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is. The Stat: Valanciunas has scored in doubl

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is. The Stat: Valanciunas has scored in doubl

Postby kaisy on Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:20 pm

WEMBLEY, England -- Englands football team found a way to quickly dissipate the nations summer of sporting success and bring back the gloom. After the feel-good factor the Olympics and Paralympics provided in London, came a dreary performance against Ukraine at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, with England only just avoiding a first competitive home loss in five years. It took Frank Lampard to score his 26th England goal -- from the penalty spot in the 87th minute after Yevhen Khacheridi handled the ball -- to salvage a 1-1 draw in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. "We rely on him and hes done the job again for us tonight," captain Steven Gerrard said. But any hope of grabbing a winner seemed to be thwarted a minute after Lampards leveler when Gerrard became the first England captain to be sent off since David Beckham in 2005, when he received a second yellow card for a foul on Denys Garmash. "These games are not easy and in the end getting a point is a good result considering we were 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go," Lampard said. The crowd had high expectations for England after qualifying for Brazil started with a 5-0 rout of Moldova on Friday, but now the team has four points along with Montenegro at the top of Group H. "Im not prepared to say it wasnt a great performance," Hodgson said. Yevhen Konoplianka had put Ukraine in front in the 39th, crisply curling the ball from 25 yards (meters) into the top corner of Joe Harts goal in the teams first qualifier and first competitive match since Andriy Shevchenkos retirement. "The young players we had in the squad were probably a little bit intimidated we were leading against England," Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said through a translator. "The England team has excelled in the second half and we have got tired." Injuries forced the hosts to cope without the experience of defenders John Terry and Ashley Cole, and striker Wayne Rooney. "We are not totally reliant on the old guard," Hodgson said. "We do have young players coming through who can step up to the plate. (Danny) Welbeck, (Daniel) Sturridge and (Ryan) Bertrand made an impact." Ukraine was on a revenge mission after being contentiously eliminated by England from the European Championship it was co-hosting. Marko Devic, who came on as a late substitute Tuesday, had a goal wrongly disallowed in Donetsk despite the ball crossing the line. It was Englands turn to feel aggrieved 84 days on. Jermain Defoe believed he had put Roy Hodgsons side in front after 10 minutes only to be penalized for fouling Andriy Yarmolenko while cutting into the penalty area. "It wasnt a foul at all so were very disappointed with that," Gerrard said. But all the early danger had come from the visitors. Hart had been beaten when Oleg Gusievs shot deflected off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but he was saved by the post. And it required a combination of interventions by Gerrard and Hart to block Ruslan Rotans shot after Ukraine broke forward when Tom Cleverley conceded possession cheaply on the halfway line. When there were openings in front of goal, England was far too complacent, with Cleverley squandering two golden chances in the first half of his third England appearance. The midfielder headed straight at goalkeeper Andri Piatovs feet from point-blank range after being set up by Defoe. And in the search for an equalizer, there was not enough urgency from Cleverley when Lampard squared the ball with precision to him, making a sloppy connection with his heel and missing the target. "We created certain problems in the first half for the England team they couldnt solve," Blokhin said. After the break, Englands forays were equally forlorn, with Defoe striking wide from distance and Danny Welbeck blasting the ball against the post, leaving a frustrated Hodgson holding his head in his hands. But Lampards late intervention spared England from a greater early setback in qualifying after reaching only the Euro 2012 quarterfinals. "We went a goal down to a wonder goal but I was really pleased with the way we kept tidy, kept trying and didnt resort to any hopeful long balls," Hodgson said. "We kept playing through and creating chances and we were rewarded in the end ... because had we lost the game it would have been very harsh on us." ... ke-Jersey/ . And in the second game of a day-night double-header, the Miami Marlins finally gave their first-year manager something to feel good about while wearing a different "M" on his hat. ... ke-Jersey/ . The settlement, unprecedented in sports, was announced Thursday after two months of court-ordered mediation and is subject to approval by a federal judge. It came exactly a week before the first game of the 2013 season, removing a major legal and financial threat hanging over the sport for two years. U. ... ke-Jersey/ . After two days of weather delays, the European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event got back on track despite the cold and windy conditions on the Blackstone Course. Noren is at 9 under as he seeks his fourth European Tour victory and first since winning twice in 2011. ... ke-Jersey/ . 26 to face assault charges. Police say Eager, 28, and his brother Michael Eager, 31, were involved in a disturbance at a Toronto bar around 1 a. ... ke-Jersey/ . Taking over when Bobby Cox retired after the 2010 season, Gonzalez has managed the Braves to a 183-141 record.Theyve lost their share of barnburners throughout a disappointing 2012-13 season that is nearing its anticlimactic end. Lady luck gave the Raptors (29-47) a rare break Friday night when Ricky Rubio -- a 79 per cent free-throw shooter -- missed a potential game-tying shot at the line in the dying seconds to give Toronto a 95-93 comeback victory over the hosting Minnesota Timberwolves (28-47). Rudy Gay scored a game-high 26 and DeMar DeRozan contributed 25 points -- each shooting 12-of-23 -- for the Raptors, who won their second straight after dropping seven of their previous eight contests. After trailing by as much as 11 points in the third quarter, Toronto fought back and came out on top following a back and forth final period that saw the two teams -- both at the bottom of their respective divisions -- exchange the lead on four occasions in the final minutes. Down by one with just over two minutes to play, DeRozan gave Toronto the lead, converting a three-point play before Gay piled on with a 10-foot turnaround jumper to extend the advantage. The Timberwolves, who missed three free throws during that final stretch, hoped to even the score and the send the game to overtime until Rubios freebie rimmed out. Fast Breaking Points - Dynamic Duo The Raptors never led by more than three points on Friday night but the teams star wing duo came through with the game on the line, something that bodes well for the franchise if that level of production can be carried over into next season. This is a different team when both Gay and DeRozan are clicking, taking pressure off of one another and forcing the defence to split its focus. However, the jury is still out on whether they are the ideal pairing. Neither player is an especially gifted three-point shooter -- they were a combined 1-of-4 from downtown Friday -- and they put even more pressure on themselves to hit tough mid-range shots when theyre not getting to the free-throw line, where they attempted just two shots against the Wolves (more on that below). That said, both players got better as the game went on, more notably Gay, who scored 10 in the final quarter after being held without a point in the first. Gay has been battling a bad back for over a month and was playing with a sore right ankle that he jammed in Wednesdays 88-78 win over Washington. Torontos leading scorer was held to just six points in 26 minutes that night but responded with a bounce-back effort, as he has been known to do during his brief tenure in Toronto (hes rarely quiet in back-to-back outings). After a subpar month of March that saw DeRozan score 20 or more just twice (in 15 games), the Raptors guard has now exceeded the 20-point plateau in two of three games to begin April. DeRozan was locked in once again, pouring in 25 points for the second straight game but getting to the line continues to be an issue, in that hes not.dddddddddddd His first and only free throw attempt came on the three-point play in the closing two minutes of the game. DeRozan is the only Raptors player to start every game this season, logging more minutes than he has in his four-year career, which could factor into his decreasing attempts from the stripe. After getting to the line seven and a half times a night in February, his attempts dropped to five per game in March, perhaps a sign that fatigue has him settling for more jumpers from the perimeter. The Stat: Gay and DeRozan each registered 20 or more points for the sixth time in their 27 contests together. - Rookie of the Month Just prior to Fridays game the NBA named Jonas Valanciunas the Eastern Conferences Player of the Month for March. The eighth Raptors player to win the award and first since Jamario Moon in 2008, Valanciunas averaged 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds last month. Its a well deserved honour for a player who has taken his game to a whole new level and may be the lone bright spot for the Raptors during the stretch run. Valanciunas had a quiet(er) night 48 hours after registering a career-high 24 points on 16-18 shooting from the line against the Wizards. The rookie centre scored 12 on Friday but did get to the stripe 10 more times. Matched up against Nikola Pekovic -- the unmovable object who had 24 points on 12-of-16 from the line --Valanciunas faced a tough test, one that exposed the area of his game many feel will be a focal point for him during the summer; his strength. The physically stronger (than most) Pekovic attacked the Raptors rookie early and often, getting him in quick foul trouble and imposing his will in the paint. Although Valanciunas has come a long way over the past month, hell need to bulk up to take the next step and excel in match-ups like this. The Stat: Valanciunas has scored in double figures in 14 of his last 15 games. Notables The Raptors sweep the season series, taking both games against the Timberwolves this year. Theyve won seven of their last eight trips to Minnesota. ... Fridays game was the Raptors last against Western Conference opponents this season. Toronto went 12-18 against the West, the teams best record since 2007-08. ... Dwane Casey returned to Minnesota for the first time as head coach of the Raptors. He coached the Timberwolves to a record of 53-69 from 2005-07. ... Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman remains one win shy of becoming the eighth to reach 1,000 career victories. ... Guard Kyle Lowry (11 points, seven assists) has recorded seven or more assists in each of the last six games, setting a new career high. Up Next The Raptors visit the Milwaukee Bucks (36-39) in the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday. ' ' '
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