Image:Lukas Julis came into the game as Sparta’s dangerman and so it proved Celtic, who reached the round of 32 last season, lacked confidence and desire as Nir Bitton’s poor clearance led to David Moberg Karlsson crashing his shot against the woodwork. It was their first shot across the bows of their opponents, but Celtic failed to heed the warning.Sparta continued to pour forward with Scott Bain producing a fine one-handed save to tip over Julis’ shot. But from the resulting corner, the Celtic defence was statuesque as the striker was on hand to lash his shot high into the net after Bain had initially tipped David Hancko’s header onto the post. Having failed to register a chance of note, Mohamed Elyounoussi was denied a fifth goal in as many games as he stretched to meet Ryan Christie’s cross but his effort grazed the crossbar. Lennon prepared his rousing half-time speech, but his side fell further behind.Karlsson was the architect as the former Kilmarnock winger did brilliantly to keep the ball alive down the right and after his cross was collected by Adam Karabec, Callum McGregor sold himself too easily for Julis to cut inside and curl his shot beyond Bain. Subs: Griffiths (6), Ajeti (n/a), Ntcham (n/a), Elhamed (5).Sparta Prague: Nita (7), Vindheim (6), Pavelka (7), Plechaty (6), Hancko (7), Sacek (7), Krejci (7), Polidar (7), Karabec (7), Moberg-Karlsson (8), Julis (9). Subs: Krejci (6), Dockal (6), Lischka (6), Plavsic (n/a), Travnik (6).- Advertisement – Celtic are on the brink of Europa League elimination after crumbling to a 4-1 home defeat to Sparta Prague.Neil Lennon’s side have just one point from their opening three group games leaving their hopes of reaching the round of 32 in tatters at the halfway stage. Lukas Julis’ hat-trick (26, 45, 76) did most of the damage at an empty Celtic Park.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Celtic fall short in Europe againThis was Celtic’s first meeting with their Czech opponents in European competition, and Neil Lennon’s side were bidding to avoid a third straight Europa League defeat at home for the first time. Sparta’s squad headed to Glasgow decimated by health issues and injuries, with first-choice goalkeeper Milan Heca and Slovakian stopper Dominik Holec both out.Lennon spoke prior to kick-off of the need for his side to “earn the right” to take maximum points from this double-header in their bid to catch up with Group H pace-setters AC Milan and second placed Lille. But they were second best during a very flat opening half as Sparta deservedly led 2-0 at the break. Image:Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths celebrates reducing the deficit in the second half Image:Sparta Prague’s Julis celebrates his second strike against Celtic Celtic travel to face Motherwell on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football. Coverage starts at 11am with kick-off at 12pm. Neil Lennon’s side return to Europa League action on Thursday November 26 away to Sparta Prague at 5.55pm. Image:Sparta Prague players celebrate a night to remember in Glasgow Left with a mountain to climb, Julis was gifted the chance to complete his hat-trick within a minute of the restart after Bain’s sloppy pass presented the ball straight to him, but his left-foot effort was wayward.Lennon had to show his cards, with a change of shape or personnel, and both Hatem Abd Elhamed and Leigh Griffiths were summoned on the hour-mark – just after Jeremie Frimpong’s fierce low shot flashed past the far post.But Celtic continued to look devoid of ideas as Michal Sacek drove forward unopposed only to see his shot cannon off the post. A minute later, Celtic had a lifeline as Tom Rogic’s cute turn and shot forced Florian Nita to palm the ball straight into the path of Griffiths for a simple finish. Sunday 8th November 11:00am Sparta understandably tired having just played the two other Europa League group stage games since the start of last month with no domestic fixtures, but Celtic were undone once more by their lack of defensive organisation in the absence of Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer.Karlsson tormented Shane Duffy on the counter and his low cross was gleefully tapped home by Julis for his third and the 13th goal conceded by Celtic in their last six games.There was still time for that to become 14 to rub salt into the wounds as Krejci was afforded the freedom of Celtic Park to meet Borek Dockal’s cross to head beyond Bain with ease.What the manager saidCeltic boss Neil Lennon: “It was poor. We started the game ok and then got really ragged with the ball. Our passing, technique. I keep saying if we don’t defend set pieces properly we’ll get punished.“There was a lack of hunger tonight and I don’t know where it’s come from because we’ve put in a really good performance on Sunday. I’ve defended the players up until now but that was unacceptable tonight.”Opta statsCeltic have lost their last three home UEFA Europa League matches, conceding at least three goals in every defeat.After a winless run of five UEFA Europa League games (D1 L4), Sparta Prague registered their first win in the competition since a 1-0 win over Southampton in November 2016.Excluding qualifiers, this was only the third time Celtic have shipped four goals in a home European match, also doing so in September 1989 (5-4 win over FK Partizan, Cup Winners’ Cup) and September 2017 (0-5 defeat to PSG, Champions League).What’s next? Substitute Leigh Griffiths reduced the arrears (65), but after Julis completed his treble, Ladislav Krejc compounded the home side’s misery with a fourth in the final minute of normal time.The result leaves Celtic facing a mountain to climb in Group H – bottom on one point – with Sparta leapfrogging them up to third on three points. Lille usurped AC Milan at the summit following a fine 3-0 win at the San Siro. Man of the match: Lukas Julis. Kick off 12:00pm Team newsCeltic went with the same starting line-up that beat Aberdeen at Hampden Park last Sunday to secure their place in the Scottish FA Cup Final. Lennon stuck to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Christie, Rogic and Elyounoussi behind Edouard.The visitors made six changes from the team that lost against AC Milan. Heca, Celustka, Lishcka, Hanousek, Travnik and captain Dockal were all absent. Hancko passed a fitness test, however, and started at left-back while Krejci returned from suspension. Player ratingsCeltic: Bain (5), Frimpong (5), Duffy (3), Bitton (4), Laxalt (6), Brown (5), McGregor (5), Christie (5), Rogic (5), Elyounoussi (4), Edouard (5). – Advertisement –
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As if it were possible to love him even more, stand by and wait for your admiration of N’Golo Kante to grow ten-fold.The story goes that after playing a central role in Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Cardiff City on Saturday, Kante was due to spend the rest of the weekend in Paris with his family.Unfortunately, the France midfielder missed his Eurostar train and was therefore stranded in London as a result.The devout Muslim used his mobile phone to search for a local mosque where he could partake in evening prayer.It was at the mosque that Kante was recognised by a small group of football fans who, on discovering he had missed his train, invited the Blues star back to their house for dinner. World Cup winner, former premier league player of the year, 2 time premiership winner casually joined us to watch MOTD after visiting a local mosque. True definition of being humble. What a man. pic.twitter.com/y14NanXKPn— J (@jahrul999) September 16, 2018The gang enjoyed a nice curry, chatted, played a few games of FIFA and then settled down to watch BBC Premier League highlights show “Match of the Day,” which rather bizarrely featured highlights of the man sitting next to them on the couch.Amazing. Totally surreal, but amazing nonetheless. All hail Kante, a man so genuinely humble, polite and talented that he has quickly come to unite all football fans, regardless of club or national loyalties, behind him.
Star player: MF Caroline Seger, at age 34, has played 193 times for her country and still is a fixture in midfield. On a team that has thrived by trying to suffocate top opponents, no one has more than 32 career goals, so the tempo still flows from Seger’s ability to control and distribute the ball and break up plays when necessary.Why them? Fans of the USWNT haven’t yet forgotten the team’s disappointing loss to Sweden in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympic Games. Sweden played a bunkered style under former coach Pia Sundhage — who had been in charge of the U.S. for Olympic triumphs in Beijing and London — and eventually won a penalty shootout.Now, as was the case in 2015, Sweden is in the U.S. group. That one also was no fun, finishing in a 0-0 draw. The Americans are going to want to get their revenge in the third game of pool play, but it’s possible/likely that losing the game wouldn’t put them in much worse position, relative to its knockout round draw, than winning it. That’s why Sweden ranks only eighth here, even though it’s the one team assured of facing the U.S. So, yeah, it’s France.MORE: Favorites, outsiders and underdogs in latest World Cup oddsIt doesn’t hurt to hear that from an expert, though.“I just think that team is so explosive. They’re so dangerous in the attack,” Fox Sports analyst Aly Wagner told Sporting News. “If we consider that the defense is perhaps the question mark of this U.S. side, that’s going to be a big, big test for them.”Wagner said France is “so entertaining to watch — how fast these girls are, explosive, athletic and then insanely deft touch, and soft touch and cohesiveness. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. And they’re very good defensively, so it’s going to be hard to break them down.”France won’t be the only team that might pose a threat to the U.S. plan to win it again, however. This is a ranking of the greatest threats to the USWNT:1. FranceWorld ranking: No. 4Best previous finish: Fourth, 2011Coach: Corinne DiacreStar player: D Wendie Renard, who stands 6-2, has won the UEFA Women’s Champions League four times with Lyon and was named to the all-star team at the 2015 World Cup. She has been the team captain for France since 2013.Why them? They are the most ominous challengers for the United States because they will be playing at home, and there is a very good chance they will be playing the U.S. before any of the other championship contenders get a shot. If the Americans win their group (as expected), France wins its group (as expected) and both get through round of 16 games, they would meet in a quarterfinal set for Parc Des Prince in Paris.The Lyon squad that has dominated the Champions League is dominated by French players, with six starters including midfielder Eugenie Le Sommer (74 career goals) and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi. However, France has yet to excel at a major tournament. Their best finish at the Olympics is fourth, and they were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2017 European Championships.2. EnglandWorld ranking: No. 3Best previous finish: Third, 2015Coach: Phil NevilleStar player: F Ellen White was named England’s player of the year in 2018, the second time she earned that honor. White has 28 goals in 80 caps as part of a balanced attack that also can feature veteran Toni Mead and promising young forwards Nikita Parris and Beth Mead.Why them: Although his appointment initially was controversial, Neville’s work with the team since January 2018 has been successful. The team has played 19 matches, earning 11 victories and four draws, including the title at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.Since their stunning 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in the semifinals of Euro 2017, the Lionesses have performed well in their major competitive matches. At the SheBelieves Cup in 2018, they reached the final and lost to the U.S., 1-0. They then won the event this year by dominating Japan in the title game. Their tough Group D draw puts them into pool play with Japan. Whichever of those teams emerges as the winner could impact a potential semifinal game for the U.S.3. GermanyWorld ranking: No. 2Best previous finish: Champion, 2003 and 2007Coach: Martina Voss-TecklenburgStar player: MF Dzsenifer Marozsan was runner-up for the Best FIFA Women’s Player award last year, when she helped drive Lyon to the second of three consecutive Champions League titles. Marozsan plays as an attacking midfielder or forward and owns 32 goals in 90 caps. She has been a part of teams that won the Olympic gold medal in 2016 and Euro 2013. She scored Germany’s first goal in a 2-1 Olympic final victory against Sweden.Why them: The only reason Germany doesn’t rank higher on this list is the fact its draw likely will place the team in the opposite bracket from the U.S. Their semifinal game in 2015 was a fantastic, taut game in which the Americas did not break through until they were awarded a penalty kick in the 69th minute; the U.S. eventually won, 2-0.One obstacle for Germany is the newness of its coach. Not long after the disappointment of Euro 2017 and another dud at the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, the federation chose to change coaches and had an interim handle the World Cup qualifying tournament. Voss-Tecklenburg is a former Germany national team player who had been coaching Switzerland.MORE: World Cup 2019: The evolution of Carli Lloyd4. JapanWorld ranking: 7Best previous finish: Champion, 2011Coach: Asako TakakuraStar player: Defender/midfielder Saki Kumagai never has been credited with a goal in 103 appearances for Japan — and yet she scored the biggest goal in the nation’s history. How can that be? Well, she took the decisive penalty kick in the shootout that decided the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Kumagai beat U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, and Japan won the world title for the first time. Kumagai has won four Champions League titles with Lyon and converted the decisive penalty in a 2016 title-game shootout.Why them: With the exception of a defense featuring three players who own more than 100 caps, Japan is fielding a relatively young and inexperienced squad and building toward the Olympic Games that will be contested in Tokyo next summer. But Japan has gotten some excellent results in recent matches, including a 2-2 draw with the U.S. in February at the SheBelieves Cup and another in a friendly against Germany.The Japan squad may be reloading, but this still is a program that made three major finals this decade, and four players were 2011 World Cup winners.5. The NetherlandsWorld ranking: 8Best previous finish: Round of 16, 2015Coach: Sarina WiegmanStar player: F Vivianne Miedema scored 20 goals in 17 league games for Arsenal in England’s Women’s Super League this past season, and nine in eight games as the team advanced to the FA WSL Cup final. She has scored 58 goals in 75 appearances for the Netherlands, including four at Euro 2017, when the Dutch scored their first major international championship.Why them? That’s a fair question, given this country has reached the World Cup only once before in its history. It’s a bit of a leap to expect this team to triumph over such competition in only its second trip to the World Cup.But the victory at the Euros was impressive enough to make it seem possible. They outscored their opponents by a composite 13-3, including 9-2 in the knockout rounds, and they qualified easily for this World Cup against a group that included Denmark, Switzerland and Norway.6. AustraliaWorld ranking: 6Best previous finish: Quarterfinals, 2007, 2011, 2015Coach: Ante MilicicStar player: F Sam Kerr is still only 26 but has scored more goals than anyone in the history of the NWSL — she has second-placed Christine Sinclair by 15 goals — and has accumulated 31 goals for the Matildas, with whom she first appeared at age 15.Why them? Twelve of the 23 players on the Australia roster compete in the NWSL, so they know the American team well and no longer are intimidated to face them. The Matildas defeated the U.S. for the first time at the 2017 Tournament of Nations (and went on to win the tournament over Japan and Brazil).The problem for Australia, much like Germany, is adjusting to a new coach at this stage. Against the wishes of Kerr and multiple other players, the Football Federation Australia fired previous coach Alen Stajcic in January and replaced him with Milicic.MORE: Remembering the 1999 World Cup team that changed the history of the sport7. CanadaWorld ranking: 5Best previous finish: Fourth in 2003Coach: Kenneth Heiner-MollerStar player: F Christine Sinclair is 35, which may not be the ideal age for the pivotal player on a team with championship ambitions, but she’s still performing at such a high level it makes no sense to move on from her. Sinclair has 181 goals in 281 appearances for Canada, including a dozen over the past two seasons.Why them? The U.S. has dominated Canada through their shared history, with 49 victories in 59 games — which is the reason Canada isn’t higher on this list. These two have played some phenomenal games in major competitions, including their epic showdown in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics. But the U.S. won every time.Regardless, this is a polished team with excellent talent, including nine who play in the NWSL. It’s also a young team with much promise: Four players, including 18-year-old Texas Longhorns midfielder Julia Grosso, still are playing NCAA soccer.8. SwedenWorld ranking: 9Best previous finish: Second, 2003Coach: Peter Gerhardsson It might not require a soccer expert to identify the opponent that poses the greatest threat to the United States national team in its quest to become the first U.S. team to earn consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup titles.The tournament is in France. The French team is really good. If both the U.S. and France perform well and finish first in their respective group-stage competitions, they could meet in a quarterfinal game.
HIGHEST PAID—This Sept. 17, 2011 photo shows Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, punching Victor Ortiz during their WBC welterweight title fight in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File) Mayweather, who made $85 million for two fights last year, is currently serving a three-month jail sentence in Las Vegas for domestic battery.Boxer Manny Pacquiao is second on the magazine’s list at $62 million from earnings and endorsements. Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight title to Timothy Bradley earlier this month.Tiger Woods, No. 1 on the list since 2001, made $59.4 million to place third.LeBron James of the Miami Heat is fourth ($53 million). He is one of 13 basketball players on the list.Tennis star Roger Federer is fifth at $52.7 million.Thirty football players made the top 100, with Peyton Manning tops among them at No. 10. The Denver Broncos’ new quarterback made $42.4 million during his last season with the Indianapolis Colts, even though he sat out the entire season while recovering from a neck injury.David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy was No. 8 overall and the highest ranked soccer player at $46 million.New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was tops among baseball players and No. 18 overall with $33 million.Two women, both tennis players, made the list. Maria Sharapova ($27.9 million) comes in at No. 26, and Li Na ($18.4 million). (AP)—The world’s highest-paid athlete is in jail. The guy in second place just lost a title fight, and the man who held the distinction for a decade is now third. Forbes has released its list of the 100 highest paid athletes, and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., nicknamed “Money,” is No. 1.