JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/ AFP
Lionel Messi found the back of the net as Paris St Germain bagged a record-breaking 11th Ligue 1 title with one game to spare with a mediocre 1-1 draw at Racing Strasbourg on Saturday.
The result put PSG on 85 points, four ahead of RC Lens, who secured second place and a place in next season’s Champions League – a first for the Sang et Or in 21 years – with a 3-0 hammering of AC Ajaccio in a boiling hot Bollaert-Delelis stadium.
“Everything was not perfect, but this title belongs to the players. Being French champions is always something,” said coach Christophe Galtier.
“From a personal point of view I appreciate it a lot.”
Asked about his future at the club after one season in charge, Galtier said: “I’ve been reading a lot of things here and there but there is a difference between what’s being written and what’s happening.”
Olympique de Marseille will finish third after being left with 73 points following a 2-1 home defeat by Stade Brestois.
Lille are fourth on 66 points after a couple of Jonathan David penalties gave them a 2-1 home win against relegation-threatened Nantes.
Stade Rennais leapfrogged Monaco into fifth place with a 2-0 victory against the principality side, who are behind on goal difference with 65 points, leaving the fight for a spot in the Europa League to be decided in the final round of matches.
The fourth-placed team qualifies for the Europa League group stage, where they will join French Cup winners Toulouse.
In Strasbourg, PSG were their usual disappointing selves until Messi opened the scoring with a right footed effort into the top corner after collecting Mbappe’s pass in the area.
Strasbourg had their chances but failed to convert as they secured their place in the elite for next season.
Troyes, Ajaccio and Angers were already relegated and they will be joined into Ligue 2 either by AJ Auxerre or Nantes.
Nantes trail the Burgundy side by two points before hosting bottom side Angers while Auxerre will entertain Lens.
Lens won their ticket for Europe’s premium club competition as Lois Openda became the club’s top scorer in the top flight with 20 goals – level with Roger Boli who reached that tally in the 1993-94 season.
Openda scored the third goal with a penalty after Deiver Machado and Adrien Thomasson had put the hosts ahead in the first half.
“It puts me right up there with a club legend, I’m so happy,” said Belgium striker Openda.
“We did it all together, we were so strong at home this season,” said Lens defender Kevin Danso.
Japan down Samoa to keep quarter-final dream alive, England go through – ARN News Centre
Japan took a big step towards reaching the quarter-finals for the second successive World Cup with a 28-22 win over Samoa on Thursday, sending England through to the knockout stage as Pool D winners in the process.
Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch and Kazuki Himeno scored tries and 13 points from the boot of flyhalf Rikiya Matsuda gave the Brave Blossoms enough breathing space to hold off a late fightback from 14-man Samoa.
The Samoans had a try on the board from Seilala Lam before winger Ben Lam sent from the field in the 47th minute and two more from Duncan Paia’aua and Christian Leali’ifano in the final quarter were not quite enough to overhaul Japan.
“It’s a big win, that was a really tough game,” said Japan coach Jamie Joseph. “We had to work hard to get the win, I take my hat off to the Samoan boys, they really took it to us.”
Japan moved out of a tie with Samoa into second place in the pool on nine points with a winner-takes-all showdown against Argentina looming next week if the Pumas, as expected, beat Chile on Saturday.
Samoa coach Seilala Mapusua said the red card had proved decisive as his team’s hopes of progressing were reduced to the mathematical.
“Really proud of the guys with the effort they put into the game, I couldn’t have asked for more,” he said. “But it’s tough playing a game against 15 men and to be down a man down.”
Both teams came into the match with one win from two games and the early exchanges were even until Japan struck in the 14th minute.
Fullback Lomano Lemeki, making his first test start for two years, bounced off a couple of tackles down the left wing to drive deep into the Samoa half and flanker Labuschagne barged over the line from close range.
Samoa were dominating territory and forcing Japan into a lot of tackles but getting no penetration from their backline and emerged with only a penalty from a long period in the red zone.
Matsuda stroked over a penalty in the 28th minute to continue his flawless performance from the tee at this World Cup and in Japan’s next attack around the half-hour mark created a try.
Japan were going through phases close to the Samoa line when Matsuda lofted a looping cutout pass out to Leitch on the left wing, leaving the former captain with a clear canter to the line.
Matsuda nailed the conversion from the wing to give Japan a 17-3 lead and Samoa suffered a second blow when scrumhalf Jonathan Taumateine was sin-binned.
Japan were also reduced to 14 men three minutes before the break when Shota Horie was sent to the sin-bin and Samoa took immediate advantage, rolling hooker Seilala Lam over the line for a try to cut the deficit to 17-8 at halftime.
The yellow card for a high shot by winger Lam early in the second half allowed Japan to reply in kind in the 49th minute, skipper Kazuki Himeno emerging from the pile of bodies to claim the try.
Matsuda missed his first kick of the tournament from the conversion but the news was worse for Samoa with the referee confirming that Lam’s yellow card had been upgraded to a red.
Another Matsuda penalty in the 56th minute extended the lead to 25-8 but Samoa hit back six minutes later with a try from fullback Duncan Paia’aua after the Samoan forwards again took a direct approach.
Former Wallabies flyhalf Leali’ifano added the extras and skipped across the line for a converted try of his own two minutes from time but Japan held on for their third successive win over Samoa in the World Cup.
Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open dates announced for 2024 – ARN News Centre
The Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open is set to make a spectacular return to the UAE tennis scene from February 3 – 11, 2024, at the Zayed Sports City International Tennis Centre, following its successful inaugural edition this year.
The WTA 500 tournament, presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and hosted in partnership with Mubadala, has quickly become one of the most prestigious events in women’s tennis, featuring 28 singles players and 16 doubles teams competing for a $900,000 prize fund and coveted ranking points.
The tournament is part of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to hosting world-class sporting events and aims to inspire young athletes and unite the tennis community.
In addition to top-notch tennis action, the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open offers an immersive Fan Village experience with player appearances, family-friendly entertainment, contests and diverse food options.
With affordable ticket prices starting at AED 50 for kids and AED 95 for adults, the event promises to be an ideal outing for families and sports enthusiasts.
Fans are encouraged to subscribe online for early access to tickets and the best seats.
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Dynamo beat Lionel Messi-less Miami to win US Open Cup – ARN News Centre
Griffin Dorsey and Amine Bassi scored before halftime and the Houston Dynamo won their second US Open Cup with a 2-1 victory over Inter Miami on Wednesday at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Inter Miami played the final without injured stars Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba.
Houston goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell made three stops to preserve the victory as the Dynamo repeated a feat they previously accomplished in 2018, this time under first-year manager Ben Olsen.
Houston becomes the seventh MLS team to win the US Open Cup on multiple occasions. Olsen becomes only the third manager to win the nation’s oldest surviving national soccer competition with two different clubs, having guided DC United to the title in 2013.
For the fourth time in five matches, Miami played without Messi, who has been nursing a lower-body muscle issue since he went to play with the Argentina national team earlier this month.
Josef Martinez scored a late consolation goal for the Herons, who won the 2023 Leagues Cup led by Messi’s 10 goals in that competition last month.
Via their respective trophies, both Miami and Houston will compete in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup.
Houston was dominant in the first half and held a deserved 2-0 lead before Miami even managed its first shot.
Dorsey opened the scoring in the 24th minute on a well-worked team attack that began with Corey Baird cutting in from the left flank, and then playing the ball to Artur in the center channel.
Artur worked the ball further to the right into the overlapping run of Dorsey, who took one touch to control and then hammered his finish through goalkeeper Drake Callender and into the net from about 10 yards out.
Seven minutes later, Nelson Quinones got behind the Miami back line and was taken down by DeAndre Yedlin just inside the 18-yard box.
In the 33rd minute, Bassi stepped up and cooly converted his penalty past Callender, who guessed incorrectly.
Bassi appeared to have set up Quinones for a third goal in the second half, but referee Jon Freemon ruled Quinones had been fractionally offside following a video review.
Martinez made the final stages interesting when he took Facundo Farias’ throughball and drove a low finish through Tarbell’s legs in the second minute of second-half stoppage time.