25
December
2019

lled out before the stage due to back pain from two previous crashes.

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- The World Cups second semifinal was supposed to put the silky skills of Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben in the spotlight. Jordan McLaughlin Jersey . Instead, a goalkeeper and two rock-solid defences stole the show. Argentina goalie Sergio Romero saved two penalties Wednesday to send Argentina into the World Cup final with a 4-2 shootout win over the Netherlands after tough defending and a lack of creative spark from either team consigned the match to a 0-0 stalemate. In a twist of fate, Romero credited Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal with helping launch his career when he arrived as an inexperienced youngster at AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch league. "I will be forever grateful to the coach for helping me out in a country that is so different from ours," Romero said. A day after Germany lit up the World Cup with its clinical 7-1 destruction of host Brazil, the Dutch and Argentines could not manage a goal between them in 120 minutes before the shootout. Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, will have to do play far better in Sundays final at Rio de Janeiros Maracana Stadium if he is to engineer a win over the powerful German team. The Barcelona star was muted throughout the match and extra time, rarely managing to shake off his markers. At the Itaquerao Stadium, he was overshadowed by his goalkeeper and the man he replaced as Argentina captain, Javier Mascherano, who bossed the midfield for his team the way surprise starter Nigel de Jong did for the Dutch. When Robben looked like deciding the match in stoppage time, Mascheranos perfectly timed sliding tackle blocked his shot at the near post. "I would say that he is an outstanding player," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. "He is an emblem within our national squad, on the field as well as off it." Romero -- thought to be a weak link for Argentina and not even a starter for his Monaco club most of last season -- had almost nothing to do during the match, but blocked penalties by Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder in the shootout. For Argentina, Messi, Ezequiel Garay, Sergio Aguero and Maxi Rodriguez all converted their spot kicks. "Its luck, thats the truth. You can dive (the right way) and not make it, like happened to their goalkeeper," Romero said. "I had confidence, thank God things turned out well." A Germany-Argentina final means an extra bitter end to the tournament for Brazilians, who will have to watch their fiercest rivals play for the world title in their most hallowed stadium against a team that humiliated their nation in the semifinals. "We have a final to play, but with one day less rest and against Germany," Sabella said. "Well do everything possible to make it all the way to the top." It was the second straight penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw for the Dutch. Against Costa Rica in the quarterfinals, Van Gaal brought on substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul in the last seconds of extra time to replace Jasper Cillessen and Krul saved two spot kicks. This time, Van Gaal had used up all three substitutions by the end of extra time and Cillessen had to face the shootout. The young Ajax goalkeeper collapsed onto his knees and sank onto his back when Rodriguezs powerful strike ended the shootout. Krul walked across the pitch to console him. Van Gaal also said he had a hand in Romeros heroics from their time together at AZ Alkmaar. "Penalties are always a matter of luck," he said. "And I taught Romero how to stop penalties so that hurts." Many of Argentinas players stripped off their shirts in the rain at the Itaquerao Stadium and danced in front of their fans. Argentina reached its fifth final, and its first in 24 years. It won the title in 1978 -- beating the Dutch -- and in 1986. It lost the championship matches in 1930 and 1990. It played West Germany in both the 86 and 90 finals. The Netherlands, which has never won the World Cup, was seeking to reach its fourth final. After scoring 10 goals in three group matches, the Dutch scoring dried up in the knockout rounds. The team managed two late strikes against Mexico but failed to find the net before eliminating Costa Rica in the quarterfinal shootout. "The issue in a championship like this one is that you score one more goal than your opponent, which we didnt do," Van Gaal said, "We didnt create very much." ------ Lineups: Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen; Dirk Kuyt, Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi (Daryl Janmaat, 46), Daley Blind; Nigel de Jong (Jordy Clasie, 62), Georginio Wijnaldum, Wesley Sneijder; Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie (Klaas Jan Huntelaar). Argentina: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo; Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez (Rodrigo Palacio, 81); Ezequiel Lavezzi (Maxi Rodriguez, 101), Gonzalo Higuain (Sergio Aguero, 82), Lionel Messi. Isaiah Rider Jersey . Hawkins severely sprained his left ankle while making a diving catch during training camp and went on injured reserve with a designation he could return midway through the season. He was back at practice Wednesday. Noah Vonleh Jersey . "I have had no discussions with Chad Johnson or his representation," Popp said Friday in an email. However, he appeared to confirm a report on Twitter from TSN this week that Johnson was on Montreals negotiation list. https://www.cheaptimberwolves.com/820j-gorgui-dieng-jersey-timberwolves.html . -- Canadian ski cross star Marielle Thompson accomplished two goals in one race Saturday.SAINT-ETIENNE, France -- Because of dopings ravages on cycling, its natural for suspicion to fall on Vincenzo Nibali, who led the Tour de France on Thursday for a 10th time in 12 stages. But Nibali says the sport has changed, doping cases have become rare, and "this theme belongs to the past." The Italian has had a praiseworthy, almost unbreakable lock on the yellow jersey, yet he will be looking over his shoulder more on Friday. The great race enters two days in the Alps that feature uphill finishes, starting with the hardest climb that the peloton has faced so far. Off the roads, Nibali said he expected questions about doping, a scourge of much of the last generation, for whom performance-enhancers such as blood-booster EPO or human growth hormone, and methods like blood-doping were common. Many cycling experts say the sport has greatly cleaned up its act. On Thursday, the Sky team, which has won the last two Tours, sacked British cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke after he was banned for an irregular biological passport. He was not a Tour rider, but few would say the Tour peloton was totally clean. Dopings shadow remains at the Tour, among team staffers, and even a rider or two. Nibalis team, Astana, was kicked out of the 2007 Tour after its star rider Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for banned blood transfusions. He served his ban, returned to racing, and won gold at the London Olympics. Vinokourov is now Astanas general manager. Rider Michele Scarponi who, like Nibali, won the Giro dItalia and was racing in this Tour, was given a three-month ban in 2012 for seeing banned physician Michele Ferrari, a longtime adviser of Lance Armstrong. Nibali says Astana has changed. "Ive chosen Astana for the possibility to build a group that I can trust to bring me at a competitive level for important races like the Giro, the Tour and the (Spanish) Vuelta," he said. "There have been many mistakes in cycling in the past, by many riders, but they belong to the past," Nibali said. "We now have a biological passport, out-of-compettition controls, controls at home . Jeff Teague Jersey. . "Nobody can say that cycling hasnt changed. Nowadays, there is an isolated case. Theres always the possibility that an idiot does something stupid ..." Nibali, a native of Messina, Sicily, nicknamed the "Shark of the Strait" after the Strait of Messina, is trying to become only the sixth rider in history to win all three Grand Tours of France, Italy and Spain. He would also be the first Italian to win the Tour since Marco Pantani in 1998. The late Pantani was convicted in Italy of doping offences during his career. Giuseppe Martinelli, a cycling guru who worked with Pantani for years before they fell out, is an Astana manager. "Thanks to him," Nibali said of Martinelli through a translator, "I became closer to the Astana team that has invested a lot in an Italian group in order to regain credibility." To succeed Pantani, Nibali is keeping an eye out on other race contenders: Richie Porte of Australia trails by 2 minutes, 23 seconds, and Alejandro Valverde of Spain was third, 2:47 back. The mostly flat 185.5-kilometre (115.5-mile) course from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne in southeastern France was well suited for a possible sprint finish and thats how it was won by Alexander Kristoff, a Norwegian specialist with Katusha. American rider Andrew Talansky pulled out before the stage due to back pain from two previous crashes. A day earlier, the Garmin-Sharp leader rode for hours and finished last. Stage 13 will put riders legs under the most strain yet. The 197.5-kilometre (123-mile) trek begins in Saint-Etienne and will crescendo: It first covers a mid-sized climb and the Category 1 Palaquit pass, and finally an 18-kilometre (12-mile) ascent to Chamrousse -- one of cyclings hardest climbs. "Im sure our rivals will try to attack but on the other hand, if I can gain some seconds, Ill go for it," the race leader said. "Ill have to evaluate the strength of my adversaries and consider every race situation." The race has 10 more days. ' ' '



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