Independiente, Racing get Argentine league reality check

Independiente, with high hopes after their promotion, conceded four goals in the second half against leaders Velez Sarsfield at their Libertadores de America ground in a second successive defeat on Saturday.


Striker Lucas Pratto, whom Velez hung on to despite efforts by title holders River Plate to sign him last month, gave Velez a two-goal lead to take his tournament tally to three.

“I’d like to be the (championship) top scorer but we’ve lost 14 goals with Mauro Zarate’s departure,” Pratto said referring to his former strike partner who left Velez for West Ham United in England. “We need to replace that quantity of goals.”

Midfielder Leonardo Rolon scored the third with what is known in South America as an Olympic goal, curling the ball into the net directly from a corner, and substitute Lucas Romero completed the rout.

“I’m to blame because I’m the soul of this team,” said Independiente coach Jorge Almiron. “They were better than us in everything…. (but) we’ll recover.”

Velez are the only team with a maximum nine points after three rounds of matches. Godoy Cruz or River can edge to within two points of Velez if one of them wins their clash in Mendoza on Sunday.

Racing, whose busy off-season recruiting included the return of striker Diego Milito, made a fine start to the tournament with two wins and had fans dreaming of the title but were brought down to earth in a 4-0 rout at Tigre on Friday.

There was last-minute drama for both the Rosario teams in their matches on Saturday.

Rosario Central beat Gimnasia 2-1 at home with a penalty in stoppage time by defender Rafael Delgado and neighbours Newell’s Old Boys were held 3-3 at home by Gimnasia.

Newell’s were 3-2 up against Belgrano with Maxi Rodriguez’s second penalty in the 87th minute but the visitors snatched a point when substitute Emiliano Rigoni scored their third equaliser of a yo-yo match at the Marcelo Bielsa stadium.

(Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Martyn Herman)

Foley killing an ‘utter betrayal’: Britain

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says the killing of US journalist James Foley by a man speaking with an English accent was an “utter betrayal of our country”.


Hammond’s comments came amid growing concern in London that British passport holders who travel to fight in Iraq and Syria could return to commit attacks on British soil.

The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group posted a video of Foley’s killing online Tuesday.

In it, a masked militant with a London accent executed the journalist, who had been missing since his capture in Syria in 2012.

The Sunday Times newspaper, citing unnamed senior government sources, reported that intelligence services MI5 and MI6 have identified the fighter suspected of killing Foley but the sources did not divulge the suspect’s name.

“It is horrifying to think that the perpetrator of this heinous act could have been brought up in Britain,” Hammond wrote in an article published in this week’s Sunday Times.

“It is an utter betrayal of our country, our values and everything the British people stand for.”

Hammond also warned that IS was “turning a swathe of Iraq and Syria into a terrorist state as a base for launching attacks on the West.”

He added: “Unless they are stopped, sooner or later they will seek to strike us on British soil.”

Britain has ruled out sending ground troops into Iraq to fight the jihadists.

But it is taking steps including sending equipment to Kurdish peshmerga fighters to help combat them, as well as offering humanitarian assistance.

The government is under pressure at home to step up action to prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims in Britain, some of whom then travel abroad to fight.

More than 500 Britons have travelled to Syria or Iraq to fight with jihadists in the last few years, according to the intelligence services.

Home Secretary Theresa May indicated Saturday that she could invoke fresh powers to combat radicalisation.

But the main opposition Labour Party has accused the government of not moving quickly enough or providing enough specifics on what it intends to do.

Militants target main refinery in Iraq

Iran, which is helping Iraq in its fight against jihadist-led militants, has sent its foreign minister to Baghdad, as gunmen made a renewed push for the country’s main oil refinery.


The United States, whose warplanes have launched more than 90 air strikes against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Iraq since August 8, has said operations against the group in Syria may also be necessary.

Washington has also ramped up its rhetoric over the grisly IS beheading in Syria of abducted American journalist James Foley, calling it “a terrorist attack against our country”.

The toll rose Sunday to more than 35 dead in a string of attacks across Iraq the day before, as officials sought to defuse tensions after 70 people were gunned down at a Sunni mosque by suspected Shi’ite militiamen.

Iraq is struggling to regain ground lost to a major IS-led militant offensive which began in June and quickly overran large areas of five provinces, sweeping security forces aside.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was to meet caretaker premier Nuri al-Maliki, prime minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi and other officials in Baghdad on Sunday.

Tehran has said it is advising Iraq’s federal government and its autonomous Kurdish region, which are battling to push back IS-led militants.

However, evidence including the death of an Iranian pilot and the presence of several Iranian Su-25 warplanes points to a more direct military role by Iraq’s Shi’ite neighbour to the east.

As Zarif visited Baghdad, security forces backed by air support battled a renewed militant push towards the Baiji refinery, which once accounted for some 50 per cent of Iraq’s supplies of refined petroleum products, and has been targeted in the past.

The latest unrest came as the death toll from a string of attacks in and north of Baghdad on Saturday rose to at least 37, a health official said.

Officials have been trying to calm tensions caused by an attack two days ago on a Sunni mosque in Diyala province.

The attack, in which worshippers were sprayed with machine gun fire, killed at least 70 people and wounded 20, officials said.

Dubbed by rights group Amnesty International a “massacre” that Iraqi authorities “must properly investigate”, the attack threatens to increase anger among the Sunni Muslim minority with the Shi’ite-led government at a time when the anti-IS drive depends on their cooperation.

Army and police officers said the assault on the Musab bin Omair Mosque in Diyala came after Shi’ite militiamen were killed in clashes, while other sources said it followed a roadside bombing near a militia patrol.

Although some officers blamed IS for the attack, most accounts, including one from an eyewitness, pointed to Shi’ite militiamen.

The government turned to militias to bolster its flagging forces during the IS-led offensive, but in doing so it has encouraged a resurgence of groups involved in brutal sectarian killings in past years.

The United Nations, meanwhile, warned that the Shi’ite Turkmen-majority northern Iraqi town of Amerli is under threat of a “massacre” by jihadists who have besieged it for more than two months.

“The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens,” UN Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

Aussie swimmers get mojo back

Australia officially have their mojo back after notching 10 gold, eight silver and eight bronze at the Pan Pacific swimming championships.


At the completion of the four-day meet they trailed only the world No.1 US (14 gold, 12 silver, 14 bronze) – a team that boasts Olympic great Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky – who broke the women’s 1500m freestyle world record on Sunday night.

Cate Campbell became Australia’s first 50m Pan Pacs champion by clocking a meet record 23.96 on Sunday – equalling the world’s fastest time of 2014 – to claim gold ahead of sister Bronte (24.56).

Cate then combined with Lorna Tonks, Emily Seebohm and Alicia Coutts to seal Australia’s 4x100m medley relay win (3:55.49) over Olympic champions the United States.

But it was perhaps Cameron McEvoy who typified Australia’s changing fortunes in the pool best.

After the London Olympic disaster which yielded one swimming gold, McEvoy was revealed as part of the “Stilnox Six” following the Australian 4x100m freestyle relay squad’s infamous pre-2012 Games bonding session.

Two years later he is Australia’s poster boy after taking 100m freestyle gold before anchoring the 4x100m relay team’s upset over the US on Saturday night.

It ensured Australia’s men’s and women’s sprint relay teams downed their US counterparts at the same meet for the first time in 12 years.

But McEvoy said the team still needed to keep things in check.

“We have to stay grounded and look forward because at the European titles (this month) we would have come fourth (in the 4x100m relay),” he said on Sunday.

“But it’s always good to get one up on the Americans like that.”

With McEvoy’s feats, Thomas Fraser-Holmes now the 200m freestyle world No.1 and Mack Horton a long distance prodigy the Australian men’s team – which had failed to claim an individual gold at the last two Olympics – is definitely on the rise.

The women meanwhile have world 100m champion Cate Campbell plus sister Bronte set to dominate the freestyle sprints, youngster Taylor McKeown ready to take up Leisel Jones’ breaststroke mantle while Seebohm landed a psychological blow on backstroke queen Franklin.

Australia topped the Glasgow Commonwealth Games pool tally with 57 medals (19 gold) but the US were expected to provide a sobering yardstick.

However they kept the Americans honest, the Australians easily eclipsing their last Pan Pacs tally of four gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze in 2010.

In other results, Australia’s Mitch Larkin, Jake Packard, Tommaso D’Orsogna and McEvoy took 4x100m medley bronze (3:33.45) behind the US (3:29.94).

American Maya Dirado (2:09.93) won the 200m IM ahead of Australian Coutts (2nd; 2:10.25).

Canada’s Ryan Cochrane (7:45.39) won the 800m freestyle ahead of Australia’s Horton (7:47.73).

In the women’s 200m breaststroke Australia’s McKeown claimed bronze (2:22.89) behind Japan’s Kanako Watanabe (2:21.41).

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus (21.44 meet record) claimed the 50m freestyle ahead of Australia’s Cameron McEvoy (4th; 22.07).

Japan’s Yasuhir Koseki won the 200m breaststroke (2:08.57).

Van Gaal says United title win would be ‘a miracle’

After finishing seventh last year, United opened their campaign optimistic that Dutch master-tactician van Gaal could oversee a return to the upper echelons of the Premier League table.


However that optimism was punctured by a shock 2-1 loss against Swansea City at Old Trafford last Saturday – their first home league loss to the Welsh club.

It was also their first opening-day loss at home since 1972 and was enough to convince van Gaal that a successful title challenge would be unlikely.

“Would it be a miracle to win the league this season? I think so but it is also possible, always possible but it would be very difficult,” van Gaal said.

“It is possible to win a title in the first year but it is very difficult.

“I think [the Manchester United owners] understand [the size of the task] or I would not have accepted the job.

“I have discussed everything, long discussions where I have shown myself as I am always open.

“It is why we discussed three years and not one year. We discussed the consequences of them hiring me. I told them from my experiences with my former clubs the start was difficult.”

Van Gaal won the title in his first season at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich but thinks his current squad lacks balance to do the same.

The 63-year-old has a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal but lacks the defensive strength-in-depth to challenge Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Alexander Buttner all left Old Trafford during the close-season with left back’s Luke Shaw and Argentine Marcos Rojo their only replacements.

“When I took over from Bobby Robson at Barcelona he had won three titles so the selection of players was stable at the time.

“When I got to Bayern Munich the selection was not stable. What we did was a miracle.

“The problem I have at United is this selection is not in balance. There are five number nines and six number 10s and so on. And we don’t have defenders.”

United face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

(Reporting By Tom Hayward; editing by Martyn Herman)

Ledecky breaks 1500m world record at Pan Pacs

The 17-year-old finished almost half a minute ahead of her nearest rival – an almost unimaginable margin in a sport where medals are often decided by hundredths of seconds – to collect her fifth title of the championships.


Ledecky broke her 400m world record on Saturday and came within a whisker of eclipsing her 800m world best on Thursday.

She also won the 200m individual event and anchored the United States to victory in the 4x200m to emerge as the biggest winner of the four-day meet at Australia’s Gold Coast.

“That was probably one of my most painful races, I don’t know whether to throw up or not,” Ledecky told reporters.

“But it paid off in the end. Pretty early on it felt like I was on world record pace.

“I was pretty sure I had it. Still, six seconds is

pretty surprising.”

Ledecky’s performances have caught the eye of Phelps, who said: “She’s a stud. Watching her swim, it’s remarkable.”


Phelps picked up his third gold medal of the meet when he helped the U.S. win the men’s 4x100m medley relay after he was surprisingly beaten in the 200m individual medley, an event he had won at the last three Olympics before his short-lived retirement after London 2012.

Still struggling to find his best, Phelps was touched out by Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, who got his hand on the wall first in 1:56.02 to claim his second gold after also winning the 400 IM.

Asked about his week after signing off with gold in the medley relay, Phelps said in a pooldeck interview that it had been “up and down” but added “there’s no better way to end a great week of racing then being with these guys and finishing with a win.”

Phelps, once the master of winning tight races, finished just 0.02 behind Hagino while his team mate Ryan Lochte was left wondering what might have been after he took it too easy in the morning heats and failed to qualify for the final.

Lochte won the consolation final in the same time as Hagino won the main event to join Phelps in the American team for next year’s world championships in Russia, but didn’t get a medal.

Japan also won both 200m breaststroke finals with Yasuhiro Koseki taking out the men’s race and teenager Kanako Watanabe clinching the women’s.

Brazil claimed their first win of the championships when Bruno Fratus won the men’s 50m freestyle sprint in 21.44 while Canada also picked up their first when Ryan Cochrane won the men’s 800m title.

Australian sprinter Cate Campbell collected two more titles to finish the meet with four golds. She edged out her younger sister Bronte to win the 50m dash then anchored the host-nation to win the women’s medley relay.

(Reporting by Julian Linden in Singapore; editing by Josh Reich)

Ricciardo wins Belgian Grand Prix

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo has taken full advantage of early contact between Mercedes teammates and title rivals Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to win the Belgian Grand Prix.


Tensions between the Mercedes duo will only be growing after the second-lap incident on Sunday in which Rosberg sliced up Hamilton’s rear tyre, and damaged his own front wing, when he tried to overtake him in an effort to regain the lead he had lost at the start.

Hamilton’s race was ruined and he eventually retired, and he is now 29 points behind Rosberg, who came second in dry conditions the day after a wet qualifying.

Ricciardo meanwhile got his second win in a row and third of the season from fifth place on the grid, ahead of first-time Spa podium finisher Rosberg and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.

Rosberg leads the championship with 220 points from Hamilton (191), and Ricciardo, who improved to 156 after 12 of 19 races.

Rosberg had a dreadful start from pole as Hamilton and Vettel slipped past, with Hamilton holding off Vettel to lead the way into the first turn.

Vettel tried his luck again but went wide which dropped him back to third.

Rosberg tried to recover first place in the second lap but Hamilton did not give way and although Rosberg eventually held back the two Mercedes’ made contact, with Rosberg’s left front wing slicing up Hamilton’s rear tyre.

“Nico hit me,” Hamilton said via team radio as he limped into the pits for new rubbers and rejoined in 19th place.

Stewards took no action, seemingly deeming it a normal racing incident.

Rosberg maintained the lead before pitting in the ninth for a new front wing and fresh rubbers, with Ricciardo climbing from fifth at the start into second at the time – and leading from Raikkonen once all drivers had made their first tyre change.

Rosberg was hampered by some sort of debris, possibly even from Hamilton’s tyre, clinging to the aerial in front of the cockpit, before he managed to pull it away.

Alonso dropped to eighth after serving a five-second stop-and-go penalty imposed because mechanics had worked on his car too close to te start.

Hamilton’s request to retire was turned down by the team, saying that any safety car phase would get him back in contention. But they eventually had mercy four laps from the end, saying there was possibly something wrong with the car.

Ricciardo retained the lead through the second round of pit stops and safely completed the 44 laps in 1 hour 24 minutes 36.556 seconds for victory.

Rosberg followed while Bottas passed four-times race winner Kimi Raikkonen in the 40th lap to complete the podium.

Raikkonen placed fourth while a big fight for fifth to eighth saw Vettel ahead of the McLarens of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, and Alonso in eighth.

Lyles gives U.S. track and field win at Youth Olympics

The 16-year-old lived up to his billing as the pre-race favourite as he charged to victory in 20.


80 seconds.

“I took the win from the Jamaicans. I took the win from everybody else. I definitely wanted to prove that we’re (U.S.) still on top,” he said.

“Coming in with a big target on your back, there’s always pressure. But you can’t worry about it, you’ve just got to run your own race and do the best you can.”

Jamaica did win the women’s 200m final when Natalliah Whyte scored in 23.55 seconds on the busiest day of the Games, with 33 gold medals decided, including 12 in athletics.

Anatoly Ryapolov won the men’s long jump with a distance of 7.54m while Kenya’s Gilbert Kwemoi Soet won the men’s 1,500m, and celebrated by performing a series of karate kicks.

Gabriel Luis Moreno made it the archery field just in time to join forces with China’s Li Jiaman and win the mixed international team event.

Moreno almost missed his event after his taxi driver got lost but got there in the nick of time.

“I had to go into the quarter-finals with almost no warm up time,” he said. “But thankfully, that did not harm my performance.”

Britain’s Giarnni Regini-Moran and Nikita Nagornyy of Russia each won their third gold medals in men’s gymnastics in Nanjing.

Regini-Moran, who won the all-around and floor golds earlier in the Games, won the vault while Nagornyy added the parallel bars to his earlier wins in the pommel horse and rings.

China’s Wang Yan picked up her second gold when she won the balance beam while Brazil’s Flavia Lopes Saraiva and Japan’s Kenya Yuasa both struck their first golds.

China’s Yang Hao won the men’s three-metre springboard diving final, sealing the victory with a forward two-and-a-half somersault.

Alexandr Lifanov of Russia took the gold in the men’s modern pentathlon individual event.

Singapore claimed two golds on the water when 15-year-old Samantha Yom and Cheok Khoon Bernie Chin won their sailing events.

Argentina’s Francisco Cruz Saubidet Birkner won the men’s windsurfing gold on a countback from Russia’s Maxim Tokarev while China’s Wu Linli dominated the women’s event.

China’s Xu Shilin won the women’s tennis singles gold, beating Iryna Shymanovich, who won the doubles on Saturday, 6-3 6-1, while Orlando Moraes Luz made amends for his loss in the men’s singles final when he teamed up with his fellow Brazilian Marcelo Zormann Silva to win the doubles.

New Zealand’s Emily Fraser managed to break Europe’s domination of the equestrian events when she won gold after a jump-off.

“It was nerve-racking,” Fraser said. “My horse was jumping during the warm-up before the jump-off, and I was hoping everything would go right.”

The Czech Republic beat Italy by the smallest of margins to win the international mixed relay, the last cycling event of the Games.

Belarus won two of the four gold medals on offer in canoeing and kayaking sprints with Kamila Bobr taking the women’s C1 and Stanislau Daineka winning the men’s K1.

Serghei Tarnovschi of Moldova won the men’s C1 while Russia’s Inna Nikitina was the winner of the women’s K1.

(Reporting by Julian Linden in Singapore; editing by Martyn Herman)

Barshim prevails in another high jump epic

Qatar’s world indoor champion Barshim eventually prevailed, winning on a countback with a height of 2.


38 metres after both men failed three times at 2.41 metres. Ukrainian Bondarenko, last year’s world outdoor champion, was second with the same height.

“I’m happy, I got the win which is all that matters,” Barshim said.

“It’s the battle they are all talking about, Barshim versus Bondarenko. I’ve got a lot of competitions coming up so there is a lot to still compete for.

Bondarenko added: “To jump 2.38 was a good result and second place was okay.”

Kenya’s David Rudisha, who produced the finest track performance of the 2012 London Olympics when he broke the world 800 metres world record in the final, failed in an attempt on the world 600 metres mark set in 1986 by American Johnny Gray.

As he did in London, Rudisha led from the start to cross the line in one minute 13.71 seconds, the fourth fastest time ever in an event which rarely features on the programme.

“This is my first 600 metres, so I guess it was difficult to judge the pace, it has been a bit of a struggle coming back from injury last year,” said Rudisha.

Olympic champion Kirani James, of Grenada, made no contest of the men’s 400 metres, easing to victory in 44.59 seconds. Britain’s new European champion Martyn Rooney finished third.

“I am very pleased with that,” James said. “I’ve had a successful end to the season, it’s always good to finish on a high.”


The women’s 400 provided a popular winner in Britain’s world champion Christine Ohuruogu, who ran a conservative first 200 before finishing strongly to win in 51.40.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” she said. “I was running down the home straight and saw that I was winning. The time wasn’t all that great but it doesn’t really matter.

Jamaican Kerron Stewart won the women’s 100 in 11.22 seconds after American Tori Bowie failed to finish. Bowie, the fastest woman in the world this year, who had won her heat, limped off the track clutching her left thigh.

Australian Olympic 100 metres hurdles champion Sally Pearson, who was disqualified for a false start at last week’s Stockholm Diamond League meeting, was first out of the blocks on Sunday but was then overhauled by Americans Dawn Harper-Nelson and Queen Harrison, the winner in Stockholm.

Harper-Nelson, the fastest woman in the world this year, edged Harrison to win in 12.66.

New Zealand’s Olympic and world women’s shot put champion Valerie Adams, unbeaten since 2010, extended her winning streak to 55 with a best mark of 19.96 metres.

The meeting ended on a high for the British crowd when European and Commonwealth silver medallist Lynsey Sharp outsprinted the field to win the women’s 800 metres and Mo Farah, who this year added the European 5,000 and 10,000 titles to his two Olympic gold medals, won the men’s two miles in a British record 8:07.85.

(Editing by Josh Reich)

Lamela and Chadli shine as Spurs investments start to sparkle

Tottenham fans have suffered too many false dawns over the years to get too carried away by a win that put Spurs top of the league after two games under new coach Mauricio Pochettino but even the most jaundiced would have gone home happy.


Argentine playmaker Lamela, the club’s 30 million pounds ($49.70 million) record signing from AS Roma last summer, dazzled with his best 90 minutes for the club while Belgium international Chadli weighed in with two goals.

Lamela, 22, looked liked a little boy lost for half of last season before a back injury sidelined him for five months and left many lamenting a spectacular waste of a chunk of the 85 million pounds the club received for Gareth Bale.

Six other players were signed to fill the void left by Bale’s move to Real Madrid, but apart from Dane Christian Eriksen, none of the other arrivals, including Brazil’s Paulinho, made any notable impact.

However, there have been signs in an unbeaten pre-season and the three competitive matches Spurs have played so far under former Southampton manager Pochettino, that those investments might at last begin to pay dividends.

Lamela was far more authoritative in Spurs’ 1-0 win at West Ham United last week than he was in any match he played last season while on Thursday he created both goals in their 2-1 Europa League win over AEL Limassol in Cyprus after coming on as a substitute halfway through the second half.

QPR, managed by former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, were admittedly woeful and were 3-0 down after 37 minutes at White Hart Lane with a Chadli’s two goals, the second superbly set up by Lamela, coming either side of a powerful header from young English fullback Erik Dier, also from a Lamela corner.

Defender Dier, who scored the winner against West Ham on his debut, produced another assured display while Emmanuel Adebayor wrapped up the victory, side-footing home after a blistering Spurs counter-attack.


Eriksen also rattled the crossbar with a sublime free kick.

It was Lamela’s form that provided the main talking point.

Pochettino has been credited with sparking him into life, but he downplayed that idea saying instead that Lamela is now coming to terms with English football.

“He can still improve a lot, but when a young player arrives in a new country, with a different culture, different football, it is hard to adapt. But right now we are very pleased with him,” he told reporters.

He does not see Lamela operating as an orthodox No.10 playmaker either.

“I think the most important thing for creative players, like Lamela, like Christian Eriksen, is that they are free in their minds. You don’t want them to be in a shell,” he said.

“You need to provide them with the movement and the organisation, but I want them to be free to attack in the last third. Sometimes Lamela can be the No.10, sometimes on the left, on the right. You need to understand the players.

“It is good we have won the first two matches because that makes it easier to get the players to believe in your philosophy and that makes it easier to develop your style.

“I know the way Spurs have played in their history, and I want to play that way and keep the link with the fans.”

Those fans also gave a warm welcome to Redknapp, who left Spurs two years ago after taking them into the Champions League for the only time in 2010 and securing fourth, fifth and fourth place finishes in his three complete seasons at the club.

His current aim is not Champions League football for QPR but an immediate improvement in the results of his newly-promoted side who sit at the opposite end of the table from Spurs, in last place after two defeats.

“We know we have a lot of work to do,” he said. “The only way is up now. But while we were poor in the first half and Spurs were very strong.

“They have so many good players they could field two strong teams and still have quality players left over. They will be up there at the end, that’s for sure.”

(Editing by Martyn Herman)