Croatia fight Ire with fire
Greeks hope to knock out Czechs
Poland braced for high-octane Russian clash
Rafa’s seventh heaven
Chetri to lead Olympics hockey squad
IOA to restore constitution
Hamilton wins Canadian Grand Prix
ONGC meet Air India in final
Nasri’s strike splits points
Donetsk, June 11
Having taken the lead through a Lescott header on 30 minutes, England could only hold on for nine minutes as Nasri struck from the edge of the area. The Three Lions never really looked like restoring their advantage thereafter, instead relying on the obdurate defensive traits that have been so evident in Roy Hodgson's previous two friendlies in charge.
As France are expected to advance from Group D, the new manager might well be pleased with the outcome on a sweltering night. There are obvious deficiencies though and it is going to take far longer than the six weeks Hodgson has had to prepare for this competition to drill home the importance of keeping hold of the ball.
So much has changed in the two years since South Africa, yet by half-time there was an uncomfortable sense the fundamentals remained the same.
Five of Hodgson's first competitive starting line-up were on duty for the World Cup opener in Rustenburg, when England blitzed the United States, got their noses in front and then needlessly tossed away the advantage.
Steven Gerrard scored that night. This time he was the provider, curling over a superb free-kick from the touchline, where James Milner had been nudged over by Patrice Evra.
Lescott would not have been playing if Gary Cahill's tournament had not been ended by a broken jaw before it had begun.
The Manchester City man is a threat in these situations though and got away from Alou Diarra at the far post to beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from point-blank range. It could quite easily have been doubling the advantage as not long before, Milner had raced onto Ashley Young's through-ball and skipped round Lloris. Alas, Milner rolled the ball wide. These were brief moments in the ascendancy for England though.
Having already recorded the pre-match temperature at 31 degrees, UEFA came up with another startling statistic at half-time, namely France had completed 299 passes to England's 171. By the end it was a staggering 634 to 307.
It was indicative of an old English failing and explained why France dictated most of the game. Twenty-one games unbeaten, the French response to going behind was swift.
A nervy-looking Joe Hart produced a fine save to deny Diarra, who climbed highest to reach a Nasri free-kick, very similar in execution to Gerrard's earlier.
Franck Ribery cut the rebound back into the danger area but Diarra was unable to locate the target. On their next attack, France had more success. An intricate passing move on the edge of the area, starting with Evra, led to Ribery rolling a pass back to Nasri, who gave himself space with the first touch and beat Hart with his second.
The replays did not look good for the England keeper, even if criticism should be tempered by the knowledge Nasri had far too much time to pick his spot. — Agencies
Croatia fight Ire with fire
Poznan (Poland), June 11 Ireland's goal scorer Sean St Ledger was dejected at the final whistle. "It was a poor performance by our standards and the goals we conceded were sloppy," said St Ledger, who hadn't scored all season for his club Leicester City. "I'm happy I scored but disappointed to have lost this game as we had targetted this one in getting something from it given the two other games that lie ahead. "Still we showed plenty of spirit towards the end and we can still hope to go through to the last eight." Just three minutes in, Wolfsburg striker Mandzukic moved into position for a cross from captain Darijo Srna, stumbling briefly before steadying himself to beat Irish goalkeeper Shay Given with a powerful header. Veteran Given - Ireland's most capped player with 123 - appeared uncomfortable as he was caught off guard, conceding his country's first first half goal in 15 matches. The 36-year-old Aston Villa keeper had been a doubt because of a knee injury but after being able to train fully on Friday suffered no reaction and was cleared to play in Sunday's match giving coach Giovanni Trapattoni a boost. — AFP
Poznan (Poland), June 11
Ireland's goal scorer Sean St Ledger was dejected at the final whistle.
"It was a poor performance by our standards and the goals we conceded were sloppy," said St Ledger, who hadn't scored all season for his club Leicester City.
"I'm happy I scored but disappointed to have lost this game as we had targetted this one in getting something from it given the two other games that lie ahead.
"Still we showed plenty of spirit towards the end and we can still hope to go through to the last eight." Just three minutes in, Wolfsburg striker Mandzukic moved into position for a cross from captain Darijo Srna, stumbling briefly before steadying himself to beat Irish goalkeeper Shay Given with a powerful header.
Veteran Given - Ireland's most capped player with 123 - appeared uncomfortable as he was caught off guard, conceding his country's first first half goal in 15 matches.
The 36-year-old Aston Villa keeper had been a doubt because of a knee injury but after being able to train fully on Friday suffered no reaction and was cleared to play in Sunday's match giving coach Giovanni Trapattoni a boost. — AFP
Wroclaw, June 11
Victory in itself would not guarantee the Greeks a place in the last eight — even if group leaders Russia defeat Poland in the day's other match — but it would end Czech hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals.
Greece's never-say-die attitude is reminiscent of their style at Euro 2004, when they effectively ground their more flamboyant opponents into submission.
But it has been strengthened by a desire to deliver some much-needed joy to their hard-pressed compatriots back home, who are wilting under horrendous financial hardship.
The Czechs by contrast will be looking to bounce back from their opening 4-1 drubbing by Russia and also avenge their Euro 2004 semi-final defeat by the Greeks, who shocked everyone by going on to win the tournament.
The Greeks will be without their first-choice central defensive pairing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who is suspended after his harsh sending-off in the Poland match, and Avraam Papadopoulos, who has torn cruciate ligaments.
But, whilst the lively Czech attack will be hoping to exploit defensive weaknesses, the Greek forwards, too, will be looking to expose their opponents' defensive failings, which were brutally exposed by the Russians.
In some quarters, the Greeks were criticised for letting three points slip from their grasp, as captain Giorgos Karagounis had a penalty saved.
Experienced striker Giorgos Samaras, though, said such is the spirit in the camp that the roof could cave in and they would still summon up the spirit to dig themselves out. — AFP
Warsaw, June 11
With Poland coach Franciszek Smuda tipping Russia as Group A favourites, his squad know they have to prove their staying power after throwing away a lead and drawing 1-1 with Greece in a tense tournament opener in Warsaw's National Stadium on Friday.
"We need to be very focussed, very concentrated, in order not to lose the game," said Smuda.
Dutchman Dick Advocaat's Russia, whose base-camp is in the Polish capital Warsaw, returned there victorious after taking the Czechs to pieces on Friday in the southwestern city of Wroclaw.
"It's going to be another interesting game for both teams," said Advocaat, who has less need to bang the drum. Like co-hosts Ukraine, Poland did not have to qualify for Euro 2012 and were left only with friendlies to finetune their tactics - and know they have their work cut out tomorrow.
"The match with Russia is going to be something completely different," said 22-year-old midfielder Maciej Rybus, who signed for Russian club Terek Grozny from Legia Warsaw this year.
"They don't defend like the Greeks. But we'll have got more used to the championship feel." Smuda and Advocaat will look to their young gun strikers - both rumoured to be being courted by English Premier League clubs - to make their mark again tomorrow.
Poland's man is 23-year-old Robert Lewandowski, fresh from a stellar season with German double winners Borussia Dortmund, who sent home fans wild when he scored on Friday.
Russia can rely on CSKA Moscow's 21-year-old Alan Dzagoev, their two-goal hero in Wroclaw, who had been a doubt for the tournament due to a broken toe but is set to play a starring role.
However, there is no sense of inferiority felt by Poland after they analysed the Russian's Wroclaw performance.
"We know what to look out for, so we know how to correct our mistakes," said Lewandowski. — AFP
Rafa’s seventh heaven
Paris, June 11 Victory, which was achieved on a Djokovic double fault, allowed him to break the tie for six French Opens he shared with Bjorn Borg. It was the 26-year-old's 11th Grand Slam title, taking him one behind Roy Emerson, three off Pete Sampras and five away from the record of 16 held by Roger Federer. For five-time major winner Djokovic, the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion, it was the end of his dream of emulating Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) by holding all the Grand Slams at once. He was left to regret his unforced error count of 53 which undermined his challenge.
Paris, June 11
Victory, which was achieved on a Djokovic double fault, allowed him to break the tie for six French Opens he shared with Bjorn Borg. It was the 26-year-old's 11th Grand Slam title, taking him one behind Roy Emerson, three off Pete Sampras and five away from the record of 16 held by Roger Federer.
For five-time major winner Djokovic, the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion, it was the end of his dream of emulating Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) by holding all the Grand Slams at once. He was left to regret his unforced error count of 53 which undermined his challenge.
After Sunday's suspension, the players, meeting in a fourth successive Grand Slam final, resumed with Nadal leading 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2, but with Djokovic in the ascendancy and serving for a 3-1 lead in the fourth set.
But a forehand error from Djokovic, with the court at his mercy, gave Nadal a break point and the Spaniard seized it when the Serb had been left flat-footed by a net cord which allowed his opponent to push through a winner.
The set remained tight as would be expected with the pair meeting for a 33rd time.
Nadal moved to 5-4 as the umbrellas went up all around Philippe Chatrier Court and the players sat courtside to wait out a passing, heavy shower and complained to tournament referee Stefan Fransen about the slippery conditions.
Djokovic finally buckled when a monster forehand from Nadal set up championship point which he converted when the top seed tamely served up a fourth double fault.
The celebrations were ecstatic as Nadal fell to his knees and consoled Djokovic before the champion climbed into the players' box to embrace his family.
On Sunday, Djokovic had looked down and out at one stage, even picking up a warning for destroying his courtside chair box with his racquet.
After slipping two sets down, he was also a break behind at 0-2 in the third before he reeled off eight games in succession to take the third set - the first lost by Nadal in this year's event - and lead 2-0 in the fourth. — AFP
Chetri to lead Olympics hockey squad
New Delhi, June 11
But Hockey India delayed the formal announcement of the team as there was some deliberation about the choice of the captain - on whether to make goalkeeper Bharat Chetri the captain or give the baton to the indispensable midfielder Sardar Singh.
Dyanesh, who was in the original squad selected at Pune, has been replaced by Danish Mujtaba in the final list. This is the only change effected in the last minute, though a highly-placed source said the fitness of Shivendra Singh at the trials was suspect, as he played for only 15 minutes.
“Sarvanjit Singh should have found a place in the final 16, instead of Shivendra. When Rajpal Singh (former captain) suffered a hamstring injury, like Shivendra, he was excluded from the team,” the source said
Veteran Ignace Tirkey stages a comeback into the national team, as does Gurwinder Singh Chandi. Tirkey was in the squad for the four-nation Olympic test event in London but was excluded from the Azlan Shah Cup in Kuala Lumpur while Chandi went out of the team after a hamstring injury sustained during the London test event. Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh and Yuvraj Walmiki, who were part of the team for the Olympic qualifiers, have been left out.
Hockey India pitched for Chetri as the captain as the 130 international caps he holds have been touted as his biggest qualification for the job, though he’s not a certainty in the playing XI as the numero uno custodian. Sardar Singh has been made the vice-captain, and he was also reportedly paid a cash component of Rs 1 lakh to mollify him.
Eight-time Olympic champions India will start their Olympic campaign against the Netherlands on July 30. India have been clubbed in Pool B along with Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The matches will be played at the Riverbank Arena of the Olympic Park in London. All the matches will be played on blue artificial turf with yellow kookaburra balls.
The team (with international appearance in brackets)
Goalkeepers: Bharat Chetri (captain, international caps 130) and PR Sreejesh (51). full backs: VR Raghunath (110), Ignace Tirkey (246) and Sandeep Singh (168); half-backs: Sardar Singh (vice-captain-136), Gurbaj Singh (148) Birendra Lakra (26) and Manpreet Singh (35); forwards: SV Sunil (93), Gurwinder Singh Chandi (75), Shivendra Singh (148), Danish Mujtaba (78), Tushar Khandker (219), Dharamvir Singh (19) and SK Uthappa (21).
IOA to restore constitution
New Delhi, June 9
The IOA adopted the new constitution after the National Games at Ranchi last year. The new constitution curtailed the votes of the State Olympic Associations from two to half, and the NSFs from three to two. Though two subsequent IOA General Body Meetings had failed to approve the new constitution, with many members vehemently opposing it, the apex Olympic body sent the new constitution to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Sports Ministry as approved.
Though Suresh Kalmadi continues to be the elected president of the IOA, acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra has been calling the shots as Kalmadi has given in writing that he will not interfere in the affairs of the IOA. The restoration of the old IOA constitution carries great significance, in view of the fact that the IOA elections will be due after the London Olympics.
But due to the persistent demand of the members, IOA acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra has called a special GM to restore the old constitution.“We want the old constitution restored, and the number of office-bearers expanded. The IOC also favours the old constitution,” a top IOA official told The Tribune.
Montreal, June 11
Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus came home second after an equally well-judged race to finish ahead of third placed Mexican Sergio Perez of Sauber. Hamilton's triumph came five years to the day after he had claimed his maiden F1 victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and was his third win at what must be one of his favourite circuits.
It was his 18th career victory and it hoisted him back into serious contention for the drivers' title in this year of unexpected results and unpredictable racing. — AFP
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