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Barcelona reach Spanish Super Cup final after Ter Stegen penalty heroics | Football News

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MADRID: Marc-Andre ter Stegen‘s heroics ensured Barcelona edged past Real Sociedad on penalties on Wednesday to reach the Spanish Super Cup final, without the injured Lionel Messi.
Messi was watching on as Ter Stegen did his best to fill the void in Cordoba, the goalkeeper immense both in the shoot-out and during normal time, which had finished 1-1.
Frenkie de Jong’s header was cancelled out by a penalty from Mikel Oyarzabal, who then missed in the shoot-out, one of two crucial saves made by Ter Stegen before 21-year-old Riqui Puig hit the winning shot.
Barca advance to meet either Real Madrid or Athletic Bilbao in the final on Sunday, when Messi is expected to be available again, with his injury not thought to be serious.
This is the second year of the Spanish Super Cup’s new format, which has four teams playing each other in a semi-final and final.
Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad joined after reaching the final of last season’s Copa del Rey, which is still to be played, while Barcelona finished runners-up to Madrid in La Liga.
Yet while last season’s version controversially took place in Saudi Arabia, the pandemic means this year’s semis are in Cordoba and Malaga, with the final to be played in Seville.
Barca were the better side in the first half but had Ter Stegen to thank for not conceding early as Alexander Isak sped into the area only to see his chipped finish saved by the goalkeeper.
It was De Jong’s dash to the near post that brought the first goal, an Antoine Griezmann cross hanging just long enough for the midfielder to get there first and direct a superb header in.
Yet De Jong gave Real Sociedad a way back just after half-time, the ball striking him on the hand and allowing Oyarzabal to equalise from the spot.
Barca nearly pulled ahead instantly as De Jong swivelled in the box, only to take an unnecessary extra touch. Ousmane Dembele fired just wide and Trincao, on as a substitute, also had a chance to win it before the 90 minutes were up.
Zaldua unleashed in extra time but Ter Stegen tipped over. Dembele’s finish was saved too while Adnan Januzaj poked wide at the end of a brilliant run and then hit the post with a free-kick.
Into the shoot-out, and Jon Bautista’s first attempt was parried away by Ter Stegen, only for De Jong to hit the post.
But Oyarzabal, who had scored earlier from the spot, this time missed, Ter Stegen guessing right again. Dembele scored before Willian Jose struck the post. Miralem Pjanic tucked in and so did Mikel Merino under pressure.
Griezmann could have won it but ballooned over before Januzaj converted for 2-2, which left it up to Puig to win it for Barca, the youngster slamming home for a spot in the final.


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Don’t count my tenure if India’s doesn’t reach top ten of 2028 Olympics, says Rijiju | More sports News

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PUNE: Kiren Rijiju on Monday said that his tenure as Sports Minister would not hold any importance if India is not able to make it to the top-ten of 2028 Olympics.
For a long time now, Rijiju has maintained his vision of seeing India becoming a sporting powerhouse and he has repeatedly said that India should reach the top-ten of the 2028 Olympics and the country should lock horns against the biggest heavyweights in the world.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Khelo India State excellence center in Pune, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Rijiju said: “If India doesn’t make it to the top ten in the medal tally of 2028 Olympics then don’t count my tenure as Sports Minister. After the first three months of me becoming the Sports Minister, we announced that India will be in the top 10 in the Los Angeles Olympics 2028. We have already started preparation and as I announced earlier, by 2028 we will be in the top ten in the Olympics.

“You will see the effects of this development in 2024 in the Paris Olympics, for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled in 2021 I won’t say we will be champions in a year. But for those who are going to the Tokyo Olympics we will provide all kinds of support required,” added the Sports Minister.
Repeating the announcement he made a day before about naming the sports facilities after renowned sports players, the minister said: We have made some policies to respect players, be it a former player or the present player. Yesterday I tweeted the announcement that we are going to name all the facilities of sports after sportspersons. We have already started the whole process and very soon we will start naming them.”

Rijiju along with Maharashtra Sports Minister Sunil Kedar inaugurated the Khelo India state excellence center in Pune on Monday. The players who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics were also felicitated.



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Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar have proved Indian tailenders are not blown away in a few overs anymore, says Dodda Ganesh | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar got under the skin of the Australian pace attack and rescued India from a precarious situation. India were tottering at 186/6 when Sundar and Shardul joined hands and formed a solid 123-run partnership. That helped India post 336 in reply to Australia’s 369 in Brisbane. At one time it looked like Australia would take a rather large first innings lead. This stand made sure that hosts could only take a 33 run lead.
The superb batting display by the No. 7 and No. 8 was applauded by cricketers all around the world.
Former India cricketer Dodda Ganesh feels Indian tailenders are no more underdogs who can be sent back to the pavilion cheaply by any bowling attack in the world.

“It is a good sign for Indian cricket. Both newcomers Thakur and Sundar batted when India needed a big partnership. They were the crisis men for the Indian team in Brisbane,” Ganesh told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.

Both Sundar and Shardul were tested by short balls, bouncers, and swinging deliveries by the Aussie quicks, but the duo, with their stubborn stay, dented Australia’s plans with their valiant efforts. Shardul scored a brilliant 67 off 115 balls and stitched a solid 123-run stand with Sundar before being bowled by Pat Cummins. His innings was studded with 9 boundaries and 2 sixes.

Sundar (62 runs off 144 balls) became the second Indian cricketer meanwhile to notch up a 50 plus score in a debut batting innings and take three or more wickets in a debut bowling innings. Dattu Phadkar was the first Indian cricketer to achieve the feat. He scored 51 runs and bagged 3/14 against Australia at the SCG way back in 1947/48.
Both the batsmen tore apart the Aussie attack with ease, notching up their career best Test scores.

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In Pics: Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur drag India back into Brisbane Test

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<p>Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur gave India a fighting chance of securing the draw they need in the fourth Test against Australia to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. (BCCI Photo) </p>

“This is not an overnight miracle. This is 365-day hard work and dedication. Indian tailenders are no more tailenders who will be blown away in a couple of overs. Shardul and Sundar have proved this. They can bowl and take wickets. They can score runs with the bat too,” Ganesh, who played 4 Tests and 1 ODI for India between 1997 and 2005, further said.
“In our playing days, the bowlers hardly focussed on batting. Nowadays, you have sidearmers, a bowling machine, and support staff. We need to thank BCCI, state cricket associations, and NCA for their vision. They are bringing new things and technologies into Indian cricket. They all should be credited for the success,” he said.

Shardul Thakur (PTI Photo)
This was also the fourth instance of India forming a 100 plus partnership stand on Australian soil for the seventh wicket.
Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja (204 runs in Sydney, 2018/19), Vijay Hazare and Hemu Adhikari (132 runs in Adelaide, 1947/48), and Mohd Azharuddin and Manoj Prabhakar (101 runs in Adelaide 1991/92) are the other pairs who formed 100 plus stands for the seventh wicket in Australia for India earlier.
The partnership between Shardul and Sundar is also the highest for the seventh wicket for India at this venue. The duo broke the record of Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar. Dev and Prabhakar had formed a partnership of 58 runs in 1991.

Washington Sundar (AFP Photo)
“Sundar is a perfect all-rounder. I have seen his performance in the TNPL and domestic circuit. Shardul is a committed cricketer. While playing for Mumbai, he has given many match-winning performances. This is a very big and positive sign for Indian cricket. We do not have Ishant Sharma, Shami, Umesh Yadav, and Bumrah and now these youngsters have done so well. They are basically bowlers but the way they batted, it was outstanding. They got the opportunity and grabbed it confidently and then delivered too. Both Sundar and Shardul showed commitment,” Ganesh further told TimesofIndia.com.
“These players should be applauded for their performances. Due to COVID, they hardly got the chance to practice. After that, it was IPL and then the Australia series. A cricketer needs a playground for practice and training. When you will play a competitive game after a long period and that too without much training, you will suffer some injuries. But the way the Indian team has played, is outstanding. I am totally impressed with it. It is unbelievable,” the 47-year-old cricketer said.


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Relaxed South Africa happy with security arrangements in Pakistan | Cricket News

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Quinton de Kock has lauded the security arrangements laid out for South Africa on their first tour of Pakistan in 14 years and says the players are “a lot calmer” about the tour now they have arrived in the country and seen the measures first-hand.
South Africa will play two Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals on their return to Pakistan for the first time since a militant attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians.
“When we were coming here, it was the biggest concern, but when we landed and saw the amount of security, we became a lot calmer. Over the days it has become less of a worry and we have been focussed more on the cricket,” the South African captain told reporters on Monday.
“The measures they (the Pakistan government) have taken have allowed us to feel comfortable and just focus on preparing for the Test series.

“Every corner is checked and all bases are covered. We feel safe and for now are just worrying about cricket.”
South Africa are confined to their hotel rooms outside of practice sessions, and De Kock has become the latest international player to question the sustainability of bio-secure environments amid the coronavirus pandemic due to the strain on the mental health of players.
“It’s something that is not easy. I’ve said before it will eventually catch up to some players on the emotional and mental side. You are trying to keep yourself mentally stable and to perform for your country all at once.
“I’ve only been home for maximum three weeks over the last six months. It’s been tough, but we soldier on because people back home want to watch you perform.”
The first Test in Karachi starts on Jan. 26 and is followed by the second in Rawalpindi from Feb. 4.



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