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Spurs leave it late to beat Arsenal, Villa boost survival bid

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LONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 12Toby Alderweireld gave Tottenham a late 2-1 win over Arsenal as Jose Mourinho’s men climbed above their north London rivals, while Aston Villa boosted their Premier League survival hopes with a 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Mourinho had endured a barrage of criticism as Tottenham slipped out of the race to qualify for the Champions League with just one win in three games.

But thanks to Alderweireld’s winner with nine minutes left, Tottenham took the local bragging rights and got back in contention for a place in next season’s Europa League.

Tottenham are eighth, two points above ninth placed Arsenal and two behind Sheffield United as they try to avoid missing out on European action for the first time since 2009-10.

“We are happy because we made the fans happy, we are happy because we are still in the fight to win a Europa League position,” Mourinho said.

“To be honest, Mikel (Arteta) found a way for them to play, to be stable and to improve. We felt that we should adapt slightly to them and we did it very well.

“Arsenal had 48 hours more than us to rest, so it was hard but it came from their hearts, this effort, this battle.”

In the first north London derby at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Alexandre Lacazette put Arsenal ahead in the 16th minute with a stunning strike.

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The French striker dispossessed Serge Aurier outside the Spurs area before unleashing an unstoppable effort inside the top near corner of the goal.

Arsenal’s lead lasted just three minutes as Sead Kolasinac’s sloppy pass gifted Son Heung-min the ball.

Son easily eluded David Luiz before chipping over onrushing keeper Emiliano Martinez.

It was the South Korean forward’s 17th goal of the season and his first since the coronavirus hiatus.

In the 82nd minute, Belgian defender Alderweireld rose above a cluster of Arsenal players to meet Son’s corner and plant his header past Martinez.

Aston Villa’s Trezeguet (C) scored twice against Crystal Palace © POOL/AFP / Tim Keeton

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At Villa Park, Dean Smith’s side kicked off languishing seven points from safety, but Egypt winger Trezeguet scored twice to keep them in with a chance of avoiding relegation.

Villa’s first win in 11 league games lifted them into 18th, within four points of fourth-from-bottom Watford with three games left.

Second-bottom Bournemouth will go one point above Villa if they beat Leicester later on Sunday.

“We said to the players, ‘It’s like a semi-final today’. It was the first leg of the semi-final we needed to go and win and we have done that with a good performance,” Smith said.

“We need to give ourselves a big chance. Watford and West Ham play each other next so they both can’t take three points but we have to concentrate on ourselves and hopefully get a result at Everton.”

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Smith’s men got an early stroke of luck when Palace defender Mamadou Sakho had a goal ruled out by VAR for handball

Villa snatched the lead in first half stoppage-time when Conor Hourihane’s free-kick picked out Trezeguet, who side-footed home at the far post.

– Violent conduct –

Trezeguet got Villa’s crucial second goal in the 58th minute, finishing clinically after Hourihane nodded the ball forward.

Palace striker Christian Benteke was sent off for violent conduct after the final whistle.

At Molineux, Wolves stayed in the Champions League hunt with a 3-0 win against woeful Everton.

Raul Jimenez’s penalty and Leander Dendoncker’s header a minute either side of half-time put the game out of Everton’s reach.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had another difficult afternoon, conceding three times at Wolves, including the final goal by Diogo Jota © POOL/AFP / Ben STANSALL

Diogo Jota beat Jordan Pickford at his near post 16 minutes from time to round off another performance that will see the England number one scrutinised.

Victory lifts Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves back ahead of Sheffield United into sixth and within four points of fourth-placed Leicester.

Fifth could also be good enough for the riches of Champions League football next season should Manchester City’s appeal against a two-season ban from European competitions fail when the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict is revealed on Monday.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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