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United win Manchester derby to dent City’s title hopes

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Manchester United dealt a crushing blow to Manchester City’s title hopes with a stunning derby win that leaves the defending champions 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial fired United into an early lead and although Nicolas Otamendi’s late reply set up a thrilling finale, the visitors held on for arguably the most impressive victory of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 12-month reign.

Both United goals came in a breathless opening half-hour at Etihad Stadium, where they repeatedly carved open City’s creaking back-line to devastating effect.

Rashford opened the scoring from the spot after he was clumsily knocked over by Bernardo Silva, with the penalty awarded by video assistant referee Michael Oliver.

The in-form England striker, who has now scored 13 goals in his past 14 games for club and country, hit the bar moments later but United did not have to wait long to extend their lead.

United’s next attack saw Daniel James find Anthony Martial on the right of the area, and he had space to turn and squeeze his shot inside Ederson’s near post.

City had never trailed by two goals so early in a home league game since Pep Guardiola took charge in 2016 and their fans were left in stunned silence as United’s supporters celebrated noisily at the other end of the stadium.

While the home side finally began to get a grip on the game after that, especially in midfield, the damage was done.

City had repeated penalty appeals for United handballs turned down by referee Anthony Taylor and VAR before the break, while Gabriel Jesus wastefully headed a Kevin de Bruyne cross wide.

United continued to defend deep after the break but City struggled to create meaningful chances and Otamendi’s header from a Mahrez corner could not rescue them from their fourth league defeat of the season.

The game was marred by allegations of racist abuse towards United midfielder Fred in the second half, while there were also reports of objects being thrown at him from the stands.

Solskjaer silences his critics

United’s best results this season have been against the leading clubs, but before this they had all come at Old Trafford. Until now, Norwich were the only side they had beaten on the road.

Solskjaer’s side set that record straight in scintillating fashion here, tearing City apart in the early stages when they could conceivably have scored two or three goals more.

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Ederson was the only reason that did not happen, making superb saves from Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Rashford with the score at 0-0.

When United did take the lead, the way they controlled the game was also impressive – conceding possession and territory to their hosts, but limiting their shooting chances.

It was an excellent all-round performance and United’s players clearly enjoyed it too, celebrating with the away fans at the final whistle.

City’s flaws exposed again

While City’s midweek win over Burnley saw them at their electric best going forward, this was a reminder of the defensive flaws that have cost them so often this season.

With Rodri and the rest of City’s midfield unable to track United’s players when they surged forward, their backline was left embarrassingly exposed again and again in the early stages.

Angelino was given a torrid time by James down City’s left and both he and Rodri were guilty of standing off Martial when he fired home United’s second goal from that side of their area.

True, Guardiola was again left frustrated by important VAR decisions going against his team – particularly when Fred blocked Kyle Walker’s cross with his hand just before the break – and he had a long discussion with fourth official Mike Dean about it during the interval.

But his own side’s shortcomings were painfully obvious and right now it is hard to make a case for City clinching a third successive title, even if Liverpool’s form fell away.

It is less than a week since Solskjaer’s future as United boss was being seriously questioned but back-to-back wins over Tottenham and now their neighbours have offered an emphatic response to his critics.

BBC Online




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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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