France started their World Cup title defence in style with a 4-1 comeback win against Australia on Tuesday, with Olivier Giroud scoring two goals to become Les Bleus’ joint all-time top scorer.
Giroud netted before and after the break to take his tally to 51 goals, matching Thierry Henry’s mark. He scored either side of a Kylian Mbappe goal after Adrien Rabiot had levelled for France following Craig Goodwin’s shock early opener.
Les Bleus are the first defending champions to win their opening match since Brazil in 2006, which has already put them in a good position to advance from the group phase, something Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018 failed to do.
France, whose defender Lucas Hernandez was ruled out of the World Cup after picking up a serious knee injury in the first half, have three points and lead Tunisia and Denmark by two after they played out a 0-0 draw on Tuesday.
Didier Deschamps’s side, who started the tournament on the back of the disappointment of striker Karim Benzema being ruled out injured last Saturday, next face Denmark on Saturday.
“We got a scare but reacted quickly afterwards. Even if we could have scored more goals, we found each other, we were efficient,” said 36-year-old Giroud, who is now France’s oldest scorer in the World Cup.
“It’s very good for our self-confidence to have turned things around. We’ll have to learn from these little mistakes however.”
Australia coach Graham Arnold said his team ran out of gas against a superior side.
“Look, at the end of the day, they’re are a quality side. They are world champions for a reason,” he added.
“I thought the first half, we did well. Second half, we ran out of legs a bit, but that’s the type of level of those players play at.”
England’s Raheem Sterling leaves Qatar after home robbery – ARN News Centre
Sterling will head back to Britain today to be with family, after local media reported a break-in at his home
Coach Gareth Southgate commented, “I’ve spent some time with him today. He’s going to fly home. And obviously, family at these moments is the most important thing,” Southgate added, when asked about Chelsea forward Sterling amid the reports of a home intrusion.
Asked about the incident later, Southgate said he would not discuss the details because it was a private matter.
“Obviously it’s not ideal for the group preparing for a game, but the individual is more important than the group in those moments,” he told reporters.
England captain Harry Kane, who scored the second goal of the game, said the team wished Sterling their best and hoped to see him again “as soon as possible”.
“So we want to give him that space. And we’ll see over the next few days how that all develops.”
Southgate did not provide details of the incident or say if Sterling planned to return to the squad in Qatar.
The 27-year-old, who has 81 caps, was left out of the squad for the match that saw England book a place in the World Cup quarter-finals against holders France next weekend.
England’s Football Association said Sterling was not available for “personal reasons”.
“It’s never easy to see one of your team mates and friends have to deal with something like that,” he added.
“So we’ll have to take it day-by-day, I’m sure Raheem will talk to the manager and take the best decision for him and his family, that’s the most important thing.”
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Argentina to face Netherlands in World Cup quarters – ARN News Centre
FRANCK FIFE/ AFP
Argentina will meet the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup.
Lionel Messi scored the first goal to lead Argentina to a 2-1 victory over Australia in their last-16 clash on Saturday, while the Netherlands defeated the United States 3-1 earlier in the day.
Messi tallied in the 35th minute and Julian Alvarez scored in the 57th to give Argentina a 2-0 lead but Australia finally got on the board in the 77th minute, thanks to an Enzo Fernandez own goal.
It was Messi’s first goal in a World Cup knockout round in his 1,000th match to beat Diego Maradona’s tournament tally.
Elsewhere, Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries set up their first two goals and netted a decisive third to ensure a 3-1 victory over the United States.
Dumfries ended any hopes the Americans had of staging a rescue act after they had gone 2-0 down at halftime, tucking away a third goal for the Dutch that made sure of their victory and put the seal on an influential personal performance.
The United States had cut the deficit through Haji Wright in the 76th minute, but their hopes lasted just five minutes before Louis van Gaal’s team wrapped up the win.
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Deccan Gladiators show firepower to retain Abu Dhabi T10 League trophy
David Wise in action at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi yesterday. Supplied photo
The resident public of the UAE has been awaiting this weekend for long to have its fill of fireworks on the occasion of the 51st National Day. Close to nearly 18,000 cricket fans in Abu Dhabi expected some fireworks as curtains came down on the sixth T10 League on Sunday, but they left the Zayed Cricket Stadium a tad disappointed even though favourites Deccan Gladiators retained the title.
Unlike the major course of the tournament, the final two games proved to be one-sided affairs. The fireworks – sixes, fours and wickets galore – were subdued as Deccan beat New York Strikers by 37 runs. Morrisville Samp Army took third place after defeating Team Abu Dhabi by 79 runs.
The curtains came down after 12 days of fast pace of action in the short format which is growing. There was an announcement from the organisers that T10 is now heading to the African continent with Zimbabwe taking the lead in hosting it next year.
Yet, there were some damp squibs, too. Two debutant teams this year, both from the United States, went all the way to the top of the table after the round-robin stage but fell short at the final hurdles.
And the quotient of fireworks could have been more had the host team showed some more appetite for a fight despite being in a scrap for third place. Team Abu Dhabi had to field a second-string side as many top international players gave the game against Morrisville a miss and headed home. After conceding 128 runs, TAD were dismissed for a paltry 48 runs on the board in 8.4 overs.
Defending champions Deccan restored the order of swinging bats to good effect after New York chose to bowl first. The start was a bit shaky (55-3 in five overs), but the reliable captain Nicholas Pooran (40) and David Wiese (43 not out) put up 74 runs in the second half of the innings. Deccan finished with 128 for four after Pooran was dismissed on the last ball. He was named player of the tournament later.
In a format where you have no time to get your eye in, New York lost UAE opener Mohammad Waseem to the second ball of the first over by Josh Little. One wicket and one run at the end of it meant New York went a big step back and never got into the run chase.
A disciplined effort from the bowlers tightened the squeeze as the crowd hoped for Kieron Pollard to work his magic. The ageing West Indies great waited for his turn in the dugout but could be seen in discomfort over his right hand bicep muscles. When he went in as the fifth batsman, the required run rate was mounting. Even though he hit 23 from 15 balls, it was never going to be enough and he chose to retire hurt. The wind in New York’s sails had gone by then.
Deccan Gladiators bt New York Strikers by 37 runs. Deccan Gladiators 128 for 4 in 10 overs (Nichloas Pooran 40, David Wiese 43n.o, Akeal Hosein 2 for 16) New York Strikers 91 for 5 in 10 overs (Jordan Thompson 22n.o, Kieron Pollard 23rtd hurt, Josh Little 2 for 4, Mohammmad Hasnain 2 for 14)
Player of the Match: David Wiese.
Player of the tournament: Nicholas Pooran, pictured below