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Premier League: Paul Pogba takes Man United top with win at Burnley | Football News

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LONDON: Paul Pogba took Manchester United top of the Premier League for the first time in three years as his deflected winner saw off a dogged Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor on Tuesday.
United now lead defending champions Liverpool by three points ahead of a top-of-the-table clash between the two most successful sides in English football history at Anfield on Sunday.
Despite continued speculation over his future, Pogba has played an increasingly important role in United’s first serious title challenge since legendary former manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have now taken 29 from the last possible 33 points to recover from just two wins in their opening six games of the season.
The signing of Bruno Fernandes shortly after Burnley won 2-0 at Old Trafford nearly a year ago in the last meeting between the sides has transformed United’s fortunes.
And if Pogba can finally produce consistent displays worthy of the then world record fee United paid for the Frenchman in 2016, there is reason for Solskjaer to believe he can end the club’s eight-year wait for a league title.
The manner of victory against a Burnley side that had not lost at home since October also suggests United have the ability of champions to grind out a result when they need to.
After a slow start by the visitors, the first-half was dominated by controversy over a series of VAR reviews.
A five-minute delay to review Luke Shaw’s challenge on Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Robbie Brady’s foul on Edinson Cavani as the Uruguayan bore down on goal resulted in both sides escaping without having a man sent-off.
Referee Kevin Friend had initially waived play on from Shaw’s lunge, but on review the left-back was shown a yellow card and Brady’s yellow rescinded as the game should have been stopped earlier in the move.
United then had a goal harshly ruled out when Harry Maguire powered home a header at the back post, but was punished for a slight nudge on Erik Pieters.
The visitors upped the pressure in the second-half as Cavani, back from a controversial three-game ban, missed two big chances he would expect to take.
Pogba was controlling the game from midfield and it was fitting he was the match winner as his volley from Marcus Rashford’s cross deflected off Matt Lowton and through the legs of Pope.
Burnley had chances to equalise late on as Eric Bailly diverted Matej Vydra’s shot just wide before Maguire escaped claims for a penalty for handball.
But United held on for a big psychological boost ahead of the trip to Anfield.
Everton moved back into the top four and within four points of United as they overcame an injury crisis to beat Wolves 2-1 at Molineux.
Carlo Ancelotti was forced to start without a recognised striker without Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison only fit enough for a place on the bench.
The Toffees took an early lead when Alex Iwobi converted Lucas Digne’s cross but were pegged back when Ruben Neves levelled for Wolves.
Michael Keane’s towering header won the game 13 minutes from time to bolster the Blues’ European ambitions.
At the other end of the table, Sheffield United ended a 20-game winless league run as Billy Sharp’s penalty earned a 1-0 victory over 10-man Newcastle.
The Blades still face an uphill task to haul themselves off the bottom of the table as they sit nine points adrift of safety.
But Chris Wilder’s men ensured they will not set an unwanted record by going a full top-flight season without a win thanks to another night to forget for Newcastle.
“It looked like we got our identity back,” said Wilder.
“I felt we had an identity and it was us with the handbrake off, going for it and playing well in and out of possession.”
The Magpies could yet find themselves dragged into a relegation battle as they remain eight points above the drop zone in 15th, but have played two games more than Fulham in 18th.


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Paes eyeing French Open comeback in record eighth straight Olympics bid | Tennis News

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KOLKATA: Indian tennis icon Leander Paes on Monday said he is eyeing a French Open comeback this year in his quest to make a record eighth appearance at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Paes, 47, said he skipped the Australian Open as he is apprehensive of playing in a bio-bubble but is looking ahead to the French Open.
“Playing sport in a bio-bubble is very tough and may not be the best thing to do. I got a grand farewell at the Australian Open last year so I felt this year I would be sitting out and watching,” Paes said.
The Olympic bronze medallist in singles and multiple-time doubles Grand Slam winners was speaking during the launch of a cricket tournament named after his father Dr Vece Paes, a bronze winner at the 1972 Olympics.
“I hope that by the time of French Open, by the end of May, Europe will get to a better position than now.”
On the Christmas Day of 2019, Paes had announced his “One Last Roar” tagline, calling 2020 to be his last season as a professional player, culminating with the Tokyo Games that was pushed back by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s my goal to represent India in the eighth successive Olympics. I’m keeping myself in good physical and mental fitness which is not easy being away for 11 months.
“I’ve been practising hard, putting in three hours everyday and I’m in the last 100m sprint of a long career. Tokyo Olympics is important to make sure India remains in the record,” Paes said.
The Dr Vece Paes Cricket Cup will be held between CC&FC and Doctors’ XI at CC&FC on Tuesday.
The doctors of Kolkata wish to make the 75th year of Dr Paes and his achievements a memorable annual event by organising a cricket match which will be played by Paes and former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan.
“I’m very emotional about CC&FC. As a young boy growing up, this very ground where I grew up, learnt leadership, sportsmanship and camaraderie.
“It’s an honour to be your son. I’ve tried to run it and play the game of life as best as I could. I hope I have done you proud,” the tennis great concluded.


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Olympics would be ‘extremely difficult’ for unvaccinated athletes: France | Tokyo Olympics News

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PARIS: Athletes who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 would face “extremely difficult” conditions at the Tokyo Games this summer, the president of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) said on Monday.
Unvaccinated athletes who go to the Games in Japan face “quarantine of a fortnight” and “will have to undergo tests in the mornings and evenings,” Denis Masseglia warned.
The issue of vaccination of athletes for the Tokyo Olympics, postponed last year because of the pandemic, is to be discussed Wednesday at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Committee.
The IOC officially encourages the vaccination of athletes but says it cannot impose it.
Masseglia said there was no choice. In a video press conference, he said that “holding the Games is at stake”.
“We are not alone,” he said. “For our Japanese friends to receive athletes and accredited people from all over the world requires some precautions.”
He said that the difficulties they would face could have “a dissuasive effect” for athletes who did not want to be vaccinated.
Masseglia said he spoke to IOC president Thomas Bach last week.
In France, nearly a million priority people have been vaccinated, but the pace of vaccination is extremely varied around the world. Some countries, including Japan, have not started yet.
The issue of vaccination of athletes also raises an ethical problem.
“It’s out of the question that athletes should be given priority over other categories of population, but between now and the Games we can assume that it is possible to have them vaccinated without penalising other people,” Masseglia said.
“I have taken a position in favour of vaccination, I hope that all French athletes will share this perspective,” he added.


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AFC cancels, postpones tournaments; India’s schedule also affected | Football News

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday decided to either cancel or postpone a number of its competitions, also featuring India, keeping in mind the safety of all stakeholders amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Indian team was to take part in the next AFC U-16 Championships, which was slated to be held in 2021 after being rescheduled twice last year. A total of 16 teams were to play in the tournament.
“In line with FIFA’s decision to cancel the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cups in 2021 and taking into consideration the safety and health of Asia’s youth players, the AFC has reluctantly decided to cancel the AFC U-16 Championship Bahrain 2020 and the AFC U-19 Championship Uzbekistan 2020,” the continental football body said in a release.
The AFC said the next editions of both the competitions will be allocated to the same hosts in 2023.
The U-16 tournament was originally scheduled between September 16 and October 3, 2020, and then rescheduled between November 25 and December 12, 2020. It was later announced that the tournament would be postponed to early 2021 due to the pandemic.
AFC general secretary Dato’ Windsor John said: “We are grateful for the support of the hosts for these competitions who agreed with the AFC the need to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders during this time of uncertainty and taking into consideration the risks of the current pandemic.”
The AFC also cancelled its Futsal Championship Kuwait 2020 and the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup Thailand 2021.
Both the Kuwait Football Association and the Football Association of Thailand will host the next editions. Kuwait will stage the AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2022 and Thailand, the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup 2023.
The AFC has also decided to reschedule the qualifying rounds for the U20 Women’s Asian Cup 2022 and U-17 Women’s Asian Cup 2022.


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