Pochettino: Don't blame Mbappe for PSG's loss to Monaco

By Sports Desk February 21, 2021

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino insisted Kylian Mbappe's below-par display was not solely to blame for Sunday's 2-0 defeat against Monaco.

In-form Monaco upset Ligue 1 champions PSG in a blow to their title hopes as the Parisians slipped four points behind leaders Lille with 12 games remaining.

PSG have already lost six Ligue 1 games this season, their worst tally in a single campaign since the beginning of the Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) era in 2011/-2, and their worst since the 2010-11 campaign (eight).

Mbappe grabbed global headlines in midweek with his hat-trick against Barcelona in the Champions League but Monaco put extra work into minimising his impact in the French capital.

Pochettino, though, leapt to the defence of Mbappe – who continues to be linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

"Today, it's not only Kylian but the whole team that hasn't been at the level," Pochettino said post-game.

"That didn't show what it takes to win. But as I said, the first person responsible is the manager and I take responsibility for it.

"When you lose, the first person responsible is the manager and I fully assume it."

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    FIFA has sent its "deepest condolences" to the friends and families of the eight people who died in a stampede at the Olembe Stadium during Cameroon's Africa Cup of Nations win over Comoros.

    Reports began circulating of a disturbance outside the ground as Cameroon claimed a 2-1 last-16 win on Monday, with local media and the Associated Press suggesting at the time that several people had been killed.

    The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said it was aware of the incident and was gathering "more details" on what had transpired.

    A statement released overnight by Cameroon's Ministry of Communications then confirmed that, after a "first assessment", eight people had lost their lives in the crush.

    Another 38 people were injured, with seven of those in a serious condition.

    The ministry did not immediately respond to Stats Perform's request for comment, but a widely reported statement read: "The Government of the Republic brings to the attention of the National and International Opinion that during the round-of-16 meeting which was played on Monday, January 24, 2022, between Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and the national team of the Union of Comoros, jostling occurred at the southern entrance to the Olembe Football Stadium.

    "The first assessment of these jostling reports: eight dead; and 38 injured, including 31 light [injuries] and seven serious.

    "The deceased were taken to the Yaounde Emergency Center for the appropriate formalities, and the injured were distributed to four health facilities in the city of Yaounde, where they were immediately taken care of, on very high instructions from the president of the republic, His Excellency Paul Biya."

    World football's governing body expressed its sympathies with those affected by the tragedy soon after.

    Its statement read: "FIFA sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following the tragic incident that took place at Olembe Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations fixture between Cameroon and Comoros.

    "The thoughts and prayers of the global football community are with the victims, the ones who have been injured in this incident, and all the staff of both CAF and the Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT) at this difficult moment."

  • Australian Open: Barty dominates Pegula to book semi-final berth Australian Open: Barty dominates Pegula to book semi-final berth

    Ash Barty was in clinical form to swat aside Jessica Pegula 6-2 6-0 in just 63 minutes and book her spot in the Australian Open semi-finals.

    The world number one is still to drop a set at her home slam in Melbourne and made easy work of her opponent as Barty continued her bid to become the first female Australian singles champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

    Barty won nine games in a row from 3-2 up in the first set to take complete command and she can now prepare for a semi-final showdown with another American in the form of Madison Keys.

    A nervy-looking Pegula was rushing her shots in the early exchanges and Barty broke in the first game when a forehand cross set up a break point chance that her opponent put into the net.

    Barty had chalked up 12 unforced errors by game four, but it was her aggressive tactics that had Pegula completely on the ropes and when a thumping forehand set up another break point in game seven, it was little surprise when it was converted.

    By this point Barty was in complete command and Pegula had no answer to the variety of shots her opponent rained down on her.

    The second set raced by in just 28 minutes, with Barty putting the finishing touch on a mightily impressive performance when Pegula put a return long on the second match point.

    "Jess is an incredible person and a brilliant girl. I love to test myself against her. She's had sensational couple of years, she's definitely a top-20 player, there's plenty more to come for sure," Barty said after the match.

    On reaching the semis in Melbourne for the second time after doing so in 2020, she added: "I've grown as a person, as a player, I'm a more complete tennis player.

    "Credit to my team, they do so much work behind the scenes to make me the best version of myself, I love playing out here. Hopefully I've got a little bit more left."

    DATA SLAM: Barty serves up a treat again

    Barty defeated both Pegula and Keys en route to winning her maiden slam title at the 2019 French Open and history could be repeating itself here with the world number one playing arguably the best tennis of her career.

    Behind her dominance is phenomenal success on serve. Barty is still yet to drop a set in Melbourne, and went 63 games without being broken before Amanda Anisimova did so in the previous round. Here, she lost just five points on first serve (22 of 27, 81 per cent) and gave up just a solitary break-point opportunity in the match.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Barty – 17/22
    Pegula – 7/26

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Barty – 6/2
    Pegula – 1/3

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Barty – 5/9
    Pegula – 0/1

  • Australian Open: Nadal survives Shapovalov scare in epic quarter-final Australian Open: Nadal survives Shapovalov scare in epic quarter-final

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    Nadal is two wins away from a record-breaking 21st grand slam title after enduring a four-hour epic to beat Shapovalov 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

    A year after losing from two-sets-to-love up at the same stage to Stefanos Tsitsipas, there was almost a repeat for Nadal.

    But, seemingly battling a stomach issue, the Spaniard remained alive in his bid to set the outright record for most grand slams won by a man, following a thrilling battle that lasted four hours, eight minutes.

    The success saw Nadal – who will face either Matteo Berrettini or Gael Monfils in the last four – reach his 36th career grand slam semi-final and seventh at Melbourne Park, where he claimed the title in 2009.

    Nadal landed the first blow with a break to love in the fourth game.

    A superb forehand winner down the line got Nadal going before three wild forehands in a row from Shapovalov saw him fall 3-1 behind.

    Shapovalov was unable to make any inroads against the Nadal serve, winning just five return points in a 39-minute opening set.

    The Canadian was angry with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes' decision not to give Nadal a time violation between sets and the players unusually met at the net before the second game of the second set.

    Nadal needed a tough hold during a 12-point sixth game and he capitalised in the next, an overhead securing the break after Shapovalov had sent a forehand well long at 30-30 to end a point he had been in complete control of.

    Nadal closed out the set, but found trouble in the sixth game of the third as he faced break points for the first time after a double fault.

    After saving both and holding serve, Nadal was broken at the key time – when serving to stay in the set – as Shapovalov delivered a backhand cross-court winner to extend the contest.

    The momentum had well and truly swung and a double fault from Nadal saw Shapovalov break for 3-1 in the fourth set.

    Approaching the three-hour mark, Nadal required a medical timeout, seemingly suggesting an issue with his stomach.

    Shapovalov found himself in some trouble trying to level the match, but recovered from 15-40 to force a fifth set.

    Nadal – who had been beaten from two-sets-to-love up just twice previously in his grand slam career – had to save a break point in the opening game of the decider, a volley winner to hold drawing huge cheers from the Rod Laver Arena crowd.

    Instead, Shapovalov played a loose game, two wayward forehands, a double fault and a framed backhand giving Nadal a break and 2-0 lead.

    Nadal, looking far more energetic, saved two break points in the third game before becoming more comfortable on serve on his way to the last four, Shapovalov smashing his racquet after match point.

     

    DATA SLAM: Nadal overcomes major Melbourne hurdle … just

    Nadal improved his record in grand slam quarter-finals to 36-9, but the last eight has often been a problem in Melbourne during his incredible career.

    He is now 7-7 in Australian Open quarter-finals after surviving the Shapovalov battle, far worse than his record at the French Open (14-1), Wimbledon (7-0) and US Open (8-1).

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Nadal – 41/28
    Shapovalov – 53/51

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Nadal – 8/11
    Shapovalov – 20/5

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Nadal – 3/7
    Shapovalov – 2/8

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