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Host Qatar on the verge of World Cup elimination after 1-3 loss to Senegal

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Mohammed Muntari scored Qatar’s first-ever World Cup goal, but the hosts could become the first side to be eliminated from the 2022 edition if other fixtures don’t go their way.

Host nation Qatar is perilously close to crashing out of the World Cup after slumping to a 1-3 defeat by Senegal at the Al Thumama Stadium, despite Mohammed Muntari netting a first-ever World Cup finals goal for the Qataris.

A win or a draw for the Netherlands against Ecuador, who beat Qatar in the tournament’s opening game, later on Friday will see the Qataris become the first side mathematically eliminated from the competition.

The opening-night nerves were nowhere to be seen as Qatar quickly got to grips with Senegal and should have had a penalty when Ismaila Sarr bundled over Akram Afif, but Spanish referee Antonio Mateu waved away their pleas and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) did not intervene.

With Qatar defending well, it was going to take either a moment of magic or a catastrophic mistake for Senegal to break the deadlock, and unfortunately for Qatar defender Boualem Khoukhi, it turned out to be the latter.

His attempt to clear a routine low pass into the box by Krepin Diatta went disastrously wrong as he went to ground without making proper contact with the ball.

Khoukhi’s fluffed effort allowed Dia to pounce, and the 26-year-old striker needed no second invitation to rattle the ball in at the near post to give Senegal the lead.

With the Qatari crowd thinned out at the start of the second half, Famara Diedhou doubled Senegal’s advantage with a brilliant header from an Ismail Jakobs corner in the 48th minute.

Muntari reduced the deficit in the 78th with a bullet header from Ismail Mohamad’s cross but Senegal substitute Bamba Dieng swept home his side’s third to consign Qatar to the bottom of Group A with no points, while their group rivals all have three.

Source TRT World 

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Costa Rica holds Brazil in Copa America opener

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LOS ANGELES, June 24 (Xinhua) — Five-time World Cup winner Brazil was held to a goalless draw by Costa Rica in its opening Copa America Group D match here on Monday.

Marquinhos appeared to hand Brazil the lead in the 29th minute at SoFi Stadium when he tapped in at the far post after Raphinha’s free-kick from the left wing.

But the goal was overturned after a review by the video assistant referee found the Paris Saint-Germain defender was in an offside position.

Brazil dominated possession but was unable to break down a Costa Rica defense that often included 11 players behind the ball.

Lucas Paqueta went closest to breaking the deadlock in the second half when his long-range effort rebounded off the right post. Bruno Guimaraes and substitute Savinho were also left to rue missed chances in the final minutes.

“They sat back and it was very hard to find space, especially on such a small pitch,” Marquinhos said after the match.

“We did our best to win but we weren’t good enough. We have to be sincere with ourselves and look at what we can do better in our next game.”

Earlier, Daniel Munoz and Jefferson Lerma scored two first-half goals as Colombia clinched a 2-1 victory over Paraguay at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Euro 2024: Italy stuns Croatia, Spain advances with perfect record

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BERLIN, June 24 (Xinhua) — Mattias Zaccagni’s last-grasp 1-1 equalizer against Croatia sent reigning champion Italy through the Euro 2024 group stage while Spain capped a perfect Group B run with 1-0 win over Albania in the last round of group play on Monday.

Croatia started offensively minded knowing that only a win would see it progress into the round of the last 16.

Luka Sucic created the first clearcut chance with five minutes gone after unleashing a hammer from 20 meters, forcing Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to tip the ball around the post.

Italy needed some time to gain a foothold and came close in the 20th minute when Mateo Retegui headed Ricaardo Calafiori’s cross goalwards.

Luciano Spalletti’s men should have taken the lead before halftime but neither Alessandro Bastoni nor Lorenzo Pellegrini was able to overcome Croatia custodian Dominik Livakovic, who was equal to both promising efforts.

After the restart, Croatia grabbed the lead as Donnarumma initially defused Luka Modric’s penalty attempt, but the Squadra Azzurra couldn’t clear the ball from the area, allowing Modric to tap home another parry from Donnaruma from very close range.

Italy started an onslaught on Croatia’s goal area as Spalletti’s men needed a share of spoils to book their berth for the next round.

Bastoni came close with a header, but Croatia well positioned defence was able to keep Italy at bay. It looked like Croatia would go through with a narrow win, but Calafiori initiated a last attack before teeing up for Zaccagni, who curled the ball from the edge of the box into the top right corner to flabbergast Croatia.

In the other Group B encounter, front runner Spain extended its winning run to three games after eliminating Albania 1-0 with the sole goal from Ferran Torres.

With the results, Spain rounded off a perfect group stage with 9 points followed by Italy (4 points), Croatia (2 points) and Alabania (1 point).

The top two of each of the six groups and the best four third finishers will enter the round-of-16 knockout stage.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Copa America: Pulisic helps U.S. breeze past Bolivia

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ARLINGTON, United States, June 23 (Xinhua) — Christian Pulisic scored one goal and set up another as the United States began their Copa America campaign with a 2-0 victory over Bolivia here on Sunday.

Pulisic put his side ahead in the third minute at AT&T stadium when he played a one-two with Tim Weah from a corner before curling a shot into the far corner while running away from goal.

The 25-year-old AC Milan attacker then set up Folarin Balogun to drive home a low finish just before halftime.

The tournament hosts were in cruise control in the second half and were rarely threatened by their South American rivals, who had just three shots on target for the match.

“We came out flying with a lot of intensity,” Pulisic said after the match. “Obviously an early goal helped us a lot, but all around it was a pretty dominant performance.

“We could have scored a few more to put it away, but all in all it was a really good start to the tournament. We should build some confidence from this; the games are going to get harder from here so we’ve got to be ready.”

The United States will play Panama in Atlanta in their next match on Thursday while Bolivia will meet Uruguay in New Jersey the same day.

Source(s): Xinhua

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