Swansea ousted in first big FA Cup shock

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP): Swansea were humbled by fourth-tier Oxford for the first big shock of the FA Cup third round, while Tottenham needed an 89th-minute penalty from Harry Kane to salvage a 2-2 draw against Leicester yesterday. Chelsea endured third-round humiliation at the hands of lower-league opposition in Bradford last season, but had no problems 12 months on, with a full-strength team beating third-tier Scunthorpe 2-0 through goals by Diego Costa and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The world’s oldest knockout competition was short of upsets on Saturday and an injury-hit Liverpool scrambled to secure a nervy draw at Exeter on Friday. But a surprise finally arrived at Kassam Stadium, where Oxford won 3-2 to leave Swansea to concentrate on their relegation fight in the Premier League. After Christian Eriksen put Tottenham ahead, Poland defender Marcin Wasilewski equalised by heading in a corner before Japan striker Shinji Okazaki – a half-time substitute by Ranieri – dribbled his way into the area and scored at the second attempt in the 48th. “We definitely didn’t want to go out of this competition in the third round,” Kane said. “We’re still in there.” Chelsea remained unbeaten under Guus Hiddink, who took over until the end of the season after Jose Mourinho’s firing last month, but it wasn’t a convincing performance by the seven-time FA Cup winners. Under pressure from two defenders, Costa turned in Branislav Ivanovic’s right-wing cross for the 13th-minute opener and his fourth goal in three games. Loftus-Cheek, a substitute, ended Scunthorpe’s resistance in the 68th. Hiddink guided Chelsea to the FA Cup title in 2009, also as an interim manager. The draw for the fourth round takes place today. DIFFERENT CLASS EQUALISER Fifty-four places separated the teams in the English football pyramid and Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero gave an indication of the supposed difference in class by backheeling the visitors into the lead in the 23rd minute. However, Oxford scored three goals in 14 minutes either side of the half-time break and Bafetimbi Gomis’ 66th-minute reply proved only a consolation for Swansea. Swansea came unstuck after making 10 changes to their lineup – a move made by many Premier League managers this weekend to deal with fixture congestion and to give first-team action to fringe players. “All credit to Oxford, they were more energetic than us and passed the ball better,” Swansea manager Alan Curtis said. “We made changes, but we still had lots of experience, but Oxford thoroughly deserved to beat us.” Oxford won the League Cup in 1986 and was most recently in England’s top division in 1988, before dropping down the leagues and tumbling into theN on-league in 2006. “I’ve got to be delighted beating a Premier League side – but not just that, it’s the way we did it,” Oxford manager Michael Appleton said. Four Premier League teams were eliminated on Saturday, but only after losing to fellow top-flight sides. It looked like Spurs would be joining them, only to earn a reprieve when Leicester winger Nathen Dyer flicked out his hand to divert the ball away. Kane, on as a second-half substitute, converted the penalty to secure a replay and a third game in 10 days against Leicester. They meet in the League on Wednesday, too. Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri rested many of the key players who are helping the team make a surprise run at the Premier League title, but the stand-ins delivered, threatening to eliminate Spurs for the second straight season.last_img read more

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‘The blip in the tournament’

first_imgNAGPUR, India (CMC):West Indies captain Darren Sammy has expressed disappointment with his team’s three-wicket loss to Afghanistan, but says he is pleased that their goal of advancing to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup was achieved.West Indies crashed to a sobering defeat against spirited Afghanistan in a low scoring thriller at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium yesterday, but had already qualified for the semi-finals on the basis of scoring three straight wins before their first loss in the tournament.”We are very disappointed that we lost the game. Whatever happened today does not affect how we are going to play in the semis,” vowed Sammy.”We wanted to come out of this group winning four out of four, but looking at the history of the tournament, no team has done it undefeated. So we will leave this game here and see it as the blip in the tournament. Now we have two knockouts to play. Two more steps.”Samuel Badree destroyed the top order with three wickets, while Andre Russell picked-up two as West Indies restricted Afghanistan to 127 for seven. But Mohamad Nabi and Rashin Khan with two wickets each contained the Windies big hitters with spin and forced them to squander an easy run chase.”It is a total we should have got. I think we just kept losing wickets. One partnership of 50 plus would have won us the game. But we just did not bat well throughout the innings,” said Sammy.”We did not take it lightly. They are a side we are supposed to beat and we just did not do it today. But the main objective in coming out of the Super 10 was to qualify for the semis and that we did.”Dwayne Bravo was the top scorer with 28, Johnson Charles scored 22, while Andre Fletcher was forced to retire on 10 with a hamstring injury.”At the end of the day we just did not play smart enough. The games we have won somebody took responsibility to bat through,” he said. “This time nobody did it. Nobody took responsibility. They just left it for the next man to come. Like I said to the guys tonight, we will just leave this game here in Nagpur. It’s a new focus now .We just have to be ready.”last_img read more

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Rising star Iwobi

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP):There’s growing competition for discovery of the season in the English Premier League.Leading the way are N’Golo Kante, the box-to-box French midfielder propelling Leicester to an unlikely title triumph; Dele Alli, the Tottenham playmaker plucked from England’s third tier; and Marcus Rashford, Manchester United’s 18-year-old striker who seems born for the big time.Time to add Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi to the list.Iwobi, like Rashford, is a shy yet fearless teenager who has burst onto centre stage in the world’s most popular league in recent weeks. Arsenal’s all-star midfield is a tough department to break into, yet Iwobi has achieved it seemingly out of nowhere.He has started four of Arsenal’s last five matches, including a Champions League game away to the mighty Barcelona. He has scored and been named man of the match in the last two appearances, against Everton and Watford in the Premier League.Theo Walcott is in desperate need of game time to retain his place in England’s squad for the European Championship, but is currently playing second fiddle to Iwobi on the right wing.He may have to get used to it.Iwobi, 19, is the nephew of Nigeria great Jay-Jay Okocha and has been at Arsenal since the age of eight, having grown up in London. He is a powerful, hard-working, technically gifted attacker with an eye for goal just as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger likes it.BIG HITIwobi, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez as the three floating forwards behind the main striker? It’s some prospect and already proving a big hit.”He is an intelligent boy who loves football, very passionate about the game, keen to learn, very humble as well,” Wenger has said of Iwobi.”It’s surprising how quickly he’s integrated into our game.”Iwobi’s accomplished display at the Camp Nou really made people sit up and take note of a player who didn’t start a game in the first half of the season. During the recent international break, Iwobi made his debut for Nigeria in a loss to Egypt – stamping his allegiance to the African country having played for England’s youth teams up to under-18 level.A call-up to Nigeria’s squad for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August is in the offing – but first he might just be Arsenal’s secret weapon as the team looks to secure a 19th straight season of Champions League football.Impressive wins over Everton and Watford have consolidated third place with seven games left, and even kept Arsenal with an outside shot at the title. That, however, would require an implosion by surprise leaders Leicester, who are seven clear of second-place Tottenham and 11 ahead of Arsenal, who have a game in hand.Arsenal visit West Ham tomorrow while Leicester travel to relegation-threatened Sunderland and Tottenham host Manchester United.TITLE IN SIGHTLeicester are grinding out the wins as they close in on arguably the most stunning title success in English football history, having picked up four straight 1-0 victories ahead of the trip to Sunderland.Sunderland are proving tough to beat of late, drawing their last four games, but have slipped four points from safety. Sunderland might be in more desperate need of the points at the Stadium of Light.last_img read more

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