UFC returns to Abu Dhabi
UFC has announced its return to Abu Dhabi for UFC 294 on October 21 as the world’s best mixed martial artists face off once again at the Etihad Arena.
It will be the latest event to be held in the UAE capital as part of a landmark partnership, launched in 2019, between the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).
The fight card is yet to be announced, but the event will be headlined by a highly anticipated championship title bout.
Last year, a sold-out Etihad Arena witnessed Islam Makhachev become the lightweight champion, when he defeated Charles Oliveira via second round stoppage at UFC 280.
UFC 294 will mark the 18th event UFC has held in Abu Dhabi since UFC 112 in 2010, when legend Anderson Silva squared off against Brazilian compatriot Demian Maia.
Since then, some of the biggest names in MMA have performed in the UAE capital including Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor, Israel Adesanya, and Khamzat Chimaev.
“Abu Dhabi has been such an important part of the UFC’s overall business for years, and we have seen some incredible events during that time. We have some big plans in store for UFC 294, and I can’t wait for another insane night of fights in October,” said UFC President Dana White.
“We understand the passion and desire of fans in the region for world-class events and together we constantly strive to deliver fight cards that appeal to as wide an audience as possible,” added Saleh Al Geziry, Director General for Tourism at DCT Abu Dhabi.
It’s official – we’re headed back to Abu Dhabi in October for #UFC294!!
🎟 Register your interest: https://t.co/FklxNLCaHo@VisitAbuDhabi | @InAbuDhabi | #InAbuDhabi pic.twitter.com/8WWqhPlaLh
— UFC (@ufc) March 16, 2023
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Ronaldo leads the way for Portugal while England extend winning run – ARN News Centre
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/ AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed two goals in his country’s 6-0 thrashing of Luxembourg in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Sunday, giving them a second win in four days.
The 38-year-old grabbed a double against Liechtenstein on Thursday and scored twice more in Luxembourg to extend his record tally of international goals to 122 in 198 appearances.
Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Otavio and Rafael Leao added the other goals to put Portugal top of Group J after an easy start to their qualifying campaign.
Elsewhere, Harry Kane underlined his status as England’s greatest international goalscorer and Bukayo Saka dazzled again in a comfortable 2-0 win over Ukraine to put Gareth Southgate’s team in control of Group C.
Fresh from scoring his 54th goal in the 2-1 victory over Italy on Thursday, Kane made up for a couple of missed chances to break the stalemate in the 37th minute.
Arsenal youngster Saka, again England’s brightest spark, then doubled the lead before halftime with a sensational curler that left the visitors and their 4,000 fans deflated.
Ukraine had their moments and enjoyed some pressure after the interval but never really looked capable of claiming only a second victory over England in 10 attempts.
Meanwhile, goals by forward Mateo Retegui and midfielder Matteo Pessina steered Italy to a 2-0 win over Malta in the other Group C clash.
Italy opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Retegui broke free from his marker to power in a header from a corner with Pessina doubling the lead after 27 minutes when he tapped Emerson’s cross in from a short distance.
Vincenzo Grifo was close to make it three for the visitors shortly after but Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello skilfully blocked his attempt.
Italy came close to increasing their lead in the second half when Gianluca Scamacca produced an overhead kick from a corner but Bonello came to the rescue again with a one-handed reaction save.
Other matches in the second round saw Slovakia beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0, Iceland crush Liechtenstein 7-0, Kazakhstan overcome Denmark 3-2, Slovenia beat San Marino 2-0, and Finland edge Northern Ireland 1-0.
Argentina FA training facility renamed after Messi – ARN News Centre
The Argentina national team’s training facility has been renamed after talismanic captain Lionel Messi in recognition of his World Cup heroics and star-studded career, the country’s football association (AFA) said.
The Casa de Ezeiza in Buenos Aires, which houses the national team set-up, will now be known as Lionel Andres Messi “in tribute to the best player in the world”, AFA president Claudio Tapia wrote on Twitter.
“Welcome to the world champion’s house,” Tapia said at the unveiling ceremony attended by current and former Argentina players.
Messi ended Argentina’s 36-year wait for the World Cup, emulating the late Diego Maradona when he led them to victory against France in a pulsating final in Qatar in December.
“I feel very happy. This tribute is very, very special,” Messi, 35, said after unveiling the plaque bearing his name. “Knowing it will be named Lionel Andres Messi is something very beautiful.”
The World Cup had been the one piece of silverware missing from Messi’s extraordinary career, during which he has been voted the world’s best player a record seven times and won the Copa America, 11 league titles and four Champions League titles among other major honours.
Messi scored his 800th career goal in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Panama in a friendly in Buenos Aires – Argentina’s first game in front of their home fans since the World Cup triumph.
He will lead Argentina in a friendly against Curacao on Tuesday before returning to club duty with Paris St Germain.
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Late Joselu double helps Spain beat Norway 3-0 in Euro qualifier – ARN News Centre
Spain’s late substitute Joselu struck two quick-fire goals on his debut to seal a 3-0 win over Norway in their first Euro 2024 Group A qualifier on Saturday as they got off to a promising start under new manager Luis de la Fuente.
Spain, who have won their last 23 European home qualifiers, took the lead in the 13th minute through Dani Olmo, who flicked the ball into the bottom corner with the outside of his boot after being set up by defender Alejandro Balde.
Norway tried to respond two minutes later when Martin Odegaard’s strike was blocked by Nacho, who returned to the Spain team after a near five-year absence.
Striker Alvaro Morata was close to doubling their lead in the 25th but the newly-appointed Spain captain was seconds late to latch onto a low cross by Olmo.
Norway could have levelled just before the half-hour mark with a powerful first-time shot by Fredrik Aursnes but Spain keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, returning for his first cap since October 2020, showed quick reflexes to parry the ball.
Spain, rebuilding with 61-year-old De la Fuente following a last-16 World Cup exit to eventual semi-finalists Morocco, continued to press as they were less focused on possession and much more on going straight for the opposing goal.
This proved enough against a motivated Norway side who nonetheless lacked bite up front in the absence of the injured Erling Haaland and spurned several more chances including from Marcus Pedersen and Alexander Sorloth in the second half.
Spain could only relax however when they doubled their lead in the 84th minute as striker Joselu nodded in a brilliant cross by midfielder Fabian Ruiz three minutes after coming on.
The 32-year-old struck again a minute later to make it 3-0 for the Euro 2020 semi-finalists from a rebound.
He became the first Spanish player to score twice on his debut since Fernando Morientes’ double against Sweden in 1998.
“I have to thank (the coach) for the faith he’s shown in me in his first match in charge. I tried to give my all to reward him,” Joselu said.
“Right now I feel like an 18-year-old kid again. I don’t think age matters – and this is an incredible day to prove that.”
De la Fuente, who previously managed Spain youth teams and saw them win Under-19 and Under-21 European Championships in 2015 and 2019, was happy with his side’s display.
“Besides, the attitude I’ve seen, the desire to win, makes me very optimistic,” he said.
Spain next face Scotland in Glasgow on Tuesday when Norway travel to Georgia.