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Romelu Lukaku sends Inter into Coppa Italia last eight; debutant puts Juve through | Football News

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Inter Milan needed an extra-time winner from substitute Romelu Lukaku to beat Fiorentina 2-1 in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday and book a meeting with rivals AC Milan in the quarter-finals.
Later on Wednesday, a much-changed Juventus made hard work of beating Genoa 3-2 in their last-16 match, needing an extra-time winner from 21-year-old debutant Hamza Rafia to see them through, while Napoli edged a thriller 3-2 against Empoli.
Alexis Sanchez was in the thick of the action for Inter in the first half, hitting the post from close range, before he was later fouled in the penalty area, with Arturo Vidal stepping up to give the visitors the lead with a 40th-minute spot kick.
Inter, who also fielded the little used Christian Eriksen, were furious when the referee awarded another penalty moments later at the other end, with Milan Skriniar appearing to win the ball, but the decision was overturned after VAR intervened.
Lautaro Martinez then had a glorious chance to put Inter two goals in front and his miss proved costly as Christian Kouame thundered home a 57th-minute equaliser for Fiorentina.
Sanchez was guilty of another glaring miss as Inter failed to find a winner in normal time but Lukaku headed home in the 119th minute to send them through to face Milan, who beat Torino on penalties in their last-16 clash on Tuesday.
Serie A champions Juventus made 10 changes from the team that beat Sassuolo at the weekend, but they had no trouble racing into a two-goal lead in Turin against a much-changed Genoa.
Young Swedish forward Dejan Kulusevski opened the scoring after two minutes before then setting up the returning Alvaro Morata to make it 2-0 in the 23rd minute.
However, seemingly in cruise control, Juve took their foot off the gas, with Lennart Czyborra getting Genoa deservedly back in the contest before halftime.
Filippo Melegoni then completed the turnaround in the 74th minute with a fine finish, and Juve, who had to introduce Cristiano Ronaldo, could not find a winner as the match went to extra time.
It was left to substitute Rafia to bundle home his first Juventus goal, on his debut, to settle the contest in the 104th minute, booking a quarter-final clash with the winner of the match between Sassuolo and Spal on Thursday.


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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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