Archive for December, 2019

Monday 30th December 2019

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on December 30, 2019 by bishshat

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Sunday 29th December 2019

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on December 29, 2019 by bishshat

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Seahawks 21 San Francisco 26

In a regular season full of close games and dramatic finishes, it was fitting it came down to this.
Never mind that the Seahawks trailed the 49ers 13-0 at halftime and were down 12 points with 4:04 left in the game, a team that has proven to be resilient above just about every other trait wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

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Unfortunately for the Seahawks, their comeback attempt came up inches short on Sunday night, with tight end Jacob Hollister getting stopped just short of the goal line on a fourth-and-goal reception in the game’s final seconds. That tiny distance between the ball and the goal line was the difference between a Seattle victory and the end result, a 26-21 49ers victory that gave the San Francisco 49ers the NFC West title and sent the Seahawks on the road for the playoffs.
At 11-5, the Seahawks are the NFC’s No. 5 seed and will play at Philadelphia on Sunday in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Had Hollister somehow found that extra inch or two, Seattle would have won the NFC West and hosted a game next weekend.

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As disappointing as the finish was, the second-half comeback also left the Seahawks feeling good about the resolve they showed in a game that looked early on like it could have become a blowout.
“As we have kind of grown to understand about our team, we’re never out,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We didn’t play well in the first half, and just couldn’t get going at all. We really felt fortunate to be at 13-zip. Then our guys just did what they do, and found a way to get back and get rolling. We didn’t dominate the second half, but we certainly put ourselves in position to win a championship right there. It was a fantastic effort by the whole team, highlighted I think by Russ (Wilson) and the offense and the playmaking and the throwing and the catching, and the protection—we got sacked one time by that crew tonight. We had the opportunities; it was there in front of us. It was, like, a perfect win. To me, it was a perfect way to win the championship, and unfortunately it just came up short by a couple inches. It was an amazing effort, it was an amazing regular season. I don’t know how we could ask for much more drama. We already have to go, and get rolling, looking ahead.”

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That final pass was just part of a frantic finish to the game that will go down as one of the more memorable regular-season games played at CenturyLink Field. After the defense got a stop to give the ball back to Wilson and the offense down 5 points with 2:27 left in the game, the Seahawks quickly moved into 49ers territory, but after getting into the red zone, the Seahawks found themselves facing fourth-and-10 from the 12-yard line.
With the game on the line, Wilson connected with rookie John Ursua, a seventh-round pick out of Hawaii who was active for only the third time this season. Ursua’s first NFL catch netted 11 yards and nearly provided the winning score, but he was tackled at the one.
After the Seahawks spiked the ball to stop the clock, they tried to substitute to get a heavier package on the field—a group that included running back Marshawn Lynch—but the play clock ran out, leading to a delay of game penalty that moved the ball back to the 6-yard line, a mistake that Carroll said is “me all the way. There’s nobody else to turn to.”

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After an incomplete pass intended for Tyler Lockett, Wilson tried to find Hollister, and that too went incomplete, though not without some significant contact on Hollister. NFL Senior VP of Officiating Al Riveron told a pool reporter that the play was reviewed in New York for pass interference even though play was not stopped, and said they saw “nothing that rises to the level of a foul which significantly hinders the defender, nothing that is clear and obvious through visual evidence, which hinders the defender.”
That non-call set up fourth-and-ballgame for the second time, and while Wilson was able to complete a pass to Hollister, the tight end was stopped inches short by 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw. That play was reviewed, but the call was upheld, allowing the 49ers to celebrate a division title and leaving the Seahawks to contemplate what could have been.
“It’s crazy,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said of the finish. “It’s unfortunate, it’s an unfortunate way to lose. We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position. You’re grateful for the guys’ resilience to bounce back and put ourselves in that position, but we’ve got to play better.”

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The Seahawks obviously wish they would have finished the comeback Sunday, but they also came out of the game confident about what they can accomplish in the playoffs even if they do have to go on the road.

 

Saturday 28th December 2019

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on December 29, 2019 by bishshat

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Norwich 2 Spurs 2

Harry Kane’s late penalty proved enough to deny Norwich a first home league win since mid-September as Spurs earned a share of the spoils in an entertaining draw at Carrow Road. In an incident-packed game, Spurs twice had to come from behind, first through Christian Eriksen after Mario Vrancic had given the hosts the lead, and then again after a Serge Aurier own-goal had restored it, while the hosts could also feel aggrieved to have had a Teemu Pukki goal ruled out by perhaps the tightest VAR offside call seen yet in the Premier League, which would have given them a two-goal cushion.

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With Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko suspended, Jose Mourinho was forced to mix-up his midfield as part of four changes to the side that started the win over Brighton, with summer signings Giovani Lo Celso, Ryan Sessegnon and Tanguy Ndombele starting together in the same team for the first time.

Norwich also made four changes, with Jamal Lewis, Mario Vrancic, Marco Stiepermann and Onel Hernandez all coming into the line-up, while Todd Cantwell was among those given a rest. It was Stiepermann who went closest to opening the scoring in the early stages, his toe-poke kept out by Paulo Gazzaniga after Eriksen had contrived to clean out his own teammate, Ndombele.

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The in-form Dele Alli should have given Spurs the lead when slipped in by Harry Kane at the other end, but could only fire over Tim Krul’s goal, before the Dutch ‘keeper was out to deny Kane after he had latched onto an increasingly-familiar Jan Vertonghen long ball over the top. It had been a lively exchange, with both sides looking as vulnerable at the back as adventurous in attack, and thus it was no surprise that when the hosts’ opener did come about, it came semi-gift-wrapped. The error-prone Juan Foyth began the trouble, losing possession to Vrancic when driving out of defence, and when the Canaries midfielder drove towards the box he found Toby Alderweireld all too accommodating, backing off to allow him to place a low finish beyond Gazzaniga, though nowhere near the corner.

The home side thought they had a second when Vertonghen inexplicably allowed Pukki to chest down a hopeful ball over the top and finish virtually unopposed, only for the Belgian’s blushes to be spared by the most pedantic of VAR decisions, which is saying something, given the margins involved in several other incidents on Saturday alone.

Mourinho was not quite so forgiving, dragging both Foyth and Vertonghen at the break and sending on Davinson Sanchez and Lucas Moura, and when the latter’s pass intended to play Kane in on goal was deliberately swatted away by the arm of Lewis, Spurs were incensed to see that the colour of the card was only yellow. From the resulting free-kick, however, those frustrations were forgotten as Eriksen’s clipped effort took a nick off the top of the wall and found its way into the top corner to put the visitors back on level terms.

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That lasted little more than five minutes, with more comical stuff putting Norwich back in front as Toby Aldeweireld’s attempt to nick the ball away from Pukki only succeeded in deflecting it off the helpless Aurier and past his own goalkeeper. Norwich, without a shot on target since the break, had the lead, but Spurs’ pressure always looked likely to tell, and eight minutes from time it did, Kane proving too clever for Zimmermann, cutting inside to win a penalty, which he then coolly converted, with Krul diving the wrong way.

 

Friday 27th December 2019

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on December 29, 2019 by bishshat

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Thursday 26th December 2019

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on December 26, 2019 by bishshat

Spurs 2 Brighton 1 

Manager Jose Mourinho made two changes from the defeat to his former club, with Harry Winks for Eric Dier in midfield and Ryan Sessegnon replacing the suspended Heung-min Son, who began the first of a three-match ban for kicking out at Rudiger.

Spurs’ early promise soon dissipated amid familiar problems, including a lack of creativity and bite in a midfield two of Winks and Moussa Sissoko. Tanguy Ndombele, the club’s £65million record-signing, was left out of the 18 altogether.

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Having thrashed Spurs 3-0 in October, during the deaththroes of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign, Brighton had nothing to fear and they were happy to allow Spurs possession and try their luck when possible, with Alzate and Aaron Mooy both going close in the opening 21 minutes.

The contest was in need of a touch of finesse and after 24 minutes Winks delivered. In possession on the halfway line, he clipped a perfect pass behind the Brighton defence and Kane raced onto it to steer first-time past Mat Ryan.

It looked a tight offside call against the striker and, sure enough, the VAR ruled Kane to be fractionally ahead of Shane Duffy. It by no means the closest call in the Premier League this season but nonetheless another fractional decision was predictably greeted by boos from the home fans.

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Winks has struggled to win over Mourinho and 12 minutes later the England international showed why, going from possible hero to villain. Caught the wrong side of Ezequiel Schelotto, Winks raced back and flew into a challenge on the wing-back, who went down theatrically. If the decision to award a foul was harsh, it was compounded firstly when Winks was booked, ruling him out of the trip to Norwich, and again when Webster rose to head home Pascal Gross’ subsequent free-kick.

Spurs’ ongoing vulnerability from set-pieces was underlined again before the interval, when Bernardo rose to head another Gross ball wide.

Mourinho, who had introduced Christian Eriksen at half-time against Chelsea, resisted the temptation to make changes at the interval but any expectations that Spurs would immediately improve were dampened when Aaron Connolly was left completely unmarked after the restart, only to head Bernardo’s cross wide.

In the end, Spurs’ break was a lucky one. Lucas Moura, who was scatty all afternoon, tried to weave forward but found the way blocked by Webster. The Brighton defender’s tackle ricocheted off teammate Dale Stephens into the path of Kane, who saw his first left-footed effort well-saved by Ryan before finishing the rebound on the volley with his right. There were no doubts about his 10th League goal of the season, which prompted a collective sign of relief from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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Mourinho immediately responded with the introduction of Giovani Lo Celso for Sessegnon and the Argentine made a difference, adding some much-needed composure and zip to the hosts.

Having got it badly wrong against Chelsea, Mourinho deserves credit for his changes, not least because his second substitute, Christian Eriksen, created the winner. Winks’ came close to a second booking with another reckless slide – resulting in Gross stinging Paulo Gazzaniga’s palms from 20 yards with the resulting free-kick – and was promptly hooked for the Dane.

Within just three minutes, Eriksen’s sublime diagonal found Aurier, who showed good composure to set-up Dele’s superb first-time finish over Ryan. With Sissoko also suspended for trip to Norwich on Saturday, one of Eriksen or Lo Celso will surely make a first League start under Mourinho at Carrow Road.

Mourinho’s next sub was, predictably, Eric Dier but if Spurs hoped to seamlessly see out the match, there were still some sticky moments to come. Webster emphasised the ongoing lack of protection from midfield – a theme of the afternoon – by striding forward and testing Gazzaniga from 25 yards.

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Great pass from Kane, and a brilliant first touch from Alli because he was off balance and the ball just behind him, but he chooses to take it early and Ryan sticks out a hand to push it over the bar.

Spurs have largely been below par but they lead through a goal of sublime quality by Dele Alli. Substitute Christian Eriksen was the architect, hitting a sweet diagonal to Serge Aurier, who touched it back to Dele. The England midfield finished first-time with a superb, instinctive dink.

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Wednesday 25th December 2019

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on December 26, 2019 by bishshat

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Tuesday 24th December 2019

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on December 26, 2019 by bishshat

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