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Friday 22nd June 2018

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2018 FIFA World Cup: Argentina on the brink after Caballero’s Croatian catastrophe

Argentina are facing the prospect of an early World Cup exit after a dreadful error from goalkeeper Willy Caballero set Croatia on their way to victory and a place in the last 16.

On a night when so much was expected of Argentina captain Lionel Messi, Caballero made the most telling contribution to his team's fate with an attempted chip over Ante Rebic that backfired badly, allowing the striker to volley into an exposed net in the 53rd minute.

Messi - adrift for much of the match, especially during a pedestrian opening half - rallied his side, but neither he nor substitute forwards Gonzalo Higuain and Pablo Dybala could find a way through in Nizhny Novgorod.

The closest Messi came was a half-chance, a snatch at a rebound from a Maximiliano Meza shot which was blocked by Ivan Rakitic and turned behind to safety.

It was a dogged defensive second-half display from Croatia, illuminated by a moment of magic from their own masterful number 10, Luka Modric.

His curled shot from range drifted beautifully beyond Caballero's gloves to put his side two ahead, before Rakitic's injury-time tap-in sealed a victory that moves the Europeans through to the knockout stage and also leaves them in a strong position to win the group.

Argentina are no longer in control of their own destiny. This defeat follows their opening 1-1 draw with Iceland, in which Messi missed a penalty, and now even a heavy win over Nigeria in their final game on Tuesday may not be enough to send them through to the next round.

Should Iceland beat Nigeria in their second Group D game on Friday, Iceland would need only a draw against Croatia in their final match.

For Messi, a prolific performer at club level with Barcelona, this was another harrowing chapter in his recent history of pain and disappointment in the international game.


 

Premier League fixtures 2018-19: Man City visit Arsenal on opening weekend

Champions Manchester City will travel to Arsenal on the weekend of 11-12 August for their opening match of the 2018-19 Premier League season.

Tottenham visit Newcastle first, then play Fulham at Wembley while their new £850m stadium is completed.

Manchester United host Leicester City, Liverpool entertain West Ham, and Championship winners Wolverhampton Wanderers welcome Everton to Molineux.

Promoted Fulham host Crystal Palace, while Cardiff visit Bournemouth.

The three other fixtures on the opening weekend see Chelsea travel to Huddersfield, Southampton host Burnley, and Watford take on Brighton at Vicarage Road.

The opening weekend in full
Arsenal v Manchester City
Bournemouth v Cardiff City
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Huddersfield Town v Chelsea
Liverpool v West Ham United
Manchester United v Leicester City
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Southampton v Burnley
Watford v Brighton
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton


 

World Cup 2018: Harry Kane named England captain for tournament

Striker Harry Kane will captain England at the World Cup in Russia, manager Gareth Southgate has announced.

Kane, 24, scored 41 goals in all competitions last season as Tottenham finished third in the Premier League.

Spurs team-mate Eric Dier and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson have also skippered England recently.

Kane first captained England in last summer's 2-2 World Cup qualifier in Scotland, where he scored a late equaliser, before going on to wear the armband on a further three occasions.


 

Eden Hazard penalty settles FA Cup final as Chelsea edge past Man Utd

Eden Hazard's first-half penalty decided the FA Cup final in Chelsea's favour at Wembley to leave Jose Mourinho and Manchester United empty-handed this season.

Hazard - in a moment which did not bode well for the World Cup meeting between England and Belgium in Russia in June - twisted and tore past Phil Jones before drawing a clumsy foul from the United defender after 22 minutes.

He calmly dispatched the penalty which was to prove to be the decisive moment in a final that was hard fought rather than distinguished.

United, with striker Romelu Lukaku only fit enough for a place on the bench, raised their game after the break.

Alexis Sanchez had a goal ruled out for straying just offside, with referee Michael Oliver using VAR to confirm the call, and Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois excelled with a succession of fine saves, while Paul Pogba wasted their best chance late on when he headed wide of an open goal.

This may well be Antonio Conte's last game as Chelsea manager and if he leaves, he does so after delivering the FA Cup to follow on from last season's Premier League title triumph.