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Soccer-Chelsea ease past Tottenham into League Cup final

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Chelsea beat London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 thanks to Antonio Rudiger’s first-half goal to complete an emphatic 3-0 aggregate triumph in the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Leading 2-0 from last week’s one-sided first leg at Stamford Bridge, defender Rudiger gave Tottenham a mountain to climb when he bundled home from Mason Mount’s corner in the 18th minute.

Tottenham battled hard in search of a route back into the tie but it was not to be their night as two penalties awarded either side of halftime by Andre Marriner were both overturned after VAR interventions.

To rub salt into their wounds Harry Kane also had a goal ruled out for offside after yet another VAR check.

Chelsea, who face Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday, eased off in the second half but were comfortable enough in the end and will try to claim the League Cup for a sixth time in the final against Liverpool or Arsenal.

Liverpool host Arsenal in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday.

“We’re happy with the result. In the first half we were the better team and we deserved to be up,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said. “We lost concentration and lost focus in the last 15 minutes of the first half and again in the second half.

“We were almost punished for lack of focus.”

Tottenham’s fans were in full voice early on, believing in a repeat of the night 20 years ago when their team crushed Chelsea 5-1 in the League Cup semi-final second leg having lost the opener 2-1.

There was to be no repeat though as Tuchel’s Chelsea are far more robust than Claudio Ranieri’s version and after settling into their rhythm the gulf in class acknowledged by Spurs manager Antonio Conte last week was evident again.

They were too quick for Tottenham and Romelu Lukaku forced a fine save from Spurs keeper Pierluigi Gollini after chesting down a long pass before Malang Sarr then had a shot blocked by a sliding Giovani Lo Celso.

Chelsea did not have to wait long to take complete control.

A corner was swung in by Mount and Gollini, surprisingly selected instead of Hugo Lloris, got nowhere near it, and the ball went into the back of the net off Rudiger.

Tottenham barely got a kick for the next 20 minutes but did finish the half strongly with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg having a shot deflected wide before Tottenham thought they had been awarded a penalty as Rudiger chopped down Hojbjerg.

Even that potential lifeline was snatched away though as referee Marriner was over-ruled by VAR, with the offence having taken place just outside the area.

Incredibly Marriner awarded Tottenham another penalty in the 54th minute when Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga came out to block Lucas Moura who had been played through by Kane.

This time, after checking a pitchside monitor, he changed his mind as Arrizabalaga had clearly won the ball first before Moura tumbled over his leg.

To their credit Tottenham showed more passion in the second half with Chelsea becoming a little sloppy and Arrizabalaga made a flying save to claw away Emerson Royal’s header.

Tottenham realised the game was up though when Kane lashed home in the 63rd minute but once again VAR rescued Chelsea with the England striker adjudged marginally offside.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)

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Canada's Denis Shapovalov is on to the fourth round of the Australian Open – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Friday, January 21, 2022 7:28AM EST


Last Updated Friday, January 21, 2022 6:40PM EST

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canada’s Denis Shapovalov has a spot in the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in his career.

He beat Reilly Opelka 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Friday to set up a showdown with third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany.

The Canadian has been pushed hard at Melbourne Park, averaging three hours 37 minutes of court time per win so far.

“I’ve gotten very familiar with the ice baths the last week,” Shapovalov said with a smile in an on-court interview. “We’ve become very good friends.”

At six foot 11 and 225 pounds, Opelka is an imposing force on the court. He had a 17-10 edge in aces on the 14th-seeded Shapovalov but made 46 unforced errors.

“Early on I actually found a rhythm on his serve,” Shapovalov said. “I was able to chip quite a lot back, so I was happy with that. I think I did a really good of just taking the chances today.

“Obviously it’s really tough to get the rhythm against a guy like that so I’m super happy.”

It was the first career meeting between Shapovalov and the 23rd-seeded American. Zverev, meanwhile, has a 4-2 edge in head-to-head matchups against the Canadian.

“Hopefully I can win,” Zverev said. “It’s going to be a great match.”

Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., previously reached the third round at Melbourne Park in 2019 and 2021. The 22-year-old’s best Grand Slam performance was a semifinal showing last year at Wimbledon.

Zverev defeated Maldova’s Radu Albot 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in third-round play.

“Radu is in great form right now … 1/8I’m 3/8 happy to be through in three sets,” Zverev said.

Ninth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal was scheduled to play Britain’s Daniel Evans in third-round play Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2022.

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Defense trade targets for the Maple Leafs, Sheldon Keefe's "soft" comment, and how many games should Petr Mrazek start the rest of the way? – MLHS Podcast Episode 38 – Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited independent team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast).
Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide-ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, and a weekly feature piece entitled “Leafs Notebook.”
MLHS has been cited by: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBC News, USA Today, Fox Sports, Yahoo! Sports, NBC Sports, TSN, Sportsnet, Grantland, CTV News, CBSSports, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, Global News, Huffington Post, and many more.

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Tennis-‘I’m not God! Can’t win every match’ – Osaka proud despite early exit

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Naomi Osaka was at peace with herself after yet another failed attempt at defending a Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and the former world number one was especially proud of the way she has managed to mould her mindset to deal with tough losses.

The former world number one crashed out from Melbourne Park after a third round loss in the deciding set tiebreaker to American Amanda Anisimova — the same stage the four-times major winner exited the U.S. Open four months back.

Following the Flushing Meadows defeat, a tearful Osaka told a news conference that she was taking a break from the sport, raising more concern about her mental health struggles that forced her to miss parts of the tennis season.

The soft spoken and self-confessed introvert declared at the start of the 2022 season that she was looking to have more fun on court and enjoy playing the sport.

“I would definitely say I’m proud of myself for this,” the Japanese player told reporters on Friday. “Though to me it didn’t feel like a short amount of time. It felt like ages ago.

“This for me is the biggest step. Even though I lost. I was really focused throughout the entire match, and I didn’t have a dip. So that’s really good. Hopefully as the season continues, I’ll be able to keep this up, and get even better at it.”

It was the fourth time that Osaka had failed to defend a Grand Slam title but on Friday she held two matchpoints against the American – something that also made her proud.

Osaka felt her defeat by 60th-ranked Anisimova showed the depth of women’s tennis.

“I fought for every point. I can’t be sad about that,” Osaka said, adding that she was yet to decide on her schedule before the WTA 1000 event in Indian Wells in March.

“I’m not God! I can’t win every match. The last match that I played in New York I think I had a completely different attitude.

“Of course I lost, but I’m happy with how it went. I just want to go into this year knowing that I’ll play the whole year and I’ll just have the greatest attitude ever.”

 

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Christian Radnedge)

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