It took PNG’s strike player Tommy Semmy to score PNG’s first goal at the Pacific Games midway through the first half.Semmy had several more chances to score, going one on one with the keeper but was unlucky. The Solomon Islanders came equally close to scoring but goal keeper Ismael Pole has so far managed to keep the ball from getting past him.Another one of Pole’s saves got him injured and he had to be taken off on a stretcher by medics in injury time.
Justin Tkatchenko, the Minister for Sports and National Events, has blasted the Opposition Leader Don Polye for the “constant stream of negative nonsense’’ that has now seen the Opposition seek to abandon national rugby league players.Mr Polye yesterday called for a shift in funding priority for rugby to other sporting codes like soccer, swimming, rugby union among others, in which ‘our sports personnel excel’.“We cannot continue to waste taxpayers’ money in a sporting code which secures low ranking in the world index,” he said.Today, Mr Tkatchenko replied: “Don Polye is slapping every rugby league supporter in the face with his call to give up on our rugby league players.“This Government will not abandon rugby league, the O’Neill/Dion Government will strengthen rugby league in Papua New Guinea.“What absolute rubbish from Don Polye calling for funding to be taken away from supporting rugby league, when a lack of funding is why, from the Somare/Polye Government, is the reason why the sport suffered.“When we came to Government rugby league administration in our country was in a dismal state. We are rebuilding rugby league infrastructure in our country and we are investing in the junior leagues.“Our SP Hunters served the nation proud last season and our national team will continue to build on the last season.“While Polye questions if Papua New Guineans still love rugby league, I can assure you that it is. I know this because I talk to our people, particularly our grassroots people.”The Minister said the Opposition’s search for a news headline overlooked facts. “We are increasing investment in other sports including soccer, cricket, athletics, swimming and AFL and we are seeing results.“The people of our nation can easily compare the track records of the two governments. “Somare and Polye gave up on sport in Papua New Guinea, and the O’Neill Government is rebuilding sports in our country.“An example of this is the way Somare and Polye gave up on the Pacific Games, and our Government led by Peter O’Neill stepped up to the challenge and delivered the best Pacific Games in history.”
When Serena beat her older sibling in the Australian Open final 6-4 6-4, she collected a 23rd grand slam title to surpass Steffi Graf for the Open Era lead.Now she only trails all-time leader Margaret Court by one major and the way she played in Melbourne — not dropping a set — Serena, 35, is looking good to achieve that feat later in 2017.”It’s never enough, 23, 24, 25,” Serena told the crowd after her win. “I felt like I really elevated my game this year.”As a considerable bonus Saturday evening, Serena also regained the No. 1 ranking from Angelique Kerber. Last year the German upset Serena Williams to win the title.Serena had her game face on throughout, but the sisters exchanged an extended hug after Serena converted on her first match point in one hour, 22 minutes. The competitors in them took a backseat.”Your win has always been my win,” Venus told the crowd. “All the times I couldn’t be there, didn’t get there, you were there.”It simply wasn’t meant to be for Venus, who appeared to be the crowd favorite at Rod Laver Arena.At 36, she was the oldest Australian Open finalist in the Open Era. Her celebration after winning in the semifinals is sure to be one of tennis’ memorable moments come the end of the long campaign.Venus had last played in a grand slam final in 2009 at Wimbledon, when Serena once again came out on top. Her career has been slowed after she was diagnosed with autoimmune disorder Sjogren’s Syndrome in 2011.In keeping with their head-to-head record — Serena now leads 17-11 and 7-2 in grand slam finals — it was her kid sister who would have the final say in Melbourne.The sisters have always been close but it was all business, especially from Serena, even before the match — the oldest grand slam women’s final in the Open Era in combined age — began.They didn’t chat in the tunnel on the way to the court. Venus placed her arm around Serena for the habitual pre-match photo, but Serena kept both hands by her side.She was clearly focused on the task at hand, perhaps fueled by the fact that in 2016, she lost two of her three grand slam finals. Very unusual.This didn’t turn out to be like their last duel at the US Open in 2015, which was one of the finest matches of the season.At one stage Serena struck three double faults in one game, and Venus, sporting strapping on one leg, wasn’t able to serve in the fashion she did in previous rounds.Serena also received a warning for smashing her racket in the third game when a net-cord winner went against her.She, however, earned the pivotal break of the first at 3-3 and broke again in the same game of the second. In that second set Serena’s first serve — which she said hadn’t helped her out much of the tournament — became more of a factor.She ended up with 10 aces and an impressive 76% points won on first serve.The crowd wanted a third set and when Venus won a 24-shot rally to get to 15-30 on the Serena serve at 5-4, it may have been coming. Venus though made a pair of unforced errors before Serena forced an error on match point.She sunk to the ground, before the long embrace.Later near the locker room Serena exchanged hugs with her team and fiance Ohanian, the Reddit founder. One wondered if parents Oracene Price and Richard Williams — so instrumental in their daughters’ careers — watched back home in the US.Their daughters were in another grand slam final, with Serena — based on what happened in Melbourne — playing some of her finest tennis.
It will be a Premier League game in all but name when Newcastle United face Leeds United at St James’ Park on Friday, with two of the traditional powers of northern English football seeking a return to the top flight.Newcastle, relegated from the Premier League last season, are second in the Championship and well placed for an immediate return, while Leeds, in fifth place, will look to get through the play-offs and end their 13 years in the lower divisions.The two clubs have histories that make them known well beyond their passionate local support bases.Both are both former champions of England, with Leeds having won the last title before the creation of the Premier League in 1992.They have both won European trophies – Leeds twice capturing the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the forerunner of today’s Europa League, while Newcastle won the same competition in 1969.In more recent years, the clubs have featured in the Champions League, which Newcastle’s Spanish manager Rafa Benitez won as manager of Liverpool in 2005.While Benitez and Newcastle have quickly healed the pain of relegation with a strong challenge for direct promotion this season, life outside the Premier League has been tough for Leeds.The financial troubles which caused the team’s relegation from the top flight in 2004 were also to blame for a slump into the third tier (League One) for three seasons, until they returned to the Championship in 2007.It has hardly been smooth progress since, with instability at both boardroom and managerial level reflected in lower half finishes in the past five campaigns.But manager Garry Monk has succeeded this year in keeping the team well within the play-off positions throughout the campaign, even if he is wary of raising expectations of promotion this season.“That will always be the ambition of the club, it’s a huge club. The ambition will always be to get this club back in the Premier League. But it doesn’t just happen,” he said this week.“That’s what we are trying to do. But we are not thinking about that, we are only thinking about this weekend. Overall we have exceeded expectation, the group has improved massively.”Newcastle won the corresponding fixture at Elland Road in November 2-0 thanks to two goals from their impressive striker Dwight Gayle, who misses Friday’s match due to injury.The match drew the first sell-out crowd for Leeds in several years and Monk believes his team were overawed by the occasion.“Maybe we played the occasion a little bit and didn’t have our full focus on the football. We want to go up there and make sure we don’t make the same mistake,” he said.Newcastle are well used to playing in front of their capacity 52,000 home crowd and their squad still has plenty of top-flight experience.Benitez knows the job has to be finished off but believes Newcastle have a bright future ahead of them.“The fans are incredible, the stadium is superb, the staff, everything is in place to allow this club to achieve great things,” he said recently.“But first we have to reach the target, we have to remain focused on only one thing and that is securing promotion”.
Raheem Sterling struck in the seventh minute of stoppage time to earn Manchester City a 2-1 Premier League victory over Bournemouth on Saturday but was then sent off in a tumultuous finale on the south coast.Seconds after Bournemouth had a chance to snatch victory the ball went back down the other end and Sterling’s deflected shot looped past helpless Bournemouth keeper Asmir Begovic.Sterling ran towards the celebrating City fans, some of whom spilled on to the pitch and, after order was restored by stewards and police, referee Mike Dean showed Sterling a second yellow card having already booked him earlier.It was a crazy end to an absorbing contest which had burst into life when Charlie Daniels lashed home a contender for “goal of the season” to give hosts Bournemouth a 13th-minute lead.Daniels let fly with a left-foot shot from wide on the left and the ball flew past keeper Ederson and in off the crossbar.Bournemouth’s lead lasted only eight minutes though as Gabriel Jesus, preferred by manager Pep Guardiola to Sergio Aguero who was on the bench, stroked home after a lethal pass by City’s midfield wizard David Silva.Both sides struck the woodwork after the interval and Bournemouth looked set for their first point of the season until Sterling’s late stunner broke home hearts.Victory gave City seven points from their opening three games and put them, temporarily at least, on top of the table.City have now had a player sent off in two consecutive games after Kyle Walker saw red in the 1-1 draw with Everton on Monday and Guardiola was frustrated by the decision.“Maybe someone can explain to me because I would like to know,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.“He ran to celebrate. If you can’t celebrate with the fans maybe we should play without fans.”After recovering from a poor opening 13 minutes City dominated possession, although Bournemouth were always a threat with Jermain Defoe, making his first start since joining, and Josh King both lively up front.King curled an effort against the post in the second half while City’s Nicolas Otamendi was also denied by the woodwork.For the most past it was a rearguard action by Bournemouth but they did scent a famous victory deep into stoppage time when King burst clear but saw his low shot saved by Ederson.Seconds later City were awarded a free kick and they quickly moved the ball down field where Danilo combined with Sterling and the former Liverpool player’s shot clipped the heel of Andrew Surman’s foot before looping into the net.It was a bitter blow for Bournemouth who have now endured their worst start since joining the Premier League in 2015 — losing all three games — and things do not get any easier with a trip to Arsenal next up.“We thought we had hung on for a point, we had chances to win it too, I am disappointing for the players and the supporters,” manager Eddie Howe said.“I am enthused by the performance, which was better than our first two.”
World number one Rafa Nadal provided Russian teenager Andrey Rublev with a tennis lesson on Wednesday, racing into the semi-finals of the U.S. Open with a ruthless 6-1 6-2 6-2 win.The 19-year-old, who grew up idolising Nadal and had the Spaniard’s poster pinned up on his bedroom wall was smiling from ear-to-ear as he posed for pre-match photos on Arthur Ashe Stadium court with his hero.That would be the highlight of an eye-opening afternoon for the Russian youngster as Nadal showed no mercy during a one hour, 37 minute thrashing.Once the match started it did not take long for Rublev’s grin to disappear. It was replaced by scowls and frustration as the Russian angrily yelled at himself for missed shots and occasionally slapped at his leg with a clenched fist.Nadal, still stinging from a third-round upset by 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov in Montreal in August and with a spot in the semi-finals and a possible showdown with rival Roger Federer on the line, was fully focused on the task at hand.While fans were still filing into Arthur Ashe, Nadal was wrapping up a clinical first set in 23 minutes.Rublev offered some resistance to start the second but it was brief, Nadal breaking to go up 3-2 and again to close out the set.A relentless Nadal broke to open the third and when Rublev double faulted to hand him yet another break at 4-1, the dejected Russian simply bent over and let his racquet drop.But Rublev was not done scolding himself, dropping into his chair during the changeover then hammering away at his foot with his racquet.Up next for Nadal will be the winner of the quarter-final clash between five-times U.S. Open champion Federer and Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 winner.If Federer can get past the towering Argentine it would set up a landmark meeting between the Swiss and Nadal.One of the great rivalries in all of sport, Federer and Nadal, a twice U.S. Open champion, have clashed 37 times over the years but they have never stood across from each other on Flushing Meadows’ famed hardcourts.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is keen to hold talks with Jack Wilshere over a new contract but said the midfielder’s future at the club could hinge on the financial terms of the deal.Wilshere, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has impressed Wenger with his performances over the last couple of months after breaking into the first team following a season-long loan spell at Bournemouth.When asked about the 25-year-old England international’s future, Wenger said: “We will sit down with him.“I believe if he can meet a point of agreement financially, he will want to stay.”Wenger also said that no clubs have approached to sign forward Alexis Sanchez despite multiple reports in British media linking the Chilean forward with a January transfer move to Premier League leaders Manchester City.Arsenal, sixth in the league, face a must-win encounter at Crystal Palace on Thursday after their rivals Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea registered convincing victories on Boxing Day.Wenger said defender Nacho Monreal will join midfielder Aaron Ramsey and striker Olivier Giroud on the sidelines for the trip to Selhurst Park.Monreal hobbled off during the 3-3 draw against Liverpool last week, with the manager hopeful that the Spanish defender will return next month.Giroud was also ruled out at least until mid-January after suffering a hamstring injury during their League Cup quarter-final win over West Ham United earlier this month.
Round 23 in the Cyprus football championship continues on Wednesday with three more fixtures, with the clash at the Antonis Papadopoulos between third-placed Anorthosis and sixth-placed Omonia taking centre stage.In the other games, second-placed Apollon travel to Nicosia to face Doxa Katokopias at the Makarion stadium while the final game will be played at the Tsirion stadium between AEL and Ermis Aradippou.Both teams will be looking for the three points at the Antonis Papadopoulos though for slightly different reasons.Anorthosis are seven points off the top with a game in hand over leaders Apoel and they need to stay within striking distance of the champions if they are to maintain their championship hopes.On the other hand Omonia, who have dropped just three points since Ivaylo Petev took over, have to climb up to fourth if they are to compete in Europe next year via the championship. Currently they are nine points adrift of Wednesday’s opponents.For the same reason AEL, just a point above Omonia, will be gunning for the win against Ermis Aradippou while Apollon should prove too strong for Doxa, who sit comfortably in a mid-table position 10 points from the danger zone.Tuesday results:Apoel 7-1 Ethnikos AchnasNea Salamina 2-0 OlympiakosAris 0-6 Pafos FCAEK 2-1 Alki
Harry Kane’s 101st Premier League goal was the difference as Tottenham Hotspur earned a 1-0 win over Arsenal, to continue their fine recent form in north London derbies in front of a Premier League record crowd at Wembley on Saturday.Both teams struggled to get going in the first half, but the contest burst into life straight after the interval, with Kane heading in his seventh goal in seven matches against Arsenal to break the deadlock in the 49th minute.Arsenal almost snatched a point at the death, but substitute Alexandre Lacazette fired wide, and in truth, the margin of victory should have been greater, as Spurs wasted several chances to double their advantage in front of a crowd of 83,222.None the less, the hosts hung on for the victory that enables them to leapfrog both Liverpool and Chelsea — who do not play until Sunday and Monday respectively — into third place, seven points clear of sixth-placed Arsenal, who have now beaten Spurs just once in eight league games.“We feel very proud. The performance was fantastic,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “We have to keep going.”Pochettino went with the same side that drew at Liverpool, while counterpart Arsene Wenger left Lacazette on the bench, with new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front.It took until the 27th minute for the game’s first real chance to be created, but Kane could not keep his header down.Arsenal were a threat on the counter, but rarely troubled Hugo Lloris in the home goal during the first half.“The game should have been finished at halftime,” Wenger said. “We missed opportunities on the counter attack because of a poor final ball.”The second period was the antithesis of the first, in terms of action, as Spurs took the game to Arsenal. Kane brilliantly headed Ben Davies’ cross into the net four minutes into the half before then missing an easier header moments later.Arsenal were reeling and had Petr Cech to thank for keeping them in the match after the Arsenal goalkeeper tipped Eriksen’s free kick over.As the visitors pressed for an equaliser, they left gaps at the back, and Dele Alli should have capitalised from such space, but prodded wide.The gilt-edged chances kept coming for Spurs, with Kieran Trippier next to shoot too close to Cech.Lacazette came mightily close to snatching an undeserved point in stoppage time, but he could not find the target, and Arsenal slipped to a third defeat in five league games.
A positive change in mentality can help Everton end their poor away run in the Premier League this season, manager Sam Allardyce said ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stoke City.The Merseyside club are on a five-match losing streak away from Goodison Park and have won just one of their 15 away league games this campaign, the same number as bottom-two sides Stoke and West Bromwich Albion.In contrast, ninth-placed Everton have won nine of their 15 home league matches to help them maintain their position in the top half of the standings.“We’ve tried a number of things. Changing system, changing personnel – but changing mentality is the big one,” Allardyce told reporters on Thursday.“We’ve been using some more work into the mind in the analysis room. Who we are, what we want to achieve, what we can get.“Visualising the performance you give at the top level and thinking of that to put yourself in a positive frame of mind… Tactically the preparation is fine but having a good frame of mind gives a better chance of it being delivered.”Allardyce identified Stoke playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri as their biggest threat, with the 63-year-old boss urging his team to mark the Swiss international carefully and stop him from influencing the game.Everton said on Wednesday that midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson was expected to return from a knee injury in six to eight weeks but Allardyce is hopeful that the Iceland international can get back on the pitch ahead of schedule.“I’ve always felt it’s wrong to tag an injury with time limits,” Allardyce added. “You want to avoid setbacks. If you can get it before then you’ve done well.“We’ll look at it in the next two weeks. There’s a settling down period and then how quickly the player recovers. Gylfi is motivated to return for us and Iceland at the World Cup.”Stoke are 19th in the standings, a point adrift of the safety zone with eight games left to play.