of Nations as they secured runners-up berths in their groups on Tuesday. A total of 22 teams have so far qualified for the finals in Cameroon.

* Both legs of Chelsea's Champions League quarter-final meeting with Porto will be played in Seville, Spain over restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, European soccer's governing body UEFA said on Tuesday. The first leg will take place on April 7 at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan with the return fixture scheduled for April 13. The prize for the winners will be a clash with Real Madrid or Liverpool.

* Rebecca Welch has become the first female referee to be appointed to an English Football League match as she prepares to take charge of the League Two clash between Harrogate Town and Port Vale next week, the EFL said on Tuesday. Welch has previously officiated men's matches in the National League as well as elite women's matches such as the FA Cup final in 2017, but on Monday she will set a new benchmark for female referees in English football.

* The women's Champions League quarter-final second leg between Olympique Lyonnais and Paris St Germain has been postponed due to a string of COVID-19 cases within the OL squad. Seven-times champions Lyon said on Monday that six of their players had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and asked for Wednesday's home game to be played at a later date after the whole squad was put in isolation by regional health authorities.

* Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has returning to training from a knee injury ahead of Saturday's (Apr 3) Premier League trip to Arsenal.

* German software company Teamviewer said on Tuesday that it had struck a five-year sponsorship deal with the Mercedes Formula 1 and Formula E teams, following its recent shirt deal with football club Manchester United.

* Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu praised his side's ruthlessness after they recorded their biggest win in World Cup qualifying with Tuesday's 14-0 thrashing of Mongolia. Victory over Myanmar on June 3 will see them advance to the next phase, when the continent's four guaranteed qualifiers for Qatar 2022 will be determined.