Holmdel stuns Haddonfield to win Group I state XC title CBA wins Parochial A for seventh straight year

first_img Holmdel stuns Haddonfield to win Group I state XC title CBA wins Parochial A for seventh straight year Craig Segal was triple-teamed all day, racing against the powerful Haddonfield cross country team at Holmdel Park. Segal, who entered the Group II state championship race undefeated, and one of the prerace favorites, knew that he was a marked runner. That’s why he settled in with the group of Haddonfield runners that included Chris Platt, Breton Bonnette and Skip Stiles. “It’s more mental than anything else when you’re racing against a team,” he pointed out. Besides, Segal knew which Bulldawg was his chief rival: Platt. “This was the day something was going to break,” said Segal. “I sat back with Platt. I knew when Stiles was in the lead that Platt wasn’t falling off the pace. He wanted to make it come down to a kick.” At two miles, Stiles was the one who fell off the pace, and it was Platt and Bonnette battling Segal for the state championship. As the trio left the backwoods, it was Bonnette leading the chase to the finish line with Segal and Platt in tow. The race was coming down to a sprint between two of the best runners in the state, Segal and Platt, just as Segal had thought. In their first meeting of the fall, it was Platt who would win the kicker’s battle, 16:10.8-16:12.1, as both runners set Holmdel Park personal bests. “I started to go with him, but he has a great kick,” said Segal. “I didn’t win today, but I got my personal best by 15 seconds, so I can’t be dissatisfied.” What Segal didn’t know was that behind him, while he was losing the battle up front, the Hornets were winning the war. In one of the most stunning upsets in Group II history, the Hornets knocked off a Bulldawg team that was not only ranked No. 1 in the state, but ranked No. 4 in the country, 48-54. “I’m in shock,” said Hornet coach Bill Loughran. “Our goal was to run hard and make Haddonfield work hard for it. We knew that everyone would be watching them. We never thought that we had a chance. But that’s why you run the race.” Indeed. What no one could predict was that Stiles would develop physical problems shortly after Bonnette, Segal and Platt had passed him. At first, he slowed down; then he stopped, and ultimately, he did not finish the race. The Bulldawgs were vulnerable without their No. 2 runner, and with the Hornets pushing hard from start to finish, it paved the way for the huge upset. Haddonfield’s first-, third-, seventh- and ninth-place finishes from its first four runners had them in the lead, but the Hornets prevailed when their fifth runner, Quraish Ghadiali, came home 27th overall (17:53.3), but 21st in team scoring. That was 13 positions up on Haddonfield’s No. 5 and wiped out the seven-point Bulldawg lead after four runners. Paul Merces (17:08) and Leonardo Vignone (17:23.6) were ninth and 11th overall, but sixth and eighth in team scoring for Holmdel. The Hornets’ No. 3 man was Edward Li (17:29.9) — 14th overall, but 11th in the team competition. All in all, the Hornets came up with a dream race with all five of their scorers putting forth maximum efforts. “I’m speechless,” Segal said after hearing of Holmdel’s triumph. “Our mindset was to go as hard as we possibly could.” Saturday was a day of redemption for Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft. The Colts had seen two 19-year winning streaks come to an end this year at the Monmouth County and Shore Conference championships and were in no mood to let another one, Parochial A, slip away. And in the tightest finish of the day, CBA nipped Don Bosco Prep by a single point, 58-59, to win its seventh straight state title. Don Bosco put two runners across the finish line before the Colts, but CBA prevailed because its five scorers were packed closer together. Will Melochik (17:03.1) and Jeff Peterson (17:05.4) were seventh and eighth for the Colts. For CBA, Patrick Ryan was 11th (17:08.8), Angelo Petraglia was 14th (17:24.8) and Mike Durso was 18th (17:31.2). Less than 30 seconds separated the Colts five, while Don Bosco’s difference was 1:00. St. John Vianney’s Eric Walker was 10th (17:08.2). In Parochial B, Tom Santifort of Mater Dei ran a 17:23.9 and finished in sixth place. The Seraphs were fourth (150) behind the Shore area’s St. Rose of Belmar, which won the B title with 56 points. Nicole Lombardy led Middletown South’s girls to a third place in Group III with her second-place finish behind the state’s No. 1 harrier, Jesse Mizzone of Passaic Valley. Mizzone ripped off an 18:46.5 in taking the state title, while Lombardy clocked 19:32.5, which was the fourth fastest of the day. For the Eagles, Kolleen McCauley (20:48) was 14th overall, and Tina Morrison (20:52.8) was 16th. The Eagles, who scored 82 points, finished behind Hopewell Valley (59) and North Hunterdon (69). In Parochial A, St. John Vianney’s Laura Carpenter ran a 20:26.5, which put her in eighth place. The Holmdel school’s Lancers (137) were sixth in the race that was won by Red Bank Catholic. Over in Parochial B, Jen Michal of Mater Dei was ninth (21:10.3), and teammate Ashley Thompson was 11th (21:11.5). The Seraphs finished fifth (153). Pope John XXIII was the champion (57). The Top 10 individuals and top three teams at the state Group championships plus wild cards qualified for Saturday’s Meet of Champions at Holmdel Park. The only local harrier to advance to the MOC through the wild card was Middletown South’s Dan Ciambrone, who earned one of the 10 wild cards with his 17:04.3 in finishing 11th at the Group III race. Despite his runner-up finish, Segal is very much a contender for the state title. His time was the third best of all the groups, trailing only the favorite, Marc Pelerin of Cherokee (16:08.4 in winning the Group IV title), and Platt. Lombardy is in a good position to claim all-state honors with another effort like the one she had in the Group III race. By tim morris Staff Writer last_img read more

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Segal doubles his pleasure at Group II championships

first_imgHornet sweeps 1,600-3,200; teammate Kwong wins high jump By tim morris Staff Writer Craig Segal had a near-perfect cross country season. The Holmdel High School harrier was undefeated through November, collecting a bevy of championships, including Monmouth County, Shore Conference and Central Jersey Group II. He even won his division at the famed Van Cortlandt Park in New York City. The undefeated season came to an end at the Group II state championships where he ran second to Haddonfield’s Chris Platt. There was plenty of consolation for Segal, as his Hornets upset Haddonfield for the state championship. However, that missed opportunity kept gnawing at him. The NJSIAA Indoor Group II state championships on Jan. 20 at Princeton University provided Segal with a second chance, and he made the most of it. The Hornet left Jadwin Gymnasium with not one, but two state championships, winning both the 1,600 (4:31.37) and 3,200 (9:49.76) meter races. He duplicated the double he had turned in just three days before at the county indoor championships at Red Bank Regional High School. “The cross country season motivated me,” Segal explained. “It did not end on a high note for me. I felt I had to win.” Mission accomplished as he easily ran away from the best Group II runners in the state to win his double. Both times surpassed what he ran at the county championships It was another first for Segal as he became the first Hornet to win an indoor state championship. “It feels good,” he said of the accomplishment. Winning a distance double in any championship meet isn’t easy, but what made Segal’s feat much more distinct was the lack of racing prior to the Group II state championships. Unlike the outdoor season, where runners can use dual meets for training, they jump right into the fire. The Monmouth County Championships were the first individual races of the year for Segal and then just three days later, he was at Princeton running for a state title. “It was pretty tough without any preparation,” he pointed out. “Both races were pretty difficult. I was relying on my strength from cross country.” Segal hinted that he will not double Sunday at the NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions, also in Princeton. he has not decided on. Which event he will participate in, the 1,600 or 3,200, “It’s going to depend on how I feel which race I run,” he said. Thanks to Segal’s double, Holmdel almost won the Group II title. The Hornets were ended by a single point, 37-36, by Bridgeton. High jumper Jonathan Kwong gave Holmdel 10 big points, joining his teammate as a state champion. Kwong defeated Monmouth Regional’s Barry Bostwick by virtue of fewer misses as both cleared 6-2. The Hornets got six more points from Charles DiFazio, who was third at 6-0. Matawan’s Uzoma Orji was second in the Group II shot put to his Shore rival Adam Kuehl of Monmouth, 57-9 3/4-54-5. Erison Hurtault, the county 400 champion, was sixth in the 400 (52.23) that was won by Scott’s Lance Wigfall (49.89). Latasha Dixon was third in the girls’ Group II 400 for the Huskies in 1:01.36. Bridgeton’s Shameka Speed was the Group winner in 59.03. The first six finishers in each event at the Group meets, plus five wilds cards taken from among all of the Groups, qualified for Sunday’s MOC. At the Group III state championships, Middletown South’s girls were fourth with 24 points. The Eagles showed their balance by scoring in a number of events. Nicole Lombardy was third in the 1,600 (5:10.36) behind the amazing Trotter twins of RBR, Amanda (5:05.71) and Katy (5:09.62). Kolleen McCauley was fourth in the 400 (1:00.05) which went to Halimah Bashir of Willingboro in a quick 58.9. Lauren Dike (2:24.12) and Tina Morrison (2:24.59) were fifth and sixth in the 800 that went to Katy Trotter (2:18.94). Lindsay Dike was fourth in the high jump (5-2) won by Oakcrest’s Lauren Graf (5-4). The Eagles’ 1,600-meter relay team of McCauley, Morrison, Lombardy and Lauren Dike ran a 4:11.36 in third place behind Woodrow Wilson (4:10.57 and Willingboro (4:10.57). The Group IV championships were held on Saturday in Princeton. Christian Brothers Academy’s Jeff Peterson came up with his best indoor race of the season in finishing second to Shannon Sherrer of Vineland in the 800 meters. Shannon cranked out a 1:57.21 on the 200-meter Jadwin oval with Peterson second in 1:57.56. The Colts’ Devin Barry was third in the 55-meter high hurdles (7.83) behind Trenton Central’s Irving Stills (7.74). CBA’s 1,600-meter relay team turned in a 3:29.98 and finished fifth. Vineland edged Eastern, 3:27.75-3:27.77, to win the Group title. CBA’s 16 points put the Colts in a tie for seventh place. Vineland was one point better than Eastern, 35-34, for the team state championship. In Group I, Mater Dei’s Lily Doyle extended her season to the MOC by finishing fourth in the high jump (5-0). The Group winner was Rebecca Baskinger of Butler (5-4). Before Sunday’s MOC at Princeton, area track and field athletes will have one more competition to get themselves ready, the Shore Conference Championships tonight at Red Bank Regional. This meet brings the best from Monmouth and Ocean counties together and the competition is as good as a Group state championship. Segal will use tonight’s meet to help him make the decision as to which race to run at the MOC. The meet will start at 5 p.m.last_img read more

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Sports Shorts

first_imgThe Central Jersey Hawks girls U17/U16 team seeks players. This is a highly competitive, high-exposure team. They are seeking new players to add to the current roster for the upcoming AAU season to fill spots due to seniors leaving. They play in many college showcases. Freshmen, sophomores and juniors are encouraged to try out. E-mail edudyelrah@aol.comor or call Jimmy Danella before the tryouts at (732) 577-1972 for more information. This Central Jersey Hawk team has won the New Jersey State Championship five times. Head coach is Tom Moreno. Tryouts are Sept. 9 and 10 at noon at Holmdel High School. Middletown MYAA will be holding tryouts for boys and girls Mid-Monmouth travel teams. All participants must reside in the Middletown North sending district. Girls’ tryouts are Monday and Wednesday (fifth and sixth grade, 6-7:30 p.m.; seventh and eighth grade 7:30-9 p.m.) at Thorne Middle School. Boys’ tryouts are Tuesday and Thursday (fifth and sixth grade, 6-7:30 p.m., seventh and eighth grade 7:30-9 p.m.) at Thorne Middle School. Call (732) 747-2410 or e-mail myaabball@aol.com for more information.last_img read more

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Coaches tap Linney, Neller as most outstanding cagers

first_imgSt. John Vianney High School’s Katelyn Linney and Christian Brothers Academy’s Brian Neller have been named the Players of the Year by the Shore Conference basketball coaches. Linney, a senior guard, led St. John Vianney to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions crown this winter. The Lancers defeated Colts Neck High School on March 23 in the Tournament of Champions final at the Izod Center in East Rutherford. Neller, a senior forward, sparked CBA to the Shore Conference Tournament championship and to the NJSIAA Non-Public A South state sectional crown. Linney heads a powerful All-Shore Girls First Team that includes Rumson-Fair Haven’s Kate Miller, Neptune’s Shakeena Richardson, Colts Neck’s Lauren Clarke, Freehold’s Shannon Mayrose and Middletown South’s Danielle Pankey. Miller’s Rumson Bulldogs won the NJSIAA Group II state title while Clarke’s Colts Neck Cougars won the NJSIAA Group IV crown and advanced to the Tournament of Champions final against St. John Vianney. Richardson led Neptune to the Shore Conference Tournament crown and to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III title and Pankey led Middletown South to the Central Jersey Group III final where the Eagles lost to Neptune. Mayrose was named the Most Valuable Player of Freehold’s Jack Kuhnert Holiday Tournament triumph and averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game for the season. Colts Neck’s Brooke Hampton heads up the All-Shore Girls Second Team. St. John Vianney freshman Michaela Mabrey, Raritan’s Alexa Ryan, Neptune’s Syessence Davis, Southern Regional’s Kristen Sharkey and Manchester’s Camille Valmo completed the team. The All-Shore Boys First Team includes Neller and his CBA teammate Pat Light. They are joined on the first team by Neptune’s D.J. Gutridge, Monmouth Regional’s Joe Willman, Manasquan’s Matt Vadas and Central Regional’s Ibn Moyer. Light and Neller helped to make Colts the Shore Conference’s top team. Gutridge led Neptune to the Central Jersey Group III title and Vadas fueled Manasquan’s drive to the Central Jersey Group II crown. Willman had Monmouth Regional ranked No. 1 in the conference before a broken wrist cut his season short. The Falcons wound up sharing the Shore Conference B North Division crown with Neptune. Moyer helped to lead Central Regional to a state tournament berth. Matt Devine, who had a 42-point outburst in the state tournament during Freehold Township High School’s run to the Central Jersey Group IV championship game, tops the All-Shore Boys Second Team. Freehold’s Christian Garcia, CBA’s Roy Mabrey, Monmouth Regional’s Neil Thompson, Point Pleasant Boro’s Patrick Hart and Point Pleasant Beach’s Jarelle Reischel complete the squad. Neptune’s John Brown finished first in the poll for Girls Coach of the Year, edging out St. John Vianney’s Dawn Karpell and Middletown South’s Tom Brennan. CBA’s Geoff Billett was selected as the Boys Coach of the Year. Neptune’s Ken O’Donnell was second in the voting and Freehold’s Ben DiBiase was third. The Division Coaches of the Year awards for the girls went to Bennan in A North; Karpell in A Central; Rachel Goodale of Jackson Memorial and Vicki Gillen Toms River North in A South; Brown in B North; and Darren Ault of Mater Dei and Kevin Flynn of Keyport in B Central. The Division Coaches of the Year awards went to Billet in A North; Joe Nappo of Red Bank Catholic in A Central; Ed Sarluca of Brick Memorial in A South; DiBiase in B North; and Phil Recco of Keyport in B Central.last_img read more

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Undefeated swim team ready for county meet

first_imgMid’town swim club team more than 200 strong BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer The Middletown Swim & Tennis Club’s swim team will be looking to complete an undefeated campaign in the Monmouth County Swim Conference on Saturday when it hosts Candlewood. Coach Lyne Cefalo’s swimmers have scored triumphs over Hazlet, Monmouth Heights, Marlboro, Holmdel and, most important, Freehold, historically one of the conference’s top teams. The success runs throughout the program. There are now more than 200 swimmers in the program — 60 more than a year ago — the bulk in the 8-year-old and under category. As a result, practices are broken up into four groups and fortunately, Cefalo has several assistant coaches, most of whom also compete in the 15-18-year-old division. “We’ve almost doubled our team and it’s great to see so many kids involved,” the ninth-year coach said. “It seems like a lot of our swimmers just told their friends and encouraged them to come out. Last year’s Olympics also generated a lot of interest. That’s really helped swimming become a more popular sport. Once the kids get in the water they tend to like it.” Speaking of Olympics, Cefalo also noted that it doesn’t hurt that former U.S. Olympic swimmer Tom Wilkens is a member and is frequently at the club. “We have a great club with a great atmosphere, and it’s a nice place to spend time at,” Cefalo said. “There’s always something happening.” Some of the Middletown club’s top competitors include: (8 & under) Vinnie Cinko, Charlie Ciraollo, Natallie Heim, McKenna Johnson, Megan Loh, Paul Reterer, Skylar Shafritz and Richie Trentalang; (9-10) Tate Algayer, Joshua Atienza, Sydney Cloff, Marirose Fitzpatrick, Erica Nagase, Andrew Rooney, Chris Smith and Brian Tucker. In the 11-12 age group: Ryan Andresen, Julia Bland, Abigail Hofman, Lauren Homack, Julia Reimertz, Dean Shafritz, Matt Shaw, Anastasia Shekhter, Andrew Smith and Chris Tucker; (13-14) Jodiann Atienza, Danielle Ciraollo, Harty Dizinagraia, Matt Farkouh, Erin Finn, Lily Kemm, Anna Pelligra, Jimmy Sullivan and Chris Zadala. The 15-18 group includes Kevin Boettger, Catherine Sufficool and Conor Urbealis along with assistant coaches Harrison Cefalo, Keala Evans, Megan Foran, Megan Massa, Christel Murray and Erin O’Malley. Daria Cefalo, also serves as an assistant.last_img read more

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Rachel Alexandra thrills Monmouth Park fans

first_img Rachel Alexandra and Monmouth Park go well together. The 2009 Horse of the Year was back in Oceanport on Saturday and did not disappoint the nearly 13,000 fans who came to see her race. Rachel Alexandra dominated her rivals in winning the $400,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes in 1:49 3/5 on a fast track. Rachel Alexandra with jockey Calvin Borel in the saddle ran away from the field in the homestretch to win the $400,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 24. About 13,000 fans came to the Oceanport racetrack to watch the reigning Horse of the Year race. BILL DENVER Queen Martha set the early pace, 23 4/5 for the first quarter and the half-mile in 47 4/5, for the stakes race. While she was out front, jockey Calvin Borel was playing the waiting game with Rachel Alexandra. At the 6-furlong mark (passed in 1:12 1/5), Borel took Rachel to the front. She was in command entering the homestretch and drew out to a three-length lead at the wire. She stopped the timer in 1:49 3/5 for the mile and an eighth over the fast main track, much to the delight of the fans who had come to see her. “I’m very pleased with how she went today,” winning trainer Steve Asmussen said in a press release. “I was happy with how she looked. She was very relaxed. I love where her mind is at right now. She’s more mature and carrying a little more weight.” Rachel Alexandra was sent off as the 1-10 favorite and returned $2.20, $2.10 and $2.10 across the board and topped an $8.20 exacta. Queen Martha, who held the place, paid $2.80 and $2.40. It was another 7 3/4 lengths back to Ask The Moon, who paid $3.80 to show. The last time Rachel Alexandra ran at Monmouth Park, it was in last year’s Haskell Invitational. She beat the boys by sixth lengths, and that impressive win helped propel her to Horse of the Year honors. “She won very easily again today,” Borel said in the press release. “I let her run a little bit in the stretch to make sure she got something out of the race, but I think we saved a little bit in the tank for next time. “It was great to be back at Monmouth,” he added. “The fans really love Rachel here.” They do indeed. Wagering on the card totaled $11,421,794, a new record for Monmouth Park, outside of a Breeders’ Cup or Haskell Day. The previous mark of $9,787,620 was set on July 3 this year. This was the second win of the year for Rachel Alexandra, a 4-year-old filly by Medaglia d’Oro from the Roar mare Lotta Kim. She has won 13 of her 18 career starts and has been in the money 17 times. She has earned $3,446,730 for her connections. Izod Haskell Invitational Monmouth Park will be the focus of the thoroughbred racing world on Sunday, Aug. 1, when it holds the $1 million Izod Haskell Invitational, the track’s biggest race. Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky are expected to head the field and renew their Triple Crown rivalry. The race will be televised live by WABC between 5 and 6 p.m. The Haskell will be over a mileand an-eighth distance. The Haskell will be the first race for both Super Saver and Lookin At Lucky since the Preakness in May, when Lookin At Lucky ended any Triple Crown aspirations by Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. This will be the rubber match between the two champions. This is the 43rd running of the Haskell Invitational, which honors the memory of Amory L. Haskell, president and chairman of the Monmouth Park Jockey Club from 1945 until his death in 1966. He was instrumental in bringing legalized pari-mutuel wagering to New Jersey and the building of the Monmouth Park racetrack, which opened in 1946. The Haskell is the richest invitational event in North America. The very first Haskell was run in 1968 and was won by Balustrade. The stakes record is 1:47.0 by Majestic Light in 1976 and equaled in 1987 by Bet Twice. Wins stakes race; Izod Haskell Invitational is Sunday last_img read more

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Volker takes county 100; Dixon first in shot put

first_imgPole vaulters wait patiently on the runway for their turn during the Monmouth County Track and Field Championships held May 6 at Holmdel High School. Matawan Regional High School’s Matt Isaacson won the competition by more than 3 feet, clearing 15-1. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Charlie Volker proved he can do more than run over tacklers at the Monmouth County Track and Field Championships.The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School star running back added the county 100-meter dash championship to his football exploits.Volker overpowered the 100 dash finals, winning the century championship in 10.8 seconds. He also showed some endurance in finishing third in the 200 (22.08).The county championships were held May 6 and 8 at Holmdel High School.Volker, who led the Bulldogs to back-toback NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II championships the last two falls, will continue his football career at Princeton University. But before then, his focus will be on how fast he can run on the track.Shore Regional High School’s Kevin Mazzella backed up his fine indoor season by upsetting Christian Brothers Academy’s Drake Anzano and Blaise Ferro in the 800- meter run. Mazzella’s 1:55.14 held off Drake (1:55.79) and Ferro (1:56.53).During the undercover season, Mazzella won the Group I state championship.Ferro (4:21.47) and Drake (4:24.55) ran first and second in the 1,600, CBA captured the boys team championship with 126.75 points.Andrew Liskowitz won the shot put (59- 10) and discus (165-1) titles for the Colts.Red Bank Regional High School’s Sean Patterson captured the difficult 400 intermediate hurdles in a time of 54.54. A tremendous competition was held in the girls shot put circle with Red Bank Regional’s Sarena Dixon, Red Bank Catholic High School’s Fidele Jules and Ocean Township High School’s Michelle Mazza all reaching personal bests and finishing within 4½ inches of each other.It was Dixon who got the win with a throw of 43-6½, just half-an-inch ahead of Jules (43-6). Mazza was next at 43-2.St. John Vianney High School’s Monica Heil ran to gold in the girls 400 in 56.72.Freehold Township High School won the girls title with 68 points. Red Bank Catholic was the top area finisher in fourth (44).Next up are the Shore Conference Championships May 16 at Neptune High School.last_img read more

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Champions Man City host title pretenders Liverpool

first_imgBy Steve TongueLiverpool’s regrets about missing out on a first English league title for 24 years last season will be stronger than ever on Monday when they visit champions Manchester City, who pipped them by two points.The meeting of last term’s top two is the highlight of the weekend Premier League programme, in which Arsenal and Manchester United face tricky away games while Chelsea will expect to record a second straight win over a promoted side.Liverpool will make the short motorway trip east to Manchester knowing they should be arriving as title holders.With three matches to play last season, Brendan Rodgers’ side were nine points clear of City, who had two games in hand but had just lost 3-2 at Anfield.Liverpool then lost at home to Chelsea, and then frittered away a three-goal lead at Crystal Palace, allowing City to finish top by winning their four remaining games.The Manchester side were the more impressive of the two on the opening weekend of the new campaign, easing to a 2-0 win at Newcastle United with goals by David Silva and Sergio Aguero.Liverpool, now without last season’s leading scorer Luis Suarez, were below their best at home to Southampton and needed a late goal from Daniel Sturridge to win 2-1.City’s neighbours Manchester United visit Sunderland on Sunday hoping to shrug off last weekend’s surprise 2-1 home defeat by Swansea City in their first league match under new manager Louis van Gaal.The experienced Dutchman will have spent the week trying to restore his players’ confidence, which he was said was “smashed” by the Swansea result.“We make steps and you have to learn from your steps,” he told the club’s in-house television station MUTV.LONG TRIPThe late kickoff (1630 GMT) on Saturday sees Arsenal travel to Everton, needing to recover physically from a long trip to Istanbul in the Champions League playoff round on Tuesday, when they were somewhat fortunate to draw 0-0 with Besiktas.Last April. Arsene Wenger’s team lost 3-0 at Everton, one of several emphatic away defeats which they need to improve on this season.Chelsea, comfortable 3-1 winners at Burnley on Monday, when Spain’s Diego Costa scored on his competitive debut, play last season’s Championship winners Leicester City, who were impressive in holding Everton 2-2 in their first Premier League match for 10 years.The other two matches in London are both derbies with special managerial interest.Harry Redknapp, sacked by Tottenham Hotspur two years ago despite leading them to fourth place, returns to White Hart Lane in charge of Queens Park Rangers, with former Spurs midfield hero and manager Glenn Hoddle now in his coaching team.Crystal Palace and West Ham United, both beaten by London rivals on the opening day, meet at Selhurst Park with the home club looking for a new boss.Last season Palace won both meetings on their way to finishing unexpectedly high in 11th place, having been widely tipped for relegation.But they have to regroup quickly after Tony Pulis, the architect of that achievement, left two days before the start of the new season, reportedly following a dispute about new transfer targets.last_img read more

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APOEL clear at the top after win over Anorthosis

first_imgCyprus champions APOEL have gone three points clear of Apollonas at the top of the table after a hard-fought 2-0 win over Anorthosis on Wednesday evening at the GSP stadium.The Nicosia giants had to wait until the 65th minute to open the scoring through Gustavo Manduca, with Stathis Aloneftis sealing the win 15 minutes from time.Omonia were also in action against newly-promoted Othellos Athienou. The Greens were frustrated throughout the game, but just when it seemed that the match would end goalless, Mickael Pote had other ideas, scoring a dramatic last-minute winner.APOEL now have 12 points after a perfect four straight league wins, with Omonia a further five points behind.last_img

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Injury-hit Cyprus face daunting Belgium trip

first_imgBy Andreas VouTHE Cyprus national team face the biggest challenge of their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign so far as they travel to take on group favourites Belgium on Saturday (9.45pm) with a host of senior absentees.Cyprus have started their campaign brightly, with two wins from four matches and currently sit in third place, one point above the Red Devils in Group B, though the Belgians have played one match less.Manager Pambos Christodoulou has inspired new life into a previously depleted national team and will be looking for another brave performance when they take on a much-fancied Belgium team at the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels.Having already recorded wins against Bosnia and Andorra, spirits are high in the Cypriot camp. A restructuring of the qualification process will see two sides automatically reach the Euro 2016 finals while third place, which Cyprus currently occupy, will enter a playoff round, giving the island an outside chance of earning a first ever major tournament appearance. Heading into Saturday’s encounter, Christodoulou has added a number of new faces to the squad with a host of established senior squad members ruled out through injury.Giorgos Efrem and Demetris Christofi who have scored three each so far in qualifying are out, as too are Stathis Aloneftis, Antonis Georgallides, Dossa Junior, Jason Demetriou and Nektarios Alexandrou. Goalkeepers Andreas Kittos and Constantinos Panagi of Ayia Napa and Omonia respectively have earned their first senior call-ups, as too has AEK Larnaca’s Nikos Englezou. The surprise inclusion, however, is 17-year-old Grigoris Kastanos, who is plying his trade for Italian giants Juventus after joining from Paralimni in late 2013.In the final training session in Cyprus on Wednesday, before setting off for Belgium, the focus was very much on defence and tactical organisation, fully aware of the threat their opponents pose.The Cypriot defence will have their hands full trying to contain Chelsea’s Eden Hazard while, at the other end, scoring may prove to be an even tougher task with Hazard’s club colleague Thibaut Courtois in goal.Everton striker Romelu Lukaku will miss both of Belgium’s upcoming internationals after suffering an injury last weekend against Queens Park Rangers. However, the hosts have been boosted by Christian Benteke’s return to training on Wednesday.Belgium are seen as one of the emerging forces of the international game with the majority of their squad competing in Europe’s top leagues.Marc Wilmots’ young side impressed in last summer’s World Cup, winning all three group games before eventually falling to finalists Argentina in the quarter-finals. Belgium have not lost a competitive home match since suffering a 0-1 defeat to Germany back in September 2010, meaning Cyprus face an almighty challenge come Saturday.last_img read more

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