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‘Butcher’ of Paris?

LONDON — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said his team “looked like butchers” because of the reactions of the Paris St Germain players to challenges during the French team’s 2-1 win on Wednesday.

Liverpool were deemed to have committed 20 fouls and picked up six yellow cards against the Parisians.

“A little hurdle we had to overcome was the 500,000 disruptions in the second half and the referee still thinks he did everything right,” the German said.

“We are one of the fairest teams in England but tonight we looked like butchers,” he added.

Reds defender Andy Robertson too was frustrated by PSG’s gamesmanship.

“I suppose they were in the lead and they were looking to waste time. You can use gamesmanship, play acting, you can use it all really,” Robertson told Sky Sports.

“When you play against PSG you know it’s something, you’re going to come up against especially with him (Neymar). It wasn’t something we quite dealt with.

“It’s frustrating when he is falling like he is. It’s all part and parcel of his game and we needed to deal with that. We didn’t quite control our aggression.”

Juan Bernat and Neymar — who became the highest scoring Brazilian in Champions League history — put the home team ahead within 38 minutes.

A James Milner penalty on the stroke of halftime ensured the pivotal group game remained in the balance until the death.

Liverpool now face the real prospect of missing out on the knockout stages just six months after reaching the final against Real Madrid.

Napoli beat Red Star Belgrade 3-1 on Wednesday and Liverpool will have to win by two clear goals or 1-0 at home to the Italians in a fortnight to ensure they progress.

“The start was like what we expected, it was very wild, intense and they took all the risks,” Klopp told BT Sport.

“They scored twice by winning the second ball. We still had to stay in the game, but as soon as we had a bit of control, you saw the game wasn’t decided.

“We have to take the result, but it still feels a bit rubbish and now we have to use Anfield one more time.”
— Agencies

Smoke and mirrors, says Tuchel

MANAGER Thomas Tuchel suggested Jurgen Klopp’s criticism of the referee was to distract from Liverpool’s 2-1 loss to Paris St Germain on Wednesday, reports Goal.

Klopp was upset by the fouls and yellow cards — six in total — his team suffered against PSG due to their antics.

He even claimed the referee made Liverpool “look like butchers”.

Tuchel hit back saying his team suffered many fouls at the hands of the Reds.

“I did not feel like it was such a big issue. We had five minutes overtime, we suffered a lot of fouls,” he told a news conference.

“You don’t have to do fouls if you’re one goal down and you do 10 fouls in five minutes.

“You think it’s the other way around in a crucial match like that? I’ve never experienced it the other way around that the team goes to hurry that everyone has the chance to make an equaliser.”

Tuchel though did say Klopp, like many managers, was using the referee to relieve the pressure from his team.

“I don’t even want to talk about it because for me it’s not a subject,”
he added.

“When I lose big games I am angry and I sometimes talk about stuff just to bring the attention to something else and away from my team.

“I do this also but it’s not my issue. You’ll have to ask Jurgen and I heard he has his opinion to that and that’s fine. I’m talking about the game.”

James Milner converted Liverpool’s penalty after Juan Bernat and Neymar had put PSG in control.

An away victory against Red Star Belgrade next month will secure a last 16 spot for PSG, while Liverpool need to win against Napoli at home. — Agencies

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Valverde praises Messi, Dembele partnership

Manager Ernesto Valverde was thrilled with the understanding between Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Ajax on Wednesday, reports Goal.

Messi became the most prolific goalscorer for a single club in the competition as he scored one and assisted the other in a 2-1 victory that confirmed Barca as Group B winners.

The little Argentinian wizard has 106 goals in Europe’s premier club competition.

Young winger Dembele supplied the pass in the buildup in a continuation of his recent renaissance.

Earlier this week Dembele requested Barcelona to sell him in the January window, but the 21-year-old was on target against Atletico Madrid and impressed against Ajax.

“I’m not entirely sure how Messi scored that goal,” Valverde, referring to Messi’s mazy run before scoring the opener.

“But he and Dembele combined really well down the right. Between them you could count on them producing a shot on goal from almost any situation.

“My team created lots of dangerous chances too, but it was a game which was too open.”

Ajax were looking menacing after the goal and it was the 31-year-old Messi who help put the tie to bed.

Messi delivered the freekick from which Gerard Pique doubled the advantage, ensuring Luuk de Jong’s late header proved only a consolation.

“We had problems in the first 20 minutes,” admitted Valverde.

“There are certain moments in which you have to know how to suffer. They were encouraged and it was a difficult match, but we secured first in the group. We’re happy.” — Agencies

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Mission possible

LONDON — Tottenham must do what no English club has done in 11 years and win in Barcelona next month if they are to be guaranteed an unlikely place in the last 16.

Christian Eriksen’s 80th-minute winner gave Tottenham a deserved 1-0 victory over Inter Milan on Wednesday — a result that lifted them above the Italians into second place in Group B by virtue of their better head-to-head record.

But they must match Inter’s result in the final round of group games and with Luciano Spalletti’s side hosting bottom club PSV.

Victory in Spain will almost certainly be required by Spurs on their first visit to Nou Camp since losing 1-0 in the 1982 Cup Winners Cup semifinal.

“All is possible. I never say it is mission impossible, in football all can happen, you need to believe,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said after a nervy night at Wembley.

“It will be tough (to win at Barcelona) but the belief is so important. To arrive in Barcelona and compete at our best we need to have fresh legs, fresh minds, no injuries.

“We have big respect for Barcelona. They’re one of the best teams in Europe, and of course they have unbelievable players. It will be tough. But we have belief we
can win.”

Barcelona’s last three games at home to English clubs resulted in 3-0, 4-0 and 3-1 wins against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal respectively.

Liverpool were the last English team to win there in the Champions League last 16 in 2007.

Inter manager Spalletti can only hope that Barca, who have already won the group, maintain their dominant home form in Europe.

“I’m sure Barcelona will not give anything easy to Tottenham even if they are already qualified,” Spalletti told reporters.

“With players like Messi, Pique, I don’t even dare have a shadow of a doubt. I’m sure they always give their best and play to win every game they play.”

Pochettino is happy with his side’s win against a difficult team to beat.

“The performance was very good. We fully deserved the victory,” Pochettino said. “Inter Milan showed a great level.

“They’re a team that are so difficult to beat. The players deserve credit for their performance.

“We dominated and created the best chances. Now we are in a position that depends on us.” — Reuters

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Demanding de Gea

LONDON — David de Gea is not going to come cheap if Manchester United want him to stay at Old Trafford.

The Spain international has demanded £350,000-a-week salary, matching the club’s highest earned Alexis Sanchez, and also wants a five-year contract, reports Daily Mail.

De Gea’s reputation as the one of the finest golkeeprs in the world, if not the best, was enhanced after a stunning save that preserved United a 1-0 victory at home against Young Boys on Tuesday.

However, negotiations over a new contract has stalled as the 28-year-old player is speculated to leave for either Juventus or Paris St Germain.

De Gea is also free to talk with other suitors from Jan 1 as his contract ends next summer while United can also trigger an automatic 12-month extension.

However, United will take such risks as de Gea will be a free agent in 2020 and moves are being made to sell him for £75 million (RM400 million) if everything else fails.

De Gea has already rejected a £275,000-a-week offer and United may have to give into his demands or allow the player to move.

United manager Jose Mourinho, who shares the same agent Jorge Mendes with de Gea, is hopeful of the player signing a new deal.

“We have the best goalkeeper in the world and I know he wants to stay,” said Mourinho.

“They are working on that so hopefully, sooner or later, they reach a conclusion.”

United are also under pressure as Sanchez is reportedly to be looking for an exit from United after he was dropped for the Champions League clash against Young Boys by Mourinho.

The Chilean, who joined on a swap deal with Arsenal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January, has not enjoyed a cordial relationship with Mourinho.

Sanchez is looking forward to joining PSG who are the only club capable of matching his current salary.

Mourinho was as witty as ever dealing with Sanchez’s omission.

“No, Sanchez is not injured. But is quite curious you always speak about the ones that are not playing.” — Agencies

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Kante snubbed for central role

LONDON — Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante will not be moved back to his preferred position in central midfield as the role is more suited to technical players such as Jorginho and Cesc Fabregas, according to manager Maurizio Sarri.

Kante emerged as a leading deeplying midfielder in recent seasons, winning back-to-back titles with Leicester and Chelsea as well as helping France claim the World Cup, but Sarri said he had to adapt to an advanced role.

“I want to play a central midfielder who is a very technical player, so for me, it’s Jorginho or Fabregas. I don’t want Kante in this position,” Sarri told reporters.

Kante and Jorginho struggled to influence the game in Chelsea’s 3-1 league defeat by Tottenham, their first loss of the season.

The result saw Chelsea drop to fourth in the standings and Sarri criticised 27-year-old Kante’s performance.

“Kante, in the last match, wanted to solve the match after the first 15 minutes, but in the wrong way. He lost the position, he attacked too much,” Sarri added.

“This one is not one of the best characteristics of Kante, but it was only in reaction to the difficulties. Maybe it’s only a question of time, but Kante has to stay near to Jorginho, especially when the ball is on the other side.” — Reuters

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Fans give Harimau Malaya boost

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia will receive a massive boost from their fans when they take on favourites Thailand in the first leg of the AFF Cup semifinal tomorrow at Bukit Jalil Stadium as all the 80,000 tickets were sold out.

A total of 40,000 tickets were sold online between Monday and Tuesday while it took only three hours before the remaining 40,000 tickets to be snapped up at the counters at Bukit Jalil Stadium.

Harimau Malaya’s march into the semifinal was helped by a packed crowd last Saturday at the same venue where the hosts defeated Myanmar 3-0 to advance to the knockout stage.

However, the War Elephants have been dominant in the group stage after scoring 15 goals and conceded only three and Malaysia know they face an uphill task against the defending champions.

Malaysia, who have scored seven and also conceded three, will be depending on the strike duo Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak to turn the tables on the Thais.

Norshahrul is in fiery form as he has netted four goals while skipper Zaquan has also led from the front scoring three.

However, the fans have been the major factor in boosting Malaysia’s chances in the AFF Cup and this fact has been acknowledged by national coach Tan Cheng Hoe and his players.

The FA of Malaysia have also made a plea for the Malaysia fans to cheer Harimau Malaya to victory in the two-leg semifinals.

Malaysia will play Thailand at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok in the return leg on Dec 5.

Winner

Rizal nabs fabulous grand final

PETALING JAYA — They flew in from five countries to claim the honours at the grand final of the Bridgestone Asean Amateur Open last month but it was local hero Rizal Sahiben who became the gross champion in a two-day event held at Templer Park Country Club and Glenmarie Golf & Country Club.

Rizal, a six handicapper, qualified for grand final through the 10th leg at IOI Palm Villa in July, scored a 150 total (75-75).

Meanwhile, Amir Benno (4) took top spot after rounds of 75-77 to finish on 152 in the Gross Category. He was followed by Sasi Kumar (4), (77-76) on 153 in second, Jung Young-guk (0) (77-78) 155, third and Seruji Haji Setia (2) (80-76) 156 in fourth.

Ali Hafidz (9), emerged nett champion with rounds of 68-71 (139), having qualified on the 16th leg in September.

Mark Tark Chion (9), was champion in the Nett Category with rounds of 71-70 (141), followed Ton Duk Sau (9) on 142 (71-71), Daeng Hakim (6) on 146 (76-70) was third while Idris Aziz (12) was fourth after rounds of 146 (69-77).

Gross champion Rizal and nett winner Ali were given opportunities to play in the sponsor’s slot at the Bridgestone Open in Japan on Oct 22.

At Templer Park, Lim Bu Keong bagged the Longest Drive with his 293.7 yard drive while Daeng secured the Nearest-to-Line with a 7-inch effort while Nik Dahl won the Sure-to-Win prize after finishing 7 feet, and 2 inches from the target.

At Glenmarie Daeng also picked up a novelty prize, this time as the Longest Drive winner when he sent his drive 243 metres down the fairway. Young-guk’s ball finished 12cm from the Nearest-to-Line marker and Azhar Noor took home the Sure-to-Win prize when his balled landed 63cm from the pin.

The field comprised 85 players, 32 qualifiers and the balance, guests and sponsors were there to witness the culmination of a 17-leg qualifying series that kicked off in April in Malaysia, before moving to Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei.

K. Vasudevan, managing Director of Prestige Golf, the master distributor of Bridgestone Golf products in Malaysia, the hosts of the series said, “This has been a very good experience for Bridgestone products, willingly or unwillingly, people have become hooked onto using the Bridgestone ball by participating in this series. We aim to build on that momentum and continue to grow the brand in the region, so golfers can look forward to exciting times ahead.”

Sundra quits Fifa role

ZURICH — Fifa’s ethics committee member Sundra Rajoo resigned on Wednesday, one week after being suspended from his post following an investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the global football body said.

Fifa said in a statement they had “taken note of the resignation with immediate effect of Mr Sundra Rajoo as a deputy chairman of their adjudicatory chamber.”

They did not give further details of the investigation or of the accusations against Sundra, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sundra, a Malaysian, was detained on Nov 20 by anti-graft investigators after flying in from Zurich to assist authorities in a corruption probe.

He was held overnight, but released after a court accepted his representatives’ arguments he effectively has diplomatic immunity due to his high-profile legal roles, his lawyer Cheow Wee had said.

Besides his position as the ethics committee member, Sundra was the director of the Malaysia-based Asian International Arbitration Centre.

A series of such centres have sprung up in recent years providing dispute resolution services for individuals and companies, often in cases where the parties concerned are trying to avoid going through a country’s domestic court system.

Cheow Wee said the MACC had applied to hold Sundra for seven days as “they wanted to question him regarding a corruption allegation”.

Despite detaining Sundra, the court had rejected their request to have him remanded in custody.

He has been accused of using his position in Malaysia to gain financial favours,
reports said.

Local media reported he has now given up his post as director at the arbitration centre.

Sundra was appointed last year as one of two deputy chairmen of the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber, which has slapped lifetime bans on several football executives named in a sprawling US Justice Department probe into corruption in the sport.

The chamber was responsible for banning former president of the governing body of world football Sepp Blatter and Uefa head Michel Platini. — Agencies

Mike MAhen

Wish comes true

KUALA LUMPUR — World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports champion Mike Mahen’s hopes of meeting Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman finally materialised yesteday.

Mike, gunning for his third world crown in Thailand in a fortnight having already won his fourth Mr Asia title last month, has been struggling financially to prepare for his events but Syed Saddiq has already taken immediate action.

The first move was to pay Mike outstanding incentive amounting close to RM20,000 owed from last year’s achievements.

Syed Saddiq also said he has instructed his ministry to look into ways to help Mike achieve his goals and their long term project is to have a South East Asian Under-23 fitness championships with an emphasis on healthy living.

“The Sports Minister was gracious and he made sure I got my incentives and promised to do his best to help me with the housing situation,” said Mike after their meeting at the ministry in Putrajaya.

“We had a chat about the future of bodybuilding and I can tell he is very keen on promoting a healthy lifestyle to the masses.”

“I’ve mooted a plan to have an event for the juniors or kids. Maybe we can do bodybuilding for Under-23’s while the kids can take part in fitness activities. This can be done in 2020 or sooner depending on the situation.

“In the end I am very grateful for being able to meet him and I’ve found extra motivation to do my utmost to win my third world title.”

Mike had been mostly self-funding himself but earning around RM3,000 as a “runner” doesn’t help his cause.

He is also forced to deal with a divorce while preparing for the Mr Asia title. He has three children.

“It’s been a struggle having to keep my head in the competition while sorting out the divorce,” added Mike.

“There’re a lot of sacrifices that comes with being a champion as you’re spending a lot of time away. Especially from the kids but I can’t stop. I love competing for my country, I love working out and I love my family too.”

Syed Saddiq has also promised to speak to the Federal Territories Ministry to help set Mike up with a place to live in as he is currently staying with a friend.

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